Regional hospitality icon leaves long-lasting legacy

While Sonya Burley sadly passed away on August 25, 2021, her legacy lives on in both her family and the hospitality industry.

After working at The Gambier Hotel for 20 years Sonya made the decision to retire in July 2018 on her 60th birthday.

“We knew retirement would not last long and were not at all surprised when her charismatic personality and overall love of the hospitality industry landed her the manager position at The Rocks Tavern,” daughter Lindsay Burley recalled.

“The doors to the establishment had been closed for almost two years and owner Kevin Mullans was trying to auction it off before asking mum to start from scratch as they agreed it would increase the value and interest.

“Sonya was quick to establish the bar and within no time locals became regulars.

“It has been two and a half years since Sonya started managing the pub, building quite the reputation for the little seaside town tavern which is booked out every Friday and Saturday evening.”

The decision was made to offer meals in a bid to boost value and clientele and Sonya and Lindsay worked together on a “basic menu” with all the pub classics made to perfection.

Sonya’s legacy lives on at The Rocks Tavern with son Jamie as the chef and her husband David stepping up and taking over as manager after her passing, giving it his all.

“If you have ever eaten at The Rocks Tavern you understand what it means to take pride in our cooking,” Lindsay said.

“We are all working towards the same goal and that is to keep the dream that our mum moved us here for, a reality.”

Lindsay said one of the last things she told her mum in hospital was “for someone with size five feet, you have big shoes to fill”.

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