Gleeson’s pub to enter the hotel market with €1.6m revamp
Move will add 16 bedrooms to existing food and beverage facilities
Gleeson’s is expected to compete in the mid-to-upper range of the market, with larger rooms than is usual in the city. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
The landmark Gleeson’s pub in Booterstown is to be extended into a boutique hotel to capitalise on the acute shortage of guest accommodation in the city.
Proprietor John Gleeson, recently installed as chairman of the Dublin-based Licensed Vintners Association, said entering the hotels game has become an attractive option for some suburban publicans seeking growth, as pubs’ traditional reliance on under-pressure alcohol sales continues to wane.
Gleeson’s, which was opened by the family on the current site in the 1950s, is expected to invest about €1.6 million in the scheme, which will add about 16 bedrooms above the existing, extensive food and beverage facilities.
The existing restaurant will be reconfigured to incorporate a lobby for the hotel. Gleeson’s is expected to compete in the mid-to-upper range of the market, with larger rooms than is usual in the city.
A final name for the enlarged business has yet to be chosen, but there is likely to be a rebrand of the business to mark its entry into the hotel sector, possibly as Gleeson’s Townhouse.
Mr Gleeson, who co-owns the business with his brother Ciarán, said final negotiations are nearing conclusion ahead of the commencement of works.
“Bank of Ireland backed my father when he first opened the pub, and they’ve been very supportive of this project,” he said.
Mr Gleeson takes the chair at the LVA as it marks its 200th anniversary this year.
“The industry in Dublin is in a good place,” said Mr Gleeson, although he said challenges still face the sector.
The Vintners Association will shortly submit its budget submission to the Government. It is expected to call for a major cut in excise on alcohol, with the industry from manufacturers right the way down to pubs seeking a 15 per cent reduction.
Mr Gleeson acknowledged that the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has signalled that the Government will likely prioritise income tax cuts. But he insisted that excise hikes in recent years had been sold as emergency austerity measures that now deserve to be rolled back.
He said food sales were now very important for most Dublin pubs, with up to 50 per cent of Gleeson’s sales coming from its restaurant and bar-food facilities. He said Dublin pubs back a drive by the Restaurants Association of Ireland for a raft of measures to address a “crisis” shortage of chefs.
“It’s very hard to find Irish chefs, and there is even a shortage of chefs from elsewhere in the European Union,” he said.
Mr Gleeson said pubs would like to see a relaxation of working visa rules for non-EU nationals to allow more chefs be recruited from farther afield.
“Currently, it is only straightforward to get a visa for a non-EU chef if you are an ethnic restaurant,” said Mr Gleeson. “We’d like to see that relaxed.”
He also said city centre pubs have noticed reductions of about 10 per cent in footfall from UK tourists since last summer’s Brexit vote, but that the shortage had been plugged by growing numbers of European and US visitors.