In a tradition that lasted many years, local man Paul Dempster spent every Saturday afternoon at Romas in Newtownards, dining with his grandmother Margaret – and she always insisted on sitting at the same table.

Now, amid a £500,000 renovation of the popular bar and restaurant, owners have gifted the furniture to the 34-year-old from Newtownards, reuniting his family with the precious memento.

Margaret Dempster, who was Assistant Head Cook at Brooklands Primary School, Dundonald until her retirement, passed away in 2017 at the age of 82.

Paul said the table, which has also been engraved in memory of his grandmother, would serve as a reminder of happier times.

“Nan was a creature of habit. She would call us every week to ask what we were doing and every week, without fail, we’d end up getting lunch at Romas.

“As well as sitting at the same table, she always ordered the same thing – and it made the staff laugh – a beef baguette without the baguette!

“She actually had known the original owner Roma Hamill so the restaurant was a special place for us.

“When I heard that it was to be refurbished, I immediately thought of that table and sitting there with my dad, my sister, and nan.

“It will now sit pride of place in my kitchen. I am so grateful to everyone at Romas for making this happen.”

Romas Manager Leanne McClinton added:

“For decades, Romas has sought to provide first class service to the people of north Down and in many ways, we feel very much part of the families of our many loyal customers.

“It is our privilege to provide a place for them to gather to mark special occasions, birthdays, anniversaries, or in the case of Paul and the Dempster family, somewhere where they could come together for a regular catch up.

“As we look towards the next chapter of the Romas story, it is wonderful to think that a part of the former restaurant will remain for many years to come.”

The refurbishment works follow a major investment by Wolf Inns, one of Northern Ireland’s leading pub operating groups, which purchased the Regent Street venue late last year.

The first phase of the renovations, the downstairs bar and restaurant, has been completed.

A new separate bar, The Fox and Hounds, will also be created on the ground floor within the existing footprint of the building later his summer.

Finally, the 120-seater bistro and private dining areas on the first floor will also undergo complete refurbishment, culminating with the creation of a New York inspired open air roof terrace