NORTH SWANZEY — The la-test venture at Keene’s Dillant-Hopkins Airport is scheduled for takeoff next month, though this one will remain squarely on the ground.
Mama McDonough’s Irish Pub, the former Hillsboro restaurant moving into a vacant location at the airport, plans to open July 6, according to owner Rich Hellings.
Hellings, a Hillsboro resident, said Tuesday he expects inspections of the pub — previously The Flight Deck restaurant, which closed in March — will be finished by the end of next week, with the last of its equipment also arriving by then. Mama McDonough’s has made minor renovations to the 1,450-square-foot space, including upgrading the bar and adding a lounge area, but he said it’s largely similar to The Flight Deck.
Airport Director David Hickling told a Keene City Council committee in April that the city had put out a request for proposals to fill the vacant North Swanzey airport space and that Mama McDonough’s was the better of two bids.
The restaurant, which serves typical pub food and traditional Irish fare, had been looking for a larger venue than its downtown Hillsboro location, which opened eight years ago, Hellings said. He also owns a food truck that recently added a brick-and-mortar location, both of which he said will stay in Hillsboro.
Hellings — whose son Zack will be the general manager at Mama McDonough’s — said the pub’s name is a tribute to his grandmother, Gertrude McDonough. The daughter of Scottish immigrants, her fingerprints are on the family-oriented operation, according to Hellings.
“She kind of instilled in us that you always have to make people feel like a part of your family when they come to your house or your place of business,” he said. “... We’re pleased to be able to bring something like that to the Keene area.”
Mama McDonough’s will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner Tuesdays through Sundays, Hellings said. The restaurant is scheduled to open at 7 a.m. on weekdays and at 8 a.m. on the weekend, though he said hours could change to meet demand. It also plans to offer live music on the outdoor patio on the weekend as well as interactive events, like karaoke and trivia, on other days.
Airport Maintenance and Operations Manager Mike Moriarty said Tuesday that city officials are “very excited to see an operation come back to the airport,” explaining that recreational pilots often choose a destination for its food options.
Mama McDonough’s still faces at least one hurdle before opening next month, according to Hellings: Like many local eateries, the restaurant has struggled to fill staff positions. The pub has hired around 12 people but is still looking for line cooks, hosts and dishwashers, meaning Hellings may need to pitch in temporarily.
“That will put me back in the kitchen,” he said. “That’s not where I want to be, but we’ll do whatever we have to.”