CHEF Matt Moran's vision for The Rockley Pub is slowly coming together.
News emerged in mid 2021 that the acclaimed chef had purchased the pub. After a short closure, the pub reopened in March.
Since then, the pub has received significant support from the community and wider Central West, with people excited to see the direction the pub goes in now that the menu has been revamped and renovation plans are in the works.
"The area has been fantastic," Mr Moran said.
"We've had lots of support from the Central West, whether it's further out - Orange, Bathurst, Lithgow - and we're seeing people from Sydney, not as much now because it's colder and there isn't accommodation.
"... It's exciting and I'm still spending plenty of time out there and loving it and enjoying the country life a little bit more."
What patrons have seen so far is only the beginning, though.
Mr Moran has an enormous vision to transform the quaint country pub into a thriving destination restaurant, complete with accommodation, as well as to improve the amenities of the Rockley village by adding a general store.
Bathurst Regional Council approved a development application (DA) for the pub in February.
Under the plans, the internal floor layout of the existing bar, dining and kitchen areas on the ground floor will be refurbished and reconfigured, along with the internal floor layout of the existing hotel accommodation.
There are currently 12 hotel rooms, but the number will reduce to nine after the renovations are complete.
New beer garden seating, landscaping, fencing and gates are also part of the plans.
The garage will be converted to an office and games room, while the laundry will be demolished and reconstructed as bathroom facilities, reusing as much original fabric as possible.
The existing kitchen and dining area on the first floor, which has no heritage significance, will also be demolished.
"We're hoping to start more building works within the next couple of months, but at the same time we are still open for business and incredibly busy, even though we're only open small at the moment," Mr Moran said.
He said the building works have been structured in a way that will allow the pub to continue to operate as the site is transformed.
"At this point we don't think we'll be closed at any point in time. We might be restricted a little bit while we do some work in the kitchen, but hopefully that won't be for too long," he said.
A second DA is also in the works and expected to be lodged within the next few months. It will be focused on the accommodation side of the business.
In addition to bringing people to the area, Mr Moran's purchase of the pub has also led to the creation of 12 jobs, with more to come as his plans are turned into a reality.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.