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Sunday 21 January 2018

King of Clubs Robbie back in business with licence to thrill

Ken Sweeney Entertainment Editor

You can't keep a good man down. That's what U2 said about Robbie Fox at the height of his money troubles.

And yesterday the one-time 'King of the Clubs' proved it when he was given a licence to thrill again.

Mr Fox, who ran VIP hangout Renards for 17 years, was granted a full restaurant licence at the Circuit Court allowing him to serve drinks and cocktails in his new 100-seater Bel & Bellucci restaurant in Dublin 4's Ballsbridge.

He took over the running of the restaurant, beside the Horse Show House, just two weeks ago.

The move comes three years after his four businesses were wiped out in one go.

"I'm on the way up again. It's a struggle, and will remain a struggle but I'm back on my own two feet and in business," Mr Fox revealed last night.

In 2009, Mr Fox lost all four of his businesses -- nightclub Renards and restaurants Tante Zoe's, Brown's Barn and Barracuda -- when they all went into liquidation, leaving him debts of more than €6m.

"There was this terrible moment when I thought my whole word was falling apart. I remember going home to break the news to my wife, that was the hardest thing.


"But then I realised very quickly, I wasn't sick and I was young enough to start again," said the 54-year-old who calculates the debts at closer to €3m.

And that's exactly what he did with the help of wife Martina, who went back out to work.

Mr Fox soon followed, striking a deal with hotelier Louis Murray to run 'The Pink' nightclub which opened last November in the basement of La Stampa Hotel on Dawson Street.

But now just 12 months later, he is back in business on his own, albeit with the help of unnamed investors.

"The thing with Louis was only for a year until it got up and running.

"There are other investors in the new restaurant but I can't breach their confidentiality by naming them. What I will say, is that I will be buying out their stake over time.

"People ask me why I wanted to go back into business. But either you are a positive thinker or you're not. I'm pretty positive. I didn't really believe that it was my fault when I went down the last time. These days people aren't spending as much money but rents are cheaper and it's easier to find people to work for you," he said.

Bel & Bellucci, formerly Siam Thai, had also been a pizza house but Mr Fox now wants to turn it into a "destination location' and one of the top Italian eateries.

Yesterday Circuit Court President Mr Justice Matthew Deery granted him a full restaurant licence which allows him to serve beer and spirits as well as wine.

And despite being in charge for just two weeks, Bono has already dropped in for pasta, showing the same support as when he name-checked his friend onstage in Croke Park in July 2009.

"The great thing about being around a long time, is that people know me, so they will give me a chance but unless food and service is good, they won't come back. I want them to keep coming back, over and over," he said.

In September, Mr Fox bought the lease on 'Bridge Bar & Grill' on Grand Canal Quay which his wife has been running.

Irish Independent

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