Thursday, 12 June 2014

The Market Cafe, Smithfield

If there's one certainty in life it's death. And if there's one certainty in retail and catering life it's that no business will last for ever either.

Perhaps the economic crisis has made us acutely aware of this, as the credit crunch crunched and the onward digital revolution wreaked havoc on entire business sectors such as travel agents and record shops.

Or perhaps there was a mad idea from the city's planners that required a road to be widened (and an awkward old pub in the way to be knocked down). Or - in the case of Smithfield Square in Dublin - that the square should be redeveloped in a lopsided way, with new shops and apartments seven or eight storeys high on one side, with much of the opposite side left as is, as mainly three-storey council housing.

The economic crisis has destroyed the "main street" in many Irish towns, and some big household names and well established brands have gone for ever.

You can also see it much further down the chain, as shops and restaurants around town close their doors for the last time or change hands and finally get new tenants.

Around Smithfield you can see these changes as a corner shop closes and is resurrected as, say, a Polish food shop, then shuts its doors and - months or years later - becomes a florists, which in turn closes and is gutted and renovated to become a chichi new coffee shop like Love Supreme, which opened this week.

But some premises lay empty and derelict for years. One example is this old one-storey building on the east side of Smithfield Square, the Market Cafe.

Moss Reid would have loved this place in its own little way, with its big breakfast fries and builder's tea. That was up to the turn of the century. Now it's a hopeless case, lost and left to rot away. Like a beached whale, or a greasy spoon in a new world without greasy spoons.