Workers preparing the outdoor dining area at Murph's Gastro Pub in Butlersbridge.

Race to get ready!

UNFAIR Over 80% of pubs won't open before July - VFI

By Gemma Good

As some pubs and restaurants around the county scramble to get ready to serve customers outdoors this bank holiday Monday, the chairman of the Cavan Vintners Association has believes that four out of five pubs in rural areas will remain closed until July at least.

Fergus Murphy is the owner and head chef of Murph’s Gastro Pub in Butlersbridge. While he’s hoping to welcome back customers on June 7, he’s supporting a call by the VFI to bring forward the opening date for traditional pubs who don’t have the space for outdoor areas.

“In excess of 80% of pubs in Cavan can’t open,” he told the Celt this week.

“It’s okay getting an umbrella up or a grant for furniture but you need the space. Some pubs have the space and some pubs don’t,” continued Fergus.

He says it’s a “huge blow” to pubs and restaurants prohibited from serving indoors until July 5, while hotels are allowed to serve residents indoors.

“I don’t see any difference, it’s absolutely not fair.

“People are saying it’s only four weeks, but those four weeks are absolutely crucial,” said the publican.

Fergus himself is developing a new dining facility at Murph’s Gastro Pub, which was in the pipeline long before Covid hit.

“We’ve put in a new outdoor space, the roof is going on now,” the proprietor explained.

“The lads are working around the clock now to try and get it done so we’re lucky we have got a good team on board.”

The heated outdoor space will seat up to 40 people in one sitting with a social distance of more than one metre.

“It’s all glass and it lights up at night-time,” he revealed.

Outdoor bathroom facilities are also in the making, which prevents people from having to enter the restaurant building.

“When you’re in there, you’re in there, there’s going to be less moving around so, safety wise, for the staff and for the customers it should work well,” Fergus explained.

Diners don’t like to be rushed

Regarding indoor dining, Fergus knows his customers and understands people would not like to be rushed off after one hour and 45 minutes.

He assured they “won’t be rushed off their table”, adding that they are welcome to use the outdoor facility to relax and finish off their drinks.

“It’s an added expense but you have to keep adding to your business,” said Fergus.

The VFI is urging the Government to remove the 105-minute time limit, arguing that by the end of June over 70% of the population will have received a vaccine.

It also wants indoor service permitted from Thursday, July 1, as opposed to the following Monday, to allow an extra weekend of trade.

Safety first

Meanwhile, Fergus is hopeful his outdoor dining facility will be ready in time for next Monday.

“We’re not taking bookings at the moment for it because we’re not sure if it’s going to be ready in time.”

“We just want to get it open and get it open safely for customers and staff,” he concluded.