An old building on Crow Street has been torn asunder. The original windows have been brought to light and red brick walls unearthed.
"This is it" Annelie McCaffrey remembers thinking while standing in the rubble beside her husband David Coffey staring at exposed red brick wall that was the first glimpse of Crow Street the restaurant.
David and Damien Quinn co-own The Sussex on Leeson St. and 105 Cafe in Clonskeagh, and now the self-acclaimed restaurateur duo have teamed up again to bring us Crow Street - Irish soul food with an American Twist in the heart of Temple Bar.
"People are interested in Temple Bar again. It's no longer just a tourist spot. It's the most vibrant and eclectic place in the city. Irish people are curious about what's going on here - which is a lot." Damien muses.
"We'd be mad if we thought we would survive solely on tourist trade. We've been very conscious about not turning the Irish customer away with the price point. For years the Irish have been afraid to come into Temple Bar because of the prices."
With so many new restaurants popping up in town, competition is rife - which is only a good thing for the customer. But how does a restaurant stand out? By paying attention to every single angle, according to the duo.
More and more, diners are paying not just for the menu, but for the entire experience. The ambience, the music, the service.
Crow Street is casual dining, but with the tempo lifting into the evening in keeping with the urban setting.
"You want to go somewhere that's aesthetically gorgeous but there's good tunes, good vibes, and comfortable seating", says Dave.
"If people wanna come in and spend €15 on a burger or €10 on a lunch special - great.
"If they wanna come in and spend €100 on a bottle of wine and €40 on a steak - absolutely great! But you've got to have the service to back it up if you're going to offer those prices.
"Damien has a strong hotel background so has a massive emphasis on service."
Damien: "The Cead Mile Failte has dropped in recent years. Irish staff have fallen out of love with this industry and we need to revive that. Good, friendly, reliable service."
So what's on the menu? Two words: Comfort Food.
Damien: "Well that's what Irish soul food is, isn't it? It's a pint of Guinness and a bowl of muscles or chowder.
The pair have nailed a well-oiled formula of seafood, burgers and steaks in The Sussex, but coming into town, they're bringing an international edge.
Things like Buttermilk Fried Chicken served with house Kimchi and Ranch dressing, and chicken wings but with a twist.
Dave: "Chicken Wings have been a trend since I started cooking in 1995. My first job was in Elephant and Castle and they're obviously still going strong.
"Ours have a twist, something different than what everyone else is doing - we think people will like it."
Damien: "It's a broader menu than what we have in The Sussex but I think it will evolve as we evolve.
"We have a diverse range of food. There's the a la carte, and then there's the bar bites upstairs.
"All of our produce is Irish as much as we can and everything is made in house, there's nothing brought in."
The a la carte menu includes a Manhattan seafood chowder, Ham hock & Doherty’s Black Pudding terrine with Piccalilli and sourdough, and braised pork shoulder soft shell corn tacos with curtido, chipotle aioli, lime & coriander.
Mains include Crispy Fried Buttermilk Chicken, Monkfish Scampi with pea guacamole and hand cut chips, and a Crow Street Burger - brioche bun, Dubliner Cheddar, smoked tomato chutney, crispy bacon, pickles & hand cut chips.
We're sitting on the ground floor of the restaurant less than a week before opening, in front of that red brick wall. The aesthetic is very New York but with Nordic touches. It feels like a 'Hygge' refuge from bustling Temple Bar.
"Crow Street is actually really quiet. But walk down the lane and take a right and you're back to the madness".
The design is by O' Donnell O' Neill, the people behind some of Dublin's most iconic venues including The Stella Theatre, 9 Below, Peruke & Periwig, Vintage Cocktail Club, and most recently The Grayson on Stephen's Green. It's simple and uncluttered, with the original timber floors refinished and brought to life with reclaimed vintage furniture.
There's a private dining area on the ground floor, adorned with eclectic artwork sourced from Bauhaus Archive Gallery in Berlin.
Dave tells me: "The private dining room felt quite isolated so we asked to open up this window space so there's more flow and you can still soak up the atmosphere.
"There's also more artwork in this room. You want people to feel like they're somewhere special."
Upstairs there's a lounge which serves bar bites, sharing plates and an admirable range of Craft beers, wine and spirits - all Irish where possible.
Damien: "There's a big Irish focus behind the bar. Our beer is all Irish, we try to buy Irish spirits. Six beers on draught and fourteen by the bottle - all Irish.
"The gins are Drumshambo Gunpowder and Sausage Tree."
"Most of our drinks list revolves around where you've lived", Dave interjects.
Damien nods, "I live on the land where our ciders and apple juice are produced. It's important to get to know the producers."
I notice there's no beer taps on the bar.
"We don't people sitting at the bar to have beer taps in their face, obstructing them. We encourage people to eat at the bar."
As we chat, the sound systems are being tested. Music will play an important role here, with resident DJ Steve Reddy on the decks on Saturdays.
Dave explains: "From early on we wanted a good sound system that you could turn up and down in sections - making sure everyone can still have a conversation.
"We want to be able to pump the volume, but for people to be able to hear when they want."
Crow Street opens at No. 1 Crow Street, Temple Bar on Thursday August 23 and will serve dinner 7 nights a week, from 5 - 11pm. Visit the website for more information or to book a table.