After a long wait, the GPO is set to reopen next Saturday following a 12-month, $9 million renovation. The iconic Ann Street building was taken over by Artesian Hospitality, the group responsible for a number of Gold Coast establishments, including Cali Beach Club and Surfers Pavilion.
For the project, Artesian Hospitality has tapped one of Brisbane’s best sommeliers, Alan Hunter. Following six years as sommelier and general manager at Otto Ristorante, Hunter is the director of venue operations. It’s a homecoming of sorts for him, as he has memories of the building’s heyday when it operated as a nightclub in the mid-2000s.
“I think a lot of people in my age demographic remember that building for a lot of right, and wrong, reasons,” he tells Broadsheet. “When I talk to people about it, there’s a genuine excitement to have it back as a hospitality precinct in Brisbane.”
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The new 100-seat restaurant, named Tama, will be split between two levels. Executive chef Richard Ousby (ex-Quay and Stokehouse Q) will oversee a produce-driven menu prepared with a Josper charcoal oven imported from Spain. You’ll find a selection of seafood and steaks, including a two-kilogram Angus tomahawk and a cut-to-order Wagyu scotch fillet, alongside handmade pastas that will be served tableside.
Hunter’s wine list will feature more than 400 bottles. Most wines will fall in the $50 to $200 price range, but there will also be an impressive number of aged vintage champagnes, whites and reds that will sit in a private cellar.
Upstairs, there will be a cocktail bar and lounge called The Gatsby, featuring a large 50-page beverage menu focusing on whisky, champagne and cocktails. Expect classics like Old Fashioneds, Manhattans, Negronis and Martinis, alongside elaborate creations like a chilli-infused tequila and mango “Gaspa”. A 136-year-old vault will be used to store high-end bottles of spirits which customers can buy outright and sip from over return visits to the precinct.
The building’s original 1887 Victorian facade has received a fresh lick of paint but otherwise remains unchanged. Inside is a different story. The addition of chandeliers, custom carpet, white tablecloth tables and velvet booths creates a classy, sophisticated feel, but the character of the space has been retained, highlighting original features such as the stairwells, ceiling, a couple of fireplaces and the aforementioned vault.
“[The building] has had a lot of different owners in the past and it’s always been patched up,” Hunter says. “We’ve gone the whole nine yards, stripped the venue back and started it again. That’s given us an opportunity to [create] a better flow.”