Updated / Friday, 20 Mar 2020 09:54
Social distancing has hit the hospitality industry hard, but many restaurants and cafés are getting creative in keeping customers and a sense of community flowing. Photo: PA
The coronavirus outbreak has left restaurants and cafés across the world reeling, as social distancing guidelines have forced many to close their doors. Not only were these hotspots beloved by foodies, but they were also thriving hubs of chat and community – as anyone who stops off for a morning latte at their local coffee shop would know.
While putting your weekly meals out and post-gym coffees on hold for a few weeks pales in comparison to preventing the spread of the often-deadly disease, watching restaurants and cafés close, one after another, has no doubt been chilling and many are concerned about the lasting effects it could have on the industry.
But these trying times have pushed businesses to be inventive, and many are coming up with new ways to deliver food and groceries to customers, as well as keep a sense of community alive.
Here are just a few of the spots we’ve come across:
BuJo, Sandymount, Dublin
If there was a prize for the most stubbornly inventive restaurant working amid the outbreak, it could well go to BuJo. The beloved burger joint owned by Michael Sheary has spent the past week reinventing how it does business on the fly, having closed up shop on Sunday. By Tuesday, the team had created a digital drive-thru, using WhatsApp to take orders.
While it’s very much so a take-it-day-by-day approach, it’s a testament to the inventiveness of some business owners, and a clever way to work around the social distancing guidelines.
Mooz, Stoneybatter, Dublin
While many spots are closing indefinitely, Mooz, an Italian specialty shop and deli in Stoneybatter, are remaining open to the community. Tables are sectioned off, to keep in line with social distancing, with just two seating areas available in the shop itself.
If you’re looking for somewhere to pick up slightly more luxurious staples, artisanal cheeses and meats, or all the fixings for a grand Italian feast, you’ll find them here. Also, it has to be said, having a place to grab a cup of coffee and a cake helps make things feel a little less alien these days.
Kinara Group, Dublin
At times like these, the comfort of your favourite takeaway can do a lot to ease worries, and certainly for many people picking up their favourite Indian, Chinese or Pakistani meal is the highlight of their weeks. With this in mind, Seán Collender, the co-owner of Kinara Group which operates Kinara, Kinara Kitchen and Kajjal in Dublin, have made an effort to keep their restaurants up and running for the hungry masses
With a skeleton staff and a revised menu for collection only, Collender is one of many business owners not going down without a fight. Orders are placed via the phone, and beloved dishes like Jalfrezi Jhinga, Hehari Gosht and plenty of Buttered Naan are all available.
Pickle, Camden Street Dublin
Wanting to give customers a taste of their celebrated North Indian food at home, Pickle have shared a recipe for Murg Tariwala, their “home-style North Indian chicken curry” flavoured with coriander on their Instagram account. Ideal for cosy home dinners, the recipe uses mostly cupboard basics, so you might not even have to brave the supermarket crowds.
It’s always heartwarming to see highly praised restaurants sharing recipes rather than hoarding their secretive spice blends, but to do so when people are craving comfort food with a touch of luxury is particularly lovely. Here’s hoping other spots follow suit!
Mamó, Howth, Dublin
With many people taking the opportunity to hike more around the country, spots like Mamó – a sleek and modern restaurant known for its stylish seafood dishes – would be sorely missed. Thankfully, they’ve started The Hatch, a takeaway and collection service.
Serving up a version of their lunch menu will be on offer from 12:30pm, while dinner orders can be placed from 5pm over the phone. Classics like “Cod Chip” will be a mainstay, as well as Parmesan gnocchi and wild mushrooms, Soused herring and pickled lentils and an assortment of desserts, though the menu will change daily.
Similarly, Gaz Smith of Howth mainstay Michael’s has launched Mike’s Takeaway, serving fish, chips and more from the kitchen. Specialising in fresh fish like Mussels in Lemon and Garlic, Fillet Steak Surf ‘n’ Turf and their classic fish and chips – as well as the “walk in the park sanger”, which included Jamon, Parmesan Croquettes and Tomato Salsa – your weekly treat doesn’t have to be skipped.
Orders are taken over the phone, and bags of steaming hot seafood and chips are delivered to waiting cars. And if you’re out on a stroll without your car, no worries: grab your bag and “leg it”, says Gaz.
Bread 41, Pearse Street, Dublin
While we’ll be grateful to see any bread at times like these, sometimes a fresh sourdough or baguette is the kind of simple pleasure you crave. If you’re one such foodie, look no further than Bread 41 on Pearse Street, which are selling their artisanal bakes through a hatch.
As well as this, they’re handing out free sourdough starter packs and instructions to those looking to take up baking and avoid relying on the luck of the supermarket shelves.
Firehouse Bakery, Delganey, Wicklow
Ensuring weekends don’t have to be spent cooking if you don’t want to, Firehouse Bakery launched their Covid-19 Survival Menu, a slightly scary-sounding but ultimately delicious selection of their favourite nibbles and wood-fired pizzas.
Orders are placed over the phone and can be collected or delivered, depending on your address. Choose from a classic Margharita, the spicy Nduja pizza, the Gubbeen Chorizo pizza and more.
Coffee fiend and craving your fix? Stop your shaking hands because 3FE are making sure you don’t have to do without your favourite coffee blends. The coffee company has set up the 3FE Market from their Grand Canal Street location, selling beans, accessories and – naturally – takeaway coffee.
If you can’t get your daily flat white, learn how to make it yourself with their home brewing kits. Now might be the perfect time to perfect your pouring techniques, or learn the difference between light roast and dark roast.
Devoted to Cakes, Greystones, Wicklow
While restaurants and cafés are reinventing their business through social media and technology, many small businesses are using their platforms to encourage those stuck at home – possibly with small, energetic kids – to get creative through food.
One such business is Devoted to Cakes, a cake decorating events company based in Greystones that has started Facebook Live bake offs. Sharing a list of utensils and ingredients, owner Lorraine baked her way through oat cookies and scones. Next week? Vanilla cupcakes. Yum.
Two Boy Brew
As one of the most bustling cafés in Phibsboro, Two Boys Brew have opened the doors to their shop as a market, selling milk, eggs, pastries and more to the locals.
While the café itself isn’t open, customers can pick up croissants, tray bakes, energy balls and more yummy treats, as well as coffee from Roots and Branch, while milk alternatives and Two Boys Brew’s own granola are also up for grabs.
We understand that for many the local coffee shop, café or restaurant is more than just the place you get your chips on a Friday or your morning coffee. It’s community and routine and comfort. If you want to support these businesses, many are offering gift vouchers for when doors open again.