First drinks were flowing for the opening of Albany’s historic Premier Hotel on Wednesday after licensees Danae Witherow and Andrew Rodgers finally swung open the doors to the public.
The 130-year-old hotel underwent a $4 million redevelopment after it was gutted in an arson attack which landed five men in jail in 2016.
After taking on the “The Prem” in December, Ms Witherow and Mr Rodgers have been putting the finishing touches on the venue that includes two long bars, a dining area and a wraparound balcony with views of York Street.
“It’s very excited and it’s a little bit overwhelming,” Mr Rodgers said.
“It’s been a long process — it’s been a little bit hard with COVID-19 getting things but we are here and we’ve done it.
“It’s great to see the owners of the building here who have come down to support us.”
Ms Witherow said she felt a mix of emotions.
“I feel relieved now that we have opened the doors,” she said.
“It’s been such a big build-up but now its officially opened.”
Jon Oldfield, one of the building owners, was the first person to buy a beer on Wednesday morning.
“I bought the first beer and I spilt the first beer,” he said, after losing some of his beer on the floor.
Mr Oldfield joined the syndicate of business owners who bought “The Prem” in 2001.
“When it burnt down, I woke up that morning, turned on the radio at 6am and heard that the historic Premier Hotel had burnt down,” he said.
“The insurance money, because it only partially burnt down, wasn’t enough to bring it back to what it is today.
“So we borrowed more money and turned it into this and we’re pretty proud of it.”
Mr Rodgers said he wanted to pass on his condolences to the family of prominent Albany business owner Paul Lionetti, after his shock death on Tuesday.
“He will be missed. He was a great for us and he gave us great advice,” he said.