NOT VIABLE: Albert Hotel owner Darren Banney won’t be opening the pub’s doors for dine-in customers just yet. Picture: Sam Turner
NOT VIABLE: Albert Hotel owner Darren Banney won’t be opening the pub’s doors for dine-in customers just yet. Picture: Sam Turner

PUBS WITH NO CHEER: Publicans hit out at restrictions

SEVERAL Burnett pubs remained closed to dine-in guests at the weekend, despite the start of the Queensland Government's stage one of eased coronavirus restrictions.

Saturday marked the first day pubs, cafes and beauty salons were able to serve customers in store since restrictions were first enforced, limited to a maximum of 10 patrons at a time.

Both pubs in Monto opened their doors on Saturday, but just to serve takeaway food and alcohol only.

Albert Hotel publican Darren Banney said even though the community had been supportive during the pandemic, the pub couldn't afford to open its doors to dine-in customers yet.

"It's just not viable for 10 people, it'd just be more trouble, and more of a headache," Mr Banney said.

"Even with 20 people I think it's going to be a headache."

Mr Banney said he believed the policing of restrictions would be difficult, as it would create unnecessary tension between staff and their patrons.

"Pubs are supposed be a happy and entertaining environment, with people wanting to drink and be merry," he said.

"These new restrictions will have us walking around, timing people, telling them they can't stand here or there, and that they should move on."

The top pub has had to say goodbye to four staff members since the coronavirus began, but was able to keep the chef on through the JobKeeper Payments.

Mr Banney said the support the establishment has received from the Monto community had been heartwarming according but the profit margins just weren't there for takeaway alcohol.

"You're missing out on the cream, and you're working the same hours for half, pretty much" he said.

"That being said, it's really making you look at your profit and loss, like really look hard it them.

"You have a lot of time to think and stew over that, ponder new ideas, and try to increase your profit."

The Albert team have been able to alter their menu for their chef, and have maximised their takeaway food business, which Mr Banney said had been quite successful.

 

Monto Grand Hotel owner Tina McGrath. Picture: Sam Turner
Monto Grand Hotel owner Tina McGrath. Picture: Sam Turner

 

Monto Grand Hotel publican Tina McGrath said her pub would not open while the 10-person limit was in place, as it wasn't worth it.

"We'd have to hire extra staff that we don't have at the moment, which is more wait staff," Ms McGrath said.

"At the moment 10 people just isn't enough, but when it goes to 20 then we'll definitely be open to dining."

Takeaway food has been a lifeline for the bottom pub according to Ms McGrath, who said she'd noticed a large increase in food orders each week.

The publican said she was disappointed the North Burnett to miss out on the outback Queensland classification, which would allow up to 20 customers through the doors for dine-in service.

"It's sad to miss out on that especially with Biloela right there, but we have to abide by it," she said.

"The community have been good in supporting us, and we do appreciate that."



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