Home of Bills Darlinghurst sells for $4.2m at auction

The landmark corner site at 433 Liverpool Street, Darlinghurst sold for $4.2m at auction yesterday.

The home of Bills Darlinghurst has sold for $4.2m at auction, six months after it passed for $3.3m, with suggestions representatives of founder Bill Granger were the underbidders.

The landmark Liverpool Street building is where the restaurateur and cookbook king opened his first cafe 28 years ago, with the then 22-year-old introducing Sydney to his ricotta hot cakes and smashed avocado.

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They, and Granger’s breakfasts, are now world-famous, with restaurants in Surry Hills, Bondi, Double Bay, London, Seoul and Tokyo, but the empire is still run from the lower ground floor at Darlinghurst where he’s always been a tenant.

Bill Granger was spotted in the auction room. Picture: Con Poulos

The Darlinghurst Bills shut its doors during Covid last September, but reopened two months later with Granger announcing “we couldn’t be happier to see our customers again”.

That didn’t resolve his landlord’s financial strife, with Colliers national director Miron Solomons and colleague Matt Pontey, in conjunction with Shannan Whitney of BresicWhitney, finally selling it yesterday in their second attempt.

Auctioneer Damien Cooley had three bidders line up at his city commercial auction rooms, with all of them active.

The usually London-based Granger is believed to have been there and suggestions from some that the underbidders were acting for him couldn’t be confirmed.

The building is home to the very first Bills.

Bidding opened at $3.4m and rose initially in $100,000 increments and then $50,000s.

It was called onto the market at $3.75m.

Says Solomons: “It was really a two-horse race after about $3.8m … it was bought by a local Chinese family who only inspected it 24 hours prior, who will add it to their eastern suburbs holdings.”

He’d fielded about 150 inquiries over the past week for the building.

The lease was up for renewal in April and the fact that Granger had committed to another five-year lease had helped the sale.

Granger has committed to another five-year lease.

“Bill had recommitted and signed an option for another five years which really helped stabilise the asset, particularly for investors looking for long-term investment holdings in the eastern suburbs.”

Says Whitney: “The buyer was a sophisticated property investor who thought it was an attractive purchase given the strength of the income and security of the tenancy and quality of the asset.”

The restaurant, offices and seven-bedroom boarding house fetched more than $190,000 per annum.