Eat-on-the-street victory for Cork’s Prince’s Street

Business owners on Cork’s Prince’s Street have succeeded in getting their foodie haven pedestrianised to boost business as lockdown ends. Can more businesses around Ireland take note?

Hit hard by the Covid-19 lockdown and restrictions, business owners on Cork’s Prince’s Street took matters into their own hands and campaigned for Cork City Council to pedestrianise their street.

And as lockdown measures allowed restaurants and bars serving food to reopen on 29 June, a wonderful buzz and atmosphere returned to the street whose community of business owners proudly promote it under the slogan ‘The Heart of Cork.’

“The pedestrianisation of Prince’s Street is wonderful news and greatly welcomed by both businesses and customers”

Prince’s Street is something of a foodie institution in Cork with popular venues that include Nash 19, Ristorante Rossini, Yuan Ming Yuan, Quinlan’s Seafood, Pearl River and Clancy’s Bar, to name a few, as well as being one of the entrances to the iconic English Market.

The eat-on-the-street experience was the result of campaigning by business owners and proprietors on Prince’s Street and could pave the way for other businesses across Cork and indeed Ireland to help reboot.

Cork City Hall is understood to be encouraging food businesses elsewhere in the city to unite and device a “coherent and comprehensive” eat-on-the-street proposal for their area.

The opening of Prince’s Street as a pedestrian venue was a victory for local business owners who had to wrestle with the reality of kitting out their premises to ensure safe social distancing.

“Until there is a vaccine, social distancing is here to stay,” said Paul Montgomery who runs the popular Clancy’s Bar & Restaurant venue on Prince’s Street and who had to extensively remodel the venue to comply with Government guidelines.

Indeed, the new restaurant experience will be all about pre-booking and avoiding lengthy queues.

“As businesses this is something we have to live with, but having the street pedestrianised at night to enable people to eat outside is welcome.”

The heart of Cork

Eleven business owners on Prince’s Street whirred into action as the lockdown began in March and wrote to Cork City Council requesting that the street be pedestrianised at night.

“We believed it would play a role in getting businesses back, we will be able to pay our rates and in return we can put tables on to the street this summer and beyond and make up for the losses that we have inside.”

Montgomery praised the City Council which put a team on the project after receiving the proposal from the 11 proprietors.

A logistical process ensued over a two-and-a-half-month period that involved input from the Gardai and the Fire Service as changing traffic arrangements has implications in terms of fire safety, pedestrians, cyclists, disability access and more.

According to Montgomery re-opening on 29 June with eat-on-the-street services was an instant hit with venues and customers.

“It has been brilliant, the atmosphere has been great and it has been culturally diverse because the restaurants can cater for so many people more people with different tastes. That’s the beauty of it.”

The pedestrianisation of Prince’s Street has also been welcomed by Brendan Reddin, business advisor at Bank of Ireland on South Mall.

“The pedistrianisation of Prince’s Street is wonderful news and greatly welcomed by both businesses and customers,” Reddin said.

“This is an excellent initiative spearheaded by local businesses and Cork City Council which will ensure safe social distancing measures can be adhered to and moreover ensure local businesses can continue to operate at a level which will safeguard their viability in the medium to long term, with the continued presence of Covid 19.

“It is also great to see the doors re-open of our much loved local businesses and the great atmosphere on Princess Street as a result of the pedestrianisation.”

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 3 July, 2020