Hitting the spot in Dundrum

The Dundrum gastropub Brickyard has had a significant makeover and reopened to much fanfare in February.  Fionnuala Carolan spoke to Erwin Pollard about the journey he and his business partner, Simon Moore have been on to get to this point where they are really proud of their offering.

 

 

Brickyard is located just above the Balally Luas stop in Dundrum, Co Dublin

Brickyard is located just above the Balally Luas stop in Dundrum, Co Dublin

After noticing a significant gap in Dundrum and the surrounding suburbs for a modern bar that offered extensive craft beer and great pub food, Pollard and Moore founded Brickyard in 2016, just above the Balally Luas stop.  They spent six years perfecting their offering but always felt that the venue itself didn’t wholly reflect their vision so finally in 2022 they were in a position to make the significant structural and design changes that were needed. The new and improved Brickyard was reopened on 20 February and they are really pleased with the result.

Background

  Owners Erwin Pollard and Simon Moore during the renovations in their pub Brickyard in Dundrum

Owners Erwin Pollard and Simon Moore during the renovations in their pub Brickyard in Dundrum

Pollard and Moore have been working in the hospitality industry together since their teenage years and both went on to study hospitality with Pollard in DIT and Moore in Shannon. Pollard spent nearly five years in the Hamlet Court Hotel in Johnstown Bridge where he ran the nightclub and functions and he hired 15-year-old Moore who cut his teeth in the industry washing glasses.

“The owner of the Hamlet Court was very supportive of me and Simon. He showed us how to really look after staff and customers,” explains Pollard. He recalls an incident when he caught a young staff member taking money from the till and he sacked him on the spot. The next day the owner brought the boy back in and gave him back his job explaining to Pollard that this boy had recently lost his father and was going through a tough time and that you had to look after people and give them a chance. “That really shaped me and has always stayed with me,” he admits. “Since then I’ve always tried to look after my staff and see if I can help them in any way I can.”

Country boy in the city

Still in his twenties Pollard was offered a job managing Robbie Fox’s infamous Renards Bar in Dublin and he spent three and a half years there, describing himself as “a young country lad now mixing with all the celebs”. He later worked on another venture with Fox called Pink on Dawson Street which unfortunately didn’t work out but the two are still close and don’t rule out working together in the future. He also did a stint in the Morgan Hotel in Temple Bar owned by Bob Fitzpatrick which gave him a great education in cocktail making and budgeting.  During this time Moore was undergoing his work experience from Shannon in Fitzpatrick’s Hotel in New York and later came home and worked in Fitzpatrick’s in Killiney but the two were keen to work together again.

Venue Angel

In 2002 Pollard got an idea to start an agency named Venue Angel where they provided hospitality staff for events in the Aviva, The Jameson Distillery, Leopardstown Race Course and Croke Park among others. Moore came on board after the first year as Pollard’s business partner and at the height of the business they had 220 staff on their books but the business soon came under financial pressure and had to be wound down much to their disappointment.

“We both worked hard and grew the business and we were really proud of it. However cash flow became a massive issue as staff had to be paid every month but we were only getting paid every three months. It became very scary, very quickly. I went to work one morning and I saw the revenue bill and it was massive and I could see the money that was owed in. There was a month there which was probably the most stressed I’ve been in my entire life,” he recalls.

After a lot of meetings with accountants they decided to liquidate the company and Pollard says it was the worst thing that ever happened to him. “We’d worked so hard on it and were so passionate about it but you need to know when to get out before the debts grow even higher. We were lucky that the money that was owed in covered most of the debt,” he says.

New start 

All was not lost as luckily the duo already had the ball rolling in Brickyard in Dundrum.   After the massive pressure of managing Venue Angel, Pollard says it was really nice to concentrate on one business in one location.

Brickyard had previously been trading as the Rockfield Lounge and Pollard describes it as a “Celtic Tiger pub”. They knew they needed to change the offering and entice new clientele. The motivation for Brickyard came from a personal desire to have somewhere local that they would like to socialise in. “We both live locally. We had nowhere to go with our friends and our partners for dinner where we could have good food, watch a match, drink craft beer and enjoy good quality cocktails. What we put in here is what we’d want from a pub ourselves and it is aimed at the 25 to 50 age group but not limited to this. They even host mother and baby group mornings so he stresses that it’s “not a traditional pub”.

