THE Burrumbeet Hotel is getting awfully close to serving its last beer after 110 years.
The Western Highway duplication project has made the venue virtually untenable according to publicans John Runnalls and Joy Lyttle, and they have had enough.
They have conceded the pub will be forced to close its doors within nine months, most likely forever. But before they call for last drinks, the couple say they want to make VicRoads pay them for the loss of business they have incurred.
The pair say they have already received a $110,000 payout from VicRoads, but argue the business is worth far more than that.
“About three months ago it started going downhill and going fast, when they started using the new section of road,” Mr Runnalls said.
“People can’t find a way into the pub and when they do, they will have to drive around behind it just to find it.”
VicRoads plans show there will be five designated carparks on the site once the service road turns into part of the highway.
The new road will be just metres from the front door of the pub, meaning all the existing parking out the front will be moved to a road at the side of the building.
A VicRoads draft plan showing the new access road. PICTURE: KATE HEALY
“We did 80 meals last Saturday and I can tell you they don’t all come in five cars,” Mr Runnals said.
“Sixty to 70 per cent of our trade was highway trade, now that is virtually gone.”
Mr Runnalls and Ms Lyttle took out a five-year lease on the pub more than four years ago, with the lease in place until June next year.
The couple have hired lawyers from Melbourne to represent them.
Steve Pattinson, the VicRoads acting project director on the Western Highway Project, said they were in negotiations with the publicans, as well as the owners of the land.
However he would not comment on the specifics of the case due to privacy.
“We’ve continued to work closely with the Burrumbeet Hotel land owner and the leasee... to ensure that the business can continue to operate during the construction,” he said.
“As a result, we’ve addressed access concerns by constructing a new road to ensure customers can access the hotel.
“We’ve also staged works to minimise impacts to the hotel and have installed adequate signage visible to passing customers. We encourage the leasee to highlight any further concerns with VicRoads.”