21 years of business for Boulevard Café in the Creative Quarter
We sat down with Fintan O’Reilly, owner of Boulevard Cafe, on Exchequer Street and asked him some questions about his business, what it means to him and what it’s like to be a focal point of the city’s effervescent Creative Quarter.
What inspired you to buy Boulevard Cafe?
Well I have been in the restaurant business for over 30 years! When I came across Boulevard Cafe 10 years ago, it was quietly up for sale and I felt it was in a superb location – I liked the operation and felt it was a great opportunity for me. I actually purchased the business with most of the staff on hand and I still have 8 or 9 of the original staff working here with me. Boulevard Cafe was already in operation for 11 years by the time I had bought and it was a great fit for me.
What do you like about the location of your business?
We are situated in the middle of the city just off Grafton Street. The area has developed completely since the restaurant opened 21 years ago, at the time we were one of two restaurants in the area and the footfall was nothing compared to what it is now. Post recession, another 20 something restaurants opened in the area and now it’s a destination for diners! The Creative Quarter has really evolved and there are so many offers and choices available to the customer, the value for money is unparalleled as opposed to what it was 5 years ago. The clientele of this area is so diverse and wonderful – we have the hipsters, the yummy mummies, the kids – we have something for everyone in the Creative Quarter.
What’s your ideal day in DublinTown?
I like to keep it casual and go for a pint at Kehoes, followed by a bite to eat in l’Gueuleton. When I am out socializing I am still working – I always have my work hat on! I like to check out my competitors and see what they are doing, what’s working for them and what’s not.
I also like to come into town with my wife and drop her off at Brown Thomas – actually no, I am more than likely standing 2 foot behind her making sure she isn’t using that credit card too much! We would then probably pop in to the Shelbourne for some afternoon tea.
Tell us about one of your most memorable moments in Boulevard Café?
I am not a good story teller but I suppose something that comes to mind is when a friend of mine was organizing a divorce party for her friend. They were in Boulevard one night, unbeknownst to the lady celebrating her divorce we brought out a cake and on it was written; ‘Congratulations on your Divorce’. We then started to play Tammy Wynette and sang ‘D-I-V-O-R-C-E’, we had 80 people singing along to it, it was brilliant!
If you could sum up Boulevard Café in a few sentences what would they be?
We are the place where you come for casual, fun, vibrancy. We are not formal and people who have been coming here for 20 years still come today because there are certain things on the menu that they just love, like the Bruchetta or Chicken Caesar Salad. Some might say these dishes are very typical but they are hardcore and people can’t get enough of them.
What would you recommend off your menu for somebody coming into your restaurant for the first time?
Okay, so the Goats Cheese and Beets is one of my favourites and is definitely one of our most popular starters. It is a St.Tola goats cheese accompanied with 3 different types of beets – orange, white and purple, which are cooked for 4 hours. It’s a beautifully colorful and tasty dish!
For mains, our Tiger Prawn Linguine never comes off the menu, it’s just so popular. It’s a really vibrant dish, the customers rave about the prawns – big, juicy and served shell-less. The linguine is tossed in virgin olive oil and a light white wine sauce, there is also a couple of special ingredients that go in there too and the punter just loves this dish.