People Encouraged to Support Local Businesses as Restaurants Cope With Fallout From Storm Emma

The chaotic weather brought on by Storm Emma and the ‘Beast From the East’ is putting incredible strain on our restaurants. With people confined to their homes and public transport at a standstill, there seems to be very little that can be done.

Oliver Dunne, chef and owner of four restaurants in Dublin, has said that from a business point of view, this storm is “devastating”:

“From a cash flow point of view, restaurants at this time of year are always in a very precarious situation, because you’ve had a quiet January and February and you’ve had to pay all your suppliers for their christmas purchases.”

He added: “So you’ve had no money coming in for the last two months and you have the biggest amount of money leaving your account. If you’re lucky not to be overdrawn, your bank balance is at the bare bones. And usually, things start to look up by the first week of March and then this happens.”

With the government issuing the weather warning well in advance, people were prepared not to leave their homes come Wednesday:

“Tuesday was the only day of trading this week for most of my restaurants. Cleaver east stayed open because we have the guests of the hotel staying there.”

“I’m a firm believer in the service industry. We’re there to provide a service and we can’t pick and choose when we do that, but we have to take the welfare of our staff into consideration.”

The lack of public transport available has “absolutely crippled the country”, with Oliver adding: “Even if you want to get out of the house (and people have cabin fever at this stage), they have no way of getting into town”.

The storm is “completely devastating to businesses”, not just restaurants and Oliver is encouraging people to support local, now more than ever:

“If people can support local, now is the time. The restaurants and business around you are what make your home a home. They need your support more than ever now.”

Speaking frankly, Oliver is concerned about the fallout from the storm: “You can’t wipe out a whole week’s trade without consequences. I would anticipate now in the next month or two that restaurants that wouldn’t normally have closed are going to close. I think that’s how negative this storm will be on the industry.”

While admitting that he’s in a better position than most, he adds: “There’s got to be a lot of restaurants out there that aren’t in a lucky situation who have had a really tough Christmas and January. They’re going to be really struggling and this will be the final nail in the coffin for a lot of businesses. It’s really serious.”

Echoing these words, Klaw’s Niall Sabongi added: “We have been closed now for three days. The first two days were bearable but a third is a nightmare. As a seafood-only venue, it now means that all our beautiful stock will have to be binned tomorrow across all three venues.”

He added: “This is a huge loss, not to mention all the salaries that will still need to be paid. We are lucky that we have our own wholesale company so at least we can get fresh stock in for tomorrow. But this is just the way it is and thankfully all the team are safe and getting to build snowmen.”

With the power of social media and the ban on leaving your house lifted, many restaurants, chefs and people in the food industry have been encouraging people to support their local businesses over the coming days.

FEATURE BY SARAH GLASCOTT

Sarah has always had a great love of travel, food and photography. Following her journalism degree at DCU, she developed a passion for travel writing while living in Spain.

Sarah loves exploring new places and sampling the local cuisine. Working with TheTaste.ie combines her love of food and travel.

A big people person, especially when it comes to hearing other people’s stories, Sarah loves interviewing chefs, food producers and more.

Sarah Glascott Sarah Glascott

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