Many people wouldn't realise that the Gertrude Hotel is a a family owned pub. Can you tell us about how that came about?
It was basically one of those situations when we were all at crossroads in our lives, we all had different skills to offer. Leo had just project managed the build of a pub in Queensland, his Dad Michael is an architect and I had been freelancing digital branding & had bookkeeping experience. Leo has project managed all of the renovations, Michael documented everything and obtained all of the permits for everything. Leo now has a second business, so I run the operations at Gertrude and his parents come in on a Sunday when we are closed and tend to the garden and other odd jobs. We vote Napier street between Gertrude and Victoria as the best swept in Fitzroy!
Gertrude Street has changed significantly in recent times, from dangerous wild west to hipster. What have you noticed especially?
When we first moved in 8 years ago, there were a lot of down and out people in the area. Some had drug and alcohol issues.
We removed the bottleshop from the pub that had previously opened mid morning to discourage the drinking in the street across the road. We only reinstated off-licence purchases a few years ago and when we saw a demand for quality take-away. We now have craft cans, growlers and great plonk available for home. Although the street has changed a lot I feel like Gertrude Street has an eclectic magnetism that has always existed and continues to draw really interesting characters to the street that are passionate but also authentic, whatever their trade may be.
In the last few years you've become one of the best craft beer destinations in Melbourne. Is this a personal passion?
Well neither of us have untappd accounts so I’m not sure we could say that we were obsessed. But in saying that, I’ve been blown away by the quality of brews from our local producers of recent times. I would also have to say that the craft beer community in Melbourne is such a lovely bunch of people, in particular the Good Beer Week Crew, they have been a great support to us as a venue and it is hard not to be inspired by their enthusiasm.
Earlier this year, you built a rooftop bar. What other changes do you see in the future?
We’re going to take a year off the renovations and enjoy the sun on the rooftop! So no major changes.
In March we took a crew of locals on an overnight brewery tour of the high country during hop harvest, we have another day trip planned for Mornington on October 31st. Our beer tasting sessions with Miro will also continue next year.
Chris and Karl are experts in their field. Chris has been a lifestyle journalist and New Media lecturer for the past 15 years, while Karl is a technologist focused on web and internet technologies. Both their skills have combined to create one of Australia's most popular hospitality websites.
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