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Sydney’s Imperial Hotel Reopens Tonight, Shares Plans For Australia’s First Same-Sex Rooftop Chapel

Written by Tom Williams on December 15, 2015

The Imperial Hotel in the Sydney suburb of Erskinville is set to reopen at limited capacity tonight after a five-month closure, and it’s already planning big things for its next chapter, including a gay and lesbian rooftop chapel.

As News Corp Australia reports, The Imperial’s Communications Managers, Beau Kassas, says the venue’s planned introduction of “Australia’s first gay and lesbian chapel” highlights its strong links with the LGBTI community.

“We are not just thinking about the local community but also the gay and lesbian community who have had strong ties to the space for many, many years,” Mr Kassas says.

“We would love to see couples tie the knot and in the future it would be amazing to see same-sex marriage offered across Australia. The fact we could be championing it here is great.

“We have personified the venue and she is definitely female and she is a woman who has seen so much over the years and she will definitely be a venue that will be championing change by working together with the community.”

After reopening tonight, Tuesday, 15th December, The Imperial Hotel will operate at limited capacity until consultations with local residents are completed. Mr Kassas says new owners Scott Leach and Fraser Short plan to keep the culture of the venue alive.

“We are definitely going to be a local venue with a local pub feel. The first phase will be the ‘Small Bar Edition’, which is what people will be able to see as of tonight, and will have a stronger focus on cocktails,” he says.

“The front bar will be open and so will the cabaret room which we have changed to the Sweet Escape. We will again be working with notable people like Paul Mac and Jonny Seymour who have a lot of history at the venue.

“We have taken the steps not to open the basement bar yet in order to work out what will be suitable in that space.”

Mr Kassas says The Imperial has its work cut out for it in regaining the trust of the local community — trust which was lost when the venue was closed over drug offences in June this year, before closing for a second time and eventually closing indefinitely in late July.

In August it was announced that The Imperial had been sold to new owners Mr Short and Mr Leach, who have taken over from former long-term licensee Shadd Danesi.

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