Squeezing a well-deserved celebration in prior to the social gathering restrictions and hotel closures was The Manly Hotel, which raised a glass to the McDonald family who recently celebrated 50 years.

The month of March marked the 50-year anniversary for the McDonald family who have enjoyed the stewardship of The Manly Hotel since 1970 when Stewart and Dulcie McDonald took over the license of the hotel, the social, focal point of the Manly Harbour Village.

Since then, The Manly Hotel’s ethos has been about providing the bayside community with a place to enjoy a drink with friends, have a great meal, and experience some of the fantastic entertainment and events put together by the McDonald family.

GALLERY: images from the Manly Hotel's history

Like many family-operated premises, Stewart and Dulcie passed the license down to three of their children who still hold it today; Jenny Bradley, Doug and Sandy McDonald.

Working together in a family business has been rewarding for the trio who attribute their successful longevity to their loyal staff - some who have worked at the hotel for more than 35 years.

“Fifty years is quite a long time for a business to survive and maintain its relevance to its community,” Sandy said.

“We have survived many challenges over the years with forward thinking and our family of workers.

“It’s all about being relevant to your community and being part of the larger picture, often perseverance in the face of incredible odds.  By sharing together, we have been able to sustain the withering schedule that a pub dictates. It takes a tremendous toll on families,” Sandy said.

The three siblings said they all contribute to the business, working around family obligations, sharing the roles and carefully dividing the tasks and responsibilities, as Sandy explained, a publican’s life is a 24/7 business with several different franchises under the one roof; from on-premise bars to gaming, catering, accommodation & bottle shops. “We’re all in this together,” he said.

“Growing up as one of seven children you learn to get along and accept each other,” Jenny said.

“Sandy, Doug and I are the youngest of seven children.  Returning home from a working holiday overseas in October 1972, Dad very quickly broke me in to doing the daily sheet reconciliation of the takings, banking, paying accounts and processing wages,” Jenny said.

“Here I am 48 years later doing the daily till reconciliation, banking and wages!

“I think the biggest change came in the late ’90s when we computerised accounting and payroll, as up till then, I processed it all manually.  There were fewer staff when I came home [from overseas] however, by the ’90s with TAB facilities, gaming machines and detached bottle shops, staff almost doubled,” Jenny explained.

“Consequently with GST and other regulatory requirements, I no longer have to do the accounting work and now electronic banking means no more handwritten cheques... and pays into envelopes.  So my working day has shortened, but it is good to still be doing something,” she added.

Sandy recalls, “There are a few things that I see as memorable and positive improvements in the industry over time including increased competition; broadening of client base and product offers; being a part of the first grace period in 1964/65 of the consumption of alcohol after 10pm; the introduction of having a license to serve until 10.30pm in the Clipper Lounge entertainment area, which had to be accompanied by a substantial serving of a ‘forked meal’; witnessing the higher status of women in society, with increased earning capacity which has changed the marketplace, making the hotel more accessible to all, including families and special needs persons,” he said.

Being a family-oriented hotel, The Manly Hotel prides itself on offering something for everyone as well as being a support to community, local businesses and various social, cultural, educational and sporting activities, assisting their fundraising projects and events.

“We are more than happy to sponsor local events to help give back to the community that supports local business,” Sandy said.

“I must also acknowledge the critical importance of building relationships, not only with our community, customers and visitors, but importantly with our peers, through the great networks we have been able to access.  For example, the Queensland Hotel Association’s member base, with their personal advice and the support of its splendid secretariat, who have all helped us adapt to the rapid changes in societal expectations, as we exercise our licence to sell controlled substances.  Our local Bayside Licensed Venues Association also provides an important forum for all of our regulatory partners, wherein we discuss and develop sensible and safe responses in a rapidly changing regulatory environment.”

“We’re truly passionate about serving up good times, cold drinks, quality pub meals and live entertainment in a clean, safe and friendly environment.”

“While The Manly Hotel is committed to helping prevent the spread of COVID 19 and has closed its doors until further notice, our 18 accommodation rooms will still be operating, with our associated Bottlemart bottle shops, here in the Liquorbarn, Manly Mall, Manly West and Capalaba, all continuing to trade as normal, with home delivery available from our bottle shops, supported by our strong, responsible service of practices,” Sandy said.

Prior to the closure of all hotels, the McDonalds celebrated their 50th anniversary, with a small group of current and previous employees, guests, suppliers and local elected representatives.

Sandy, Jenny and Doug hosted the festivities which started with a morning tea in Sails Bistro with a 1970s-themed menu, drinks and entertainment.

“We wish to thank the community, our loyal customers and the thousands of employees who have contributed to our success in achieving this landmark anniversary of The Manly Hotel,” Sandy said.

“During our 50 years at the hotel we have been fortunate enough to have employed a wonderfully loyal, long serving number of employees,” Jenny added.

“Some who have spent over 40 years with us. We still have several long-serving employees. My daughter Susan and niece, Janet have been working at the hotel for over 20 years, so it truly is a family-run business.

“Having long-serving staff has allowed my brothers and I to survive. There have been good times and trying times, but through it all we have made some great friends for life,” Jenny said.

“We are proud to have been your merchants of fun, your brokers of good times. A great way to spend 50 years.”

In spite of the the temporary closures, Sandy was very positive about what the future will hold for The Manly Hotel.

"Having served our local community for so long, right now, I look forward to the truly revolutionary changes that we are going to see in our transactions space with the advent of shared ledger accounting," he said.

"Shared ledger accounting and its new mechanism of exchange will radically change the way we do business in the years to come, massively reducing our costs in the process. It will be irresistible to all of us labouring in the SME world. It will be hard to stop.

"Hang in there, it's going to be one hell of a ride over the next few years!"

For more information on The Manly Hotel, Queensland, visit their website www.manlyhotel.com.