Late sale saves leading pub from closure

By Tui Bromley

A late bid from a Paroa couple has saved Greymouth’s Australasian Hotel from following in the footsteps of several other West Coast pubs that have permanently shut up shop in recent times.
The extensively renovated ‘Aussie’ was at one stage advertised for sale on the internet for $895,000, and more recently was advertised for tender but failed to sell by the closing date of April 5. The on-line auction — prompted by an Inland Revenue application for liquidation of the hotel’s parent company, Jag Ban Investments Ltd — failed to attract an acceptable bid and the doors were locked on April 18.
The future of the pub has been in limbo since but Peter and Jennifer Low are set to take over on Friday and expect to reopen the doors within a fortnight.
“Jennifer and I will be running the bar and there’s a lot to do and learn before we can open, like take lessons in running the TAB and pokies,” he said today.
Mr Low, head brewer at Monteith’s Brewery for many years and more recently owner of Liquorland in Greymouth, already has history with the Aussie. He worked as a part-time barman there when Ron Baxendale owned it in the mid-1970s.
“Back in the liquor industry again — can’t seem to get it out of my blood,” Mr Low said.
The Australasian Hotel is one of the original hotels in Greymouth, initially situated on the old horse-drawn Greymouth-Kumara tram route. It was run by the Keown family from the 1880s until the early 1900s.
Jag Ban Investments had invested heavily in renovations over a five-year period, including tearing down the old accommodation block and building a new restaurant.
Mr Low said running the restaurant would also be a new challenge.
“We have not got a chef yet so it may be a while before that reopens, it’s just one other new thing that we will have to get our heads around.”
The IRD application to have the former owner liquidated will be heard by the High Court at Greymouth tomorrow.
Among the West Coast hotels that have shut down recently are the Cobden, Dunollie, Dobson and Barrytown, with the Golden Eagle and Richmond also disappearing from the Greymouth pub trade over the past decade.