Almost a decade ago, hospitality group Drink’n’Dine acquired the Norfolk on Cleveland Street in Redfern and transformed it from an old-man boozer to an American dive-bar-style pub. A year on, its second level became the seafood shack House of Crabs. Now, in the venue’s 100th year, it’s undergone another overhaul – reopening (restrictions permitting) on July 1 as the Norfolk House and Hotel, part coworking space, part hotel, part dining destination.

Its owner is the new hotel and hospitality group The People, which is rejuvenating hotels across Sydney’s suburbs – including the Exchange Hotel, the Kurrajong Hotel and the Strand Hotel. When the Norfolk reopens, it’ll span two levels, with a drinks menu led by award-winning bartender Tim Philips-Johansson (Dead Ringer) and food every day of the week, led by group chef Sam Bull (Prince of York).

Co-founders Andrew Taylor and Paul Schulte say they wanted to make sure the whole pub is used as much as possible. “We kept seeing all these old pubs that had underutilised spaces above the ground floor,” says Taylor. “We’ve stripped it right back to its core heritage look. It’ll have a range of spaces, and it’ll have a recreational element to it, like a stage for music or other events.”

Schulte says they’ve peeled back more than 20 tonnes of rubbish (paint and other upgrades) built up over the last century. In the courtyard, the old tree has been uprooted (it was a risk to the hoarding structure). Now the outdoor space is bathed in light and features a new spit-roast barbeque – soon to be grilling eggplant, Wagyu rump, prawns and LP’s smoked pork sausages.

Upstairs there’s a networking and coworking space, open from 10am to 5pm during the week, with free wi-fi and ergonomic chairs. Overlooking the courtyard is a large timber dining area called the Garden Room, available for group bookings. Downstairs there’s a TV room and the original fireplace. The drinks list will have natural wines, beers and cocktails such as Banana Mules, Jalapeno Mojitos and Toucan Sam Negronis.

“We want to respect the history, but we refer to it as a ‘house and hotel’ now,” says Taylor. “Level one will be regarded as the ‘house’ – the heart of the building where people should always feel welcome.”

Work is still underway on the six ensuite bedrooms, which will be available for a couple of nights or as part of ongoing short-stay bookings. Inspired by the success of international boutique hotels, such as New York’s Public and London’s the Hoxton, The People will create its own tech (like an app) to encourage and reward repeat visits (and you’ll be able to order food and drinks or check in with it, for example).

Unlike traditional pubs, it’s opening for coffee and pastries from 10am – with Melbourne’s St Ali coffee. In the not-so-distant future there’ll be a wine bar and deli next door.

“It’s 100 years old this year, but we really want to set it up for the next 100,” adds Schulte.

The Norfolk House and Hotel will open on Thursday July 1, pending Sydney’s Covid restrictions.

The Norfolk House and Hotel
305 Cleveland Street, Redfern

Sun to Wed 10am–11pm
Thu to Sat 10am–2am
Sun 11am–10pm