CONCERNED Kingston residents are rallying to try to save the iconic Mentone Hotel from closure and being converted into apartments.
The hotel’s management announced late last week that the pub and live music venue would close its doors after trading this Sunday.
The shock revelation prompted an outpouring of public angst against any move to shut down the pub, called The Edgy by locals due to its former Edgewater Hotel name.
Thousands took to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to express their opposition to any apartment building proposal, using the #savetheedgy hashtag.
Kingston councillor Tamsin Bearsley was one of many who reminisced about good times at the Mentone Hotel. She and her husband Andrew had their first date at The Edgy nearly 20 years ago.
“I’m surprised and really sad to hear that the Mentone Hotel is closing,” Cr Bearsley said.
“Everyone has a story to tell about it and it’s disrespectful to the staff to give such short notice about closing the business.”
Cr Bearsley said Kingston Council could not force the pub’s owners to keep the venue open since it is an independent commercial venture but she hoped “the community can be given time to do something”.
Council issued a statement on Monday about the sudden turn of events.
“The Mentone Hotel is privately owned. To date Kingston Council has not been notified of its reported sale and has not received any requests to consider a proposal to develop or change its current use,” the statement said.
“In the event a planning permit application is received, council will follow the standard process which would include public notification of the application and a process for public submissions.”
Liberal Planning Minister Matthew Guy visited The Edgy on Monday and said he would ask Heritage Victoria to consider a heritage listing for the hotel to try to protect it from development.
“Only the Coalition government has written to Heritage Victoria to save the Mentone Hotel,” Mr Guy said.
“And it’s only the Liberal Party that’s effectively campaigned to save this property which is an important landmark and much-loved hotel in this area.”
Labor candidate for Mordialloc Tim Richardson said “Labor supports the referral of the hotel to the heritage council, recognising its importance to our local community”.
“On Sunday the planning Minister said that the Mentone Hotel had nothing to do with the state government,” Mr Richardson said.
“Now he wants to save hotel. This is a desperate flip-flop to get over the election.”
Comedic musical entertainer and actor Eddie Perfect, Mentone raised and educated, took to Twitter to show his displeasure at the prospect of the iconic pub being turned into apartments.
The Offspring TV show star tweeted on Sunday: “You know what? Enough f**king apartments already. Don’t let developers destroy the local”.
Another former Mentone old boy, cricketer Shane Warne, who Perfect lampooned in his Shane Warne: The Musical theatre show, had yet to publicly comment on the Mentone Hotel situation as The News went to press despite some people asking Warne his thoughts on the matter.
The Espy’s fate also attracted the attention of Triple M radio host and comedian Mick Molloy.
“This drives me mad. We’re not a country buried under thousands of years of historical buildings like when when you go to Europe,” Molloy said on the Triple M Hot Breakfast show.
“So what we do have we should be trying to retain as some kind of character around the joint. This relentless march of anonymous apartments is just insane to me.”
More than 11,000 people have already joined a Save The Edgy page on Facebook.
Protesters against The Espy’s closure are organising a rally at the venue at 6.30pm this evening.
The protest on Wednesday 12 November will coincide with the final weekly Edgy Wednesdays party night which features live music.
Open Door Pub Co, owners of the Mentone Hotel who are selling the venue to the landlord, did not returns calls from The News seeking comment.
The company owns several other high-profile pubs including the Hawthorn Hotel, The Provincial in Brunswick and The Local in Port Melbourne.