John Musca, managing director of JLL Hotels & Hospitality, who is handling the sale of The Oaks with colleague Ben McDonald, said a family office or high-net-worth investor was the most likely buyer of the famed property, pointing to the Smorgon and Kanat families’ investment in the Continental Hotel at Sorrento as a prime example.
“For those that accumulated wealth in mining, media, software, logistics or any other sector, once you finalize a business case, owning an iconic pub hotel in reality is far more fulfilling and exciting than any other form of investment,” Mr Musca said .
Standing on a 2188-square-meter corner site at 118 Military Road in affluent Neutral Bay on Sydney’s lower north shore, The Oaks dates back to 1938, when it was built by Tooth brewing company & Co. The first hotel on the site opened in 1880.
Its popular garden lounge opened in the late 1950s after being designed by architects Morrow and Gordon.
Extensively renovated in 2019 by the Thomas family, headed by David “Taffy” Thomas, The Oaks includes Taffy’s Sports Bar, Alala’s Cocktail Bar, Bar and Grill Restaurant, the beer garden, a gaming room with 30 poker machines, extensive first-floor function spaces and a bottle shop.
The John Meillon OBE Bar, named after the late Crocodile Dundee character actor, has been popular for years with famous identities and sports stars.
There’s also development potential with the site’s mixed-use zoning and favorable planning guidelines allowing for a development of up to five storeys.
Family representative Andrew Thomas said following a number of unsolicited approaches to purchase The Oaks, the family felt it was the appropriate time to move on.
The Thomas family will remain invested in the pub sector, retaining ownership of the Winston Hills Hotel in Sydney’s west and The Entrance Hotel on the Central Coast.