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Lift off as public rarin’ to go again

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TAKEN BY SURPRISE Fergus Maxwell didn't expect to be back behind the bar of the Old Arch so soon, but is happy to report he had a very busy weekend in Claremorris.  Pic: John Corless

Anton McNulty

When The Old Arch Bar and Bistro in Claremorris opened last Thursday following a three-week post-Christmas break, they were expecting a soft reopening. But then Micheál Martin announced restrictions were going and ‘the lid came off’.
“It was a great buzz over the weekend with people delighted to be out and about. I met several people who have not been out for two years which surprised me,” proprietor Fergus Maxwell told The Mayo News. “One lady described it as being like newly born calves out on the grass for the first time, she was delighted.”
The timing could not have been better for the Claremorris establishment. “We were closed for a couple of weeks because things were a little bit hairy, but we reopened on Thursday and it great to hear on Friday we could open up fully. We had a soft opening on Thursday and Friday, but the lid came off on Saturday. We were all taken by surprise. The phone was hopping … people were just dying to get out. It was great.
“We had a lot of walk-in business on Saturday and Sunday, which we hadn’t for the last two years, because before this it was all booking; nobody was just rocking up.”
The Old Arch, on James Street in the centre of the town, is one of the most popular restaurants in the region. However, Fergus lost count of how many times it had to close over the last two years, saying it took a toll. He closed it on January 2 because of the increase in the number of Covid cases over Christmas. He did not expect restrictions to be lifted so soon.
However, he said that because many people are still feeling cautious, he will keep many safety measures in place for now.
Fergus is feeling positive about the future of the hospitality business for the first time in nearly two years, saying the public will be able to plan events with more reassurance they will take place.
“There was some pent-up demand with things closed down. January is still January, but it is definitely a lot more positive than it has been for the last two years. The phone is busy and people are making enquiries for birthdays and communions and making arrangements. A lot of things were put on the long finger over the past two years.”