In Our Pub by Clyde Mooney

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Ipswich publican Craig Wise is reviving one of the area’s oldest pubs, bringing back an old name with a new look and feel.

What was the Irish-themed Squealing Pig has returned to its former moniker of the Federal Hotel, under which it opened back in 1907.

But in response to what he sees as a gap in the tough Ipswich pub scene, Wise has gradually transformed the pub into a modern sports bar, with big new TVs and Foxtel hook-up, playing a wide selection of sports.

“We’ll be fully open, with the new kitchen and meals and everything, in a couple of weeks,” Wise told PubTIC.

“We just want a relaxed place where people can enjoy a few beers.”

Beyond the Queensland pub staples, there will be a selection of craft beers in stock, and the kitchen will serve simple pub fare.

Wise reports that business is driven by takeaway sales and the area is a tough market for pubs. Recent times have seen the Ulster, CBD Tavern and Caledonian Hotel closed down, and Murphy’s “mothballed”. The City View Hotel across the road, which opened the same year as the Federal, has been converted into a hostel, and One Mile Hotel demolished.

Not incorporating poker machines at the Federal, Wise has taken the opportunity to bring in a TAB operation, filling a gap left with the shut-down of the Caledonian.

He has also installed pool tables, with plans to operate regular competitions to encourage sport-minded business on a Thursday night.

“Ipswich is a tough place. We do good numbers in the bottleshop, we’re just lucky we’ve got bar trade as well, a lot haven’t.”

Former Squealing Pig now Federal Hotel Ipswich. Image: Google maps