Former private members’ club switches to open-door policy
OK, we know there’s a market for Pope Francis souvenirs but we draw the line at ‘Lollipopes’ (no surprise they were already discounted days before he got here).
There was a time when you needed an expensive membership (or a fast-talking friend) to get you in the door of No 41 St Stephen’s Green in Dublin. The property used to be the home of Residence Private Members’ Club, a chichi establishment that came to epitomise the boom and bust of the Celtic Tiger.
The business went into receivership in 2010 and was acquired by businesswoman Olivia Gaynor Long, who in turn sold it to Paddy McKillen jnr’s Press Up Entertainment group (The Dean Hotel, Angelina’s, Stella Theatre).
The Press Up group had very different ideas for the property and, following an extensive revamp, they officially opened the doors to The Grayson this week.
Like its previous incarnation, The Grayson is open for lunch and dinner, and there are plenty of private event spaces to rent out for parties and the likes. What makes it different — apart from the chic new interior — is the open-door policy.
“We’re far removed from that whole membership thing,” explained GM James Gibbons when we caught up with him the day before the opening. “We’re just trying to swing open the doors with a very warm welcome.”
As if to prove this, they’ve even done away with the reception desk, which was right beside the front door during the days of Residence (riffraff couldn’t even get a look in). “Our hosts stand a little bit further back from the door so that you aren’t intimated when you come in,” explained Gibbons.
“We want to get away from that, ‘Do you have a reservation, do you have a membership?’ thing.”
So are the days of the private members’ club numbered?
“I think they may be,” said Gibbons. “That’s just my opinion, but I think people want to be in surroundings where it’s familiar, friendly and open.” We concur.