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Byron Shire
June 16, 2021

Merivale comes to town with cheeky acquisition

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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.

The owner of the Merivale Group, Justin Hemmes. Image: Urban Taskforce Australia

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.

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  1. More inappropriate development .Should be one of the most expensive clip joints in the Bay.
    Netflix can make their headquarters.
    Can things get more bizarre?
    Just wait until they reopen the borders.

  2. The place used to be Mexican Micks, who moved there from a shop front opposite the railway station. Mexican Micks was the first alternate cafe in Byron Bay. In the early 70s, after hitching up here from Sydney, me and a few bedraggled mates decided to catch the train back with our last few dollars due to monsoon like rain, and we asked if we could sit in Micks to wait (for about 4 hours). We had no money left but he welcomed us in and gave us an ongoing range of sample foods he was thinking of cooking.


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