The sports bar and gaming room at the Southgate Inn have been renovated by owners The Pub Group, making it the most up-to-date sports and gaming offering that Tamworth has seen for quite some time.

For many of Tamworth’s residents, the sports bar at the Southgate Inn becomes a home away from home during winter, ensuring a successful trading period for the pub even through the colder months.

“Sports for us is a massive thing in this town,” says Craig Power, director of The Pub Group, which owns the Southgate Inn and four other pubs and bars in Tamworth.

“A lot of people like to watch sports during the winter periods, and we’re fortunate enough to have really strong business during winter because of winter sports, and the support of the sporting clubs and fixtures that we as hoteliers sponsor.”

The gaming room, sports bar, and bistro previously occupied one area, and the impetus for the renovation was to maximise the space within the venue.

“We had a larger bar area that wasn’t getting much use, so by moving the gaming room over into that unused space and creating a larger sports bar, it has increased revenue and interest and creates a new feature for the town,” says Power.

“With the sports bar we were able to make it a lot larger within the space that we already had, but also add an outdoor alfresco veranda as well, and from there you can now overlook the local rugby club and pool. We’ve been able to open up the whole building to give it a better view and make it more spacious.”

Behind the blueprint

One of the main considerations for the redesign of the venue, particularly the gaming room, was to lighten the space, which is illustrative of what Power sees to be a growing trend in the pub market.

Breathing new life into the venue, the expansive sports bar offers a fresh palate that flows into the outdoor seating area, and the gaming room also offers an indoor-outdoor element with a skylit wall of foliage lining the room.

“I think there’s a bit of a movement towards lightening and brightening gaming rooms a little bit more, so you don’t feel that it’s a dark place where you need to come and hide,” says Power.

Southgate Inn gaming room
The gaming room has been made lighter and brighter, something Craig Power expects to see more of in the pub sector.

With sports being a focal point of the pub, LED screens have been installed throughout the venue, while the sports’ balls adorning the top of the bar give a nod to the pub’s clientele. The refurbishment of the space, which was self-managed by hospitality heavyweight Power and The Pub Group, really hones in on the entertainment element of the pub experience.

“We came up with most of the concepts ourselves. Being publicans, we do a lot of travel, and we visit a lot of venues throughout New South Wales, Australia, and even overseas. We are fortunate enough to come back with enough of our own ideas to get designs down on paper and work with project managers to get it completed,” Power said.

“We worked with Bill Smith from Design Group, who did all the cabinetry which was great. We’ve added high benches in between each of the games so that the customer has good access to their beverage, or whatever our offer is in that area.

“For Tamworth, it’s the first fully serviced gaming room that any hotel has done in the region. It’s a first, and we’ve had so many great comments from other industry associates in the town. It’s a nice change for Tamworth, and we’ll keep moving forward that way with our other venues,” he added.

While the high standard of refurbishment has been recognised by industry peers, it’s also been a hit with Tamworth locals and sports fans.

“We haven’t had one negative comment, everything has been so positive,” Power says. “It’s important to freshen up your energy every now and then. It gives you longevity, and it gives your customers what they deserve and see in other spaces around the industry. It’s been overwhelming the response that we’ve got.”

This piece was first published in the April issue of Australian Hotelier. Check it out below.

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