Back in business: Cork's shops, restaurants and hotels ready to reopen for Christmas

Back in business: Cork's shops, restaurants and hotels ready to reopen for Christmas

Sheena McCarthy of Sheena's Boutique on Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork City during the last days of the Level 5 lockdown on 27th November 2020.

“WE’LL be looking forward to putting food on plates again, instead of in boxes.”

That was the sentiment expressed by Aishling Moore, co-owner and chef at Goldie on Oliver Plunkett St, as the Taoiseach announced Ireland’s level-5 exit plan.

Restaurants, and pubs operating as restaurants, may reopen for indoor dining from Friday, with certain restrictions, under new level-3 rules designed to get some parts of the economy open for Christmas.

Under level 5 restrictions Goldie had reopened as a fish shop, offering a click-and-collect service, which Ms Moore said was “great to keep a heartbeat in the business”.

However, she is looking forward to doing what the business does best and welcoming customers back into the restaurant for a sit-down meal.

“We’re definitely better skilled and suited to welcoming customers into the restaurant than as shop- keepers,” she said.

“We really miss having customers inside and taking care of them.”

Ms Moore said it has been challenging for businesses to be in limbo, not knowing whether they would be able to reopen before Christmas or not.

“A lot of our suppliers had been in touch this week wondering what we thought would happen next week, but our guess was as good as theirs,” she said. “I also understand it’s a difficult situation to be making decisions on.”

Publican and restaurateur Ernest Cantillon said reopening on December 4 is “short notice” but nonetheless he is looking forward to welcoming customers back into Electric and Sober Lane.

 Retail re-opening with the ending of Level 5 Living With Coronavirus public health restrictions.
Retail re-opening with the ending of Level 5 Living With Coronavirus public health restrictions.

“We have all the procedures in place from the summer and across the board staff have said they are happy to come back,” he said.

“It is a nice time of the year to work in a restaurant or pub, so it will be good to open again, even though I’m expecting it to be a yo-yo type of situation where we will probably have to close again in January or February.”

Electric and Sober Lane had both operated takeaway services during level-5 restrictions and while Mr Cantillon is looking forward to welcoming diners back to the two establishments, he said the “wishy-washy” nature of the Government’s communication with business-owners has been frustrating.

This was echoed by Richard Gavin, owner of SpitJack on Washington St. He labelled the lack of communication as “absolute chaos” but said he was looking forward to welcoming customers back after months of operating as a takeaway service.

“It’s key for us to reopen, even if there is another lockdown on the horizon,” he said.

Preparing to re-open.... Sheena McCarthy of Sheena's Boutique on Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork City during the last days of the Level 5 lockdown on 27th November 2020
Preparing to re-open.... Sheena McCarthy of Sheena's Boutique on Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork City during the last days of the Level 5 lockdown on 27th November 2020

Michael Magner, general manager of the Vienna Woods Hotel, welcomed the news that the hospitality sector will be allowed to reopen from December 4.

“It will be great to see all our customers and staff again,” he said. “We are looking forward to a busy Christmas. We need to have a Christmas. We need a good month for our business. It is important for our staff, who have dedicated so much of their lives to our workplace. They are wonderful people and their livelihoods are also being impacted. We all need to play our part in managing Covid. We have done that successfully across the hospitality sector since June 29,” said Mr Magner.

He praised the support the Glanmire hotel has received from the community during a stressful year. “The local Cork community is fantastic,” he said. “They support their own. Our phones are busy with enquiries and people are eager to book, which is great. The demand is there. 2021 will be better. We will remain positive.”

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