"After starting to see the community around Taree - the population size, the locals - you start to fall in love with the place".
So says the Manning River Hotel's incoming Licensee, Jesse Overvliet, following the hotel's recent purchase by the O'Hara Group.
With settlement of the sale expected to be finalised by late September 2022, Jesse is optimistic of the venture's success, along with ongoing business within the region in general.
The acquisition adds to the O'Hara Group's portfolio of hotels in the region, including the Royal Hotel, Taree, and the Australian Hotel, Wingham. When the opportunity arose for the 'Manning' to be purchased as well, the decision was an easy one to make for the group.
"When the 'Manning' came about it was a pretty obvious choice, with the size of the block, the current locals, the current staff, the good chef and good food they've got there, everything sort of appeals about that pub," Jesse said.
As for possible changes to the establishment, O'Hara Group say they have no fixed plans coming into the venture, preferring to assess requirements as they become apparent.
"Essentially, once we get in there, we'll all go through and we'll see what the locals need, what they want. Same deal with the royal; we get in there and we just try to keep everybody happy. Obviously, we keep the customer service standards high," Jesse said.
"With the motel we'll get in we'll see how it's doing. We'll do some slight refurbishments and stuff if need be. But at this stage, we haven't gone through all of the rooms and had a thorough look at what they're needing or what they're lacking".
O'Hara's other venue in the area, The Australian hotel at Wingham, has been the subject of speculation for some time regarding its ongoing operations. Any suggestions of an imminent closure, however, has been vehemently refuted by O'Hara, saying the pub is in no danger of shutting down.
"Takeover of that (The Australian) will be on the first of August. Essentially, that's going to be the same thing. (We'll) get in there, see what the locals need. That's a very strong country pub that we won't be altering. We'll be going in there providing them quality customer service, keeping all of the current staff, keeping them all happy, and just running the pub doing our thing," Jesse said.
"We're all country blokes in the group. So we all run country pubs. And yeah, that's what we're going to be doing there and that's what we do best, so the Wingham should be a very good one".
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