Gone but never forgotten.
A recent comment proclaiming that Lovin Dublin is an obituary page to Dublin businesses has not left my mind since reading it (so, you know, fair play dear commenter) and while I do maintain that we cover over double the openers to closures in this city, we did unfortunately say goodbye to some great hospitality spots in 2023.
We're losing vegan spots left and right, as well as some truly well loved restaurants that have been operating in the city for years. The reason for these closures tends to be down to a few recurring issues, including lack of staff, rising costs, the hospitality VAT returning to 13.5%, and more.
While we also have a list of the most exciting openings of 2023 too, which you might want to give a look over after this to cheer yourself back up, we also wanted to pay homage to some of the greats that closed their doors for the last time this year.
14. Gotham South
After nearly 13 years in business, restaurant and café Gotham South closed their doors at the beginning of 2023. The Stillorgan spot has been much loved from locals, myself included, but like many other businesses over the last couple of years, they stated they could no longer withstand the fallout from the pandemic.
In a lengthy Twitter post (when Twitter was still Twitter) Gotham South revealed exactly why they had come to this "extremely tough decision".
"The pandemic dealt us a massive blow and our business has never truly recovered. One unexpected consequence of the pandemic is there are now enormous shortages of skilled hospitality staff worldwide and we have struggled to fully staff the restaurant since March 2020."
Some sad breaking news from Gotham South Stillorgan - Thanks for all the Good Times since 2010 💔 pic.twitter.com/dikXkABktK
— Gotham.ie (@GothamDublin) January 10, 2023
13. Kale + Coco
It's bad news for those in D7 as local café Kale + Coco made the sad announcement on their socials that they would close for good in December.
The Stoneybatter café has been in operation for six and a half years, perhaps best known for their delicious açai bowls and gorgeous greenery that adorns the doorway, and it was a go-to for Dublin 7 dwellers looking for their caffeine fix.
Many hospitality businesses took to the comments to lament Kale + Coco's closure, including Nutbutter, Janets, Honey Truffle Kitchen, One Society, and Chimac.
12. Hipkey Café
Sandyford café Hipkey unfortunately closed down in September after two years in business.
Opening in April 2021, and nestled within the depths of Sandyford Industrial Estate, this café was sweet for more reasons than just their delicious pastries, and they will be hugely missed.
Hipkey were inclusive in their menu, serving a host of goodies, some of which were gluten free and vegan so all customers had something to look forward to. My favourite items were their miniature pastries, with a very affordable price tag attached, as well as delicious coffee, where you could even choose the mug your beverage was served in.
Hipkey was more than your average café, they were more of a community. They hosted a weekly workshop for budding writers to come together and share their work with like-minded people.
One closure that will hit a lot of people hard is the closure of Loretta's in the gorgeous Bank building on Doyle's Corner, Phibsborough Road. Speaking to Lovin Dublin the team confirmed that their last day of service would be on December 23rd. Chef/Owner Jimmy Wiley is set to retire and the iconic building is due to be let (hopefully to another hospitality business).
Hailing from Colorado, Wiley had worked in the Dublin restaurant scene for almost 20 years before striking out his own five years ago, having worked the kitchens alongside Stephen McAllister of The Pig's Ear and Mr. Fox, and at John Farrell’s 777. Naming the place after his aunt, Wiley's menus always had some nice nods to American-style cooking, Nashville hot oysters sitting alongside fried chook and cheesecakes.
10. Thundercut Alley
One of Dublin's best lunch spots, and undoubtedly the funniest venues in the county, Thundercut Alley has unfortunately closed.
I only realised it was closed when I strolled by on my way to The Lighthouse Cinema to make myself feel unwell while watching Barry Keoghan obsess over Jacob Elordi in Saltburn. Walking past I noticed the typically bright and colourful spot was unfortunately boarded up and lifeless looking. Taking to Instagram the the purveyors of excellent margs, craic merchants and ingenious brunch food wrote on October 25 that they would be closing that very day.
9. Clanbrassil House
Michelin Guide restaurant Clanbrassil House, which opened on Clanbrassil Street in 2017, took to social media to announce they would be closing at the end of the year.
