Sunday 25 August 2019

McKillen welcomes in the competition to Dublin city

Developer Paddy McKillen has welcomed plan. Photo: PA
Developer Paddy McKillen has welcomed plan. Photo: PA
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

Bars and restaurants in Dublin city centre are thriving these days, with plenty of newcomers trying to muscle in on the action. Existing operators can be slow to welcome rivals but I am glad to report that developer Paddy McKillen, who has developed several swanky hotels and bars in the city, is welcoming a new entrant to the busy Dawson Street area with open arms.

Michael Nolan, who benefited from a multi-million windfall from the sale of Cove Energy in 2012, and another exploration executive, Alan Mooney, are turning their hands to the hospitality game. Their company, Anville Properties, is seeking to develop two mews buildings just off Dawson Street which they picked up for just €620,000 two years ago.

The two adjoining buildings, which were built between 1778 and 1779, comprise stables and a coach house. Anville wishes to transform them into a restaurant and the council is seeking more information on how the historic elements of the buildings will be preserved.

McKillen, known for his appreciation of both art and architecture, wrote a glowing endorsement of the plan.

He says that as owner of both 31 and 38 Dawson Street (31 houses his son’s bar and restaurant Peruke and Periwig while 38 is

Milano’s) is very familiar with the area. He says he has “long wondered” why the properties “have been left untouched for so long”.

Heart warming to see such a genial relations among competitors.

Regulators tune in to TV3 brand switch to Virgin

Tony Hanway of Virgin Media opened up the possibility of rebranding TV3 under the Virgin moniker in a recent interview. "There's nothing to say there wouldn't be a Virgin Media station at some stage," he said. It seems that plans to drop the TV3 name are actually quite advanced, however.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) approved the rebranding of the TV3 Group at its monthly meeting on Friday. Perhaps it should be expected given that Hanway's background is in telcos, a sector that seems to love rebrands more than any other. Broadcasting insiders are sceptical about a change at TV3, however.

Electronic programming guides (EPGs) are now full of UK channels like Discovery, Universal and Dave. But as RTE has been trying to tell the powers-that-be, most Irish viewers flock to Irish channels. And to TV3's credit it has built up a powerful brand. Virgin was an improvement on UPC but will it be an improvement on TV3?

Coming up roses for Doyle's Arboretum garden centres

It's all coming up roses for Rachel Doyle of Arboretum Home & Garden in Carlow and Wicklow, the business which has brought garden centres in Ireland to a new level.

Doyle recently won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Retail Excellence Awards in Killarney. She is the first woman and only two others have been awarded it over the past 17 years - Patrick Hanley, ceo of Harvey Nichols, and Feargal Quinn.

A montage on the evening included praise from several well-known names including TV gardener Diarmuid Gavin and Bord Bia boss Tara McCarthy and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Doyle told me last week that she is going to leave the day-to-day running of the business to her two sons and focus on a couple of new projects for this business. "I have loads of plans for the future," she said. One is a food hall concept which she sees working at both locations. Arboretum has already moved into the restaurant trade and the garden cafe turns over €2.5m a year in Carlow. "It's a 340-seat restaurant in the middle of nowhere," Rachel told me, who added that the key to the business has been making it a destination that people will go out of their way to visit.

Another plan relates to 'health and wellness' but she is keeping that under wraps. She also says that the third location could well be on the way. So it truly is a growing business.

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