Coming Soon: GPO Hotel Is Finally Relaunching in July After Its Hefty $9-Million Revamp
Two of the 136-year-old Fortitude Valley favourite's new venues will open their doors on July 8: restaurant TAMA and speakeasy bar The Gatsby.
June 20, 2023
It's one of Fortitude Valley's most distinctive and historic buildings, and it'll finally start welcoming in Brisbanites again within weeks. Back in 2022, Artesian Hospitality announced that it was giving GPO Hotel a huge revamp, and earlier this year it revealed that the venue's new guise would arrive this winter. Now, the revitalised GPO has an official launch date: Saturday, July 8.
There's no changing the iconic facade that surrounds the Fortitude Valley General Post Office building, of course, which has stood on Ann Street since back in 1887. But when GPO reopens its doors, it'll do so following a massive $9-million makeover behind its heritage-listed exterior. Brisbanites can expect new spaces aplenty inside — including a Gatsby-themed lounge bar, a second bar called The Tax Office and a sprawling ground-floor restaurant filled with natural light.
Clearly, it's a significant makeover for the 136-year-old site, which will sport a focus on food and drinks. Two venues within the precinct will open to celebrate the site's relaunch: the fittingly named The Gatsby and TAMA, a contemporary dining venue.
The first is a late-night, walk-in-only cocktail and whisky bar on the building's upper level. The mood here will be luxe and upscale, as the name makes plain, including velvet booths, leather accents and brass features as part of the design. It'll also feature the building's original, now-restored 1887-era vault, pride itself on its drinks, and soundtrack the sipping with DJs and a live saxophonist.
"Our impressive beverage selection spans 50 pages, drawing inspiration from across the globe. Our skilled sommeliers and mixologists are ready to help you find the perfect drink or craft a bespoke cocktail tailored to your personal tastes," says Alan Hunter, the sommelier and ex-General Manager at OTTO Brisbane, who is helping oversee the GPO's new guise.
"Choose from timeless classics like the old fashioned, manhattan, negroni or martini — or explore exclusive creations like the tantalising chilli-infused tequila and mango Gasper."
As for TAMA, the 100-seat restaurant is taking over the site's ground level, offering diners a radiant experience thanks to the high ceilings and double-storey windows in the two-storey atrium that doubles as the main dining room. There'll be stone and marble flooring, bursts of greenery, velvet-clad booths and soft furnishings, too, while making use of the original beams and custom chandeliers. And the vibe: thoroughly old-school.
Expect the wine to be a big drawcard, given that there's a cellar stocked with 1000 handpicked bottles of vino and champagne. In the kitchen, Executive Chef Richard Ousby will use his experience overseas and locally to shape the restaurant's menu.
"TAMA offers something for all occasions with an expansive ground floor restaurant and a mezzanine that can play host to private dining for 40 guests, and more intimate rooms for parties of six to eight," Ousby notes.
"From pastas served tableside to carefully selected seafood and steaks, including a two-kilogram angus tomahawk and cut-to-order wagyu scotch fillet, TAMA's menu will cater to anyone looking for a casual meal through to those wanting a seriously elevated experience," he continues.
"The majority of bottles won't break the bank, sitting between $50–200; however, we will have a variety of selections and vintages that are exclusive to the venue and sit within our private cellar. There's something to fit every budget, taste and occasion," says Hunter of the vino list.
Hunter comes to the new GPO with plenty of accolades, including being named the Pol Roger 2013 Sommelier of the Year, and helping lead OTTO Brisbane to nabbing the Wine List of the Year award in the Good Food Guide in 2019. As for Brisbane local Ousby, he's drawing upon his time in England at Michelin three-star restaurant Waterside Inn, in Sydney at Sous Chef at Quay, and as Executive Chef of Stokehouse's restaurants in Melbourne and Brisbane.
Down the track, GPO will also feature The Tax Office. When it starts welcoming in patrons, it'll do so around an island bar with lounge-style seating — and it's being put forward as a go-to for post-work drinks and midweek dinners.
Outside, the building's Victorian Italianate facade has been preserved, as have its balconies, stairwells and ceilings (with heritage paint tones a big feature after a colour study). And back inside, the design pairs modern finishings with OG touches — so exposed beams and brick, plus fireplaces. The end product is the result of a collaboration between The Royal Historical Society of Queensland, Brisbane City Council, heritage architects, Zero9 Builders (The Dorsett Hotel, The Star, and Edwards and Co) and Space Cubed Design Studio (Donna Chang, Iris Rooftop and Boom Boom Room).
Concrete Playground Trips
Book unique getaways and adventures dreamed up by our editors