In­ter­est­ing his­tory for Can­non­vale pub

Whitsunday Times - - COMMUNITY NEWS -

THE Reef Gate­way Ho­tel has an ex­tra­or­di­nary his­tory that all started with Dave and Joy Seawright who built the ho­tel in 1986.

John O’Neill, at 38 years of age, pur­chased the ho­tel on a Mon­day, March 26, 1990.

He will for­ever be thank­ful for what the Seawright’s cre­ated and hon­our their pres­ence within the ho­tel for the rest of his life.

Un­der Mr O’Neill’s watch, the ho­tel and pub has now dou­bled in size and this Fri­day will be his 25th year as owner.

The Reef Gate­way Ho­tel has un­der­gone four ma­jor ren­o­va­tions, now has a Liquor Barn which is a 1200m2 su­per­store on site and a func­tion room which is pre­dom­i­nantly used by the RSL Sub Branch Air­lie Beach.

Mr O’Neill is suc­cess­fully living out the Seawrights vi­sion.

He said some peo­ple had doubted the lo­ca­tion of the pub when he was buy­ing it as it seemed a long way from town.

“What are you do­ing? No one lives around there” is what friends first told Mr O’Neill in 1990 when he de­cided to buy the ho­tel.

“You’re a mad­man, it’ll never take off.” But Mr O’Neill had a gut feel­ing, to him it was the first thing you saw com­ing into town and the last when leav­ing, and lit­tle did they know that the ho­tel’s lo­ca­tion would be­come more con­ve­nient as the area grew.

It wasn’t all sun­shine and roses as the first five years of busi­ness proved to be a strug­gle for Mr O’Neill.

“You know we are in re­ces­sion at the mo­ment. Well, I’ve seen that twice be­fore,” he said. “My first Christ­mas in busi­ness the econ­omy crashed. There was lots of rain and the Faust Dam had come down into town.”

Mr O’Neill was then adamant he had walked straight into a dis­as­ter. How­ever, full of the jolly spirit that he still has, Mr O’Neill man­aged to break out a smile even when telling the tale 25 years later. “I had one cus­tomer who tried to leave each day but couldn’t get out of the swollen river so I was lucky that he had to keep book­ing in each night,” he laughed.

Mr O’Neill said af­ter five years of work­ing most jobs, ev­ery­thing started fall­ing into place and be­fore he knew it, an­other 20 had passed.

DATED: The Reef Gate­way Ho­tel (red and cen­tre) on Shute Har­bour Road in Fe­bru­ary 1986.

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