The Hatch Bar in Ballinagh.

'It's very, very stressful'

Hatch manager calls for clarity

By Gemma Good

It has been a "tough" road for those in the hospitality industry, something 'The Hatch' manager AnnMarie O’Rourke knows first-hand.

Having started in the Ballinagh bar and restaurant business in November of 2019, AnnMarie reports her doors have only been open for seven months in the last three years.

Among the issues facing the sector are staff shortages. “Nobody wants to work anymore, not in this industry,” she said, citing unsocial hours, uncertainty and a lack of Government support as factors contributing to the problem.

“Decisions can be made last minute and it’s not really fair,” she said, speaking of the recent decision to have customers out of the premises by 12 midnight.

“It’s okay for them [the government], they can sit in their Dáil and still have their jobs and their wages coming in every week.

“You close us overnight and what is there in place? We have nothing,” she said, also referring to the recent reduction in Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) levels. She said, having your income halved or quartered, can be “mentally damaging”. Heading into the Christmas period, AnnMarie said conditions for the industry are “absolutely” uncertain.

“Do you take Christmas bookings and then cancel them?” she asked, not liking the idea of letting her customers down.

“Stock wise, do you start ordering in for Christmas? It’s very very stressful.”

She made a call for clarity. “There’s no one to stand up and say, ‘this is what’s happening, end of’.”

AnnMarie has entertainment booked for Christmas and the New Year, however there is apprehension in her tone. “Are people going to go out?” she wondered.

The Hatch has seen an increase in customers since reopening, which AnnMarie says is down to customers knowing they are “coming into a clean environment".

The Hatch provides breakfast from 10am-12.30pm, lunch until 5pm and an evening menu until 8pm. They also provide accommodation with a B&B on site. The Hatch prides itself on being extremely family friendly with a spacious outdoor area and a playhouse for kids.

AnnMarie praised her staff for their dedication and customer service. “They’re fantastic, they’re always welcoming, they always have a smile, and they love to laugh. “They’re the backbone of this business.”

AnnMarie and all the staff wished their customers a happy Christmas and they look forward to welcoming them this festive season.

She urged people to keep an eye on their Facebook and Instagram pages for details of upcoming events. Bookings can be made by calling 049-4304051.