Family buys country pub, leap of faith pays off

NEW LIFE: Stephen and Jaimee Neilsen-O'Donnell own the Miles Windsor Hotel.
NEW LIFE: Stephen and Jaimee Neilsen-O'Donnell own the Miles Windsor Hotel. Julia Baker

WHAT do you do when you want to escape FIFO life, to keep your husband home for more than a week at a time and to keep your young family together?

You take a leap of faith and buy a country pub.

At least that's what Jaimee Neilsen-O'Donnell and husband Stephen O'Donnell did when they purchased Miles Windsor Hotel last year and since then, they haven't looked back.

"We've picked up a lot of business with me being a local and us being young, full of energy and ideas, and love doing what we do.

"It makes a difference to running your business every day because failure is not an option," Mrs Neilsen-O'Donnell said.

Stephen, an Irish native, was working away in Karratha, Western Australia, on a 4/1 roster after the couple returned from overseas four years ago following the birth of Alfie, their first child.

The pair purchased the hotel after seeing an opportunity to make a long-term investment in the community and bring back a sense of town spirit to Miles following the resources boom.

The couple's new direction was also driven by their desire to secure Stephen work closer to home so they could focus on their young family.

"We saw an opportunity to be a family friendly business and to be a part of the community," Mrs Neilsen-O'Donnell said.

"The last few years when we were looking for an exit strategy from FIFO, we needed to regroup and be together. We thought 'this is something we can do'.

"That's the road we wanted to go down.

"It was trying for us, but we didn't have much option. If it wasn't for the hotel we'd be apart.

"Alfie is four and Teddy is now 10 months, so we had a baby in September and bought a pub in the November.

"We bought the hotel to have a job together and to keep our family together... and we really appreciate the support of the community; we love it."

Since then, the couple has focused on creating a boutique gastropub which nods to their time travelling in Europe and the United Kingdom.

"Stephen's got an eye for craft beer from his global travels and we're a boutique pub doing great meals," Mrs Neilsen-O'Donnell said.

"From here we want to continue to do more work to turn the front into a gastropub with high stools and some Chesterfield sofas, so people can come in for a nice beer or a nice glass of wine and a conversation with their mates.

"We're also looking towards revamping the bottle shop and looking at hosting wine tasting seasonally."

The Windsor Restaurant menu offers a range of classic pub meals and gourmet pizzas for lunch and dinner seven days a week, as well as a well-stocked range of craft and tap beer and boutique wines.

The hotel can also cater for functions of up to 50 people and offers a daily packed lunch for miners, tradespeople and long-term visitors.

"The locals like to have somewhere different to go, we get our everyday lunches in here and if people have events they come to us and that's really special," Mrs Neilsen O'Donnell said.

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