Public House Management Group (PHMG) is selling the Four In Hand for $6 million without its liquor licence or EGMs – effectively turning it a residential property.

The eastern Sydney pub is one of the most famed and beloved in the country, and the decision to sell the property as a home rather than a pub has drawn a mixed reaction from the local area and industry participants.

PHMG purchased the hotel in 2015 from Joe Saleh in 2015 for $8 million. At the time, the Four In Hand was known across Sydney for being one of the first restaurants to pioneer the nose-to-tail dining movement, helmed by noted chef Colin Fassnidge.

Fassnidge left the venue when it was bought by PHMG, moving to suburban Sydney pub projects in the Banksia Hotel and Macquarie Hotel in Liverpool. PHMG brought in Guillaume Brahimi  as a culinary ambassador for the group, including for the famed Paddington pub. In mid-2017 the Four In Hand underwent a slight refresh of its look, and the dining offering was overhauled to focus on grilled meats and seafood.

After three years of ownership PHMG has now placed the hotel on the market, but will retain the liquor licence, six EGMS and their licences, effectively rendering it a residential property. It is being sold as such through Ray White Double Bay agent, Gavin Rubinstein.

“The pub holds a significant appeal for a residential conversion. The land is already zoned R2 Low Density Residential so the residential conversion seems the most likely,” stated Rubinstein.

One conversion of a pub property into a residence already occurred in the area a few years ago, with restaurateur Peter Polovin converting the Windsor Castle Hotel into a residential property and selling it for $11.85 million in 2015. Rubinstein believes something similar will be done by whoever purchases the Four In Hand property.

“I feel that the new owner will either keep some of the internal features as part of the conversion, or even strip it out completely and start again. Obviously any renovation will need council approval first.”

Mixed reaction

With a liquor licence freeze currently underway in Sydney, one of the most valuable assets of a venue is it’s licence, and it is understandable that it would be something that any hotel group would want to hold on to. But as the Four In Hand has operated as a beloved local pub for over a century, many Paddington residents are upset to see a local institution close for good. Locals are not the only ones disappointed with the decision.

In an interview with News Corp Australia, Fassnidge lambasted the decision to sell the pub as a residence, calling it a “disgrace” and calling out PHMG.

“It took 10 years to build and they destroyed it in a year,” Fassnidge said in the interview.

“Most of the publicans in Sydney are having a quiet little laugh, they’ve taken a Ferrari and turned it into a Morris Minor.”

Australian Hotelier reached out to PHMG for comment on the sale, but had not heard back by the time of publication.

Vanessa Cavasinni

Vanessa Cavasinni is the managing editor of Australian Hotelier and Club Management, trade publications for the pub and club sectors respectively. Vanessa has been at the helm of Australian Hotelier since...

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