Tentative shoots of optimism dot the hospitality environment as local establishments reopened to the public in recent times.
Working within a vastly different realm from that which existed prior to the enforcement of relevant restrictions, the aspiration is that a return to economic viability can be achieved as a semblance of normality returns to daily life.
With the implementation of public health and safety measures now paramount, customers can be assured that management and staff have their relevant concerns to the fore as they commence ‘operation business restart’.
Speaking to the Athlone Advertiser this week, Joe Connolly, Corner House Bistro, noted an air of “caution” as his business on Dublingate Street commenced operations following a three month closure.
“Customers have been cautious upon arrival into the restaurant, but it has been a thorough boost to see their return. Most are extremely happy with a return to normality and to have a meal outside their home environment, but are aware of the health and safety guidelines with which they must comply.
“Table service is understandably slower, a step by step process, as we strive to provide the customer with an assurance that they are within a safe setting when they choose to dine within the restaurant,” Joe remarked.
With social distancing measures paramount, Corner House Bistro capacity has been halved and for the moment, a “surreal feel” pervades.
“Our staff are acclimatising to the situation, the wearing of PPE, the sanitisation process, but have adjusted to their new working environment. Our customers are in a similar situation and upon conclusion of their dining experience do not have the opportunity to relax and unwind as they opt to depart the restaurant,” Joe continued.
The relevant guidelines received from Failte Ireland have been “clear and appropriate”, but Joe has expressed his concern with regard to the possible detrimental impact of a second wave of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry.
“We just want to ensure that all our customers continue to enjoy their Corner House Bistro dining experience within a safe environment and for the moment, that is our ultimate aim,” Joe concluded.
Meanwhile, Liam Tutty, Dead Centre Brewing, which reopened its doors on Wednesday, July 1, enthused with regard to the return of custom to the Custume Place premises.
“Thankfully, business has been steady since we reopened last week. Obviously, there is an unusual feel to our service presently, but we must adhere to the relevant guidelines and ensure customer safety at all times,” Liam asserted.
With a tentative air amongst customers, many of whom have ventured out for a meal for the inaugural time following the easing of restrictions, Liam stated that the necessary procedures and protocols are fully implemented with clear on premises health and safety signage visible.
“Customers are encouraged to pre-book a table prior to their arrival so as to conform with public health guidelines. Prior to COVID-19, in a normal setting, customers ordered food at the bar but now they must stay within their table confines from where a food and drinks order is placed.
“Customers may feel anxious upon arrival but they can be assured that their health and safety is to the fore when they dine with us,” Liam emphasised.
A sizeable premises, Dead Centre Brewing gives cause for optimum social distancing but capacity has been reduced as the relevant measures have been introduced on site.
“Working within a wholly new environment remains a learning curve for both staff and customers, but initial feedback received has been positive with table service during our initial week of reopening being a smooth experience,” Liam added.
Akin to many hospitality establishments within the locality, The Bounty Bar and Venue on the Coosan Road returned to trade last week with Tom Silke noting an initial lift in custom.
“Having closed our doors in mid-March, it was a boost to return to a working environment, albeit one substantially changed. Our evening meal bookings have been solid and that is a source of much optimism as we move forward. We are hoping to grow the lunchtime trade in due course,” Tom stated.
With the necessary health and safety guidelines implemented and relevant on site sanitisation and signage present, Tom stressed that the customer’s welfare is paramount as they aim to enjoy a dining experience without cause for relevant concern.
“We have the option of using our sizeable function room which is beneficial with regard to the maintenance of social distancing measures. Our bar has been partitioned where necessary, but to give credit to our staff they have adapted to their new surrounds and relished their return to work,” Tom continued.
Hopeful that business will continue to adapt and progress within a wholly new setting, Tom stated that support from within the local community remains with familiar faces returning to The Bounty Bar and Venue upon reopening.
“We must ensure that the customer is to the fore as they return to The Bounty Bar and Venue for their hospitality experience. That is essential as we move forward and restrictions continue to ease,” Tom concluded.