Welcome to your June newsletter, 

Today is the day that I get to reopen my business and welcome my customers back. I am finding it extremely hard to celebrate my reopening because I know that my business is one of only approximately 1 in 5 restaurants that has the ability to trade. 80% of restaurants and cafes are still severely restricted due to the lack of outdoor dining space and will be forced to continue operating as a takeaway or wait it out for another gruelling month. So while hotel restaurants like my own hotel restaurant may be open indoors….. there are a couple of thousand restaurants that will not even be able to open outdoors. In my own town of Drogheda heavy investment with the outdoor dining scheme in the form of tasteful decking areas with bench seating are now in situ.

My local council has provided businesses with a small area for their customers to enjoy a coffee or a little terrace dining, but they will not allow customers to have a glass of wine because the local bye laws will not allow for alcohol in a public space. Breaking these rules will result in a fine for the licensee and the patron. There has been a huge investment put in to these on street structures. We are made to believe that a romantic European style of outdoor dining will be the new normal yet it will not allow customers to enjoy a glass of wine with a meal. Whether this is unintentional or not it is very disappointing that restaurants are expected to trade viably under these set of conditions.

The Restaurants Association will be supporting one of our members in a judicial review that will challenge the statutory instrument that has allowed hotel restaurants open prior to stand alone restaurants for indoor dining. Just to be clear, this challenge may not get our doors open up any earlier, but it is a challenge that will stop the totally unnecessary separation of our, dining industry which includes Hotel restaurants, cafes, restaurants and gastropubs. As has been conceded by officials, there is and will never be any scientific evidence to suggest that it is safer to open hotel restaurants than any other food service establishment. This test case is about how our industry is to be treated in the future. I will not sit back while discriminatory decisions are made. The unintended consequence of this decision is that of competition for rebolstering our teams and also an unfair advantage financially for the businesses that cannot open. The challenge will be enormous, but it is very important that unfair and discriminatory decisions are challenged and for that reason I will be fully supporting our Association in this matter.

The weekend that has just passed has displayed very unfortunate scenes on social media. Civil disobedience from an element of trouble makers are causing problems in our capital and I would like to commend the Gardai for their efforts in not tolerating this behaviour.

I cannot help but think that if all of hospitality had of opened prior to this, would the scenario have escalated the way it did. Not that I would want any of these troublemakers in my business but civil unrest can take shape in many different forms by many different demographics. I hope that with the reopening of hospitality things may calm down a bit and hopefully in the very near future things may return to some kind of normality.

For those that can reopen today. I would like to wish you the very best of luck, I look forward to next month’s newsletter.

Best Wishes,

Mark McGowan -President