Creative thinking has one clever publican giving new hope to the idea of catching up with mates at the local.
Ask many people what they have missed during the COVID-19 restrictions and they will inevitably say "catching up with my friends at the pub".
Or maybe they will say "after work drinks with my colleagues at the pub."
Well NSW premier Gladys Berijiklian had hardly finished her announcement, on May 15, that pubs with bistros or restaurants could re-open with up to 10 guest, when one publican had brought a clever idea in to play.
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The idea is now enabling the opportunity for mates, work colleagues or families to catch up for a solid social stint at the pub.
Licensee of the Bowral Hotel Conor Murray immediately launched his plan for groups of up to 10 people to book his pub for three solid hours.
He put a price tag of $100 per person on the initiative, which includes a meal with a few drinks on the side.
All this with an open fire as a backdrop and even a large screen that can be pulled down to play something entertaining in the back ground.
He is well aware that "something entertaining" could soon be football, which is set to kick off the season - again - on May 28.
Even, better news is that the three-hour catch-up at the pub can be booked at any time during trading hours which are 10am until late, seven days.
"We are following all the rules of COVID-19 restrictions," he said.
"We allow a maximum of 10 customers for seated dining at any one time, there is plenty of room for tables to be well spaced, we have sanitising stations throughout the pub and drinks are only served when people are also dining," he said.
"We now offer table service only, no one can go up to the bar to order.
"It is basically what you would expect when attending a wedding."
Even better news is that the group booking concept is not restricted to lunch and dinner trading hours. If the pub doors are open the 3-hour group bookings are welcome.
Another treat available for the duration of the pub trading hours each day is the $2 taco offer.
People can drop in for a taco and a drink at any time the pub doors are open, provided the limit of 10 seated customers has not been met.
"The great news is that as of June 1, we will be able to host 50 people and still have plenty of room to space everyone out," Conor said.
His response followed an announcement by the NSW Government just after midday on May 22.
Conor said that even if the pub had reached its dining limit customers were still welcome to buy a taco to takeaway.
While news of the group dining opportunity is spreading quickly, Conor assures that individual diners are also welcome for lunch and dinner seatings, provided the hotel is not already at its COVID-19 capacity.
The lunch menu features an impressive selection of meals with a set price of $15, which includes a free soft drink.
There are also some great meal choices on the dinner menu.
All meals on the menu are also available for takeaway, which has been one service available at the Bowral Hotel bistro throughout the pandemic.
And for those who simply want a drink - well that is something that is possible only from the drive through bottle shop.
In the spirit of supporting community Conor prides himself on stocking a good selection of locally produced beers, ciders and wines in the bottle shop.
He also has local wine available from the bar as well as two local beer on tap for those who want a drink while dining.
"With the attempt to support locals through the tough times the Bowral Hotel has also slashed prices across its bottle shop range, some of the best prices in town," he said. "We currently price match Dan Murphy's Mittagong and will continue to do so."
The Bowral Hotel is located at 412 Bong Bong Street, Bowral, with the drive-through bottle shop accessible from Banyette Street. Accommodation is also available.
Bookings for dining and for the $100/person group bookings are advisable.
Details and booking: 4862 2646 or go to the website www.thebowralhotel.com