Right now, every pub is searching for a path to survival.
any of the strongest players work from premises built or expanded during the post-crash years. Others have developed features to stand out from the crowd.
Review spoke to three publicans about how they have grown - and plan to keep standing.
John Gleeson and his brother Ciarán have owned Gleesons of Booterstown in Dublin's southern suburbs since 2007, when they acquired it from father Frank and mother Nora, founders of the pub in 1954
The timing was poor, because the economy was about to tank. It had been expensive to buy out the interests of other relatives. They kept borrowing to expand anyway.
"We got through the recession by spending money when nobody else was spending," says John Gleeson.
They used €500,000 to update their bar and restaurant and add a gourmet deli as a retail outlet in 2010. Gleesons was named 'Best Pub in Ireland' the following year.
In 2017, the brothers took a €1.6m loan to build a 16-room boutique hotel above the pub. The hotel achieved €364,000 in sales in its first half-year, helping Gleesons to top €3.8m in turnover in its most recently published accounts. That included more than €1.1m in sales of beverages, €1.6m in food and €718,000 from the deli. Post-tax profits topped €368,000, and 2020 was shaping up to be even better.
Instead, Gleesons today is among the thousands of firms to receive a six-month loan repayment holiday from the banks. John Gleeson expects to re-employ only his previous full-time staff, not part-timers, and is reliant on the State's emergency wage subsidies.
"The deli has saved us these past few months. It was the only part of the business we could keep open," he says. "But there's zero chance of making a profit this year."
The pub and restaurant reopen on Monday, with €9,000 in Perspex screens installed and more than 20 staff on duty to serve 160 customers. It can hold up to 300 customers at a squeeze, but for the next three weeks it will serve a maximum of 80 diners in each of two evening sittings.
The place is booked solid on Monday night, but Gleeson expects this to dip "once the novelty factor fades".
He will offer diners the chance to stay in one of the hotel rooms for €80. Those rooms were selling for €200 this time last year. "We'll encourage parents with young kids who need a break to go the whole hog, get a babysitter and stay the night," he says.
In 2014, Fergus Murphy won a bidding war for the Derragarra Inn, in Butlersbridge, Co Cavan, a pub dating from the early 19th century. He ploughed more than €400,000 into the business funded by bank loans, €100,000 savings from his previous Cootehill restaurant, and maxed-out credit cards.
Two years later, it was thriving, with him in the kitchen, and his wife Susan at the front. When his eldest daughter married, they held the 'afters' there. The wedding video captures the moment Murphy lit its peat fire. Minutes later, a passer-by noticed the thatched roof was smouldering. Six hours later, the property - with the family's personal effects upstairs - lay in ruins.
"Susan cried for two weeks," he says. "But I had an architect, a builder and a security man on site within 24 hours. I wasn't going to let the fire beat me - and I won't let Covid beat me either."
Murphy's focus is food. Over the past six years he has turned the village landmark into an award-studded dining destination called Murph's Gastro Pub.
Before the shutdown, 85pc of his turnover was from meals, not drink. Over the past year, he has spent €350,000 on an outdoor dining area beside the River Annalee. It was supposed to make its debut on the St Patrick's long weekend.
The patio may welcome its first diners next week, when Murph's reopens with 30 booked diners - for a pub that on a busy Sunday might serve 400 to 500 throughout the day, each of whom might represent a cover of €30 to €60.
Murphy, who gained his culinary skills working in hotels from Grenada to Geneva, forecasts he will lose at least €500,000 in trade this year.
But he plans to keep building value into the business. To that end, he is researching the €125,000 purchase and installation of automated rain shelters to make the patio a year-round dining option.
"You have to invest. I want to put those umbrellas into action and make a business space I never had before on a rainy day," he says.
In the seaside fishing village of Skerries, Paddy McNally is looking forward to reintroducing his skills as a cocktail artist at his reinvented pub, the Bus Bar.
The 28-year-old was among three young investors who in 2018 acquired the leasehold to the local landmark.
McNally had just come back from the US with new ideas after working as a barman in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Morgan Keane, a nephew of the owner, recruited him to inject fresh thinking into the Bus Bar. They and another business partner spent more than €60,000 on refurbishments and a seasonally changing drinks menu.
It seemed a winning formula and, for a year, it was, with locals enjoying the range of traditional and craft brews on weekdays and a younger weekend crowd downing cocktails. Revenue split 70pc for beer, 30pc for cocktails.
The Bus Bar is due to reopen the weekend following July 20, the date set for pubs without substantial food offerings. For now, it will open only at weekends.
McNally, who has been doing home deliveries of cocktail kits for €7 a drink, is certain that the pub will resume a central place in our lives.
"People can buy alcohol very cheap from an off-licence. So why come to a pub? Because they want to meet people, to rub shoulders, to chat with bar staff, to listen to music," he says.
"It fills a biological need for humans. We're not going to sit in isolation chambers. We just need to weather this storm."