A pub in the heart of a town with less than 300 people has won the Australian Hotels Association NSW People's Choice Award despite almost closing down three years ago.
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It has certainly been a journey for the good old Bogan Gate Pub, but licensing manager Kerri-Anne Schembri said it makes their win all the more sweeter.
"When no one purchased the pub three years ago, the current owner Neil Schembri, didn't want to see it close so he bought it to give back to the community," Mrs Schembri said.
"Bogan Gate Pub is the first pub Neil has owned, as well as the first pub I've run in my name.
"While I was born and bred into the industry as my dad owned a pub in Peak Hill, I'd never held my license until I began here in mid January this year.
"So when you put all of that together and consider the 19,000 votes the People's Choice category received, to win the award is absolutely unbelievable."
Following in the footsteps of another well known Central West pub, the Collie Hotel, who took home the award in 2022, the Bogan Gate Pub has become a hot-spot for locals and travellers.
"Considering we have a population of just over 200 people and some of the places we were up against had a staff of 250 people we did so well," Mrs Schembri said.
"We've shown that the little pubs do matter."
"Knowing that we were the people's choice means we've made a lot of people happy and more importantly a difference.
"The reason I do it is because I can give someone a place to go if they've had a bad day or are celebrating their 99th birthday.
"We have a three year old who had her birthday party here, so now Bogan Gate Pub is her pub."
Mrs Schembri said the pub has not just become the heart of Bogan Gate, but also the surrounding communities such as Forbes, Parkes, Trundle, Condobolin and Tullamore.
"All roads lead to Bogan Gate....we get so much support from a wide array of people," she said.
"To know that people are leaving happy and went the extra step to vote for us in a competition is huge.
The pub was also named as a finalist in the best regional redevelopment category after it underwent extensive renovations in 2022.
While Bogan Gate did not win this category, Mrs Schembri said much of the pub's recent success can be attributed to the work of Peter Jay Design Associates, Sydney.
"We now have a beautiful big beer garden, disabled toilets, sports bar as well as a new kitchen," she said.
"We're pushing to create a more family friendly atmosphere with great food and service.
"So many people contribute to the service we provide, from entertainers, musicians, clowns and face-painters.
"Without them we can't do what we do."
Moving forward, Mrs Schembri said there are some exciting plans on the horizon.
"We're extending our trading hours to seven days during harvest," she said.
"The pub is a place for farmers to go, and given we're having a tough year, they can talk to others who understand and know they're not alone."
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