Next time you are in the Belgian Beer Café, don’t forget to ask them about their policy on serving people in the sex industry. Because it was this that got Robert Wolfe into trouble.
But first, a little background. The Belgian Beer Café was originally called the City Hotel, and there has been a pub on the site since 1879. But Robert Wolfe had the original City Hotel demolished and a new one built in 1898.
The architect was Henry Trigg, whose grandfather (also Henry) is remembered in Trigg Beach and the suburb. Unfortunately, Henry Jr. made the mistake of taking younger brother Edmund into the firm. Trigg descendants claim Edmund was the black sheep of the family who embezzled the firm’s finances, finally driving Henry bankrupt.
In 1899 the City Hotel was situated in the rough part of town. King Street was largely slum housing, several of which functioned as cheap brothels. This was a problem for Wolfe because his bar was the closest for the women of low repute. It was a real problem, because it was illegal to serve prostitutes.
A complaint was made to the police by Susan Mahoney, a regular drinker at the bar. Of course, she said she only ever had one beer, and really only went there to chat with the barman, George. She recognised three ladies of the night, and this was enough for the police to send a plain-clothed officer, who also discovered the women there.
So Wolfe was charged with permitting ladies of low repute to frequent a licensed premise. But the cop had only told the barman to remove the unfortunate women. He never spoke to Wolfe, simply relying on George to pass the message on.
This was enough for the bench to dismiss the charge against Wolfe, since it could not be proved he ever got the official instruction. Although they did give him a firm warning to keep the demimonde class out of the City Hotel.
And on one final note, we presume Wolf Lane is named after Robert Wolfe. Any particular reason no one checked the spelling?