The landlord of Bewley's Cafe on Dublin's Grafton Street has brought a legal action against the operators of the landmark premises seeking alleged rental arrears of €747,000 and possession of the property.
The action has been brought by RGRE Grafton Ltd, which is a company controlled by developer Johnny Ronan.
The landlord wants its action against the cafe operator Bewley's Cafe Grafton Street Ltd - where it seeks summary judgement of €747,000 and possession of the premises located at 78-79 Grafton Street - admitted to the fast-track Commercial Court list.
The matter was briefly mentioned before Mr Justice David Barniville today, when, in an ex-parte motion, RGRE sought permission to have the case listed for entry to the commercial court list early next week.
Ross Awlyard Bl, instructed by solicitor Barbara Galvin of Eversheds, for the landlord said the matter was urgent from his client's perspective.
Counsel said his client was the successor in title of the premises, which has been leased to the defendants since 1987. The annual rent due on the iconic premises was approximately €1.4m, which had to be paid on a quarterly basis.
Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in the closure of many businesses, the defendant asked for a rent holiday of six months, counsel said.
Counsel said that while his client considered that, and other similar rent holiday requests for other tenants of firms within the group, Bewley's application was declined as it believed that the tenant had the means to discharge its rent obligations.
Counsel said that one of the reasons the request was refused was because the tenant's parent company, Bewley's Ltd, which it claims is owned by the family of businessman Patrick Campbell, was sitting on cash reserves of over €6m and net assets of €5m.
Counsel said it was made aware of the tenant's intention to permanently close the cafe and make all the staff redundant through statements in the Irish Times Newspaper.
The cafe did not reopen after certain restrictions on businesses were lifted late last month.
Since late April, counsel said that the defendant had not engaged in any meaningful way with RGRE, or brokered an agreement to try and save the cafe business.
As a result, counsel said that rent plus interest – totalling some €747,000 – is due and owed to RGBE, and the landlord does not have possession of the property.
Counsel said that the rent for the premises was substantial and his client has obligations to other third parties, and the landlord had brought a motion seeking permission to apply to have the case entered to the commercial court list.
This was because there had initially been an issue whether a firm of solicitors that have acted for the defendant would accept service of the legal documents.
Counsel said that matters had been "short circuited" as the defendant's solicitors had indicated in a letter that they were now in a position to accept service of RGBE's proceedings.
Following the conclusion of counsel's submission, the Judge said he was satisfied to give the landlord permission to seek to have the action admitted to the commercial court list.
The application for entry will be heard next Monday 13 July.