British pub chain Wetherspoon set to acquire Dublin bar
Premises in Blackrock set to be remodelled under Wetherspoon brand
Situated in Blackrock village, the premises JD Wetherspoon is set to acquire currently trades as Tonic Public House, Suite 54 Nightclub and The Village Bistro. Photograph: Frank Miller
British pub chain JD Wetherspoon is coming to Dublin.
The company, which is listed on the stock market in London, is set to acquire Tonic Public House in Blackrock, Co Dublin, The Irish Times has learned.
Contracts are set to be signed next week, with the British group expected to remodel Tonic under its own brand.
According to sources, Wetherspoon could spend up to €1 million on buying the freehold to the pub and in fit-out costs.
The property is currently being advertised for sale by estate agents Morrissey’s and Bannon, whose website says terms have been agreed on the premises.
Wetherspoon already has nine pubs in Northern Ireland, and is believed to scouting other sites in Dublin. One source said it could open up to six premises here.
A spokesman for Wetherspoon declined to comment yesterday when contacted about the pending Tonic deal.
Situated in Blackrock village, the premises currently trades as Tonic Public House, Suite 54 Nightclub and The Village Bistro.
The pub and restaurant on the ground floor cover about 5,200sq ft, while the upstairs nightclub, which can hold about 350 people, covers 4,100sq ft.
According to the sale brochure, the premises continues to “trade successfully” and it has “medium-term redevelopment potential”. It is currently being managed on behalf of AIB and pays about €45,000 in rates to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.
Wetherspoon almost opened in Dublin about a decade ago when it acquired the freehold on a furniture warehouse in Capel Street for more than €2 million. It got cold feet due to the high costs of doing business in Ireland at the time and was reported to have sold on the premises at a loss.
Wetherspoon’s investment here will be seen as a signal that the pub trade, in Dublin at least, might have turned a corner after five years of steady decline since 2008.
Consumers have cut spending on drink and are now drinking more at home rather than in pubs.
The British pub chain is noted for its free wifi and the fact that it does not play music. It serves 350,000 breakfasts each week, and is one of Britain’s biggest coffee retailers.
It made an operating profit of £107 million on revenues of £1.2 billion last year, and currently has 890 pubs and a chain of hotels.
‘Dukes of Hazzard’
Wetherspoon was founded in 1979 by English businessman Tim Martin. He named it partly after Sheriff JD Hogg of the US television series The Dukes of Hazzard and partly after a teacher of his from New Zealand called Wetherspoon.
Mr Martin spent time growing up in the North and his father was employed with Guinness as a marketing executive in Malaysia. The businessman is a euro sceptic and once promoted a Veto Ale in his pubs.