She's the grand dame of St Kilda, having carved out 140 years of history and a place in the hearts of generations of Melbourne pub goers. After closing suddenly in May 2015, the Esplanade Hotel is set to reopen later this year after an impressive revamp at the hands of local hospitality group Sand Hill Road.
The new owners — whose portfolio includes Richmond's Terminus, CBD's Garden State Hotel and Prahran Hotel — purchased the St Kilda landmark last year and have announced plans to reopen the historic building in November, following what's set to be one of the most ambitious pub redevelopments the city's ever seen. Already, 12 months have been dedicated to research and community consultation, as the team sets out to restore The Espy to its former glory.
This next phase of life has the beachside institution showing off parts unseen for decades. Pub goers will be able to venture from the a basement band room and public bar up to the sprawling main bar, garden terrace with bay views and the renowned Gershwin Room. Three stages spread throughout the venue will carry on The Espy's live music legacy.
Upstairs, you'll also find a dedicated and upscale cocktail bar dubbed The Ghost of Alfred Felton. This intimate spot pays tribute to a famed ex-Espy resident, who back in his day, was benefactor both of the National Gallery of Victoria and a swag of local charities supporting victims of domestic violence.
The venue will also be home to two very different dining options. Downstairs, in the pub's old loading bay, will be a casual kitchen filled with rotisseries, pizza ovens and charcoal grills. On the upper level , there'll be a modern Cantonese bar and restaurant Mya Tiger, decked out with hanging roast ducks. If you're hungry after a gig you'll be able to grab a snack — a hot dog, perhaps — from a food cart outside the Gershwin Room.
As with the rest of the venue, The Espy's broad-ranging dining offering boasts something for every taste, headed up by Executive Chef Ash Hicks (Garden State Hotel). Expect a casual, fire-driven menu from the impressive open kitchen downstairs, while Mya Tiger dishes up fast-paced Cantonese classics, teamed with sweeping sunset views.