herald

Sunday 21 December 2014

Diners gasp as Michelle and girls drop in at Thresher's pub

DINERS at Matt The Thresher's gastro pub in Dublin city underwent searches and security screening as they went for a meal last night.

When customers made bookings for dinner in the well-known pub, neither the establishment or diners knew Michelle Obama would be joining them.

The US First Lady and her two daughters Malia (14) and Sasha (12) went to the well-known Dublin restaurant last night for dinner.

However, the restaurant did not close as many would expect for such an occasion – they remained open for the guests who had previously booked in.

The US first family dined on prawns, shepherd's pie, and fish and chips at the Dublin brasserie after enjoying Riverdance at the Gaiety Theatre.

The unsuspecting other guests at the restaurant were searched by gardai, passed through metal detectors and subjected to security screening by the US Secret Service before they sat down to enjoy their meal.

And the strict security protocols were not limited to the paying punters – head chef Stephen Caviston was only allowed to make gastronomic magic for the special guests after a detailed security sweep of the premises and a quick look in his larder.

But for restaurant owner Jimmy Lyons it was worth the trouble, and will give his eatery an Obama bounce for some time to come.

relaxed

While all visits from high-profile visitors bring an air of nervous tension, Michelle, the girls, and their entourage of around 50 security staff and gardai, all enjoyed a relaxed meal for two-and-a-half hours.

"The first I knew that anything might be happening was on Sunday night at 9.30 when one of the organisers rang and asked me a few questions about the restaurant," Jimmy Lyons told the Herald.

"They said we were on a shortlist and that the secret service guys would ring me 10 minutes later," he added.

"Then I got another call, I presume from the secret service, although they didn't say, who asked to meet me on Monday morning, and told me that if I told anyone then the visit would be cancelled," Jimmy explained.

"Then yesterday morning they came in and checked out the whole place. This jeep arrived and four or five guys jumped out of it and came in and went through the place."

"They asked if I would close the restaurant after the Riverdance event, but I explained to them that I had a lot of bookings I didn't want to cancel. They asked to see the reservations list and explained that other guests would have to undergo a security check.

"Michelle was just fantastic, and the kids so polite. Michelle even went around to different tables after dinner apologising to people for disturbing their evening and shaking their hands. It was incredible, they got a standing ovation from everyone as they left," said Jimmy.

cfeehan@herald.ie

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