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Justin Hemmes confirms purchase of Byron Bay bar Cheeky Monkey’s

Hospitality mogul Justin Hemmes has confirmed the worst-kept secret in Byron Bay.

The Sydney-based pub baron has bought the legendary ‘dive bar’ Cheeky Monkey’s for at least $13.5million, The Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday.

The purchase comes after Hemmes, 48, spent $100million on venues in Sydney’s Leichhardt, Melbourne, and Lorne in Victoria. 

New project: Hospitality mogul Justin Hemmes has confirmed the worst-kept secret in Byron Bay: he’s the new owner of legendary ‘dive bar’ Cheeky Monkey’s on Johnson Street

Hemmes told The Telegraph: ‘I’ve been going to Byron since I was 10 years old, so it has always been a place close to my heart. I can’t wait to open our first venue on the North Coast and spend more time in the area. There’s simply no place like it.’ 

Cheeky Monkey’s closed its doors on March 23 last year due to the Covid pandemic and has not been open since. Merivale will take ownership of the pub on May 28, meaning the venue could be open for business again in a matter of weeks.

The restaurant and bar, which also houses backpacker accommodation, is situated on Byron’s popular Johnson Street. 

Hemmes is also said to be eyeing up another property closer to the ocean on the same street. 

The Byron Bay property market has become a hotspot for rich investors in recent years, with many hoping to buy a slice of Australia’s hottest holiday destination. 

Purchase: The Sydney-based pub baron bought Cheeky Monkey's for at least $13.5million

Purchase: The Sydney-based pub baron bought Cheeky Monkey’s for at least $13.5million

Closed... for now: Cheeky Monkey's closed its doors on March 23 last year due to the Covid pandemic and has not been open since. Merivale will take ownership of the pub on May 28, meaning the venue could be open for business again in a matter of weeks

Closed… for now: Cheeky Monkey’s closed its doors on March 23 last year due to the Covid pandemic and has not been open since. Merivale will take ownership of the pub on May 28, meaning the venue could be open for business again in a matter of weeks

Popular: The Byron Bay property market has become a hotspot for rich investors in recent years, with many hoping to buy a slice of Australia's hottest holiday destination

Popular: The Byron Bay property market has become a hotspot for rich investors in recent years, with many hoping to buy a slice of Australia’s hottest holiday destination

Location: The restaurant and bar, which also houses backpacker accommodation, is situated on Byron's popular Johnson Street. Hemmes, 48, is also said to be eyeing up another property closer to the ocean on the same street

Location: The restaurant and bar, which also houses backpacker accommodation, is situated on Byron’s popular Johnson Street. Hemmes, 48, is also said to be eyeing up another property closer to the ocean on the same street

The town’s value is expected to soar even more once international tourists return to Australia.

However, there has also been a local rebellion, with locals refusing to sell to cashed-up investors despite big offers. 

Earlier this month, Hemmes confirmed he’d also bought Norton’s Irish Pub in Leichhardt for $22million and will take over the venue next month.

‘This is simply a continuation of our growth strategy pre-Covid which was focused on acquiring great properties like The Royal and 3 Weeds, and creating new experiences in existing venues,’ he said. 

Nice digs: Earlier this month, Hemmes confirmed he'd also bought Norton's Irish Pub in Leichhardt for $22million and will take over the venue next month

Nice digs: Earlier this month, Hemmes confirmed he’d also bought Norton’s Irish Pub in Leichhardt for $22million and will take over the venue next month

Interest: Meanwhile, Hemmes is also said to be eyeing The Whale, a hotel and restaurant located in the town of Narooma, on the South Coast of NSW

Interest: Meanwhile, Hemmes is also said to be eyeing The Whale, a hotel and restaurant located in the town of Narooma, on the South Coast of NSW

It’s clear the Merivale Group is determined to expand out of Sydney with all of its recent purchases outside the Harbour city. 

On Thursday, the Merivale boss was revealed to have splurged $38milion on the oceanfront Lorne Hotel in Victoria.

The Lorne Hotel is 145 years old and is one of the best known regional pubs. 

On April 27, Hemmes announced he would be opening his first Melbourne venue after buying Tomasetti House in Flinders Lane precinct for more than $40million. 

Iconic: The oceanfront Lorne Hotel is 145 years old and is one of the best known regional pubs in the state of Victoria

Iconic: The oceanfront Lorne Hotel is 145 years old and is one of the best known regional pubs in the state of Victoria

Hemmes has since promised Melburnians that he plans to ’embrace’ what was on offer, rather than transplant his Merivale model into Victoria.

‘We have to embrace what makes Melbourne special, not bring Sydney with us,’ he told The Age.

‘I love that the city is so different to Sydney; it’s an exciting challenge that we really want to get right.’

Promise: Speaking of his plans to expand into Victoria, the hospitality mogul told The Age: 'We have to embrace what makes Melbourne special, not bring Sydney with us'

Promise: Speaking of his plans to expand into Victoria, the hospitality mogul told The Age: ‘We have to embrace what makes Melbourne special, not bring Sydney with us’

Expansion: On April 27, Hemmes announced he would be opening his first Melbourne venue after buying Tomasetti House in Flinders Lane precinct for more than $40million

Expansion: On April 27, Hemmes announced he would be opening his first Melbourne venue after buying Tomasetti House in Flinders Lane precinct for more than $40million

The historic building was acquired from the Sydney-based Millett family who bought Tomasetti House (pictured) for $16.2million in 2014

The historic building was acquired from the Sydney-based Millett family who bought Tomasetti House (pictured) for $16.2million in 2014

The Rich-Lister described Melbourne as a ‘very special city, with a unique energy’. 

‘Its local hospitality industry is one of the best in the world … we are honoured to open our first venue in Melbourne, and cannot wait to work alongside so many local industry greats,’ he said.

The billionaire acknowledged the ‘terrible’ sufferings of the Melbourne CBD over the last year and vowed to help turn it around for local businesses. 

Hemmes’ family fortune is worth about $1.06 billion. 

His property portfolio includes the Beresford Hotel in Surry Hills, which he bought in 2010, the Queen Victoria Hotel in Enmore in 2015 and Bondi’s Royal Hotel, which he bought in 2017. 

Hemmes also recently bought his ex Kate Fowler a $7.5 million mansion Dover Heights, which is one of Sydney’s most exclusive suburbs.

Daily Mail Australia has reached out to Justin Hemmes for comment. 

Fortune: Meanwhile, Hemmes and his family's empire is believed to be worth around $1.06 billion

Fortune: Meanwhile, Hemmes and his family’s empire is believed to be worth around $1.06 billion


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