Yesterday TGI Friday's on Newtownpark Avenue in Blackrock (South Dublin) closed - this is directly across the road from our estate. It used to be The Playwright pub, which was a very popular pub when we moved here in 1996. A few years ago during The Boom it was purchased for over €8 million and redeveloped as TGIs. In the beginning it was extremely popular - especially with families. I can remember waiting up to an hour for a table with a radio controlled buzzer to be called to a free table. The food was nice and very American - but over priced. Nevertheless we went there on many occasions as it was very handy to our house. In the last few years there was no bother getting a table (I wonder where the buzzers have been?). Large sections of the restaurant were closed off, and the number of staff greatly reduced. Food quality suffered too as the company tried desperately to stay in business with special offers (eg a pint for €2), and even introduced pool tables recently. It couldn't last and sadly is now no more.
TGI Fridays in one of several businesses to shut this year close to my house in the Google map above. To the right the Centra is closed, and a small barber shop too is gone. To the left is TGIs, and not visible is Papa's restaurant which closed earlier this year. This gloom of closed and empty shops is I'm told repeated all over the country. It's almost impossible to find any areas with small businesses and shops that don't have empty premises. Some will stay closed for many years, while others may re-open under a new name (Centra above traded as Blackrock Fair for a few months before it finally closed a few weeks ago).
A flicker of light is that a new restaurant is about to open in the old Papa's premises. It is undergoing renovations right now and will open as "Blackrock's New Dining Experience" soon under the name of Le Plancha. I wish whoever is brave enough to do this very well, and I'll be sure to support this new venture. In the midst of all the doom and gloom, there is hope.