There are likely those that have almost tired of me banging on about Kings Cross and The Bourbon, but the subject deserves at least one more hit.

Darlinghurst Rd 1.30am, April 2015
Darlinghurst Rd 1.30am, April 2015

It was with mixed feelings this week I reported the sale and purchase of one of Sydney’s most famous pubs. After every reasonable attempt to set the example for the troubled entertainment precinct, Chris Cheung made his own emotional business decision to forfeit his dream for the place.

While the transaction was locked in a couple of weeks ago, some precocious media got wind of the story this week and blurted out that the once notorious flagship of Kings Cross was sold and destined to become fancy apartments.

Perhaps worse was the shotgun of incorrect figures cited that seemed to take pride in outlining calculations indicating losses by C.Inc. Chris assured me personally he was happy with the sale to the burgeoning Iris Group, but disappointed in the incorrect reports.

My history with the place goes back to (effectively) before I was born. My uncle fronted the Kevin Collins Trio, which was the street level entertainment at The Boubon from soon after its opening in 1967 until the early 90s.

Alfresco Spaces_artwork_MRMany would recall the wild hey-days of The Bourbon & Beefsteak, with the Indian chief statue at the entrance, and enormous, suited doormen standing in front of double doors so adorned with paraphernalia they couldn’t close if they wanted to. The 24/7 pub was an institution that literally reeked of history, and reflected both its association with the armed forces and the development of Sydney’s famous late-night party precinct.

So with baited breath I have pursued the pending sale of Chris’ The Bourbon reincarnation and was very glad to hear that one of the industry today’s blossoming players – and existing stakeholder in the highly restricted district – is excited to take it under its wing.

The events that led to the multiple levels of restrictions to Kings Cross venues all occurred during the several year renovation that took place at The Bourbon, which had closed after a storm collapsed its roof in 2010.

But while Chris Cheung’s vision for the place had its goal posts not just moved but virtually removed, Iris Group’s increasing history of combining licensed venues with mixed use including residential – and now possessing book-end assets in colourful Darlinghurst Road – means the venue can again become viable.

Iris CEO Sam Arnaout relayed he was genuinely excited about the purchase, which he described as a “legacy hotel for the group”.

The Bourbon will go on.


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