Penaluna’s Famous Fish & Chips in Hirwaun, Aberdare, is to reopen its restaurant three years after it closed following Covid restrictions.
The 56-seater restaurant has remained shut since March 2020, serving only as a collection point for click and collect customers ordering from the takeaway next door. But continued requests from locals to reinstate an eat-in option has given owner Lee Penaluna confidence that he can make it a viable business once again.
Lee comments: “Even before Covid, the cafe side was costing us money each day to keep open. It was being totally subsidised by the takeaway if I’m honest, but I was keeping it open because it was such a big part of the community. Then Covid came in and that was that. But recently we’ve had a lot of customers begging us and begging us to reopen.”
Trade is picking up generally with Lee, adding: “We’re getting an awful lot of demand on a Monday in particular. I was here deep-cleaning and preparing Monday just gone and I easily turned 20 people away, and we’ve been closed on a Monday for over three years.”
After a small amount of building work, Lee hopes to have the restaurant open in May although with a much reduced capacity at 25 seats. Opening times will be in line with the takeaway next door, operating Tuesday to Saturday, with the hope of extending this to Mondays and into the evenings.
As well as fish and chips, customers will have the option of bacon and sausage rolls in the morning, alongside coffees, frappes and cakes. Outside seating and an alcohol licence are also in the pipeline.
“Customers can’t wait, they are over the moon and I can’t wait either,” says Lee.
“We were a major part of the community, there was a really nice buzz in there and that sound of knives and forks on plates, I’ve just really missed it. I used to go round and sit down with customers and have a coffee with them and some of them would even make me a coffee!
“I’m looking forward to having that back again.”