'She's a pub that means a shit load of things to a shit load of people…everyone was always welcome as they are today…We hope you love her and can be happy that there's air in her lungs again, she's breathing and alive.'
This is an extract from a handwritten letter reproduced on the wall of the reinvigorated Terminus. It is a testament to the passion of the new owners to return the Terminus Hotel to its former glory. The letter was written to the old owners and pledges a promise and vision that is now living proof of this heartfelt gesture.
The green pea soup landmark pub was earmarked for demolition and redevelopment until the Sand Hill Road hospitality group co-owners, Matt and Andy Mullins, Tom Birch and Doug Maskiell, got wind of this eminent catastrophe. Having been loyal local patrons in their younger years, they said they couldn't live with themselves if the didn't bring it back to the people. The saved it, kept the heritage-protected façade and reinvented the pub to create an irresistible twenty first century venue for kicking back, relaxing and having fun with mates.
The Sand Hill Road hospitality group have established a reputation for reinvigorating sites by adding interesting and dynamic spaces, and keeping true to the ideals and spirit of local pubs. The Terminus Hotel is the sixth successful Melbourne pub for the boys. The others include the Bridge Hotel, Richmond Club Hotel, Holliava, Post Office Bar Pizza and the Prahran Hotel.
The Terminus is not in the thick of the high traffic restaurant precinct. It is just near the skipping girl vinegar sign and yet just a week after the opening, the place is literally packed to the rafters. The Terminus is a hive of activity by 7pm Friday and it looks like the love of the 'old lady' is still running hot with many a varied suitor.
Kevin was my enthusiastic host for the night. When showing me around, he was beaming with pride like a father showing off his first newborn. The Terminus has a capacity for 516 patrons. There are five bars, 120 seats available, an outdoor terrace and an upstairs lounge.
The designers were briefed that the make over needed to capture the spirit of the old venue. It looks like they have tried to capture the hearts and imagination of Melbourne's modern pub patrons but I noticed the clientele spanned many generations. It was important to the owners that The Terminus Hotel created a sense of community for the locals however I suspect that this will not be kept under local embrace. Its classy unique, style is sure to have broad appeal.
It'd be easy to find a spot that you love anywhere within the Terminus but If you start at the front of the venue walk toward the back up the stairs and back towards the Victoria St and down the stairs you will get to experience everything that the grand old lady has to offer. The diversity will no doubt encourage people to want to come back time and time again.
The new Terminus Hotel centres around the architecturally unique beer garden. Large trees have been planted which will grow quickly and create a rainforest canopy… it'd be perfect to get lost in this oasis. This beautiful space has a glass roof for all year round enjoyment.
When you enter the hotel you will find the public bar is similar to the original with an art deco touch. There's a small stage tucked away nearby where live music is played every night. On Wednesday's Bingo is played reminiscent of the owners' experiences some twenty years ago. It's a bit quirky with the hosts dressing flamboyantly and is all part of the institution that is known as the Terminus!
The upstairs mezzanine includes a terrace bar with three spectacular roped booths consistent with the jungle theme. The timber slated bar and ceiling demonstrate the designer's originality of thought and attention to detail. At the end of the walkway another equally striking but contrasting bar provides a variety of spaces for sitting, mingling and dancing. It has a nightclub feel where you can look down at the entertainment below until midnight and be entertained by the DJ upstairs in the wee hours.
My favorite spot would have to be the seating in the old bay window upstairs. These frame what's left of the small fronted Abbotsford houses across the road. But when you look towards the dance floor area you see a whole new perspective. You have to marvel at the modern yellow concertina style bar. Without spoiling the fun of discovering the intricacies of the Terminus, I'll just say remember to look up. I spent a long time toggling between wondering about and admiring the exotic wallpaper selection.
In the daytime the venue has a whole different feel. In fact, depending on where you wind up in the Terminus, you could get a completely different experience every time.
