11.30AM UPDATE

The Sydney Star Observer has confirmed this morning the Arunta Group has taken control of the Midnight Shift.

The group owns the Oxford St premises and leases it to the Midnight Shift’s trading company, Blue Joy Pty Ltd. It is understood to have taken possession of the venue under terms set out in the lease.

SSO has been advised an official response from the Arunta Group will not be made available until Monday.

Initial speculation the venue was in receivership were incorrect.

A Shift staffer told SSO the owner of the Oxford St building took possession of the venue early Saturday morning, changing the locks to the premises. It is not yet known if this will be a permanent or temporary change in ownership.

The Shift is still operating as usual.

The staff member also told SSO last night that the venue’s staff and performers were told on Saturday they would still have jobs under the change of ownership and that current licensee and general manager Korey Barrett is still managing the venue.

Owner and community identity Tim Berry is understood to be overseas but is expected to return early this week to continue negotiations with the landlord.

Berry has a long history of support for Sydney’s gay and lesbian population, regularly offering the venue to community groups for fundraising events, as well as hosting his own fundraisers for numerous charities.

SSO has made contact with Berry and his partner seeking comment. However SSO has been advised Berry intends to fight the takeover when he returns from overseas, expected this Wednesday.

The Midnight Shift is a gay institution in Sydney and the oldest remaining gay bar on Oxford St.

It recently re-opened its upstairs venue as a men’s space called Saddlebar.

The difficulties changes at the venue come on the heels of a string on changes on Sydney’s gay scene in recent months at venues as varied at The Clarence Hotel, Oxford Hotel and Beresford Hotel – all of which have been on the market this year.

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