For three-time NBA basketball champion Luc Longley, being part of buying an old pub is about fulfilling a personal love as much as it is about honouring a landmark that is close to his heart.
Longley, the first Australian to play in the NBA, grew up in Fremantle and moved to Denmark, on Western Australia’s south coast, in 2015.
He has fond memories of Denmark, an “antidote” to his fast-paced lifestyle playing for the formidable Chicago Bulls NBA team in the 1990s.
Longley is part of a group of local, like-minded investors who recently bought the Denmark Hotel in the hope of giving it a fresh look.
Longley is one of 12 people who have bought the pub — a local watering hole since 1926.
He says he loves old pubs and this one in particular helped him form friendships when he first moved to Denmark.
“It was my first integration into the Denmark community really,” Longley said.
“I met a lot of people that I’m still friends with now.”
The pub will continue trading until Easter when it will close for about a month for renovations.
Food will also form a critical part of the venue with Longley’s wife — chef Anna Gare — to lead the formation of a future menu.
“Anna will get very involved and she’s very excited about that,” Longley said.
“She thinks about food and produces non-stop.
“I think she will have a lot of fun connecting all those things in the dining room.”
In the meantime, the pub’s food will continue to be served by the current chef who is ironically named Michael Jordan – like Longley’s former Chicago Bulls star teammate.
A new look
As for how the pub will look in the future, there’s no one set idea.
“How long is a piece of string?” Longley said.
Locals gathered at an event last week at the hotel to pitch in their visions for the pub’s future.
Accommodation upstairs and across the road from the hotel is also getting a facelift, with a bottleshop to serve as a hub for local wine, beer and produce.
Hotel manager Jared Strike said people had a range of ideas.
“Some of it’s achievable … I think $6 jugs and $6 fish and chips may not be so much,” Mr Strike joked.
“There’s a massive amount of interest in restoring the pub to its former glory.”
He is also putting a lot on the line, having recently moved to Denmark for the project.
Mr Strike has a business background in hospitality and wineries around Perth and Margaret River.
“I’ve always holidayed in Denmark, it’s a pretty beautiful part of the world,” Mr Strike said.
“When the opportunity came up to jump on this project … it was pretty exciting.”
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