Muldoon’s of Bellaghy: Weathering Covid, adopting new tech – and the best coleslaw for miles
The arrival of Covid forced Gabriel Muldoon to stay at home, away from his beloved supermarket in Bellaghy – but it didn’t stop him working, as his son Brian reveals to NR.
Gabriel, who built Muldoon’s back in the 80s, was 89 when the pandemic hit and he wasn’t at all keen to stay at home.
“He’s still very active after all these years,” says his son, owner-manager Brian (44).
“Up until last year he ran the kitchen – he worked there full-time. He was well-known for his home-made coleslaw – he had his own recipe and people came from all over for it.
So when Gabriel was forced to isolate, he didn’t take it well.
“He had the grandchildren handing in big sacks of carrots through the window and he was chopping them for the supermarket – he had my mother’s heart broken!” says Brian.
“He still asks every day what’s going on, how busy we are, what the sales are.”
The shop evolved out of Gabriel’s fish, fruit and veg delivery service and after Brian joined the business in 2001, they undertook a full renovation and extension, extending the deli adn fruit and veg area
Sales began to increase, staff numbers rose and the business began to grow.
These days, the store employs 32 people, including a number of part-time students.
Brian admits that the shop was extremely busy after the pandemic hit.
While the shop had been doing some deliveries before the pandemic, the demand for deliveries surged to the point that 20% of customers were phoning in their orders.
“We were delivering all day to people who were isolating. We always had done home delivery but not all day every day,” Brian says.
“So then we were doing substantially more deliveries – 20% of customers were phoning in for their deliveries and we had to handle taking orders by email, putting them together and getting them to people’s houses.
“We saw parts of the area that we hadn’t seen for years, going up lanes and so on. It was good crack and people really appreciated it.
“We would be leaving the deliveries at the door and people would be waving or speaking to us out of the window – sometimes you were the first person they had seen for days. It was an interesting time.”
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