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FOOD & DRINK

St Kilda Institution The Espy Has Been Bought by Hospitality Group Australian Venue Co

The beachside boozer is one of eight Sand Hill Road venues acquired by AVC, along with Garden State Hotel and Prahran Hotel.
By Libby Curran
March 06, 2020
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By Libby Curran
March 06, 2020
  shares

It was one of the most hyped makeovers and relaunches of 2018, but just over 12 months on from that grand reveal, legendary St Kilda pub The Espy has been snapped up by new owners. The beachside boozer is one of eight venues from Melbourne-based hospitality group Sand Hill Road that have this week been acquired by the Australian Venue Co (AVC).

This new owner is no small fry, though, boasting a whopping 150 venues across six states and territories. Melburnians will already be familiar with some of its existing stable, including Fargo and Co, Newmarket Hotel, State of Grace, The Smith and Imperial Hotel Bourke Street.

Now, AVC has gone and added Sand Hill Road's Garden State Hotel, Richmond Club, The Posty, Prahran Hotel, Holliava, The Bridge Hotel and The Terminus Hotel, as well as the aforementioned Hotel Esplanade, to its portfolio. There's no word on exactly how many dollars that all set them back, but The Age is reporting it's upwards of $100 million.

While it's uncertain what changes — if any — the newly purchased venues are in for, AVC says it'll continue to work closely with the original owners and existing teams in an effort to keep the transition smooth. In a statement, Australian Venue Co CEO Paul Waterson confirmed the group would aim to maintain "the look and feel that customers know and love", while also adding value wherever possible.

Garden State Hotel by Brook James

Built back in 1878, the six-storey Espy Hotel was bought by the Sand Hill Road back in 2017. The group — co-owned by brothers Matt and Andy Mullins, and mates Doug Maskiell and Tom Birch — then oversaw its grand makeover, which included the opening of 12 bars, two restaurants and three live music stages.

Of Sand Hill Group's recent sale, Andy Mullins says: "The boys and I are super proud of what we've achieved in Melbourne's pubs over the last 20 years... we wan to than each and every customer who's shared a beer and a laugh across our bars."

The only Sand Hill Road venue not to have been snapped up in this sale is the CBD's Waterside Hotel, which is currently closed for renovations and slated to reopen later this year.

We'll keep you posted on any changes happening across the former suite of Sand Hill Road pubs.

Image: Alex Drewniak

Published on March 06, 2020 by Libby Curran

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