Fitzgerald making pub changes to target food
Publican and hotelier Louis Fitzgerald doesn't fear the expansion of UK pub group JD Wetherspoon in Ireland, but said he's realigning his own business to focus more on food - a key selling point for his giant UK rival.
Mr Fitzgerald's group owns a number of high-profile pubs, including the Stag's Head and Kehoe's in Dublin, as well as the Quays Bar in Temple Bar and Galway, and the Poitin Stil on the Naas Road.
He also owns hotels, including two in Dublin city centre and the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel, also on the Naas Road.
Mr Fitzgerald said he has recently sold The Traders pub in Walkinstown.
It went up for sale last year with a €1.5m price tag.
He's also selling the Marble Arch in Drimnagh in Dublin.
He said the two premises don't fit the bill for the new style of food service he's rolling out. The well-known publican said he's also eyeing up two potential pub sites closer to the city centre.
"We've a different offering than JD Wetherspoon," he said. "We're not really going to be competing with them. We have our own concept. It's going to work for us."
He added that the group has been busy doing up some of its existing premises, such as the Penny Hill in Lucan.
Mr Fitzgerald said his group had experienced a strong summer, with tourists taking advantage of a strong sterling and dollar.
"There was very strong business," he said. "But we're working for it. Service has improved. We learned a lot during and coming out of the recession."
The group employs about 1,000 people during the summer months, and about 850 during the winter.