McKillens get the go ahead for new venue

But publicans warn about restaurants masquerading as bars


The pub empire run by the family of the developer Paddy McKillen is to expand further, after An Bord Pleanála overturned Dublin City Council’s decision to block the McKillens’ latest new bar and restaurant.

The council had refused permission in February for the four-story venue on the site of Twohigs travel agency on Dawson Street, on the basis that it would erode the “retail character” of the area. Objectors included Louis Fitzgerald, who owns the country’s biggest pub chain.

McKillen’s Maginotgrange appealed the decision, and the planning authority this week allowed it to go ahead. Work will begin immediately on converting the building, which will open as a restaurant and bar in time for Christmas. It will be run by Paddy McKillen Jr, who operates a chain of venues in buildings mainly belonging to his father.

A McKillen source said the new venue would be “the opposite of a superpub” and would be aimed at an older crowd. It would serve “high-quality” food and drink, and would be similar to the McKillens’ Vintage Cocktail Club in Temple Bar.

Roof-terrace restaurant
The McKillens are also to press ahead with plans for a roof-terrace restaurant on top of the new boutique four-star hotel the family is building on Harcourt Street, after getting the all-clear recently from the council. The Dean hotel is due to open next April.

McKillen yesterday issued a statement announcing the two new ventures would create more than 100 jobs. About 850 people are now employed in the family’s bars, restaurants and nightclubs, it said.

Fitzgerald, who owns about 25 Dublin pubs including Kehoe’s and the Quays, said yesterday there had been a revival in the fortunes of city-centre bars, following a massive slump at the onset of the recession.

“But the suburbs are suffering badly. Everybody flocks to the city centre,” he said. He warned, however, that the pub trade was being damaged by some restaurants in the city masquerading as pubs.

“I think some restaurant owners are getting confused, and think they are running bars. Some of them seem more focused on selling drink and staying open late to compete with pubs than selling food.”