Cel­e­brat­ing with the boss

Whitsunday Times - - COMMUNITY NEWS -

“I DON’T have any race horses, I don’t have any big boats, I don’t have any play toys but I do have a pub and a good one at that,” said Reef Gate­way owner John O’Neill who will cel­e­brate 25 years of pro­pri­etor­ship to­mor­row.

It’s been a big jour­ney for the 63-year-old pub owner that all started with him bar­tend­ing for pri­vate events in Syd­ney as a young adult.

“But I bar­rack for Queens­land,” Mr O’Neill added.

He had found his niche at a young age and Mr O’Neill was man­ag­ing and own­ing ho­tels be­fore he knew it.

Af­ter Syd­ney, he trav­elled to Ip­swich to work for a ho­tel he had a 1/20 share in.

He then worked and man­aged ho­tels and pubs around Bris­bane be­fore pur­chas­ing the Black­wa­ter Ho­tel.

A de­ci­sion to live closer to the wa­ter re­sulted in Mr O’Neill tak­ing on the lease of the na­tion­ally-famed Eimeo Pa­cific Ho­tel for 22 years and then the Mount Pleas­ant Tav­ern both in Mackay.

A gut feel­ing led him to the Reef Gate­way Ho­tel and af­ter an ini­tial five year strug­gle, busi­ness was flow­ing and he even man­aged to start his own busi­ness.

“I just con­vinced the lo­cal blokes drink­ing at the pub to come work for me, I pay them and then they’d be back at the pub that night,” Mr O’Neill laughed.

Mr O’Neill said the com­mu­nity ap­pre­ci­ated the Reef Gate­way Ho­tel but were prob­a­bly not aware of the hours and years that had gone into it.

“I think I was one of the first op­er­a­tors to ac­tu­ally stay on site and to this day, we’re prob­a­bly the only ho­tel in Queens­land that gives an RSL a per­ma­nent home,” he said.

Mr O’Neill’s mo­ti­va­tion is sim­ply wak­ing up each morn­ing and ask­ing him­self what is he go­ing to do to­day that will lead to some­thing great and with 25 years un­der his belt, it’s a mantra to live by.

BIG ACHIEVE­MENT: To­mor­row marks Reef Gate­way Ho­tel owner John O’Neill’s 25th year in the busi­ness.

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