AFTER almost six years, the Dooen Hotel owner is saying farewell - and making sure she leaves the pub in safe hands.
Ali Faux took over the business from Mick and Helen Harris in August 2014.
They will take over their old business again on July 1.
In the years since she took over, Mrs Faux fashioned the popular venue into a family-oriented business with a laid-back atmosphere.
Now, personal reasons have forced her to step back.
Mrs Faux will hand over the keys after June 30 - weeks after the business will reopen from forced closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The hotel opens on Friday after closing towards the end of March.
It will start back operating only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Mrs Faux said bookings were important and many slots were filling up quickly.
If there was enough interest the pub would also open on Thursdays.
Mrs Faux said the business would follow a number of new rules to fit in with COVID-19 restrictions.
The hotel will allow 35 patrons at one time and staff will provide table service.
"It's very different," Mrs Faux said.
"The regular won't be able to come in and just order a pot at the bar."
Mrs Faux said she was sad but ready to farewell the hotel.
"It's fairly mixed," she said.
"I've got a lot of ideas and plans for the place but unfortunately things have taken a different turn."
The mum of three has spent a lot of time at Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital in the past year.
Her son Charlie, 10 months, spent a quarter of last year in the hospital.
Charlie and his sister Maddi, 9, both face spending more time at the hospital in the near future for separate health issues.
"When Charlie was in hospital on a ventilator, I sat down and thought 'I don't need that stress anymore'," Mrs Faux said.
"It was a quick priority reassessment.
"My time's not needed to be pouring pots anymore."
She started testing the idea of selling.
"Then COVID happened. I thought that was going to be me done," she said.
Mrs Faux said her children's father, Glenn Faux, was almost at risk of burnout trying to balance a full-time job, work at the pub and parenting, especially with two children with ongoing medical issues.
She said there were a lot of responsibilities and stress that came with owning a pub.
But she said she would miss a lot of it, especially her staff.
The majority of the staff will continue on when the new owners take over.
"The patrons and staff are all quite close," Mrs Faux said. "It's going to be difficult to leave."
The family will miss being "regulars" at the Dooen.
Charlie, Maddi and brother Brodey, 7, have grown up at the pub and got to know the patrons.
"It's like their second home," Mrs Faux said.
When it came time to sell, she was certain the pub wouldn't go to just anyone.
"I've got to make sure they've got the right intentions," she said.
Enter Mick and Helen Harris - the original owners she bought the business off years earlier.
Mrs Faux said Mr Harris had contacted her when he heard she was thinking of selling.
The Harrises own the premises and have been Mrs Faux's landlords throughout her ownership of the hotel.
They also own the Cheeky Fox Cafe in Horsham.
Mr Harris said taking over the Dooen wasn't a priority, but when the opportunity came up he couldn't pass.
"Now the decision's made, we're really rapt to go back," he said.
"We're really looking forward to being there."
Mr Harris said the 144-year-old pub would open seven days a week.
"The Dooen pub has always been an icon. It's been through ups and downs but every time it comes out the other side," he said.
"The pandemic's the only thing that's closed it.
"We're looking forward to catching up with a lot of people we haven't seen for a long time."
Mrs Faux thanked everyone for their support over the years.
Now, she's looking forward to visiting the hotel where she's affectionately known as "boss lady" after June 30, but as a patron.
"I'm looking forward to sitting down with the kids for a meal and not have to get up and work," she said.
"That will be a pretty significant moment."
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