Iconic Bewley's Dublin café closed until autumn for €1m makeover

Bewley's Cafe in Grafton St, Dublin which is closing for renovation until the autumn

Bewley's Cafe in Grafton St, Dublin. Image by Paul Downey / CC BY 2.0

One of Dublin's best-known  tourist attractions -  Bewley's Grafton Street Cafe -  is to close  for a substantial renovation of its premises.

The company said the move was necessary to secure the future of the renowned cafe which is currently losing over €1m per year. The shutdown means that it will be autumn at the earliest before the doors are opened to customers again.

However, the Irish Independent reports that Bewley's stress they are committed to the future of its iconic Dublin cafe, but said it is necessary to restructure and simplify the operation to return it to a 'sustainable financial position'.

The extensive renovation and refurbishment project will cost €1 million and is the  first major work on the cafe since 2005. The cafe has multiple floors in operation at present. When it reopens, it will be with a 'simplified focus' on the ground floor and basement.

The closure means the company will institute a redundancy programme for its 140 staff and hopes to re-employ about half that number when it reopens.

'We are also sorry to disrupt our very loyal customers during this period,' Bewley's Chief Executive John Cahill said. 'We are planning this programme to sustain Bewley’s Cafe’s continuing presence on Grafton Street, and to create related jobs in the future.'

'We are confident that this proposed development will ensure the sustainability of Bewley’s Grafton Street and the provision of future employment by the Café on its reopening later in 2015.'

The Irish Times reports that the cafe will have a new menu, saying Bewley’s intends to focus on serving hot drinks, baked items and cakes rather than hot food.

According to the company, the cafe has huge operating costs and an annual rent of €1.5m 'which is a legacy of the unsustainable Irish property bubble'.

In 2012, a third party arbitrator established the rent should be at €728,000, but the higher rent remains, the company said.

The company said they have tried many different routes in bringing down the rent, pointing to legal court proceedings in the Supreme Court which ruled against Bewley's last July. Even if the rent reduction was in place, with annual losses of €1.2m a year, the position is not sustainable, the company said.

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