The Axedale Tavern was close to being taken by the banks when Gary Van Wynen and Corrine Cummins bought it in 2010.
It was losing money and didn’t serve meals.
Slowly but steadily, the couple built the tavern’s reputation. Now they are ready to move on.
The Axedale Tavern will be auctioned on March 16 with nothing but potential for people considering the life of a publican.
“We’re not selling a dud. It’s a good investment for someone to come in and make money off the bat straightaway,” Mr Van Wynen said.
“We’ve done it to a point where we know we are going okay and the next person to (take it over) will be able to do exactly the same.”
Mr Van Wynen said the last eight years he and Corrine had worked their guts out but that it had been very rewarding.
“There were no meals for six months, which was really bad. It was losing money hand over fist and we had no experience in hospitality but we worked our guts out and got it up to where it is,” Mr Van Wynen said.
“When we first opened the pub, the community was here in droves supporting us. We get a lot of (patrons) from Bendigo but the local support has been great.”
As well as restoring the 164-year-old pub – originally known as the Campaspe Hotel – Mr Van Wynen has secured planning permission to establish a 150 seat conference centre and accommodation on site.
“We have got an expansion going on but with banks being a bit tighter, it is a little bit harder for us as smaller business. We would have to stay for another 10 years (to see a return),” he said.
“Eight years in a pub freehold situation is quite a long time. (But looking at) 16 years in the same pub, we decided to (move on and) look at giving it to someone else.”
Mr Van Wynen said any person who takes over a country pub has got to be community orientated.
“(Running a pub) is a very social and rewarding thing. You have to be part of the community and put yourself solely and wholly into the community,” he said.
“You support the footy club, the golf club, people that are sick or have had homes burn down. It might cost you money but it gives you more in the end.
“It’s never a walk in park but no business is. If you want the rewards, you work hard at it and benefits come – not just in money but friends and relationships in whole place. People see and appreciate what you do.”
Ronald Young and Co country hotel broker Peter Moore said the Axedale Tavern was a rare classic colonial hotel.
“You walk in straightaway and it feels like a country pub,” he said. “It’s incredibly historical and has the stables from when it was was a Cobb and Co stopover.
“A lot of Bendigo hotels come under this (colonial) category, like Ballarat. Country pubs tend to reinvent themselves and turn contemporary, so to get one that is a classic colonial is rare.”
Mr Moore said Mr Van Wynen and Ms Cummins had done work to what they like to see in a pub.
“They bought it when it was pretty well run down and through a process of improvement and good management Gary and Corrine have built it to almost a landmark,” he said.
“If (new pub owners) go in to a hotel, give their all and treat as professional, it goes very well. But if they think it is all beer and skittles, it wont work.
“Done properly, there is a lot of money to made (in hotels).”
The Axedale Tavern will be auctioned on March 16 at noon on site. For more detail click here.
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