Menzies Hotel faces uncertain future as dispute develops between owner, tenants

A small town in the heart of WA’s Goldfields faces the prospect of losing its only pub as concerns grow over the historic building’s safety.

But tenants at the Menzies Hotel claim they are being prematurely forced out by the landlord and local shire.

Sue and David Wessely were this week issued with an order to vacate the premises, which the shire said was “in a dangerous state and unfit for human occupation”.

The Menzies Shire’s building order was drawn from a six-month-old engineering report that was commissioned by Ms Wessely as a “proactive step”, after concerns were raised by a shire surveyor during a routine inspection.

But the Wesselys are also at loggerheads with the landlord, Sudhir Sudhir, who they say has not made any serious attempt to rectify the hotel’s structural issues.

A woman stands behind a bar.

Sue Wessely says the Menzies Hotel is an integral part of the small Goldfields community.(Supplied: Sue Wessely)

“The owner couldn’t get an engineer’s report, and I didn’t want the pub to shut down as it’s the hub of the community,” Ms Wessely said.

Mr Sudhir, who is also deputy president of the Menzies Shire, said public safety was his “number one priority”.

He did not wish to comment further at this time.

The Menzies Shire also declined to comment.

Repairs likely to cost ‘vast sum’

The Wesselys signed a three-year lease in February 2023.

They have since operated the pub and adjoining general store.

The preliminary damage report from October found the building — which is more than 120 years old — was in a “dilapidated condition” and had “not received the minimum necessary level of maintenance over recent years”.

But in further correspondence to Mr Sudhir and the Wesselys, the engineer clarified that, while it would cost a “vast sum” of money to complete the necessary improvements, they “have not stated that the building is beyond salvation”.

The Wesselys are questioning whether the building is fit to be leased in the first place.

“It’s in exactly the same condition as when we moved in,” Mr Wessely said.

“The building hasn’t moved; nothing has fallen out.”

The report found that further investigation would be required to “accurately map the full extent of the structural damage”.

Man standing out the front of an outback pub.

Sudhir Sudhir bought the property in 2019.(ABC Goldfields: Jarrod Lucas)

At its November meeting, the Shire of Menzies resolved to issue a building order to the hotel’s owner [Mr Sudhir]with work to be carried out “in the specified timeline”.

Mr Sudhir had left the meeting prior to the decision, having declared a conflict of interest.

In an interview with local media in February, Mr Sudhir flagged full or partial demolition of the building.

“We’d heard that he was going to knock the hotel down,” Mr Wessely said.

“And that wasn’t what we’d at all been talking about.”

Then, on February 26, Mr Sudhir wrote to the Wesselys to inform them that the lease had been terminated due to the building’s “precarious state”.

But the tenants refused to accept, telling Mr Sudhir on March 1 that he had failed to comply with his landlord obligations and “take actions to repair the premises”.

A drone shot of an outback pub.

The Menzies Hotel is more than 120 years old.(ABC Goldfields: Robert Koenigluck)

‘Fabric’ of the community

The Wesselys said they would fight to keep the pub’s doors open for as long as possible.

They said they would lodge an appeal with the State Administrative Tribunal against the Menzies Shire’s order to leave the building.

They have been given 30 days from the date the building order was issued.

They say the hotel, popular among locals and tourists, was the beating heart of the old gold mining town, about 130 kilometers north of Kalgoorlie.

“It’s a fantastic hotel, and the main fabric that runs through this community,” Mr Wessely said.

“And it does a roaring trade.”

In an interview with ABC Goldfields in February, Menzies Shire president Paul Warner said “a lot of people” had attended a town meeting about the future of the hotel.

“None of us want it knocked down,” he said.

“If we could save it, that’d be even better — but we’re talking millions [of dollars].”

Posted , updated