Balmain’s The Cricketers Arms To Transform Into A Sports Whiskey Bar

For Reilly, Tommy Hall is one of those people. The Cricketers Arms will be his first surgery, and according to Reilly, he has earned it. Hall’s vision for the Cricketers is simple, he wants something for everyone.

“I’ve worked with the locals to hear what they want for the pub’s future, and getting their feedback has been invaluable,” he said.

The Cricketers, spread over three levels, is approximately 800 square meters in size. According to Hall, all that space has been misused. He has worked to convert all the spaces into usable space, including transforming a previously empty center bar into a sports bar and tearing down the wall separating the restaurant from the main bar.

The top floor is also being converted into a high-end whiskey bar.

He said he was grateful for the support of former owner Tim Condon, who supported his plan for the pub’s future.

“My approach has always been that when you take care of the community, they will take care of you,” Hall said.

The pub’s Italian restaurant has been replaced by a Chinese pop-up, “Little Emerald,” run by Kim Douglas, the mastermind behind Marrickville’s vegetarian pizzeria Pizza Madre.

The Cricketers Arms is the second Balmain pub to be acquired by the Reilly Group in two years, following the sale of the London Hotel for $8.5 million in July last year. The two historic sites join Reilly’s growing main base of pubs, including the Sydney Park Hotel in Newtown, White Cockatoo Hotel in Petersham, The Henson in Marrickville and the Sutton Forest Inn in the state’s southern highlands.

Newly renovated pubs

The Enmore Hotel, Enmore: In 2020, the self-proclaimed “pub doctor” Ged Dore took over the three-storey Victorian pub formerly known as the Sly Fox and restored it to Whitlam-era pub glory replete with jukeboxes, pool tables and orange chenille chairs.

The Richmond Inn, Richmond: What started as “a lick of paint” turned into a multi-million dollar renovation (including a ball pit and Mediterranean beer garden) when The Tilley & Wills Hotel Group took over this 150-year-old Hawkesbury hotel in 2021.

Old Fitz, Woolloomooloo: The Odd Culture hospitality group carefully guided this iconic 160-year-old Woolloomooloo boozer into the post-lockdown world by updating its old-world charm and approaching talented young chefs to run the bistro.

The Illinois Hotel, Five Dock: Former Wallaby player Bill Young transformed the former gentlemen’s club into a welcoming, family-friendly venue, inspired by the bright colors and mid-century aesthetics of Palm Springs.

De Collaroy, Collaroy: Justin Hemmes of Merivale gave the Northern Beaches institution a simple and elegant revamp in 2018, with an ocean-inspired color palette, pastel murals and an outdoor deck to take advantage of the expansive sea views.

Bianca Hrovat

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The Reilly Group has largely avoided the workforce crisis that has paralyzed much of the country’s hospitality industry since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Staff is probably the most difficult part of hospitality for an operator. We have been lucky as we have always prioritized treating staff well and it has paid off,” said Reilly.

He attributes his success to staffing his locations with people who enjoy working there. “It’s not higher math, hospitality is supposed to be hospitable,” he said.

“We don’t claim to be reinventing the wheel, we just serve good food, good beer, good atmosphere.”

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