Dublin riots aftermath: We chat to restaurant owner on new realities of trading on Gardiner Street

By Katy Thornton

December 1, 2023 at 2:30pm

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"Everything is getting harder for restaurants"

It's been an unimaginable week for the families, friends and wider community of the victims of the Dublin attack. A confusing few days for the citizens of Dublin, and an inordinately tough week for local businesses trying to operate in these new conditions. Confidence in the capital has unfortunately been shaken and unfortunately, it appears to be local businesses that have borne the brunt of this insecurity, with countless cancellations, low footfall and spending accounted for and partly attributed to the attack and the riot that followed. A recent report from Bank of Ireland, sheds some light on the direct impact of spending in the city, during one of the traditionally busiest times of the year, with spending down roughly half than the previous year.

Taking to social media this week, One Society on Gardiner Street Lower shared a worrying account of doing business in the north inner city over the last few days. Several large bookings cancelling citing safety concerns, and footfall on the typically busy cafe has notably dropped since Thursday, November 23rd. Owner William Monaghan has said he is "scared of what's to come" adding that "not many will want to come to Gardiner Street now... as if things weren't hard enough".

The impact of the Dublin riots

Will unfortunately confirmed that in the week following the riots, they had suffered a 25%+ drop in revenue, a loss that is "massive and unsustainable as a business."

One Society has faced several cancellations since Thursday 23rd, with customers phoning to ask if it was safe to come in, as well as a tourist calling from as far as Kerry enquiring if they should cancel their trip to Dublin completely.

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Will said this of the current situation:

"The cancellations yesterday really worried me. We are a small restaurant so a table of 12 for lunch can make the day, especially for a ‘work party’ as there will be more revenue with alcohol sales. Then a party of 14 cancelled for the evening which again was huge."

Will said despite the good will they have experienced on socials, he doesn't have high hopes for increased footfall in the run up to Christmas. Hospitality is a difficult business to be in currently as it is, with getting staff and increasing costs - the aftermath of the riots has only added to his stress as a restaurant owner.

Will told us that location is key as a restaurant and that Gardiner Street is "not a destination area for food or fun, so people have to really want to come here"; given what happened in such close proximity to Gardiner Street on Thursday 23rd, he worries people won't want to come anymore.

William Monaghan speaks about the night of the riots

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Thursday November 23 was a difficult day for everyone living in Dublin - the stabbings outside a primary school at Parnell Square in the afternoon, followed by the riots that broke out and continued for much of the evening - put everyone on edge and had people glued to their phones and TV screens for more news.

Will told us that in the midst of all this he was having a personal nightmare when he had to bring his two-and-a-half-year-old son into the Temple Street ER, as he was suffering with RSV (respiratory system virus).

Unable to focus on the news of the riots due to this family emergency, when messages started coming through, Will said this of his response:

"I knew whatever was happening was bad, life changing even for me and my staff. All I could do was send a 10 second voice message. “Don’t take any risks, close if you have to; protect yourselves at all cost.”

"I finally got to check my phone at midnight and then I knew the staff were at least home and safe. Some too scared to come to work the next day, scared of random revenge attacked on immigrants as was threatened on social media."

Will himself didn't get home until 2am with his son in tow, who thankfully over a week later is doing much better.

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One Society has been in operation for five years now, surviving the pandemic, and consistently coming up as one of the best brunch locations in the city. Next time you're looking to head out for a meal, why not consider popping into them?

One Society opens Wednesday to Friday from 9:30am and Saturday and Sundays from 9am. In the evenings they reopen for Italian tapas and wine too.

Header images via Instagram / One Society

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