NIK JURIN’S school holidays were spent at his baba’s house in South Fremantle, where he’d cycle past the rundown Davilak Hotel on South Terrace.
The free-wheeling Bicton youngster had no inkling that one day he’d buy the heritage-listed hotel, return it to its former glory and rebrand it the South Beach Hotel.
Shortly after opening it quickly became the go-to-boozer for gentrified locals and helped kickstart a vibrant South Beach cafe scene.
Mr Jurin, a welder with no background in hospitality, and his mate were set to purchase the Davilak when the global financial crisis hit.
“My partner pulled out, but I was committed and the rest is history,” Mr Jurin says.
It was deja vu three years ago when he bought Rosie O’Grady’s, opposite the town hall on William Street.
“And we went into another economic slump; I’m pretty good at it,” Mr Jurin laughs.
Stripping the pub of its faux Irish trappings, he reinstated its original name, The Federal, and did a sympathetic renovation of the 1887 watering hole.
“Heritage and history are in pubs, in a city like this,” he says.
Never one to shirk hard work, Mr Jurin helped restore a magnificent upstairs conference room with a stunning ornate ceiling.
The room was once a home office for WA premier John Forrest, after he bought the hotel in 1888.
“He used it when he couldn’t be bothered going to Perth,” Mr Jurin says.
An upstairs bar for private functions is named after the original owner James Herbert.
The balcony has views of the construction works across the road in Kings Square.
The works have slowed business, but Mr Jurin is a patient man and reckons a revamped Kings Square with offices, shops and cafes will take the pressure off the Cappuccino Strip.
“The Strip is a streak, but after the redevelopment of Kings Square, Fremantle will have a proper CBD.”
By JENNY D’ANGER