For years the Byron community has resisted the invasion of big corporations coming into town – staving off McDonalds and Club Med among a host of others.
Now, one of the country’s biggest hospitality and entertainment corps has sauntered in and purchased a property right in the centre of town.
In a press release issued this week, the Merivale group proudly announced that it had ‘expanded its NSW portfolio with the acquisition of 115 Johnson St, Byron Bay’.
The property was formerly home to the Cheeky Monkeys bar and a neighbouring massage and spa venue.
It will now become a large restaurant and bar.
Merivale’s ‘portfolio’ already includes 80 pubs, clubs, restaurants and other brands, making it one of the most lucrative hospitality companies in the country with a reported value of more than a billion dollars.
It is owned by Sydney identity Justin Hemmes, and is currently the subject of a $1.29 million class action in the Federal Court for alleged underpayment of employees.
‘I’ve been going to Byron since I was ten years old, so it has always been a place close to my heart,’ Mr Hemmes said in the press release.
‘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.’
Among the venues owned by Merivale are The Ivy bar and nightclub on George St in Sydney and The Newport Arms Hotel on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
Cheeky Monkeys was formerly owned by the Red Rock Leisure Group. The venue was forced to close at the start of the COVID outbreak and has not reopened.
Merivale said it would receive the keys to the venue this week, and that the new venue would open later this year.