A "perfect storm" of crisis and opportunity has propelled the owners of popular Newcastle East haunt The Falcon to open a second city noshery, The Ship Inn.
On the corner of Bolton and Hunter Streets, the 120-seat gastropub will open in August, a year after Reserve Wine Bar vacated it.
Co-owner Mike Galvin said he and his business partner, The Falcon's head chef Brendhan Bennison, had long desired to launch a pub but couldn't finance it.
"We wanted to do a smaller gastro pub-style experience and we stumbled across this. It was too much of an opportunity to ignore," said Mr Galvin, a former University of Newcastle student and one-time "glassie" at Fanny's.
The pair shut The Falcon for a month at the height of the pandemic and while it was stressful, Mr Galvin said the moment provided clarity.
"We were in a good position beforehand and were able to have really good dialogue with the owner of the building and we kind of went in to sleep mode," he said. "As terrible as it was, it was nice to have a bit of a break. If you look at it in a positive light, we could re-evaluate how to go to The Ship Inn. It was a perfect storm."
The Ship Inn opened on or near the future Great Northern Hotel site in Watt Street in 1823, then later moved to the Bolton Street site, which has also traded as a bank.
"I love the old stone and the history of the building, it has beautiful features and solid bones," said Mr Galvin, adding the fit-out will complement its origins.
The menu is still being refined but will be tight, thanks to the small kitchen. The bar will be an "extension" of The Falcon, offering everything from small craft beers and lagers to natural wines and classic cocktails.
Grateful for the community support in Newcastle, Mr Galvin knows it's a bold move to open as pandemic and economic pain continues, but he's optimistic.
"We'll give it a go. The Falcon has been great, trade has returned. It's stressful but the support we are getting is really positive," he said. "To get the Falcon where it is we spent years working our butts off and understanding the market. We know we can, we just need to put in."
He believes that Newcastle is "still on the up" with development as more people discover its beachside appeal.
"The mall is a great little space. There are times when things work and don't but we are lucky to be in a period where the city is starting to change," he said.
Amid an evolving dining scene, he believes residents are "seeing the creativity and saying 'We don't need to go to Sydney or Melbourne to experience heart and soul'."
"Newcastle has everything it needs to be the perfect city - it's up to us. Can we do it? I think we can," he said.
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