House, CBD and Rodeo Rodeo for sale
Three of the city's top bars have been put on the market as the owners look to move off Hood St and pour money into their successful brewing business.
The Phoenix Group announced plans to sell House, CBD and Rodeo Rodeo, three of the highest-profile outlets in the central city. Along with House will go Grand Central, the adjoined cocktail joint.
The Phoenix Group will maintain its Little George bar on Hood St and Iguana restaurant on Victoria St, along with Smith and McKenzie in Chartwell and Good George brewery in Frankton.
Phoenix managing director Darrel Hadley said the group was freeing up assets to work on the Good George brand, which has been hugely successful since the company built the brewery in 2012.
"We're not going to sit on the beach somewhere and it's not about we've made our money and we're pulling out. It will all be reinvested," he said.
"We will maintain a high level of involvement in the central city through our other businesses and Good George brand, which will supply other city outlets as well as sponsor and support local events."
Mr Hadley said he had previously been approached by keen businessmen looking to acquire one or all of the bars but he felt now was the right time with increased business confidence and the group's brewery ambitions.
"Bars like Rodeo Rodeo don't come along every day and it'll always be close to my heart, so it's a bit sad."
It was a difficult decision to make for the group, who have poured their hearts and souls along with many a beer into the central city. However, Mr Hadley said all good things must come to an end and it was now time for someone else to have a crack at the market.
"We have loved our time on Hood St and feel personally very connected to the bars, customers and central city atmosphere. We built our group with those bars, and have had an enormous amount of fun and success being involved with big events like the RWC Fanzone, festivals and events."
The expansion of the brand will start promptly with Good Neighbour bar in Rototuna, which is set to open at the end of March.
All 80 staff employed by the three bars for sale will have the option to stay on with the new owners or move with the Phoenix Group as it expands. In total the group employs 240 people and plan to employ about the same level after the restructure.
The Phoenix Group has already sold off its shares in Domaine to previous business partner and head chef Jeff Dunstan, who will take over the premises with his fiancee Hayley Owen this weekend.
Mr Dunstan said he was "absolutely stoked" to be taking on the business and was grateful for all that he had learned from being part of the Phoenix Group.
The first step for Domaine was to have a big focus on changing menus, establishing bar area and cracking the catering market, goals Mr Dunstan said his team was behind "150 per cent".
"Good food, great service and passion. That's what I want to be known for."