By Melissa Walsh Photos Gary Sissons
It’s been a long five years since the Pier Hotel closed its doors upstairs, with the grand old building going to wrack and ruin while the rest of the township grew around it.
Like Satis House in Charles Dicken’s famous novel Great Expectations, the upstairs area fell into disrepair, only to be rescued by ALH Venue Promoter, Andrew Parisi six months ago.
Peninsula Essence goes behind the scenes to get the details on the revamp of this Frankston icon.
It’s been known as a bowling alley, the 21st Century Nightclub and later as Pier Live. It has views that stretch right across the bay and has seen its share of famous entertainers cross its stage. It shot to fame for its revolving dance floor and hosted some of the biggest bands of the ’70s and ’80s, and this year it sees another reincarnation with the emergence of the Pier Bandroom.
Andrew Parisi is the man behind the idea, after very successfully reinvigorating the old Croxton Park Hotel several years ago.
“The Croxton Bandroom is owned by the ALH group and it has been a successful venture, so they suggested I look at another room for them to reinvigorate, and I thought this was the perfect choice. It’s been sitting dormant for the last five years; it’s a beautiful area with amazing views and such a wasted space. So we had the idea to bring touring bands here after they have done their metro shows,” said Mr Parisi. “It’s convenient and the infrastructure here is fabulous. When we took over it was in a pretty dire state; we had to repair the roof as there were water leaks, we put in new air-conditioning, and installed a $600,000 concert system. We decluttered it, and cleaned it all up.”
Mr Parisi knew it had been a super club in the ’80s and had even visited one night to see The Models play, and was delighted to be able to bring the iconic venue back to life.
“We have relaunched it as the Pier Bandroom, and still have the famous revolving dance floor but now it is made into a vinyl record to go with the rock venue theme,” he said of the venue that will host national and international bands. “It was such a state of the art discotheque with the rotating dance floor and I was told the dome would open so you could look at the night sky. We have, more or less, brought it back to there but are catering to a rock and roll market.”
Mr Parisi and the team didn’t change the infrastructure so the basic shape and design has been retained. “We haven’t played with the infrastructure but given it a cosmetic lift and fixed the walls, the plumbing and put in an amazing sound system. I knew what needed to be done, and we have ensured that it has the best state of the art equipment so that it’s a good experience for the acts and the patrons are treated with respect.”
For Mr Parisi, it was important that the venue provided the type of quality atmosphere and class A acts that the city venues enjoy.
“Just because it’s in Frankston doesn’t mean the patrons shouldn’t have the best acts and quality venue,” he said. “So really the philosophy for us is to provide a really good experience for everybody, for the punters and the acts.”
The Pier Bandroom launch on March 18 was an overwhelming success with a street party outside the venue in Davey St with acts including the Birds of Tokyo and Pierce Brothers. A show featuring Cog the same night was sold out and another with Aussie rockers The Living End on April 1, a raging success.