DOORS ARE OPEN AGAIN: Martin Caldwell, owner of The Speckled Hen
DOORS ARE OPEN AGAIN: Martin Caldwell, owner of The Speckled Hen

MANAGEMENT and staff from Derriaghy's The Speckled Hen are clucking with delight after successfully reopening their doors at the weekend after the three month Covid lockdown. 

A firm favourite amongst its many patrons for its craft beers, home cooked fayre and warm welcome, Speckled Hen owner Martin Caldwell said that a lot of work took placed behind the scenes to ensure the Hen opening went smoothly.

“At the moment we have little or no guidance as to what will be required in terms of either a one or two-metre social distancing guidelines. Will we be required to operate a booking only system? Will customers have to order by app? In England people are talking about having to register with the pub, it’s very strange times.

“One problem is people have heard the bars and restaurants are opening again but don’t realise there is going to be a set of rather strict rules applied.”

He continued: “Basically, in light of limited guidance, we are using common sense, that’s the approach, common sense. If customers keep their distance, clean their hands and limit their movement around the building, I think we can provide a very safe environment for people to come and enjoy a meal out.

“We’ve gone for 1.3 metres inside, we’ve got hand sanitiser on all the tables, we’ve reduced the numbers of tables we have and our seating capacity has been reduced from 138 to 88. We are creating ‘Hen’s Dens’ giving us around 46 seats outside, by covering in parts of our outside dining area and beer garden using gazebos and cabanas.

“We also opened our outside cocktail bar. We are hoping that the good weather returns throughout July and August,” he said.

Martin said their menu initially will be limited, and they will be opening Thursday through to Sunday throughout July.

He added that reopening is not just a case of merely throwing open the doors. “We’ve had people checking our gas, electrical and refrigeration systems, checking that everything is working properly. One of our key suppliers is telling us that not all our beers will be ready; we stocked eleven and initially will have five of them. We have done what we can.”

He also had warm words of praise to the government for its relief schemes during the pandemic: “Without the Conservative government doing what they did, in terms of the furlough scheme, and Diane Dodds pushing for the deferral of the business rates the hospitality sector would have been absolutely decimated here. All of the financial supports have added up to keep us alive, to give us a second chance.”