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Friday 19 September 2014

Inside the British pub chain seeking to win us over

Michael Staines

Published 03/07/2014 | 02:30

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Claire Lenehan, 19, Holly Kane, 20, Charlotte Bourke, 18, Eimear Green, 21, Ciara Foster, 22, bar staff in the new British pub group JD Weatherspoons pub, the Three Tun Tavern in Blackrock. Picture credit: Damien Eagers
A sign for the new British pub group JD Weatherspoons pub, the Three Tun Tavern in Blackrock, Dublin

IT'S not a pub in the traditional Irish sense but the country's first Wetherspoon's expects to draw the punters anyway.

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There won't be a drop of Guinness in sight when the bar opens its doors to customers on July 8.

But while giving the Irish Independent a first look inside the pub in Blackrock, Co Dublin, management insisted that the charm of The Three Tun Tavern will win punters over.

Manager John Hartigan said he expects the "good service, quality products and value for money" on offer will make up for any absence of the famous black stuff.

"Well as you can see, there was a lot of money spent on refurbishment," said Mr Hartigan. "It is very stylish, but still in keeping with the area and the traditions of the place. It still has that oldie feeling in places with the library bit and so on."

Wetherspoon runs more than 900 pubs in Britain and Northern Ireland and is known for its cut-price pints.

The new Dublin outlet has a wooden floor and large fireplace and among the pictures on the walls is a photograph titled Waterford Bicycle Club, 1887.

All of the company's other pubs serve Guinness, but a dispute with Diageo means that Blackrock won't.

Eddie Gershon, a spokesman for the company, said they were unable to agree a fee with Diageo that would allow them to sell the drink at what they felt was a fair price.

The pub will sell Cork stouts Beamish and Murphy's instead.

"There were some negotiations but the price we wanted wasn't forthcoming, so we just walked away," said Mr Gershon.

A Diageo spokeswoman said that because the negotiations were "of a commercially sensitive nature", she wouldn't comment on them.

"We do remain competitive in our pricing though," she added. "And we don't set the retail prices within the premises itself."

The chain has experienced some online resistance to its entry into the Irish market, with a Facebook petition page entitled 'Feck off Wetherspoons' achieving 2,633 likes.

The campaign calls the company a "soul-less, 800-venue, British pub chain".

But Mr Hartigan countered: "Every pub is unique in its own way."

Irish Independent

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