FOCUS Talks with Matt and Leigh, Owners of the Top Pub in Uralla, about the journey so far …
Tell us a little about the Top Pub.
Twenty five years ago, we were heading for the coast. Today we are still here in this magnificent little town, and it is a privilege to be part of this community and also to be a part of and to have seen the many changes that have occurred here over the years.
In 1995, the Top Pub was a paint peeling white with mission brown doors and shutters, and dining was not even considered an important part of the day to day running of our pub. The smoked filled front bar was still a place to meet up with friends, and the younger patrons would shoot pool, listen to the juke box, fight and play card machines in the other smoke filled room the locals affectionately called the “Zoo Bar”, which has over time been transformed into our restaurant.
We laugh about it today, but in those very early days our lunches consisted of rissoles, frozen seafood baskets and a burger and our dinner guests could have a microwaved meal that was actually prepared at lunchtime! We’ve enjoyed seeing our hotel morph over the years to a friendly place where families actually choose to come.
So, there have been many changes over the years?
Today our talented chefs, Mika, Charlie and Katie deliver outstanding meals over and over again. The way they work together as a team and put love and passion into each dish of our extensive menu – we feel they have been most instrumental in helping make the Top Pub a place for all to enjoy. Over the years we have created a place that we personally would like to come to and relax. When you arrive at the Top Pub, you are guests of our home, with our love, heart and soul on display.
What’s owning a business in Uralla like?
Living in a small town is like living with an extended family. We know each other and look after one another. Being in business in Uralla is also a bond that all businesses here share. We are in it together, and The Top Pub is only just a small part of all the great little places that Uralla has to offer. Wether people drop into the Top Pub or visit the many quality cafés in town, or stop by all the quirky little shops, Uralla has something different for the public to visit and enjoy.
The businesses here are all run by hardworking operators who love what they’re doing and more importantly, genuinely love Uralla. We are lucky enough to have Why Worry and Merilba Estate wineries, Dobson’s Distillery and the New England Brewing Company, a very unique butcher shop, Dale’s Downtown Meats, that is always coming up with something new and supplying us with first class product every time. We use Chook-a-look free range eggs, that are all locally produced, fine Milly Hill meats, local liqueur is poured over some of our home made desserts and we also source fresh fish and prawns that are delivered regularly by Hux’s Seafood from Coffs Harbour.
What do you think draws people to the area?
Outside of the hotel, we have many external influences that also contribute to our town. The Thunderbolt Festival, run by hardworking volunteers, and the Seasons of New England food and produce festival highlights locally made products in the New England region. The Uralla Showground committee also hosts many events throughout the year. At the back of the Top Pub, an annual rodeo is put together by Adam Hone and his crew. This year we are gearing up for the Thunderbolt Rodeo on Saturday 18th November. McCrossin’s Mill Museum holds many weddings, functions and musical events too, bringing many tourists to town.
Plans for the future?
Running a hotel means there is always something more to do, which keeps everything interesting and us on the move. We have started renovating the north side of the upstairs area, to provide another space for high tea and accommodation. At the end of the day, all we want to do is provide a happy and good value venue for all to enjoy – “the Top Pub, everybody’s pub”!
Any final words?
In our hotel, very importantly, it’s our loyal locals that make our pub such a great place to be. Our very friendly and often very funny punters in our front bar, along with our beautiful guests that come to dine in our restaurant and beergarden, all make it easy and enjoyable to be working at the Top Pub. They, along with our caring and friendly staff, past and present, with many becoming like family are the main essence and ingredients of our hotel. We at the Top Pub feel extremely lucky and very grateful to be part of this era in Uralla.
Thanks Matt and Leigh.