Balmain’s The Cricketers Arms to transform into sports, whiskey bar

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

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

Across three levels, the Cricketers is about 800 square meters. According to Hall, all that space has been poorly utilized. He’s worked to convert all areas into usable space, including transforming a previously empty middle bar into a sports bar and knocking down the wall that separated the restaurant from the main bar.

The top floor will also be converted into a high-end whiskey bar.

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

“My approach has always been that when you look after the community, they’ll look after you,” Hall said.

The pub’s Italian restaurant has been replaced with a Chinese pop-up, “Little Emerald”, run by Kim Douglas, the brains 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 $8.5 million sale of the London Hotel in July last year. The two historic venues join Reilly’s growing staple of pubs that include 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: Self-professed “pub doctor” Ged Dore took over the three-storey Victorian pub formerly known as the Sly Fox in 2020, restoring it to Whitlam-era pub glory replete with jukebox, pool tables and orange chenille seating.

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.

The Old Fitz, Woolloomooloo: The Odd Culture hospitality group carefully guided this iconic 160-year-old Woolloomooloo boozer into the post-lockdown world by freshening-up its old-world charm and approaching talented young chefs to lead 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 aesthetic of Palm Springs.

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

Bianca Hrovat

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The Reilly Group has largely avoided the staffing crisis that’s crippled much of the country’s hospitality industry since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Staffing is probably the most difficult part of hospitality for an operator. We’ve been lucky because we’ve always prioritized treating staff well, and it’s paid dividends,” Reilly said.

He credits his success to staffing his venues with people who enjoy working there. “It’s not rocket science, hospitality is supposed to be hospitable,” he said.

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

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