Mary Elliffe, owner of the Town House Hotel, Naas
The short notice which accompanied the ending of Covid-19 restrictions meant that the Town House Hotel in Naas was initially unable to serve food until yesterday (January 24).
“We’re delighted to be open and to have our customers back. The very short notice meant that we were only told on Friday evening we could open without restrictions on Saturday so because food must be prepared there was a delay providing food again,” said proprietor Mary Elliffe.
But Ms Elliffe, who has been proprietor for 26 years, is concerned about the many problems created by the pandemic.
“It has been very trying, we have lost five experienced staff members which will be extremely difficult to replace. Some had been there for twenty years at least so they have a lot of experience and this is what will be missed, they’ll be difficult to replace,” said Ms Elliffe.
Some of these, she said, took up employment in retail of manufacturing settings because they felt these offered more security.
“It’s unfortunate but I understand that they have bills and mortgages to pay and for a long time we were not sure when we might be able to reopen. They were made to feel they had no future”
Like many businesses, the Town House has reopened to a changed landscape.
“One customer we had died tragically during the panic. He would come in every day for food and maybe a couple of pints but mainly for the company and it seems he had nowhere to go for a long time when the virus hit. It was very sad. The pandemic sas extremely difficult for older people because they were effectively locked up for so long.”
Ms Elliffe was critical of the imposition of the €9 meal rule.
“People could only stay for an hour and half and that was a very short period of time given the time it takes to prepare and serve food. It was a difficult rule to police.”
Ms Elliffe said that outdoor dining offered some business but it too came with problems - to do with the Irish weather.
She is looking forward to a resumption of events that could not take place when the virus surged through society - like birthday parties, first communion and confirmation events, weddings and meetings.
“People just weren’t coming out, they were afraid.”
Guests will also be welcomed back as well with the abolition of the rule which meant that customers had to leave the bar at 8pm but guests could drink until midnight.
“There were so many mixed massage it would have been better if the government had one person dealing with the pandemic this instead of several different voices."
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