It wasn’t too long ago that Fitzroy North’s Terminus was still operating as a hotel, the sort of hotel where the long-term residents living upstairs wouldn’t think twice about shuffling into the bar in dressing gown and slippers for a few pots of Draught. What a difference a change of ownership can make…
In 2008, it was taken over by Russell Griggs, the man behind the Royston, in Richmond, which was one of the first Victorian pubs to embrace the Australian craft beer revolution. He set about overhauling the beer list, installing more taps and then undertaking a significant overhaul of the entire 160-year-old building. A new kitchen was built and the dining room significantly extended as the Terminus set out to become inner north Melbourne’s premier gastropub.
That proved to be merely the start, with the changes coming thick and fast. In 2012, the decision was taken to demolish the adjoining drive-thru bottleshop and create a new bar and beer garden. The renovations were completed in time for Good Beer Week 2013, with the new Craft Beer and Beer Garden announced in style as the venue became the festival’s first ever Hub, drawing huge crowds and ripping through so much beer the staff were ordering more beer within two days.
Visit the Terminus today and you’ll find 32 taps pouring 16 craft beers lining the U-shaped bar that now links the Public Bar and the Craft Bar. The Public Bar & Dining Room forms the gastropub side of the venue, which combines a cosy atmosphere with a great reputation for top notch food. Head left on the way in from Queens Parade and you’ll find yourself in the more contemporary Craft Bar & Beer Garden with a simpler menu of beer friendly food.
As of the middle of 2020, the pub had moved even further from the one taken over in 2008. New owners moved in at the start of the year: a team led by Craig Shearer who'd taken Beer DeLuxe from its original location in Fed Square to a five-venue operation across Melbourne, Sydney and regional cities Albury and Wagga before launching venues in Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
When the Termi was put on the market, he saw it as a chance to add a classic boozer close to home – he lives five minutes away – that could become his local in more ways than one. You can read more about that here, but essentially, pre- and during the COVID-19 lockdowns, the new owners set about rebuilding parts that needed rebuilding, such as the toilets and outdoor dining out the front, giving the look and feel an overhaul, and upgrading the beer garden, all while aiming to retain the essence of the pub's heritage.
Thus the various elements that helped it become one of Melbourne's best pubs for beer lovers (and sports watchers, diners, families...) remain in place – the highly rated food, a choice of old and new school beer bars, a welcoming beer garden, a reworked Corner Bar with leather stools and high bars, and well-priced, heavily rotated craft beer – albeit with an added layer of sheen, an outer coating of white rather than dark grey, and a few large murals inside and out.
With the reimagined dining room and new upstairs function room still to be unveiled at time of of writing, here's to the next 160 years of the Termi.