Koroit publicans Jason and Lee-Ann McMahon are remaining positive despite a baptism of fire in the hospitality industry.
The couple took over the lease on the Commercial Hotel in Koroit at the start of August and have had to deal with COVID-driven lockdowns and restrictions since.
"We had 24 hours' trade and then we went into a lockdown," Mrs McMahon said.
"That was the snap four-day lockdown, we then had nine days trading before going back into lockdown.
"We knew coming into the business that we would have to deal with lockdowns but it has been tough.
"We have done takeaway through it all and continue to trade within the restrictions we have.
"The Koroit community has been wonderful and supportive."
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While the challenges posed by COVID are significant, the McMahons are staying proactive, putting their own stamp on the hotel, which they lease from Darren and Julie Smith.
They have painted the front of the building, have a new menu drafted and ready to go when full trading resumes.
They have also re-branded the business Duke's Commercial Hotel Koroit.
Duke is not only Mr McMahon's nickname but also that of his father and grandfather.
"Jason and I have done the painting, it's white and green to fit in with the Irish heritage of Koroit," Mrs McMahon said.
"It has freshened the building up a bit and it has come up well."
While the McMahons continue to make the best of their situation, it has been a tough initiation.
Making life harder for the McMahons is they have not yet qualified for any government COVID financial support packages.
Like all hospitality venues, the hotel is restricted to 10 people inside and 20 outside under current restrictions, and they were also able to use the back restaurant space as a function area for 20 more people.
But new requirements have changed that with a function space now required to be serviced by a different kitchen area to the main part of the hotel.
Mrs McMahon said this news had come as a blow and is one they were working to see if they could find a solution to.
"That function space allowed us to have those small celebrations, like milestone birthdays, but now that is on hold," she said.
"It would obviously be good for the business to have that space available but also for the community for somewhere to come together for those special occasions."
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