Luke Dryland always knew he wanted to own his own pub but little did he know what a wild ride it would be.
It's been 18 months since Dryland was handed the keys of the beloved Sutton Forest Inn.
One year on he was forced to close the doors yet again with the Greater Sydney and Regional NSW lockdowns severely hampering and ultimately cutting off business entirely.
Despite being eligible for government support, Dryland said it had been drawn out over two months.
"It only just started coming through last Saturday," he revealed to the Southern Highland News.
"We applied for it at the end of June but my issue was I only started trading on July 1 last year, so they were going back and forth trying to find a competitive period [to judge losses].
"In the end they finally came to the table but dealing with Service NSW, you are dealing with people who aren't professionals in that field, they've just been thrown into this job.
"For your government grant you're dealing with one person and then for JobSaver you're dealing with another person."
With the popular roadside pub so reliant on weekend trade, the initial lockdown in late June made its effects known immediately.
While thankful for government support, an initial confusion around lockdown had left Luke and his staff in a precarious position.
"The way I see it is while JobSaver is a little bit less, the big companies aren't going to get it," he explained.
"You need to have a downturn that those big companies that did get JobKeeper aren't going to have.
"Once Sydney was shut down we felt it straight away. Weekend trade for us is fantastic because we get that Sydney crowd, people from Wollongong and Campbelltown. Your locals can only do so much and we rely heavily on that weekend trade, it's about 70 or 80 per cent."
"We were told it was only going to be a week, then another week, then another two weeks so it all sort of backfired a little bit. As it's gone on longer and longer it's getting a bit more frustrating.
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"Letting down staff [is hard] because they don't know when they were getting a paycheck. It's difficult but you just have to manage it best you can."
You could forgive him for dropping his head but Dryland said he was still living the dream after moving from Sydney.
"It's my first owned pub so it's been a bit of a rocky road but everyone's in the same boat," he said.
"You just have to band together. She's a beautiful pub, I moved down from Sydney because I couldn't afford to own one there so I found this nice little country town."
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