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Crunch forces Cafe Bar Deli to shut

THE Cafe Bar Deli has shut its doors in Ranelagh due to rent burdens and a downturn in customer spending.

The branch in the south Dublin suburb closed over the weekend, with 20 job losses.

The group said that it was forced to make the decision after excessive competition and customers' under-spending.

Jay Bourke, whose businesses enterprises include Eden restaurant as well as the Cafe Bar Deli chain, said that the other outlets in George's Street, Dublin and Academy Street, Cork were doing "all right in the context of this awful recession".

Just five years ago, Mr Bourke got involved in Grafton Street landmark, Bewleys, and developed a restaurant the at the landmark building.

But this business lost money for the firm and the venture is now being run under a franchise arrangement.

Mr Bourke founded the group in 2001 with business partner Eoin Foyle and in 2008 linked up with Brody Sweeney of O'Brien's Sandwich Bars with a view to offering franchises throughout Ireland.

The plan was to target 18 locations in Dublin, five in Belfast and four in Cork.

At that point, O'Brien's was selling 140,000 sandwiches a day and was the biggest seller of coffee in the Republic and had outlets in 16 countries stretching from Canada to Australia.



FABULOUS

The combined turnover of franchises was about €140m a year and the holding company, which owns the concept and the brand, was making profits of more than €1.2m annually.

But due to the economic downturn and the eventual liquidation of the O'Brien's group, the development did not go ahead. A failed run at the US had cost the O'Brien's franchise €500,000 and it was forced to restructure operations in Britain.

Earlier this year Mr Bourke noted that businesses must innovate in the downturn, and introduced a delivery by bicycle and take-out facility for the Cafe Bar Deli chain in Dublin city centre.

Mr Bourke said the business in Ranelagh had been "fabulous for a long time" but that it was too much other restaurant competition in the area.

clairemurphy@herald.ie