Drovers Dog Bar & Grill closes

AN AWARD-winning Hervey Bay restaurant has closed and predicts others will shut in the next year due to a weak economy, rising costs, lower tourist numbers and the changing attitude of diners.

Sharon and Simon Mackay's Drovers Dog Bar & Grill in Urangan served its last meal on Saturday night after eight years in the Bay.

Ms Mackay estimated they had lost at least a couple of hundred thousand dollars because they had not been able to sell the business and had to leave behind their equipment as compensation for breaking the lease.

She said it had not been an easy decision to walk out on the business they had put their hearts and souls into but they had been going backwards every day.

“It's very heartbreaking, very sad,” she said.

“We went from two years ago doing 60, 70 people a night on Friday and Saturday night to maybe six if you're lucky and it's been like that for the last year-and-a-half.”

Ms Mackay said electricity, food and rates bills had all gone up while the number of tourists and backpackers had gone down and the economy was depressed.

“People just can't afford to dine out anymore,” she said.

Ms Mackay said many of Hervey Bay's retirees liked to spend just $10 on a meal and put $50 into poker machines and although Drovers Dog had introduced $10 meals and pizzas to compete, it had not made a difference.

“I don't think people really understand how tough it is in a restaurant and how much you do try and keep prices down but when the prices of food and meat go up all the time, you just can't survive,” she said.

“A lot of places are going to be closing their doors in the next 12 months – I'm sure of it.”

Ms Mackay said they had worked seven days a week – her husband was the chef and she had waitressed at night after working as a vet nurse during the day.

She said to pay off their debts, her husband had now taken a job cooking for miners in northern NSW and she continued to work as a vet nurse.

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