President’s Report – February 2020

Welcome to your February newsletter, I would like to begin on a positive note and congratulate all of the restaurants that have made the prestigious Sunday Times 100 Best Restaurants. This is a status that many of us strive to achieve and it is great to see the calibre of restaurants that are RAI members making the list. Nominations for the Irish Restaurant Awards have now closed and over 100k online nominations were received which is a record since the awards were established 11 years ago. The Regional Awards will be taking place over the coming months and the first location is the Leinster Awards which will be taking place in the Knightsbrook Hotel on 26th February. Tickets will be available shortly, keep an eye on the Irish Restaurant Awards Website for updates and good luck to all of the nominees involved.  

We are already a full month into the first quarter of 2020. January as predicted proved to be a devastating month for many restauranteurs that had to make the difficult decision to close their doors for good. The impact is obviously felt by many in a single business not only the employer, but also the employees and local farmers and producers. 2020 has seen restaurants close in Ireland at the rate of one per day. We are all aware as to why these restaurants have closed. Every single restauranteur has said the 50% hike in the VAT is enemy number one. The owners of closed establishments have also said that the VAT hike was the culprit. As the general election is only a couple of days away, we have an opportunity to put the question to local candidates. If they get elected, what is their position on reducing the VAT back to 9%? The Restaurants Association has prepared our manifesto for the upcoming election which was delivered to each member, and general election candidate. This is our gospel for lobbying candidates to save our industry because it will not survive unless there is immediate action in reducing the cost of doing business.

In order to achieve many of the goals on our manifesto it is important that we have a voice at government level. We need a voice that can lobby for our entire industry not just restaurants because we are together in this and our goals are parallel. We want to have a reputation that can be benchmarked against the best in the world when it comes to hospitality and tourism. We want our staff to work in an industry that is lucrative and is full of opportunity so that in turn they can provide good lives for themselves and their families. We want an industry that is appealing to future generations and these generations will be the fabric behind a good social life for everybody in Ireland and our visitors from afar. Social interaction is vital when it comes to mental health and ultimately that is what we are providing to the general public. It is an industry that we cannot live without.

I hope that the shortest month of the year will be a busy one, unfortunately Valentine’s Day has landed on a Friday this year, I cannot lobby for change on that but none the less I think it will be a good Weekend. Have a good February, I hope to see you at the Awards.


Mark McGowan


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