An Irish pub on the north side of Dublin found a novel way to simultaneously serve its customers and boost exposure during the COVID-19 pandemic by operating a 'pints on wheels' delivery service.
Grainger's Pebble Beach in Clontarf has since launched an equally innovative service to deliver pints from pub-to-door sealed with airtight caps to ensure their customers can enjoy a fresh and tasty draft of their favorite brew.
The North Dublin pub began serving fresh pints of Heineken and Guinness out of kegs set up in a special delivery jeep after the Irish Government shuttered all pubs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pub staff poured pints for their customers right in front of their eyes in the closest thing to the real Irish pub experience that has emerged during the lockdown.
Pub owner Mark Grainger said that he hatched the innovative idea for a pints on wheels style delivery service when he was in San Franciso several years ago.
"I was in San Francisco a couple of years ago and I saw a guy serving pints from a vehicle outside a bar. It was outside his own bar and it was more for customers’ convenience on a summer day," Grainger told IrishCentral.
"I said to myself that that might work at home, but I never much of it until this thing with the COVID when I said I’d have a go at bringing this service out."
Grainger believes that the service has a future in the Irish pub industry.
"I think there could be a future for something like that in our industry attached to your pub because it has to be attached to your license."
Suited and booted, it might be tempting to approach when seen but unfortunately this isnt an ice cream van. Give the number a call and we'll get you hydrated! #mobilepints #pintdelivery #clontarfPubliée par Graingers Pebble Beach, Clontarf sur Jeudi 14 mai 2020
Despite owning a license, however, Pebble Beach still experienced problems with members of An Garda Síochána, who asked the pub to cease its unique service.
Grainger has since obtained proof that the pub is entitled to run the service, but Pebble Beach nevertheless operates it on a much less frequent basis to allow gardaí to worry about other issues.
"We have a super relationship with the Garda Síochána and we agreed to stop the service," he said.
"I wasn’t 100%, but I was pretty sure it was legal. I just had to get clarification on it. I called our solicitor – Tom Loomes – he’s a genius in licensing laws. We got some advice off him and he gave us documentation to prove that we weren’t breaking any laws."
Even though he has legal proof, Grainger has decided to scale back the operation for the time being to ease pressure on the gardaí, but he has big plans to enhance the service in the height of summer.
He remains coy on those plans which he says have not been seen in any pub the world over.
For now, Pebble Beach has reverted to a more traditional delivery service with a few innovative and ingenious twists.
The pub is serving pints sealed with airtight caps to keep the pint's head intact and Grainger said that his customers are as enamored with this concept as they were with the novelty of having pints poured in front of their eyes.
"They certainly have enjoyed the novelty of seeing the point poured in front of them, but they’ve also enjoyed the novelty of getting pints from the pub because the service is quicker."
The pub promises to deliver fresh pints within five minutes of an order, even on busy nights, and Grainger says that he has enlisted the help of seven delivery drivers on Saturday nights to achieve that goal.
He said that his customers are happy to forego having a pint poured in front of them if they can get served quickly.
"They want their pints and they want them as soon as possible. If you’re offering a service it’s all about being efficient."
Grainger said that the pub has been inundated with orders ahead of the June bank holiday weekend.
The delivery service also enables the bar to offer customers a wider selection, according to Grainger. He said that the bar can offer around 30 different products, while there are only two available from the delivery jeep.
Strawberry daiquiris and Sex on the Pebble Beach cocktails have proved to be increasingly popular drinks as Ireland enjoys a spell of fine May weather and Grainger said that the cocktails also come fresh in sealed containers.
Talking about the wider Irish bar scene, the Dublin pub owner said that the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent recovery would force a number of Irish bar owners to reinvent themselves.
He said that pubs would endure difficult times until scientists came up with a successful vaccine for the virus and said that his pub was now adding a liquor store to deal with the increased demand for delivery service in a time of shuttered pubs and restaurants.