Cork’s love affair with dining out, music, and coffee is driving a retail expansion throughout the city and suburbs.
New bars, restaurants, coffee shops and music venues are popping up all around the city and suburbs as the retail footprint of the area embraces lifestyle and entertainment options.
Traditional bricks and mortar retail is undergoing challenges throughout the country, and Cork is no different. It isn’t all doom and gloom, but the recent closure of Next in Douglas Court and the impending closure of Argos on Grand Parade will leave large, prominent units empty, at least in the short term.
However, there are some new arrivals too. A Louis Copeland shop will open over two storeys in a building between Academy St and French Church St in September, while Born has opened a branch in Douglas Village Shopping Centre.
Herlihy’s have added another branch to their growing empire of Centra shops, occupying the former Starbucks shop on St Patrick’s St, while work is ongoing in several vacant units across the road from here in a block that already includes Fáilte Ireland and Schuh.
Fáilte Ireland’s former home on Grand Parade could also be set for a new lease of life, with a planning decision pending on plans for a hostel and bar in the premises. It is just one of the many new hotels and hostels proposed throughout the city, some of which include bars, restaurants, and gyms.
The food options in the city and environs are also set for a boost.
The long-vacant restaurant unit in Mahon Point is set to be taken over by Milano, while the Merchant’s Quay shopping centre is undergoing renovations to allow a new restaurant to open upstairs in the centre.
One of the oldest family-run Chinese restaurants in Cork — Tung Sing — is set to open a new outlet in Ballincollig shortly. It will be the third branch of the restaurant, which has operated on St Patrick St since 1963.
Jam Café, which has a number of cafés in Cork and Kerry, is also set to open in Ballincollig in the coming weeks.
It is also expected that L’Atitude 51, the wine bar on Union Quay in Cork city, will reopen before the end of the year after closing due to fire damage in March, and work is ongoing in the former Thompson’s Bakery unit on MacCurtain St to develop a new microbrewery and restaurant. The venture is being undertaken by the owners of the Cotton Ball brewpub in Mayfield.
They follow the reopening of the Angler’s Rest recently — the 200-year-old pub has a revamped beer garden overlooking the River Lee.
Cork’s love affair with coffee is showing no signs of slowing down either.
Joe’s & Bros, an independent coffee shop which opened on Gilabbey St in 2017, has added a second premises in the city centre, taking over a number of empty units in the Winthrop Arcade, fronting on to Oliver Plunkett St.
And that’s not all when it comes to cafés: Izz Cafe, a Palestinian eatery, has been thriving since it opened on George’s Quay just before the start of the summer, while 107 Barrack St is the latest spot to offer an eclectic mix of art, books, and coffee on the busy street.
Outside the city centre, Bean & Leaf has continued its expansion. Owned by Corkman Bill Twomey, the chain opened in Passage West last week. It is the fifth Bean & Leaf to open in the wider Cork area, with another branch opening its doors in Douglas earlier this year to complement its locations in Mahon, Grand Parade, and Carrigaline.
The city’s live music scene is also set for a boost in the coming months.
Dali, formerly The Pav on Carey’s Lane, has firmly re-established itself as the nightclub of choice for many in the city, and long-standing favourite Cyprus Avenue completed a renovation last winter, increasing its capacity and attracting better-known acts as a result.
Joining those in the coming weeks is the re-opened Kino on Washington St. The venue is now under the management of Ed O’Leary and Joe Kelly, the duo behind Live at St Luke’s and It Takes a Village, and it will reopen on September 13 during the Sounds from a Safe Harbour festival.
And, that’s not all: Winthrop Avenue, a new small venue in the Old Oak/Cyprus Avenue complex is also due to open in the coming weeks. The first concerts have already been announced for October, with plenty more to come before the end of the year.