Run by the same people as Bastible, Clanbrassil House has been described as the younger sister to the Michelin-star restaurant, "with a simple, homely look and friendly, professional service". The menu was praised for its "refined, tasty dishes" said to "demonstrate a creative and original approach from the chef" which is what makes this closure announcement so sad.
8. Soup 2
This one rocked us to our core. The ever inventive and yummy Soup 2 also announced their closure in 2023, alongside cocktail bar Dashi who operated in the basement.
The sibling restaurant of OG Soup in Dún Laoghaire, Soup 2 opened in Smithfield in January of 2021 and has had Dublin 7 locals slurping appreciatively ever since.
As the name suggests, Soup 2 primarily specialised in ramen with plenty of vegan and vegetarian options available, also gaining popularity for small dishes such as their deep fried kimchi and crispy Korean fried chicken accompanied by the obligatory gochujang.
7. Woke Cup Café
After four and a half years in business, vegan and vegetarian café WokeCup closed in Smithfield in March, announcing the news over Paddy's weekend.
They opened in September 2018 and had been a go-to spot for people with vegan and vegetarian diets alike. At the news of the closure, Dublin hospitality spots came flooding in with their condolences in the comments, including V-Face, Kale + Coco (who also features on this list), and Thru The Green.
6. Saltwater Grocery
Beloved D6 location Saltwater Grocery unfortunately closed after just under two years in business in January 2023.
According to the Business Post, Saltwater Grocery ceased trading because it went into liquidation.
Saltwater Grocery initially opened in early 2021, which was a particularly difficult time for hospitality given covid restrictions. In its short time operating, they had quite the impact on Dublin, with their salmon dish even making the Lovin Top 40 meals of 2022.
5. Shaker & Vine
Swords locals were shocked to hear that Shaker & Vine were closing with immediate effect in January. Based on the Main Street in Swords, the bar and restaurant has been a popular spot for the last four and a half years; they had even won awards for their cocktail-making.
Unfortunately, like many other hospitality businesses in Dublin, the significant increases in operating costs has made it impossible for Shaker & Vine to continue. In their Instagram announcement, owner Paul Lambert candidly explained that operating was no longer "viable."
4. Bear Lemon
After two and a half years of trading in Drumcondra, Ireland's first traditional walk-in vegan bakery Bear Lemon announced they would be closing at the beginning of April 2023.
The Dublin 9 bakery had been a haven for vegans, and we were extremely sorry to see it go.
Owner Ciara Lennon took to socials to share the sad news with her customers, providing a lengthy explanation for the closure. She cited how things are crazy for business owners at the moment, naming "overheads, bills and energy" as a few of the reasons she's decided to close Bear Lemon. In the caption she states, "bear lemon has not failed but the system has failed me" saying that, "it's just next to impossible to keep up with bills and keep a physical business open."
We were really not expecting to hear that Anti Social were closing down this year, but unfortunately the news hit our timelines in March 2023.
Anti Social had been a Dublin 8 staple for the last three years, known for their incredible drink towers and immaculate vibes (and banning James Corden following his meltdown in New York restaurant Balthazar, of course).
An evening at Anti Social was always one well spent, and they will be sorely missed from the Francis Street stretch when they close their doors for good. Any Dublin hospitality closure hits us greatly, but this one feels particularly sore.
2. Margadh Howth
Margadh closed their premises on Harbour Road in May 2023. The wine and café spot has been a much loved addition to Howth since it first opened almost three years ago, which made the closure all the more devastating.
In a lengthy social media post, Margadh revealed the reason behind their decision to close their current premises, which was that the space "was not suitable to the particular needs of the cafe /winebar."
While this suggests all hope is not lost for the future of Margadh in Howth, the current team will continue to work at Mamó on Harbour Road and Margadh RHA at Ely Place.
1. Virgin Mary
Ireland's only alcohol-free bar sadly closed its doors for good in March.
Speaking to The Times, a representative from the Virgin Mary confirmed the closure, adding that “spiralling costs were a big factor for us”.
While their time on Capel Street is over, it's not the end for the bar and you can keep up to date with their upcoming events via Instagram, or order non-alcoholic drinks "sober starter kits" through their website.
Header images via Instagram / Hipkey Café / Loretta's / Anti-Social