GPO Hotel Is Reopening This Winter with a 'Gatsby'-Themed Cocktail Bar After a $9-Million Revamp
The 136-year-old Fortitude Valley favourite will also boast a ground-floor restaurant filled with natural light, plus a second bar called The Tax Office.
April 14, 2023
There's no changing the iconic facade that surrounds the Fortitude Valley General Post Office building, which has stood on Ann Street since back in 1887. But when the venue known as GPO Hotel reopens its doors this winter after a massive makeover, 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.
It was back in 2022 that Artesian Hospitality announced it was giving the locale a revamp behind its heritage-listed exterior, with more than $7 million set to flow into the renovations. Now, that figure has been upped to $9 million, all to help bring to life the GPO's new food- and drink-heavy guise.
Clearly, it's a significant makeover for the 136-year-old site, which is targeting an early June opening for two of its spaces. The first is fittingly called The Gatsby, and it's a late-night cocktail and whisky bar that'll sit on the building's upper level. The vibe 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 — and you'll be able to take private tours if that takes your fancy.
"It feels like you're being thrown back into the soirees of the 1920s golden age — it's an incredibly unique venue, which will have exemplary service to match," says Alan Hunter. The sommelier and ex-General Manager at OTTO Brisbane is helping oversee the GPO's new guise, including TAMA, its contemporary dining venue.
That restaurant will take over the site's ground level, offering diners a radiant experience thanks to the high ceilings and double-storey windows. There'll be stone and marble flooring, bursts of greenery and soft furnishings, too, while making use of the original beams and custom chandeliers. And in the kitchen: Executive Chef Richard Ousby, who'll 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.
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'll draw 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 restaurants's in Melbourne and Brisbane.
Both The Gatsby and TAMA are aiming for that June launch date, and will be joined by The Tax Office sometime afterwards. 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, that Victorian Italianate facade has been preserved, as have the building's 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).
"With a project of this magnitude, and a job requiring such impeccably high standards, we wanted to ensure every detail was carefully executed, from hand beaten copper detailing, one-off chandeliers to glass art installations," says Space Cubed Design Studio Director Arran Woollams.
"It was recognised from inception that no expense would be spared to ensure the precinct was designed and constructed in line with the rising expectations of the Brisbane hospitality scene."
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