The owner of a pub restaurant, overlooking Dublin’s 200-year-old Ha’Penny Bridge, has been told by a judge he can extend his licensed premises back into Temple Bar.
Kilkenny native Tom Doone, owner of the Merchant’s Arch Bar and Restaurant on Wellington Quay, said in the Circuit Civil Court Thursday he turns away dozens of tourists every day due to lack of space.
Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, granted him a Declaratory Order for a €1million restaurant extension to the former 18th Century Tailor’s Guild Hall which ensures he will be granted a drinks license for the development if completed in accordance with planning permissions.
Constance Cassidy SC, counsel for Merchant’s Arch Restaurant Company Limited, said the current proposal was to extend the permitted licensed premises at ground and first floor levels to accommodate an extra 90 diners.
Ms Cassidy, who appeared with Fiona Tonge of Lorraine Compton Solicitors, said Mr Doone had bought the then almost derelict premises from a bank in 2006 and spent €1.3 million on a major refurbishment of the building.
Architect Frank Kenny, of Kenny Kane Associates, told the court the premises, built over brick vaults, was originally constructed by permission of the Wide Street Commissioners for the Guild of Merchant Tailors which had been inaugurated in 1418 and disbanded in 1841.
Mr Kenny, in a detailed report for the court, stated that in 1873 the building became a Protestant Boys’ School and was later turned into a shirt factory until its closure in 1993. It had lain vacant until it was turned into a licensed pub and restaurant by Mr Doone.
He said the protected structure contained a stone cantilevered helical (corkscrew) staircase that remained a major feature of the building and which, for months, had survived the imposition of tons of concrete slabs to test its structural integrity.
Judge Groarke, who granted the company a Declaratory Order, heard that the building was a major heritage asset on the Dublin tourism trail and spanned the famous Merchant’s Arch which maintained an important pedestrian link between Dame Street via Temple Bar and Henry Street on the north side of the River Liffey via the Ha’Penny Bridge.
Mr Doone, who on Friday celebrates the 10th anniversary of the opening of the licensed premises, told Judge Groarke the premises catered for daytime and evening tour groups with an emphasis on food. The added restaurant space would provide the capacity and flexibility to host larger groups that were currently being turned away due to lack of capacity.
He said work would begin early in the new year on the extension.