Solas lies in the midst of many other bars and nightclubs in and around Wexford Street.
He’s operated the four-storey premises (including roof terrace) for the past 12 years, refurbishing and extending it. Before that he was in Christchurch and in Dun Laoghaire before that.
All in all, he’s been running pubs for the past 25 years and Solas has been the recipient of numerous awards and has enjoyed write-ups in the New York Times too.
“The last 10 years in the trade have been really exciting” says Bernard, “with the pub trade undergoing tremendous change to the point where we’ve become more European, have introduced craft beers and marketed ourselves to tourists. We’ve brought the Irish pub to Europe, brought women into the pub for a glass of wine or a cocktail, brought our food standards up considerably and learned to cope with the smoking ban etc.”
He’s also become well-known to his customers during his time behind the bar. About 85% to 90% of the customers that come through Solas know who he is, he says, adding that he’ll miss people telling him what great craic they’d had in his pub.
Interestingly, he observes that in the city centre the bar counters are about three times the width of those in country pubs as city people come in to talk to each other and not the barman.
What he won’t be sorry to leave behind is the admin paperwork.
When he first started in the bar he’d a basic 7-Day Publican’s Licence to sell “a bit of food and drink”.
Now he needs 14 different licences to do exactly the same thing. These include licences from the PSA, IMRO, PPI and FOG as well as those to sell tobacco, to show TV etc “… and they all come at a price,” he adds.
Neither will he miss coping with Ireland’s archaic licensing legislation where one just can’t make money opening late and few visitors understand the logic of Good Friday closing….