Mr Pussy’s Cafe De Luxe on 21 Suffolk Street, Dublin was a cafe and restaurant dreamed up by Jim Sheridan, Gavin Friday, and Bono and hosted by old-school female impersonator Mr Pussy (Alan Amsby).
It opened in May 1994 in the same spot where Bono’s brother, Norman Hewson, had previously run Dillon’s restaurant. Restaurant by day, Mr Pussy’s Cafe stayed open late and became “the night club that broke all rules”.
There was a police raid in the first week of opening, for serving alcohol after hours and having (male) nude entertainment. Dublin wasn’t quite ready for the experience.
At one point, a ‘customer’ entered the restaurant with a tiger on a lead. He had been hired by the owners to perform.
Norman Hewson: “It was madness, totally off the wall. I can’t see myself ever having as much fun as the two years with Mr Pussy’s.”
The TV was on all the time, showing highlights of the Oscar ceremonies, The Wizard of Oz and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Chips and eggs and sausages, Pussy Pies and Pints of Pussy (a glass of milk) were on the menu and the restaurateurs cheekily served alcohol from tea pots in a decor that was a cross between greasy spoon and bordello. There was a stage and a ‘royal box’ for special guests. Naomi Campbell’s knickers and other kitschy memorabilia were on display in a glass case while the stairs down to the toilets were lined with pink fur penises.
In Gavin’s words: “Mr Pussy’s story became a song and the song became a cafe”.
The cafe quickly became the place to go for late night revellers and hosted record launches and after show parties for the likes of Van Morrison, Ronnie Wood, Christy Turlington, Mel Gibson, Michael Stipe and Jean Kennedy Smith.
While Mr Pussy’s was popular at night, the ‘night club’ stamp the press had given it meant it was unable to draw enough customers in the day time. Unable to obtain a drink license, Mr Pussy’s Cafe De Luxe eventually closed in April ’95.