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The entrepreneur changing Sydney’s pub scene

Paul Schulte has come a long way since pouring beers at Cargo Bar. Since joining the Keystone Group as a bartender in 2001, he has worked his way up the corporate ladder and now looks after 12  watering holes across Sydney. 

After masterminding the launch of the Gazebo Wine Garden in Elizabeth Bay, the hotelier turned his attention to Surry Hills and played an integral role in turning The Winery into one of the city’s drinking hotspots. This year he is focusing on three new ventures, which will no doubt cement his status as one of the major players in Sydney’s thriving entertainment scene.

We spoke with Schulte about his new pubs and next move.

How did you come into the hospitality business?

I was in finance initially, but had a passion for hospitality and saw the scene in Sydney was lacking something, so I got a job at Cargo as bartender in 2000 and it just went from there!

What kind of growth is the Keystone Group enjoying?

On average we’re opening one venue per year, but last year we opened three, so it’s growing very rapidly at the moment. There’s also a very exciting new development that will be revealed later this year.

What’s the most challenging thing about your industry? How are you working to overcome this?

Probably the price war that goes on between the venues and people copying each other’s ideas and concepts. To overcome this you have to make sure you know what the next big thing is and jump on it before anyone else does.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career so far?

Trust your gut instinct. It’s that simple.

Tell us more about your new venues.

Last year we opened up three new venues – The Newtown Hotel, The Rook in the CBD and Sweethearts on top of the Sugarmill in Kings Cross. Each is a very different venue that caters to its own different community.

Are there any entrepreneurs you look up to? Who are they and why?

Richard Branson is an obvious one, but he’s done an incredible job of diversifying the brand so well. I also think Nick Jones from Soho House is great and there’s lots of exciting advancements going on in digital world too.

What tips would you give to people starting new businesses?

Value every dollar, only grow as fast as you can and do something you love.

What’s next for you?

We have a big project coming up this year and are always looking to add more diversity in what we do.

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Mike Mrkic

Mike Mrkic

Mike Mrkic is the social web editor of Dynamic Business. He looks after our social media and web content. Mike has considerable experience in journalism and social media management working for companies like Channel V, Music Max, Sydney Star Observer and Idolator.

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