The Hazel Hotel was abuzz with business and well wishers last Monday morning as it reopened its doors for business for the first time since its sudden closure in November 2010.
The new manager Pat Lawlor, who has leased the premises for a year, has admitted he is “taking a chance” with the hotel but he is hopeful it will all work out.
“What can I do but take a chance?,” he asked, amid the hustle and bustle and first signs of life around the landmark showband venue in over a year.
“I always had a love for the Hazel and it was a shame that it was idle. I hope to make it bigger and better than what it was. I’ve put a lot of money into it but this is the best venue in the country for music, food, accommodation and weddings. I’ve already booked some weddings. All previous debt has nothing to do with me. I have 15 full time staff and between 15 and 20 part time.”
There will be live music on Mondays and Thursdays with popular crooner Jimmy Buckley kicking off the opening celebrations this Thursday night.
“The phone is hopping with well wishers and everyone is delighted the dancing is back,” added Pat who originally hails from Castledermot but lives in Monasterevin. “All the dancing crew had gone to Carlow, Athy and Kildare for their county and western dances.
“They missed the venue and they wanted to get back to the Hazel. People need to get out and about and this town was very dead without this place and somebody had to do something about it. I used to socialise here myself and I just fell in love with it.”
Pat, who used to be in the building trade and who built on an extension for the hotel a few years ago, had a big job airing the place for the opening.
“It was damp,” he said. “I’ve had the heating on here for the last two months and today (Monday) you would never guess it had ever been closed.
“My family are behind me, nervous, but behind me and I have had lots of well wishers. It’s unbelievable. I am expecting a big crowd tonight.”
If Pat has one complaint in the midst of all the buzz and excitement of the opening it is the amount he has to pay in rates to Kildare County Council for the year.
“I’d like to see the rates brought down,” he added. “It will cost me €20,000 a year for the place -it’s way too high.
“There is no business could afford to pay that - it is a hell of a lot of money. If the rates don’t come down I’ll probably have to close after a year.”