Become part of the club at The Family Hotel
When COQUUN shut its doors in July this year, locals were justifiably devastated – the closure of such an innovative, community-driven restaurant was a massive loss for Maitland.
Thankfully, some excellent timing and a few licks of paint later, the team behind COQUUN are opening up a new venture – CULTURE CLUB Drink and Dine at The Family Hotel.
The venue has been in a soft launch phase since owners Daniel O’Leary, Leah Jaunalksnis, and Allissa Redman took over a month ago, but CULTURE CLUB Drink and Dine is being properly welcomed on Saturday September 9 with a huge launch party.
Local DJ Jakesy Hustle will be playing disco and boogie all night, drag queen Viktoria Bitter will dazzle as host, and there’ll be a guest performance on the Cage Stage, the venue’s intimate live music space.
It’ll be a fitting taste of what’s to come for CULTURE CLUB, which is already transforming The Family Hotel into an inclusive space for the community to gather and have a good time.
"Really broadly what we want to inspire is progressive culture in the broader sense," Daniel said.
"We’re taking the really important First Nation acknowledgements from COQUUN, still using ancestral and native foods through the menu, but now broadening the idea to music culture, dance floor culture, fashion, diversity. We’re trying to create a really inclusive space that feels accessible for everyone."
Prior to Daniel, Leah, and Allissa taking over, the pub was home to Rudy’s Diner, and it already went beyond ideas of what an Australian pub should be.
“I think John really took the place from a traditional Australian pub to something else. Rudy’s was a very themed concept. It already felt different, and lots of the people that were comfortable here haven’t stopped coming.
Daniel is very clear that diners shouldn’t come to CULTURE CLUB expecting the same food as COQUUN – this is a pub after all. But, the influence of native ingredients prevails over the CULTURE CLUB menu, which Daniel describes as “pub grub with a little twist.”
Stop by for a drink and a bite at the bar, with a selection of local snacks and deli items to choose from, like Binnorie Triple Brie with native compote and rustic wafers, Hot Bread with native thyme, honey, and butter, or a Salami Plate with hot Hungarian salami and guindillas.
Or, settle in for a heftier meal, with a selection of hot butties – a British word for sandwich – salads, and classic pub meals like rump steak or chicken schnitzel with fries.
Daniel’s also keen to try out guest chef pop-ups, so keep an eye out for news on that front.
The drinks offering is focused on the new guard of Hunter Valley winemakers, with drops from Vinden Wines and Mercer Wines currently featuring.
There’s 12 beer taps in total, six of which will always feature Good Folk Brewing’s range, and the other six rotating through the team’s latest picks.
Don’t miss the cocktail list either, featuring plenty of local spirits in classics like the negroni and dirty gin martini.
A big part of taking over The Family Hotel was revamping the upstairs accommodation, with Leah adding warm touches to make it into a cosy pub stay.
The refresh has extended to the bar, bistro, and verandah downstairs – Leah got stuck in and painted pretty much every surface, plastered walls with images of music icons (with a few cheeky pictures of staff thrown in for good measure), and changed up the furniture.
The changes lend CULTURE CLUB a warm, inviting atmosphere, which makes it a great spot not only for a beer and a feed, but for enjoying live music.
“The Cage Stage is all about original artists, and we’re going to host residencies, so new collaborators can come together and perform consistently for a time.”
“It’ll be really intimate, lounge room-y, informal and comfortable, and hopefully at times really energetic and sweaty.”
While we’re chatting about the venue, Leah drops a juicy tidbit – her infamous grab ‘n go coffee spot, The Bearded Cactus, is going to make a comeback at The Family Hotel.
Maitland locals might remember the coffee van that shook up coffee culture in the area and had a cult-like following during its 2-year stint from 2015 to 2017.
Leah plans to make use of The Family Hotel’s spacious verandah and start up takeaway coffee and bites, so people can simply drive around the back of the pub, grab their coffee, and go.
It’s just another thing to get excited about at this space that’s already making its mark on Maitland culture.