By Clyde Mooney – editor Australian Hotelier
Merivale’s acquisition of the Paddington Arms had nothing whatsoever to do with the new lockout provisions affecting the hospitality group’s other properties, owner Justin Hemmes told TheShout.
Mainstream media reports bizarrely claimed Hemmes snapped up the 3am licensed Paddington pub to accommodate revellers who were unable to enter his CBD venue Ivy after 1.30am, suggesting he’d even bus them across town for a nightcap.
But Hemmes said the purchase was based purely on the attractiveness of the Paddington precinct and denied the O’Farrell government’s announcement last month had anything to do with it.
"We have been looking at opportunities in Paddington for some time now and when the Paddington Arms site came up, we jumped at the chance,” he said.
“Discussions started last year, long before the new lockout laws that were announced only a few weeks ago.”
The hotel was put on the market last July by the freehold owner of the site and by Joe Saleh, who operated the venue along with his other nearby venues the Four in Hand and restaurant 4Fourteen.
“With many retailers leaving the strip in recent years, there are great opportunities to revitalise Oxford Street and transform it into a real dining and lifestyle precinct. I really believe in the area and I'm excited about the potential for it to grow again,” Hemmes added.
In the current edition of Australian Hotelier – the annual Leaders Forum issue – Hemmes alludes to more expansion-related announcements in the near future.