As the local economy commences upon the roadmap to recovery and businesses begin to welcome customers to revised social distancing surrounds, Savoury Fare proprietor, Des Hennelly, spoke with the Athlone Advertiser this week, to reflect upon the COVID-19 impact upon his three eateries and what the future holds for the industry.
Under the dual ownership of Des and business partner, Rory Currid, Savoury Fare employs 41 staff members, all of whom work within the three restaurants operated by the food company, in Irishtown, Monksland and Fernhill Garden Centre.
The first shoots of business optimism emanated on Tuesday morning when the restaurant in Fernhill Garden Centre reopened for takeaway fare solely.
“With the relevant health and safety protocols in mind, we decided to open our restaurant in Fernhill Garden Centre on Tuesday morning and it was a boost to see customers return through the doors and availing of the fare on offer, albeit in a takeaway capacity,” Des commented.
With June 29 very much etched on his mind, the date on which eateries can reopen providing food and beverages in premises (the commencement date for phase three of COVID-19 easing of restrictions ), Des has been assessing the social distancing issue on a regular basis and how it will impact upon his customers.
“The implementation of social distancing measures within a restaurant environment is problematic, but if you want to continue in business, you will have to adapt to the ongoing situation.
“The removal of tables to meet social distancing criteria will obviously result in fewer customers at one time on the premises, but the introduction and implementation of perspex partitions placed at various stations in the restaurants may be one manner of broaching this issue and is one idea which I am considering at present,” Des remarked.
Des and Rory were due to reflect upon a milestone occasion on June 4, as Savoury Fare celebrates 25 years in business, but for now the reopening of all three premises in fully operational mode is the prime concern.
“We had planned a number of events to celebrate the occasion but for now, the reopening of our three restaurants remains the priority. We closed our doors to the local public on March 16, some nine weeks ago, and we want to welcome our customers back into our premises in the very near future.
“Hopefully, should the week progress with promise in Fernhill Garden Centre, we may consider the reopening our Monksland restaurant next week with the erection of a marquee one thought with regard to the implementation of social distancing measures,” Des added.
Encouraging the community to support local upon the continuous easing of post lockdown restrictions, Des stated that it was a time for customers and businesses to unite as the economy strives for a recovery.
“Yes, there will be obstacles as we strive to make progress but I am confident that we can achieve as we adapt to the ‘new normal’, with the maintainence of our customer focused ethos very much to the fore,” Des emphased.