By Vanessa Cavasinni, editor Australian Hotelier
Open Arms Hospitality is the new group launched by former Open Door Pub Co and Armada Hospitality leadership.
Craig Shearer and Jason Sheather of Armada Hospitality took a break from the hospitality business after selling their Beer DeLuxe empire to Dixon Hospitality for $31 million, and consulting on handover. But a year later, and the pair are back in the swing of things, having decided to launch a new pub group with Craig Ellison, ex-COO of Open Door Pub Co, whose venues were also purchased by Dixon Hospitality about 18 months ago.
The name Open Arms Hospitality is an amalgamation of the Open Door and Armada monikers, alluding to their past companies, while also expressing the ethos of the new group when it comes to hospitality.
“We determined that we were absolutely still passionate about the hospitality industry and really excited about relaunching,” states Shearer.
Open Arms is busy working on two new venues, with their first to open in Albury, on the northern side of the New South Wales-Victoria border. Public House is set to open in the regional city in late May, once renovations – including the installation of a retractable roof and larger kitchens – are complete.
“That was a venue of ours that we retained in the Dixon sale. We closed it at Christmas time. It was a bar/nightclub over the last 10-15 years but we felt that we had an opportunity to bring a traditional pub to the market, hence the name Public House,” Shearer explained.
The group also kept a prime site on Eagle Street in Brisbane, where a Beer Deluxe was going to be built before the sale to Brisbane. Open Arms is now in the middle of construction on a venue there that will open in a few months. Its concept is quite different to a traditional pub.
“It’s a large scale, open-air venue on the water. It will trade seven days a week, and its core business will be that of street food vendors that will bump in and bump out of our facilities, for a range of authentic, genuine, tasty, price-competitive options for people to dine in Brisbane. At the same time, we’ll have a bit of entertainment and wide-ranging bar offers as well.”
Shearer states that the trio have come back to hospitality with an appetite for growth, and are not planning to rest on their laurels with the two venues any time soon.
“We’re close to being able to announce an acquisition of a really large pub, and there’s another few on the radar. So we’re hoping for a big expansion through 2018 and beyond.
“We’ve found we’re a bit wiser this time around and should be able to do things even bigger and better than before.”