In with the new at popular historic hinterland pub
THIS PARTNERSHIP has been a match made in heaven when it comes to running a pub.
Byron locals Matt Rabbidge and Luke Sullivan said when they discovered the Eltham Hotel was available for lease, they both knew it was the perfect opportunity to "build something great".
"Our passion was always to make a real old fashioned pub," Mr Rabbidge said.
Since taking over the pub less than a week ago, the new leasees said they have felt "incredibly welcomed" by the community.
"We want to have a community oriented place," Mr Sullivan said.
"We've just been blown away by how the community has rallied around us."
The pair have bring extensive experience in hospitality after working in pubs and clubs for many years.
Mr Sullivan said he has worked in various pubs and hotels for the past 12 years, while Mr Rabbidge said he has worked in the hospitality industry "basically since I left school".
Mr Sullivan said the pair selected the Eltham Hotel, which was built in 1902, because he believes it is a venue with "lots of soul and character".
"It has been running for 117 years. There's a lot of history in these walls," he said.
"It's always been a dream to run a little country pub and this one was the perfect fit."
Mr Sullivan said it would be mostly "business as usual" to start with, and they plan to only make "a few minor changes".
"The venue has amazing bones, we just want to give our touch," he said.
The biggest change they have made is removing the gambling machines from the gaming room.
"We want to be pokie free for the community," Mr Rabbidge said.
"We want people to leave smiling."
In coming weeks they will be offering a courtesy bus service for patrons, and will be re-introducing food in the bistro seven days a week.
Mr Rabbidge said they will also be "bringing back old favourites" such a trivia, an updated member's draw and more live music.
"The Eltham Hotel is just such a special place," he said.
"It has everything; history, location and is just a beautiful old pub."
Mr Rabbidge said the accommodation upstairs will also be receiving a "facelift" and he asked patrons to "please be patient" while work is underway.
"We've put everything we've got into this," he said.
"We're not big-shot investors, we're just two guys, so week by week we'll be making changes.
"We don't want people to come here and think 'oh, it's exactly the same'."