For­mer pri­vate mem­bers’ club switches to open-door pol­icy

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - SOCIAL -

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.

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