A Co Fermanagh restaurant has been named as the winner of a prestigious award industry as its chef revealed plans to open a new restaurant next year.
28 at the Hollow chef and former Great British Menu contestant Glen Wheeler revealed his plans to open a new restaurant upstairs in historic Enniskillen pub Blakes of the Hollow, having had the basement of the premises for the last 18 months.
While he does not have a firm date for when ‘Glen at the Hollow’ will officially open its doors, Glen says it will be at some point in the new year.
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He says it will be a level up from his current offering at 28, with the emphasis on fine dining as part of a tasting menu.
“We have 28 at the Hollow which is in the basement of Blake’s, but then above the bar there is a space over two floors and we are going to do 30 or 35 covers max,” Glen said.
“It will be everything I ever dreamed of or trained for, it’s my dream restaurant.
“I could open it now but it’s not exactly where I want it as far as the interior and a few other things go.
“All in good time, once I’m able to get enough staff and a team built for upstairs then it will allow me to do exactly what I want.
“It will be more fine dining and it will be a set thirteen or fourteen course tasting menu. Smaller numbers and just really good food hopefully.”
This week 28 at the Hollow was awarded the Best Restaurant Award for Northern Ireland in 2022 by the Grub Club.
The exclusive private dining club was established over 40 years ago, with some of NI’s best eateries having been named as winners in previous years.
Glen said it was an honour for him and his wife Zara, who runs the front of house for the restaurant.
“In May I was approached and asked would I do it and it was a great change for us. It allowed us to knock it up a level,” Glen said.
“There’s about 15 or 20 of them come in and then they score the meal out of 10 and discuss what they liked, what they didn’t like.
“At the end of the year they compare all of the scores from all over the North, so for us to get that award down in Fermanagh is a massive achievement for us.”
In the middle of the Christmas rush, Glen says it has been a good year for the business, although plenty of challenges remain around recruitment of staff.
“We’ve had a really good year, normally come September, October and early November it does dip quite a bit but this year it has held up rightly thankfully,” he added.
“It was a challenging year because we’re coming out of all the lockdowns and everything that came with that, but the last six or seven months have been really enjoyable.
“We’re finding it so hard to get chefs, we’ve been crying out the last while trying to get people in and we just can’t get them.
“If there is anyone out there looking to get into the industry I’d welcome them in with open arms to come in and spend a few days and get a feel for it.
“A big shout out to the staff that we have, they are phenomenal and they really are our heartbeat. We treat them all like family and we want to look after them as best we can.”
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