One Southern Highlands business had just gone through two years of upgrades and re-branding and was finally "hitting its straps" when the COVID-19 pandemic regulations forced the doors shut.
The enthusiastic husband and wife team behind the Highlands Hotel in Mittagong are eager for things to get back to normal.
Brett and Maz Tonkinson took over the hotel as publicans just over two years ago.
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They have spent the past two years repainting, refurnishing and re-establishing the pub as a family-friendly environment with an "amazing vibe".
They introduced family fun days on the last Sunday of each month in January 2020, with a free sausage sizzle, jumping castle and relaxed environment for the parents proving a great drawcard.
Another event on the first Saturday of each month - themed DJ nights feature music from past decades - had also attracted growing support since the introduction in January.
And the next, community-minded, event involved a day to say thank you to Southern Highlands Rural Fire Service volunteers, Fire and Rescue NSW firefighters and their families held on March 7.
The event coincided with the launch of the pub's new name Highlands Hotel (formerly Lion Rampant).
Brett said the new-look pub was truly starting to hit its straps.
He said it had experienced two of its best weeks in early March.
But then the COVID-19 restrictions brought an abrupt stop to everything they had worked towards over the past two years.
Brett said the hotel bottle shop had continued to operate and accommodation had remained available throughout the shut down period.
"There are not a lot of people needing accommodation, but we are open for those who do," he said.
"We offer a discounted rate for nurses, paramedics and other healthcare industry workers who need accommodation when they have shifts in the area."
However, the shut down of other features had been a blow.
While the easing of restrictions has been welcomed Brett considers the limit of 10 customers at any one time as "ridiculous" considering the size of his pub.
He also acknowledges that the frustration has been felt by all publicans.
"I could easily seat up to 60 customers, while still ensuring the social distancing rules are met," he said.
However Brett is resolute about the situation, making the most of what he can do within the current rules of trade.
The hotel bistro began trading once more as soon as restrictions eased on May 18.
"We have reduced the options on our menu, but there is still a selection of hardy, comfort food options available," he said.
The pub bistro is now open Mondays to Saturdays for lunch as well as Monday to Saturdays for dinner although the Monday to Wednesday dinner trade is subject to demand.
Brett said that bookings were advisable due to the customer limit of 10 people at any one time.
However, he said walk-ins were welcome if the limit had not been reached.
Under the current restrictions the service of drinks is only permissible when dining.
In the meantime, Brett and Maz will be keeping a close eye on any changes to restrictions and are looking forward to a return to normal.
The Highlands Hotel is located at 75 Main Street, Mittagong.
The Highlands Hotel is located at 75 Main Street, Mittagong, and don't forget the large convenient drive through bottleshop, The Bottle-O, located directly behind the hotel in Victoria street. The bistro is open from 11am to 2pm for lunch and from 5pm to 8pm for dinner.
Bookings are advisable and can be made by calling 4871 1090.