SHANNON Barber was excited but a bit nervous when he took over the Culcairn pub this week.
He and his cousin, Keiran Barber, are well aware of the deep connection the historic watering hole has with the locals.
They need not have worried too much about how they would be received.
The news that a couple of Culcairn born-and-bred boys were now in charge generated great excitement.
And the family’s earlier connection to the pub was not lost on the locals, either.
The cousins’ fathers ran the pub for about a decade until they sold out around 2006.
“There’s a real buzz and excitement around the town,” Shannon Barber said yesterday.
“Locals probably felt a little bit nervous about who was going to take over their little community centre, so they’re more relieved than anything.”
Buying the business was a natural step for Mr Barber, who has managed pubs for years, working for such Border hoteliers as Tom Doolan, Wayne Reid and Craig Shearer.
“You get to a level where you’d like to own your own pub,” he said.
Mr Barber said he felt he had reached a point where he wanted to “use my experience gained along the way”.
He said he decided to show some interest when they pub was up for lease a year ago.
He missed out at the time, but when the lease popped up again recently, he figured “it must be fate”.
“I pursued it and it came through,” he said.
Finally, the cousins took over the business on Monday.
“Keiran’s got an IT business in Sydney but he wanted to raise his children in the country,” he said.
“The time was right for him as well.
“He just approached me one day and said ‘what do you reckon’ and I said ‘I’ve actually been looking at it’.”
Because they both grew up in Culcairn, the hotel “pulled at the heartstrings a bit”.
Mr Barber said he had a long connection with the hotel and the town’s sporting clubs.
“I actually poured my first beer at this pub,” he said.
“It’s just one of those old school, big country pubs.
“It used to have 70 rooms but now we’ve only got 21.
“It’s got a deep history with the Cobb and Co drop-off and the railway workers.”
He assured regular patrons they wouldn’t be hit with a raft of sudden changes at the hotel.
He said he would slowly introduce some live music through the contacts he has formed over the years.
“And I’ll try to bring in a few of the modern things that pubs have in Albury, like expanding the beer garden and getting some al fresco drinking and dining,” he said.