Due to their cash flow issue at the start they were not in a position to renovate Brickyard as they would like and felt like they left the place short. “Our food, service and drinks were great but the surroundings weren’t so we had to work twice as hard. Our problem was that the old customers were gone and we couldn’t encourage the new type of customer we wanted because the place wasn’t right so we sat here for the first year with no customers but we stood by it and slowly it started building,” Pollard explains.

He says that he has noticed a change in how people socialise now. “People are now drinking five good drinks instead of 10 cheap drinks. The customer is demanding more and demanding better,” he says.

Spacious yet intimate

The revamped venue, which cost €300,000 was designed by Third Mind Design who created a space that looks cool and modern yet really comfortable

The revamped venue, which cost €300,000 was designed by Third Mind Design who created a space that looks cool and modern yet really comfortable

The revamped venue, which cost €300,000 was designed by Third Mind Design who created a space that looks cool and modern yet really comfortable with a mix of tables and booths and all manner of comfy chairs.

They divided the space with a brick wall made of reclaimed bricks and roof tiles, to create a really unique design making it spacious yet intimate.

Where once an off-licence lay out the front of the building now hosts a coffee shop called The Grindstone and Pollard describes this as one of the best things they ever did. It means they can offer barista style coffee all day in the bar too.

Brickyard has a collaborative brewing project called Two Sides Brewing with another Dublin bar, 57 The Headline. The beer is brewed in a local Ballymount Brewery, brewing modern beer-style variations of lagers, ales and stouts and six of these beers are available on tap currently at Brickyard. Their flagship beer is called Shop Local and they have 25 beers on draught in total and 20 of these are craft beers.

“It’s about offering a beer we are proud of but also keeping the prices down,” says Pollard.  Shop Local is €6.50 a pint which is pretty good for an IPA. Having our own beers means a lot more work is involved as we have to clean our own lines but we wanted to support local producers. Our top selling larger is called Brickline but it took a long time to take off especially in a south Dublin pub where Heineken is so strong,” he explains.

Using Irish food and drinks suppliers is important to them. They use Glendalough as the house pouring whiskey and gin, the gin soon to be replaced with Dingle. They’ve also replaced tequila with Poitin in their cocktails. “We actively go out of our way to drive Irish products where we can. I could have Smirnoff and buy on case deals and switch between suppliers to get better prices but I don’t.”

Top notch grub

The food is just as important as the drinks and they work with a number of Irish producers and suppliers

The food is just as important as the drinks and they work with a number of Irish producers and suppliers

Pollard believes that no new suburban bar can survive without food. “You wouldn’t exist Monday to Wednesday without food.” The food offering at Brickyard is just as important as the drink and they work with a number of Irish producers and suppliers including Pigs on the Green, McLoughlin’s Butchers, Firehouse Bakery and Ocean Marine Seafood to bring the very best of Irish produce to the table. Moore spent four years running the kitchen as head chef but they have since hired Juha Salo, who was most recently with the Winding Stair, to take the helm in the kitchen and he has brought his own experience and flair to the food.With their wings and burgers always proving a crowd pleaser, new options on the menu include ‘tender stem broccoli pakora with coriander chutney, mint yoghurt and fermented jalapenos or 10 hour braised iberico pork cheek with mustard mash and caramelised onion gravy. This is a bar where you can enjoy quality food in relaxing surrounds.

The future

So looking ahead, would they consider replicating this model now that they feel they have it right? “I have fears of doing a duplicate of Brickyard,” says Pollard. “The reason it is working here is because we are both here every day. I would do it again if the right opportunity came along but we’ve just finished the renovation and we want to ensure we get this right and create the right experience. We are extremely hands-on. There’s hardly a night where you won’t find one of us behind the bar or running the floor, and I think that our customers appreciate that,” he says. With their wealth of experience on board, it seems like it has all culminated to create a bar that finally ticks all the boxes.

 

 


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