SAVEOURPUBS - The Park and The Phoenix in Derry Londonderry
28 August 2020
The McDermott family name is virtually synonymous with traditional community pubs in Derry/Londonderry.
Well known Derry man Joe McDermott first opened The Phoenix Bar on the city’s Park Avenue in 1977, going into business with his late brother in law, the sadly missed Pascal Harper who passed away last year.
Their business expanded into the Park Bar on Francis Street in 1988, an establishment which can trace its roots back as far as the late 1800s.
Both pubs endured the uncertainty of the Troubles and an ever fluctuating economy and remain in the family to this day, with the reigns having been passed on to the McDermott sons.
But when their doors were closed on the 23rd March this year, the McDermott brothers have spent every day since preparing and hoping for a chance to get back to business.
Current licensee Niall McDermott speaks with an air of selflessness, feeling the weight of responsibility to both his staff and community.
“The sad reality is that unless we get a chance to show we can open safely and responsibly, the businesses will be lost forever.”
“Our staff have mortgages to keep up with, and bills to pay. We have worked tirelessly to put measures in place for a safe reopening, and now spend every day hoping to get the word that we can once again unlock the doors.”
As is so often the case with traditional pubs, The Park and The Phoenix serve mainly as a social hub for those who live nearby.
“Both pubs are at the heart of the community. It’s a meeting place. Some of the people who come in regularly have nowhere else. We are their family. Their community.”
Hospitality Ulster has outlined to NI Ministers and MLAs that many business owners of non-food pubs have been left without any hope and unless they are reopened soon, a financial package from the Executive is now urgently needed to save many businesses employing thousands across Northern Ireland despite hotels, restaurants, and pubs serving food operating safely since 3 July.