City’s first pub forced to call last round

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - TONY RAGGATT

THE Cri­te­rion Ho­tel, the site of Townsville’s first wa­ter­ing hole, has closed.

The pub’s man­age­ment sent mes­sages to staff yesterday, say­ing the ho­tel had ceased to trade as of the pre­vi­ous day.

“Due to the un­favourable trad­ing en­vi­ron­ment, the up­com­ing in­dus­try changes ( in­clud­ing more re­stricted trad­ing hours and ID scan­ning re­quire­ments) as well as in­creas­ing com­pli­ance costs, the Cri­te­rion Ho­tel has ceased to trade from 29/ 7/ 2015,” the mes­sage said.

An ad­di­tional pay­ment of wages was promised as a good­will ges­ture and to thank staff for their “loy­alty and out­stand­ing work ethic”.

The pub’s own­ers, Glee­son Prop­er­ties Pty Ltd, who have sub­stan­tial prop­erty in­ter­ests in the sur­round­ing area, de­clined to com­ment.

In re­cent times the ho­tel has op­er­ated as a beer gar­den, night­club and karaoke bar.

Mad Cow Tav­ern owner Mark Napier said ev­ery­body in the in­dus­try, not just ho­tels, was en­dur­ing dif­fi­cult trad­ing con­di­tions.

But Mr Napier said it was not all doom and gloom, with the re­cent open­ing of the Rambu­tan hos­tel and res­tau­rant and an ex­pected re­open­ing soon of the Con­sor­tium night­club in Flin­ders Street East.

How­ever, Mr Napier said the in­dus­try and pa­trons faced un­cer­tainty and risk with plans by the La­bor State Gov­ern­ment to in­tro­duce con­tentious 1am lock­out rules, along with ear­lier 3am clo­sures and the ban­ning of high al­co­hol- con­tent drinks af­ter mid­night.

“We don’t want the 1am lock­out,” Mr Napier said.

The Cri­te­rion Ho­tel, opened in 1865, is recog­nised as Townsville’s first public house and unof­fi­cial public hall where fi­nancier and city name­sake Robert Towns is said to have scorned the pub’s pi­ano and bil­liard ta­ble as “un­nec­es­sary temp­ta­tions which will not im­prove the moral code of so­ci­ety of Townsville”.

The orig­i­nal Cri­te­rion Ho­tel was dam­aged by Cy­clone Leonta in 1903 and re­built the fol­low­ing year.

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