It is now 14 years since one of the country’s best-known publicans, Charlie Chawke, bought the pub in Rathfarnham for €22m, and that record has yet to be broken here.
New accounts filed by the company which operates the pub, Orchard Inn, show it recorded earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) of €1.12m last year.
In an interview, Mr Chawke revealed his nine-strong pub group – seven in Dublin and two in Adare, Co Limerick – recorded revenues of €30m last year. He said: “Business is very steady.”
The Old Orchard is operated by Mr Chawke’s daughter, Ali, and he said the business has recently added a wine and tapas bar.
It is located on a three-acre site and Mr Chawke said: “There are bigger and better things planned for the Old Orchard.”
The operation of the Chawke pub group is very much a family affair with Mr Chawke’s adult children each operating a pub: Jenny operates the Goat Grill, Liza runs the Dropping Well, Bill operates Searsons, David operates Bank on College Green and Ali runs the Old Orchard.
Mr Chawke said: “I am very proud of them. When I had my accident 15 years ago, my kids rallied around and entered the business to help out and they haven’t left it.”
The ‘accident’ Mr Chawke euphemistically referred to was when he was shot by an armed robber outside the Goat Grill in 2003.
Mr Chawke celebrated his 70th birthday in June, and said: “I am as active in the business as I can be. I’m no spring chicken but I try to get around to the pubs every day.”
It is 54 years since Mr Chawke, then 16, left his native Adare in June 1965, a few days after completing his Inter Cert, to start work as an apprentice barman at Davy Byrnes in Dublin.
He said: “I love the business. People come to a pub to meet up and enjoy themselves.”
Separate accounts for a number of Chawke Group pubs show they remain highly profitable. Searsons on Baggot Street recorded post-tax profits of €567,733 while Bank on College Green recorded profits of €391,866.
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