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Community & Business

24 January, 2024

New owners at Pink Pub

After close to two decades as owner of Clifton’s historic Club Hotel, affectionately known locally as the Pink Pub, Kevin Harman as handed over the reins to a pair of lifelong friends Andrew Ianson and Michael Doyle.

One half of the new ownership team, Andrew Ianson (right) was at the Club Hotel to take part in the handover from old owner Kevin Harman.

The Club Hotel was built all the way back in 1889 and is the oldest pub still standing in town. 

The keys were handed over on Tuesday, 16 January and its new owners hope to have it up and running very soon.

Newly-retired former owner Kevin Harman had owned the pub since 2005.

He originally had managers employed to run the pub but in recent years has been running it himself, with the assistance of his wife Amanda.

As Kevin will attest, running a pub is hard work and he is eagerly looking forward to his retirement.

Kevin said he owns 500 acres past Warwick and is very much looking forward to spending the coming months and years there.

Andrew comes from a publican background, having previously owned the Pomona Hotel, inland from Noosa.

He and Michael were connected to the property through the agent selling it, Scott Williams of SGW Hotel Broker.

They have been friends since their school days in Penrith.

Andrew said there were a few things about the pub that were attractive.

This included that it was a freehold.

“It’s a nice old country pub,” Andrew said.

He said he is looking forward to meeting the people of Clifton over the coming weeks and months.

Sorting out the liquor licence has seen the pub closed for a little longer than initially planned.

However the new owners are hoping to have the pub open for business again this Friday, Australia Day, if not sooner.

Andrew said the extra time closed has allowed more time to tidying, cleaning and setting up the pub.

In the short-term, patrons can expect things to largely stay the same at the Club.

However, there will be a few small changes to liven things up.

Andrew said he is looking to make a few minor changes to the menu and also bring a chargrill into the kitchen.

They are also hoping to have more live music including from local artists.

Andrew is diving head-first into ownership, having moved to Clifton.

Michael, who lives on the Gold Coast, will commute back and forth from time to time.

The pub had been listed on the market since late 2022.

Kevin said he was wrapped that Andrew and Michael decided to buy the pub.

“We had a number of people talking - Andrew and Michael were the best fit.

“I’m extremely pleased these two guys are taking it on,” he said.

Kevin said there were too many stories to retell over the near two decades as publican.

Old stories, where the line between fact and fiction have long since faded, swirl around the bar and dining room.

Stories such as horses making their way upstairs to the hotel rooms have been related many times within the pub’s walls.

There are also stories from not that long ago featuring horses, yet again, this time joining the regulars at the bar for a nice cold beer.

Kevin said since buying the pub in 2005, Clifton has more people yet there are less business opportunities.

He pointed to the
Clifton Shire Council amalgamating, and more recently the closure of the NAB branch last year as reasons businesses in town have declined.

With that being said, there is still opportunity for businesses to thrive, as is the case with Dusty’s Café, which has been open for close to a year now, and Raff Hardware, which recently completed a large extension to their premises.

With a population of 1,500, Clifton has a rather small population to maintain three fully operational pubs.

Taking a look at towns of a similar size around the Darling Downs, most have fewer pubs.

Millmerran, with 1,300 people, has two.

Crows Nest and Cambooya, both with just over 2,000 people, have only one each.

Wyreema, also with just over 2,000 residents, has none.

Battling against these odds, all three of Clifton pubs will be eager for local support to ensure they can remain viable.

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