Sydney hospitality baron Justin Hemmes has secured a prominent site in the popular coastal town of Byron Bay for $13 million after months of speculation.
The site, 115 Johnson Street—opposite the recently sold Mercato on Byron, is currently home to Cheeky Monkey’s Bar and an adjoining massage spa.
The property, which occupies an 827sq m site with 2am trading approvals, was sold by Red Rock Leisure as vacant premises.
The property closed its doors in March 2020 as the height of the global pandemic and has remained shut.
“I’ve been going to Byron since I was 10-years-old, it has always been a place close to my heart,” Merivale chief executive Justin Hemmes said.
“I can’t wait to open our first venue on the North Coast and spend more time in the area—there’s simply no place like it”.
Merivale will be handed the keys to the property at the end of the week and plan to reopen the venue as a restaurant and bar later this year.
John Musca from JLL Hotels negotiated the off-market sale of the nightclub and the Thai Sabai massage spa tenancy.
“There is a measured, exciting development evolution in Byron Bay at present and it’s fitting that community-sensitive operators of Merivale’s calibre are choosing to add their world-class brand to the township’s hospitality landscape,” Musca said.
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The property will be Merivale’s first venue on the Far North Coast after a $200m-plus acquisition spree in Victoria and NSW in recent months.
Last month the Melbourne CBD was the target where Hemmes outlaid around $40 million for Tomasetti House on Flinders Lane, bought from the Millett family. Settlement on the Flinders Lane site is due later in the year.
The acquisition marked Merivale's first outside its Sydney base, where the group operates more than 70 venues including the Coogee Pavilion, the Ivy, Mr Wong, Ms G’s, Fred’s and Totti’s.
Merivale quickly followed up the Tomasetti purchase when it paid $38 million for the 145-year old Lorne Hotel, the year’s largest Victorian freehold pub transaction.
Hemmes has also this year bought the Quarterdeck, in Narooma on the NSW South Coast, and Norton’s Irish Pub in Sydney’s inner west the latter for a reported $24 million.