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DUP's Foster hails Bull & Claw diners who paid full cost of half-price meals at bistro

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Spirit: First Minister Arlene Foster praised the Bull & Claw and its customers

Spirit: First Minister Arlene Foster praised the Bull & Claw and its customers

Spirit: First Minister Arlene Foster praised the Bull & Claw and its customers

First Minister Arlene Foster yesterday paid tribute to the 'giant spirit' of a Co Down restaurant and its customers in the fight against Covid-19.

Speaking at a Stormont Press conference yesterday, Mrs Foster praised the popular Bull & Claw restaurant in Newtownards as it prepared to close for the coming four weeks.

"The restaurant had actually reduced their menu to half price to try and deal with the stock that they had - but the customers all paid the full price," she said.

"I think that speaks very much to the strength of our people, our goodness, our giant spirit - and I want to see more of that giant spirit moving forward over the next couple of weeks."

Ross Kane of the Bull & Claw told the Belfast Telegraph that both of the firm's restaurants - one in Donaghadee and the other in Newtownards - had taken part in the goodwill gesture to customers.

"Because we're closing, we decided that because we have stock here, fresh produce that has to be used, we need to use it up.

"So as a goodwill gesture to the people we said, 'We're going to give you 50% off, and we'll see you in four week's time'."

The customers responded magnificently, he said.

"But when they saw the discount the customers said to us, 'No, don't be doing that!' and wanted to pay full price.

"Whatever the bill was, they were leaving big tips for the staff.

"It happened here Donaghadee and at our Newtownards restaurant too.

"We were fully booked both nights - 162 covers on Wednesday and 167 on Thursday, from 5pm to 9pm.

"It's been mental."

The restaurants - famed for steaks and seafood dishes - will close to diners at 6pm today, after lunch service.

The two Bull & Claw venues will start a takeaway service next Tuesday, Mr Kane said.

The popular restaurant is still waiting to hear how the new financial support scheme will operate, and what help may be available for staff during the four week 'circuit breaker' restrictions.

"But it's good to get a plug from the First Minister," Ross added.

Belfast Telegraph