The Regatta Hotel is no stranger to the Brisbane River's occasional temper tantrums; anyone who's visited the iconic pub will no doubt have noticed markers from three other floods in Brisbane's recorded history. While last year's bank-breaker didn't even reach the lowest marker, it still managed to annihilate the two bottom levels of Toowong's favourite watering hole.
For near on 18 months, the hotel's bottom level has been boarded up, with the sounds of banging, sawing and power drilling coming from behind the wall while the top levels continued to operate. As much as I enjoyed breakfast on the veranda, it just hasn't been the same and I, along with many of The Regatta's Wednesday night patrons I'm sure, have been waiting patiently for the renovations to finish.
Eventually, the walls came down, only to be replaced by newspaper covered windows and doors, with cracks showing tantalising views of the warm, cosy looking new bar inside. I saw the furniture being carried in, heard cups and plates tinkling as they were unwrapped in the Street Cafe Kitchen and watched as some good looking tradies added the finishing touches to the exterior (I may have slowed down excessively every time I walked past to and from my ferry stop).
But finally, finally, the hotel's front bar is fully refurbished and open for business. Inside is warm and inviting, with earthy tones, wooden floors, exposed brickwork and soft lighting. It feels much classier than it used to be, apart from the wall of big screen televisions showing various sport channels of course. The Street Cafe is also back, along with, I hope, $2 taco nights, which is good news to my student budget.
The courtyard and restaurant are still closed but will be reopening mid-year. On a wall inside the hotel are images of what they will look like when finished and the plans look great.
So help say welcome back to the Regatta Hotel and head over for a drink.