Owning and operating a country pub in a picturesque, isolated pocket of the country is a notion that can easily be romanticised. You might envisage yourself pulling beers as you banter with your regulars, and while such a romanticisation can be at least partially possible, such a plan needs to be assessed in conjunction with the reality of successfully operating such an enterprise. If it has been an ambition to own (whether via freehold or leasehold) a country pub, your chances for success are dependant on a great many number of factors, some of which are outside your control. Still, you can maximise your likelihood of owning and operating such an establishment by being extremely selective when choosing a pub for sale.
Many rural pubs are successful businesses based on their own reputation and their near-iconic status. Purchasing such a pub makes success not a certainty, but easier to achieve since you would essentially just need to sustain the pub's success by taking ownership of a tried and tested business. Your income would be derived from a core network of regular customers, along with a sizeable contingent of one-off customers (tourists) who have actively sought out the business. But the purchase of an icon is not always so straightforward.
Take the Walkabout Creek Hotel in McKinlay, Queensland. The pub achieved fame after being featured in another Australian icon, Crocodile Dundee (1986). The hotel sold for an undisclosed amount back in 2014, said to be a high six-figure sum. Even if you could find such an icon on the market, the purchase price is going to be hefty. You might also be competing with private investors as opposed to those who want to become the publican. In such instances, the visible publican is simply a salaried manager, with the actual owner being an investment group. Such a reality can certainly slice through the romanticisation of country pub ownership. The price alone can make ownership of an icon infeasible.
A Successful Existing Country Pub
A more practical method is to take over an existing country pub that has some of the hallmarks necessary for continued success, even without being considered an icon. Though a tourism destination in its own right derives its income from both locals and visitors, and it can be possible to find a pub that also relies on such a model, albeit in a reduced capacity.
Consider a pub with core regulars whose repeated business is the bread and butter of the operation. This could conceivably allow you to derive a modest, though sufficient, income that is (most importantly) sustainable. Such a model is generally dependent on being the sole pub in the area, or one of a small number of few. Too many competitors have the potential to dilute the available number of customers.
Consider a pub that receives bumps during the tourist season and whether this busy period is sufficient to sustain the business to an acceptable level during the quiet season. You might wish to consult with an accountant who specialises in hospitality to achieve a comprehensive look at the finances of a tourist-dependent pub.
There are many factors involved when it comes to successfully owning and operating a country pub. But it can be a lot easier when making a carefully measured decision about which pub to buy in the first place.