Preparing for big reveal

Subiaco Hotel ownerJudy Monaghan and her husband Michael inspect the renovation work.
Subiaco Hotel ownerJudy Monaghan and her husband Michael inspect the renovation work.

The historic pub is expected to reopen in May with a new downstairs cafe bar, stylish ‘stellar’ lounge, modern kitchen, cellar door and spectacular courtyard complete with glass ceiling and rooftop bar.

Owner Judy Monaghan said she and husband Michael launched the ‘many, many, many million dollar’ renovation last February.

‘We have noticed Subiaco’s decline in the last three or four years, but I think our time is coming now,’ she said.

‘Sometimes when you create something, then it becomes the honey pot and people cluster around it.

‘We have a hotel coming up down the street (at the Ace Cinemas site) and the Pavilion Market approval is poised to go ahead. It is just terrific. Subi is just ripe to get that energy back.’

When they first sat down with architects and designers two years ago, Mrs Monaghan said she was very conscious not to ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ and lose sight of the unique features that made the hotel so successful.

‘We looked around and thought: ‘It’s all tired around the edges’ and knew if it wasn’t revamped structurally then the whole building would have crumbled away,’ she said.

Mrs Monaghan said the immense project had not been without its nasty surprises and setbacks.

‘First of all, the floor of the front bar was rotted, so that put back the whole project by a month,’ she said.

‘Our kitchen closed down very early on, so we have been working out of a temporary miners kitchen in the carpark.

‘Then the geo-thermal driller found the courtyard foundations were unstable more than 16 metres down. Apparently, possibly at the turn of the century, there was a well where they would burn rubbish. We had to change our whole building style.’

Having owned the Subiaco Hotel since 1971, Mrs Monaghan said the new Subiaco Hotel would be her ‘swan song’ for the next Monaghan generation.

‘I genuinely feel that the skeleton of the place is strong and solid to hold up for another 100 years,’ she said.

‘Having a vision is risky, but you just have to have faith.’

Opinion page 8