Application to take Bewley's signage from Starbucks


THE TRADITIONAL Bewley’s signage on the front of its former Westmoreland Street cafe, now a Starbucks branch, could be at risk following an application to Dublin City Council for its removal.

Bewley’s Oriental Cafes Ltd has applied to the council to be allowed remove the mosaic tiling on the facade and floor of the building bearing the Bewley’s name and replace it with plain tiles. It has also sought the removal of the stained glass, also bearing the Bewley’s name, from above the door. All of the features are believed to be almost 120 years old.

The company will learn today whether its application has been successful.

The cafe, which had traded since 1896, closed in 2004 and did not reopen until last May as a Starbucks outlet fronting onto Westmoreland Street, with a branch of the American restaurant chain TGI Friday’s operating towards the rear of the building.

Both outlets are operated by Entertainment Enterprises, an entertainment and restaurant group run by brothers Colum and Ciarán Butler. The company had, until last month, operated 10 of the Starbucks Irish branches under licence, with the US multinational directly operating the rest. It now runs all 27 Starbucks outlets in the Republic.

The application to the council was made by Bewley’s Oriental Cafes Ltd, and seeks a declaration from the council that the changes do not require planning permission. Planning permission granted in 2008 to bring the building back into use after its extended closure included a condition specially protecting the historic signage.

It stated that “all existing Bewley’s signage to both Westmoreland Street and Fleet Street facades shall be retained in situ”.

Bewley’s on Westmoreland Street has withstood several attempts to change its use, and sustained some structural damage since its closure eight years ago.

In January 2005, the council granted planning permission to Bewley’s Oriental Cafes, the then owners of the Westmoreland Street site, to redevelop the cafe and change the ground-floor use from a cafe to retail outlet. The decision was appealed to An Bord Pleanála by the Save Bewley’s Cafe Campaign and An Taisce, and the change of use was refused.