As I write my penultimate report I have had little or no time to reflect on my last 2 years. The last month has truly been one of the busiest in my tenure and as usual there has been an all-out attack on our industry. We are just coming to terms with the VAT increase and with Brexit looming the government still feels they should hit our industry with more legislation. The first issue which comes into effect from today is the Employment Miscellaneous Provisions Act which was brought in to bans zero-hour contacts, but the calculations and bands are complicated to say the least, to implement especially within our industry. We then saw calories on menus raise its head again. I just can’t see the sense in this, as an independent restaurant who gives his head chef the licence to be as creative and change his menu as often as he chooses, this is just unworkable.
The real issue here is that adding calories on to restaurant menus will not cure obesity. Introducing food education in the primary school curriculum and making home economics compulsory is a step in the right direction. I do think a serious look at the module is needed and I would ask Simon Harris to examine the food that is sent out to Hospital patients and concentrate on improving this and leave us alone. The third major issue we face is legislation regarding tips. After a constructive meeting between our CEO Adrian Cummins and Minster Regina Doherty we feel it is best practise that members display their tipping policy. I think the customer is looking for transparency and confidence that when they tip for good serve that the money goes directly to staff.
On the lighter side of things, we have the 11th Irish Restaurant Awards Regional events coming up in the next four weeks. We had great success with the online nominations which were up 4% on last year. I would urge restaurants, cafés and gastropubs to come along to our Regional Awards nights. These nights are a great chance to meet up with fellow restaurateurs and to meet with our sponsors, also who knows, you may pick up an award or two!
On a final note my last call of duty will be on Monday 8th of April at our AGM and Presidents Dinner which will be held in the spectacular Europe Hotel, Kerry this year. We hope to have the brochure out to all members this week, but it promises to be a top class Conference with top quality speakers.