Daylesford’s oldest pub has new boss

PUBLICAN: Former Williamstown resident Mitch Duncan has bought The Farmers Arms in Daylesford with partner Steven Chau. Picture: Sam Shalders
PUBLICAN: Former Williamstown resident Mitch Duncan has bought The Farmers Arms in Daylesford with partner Steven Chau. Picture: Sam Shalders

THE oldest pub in Daylesford now has new owners with Mitch Duncan and partner Steven Chau taking over The Farmers Arms earlier this month.

After being satisfied customers during regular trips to Daylesford, the Williamstown residents couldn’t resist the chance to take the reins of the business when it was put on the market.

“Some very good friends live up here and we have been coming for about five years as patrons of the hotel,” Mr Duncan said.

“When we found out that it was for sale, we thought what a great opportunity.

“I had restaurants years ago, my father had restaurants, but I have never been a publican before.”

Mr Duncan has been in business his entire life, mainly in the automotive industry, and said the same principles apply when it comes to managing any product.

“It is stock, it is staff and it is customers,” he said.

“It is pretty transferable. No matter what, staff and customers always have the same high expectations that you have to deliver.”

Under the new ownership, regulars to The Farmers Arms can expect the same quality atmosphere that has seen the pub become an icon of the Daylesford region.

From the front bar, to the food head chef Gavan Anders produces in the kitchen, according to Mr Duncan none of it will change.

“It is iconic, the locals treasure it and and it has a great reputation that attracts the ‘out of towners’ that come and expect the same level,” Mr Duncan said.

“We paid for a business that runs really well, so it would be silly to make all these changes.

“What we want to do is build on what is already there. We may clean the place up a little – the beer garden, a little decor change here and there – but pretty much it’s business as usual.”

What the new owners are aiming for during their tenure is to see The Farmers Arms grow even bigger.

Mr Duncan said in total about 17 staff are employed by the Daylesford business. 

The hunt is currently on to add an additional sous chef, apprentice chef and a ‘new front of house’ member.

After being ‘an out of towner’ himself for five years, Mr Duncan is hoping he can use that knowledge to provide a great experience for his customers.

"I don’t think there are any external challenges that we face because we have a great product in our pubs and cafes – everything in Daylesford is beautiful – the locals are terrific and really welcome ‘out of towners’ which is really important,” he said.

"I think the only hurdles we’ll face are our own. We’ve just got to keep looking at our businesses from the outside in and making sure that we keep that high standard up.”

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