While the question of “when are you opening?” has become a daily one for renowned artists Yuge and David Bromley since purchasing the Peter Lalor Hotel in February, the pair are in no rush to pull their first beer.
The grand old building on the corner of Mair and Doveton streets which sat empty since the beginning of 2015 has been gathering plenty of curious onlookers over the past six months, particularly since the external facade was removed to reveal the buildings original brickwork and first name, The Royal Highlander.
While it was the education options which attracted the couple to Ballarat, Ms Bromley said it took no time for the pair to fall in love with the city and one of its most imposing venues.
“We walked into the pub and it just looked like someone had closed up after a big party,” Ms Bromley said. “As we stood outside I thought I don’t know if this is right for us but the moment I stood inside I thought this place is incredible.”
Since taking the keys the couple have been busy putting their twist on the former karaoke favourite, filling both storeys with colour and eclectic objects.
The upstairs accommodation area which once boasted 17 bedrooms has been transformed into a series of small apartments, equipped with personalised libraries.
Just a few large tables sit in the bar on the ground floor, a far cry from the rows which formally made up the dining room.
The stables also feature couches and lounge chairs alongside ornaments ranging from a Buddha statue to sculptures of samurais and fighting tigers.
The pair, who are new to the hospitality industry, said while they were not yet certain how the business would operate, they were looking to work with others “who love the pub as much as (they) do”.
“Most people think of the business and then set the other parts up accordingly, whereas we first and foremost get to know the building,” Mr Bromley said.
“We’re doing it in reverse in that we’re getting to understand it and getting to feel the town out.”
While the pair are yet to work out just what sort of business the venue will house, functions and accommodation are both likely to feature.
The now aptly-titled Pub with Two Names could open its doors by late spring, however summer looks more likely.