Pub to get the “Royal treatment”
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.