In On the Market by Clyde Mooney

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North Coast publican Patrick Henderson is calling time on his Australian Hotel, which is back better than ever after a fire nearly destroyed it in 2016.

The two-storey corner pub stands at the prominent corner of Cherry and River Streets, Ballina, on a big 1,787sqm block. It incorporates a main public bar, bistro, gaming room with 12 EGMs, a large beer garden, and 20 pub-style accommodation rooms, under a 3am liquor licence.

In mid-2016 the pub saw extensive damage due to a fire at the rear, affecting the kitchen, bistro, beer garden and gaming room. It was allegedly caused by an 83-year-old homeless man, who police believe lit a fire in a rear alcove of the pub that got out of control, igniting wheelie bins, plastic chairs and wooden bar stools stored in the area.

Around twelve people were staying onsite at the time, and it was a woman getting up during the night to use the toilet that alerted emergency crews and door-knocked other inhabitants to raise the alarm.

The occupants were all evacuated without injury, and the homeless man arrested, charged with recklessly destroying property by fire.

Insurance paid for upgrades to the kitchen and beer garden, and all new gaming machines.

The gaming offering still does not count a smoking solution, nor CRT. The pub ranks #876 on the L&G list of NSW venues, while ALH’s Westower Tavern just three kilometres away ranks #308, although with 30 machines.

Ballina is a thriving coastal city in the NSW Northern Rivers region, proximate to Byron Bay and Lennox Head, less than 90 kilometres from the Queensland border and two hours’ drive from Brisbane. Ballina Byron Gateway Airport is 10 minutes from the Australian Hotel.

The official population as at June 2017 is 43,457, forecast to grow to over 52,000 by 2036, at current rates. The town sees significant tourism numbers, particularly in the warmer months, aided by natural local attractions and beaches, and recreational facilities.

Since rebuilding, the pub reports revenue for FY18 of $2.13 million, with bar the greatest earner (39%), followed by the bistro (29%) then gaming (20%), with accommodation making up only 10 per cent.

Henderson has listed the asset with HTL Property’s Sydney-based Blake Edwards and Queensland director Glenn Price, with expectation of offers around $4.5 million.

“The North Coast market is tightly held, and this pub has plenty of operational upside, built on a good foundation of land value and gaming entitlements,” notes Price.

“An astute operator will look to unlock the potential and growth this asset has to offer.”

Edwards suggests its location just south of Byron and Lennox Head will be particular appealing.

“Coastal assets always get a lot of interest, wherever they are, but this will attract even more.”

The freehold going concern of the Australian Hotel Ballina is for sale via Private Treaty.