Pub to get the “Royal treat­ment”

The Free Press (Corowa) - - FRONT PAGE - BY SARAH DEAN

A Qan­tas jumbo jet pi­lot has landed him­self a piece of Corowa’s history af­ter pur­chas­ing the Royal Ho­tel in Sanger Street just days be­fore it went to auc­tion ear­lier this month.

Michael Newn­ham from Mel­bourne plans to re­store the his­toric ho­tel to its for­mer glory, which in­cludes giv­ing the iconic bal­cony a new lease of life.

“There’s a real pres­ence about the pub, it’s a mag­nif­i­cent build­ing with a great bal­cony over­look­ing the main street,” he said.

The ho­tel stopped op­er­at­ing about 12 months ago af­ter the pre­vi­ous lease­holder closed sud­denly.

It’s a wel­come in­vest­ment for the town and pos­i­tive news on the job front, cre­at­ing em­ploy­ment both dur­ing the ren­o­va­tion stage and when the pub re-opens.

Pur­chased as an in­vest­ment, Mr Newn­ham, who is soon to cel­e­brate his 60th birthday, plans to work for an­other five years in Mel- bourne be­fore look­ing at re­tir­ing to Corowa with his wife Lis­a­beth.

The cou­ple have a daugh­ter who is 13 and an 11-year-old son.

Poker ma­chines and a TAB will both be a noticeable ab­sence as Mr Newn­ham moves to­wards mak­ing the ho­tel a fam­ily-friendly es­tab­lish­ment.

Karaoke, a chil­dren’s play area and a newlook beer gar­den will be some of the draw­cards.

The ho­tel will keep its name and be given the “royal treat­ment” when ren­o­va­tions start early July, with an aim to open the doors in Septem­ber be­fore the end of the foot­ball sea­son.

Mr Newn­ham told The Free Press he never had grand plans to buy a pub but it was like fate af­ter a se­ries of events fell into place.

Out of the blue a buyer made an of­fer on

an of­fice he owned in Mel­bourne’s Swanston Street and the of­fer was too good to pass up.

Mr Newn­ham, who has been fly­ing planes for more than 30 years, is ex­cited about his new ven­ture.

“A lot of the other ho­tels we saw were quite nice in­side but they didn’t have the “it fac­tor” – the Royal is just a mag­nif­i­cent build­ing with the bal­cony and ev­ery­thing and has a lot of history,” he said.

“It’s a lovely ho­tel and needs a lit­tle work with the bal­cony up­stairs, which will be part of the ren­o­va­tions we will be do­ing.

“I have de­cided that the bistro mar­ket is pretty well catered for in Corowa, with the RSL and the other pubs, al­though we will be hav­ing a small bistro menu with qual­ity meals on the bal­cony.

“We will still have ca­sual meals down­stairs and would like to set up a restau­rant on the bal­cony or, if it’s too cold up there, turn a cou­ple of the bed­rooms up­stairs into din­ing rooms so peo­ple can have that spe­cial oc­ca­sion and have some­thing re­ally nice.

“I’m cur­rently look­ing at chefs, there’s one in par­tic­u­lar who is work­ing in Ade­laide at an ex­clu­sive restau­rant so I am think­ing of try­ing to get him here.

Mr Newn­ham is get­ting quotes for ren­o­vat­ing the kitchen, which may in­volve knock­ing out one of the walls that comes out into the bistro area.

“The way it is now means that serv­ing staff walk through a nar­row door­way to get to the kitchen and grab meals,” he said. “Open­ing it up will just make it eas­ier and faster for staff to ac­cess the meals with­out need­ing to go into the kitchen.” The back area will be turned into a sports view­ing area with tele­vi­sions for peo­ple to watch sport­ing events.

“I would re­ally like to open be­fore the foot­ball fi­nals, so we are talk­ing hope­fully early Septem­ber,” Mr Newn­ham said.

The Royal Ho­tel in Corowa has a new owner.

Mark and Yvette Sum­ner (friends of Michael Newn­ham) cel­e­brate with Michael Newn­ham and Michael’s nephew Hemi Kai­wai.

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