New faces in business

October 27, 2017

It is business as usual at the Sportsman’s Hotel, while Matt Michael and Wiki Cooper, who have bought the lease of the hotel, decide what, if any, changes need to be made.

At 12 noon on Monday, October 23 David and Belinda Barnes, who have owned the ‘Top Pub’ for three years, handed over to Matt and Wiki. While they have sold the lease, David and Belinda retain the freehold of the building.

David and Belinda Barnes, with T.K., Wiki Cooper and Matt Michael.

David and Belinda Barnes, with T.K., Wiki Cooper and Matt Michael.

“David and Belinda have done a wonderful job, it is a pleasure to take over a business in such a good state,” Matt said.  A Grafton boy, Matt has been working in hotels in Western Australia for the past five years, including Rockingham, Port Hedland and Karratha.

Wiki, originally from New Zealand, started working in hotels in Perth. She worked at one of Perth’s premier hotels which won ‘Pub of the Year’ three years running.  She was nominated as rising Star of the Year, and won TAB Operator of the Year in 2015.

With business partners, Don Mackay and Marianne Turner, Matt and Wiki are also running another hotel, the Royal Hotel at Capertee.

Wiki’s son T.K. a ball of energy in Year 3, is also keen to be involved in the Bingara community and make new friends.  “Already we feel welcomed by the community,” Matt said.

They have no immediate plans to change the hotel.  “The foundations of a great business have already been laid,” Matt said.  “We would like to get to know the people of Bingara and surrounds, and make this their home away from home. We really want to be involved in the community, the Sporting Club, the school, etc.”

Belinda confessed that this is the first time in her life she does not have a plan.  “We are staying in Bingara, for the time being anyway. Of course, we will miss our beautiful customers, we have had three wonderful years in the hotel, we were married in Bingara, and the people here are fantastic. We love Bingara,” Belinda said.

“I don’t know what we are going to do, but now we will have time to sit down and plan, it definitely will involve horses though.”

David spoke highly of the staff who, he said, treat the business as their own.  “They are all wonderful to work with, they are like family, so it is like saying goodbye to a family member.”