French leave: Les fréres Jacques restaurant on the menu at €1.2m

Famed Dublin restaurant is also available for rent at about €55,000 plus key money

Jean Jacques Caillabet, who is retiring, outside Les Fréres Jacques on Dame Street which he opened 28 years ago. photograph: cyril byrne

One of Dublin's most renowned French restaurants, Les fréres Jacques, beside the Olympia Theatre on Dame Street, is to be offered for sale following the decision of its owner, Jean Jacques Caillabet, to retire from the business he founded 28 years ago.

Nigel Kingston of Douglas Newman Good Commercial Property is seeking offers in the region of €1.2 million for the four-storey over basement building including the 60 seater restaurant with all its fixtures and fittings.

If a buyer does not emerge, it is planned to lease the restaurant element of the building at a rent of €55,000 per year on payment of key money of about €165,000 in lieu of the goodwill. The building has an overall floor area of 317.47s q m (3,412 sq ft) with restaurant seating on the ground and mezzanine levels and residential accommodation on the three upper floors expected to generate an income of around €36,000 per year.

Jean-Jacques Caillabet, the highly personable restauranteur, moved from Brittany to Ireland in 1979, opening two French brasseries, Café Paris, in Cork and at the former Galleria on St Stephen’s Green in Dublin.


The success of both ventures encouraged him to buy the Dame Street building for IR£110,000 in 1986. He later closed down the two brasseries to allow him concentrate on his new upmarket restaurant.

Les fréres Jacques was a hit from the start, attracting a business and professional clientele including a large number of lawyers from the nearby Four Courts. During the boom years, lunches frequently lasted several hours.

Caillabet says the lunch pattern has now changed. “Our clients don’t do long lunches any more except perhaps on a Friday or in the weeks leading up to Christmas.” He says the lunch business is now very competitive and to remain successful restaurants had to offer very attractive prices and a good variety of food.

Caillabet says the smoking ban and the Breathalyser testing had a serious impact on late night dining out. Customers had become “Americanised” by dining early and going home early.

With the City Council reluctant to grant licences for new restaurants in the south inner city, Les fréres Jacques is expected to have broad appeal among investors and operators because of its enviable reputation and its prime location on a street that has come to life in recent years.

Jack Fagan

Jack Fagan

Jack Fagan is the former commercial-property editor of The Irish Times