General Manager, Lennox Hotel
Family: Mum Mary, daughters Ava (10), Frankie (8) and Peaches (6)
Star sign: Aquarius
Favourite food: Yum Cha
There’s a strange feel to a pub during the day. Especially one like the Lennox Hotel with its huge windows and classic ocean views.
On the day we go to meet the General Manager, it is bright and sunny (at last!), the place is airy, and filled with blue balloons and State-Of-Origin possibility. (Let’s not go there.)
The GM is Nick Walheim, a big bear of a man, all smiles and geniality. But in this senior role, and as partner in the business (with owner Greg Campbell and Beef and Beach GM Troy Lister) and as overseer of the entire ground floor of this iconic Lennox building, he’s far from a pushover.
Everything Nick has done in his career has led him to this perfect place.
He started at just 18 behind the bar at the Palace Hotel in Mortlake, Sydney. There was a two year break when he worked for a pharmaceutical company, but it wasn’t for him.
And while hospitality is often a stepping stone, for Nick it has always been home. And he’s worked in plenty of joints, from Sydney to London, from cocktail bars, to restaurants, to clubs and pubs.
‘I had a hundred ideas about what I wanted to do for a career, from pilot to writer. I got into pubs when I was young just like so many people do, but I found I actually really enjoyed it.
‘And I lucked into a management position early on, which meant I could progress in a job where there aren’t a lot of opportunities.
‘I’ve trained on the job, and learned every aspect of the trade, so I understand about making a business work for customers, for a community and for the bottom line,’ he says.
From HR manager, to cellar master, to bouncer, it’s a pretty diverse role.
‘Probably staffing is the biggest challenge, because it is such a transitory kind of work and there is a high staff turnover. These days I mainly employ on personality. You can always teach someone to pour a beer.’
But there was a time when he thought he’d gone as far as he could.
‘A few years ago I thought there was no more to do in pubs, so I applied and was accepted to the paramedics vocational training course.
‘I was already working here by then, but it turned out Greg didn’t want me to leave. It was then that he cut Troy and me in, and it’s been great.
‘He and I are good friends—the three of us make a great team.’
Pubs have been good to Nick. It was in a pub in Sydney where he employed Ash Moir. Their relationship blossomed and they moved up together to Ashley’s home town of Lennox Head.
In 2007 they had baby Ava.
‘The Moirs are my second family. They have been so good to me over the years. And it’s probably one of my greatest achievements that despite the fact that Ash and I broke up, we have maintained a great relationship, and Ava has been lucky enough to have parents who still like each other and get on.
‘Ashley and I still talk every day and we are really good friends. Her two other kids Frankie and Peaches call me Dad and we all spend a lot of time together.’
Best thing about your job?
The social aspect. I love meeting people.
Anti social behaviour, and the fact that a lot of people don’t understand our legal and regulatory obligations. We are a highly regulated industry.
Playing guitar and singing.
Keep everything in balance. You’re a long time dead.