Jo’Burger group put into liquidation

Restaurant group controlled by businessman Joe Macken, operated from at least six Dublin premises

Jo’Burger, which originated from a single outlet in Rathmines, had previously been in insolvency in 2009 but continued trading after a rescue deal was agreed with an examiner

Jo’Burger, which originated from a single outlet in Rathmines, had previously been in insolvency in 2009 but continued trading after a rescue deal was agreed with an examiner

 

The Jo’Burger restaurant group controlled by businessman Joe Macken, which operated from at least six Dublin premises, has gone into liquidation.

The group has confirmed that all of the group’s Dublin outlets, including those trading as Jo’Burger, Crackbird, Skinflint, Bar Guiseppe and Hey Donna, are to close with immediate effect. More than 100 employees are affected.

The closure affects the group’s premises in locations including Rathmines, Castle Market in the city centre, Smithfield, Temple Bar, South William Street, and Dame Street.

Some premises hosted more than one brand, such as Castle Market street, where Bar Guiseppe opened just two months ago above the Jo’Burger.

“A combination of factors including challenging trading conditions have forced this move,” said the group as it announced the closure.

Suppliers to the group were also told in recent days that its cost base, including its property costs, were also a factor in its financial difficulties.

“We would like to thank our many customers for their years of support. But mostly, thank you and sorry to all our crew and suppliers for their dedication and trust.”

The group was owned by Mr Macken, through an entity called Fennell Willis, and his parents Kevin and Vonie Macken, via their company Vonkev. About 18 months ago, they bought out Mr Macken’s previous business partner John Roberts, who had owned a 60 per cent stake.

Expanding

After concluding that deal, Mr Macken had indicated he would increase his restaurants’ turnover by broadening the offering and extending opening hours.

Jo’Burger, which originated from a single outlet in Rathmines, had previously been in insolvency in 2009 but continued trading after a rescue deal was agreed with an examiner.

Although it had been expanding until very recently, the group was loss making. Its most recent set of accounts only cover the period until the end of 2016, but they showed a shareholders’ deficit of €145,000 at that stage.

Last December, Mr Macken spoke to the Sunday Times about the challenges facing small independent restaurateurs, who he said were finding it hard to compete with larger groups expanding in the market.

“Independents can’t keep up – they can’t compete. For independents like ourselves to stay in business, we have to seek out places off the beaten track, where we can fill seats and pay the rent,” he said at the time.

Mr Macken complained in that interview that certain new foreign-owned entrants to the Dublin restaurant had increased competition, especially on midweek evenings: “I wonder if they will make the turnover they need to justify it. Dublin just doesn’t have the volume of people. If you walk around town on a Tuesday evening, you’ll see that the restaurants are not that busy.”