Much lauded and super-fit hotelier Stephen Hunt has unveiled to PubTIC plans for his latest acquisition in one of NSW’s growth corridors.
Located on a busy intersection of the New England Highway, on tourist route A43 out of Newcastle, the Rutherford Hotel is the third pub for family-run Hunt Hotels portfolio.
Seizing the opportunity, owner and managing director Stephen Hunt purchased the hotel and adjacent block late last year, and predicts big things for the 3,000+ square metre site.
“We are currently finishing off a rebranding of the Hotel,” he said. “All departments of the pub will be having a facelift.”
Planning a full-service destination for the area, which is undergoing a boom in housing development, there will be increased function space and a re-vamped bottleshop, and the gaming room will be relocated to better suit the layout and new model.
But the future could see significant structural changes that may include an expanded operation or redevelopment of the block, due to the corresponding purchase of the vacant lot next door.
“With the rebrand we are going to be changing the hotel’s signage, and give it a fresher look, making use of the natural light – but making sure we pay homage to the hotel’s age,” said Hunt.
“There was a hotel first built on this site in 1851, meaning the combined total age of our pubs is over 320 years. That’s a lot of beers, steaks and yarns!”
Hunt champions the virtues of “a healthy mind and body” in his life and business, choosing to train regularly for social runs and ocean swims when not in his hotels. He completed a Masters degree in 2013, followed by executive education at Harvard in 2014.
The family has owned and operated pubs since the 1940s, and currently boast The Kent in Hamilton, and now The Rutherford. They recently leased out operations of The CBD hotel in Newcastle.
The group earned no less than nine nominations in the AHA NSW Awards for Excellence in 2014, and another two in 2015. Last year also saw them nominated for three categories in the prestigious 2015 Hunter Business Awards, including Business Leader of the Year for Stephen personally.
Hunt says the latest addition to the portfolio will help bring them further valuable benefits in economies of scale. He also hinted at another to come in the near future, also in the Hunter region.
“Buying power will be improved across food and beverage, and access to a larger pool of talent in terms of personnel. Also, the ability to try different promotions with the different demographics.
“One thing that remains common to all customers, regardless of where they are, is good customer service, good value and a good comfortable environment.”