Dining outside not viable for popular Tullamore restaurant

Dining outside not a runner for popular Tullamore restaurateurs

Sarah Thomas and Kenan Pehlivan pictured outside their Blue Apron restaurant

From June 7, outdoor services at bars and restaurants can resume with groups limited to six people.

While this spells good news for some, it will not suit many others who don't have the facilities to allow for outdoor dining or drinking.

Kenan Pehlivan and Sarah Thomas own and run the popular Blue Apron restaurant on Harbour Street in Tullamore. For Kenan opening on the footpath is a non runner.

''The street is not wide enough for tables and chairs, plus the amount of money we would have to spend...it's not viable. We also don't like blocking the path with tables and chairs, it doesn't leave enough space to walk on the path.''

Kenan cannot understand why indoor dining is being allowed in hotels. He said a restaurant in a hotel will be just as confined as an independent restaurant.

Kenan and Sarah have been operating a takeaway service but ''it's not the same, the dining room is empty'' says Kenan.

The takeaway still requires three chefs and a kitchen porter. ''Our menu is detailed and takes time and labour. We don't buy in, we make everything ourselves.''

The takeaway is open from Thursdays to Sundays but Kenan said it was more for maintaining a routine and for their personal headspace that they decided to open it. The Blue Apron employs up to 11 people when fully operational.

Kenan is hopeful that everything will return to normal by September.

Adrian Cummins, Chief Executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland is calling on the Government, ''to publish the medical and scientific evidence deeming a hotel or guesthouse restaurant safer than an independent restaurant, coffee shop or gastro pub.

''Restaurants, hotels, cafes and gastropubs have all followed and implemented the exact same safety protocols for diners since June of last year. I want to be clear, if the medical advisors have decided it is now safe for indoor dining then hotels should reopen –what we are asking for is indoor dining equality and to reopen at the same time!”

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