NEW Natimuk National Hotel owner Bill Lovel hopes to bring a family feel to the establishment after taking over from John and Kathy Strudwick this week.
Mr Lovel, a former owner of the Fig Tree Cafe in Horsham, began operating the historic watering hole on Wednesday, along with his wife Anne, sons Jonathan and Matthew and daughter Jessica.
He said he was looking forward to getting back into the hospitality industry after working with Ace Radio and Wimmera Volunteers.
"I am looking forward to getting back into self employment and contributing to the community out there," Mr Lovel said.
He said he had been interested in acquiring the hotel because he had strong links to the Natimuk area.
"I played footy there for 10 years and really enjoyed being in the community because they're fantastic people," he said.
"We have had the Fig Tree Cafe previously about seven years ago."
Mr Lovel said he and son Jonathan would work at the hotel full-time while his wife Anne, son Matthew and daughter Jessica would also help out where they could.
He said it would be a great opportunity for the family.
"It really will be a family business, it's not just my business," he said.
"We spoke about getting a pub when the kids were quite young but we decided we would get a cafe so that we didn't have the late night hours. Obviously, now it gives Jonathan an opportunity and also Jess, who is at university and working at Natimuk Nursing Home, a chance to work around those commitments and my wife will add her touch to the place."
Mr Lovel said the hotel would also have six other staff, with plans to expand further.
"They are all what you would call local people from around Natimuk and Quantong and surrounding areas which is good," he said.
"Hopefully we will get bigger and hopefully employ more people."
He said the hotel would continue to offer accommodation with five units at the back and upstairs accommodation, while there was also a laundrette for climbers from nearby Mt Arapiles and other community members to use.
Mr Lovel said meals would continue to be available and the hotel would continue a Natimuk National Hotel tradition of having a `pig on a spit' on long weekends.
He said the family had plans for the establishment.
"We have plans, but we want to get in and get the feel of it all because we don't want to have ideas or plans and then get into the business and find they are not achievable or could be a detriment to the business," he said.
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