Corks to pop on new city bars

Cork city’s bar and restaurant scene steps up a gear this month with the soft opening of the large-scale, 8,400 sq ft Tequila Jack’s at City Quarter, facing One Albert Quay, and the recreated Oyster Tavern also aims for a soft opening by the weekend, at the redeveloped Capitol complex off St Patrick’s St.

Derry O'Regan, co-owner, Tequila Jack's, a new Mexican Restaurant & Tequila Bar, opened at City Quarter, Lapp's Quay, Cork. Picture: Denis Minihane

And, just west of Cork city, another venture with long pedigree, the Anglers Rest at Carrigrohane, is in the final throes of a c €700,000 sale via Keane Mahony Smith, with a deal expected to complete legally within days, to a buyer with two other recent Cork suburban bar acquisitions.

The clear evidence of economic buoyancy and resurgence in consumer spending and dining out comes after openings earlier in spring, and packed tables since, of Cask on MacCurtain St, and Rachel’s on Washington St; now, the Piano Bar at Rachel’s is also set to extend into an al fresco, outdoor terrace dining on Little Cross St, already part-colonised by Reardens.

Rachel Allen’s first restaurant project, in collaboration with Paul Montgomery of Reardens, opened in March and “it’s hoped that the new terrace will help to address the huge demand for both the restaurant itself and the Piano Bar, as well as providing a whole new dining experience for the city”, said a spokesperson.

Meanwhile, showing a strong turnaround at City Quarter is the very significant investment by a seasoned hospitality team in Tequila Jack’s. The Mexican-styled establishment opened quietly this month, and got a huge bounce last weekend as the city centre heaved with people due to the reopening of Páirc Ui Chaoimh, with 70,000 GAA fans milling about, and also due to the Lee Swim, which ended at the boardwalk, right outside Tequila Jack’s.

The high quality Mexican restaurant and tequila bar is in the space previously occupied by the Boardwalk Bar and Grill, which closed in early 2015 after a six year run, having been set up by broadcaster Neil Prendeville and John and Darina Gately, with the Gatelys running it in its latter years.

Also on the boardwalk are the successful Club Brasserie, run by dynamic Beth Haughton and Harold Lynch, as well as the Clayton Hotel (previously the Clarion) and two pod cafes.

Since Howard Holdings’ City Quarter opened in 2005, at a reported investment value of €100m for a hotel, offices, cafe, boardwalk, retail and basement parking, it has been followed by the equally game-changing One Albert Quay office development by John Cleary Developments, and O’Callaghan Properties are now starting construction of Navigation House, on Albert Quay, via BAM Contractors.

Also in the docklands vicinity, Port of Cork’s iconic bonded warehouse site and Cork Harbour Commissioners’ city island-ending site has been sold for c €5m to US-based Irish developers, with hopes indicated for a very tall signature tower building at its tip.

Behind City Quarter’s new themed Mexican restaurant and bar with more than 50 tequilas on offer are business duo Derry O’Regan and Sean McCarthy, who developed the Soho bar/restaurant complex on Grand Parade, The East Village in Douglas, and also reopened Paddy the Farmers last year after it sold at auction.

They bought the former Boardwalk property earlier this year as part of a wider City Quarter deal which was brokered by MC2 Accountants, when a significant portion of the mixed-use City Quarter was sold via Nama for around €14.2m to private consortium.

The price paid for the restaurant property by Mr McCarthy and Mr O’Regan was not revealed.

They opted for the Mexican/tequila mix after research, and were buoyed by the experience of their US-based partner Jon Cronin who operates three similar Mexican-themed businesses in Boston/Massachusetts. They are at the harbour front at Seapoint, Boston (boasting more than 100 tequilas brands), Lynnfield and Burlington with a fourth opening shortly at Dedham MA, all under the Temazcal Cantina banner.

There’s a 35-strong staff complement at Cork’s Tequila Jack’s and co-owner Derry O’Regan says: “Our head chef, Jonathan O’Shea spent a lot of time time in Temazcal studying Mexican cuisine in great detail and our menu is really exciting as a result.

“Our decor is authentic Mexican-inspired with several tequila cantina references. The tequila market is enjoying rapid, sustained growth globally, and we are delighted to bring this on-trend offering to Cork.”

  • Meanwhile, poised for an opening within days is the recreated Oyster Tavern, a Cork hostelry with roots back to the 1700s, after a €1.5m fit-out.

The Oyster has been leased by Dublin-based publican and restaurateur Alan Clancy, whose other businesses include House in Limerick (previously the Sin Bin nightclub), as well as House, The Ivy and 37 Dawson Street in Dublin.



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