Rachel Parsons outside the Post Office Hotel, which will be under new management by the end of the week.It has been a dramatic few days for the publicans of the iconic Post Office Hotel.
Yesterday morning, Craig and Rachel Parsons had shut the doors of the Lachlan Street hotel, having reached a stalemate with the pub’s owner over the terms of their lease.
As an open letter to patrons advised, they were unsure when or if the historic ‘Postie’ would reopen.
The only thing they knew for certain was that they wouldn’t be in charge.
However, the pub’s future became much clearer yesterday with the arrival of new licensee, Vonnie Newcombe.
After negotiations failed with Craig and Rachel Parsons, the hotel’s owner had organised for Ms Newcombe’s takeover.
With the help of Ms Parsons and long-standing Postie barmaid, Kerry Acheson, Ms Newcombe hoped to reopen the hotel before the end of the week, possibly as early as today.
Ms Newcombe said she planned to continue operating the Post Office Hotel as usual, and Ms Parsons encouraged all patrons to call in and meet the new publican once the doors reopened.
Footy tippers and punters club members have been assured that both competitions will continue as normal if they wish to remain involved, otherwise they can request a refund from Ms Parsons.
Craig and Rachel Parsons made the shock decision to close their hotel on Monday night.
As outlined in the letter to patrons, it remained closed on Tuesday and yesterday and the Parsons family are now in the process of packing up their belongings and moving out.
In the letter to patrons and the Forbes community, Rachel Parsons said she and her husband felt they had no choice but to close the hotel.
“This is due to the current financial climate and a very unreasonable landlord,” she said.
“Our financial situation is one that our landlord refuses to negotiate the current lease with us, and has been unreasonable in any discussions.”
“Craig and I have enjoyed our time getting to know you all and running this business. We feel as though we have failed you all, and we apologise immensely for that,” Rachel Parsons said.
Australian Hotels Association (AHA) Lachlan delegate, Jim Clyburn, said that the economic climate was increasingly tough for publicans.
Mr Clyburn, who operates a pub in West Wyalong and owns another in Condobolin, said hotels face stiff competition from supermarkets and other liquor retailers.
“You can go down to any supermarket today and a can of Coke is dearer than a can of beer,” Mr Clyburn said.
He said the AHA’s recommended beer price is now $5.30 a schooner, but most pubs are reluctant to charge that much, fearing that customers will leave and drink at home instead.
Mr Clyburn said the introduction of poker machines to hotels in the late 1990s had allowed publicans to compete with clubs but now hotels faced competition from elsewhere.
“The same thing was happening then as it is now,” he said.
“Things are pretty tough [for pubs] now but I think when you go into this business, you have to realise that the good old days are over.”
Vonnie Newcombe said she and her husband operated one of Ballina’s biggest pubs for nearly a decade.
She invited anyone who has been a patron of the Post Office Hotel to call in and meet her.
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