Kitchener’s handsome Khartoum Hotel has been sold by veteran Ray Prescott, ushering in a trio of new operators to optimise its opportunity in the Hunter.

The historic two-storey pub was constructed in 1926, on a commanding 2023sqm site on what is now the main route into Cessnock. Replete with ornate pressed metal ceilings and stained-glass windows, it is something of a destination hotel within the Hunter.

The pub offers a traditional front bar with TAB, large bistro and elegant dining space, footpath seating and a big beer garden with shade sails and an outdoor stage. Upstairs are twelve accommodation rooms, and a separate building at the rear has a further two suites.

Ray Prescott has owned and operated the pub for around 20 years, and feeling it was time to lay down the tools, listed the freehold going concern in 2023 through Manenti Quinlan and Moore & Moore Real Estate, pronouncing it “one of the best pubs in the area”.

The Khartoum is licensed 5am until midnight Monday to Saturday, although it hasn’t been opening until 11am and has not been actively promoted in the tourism hotspot. The sale offered a rare freehold opportunity in the booming region, with asking price of circa $1.4 million.  

Prescott is now happily retired, having successfully divested the asset to the partnership of brothers Dan and Michael Heathwood, with mate Chris White.

While both brothers have spent time working in pubs, they will predominantly continue with their regular jobs, as White, who has extensive experience both working in and running pubs, will be licensee and manage day-to-day operations.

Dan has his own travel company, and brings experience in sales and marketing, and he will be doing that behind the scenes, as his brother looks after the business’ finances. The trio took over Monday (1 July) with extensive plans.

The Hunter Valley is a vibrant region and renowned tourist destination, boasting over 150 wineries, as well as ongoing concerts, festivals and events. In 2022 it counted over four million domestic overnight visitors.

Located less than 15 minutes from the heart of the wineries, the new owners intend to put an increased focus on the accommodation, which they say has been largely under-utilised and not promoted in the ways needed to optimise exposure. They are considering concepts such as booking out all the rooms at once to groups coming to the area for golf or wine tours, or events.

But in the immediate, Dan says they will maintain the pub’s fundamentals, perhaps with a greater emphasis on food.  

“We’ve met a lot of locals. It has an amazing following and we want to continue to look after that.

“We’re looking forward to giving it a good crack. It’s got the bones, so we’ll think we’ll make a good show of it.”

The sale campaign reportedly drew interest courtesy of its strong local and passing trade and “huge growth potential”.

“It’s rare to come across such an attractive entry-level freehold opportunity,” notes Manenti Quinlan’s Leonard Bongiovanni.

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