The Avalon was first established in 1990 by Gayle Pollard and Glenn Puster in the old Mullany & Co. Universal Provider Building, which later became David Jones Manufacturing, in Main Street Katoomba. An unassuming single doorway entrance led into a long maze-like passageway where patrons trekked up 3 flights of stairs to the restaurant, which was set in a large warehouse space at the back of the building.
In the early days, the Avalon staged events such as plays, poetry, opera, jazz & blues nights, dances & art exhibitions. The smoking room was a fondly remembered nook which added to the bohemian atmosphere.
In 1999, a pyromaniac set fire to the building, which was subsequently demolished.
The Avalon re-established itself the next year in the upstairs dress-circle of the once famous Savoy Picture Theatre, just around the corner from the original site. The projection room became the kitchen and the old refreshment lounge became the Avalon Cocktail Bar. A large window was installed at the back of the space which opened up to views of Leura and the Jamieson Valley.
The restaurant design took inspiration from old ocean liners of the 40’s & 50’s, while in keeping with the Art Deco style of the historic Picture Theatre and Lounge.
In 2016, Dylan Brookes and David Cartwright took over ownership of the Avalon, continuing to build upon the unique dining experience, while adding their own stamp to this Blue Mountains institution.
About The Savoy
The site of the Savoy Theatre was originally occupied in the 1920s by the Kings Theatre, a live venue. It later became a dancing and roller skating venue, known as Palais de Dance.
The building was later demolished to make way for the new Art Deco style Savoy Theatre, designed by Crick and Furse, who also designed the Empire (Embassy) just down the street. The Savoy opened in 1936 and had a capacity to accomodate an audience of 992 people.
A gala opening was held on December 18 1936 with 'Swing Time' starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and later that month the Savoy showed 'Sing Baby Sing' starring Alice Faye and Adolphe Menjou. In May 1954 the Savoy Theatre was still operating and screening 'The Gentle Gunman' starring John Mills and Dirk Bogarde and 'Blue Grass of Kentucky' starring Bill Williams.
Moving with the times, The Savoy staged Rock and Roll and Stomp shows in the 1960s.
The building has played a significant role in the social and cultural life of Katoomba for ninety years. In successive roles as cinema, dance-hall, casino, theatre, cinema again and restaurant, the complex with its attendant shops and cafes, has been a focal point in the town.
The Savoy is an example of Interwar Functionalist design, and the prominent location makes the Savoy a local landmark.