When it comes to giving back to the community, the boys from North Coast Hotel Group are at the top of list. These four boys work tirelessly keeping each of their venues at such a high standard, never losing sight of what’s important. Supporting local is something that is a high priority for each of them. FOCUS grabbed a schooner with Moonee Beach Tavern Director, Harry Barry, to find out more …
Can you please introduce us to your team and their individual roles?
How’s it goin’! I am Harry Barry, and I am a Director of the North Coast Hotel Group. We own and operate a number of hotels in Coffs Harbour and the North Coast. I look after the Moonee Beach Tavern. My partners are: Ric Gianoli, a long-time resident of Woolgoolga, where he and his family have had the Seaview Tavern and the Emerald Beach Bottleshop for 30+ years; Twane Voglsinger, a Coffs boy, born and bred – he has been at the Hoey Moey for the past seven years; Charlie Nalder, settled into Woolgoolga six years ago with his family and now looks after the Village Green Hotel in Grafton for the NCHG; Mark Mihai has returned and is on board with us at the Seaview. We have a great team of Managers/Licensees throughout the venues, Tim, Mark Sylvia and Damien at Moonee Beach Tavern; Mark, Ben, Crozz and Gerard at the Seaview Tavern; Ryan, Bec, Laurelle, Wayne and Gus at the Hoey Moey; Anthony, Knotty, Maddy and Nerada at The Village Green.
We have over 120 staff working at our hotels now, and we are lucky to have them. They are the face of the hotels, and they are the real reason people keep coming back to the venues.
What have been some of your achievements throughout 2016/17?
We have had a big year! The Moonee Beach Tavern has won this year’s “Business of the Year” and the “Tourism and Hospitality category” at the Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce Sunny Awards. We have also taken the Highly Commended Award at the AHA NSW Awards for Excellence, for “Best Family Friendly Venue”, for the second year in a row.
The Seaview Tavern has won the coveted “Best $15 Cheap Eats Category” at the AHA NSW Awards for Excellence, and this is on the back of the Village Green Hotel winning this award the previous year. The Village Green Hotel also took out the Best Food and Beverage category in the Clarence Valley Business Excellence Awards and was a finalist in four categories in the 2017 AHA Awards for Excellence.
The Emerald Beach Bottleshop was a Runner Up in this year’s Liquor Stores Association NSW & ACT (LSA) Awards for Excellence.
The Hoey Moey has over the last few years received Highly Commended Awards at the AHA NSW Awards for Excellence for “Live Entertainment Venue of the Year” and “Best Promotional Concept”. I think that’s what they won …
The NCHG was nominated for both the “Group Hotel Operators of the Year” and made the final of the highly sought after “Heart of the Community Award”- an award that recognises hotels that are an integral part of their local communities.
But I think our biggest achievement this year has been tidying up the backend of the businesses; we have brought a bit of structure to our ordering, point of sale, marketing and accounts departments. We have also finished some renovations at each of the hotels, mostly improving our outdoor offerings, and all the hotels have invested in some new play areas for the kids and families.
Each venue targets a different demographic. Can you please share with us each venue’s target audience?
I am not sure that we are all that different from each other really; we all have our famous “Daily Meal Deals”, we all have live entertainment, and we are all major sponsors of the local teams and events. We all have great outdoor spaces and well stocked bottle shops.
We have deliberately tried to give each hotel a different look and feel, and I suppose if I was pushed I would say the Hoey is more about live entertainment, the Moonee and the Seaview about the kids and their outdoor spaces, and the Village has a great bottleshop, but really we have gone to great lengths to ensure that each of our venues has great food, live entertainment and great family friendly facilities.
Is live music a part of your focus within the group?
Live entertainment and pubs, in our opinion, should go hand in hand. All our venues do regular live bands and other pub style entertainment, but I think we have pushed the bar and put our own spin on many of these events. The Hoey Moey’s Sunday Sessions are widely recognised as one of the best in the country and now that we have the option for live bands on the Beer Garden Stage, we will see more of the big acts – like our recent Bliss ‘n’ Eso and Illy shows. The SV just ran a brilliant Battle of the Bands comp for all the young budding musos in the Northern Beaches; the Moonee and the VG have made a name for themselves by bringing the best tribute shows in the country to the coast, such as The Eagles, Pink and Creedence Clearwater Revival shows.
How important is it to maintain a family friendly atmosphere?
The hotel game is one of the most over regulated industries in this country. We made a conscious decision a number of years ago to make sure we focused our pubs on the daytime and early evening trade and avoided the hassle of late night trading and the issues that would inevitably follow. This meant that we needed to ensure that we were the venues of choice for the local families. The mission was to make sure we invested our money into renovations and activities that would suit the growing numbers of young local families on the North Coast.
We all have kids; Ric’s daughter, Brittany and my daughter, Ciara are now working in the pubs. Jack (10), Bella (11) and Eli (8) make pocket money scrubbing the glasses, Saxon and Diaz help their Gran do the gardening at the Hoey, Mark’s young lad is a dishie at the Seaview, and Jayden always seems to have a spanner in his hand fixing something that has broken down. We live and breathe these businesses, so we feel we knew what was missing, and I think our venues scream “family friendly” … Our entertainment guides always have kids’ activities, and the venues are designed with the family in mind. I think we have nailed it – and we have more improvements in the pipeline.
Tell us about your community involvement.
Community involvement is the backbone of our businesses … We believe community acceptance will only be achieved with community involvement, and we actively seek out events, clubs and fundraisers to assist. We are driven to make things better in our neighbourhood, not just because we run the local hotel, but because we are a part of our community.
The North Coast Hotel Group invests significantly in locally oriented sporting, community, social and school groups. This investment links back to the objectives of our business plan in creating a “HUB” in the local community. It is our philosophy that our hotels MUST be viewed as …
“Part of, Friends of, Partner of, Sponsor of, Home of, Patron of”. Our business made a decision to invest 70% of our marketing budget into sponsorship of local events, cultural groups and sporting clubs, rather than spending this money in the usual advertising channels. We are heavily invested in ensuring that our local community feels comfortable identifying our hotels as the meeting places or hub of the community.
This year we have rolled out a few food and wine festivals; we have helped with the bars at the Coffs Showground and at the recent rodeo in Nana Glen. We had a Christmas Food Truck Festival at Moonee and a Taste the Plate event at the Seaview on the 17th February. We think it is important for us to be creating new events for our communities to enjoy, so you will see us focus on this type of thing in the coming year.
When managing a pub, what is the key to being a success?
The key to running a successful pub … Hmmm … We all have brilliant wives who know more about this business then we do; they also pay all the bills and tell us where we are supposed to be and when we are supposed to show up. Without them, we would be lost!
Besides that … Knowing what you are good at … and doing that thing well! Surround yourself with happy, hardworking people who want to enjoy doing their job. We don’t pretend to be anything that we are not … We do good beer, we do good pub food and at a good price, and we try to make sure that everybody comes back for more.
What are your plans for the future?
If I told you … I’d have to kill you … Whatever we do next, we will make sure that Nicci from FOCUS knows first!
Where can we find out more about each venue?
All the pubs have their own websites … I am sure Mr. Google will point you all in the right direction. The best way to stay up to date is to follow our socials – Facebook and Instagram are our main marketing tools, so as they say …Follow us on Facebook!