THE Algiers Inn in Baltimore had double reason to celebrate recently – it marked its first anniversary trading under new ownership, while its bar manager marked 25 years behind the counter.
The 130-year-old pub, purchased by Californians Ann and Bill Hillyard in February of 2020, traded for just a month under their direction before being forced to close due to Covid-19.
The Hillyards took advantage of the lockdown to overhaul the pub. ‘We had a five-year plan to complete the work.
‘But when Covid struck we decided to plow ahead with the refurbishment,’ said Bob.
The couple had had friends visiting from California who became stranded in Baltimore because of the pandemic, and the lockdown, friends who just happen to be skilled carpenters.
‘After they drank the stock, I put them to work!’ Bob joked. ‘Because of the lockdown we did all of the work ourselves using recycled building materials because we just couldn’t get new supplies.’
Their fit-out was shortlisted for the 2021 Irish Fit-Out Awards, pitting them against such heavyweights as The Guinness Enterprise Centre and Focus Ireland.
The pub reopened when government began easing Covid restrictions last summer allowing pubs and restaurants to serve outdoors.
‘We did up the patio garden as part of the overall redo,’ said Bill. ‘It turned out to be our greatest asset when we were finally allowed to reopen.’
Since the pub has reopened staffing has proved their greatest challenge.
‘All the pubs and restaurants in Ireland reopened on the same day, meaning we were all competing for the same staffing pool,’ Ann said. ‘We ended up with a crew of young people who have really proved their worth.
‘I am very proud of them and what we accomplished. Still, I worried we couldn’t do it. Every day was a struggle to keep the doors open!’
Most of that young staff is still with them.
The couple say they were also blessed to retain one seasoned staff member, Sean McCarthy, whose 25th anniversary working at The Algiers Inn coincides with the pub’s one year anniversary under new ownership.
‘What an asset Sean turned out to be,’ said Bill.