Four ex-Botanic Inns pubs sold hours after £4.3m deal as Downey brothers 'flip' bars but retain three premises
Four former Botanic Inns pubs have their third owner in six months after Derry GAA stars Seamus and Henry Downey sold them – hours after snapping them up in a £4.3m deal.
According to insiders, the brothers were legal owners for around two hours on Wednesday before Denvir's Hotel in Downpatrick, Molly Brown's in Newtownards, The Parador on Belfast's Ormeau Road and Ryan's on the city's Lisburn Road were 'flipped'.
That leaves the 1993 All-Ireland Gaelic footballers with sought-after McHugh's, the Apartment and the Kitchen Bar, all in Belfast city centre.
But the Downeys are not thought to have made a substantial amount of money on the deal. Instead, it was a means to secure ownership of the three central pubs by making a strong bid for the portfolio of seven, defeating all other bidders.
Horatio Group, led by the former managing director of Botanic Inns Stephen Magorrian, bought the Newtownards and Downpatrick venues for around £700,000 – a discount on their original £600,000 and £375,000 asking prices.
And management of the Parador and Ryan's has now been transferred to new publicans after a separate deal on Wednesday.
South Belfast businessman Paul Blaney, also owner of Craftsman Cleaners in Stranmillis, is now running the Parador.
Gavin and Sarah Bates will run Ryan's on the Lisburn Road. Mr Bates, former operations manager at Kelly's in Portrush, said: "It has been our dream to take on a place of our own and the opportunity of leasing Ryan's arose and we jumped at the chance.
"It's a successful bar which is established in a great thriving area, with a good base of regular customers."
He added: "The chicken wings are definitely staying as they are a firm favourite."
The Parador and Ryan's were bought by unidentified investors who were the under-bidders to the Downeys' winning bid for the seven-strong portfolio.
They paid close to £1m for the two Belfast pubs – down on the original price tags of £750,000 for Ryan's and £500,000 for the Parador.
Managing Director Stephen Magorrian, who led the Botanic Inns group of 13 venues – including the seven sold to the Downeys – until the business went into administration in May, said: "I'm glad to get Denvir's and Molly Brown's back. But it's a bitter-sweet day as we've lost many of the people who worked for us for a long time."
The Downeys formally take possession of The Apartment and The Kitchen Bar today after their leasehold status caused last-minute hiccups.
(clockwise from main) Ryan's, Molly Brown's, The Parador and Denvirs were sold on within hours