It opened in 1962, and until this spring, remained unchanged in appearance.

But today the Strathcona Hotel is unveiling a major renovation to its legendary Big Bad”s John’s “hillbilly bar”.

The work took place in two stages, with the original drop-ceiling being removed earlier this year, to reveal a surprising amount of space above the bar. Today workers hurried to prepare a new bar and refrigeration system to complete the transformation.

The family-owned hotel boasts the largest seating capacity of any licensed establishment in the city. And most of the other beverage areas (Distrikt, the Rooftop Surf Club, Games Room, Sticky Wicket, Maple Room and Clubhouse) have gone through many changes over the years. But the one constant has been Big Bads.

Owner Craig Olson explains that “it was time, we found stuff in there that needed some work”.

And he says that this season has been strong, with May 2015 being their strongest month since late 2013. He attributes the strength to the good weather, cruise ship numbers and of course the US dollar.

The industry favourite “Blackout” night on Sunday evenings still brings the largest crowd to a pub of any bar in Victoria.

Big Bad John’s should be open later today (Thursday, June 18th)