VISIT: Revamped decor will make pub and village a destination

Susanna Freymark

Lisa Stewart stood on the burnt ground among the charred trees at Rappville and looked across the railway line to the grand 1911 hotel.
She was drawn to buy it, she said, although at the time she didn’t know why the pull was so strong.
That was 18 months ago and with partner Colin Foyster, they have transformed the pub.
I had a vision, Lisa said with determination at the newly renovated Commercial Hotel.
Lisa Stewart and Colin Foyster haven’t stopped working since they purchased the Rappville pub.
One of the major hurdles for Lisa and previous publicans was getting approval for a kitchen in the heritage listed pub.
That has been done and come December 3, the pub will serve hot food from a fitted out stainless steel kitchen with up to 80 guests sitting on the veranda.

The shiny Italian coffee machine sits on the kitchen counter ready to make lattes.

The road to renovation has been hard work and getting the kitchen up to fire safety standards wasn’t easy.

“We’re very determined,” Lisa said. “When you set your mind to do something, you see it through.”
The new decor gives a nod to the railway past of Rappville and the romantic colours and quirky decorations add character to the interior.
The history of Henry Rapp’s pub is something Lisa holds close to her heart.

Wherever she could she kept the original features.

She fought with inspectors to keep the brick fireplace in the kitchen and the original floorboards throughout the pub have a new shine to them.
“I do not want to rid the pub of any of its character,” she said.

Lisa’s vision is for the pub and Rappville to become a destination.
“I feel there is a lack of original country pubs that haven’t been commercialised,” she said.

I’ve studied so many pubs and I’m drawn to the ones that have character.

For a village still finding itself after the 2019 bushfire that almost burnt the historic pub – twice, Lisa hopes her plans will put Rappville on the map.
And she isn’t thinking small. The next project for her and Colin is to create a lake out the back of the pub with a bandstand gazebo and beer garden that could be used as a wedding venue. Upstairs she wants to see a whisky bar.

Lisa said she had no intention to sell the pub despite pubs in Casino, Evans Head and Kyogle being sold for record prices.
“We’re here to stay,” she said.
The couple are living upstairs in the pub while they do up a timber cottage across the railway line for their new home.
Lisa is seeking old photos of the original interior. Go to the Commercial Hotel Rappville Facebook page and contact her.
Dining at the Commercial Hotel in Rappville. Photos: Contributed



3 thoughts on “VISIT: Revamped decor will make pub and village a destination”

  1. We are proud to be a part of Rappville’s history as our family bought a humble house over a decade ago and our friends who live there kept our house free from that dreadful fire. What wonderful atmosphere you have re-created! We can’t wait until we sit and sup and sip. We’re from Tabulam.

  2. thank you to the owners of the rappville pub my great grandfather henry valentine rapp help build the pub i am glad some one is looking after looking forward when you open up to come out for a meal henrys daughter emily married david hannah yours truly lesley field nee hannah

    lesley field nee hannah

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