When Benjamin Johnson moved to Sydney from the south coast nine years ago, he intended to focus on his journalism career. Like many aspiring journalists, he ended up working in hospitality. More specifically, he was working under the mentorship of Paddy Coughlan, who revitalised such pubs as The Vic on the Park in Enmore, Camperdown’s Lady Hampshire and Chippendale’s Lord Gladstone. It’s the latter that Johnson has been involved with since 2015 as a shareholder and manager. Now, it belongs to him and his 2IC Mitchell Crum.
“[Coughlan] has been my mentor for a while, and he decided he wanted to sell the pub,” Johnson tells Broadsheet. “He found someone to take over the actual building, so now I’ve taken over the pub’s licence.”
When Coughlan and Johnson took over the joint, they changed its name from The Gladstone and gave the once-grungy pub a makeover. They also made it a cultural hub, opening upstairs gallery Goodspace to emerging artists, hosting live music nights and serving up excellent food deals. One of its outside walls also became a canvas for cult Sydney street artist Scott Marsh. None of that will change, says Johnson.
“We built the pub off good times – it’s not your traditional local pub. We had to put a lot of things on to attract people, we’ve always had so much cool stuff. It’s not going to be a huge change – it’s just Gladstone 2.0. It has a cult following, and is known for cool stuff like parties and live music. Cool stuff like that will continue, but be reinvigorated.”
That means a bigger focus on live music, including intimate gigs in Goodspace, as well as more late-night events (the Gladstone isn’t affected by the lockout laws).
One thing getting a shake-up, though, is the menu. Starting early June, chef Joseph Luamanu will be dishing up food inspired by the American south. Those partial to more traditional pub food, such as burgers and steaks, will still be able to get those as well. And the drinks menu won’t change – Johnson says it’ll remain broad, with something for everyone.