Delivery, Take-Out And Other Approaches Irish Pubs Are Taking During Coronavirus
Whenever you mention Dublin, Ireland to a tourist, the first thing that will come to their mind is our city’s pub culture. The pub culture remains the staple of Irish tradition, even though their numbers have been dwindling drastically in the last couple of years as a result of an unfavourable economic situation.
And it just took a turn to the worse.
Coronavirus has forced many businesses to stay closed for several months as the growing health concerns demanded drastic measures in the form of social-distancing measures which forced everyone to stay in their homes with only a handful of key-industry businesses still grinding the clockwork of the economy.
Pubs were among the first and most likely worst hit. Most businesses and venues were shut down on March 24, followed by a ban on non-essential travel three days later. Initially, pubs were allowed to stay open provided they followed the social-distancing measures the government introduced on March 12. However, this proved to be impossible as the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day was closing in. Even though some pubs remained open throughout the lockdown, the number of patrons was second to none.
How Many Pubs In Dublin Switched To Delivery?
This has forced some pub owners to develop a smarter business approach and offer delivery services to the people who found themselves isolated in their homes as over 7000 pubs face a grim reality that things may not go back to normal for a while.
One of those pubs was the Graingers Hanlons Corner on the North Circular Road, which was offering freshly-pulled Guinness pints to those locked in. The pub also offered other types of beer, wine, cans, bottles and even cigarettes to people who wanted to recreate the warm Irish pub atmosphere in the comfort of their own homes.
The pub staff was following all the social distancing and hygiene rules to ensure deliveries were as safe as possible for both parties.
“We here at Graingers Hanlons Corner will deliver a freshly pulled pint of Guinness or any pint of your choice and deliver to your door!” the pub wrote on their Facebook page. “Health restrictions apply! You must collect from the car door and will be served in a pint-sized plastic glass!”
As reported by the Irish Post, the pub has been making anywhere from 150 to 180 pints per day.
Another iconic pub with a 152-year-old tradition, McKeever’s Bar & Lounge went a step further and offered airborne beer delivery using a drone. The owner, Avril McKeever said her nephew-in-law operated the drone which delivered bottles of beer, wine and even snacks to the people in the town of Rathdrinagh.
Another pub that was forced to reinvent itself amidst the Coronavirus crisis is The Big Romance, a Dublin pub that went from one of the most profitable seasons to complete lockdown as it was unable to meet the social distancing norms imposed by the government.
The pub now offers growler delivery through its website heavily advertised on social media. As the owner Steve Manning revealed to Bloomberg, the pub initially struggled to meet the demand.
However, as their large stock of easily-spoiled craft beer was close to being wasted, the pub reinvented their business model using growlers, two-pint bottles to deliver the beverage to a customer base that grew in the wake of the pandemic.
With the price of a growler set between 7.50 and 21.50 euros, the pub saw its usual target audience has grown into people of all ages. Three delivery drivers wearing masks were employed to deliver the growlers, and when returned the customers would get 4 euros back, helping the business rolling.
What Does This Mean For Dublin Pubs In The Long Run?
This is not the first time pubs in Ireland have been forced to adapt to survive. Depopulation, political turmoil and the temperance movement all shook the foundations of one of Ireland’s most beloved traditions.
However, none of them was as fundamentally game-changing as COVID-19 is. Even when pubs are allowed to re-open, how many people simply won’t take the risk of getting infected and stick to the alcohol supplies they’ve stocked up on during the lockdown. A survey conducted at the beginning of May suggested six out of ten Dublin pub owners feared for their business if the mandated lockdown lasts throughout 2020.
Their survival and the survival of many businesses in Dublin depends on their ability to adapt. According to a survey conducted with 300 members of The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA), over 40 per cent of pubs plan to reopen on 29 June given that they have restaurant certificates and can, therefore, operate as restaurants.
This means that around 330 pubs in Dublin will be open by the end of next month, even though the government’s lockdown roadmap predicts the pubs will be allowed to re-open in the fifth and final stage after August 10.
However, over 70% of these pubs have both food and drinks on their menu, meaning delivery will still play a large role in their future business model.
This is something the government will have to address as the LVA expects the demand for the re-opened pubs will be enormous, as more people eat out at pubs than full-service restaurants according to a recent Bord Bia research.
These stories give us some optimism when it comes to Ireland’s pubs adapting to the new reality. The places that used to bring people together have to keep working in an era when that is against the law, and these examples show that pubs won’t just survive, but thrive. All it takes is a good idea.