Hells Kitchen: Jay Bourke and the Dublin restaurant trade

In Blog, Politicsby Fedayn17 Comments

Unfinished Business protest outside NEDE restaurant

Unfinished Business protest outside NEDE restaurant

Leanne McDowell was unfairly dismissed in 2009, won her case and a ruling of €50,000 was awarded her way. Jay Bourke is the restauranteur who hired and fired her but his company was liquidated and she’ll never see the money.

Leanne moved from one Burke business to another and worked fiercely hard before taking two sick days from Shebeen Chic (the bar/restaurant which featured in rabble previously here). She was summarily fired and subsequently went to the Employment Appeals Tribunal claiming unfair dismissal. Mr. Bourke did not attend the tribunal and damages of €50,000 were awarded to Ms McDowell but as the company operating Shebeen was wound up she will never see the money. Mr. Bourke has previously won 3 and lost 1 hearings at the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

The group ‘Unfinished Business’ joined Justice for Leanne yesterday (Saturday 25th May ’13) to protest outside NEDE, the restaurant formerly run as EDEN by Mr.Bourke – they claim there will be no peace until there is justice for Leanne McDowell and use their protest to highlight the business’ treatment of staff.

You can listen to a full interview with Leanne McDowell & Jay Bourke on the John Creedon show here from April.

Bourke has been involved with The Globe, Market Bar, The Front Lounge, Gubu, Ri Ra, Eden, Cafe Bar Deli and the Odessa as well as the Bodega in Cork. He has previously courted controversy, running up debts and paying staff poorly. When employed by RTE as a ‘mentor’ for businesses on an entrepreneurial show, he boasted of employing ‘illegal’ immigrants. While staff in EDEN were handing in their tips to try to keep the restaurant afloat just last year Mr.Bourke recently acknowledged that his venture the Market Bar was successful in 2012 following profits of €400,000 in 2011. He welcomed Dylan McGrath’s new restaurant Fade St. Social as ‘improving the area’ despite having objected to its application for a full pub licence.

A character, as they say.

Here’s a short video of yesterday’s demonstration at EDEN restaurant in Temple Bar.


  1. Hopefully we’ll see a lot more protests against bad employers like this in future. Up the workers.

    1. some of you may know that the main conference of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions takes place in Belfast first week of July 2013. I do hope Leanne gets a chance to talk to delegates there. We worked long and hard to get laws like the Unfair Dismissals Act, and we can’t afford to see it blatantly trashed like this.
      John Brophy

  2. which businesses is he currently owner of?

  3. Exploitation of workers is common in restaurants. Employers like him think they are untouchable cos mainstream media have hyped him & his ‘ventures’ since the start of the Celtic Tiger. Fair play to Leanne for outing him. I bet there’s many more horror stories where that came from.

  4. That’s pretty standard in the industry. I worked in one (as a chef) doing even 60hours a week… No breaks, no time to sit down and have a meal (even tho we had to cook for all the floor/bar staff), etc. And when I could finally give my notice they seemed quite surprised.

  5. ah the great poster boy of the celtic tiger gets exposed for what he really is. well done to the protestors.

  6. How can he be allowed open more restaurants and exploit more workers. He ignored an award of the state body responsible for protecting workers rights with no personal consequences. No wonder this country is in such a bad state. These people are allowed to continuing operating under different business names. The law needs to change.

  7. Pingback: #staffRights: Pay The Bentley Staff : rabble

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