By James Atkinson

The sale of the iconic East Sydney Hotel has attracted strong enquiry, most notably from a younger generation of aspiring publicans.

Sydney agent James Gwynne of Spencer-Carr Property told TheShout that the hotel's current owners, Harald Muller and wife Trish, are looking for a sea change after operating the venue for 34 years.

He said the hotel, which touts itself as 'The Last Country Pub in Sydney', had generated interest from the 'usual suspects' of established hoteliers.

But Sydney's changing bar scene has spawned a younger market of buyers that have cut their teeth as smaller bar owners and are looking to consolidate their holdings with the purchase of a larger single venue, Gwynne added.

He said the new generation of pub owners is more focused on providing innovative dining options as a point of difference and revenue stream, and the East Sydney Hotel provides an opportunity to capitalise in this area.

Gwynne pointed to the transformation of the Norfolk Hotel in Surry Hills, which changed hands last year, as well as the refurbishment of the Darlinghurst's East Village Hotel, as examples of this trend.

The East Sydney Hotel has 3am licence approval, courtyard with indoor and outdoor dining, pub-style accommodation of seven rooms and a three-bedroom rooftop apartment.

The freehold hotel sale will also include the adjacent three level commercial terrace on Cathedral Street, which is currently a residential let.

Gwynne confirmed that the current owners have chosen not to exercise the pub's license to have five poker machines.

He said some of the potential buyers have spoken of maintaining the pub's staunch 'no pokies' tradition.

"It's a sign of the times… if you go back seven or eight years it was all about 'how many pokies can we squeeze in?'," he said.

By joining together the existing seven hotel rooms with the rooftop apartment, Gwynne said a buyer could revitalise the accommodation as a boutique hotel.

He would not be drawn on price, but industry insiders point to the recent sale of Surry Hills' Forresters Hotel – which changed hands at $4.2 million – as a benchmark.

With its close proximity to Kings Cross and Sydney CBD, accommodation and residence and mixed-use zoning, the East Sydney Hotel is tipped to sell at somewhere between five and $10 million.

Expressions of interest close on November 4.

The sale comes as Ray White Hotels recently tipped a revival of the Australian pub sector, with transaction activity and confidence on a sharp increase.


The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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