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'I've just hit a wall': Why one of Cork’s most famous restaurants has suddenly shut

Fenn’s Quay owner and head chef Kate Lawlor decided to close the eatery.

ONE OF CORK’S best-known and highly rated restaurants, Fenn’s Quay, suddenly shut this week.

The establishment has been a staple of the Rebel County dining scene for 20 years, winning multiple awards for its food and service.

The Restaurants Association of Ireland named it Cork’s best restaurant in both 2014 and 2015.

However it closed its doors on Thursday after what owner and head chef Kate Lawlor said had been a gruelling time at the helm.

“I’ve been working here since 2001 and I’ve been running it for the last nine years,” she told Fora.

“Like any chef that runs a business your heart and soul goes into it. I’ve given it my all. To make a decision like this is never easy.

“There’s a high burnout rate among chefs. I haven’t had a two-week holiday since 2003, so it’s time to take this time out.”

The recent Bus Éireann strikes, which shut down public transport in Cork city, parking issues and the possibility of rates rises also threatened the business.

fenns quay outside cropped Fenn's Quay restaurant Source: Fenn's Quay Instagram

Lawlor says that while these elements factored into her decision, getting a break was her main reason to close the restaurant.

“(They contributed) a bit, but I’ve just hit a wall. I will take about a month off and figure out what I will do,” she said.


Lawlor said she has not yet decided what to do with the restaurant.

“We’ve closed our doors, I haven’t decided what we’ll do. Hopefully someone else will take it over, (but) I have to figure out what will happen to it.”

When asked if she was looking for a buyer for the business she said: “There’s been no decision made yet.”

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fenns quay kate lawlor Kate Lawlor Source: Fenn's Quay

The restaurant employed 14 people, who Lawlor described as “like family”.

“They’ve been so supportive, and the amount of people who I’ve worked with over the years who’ve gotten in touch with me has been phenomenal,” she said.

“I’m blown away by all the comments that people are giving me, it gives me heart that I’ve been doing something right over the last few years.

“I’ve believed in local Irish foods and it shows that people respect that. I just want to thank all the suppliers and customers I’ve had over the years.”

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Written by Paul O’Donoghue and posted on Fora.ie

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Fora Staff

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