Words: Shamim de Brún
The lease for the space that once held Dublin’s Coppinger Row is currently being advertised on Daft.
Coppinger Row was the iconic city centre restaurant owned by Marc Bereen and his brother Conor. Under their stewardship, it spent fifteen years on South William Street, feeding the enthusiasts of Dublin.
They were forced to close when their landlords, Aviva, said that they had to put the space on the open market to “do the best by the pension fund they represent”. In an interview with CHAR, Marc said that was “fair enough”. And that they were “well within their rights legally” to do so. He is surprisingly philosophical about it and is optimistic he has a chance to re-secure the space.
Marc and his team never had a long-term lease. They had campaigned for one for years but to no avail. A consistently up for review every few years style lease means that a restaurant can’t invest too much. The space could slip from their fingers at any time. This eventually happened to Coppinger Row, somewhat expectedly.
In an Instagram post signed off by Marc, Conor and all the extended Coppinger Row family members at Charlotte Quay & Orwell Road, they said they’re “definitely going to do everything in our power to get it back.”
The small independent Irish family team are competing against a large number of funds that are competing for the same property. This has been happening to Irish businesses for many years. It is hard not to feel like the odds are stacked against them. They said, “from where we’re standing, this feels very much a ‘David and Goliath’ situation”. But they are determined to give it their best shot, and we hope it resolves well for them.
Marc told CHAR that he has been furring money away for the sort of renovation the new space will need for years. He is willing to pay the higher rent. And he hopes they will be offered the chance to return to their home.
As the team has said, Coppinger Row is a special place, so they will fight to keep this spot on South William Street. They said, “We have just put our tender into the good people at Aviva, and we are very much hoping that our track record will shine through there”.
When it was open, it attracted some of Dublin’s most high-profile visitors. These included luminaries such as George Clooney and Beyoncé, who, on leaving the venue, quickly proclaimed Coppinger Row her favourite Dublin restaurant.
The space holds a lot of sentimental value to Marc and his brother. It was always a dream of their father to open a restaurant. Though he never got to do it. His two sons came together to make Coppinger Row a must on any Dublin diner’s bucket list for fifteen years. Marc remembers they “took the building over during the tough times of the recession and everything when none of the big boys wanted it”. However, now that the Dublin rental and the property market is all kinds of up, the “big boys” seem to want as much of it as possible.
It is hard to know what the current landlords want for their new, more extensive space. They could be rooting for Marc and co as we are. Or they could want to see how much money they can get for it in this time of overbidding for space.
This team firmly believes they are the best people to return to Coppinger Row. Moreover, there are receipts in their favour. Both Charlotte Quay and Orwell Road, Coppinger Row’s sister restaurants, have received international Michelin recognition in the past year, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say they could do it again with the OG.
The team is genuinely eager to return to the space they called home for many years. “It broke our hearts to close our doors last December”. In the face of adversity, however, they remain hopeful, saying that they’re ” keeping everything crossed for brighter days ahead”.
Only time will tell how it resolves itself. But here’s hoping it is in the favour of the local independent Irish team.
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