Monday 21 October 2019

Samantha McCaughren: US bike specialists wheel into Fox's Brown's Barn

Former nightclub owner Robbie Fox
Former nightclub owner Robbie Fox
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

Work is well under way on a former premises of the boomtime nightclub and restaurant owner Robbie Fox.

Brown's Barn in Citywest started life as a Bianconi Coach House but was transformed into a plush restaurant by Fox in the noughties.

A well-known landmark for commuters, it was an early casualty of the recession when in 2009 all four of his businesses - nightclub Renards and restaurants Tante Zoe's, Barracuda and Brown's Barn - went into liquidation. Although he was left with debts of €6m he returned to the restaurant scene with Bel and Belucci in Ballsbridge.

Meanwhile, Brown's Barn continued to be operated as a restaurant until 2015 but is now returning to its roots in that its new use will be transport-based.

US company Specialized Bike Components bought the premises in 2017 and is now developing the protected structure to house a speciality bike shop. In a detailed document on its plans the company describes itself as a California-based high-end retailer "specialising in the design and sale of customised bikes". It was given the go-ahead for the plan to transform the building late last year.

It is quite a change for the Citywest premises but in these new health-conscious times, cycling has replaced heavy nights out as a pastime for many Irish people.

Sky gears up for series 2 of McGuinness’s French drama

Riviera, the brainchild of former U2 manager Paul McGuinness, found itself at the centre of a drama of its own last year after director Neil Jordan complained that the episodes he wrote were later changed despite his objections.

Jordan may have distanced himself from the show but broadcaster Sky is still very much on board and I hear shooting for series two begins in May.  All the stars who made the first series —

Julia Stiles, Roxane Duran, Dimitri Leonidas and Lena Olin — will return. McGuinness continues to be involved with his show and Sky has been more than happy with its performance.

It has been Sky’s best original commission to date, with more than 20 million downloads and views through the Sky set-top box, streaming service Now TV and Sky Go.

And despite some critics’ reservations, the show achieved higher ratings than such international hit series as Billions and Big Little Lies — making Riviera the best-performing Sky box set in its history.

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Bookmaker turned property investor Joe Donnelly, a Rich List regular who shifted his focus to France and continental Europe in recent years, is planning a major retail development in Cork. He was given the go-ahead to develop former city-centre hotel, the Victoria, which has been on St Patrick’s Street for over 200 years. Fast fashion chain Zara has been mentioned as a possible tenant for the new development. However, the Donnelly family company RESAM will have to wait a bit longer before work can get under way. The planning permission is being appealed to An Bord Pleanala. Among the objectors is fast food company John Graces Fried Chicken, which has raised concerns that scale of the development will cause smaller local traders to be marginalised.

Other local property owners and traders have rowed in with objections, as has An Taisce — it claims that while some restoration work will take place, much of the building will be demolished making the new development “a poor bargain” for Cork city.

Female breath of fresh air now missing from wind conference

She’s like the Wind was a mega hit for Patrick Swayze. And it was women in the wind industry who were once a major hit for the Irish Wind Energy Association.

Last year, the IWEA recognised a host of female wind energy pioneers for its 25th anniversary conference, including a snazzy video featuring none less than former President and climate champion Mary Robinson.

Women even managed to make up seven out of 22 of the IWEA’s conference speakers. Alas, the female pioneers are nowhere to be seen this year as the IWEA looks ahead to the future of Ireland’s clean energy. Of 28 speakers at its Spring gathering, 27 are male with Laura Brien, director of Energy Markets at CRU, occupying the sole female slot. “Like many of the Stem-related industries, it is currently more male dominated, but we welcome a situation where we can have an equal number of male and female speakers,” said the IWEA, adding that it will continue to support women in the industry.

Sounds like a windy excuse to me.

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Cairn Homes has come under fire for the pace at which it is developing its portfolio of sites, but I see that one of its management team is pushing ahead with some development plans of his own. Cairn chief commercial officer Kevin Stanley — a brother of CEO Michael — is seeking to build a single-storey garden gym and shed of 45 sq m in the back garden of his Dublin 6 pad.

He certainly has the financial muscle to build such a swanky shed. The founder shares programme entitles Kevin Stanley along with his brother and co-founder Alan McIntosh to receive 20pc of total shareholder returns over seven years after the IPO, subject to the company’s share price achieving a 12.5pc compound annual rate of return.

Meanwhile, Noreen McManus, whose billionaire husband JP was celebrating in Cheltenham last week, is seeking permission to restore the iron railings on a laneway at their Ailesbury Road property. I suppose the work to maintain a Dublin 4 compound is never done.

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