New owners of a circa 1870’s pub at Beechworth are quickly making an impression on locals and visitors alike with their contemporary menu and stylish renovations.
Renowned chef Shauna Stockwell, together with Andrew Madden and Scott Daintry share around 90 years of hospitality experience in some of the best restaurants and pubs in Australia, the US and UK and more recently in the North East.
When the historic pub came on the market, it appears the three friends couldn’t resist the opportunity to team up to transform the Empire Hotel.
“We’ve all been friends for years and saw an opportunity and grabbed it,” Shauna said.
“We thought – let’s do something contemporary in town – a different offering to the norm.”
After some significant cosmetic renovations, the hotel has been transformed – with a casual offering for lunch, bar food of an evening, an extensive cocktail menu and a 40 seated fine dining restaurant out the back, with plans for accommodation upstairs.
Shauna has gained a significant following as a chef since making the ‘tree-change’ to North East Victoria.
“I’ve been cooking for 30 years and had a lot of training in fine dining,” Shauna said.
“My foundations were in hatted restaurants in Sydney. I lived in Asia for a long time, grew up in Fiji, so I have a very extensive range of cuisines and styles to draw on, so that’s fun. We can bring things to the table that people may not have had before.”
If early indications are anything to go by, the Empire Hotel has clearly hit the mark.
“Response has been fabulous,” Shauna said.
“We thought it’s important to get the locals on board and we have a big following already, so we want that to continue.
“We wanted to create an environment where we could offer something for everyone – an extension of our living room, and how we entertain as friends.”
The collaboration between the three friends is part of a long term grand vision.
“Being here is a lifestyle choice for us,” Shauna said.
“Hopefully the business will have some longevity and become an integral part of the community.”
Part of that community engagement is supporting local music acts, with Sunday sessions in the afternoons.
“Part of the joy of having a pub for me has been able to have a music component to it, which you can’t have at an a la carte restaurant. I love it.”
For more on the Empire Hotel Beechworth: https://www.empirehotelbeechworth.com.au/