Convenience will be king in 2021, with more and more Sydneysider’s staying local and supporting neighbourhood businesses – and it’s this that former Wallaby prop and Inner West publican Bill Young is counting on with the launch of the new Illinois Hotel in Five Dock this month,


Young spent close to $15 million in acquiring the Illinois Hotel in Five Dock in January 2020, adding it to his stable of other Inner West watering holes that include the Five Dock Hotel, The Palace Hotel, Hotel Concord and the Friend in Hand, as well as the Wisemans Ferry Inn Hotel.


When the doors swing open on the new Illinois a major renovation will be revealed, with Young investing close to $10 million to completely transform the former Gentlemen’s Club.


Thomas Jacobsen who has designed hospitality institutions such as the Beresford and North Bondi Italian has been charged with the design and fit out, bringing a luxe Beverly Hills, Palm Springs vibe to the venue with pastel colours and bespoke finishes in brass and marble, breathing new life into the once tired venue.


The new logo for the venue is a pink Flamingo which is both a nod to the 70s Las Vegas Flamingo Hilton, and to an infamous Durban Hotel experience that Bill Young had back in 2000 when he was a young Wallaby on a Tri-Nations tour of South Africa.


The Flamingo has been embraced by Jacobsen in the fit-out with handmade brass Flamingos inlaid into the flooring, neon Flamingo signage on street level, a flamingo in the entry and other custom made elements that give the venue a level of finesse and luxury not usually associated with suburban pubs.


Having worked with Bill Young on various projects across 11 years, Thomas Jacobsen was underwhelmed when he first stepped into the old Illinois – laughing that he had to wear rubber gloves back in those early days.


With a year-long transformation, and extensive work undertaken at the venue, he now says, “I am extremely excited for the Illinois to open this month.  It’s beautiful.  It’s a gorgeous, modern interpretation of 1950s and 60s Mid Century design married with Beverly Hills glamour, and the finishes used are not something that you would expect to find in an urban pub setting.  I think it will take people walking into the venue to really appreciate the full extent of what we have done, and the level of detail. I can’t wait to share it with the world.”


A 17 metre curved green leather lounge designed and custom made by Thomas Jacobsen will take up residence in the public bar within weeks, along with a specially made 12 metre curved bar topped with Carrara marble, beautiful curved waxed stucco walls, custom lighting also designed by Jacobsen and pink detail tiled bathrooms with illuminated podiums for handbags all add to the high-end feel as the Illinois enters a new era.


The Illinois’ new accommodation on the upper level has a cheeky boudoir vibe, a light tongue-in-cheek reference to the venues past life.  Jacobsen adds, “The upstairs has gorgeous blood red carpet and darker walls.  It’s quite moody, think along the lines of Twin Peak’s Blue Pine Lodge.”


The Illinois have partnered with Ben Kagan and Andrew ‘Archie’ Saliba’s Canvas Events to bring their infamous Nashville fried chicken joint, Fat Belly Jacks, to the Hotel Illinois from Wednesday March 3. Expect some of the best burgers and fried chicken that Sydney has ever seen.


Using recipes developed over years of research, Fat Belly Jacks boasts the most authentic Nashville fried chicken outside of Nashville. With heat level ranging from mild to ‘really f#cking hot’, there is something for everyone.


If chicken isn’t your vibe, the team has a range of epic smashed beef burgers and weekly specials which are sure to get mouths watering.



What:            The Illinois Hotel

Where:          15 Parramatta Road, Five Dock

When:           The Illinois opens from tomorrow, February 24, 2021

Fat Belly Jacks from Wednesday March 3, 2021

Hours:             Hotel: 7 days

11.00am – 3.00am

Food: Wednesday – Sunday

Lunch: 12.00pm – 3.00pm and Dinner: 5.00pm – 9.00pm

Open till 10.00pm Friday and Saturday

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