Throughout the COVID-19 lockdowns, many publicans were faced with a dramatic change to their business model: not just with the strict lockdowns for several months, but now following reopening with a changed attitude from customers who have reconsidered their own priorities. Licensee and owner of the Railway Hotel (Lidcombe) and the Panania Hotel, Mark Malloy, whose family have been operating hotels for decades, reconsidered how his business could flourish in a post-COVID world. Using the “hotel charter” of food, shelter and refreshment as his inspiration, Mark has spent many months of this year renewing and refreshing the Panania Hotel with a thoughtful outlook on what the suburb needs.
Historically, the hotel charter confirms the foremost purpose of a hotel is to provide travellers with food, refreshment, and shelter. Mark Malloy admits the focus for many hotel owners is, quite logically, on gaming and certainly provides the main component of his business at the Railway Hotel in Lidcombe.
“At the Panania Hotel, I had a rethink about what a pub was really designed to be in a suburban location. I wanted the hotel to be renovated and redesigned as a community leisure and recreation hub” said Mark.
“While gaming remains a business focus, a family looking for great quality food and a space for kids, or a couple looking for a quick meal after their work commute, or a group of mates coming in for a beer or two to watch the footy in the sports bar, can all find a space that suits their recreational needs”.
By using a private builder, David Booth, who has completed hotel building work for the Laundy Hotels, Malloy has ensured his hotel renovation is contemporary, good quality, but definitely not a “cookie-cutter” style of build that is common when using larger construction companies. Unique spaces, lounge areas to appeal to many different customer types and quality restaurant food all sit comfortably, but quite separately, within the building. Here, everyone can get away for a break.
High quality food is a priority for the hotel looking to provide something different for the locals. The menu features some pub standards but with a high-class twist. Chef Jamie Gannon’s signature dish, a MB9+ Tajima Waygu Rump, leads the choices for customers.
All the grilled dishes, including T-bone and rump steaks, salmon cutlets, charred pumpkin for the vegans and lamb or chicken shish are cooked over coals and double-split ironbark wood which adds an amazing flavour to the dishes.
Chef Jamie is soon to take delivery of a new charcoal-based rotisserie shipped from France so he can add free range gluten free Bannockburn chickens to his charcoal roast menu.
Currently under construction in the restaurant area of the hotel is a massive children’s play area. The existing children’s play area will be removed to allow for guests to choose tables in an alfresco space. Just at the entrance to the restaurant is a small bar and lounge area where customers can order cocktails before a meal or retire after a meal for coffee with friends.
Opening night in the restaurant was booked out signalling a suburb that is more than ready for this new restaurant.
The gaming room has been cleverly designed to be a self-contained space when the rest of the hotel is shut so service and trade in gaming can continue through to the 4am close. The bar and servery area can provide everything from a range of hot or cold food, great coffee and drinks service long after the main kitchen has closed.
Screening on the gaming floor has been used to create small private gaming spaces for players. Access from a small rear carpark provides safe and anonymous access for players. Except for the glass doors that have jackpot animations projected onto them that can be seen from the main lounge, most guests at the hotel wouldn’t even notice the gaming area was there, but for the regular gamers this provides privacy.
The gamers at this hotel just want to be left alone and Malloy has provided a space for them where they aren’t bothered by anything that is happening in the rest of the hotel.
There is something special about sitting in a great Sports Bar watching cricket in the suburb where Steve and Mark Waugh grew up, but the screens in this area of the Panania Hotel are very special. Filling two complete walls with split screens of varying sizes, several sports and race meetings at once can be watched by the punters seated anywhere in the room. A range of seating options from high tables, group tables and single tub chair seating have been provided to accommodate groups of friends gathering for a catch up and single punters just wanting to get out of the house for a while.
Ben Taylor from Net Tech designed and installed the screens in the Sports Bar as well as the gaming room link jackpot projections and link signage.
With a focus on spaces to suit a range of customers Mark Malloy has given his renovated Panania Hotel the ability to be the perfect business: all things to all people. Drawing inspiration from the hotel charter and honouring its heritage the Panania Hotel is perfectly suited to fulfil its role as a central entertainment hub for this up and coming suburb.