The “new” Settlers Inn is focused on good old fashioned country hospitality and traditional pub meals made with fresh, quality ingredients. We speak to proprietor Alistair Flower about his vision for the The Settlers Inn.
This isn’t your first rodeo; what has your experience been?
Nice way to put it. I’ve been in the pub industry since I left school and worked my way up the food chain from glassie through to executive management positions in the corporate pub sector. I’ve been involved with circa 80 pubs, mainly in NSW, all completely different in their own communities; however, Settlers is the first pub I have invested in. I suppose you can say I have had a sort of 20 year apprenticeship!
Any pubs of note?
My experience has introduced me to heaps of great pubs: Collaroy Hotel; Centennial Hotel and Woollahra Hote, both in Woollahra; Buena Vista Hotel in Mosman; The Royal at Paddington; Willoughby Hotel; Bristol Arms Retro Hotel in the CBD; and locally, I’ve been involved with Tacking Point Tavern, Finnian’s, Town Green Inn and the “Macca”.
What attracted you to this opportunity to take over Settlers Inn?
Aligning of the moons, perhaps? The opportunity to relocate the family to Port Macquarie was too good to refuse. My previous jobs had me travelling most of the week, and now I’m able to be close to my family. My wife, Renee, also works on the business with me. Additionally, tourism in the area is on the rise and Port Macquarie is growing – a great time to be involved.
What was your inspiration for the new style and branding for Settlers?
I’m a true believer that my brand needs to tell a “story”. I’ve incorporated a rooster into our logo (and no, I’m not a Sydney Roosters fan, as my locals think!) but the rooster represents for me: fresh and local produce, family friendly, and good old fashioned country hospitality. These will be my focuses for the “new” Settlers Inn.
My style is country coastal, and I’m incorporating a fair bit of blue through staff uniforms, feature walls and artwork. I’ve also taken some inspiration from The Collaroy, which was a recent project in Sydney.
What was important to consider when creating the new bistro menu?
Pub meals are often seen as being one dimensional – big schnitzels, burgers and steaks – and yes, we do these dishes well, but we also wanted to cater more for families. So, we have brought more variety to our menu. We have some lighter lunch options, like the chicken wrap, grilled Barramundi tacos and some additional salads. We also have healthier options, such as sweet potato fries and organic sausages on the kids’ menu. Additionally, we have ensured we have catered for dietary requirements and have available gluten free chicken schnitzels and vegetarian pizzas.
Our chefs and I are proud of our local region and have consciously made the effort to use the best fresh local produce we can find.
How have you emphasised “traditional pub grub” with a modern twist?
I don’t like the term “modern twist”, because it sounds like you are trying to be all fancy and possibly destroy a good traditional dish! Simply put, we just focus on doing the traditional pub dishes bloody well. And it’s the small things that you will value most and you will come to expect with us – a good portion of crispy beer battered chips, a variety of good sauces for your steaks, schnitzels crumbed in-house so they are unbelievably fresh dishes full of flavour.
I don’t want to just have “another burger” on the menu. My focus with my chefs is on flavour and as an example, we have introduced a house made smoky jalapeño chipotle sauce that is so good, you could basically put it on anything!
Always supporting local sport and community groups, how will you continue this in future?
We are a pub – a Public House, and my utmost commitment is to be the cornerstone of the local community. We will support community groups as much as we can through fundraising, allowing the community to use our facilities and services and providing function rooms for community meetings and get togethers.
What do you enjoy about running a business in Port Macquarie?
I have run businesses all over Australia – city and country – and I don’t think I’ve ever seen the community spirit that you see here in Port Macquarie anywhere else. It is infectious; you want to get involved and although it’s now a large regional city, Port Macquarie has a wonderful small town mentality. Everyone knows everyone, and I find people are very generous with their time and willingness to see you succeed.
What is your vision for the refreshing upgrade of The Settlers Inn?
My vision is pretty simple – to be the best community pub in the region, with fantastic staff, service and facilities. We sit on nearly an acre of land here, and I look forward to maximising our foot print and offerings. I’m looking to become even more family friendly and increase the scale of our bistro.
How have these plans been put into action?
We will launch a new state of the art Sports Bar which will lead onto our Beer Garden, that has never really been activated. I have a new games room and function room which will also be completed in July. Once completed, we will look to increase the size of our kitchen and bistro floor space.