Here’s the craic on a grand Irish pub

10:35 AM Wednesday September 10, 2014 Colin Taylor

Good horizontal view of the frontage of 74 Wyndham St in the Auckland CBD now trading as Frankie’s bar and restaurant.

An Auckland city restaurant and bar unit on the ground floor of the Heritage Hotel, which previously housed the well known Muddy Farmer Irish pub, is for sale either vacant or with a leaseback arrangement in place.

“The current fit out is in excellent condition and would allow a new operator to begin trading straight away,” says Oscar Kuang of Colliers International’s Auckland investment sales team who, with colleagues Mark Wyness and Andrew Hiskens, is selling it by tender closing at 2 pm on Friday, September 19. 

The 629 sq m freehold strata titled property at 74 Wyndham St has more recently been operating as Frankie’s bar and restaurant and is featured in the agency’s latest New Zealand Portfolio collection of properties.

“With a short sales deadline we are urgently looking for a buyer for this property, which offers an excellent opportunity for a new owner to continue the tradition started by The Muddy Farmer,” Kuang says.

Wyness says the property benefits from its location in the Heritage Hotel which provides a steady source of patrons.

“It is an ideal add value investment and provides an opportunity to install a hospitality operator who could have it up and running immediately,” Wyness says. “Alternatively an owner operator could buy the property to start their own food and beverage business, taking advantage of the ready-made customer base provided by the hotel guests.

“Another option could be for the new owner to put a long term lease in place and on-sell the property as a passive investment with personal guarantees.”

Kuang says a new owner could also opt to start afresh with a blank canvas and open a completely new style of hospitality business following a refurbishment and new fit out.

The property contains a fully licensed bar area, a restaurant and a gaming room licensed for nine pokie machines.

Hiskens says the Muddy Farmer was a much loved pub full of relics and genuine Irish memorabilia. “The tables, chairs, ornaments and pictures were transported from Ireland in shipping containers to capture the atmosphere of a real Irish pub and much of this fit out remains in the property,” he says.

The Muddy Farmer was once named by an online hotel booking service as one of the top 10 places in the world to celebrate St Patrick's Day – the only place in the Southern Hemisphere to make the list.

True Commercial - 74 Wyndham St - interior.jpg

Interior view of Frankie’s bar & restaurant at 74 Wyndham St in the Auckland CBD. 

Wyness says Auckland’s Heritage Hotel has a long and interesting history. “The building is still known by many as ‘the Farmers building’ because it housed the big Auckland CBD department store for almost seventy years.”

The building was originally commissioned as a mail-order warehouse by entrepreneur Robert Laidlaw for his company, Laidlaw Leeds.

In 1917, Laidlaw was approached by another mail order company – The Farmer’s Union Trading Company – with an offer to merge and Laidlaw became managing director of the new venture: Farmer’s Trading Company.

The seven-storey Farmers department store opened in 1921 and offered five acres (2 hectares) of floor space, tearooms and a rooftop playground. “It was the largest and most impressive store in the country and its tearoom became one of Auckland’s most prestigious places to dine,” Hiskens says.

The building was converted to a hotel in 1998 and America’s Cup challengers Luna Rossa made the hotel its operations base during the 1998 to 2002 sailing seasons.

“Many of the building’s original features were preserved during the hotel conversion including timber floors, exposed beams and pillars,” Kuang says.

Wyness says the property is within the Victoria Quarter zoning area, which is home to a diverse mix of business and residential activity. “It is close to the Sky Tower, Viaduct and Queen Street, as well as to multiple parking facilities, train and bus transport hubs..”