BIRREGURRA residents say they are in shock after the sudden closure of the town’s pub.
Birregurra’s Royal Mail Hotel owner Peter Groves has evicted licensees Rob and Annette McCurdy from the property.
Mr Groves said he had also tried to evict the McCurdys about nine months ago.
“But they found the money that time,” he said.
“This time we served them notice and I told them there was no point trying to trade out of it.”
Mr Groves said it was “most unusual” for a licensee to leave with the liquor licence, which meant he was unsure when the pub could reopen under a new publican.
“People normally try to sell the licence to someone else but they walked away,” he said.
Mr Groves said he hoped to reopen the venue by next Friday, depending on legal advice from his lawyer and the police.
He said the pub’s patronage had slumped because it lost the town’s support, but he had two or three replacement publicans in mind.
Mr Groves said the pub had lost its role as a meeting place.
“But it’s not beyond fixing,” he said.
Birregurra business owner Linda Jacovou said the pub was a Birregurra icon.
“It’s a pity because it’s only a small town and it has a big impact when one business does close down,” she said.
“It was all very sudden and we’re all in a bit of shock.”
Birregurra Football Club president John Cotton said the Royal Mail was a meeting place.
“Obviously as a footy club we get down there a bit and they’ve always supported us in the past and we’ve always tried to support them,” Mr Cotton said.
“I think the pub has struggled to have enough stock in hand, so sometimes when you went to get some takeaway alcohol, it just wasn’t always available,” he said.
“The quicker it’s reopened, the better – you don’t want them out of the equation for too long.”
The Colac Herald was unable to contact Mr McCurdy.
Meanwhile, police are still investigating a burglary at the pub last month in which thieves stole the hotel’s footy tipping money as well as another cash tin.
Detective Chris Potter of Colac Criminal Investigation Unit said the investigation was continuing after about $300 went missing from pub between close of business on May 27 and the morning of May 28.