Closures and discounts: how the snow is affecting restaurants
Restaurateurs are counting the cost of cancellations and closures, but there is an upside – that impossible to book table might now be yours
Gareth Smith, chef proprietor at Michael’s in Mount Merrion, Dublin, which is closed today due to the weather. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Worsening weather conditions have forced many restaurants around the country to close, while others that have decided to remain open are offering discounts to customers who brave the snow.
Paul Flynn, chef and co-owner at the Tannery in Dungarvan, had only two customers in his restaurant and wine bar on Tuesday evening. “We got wiped out. There were loads of cancellations when we came in yesterday morning. There’s nothing more soul destroying than an empty restaurant,” he said. “We will lose the guts of €20,000 this week.”
In an attempt to stem losses, Flynn launched a social media campaign announcing a 25 per cent discount on his food menu that continues today and tomorrow.
“I just said let’s do something, as opposed to doing nothing. We have about 11 booked for tonight now, which is better than we were expecting.” The business also has availability in its townhouse accommodation.
The publicity-generating move, which included publishing photographs of Flynn in his swimming trunks in a snowy garden with the caption #beatthebeast, has been criticised by some for trivialising a serious situation.
“Despite being accused of ‘lining our pockets’ we need to keep our doors open to pay our staff,” said Flynn’s wife and business partner Máire, who is the restaurant manager.
“There are many in the same boat. I feel for farmers trying to feed and buy feed for animals. We’re all stuck in it together and we will survive.”
The Tannery discount was immediately matched by Niall Sabongi, owner of the Klaw fish restaurants in Dublin. Only one of his three premises, Klaw Seafood Cafe in Temple Bar, is open today, with 25 per cent off menu prices.
Also in Dublin, Joe Macken’s chain of restaurants are offering #open4emma storm deals including two-for-one lunches and evening menu pizzas at Skinflint, 50 per cent off beer and hot toddies at Crackbird and Jo’Burger, and free hot cider on arrival at Hey Donna.
A spokesperson for Press Up which operates 28 hospitality brands, some with multiple outlets, confirmed that all would remain open for business during the storm, although the situation would be monitored with the safety of staff in mind. The group’s Wowburger branches are offering a snow day deal of €10 for a burger with fries and a soft drink.
Gareth (Gaz) Smith, chef proprietor at Michael’s, a neighbourhood restaurant in Mount Merrion, Co Dublin, took the decision to close early on Wednesday morning, with access issues and the safety of his staff his primary concerns.
“We got up very early this morning and when I saw the streets I kind of knew in my heart we’d be closed. When I got to Mount Merrion and the locals were trying to stop me driving up the hill, that was when I knew it was a no-go.”
Smith had 45 bookings for Wednesday night and estimates he will lose €3,000 by closing for the day. “It is not just the loss on the turnover, it is the loss on stock as well. If we close again tomorrow, it’s another €3,000, plus about €1,000 of stock. If it goes into Friday and Saturday, then that’s when the real danger comes.”
He intends to review the situation on Thursday morning. “Tomorrow is looking worse. When I called to let all of our suppliers know we wouldn’t be taking any deliveries today, they said they’d probably be cancelling themselves tomorrow, so I’ve got a feeling nowhere is going to be open tomorrow.”
For those restaurants that have decided to remain open, weather related cancellations have opened up tables in hard to book venues such as Chapter One, where the reservations book fills up months, even years in advance.
“We are definitely staying open,” said Jessica Lewis, who runs the Dublin 1 Michelin starred restaurant with her chef husband Ross.
Chapter One’s social media account posted a comment on Tuesday advertising – “Lots and lots of cancellations for this week with the forecast ... feel free to call us for bookings if you are out and about in the cold”.
“Tonight is going to be tricky. We have about 30-odd, but as the day progresses people are going to be assessing whether they can get to us or not,” Lewis said on Wednesday. But the weekend booking are holding up, she said. “I think again people are just waiting to see what’s going to happen in terms of the weather. We are fully booked for Saturday, but things may change. We do have a little bit of room on Friday, and plenty of availability for lunch on Friday as well.”
At Heron & Grey in Blackrock, Co Dublin, where reservations sell out within minutes of being released, a decision was taken to close for the week. “We actually had a four-day week planned [instead of three, as is the norm], but we decided to close for the week. Our staff getting home at 2am is our biggest concern,” said chef and joint owner Damien Grey.
“We have rescheduled this week’s bookings to April , which we had cleared for research and development, and we also opened some of June for them. Everyone was very understanding.”
Before setting out to a restaurant over the next few days, it would be advisable to check if they are open or not. Most are updating their opening hours and advising of closures on social media and websites.
The following have been in touch in response to enquiries:
Fire, Dawson Street: "Remaining open this evening"
Ferrit & Lee, Midleton: "Open until 7pm this evening and planning on opening tomorrow, it's our first anniversary tomorrow, free glass of wine to all customers"
Pablo Picante: "all four branches in Dublin 2 are open"
Bewley's, Grafton Street: Open. "Come in and warm your feet at the fires"
La Bodega, Ranelagh: "Open as long as public transport is running"
Food Game, Ringsend: "Open. We've got bread"
Rinuccini, Kilkenny: "Business as usual, we've got lots of pasta and wine"
Nightmarket, Ranelagh: "Kitchen open 4pm-8pm, later if weather permits, and and a warming bowl of tom kha hed for all brave diners"
Pepperpot Cafe, Powerscourt: "Open and lots of bread"
Bloom Brasserie, Dublin: "Open and free bottle of wine with dinner tonight and tomorrow"
Chophouse, Dublin 4: "Open"
Sonder Coffee shop and deli, Donegal: "Full service and free hot chocolate for kids"
Greenhouse Cafe: "Open and Gorey main roads are clear"
Ponaire Newport Roastery and Cafe: "Open. Lots of freshly roasted coffee, got chocolates and fresh soup, sandwiches and toasties"
Urbun Cafe, Cabinteely: "Open but closing early and most likely will be closed for rest of the week"
Hang Dai Chinese, Dublin: "Open tonight with some tables till available"
CLOSED OR CLOSING:
Chameleon, Temple Bar, Dublin: "Closed today (Wednesday). We'll make a decision on tomorrow in the morning. We hate having to close, but the crew need to be able to get home safely"
Las Tapas de Lola: Closed tonight (Wednesday)
ELY Wine Bar and ELY Bar & Grill: Both closed tomorrow (Thursday)
Saba and Saba To Go: "All closed until Saturday. See you Satuday for apres ski"
Fallon & Byrne: Check social media for revised opening hours Exchequer Street, Rathmines and People's Park
Locks, Dublin: Closed Wednesday and Thursday, open Friday
Bang: Closed Wednesday
One Pico: Closed Wednesday
MacNean House, Cavan: Closed Wednesday