Two of Ireland's top chefs weigh in on issues facing the hospitality industry

By Fiona Frawley

May 26, 2022 at 4:47pm

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In the wake of over two years of closures, re-openings and more closures, harsh restrictions and uncertainty, the list of issues facing the hospitality industry gets longer and longer.

Staff shortages, increased rents and rising food costs combine to create a grim environment for those working to return to some version of *how things used to be*. Recently, restaurateurs  JP McMahon and Gaz Smith have taken to Twitter to discuss the realities of working in hospitality in the current climate.

JP McMahon is a chef and author, owner of a number of Galway eateries including Aniar and Tartare and author of The Irish Cookbook. He also has a weekly column in the Irish Times.

In a recent Twitter thread, JP writes: "14 years in business and this is definitely worse than recession or covid... is it time for an exit strategy?", adding in the comments that anyone who believes independent restaurants are profiteering "is an idiot".

He also cites the people of Ireland's love of a bargain as another issue, writing:

Another issue is that higher wages led to more expensive food in restaurant, like Copenhagen. I don't think people want to pay more. If anything, they want to pay less. The Irish psyche demands a deal.

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In another exchange, he mentions that he believes that collapse is "coming soon".

Meanwhile, restaurateur and chef at Michael's Gaz Smith has weighed in, writing "every single cog of the operation is getting squeezed at the moment". He added: "People want staff paid well and trained well and great food bought from small producers - this currently demands a very high yet very justified price tag".

He cited rent as an issue, and not just for restaurants but for those working there too - he says that although his restaurant pays well, due to the cost of rent in Dublin some of his staff members "have to share bedrooms" and that for many hospitality workers from other parts of Europe who moved home for lockdown, returning is financially not an option.

He adds that costs not just of food, but of restaurant items such as menu paper, napkins and even tea lights have all increased, writing: "This isn’t like the last recession where we can cannily use cheaper cuts and pass on the savings - There are no cheap cuts".

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In case anyone needed a reminder - it's an important time to get out and support local restaurants and as always, be patient and be sound. Times aren't easy.

Header image via Shutterstock 

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