The historic Hotel Warrnambool will change hands this summer - a sale that marks the end of an era for the iconic venue. For the past three decades, the pub has been owned by a small syndicate including Stephen Phillpot who has been the public face of the popular venue. Mr Phillpot had just returned from a five-year stint running pubs in England when he took over the hotel and set about bringing it back to life. "It was time to open the doors because they weren't opening too often," he said. "I brought a lot of my experience working in pubs in England with me." It quickly became a favourite go-to place with the the Sunday afternoon session reviving the city's music scene. The iconic menu - featuring a picture of the imposing Ozone Hotel which once stood on one of the city's prominent corners - hasn't gone out of fashion either. There are not too many places you can get a calzone, and the one time they tried to take the chicken almondine off the menu "civil war broke out". The pub was also famous for bringing Guinness to Warrnambool. "In England it was big. I put it on tap," Mr Phillpot said. "We had massive parties in the bar." Mr Phillpot may be leaving but he is taking a lot of good memories with him. "It's been a really good journey and it's going to be over soon," he said. "You're always emotional when these things happen. Nothing lasts for ever. "It's nice to leave in a healthy manner, and not have to leave. And the syndicate was ready for a change too." Mr Phillpot said he was proud of what the hotel had become. "We created a great venue for Warrnambool and did something a little bit different with the hotel. We're all very proud of it," he said. "It's a brilliant environment to be in. "It's a big operation. It's not just a bar and bistro, there's functions, the restaurant and accommodation. It requires lots of different talented people to make it special. "We couldn't have done it without key people over the years. And some of them have been here for 20-plus years." At its peak, the venue employed 50 people, he said. The upstairs' 12 guest rooms are a favourite with race-going regulars, and last weekend's Jericho Cup meeting gave Mr Phillpot the chance to say goodbye. "The same people have been coming here every year for the May Races for as long as I can remember, and even before that," he said. Mr Phillpot said the sale of the hotel "happened by accident". He said he was chatting to one of the new owners recently who said: "I've always loved that hotel". "So another day I asked 'how much do you love that hotel?'." While the price is being kept under wraps, Mr Phillpot said it had sold for what it's worth. "Everyone's happy," he said. "We're proud of what we've done. We've had a great time. We've had lots of fun and lots of hardship but we've all come through. "Everyone makes a decision when it's time to move on. I think the last few years, as everyone would recognise, has made people make a few decisions about where they are and what they want to do in the world." The new owners are expected to continue on the hotel's traditions. "But they'll have their own ideas as well," he said. Depending on how long the liquor licence transfer takes, the pub could officially change hands to the new local syndicate at the end of January. The Hotel Warrnambool opened in March 1931 on the site of the former Grand Ozone Coffee Palace which was officially opened in 1890 - an occasion that reportedly drew the entire town's population of 6000. In 1895, it changed its name to the Ozone Hotel and enjoyed a run of "golden years" before it closed in 1915 due to disappointing financial returns. It remained closed until 1920 when it reopened as the Hotel Mansions after a major renovation which included a ballroom for 500. On February 23, 1929 it was destroyed when a blaze broke out at 1.45am - the 60 occupants escaping in time.