You can't keep a good entrepreneur down. While many of the high profile casualties of the economic downturn are still crying in their milk, Brody Sweeney has rolled up his sleeves with a new venture.
The former millionaire owner of O'Brien's Sandwich Bars can these days be seen behind the counter at his new fast food venture in Dublin's south inner city.
Sweeney, who held the franchise for O'Brien's Irish Sandwich Bars, has now taken out a franchise himself with another takeaway chain.
Sweeney is operating a Diep at Home Thai food takeaway in Dublin's Cork Street, next to the Fatima Mansions. Sweeney's outlet is the third shop in the chain to be opened in Dublin, with the other two in Blackrock and Ranelagh.
The shop is on the site of the former Asian takeaway called Yum Chow, which is the same name Sweeney used to register a new company last January. However, Yum Chow closed its doors in recent weeks to be replaced by Diep.
Sweeney's foray into the Asian food sector came just three months after O'Brien's went into liquidation last October. However, most of the shops have remained in business under new owners.
Efforts to contact Sweeney about his new venture were deflected to a PR company, and no comment was forthcoming. Like many others, he found himself caught in the collapse of the property market and the knock-on effect this had for a franchise business in which Sweeney's company leased the premises and sublet them to franchisees. Ultimately, the company went into liquidation when efforts to repudiate the leases were not successful.
Last week, Sweeney was taking the money at the cash register in Diep at Home through the busy evening period in the shop. He began O'Briens in 1988, at the time of another recession, after he was inspired by a visit to the Subway chain in New York. The business took off with over 80 shops being established in Ireland before it expanded abroad to 16 countries, ranging from Canada to Australia.
In 2007, the O'Brien's franchises had a combined turnover of €140m. The holding company, which owned the brand, had profits of €1.2m that year. That was also the year in which Sweeney attempted a high profile launch of a political career, running for Fine Gael in the general election. He was unsuccessful in the Dublin North East constituency, although his running mate Terence Flanagan did get elected.
In March 2009, O'Brien's Irish Sandwich Bars went into examinership, before being placed in liquidation six months later.
Sweeney has also written a number of books on how to succeed in business but is less forthcoming about his latest venture.