28 May 2024

After 12 months at the helm, the Reynolds are taking ownership of the iconic Junee Hotel

| Chris Roe
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collage of a pub and a couple

Emma and Brendon Reynolds are celebrating a year serving the community at the Junee Hotel. Photos: Supplied.

It’s been a year since Emma and Brendon Reynolds took on the lease at the historic Junee Hotel and set to work restoring the building and revitalising the bar and bistro.

They’ve now decided to take the further step of putting down a deposit to take over the ownership of the iconic Main Street pub.

“Last year, we decided to take a chance on this amazing 1878 building that was unloved, poorly maintained and on a trajectory downhill,” Emma said.

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“It’s such a great location sitting across from the railway. It’s prominent in Junee and it’s a beautiful building with lovely architectural features and structurally it’s fantastic.

“There’s a lot of work to do, like a whole new roof, and that’s very expensive, but what we’ve focused on is putting in the love on the inside to make it great again.

“It’s about creating an atmosphere that people want to come in and enjoy themselves and feel safe and secure.”

pub interior

The Junee Hotel aims to bring back the ”art of conversation”.

Setting the tone through good customer service and fostering “the art of conversation”, free from the distractions of pokies, the TAB or screens, has been an overarching objective.

“We want to try and make it so that when you walk in, you’re greeted and it’s a place where you feel welcome and people want to congregate,” Emma said.

“You want to make happy memories here for people and that includes delivering the food in person, the staff caring whether you enjoyed your meal, or if there was a problem we were happy to fix it.

“It’s about bringing back basic good manners and personal connection because I think we’ve focused too much on electronic devices to keep us happy and we’ve forgotten how to talk to each other.”

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The 146-year-old building in the heart of Junee was built by pioneer Christopher Crawley, who later established the famous Monte Cristo Homestead on the hill nearby.

The sprawling pub boasts one of the longest verandahs in the region, 30 guest rooms, five dining locations, seven bathrooms plus the popular bar and beer garden out the back, but it had fallen into disrepair.

“The accommodation was in absolute ruins and when we came in, not only did we find drugs and rubbish left behind, but the rooms were filthy, the tiles were off the walls in the bathrooms, broken toilets, smashed hand basins, just everything,” Emma said.

“So we started from scratch to bring it up to a good standard and put in all the mod cons so that we could offer clean, fresh accommodation.”

hotel accommodation

Getting the accommodation back up to scratch has been a labour of love at the Junee Hotel.

After investing so much effort and money (not to mention blood, sweat and tears) in the project, the Reynolds family felt that it was time to take ownership.

“We’ve been paying a premium rent for the hotel and equipment, and it got to the point where the equipment was failing, we were doing all this upkeep and we thought we’d be better to invest in a building that we actually owned,” Emma explained.

“It’s a beautiful building and a great community and we are committed to investing in Junee.”

As they celebrate the one-year milestone and look to a future as the pub’s custodians, Emma said there was an extensive to-do list.

“Ultimately, we want to do a bit more than that back beer garden with its beautiful green-grass area, and to have live music and to keep it really family-friendly,” she explained.

“There’s also the verandah upstairs. It’s such a big verandah and it’s got a prominent view of Junee, so we’d love to ensure that it’s safe and eventually do it up so that it’s the sort of place to be through the summer and winter.

“We’ll also keep working on the accommodation and we want to make it more pet-friendly, so lots of projects to keep us busy!”

The Junee Hotel is located at 21 Seignior St, Junee. Keep up with them via their website, Facebook page and Instagram.

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