The heritage-listed Lion Hotel in North Adelaide has sold for the first time in a generation, picked up as part of ongoing plans by the newly-formed Duxton Pubs Group.

Outgoing owners Tim Gregg and Andrew Svencis bought the pub in 1996, and have gathered a trove of awards for the venue’s food and broader offering.

In October 2019 the pair put it to market, with hopes of a sale price circa $17 million.

But in late March the Lion closed when the COVID-19 restrictions came into effect, and has not yet reopened.

Duxton Pubs Group (DPG) is hoteliers Martin Palmer and Brett Matthews, along with Ed Peter, who founded ASX-listed companies Duxton Broadacre Farms and Duxton Water.

The trio’s hotel portfolio already counts premium hospitality venues across Adelaide, such as the Stirling, Uraidla and Crafers hotels, and the Lion is expected to become a flagship asset for the expanding DPG.

“Our goal is to continue to invest in high quality freehold and leasehold hotels as well as other premium assets, with the aim of creating the most dynamic hospitality group in South Australia,” offered a spokesperson.

The Hotel was built 1881, occupying a 1,945sqm lot. For a time in the 70s and 80s it was known under the moniker ‘The Old Lion’. The sale included an adjoining three-level office block at 183 Melbourne St, on a further 2,888sqm.

The Lion incorporates a restaurant, casual dining area and function rooms, plus a brewery, malthouse and cellars.

DPG is thought to have paid somewhat less than $17 million for the in-limbo pub, and amid plans to bring in other investors gives a nod to Hemmes and Merivale, inspiring their future plans.

“What we’ve found is if we can create a bit of scale without changing the soul of things, then we can create some critical mass and that then allows you to attract better chefs because they get better opportunities, it allows you to attract venue managers,” Peter told The Advertiser.

“We have a very clear vision to create an ecosystem in the state where we can do more and The Lion is part of that ecosystem.”

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