Family calls time on popular Ipswich pub
SELLING the Ipswich pub that his family has proudly owned since 1986 was not an easy decision for David McLean to make.
Led by David's dad, the late Jeff, the McLeans saw the Coronation Hotel through the good times and tough times over the past 32 years.
Reflecting on his years spent running the pub alongside sister Bridget and mum Carmel, David said significant changes in the industry more recently had slowly eaten away at the business.
The Coronation Hotel building went on the market last week, with the family hoping it remains as a pub in one form or another for years to come.
"It was a hard decision, very sad," David said of the decision to sell.
"I spent a good bit of my life there. But at the same time I am excited about Ipswich's future. It is a good time to be living in Ipswich and I think the next 10 years will be very exciting."
Jeff and Carmel McLean ran the Central Hotel in Ipswich before moving across the Coro in the mid-80s.
At that time, the West Ipswich pub was owned by Castlemaine and it was one of several pubs that the breweries were selling off.
Interestingly, the McLeans had a choice of buying either the Racehorse Hotel at Booval, or the Coro.
According to David, Jeff chose the Coro because he believed he could do more to improve it.
David said the hotel enjoyed its peak in the mid-to-late 90s.
"People's behaviour has changed a lot since then," he said.
"Blokes go the gym after work now, or they have a list of things they need to buy for the family on the way home."
On top of that, David believes the best pubs are owned by people who control multiple venues.
"The industry has evolved to a place where the best are getting better," he said.
"Only the strong survive, and you've also got Coles and Woolies forming a big part of the industry."
After a long period of leasing the pub out, David and Bridget returned to run the pub in a hands-on capacity in 2009.
Jeff remained a mentor, but fell gravely ill and died in August that year.
The McLeans have soldiered on ever since. In 2014 they made the call to sell the lease to the pub.
New leasees Maryanne and Geoff Einam took over the lease in June this year, with a vision to take the pub into the future.
Unfortunately their vision was never realised.
David said he remained optimistic that the building could be successfully operated as a pub by the new buyer.
"We are the last piece of the puzzle on that block to go for sale, which makes it quite attractive as a development opportunity," he said.
"For Ipswich's identity, it's important to keep the things that were important in the making of Ipswich. This city is looking to rediscover its identity through all the challenges it has faced recently.
"I would love to see it become a landmark."