Thursday, November 11, 2004

You know, I really should be mourning American liberty rather than getting upset about the death of a coffee place in a city where I don't even live, but I'm seriously unhappy that Bewley's on Grafton Street is going out of business. Every city needs a Bewley's: a place in the middle of town where you can plunk down a buck or two, buy a cup of tea, and sit for hours doing whatever you want. The food is actually kind of awful, but that isn't the point. Bewley's is a great place to sit with a book, and since I went to school more or less across the street for a year, I spent a lot of time sitting there with a book and a big pot of tea. It's the anti-Starbucks: it could only exist in Dublin, it's been there forever, and every once in a while it occurs to you that James Joyce may have sat exactly where you are sitting now, eating the exact same snack you're munching on. It's probably a bit stupid to think that it could survive in modern, prosperous Dublin: it occupies prime real estate; the food is deeply old-fashioned and, as I said, not very good; and you don't make money off of letting students sit for hours for the price of a cup of coffee. And in general, I don't have a lot of sympathy for non-Dubliners who are nostalgic for the days when the city was really gritty and poor. But Bewley's is part of my personal history and part of the history of a city that I really love, and I hate to see it go.

That is so weird and such a shame. I can't believe I'm learning about it only now! (I came on your blog from a link and was browsing the archives. Your writing style is rather addictive.) I have lived in Dublin for years and I loved that place, ok I loved the entire city, but Bewley's was one of the main "landmarks" when I first arrived (I'm from Rome). It's true, the food was rather bad, but the coffee, tea and cakes were very nice. And the place was so stunning.
I'd love to know what they're going to replace it with.
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