Shuttering of Cruises Street McDonald’s is ‘another blow’ for Limerick City

The former McDonald's restaurant on Cruises Street. Photo: Alan Jacques.

THE CLOSING of the McDonald’s outlet on the corner of Cruises Street and O’Connell Street in Limerick this week has been described as “another blow to the city centre”.

The multinational food giant confirmed that it would close its Limerick City restaurant earlier in July, stating that the location is “not compatible” with its future plans to upgrade its estate of restaurants. The popular city centre fast food restaurant closed its doors for the final time this past Tuesday (August 1).

In a statement, a McDonald’s spokesperson said that the move didn’t come lightly, adding that staff at the outlet would be accommodated.

“This decision was not taken lightly and all of our restaurant team will be offered a transfer to one of our neighbouring restaurants in Limerick City, County Clare, or further afield if they would like to avail of that.”

The spokesperson did say, however, that the global chain are actively seeking alternative sites in the city that do match its plan for restaurant upgrades across Ireland.

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McDonald’s are “actively exploring new locations across the city,” the statement said, alluding to a potential reopening in a new city location.

Reacting to the news of the high profile closure, Seán Golden, Chief Economist with Limerick Chamber, said that another vacant commercial site will come as “yet another blow” for Limerick City.

“The loss of another well-known brand is yet another blow to the city centre and will only exacerbate the very visible vacancy at the bottom of O’Connell Street, with Debenhams and now McDonalds due to be vacant,” Mr Golden told the Limerick Post.

“However, it does point to a wider concern about how we produce a plan to tackle vacant commercial properties. Most of these units are privately owned and they will need to be encouraged to make efficient use of their premises or sell them to an organisation that will.”

“While Government have made inroads to tackling residential vacancy, there needs to be a wider programme to examine commercial vacancy. Of course, from our member feedback, there are other issues also affecting retail in Irish city centres,” Mr Golden said.

The fast food outlet closed its doors for the last time this week after 30 years of trading on Cruises Street.

The fast food chain has three other outlets in Limerick, at the Crescent Shopping Centre, the Jetland Shopping Centre, and the Castletroy Town Centre outlet.

Citing their new ‘Convenience of the Future’ plans, McDonald’s say that the city centre outlet did not work for its current direction.

The plans will see the fast food giant move to upgrade its restaurants and have kitchens redesigned to better integrate “digital sales channels”, such as online ordering and self-ordering screens, as well as creating dedicated courier waiting areas and entrances.

The £250million (€291m) plan was unveiled in 2022 and will see over 200 restaurants across Ireland and the UK redesigned to fit the new model.

Commenting further, Seán Golden said that issues with anti-social behaviour in the city centre have also been highlighted by Chamber members.

“While Limerick does not have the problems that Dublin has, based off member feedback, we recently highlighted the need for more on the street visible policing as part of both our Pre-Budget Submission and our submission on the Divisional Policing Plan,” he said.

The Chamber believes that increasing the number of people living in the city centre will make for a welcome boost for retail businesses and create a more vibrant city for both business owners and the public.

“Furthermore, there needs to be a greater emphasis on increasing the number of people living in the city centre which will increase all-day footfall and boost retail,” Mr Golden added.

“Combining this with public realm improvements and urban greening creates a nicer environment to visit and live in, but a key to creating that liveable city is providing safety first.”