Sunday 17 November 2019

Loss of 140 jobs at Bewley's 'a terrible shame'

Brian Byrne

The loss of 140 jobs at Bewley's Cafe on Grafton Street has been described as a "terrible shame" by the Lord Mayor of Dublin.

The country's largest and longest-established cafe will temporarily shut its doors next month for a major downsizing ahead of a September relaunch.

It is understood the refurbishment will reduce the size of the iconic cafe and the range of food on offer. However, some 140 staff will be made redundant, which Lord Mayor Christy Burke described as a "terrible shame at the start of the New Year".

He said: "It's certainly a heavy blow for the 140 staff. I only had breakfast there a few weeks ago, and at 9am I was in a queue waiting to get a seat. It's always very busy.

"I was just saying how much character it had, and that it was probably the only place that hadn't done any alterations to take that away.

"I always recommend to visitors to the Mansion House to go over there and try their coffee and food."

When the cafe reopens, it is understood the upper floor of the iconic building will be closed to the public, which will greatly reduce its seating capacity and the number of employees it requires to operate.

Mr Burke said he feared the refurbishment "could take away the tradition and character of Bewley's on Grafton Street, which is known worldwide".

"To hear of a large amount of staff who probably have young people and mortgages to be paying for, that's certainly a blow. I would appeal to management to review it."

However, Mr Burke admitted that "it's all about profit, that's the bottom line".

Last year, the Supreme Court overturned a High Court ruling which would have allowed Bewley's rent to have been reduced to €728,000 from a height of €1.5m.

It is not the first time the cafe, which opened in 1927, has closed for refurbishment. In 2004 Bewley's closed for six months for a restoration, while in 2007 the restaurant on the first floor closed to accommodate extra seating.

Irish Independent

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