THE doors of Beechworth’s Empire Hotel failed to open on Monday and it seems the historic watering hole has shut – at least for the time being.
Gerard Kearney, who has managed the Empire for some years with his wife, Karen, told the Ovens and Murray Advertiser by telephone yesterday afternoon that the Camp Street hotel had closed at the end of trading on Sunday.
Mr Kearney confirmed that he was the lessee and said “and that’s all I’ve got to say” before he ended the call.
It is understood that up to nine staff have lost their jobs.
A search engine social media listing for ‘The Kearneys’ Empire Hotel’, showing 461 ‘likes’, was yesterday opening to display a message: “Sorry, this content isn’t available right now”.
The hotel’s social club page, with 65 members, remains published.
A prominent Beechworth business proprietor – who did not wish to be named – said the Kearneys had made “a red hot go” at the Empire during their tenure.
But the retailer said commercial conditions in the town had been lacklustre and the hotel’s closure was perhaps symptomatic of a “less than robust” local economy.
Indigo mayor Jenny O’Connor said she was concerned about Empire staff who turned up on Monday for work to find their jobs gone.