The demand for coastal pubs shows no signs of slowing with publican Glenn Piper and Kickon Group among those to have added to their beach-side portfolios this week.

Piper has acquired Newcastle beach-side property The Merewether Beach Hotel, a large multi-level corner pub with uninterrupted, panoramic views of the ocean.

The pub, which reportedly sold for almost $40 million, is considered a local icon having been part of the local community since the 1880s.

Late last year Piper acquired the leasehold of Q Station in Manly and prior to that he made his first pub purchase, the Harbord Hotel in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, in early 2020.

Piper said he’d spent a lot of time in the Newcastle area over the years, and family members who live locally had informed him that the pub was on the market.

“They will be coming on board as investors which makes the sale even more special,” Piper said.

Piper told Australian Hotelier that he always includes a syndicate of local investors on his pub acquisitions.

“It’s great to have locals involved because they become huge ambassadors for the venue and it also means the community can get involved.”

Piper said while he is not actively seeking out venues to acquire, he expects his pub portfolio to grow.

“I’m drawn to heritage buildings with local­­ significance where I can create something meaningful and have an impact on the community,” he says, “and it has to be coastal. I love Australian beach culture.”

Piper’s recent transformation of the Harbord Hotel, for instance, took its cues from Freshwater’s history. As with Q Station in Manly, Piper said he will spend time in the Newcastle venue before finalising refurbishment plans.

Merewether Beach Hotel was sold by Andrew Lazarus who acquired the pub three years ago off the Bale and Twohill families who had owned the venue for over 40 years.

The Watermark in Townsville

Craig Shearer’s Kickon Group has expanded into Northern Queensland with the acquisition of The Watermark, a venue with views of Magnetic Island & Cleveland Bay.

The Watermark has a sports bar and restaurant and is located in the heart of Townsville tourist destination The Strand.

“The Watermark has such an incredible reputation within the community and we are passionate about maintaining that,” Kickon Group founder Craig Shearer said.

“We are already working with our group executive chef Jake Furst on a menu that will really showcase the local ingredients, as well as keeping the classics – that crumbed steak isn’t going anywhere.”

Kickon Group CEO Duncan Thomson said, “While the ocean views are quite remarkable, the standout aspect at The Watermark was, for us, the excellent customer service. It was an immediate indicator of a great culture within the team, which is something we really treasure and prioritise within all our venues.

“We can’t wait to bring this new team into the fold, offering them all the growth and opportunities that come with being part of the Kickon Group.”

Heading up the venue is Bart Furst who is taking part in Kickon Group’s Pub Partnership Program which rewards high performing team members with equity opportunities. Furst has become the venue manager and also a business partner in The Watermark.

“The Watermark is a Townsville institution, almost an extension of the dining room for most families here,” Furst says.

“We have some big plans for the venue to freshen it up and be a place for people to get together and enjoy good times with friends and family. I’m particularly excited about joining and working with the existing team who have already been so welcoming to me and my family.”

Watermark is the seventh venue in Kickon Group’s current portfolio, joining The Plough Inn, The Collective and the Osbourne Hotel in Queensland, and Terminus Hotel, Cinder, and The Continental in Victoria.

Bart Furst, venue manager of the Watermark, Townsville.

Amble Inn at Corindi Beach

Another large format coastal pub, Amble Inn at Corindi Beach on the NSW Coffs coast, has changed hands in a sale managed by JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group.

The family operators built the pub themselves in 1985 and have sold it to an unnamed purchaser boasting an “impressive run of regional hotel acquisitions”, according to JLL.

The pub is situated on around 16,000sqm of land and is located 30 minutes north of Coffs Harbour and the previous owners, who ran the hotel for 30 years, used their own design concepts and local hardwood timbers with a blend of brickwork and stained glass.

According to JLL, the region is well-known for its unspoiled beaches and enjoys year-round visitation from domestic and international tourism.

The hotel offers significant development potential in a high growth location which, along with 12 GMEs and strong weekly revenue performance, underpinned interest in the property, JLL said.

Amble Inn, Corindi Beach.

Globe Hotel in Deniliquin

The Globe Hotel, a freehold interest in the regional NSW town of Deniliquin, has been sold off-market to an undisclosed buyer.

Previous owners and Deniliquin locals, Tom and Jennifer Carroll, engaged the services of JLL to facilitate the sale, viewing the continued optimism in the market as an auspicious time to sell.

The venue was sold on a month-to-month rolling lease, easily allowing the incoming operator the chance to ‘restaple’ operations.

Greg Jeloudev, JLL Hotels Executive, oversaw the sale, and commented, “Freehold pub investments with re-stapling ability are infrequent and highly sought in the current climate. The Globe Hotel’s core attributes ensure the venue will continue to be a favourite among local patrons.”

The Globe Hotel occupies a 987sqm site, featuring possesses two storeys, with a single bar, a TAB area and a recently renovated beer garden. The Globe also comes with entitlements for 12 gaming machines, alongside a 2AM licence. Moreover, as the Hotel is located in a ‘Band 3 SA2’ area, no additional gaming competitors can be added in the locality.

Deniliquin is located close to the Murray Valley National Park and the Victorian border, benefiting from being one of the stopping points on the road to Bendigo, Albury-Wodonga and Melbourne.

JLL’s management of this sale follows their recent facilitation of the sale of the Howlong Hotel, and is a testament to the on-going capital investment into regional hotels.

The Globe Hotel in Deniliquin.

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