Creswick is changing.
In what could be a sign of the times, a new wine bar has recently opened up on Albert Street, signalling a potential changing of the guard and announcing the emergence of a fresh, vibrant hospitality scene located deep in the heart of Victoria's golden country.
Odessa at Leaver's Hotel opened up business a fortnight ago, on the famous Albert Street - a street that's played home to the Leakes Hotel, a brothel, the town hall cafe and one that was involved with the famous 'Great Creswick Fire' of 1860.
In fact the property is the only building that survived the powerful fire that ripped through Albert Street burning down twenty buildings in the process.
Traditionally a working class community known for it's forestry and gold mining, Creswick is a regional Victorian town rich in history and a place in which business owner Chantel Leaver hopes her creation will become an integral part of the community.
"The emphasis isn't necessarily on the drinking but creating a public space."
"Once we discovered the history behind the walls, I wanted to expose the history to everyone and create not just a bar, but a communal space for everyone," Ms Leaver said.
"When you look through the old newspapers back when it was Leakes hotel, it was a space where there were public meetings and presentations, so we wanted to capture that again."
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The dynamic new wine bar offers patrons a wide range of affordable locally made fine wines, naturally brewed beers, spirits and cocktails - a far cry from the town's past hospitality selections but one proving a hit with the locals.
" It's been great ; even people who drink traditionally Carlton Draft are now drinking the Red Duck," Ms Leaver said.
" Wherever we can, we'll showcase local products, whiskies, gins, beers and wines."
But this remarkable environment isn't just afforded to the wine, beer and whisky enthusiasts, the Odessa even carries a non-drinkers menu including kombucha and carefully designed mocktails.
"It's certainly not the place where you have to come in and just drink," said Ms Leaver.
"We've had people come and not touch a drink all night, so it's certainly a community space as well."
While this quirky dining experience represents a changing of the guard, part of the Odessa's charm is the homage it pays to the towns past.
Restored stone walls, shingled roofs, cozy well kept fireplaces and a plethora of antique furniture helps create the impression you've travelled back in time to the 1920's.
Ms Leaver's passion is undeniably contagious with staff members proving a hit with the locals for their friendly service and charm - not to mention their 1920's styled uniforms which enhance the intimate dining experience.
Odessa's willingness to promote local art projects a fierce, authentic feeling of town pride, with local artists jamming out every Thursday and Friday, not to mention live music from prominent bands on Saturday nights.
But it's not just musicians.
The Odessa also supports local drawers and painters with the current exhibit showcasing local Jase de Vence's artwork which captivates patrons with their detail, expression and tone.
The cosy new bar, along with the recently renovated The American Creswick and the iconic Farmers Arms Hotel , presents a hospitality scene full of flare, diversity and optimism and one Ms Leaver hopes will positively impact Creswicks tourism scene.
"I do think Creswick is a town that's starting to evolve and becoming more than just a town people drive through. "
"All these locals business have been great to keep going and supporting each other and getting people to stop here, " said Ms Leaver.
"In Creswick nobody knew we've had all these talented artists, musicians, wineries and truffle farms all within 10 - 15 kilometers, so we're all bringing them out. "
With the announcement of renowned local chef Ben O' Brien taking over the kitchen in the upcoming month, the Odessa should prove to a hit to locals after a drink or bite to eat, for years to come.
The Odessa at Leaver's Hotel is opened from 4 pm to 1 am, Thursday to Sunday.
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