End of an era as Bewley's closes doors for €1m refit

Damien Cassidy

By Adam Cullen

There were emotional scenes in the capital yesterday as Bewley's cafe on Grafton Street closed its doors with the loss of more than 140 jobs.

The iconic eatery, which first opened in 1927, closed for six months while it undergoes a €1m revamp.

One staff member Marcela Tavares said she had met "so many wonderful people" during her two years there including her future husband.

"I met my fiance here," she said. "We have come here every year since to celebrate our anniversary. We won't get to now. It just won't be the same."

Troy McCloughan from Parnell Street added that he was going to miss his colleagues more than his paycheck.

"I've only been here for six months but I've bonded with the staff here so much - we really are a family," he said.

The company plans to hire 70 people when the cafe reopens in the autumn.

However, team leader Zoltan Nagy has said no one can afford to wait that long to re-apply.

"We all have to re-apply for the jobs when they become available again, but no one can wait six months for that," he said.

"We all have to look for new positions elsewhere.

"This was my first job when I came to Ireland; it's heartbreaking to see it close, but I can understand why," the Hungarian national said.

"The rent on this place is €1.7m per year, which is almost €5,000 per day. Imagine all the other expenses on top of that as well.

"We are a family here, the staff and customers are wonderful, but it has to change," he added.

Plans for the redevelopment will see the seating capacity halved with a more limited menu put in place.

Dubliners were on hand to pay their respects on the final day of the Bewley's as we know it.

Susanne Galloway from Foxrock said the closure represented "the end of an era".

"I hope it stays as Bewley's, there is enough big-brand names on Grafton street," she said,

Former Trinity College student Aideen Williams from Shankill said it was a sad day for Dublin.

"This is a meeting place; everyone knows it I'm sad to see it close."