Pier Hotel back to the good old days
By CRAIG McTEAR
WARREN Skinner has spent many enjoyable hours socialising at the Pier Hotel.
So much so, the Coffs Harbour car dealer has decided to spend several million dollars buying the pub and making it an even better place to visit.
Mr Skinner and his wife, Kay, officially take over ownership of the historic premises on Friday.
"We made our home in Coffs Harbour 18 years ago, and I've met a lot of business and sporting people at the Pier," he said.
"So I certainly felt comfortable about buying it.
"I think the Pier has an identity all of its own. It's iconic, and it's certainly in the best location in Coffs Harbour for a hotel, right on the restaurant strip.
"We want to breathe life into the Pier again, and make it into the meeting place it used to be. Friday nights in particular used to be packed.
"We want to turn it back into its heritage look on the outside, but make it very modern on the inside. A beach and harbourside hotel ? that's our theme."
Within the next few months, Mr Skinner will revamp the terrace, the bottle shop and the gaming room.
"The terrace will be turned into a lounge atmosphere, with new furnishings and a completely new look," he said.
"We're going to increase the size of the bottle shop and move the gaming lounge further back inside the hotel."
Mr Skinner is also looking for a new bistro owner.
In the longer term, he hopes to convert the top floor from accommodation into private function rooms and a dining area, and there's also a chance of reinstating the upper verandas.
"I'm very aware of our current patrons. We don't want to change the world in five minutes. We want to look after our loyal clients and work on attracting new customers," he said.
"I come from a sporting background ? football, cricket and horse racing ? and our doors will always be open to the Coffs Harbour sporting fraternity."
Mr Skinner said he was pleased the business, which was formerly owned by a partnership of five people, was remaining local, instead of going to an 'out-of-town consortium'.
His other enterprise, Coffs Harbour Toyota, would be a separate entity to the Pier Hotel, he said.