PUB OF THE YEAR: Dorman's Opera, Magherafelt
There's not many of us who would claim to enjoy nothing better than a night at The Opera — unless you live up Magherafelt direction.
Classy pub Dorman’s and its sidekick nightspot The Opera really has put the small town on the map.
That’s because a combination of a pub and club that would rival anything that Belfast or the rest of the province can offer, plus a string of celebrity guests, pulls in thousands of people a year from near and far to its doors.
Dorman’s and The Opera has been in the Dorman’s family for over 100 years and is very much a key part in Magherafelt’s history.
Current owners Henry and Teresa McGlone have recently revamped the venue and the 1,260 capacity boasts six bars, including a smoking area which is the missing link in so many clubs and pubs now.
The Opera attracts hundreds of people from all across Northern Ireland weekly for its busy Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and the adjoining bar Dorman’s serves up an amazing menu of delicious food, so there really is something for everyone.
The Taste of Ulster Awards plaque shows their commitment to serving quality food and supporting local produce.
Henry McGlone said: “We are busy at the moment but you just can’t rely on that, we are proactive and always thinking of new ideas and new challenges.”
And that is very true as they have recruited new manager Ciaran Kelly who has a sparkling CV.
Ciaran said: “I began my career at Dorman’s, then went away and trained as a mixologist and I’ve worked in London, New York, Miami and Ibiza.
“I'm passionate about great customer service and great cocktails.”
And not only does it have great cocktails, The Opera regularly welcomes celebrities, such as Mark Wright from TOWIE recently and DJ Scott Page, who plays on a Thursday at The Opera and flies straight to Ibiza from Northern Ireland each week — very showbiz.
The staff are very customer focused and as I sipped on my Mojito, made to perfection by Ciaran, Henry told me how he keeps his employees happy.
He said: “Having a happy team is vital, you must look after them. We have team-building activities and staff incentives such as Rihanna tickets and football trip incentives, I don't have a big turnaround of staff.
“I'm very hands on too as I think it’s important to set an example, I like to be behind the bar pulling pints too.”
And not only do the staff have incentives, the punters do also, with the management giving away amazing prizes such as easyJet flights to Palma and VIP access to one of Europe’s hottest nightclubs — BCM — and its finishing party in Magaluf where the winners will party with DJ Scott Page.
Henry explained: “Our
Thursday night summer promotion is a fantastic success, we have a great relationship with local businesses and were staggered when they offered us around £30,000 in prizes.
“This, together with the support of easyJet, BCM club in Magaluf and broadcast partner Cool FM, created a real buzz in the town — and the nights are proving great fun for customers and staffbut there’s no time to stand still as we’re now planning a new Friday night promotion and of course Christmas is just around the corner!”
The style of the whole venue is Gothic and even though it’s a modern venue it has an old traditional pub feel too, they really have got it spot on.
And Henry prides himself on the fact that his venue is popular with people from all walks of life. He added: “We get people travelling from all over the province and we never have any trouble, it’s a great club and a great night out.”