Delaney’s Irish pub in Wanchai is set to close its doors this summer after 21 years. It is due to serve its last pints of Guinness on August 21st.

Managing Director Noel Smyth told HKFP that the company had paid over HK$100 million in rent and management fees over the past two decades but could not afford the latest rental increase.

The property owners, Sino Group, have found new tenants for the site on the corner of Luard Road and Jaffe Road amid what Smyth sees as a growing trend of gentrification in the entertainment district.

“It’s been on the market for a year. Basically what they’ve done is sold it to the highest bidder,” Smyth said, adding that he was seeking new premises for the pub, so far without success.

“I’ve looked at Soho, Central, I’ve looked everywhere – it is very difficult at the moment, it’s not a rental market.”

Neither Delaney’s nor Sino Group would discuss the value of the new lease.

Delaney’s is the latest of Wan Chai’s big name bars to shut its doors over a rent hike. In February last year Joe Bananas called time at the bar after 28 years, although the legendary venue was later revamped and reopened by new owners.

A spokesperson for Sino Real Estate Agency Limited told HKFP that renewal discussions had taken place. “Unfortunately no consensus could be reached. We appreciate the tenant’s patronage and respect their commercial decision,” they said.

Smyth said that there would be no immediate job losses but six to eight senior members of staff will likely be out of work come August. He said that he felt “a little hard done by” that the landlord had not been more sympathetic.

“We were even happy to run it at a loss – it’s our flagship,” said Smyth. “Delaney’s is famous for several things – it’s comfort food, it’s a decent pint, it’s a nice place to meet, it’s got facilities and space for events.”

Photo: Delaney’s Hong Kong

Delaney’s Wan Chai was Hong Kong’s first Irish bar and the first pub in the city to serve draught Guinness. In 1994, a pint of “the black stuff” cost punters HK$56. Today a pint costs HK$80.

Originally located on only the second floor, the pub acquired the ground floor property in 2001, replacing a Chinese restaurant.

Two remaining Delaney’s outlets at Cyberport, Pokfulam and Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, will remain open as a new property is sought.

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Tom is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications & New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Quartz, Global Post and others.