Our Story 1889 to Today
Fondly known as Brisbane’s worst vegetarian restaurant, the Norman Hotel is an iconic Australian Steakhouse and Garden Bar is a ‘must visit’ destination whether you’re a local or simply visiting our beautiful city.
The story of the Norman Hotel started in 1885 when Mr Robert Heaslop purchased two lots of land in Woolloongabba from Mrs Elizabeth Qualtrough, after whom Qualtrough Street is named.
Mr Heaslop’s vision was to build a grand hotel on his land for a not insubstantial amount of £3,500. Mr Heaslop decided to name the hotel after Sir Henry Norman, the newly appointed Governor of Queensland. Norman, who relocated to Queensland from Jamaica, was a well-respected and likable Governor as demonstrated by the number of Brisbane localities named after him.
From 1896, Heaslop leased the hotel before selling it to brewing company, Perkins & Co, in 1900. Perkins & Co, which acquired a number of Brisbane pubs in the same year, was known for its series of beers featuring the letter X. They produced the Perkins XXX Bitter Ale, the iconic XXXX Bitter Ale (introduced in 1924) and even a XXXXXX beer. (The number of Xs referred to the alcoholic strength of the beer.)
With the exception of minor renovations and the construction of air raid shelters, the Norman Hotel remained relatively unchanged until the late 1980s. In 1987, the Cavill family of hoteliers purchased the Norman Hotel and some adjoining land, on which they built a beer garden and outdoor dining area. The air raid shelters and stables were also removed from the rear of the property and, in 1988, the now-famous steakhouse opened.
With their experience in operating successful pubs and steak restaurants, the Cavills quickly transformed the Norman Hotel into one of Brisbane’s most iconic, destination pubs.
As its popularity and reputation grew, the Norman Hotel became known as Brisbane’s Worst Vegetarian Restaurant – a tag that endures today.
In 2009, a fire broke out at the Norman Hotel during the popular Friday lunchtime service. While there were no injuries to staff or patrons nor damage to the historic public bar, the pub was forced to close for a month for restoration.
When it reopened, everything patrons had come to know and love about the hotel was back – great steaks and great atmosphere – with a new addition to enhance the Norman experience, Norman’s Bar.
Today the hotel is owned by the Power family. The Power family is steeped in Queensland hospitality industry history going back to the 1930s and today the third generation of the family operates the Norman Hotel and is proud to continue the great traditions of this iconic Queensland venue.