8 Dublin restaurants that used to be something else entirely

By Katy Thornton

September 2, 2022 at 8:01am


Anything can be made into a restaurant these days.

Dublin has a wealth of history, not just in museums and parks, but in their its restaurants as well, as you can see from this quirky list of spots that used to serve a different purpose.

1. Churchtown Stores

Until January 2018 this bar and restaurant in Churchtown was a beloved hardware store. It first opened in 1987 and was frequented by locals for all their hardware needs. The shop was closed and sold, but later that year it reopened to continue "the wonderful tradition in customer service", serving pints and food instead of paint and drills. Jack Rabbit, who provides the menu for Churchtown Stores, is wonderful and we especially recommend their coconut curry chips.

2. The Church Bar and Restaurant

This 17th Century church St Mary's on Mary's Street closed its doors in 1964 and was purchased in 1997. It was converted into John M. Keating's restaurant and bar in 2005, and was renamed The Church bar and restaurant in 2007. Although refurbished, it maintains its church aesthetic, and is a popular spot for cocktails and good food. They have an indoor and outdoor area so everyone is welcome. You can book a table on their website HERE.


3. The Bank Bar and Restaurant

As the name would suggest, this bar and restaurant on College Green used to be a bank. It was bought by the Belfast bank in 1892 and became The Bank Bar and Restaurant over a century later in 2003. The main eating area used to be the bank's hall, and it still looks this way. The Bank serves delicious pub food such as burgers, salads, and fish, and is well worth a visit.

4. La Peniche

Maybe it's because Hallie and Annie's parents got married on a yacht in The Parent Trap but there's something romantic about dinner on a boat. La Peniche (which is French for The Barge) used to be called the MV Riasc and would transport people across the canal until the 1960s. It was converted into a restaurant and now sits by Mespil Road, serving amazing French cuisine and fine wine.

5. The Perch


This café on Leeson Street used to be a kiosk, but before that it was a tearoom, and before THAT is was a water pressure station. The Perch has been all sorts of things since it opened in 1929, although it has maintained the art deco aesthetic to pay homage to its roots. If you need a pick me up or just want a sweet treat, pop into The Perch.

6. Happy Out

So many cafés and restaurants have been converted from old shipping containers, but Happy Out on Bull Island is one of our faves. They specialise in all things coffee, toasties, and brunch and it's just the sustenance you need after a long walk on the beach.

7. Old Music Shop Restaurant

This iconic spot off Parnell Square opened in 1924 as Walton's Music and housed Ireland's first music school. The school stood for 80 years before it closed in 2013. Nowadays, Old Music Shop Restaurant serves delightful afternoon tea.


8. Glovebox

This one is rather obvious what it used to be. Cool drinks and nibbles spot Glovebox, which doubles as an art gallery, occupies an old car park to create the strangest atmosphere. I did up a full review of the spot when I paid them a visit earlier in the year, you can check it out HERE.


So, which of these quirky Dublin restaurants do you think has the coolest backstory?

Header image via Instagram/thechurchdublin


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