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Food sector enjoys taste of success

We savour the latest food biz and business food trends

The Eatyard offers a platform for a rotating line-up of innovative chefs offering authentic world cuisines

The Eatyard offers a platform for a rotating line-up of innovative chefs offering authentic world cuisines


Ireland’s food sector remains in robust health, with the foodservice market growing to a record €7.5 billion in 2016 and forecast to grow to more than €9 billion by 2020, according to a Bord Bia report relating to food eaten “out of the home”. This includes everything from restaurants, hotels, coffee shops, bars and forecourt delis, to workplace catering, hospitals, education and vending.

According to Bord Bia, the food exports development agency, the foodservice market segment benefited from better than anticipated economic growth, buoyant consumer confidence, a strong domestic and international tourist market, an unemployment rate that is now less than 8 per cent, and the continuation of the 9 per cent VAT rate for hospitality.

Bord Bia’s foodservice specialist Maureen Gahan, describing 2016 as a “bumper” year, said: “Despite the uncertainty that Brexit brings, we are still in the enviable position of being the fastest-growing economy within the EU. The foodservice market has witnessed an annual growth rate of over 5 per cent per year for the past number of years, with both consumer and business tourist numbers fuelling major growth in urban centres.”

Almost 35 per cent of consumer spend is in what Bord Bia calls “quick-service restaurants”, which comprises traditional fast-food as well as more upmarket outlets, along with the growing area of food-to-go.

Pubs account for 18 per cent of consumer spend, excluding alcohol, with food-led pubs seeing the biggest return. Strongest growth occurred in the coffee shop segment, although from a small base.

Cirillo’s makes the shortlist

Cirillo’s, the new Italian restaurant on Baggot Street, on the corner directly opposite Toner’s pub, has been shortlisted for an Irish Restaurant Awards in the Best Newcomer category. The restaurant, which offers Italian antipasti, pasta dishes and wood-fired pizza, is open for lunch from noon until 3pm Monday to Friday. All its pizzas are made to the traditional Vera Pizza Napoletana standards, using San Marzano, tomatoes, strong flour and fresh mozzarella. The service may be fast but the food is anything but, with dough slow-proved over 30 hours.

Worth waiting for

Heron & Grey, surely the world’s most bijou Michelin Star restaurant, is booked up right through until December of this year. Enjoying a predicament that would be the envy of restaurateurs the world over, owners Andrew Heron and Damien Grey say their next scheduled release for future reservations will be in November, specifically, Wednesday, November 1st, at 10am. In the meantime, you can go on the waiting list and hope for a cancellation. An audience with the pope would be easier.

The tiny 22-seat restaurant, located in Blackrock’s market, is run by the owners and one member of staff. Keeping quality to a high standard, and operational costs to the bone – for much of last year the owners didn’t even pay themselves a salary – enables it to open for dinner Thursday through Saturday only, catering for just 66 diners a week.

Dublin gets a Shack attack

Galway restaurant the Chili Shack is coming to Dublin – Prussia Street, in Stoneybatter Dublin 7 to be precise. It’s the latest venture for a business that started out as a mobile Chili Shack truck before opening a unit on Abbeygate Street Upper in the City of Tribes three years ago. In its Dublin location it will make a welcome addition to a stable of eateries that ranges from good pub grub at L Mulligan Grocers to the pizza and brunch menu at nearby Cotto.

Sample a world of food at EatYard

Dublin’s newest food market concept, EatYard, has opened beside the Bernard Shaw pub on Richmond Street. Designed to see a rotating line-up of innovative chefs providing authentic street food from around the world, current vendors include Pow Bao, purveyor of Taiwanese food, Kerala Kitchen, featuring the signature coconut-based curry dishes of southern India and the Arabic dishes of Umi Fallafel. Box Burger, Pasta Box and No Bones Chicken Cones provide more familiar fare with a yummy twist, with genuine Hong Kong-style bubble waffles for dessert. Tables can be booked for lunch and dinner, and there’s a stage you can rent if you’re in the market for a corporate event with a delicious twist.

This little piggy . . .

The buzz is continuing to build for Piglet. The wine bar and authentic Italian cuisine combo in Temple Bar’s Cow’s Lane has been getting deservedly rave reviews on both social media and traditional media for its great food, good (and fairly priced) wines and friendly staff. Not a wine bar that serves food, nor a restaurant that serves wine, it’s the real deal for each. Check it out for yourself at 5 Cow’s Lane. You won’t find its website, however, because that’s still under construction – it’s all about the food you see.

Business Ireland (published by The Irish Times) is a quarterly print magazine produced in association with the Dublin Chamber of Commerce. The next issue will be published on Thursday, April 27, 2017. For more see www.irishtimes.com/special-reports/business-ireland-magazine