A PUB that was banned from delivering pints by gardai has come up with an ingenious solution to bring delight to their thirsty customers.
Gardai in Clontarf had clamped down on the popular Pebble Beach’s idea of a pub on wheels, for health and safety reasons.
They had been delivering pints freshly poured from a keg in the back of a van to households across Dublin’s northside.
But now, co-owner Mark Grainger has come up with an ingenious alternative which allows freshly pulled pints in proper glasses to be expertly delivered to draught deprived punters – and also satisfies Garda health concerns.
So much so, the seaside hostelry is “out the door” with orders since it began its unusual service last weekend.
“It was innovative and, in fairness, I hadn’t got my ps and qs right and the guards informed me of that,” says Mark of his initial keg on wheels routine.
“They told me we would have to do some tweaking with it if we wanted to do that and get our licensing right. Perhaps they were concerned about compressed gas being in the jeep, or whatever.
“They asked me to stop and I obliged – we have a fantastic relationship with the guards through all our four generations in the pub business and I want my son Sean to have the same relationship going forward.
“So we did stop and we asked their advice about doing it from the public house Pebble Beach. They advised us on a number of things, including saying the we should have a sealed cap to put on the pint glasses.”
Mark (53) made some enquiries and approached a local firm who has now made him thousands of seals which fit correctly onto glasses and allows them to be transported without spilling.
“The idea is fantastic and I’m going to take it a step further. I know if we got a prototype and got it right, it’s possibly the future of the business going forward – that you will have to go to the customers at the weekend, because we won’t fill our pubs again until we get a vaccine,” he stresses.
“Until then you have to be innovative I think. That’s why I’m going to go and maybe source one of these and get it all togged out and do a really snazzy job.”
He adds: “My claim to fame is that I can turn this pint glass of Guinness upside down and the beer won’t fall out.”
Numerous pubs around the country are now allowing a take-out service, whether they are serving pints in plastic glasses or selling bottles.
But Mark insists there is nothing like a freshly pulled pint in a proper glass.
“The difference with us serving it and other pubs is that they are serving them in plastic glasses,” he explains.
“We are serving in the actual glass, you would pull the beer in and we are putting the sealed cap on it that we developed ourselves.
“It’s quite innovative because the cap grips the top of the pint glass, sucks it and seals it, so it means the head doesn’t really move.
“So when the product leaves the pub here we get it to the client, maybe within five minutes, because we stay in Clontarf. They are amazed. They take the cap off and the head stays the same.
“It’s very hard to hold a head on a pint if you’re not sealing it properly. If you’re putting those plastic things on it the head goes all over it.
“I don’t think you can serve it in a presentable way unless you have the sealed cap.”
The glasses are also chilled beforehand and then thoroughly cleaned after usage.
“First of all, we wash them at over 60 degrees in temperature,” he points out. “Then, naturally enough, you let them cool down and you rotate them. Then they go into our glass chillers. We also use PPE masks and gloves when serving and collecting them.”
The pub charges €6 a pint, plus an extra refundable deposit of €2 a glass. They also insist the seals be returned. Mark and his brother Paddy, the other owner of Pebble Beach, are part of the well-known Grainger publican family in the capital.
An uncle of theirs owns Grainger’s on Hanlon’s corner in Phibsboro and a first cousin the Manor Inn in Swords, while distant cousins own other hostelries across the city.
Pebble Beach had employed 18 full-time and part-time staff before the lockdown and hope to re-employ most of them when the new venture is in full fling.
Mark maintains that the pints are still fresh when they’re delivered within a ten minute radius of the pub.
“We are delivering to people who are our customers, and who we haven’t seen for a while, so it’s nice to touch base and keep in touch.
“We are also getting out to our elderly customers and they are missing going for their pint and reading their paper,” he notes.
Mark hopes that the pub will reopen with social distancing in August, but it will still never be as full as it used to be until a vaccine is found.
“Beggars can’t be choosers, we’d be just happy to get the doors open and create a bit of employment in the community again,” he says.
- Sunday World