After the building sat idle for nearly two decades, the first round of beers at The Savoy Tavern must have tasted pretty sweet this week. After a relatively short five-month renovation, the landmark ’70s pub reopened its doors this week.

The Spencer Street pub has sat derelict for years, and was described by Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Cr Robert Doyle, as “a scab on the knee of the city." Doyle has been one the renovation’s loudest advocates as The Savoy Tavern aims to alter the cultural landscape of an area that's currently known for little more than Southern Cross Station and Etihad Stadium.

The intention for The Savoy Tavern is that it be an accessible pub for everyone. Footy crowds before and after games, foot traffic from the station, nearby office workers and anyone who happens to be after a cold one in the southern end of the city.

The design blends many of the features of the original building (the bars, floor-running ashtrays, dated ceramic tiles, original wood trim and outrageously retro red brick walls throughout) with contemporary, semi-industrial fittings such as darkly painted wood ceilings, polished concrete, form ply and raw-steel fixtures.

The food, while maintaining a strict nothing-over-$20 policy, seems to have found the middle ground between no-cutlery, honest pub fare and the contemporary gastro-quality food expected of Melbourne venues nowadays. At the time of publishing the menu wasn’t finalised, but there will be sandwiches with pulled pork and slaw or slow-cooked lamb with mint; local fish dishes; salads; chips and so on.

Through the one-way tinted windows into the front bar, the footy oriented or casual drinker will find a relaxed and open space big enough to house a crowd for pre or post-game drinks, while the back bar will have more of a lounge, cocktail and live music focus. The mezzanine, formerly the salubrious Tropicana Bar, will reopen sometime in the next few months.

The Savoy Tavern
677 Bourke Street, Melbourne

Open daily, 11am–1am