In Property by Clyde Mooney

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Former Wallaby Bill Young has resumed Glebe legend the Friend In Hand, buying back from long-term owners the Byrne family. 

William Kevin Young was a loose-head prop during the golden era of Australian rugby, playing 46 tests over a six-year international career, including in the 2003 Rugby World Cup against England.

Attending pub breeding ground St Joseph’s college, he is son of Bill Young (Sr), who was himself a hotelier.

Bill senior’s first pub was the Friend in Hand, built 1858 in the narrow streets of working-class Glebe, on the western skirts of the Sydney CBD. The family owned it for five years, before selling in 1983 to the Byrne family.

Fast forward a few decades and the Byrnes were considering divestment, but concluded timing wasn’t right.

“We spoke to Andrew from HTL a few years ago, and he told us the hotel wasn’t ready for sale at the time and that we should wait a few years,” says Michael Byrne.

Finding 2019 better suited to their position, Byrne quietly listed the property, and found conclusion back with the next generation of Young.

“We are very proud of the Byrne family’s nearly four decades of ownership, and are delighted that our family legacy is in appropriate hands, with the fact that Bill Young has purchased the hotel given his family’s history of owning the property before our family did,” offers Michael.

Bill Young (Jr) last expanded the family’s empire with purchase of Lantern’s Five Dock Hotel in 2016, now claiming back the Friend for north of $10 million.

“Generational Hotels are one of the great attributes of the pub market,” says HTL Property’s Dan Dragicevich, who marketed the pub with colleagues Sam Handy and Andrew Jolliffe.

“Like our sale of the Bells Hotel in Woolloomooloo last year for the Miles family, it is rewarding to see the Friend in Hand Hotel being passed back to Bill Young and his family, who themselves have such a deep history in the industry.“

Bells was snapped up pre-auction by Arthur Laundy – who just signed on the line this week for Drummoyne’s big Oxford Hotel through HTL, for $42 million, representing an eight per cent yield. 

The proposed Bells Hotel auction, The Oxford’s high-profile sale and now the off-market Friend sale each represent specific approaches and individual opportunities, suggesting the strength of market conditions and demonstrating what was deemed “more appropriate” to each situation, says Dragicevich.

“Properly representing hotels in our role isn’t a cookie cutter approach, and sometimes a sale process is most benefited by a marketed and very public campaign.”

Eyeing the post-election upswing and one per cent RBA cash rate, HTL MD Andrew Jolliffe believes the hospitality indexed property market is set for another strong period.