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New faces and ideas for Settlers Arms

New owners of the Settlers Arms Tracy Norman and Bernadette Skuse.Tracy Norman and Bernadette Skuse are thrilled with the warmth that the Dungog community has welcomed them as business owners. The women purchased the Settlers Arms (formerly Court House Hotel) in Brown Street in March this year. The opened the doors for business on April 20. Residents of Salisbury for 10 years, the women began looking at the historical hotel three years ago. “I googled it to see a bit more about its history and saw it was for sale,” Bernadette said. “Playing music from the balcony was a big part of us buying it. “We have plans to have a beer garden down from the balcony which will be ideal on a warm Sunday afternoon.” Word soon filtered around town about the purchase and soon everyone was asking about when they were opening and will the restaurant be operating. “The biggest visible difference to patrons was the painting inside while the invisible part was the replacement of the electrical wiring,” Tracy said. “We also tidied up, installed a new sound system and replaced a few odds and ends. “We have plans to have a function room upstairs which will extend out onto the verandah. “There has been a really positive feeling with people willing us to succeed. “Initially there were a few teething issues but people were very patient in the lead-up to the opening. “There have been so many women who have the confidence to come in and have a drink . . . and people have met up and joined tables.” Tracy praised the staff, saying they had worked extremely well under difficult conditions. “It’s a vital part of the community to provide employment,” she said. “Shane Burt and I will be doing the kitchen. Shane comes from Bega and has been in Dungog for six months. “I have a background in pubs and owned a catering business and café in Sydney too. “Shane and I have developed a good relationship and are pleased with the food we are producing. “I want to keep the food simple using fresh, local, organic ingredients. “Once the kitchen is in full swing we will open nightly.” The hotel also has Barrington Bitter brewed exclusively for the Settlers Arms. It’s made by the Pinchgut Brewery and the Arms also carries their black and pilsner varieties. “I have been making beef and Barrington Bitter pies and they have been very popular,” Tracy said. “I am also looking forward to creating more dishes using the beer and getting different flavours.” The hotel also has nine rooms for accommodation and is fully booked out for this weekend’s Thunderbolt Rally and the Dungog Film Festival at the end of June.
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