It’s a new era, and we’re all learning to navigate differently in 2020, as never before. There have been economic ups and downs in the past, but nothing like Covid. The Old Newcastle House has been in business since 2009 and celebrating that 10th Anniversary Milestone was a proud time for our team in 2019, but no one saw this year coming. No one anticipated the scale and scope of challenges that were to start our 11th year in business at the east end of Clarington.
It truly does take a Village to support an independent restaurant, in a rather small hamlet, during a Global Pandemic. We asked, and our customers responded. We made fast, and radical changes to our services literally overnight, after our sudden closure of March 17th. On the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, which could be the biggest day of the year for an Ontario Pub, we had to suddenly close.
We’re fortunate here in our location, in an old converted two storey 1900’s house with a front yard and back porch, to be able to accommodate the new regulations and restrictions and keep on functioning. Out of the range of most delivery companies, we had to rely on our new Back Window Pickup, safe non-contact payment options, and the ability for our customers to come to us for their orders, waiting patiently, in all weather, just to enjoy our fare, and that was amazing!
We had great kindnesses shown to us, and a skeleton team of staff witnessed the way a village can come together in hard times.
Some examples of kindness, a hand painted sign, and small rocks that were left at our gates, thanking us for staying open during Covid, what a great feeling is to know how your community is willing to rally. Another outstanding example of the support we received is our customer, Cliff, who regularly placed an order with us, but even when not ordering, still gave a financial donation to our staff, very generously, and we were so touched by this gesture.
Our local Clarington Board of Trade in Bowmanville set up new Online Gift Certificate purchases for local merchants, to help us boost sales, and our local Clarington Tourism office set up an online directory for people researching the area to find us easily. We participated in the new Canada Takeout Day initiative, and were using every tool in the social media box to spread the word that we were still open, and it worked! Our customers shared, and invited new people to visit, they gave us extra great compliments to keep spirits high! We had local businesses shouting out about us, and we gave back where we could, donating some food and comfort to those who really needed it.
We have always relied on our location to be visible and welcoming to travellers passing through Newcastle, so the reopening of our newly renovated patio space in June allowed us to restart, and safely provide a space for dining with patio partitions. We’re a small-town pub, with a fine quality food and drink focus, not the biggest restaurant around, but striving to do our absolute best over 11 years, and with a cozy, warm atmosphere to set us apart from the big guys. We were able to take that feeling outside, and we must say, the new ‘booths’ are cozy and shady on even the hottest days on the patio.
We were also able to reopen our new addition from 2019, the Newcastle Dairy Ice Cream Trailer, and scoop out some much-needed sweet treats!
Is it nice to have our team wear a mask or face shield all day long? No, but it is necessary to keep everyone safer. We set up a contactless payment system, and a new contactless menu system. We hope to see a time in the near future when we can restart indoors, in whatever scenario ‘normal’ will look like, in the times we’re facing.
What can we say about the past 11 years in business? It was worth every great day, and every challenging day. We meet the nicest people from all over Ontario, and know someday soon our big hearted pub will pick up where we left off months ago, with Live Music nights, lively groups of happy people celebrating their milestone events, sports playing on the big screens, and a fire going in the sunroom on cool days. We support local suppliers, and we help to keep people employed in our community. We give wherever we can to local causes and charities, and we think all that has come back to us in recent months.
Until things all go back to normal, we’re digging in and sticking around, taking it one day at a time. Come on over to see us at 119 King Avenue West, in the Village of Newcastle. We are located about 1 hour from Toronto and 30 minutes from Cobourg, off the Mill St. Exit of the 401.
Follow us on Social Media for new updates, and Visit the Old Newcastle House online at www.oldnewcastlehouse.com. We look forward to meeting you for the first time, or, seeing you again after a long time!
The Old Newcastle House Taps & Grill