An American entrepreneur has snapped up The Elbow Room, a chain of five pool bars, for his growing bar empire.

American Frank Dowling’s Inc Group has bought the five Elbow Room sites, in London, Leeds and Bristol, as well as Bristol whisky bar The Woods, for an undisclosed sum.

The units have a combined net turnover of £6m a year and will take the Inc Group to a total of 26 sites with a net turnover of £30m a year.

The deal is Inc Group’s first outside Greenwich, where it owns The Trafalgar Tavern and other pubs. It is also the largest hospitality tenant at the 02 Arena.

Next level

Dowling said: ‘I’ve always liked hanging out at The Elbow Room.

'It reminds me of New York City and it’s still definitely the coolest place to play pool. Our mutual friend Jonathan Downey (Match Bar Group/Milk & Honey) introduced us and the whole deal has moved very fast.

'The Elbow Room brand has great potential. I think activity-based experiences are in a growth phase right now – bowling, karaoke, pool – it’s all about having something to do in addition to having a drink or a bite to eat.’

Elbow Room founder and managing director Justin Carter says: ‘If you wanted a game of pool in London ten years ago chances are you would end up on a wonky table in a dingy corner of your local pub, playing winner stays on with the toothless meathead pub champ.

'We have helped to change that, and 2 million frames of pool have now been played on our big American style tables.

'I’m proud to have built the business but I’d like to see someone else take it on to the next level, so the Inc Group approach was well timed.

'They are a great outfit as well as being a good cultural fit for us and I’ve every confidence that their strong management team can add value.’

The Elbow Room were advised by agents Stephen Kane & Co.