Melbourne pub operator APD Group is ‘trading up’ to undertake a big refurbishment and revival of Geelong’s Valley Inn.
Currently operating the Barwon Heads Hotel (BHH), where they have been for ten years and will soon complete their lease, APD took over its new, “tired old pub” two weeks ago and immediately closed it in preparation for a slated $3 million renovation.
“Nothing has been done for so long,” director Anthony Eastmure told PubTIC.
“We’re gutting the interior, putting in a new bar, totally redoing the bistro and sports bar, and putting in a new A/V system.
“In the old accommodation rooms and offices at the rear, we’re stripping those and putting in a gaming room.”
The introduction of a gaming facility was part of the contract the group signed two years ago, and their application to the VCGLR to move 29 machines from the BHH was approved in February of this year.
But social services influencers and local councillor Jan Farrell have voiced the usual objections, calling on authorities to prevent the transfer of machines to what it claims is a less “resourced” suburb.
Concerns seem to centre around a consultant’s report that assessed the supposed impact to a three-kilometre radius, which included a number of other larger venues problem gamblers would have to pass to use the Valley Inn.
But a different consultant concluded the addition of EGMs at the pub would likely have “negligible effect” on the area, which is already comparable on the SEIFA index (ranking of socio-economic disadvantage) but expected to undergo significant residential growth in coming years.
The transfer application already abides by conditions to stay clear of shopping strips and areas of economic disadvantage, and Eastmure says their proposal was guided by Council’s framework around gaming venues. He says that will be one aspect of a larger project.
“It’s a very tired old pub, but the area is growing and a renovation is sorely needed.”
APD Group is Anthony, his brother Paul, and their cousin Darren. They leapt fresh into the pub game with their acquisition of the BHH, after Anthony sold his media monitoring business.
They report they’ll be employing around a dozen new full-time people at the Valley Inn, and hope to have the pub open again in time for summer.