Mid Ulster Mail Bar of the Year: Oldtown Inn

THE Old Town Inn was taken over by new management only last July and just over six months later have bagged the Mid Ulster Mail Award for Bar of the Year.

The team have focused on creating a friendly atmosphere and plenty of events, including the popular Cookie’s Comedy Club to attract a new crowd that has created a buzz for the bar again. Add to that a pleasant decor, friendly staff and tempting snacks on offer such as homemade pies and its easy to see why The Old Town Inn was voted the winner.

Managing the bar is Kildress man, Aidan Loughran who has a background in managing bars in England.

He said: “I’m thrilled to bits with this award, we did put a lot of work in and we’re trying to turn the bar around and get all kinds of people in. We’ve been organising a lot of events, we’re trying to do something different every week or every month.

“The events are really popular, and we have plenty of ideas for the bar for the future. We get loads of feedback about the bar, people say it’s the best-looking bar in the town.”

Aidan started off in the food industry when he was a student in Liverpool and moved into managing bars in London and Essex. He said the move home to manage the bar was a welcome one as he had been missing his mother’s home cooking!

The owner of the new and improved Old Town Inn, Zeca Monica said the venture has been a change for him.

“This was a completely different direction for me, I’m more used to the food business and so far it has been good.

We want to attract all ages and both sides of the community, and that has been a success so far. We feel we’ve been able to create a good atmosphere for everyone.”

Zeca, originally from Portugal but living in Cookstown for nearly 30 years ran Por Do Sol restaurant in Dungannon for three years and has owned the Killymaddy Restaurant also in Dungannon for 20 years.

The pair also acknowledge the dedication of their staff as a big factor in their success.

“It’s a small team but they are all hard workers,” Aidan said.

“We had a crazy response of people applying for the jobs, I decided to have a clean sweep and start from scratch with a new team of staff, apart from one. The staff are from different communities and areas and they also bring in a mixed crowd,” Zeca said.

“They have a likeability factor and we have men and women on the bar and there’s a good atmosphere with them,” Aidan added.

In the current economic climate they admit that running bar has been tough, but their efforts have managed to turn the business into an early success story that they plan to celebrate.

Zeca said: “We are going to have a party on Mothers Day to celebrate winning this award, and it will be fancy dress. So we’re hoping everyone will come and join in and it’s our way of thanking our customers from the last seven months.”

Zeca and Aidan pass their thanks on to their staff: William Mullan, Patrick Doyle, Kirsty McGlauchlan, Natasha Mullin and Chevonne Baxter. They also pass their thanks to Cormac O’Donnell for running the comedy night.

The Old Town Inn are hosting their fancy dress party on Sunday 18 March with music from Kingpin at 9pm with drinks promotions on offer.