The Oliver is a vibrant bar, restaurant and private dining / function venue. It’s located in the centre of Newry, just a two-minute walk from the local bus station, shopping centres and high street shops. The Oliver is walking distance from the city centre hotel and ten-minute drive from the train station.
The restaurant was struggling to find a head chef. I was teaching in the catering college and working in the industry at the weekends when I got a phone call asking if I could help out until the owner recruited a new head chef. I saw an opportunity and the huge potential the restaurant had, and just seven months later, took it over myself.
We have a traditional menu serving old favourites and introduced a full specials menu that changes every few days – this is where we really focus on fish, seasonal produce, wines and craft beers. The main menu is reviewed regularly, then we introduce the best sellers from our specials menu.
We are slowly changing people’s perception from something they might not have tried before to something a bit more modern. Our cocktail menu is also reviewed often and is seasonal (we do have some fantastic “Oliver twist” cocktails). If you don’t fancy a dessert after dinner, our range of cocktail desserts seem to be hitting the spot at the minute with our diners.
The venue can accommodate up to 200+ diners between the ground floor bar and restaurant area, the private function room and our latest edition, the heated rooftop terrace located on the first floor (just completed in 2021).
Downstairs at the front of the premises, an additional 50 customers can avail of a more lounge-orientated ambience. Events such as, christenings, engagement parties and birthdays are easily catered for in the spacious 70-person capacity function room.
Weddings are a new development for 2021 following the completion of our redecorated private function room – it’s the perfect solution for the increased demand for smaller, intimate weddings. Customers can also avail of outside dining with a capacity of forty on our heated rooftop terrace and enjoy the stunning views across Newry.
COVID has helped us increase our creativity and ability to adapt fast, so in spite of the difficulties of these strange times we’ve come to terms with a rapidly-evolving environment, both within the business and that of our customer needs, particularly from the refurbishment and redecorating.
We are also still very much focused on our mission to not only provide the best dining experience but to change the reputation of the industry and help the next generation of chefs by supporting our education system. We currently have two young chefs working full time whilst undertaking an apprenticeship with Belfast Central Training, as well as a part time commis chef in full time education with SRC. With a major shortage of chefs, we want to create a springboard for these young professionals and give them the opportunity to earn while learning.
We are very much from field to fork using fresh local seasonal ingredients and work to bring back basic larder knife skills to produce fantastic dishes. We are still a relatively new team but will push forward to achieve everything we set out to do.
It’s fair to say it’s been a shocker of a year, and the industry has felt the full force of the impact coronavirus has had on the hospitality industry. With the easing of restrictions and huge swaths of the country reliant on the industry for income there are many people’s livelihoods at risk. We have gone above and beyond to provide a socially-distanced safe haven for our customers, including the extension of an outdoor rooftop terrace.
People are keen to go back to their favourite bars and restaurants and socially interact with friends again; we are continuing to grow and establish ourselves as a successful bar, restaurant and small wedding venue with thanks to our loyal customers, staff and suppliers.
Find out more about The Oliver here.
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