A Dublin pub that told its customers they could donate the price of a €9 meal to charity instead of having food served to them, has been told by gardaí it must serve a substantial meal.
Oscars Café Bar in Smithfield had earlier this week posted on its Facebook page that in a bid to reduce food waste, it would offer customers "the facility to purchase a meal that will effectively be suspended. We will in turn donate the cost of production to local homeless charities. A receipt will be provided as proof of purchase."
However, on Saturday evening, the bar posted on its social media page that following “advice” from An Garda Síochána, “ we will no longer be offering the facility of our Suspended Meal for the Homeless and will require a substantial meal to be consumed (or not consumed as the case may be) with the purchase of an alcoholic drink.
“We have nothing but the utmost respect for the Gardai who are just enforcing the current legislation. It was never our intention to circumvent the law. It was done with the best of intentions with what we thought was a common sense approach to dealing with unecessary food waste.”(Sic)
The bar said it would be donating the money raised, along with its own €1,000 donation, to the Capuchin Day Centre for homeless people.
Covid-19 restrictions introduced earlier this year state that people may not drink in a bar unless they purchase a meal with a minimum value of €9.
The relevant legislation is Standard Instrument (SI) 352/2020 which temporarily amends the Health Act 1947.
Earlier this month, the Government announced that only pubs where food is cooked on the premises can reopen.
Prior to being advised by gardaí that they could not operate their €9 meal suspension plan, Oscars Bar owner Ronan Flood said they had 380 covers on Friday night and just eight guests chose to purchase a suspended meal. He explained: "What we experienced last weekend was guests arriving mainly later in the evening after having dinner in another premises.
“It’s mainly a problem where people have come on to us and they had eaten in another restaurant and they were coming to us just for drinks. . . As some guests had eaten already, perfectly good food was left untouched and went into the bin.” Mr Flood said they were not trying to circumvent the law or to find a loop hole to get around it.
Another Dublin gastropub had also posted on its social media page that it was giving its customers the option of donating €9 to charity in lieu of being served a meal.
On their Instagram page The Camden management said they had been "shocked by the amount of good food ending up in waste" since the bar reopened last Friday.
“Just so our customers can enjoy a few drinks in line with the current guidelines, quite a lot of good food remains untouched and ends up in our bin on a daily basis,” they stated.
They promised to donate the purchase of a €9 meal to Temple Street Foundation Children's Charity Ireland. All funds raised will be donated on January 4th 2021.
The Camden could not be reached on Sunday morning for comment.The Irish Times is waiting for a response from the Department of Health.