Last call for iconic Melbourne pub

By Eva Garnes

There will be sadness all round when the Tierney family turn off the beer taps at the Elms Family Hotel in the new year.

“It will be devastating leaving the tight-knit community,” Veronica Tierney said, as she and daughter Genevieve Callister contemplate leaving the Spring St pub in mid-January.

Ms Tierney and her late husband Basil have run the traditional hotel since 1986.

Mr Tierney was held very dear among the regulars, known for saying that there is “not a man in this bar I can’t handle”, as well as correcting people’s grammar, not allowing swearing and banning pokies.

The result was a pub where conversation and social interaction were the main activities and everyone who entered was more than welcomed.

“Pokies tend to be very solitary and loud, and he didn’t like that. To this day, the music is never loud, and the social atmosphere is the focal point,” Genevieve explained.

Since its opening, the Elms Family Hotel has always been independent and family-owned.

“My happiest memories have been living together here, with all six kids, working as a family,” Ms Tierney recalled.

Genevieve added: “Recently, we have gone back to having the family living together at the Elms again, and it has been more fun than I expected.”

The Tierney family has decided to surrender the lease back to ISPT, the owners of the property freehold. With the closure of the Elms Family Hotel, the CBD will lose an important social hub.

“Travellers from out of town come by, having heard about this place before arriving in Melbourne. Many who previously frequented the Elms when the Commonwealth Building was just across the road have also returned in later years. In our group of regulars, many have been here longer than us,” Genevieve explained.

Most of the regulars have said they will miss the local meeting point, where banter is always present and anyone is included in the different conversations around the bar.

As for the Tierneys, the future is still uncertain. After having run the hotel, both Veronica and Genevieve have gained experience in working on all the aspect of the business, from cleaning and doing the handy work, to stocking the bar.

“It is hard leaving this life behind. We will never be able to recreate the Elms, but you never know what our next step might be,” Genevieve said with a smile.

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