President’s Report May 2022

Welcome to my President’s Report for May,
Hello everyone, my name is Paul Lenehan and I’m honoured to have been installed as the 25th president the Restaurants Association of Ireland. As a way of introduction I’d like to tell you a little bit about myself, I’m 43 years of age, born bred and reared in Kildare town and I’m extremely proud to be able to raise my own family in the same place I grew up. Myself and my wife Pauline have 4 children, Jamie, Millie, Ella- Jayne and Toby. I went to school in Newbridge college and then I went to GMIT to study Hotel and Catering Management. After spending a year in Germany and a year travelling the world in 2002, I came back to take up a position in the Talbot Hotel in Wexford. I stayed in the Talbot for 2 ½ years as C&B manager before joining the Carlton Hotel Group at their new hotel in Bunclody as Deputy General Manager. A year passed by the hotel was busy, hours were longer than ever but one evening I got a call from a friend of mine offering me a great opportunity to lease a pub/restaurant.

That was 2005, since then, we have worked, leasing a number of premises before purchasing The Dew Drop Inn & Brewhouse in Kill in 2016, we also have Hartes in Kildare town, and we opened our latest venture called Firecastle in Kildare in September 2020 in the middle of COVID. Firecastle is a café, delicatessen, grocer, and bakery with 10 Rooms.

May 2022 – Having just returned from Prague, where as President I was part of the Irish delegation at the HOTREC General Assembly, accompanied by our counterparts in the IHF, it is clear that all our European colleagues are all in a similar situation that we find ourselves in. Rising costs, staff shortages and sustainability are the common topics of conversation. We’re not alone. But what can be done about it. Nobody yet has the answers. New figures from the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation suggests that the sector continued to recover in March. This is obviously good news for our restaurants, cafes and hospitality businesses that are dependent on tourism. However figures still suggest that arrivals into the country are 31% lower than they were in 2019. Rising costs and the terrible and unaccusable war in Ukraine present significant challenges for our sector in the next few months. Its my view that the Irish Government needs to stay the course in terms of supporting the tourism industry. The deferring of the scheduled VAT increase must be confirmed sooner rather than later. This, along with rising costs and staff shortages are the three main topics I will be focusing on over my first few months as President. As I said earlier, I am honoured to be the new President and as an owner of three restaurants, I feel I am ideally placed to appreciate the challenges ahead for us all. It’s certainly not going to be an easy few years ahead. However you can be rest assured I’ll do whatever I can to represent our members as best I can.
Looking forward to many more updates over the next few years,

Yours in hospitality,
Paul Lenehan – President

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