FOR the first time in 25 years, Warrnambool’s Gallery nightclub is on the market, in what is anticipated to be a multi-million- dollar sale.
Owner/managers Alison Bonjer and Paul Blain have put their long-running business — with an option to buy the freehold as well — out for expressions of interest.
“After 25 years there are maybe some areas we can pursue,” Ms Bonjer said.
“We’ve been very hands-on operators and as a result of that you have to make concessions to your social and family life.
“But it’s something we’ve done with pleasure — we’ve had a ball and we’re still having a ball.
“I think we’ve earned a change of pace and direction and 25 years is a nice anniversary or milestone to bow out on.”
Terry Board, managing director of hotel brokers TJ Board & Sons, estimated the freehold and business together could go for somewhere in the vicinity of $3 million.
“We’re taking expressions of interest, but I would have thought that … it would fetch $2.7 million or $3 million or probably even north of there,” Mr Board said.
TJ Board & Sons was also involved in the sale of the Victoria Hotel precinct earlier this year, which fetched $2.35 million, and Mr Board said the sale of the Gallery would likely attract as much interest if not more.
“It’s got one of only two 3am licences in Warrnambool and that’s a very strong point — it’s almost impossible to get a 3am licence anymore,” he said.
“Following on from the Victoria Hotel sale, this is another very strong opportunity … certainly in hospitality, and it’s a strong CBD location.”
Ms Bonjer said she had enjoyed her time running the venue and was particularly proud of the many Australian Hotels Association award nominations and wins the Gallery had received, including winning the best redeveloped license premises in Victoria in 2009.
“That’s been a lovely pat on the back,” she said.
“It’s nice to get the recognition, not just for us but for our staff.
“Paul and I have made significant friends among the customers and our staff.
“We’ve loved it, we still enjoy it.
“This sale is not driven by a desire to leave the industry all together, but 25 years is a long time.
“If there are no interested parties, it will be business as usual … but maybe not for another 25 years.”
The Gallery has undergone many changes over its 25-year existence, including a number of significant renovations in the past decade.
Ms Bonjer said the business had weathered many changes in Warrnambool’s night-time entertainment landscape, the latest being the rise in popularity of Eden, the city’s other 3am licensed nightspot.
“Every new establishment has a honeymoon period,” she said.
“That’s certainly not the reason for putting the Gallery on the market.”