Lexton residents are celebrating a "rousing success" after moving one step closer to achieving a collective purchase of the town's beloved pub.
On Sunday February 4, 2024, nearly 100 people attended a meeting at the Lexton Community Hall to gauge investor interest in buying the pub, with two thirds of attendees later completing an investor survey.
The results of the survey have now been analysed, leading organisers to feel "cautiously optimistic" a buyout can be achieved.
Lexton residents Jono Wright and Dale Coutts were responsible for analysing the results, in a statement the pair said they had received a healthy number of non-binding pledges, and 21 people had expressed interest in participating in a steering committee.
"The response to the survey was a rousing success, with more than two thirds of the meeting attendees completing the survey," they said.
"The tally is a heartening response, and the amounts pledged leave [us] cautiously optimistic an offer can emerge."
The Lexton community has rallied around the Pyrenees Hotel ever since it suddenly shut from January 12, 2024, owing to a dispute between the business owners and operators.
The closure has left heartbroken locals with no communal meeting place, and worried their town could face irreversible decline.
All we can do is put together the town's offer, say 'this is what we think is reasonable for us', and whether or not that's in the ballpark for them, I don't know.- Lexton resident Rob Burgess
Lexton resident Rob Burgess, who helped facilitate initial buyout discussions, said he was "really" pleased the survey had been a success, and thanked the initial organising group for making it a possibility.
He said the next steps in the potential purchase would begin after the steering committee was named, but a business advisory firm based in Ballarat was providing them with an informal assessment of the costs involved.
"[The firm] said they'd give us an informal glance, to tell us what we're up against, and what the costs will be," he said.
"So we don't really have to fork out any money to get an idea of what we need to do."
While there are still several obstacles in the way of the purchase, including not knowing what value offer the hotel owners will accept, Mr Burgess said the increasingly tight-knit community would succeed one way or another.
"All we can do is put together the town's offer, say 'this is what we think is reasonable for us', and whether or not that's in the ballpark for them, I don't know."
"This has brought the community together already, we've had a couple of informal pub nights in people's paddocks and things, and it's really brought people together."
"We'll keep that spirit rolling no matter what, and find a new way of getting together if we can't buyout the pub, but we're still hopeful we can."