Restaurant owners and publicans are in shock at the government’s decision to delay the return of indoor restaurants and “wet” pubs.
ay and Margaret O’Connor spent their savings to start their business, Stone House Restaurant in Ballinlough, County Roscommon, and even invested â¬ 20,000 in two air purification machines.
So despite the announcement, Ray and Margaret say they plan to fully reopen their restaurant on July 5.
âWe’ve put everything we have in this place, our savings, and we’re going to open up. We have taken all possible precautions, âhe said.
âWe’ll put up a marquee if people want to sit outside, but if they want to go inside and sit down, they can. We have plenty of room.
âAll of our orders for July 5 have already been placed.
âIt’s absolutely devastating.
âI don’t understand how you can go to a hotel for dinner, but you can’t eat in a restaurant. It does not mean anything.
âWe are disgusted by this. We spent every penny we had to get ready to reopen this time, including repainting everywhere and buying new cutlery and plates.
âWe are in a rural town of Ballinlough. Our customers come from Roscommon, Mayo, Athlone, Galway and Sligo to eat in our restaurant.
âWe’ve worked so hard to build our business and our reputation, and it’s just amazing to us that this is happening.â
The O’Connors, who took over the restaurant in 2019, said they were “desperate to come back.”
âWe are full for the first two weekends. I cannot let these people down. I will call each of these clients and let them know that they are more than welcome to come, âsaid Mr. O’Connor.
âMy wife and I are both chefs and we do the cooking ourselves with another chef.
âWe got caught on Christmas with loads of inventory that charities wouldn’t even take. So we had to throw it away, which was heartbreaking.
âAt this point, I feel totally abandoned by the government and the restaurant owners association.
“We’re afraid the guards will arrest us, but what can you do?” We have to survive. It’s a question of survival.
Joe Sheridan, a tax collector and Fianna FÃ¡il adviser, believes the government will pay the price at the polls for its treatment of tax collectors.
Mr Sheridan, who is also chairman of the Galway Vintners Federation of Ireland, said the latest postponement of the pubs’ reopening was devastating news for more than 3,500 family businesses across the country.
Mr. Sheridan is a seventh generation publican and owner of Walsh’s Pub in Dunmore, County Galway. He says the tax collectors are at “breaking point”.
“This is the fifth time that small local pubs have been kicked in the teeth,” he said.
âI’ve gotten more calls in the last few days from tax collectors who are about to completely break the line.
âThey’ve been turned into scapegoats by the Department of Health, Nphet and faceless people in boardrooms who don’t understand the trade. This will turn off the lights in many small community pubs.
âI spoke with adult men and women who broke down because of mental angst over tax pressure.
âThere will be repercussions for the government on this on the ballots. I can guarantee you that.
Mr Sheridan said the decision to keep the pubs closed “tore out the hearts of the communities”.
âThis is my fourth time to restock now,â he said.
âI had three young people engaged and ready to work for me and now I have to let them down.
âAnd July 19 is just a featured date, and that doesn’t mean anything. They don’t intend to let us open then.
Mr Sheridan also criticized suggestions of a vaccine bonus for indoor meals.
âYou could bring in a father and son, and one will have to stay outside while the other can come in. Are we supposed to separate people? ” He asked.