Party’s over by midnight at the Oxo

THE OCCIDENTAL Hotel will close its doors at midnight for at least two months from tomorrow in a bid to regain public faith.

Owner John Phillips said the decision to bring the pub’s closing time forward from 3am was areaction to alcohol-related crime at the venue.

He said the trial was the right thing to do for the community.

“The community has turned against us and that really hurts us, it’s not worth the pain,” Mr Phillips said.

Of the other late-night traders, Royal Hotel licensee Tony McClure said he would not participate in a similar trial and Hotel Orange licensee John Fabar said he would not comment on the issue.

Mr Phillips said he was absolutely gutted by the decision because he would have to lay off staff and reduce hours.

He said the pub would focus its attention on nurturing Orange’s musicians and providing quality food through its restaurant.

“We have a commitment to local musicians and we wouldn’t go back on that commitment,” he said.

The Occidental Hotel has booked live music every weekend for the next month, in its upstairs area which trades until midnight.

“Let’s see what happens and then we’ll reassess our decision,” he said.

“If we don’t see a change in alcohol-related crime statistics then we’ll have to review our reasons for doing the closure.

“For us it’s a matter of trying to do the right thing.”

Mr McClure, who is also the Australian Hoteliers Association delegate for Orange said walking away from the alcohol-fuelled antisocial behaviour problem was not the solution.

“Walking away is easy, if you have a business you need to nurture that business,” he said.

“I am trying to find solutions to the problems and move forward, I know it’s tough for businesses at the moment but I am doing my best to work with OLGR (Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing) and to work with all regulatories.”

Mr Phillips said he was worried closing the pub at midnight would mean his patrons would head to the other two late night trading venus and would not return if the pub re-opened until 3am.

“All the bad publicity has filtered on to us and we want to deflect that and get out of the late night service for a while,” Mr Phillips said.

“There is no simple solution, we have to take the heat out of the whole thing.”

The Occidental Hotel startedtrading until 3am in June last year.

Licensee Don Sholte said while closing the doors earlier was a negative, a positive to come out of the situation was the concentrated focus on other areas of the establishment.

Orange’s Occidental Hotel will try earlier closures in the wake of negative events.

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