Metro Burger Dublin

The building which housed the Screen Cinema on Hawkins Street is currently in its final stages of demolition. Opened as The New Metropole in March 1972, the cinema was extended in the 1980s and renamed The Screen in 1987. On the west side of the concrete building hung a sign for its in-house restaurant: Metro Burger.

The Screen, Zimmermann
The Screen (2003) from Marc Zimmermann’s “The History of Dublin Cinemas”

I remember eating there way back in the 80’s waiting for the 62 bus back to Goatstown. Pretty sure it was like the diner out of Saved By The Bell…

The octagonal sign, which features classic 1980s typefaces on white panels, was attached to the wall using a steel frame. Inside was a rusty light fitting, which hadn’t seen a new bulb in decades. Every time I’d pass Hawkins Street, I’d feel happy that the sign still hung in there. That was until the Screen Cinema’s demolition was imminent and I realised that unless someone intervened and made a case for the Metro Burger sign, it would end up among the rubble or thrown in a skip like so many old signs do. (I’m thinking specifically of the old signs from the old Bull Ring on Meath Street and the Canada Life & Champion Spark Plugs signs on South Anne Street)

MetroBurger by Dublin Ghost Signs
When I realised that the Screen Cinema was due to be demolished, I got in touch with the property company to make the case that it should be saved. They agreed that it is a piece of Dublin history and thankfully Metro Burger never made it as far as a skip! On a freezing January day, I met with John from The Locals and Simon from Reverb Design. We loaded the sign (which is bigger than it looks!) into a van and took it away with plans to find a new home for it.

I remember waiting there for an hour on a Sunday evening for a 62 bus on a regular basis in the early 90s. 30p for a bottomless cup of coffee.

Metro Burger by The Locals

A lot of the stories about Metro Burger are anecdotal – they are people’s memories and recollections of the chipper inside the old cinema. We don’t really have a history of the sign, bar it hung there for well over 30 years, despite the fact that the restaurant itself closed in the 90s. We don’t know who made the sign or who owned the restaurant. When they were clearing the inside of the cinema to prepare it for demolition, they found the old Metro Burger kitchen and on the window there was a sticker for 9p chips!

My lasting memory of Metro Burger is that the food was truly hideous

To preserve or refurbish?

This was the burning question – should we restore the two panels with the Metro Burger logos or simply try to preserve it? The paint was very faded and would need to be recoloured to properly refurbish the sign. However, there is an argument that the charm of old signs like Metro Burger is that they are faded and a bit tatty. We discussed options and ultimately decided that washing off the existing logo and paintwork and stencilling on a new version would defeat the purpose of rescuing the sign so we’re leaving the panels as they are – faded, a bit shabby but authentic!

Rather than using LED lights inside, we’ve opted to go with fluorescent lighting which means the Metro Burger sign will light up in a similar way to how it used to light when it hung on the side of the Screen Cinema.

What next for Metro Burger Dublin?

Over the last few months, work has continued behind the scenes on the Metro Burger Dublin sign. Simon from Reverb Design has come up with a new frame and stand for the sign and Jonnie from andotherprojects has designed a bench for it so you will be able to sit under the sign and reminisce about all that time you spent waiting for buses on Hawkins Street!

These new additions will allow Metro Burger Dublin to be installed in its new location: Lucky’s on Meath Street where it will be unveiled on 17 July. Join us from 7ish to raise a drink to this rare and wonderful thing: an old Dublin sign which escaped the skip and has lived to tell the tale!  

Metro Burger Illustration by Jess Rooney Deane

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Well done with the saving of this wonderful piece. I believe you are taking the right approach with maintaining it condition.

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