FROM barfly to bar owner, Tom Stratton is living every 25-year-old’s dream.
Born and raised in Wagga, Mr Stratton has returned home as the new face of the Sportsmen’s Club Hotel, after six years working and managing pubs across Sydney.
It is a stint the city’s youngest publican isn’t taking lightly, making the transition from patron to publican with ease, backed by experience.
“I’ve got some good memories here after race days,” Mr Stratton said, adding he’d never imagined standing on the other side of the bar years later.
“I was always going to go and study economics.
I started running pubs and realised I’m more interested in running pubs, not running spreadsheets.”
The Kincaid Street pub is the closest watering hole to the adjacent race course, making this week’s official handover one of the pub’s biggest weekends to coincide with the annual Picnic Races.
In taking over the reins from previous owners of three years, David and Sonya Dean, with his younger brother Ben, Mr Stratton plans to maintain the historic pub in all its glory and further its reputation as a family-friendly environment.
"I'm more interested in running pubs, not running spreadsheets ... It’s honestly the best feeling coming back to Wagga."
“I’d been looking to come back here for quite a while,” Mr Stratton said.
“It’s a solid local trader.
“Sporties is an every person’s pub – the pub accommodates for families, tourists, locals, white and blue collar workers.”
Back on home turf, Mr Stratton believes local knowledge to a publican is as important as the brew and bites they serve to patrons.
“I think it’s paramount,” he said.
“It’s honestly the best feeling coming back to Wagga.
“We’ll just focus on the basics and maintain it as a friendly environment for residents to enjoy.
“We’d been looking to come back for a while.
“Sporties has a really good base.
“The iconic Aussie pub is alive and well as it has ever been.”
The brothers plan to honour the pub’s history as the city’s first hospital, but are looking to refine its food and beverage options, such as introducing a pop-up seafood stand.
A courtesy bus will travel between the Sporties and Slocum Street on race day this Saturday.
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