FFT: Congratulations on the Best bar award – what does this mean to your business?
Elliot Hughes: This is a fantastic recognition for the hard work done by everybody in the bar. It shows that everything from the service, food served, décor, atmosphere and everything else is at a really high level.
Why do you think The Porterhouse in Temple Bar won?
I think the Porterhouse Temple bar offers people something a little bit different. Ever since we opened our doors in 1996 we have prided ourselves in giving people a fantastic beer selection; whether that be our on beers originally brewed onsite or draught and bottled beers from around the world. We also have amazing staff, very friendly and knowledgeable, and I think they give customers a really enjoyable personal experience.
The atmosphere created by our bands, both trad and rock, gives a ‘feel-good’ factor around the pub. All in all, I don’t think there’s one thing to point to. A great bar always relies on a multitude of factors in order to make it work and I think we have that in Porterhouse.
What do you think the critical success factors for a bar are?
I guess this varies massively depending on style and location. The obvious factors that every bar must have, whether it’s an old school dive bar or the newest trend setting bars, are atmosphere, a friendly vibe, good service and a varied offering. The days of basic beer taps and spirit selection are over. It doesn’t matter what type of bar you are. The offering is absolutely key these days.
What plans are there for Temple Bar in the near future?
We are always looking at improving and we recently completely renovated the kitchen as well as opening up some of the upstairs to give more seating.
We have a couple of big plans for Temple Bar which I’m really excited about but I might keep them under my hat for a few months first. Have to see whether what we want to do is in any way feasible!
The 21st birthday of the Temple Bar branch was recently – how has the bar changed over the years?
I suppose the obvious change is that there isn’t a brewery onsite anymore. As the demand for our beer got a little bit out of control, we had to upsize. We’ve also seen steady increases in the volume of food we are doing. As I mentioned already, we have done work to our kitchen as well as adding seats in order to capitalise on the increased food demand.
We have also seen different people working with us over the years and the ideas that each of them have changes the bar slightly. The brick and mortar is only a small aspect of the Porterhouse Temple Bar. People are what make a place so every time someone comes and goes the bar changes a little bit.
Temple Bar is a massive tourist area – is most of your business from tourism? If so, how much has Brexit had an impact on business?
Yes, we would see a significant amount of business from tourism. As we regards to Brexit, we haven’t seen a change in numbers. The makeup of those numbers may be slightly weighed heavier to non-UK tourists than this time last year, but tourist numbers have been good and business has been better than this time last year.
Following on from the above question, are there any ways that the business attempts to attract domestic customers?
We are always conscious of our local base. Our beer offering, which is still arguably the best in Dublin, and our late night rock bands would probably be the two ways in which we would attract a more local crowd – but Temple Bar isn’t usually an area where we tend to see too many locals.
Tell us about your Temple Bar food menu. How is it decided and what does it offer?
We have always been very aware of our tourist base, so we would obviously cater towards that. We have always maintained a core menu across the Porterhouse group which works well with beer. We are conscious of giving a consistent offering.
I’m not quite sure a craft beer bar serving only superfood salads would work! We would be more focused on burgers, ribs, wings. I’ve always liked the idea that you can have a chicken wing in one hand while sipping on a hoppy IPA in the other. That’s the goal!
Are there any challenges facing the business in general at the moment?
Competition is always a challenge but also always a bonus. There are new and more exciting offerings opening up in Dublin on an almost daily basis now. It’s up to us to up our game and push ourselves to stay relevant.