The semi-state energy company confirmed it has an arrangement with the Clarion Hotel to use the area formerly rented by Augustine’s as a subsidised lunch canteen for its Energy and Group division employees.
A spokesperson for Bord Gáis Energy said the move arose following an EU directive and insisted there is no additional cost to the company.
She stressed it is a “temporary arrangement” pending the relocation of staff next year to new city centre offices which will have a canteen.
However, it has emerged that the canteen arrangement, in place since January, played a role in the closure of what was one of Cork’s top eateries.
Chef Brendan Cashman and his wife, Carol, opened Augustine’s on Washington St five years ago, before moving in 2009 to the Clarion.
Augustine’s was critically acclaimed for its varying and experimental menu.
The restaurant was lauded by Michelin, the Restaurants Association of Ireland, Bridgestone, Georgina Campbell, and Paulo Taulo.
But the couple shocked gastronomes in February when they announced they were closing Augustine’s.
Mr Cashman confirmed the Bord Gáis canteen arrangement was a factor in their decision. “It was not an ideal situation for us,” he said.
The Bord Gáis Energy spokesperson said the EU Third Energy Directive forced the company to relocate its Group and Energy staff from the firm’s Gasworks Road headquarters to offices on Lapps Quay and City Quarter.
Those staff could no longer enter the Gasworks Road building or use its subsidised canteen.
The spokesperson said they sought a solution on condition that:
nThere would be no additional cost to the firm;
n The relocated staff would pay the same for their lunch;
nThe food would be comparable to the food served at the Gasworks Road canteen.
“The food served to Bord Gáis staff is from the Clarion kitchen and is specifically prepared so it is the same standard as the canteen in Gasworks Road,” said the Bord Gáis Energy spokesperson.
“The menu is completely different from what is served in Kudos [the Clarion’s in-house restaurant] or the previous Augustine’s kitchen.
“The only similarity is that we effectively share the same floor space at different times of the day.”
About 60 staff use the facility every day and pay about €6 on average for their lunch.