'We’re blessed with space' – Inside iconic Johnnie Fox’s plans to reopen next month as a 110-seater restaurant

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THE iconic Johnnie Fox’s has a plan to reopen its 300-seat pub as a 110-seater restaurant at the end of June, rather than wait until pubs can trade in August.

t joins more than 300 Dub­lin pubs planning to reopen under restaurant licences on June 29 which are appealing to the Government for a green light to trade, according to the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA). The lobbying group for Dublin’s 750 pubs says 44pc of its members are preparing to reopen on the date set for restaurants to resume trade.

The Government’s current plan requires pubs to stay shut until August 10.

LVA CEO Donall O’Keeffe said pubs that provide a menu service should be treated the same way as other food service providers.

“These venues have restaurant certificates and are just as capable of following the public health guidelines as restaurants. Food is a major aspect of their trade.

“Why should they be treated differently to other venues serving food and alcohol? Our members cannot remain in limbo and are actively planning to reopen on the same basis and at the same time as restaurants.”

The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI), which represents 4,000 pubs outside the capital, said many of its members with restaurant licences also plan to reopen on June 29.

Owners are desperate for State guidance, according to spokesman Brian Foley.

“Our primary concern is the opening protocols for pubs – something Government really needs to engage on,” he said.

Well-known publican Char­lie Chawke plans to reopen seven of his nine pubs on June 29, including Aunty Lena’s in Adare, Co Limerick.

“My restaurant licences give me the right to open as a res­taurant,” Mr Chawke said.

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Shauna Mullen sits in an empty lounge as she takes orders online for food from Johnnie Fox's pub in Glencullen. Picture; Gerry Mooney

Shauna Mullen sits in an empty lounge as she takes orders online for food from Johnnie Fox's pub in Glencullen. Picture; Gerry Mooney

Shauna Mullen sits in an empty lounge as she takes orders online for food from Johnnie Fox’s pub in Glencullen. Picture; Gerry Mooney

Shauna Mullen sits in an empty lounge as she takes orders online for food from Johnnie Fox’s pub in Glencullen. Picture; Gerry Mooney

Johnnie Fox’s, in the Dublin Mountains, plans to transform into a 110-seat socially distanced venue. Red and green ‘stop and go’ lights would limit toilet access to one customer at a time. Business manager Kaitlin McMahon said 80pc of Johnnie Fox’s sales are food.

It can serve 2,000 meals on a busy day. Social distancing would still mean 600 meals from noon to 10pm.

“We’re blessed with space,” she said. “It would make absolutely no sense to stop us from operating as a restaurant.”

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Source: Irish News