NEW FACE: With decades of hospitality experience behind him, Lee Skerman has taken over operations at the Duke Of Edinburgh Hotel in Walkerston.
NEW FACE: With decades of hospitality experience behind him, Lee Skerman has taken over operations at the Duke Of Edinburgh Hotel in Walkerston.

New future ahead for region’s oldest pub

THERE is a new man at the helm of one of the region's oldest pubs.

With decades of hospitality experience behind him, Lee Skerman has taken over operations at the Duke Of Edinburgh Hotel in Walkerston.

Mr Skerman said he jumped at the offer when the hotel's owner tapped him on the shoulder earlier in the year after the former lease holder, Mark Laffin, decided to end his lease.

After years spent managing and operating venues across the region, including Magpies Sporting Club, Mr Skerman said he felt ready to tackle the challenge of his own venue.

"Running your own venue is always something that is appealing," Mr Skerman said,

"Particularly the competitive nature of it and I guess it is what is closest to my heart.

"I have done it for well over 20 years now, over everywhere between Townsville, Airlie Beach and here."

Mr Skerman took over the lease on July 22.

The Duke was built more than 100 years ago in 1882 and still operates on Walkerston's main street today.

While he wants to leave his mark on the hotel, Mr Skerman said he valued maintaining some of its traditions.

"You don't want to alienate any of the local populous who are already very loyal to the hotel," he said.

"This is one of the early challenges you face in any hospitality business. I've managed to do it successfully before so I am relatively confident I can do it now."

One aspect of the buinsess he plans to refresh is the hotel's food offering.

"The offer we are looking at is a little different. I suppose it is more akin to what I've been involved with in the past," he said.

"It will be a very grill oriented menu. We want to take that next step into that country cottage sort of steak house."

Recently the Duke's lease has changed hands a number of times. Mr Skerman said he planned to invest time and effort into turning the pub into a success.

"This is very in the early stages. I can't see achieving what we want to achieve in just a couple of years," he said.

"I think it is potentially one of these buinseness we need to run and be comfortable with until we're ready to leave it.

"At this stage it is an open-ended question."



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