Beachroad Magazine head to the Madinat Jumeirah to chat with Dennis McGettigan at his newly launched Madinat venue which will bring live music, sport, comedy and the great Irish menu, all adding to the Dubai McGettigans roster.
Hi Dennis, First question, what inspired Jim McGettigan to start McGettigan’s?
My father left school at the age of 14 and began working in bars to help my grandparents with their finances. He then went to work on the QE1, were he worked as a waiter and after a few years he returned to Ireland and bought his first pub in Queen Street, Dublin in 1964.
Where do you see McGettigans being in five years time?
I hope to have 50 McGettigan’s in five years time across the world.
What inspired you to open in Dubai in 2010?
I felt that there was gap for a modern Irish pub here. There were a handful of Irish bars already operating in Dubai, but they were all built on that traditional model of what an Irish pub is and I wanted to showcase the best that modern day Ireland has to offer – from sports to music and top-class cuisine. Also, we had an ideal location as part of The Bonnington Hotel, so it was a natural fit to open a bar there under the family name.
What do you think of Dubai as a city and what is your take on its rapid growth?
Since we bought the plot of sand in JLT in 2005, which is now The Bonnington hotel – Dubai has seen major changes. It’s been hit by a financial crisis and yet it is thriving today. They say “build it and they will come” and I believe that is very true here in Dubai and the UAE. If someone here has a vision, they see to it that it happens and I admire that determination to go above and beyond and to create something extraordinary. I have opened four McGettigan’s bars in Dubai now, with a fifth on the way at Hilton JBR as well as bars in Abu Dhabi and Fujairah – so really the only limit here is your imagination, anything is possible.
If you were not heading up McGettigan’s, what would you be doing?
Probably still something in the hospitality industry that is equally as challenging.
What do you most enjoy about your role?
The diversity of it; the challenges that come with it and the planning and achieving.
Where in Dubai do you like to eat, shop, socialize?
I like to eat at Nobu in Atlantis and Yalumba brunch at Le Meridien Dubai airport. I shop at Mall of the Emirates and socialize in any of the McGettigan’s pubs.
Your tips for anyone wanting to visit Dubai for the first time?
Set yourself a plan – choose a few spots or destinations that you want to see over the length of your visit. I really think a trip to the desert is a must, as it really captures Dubai’s natural beauty and offers a glimpse of Arab culture here. Also Madinat Jumeirah really is a one-stop destination for tourists– you can go there to shop and buy gifts for family at home, see a show at Madinat theatre and now you can enjoy a nice cold pint in full view of the Burj Al Arab at McGettigan’s Madinat.
Any news, events or happenings that you can share?
We have Irish singer/songwriter Gavin James coming to McGettigan’s JLT for a live gig on Friday September 16. He really is an extremely talented musician and a rising star. This will be a chance to hear the Dublin native in intimate surroundings, outside of concert arenas.
DENNIS ANSWERS THE BEACHROAD MAGAZINE Q&A //
NAME? // Dennis McGettigan.
YOUR FIRST JOB? // Working in my dad’s bar in Dublin.
YOUR CURRENT OCCUPATION? // CEO Bonnington and McGettigan Group.
YOUR GREATEST LOVE? // My family.
YOUR GREATEST FEAR? // Drowning.
WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY? // Christmas 1979 – getting a bike.
WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL AND WHY? // I’d have to say my father. He left school without any qualifications but built a successful business by working hard and never giving up, which led to the McGettigan Group today.
WHAT TIPPLE COULD YOU NOT LIVE WITHOUT? // Water.
IF YOU COULD SIT IN THE BAR FOR A BEER WITH ANYONE ALIVE OR DEAD WHO WOULD IT BE? // Bono or Bill Gates.
WHAT IS THE LAST GIFT YOU GAVE SOMEONE? // Cruise to my wife Nicola for her birthday.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE CHILDREN? // To work hard and don’t expect anything to be handed to you on a plate. If you want something, go and get it.
YOUR WORST TRAIT? // Spending.
THE WORST TRAIT IN OTHERS THAT GETS YOU MAD? // People who procrastinate – I like to get the job done.
WHO WOULD PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE? // Robert Downey Junior.
FAVOURITE MUSIC // U2.
LAST RECORD / DOWNLOAD YOU BOUGHT? // Mike Posner I took a pill in Ibiza.
FAVOURITE BOOK? // The Firm.
THE CLOSEST YOU HAVE COME TO DEATH? // Almost drowning in Portugal.
FAVOURITE DESTINATION? // Maldives.
LEAST FAVOURITE DESTINATION? // Fuengirola.
HOW DO YOU RELAX? // By the pool with my family.
ARE YOU SPORTY? // Yes – I enjoy rugby.
BEACH OR DESERT? // Beach.
URBAN OR RURAL? // Urban.
CATS OR DOGS? // Dogs.
LAGER OR BEER? // Cider.
COFFEE OR TEA? // Coffee
WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH? // Comedy shows and Jason Byrne.
WHATS MAKES YOU CRY? // When the bills come in.
YOUR MESSAGE? // Work hard, play hard.