Former Donnelly Group putting numerous Vancouver bars up for sale as part of a restructuring

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      If getting into the bar business is your dream, there are potential opportunities in Vancouver and Toronto as the former Donnelly Group is in selling mode.

      Late last spring, the local hospitality empire—now rebranded as the Freehouse Collective—filed for creditor protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA).

      Now, according to a Supreme Court of British Columbia report filed by a court-appointed monitor, eight “unprofitable” establishments owned by the Freehouse Collective are being put up for sale. Seven are in Vancouver and one in Toronto. Those businesses are:

      • Hello Goodbye (1120 Hamilton Street)
      • Granville Room (957 Granville Street) Cinema Public House, at 901 Granville Street;
      • Butcher & Bullock Public House (911 W Pender Street)
      • Three Brits Public House (1780 Davis Street)
      • Brass Fish Tavern (385 Burrard Street)
      • Bomber Brewing (1488 Adanac Street)
      • Death & Taxes Free House (1154 Queen Street West, Toronto)

      In an email to the Straight, Freehouse Collective’s Chief Growth Officer Harrison Stoker said the sale of some of the brand’s existing businesses will free up money for restructuring:

      “Last week we obtained a court order increasing the limits on sale or disposition of redundant or non-material assets. That is to say, we’re permitted to sell assets within a newly set price range. The approved order earns us needed maneuverability in the pursuit to complete financial restructuring, which is aimed at this spring and includes the sale of some contemplated assets. These potential sales are in the spirit of mitigating liabilities and emboldening our plan of arrangement, which is focused on long-term sustainability and growth of core assets.

      In short, we’re getting closer to exiting CCAA by way of financial restructuring which includes reducing debt, strengthening cashflow, and returning to the growth of core brands.”

      Bars under the group’s umbrella not up for sale include the Lamplighter, Clough Club, Stock Room, and Sing Sing.

      The Donnelly Group cited the pandemic as a major reason for its financial troubles when it filed for creditor protection in May of 2023. Even after lockown restrictions were lifted, profitability was a challenge due to everything from labour shortages, cost of raw materials, and liquor taxes to increased lease rates, property taxes, and bank interest rates.

      The petition last May stated that the group owed the Bank of Montreal $14.84 million. Because liquidation and receivership wouldn’t lead to a recouping of that debt, BMO agreed that restructuring, including selling off properties, would be smarter.

      Bringing us full circle to...if you’ve always wanted to own a bar...

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