THIRSTY punters flocked to bars and restaurants over the weekend as most of West Belfast’s hospitality sector opened its doors for the first time since the Coronavirus lockdown took hold in mid-March.
Pubs and bars must serve food and operate on a table service basis; those pubs that do not serve food are allowed to sell alcohol outdoors. Many patrons took the chance to enjoy a poured pint for the first time in four months and a night off from the kitchen oven as local watering holes and restaurants welcomed back the public with strict Covid-19 guidelines in place.
“Thanks to the efforts of customers and staff everyone is being sensible, responsible and adhering to the guidelines,” said The Devenish’s Jim Conlon.
“We have sanitiser stations at the main doors, the entrances and exits and at all the tables. Customers are very responsible people and are very aware of the precautions that are needed to be taken,” he said.
“The legislation states that you have to eat inside to have a drink. If you have a beer garden you can have a drink outside without food. We are table service only and it is advisable to book as we have high demand for both at The Devenish and the Wolf and Whistle. It is important that we work together to get through these new times, nobody has all the answers but it’s about going forward together.”
Andersonstown Social Club committee member Mickey Porter said their opening weekend “went well”.
“We aren’t open indoors, we are open outdoors at a reduced capacity and we are doing the best that we can do,” he said.
“We ask for our members and patrons understanding in that we are trying our best under the current situation and following the current Covid-19 restrictions and guidelines.
“Our outside area is open. Those entering the premises there is hand sanitiser provided, it’s table service or you can use our App ‘Ordery’ to place your order and you must stay one metre apart. The Committee have asked for people’s patience and consideration.”
Derriaghy’s Speckled Hen owner Martin Caldwell told the Andersonstown News that their opening weekend “went very well” except for the “monsoon rain and high winds on Sunday”.
Over at office & bought my 1st coffee from a coffee shop in months. Thanks @kaffeobelfast . ☕️— Cllr Carl Whyte (@CarlJWhyte) July 2, 2020
And books from @NOALIBISBOOKS as well. 📚
All safe, spotless & socially distanced.
If you can, shop local & support Belfast’s independent retailers. 👍🏻 pic.twitter.com/tfUNeryvz7
“People in general behaved very well. Everything ran smoothly but service outside, as far as the ‘Dens’ in the car park added time to service. Our gas system went down on Sunday, despite being serviced the week before. It left us with no gas from 1.30pm on Sunday and we had to contact over 100 customers to cancel their bookings, we have offered them a free sweet for this weekend.
“People who commented in general were happy with the set-up, especially the hand sanitisers on the tables. They also liked the names on the Dens, the ‘Lockdown Lodge’, ‘Furlough’, ‘The Arlene’ and ‘The Michelle’. We have our app almost ready which will allow you to order food and drink and our takeaway went well as well.”
The team behind Falls Road café Tucker’s Bakery and Deli, Nicola and Dale, had closed their doors for eight weeks.
“We opened four weeks ago for collections and deliveries and we have good days and bad days,” said Nicola. “We were allowed to put our seats back in again on Friday but I think we got about three people sitting in.
“We can sit 18 people, which allows for the one-metre distance, we’ve taken half the tables out basically. We are open to sit in, for collection, delivery and people are phoning ahead and pre-ordering, we’ve everything in place.
“We have to keep trying, we’ve come through this much and we don’t know if we will get through it or not but you have to keep trying. We’ve no other choice but to keep trying and keep shopping local.”