A new partnership between the O’Haras and Mark Malloy has brought about the big-ticket acquisition of the Bradford Hotel in the booming district of Maitland.
The two families enjoy a long connection centred around rugby and St Joseph’s College (Joeys), where they attended alongside pub industry stalwarts such as the Laundys. Although they have not owned a pub together previously, both the O’Haras and Malloy have partnered in pubs in the Wollongong region with Arthur Laundy.
Speaking with PubTIC, Malloy says the pair nearly joined forces last year for the purchase of the Windsor Castle, which the O’Haras did buy in partnership with Nicholas Quinn in June, adding to their portfolio of six hotels. Now settled into the area, Sean O’Hara’s second offer to Malloy came at a better time.
“Nick and I talked about the Windsor Castle, but I was just back in Sydney from Wollongong and didn’t know what was going to do,” said Malloy. “This came up and Sean said asked if I was interested … we had a look and away we went.
“It’s a big, thumping pub, with a big bar and food on a 6,000 metre block. It’s got a lot of strings to its bow.”
The sale, sources say was circa $11m, is potentially a record for the area but was outside the purview of industry heavyweight Arthur Laundy, with whom Malloy partnered at the North Wollongong Hotel. The former footy player says he owes so much to his mentors.
“I’m just an old-fashioned battler that picks up glasses – I won’t be working for NASA,” he says.
“Sean and I joke – we were typically in the sports jock mould, and initially went into hospitality as we didn’t know what else to do. We approach the opportunity with humility and gratitude, having a mentor like Arthur in the background.
“Without Arthur we would never have had the experience or exposure, or know how to build integrity and trust in a partnership.”
As the saying goes, imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, which is what Malloy says he is trying to do – only on a smaller scale.
But kudos also goes to his mum, who came off the farm to Sydney and after managing the Toongabbie Hotel, bought Orange’s The Standard in 1966, and Lidcombe’s Railway Hotel in 1989, which the family still owns today and where she has never missed a day’s work.
The Bradford was brokered through Ray White’s Blake Edwards, who could not comment on the deal at the request of the vendor. PubTIC spoke to the vendor, who chose to not comment.
The pub has been lovingly managed and recently underwent a periodic upgrade. The O’Hara-Malloy partnership say it evokes inspiration from a number of other familiar sites, including Sean’s changes at the Kurringal Hotel and Fraser Short’s work on the Watsons Bay Hotel in his partnership with Laundy.
“It’s a great opportunity for an outdoor beer garden and entertainment space in the future,” he suggests of the Bradford. “Possibly the development of accommodation, the gaming and sports betting area can be further developed, there’s opportunity for family-friendly entertainment, wine-tasting …
“’It all takes time and money, and at the moment we have limited time and no money. So steady as she goes for 12 months, then we’ll have a look at the bank balance and see what we can do.”