New restaurant opens at Dillant-Hopkins airport on July 6 | Local News
NORTH SWANZEY – The final test company at Keene’s Dillant-Hopkins Airport is set to take off next month, although it will remain squarely on the ground.
Mama McDonough’s Irish Pub, the former Hillsboro restaurant moving to a vacant airport location, plans to open on July 6, according to owner Rich Hellings.
Hellings, a Hillsboro resident, said on Tuesday he expects inspections of the pub – previously The Flight Deck restaurant, which closed in March – to be completed by the end of next week, on last of its equipment also arriving by then. Mama McDonough’s did minor renovations to the 1,450 square foot space, including modernizing the bar and adding a seating area, but said it was largely similar to The Flight Deck.
Airport manager David Hickling told a Keene City Council committee in April that the city had issued a request for proposals to fill the vacant space at North Swanzey Airport and that of Mama McDonough was the better of the two offers.
The restaurant, which serves typical pub food and traditional Irish food, was looking for a larger venue than its location in downtown Hillsboro, which opened eight years ago, Hellings said. He also owns a food truck that recently added a brick and mortar location, which he says will remain in Hillsboro.
Hellings – whose son Zack will be managing director of Mama McDonough’s – said the pub’s name was a tribute to his grandmother, Gertrude McDonough. The daughter of Scottish immigrants, her fingerprints are on the family operation, according to Hellings.
“She kind of instilled in us that you should always make people feel like part of your family when they come to your home or workplace,” he said. “… We are delighted to be able to bring something like this to the Keene area.” “
Mama McDonough’s will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday, Hellings said. The restaurant is expected to open at 7 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. on weekends, although he said hours could change to meet demand. It also plans to offer live music on the outdoor patio on weekends as well as interactive events, like karaoke and trivia, on other days.
Airport maintenance and operations manager Mike Moriarty said on Tuesday that city officials were “very excited to see an operation return to the airport,” explaining that recreational pilots often choose a destination for its dining options.
Mama McDonough’s still faces at least one hurdle before opening next month, according to Hellings: Like many local restaurants, 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 have to step in temporarily.
“This will put me back in the kitchen,” he said. “It’s not where I want to be, but we’ll do whatever we need to.”