Chawke ‘happy’ with €22m pub

One of Ireland’s best-known publicans, Charlie Chawke, said yesterday he is happy with how the country’s most expensive pub is performing.

In 2005, Mr Chawke was involved in the most expensive pub sale in Irish history when he paid €22m for the Old Orchard Inn and site at Rathfarnham in Dublin.

New accounts show that Orchard Inn Ltd recorded a 39% drop in operating profits, from €766,777 to €464,934, in the 12 months to the end of last October.

However, after bank loan interest payments of €553,827 on the €22m loan to purchase the pub are taken into account, the Orchard Inn last year made a pre-tax loss of €88,893. This follows the business recording a pre-tax profit of €304,000 in 2010.

Mr Chawke pointed out yesterday that last year’s pre-tax loss includes non-cash depreciation costs of €309,080 and when this is excluded, the business made a profit on a cash basis of €220,187.

He said he has “no regrets” over paying David Lavin €22m for the business, pointing out that the purchase was for one pub, two restaurants, and two homes on a 2.9-acre site.

He said: “It is a top pub, a top site with top people coming in. I love it and I always wanted to buy it. It is one of the best pubs in Ireland and I’m delighted to have it.”

Mr Chawke made his comments as the new abridged accounts show that the Orchard Inn’s gross profit last year fell by 11%, from €2.49m to €2.19m.

Mr Chawke — who operates eight pubs including the Goat Grill, the Bank, and the Dropping Well — said: “The Orchard is performing well in the circumstances. I am happy with how it is doing.”

The value of the pub has not been written down and the accounts give the property a book value of €21.4m.

Mr Chawke said: “That wouldn’t be its true value today, but it might be again in the future, though I think I will have a beard down around my ankles before it is.”

The figures show the firm had a shareholders’ deficit last year of €226,141, while its cash increased during the year from €480,137 to €777,537.

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