- September 6, 2021
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Monday, 6 September 2021 | 21.5°C Dublin
Dicey's boss: 'We really need to open the place until 3am seven nights a week, so it wasn't practical to reopen it yet'
Dicey's on Harcourt Street, Dublin, is a hit with the young after-work crowd in the capitol.
September 05 2021 12:30 PM
Ireland's hospitality industry is gearing up for the reopening of nightclubs and late-night bars from October 22.
One such club boss who is breathing a sign of relief is Rangan Arulchelvan, who co-owns the giant Russell Court emporium in Dublin.
Not only is it a 200-bedroom hotel, but it also houses the bustling Dicey's Garden and Krystle clubs.
But since the pandemic began in March last year, the entire complex has been forced to shut its doors.
"We had 180 staff and they are all on PUP payments, reveals Sri Lankan-born Rangan, who owns the Harcourt Street complex with Dubliner Eileen Wright.
"It is not practical for us to open our bars until 11pm. Then also we are only allowed 70 per cent capacity in the garden, and 50 per cent indoors
"We really need to open the place until 3am seven nights a week, so it wasn't practical to reopen it yet."
Dicey's is thronged with young people, particularly students, on weekday nights, with its Monday night cheap booze events a huge draw.
"Our age group is 18 to 35, the majority of the customers in Dicey's," he explains.
"Then in the weekends we would have 35 to 40 and into their 50s, and that would be Fridays and Saturday, particularly in Krystle (a favourite haunt of celebrities).
"So, we cater for everybody. But it was not financially viable to run it under those restrictions."
It's not just the clubs and bars which have been forced to close, but the actual hotel accommodation too.
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"Weekends in the city centre, Friday and Saturday nights then are getting 60 to 70 per cent of capacity," he points out. "From Sunday to Thursday, they have only been getting 10 per cent of capacity, because of flying restrictions.
"So, we don't have 200 bedrooms, we'd have 45 bedrooms, so it wasn't financially viable to open one section. "We'd have to open it altogether, because we'd have to have the bar and food services going also."
It is not only the 180 full-time employees affected, but dozens of part-time staff too, as well as more than 35 operatives.
"Security is outsourced to an independent company, who have 35 people who are regular guys manning the doors and working security inside," he notes.
Rangan is naturally delighted a re-opening date has been given, but is still waiting to see what exactly the guidelines will be.
"We have been waiting and waiting for everyone to get vaccinated," he points out.
"It has been frustrating waiting so long, so it's a happy moment now that we will get back to work – and once it's open, it will hopefully stay open
"We have to open now and they have to tell us the exact guidelines. On October 22, we are due back."
He adds: "They have told us that 10 days before that, we will be given an indication of what the new set up will be."
Much of his staff have left to find other jobs in other businesses.
"Some of them have changed jobs, some have gone back to their own countries," he says.
"Even if we had opened, we would have found it hard to get people as the universities and colleges were closed, and only operating virtually and on Zoom, so those students would have stayed in their hometowns or abroad or wherever, so we were missing out on those part-time workers also.
"They will now be available again as the colleges are back up and operating again, so that market will open around October and that will help staff numbers."
Genial Rangan, who is a big cricket fan, has felt a shock to his body clock in the past 18 months.
"It's the first time in 40 years I've gone to bed at 9pm," he observes. "Normally I'm in the club until sunrise and I'd be going home at 6am in the morning, it was a major change for me!"
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