The Portstewart Arms has been part of the furniture in the widely beloved North Coast town for a long, long time.
The establishment, under the care of the Kelly family since 1988- but with a history that reaches much further- employs ten staff and proudly caters for generations of locals.
“The pub is very much part of a close knit community. I took over the running of the pub from my father. His regulars are now all grandparents, and their children and grandchildren were my regulars!” says current licensee Declan Kelly with a warm laugh.
The pub is also known as something of a sporting hub, making good advantage of the multitude of world class golf courses scattered around that part of the world.
“Our golf society has been capped at 50 members for the last decade. The demand was always far too high!”
But the Kellys’ 32nd year of stewardship of a Portstewart institution has been anything but normal.
“It has been simply unbelievable”, sighs Declan.
“I do consider us one of the lucky few. We have a modest outdoor area with all of the necessary precautions in place, which brings in some custom at the weekend.”
“But July and August are always going to bring people out in Portstewart. My fear is what the winter is going to bring.”
Mr Kelly knows that all too well the challenges that lie ahead for The Portstewart Arms and the many traditional pubs in Northern Ireland.
Hospitality Ulster has warned that traditional non-food / ‘wet-only’ pubs face decimation, and their staff face mass redundancies, unless the NI Executive can provide an urgent reopening date, or indeed a financial lifeline.
“I already have everything done. There are signs, dividers and sanitation stations in place indoors. We’re ready.”
“We just need a chance to prove that we can open safely with all of the right measures and precautions in place, like everyone else.”