Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey

Mario's Brighton Beach Hotel

 4 The Esplanade, Brighton



Just north of the intersection of The Esplanade and Beach Road


None for me.  Mario's is included as one of Ron Bird's suggestions, but others have mentioned the famous Friday "Chunky Lamb Lunches". The hotel was probably the most distant from Control Data - as someone suggested, 20 minutes to drive there, but only 10 to return after the required number of one-litre carafes of house wine had been suitably accounted for!

The Esplanade, holiday makers and Royal Terminus Hotel, pictured circa 1900.  The caption on the original at Picture Victoria suggests the railway can been seen to the left, but the station is just out of picture (it is no more than 30 metres from the rear of the building).


Not exactly my neighbourhood, but I thought that the Brighton Beach Hotel had been there forever and it came as a real surprise that in fact it has only been known under either that name or its alter ego Mario's since 1974.

The exact date of the hotel opening is uncertain - the first mention in remaining licensing records has the Royal Terminus Hotel assigned to William Grimbly in 1862, but he was advertising for staff as early as June, 1861.  The hotel took its name from Melbourne's third suburban railway line, then terminating at Brighton Beach ("terminus" was outdated for nearly 90 years, the line was extended through Hampton and Sandringham in 1887).

Grimbly's name appears at several hotels around the district for many years.  He moved from the Royal Terminus  in 1869, his replacement John A. Foxhall, noted as being well-known for many years  at Melbourne's Cafe dè Paris restaurant. [1]

Like many close to the beach, it was built and promoted as a tourist hotel concentrating on accommodation and meals rather than bar trade and thus largely managed to avoid most of the usual charges of Sunday training and serving liquor after hours, but it did have a moment of fame in 1918 when a wild storm suddenly hit Port Phillip Bay and 40 bathers were forced to shelter in the hotel, unfortunately losing all their clothes as much of the beach and several bathing boxes were washed away!


The hotel retained this name until the early 1990s when it became Milano's Tavern, the name it trades under today as part of the ALH Group which has 300 licensed venues and over 460 retail liquor outlets across Australia. (End of advertisement). Although thoroughly modernised, the basic exterior structure appears pretty much as per the images below. The etching below is from the Illustrated Melbourne Post, 1862.

Some Feedback advises that “Mario” was Ferdi Vigano, one of a family of restaurateurs and artists and son of Mario Vigano of the famous nightspot Mario's in Exhibition Street and uncle of Mietta O'Donnell of Mietta's fame. Ferdi owned the hotel from 1968 to 1989 and later opened a nearby restaurant, imaginatively called Mario's, in nearby Hampton.  Some of the staff from the original Mario's subsequently worked at the restaurant..

Although thoroughly modernised, the basic exterior structure appears pretty much as per the images below. The etching below is from the Illustrated Melbourne Post, 1862.


WANTED.-W. H. Grlmbly provides LUNCH for 2s 6d, ROYAL TERMINUS HOTEL, on Beach, Brighton.

WANTED, everyone to know, railway is opened to ROYAL TERMINUS HOTEL, on Beach, Grlmbly, proprietor.

WANTED, 1,000 more than travelled on Christmas day to the Beach, Brighton, at the ROYAL TERMINUS HOTEL. W. H. Grlmbly. Lunch provided, 2s 6d

WANTED, friends to meet at the ROYAL TERMINUS HOTEL, close to the Railway Station.  W. H. Grimbly.

WANTED, everyone to enjoy the Beach and recruit health, by coming to the ROYAL TERMINUS HOTEL, Brighton.

William Grimbly could never be accused of not trying - these ads appeared one after the other in The Argus, 1 January, 1862

There is not, however, any mention of Chunky Lamb on the menu or whether it was included in the standard 2s6d charge!

The Royal Terminus, 1950s below


The Brighton line opened to the public on 13 December, 1859 and was constructed and operated by the St. Kilda and Brighton Railway Company.

The original plan was to extend the existing line to St. Kilda (now the 96 Light Rail) through cuttings along Grey Street and directly to Brighton, but a public outcry saw the route abandoned and a strange alternative.

Instead, passengers for Brighton travelled to St. Kilda station; from there, the line went via wooden trestles nearly a mile in length looping back across the lagoon in Albert Park to a raised embankment and bridge over St. Kilda Road (roughly around Union Street) and then to Windsor Station before transversing today's route to Brighton.

Not long time after the loop line was constructed, a competing connection was built between Windsor and South Yarra stations, the first train arriving at Windsor directly from Melbourne on 24 November 1860. The loop line to St Kilda soon fell into disuse, and track duplication, a condition of the original Crown lease, was never completed.