City’s first pub forced to call last round
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.