It’s known to regulars as “The Office” and after being closed for a month, the Wombat Hotel is open once again.
Cheryl Minehan and Brendon Holmes, who are mother and son, officially took over the Olympic Highway pub just a few days ago.
The historic pub has been trading since the 1870s, and its licence is one of the state’s longest running.
Mr Holmes, who also operates his own construction business, has had previous experience in hotel management, while Ms Minehan has a catering background.
Already, they have made some changes with a new daily blackboard menu for the bistro – which is open from Wednesday lunch to Sunday lunch – and pizzas available as well.
Traditional pub activities like the raffles and joker poker have already resumed under the new owners.
Last weekend Golden Guitar winner Luke Austen also performed live at the hotel.
For Mr Holmes and Ms Minehan, taking over the Wombat pub has been a long-term dream.
Mr Holmes describes himself as being “as local as you can get”.
“I basically grew up across the road. My grandmother Jill Apps was the post mistress,” he said.
“Four years ago, when it was last for sale, we didn’t do it, but then it came up again,” Mr Holmes said.
“I am very passionate about the hospitality game and Mum is very passionate about food.”
Mr Holmes said that while Ms Minehan was looking forward to letting her catering skills loose, he was planning to put his construction background to work.
There are plans for an improved outdoor covered area and a children’s playground, as well as a facelift for the outdoor smoking area.
After giving the pub what he described as a “tidy up”, Mr Holmes said bigger projects such as accommodation might be considered in the future.
The new owners are also considering adding a courtesy bus to the pub’s services.
Mr Minehan said Wombat was a close-knit community and the hotel served an important role as a community gathering place.
“It really is the heart of the community,” he said.
Mr Minehan said the Wombat Hotel Social Club, which was established in 2006, had made huge contributions to charities, both local and further afield.
“The club has raised at least $150,000 over the years,” he said.
I basically grew up across the road.Brendon Holmes