Plans for Bewley’s revamp on Grafton Street lodged with council

140 staff to be made redundant and just 70 employees to be hired when cafe reopens

The new menu will focus on serving hot drinks, baked items and cakes rather than hot food. Photograph: The Irish Times

The new menu will focus on serving hot drinks, baked items and cakes rather than hot food. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

Plans for a redevelopment of Bewley’s Cafe on Grafton Street, costing more than €1 million, have been lodged with Dublin City Council ahead of the cafe’s closure later this month.

A Dublin institution since 1927, the cafe is to close for at least six months for major refurbishment and reconfiguration in an attempt to stem annual losses of €1.2 million.

When it reopens in the autumn, the cafe will be smaller and have a more limited menu and its opening hours will be reduced.

The cafe will trade only on the ground floor of the 18,000sq ft premises after it reopens, which will roughly halve its seating capacity to about 160.

The 140 staff will be made redundant and there will be jobs for just 70 employees when it reopens.

The new menu will focus on serving hot drinks, baked items and cakes rather than hot food.

The plans lodged this week with the council seek the installation of a new kitchen bakery in the basement and a reconfiguration of the ground floor.

In the Harry Clarke room, which houses the artist’s famous stained-glass windows, an existing chandelier and recessed lighting would be removed and new decorative ceiling lights would be installed.

Back lighting

Damian Cassidy, who founded the Save Bewley’s Campaign in 2004 when the cafe was threatened with closure, said he wanted Bewley’s to be declared a national monument to secure its future.

“We don’t believe the building should be split up, and we are concerned that once it closes, the cafe might never reopen,” Mr Cassidy said.

The upper floors of the building once housed Whytes Academy, a grammar school established in 1758, with former pupils including Thomas Moore, Robert Emmet and the Duke of Wellington.

Bewley’s has fought an unsuccessful campaign with its landlord Ickendel Ltd, which is controlled by property developer Johnny Ronan, to have its €1.5 million annual rent reduced to €728,000, which was suggested by a third-party arbitrator in January 2012.