Hospitality boom: What’s happening with Dublin’s bars and restaurants?

Catherine Cleary and Una Mullally look at the real cost of the boom in Dublin's hospitality sector

The vibrancy of Dublin nightlife and its high-concept restaurants and bars is forcing up costs for punters and developers.

The vibrancy of Dublin nightlife and its high-concept restaurants and bars is forcing up costs for punters and developers.

THE RESTAURANT BUSINESS: A MENU OF COSTS

They call it “meanwhile use” in property developer shorthand. It’s the market or cafe that slots itself temporarily into a building earmarked for redevelopment. Rent is low and terms are flexible. Cheap space is hewn out of a lull. Cool creative things happen. You don’t need the backing of a private equity fund or a multinational developer to set up a cafe or restaurant. No one is asking for a six-figure sum just to hand you the keys.

During the downturn, much of Dublin’s city centre was “meanwhile use” territory, mothballed until big money could see a return for its investment. Landlords were lucky to find tenants. In the bleak conditions the market wheeze that was “key money” evaporated. The economy tanked but restaurants grew like poppies through the cracks. Chefs worked harder and a new generation found footholds where they could, as one restaurateur puts it, “spend the money on all the nice stuff”. Food in Dublin got noticeably better.

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