From University High School to Naughtons the long way
Naughtons is such an institution in Parkville that there is no need to add “Hotel”.
History shows that Naughtons was established as the Port Phillip Agricultural Hotel and commenced trading in 1873 when Parkville was still rural in character.
At nearly 150 years of age, the white building at 43 Royal Parade has stood the test of time with a reputation well known in the area as a place of conviviality and hospitality, not unlike Ryan Moses, one of its co-owners.
Mr Moses, a University High Alumni, took a circular route from the school grounds via London to the corner of Morrah St.
He fell into hospitality due to a close family friend owning a winery on the Mornington Peninsula, where he started working as a teenager during school holidays.
“With a restaurant on site, I did the dishes and almost anything else,” he said. “It was the slippery slope from them to hospitality and the pub.”
“I started three degrees and didn’t finish any of them.”
He realised then that hospitality was the place life was dragging him to.
The Naughton family owned and ran the hotel from the early 1900s until 2000.
Mr Moses said the hotel’s heyday was the 1960s to 1970s when more than 500 Melbourne University students, staff and lecturers drank, smoked, and even conducted classes.
“This seems to be where the fondest memories come from,” he said.
He described his current customer base as “the three pillars”.
“Firstly, there are the locals, then the university’s staff, students and lecturers, and finally the hospital and research professionals from down the road; it is probably a third of each,” he said.
One of the most significant changes to hospitality occurred when he ran a pub in England, in the days when everyone smoked.
“The pub always had a thick cloud of smoke; overnight, the law changed, and smoking was banned,” he said.
He saw this as a massive change to how the industry worked, resulting in a significant shift towards food; customers’ tastes, preferences and knowledge have grown.
“Back 20 years ago, it was tough to sell pinot noir, and now it is our best-selling red wine variety.”
The customer is now educated, knowledgeable, engaged and interested.
The hotel has live music on a Sunday afternoon which changes the atmosphere.
He has small kids, and “my little guy will get up and just start dancing around”.
It is a family-friendly venue; on any given day, there would be 20 per cent of the tables with kids seated at them.
All the beers on tap are Victorian craft brews with Carlton Draught as the backup for the everyday no-fuss drinker.
His philosophy towards the customer is not one of being there to educate.
“It is more to help them find what they like within our offering,” he said. “People are here to have a good time, not to be lectured.”
“We have had the pub six years, another 16 left on the lease, and I hope to retire from here.” •