The decision has been made to permanently close Bewley's café on Dublin's Grafton Street after it was concluded that the venue's sales could decrease by 40%-80% as a result of COVID-19 social distancing rules that restaurants will be required to enforce following the planned lifting of opening restrictions for the restaurant sector on June 29.
According to The Irish Times, the café's managing director, Cól Campbell, said in a note to staff, "Taking into consideration all of the information currently available to us, there is a real likelihood that the café will generate substantial and unsustainable losses into the future, and we need to take urgent steps to address that situation."
Campbell's note also cited the venue's €1.5 million annual rent, saying that Bewley's withheld rent for the three month period from April to June on the basis that the café would be closed and not generate trading income, but that the company has "since received a 21-day statutory demand from the landlord threatening to wind up the café company due to non-payment of rent."
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The café's landlord is RGRE Grafton Limited, which is controlled by property developer Johnny Ronan.
"Saddened And Surprised"
The Ronan Group issued a statement saying, "We are saddened and surprised by the news that the iconic Bewley's café on Grafton Street is to close, especially as we had attempted to engage with the Campbell family over the past few weeks to reach a mutually acceptable outcome after the company had declared that it was taking a 'rent holiday'. Our preferred solution has always been for Bewley's, as a Dublin institution which belongs on Grafton Street, to re-open its doors as soon as it can.
"However, Ronan Group has made it clear to Bewley's on numerous occasions that we were not in a position to subsidise its business when its shareholders are perfectly capable of doing so. Bewley's is a successful and profitable company and has generated significant earnings for its shareholders over a period of many years.
"We call on the Campbell family to enter into meaningful dialogue with Ronan Group to see if this unfortunate outcome can be avoided."
The closure of the café will result in the loss of 110 jobs.
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