IN order to reopen the doors of The Boston Bar, a Bantry publican and public representative bought a pizza oven and is now serving substantial meals.
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind), who was deeply critical of the two false starts regarding the reopening of pubs, said he felt compelled to make the change.
Previously, he had been serving soups, sandwiches and salads, but knew he had to comply with the regulations if he wanted to reopen.
‘I honestly don’t know if it will work because a lot of my customers are elderly people who like to come in for a drink or two – pizza really wouldn’t be their thing,’ he said.
Cllr Collins admits he’s worried about the future. Like a lot of publicans, he said, he has a large mortgage on his premises.
‘I bought at the height of the boom and even with the doors closed I still have to pay the insurance company €390 a month, as well as the electricity and other bills as well.’
The councillor, who lives above the bar, managed to get some work done during lockdown, such as painting and structural works, but made the switch because he believes the new August 31st deadline for reopening of ‘wet’ bars won’t materialise.
Previously, it was just Danny behind the bar. But now he has to employ three people – one to do the food prep, one to do table service, and one to serve drinks.
His pub has nine tables, which means that with four people at each socially-distanced table, the most customers he can accommodate safely is 36. But if couples book, then that number drops to 18.
The councillor said: ‘It is hard to say if it will be possible to make money and, to be truthful, I can’t see myself going into September like this. It just doesn’t make sense financially.’
His first weekend was booked out. Friday and Saturday were an almost even mix of regulars and staycationers, while Sunday was all locals.
Being closed was bad, he said, but there are problems associated with re-opening too. Cllr Collins said: ‘I will be honest. It is causing a lot of stress, weariness and worry.’