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Oscar star Spacey visits new look Mercantile

The credit crunch may have taken a massive bite into the profits of some top Dublin venues.

But one of the capital's city centre bars is having a recession-busting bash tonight as the Mercantile cashes in on its radical relaunch, with a host of big names lined up to perform.

Publican Frank Gleeson of Whelans fame took over the venue in November 2009, and since then he has set about transforming it into a lively music bar and restaurant.

And word has obviously spread, given that it welcomed Usual Suspects Oscar winner Kevin Spacey through its doors recently after he flew into Dublin for the Jameson Dublin Film Festival.

"He came in about four weeks ago with a couple of friends of his," said manager Mark Foley.

"He was very low key, he just came in to have a few drinks on a night out. A few people recognised him alright, but there was no big fuss. We've also had people in like Glen Hansard and Damien Dempsey, so we're definitely getting there in terms of building it up as a music venue. The link to Whelans is very important in terms of establishing the venue. We have a new club downstairs with a top DJ and we've also opened up a restaurant. Business has increased every week, to be honest."

The original Victorian features, a throwback to when it housed the Mercantile Credit Corporation, have been given a careful makeover.

Now its managers will be rolling out the red carpet tonight for the invite-only bash in the Dame Street bar, with a host of well-known acts lined up to perform in the new 250-capacity room.

Among those taking to the stage are Spring Break, Jerry Fish & the Mudbug Club alongside the Hot House Big Band.

Mr Gleeson made one of the few pub purchases in Dublin in 2009 when he completed the multi-million euro buyout of the Mercantile

Mr Gleeson, whose interests also include the Village on Wexford Street, bought the pub from Fran Ryder and Peter Hanahoe, who also own Cassidy's pub on Camden Street.

Mr Gleeson also owns pubs in the Dublin suburbs of Finglas and Mulhuddart and it's understood that he also owns a minority stake in Dublin radio station Phantom.

mfinn@herald.ie