WELCOME BACK: Warwick pubs’ first big weekend
BAR service, pokies, great food, and an even better atmosphere – Warwick pubs’ first weekend under Stage 3 restrictions had it all.
After months of forced closures or strict coronavirus restrictions, the Rose City’s booming hospitality sector was finally able to welcome more than 20 patrons at a time, as well as reopen their bar and gaming facilities.
For Sandy Creek Pub owner Kevin Kiley, the weekend was “consistently busy”, with locals and tourists alike keen to grab a spot at the bar.
“This weekend was great – I wouldn’t say a full house, but we had a very good weekend,” Mr Kiley said.
“A lot of regulars, but also quite a few people from Brisbane and Toowoomba came out in their caravans or campers, all wanting to get out and about and help us out because they know we’ve been doing it tough.
“This weekend might test us a little bit, because we’ve got a band and firepits in the beer garden this Saturday, so the restrictions might be a little bit testing.”
The atmosphere at the newly renovated Criterion Hotel was equally celebratory, but also one of renewed friendship and community spirit, according to manager Kylie Jenner.
“When you enter the hotel, you can feel that excitement throughout the room, because we went through that time of hibernation,” Ms Jenner said.
“The girls are so happy to be back behind the bar and looking after all the regulars and new faces.
“A lot of the regulars have become family. Warwick has such a strong sense of community and social consciousness, and I think this whole thing is proving that.”
While months of strict measures proved financially devastating for many Warwick pubs, Condamine Sports Club manager Steven Domjahn said this new phase looked promising.
“We’re going well, better than expected, but it’ll probably be another month or two at least before we go back to normal,” Mr Domjahn said.
“It’s great being open, and the eased restrictions and having pokies open actually helps out with getting a lot of that income and revenue lost back into the club.
“With the pokies on now and a bit more freedom in other areas, it’s pretty well about making back the money we’ve had to spend in the last three months, and then we’ll be up and up, all things going to plan.”