‘Every day we’re closed is another step towards bankruptcy’

An open letter to the Taoiseach from chef and restaurateur JP McMahon

 

Dear Taoiseach,
I’m sure you know by now that the hospitality industry is on its knees. I’m sure you know by now that for most of us level 3, 4 and 5 are the exact same as many of us have no access to outside seating and take away is not a viable model. I’m sure you know by now that most landlords are not playing ball and still pretending that the pandemic has not happened. I’m sure you know by now that many of us are paying full rent on closed premises. I’m sure you know by now that the fixed costs of a restaurant are in the thousands, so even when we’re closed, we’re losing money.

I’m sure you know by now that every day we don’t trade is another step towards bankruptcy. I’m sure you know by now that most of us have let nearly all our staff go, sure we’ve gone from 45 to 22 to now just five. I’m sure you know by now that we ran three successful restaurants of which only one is operating, to half capacity.

I’m sure you know by now that SMEs, of which many are restaurants, bars and hotels contribute to over 50 per cent of the economy. I’m sure you know by now that many of us feel we are being punished. I’m sure you know by now that all of us adopted strict and safe cleaning regimes to make our premises safe to operate. I’m sure you know by now that we put on extra staff to make it work because we believed we were all in this together.

I’m sure you know by now that our hospitals are the real issue and that we need a better health system if we’re going to live alongside this virus. I’m sure you know by now that focusing on numbers is not the only way and perhaps we need to stop counting every single day, as if it is going to add up to something. I’m sure you know by now that many European countries have stopped releasing daily figures as it just causes so much anxiety and fear, which is no way to run a society.

I’m sure you know by now that we don’t release daily figures for any other disease, so why this one? I’m sure you know by now that if we gave daily figures of people dying from other diseases it would not make for good living. I’m sure you know by now that regarding all past pandemics, we’re better positioned than any other society in history to deal with this one and still live our lives to the fullest capacity. I’m sure you know by now that humans are social creatures.

I’m sure you know by now that perhaps Nphet should not be holding press conferences as the information they give out just causes us all to panic. I’m sure you know by now that perhaps you should all meet behind closed doors and come up with a solution together. I’m sure you know by now that working together as a team is the only way to get through this.

I’m sure you know by now that most of us in the industry feel completely ignored. I’m sure you know by now that if our industry is to survive until next spring, we need a different strategy. I’m sure you know by now that the levels system is just not working and that 3+ or 3++ is not on the chart, so we don’t even bother to use these expressions to define what level we’re in.

I’m sure you know by now that this pandemic is a once in a century opportunity to rethink the ways in which we live, travel and socialise. I’m sure you know by now that most cities haven’t rethought a single thing and that leadership is needed. I’m sure you know by now that more cycle lanes and public outside spaces are needed. I’m sure you know by now that it’s been six months and we’re still waiting for something to happen.

I’m sure you know all this by now. But just in case, here it is again.
 

JP McMahon, who runs restaurants in Galway, writes a weekly food column for The Irish Times

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.