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01 Dec 2021

Landmark Offaly premises could reopen next year

Landmark Offaly premises could reopen next year

The bonded warehouse in Tullamore which was formerly home to the Tullamore DEW visitor centre

THE former Tullamore DEW restaurant and bar could be set to reopen next year if plans for its acquisition come to fruition.

Whiskey company William Grant & Sons are believed to have had discussions with a number of different parties interested in trading at the landmark premises on the Grand Canal in Tullamore.

Local sources indicated the Scottish based spirits giant had narrowed the number of potential licensees down to about four and a significant investor now appears to be the frontrunner.

A number of big corporates in the Irish hospitality sector have been on an expansion drive in the past few years, carefully selecting premises which they believe have long-term potential.

One of those companies, which already has interests in a string of pubs in Dublin and around the country, is believed to be targetting the Tullamore DEW building on Bury Quay.

Cllr Tony McCormack, chair of Tullamore Municipal District, said the reopening of the premises is crucial for the town.

“We need something like that in Tullamore. It's very important that that building gets used because it will generate footfall and it was a place where you could bring visitors to the town and show them around. I've done that myself with an awful lot of people,” he said.

“It's a huge loss that it's closed because it was operating to a very high standard.”

Cllr McCormack said he was aware of William Grant's ongoing efforts to find an operator for the premises.

“What they said was that they would like the right business to go in there and it's wasn't necessarily to do with money. It was about getting the right fit for Tullamore and the right fit for Tullamore DEW.

“It can become a beacon for the town and will bring people in and people will be able to go to a good restaurant and bar there again. It'd be very positive for the town and in fairness Tullamore DEW have been very good all along in doing what they've said they're going to do.”

William Grant & Sons ran the Bury Quay building as a whiskey heritage centre and restaurant from 2012 which at peak was attracting about 40,000 visitors each year.

In a shock move in September last year, William Grant & Sons confirmed they were closing the visitor centre centre on Bury Quay and said they planned to develop a new one at the Tullamore DEW distillery on the outskirts of the town.

The company said its ambition to showcase the distillery as the centre-piece of tours, as well as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the tourism industry, were the reasons for the closure.

The company opened the new distillery on the Tullamore bypass in 2014 and say they have invested over €100 million in the business.

Last month planning permission was granted for the new visitor centre and shop at an administration building in the distillery.

The company said it will develop a “premium and immersive brand experience... by bringing the brand story to life with a behind the scenes tour”.

Before Tullamore DEW located there, the Bury Quay building housed a heritage centre focussing on the canal, the history of Tullamore and the local Irish Mist and Tullamore DEW story. A number of operators developed a healthy restaurant and bar trade there.

The building was formerly a bonded warehouse and through a joint initiative involving Billy Jaffray of Irish Mist, spirits group Cantrell & Cochrane, the council and Offaly History, the visitor centre, restaurant and bar opened in 2000.

Asked on Tuesday to comment on their plans for the building, a spokesperson from William Grant & Sons told the Tullamore Tribune: “We’re looking at the future of the Old Bonded Warehouse. We are not in a position to communicate exact details at this time but will share more information in due course.”

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