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Sunday 24 March 2019

Restaurant to the rich sued over unpaid rent

Shanahan's steakhouse in court for €125,000 as 'kitchen crisis' bites

Liam Collins

Liam Collins

It was the Dublin restaurant that epitomised Ireland's economic boom -- now the loss-making Shanahan's American-style steakhouse on St Stephen's Green is being sued for more than €125,000 in unpaid rent.

The restaurant where bankers wooed developers like Derek Quinlan over €52 T-bone steaks and bottles of Nuit-St-George and Borolo and where commentator Eamon Dunphy and former government press secretary PJ Mara went for a tete-a-tete on a Saturday night is now facing High Court action if back-rent is not paid.

Irish-American owner John Shanahan is facing a battle with Dublin landlord Peter White who once ran the up-market address -- 119 St Stephen's Green -- as his own high-class restaurant White's On The Green.

Shanahan's is regarded as one of Dublin's top restaurants and its 'Oval Office' upstairs bar has the rocking chair used by JFK. According to one reviewer it is "the best place in Ireland to eat beef".

But in High Court papers seen by the Sunday Independent, Mr White claims that he is owed €125,500 in unpaid rent and that, apart from one payment of €19,400 in August, he hasn't received rent for several periods during 2010.

Mr White, with an address in Wellington Road, Dublin, and his Isle of Man-based property company Blue Nile Holdings, have taken the case against Mr John Shanahan, the wealthy America-based businessman and owner of JMS International.

The yearly rent for the plush Georgian building on St Stephen's Green, where the owner's son Sean Shanahan is believed to have an apartment, is €500,000 a year.

Like many other restaurants, Shanahan's is engaged in on-going attempts to re-negotiate its rent downwards, but talks between the landlord and the directors of the company have yet to be finalised.

In a letter marked 'strictly private', Mr White, one of Dublin's most respected property owners, told Shanahan's manager Martin Clegg that he was "naturally concerned that the economic slowdown has had such a dramatic effect on Shanahan's business".

"The present economic downturn is affecting everybody and there is no guarantee as to how long it will last," he says. "Mr John Shanahan has of course personally guaranteed the rental payments and we have no doubt he is an honourable man."

He adds: "We therefore feel the answer to the current situation is for Mr Shanahan to support his venture, as many other business owners have had to do, until such time as the economy improves."

At Shanahan's yesterday a very helpful employee said that Mr Shanahan is currently in California and "hasn't set foot in the restaurant for a couple of years". His son, Sean, is currently living in Ireland, but unavailable.

According to the latest financial figures filed by JMS Ltd for 2007, the company which owns Shanahan's, it has accumulated losses of more than $11m (€7.8m). It has a yearly wage bill of more than $2m.

The directors of JMS are Sean Shanahan, a son of the owner, whose address is given as 119 St Stephen's Green, and Martin Clegg the manager of the restaurant. Mr Clegg was also unavailable for comment.

The Restaurants Association of Ireland will make a pre-budget submission to the Finance Minister tomorrow.

It says that there is a "crisis in the kitchen" with one restaurant a day closing in Ireland.

Sunday Independent

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