Louis Fitzgerald, a kingpin of the Irish pub trade, has bought the iconic Galway city pub Tigh Neachtain.
The deal comes as a much-needed confidence boost for a sector hit hard by Covid-19.
Fitzgerald declined to reveal what he paid for the Quay Street pub's freehold but told the Sunday Independent that he was happy the current tenant would continue to operate the business.
But pint drinkers who have missed visiting some of the more traditional Dublin city centre pubs owned by the Tipperary-born hospitality industry veteran, including Kehoes of South Anne Street, will have to wait another while before they reopen.
Fitzgerald has undertaken substantial investments during the period of forced closure to upgrade the food offering at some of his suburban venues but does not plan changing anything to allow opening in the short term at his more- traditional city centre bars.
"We're not going to make a meal out of Kehoes. It has traditionally been a very successful pint pub and the amount of food we sell in Kehoes would always be very marginal.
"Sometimes when you have a huge emphasis on food, your traditional drinkers don't make a pub their home. Kehoes is that sort of traditional pub.
"It is not broken so it doesn't need fixing and we won't be making any changes."
With tourist numbers down to a trickle in the city centre, other popular pubs in Fitzgerald’s stable such as the Stag’s Head, the Quays in Temple Bar, Grand Central and the Gin Palace will also have to wait a little longer before he plans to reopen their doors on July 20, he said. Fitzgerald’s business has spent months investing substantial amounts into upgrading food offerings at a number of suburban locations, including an €800,000 upgrade for The Laurels in Clondalkin. He has also replaced the nightclub at Lucan’s Penny Hill with a 250-seater Italian restaurant due to open in a number of weeks, he said.
“I don’t think Covid means the end of nightclubs, they’ll always be there. But it’s not a business for me anymore,” he said.
The pandemic was the biggest challenge he had faced in his lifetime. “We have huge responsibilities as a manager of maybe 1,200 staff and I’ve an experienced team around me and we’re going to do what’s right. I’m well capable of managing whatever obstacles are put in front of me, I can assure you of that.
“We’ve never come across anything like this before. This is a health issue and we remember with sadness customers who have died. We hope to have the opportunity to help celebrate their lives appropriately in time to come,” he added.
Sunday Indo Business