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Have a drink with Duncan

30 Mar 2017

Have a drink with Duncan Image

The Woolshed re-opens later this month and the fire-affected venue wants locals to come and have a drink on them.

While the official opening is April 21, locals day is Sunday, April 23, starting from 4pm and long-term manager Duncan Laidlaw is looking forward to thanking the community for its support since fire ripped through the Central Pier venue in November.

“We just want to say thanks to the community,” Mr Laidlaw said. “The support has been fantastic, so the beer’s on us.”

“Locals” will be able to be identify themselves by presenting a commemorative coaster that will be earlier direct-mailed to Docklands addresses.

On the day, guests will see that the venue has been restored to its pre-fire condition, but that management has taken the opportunity to modernise, refine and upgrade facilities where appropriate.

And it’s not just the building that is being upgraded. The hospitality offering itself is being taken upmarket too. The word “pub” has been dropped from its name to better reflect the venue’s positioning in the market.

“Our strengths have always been restaurant, bar and events, so the adjustment to the name is probably overdue,” Mr Laidlaw said.

Another strength being highlighted is the venue’s heritage values. Modern LEDs “shine a light” on many previously unnoticed links to Docklands’ maritime past.

And while the building’s heritage listing has presented particular challenges, it also offers a strong point of difference with other nearby venues. Heritage imagery is tastefully featured throughout and there is a lot more natural light now.

Mr Laidlaw and sales and events manager Lee Cleal have both worked almost every day since the fire and proudly showed Docklands News through the re-vamped premises.

A new mezzanine level has been added to the large function space at the rear, and the kitchen has been opened up and modernised.

There is a new staircase, some structural changes in other areas and the restaurant has been more formally extended into the “verandah” area at the front.

Mr Cleal said he was looking forward to hosting more “meet and greet” dinners for locals as the venue got back on its feet. A “Pig and Pinot” event is likely to be the first cab off the rank.

The Woolshed sees itself as the natural meeting place between the various sides of Docklands and its proximity to Etihad Stadium and popularity with visitors confirms this role.

Mr Cleal said the corporate community had been quick to pledge its ongoing support with bookings already received for End of Financial Year and Christmas events.

And, he said, it had retained most Melbourne-based staff since the fire, who were keen to get back to work.

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