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Business - November 2019

30 Oct 2019

Business - November 2019 Image

Golden Fleece enters a golden age

By Jack Hayes

It was an eleventh-hour bid that landed, now co-owners Sam Austen and James Robbins, the keys to a South Melbourne icon – the historic Golden Fleece Hotel. 

Mr Austen was sick at home on the Mornington Peninsula when he was told “The Fleece”, one of the longest standing buildings on Montague St, was being listed for sale. 

The Fleece has been pouring drinks and serving food for locals and travellers for almost 150 years. Now Mr Austen and his team are looking to bring The Fleece back to its former glory. 

“For me, it was too good of an opportunity to miss. I’ve run a country pub. I’ve also run a coastal pub, so now it’s time to have a crack up here,” Mr Austen said.

“It is a pub that I, and many other people have known for a long time. I used to have a drink here 20 years ago. Back then, it was pretty rough – a real drinkers’ pub.”

Since assuming control of the pub in mid-June, Mr Austen had a clear direction in which he wanted to take – bringing industry-leading food and service while paying homage to a century-and-a-half of Montague hospitality. 

The Golden Fleece has partnered up with Clamms Seafood and Flinders+Co for market-fresh seafood, with Cape Grim and Bass Strait Beef. 

“We aren’t trying to be a five-star restaurant; we just want to exceed people’s expectations,” he said. 

“We can see a great opportunity to re-engage the locals. That is what it [The Golden Fleece] has lost. We have great support from all the commercial businesses around Montague, but hadn’t been seen as a great dinner destination.”

“We want to be renowned for great food and service, we want to know people’s names, and ultimately drive a lot of repeat business through that.”

If you step into The Fleece today, you won’t find an aging watering hole that was, less than a decade ago, on the brink of closure. 

You will find walls adorned with floor-to-ceiling wine racks, a second-storey beer garden upstairs, a revamped bar and bistro, and even an entire room dedicated to eight refurbished pinball machines. 

“Sadly, we can’t claim credit for the renovation; that was carried out by the previous owners, who did an incredible job,” he said. 

“If it weren’t for them, I feel this pub wouldn’t still be here today.”

For more details and reservations, visit goldenfleecehotel.net.au

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