UK multiple Wetherspoons are reported to have topped €3.5m in their overall purchase and refurb spend on the former Newport Bar and old Mangans nightclub on Paul Street and Careys Lane.
It reopens now on Tuesday next, titled the Linen Weaver and employing up to 75 full-and part-time staff, after a two years period of closure and significant rebuilding, over three levels.
The name Linen Weaver partially recalls the historic building’s time as the tweedy House of Donegal clothing shop, but even more it harks back to linen weavers and the far earlier Huguenot occupants of this area of the city around French Church Street, hence its Huguenot Quarter designation.
And, the vicinity has in the past two years seen a number of new restaurant and cafe openings, including several on Academy Street/Paul Street where a Nandos is due to open also very shortly, in the old Meadows and Byrne building with access to French Church Street.
Also, at the far end of French Church Street, SuperDry are to open soon in the Modern building, with cafe use possible in the rear portion of the old Moderne.
The former Newport bar/Mangans nightclub was one of the first assertive pub buys after several years of slump in the bar trade.
The the 12,000 sq ft building was bought for c €1m in October 2013 via agent Maurice Cohalan of Cohalan Downing by JD Wetherspoon, with almost 90 other bars in the UK chain.
Earlier this summer, Brian Olden of the same agency Cohalan Downing sold the adjacent Woodford on Paul Street for a receiver for c €1.25m.
And, in recent weeks, the sale has also closed on the Bowery on Tuckey Street in a quiet off-market deal by Maurice Cohalan, for over €1m, understood to be to investors including one from Wicklow.
The expensively redeveloped bar, nightclub and rooftop garden had been owned and operated by a consortium.
The sale makes for a trio of €1m-plus disposals by Cohalan Downing, with Wetherspoon seen as the game-changer in later 2013.
Although with its arrival resisted by the existing licensed and cafe trades, Wetherspoons now has several Dublin outlets, plus a site in Waterford and has been fighting planning battles for a change of use of the old tsb bank branch in suburban Douglas, squaring up for face-off with leading super-pub Barrys.
It’s understood that JD Wetherspoon recently withdrew its planning application in Douglas, where other strong bar operators include O’Sullivans, the South County and at East Douglas Village, with the owners of the latter bar themselves having reopened the old Paddy the Farmers bar by the South Infirmary just last month after a 2012 purchase for €485,000, followed by a far heftier investment in its refurbishment.
Meanwhile, it’s not known if Wetherspoons will come back with a new planning application for Douglas village, or whether it may attempt to buy another property or existing bar there.
Also in Douglas, the indigenous fast-evolving food chain Ramen is about to open in a former restaurant unit in East Douglas Village.
The Asian street-food company opened its first restaurant in 2013, and now has a presence in Midleton, Ballincollig and Victoria Cross, and plans more to come.