Why two well-known restaurants announced closures this week
It's like a bereavement, say owners of Eastern Seaboard restaurant in Drogheda as Fish Shop plans a move out of Dublin to Tramore
Jeni Glasgow and Reuven Diaz, whose Eastern Seaboard restaurant and Brown Hound Bakery in Drogheda closed on Wednesday. Photograph: Barry Cronin
Three doors closed and one promised to open in Ireland’s restaurant scene this week. Drogheda lost its Eastern Seaboard Restaurant and Brown Hound Bakery and the couple behind Dublin restaurant Fish Shop announced they were closing their Queen Street restaurant to open a new restaurant in the Waterford town of Tramore.
Husband and wife team Jeni Glasgow and Reuven Diaz said the liquidation of their Drogheda restaurant Eastern Seaboard and sister bakery the Brown Hound felt like a bereavement. “I’ve been getting messages of sympathy with people almost saying they’re sorry for your loss and there’s sadness there for their loss too,” Glasgow said.
The business went into examinership in the summer. “We had interested investors who were willing to get involved,” Glasgow said. But she said the rescue attempt failed over issues about negotiating the rent.
Glasgow said the restaurant had been steered off course by a few events, the alleged theft of €30,000, a change in the menu which did not go down well and a decision to allow dogs in the restaurant. “It’s VAT rates, it’s staff costs and they’ve been my focus as much as possible,” Glasgow said, adding that her email had been flooded with offers of work from restaurants in north Dublin and the city centre for the company’s 40 staff.
“I was just saying to Reuven it felt like as we were falling apart we were absolutely hitting our stride. Our front of house team was so cohesive, the kitchen was [metaphorically] on fire … real magic happened in those last few weeks.” Glasgow said that the business was, at its peak, putting €1 million into the local economy in wages and had supported a lot of local farms and producers.
“We’ve been in the vortex of a crazy storm,” she said. Now that the axe has fallen she said the couple would think about opening a smaller place “somewhere in our beloved Boyne Valley, Slane is probably closest to our hearts”.
Chefs Keith Coleman, caterer Lu Thornley and New York chef Max Sussman, who was a chef de cuisine at Roberta’s, had all moved to the area recently, Glasgow said. “So there are interesting seeds being sown.”
Fish Shop will serve its last meal on December 21st in its Queen Street premises, a building that husband and wife team Peter Hogan and Jumoke Akintola took from a derelict room to a quirky 16-seat restaurant serving brilliant fish-focused meals.
The sister wine bar on nearby Benburb Street will remain, but fans of the Queen Street restaurant responded quickly to the news. Hogan got a text from a regular with a screen shot showing the four separate bookings secured in the weeks between now and December to say a thorough goodbye to a Dublin favourite.
The couple plan to open a new restaurant in the former Pine Rooms restaurant in a Victorian house on Turkey Street, Tramore, in mid-February. The Fish Shop name will stay in Dublin and the 40-seat Tramore restaurant will be called The Beach House.
“It’s my home town,” Hogan said. “And we’re down often anyway.” They started thinking about a move when the house, which dates from the 1870s, came up for rent. They come to the end of their lease in Dublin at the end of the year. “It’s not really a rent issue, but for us it was just to do with the size of the restaurant. We were always going to have to move on.”
The couple will offer lunch as well as dinner and try to keep the feeling that customers have said they liked about Queen Street. “People used to tell us it was like arriving in to our home and having us cooking for you. There will be a menu of choices in The Beach House and options other than fish in order to be as appealing as possible to everyone.
“It’s a long way from where we are but it’s home as well,” Hogan said. In the last two years “there’ve been an awful lot of people of my generation who’ve moved back [to Tramore]. They might still be working for companies in Dublin, but working remotely. There’s a nice pace of life,” Hogan said.