The current owners of the historic West Kempsey Hotel are preparing for their last shifts before they hand over the business to its new owner.
At the end of the month, Tim Smith and Tammy Handcock will say goodbye to the hotel after eight years as owners.
"It's really sad to say goodbye to the place; patrons have been coming up to me and saying it's sad to see us go, I've been so busy with preparations for the handover it has only hit me recently," Tim said.
"Thank you to the postcode, for allowing us to work with everyone, and make the hotel what it is today.
"There wasn't much we didn't support, we are both multi-generational Kempsey people, and we really tried to focus on helping locals as much as we could."
After buying the West Kempsey Hotel out of receivership in 2011, the husband and wife team turned the formerly struggling hotel into a thriving business.
"It took a long time to turn it around. The deck out the front would have to be my favourite thing we renovated," Tim said.
"The old fireplace was hidden, and we uncovered it, we spent a lot of time preserving the heritage in the bar.
"This was all unexpected, we had no intention of selling the hotel anytime soon, we were still planning renovations, but this opportunity was too good to pass up.
"We have a young family, and it will be nice to take some stress out of our lives and spend more time together."
The West Kempsey Hotel has a long and storied history; the first registered license was reportedly recorded in 1856, and many locals over the years have had their first legal beer on the premises, Tim was no different.
"I love country pubs; they are the reason I got into this industry. I actually had my first beer at the West Kempsey Hotel when I was 18; it was great to be able to come full circle and end up running the place," he said.
The official handover is set for October 28, but Tim doesn't think it will be the last time he is in the hotel.
"I'd say we will be back in here at some point, we are still living locally, at the moment we are just looking forward to the next stage," he said.
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