Top Cork publican: 'I’m confident that my staff and customers aren’t a risk'

Top Cork publican: 'I’m confident that my staff and customers aren’t a risk'
Cork publican and entrepreneur Ernest Cantillon.Picture: Clare Keogh

A TOP Cork publican has said the decision to open his establishments later than some other bars was “a week well spent” learning from others’ experiences and systems.

Ernest Cantillon consciously made the decision to open both Electric and Sober Lane on Thursday, July 9, as a means to put best practices in place and to give staff notice about reopening.

Mr Cantillon and some of his staff members visited other establishments that had reopened from Monday, June 29 as part of phase three of the Government’s roadmap in order to learn about the systems they were using in terms of bookings, social distancing and the use of perspex screens.

He did not want the perspex screens to take from the aesthetic of the bars but also “didn’t want to let customers down or feel as though things weren’t done properly” and visiting bars that maintained a safe and professional environment without perspex screens gave him the confidence to do the same.

Mr Cantillon also wanted to give his staff “enough notice that they were coming back”, saying that he didn’t want what happened to pubs last week happening to him and his staff members.

Pubs that don't sell food were due to reopen yesterday and had already drafted staff back but these plans were scrapped after the Government’s decision to keep pubs shut until at least August 10.

“I’m confident that my staff and customers when they’re with us aren’t a risk to themselves or anyone else. I can honestly stand over that.

“We’ve all seen the Temple Bar photos but I don’t see that happening anywhere in Cork and I think that my industry colleagues are being responsible because they know that a second lockdown would be really devastating on every level, financially and emotionally, but if we all play ball we have a good chance of that not happening.” 

Staff at both Electric and Sober Lane are currently wearing masks, as advised by Cork doctor Dr Nick Flynn. There are fewer tables in operation at both establishments and table service is a new norm in Sober Lane which allows for the “upskilling of bar staff as waiting staff”.

He said that customers have “really missed the craic and going out for a bit of grub” and that people have been patient and have been accepting of the booking system requiring a deposit to secure a table which he said, “isn’t always very popular but is now an essential”.

Music is yet to return to the bars with Mr Cantillon saying that space is an issue and that in order to cater for a band in the likes of Electric, four of the 10 tables would have to be removed which would result in a further loss of business.

“We miss it. Sober Lane since it opened has had DJs on a Sunday but that’s going to be on hold now for a while. Reluctantly I don’t see it coming back right now,” he said.

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