Tucking into their breakfast at Jac O Bites were Bernadette and Evan McKenna, Francis Carrig Picture: Shelley Corcoran
It has been tough but it's great to be back.
They were the overriding sentiments expressed by Longford's restaurant and bar fraternity on Monday as indoor dining returned for the first time this year.
Billed as a 'day of relief' for an industry beset by almost 500 days of enforced closure at Covid-19 took hold, positivity albeit of a somewhat cautious kind was in rich supply along the main thoroughfare of Longford town as patrons returned in gradual fashion on Monday.
David Dowd, proprietor of Take Two on Earl Street admitted the past seven months of continued closure had been "tough" to stomach.
"There's been a lot of revenue, customers and staff lost," he told the Leader.
"It is just about trying to rebuild the business from scratch and making sure your customers come back in and feel safe," he said.
Mr Dowd, who has been in the local restaurant business for the best part of a decade said while he was staying upbeat, it remained to be seen how the industry adjusted to new Covid safety measures in the long term.
"I don't know if it will ever be the same again," he said.
Inside, three members of the Croghan family could be seen unwinding after a late lunch as table staff worked diligently away in the background.
"It's brilliant, yeah it's great to be back inside," said a smiling Stephen Croghan.
"We wouldn't be one for cooking now, the microwave is getting a break."
Stephen, together with Michael Snr and Micheal Jnr took little time in fending off any suggestions the steady influx of patrons to the county town was in any way linked to lingering fears of a rise in Covid-19 cases.
"We are not worried about the virus, we feel safe with all the social distancing and safety precautions," said Stephen.
Just around the corner, Torc Café and Food Hall was a hive of activity as customers divided themselves equally between both indoor and outdoor table service.
"We are obviously delighted to be back," said proprietor Ruth McGarry-Quinn.
"There has been a very positive reaction from customers."
Ms McGarry-Quinn said whatever about the challenges posed by months of enforced inactivity inside, the benefit of being able to offer outdoor dining has aided its path through the ongoing pandemic.
"It has been very challenging, but we are delighted to be back and hopefully we won't be in a position of where we have to close again," she remarked.
It's a desire which is no doubt shared in equal gusto by Longford's hospitality sector and wider public at large as moves towads the full reopening of society continue apace.
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