Rachel Allen to close city restaurant for €1m, eight-week revamp

TV chef Rachel Allen is to close her first restaurant for a €1m casual dining reinvention. Rachel’s, on Cork’s Washington St, which opened in March 2017, will close on August 8 for the eight-week revamp.

Rachel Allen to close city restaurant for €1m, eight-week revamp

While the main restaurant will close, the building’s Back Garden Bar and on-street terrace will remain open for food and drink.

New investors have come on board and Ms Allen will be involved in the new restaurant venue, which is due to reopen in early October.

“We are really delighted that the venue is to benefit from such an investment and are excited to be getting started with the refurbishment work, which we believe will deliver whole new experiences for our customers,” she said.

It is understood that the reinvention plans have been in the pipeline for several months and that restaurant staff were briefed on the timeline yesterday.

Ms Allen opened Rachel’s in March 2017 as part of a business venture with her husband, Isaac, and publican Paul Montgomery.

The renowned chef, who has written dozens of cookery books and made several cookery series for TV which are broadcast around the world, still teaches at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in east Cork.

Her aim with Rachel’s was to bring a flavour of the Ballymaloe ethos to the city centre, with many of the fresh, organic vegetables on the menu sourced from the Ballymaloe farm, the fish sourced from nearby Ballycotton, and meat from east Cork.

Mr Montgomery said weekends in the restaurant have been extremely busy, with up to200 diners on most Saturday evenings, and that the corporate sector has also been a huge source of business. However, he said there is a general impression that the restaurant is a “fine dining experience”.

“Which it isn’t,” he said.

“But there was that impression that it was expensive and occasion- driven. Value for money is so important these days and the average spend a head in Rachel’s was around €40 a head.

"But I think people really want to spend around €20 a head. We’ve talked about it a lot over the last year and we’ve decided that we want to provide a more casual dining experience so we have new investors, and we are going to re-configure the place.

“We are going for the authenticity of an old-world Cork pub, with a pure Cork brand. We’ll have a pre-Victorian look about the place. The building lends itself every well to that.”

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