Food court on the menu in €5m refit of historic church in capital
Restaurant owner Michael Wright told a judge yesterday that his company will be pouring €5million into a complete re-fit of the historic St Andrew’s Protestant Church as a licensed food court, banqueting hall and culture centre in Dublin’s heartland.
Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke promised Wright a pre-Christmas seven-day drinks license providing the redevelopment, mainly to the interior of the Suffolk Street building, is carried out in accordance with Dublin City Council planning permission.
Mr Wright is a member of the Howth family which run restaurants and a seafood business and he has recently won world recognition of his Marquette food hall at Dublin Airport.
He told Constance Cassidy SC, who appeared in the licensing application with barrister Niki Andrews, that the St Andrew’s proposal was modelled on Marquette located at Dublin Airport. He said his company had already been approached with regard to setting up similar outlets at JFK Airport, New York; Vancouver airport in Canada and Manchester and Birmingham airports.
Marquette would be employing 70 chefs at Marquette at St Andrew’s. He already employs 38 chefs at Dublin Airport where, he said, customers were guaranteed a food and drinks service at non-inflated general prices as they would experience in the city.
Mr Wright said he was looking forward to the challenge of re-developing the listed building and he was confident the work would be complete within a maximum of nine months.
The currently vacant neo gothic church was formerly used as a tourist information centre by Bord Failte and is fronted by the now world-famous Molly Malone statue. Wright’s company, Mink Fusion Limited, is hopeful the food court will grow to rival Cork’s famous English Market.
The company plans the provision of a new vibrant public space for the city and does not propose the removal of the historic 19th century surrounding gates and railings. Architect Joseph Doyle told the court the proposal primarily related to the interior of the building and as such there would be little or no visual impact on the surrounding streetscape.
While much of the space at the rear of the church is concealed it is a natural location for anti-social behaviour.
Mink Fusion proposes to provide public access to the site for the duration of opening hours of the food hall but to secure the site during night-time hours to avoid mis-use and safely preserve more than 100 historic gravestones spread around the perimeter of the site.
Judge Groarke granted Mink Fusion a Declaratory Order for a full seven day publican’s license and restaurant certificate on the basis of completion within the parameters of planning permission. Ms Cassidy said that in order to facilitate the granting of a new license an existing license in Main Street, Castleconnell, Co Limerick, had been extinguished.