It’s been a challenging year for all the hospitality businesses of the region, but for the Gundaroo Colonial Inn, these challenges have been intensified.
Having to manoeuvre through the pressures of the pandemic, partnered with an extended dispute between owner and publican which saw the pub’s closure, and you get the makings of an extra challenging year for the village pub.
With the Inn playing a vital connecting role for the people of Gundaroo, it’s left a hole the community has struggled to fill.
However, there now appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel as owner George Nicola has found an established brand to take over the management of the pub.
Create Catering will be the operators at the Gundaroo Colonial Inn moving forward. They’re the group behind Olleyville at Shaw Wines in Murrumbateman and Westering at Lake George Winery.
Leonie Sassall will be tasked with the full-time manager role at the pub. She says that despite a few issues impacting the speediness of their opening, the group is excited to welcome guests in the not-so-distant future.
While they were aiming to reopen on Friday (17 December), the lack of trades in the weeks leading up to Christmas has made that target somewhat unrealistic.
“We’re going as fast as we can. I’m building a house in Gundaroo, and I know how difficult it is to get anything done this time of year, let alone a full kitchen wrap and getting all new equipment in,” said Ms Sassall.
“There’s a lot of pressure from the community to open, and I completely understand, but we can’t open if we don’t have gas and we don’t have the right equipment in place.
“We were hoping we’d open Friday, and I’ve been spending all day on the phone trying to make that happen, pulling lots of favours from everybody we know,” she said.
Ms Sassall said that the priority will be bringing in the successful ‘Create style’ to Gundaroo, but doing so in a way that preserves what they love about the venue, as a “traditional old pub”.
“I would love for it to be known for fantastic food, great wine, great beer – just a country pub done really well.
“Obviously we want to increase our offerings as the years go on but first and foremost remain a great pub and we want to do music there, every Sunday afternoon at a minimum, and I’m a very keen artist. I’m going to fill the pub with art, and again, as much local [content] as we possibly can,” said Ms Sassall.
Another plan is to introduce a “regional bottleshop”, representing all of the region’s wineries.
When asked about the pub’s recent history, Ms Sassall was quick to declare that the recent dispute was none of her business.
“I know there’s ill-feeling amongst the community and people try to tell me about this, and I think it’s all a real shame that that’s happened, but I think after a few months of us trading, us doing a good job and being consistent, I’m sure people will love it and that’s all I can hope for really,” said Ms Sassall.
“We want to be there for a long time. I look at the delay in opening and I know everybody’s annoyed, but we have to do it properly.”