A’town raises glasses to Keith

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An Arrowtown publican who died last Thursday turned a rough pub into a community focal point.

Keith Crawford – who succumbed, aged 49, to a brain tumour – and wife Jeannie bought The Tap in 2011, renaming it The Fork and Tap.

“Honestly, there was a clientele of maybe 10 fellows who came in every day and you’d never see a woman – it was pretty rough,” Jeannie says.

“We knew there needed to be a meeting place for everyone, young and old, and it became very much a family-friendly environment, espec-ially the garden bar – we opened that right up.”

Neighbouring museum director David Clarke says “that corner business had never succeeded – it had a series of cafes, restaurants and tearooms and it never quite clicked”.

“Then Jeannie and Keith took it on and the first thing they did was throw out the pool table and the televisions so everyone had to talk to each other.

“They turned it into something more resembling an English pub … like an extension of your living room.”

Keith also supported New Zealand micro-breweries and helped kick-start Queenstown’s Altitude Brewing and, more latterly, Arrowtown Brewing.

Altitude owner Eliott Menzies says he gave Keith a sample bottle before he started production.

“He was, ‘yeah, we’ll put it on’.”

Arrowtown Brewing co-owner Dave Gent says Keith was “super-supportive”. As a muso who claims he’s been to every pub in NZ, he says the couple turned The Fork and Tap into “the best pub probably in the bloody country”.

“The fact they don’t turn over staff tells you everything you need to know, really.”

Despite Keith getting “a pretty poor prognosis” 14 years ago, Jeannie says “he never let it get him down”.

“He was a real self-healer and did a lot of work on himself to get himself strong.

“He just focused on getting back in the mountains – that was his medicine, the mountains and our two kids.”

Tribute: Keith Crawford’s son Jed’s rugby team, Arrowtown Redbacks, which he co-coached, observed a moment’s silence for him last Saturday PICTURE: LEIGH JEFFERY

Jeannie’s hugely appreciative of the support the local community’s provided in recent months, including a meal train for her family, and particularly thanks Doctor Fiona McPherson and local district nurses.

Hundreds also turned out for Keith’s funeral on Monday. Jeannie intends carrying on the business: “We’ve got a massive focus to keep on improving The Fork and Tap.”

scoop@scene.co.nz