Tailem Bend and Meningie, South Australia
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Frank stopped for a beer, and bought the pub – again!

Frank stopped for a beer, and bought the pub – again!

For the second time, Frank and Alison Dean are back behind the bar at the Tailem Bend Hotel, enjoying seeing old friends and renovating the main street building. ‘It’s my wife’s fault again, I just wanted a cold beer!’

So what bought them back for a second stint, thirty years after they first owned the pub? A good opportunity and great people, it would seem.

Passing through town on the way to visit Frank’s mother in Naracoorte, Frank felt the need to quench his thirst and take a trip down memory lane, but was shocked to find the hotel had been closed for weeks. 

Still seeking that elusive beer, Frank was thrilled to find the front bar over at the Riverside Hotel was full of old mates and familiar faces. 

‘Nobody believed that we were just passing through,’ Frank laughs.  ‘All they said was, ‘We know what you’re really up to, you’re here to look at the Tailem Bend Hotel’. Maybe they knew something we didn’t, but that was that as far as we were concerned.  We weren’t looking to buy a hotel.  Until we dropped in again on our way back to Adelaide!’

‘Back in the mid 80’s, we bought the hotel off a bloke named Bob Rickets, with the intention of staying for just three years.  We stayed for ten, and here we are again,’ Frank laughs.

‘This town was full of colourful characters back then and still is. Tailem was really like a Wild West Town – the railway boys were so much fun and they still are.  They’re great blokes, always there to help out and wonderful company.’

Believing you need to spend a bit to make a bit, Frank and Alison have been enjoying giving the hotel a new lease on life, as it was run down and had suffered extensive water damage.  They’ve installed new carpets and ceilings, plumbing and electrical, and the final painting will soon be complete, ready for new beds and linen.

‘It’s great bringing Tailem’s ‘old local pub’ back to life, and with all the spin-off we’re getting through the bottle shop and the dining room from The Bend Motorsport Park, we couldn’t be happier with our decision to return to Tailem,’ Frank says.  ‘It’s great catching up with everyone and we’re having a ball slowly improving the old place.  She’s a beautiful old building that deserves her facelift.’

So what other plans can guests look forward to? Frank and Alison plan to update the bars and dining room with a history theme, and will be releasing a new menu to compliment the traditional Wednesday ‘Steak Night’ and Thursday ‘Snitty Night’. 

And, although they have yet to approach Council, Frank and Alison are excited about their plans to develop an alfresco seating area on the main street.  ‘Outdoor dining can transform the atmosphere of a street and our patrons will be able to sit and enjoy it.’