Iconic Townsville gay bar the Sovereign Hotel has been put on the market for sale or lease.
Peter Haines and Steve Jebb have owned the venue for 20 years, and originally bought it because the region lacked a permanent meeting place for the LGBTIQ community.
The couple, who have been together for 32 years, told the Townsville Bulletin they were now looking to relocate to the Gold Coast to be closer to Jebb’s mother.
“I think it’s the last gay bar trading in a regional town in Australia,” Haines said.
“Gay bars are folding everywhere. [Gay people] are welcome in the mainstream community now.
“Once upon a time you would get your head punched in [for being openly gay] but not any more. Gay bars are coming to an end everywhere.”
The 114-year-old property on Flinders Street has been restored by the couple and is listed at a price of $3.5 million.
The venue’s ground floor includes bar and cold room, stage with DJ facility, dressing and change rooms, fully equipped commercial kitchen, cafe and restaurant, pool room, and beer garden, according to the listing.
The top level features fully furnished single and double accommodation rooms and a manager’s residence.
NQ Realty agent Greg Banks said the property is ideal as an entertainment, dining and function venue for patrons in Townsville’s entertainment precinct.
Peter Haines and Steve Jebb said the Sovereign Hotel has been their pride and joy for two decades.
“It’s been 20 years this month that we’ve owned the hotel. We have spent 20 years restoring it. [The job’s] pretty well finished,” Haines told the Bulletin.
“But wouldn’t it be emotional to let it go?
“I’ll have $3.5 million in one hand and a box of Kleenex in the other.”