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Diversity or Dollar Signs?

Shane O Leary is Communications Manager at Ireland’s biggest exclusive lunch offers website www.mylunch.ie.

As part of the mylunch.ie team, you get to be pretty close to the food industry, so it’s great to have a chance to air opinions. I thought I’d have a look at a recent issue on the Dublin dining scene, restaurant closures.

You might not have noticed, but in late December last year, two of the gems in Dublin’s dining crown, the adjoined “Mermaid” and “Gruel” closed quietly.

Along with Nude on Suffolk St. and numerous other interesting small and medium food joints around the country, both became latest sufferers of our economic misfortune. Gruel in particular was seen as a big loss having reached almost cult status, (talks of a support group for serial abusers of its buns and “roast in a roll” are ongoing!), and indeed with the demise, the former owner mentioned that a “part of the fabric of Temple Bar was now gone”

Frustrations

Though the news was lost in the Christmas noise, once January arrived, there came an outpouring of frustration, as it emerged the rent for these two premises, on the periphery of Dublin’s shopping district, had been valued at €190,000 yearly, (up from £15,000 for one of the buildings in 1996), with seemingly upward-only rent review mechanisms in place.

This corner of Dublin, the axis of George’s Street and Dame Street, should be buzzing, but is now home to at least 10 unmanned stores. Couple this with Grafton St, the countries main shopping street, (and home to countless mobile phone shops, generic burger joints and convenience stores) and the tapestry of Dublin city seems to be alarmingly changing for the worse.

Recently, I happened to be a guest at the brilliant “Food Banter” at the Twisted Pepper, an informal food industry where esteemed panel members raised the issue of the nonsense red tape involved in setting up a food business (including a privatised “grease trap cleaning rate”!) and the idea that due to rent terms, it’s a better option for many to actually move premises, than go through the process of an upward only rent review. While discussing later with friends over a pint, it struck us that in a climate that sees one restaurant close daily (according to the RAI), could we be looking at an increasingly generic dining scene?

Unparalleled value for money

Restaurants, for the most part are doing their bit to maintain custom by offering unparalleled value for money, (we’ve numerous fantastic value exclusive lunch offers on mylunch.ie, see tinyurl.com/lunchoffers) being creative with their menus, and innovatively using online marketing, P.R. and social media.

Interesting small eateries like Burritos + Blues, Lolly and Cooks and The Winding Stair, plus fun events like the recent flash restaurant “Clonakilty by Candlelight” are putting the fun and passion back into dining in Dublin, so, with a new government in place and up and running, I feel the onus is on the powers that be to help the little guy, and ensure we maintain our rich history of food.

Now it’s for other, more economically trained brains to work out the nuts and bolts of this, (isn’t it always!) but the love and creativity from foodies will always be there, and we at mylunch would love to see more help given to fledgling food business, and an effort made to reinvigorate our food and tourism industry.

Any thoughts, opinions or abuse? Please feel free to contact shane@mylunch.ie

 

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