Category Updates

Editor’s Note: May 2019

An open, blank notebook with a pen on a wooden table

The sudden closure of Dublin’s Luna restaurant raises concern on a number of levels.  If a highly rated restaurant, run by two of the most experienced restaurateurs in the city with one of the most regarded chefs heading up the kitchen, can’t make it work, then what quite is going on?

Is Dublin over saturated – has the level of choice outstripped demand?  If so, dangerous news for the numerous multinationals setting up shop who will be looking for profits above all else.  Dublin City Council has questions to answer here, having been generous with new permits in recent years. It is common right now to see a retail unit close and reopen as a foodservice operation weeks later.

Is the cocktail of rates, insurance and the recent VAT hike proving to be all too much?  That in itself is a more worrying prospect, as its impact will be felt by every operator, from the local cafés to the Michelin star hopefuls.

Regardless, prices will need to rise over the coming year as

operators readjust their menus to balance the books.  It is therefore a good time to consider the upcoming summer season and play around with your offering – there’s a bigger variety than ever before of locally produced cured meats, breads, organic vegetables, cheeses, and gins, beers and so on.  Have a look at what’s in your area and consider picking up a box direct from the factory, incorporate it into a new dish or drink, and highlight it on your menu this coming summer.

For the highly trained, exceptional staff of Luna, a glimmer of hope was offered by the soon to be opened Marlin Hotel on Stephen’s Green, which has extended a hand of potential job offers.  Those affected are encouraged to email Michelle.Burke@marlin.com.

The temperature coming from Dublin’s restaurant scene plays into the wider hospitality sector, and in particular the number of hotels popping up in the first quarter.  Over 4,000 hotel rooms were under construction nationally by the end of Q1, 88% of which are in Dublin.

For every hotel comes a new restaurant, a new bar, and more recently, a new café.  This unprecedented pace of construction relies almost entirely on international tourism, particularly from North America, and while it’s a market that continues to show strong growth there is a definite air of too many eggs in one basket.

American tourists stay longer, spend more, and are surprised by the quality of food and drink on offer.  Yet an uncertain political climate makes for difficult conversations – when America sneezes, Ireland gets the flu.

On a more positive note we are fully in the swing of awards and festivals season.  The Restaurants Association of Ireland held their annual awards do in Dublin a few weeks back (you can read more from page 16 onwards) and not a week will go by between now and the autumn that won’t see a festival of some kind with a strong food focus happening in the country.  And there are plenty of big ones too, such as Sheridans Cheesemongers’ annual bash in Kells, Alcock & Brown 100 Centenary Festival in Clifden, SeaFest in Cork, Galway International Food and Craft Festival, and of course Bloom in the Park.

Finally, Fáilte Ireland’s new Taste the Island initiative is an attempt to ensure visitors to Ireland consistently see the world class food and drink on offer, in everywhere they eat and drink.  It has widespread industry support including from the Restaurants Association of Ireland to Chef Network, Euro-Toques, the Vintners Federation of Ireland, the Licensed Vintners Association, and the Local Enterprise Office.  Fáilte Ireland is aiming to increasing visitor spend in the ‘shoulder’ seasons and outside the already bustling main tourism centres. Whether you be a pub, hotel, or restaurant, it is worth considering attending one of the workshops taking place all over the country right now – visit www.failteireland.ie for more.

To contact me directly, email mark@fft.ie.

Food for Thought - FFT.ie, 59 Merrion Square, Dublin 2, Ireland.

The Official Publication of the Restaurants Association of Ireland

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