Big opportunity for cafe project at visitor centre during pandemic

By Maurice Garvey

LEVEL 5 restrictions have taken away the simple pleasure of meeting a friend for a cuppa but places like the Round Tower café in Clondalkin, are looking forward to welcoming customers back when it is safe to do so.

As with many other cafes and restaurants across the county, the premises keeps afloat during lockdown by offering a takeaway service, but they have plans for a new outside terrace which will cater for customers in a post-vaccine environment.

Tower Cafe 10 1

Jamie Ryan and Jonathan Barr in the Tower Cafe

“It could hold 50-60 people comfortably, depending on the social distancing on the new roadmap, that may be just 15, but in a perfect world you could have 50-60,” said Mark Matanes, manager of the visitor centre.

Last year, Matanes and Jonathan Barr, owner of the popular East Village Coffee on Monastery Road, teamed up to take over the running of the Brú Chronain centre in Clondalkin Village, after the Happy Pear announced they would not be reopening, citing a loss of revenue due to coronavirus.

South Dublin County Council, a primary stakeholder and leaseholder for the €4 million centre, put the project out to tender.

Covid has not allowed Matanes and Barr a proper run at the centre, but they will be re-tendering for a continued contract this year.

“The two premises have different menus and their own appeals. The important thing was that this one didn’t cannibalise the other,” said Mark, who was a former manager of the previous Happy Pear operated Round Tower visitor centre.

Hopefully with the longer stretch in the days appearing, restrictions will start to ease and allow local businesses to re-open to the public.

Mark says they applied with South Dublin County Council for a grant with Bord Failte - the thrust of it focused on sustainability.

This is in line with the centre’s plans to be a prominent tourism destination containing multiple attractions.

“This is a big opportunity project. The centre lends itself to evening events,” said Mark.

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