Cork’s iconic Thompsons Bakery to rise again in different guise



The Thompson Bakery building on Cork city’s MacCurtain Street is not just a slice of local history — it’s almost the full sliced pan, spanning three centuries of heritage, and now visibly risen to renewed glories.

Now, in tandem with major renewal projects on, off and along MacCurtain Street, the iconic 19th century buildings, and their 20th century glass-curtain walled extension, stride into the 21st century and the 2020s as the last stage of a five-year upgrade plan come to fruition via owners the Lynch family.

Already anchored for a number of years by Marriott/Starwood and home to hundreds of jobs on some of the buildings’ upper floors, as part of an unspecified, rolling multi-million euro investment, the new Thompson House phase is primarily at ground/street level.

It includes the arrival this month of two new occupiers, following the successful opening of the Glass Curtain restaurant in Unit A, just prior to Christmas.

Just fitting out alongside the Glass Curtain now in Unit B is a shop/retail base for the specialist catering trade suppliers Bunzl McLaughlin, currently with a HQ in Dublin. They have taken 2,500 sq ft.

And, also just in situ since last week at Thompson House with 3,500 sq ft is HR/recruitment software company Vsource, in Cork since established in 2007.

Vsource was founded by tech businessman James Galvin, who grew up on the Lower Glanmire Road (now a hive of activity with the HQ/Horgans Quay, Den Hotel and Penrose Dock developments flying up by Kent Station), and who went to school locally on the hill above MacCurtain Street at CBC.

Vsource has taken 3,500 sq ft at ground with double height office and mezzanine, in a deal negotiated with building owner Jack Lynch and son John Lynch.

Jack Lynch acquired the Thompson building, pretty much in its entirety, in the mid 1980s, when the 1826-founded bakery business went into liquidation, and also successfully redeveloped the Penrose Wharf development out of similar recessionary times.

Now ready for letting also at ground is the largest space, some 12,500 sq ft plus garden.

Meanwhile, due to arrive by April is Thompson Bar and Restaurant, with a micro-brewery, in a corner unit by the junction with York Street.

That steep road/hill is currently partly closed off after demolition/construction work has commenced for the new Windsor Hotel, to face onto MacCurtain Street.

To be run by an as-yet undisclosed chef, Thompson Bar and Restaurant is being set up by Eoin Lynch, a brewer who established a small brewery at the Lynch family owned Cotton Ball bar in Cork’s Mayfield several years ago.

Eoin Lynch is fourth generation in the bar/brewing business, as his great grandfather Humphrey Lynch bought it in 1874, when he returned to Cork after a spell in the US, having served in the American Civil War campaigns and who also worked on cotton plantations, hence the Cotton Ball name.

‘New’ generation involved in a very hands on way, John Lynch says the timing of their latest investment at Thompson House is very apt, given the economic uplift, the demand for city centre premises, both office and retail/hospitality, and the plethora of investment into the MacCurtain Street, and wider hinterland, latterly branded as the Victorian Quarter.

Those changes include the opening of the Mary Elmes pedestrian bridge linking via Harley Street to St Patrick’s Quay, and then to Merchants Quay; plans to make MacCurtain Street two-way once more, the new Windsor Hotel, and investment/extension and second hotel plans by the Metropole/Gresham Hotel, the ‘Belle Dame’ of MacCurtain Street, which is now home to over 1,000 jobs.

It’s also home to an eclectic range of bars, restaurants and attractions, including the Everyman Palace Theatre.

By Tommy Barker Wednesday, January 29, 2020