Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Recent business closures in my area

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.


  1. Howya Eugene, found this blog through a search Re:TGIs Blackrock and felt like leaving a comment. Good reading.

    It's no surprise that TGIs failed to me. When they purchased the Playwright it was a thriving Pub for a number of reasons. It was on a great site, it was well run and it had a bit of character. The Thatched roof ect really made it a landmark. If I wanted to tell someone near where I lived, a mention of the Playwright usually sufficed.

    TGIs systematically alienated this customer base. They ruined a great beer garden. They rorted planning laws and installed a horrible neon light, which ruined the thatch. After a year or so there they gutted the pub section of downstairs. For a company which put so much money into buying the Pub and "improving" it, they left the place half painted for a couple of years on the exterior.

    Their old Leopardstown Race day trade, Christmas trade, Sunday trade and Weekend drinkers trade was gone. They previously attracted a large trade and people came from all over to drink there as it was a unique pub. They had a good local backbone and it was a tidy business.

    I understand your point about it being jammers when it opened. However, there is other reasons why it died aside from the recession. As mentioned above they gutted the Pub section after a couple of years and expanded in there with the TGIs section which was just the old Lounge before that. They simply had to much capacity. Secondly, Dundrum is close by with a cinema/clothes shops. TGIs is the type of place as you said that's popular with families and also young people going out to eat. In my opinion TGIs on Newtown Pk wasn't an ideal fit. You need a cinema and clothes shops and the like around. Newtown Pk is a residential area and is 15 minutes walk from the Dart and Bus. TGIs wasn't a small business; it was a large business in the wrong location.

    TGIs could have survived if they had instead opted to use the upstairs (where Dantes is) and left downstairs or most well alone. Hindsight is great but I think it's clear they made a major strategic and operational mistake with TGI's Blackrock.

    I do wonder what will go in there. A convenience store has long been rumoured. We'll have to see.

  2. Agree 100% with what you say - I too have heard rumour of a convenience store moving in.

    Many thanks for your comments!

  3. Fantastic read, only post i could find on google.

    Btw was walking by one day an spotted a builder moving furniture out and asked him what they are doing with the place, He said they were turning it into an arcade with pool tables, slot machines and the like. What an awful idea. will be open in the new year apparently.

  4. The demise of the playwright is quite sad. Used to have great times in there 10/12 years ago. Lovely pub, you could bring a date there midweek, go on the tear with your friends on a saturday night and get your carvery lunch in on a sunday and hang on for GAA, Soccer or Rugby games. Even had the occasional company night out there.

    TGIs was all wrong for it.

    That said, it was always going to run out of steam in a downturn regardless of whether it changed or not. Blackrock Village used attract people from all over the city in its heyday. Conway's, the Mad Hatter and the Wicked Wolf, in particular, we all highly valued and hugely busy. Things are very different now. It's a shame to see these places go, but there will be other places.