The Irish-Jewish family, Stein, have run an optician’s in Dublin for nearly seventy years. They are perhaps best known for their 1983 David vs Goliath battle, where they fought bitterly to save their practice on Harcourt Road from the developer’s bulldozer.
Dublin born Mendel Stein (1915 – 2000) grew up in Victoria Street in the heart of Portobello, then known as ‘Little Jerusalem’. Studying to become an ophthalmic optician, he set up his practice at 36 Harcourt Road in 1944.
For the next forty-one years, he remained one of the most popular opticians in the city and his practice, known as ‘The Eye’, became “a place for encounter, conversation and spirited views on the life of Harcourt Road and the universe beyond” . Mendel became a close friends with Michael MacLiammoir, Hilton Edwards, Harry Kernoff and others at the heart of Dublin’s art and theatre scenes.
But then in 1983 the Clancourt Group announced that they wanted to build a seven-storey office block which would involve demolishing the terrace to make way for the new Harcourt Centre.
While other property owners and lessees of buildings due for demolition accepted the substantial compensation, Mendel decided that he wasn’t going to give in so easily. He said that he would not leave until they gave him a new shop in the immediate vicinity and a guarantee that his (beautiful) shopfront would be preserved.
This window of the shopfront was “in the shape of an eye, whose pupil is reflected in a circular mirror on a facing wall inside”. Frank McDonald of The Irish Times described it at the time as “a masterpiece of its period (which) arguably should have been officially listed for preservation”. 
By the end of it, his single-story shop was the “only surviving remnant” of Harcourt Road despite the fact that the tiny building was perched on the edge of a ‘cliff’ while the new block was under construction. The late Brendan Glacken later recalled a story that during this time a young quick-witted Dubliner shouted into Mendel “Hey mister, your extension is coming on great!”.
Spurred on by local support, Mendel held out and eventually received a guarantee that the shop would be taken down intact and re-erected at a new location in nearby Grantham Street off Camden Street.
Joined at this stage in the practice by his daughter Ameila, Mendel worked at his new Grantham Street address until he reached his 80s. He passed away in June 2000.
Amelia, an award-winning photographer who has worked with Irish artists such as The Hothouse Flowers, Aslan, The Cranberries, still runs the family optician business today from 4 Camden Market, Grantham Street.
 The Irish Times. Dec 7, 2000.
 The Irish Times. May 31, 1983.