Four iconic Dublin pubs hit the market this week in what’s the most significant city centre sale of licensed premises for years.
The prime pub portfolio includes Café en-Seine on Dawson Street, The George and The Dragon on South Great George’s Street, and Howl at the Moon on Lower Mount Street.
The four properties, which were run by Liam O'Dwyer and his brother Des as part of the Capital Bars Group, are being sold on the joint instructions of receiver Pearse Farrell of RSM Farrell Grant Sparks and the O'Dwyer brothers.
John Ryan of CBRE is the selling agent and is quoting over €12 million for the portfolio, which has a combined annual gross turnover in excess of €13.5 million. The pubs, which can also be bought individually, are for sale by private treaty with best bids to be received by noon on July 4th.
Café en-Seine is the jewel of this particular sale. It occupies a prime trading pitch opposite the Mansion House and the O’Dwyers developed the faux art nouveau-interior into one of the city’s trendiest superpubs. During the boom years it was rumoured to have a net turnover of €7-€8 million annually but this has since dropped to somewhere over €5 million.
The premises, which extends to more than 1,300sq m (13,993sq ft), is held under a leasehold title and offers in excess of €3.5 million are being sought for this interest.
Equally well-known is The George – the specialist licensed premises geared towards the LGBT market – which occupies a top trading position at the Dame Street end of South Great George’s Street. The area is one of the liveliest nightspots in the city.
The George is held on a part- freehold/part-leasehold basis and extends to over 640sq m (6,889sq ft). The agent is quoting in excess of €3.5 million for the property, which is rumoured to have a net turnover of about €3.5 million.
Nearby The Dragon is on the market with vacant possession. It extends to 743sq m (8,000sq ft), has extensive ground- and first-floor bar areas and offers “considerable scope to develop a high-volume, high-margin business”, according to Ryan. The property is held freehold and offers in excess of €3.5 million are being sought.
The fourth pub in the portfolio is the popular after-office haunt Howl at the Moon. It was opened by the O’Dwyer brothers’ father, Joe, in the 1960s before his sons invested millions in the business, turning it into the extensive 1,100sq m (11,840sq ft) licensed premises it is today. Situated close to Merrion Square in the heart of the south central office district, Howl at the Moon is a freehold property and offers of over €1.5 million are being sought.
Given the prime nature of the four pubs, their sale should appeal to a wide pool of potential purchasers, not least some of the UK pub chains which have been looking at, and in some cases, dipping their toes in the Irish market of late.
The sale also comes at a time when a number of other significant pub transactions are expected to close imminently. Foley’s Bar on Merrion Row could be bought soon for a figure rumoured to be close to €3.5 million – well over CBRE’s €2.75 million guide price – to purchasers from Northern Ireland.
Meanwhile, it is anticipated that the sale of The Globe of South Great George’s Street could close for about €2.5 million in the next few weeks. A private investor is believed to be in pole position to purchase the part-freehold, part-leasehold premises.
Should the sales go ahead, it will offer further evidence of the upswing of investment activity in prime pub assets.