We talk with The Wicklow Hotel’s new owner Anthony Gray.
How long have you lived Armidale … and tell us a bit about yourself?
I am an Armidale boy, born and bred. I lived away from Armidale for about 17 years and returned about two years ago with my wife, Heidi and three young kids, Emily (10), Maggie (7) and Archer (5). What better place to be to raise a family!
I have a strong connection with Armidale, with multiple generations of family in town. I have a large family who are mostly still all in town.
I have a strong background in hospitality, but also have many other experiences across other industries, which I believe will help me be successful.
I am an honest and hardworking person who believes in treating everyone fairly and equally. I am aware of too many times where businesses lose these basic values, so I want to make sure that not only do the customers feel welcome, but also our employees feel valued.
What prompted you to become the new owner of the Wicklow?
My background predominantly has been in the club industry but when I saw the Wicklow become available, I thought it would be a good fit for my skills and experience. The Wicklow is an icon of Armidale and is deserving of some TLC. It was really a no brainer, although I do have my work cut out for me restoring it to its former glory. I think that, in itself, will be very rewarding.
There are big changes happening at the Wicklow; tell us about this?
The Wicklow is undergoing refurbishments. We will be painting the inside and outside of the building and replacing carpet. We will then be adding some furnishings to complement the new look.
We will also freshen up the courtyard, which is one of our biggest assets.
What can diners expect to find on your new menu?
We are working towards a new menu in the New Year. We will keep some trusted favourites on the menu, some pub classics and we will complement this with some fresh new ideas and look to source local ingredients for some signature dishes.
We already have a good mix of all of this; it just needs a little tweak.
Can we expect more live entertainment at the Wicklow?
For the rest of November, December and January we have our popular Sunday Sessions back. These are every Sunday, 4pm ‘til 8pm. It’s a great way to finish the weekend with a lazy Sunday afternoon, soaking up the sun in the courtyard.
Throughout December we will be having live music every Friday afternoon from 5pm ‘til 9pm. It’s the perfect time of year, as workplaces start to finish up for the Christmas break. What better way to finish the working week and enjoy the festive season than sipping a cold beverage in the courtyard with some great food and live music! The Wicklow Hotel is a great venue for live music, and we will look at how we can develop and grow the music industry in the region.
Plans for the future?
I will be looking to continue to grow the Wicklow and the facilities it has. I want to support the community, and I will look to do this throughout my time at the pub. We have some great relationships already, and we will look to grow and foster those. We also have a few quirky surprises in store in the future, but I won’t give it all away just yet!