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Editor’s Note: Dublin Goes Doolally while Holidaymakers Flock to Longford

August may be silly season but it feels like much of 2019 has been silly season – high profile openings and closings are happening every week, the tourism machine is in overdrive thanks to an unprecedented influx of American visitors, and warning signs are flashing from quarters such as the Restaurants Association of Ireland and the Irish Hotels Federation.

Most recently, news has emerged that the former Shanahan’s pub in The Coombe, Dublin 8, is being turned into Spitalfields restaurant by chef Stephen McAllister and his wife Andrea (better known from The Pigs Ear restaurant on Nassau St).  Promising quality food in a pub setting, it’s a pertinent move given the rapid growth of the area. Nearby, the Iveagh Markets remains sadly derelict, with no resolution in sight.

There are just over 1,000 additional student bed spaces currently approved or proposed in the Dublin 8 area, almost a quarter of overall student accommodation construction happening in Dublin city right now.  They’re going to need places to eat and drink, and keeping revenue local with independent operators will be crucial in the long run.

On the subject of drinks, the recently renamed Drinks Ireland (formerly Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland [ABFI]) has released a report confirming the continuing trend towards premiumisation in the market; and the desire to drink less but of a higher quality.  The idea of the perfect sip, or the perfect bite, and that you only need one rather than ten. Overall alcohol consumption has fallen 23.2% since 2001, and drinkers are increasingly looking to spirits while in bars.

The proliferation of cocktail menus and the popularity of cocktail awards is a clear indicator of where the market is going, and with Diageo UK’s recent purchase of Seedlip, a nonalcoholic spirits brand, the coming trend of high quality alcohol free drinks is clearly on the mid term horizon.  It is vital that bars are proactive here; the recent addition of a Heineken 0.0 tap behind many a counter can’t be seen as a once off rather a foot in the door of a huge future revenue driver.

Having seemingly conquered the markets for burgers (Wowburger), BBQ (The Bison Bar), and chicken wings (Elephant & Castle), to name but a few, the Press Up Entertainment Group has now taken on Indian cuisine with Doolally on Dublin’s South Richmond St.  The building is brand new by way of Oakmount, the property development company headed by Paddy McKillen Jr and Matt Ryan, and Doolally is one of their biggest plays this year.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the pace of new developments, then the relative haven that is Center Parcs has just opened for business in Longford.  Boasting almost 400 acres of woodland and a ‘Subtropical Swimming Paradise’ heated to a consistent 29.5c, there’s something for everyone in a destination that can accommodate up to 2,500 guests at any one time.  Like everything, it comes with a cost – a 3 night weekend stay for two starts at €399, going all the way to €1999. Student accommodation this is most certainly not!

To contact me directly, email mark@fft.ie.

Encircle 360 Ltd T/A Food for Thought - FFT.ie, 59 Merrion Square, Dublin 2, Ireland.

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