Hotel reborn

• Chef Scott Brannigan outside the Old Coogee Hotel. Photo by Molly Schmidt.

THE team behind the transformation of the Old Coogee Hotel have ruled out building apartments at the heritage-listed site.

Units were originally approved at the rear by the state government, but head chef Scott Brannigan says the project is all about the heritage of the building

“We are just adding to the landscape around it,” Mr Brannigan said.

Bread in Common restaurateur Nic Trimboli, property developer Adrian Fini and Mr Brannigan have taken over the keys to the hotel, and plan to transform it into a restaurant, bar and cooking school with a market garden outside.

Market garden

Over the years the site has been a hotel, pub, post office, orphanage for boys and market garden, and you can feel the stories packed into the building’s high-ceilinged rooms.

Cockburn mayor Logan Howlett says heritage buildings shouldn’t sit empty.

“Bringing the site alive with a restaurant and tavern similar to past times will provide a great meeting place,” he says.

“I am looking forward to booking a table when doors open – oh if only those walls could talk.”

Cockburn council has approved increasing the restaurant’s capacity from 180 to 215 patrons, and upping the number of car bays from 40 to 47.

Development is underway, and the grounds are alive with bobcats and workers, who have terraced the left side of the site to prepare for the market garden, which will be the main source of produce for the kitchen.

“We want our guests to be able to taste that their food has just been pulled from the garden bed,” says Mr Braddock.

Rather than buying saplings, they’ve opted to “rescue” trees that would have been cut down elsewhere.

“All the olive trees are from Gingin from a deleted olive growth there and that fig tree has come from Scarborough from an old demolition site,” says the chef.

The garden was well known for its beauty back in the day, with the “Honeymoon Hotel” popular with newly weds who would come to get their photo taken ther

Market gardens

Mr Braddock, who grew up in New Zealand, says his family had market gardens so this project is close to his heart.

“I want to make something the locals are proud of and keep coming to; there isn’t much around here for them,” he says, adding he’s sold his house north of the river to move to Hamilton Hill and fully immerse himself in the project.

by MOLLY SCHMIDT

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