Burger eatery to open in Bewley's
FROM the aroma of fresh coffee beans to the smell of burgers and chips -- one of the city's most iconic cafe premises is set to undergo a major overhaul.
The former Bewley's Cafe on Westmoreland Street is set to reopen, but its makeover might have traditionalists up in arms.
TGI Friday's will shortly open its fifth outlet in the capital, having established itself as a worldwide name.
The city centre property fetched a price in the region of €10m -- between €2m-€5m below what was being sought when the property was first put up for sale in June 2009.
The iconic coffee shop remained on the market for almost two years -- but was snapped up by a property management company that is now leasing it to the US firm.
TGI Friday's has restaurants on both sides of the capital as well as in the UK and the USA.
While the famous Bewley's cafe had its entrance on Westmoreland Street, it is understood that TGI's will be fronted onto the adjacent Fleet Street.
The old Westmoreland Street cafe, which started trading in the late 19th century, has been closed since 2004.
Its 100-year-old stained glass and "incomparable atmosphere" gave it an iconic status among customers.
But the news that TGI Friday's is to move in was met with dismay today by the campaign group that fought to keep the cafe open. The Save Bewley's Cafe Campaign Group today, which campaigned for years, said that the news marked the end of "the people's cafe".
"It's a desperately sad day for its former customers," the group's Damien Cassidy said.
"This was an iconic outlet in the city -- in a building that is rich in history and meant the world to so many people."
He added: "Everyone from Trinity professors and poets to shoppers and just ordinary families used to meet there. The chief justice used to go there. Big shots and small shots all met at Bewley's Cafe."
TGI's is run by brothers Colum and Ciaran Butler, who also have a stake in the Starbucks franchise.
The brothers are leasing the TGI premises from the Windward Management company - which is reburbishing the former Bewley's Hotel.