The Riverview Hotel was founded in Birchgrove in 1880 and was built at the very pinnacle of the 19th Century Balmain pub boom. The first pub in Balmain was opened in 1842 and by the 1880’s, over 40 licensed premises were in operation to service the 15,000 residents who lived and worked in the area – politely described at the time as one of Australia’s more ‘social’ suburbs.
The opening of the Riverview was not without some controversy. During the 1880’s, the bustling pub scene in Balmain was causing some concern for some of the locals, mainly due to the rowdy behaviour of the hotel patrons. There have been many colourful characters associated with the running of the Riverview Hotel during its history – both men and women. From founding licensee, Thomas Morton (whom had attempted to establish the premises no less than five times) through to Olympic gold medal swimmer, Dawn Fraser (who was licensee from 1978 to 1983).
The river of the Riverview name is the Parramatta River, the site of where Sydney-siders flocked to watch William Beach become a world champion rower in 1884. The Riverview has long been associated with great food.
In its turn of the century hey- day it was licensed as a “Victualler”, an old fashioned term meaning “a tavern owner who is able to supply good food, beverages and other provisions for vessels at sea”. One hundred and thirty three nine years on, The Riverview has continued this tradition of providing award-winning food and fine wines.