WITH outdoor hospitality permitted to reopen from tomorrow (Friday, April 30) as part of the latest easing of coronavirus restrictions, a popular local ‘gastro-pub’ is using the day as an opportunity to expand, creating an outdoor dining space capable of seating around 40 customers.

Dale Ebbitt, of The TapHouse restaurant in Enniskillen, is “excited” to get open again in the form of an outdoor restaurant.

Speaking to The Impartial Reporter ahead of opening on Friday evening, Dale explained that the new outdoor dining space will feature tents – but in keeping with the new outdoor regulations, he has ensured that the space will be exposed to fresh air and safe ventilation.

“We have to keep a lot of it exposed, for the restrictions, but we are hoping to house 40 people; we’ve taken bookings for 40 people, so we need to make it happen,” he explained.

Describing the aesthetic of the new outdoor space, Dale said: “It’ll be a lot of indoor furniture brought outdoors, and we’ve got 6m by 9m completely covered with heat lamps and lights.

“The stuff we’ve bought is water-resistant. If we have extreme weather, it probably wouldn’t be able to go ahead, but the weather this weekend, it’s [forecast to] just give showers so it seems fine.”

Although this is a new venture for The TapHouse, in pre-Covid times the restaurant had previously hosted private events outside.

“We have had weddings and large groups outside. It is something we’ve done before, but we’ve now bought something that we can use again,” said Dale.

Although it’s not even open yet, the new dining space is already proving very popular. “We’re fully booked for the whole weekend. We’ve turned away a couple of hundred people,” noted Dale, who is delighted with the support.

Adding that “it’s fantastic” to be reopening, he said: “It’s just been so long – so many months [that we’ve been closed].

“All the staff are excited to get back at it. We understand that the whole place can’t open fully, but at least we’re able to do something, and we’re just looking forward to getting the customers back.”