While Justin Hemmes has been spotted touring the $70 million Steyne Hotel and the more modest $7 million Three Weeds in Rozelle in recent weeks, a group of young guns have quietly added a high-profile Sydney pub to their fast-growing portfolio.
Jaime Wirth and his partners have nabbed the Old Fitzroy, the tightly held Woolloomooloo pub with its own theatre and a quirky but prominent food lineage. "It's one of the best pubs and has such a strong identity," says Wirth. "When you tell people you have it, they say, 'Don't screw it up'."
Incoming chef Nic Hill has Sepia and Michelin-starred London restaurant the Ledbury on his CV, but Wirth says they want to concentrate on pub classics, so there will be bangers and mash. "It isn't a pub you do Jamaican in."
Yet the Fitz was an early pioneer of Sydney's turn-of-the-century laksa wave, and has had high-profile chefs through its kitchen. The pub will trade until April then close briefly for a quick reno.
Wirth, who built then sold the Drink n Dine group, has been aggressive player in the Sydney pub market. He and his partners recently relaunched the Duke of Enmore, and have just added the George Hotel in Waterloo to their portfolio.
Its menu features Lebanese-inspired Mexican street food staple tacos al pastor, and co-owner Joel Amos is rebooting the George's bottle shop. "You can still get a slab of VB or some natural wine," Wirth says.