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New adventure . . . Waihao Forks Hotel new owner Sue Tily has swapped being on one side of the pub for the other. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

Sue Tily and Mark Tangney have swapped being on one side of the bar for being on the other.

The couple used to visit the Waihao Forks Hotel for a drink, but since taking ownership earlier this month, they have been rushing around pouring pints and serving the locals they used to sit alongside. Miss Tily and MrTangney, who have been together for 13 years, took over from Shane and Sandy Doolan , who moved on after 19 years, on May 2.

It had been a stark change for the young couple, especially Mr Tangney, who was previously a sheep and beef farmer, but Miss Tily said it felt right.

Miss Tily is originally from Temuka, and MrTangney, Waimate. They were living in Cave when their local pub went up for sale. Mr Tangney had always wanted to be his own boss, and was interested in the pub, but Miss Tily was never sold on it.

When Mr Tangney mentioned the Waihao Forks Hotel, with a house attached, Miss Tily could see herself settling there and the pair put in an offer.

Last week was their first full week running the pub and they said that they had found they were loving the experience so far.

Miss Tily was ‘‘hospitality through and through’’ having worked in cafes and restaurants, while Mr Tangney had given up farming to take on running the pub.

The pub came with a block of land and they planned to put animals on it soon. ‘‘It’s been a big lifestyle change for him,’’ Miss Tily said.

The Forks Hotel had a ‘‘winning formula’’.

‘‘It’s home. It’s a home environment and when people come in here it’s their home . . . for that night.’’

The Forks Hotel also came with its own special story about Ted’s Bottle. Private La Tour Mollet (Ted) d’Auvergne’s bottle of Ballins XXXX green-label beer has been left behind the bar, unopened, for 83 years.

Pte d’Auvergne, a Waihao Downs farmer, left the bottle at the Forks Hotel as he raced away to catch a train to head to war on December 27, 1939. He asked publican George Provan to save the bottle for him to drink when he returned. Pte d’Auvergne never returned, having been killed in action in Crete on June 3, 1941, aged 35. Mr Provan kept his, word saving the bottle which is still awaits Pte d’Auvergne’s return.

Miss Tily said she knew a little about Ted’s Bottle before buying the pub, but it was ‘‘way bigger’’ than she could have imagined.

‘‘It is this pub.

‘‘The pub and a lot of the area revolves around it — it’s important. It’s a bittersweet story.’’

Alongside Miss Tily and Mr Tangney, there were five staff at the pub, whom they could not thank enough.

Manager Alana Taupo, the previous owners’ daughter, knew every customer by name and all-rounder Colleen Moulton knew everything. Head chef Sharon Prattley — ‘‘whether or not she actually likes having the title’’ — had been ‘‘bloody brilliant’’, Miss Tily said.

‘‘We’d be lost without Sharon. We can’t thank Sharon enough.’’

Miss Tily and Mr Tangney were preparing to host their first big event, the Waimate Shooters Club Pest Quest, on June 26, and their first darts tournament on August 13