President’s Report – February

So it’s been decided… the 26th of February. The country is now in countdown mode. With new T.D.’s soon to be entering the Dail, we have the challenge of educating them on the issues that face our industry. However, there are also huge opportunities available as there will be new energy and an urgency I hope.

Let’s not forget, it is still tough out there and over the coming weeks it is up to each of us to make the case for our sector and educate our possible new TD’s at every opportunity. Educate them on issues we face in running a business that continuously absorb certain financial burdens that hold us back. We have a fantastic industry and we must take pride and ensure that our voices are heard by all parties that are looking for votes.

Good Friday. Only in Ireland would you see such a ridiculous law. The biggest event this country has seen in 100 years, the celebrations of the Easter rising. Not forgetting the Ireland v Switzerland international friendly at the Aviva Stadium – visitor numbers are set to soar over the weekend and guess what? The government decided to shut down the country at the start of it! But yet, it is ok because you can have exemptions allowing the sale of alcohol by travelling by sea, rail, air or ferry. Alcohol can also be sold in a licensed theatre and in gold clubs. Guests staying in hotels can be served alcohol, as long as it is taken with a meal.

But let’s forget about the rest of the country; restaurants and Gastro pubs? Tough luck! Have you ever heard anything as ludicrous? Moving swiftly on…

What a phenomenal success the Irish Restaurants Awards have become. I’d personally like to thank our media partner, the Irish Times, for all their help and assistance while not forgetting the Team at the RAI offices.

The next few months are busy for the Association and myself with regionals, finals, branch meetings, the AGM & Presidents dinner and of course, the main event, the Irish Restaurant Association Awards. Both myself, and the association are looking forward to meeting our members at our country-wide branch meetings over the next few months. So, busy times ahead and hopefully busy restaurants too. These meetings are informative on topical issues and a great way to network with fellow restaurateurs and associates.

Our monthly council meeting took place at the RDS. It was very well attended with some very good topics that are affecting restaurants in their regions being raised by council members. These will certainly be addressed by the association over the coming weeks. Please feel free to bring up any matters that may concern you with your regional chairperson who sits on council.

This country has weathered the storm, now it’s time to dance in the rain! Let’s offer the local, domestic and international visitor the finest fresh produce that this land has to offer along with value for money and a customer service that’s the best in the world. It’s up to us what we make of 2016.

Finally, a massive congrats to our CEO, Mr Adrian Cummins, whose sore knee is healing well after proposing to the beautiful Bernadine Walsh! Exciting times ahead for the lovely couple.

Sláinte,

Anthony Gray
President Restaurants Association of Ireland