It only took close to 3 years and 12 mio, but since last Wednesday, Bewley’s Cafe in Grafton Street is open again. Only the ground floor opened for now. The first floor will follow in January and in March the Theatre will open as well.

It is good that it is back and didn’t become a Starbucks like too many other places in Dublin, but it remains to be seen if it will still have the old Bewley’s Charm or if it will become another “coffee factory”. Instead of the original 180 seats, the new cafe will have 500 (!!) seats and will need to make a HUGE amount of money to a) pay the rent and b) get the massive renovation cost back.

Campbell Catering is running Bewley’s after it bought the Cafe business from the Bewley family in 1986. The Cafe in Grafton Street was originally owned by the Bewley’s family but was then sold and leased back to get cash into the company. The cash is most likely gone and the accountants/advisors that suggested that mad strategy are also probably long gone, but a rent of close to 1.5 mio per year is still there and is crippling the company. So just to pay the rent, the business needs to make a profit of EUR 4,000 per day. Profit! Not turnover! :-O Add running costs and staff costs and “raw material” cost and a proportion of the renovation cost and you can see that these 500 seats need to make a LOT of money.

Let’s hope that it will work out, otherwise it might be another Starbucks. :-(