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The end of eating out? Restaurants facing an uncertain future

With social distancing likely to remain in place, chefs and proprietors are asking if their businesses will survive

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Making it work: Chef-proprietor Damien Grey pictured at Liath restaurant. Photo: Frank McGrath

Making it work: Chef-proprietor Damien Grey pictured at Liath restaurant. Photo: Frank McGrath

Making it work: Chef-proprietor Damien Grey pictured at Liath restaurant. Photo: Frank McGrath

Around the world restaurants are starting to re-open, with temperature checks for staff and customers, hand sanitisers at every turn, staggered eating times and plexi-glass screens between tables just some of the measures being taken to encourage diners back. Are we going to see all of this in Ireland, or is eat-in dining on the back burner for the foreseeable future as restaurants pivot to new takeaway and delivery models?

"I will do whatever it takes to be back up and running," says Gina Murphy of Hugo's on Dublin's Merrion Row. "I want to look after everyone, staff and customers. If it's financially viable, I'll do it. I can't if I am making a loss, but if I can break even I will keep going for as long as it takes. As restaurateurs, our biggest overhead is our rent - if the landlords play ball then we are in with a chance."

While Hugo's has been closed, Gina has been having regular Zoom meetings with her head chef and manager, and this week met them in the restaurant - "in a socially-distanced way" - to walk the premises and figure out the practicalities of re-opening.