The menu features classic, fresh, accessible pub favorites including chicken parmas, steaks, salads and seafood. But don't be fooled, while you can get a simple burger and crispy hot chips served at the bar, the food is also created for discerning diners and those who admire the presentation of great tucker.
The Terminus has an impressive grazing list from $10. We chose the cauliflower croquettes. These were irresistible. If they had come out separately I would probably have chosen another round for the main meal.
Generous serve of crispy salmon
We both picked the crispy skinned salmon on Kevin's recommendation and I'm awfully glad we did. This was served with chili jam, eggplant relish, a fried egg, watercress and lots of fresh coriander (my favorite herb). The people next to us had half a chicken that was served like a piece of art! It was served with pearl cous cous, pumpkin and fresh herbs.
Luckily I was able to sample two of the delicious desserts. I had the cookies and chocolate ice cream sandwich, which was adorned with plenty of whipped cream and stewed rhubarb. Despite my gallant effort I could not finish it off. The vanilla bean panna cotta with citrus compote was also perfect.
Impossible to make but easy to eat
Look out for their mid week specials and on Sundays $20 cocktail jugs. They had me on cocktails!
Importantly, for those going for the ale, 'Australia's freshest unpasteurised beer' is delivered daily by tankers from the Carlton Brewery, just 400 metres away.
Death by delicious chocolate dessert
Sounds like these guys are the all round good Aussie blokes. They have also started their own charity initiative known as Karma Kegs. Every Friday at 5pm a keg of beer is tapped at every venue and patrons can pay whatever they feel is fair for a pot with all funds directed to one of Karma Keg's nominated charities. Sounds like a good excuse for another ale!
I have to make special mention of the impeccable service. When seated by Holly (Manager) we were welcomed by Graham who introduced himself by name and told us 'I'll be looking after you tonight'. Later he returned to tell us if we needed anything to just wave. He wore a broad smile and clearly enjoying the interaction with customers. When my drink was downed he asked if I would like another Bitters, lime and soda. I was impressed he remembered what I was drinking. Holly also checked in on how we were enjoying our meal and another waitress discreetly topped up our water. It sounds like a lot of interruptions but it made me feel like a valued member of the Terminus community.
So why would you drive to the city to find a unique watering hole. The 'grand old lady' of Abbotsford is back and you shouldn't miss it for quids. This iconic Melburnian pub is in a class of its own. The Terminus is bound to continue to make its mark and stand proud in Melbourne's history and the heart of pub goers.
You can't get much fresher
The love that sparked the rejuvenation of the old pub is clearly evident in the stunning final result.
The boys have counted on there being a lot of love for the old venue. So lift your glasses and a toast to the Sand Hill boys who so cleverly have created an imperative to share the love around.
The Terminus Hotel is open from midday until late daily and 3:00am every Friday and Saturday night. Lunch and dinner bookings and reservations of particular spaces can be made. Access for all comers is possible via an elevator. For further information or bookings for dining or private functions, contact email@example.com or click here.
In their spare time the team run a film production company, Sand Hill Road Pictures, which writes, directs and produces its own scripts including the acclaimed Kanyini and Minnie Loves Junior.
For more information on Sand Hill Road click here.
Great review, but I was just wondering. One of the pictures has a caption saying 'best dessert ever', but it looks more like the cauliflower croquettes you were describing in the article. Is it the croquettes or some kind of fritter dessert?
"Keeping true to the ideals and spirit of local pubs."
I've lived on Leslie St, (opposite the Terminus) for a few years now, and what was there was a local. Never a line, and rarely a security guard in sight. The minute I found out the Sandhill boys bought the venue I knew for sure two things would happen:
1. It would be revived, look spectacular inside, and become very popular, very quickly.
2. It would never be a true local again. Instead it would be hijacked by people travelling across town to visit, resulting in long lines and significant queuing time for a pub that I used to be able to wander into at leisure, enjoying a drink at my own pace, and not be told which way I walk around the pub, being instructed these are "up" stairs only, the other staircase are the "down" stairs.
Dropping in last week I was able to confirm that my first prediction was correct. This weekend confirmed my second.