‘No demand... because there are no people’ at well-known Dublin pub

Absence of office workers and tourists is hitting Doheny & Nesbitt’s hard

John O’Brien, manager of Doheny & Nesbitt, serving pints behind a perspex screen. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

John O’Brien, manager of Doheny & Nesbitt, serving pints behind a perspex screen. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

“It just seems to be one thing after another, after another. When you get a bit of hope of something happening, it is squashed on you.”

That is the view from one of the country’s best-known pubs, Doheny & Nesbitt on Baggot Street in Dublin, as it deals with a radically-changed business landscape as a result of Covid-19.

The pub has been a long-time favourite of politicians, lawyers and economists, and even gave rise to the nickname “The Doheny and Nesbitt School of Economics” after a number of well-known economists who used to frequent the pub.

Today, the pub is grappling with a major downturn in its own business, due to the absence of office workers and tourists in the area.

The pub has always done a strong food trade, and was able to reopen as a pub-restaurant with the easing of Covid restrictions at the end of June.

“We always had a huge food trade because of the offices around here, which is now practically gone. A lot of places around here are suffering,” a spokeswoman for the pub told The Irish Times.

“We are open, it is a bonus that we are open, you just have to take it day by day.” Pre-Covid, the company that operates the pub, Swigmore Inns Ltd, recorded profits of €269,290 in the 12 months to the end of January 2020. This followed profits of €237,781 for the previous year.

Accumulated profits at the company last year increased to €4.074 million. But Covid-19 has had a dramatic impact on its trade.

“Business is slow. There is no demand there because there are no people... footfall is down a lot. We don’t have a busy lunch trade like we used to have due to office workers not being around,” the spokeswoman said.

“There are no tourists around, so we have no footfall from the Merrion, Conrad, Fitzwilliam and Shelbourne hotels. We are losing out on all of that as well.”

Due to social distancing regulations, the pub has had to remove half its tables. The new regulations have also created a challenging working environment for staff.

“It is very hard to tell loyal regulars that ‘your time is up’ and you have to vacate the table... you can’t really talk to customers anymore when you have to keep your distance, and where you’re wearing visors or face masks. It is very hard to interact with them.

“There are some staff who have not come back, and that’s because there is no demand there from customers. There is nothing we can do about it.”

*This article was amended on August 20th, 2020