Round Tower Heritage Centre is the ‘jewel of village’, say new operators

by Gary Ibbotson

The new operators of the Round Tower Heritage Centre in Clondalkin describe the attraction as “the jewel of the village” and say they cannot wait to get their new venture up and running.

Mark Matanes and Jonathan Barr, owners of the popular East Village Café, decided to submit a tender for the operation of the centre once it became available earlier this year.

Mark told Dublin Gazette: “I made friends with Johnny Barr who owned the East Village Café and we though we’d make a good partnership so we thought we’d make a run at submitting a tender for the Round Tower centre.”

In May their predecessors The Happy Pear announced it would be leaving the centre after three years due to a lack of business caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

“I was the former general manager of The Happy Pear in Clondalkin, but unfortunately after The Happy Pear left Clondalkin I was let go,” Mark revealed.

“Barr submitted a tender before, when The Happy Pear was awarded the premises, and he was saying to himself that it’s such a great, unique facility and it would be a shame that the operator had pulled out.

“He had quite a small premises and was looking to expand. So, while I was looking what I wanted to do occupationally, he was looking at how to upgrade his business at the same time,” he says.

It is understood that that Round Tower Heritage Centre is valued at €4m while the tender is a nine month lease, with the option for a further three months.

Mark says that the duo really believed in the potential of The Round Tower Heritage Centre and how it can tie into the community atmosphere of the village.

“With two local operators we thought we could really tie it back into the village,” he said.

He admits that opening a new establishment during a worldwide pandemic can evoke a feeling of “uncertainty,” and it’s “kind of our control,” but “we’ve seen there has been a slight shift away from the city centre with people working from home and grabbing a coffee in the local coffee shop.

“As daunting as it has been on one side, it’s been very uplifting on the other side.”

The duo are aiming to have the café and centre open in October and they are currently sorting out the contracts and legal side of the operation before officially moving in.

The introduction of a restaurant into the premises is also something the duo are seriously considering, he says.

Mark said: “We’ve identified there are gaps in the market in the locality but we don’t just want to dive in feet first. We want to test the water and see what the appetite is for what kind of menu and what kind of offering.”

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