With a history that stretches back to 1889 the hotel has been part of the fabric of Brisbane life for more than 130 years.
It has been a centre of innovation. It was one of the first hotels to offer beer garden style dining (in the last 1940s or early 50s), and the first to open a drivethrough bottle shop in the 1960s.
On the food front – the now famous Spanish Garden Steakhouse first opened in 1968 with a plan to serve Mexican food. The Mexican idea failed to gain traction, but a swap to a barbecue style menu was a hit, and people lined up for a steak, Idaho potato wrapped in foil, coleslaw, tomato and bread roll for the princely sum of $1.50.
"Recognisable, influential and revered”.
These three words are at the heart of the definition of the word “iconic”. When it comes to pubs in Queensland it is easy to see why iconic is often used in the same sentence as the famous breakfast creek hotel.
The hotel was listed on the Queensland Heritage Register in 1992 and is now owned and operated by Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group. The man charged with keeping the history alive and guiding the team through today’s challenging times is General Manager Lance Burrows who came to the Breakfast Creek Hotel after a year and a half at the Howard Smith Wharves and with more than 20 years’ hotel experience behind him.
Lance stepped into the role in July 2019, providing a brief chance to see the hotel operate under “normal” conditions, before COVID-19 came crashing in this year.
Six months into the COVID-19 journey, talking to QHA Review at the start of August, Lance said the fast moving changes around social distancing laws, table service and opening hours had driven innovation at the venue and brought to light hidden talent in the team.
“The main issue was looking after the team. Getting the correct message to staff around government support and then checking their welfare during the time we were closed,” Lance said
“It was a tough time for these people and some of our staff had been at the hotel for 35 years.
“We would welfare check throughout the shutdown period. It kept them informed and keen to return when we opened.”
GALLERY IMAGES OF BREAKFAST CREEK HOTEL
Understanding the rules around compliance upon re-opening and how best to communicate that to staff and patrons was one of hurdles to overcome initially, followed by executing on a new style of service delivery for the venue.
“Firstly, the understanding of compliance on re opening. All governing bodies were very supportive which made the education of compliance easy,” Lance said.
“However, transition to table service was by far the greatest achievement for the team. “It was like they had been doing it their entire life. “And we found some real gems who used to be stuck in other areas of the hotel who are now front and centre in our business. It was great to watch. I was very proud.”
Technology has also played its part, helping the team to move to table service, and streamlining the reservation system to maintain compliance.
“It is extremely important. It gives you the control you need during this time,” Lance said.
“We could not have gotten through without our reservations system.
“And the way they work if our services were not working ie: timing, length of stay, and parameters we could instantly change them to make sure our guests were getting the best experience in the changing environment.”
Lance said it is that experience and determination to keep visitors happy that has kept the customers coming back to the hotel year after year.
“Being consistent, great product and great people. When you come here you know what you are getting,” he said.
For the food lovers, the hotel focuses on fresh, local and premium where-ever possible. Lance said the fruit and vegetables were all locally sourced, and the Graziers Beef at the heart of the great steak meals was also locally supplied. “We have a great relationship with them, and they understand the quality we require."
And it is the steaks that lead the top sellers list on the menu for the venue. The Top 5 starts with the Graziers Beef Steaks (no. 1) followed by Smoked Wings, Whole Smoked Chicken, Oysters (post COVID-19) and the Traditional Parmy.
The steaks have a story of their own, sourced mainly from South East Queensland, they come in a range of styles. The Brekky Creek Platinum Premium brand comes from cattle raised on natural pastures then finished on 180 days of grain. The Wagyu beef is sourced from the Darling Downs from cattle nurtured in the traditional Japanese style to generate a marble score between 4 to 6.
Grass-fed steak is also available, sourced from Mandalong Station in Northern NSW and sold in three cuts, dry-aged Rib on the Bone, Rib Fillet and Rump steak.
Away from the food, the hotel has continued to hold on to the tradition of “beer off the wood”, a unique offering made possible only by the “rich tradition and a great partnership and respect for that product with our friends from Lion and the XXXX Brand”. It has also gone to strength to strength as a venue specialising in the sale of rum since opening the Substation No.41 Rum Bar in 2012. The shelves behind the bar are home to hundreds of bottles of rum sourced from all over the world.
“It is a real attraction for the hotel with over 600 Rums,” Lance said.
“We have just had our Substation 41 Rum win London Spirits Competition “Best Rum. It was a real milestone for the product and we are very proud.”
Asked if there was anything else Lance would like to share with other hoteliers out there as we work through these tough times, he replied: “Keep your heads up and focus on making people happy. Keep it really simple and don’t over think the delivery.”