Open Arms Hospitality opens arms to US partnership

13 July, 2017 by Ayoung

By Vanessa Cavasinni, editor Australian Hotelier

The new hospitality group by ex-Beer Deluxe partners Craig Shearer and Justin Sheather, and Craig Ellison (ex-Open Door Pub Co, Dixon Hospitality), is set to grow exponentially in the coming two years, thanks to a partnership with a US hospitality and events group.

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With the launch of Public House Albury in late May, Open Arms Hospitality is already proving successful, with the pub’s trade “well ahead” of forecasts. The group is also in the middle of construction of a venue in Brisbane, Riverland, which is due to open around October this year. The venue will feature custom-built containers that various food vendors can bump-in and out of, meaning the food offering will change constantly. The group is also in the process of finalising another large venue acquisition in Queensland.

But over the next two years, Open Arms Hospitality is set to grow exponentially, with the announcement this week that Simon Gardner, former CEO of Pegasus Leisure Group – Melbourne Racing Club’s hospitality arm – as an additional partner in the business. Gardner, who has plenty of gaming experience, will be heading up Open Arm Hospitality’s consulting business in the gaming and leisure sector.

Currently the main focus of consultancy is a partnership with US client Delaware North, looking to break into the Australian pub market. Delaware North currently had a presence in Australia through their parks and stadia catering business, tenancies in airports and ownership of Lizard and Herron Islands. But they will partner with Open Arms Hospitality to build a portfolio of 15-20 pubs across Australia over the next two years.

“We’ve had a strong relationship with Delaware North over a few years and in line with their operations in the US, they’ve got a strong desire to invest in the gaming sector in Australia, and we’ve come on board to bridge that process and establish for them a portfolio of quality assets,” said Shearer.

He also suggested that Open Arms is “well down the track” of shortlisting 15-20 hotels across the country.

“We’re looking for quality gaming operations anywhere in Australia. Primarily in the gaming space, but hopefully with a strong F&B model attached.”

It’s unclear at this stage whether once the portfolio has been collated, whether Delware North will take control of operations, or whether Open Arms Hospitality will operate the venues on the US company’s behalf.

“It’s an open-ended partnership at this stage, with the view that we’re aiming for it to be long-term and hopefully very successful for both parties.”