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The Clare’s clientele fear pricing out

One of Sydney’s most historic and grungiest pubs served its final beer last Friday night before it is redeveloped.

The Clare Hotel, situated on the corner of Kensington St and Broadway, has closed as part of a $20 million facelift.

The transformation will see the former Carlton and United Brewery’s Administration Building transformed into a boutique hotel.

Gai Ritchie, The Clare’s licensee since 1982, said on Friday night that the pub’s grungy character was its main drawcard.

“When the brewery closed down, my son brought all of these couches and lounges in. I couldn’t believe that he could do it but he did,” she said.

“My son had great fun going to the auctions and the op shops. It was in the era when everyone was using stainless steel – this was grungy.

“I once suggested that we bring new carpet in, but [the feedback] was that we like sticking to the carpet.”

Once refurbished, The Clare will join the ranks of Unlisted Collection’s list of hotel properties and restaurants – spanning London, Shanghai and Singapore.

The changes have been met with concern among the pub’s regulars, many of them UTS students who claim it will lose its laid-back charm and cheap drink prices.

“I don’t know if it’s [the changes] are necessarily a good thing,” said 24-year-old pub patron Jack Profilio on Friday night. “It’s kind of the same thing that has happened to The Lansdowne.”

Built in 1940, the pub reached iconic status among brewery workers from Tooth’s Kent Brewery next door (later Carlton and United Breweries), and with UTS students, as a place to unwind after work or class.

Fans of the pub will miss its trademark couches and stools.

“It’s always a novelty to sit on a keg,” said Mr Profilio. “It’s not the nicest outdoor area but it’s close to work, the beer’s cold and the bartenders are lovely.”

23-year-old patron Penelope Jurd said The Clare had a unique atmosphere.

“I kind of enjoyed that dingy vibe – that ‘dive bar’ kind of bar. Now everything seems a little upmarket saloon-ish. If it is modernised, different people will come and if it gets fancier, then it will attract fancier people and I won’t like it as much,” she said.

“I really like the kind of people that come to The Clare. Lots of times, I’ve played pool here and met cool, like-minded people.”

Ms Ritchie admits that the closure of the pub came as no surprise, especially with the closure of the brewery in 2005.

“We knew it was coming because we have been open too many years to count. It is a bit sad,” she said.

In 2014, The Clare will re-open as a part of a boutique residential building. Unlisted Collection plan to build an extra floor on top of the hotel and a roof-top pool bar.