Historic pub pours its last beer

CLOSING TIME: Dudley Arms tavern in Mangatainoka. Owners, Dave Woolland and Vicki Spicer.
CLOSING TIME: Dudley Arms tavern in Mangatainoka. Owners, Dave Woolland and Vicki Spicer.

The end of an era was marked as the final beer was poured at the Dudley Arms tavern.

The bar is a landmark in Mangatainoka, where it has operated as a pub since 1888.

Last month owners Dave Wolland and Vicki Spicer decided they couldn't carry on.

They bought the pub nine years ago but business slowed right down over that time, Wolland said.

When the liquor licence ran out on August 19, they decided not to renew it. They were done.

"Things have got pretty slow in the country area," Wolland said.

"It's basically a sign of the times."

On a good day they were getting about 12 customers, he said.

The low price of alcohol at supermarkets and people drinking at home instead of going out were contributing factors.

Down the road Tui HQ resides, which "hasn't helped the situation", Wolland said.

The brewery applied for a tavern licence in 2011.

At the time, Wolland accused the brewery of going back on its opening promise to not go into direct opposition with cafes and bars in nearby towns.

Tui commercial manager Nick Rogers told Fairfax in 2011 the brewery had no desire to be a pub. It had applied for a tavern licence at the recommendation of the Liquor Licensing Authority.

Wolland said competition from the brewery was too much for the "little rural pub".

Getting burgled in May was the straw that broke them, Wolland said.

"I have mixed feelings about it," Spicer said.

There were good times, she said.

"We had a guy drive here from Hawke's Bay just for a Dudley burger," Wolland said.

A Dudley burger is Wolland's specialty - a burger with a three quarter pound of home-made meat patty.

"You got coleslaw underneath, patty, bacon, an egg, cheese."

Customers from around the globe loved the burger, Wolland said.

Both said the best part was the people they met.

Not only did they come in for a beer, they came in for a coffee or for a chat.

"We saw both sides, we saw some arrogance," Wolland said. "Met a lot of good people . . . different people, from different walks of life."

The couple laugh as they remember the characters they encountered.

"We'll have a look at it in a month's time, may open up as a cafe or something. It's time just to have a break and kick back a little bit."

Manawatu Standard