By Melissa Keogh
Adelaide Hills couple Julie and Ed Peter are behind the successful revamps of the Crafers and Uraidla hotels, both of which have helped transform the faces of the respective towns.
Both establishments now do a roaring trade on weekends and have helped introduce scores of food and wine lovers to the quiet and leafy area which once thrived on large-scale vegetable market gardening.
Last week, the couple’s renovation efforts paid off, with the Crafers Hotel crowned the Best Overall Hotel in South Australia at the 2018 Australian Hotel Association (AHA) SA Hotel Industry Awards for Excellence.
The dining hotspot also took awards for Best Superior Hotel Accommodation, Best Redeveloped Hotel, Best Apprentice Development and Training, and was a joint winner for Best Bistro (Metropolitan).
The Uraidla Hotel was also a joint winner for Best Bar Presentation and Experience (Metropolitan).
Julie and Ed, who also run wine various businesses including Kaesler in the Barossa Valley, purchased the Crafers Hotel in 2014 with shareholders Brett and Sarah Matthews and Jodi and Scott Brumby.
Over three years they transformed the historic yet rundown establishment into a French-inspired and stylish gastropub, offering local produce and a wine list featuring drops from as close as Balhannah and Kuitpo and as far as Burgundy, France.
The menu boasts a strong focus on local produce, from Smoky Bay oysters, SA mussels and locally caught squid.
“Nowadays, hotels are more food-based with higher quality offerings,” says Julie.
“I think now people are more discerning about what they’re eating and drinking.
“On our busiest day we put on close to 200 meals at Crafers.
“Sundays are our busiest, people love to have Sunday lunches.”
In 2016, 5km away in Uraidla, the Peters purchased the Uraidla Hotel, a pub seeping in history but left in a ghostly and abandoned state for many years.
The 151-year-old establishment was brought back to life, with the insides stripped bare and Julie collecting antique pieces to spruce up the interior, including vintage lamps that hang upside down from the high ceiling and beer kegs quirkily used as urinals.
The end result is a 1930s art deco style space, featuring a large front bar, upstairs function area and plush sofas by open fires.
With experience renovating houses in the Hills, France and Singapore, Julie says she is drawn to the character and history of old buildings.
“With the Uraidla Hotel, it had loads of character,” she says.
“The more derelict it was, the more I loved it.”
While both the Crafers and Uraidla hotels focus on delivering a high quality wining and dining experience, Julie says patrons can still feel at home.
“People use our hotels as an extension of their own living rooms,” she says.
“The concept at Crafers is that if you want to spend $10,000 on a bottle of wine you can.
“But you can also sit by the fire with a bag of chips. We just want people to feel comfortable.”
Uraidla’s main street can also attribute its revival to the efforts of community group Imagine Uraidla, as well as the addition of the eclectic restaurant Lost in a Forest.
Uraidla’s general store has also undergone a recent upgrade.
Julie says the food and wine boost has been welcomed by local residents.
“I know that it (the success of the hotel) has stopped some people from moving away from Uraidla,” she says.
“It’s also benefited local employment because between Uraidla and Crafers we employ 100 people and many of them are from the area.”
The Crafers Hotel will go on to compete at the National AHA Awards on the Gold Coast in September.
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