The Alexandria Hotel, which has sat empty since Merivale snapped it up for $10 million in 2016, will join Sydney's post-lockdown party of hospitality launches, reopenings and reboots.
The opening of "The Alex" in early November is an unexpected but calculated move by the hospitality giant, which already has a long list of proven venues to reopen. Its enormous footprint and outdoor space makes the hotel well-placed to cope with the complex and shifting rules around diner numbers and floor space ratios.
"It's a new concept for us," says Merivale chief Justin Hemmes. "We're flipping a traditional pub on its head." The pub is currently stripped bare with no working kitchen inside.
Working with this derelict chic vibe, The Alex will instead pump food out of three kitchens in shipping containers in the huge beer garden.
One kitchen will headline a rotating menu of Merivale favourites – Dan Hong's cheeseburger spring rolls are on the list – while Backyard at The Alex will host a rotating line-up of the city's best food truck talent in the other two shipping containers.
First cabs off the rank will be Firepop, which sells yakitori-style skewers, and chicken schnitzel specialist Wholly Schnit.
The pub will be home to DJs, live music, dancing and sport screens. It'll also be dog-friendly.
"It has these wonderful rooms that can be used for meetings and events," Hemmes says. "You can even sit behind the old bar, if you want to."
The success of the outdoor area at Vic on the Park, which Merivale bought in 2017, provided inspiration for The Alex.
"It's a great space," Hemmes says. "It needs to be used."