Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Big pubs going broke

The Sydney renovation disease seems to be catching up with some big pubs including the Vegas and The Mansions in Kings Cross. They spend millions on renos and then go broke, it seems, while we still pay premium prices for a drink and long for a real pub.

They are blaming the 2am lockout as reported in the SMH today: "The Oxford Hotel was turning away about 150 patrons after 2am on a Saturday night, the Vegas was turning away about 140."

No doubt this would hurt but so would the cost of renovating the Vegas, whose owners then bought the Mansions and don't seem to have done much with that boring under-patronised watering hole. Nor is the Mansions affected by the 2am lockout.

Rumours abound of other pubs in trouble -- the recently rebuilt Kings Cross Hotel for one, and the Chifley has closed down for several months while serious building faults stemming from its recent renovation are rectified by owner Australand.

The Bourbon seems to be working well thanks to having the best happy hour in town and a very good $10 steak -- a long way from their AA-list premium position they attempted to take after its $9 million beige-and-pebblecrete reno. It's been obvious for some time that all the pubs couldn't successfully cater exclusively to the top price bracket.

And the Taylor Sq hotel has been sold with all existing planning approvals for $5.5m but free of the restrictions on the previous owner.

My point about 'over-saturation' seems to be coming true -- when the market is over-saturated, venues will go broke. Ham-fisted bureaucrats or teetotalling NIMBYs trying to manage it is the last thing we need.

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