After its $15 million redevelopment by Sand Hill Road in 2018, The Esplanade Hotel has changed hands again, with pubs giant Australian Venue Co buying the St Kilda icon in a deal that also includes Garden State Hotel in the CBD, the Bridge Hotel in Richmond and Abbotsford Terminal Hotel.
The deal means Australian Venue Co, backed by US private equity, now runs 211 pubs in Australia.
The new operators say that when they take over in late September, they won’t be changing dining options at The Espy or Garden State, meaning their respective restaurants, Mya Tiger and Tippy Tay, will remain.
“I think the last thing you want to do is spoil what is an incredible formula,” says Paul Waterson, co-CEO of Australian Venue.
But the host group will take care of booking live acts at The Espy, which has hosted everyone from Paul Kelly to Archie Roach. While the company says it books 60 gigs a week, those are big shoes to fill.
Sand Hill Road group sommelier Matt Skinner will join Australian Venue Co, as will many other management and room staff, including the kitchen crews.
Australian Venue Co also purchased the Apollo bay hotel in March. He plans to expand the footprint of the Great Ocean Road pub, which could mean adding a roof. However, Waterson says the plans are still in their infancy and community consultation will be needed.