Last beer pulled by long-time barmaid

Perfect pour: Kathleen Mitchell pulling one her last beers at the Club Hotel, Leumeah. Picture: Simon Bennett
Perfect pour: Kathleen Mitchell pulling one her last beers at the Club Hotel, Leumeah. Picture: Simon Bennett

For almost 20 years, Kathleen Mitchell has gone where everybody knows her name.

But yesterday, the 65-year-old pulled her last beer at the Club Hotel, Leumeah.

For 18 years the Picton resident has played the role of barmaid, confidant, security, negotiator and “mum”.

She witnessed sparks fly between lovebirds and also saw the moment that hearts broke. 

“I’ve seen lots of relationships bloom – lots and lots and lots them,” she said.

“I’ve seen a few break-ups too.”

To be a successful barmaid you need to have a few qualities.

An essential is knowing how to pour the perfect beer – “always two pulls, have the glass on angle, straighten it up” and leave about one centimetre of head.

The ability to listen was also a must.

“You say ‘how are you going?’ and they will tell you,” she said.

“You have to be a good listener and sometimes you give a little bit of advice and try to help them out. But I just listen to them and go with the flow.”

Ms Mitchell said the role of mother and negotiator went hand-in-hand with her job at the hotel, and it was an art she perfected over the 18 years.

Though not every situation went according to script.

“I try to have a gentle approach when I cut someone off,” she said.

“One night one guy was becoming a bit aggressive so I treated him like a child and said ‘come on mate, you’ll be right’. The customers laughed and said you’re Mum now.

“There has been some hairy situations too. One bloke threatened to shoot me and said ‘I’ll be waiting outside to shoot you’. Security had to escort me out (at shift’s end) because we didn’t know if he was for real or not.”

There was one memory from her time at the hotel that still haunted Ms Mitchell.

It happened about eight years, on NRL grand final day, when a group of offenders brazenly held up the pub.

“It was Sunday morning at about 10.30am,” he said.

“I find it hard to talk about, I was pretty traumatised. I still actually haven’t recovered from that.

“It was probably the worst thing that ever happened to me.”