A LOWER Keppel Street watering hole on the market for more than $2 million is one of a number of pubs for sale in the Central West as the sector starts a cautious comeback.
COVID-19 hit the hospitality industry hard, forcing some venues to close and others to resort to offering takeaway food for the first time.
But as the restrictions ease, there are signs that people, including Sydneysiders, are starting to show an interest in buying a pub in this region to call their own.
Specialist hotel broker John Parsons Hotels (JPH) recently sold two pubs in the Central West and has another five up for grabs.
The Criterion Hotel in Crookwell and the Wombat Hotel in Wombat (near Young) have already been snapped up, while the Railway Hotel in Grenfell is under offer.
Still on the market are Bathurst's Elephant and Castle ($2.275 million); the Vandenberg Hotel at Forbes ($2.1m); Cargo Inn at Cargo ($585,000), near Orange; Imperial Hotel at Trangie ($485,000), near Narromine; and the Royal Hotel at Euabalong ($390,000), near Condobolin.
The Central West is a good place to invest in a pub, JPH sales director Reggie Henderson said.
"People are looking for a really good food and beverage offering and something that stands out from the rest," he said.
The Central West is a destination point, he said, "and people are attracted to see what it looks like".
Mr Henderson said the "big five" is vital for people looking to buy a pub: bottleshop, accommodation, bar, bistro and gaming.
"They'll be seeing what's there and whether any opportunities exist," he said.
He said he has been fielding inquiries from a range of people recently, including hotel groups and individuals.
The 'big five' is vital for people looking to buy a pub, and they include: Bottleshop, accommodation, bar, bistro and gaming.John Parsons Hotels sales director Reggie Henderson
"There's people coming out of Sydney who want to get a foothold in there without spending millions of dollars," he said. "There's tree-changers who are already in the industry who can't afford to buy in Sydney."
During the heights of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Henderson said banks were reluctant to lend money for people to buy a pub.
"Large funding comes from banks and banks weren't transacting because hotels weren't open. It's only now we're seeing a little retraction and starting to get the interest back," he said.
For those keen to give it a go, Mr Henderson had a few words of wisdom.
"It's a hard gig to own a pub and run a pub and it's big hours. There's an illusion of grandeur with running your own pub," he said.
"But, emotionally and financially, it can be rewarding if you're prepared to give it a go."