Cork's pub trade gets a shot in the arm as it emerges from Covid

A range of new venues are planned or under development in the city
Cork's pub trade gets a shot in the arm as it emerges from Covid

The Pier Head Inn, Blackrock, Cork is to close shortly for renovation work. The owners of Goldbergs, Rory O’Leary and Liam Barry, have taken out a long-term lease on the venue. Picture: Larry Cummins

After 18 months in the doldrums, the pub trade in Cork City is showing some positive uplift with a number of new venues on the way both in the city centre and the suburbs.

Work is well underway to return the Pavilion ‘Pav’ bar and nightclub to its glory days, according to Benny McCabe, who bought the premises with his brother Leo for €1.3m, although it will not be open in time for the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival next month, as originally planned. A November opening is now more likely, Mr McCabe said.

He is in the process of adding another pub venue to the 15 or so pubs he already owns, having lodged a planning application in June with Cork City Council for permission to convert the former USIT tourist office at 66 and 67 Oliver Plunkett St into a licensed premises.

Benny McCabe is in the process of adding another pub venue to the 15 or so pubs he already owns.
Benny McCabe is in the process of adding another pub venue to the 15 or so pubs he already owns.

Mr McCabe said it’s still in the planning process as the council has requested further information.

The bar will take in part of Casey Furniture store on Grafton Mall. Mr McCabe, who said the Pav project is “going swimmingly”, said the new bar “will surprise people”.

On Maylor Street, a 300-year-old warehouse that survived the Black and Tans has been brought back to life by stone masonry and restoration specialists, the Youghal-based Ahern Brothers, on behalf of clients James and Maria Carney.

Renovation work is underway on a historic building on Maylor Street which has planning permission for a pub venue.
Renovation work is underway on a historic building on Maylor Street which has planning permission for a pub venue.

Ms Carney said while they have planning permission for a bar, they have not yet decided if it is the route they will pursue, that it will depend on economic conditions. The couple are also behind restoration of a house on North Mall; they have a keen interest in old buildings.

Ms Carney said the old warehouse, at 6 Maylor St, was a shell when they bought it. Kieren Ahern said they discovered extensive fire damage when working on it, which they reckon dates to the Burning of Cork in December 1920. They spent months restoring it, literally brick by brick.

Further out of town, on Lower Glanmire Road, the owners of McLaughlins Pet and Garden store have applied for planning permission for change of use — from retail to hospitality — to include a bar, café, and periodic live entertainment space. The application went to City Council on August 23 and a decision is due Oct 18.

McLaughlins Pet and Garden on Lower Glanmire Road has a planning application for a bar, café, and periodic live entertainment space. Picture: Larry Cummins
McLaughlins Pet and Garden on Lower Glanmire Road has a planning application for a bar, café, and periodic live entertainment space. Picture: Larry Cummins

Directly across from McLaughlins, who have centralised their business in Bandon, is a new tapas bar, Moodys, at the end of Summerhill North. It opened during the pandemic, as did the city’s first microsleeper hotel, REZz on nearby MacCurtain Street, where hospitality has been very much on the up in recent years.

Further out of town, the owners of Goldbergs, Rory O’Leary and Liam Barry, have taken out a long-term lease on the Pier Head Bar, right in the middle of Blackrock Village. Mr Barry said they will close shortly for refurbishment.

“It’s an exciting new venture for us and we will be undertaking a bit of refurbishment. We are planning to get into food in a big way and we have a fabulous Mexican chef, Miguel Cestelo. Given the location (village end of the Marina) we will have some nice seafood offerings and high-end, free menu tasters at the weekends.

“We’re also planning our own brand of Pier Head coffee, and breakfast pastries and scones.” Negotiations are continuing in relation to the upstairs section of the premises, which was formerly a Chinese restaurant.

Mr Barry said Goldbergs will be reopening fully as a pub on October 22, that during Covid they concentrated on food and takeaways.

He said they are positive about their new venue in Blackrock Village, having been “chasing it for five years” as Blackrock had “an awful lot to offer” — with live music events resuming in Páirc Uí Chaoimh next year, including Bruce Springsteen and Ed Sheeran, and the GAA looking to a full match schedule, as well as Live at the Marquee, pubs in Blackrock should do very well.

Mr Barry, who also owns the Bodhrán pub on Oliver Plunkett St, expressed disappointment that the city still doesn’t have an Event Centre, saying he believed the former Beamish & Crawford site was never the right location and that if Albert Quay had been chosen instead, as proposed by O’Callaghan Properties (OCP), it would now be up and running. OCP had proposed a 5,000-person adaptable event centre, with a 260-bed hotel and 500 basement car-parking spaces.

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