Locals take on iconic pub

New owner Jackson Macdonald with new manager and lifelong local Ashley Jensen.

By Donna Jones

There’s a $1 coin stuck to the floor of the Theebine Hotel and for three decades children have been trying to pry it up off the floor.

“I’m born and bred in Theebine. I spent my childhood trying to get that dollar up off the floor cause mum said I could have another packet of chips if I got it up,“ said the new manager of the popular local pub, now a mum of six in her 30s, Ashley Jensen.

The Theebine Hotel, a grand old pub built in 1909, has always been a popular spot for locals.

Set off the beaten track in the tiny township of Theebine, population 182 (according to the 2011 census), the pub has always been the beating heart of this closeknit community.

“The pub’s been for sale for quite a while and a lot of the locals have given me a bit of a hard time saying I need to buy the pub,“ said the new owner, Jackson Macdonald.

Jackson has been a property owner in Theebine for the past 17 years, but didn’t actually move there until last Christmas.

Although he’s not a lifetime local like Ashley, he is strong invested in the community.

“A lot of the locals were concerned some outsider or foreigner would end up with it and change it too much,“ he said.

“I said I’ll buy the pub but only if you … come run this one. Ashley committed to coming and running the pub and so that was it,“ he said.

Ashley’s background in hospitality is extensive, having worked for a while at the Gympie RSL and for the last three to four years been in a senior management role at the Rainbow Beach Sports Club.

“I love my job there … they’re like a little family to me so it’s really sad to leave them but I’m excited to not drive to Rainbow Beach every day,“ she said.

Especially seeing as Ashley and her partner currently live just “three minutes“ from the pub as opposed to her former commute of 80km each way.

Aside from the faces now running the show, not much will change.

“We’ve obviously not changing any of the aesthetics of the building and we’ll keep all the memorabilia, for sure. We’ll just maximise on what we’ve got,“ said Ashley.

What will change is a few little things like new uniforms for the staff and a modern till ordering system to streamline the food ordering process, and the food itself.

“We’ve got a new menu,“ Ashley said.

The former menu had 49 separate meal variaties available.

“We’re back to the basics. All the old favourites are still there – you can still get a chicken parmi and a good steak, and we’ll keep the pizzas,“ she said.

There are also big plans for the future to keep the locals entertained and to create a venue to bring visitors to the area.

“Kroppy, my (former) boss, does all the Country at The Beach and big festivals (at Rainbow Beach) so maybe we could do something here in Theebine,“ Ashley said.

“The beer garden out the back is monstrous and hopefully we’ll be able to lease or purchase the railway land which connects in to the back of the pub – free RV parking would be amazing,“ she said.

“Ashley’s mother Dolly has got us the application and contact details,“ added Jackson.

A special grand opening event is on tomorrow afternoon and evening.

“We’ve got some live entertainment out the back, we’re going to put on a barbecue and there’s a wealth of interest at the moment so we’re really excited,“ Ashley said.