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Bewley's bow out of Dublin after losses

04 November 2004
Bewley's bow out of Dublin after losses

Two of Dublin's oldest and best-known cafés - Bewley's Oriental Cafés - will close later this month because they're too big to make a profit in today's market.

The closure of the landmark venues in Grafton Street and Westmoreland Street will mean the loss of 234 jobs.

They have racked up cumulative losses of €4m (£2.8m) since 1996, despite investment of €12m (£8m).

The first Oriental Café was set up in Georges Street 110 years ago, followed by the flagship 333-seat café in Grafton Street, which was a regular haunt of novelist James Joyce. In its heyday the chain numbered 11 outlets.

Owner Campbell Bewley Group said the large format made it difficult to run the cafés as the "traditional icons" they still represented to the public. They have faced competition from pubs, coffee shops and smaller cafés.

Escalating rent, rates and insurance costs, tough trading conditions, changes in dietary habits, and the recent smoking ban had also contributed to their demise, claimed the company in a statement.

The group abandoned plans to redesign the listed buildings as too costly earlier this year. And although it hasn't ruled out a partnership with a restaurant or pub operator, it sees this option as unlikely.

The name, but not the tradition, will live on through three small franchised outlets located in a Waterstone's bookshop and two shopping centres in Ireland.

Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 4 November 2004

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