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Can The Well Help Reignite Dublin’s Night Culture?

The Well, situated in the former Dandelion nightclub at Stephen’s Green in Dublin, is a new multi-faceted endeavor, fronted by Dan MacDonnell and Gavin Meade.

Operating not only as a venue and bar but as a restaurant, coffee shop, workspace and space for corporate events, the business has catered to a broad spectrum of customers since opening in late July. Whilst this may seem like a task made of logistical nightmares, both Dan and Gavin have 14 years of experience in events management through their own company The Neon Agency, providing them with the contacts and skillsets to make this ambitious undertaking a reality.

“We just fell into it,” said Dan when explaining how The Well came to be. Neon has extensive experience in popups, having managed over 40 such units over the years, so when the opportunity arose to take over the space the two looked at it from a perspective of a series of popups.

Reminiscent of similar offerings in the ‘cool’ area of Shoreditch in London, The Well aims to offer something new and vibrant for Dublin. Described as ‘a multifunctional and multi-purpose venue with café-bar, restaurant, co-working space,’ its build required a full renovation to create a large open area, quite European in style, with space for work meetings, food, coffee and drinks, and even a dive bar with pool and TVs available in another area.

The recently opened basement holds more ad hoc events, such as comedy, music and spoken word, with the aim to make this more regular in the future as Dan wishes to push the late-night element of the bar on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

All in, this brings the capacity of the venue to over a whopping 1,000 people.

The reception to The Well has been positive with a steady lunchtime business, strong in the after-work hours and busy with corporate event hires. People are free to set up a workspace for the day with high-speed wifi and multiple plug sockets available, as well as work while indulging on coffee and pizza provided by the Dublin Pizza Co., creating a millennial haven.

The majority of The Well’s food, bar and coffee products are locally sourced, ethically produced and from small-scale Irish producers. Dan had previously worked with Michael Ryan of Dublin Pizza Co. and ‘approached him and asked him to come on board’, which has worked out successfully.

Their impressive cocktail list, coupled with the ‘quirky and different’ events in the basement, is now their focus for the immediate future to help business a destination for late nights and weekends.

“We’ve employed three or four of the top cocktail guys in Ireland,” said Dan, and the menu most certainly reflects a bold list of ingredients such as aloe vera, marshmallow and pickled ginger and features cheekily titled beverages such as Are Ya Well and Get Woke. The bar, with comfy nooks and crannies, also offers a wide range of craft beers and ciders, spirits and wine, with something for everyone.

Open from 7am until late at night, The Well employs just under 60 staff, including part-timers, with the plans to ‘float the staff numbers between 50 and 60’. Indeed, with long opening hours and such a diverse range of events and activities, employing bar managers, security, as well as a host of other roles would phase most, but Dan’s experience allows him the confidence to handle the challenge. September also saw a flea market – Market on Green – open up, adding another string to their bow. With Christmas just around the corner, party nights for up to 400 people will be catered for with some nights including rentals of the full venue for corporate events. Certainly, The Well has busy times ahead.

The entire project appears very close to Dan’s heart, who said that they have do not have any big financial backers helping them along their way. “We’re always open to working with new promoters and artists,” he said. “Everyone keeps talking about, and focusing on, how Dublin nightlife is dying and how everything is closing down – not what on is opening up. We are fighting to keep Dublin nightlife alive so we are openly inviting collaborations with promoters and spoken word performers, artists and musicians.”

Hopefully this is, in fact, the turn of Dublin nightlife and perhaps The Well shall be situated at the centre of the energy boost that Dublin needs right now.

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