Dublin pub Jack Nealon’s to remain open under new management

Planned closure of landmark bar put off as receiver acting for US fund keeps shutters up

Jack Nealon’s, the well-known Dublin pub in business for more than a century on Capel Street is to close in April at the direction of the North American vulture fund owner who purchased the debt on the property. Video: Bryan O’Brien

 

Jack Nealon’s, the landmark Dublin pub that was due to close this month, will continue serving.

The Capel Street bar will remain open under new management who are working for the receiver that manages the property on behalf of the US private equity fund, Oaktree Capital.

The business, which has operated as a pub since 1905, was set to close last week after staff were told by the long-term leasehold company the bar would be closing at the behest of the fund.

Vincent Waters, a director of Total Stock Control, the pub’s leaseholder, later clarified to The Irish Times that the pub was in fact closing due to recent increasing costs, declining trade and incurred losses.

Since then, Mark Heather of Keystone Management, a company that specialises in managing bars for receivers, has taken over the bar for receiver, accountant Declan Taite of Dublin firm Duff & Phelps.

Some of Nealon’s long-serving staff have since left the bar and are being paid redundancy.

Mr Waters said in a statement emailed to The Irish Times on March 22nd that his company had advised the receiver that it intended to terminate the lease on April 21st.

“The management team are disappointed at the outcome but the business was unsustainable and the decision to terminate the licence agreement was the only option available,” he said at the time.

Total Stock Control sought the termination of the lease prior to Oaktree purchasing the loan on the pub from the National Asset Management Agency.

The debt was among a portfolio of loans with a face value of €4.7 billion that were sold by the State loans agency as Project Ruby and Project Emerald in June 2016.

A source familiar with arrangements made after Oaktree bought the loan said the US investment fund consented to a proposal from the receiver to forgive part of the unpaid rent due by Total Stock Control.

Calls to Mr Taite, Mr Heather and Mr Waters were not returned.

A spokesman for Oaktree declined to comment.

The pub attracts a mixed and loyal clientele that includes barristers and solicitors from the Four Courts, students and teachers from a nearby international school and members of the LGBT community.

It is popular too with clubs, from blues dance groups to meetings of canary breeders.

The three-storey red-brick corner building was constructed in 1867 for the wine and spirit merchant John O’Connor. The well-preserved interior includes a large open-hearth fire and a gold-gilted ceiling that is one of the finest examples of ornate plaster in Dublin.

The property ended up under the control of Nama after it acquired hundreds of millions of euro in loans linked to the developer Bernard McNamara following the banking crisis.

Mr McNamara had amassed Nealon’s along with the nearby Ormond Hotel and other adjoining properties with a view to redeveloping the area on the north quays of Dublin city centre.