In Changing Times by Clyde Mooney

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The award-winning Red Rock Leisure has sold its Adelaide instalment of PJ O’Brien’s, citing a reluctant decision and reinvestment of capital into its other venues.

The large-format PJ O’Brien’s Adelaide on East Terrace has been part of the Red Rock Leisure (RRL) stable of pubs under its Irish banner, along with PJ O’Brien’s in Melbourne Airport, Southbank, Sydney, Cairns and Port Douglas, which is currently undergoing a refurb.

Contemplating flagging performance at the Adelaide chapter, RRL considered its footprint in South Australia and the Adelaide pub, its only venue, and found the numbers didn’t stack up for the group to input further investment.

“Our strategy for growth is really to focus on markets where we have good resources and good people on the ground – markets like Sydney and Melbourne and Queensland,” RRL director Annette Verhoeff told PubTIC.

“We decided to put the pub on the market, but we remain as passionate about the PJs brand as we were 21 years ago when we first opened the Melbourne business. All of our other Irish pubs are in huge growth. It’s not going anywhere for us.”

Although Verhoeff understands the new owners plan to close immediately to execute a renovation and relaunch with a food-based concept, RRL refutes the implication that the pub has failed due to the influence of Adelaide’s increasing number of small bars.

“Adelaide is vibrant at certain times of the year, and we certainly enjoy great loyalty and love for the brand. We have a lot of regulars, so it’s really sad for us to say goodbye, but we’re looking to expand and have good footholds in the markets where we are.”

PJ O’Brien’s Adelaide will call last drinks tomorrow night (Saturday, 2 September).

PJ O’Briens Adelaide