Judge requests receipts as Gardai challenge bar’s restaurant license

December 3, 2020

Gardai have objected to a renewal of a restaurant certificate for one of Donegal’s best-known bars.

Gardai objected to the renewal of a restaurant license for McGinley’s Bar in Letterkenny today.

In their application, Gardai claimed that a pizza oven being used in a converted bus at the rear of the premises did not constitute a proper restaurant.

Gardai visited the bar on August 5th last and found 100 people on the premises.

The bar was served with a summons under Covid regulations and a case is due to come before the court in February of next year.

Sergeant Killian Callaghan told Letterkenny District Court that when he visited the bar there was very little evidence of food being served on the premises.

He accepted there was a bus at the rear of the building which had a kitchen area and staff working in it.

He said he only witnessed two pizzas being served despite the large number of people on the premises.

He also revealed that receipts given for food did not contain dates or times on them.

Solicitor for McGinley’s Bar, Patsy Gallagher said Gardai had given the impression that this was simply a pizza oven out the back of a pub.

“This is a restaurant with its own tables and its own chef and other staff. It is akin to any other gastro-pub in the town.

“On the night Gardai were invited to inspect the kitchen on the premises but they refused to do so,” he said.

The manager of the bar, Stephen Eliott, whose father is the licensee said they had made plans for the restaurant and installed the bus at the premises in August, 2019, longer before Covid struck.

“We were making plans to run a pizzeria in the bar eight months before Covid even came into the country,” he said.

Mr Elliott was asked what it would mean if he did not get a restaurant license before Christmas.

“It would mean that we would have to close and that 20 people would lose their jobs,” he replied.

In relation to the receipts for food witnessed by Gardai, Mr Elliott said they were not receipts but food dockets when people ordered their pizzas.

He said that everyone received a receipt for their food with times and dates on it when they paid for their food at the end of the night.

He added “We run a track and trace system. People have to call the bar and book a table and we use table service to serve people.”

He also produced a menu for the restaurant which included a range of pizzas, garlic bread and desserts.

Sgt Callaghan later accepted that he was happy with the kitchen, the socila distancing, layout of the pub, that the bar operated separate booths for customers and also that it operated two substantial ovens designed specifically for pizzas.

Garda Inspector Siobhan Mollohan said it was their case that McGinley’s Bar was not structurally adapted to be a restaurant.

She asked Mr Elliott if he could project how much the restaurant side of his business would be to his overall trade?

He replied that he would not have specific figures to hand but said it would be a large portion of their trade.

Judge Paul Kelly adjourned the case until December 16th saying that he wanted to see receipts with dates and times on them in relation to the food and drink side of the business.