For years the old Lone Star building next to North Wollongong Hotel has sat empty, the shell of the old cowboy-hat sign a crumbling landmark along the northern entryway to Wollongong’s CBD.
But Woolworths’ hospitality arm, Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group – which owns the pub and Lone Star site – has recently lodged plans to transform the run-down barn into a James Squire Alehouse Bar.
To be called the Lone Squire, according to the signage – after the saloon-style American-themed restaurant which operated in the late-90s and closed down in the early 2000s – the venue would have a maximum capacity for 300 people.
Plans on display with Wollongong City Council show the Woolworths group plans to make minor alterations and refurbishments to the disused building.
These include painting and repairs, extension of the internal bars and construction of an indoor fireplace and chimney.
The dilapidated pylon sign will be kept and refurbished, the plans say.
The venue is proposed to operate from 10am to midnight Monday to Saturday, and would closed at 10pm on Sundays. A maximum of eight staff would work at the bar at one time.
If approved, the new alehouse will be the third licenced venue owned by Woolworths’ companies in the Flinders Street strip sometimes called as alcohol alley – which is also home to Dan Murphys and the Coles-owned First Choice Liquor discount warehouses.
There are a number of other James Squire-branded “brewhouses” and bars across Australia, including venues in Sydney, Newcastle, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.
According the the James Squire website, some of these have breweries on site – which the Wollongong venue will not have – and offer the full range of the brand’s beer.
The development application includes a heritage plan, as the North Wollongong Hotel is listed as a local heritage item.
It concludes that the works at the Lone Star site, built in about 1996, will not affect the heritage requirements of the pub.
In asking for the council’s permission to go ahead with the plans, AHL says the ale house should be approved as it will “strengthen the neighbourhood’s sense of identity and visual appearance”.
“The proposal will have a positive social impact in the locality by providing a food and drink premise for local residents and visitors,” the plans say.
“[It] is well suited to the demographic of the population of the area.”
The plans are open for public comment through Wollongong council until June 8.