Sydney hospitality juggernaut Merivale has clearly been on a buying spree, with owner Justin Hemmes today announcing that he has officially purchased The Lorne Pub (AKA The Lorne Hotel). Yes, that one of Great Ocean Road fame, which has been standing tall as a Victorian favourite for more than a century and is host to Lorne’s iconic ‘Pier to Pub’ ocean swim, the largest of its kind in the world.
The Lorne Hotel, which was last listed in 2014 for $20 million, was picked up by Merivale for $38m, making it the largest Victorian freehold pub transaction this year. This is after it was confirmed that Justin Hemmes purchased the 7-storey Tomasetti House in Melbourne CBD. The 3,814 sqm Flinders Lane building is to become the first hub for Merivale’s interstate expansion, and it’s assumed that The Lorne Hotel will now be the second.
Will MoVida now become Totti’s? Will we be seeing a Mr. Wong take move in? Merivale’s plans for The Lorne Hotel remain to be seen, and won’t really be clear until Hemmes receives to keys to the venue later this year. According to a press release, the venue will trade as normal over summer. That potentially means that Merivale won’t be making any changes to the beloved destination, at least not immediately.
“The Lorne Hotel is an iconic venue in a truly spectacular location,” said Hemmes.
“It has been an absolute pleasure getting to know John and Paul Upham, who have been the proud custodians of the venue for the last 11 years; we feel honoured to continue their legacy and help usher the pub into the next phase of its incredible 145-year history.”
Without any doubt, Merivale should be releasing more information about their plans for The Lorne Hotel later this year. For now, you’ll have to contend with speculation if you want to imagine how Sydney’s biggest hospitality group will play around with the rich stories that sit behind the iconic pub, which has been around since 1876 and has long been considered one of the very best country pubs in Victoria.