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Food businesses remaining closed early in week to save on energy costs

One bar in Dublin is switching off its heating on Tuesdays but offering a food discount to customers.

RESTAURANTS ACROSS THE country have made the decision to close entirely on off-peak days in an attempt to keep energy costs down, the head of the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) has said.

Speaking to The Journal, CEO of the association Adrian Cummins said over the last week he has been hearing from food businesses that they are “sitting down with staff to talk about contingency measures regarding the sustainability of their businesses in autumn and winter”.

He said one of the main measures businesses are taking is a reduced week, keeping their doors closed on less busy days earlier in the week.

“You will see businesses closing fully on the likes of Monday and Tuesday, and possibly Wednesday, and then only opening on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” he said. “And then they will open for longer on those days to try to maximise the revenue they can generate when they are open.”

The Saucy Cow restaurant in Dublin’s Temple Bar is one such food business. In a statement yesterday it said it that due to the “crazy” increase in gas and electricity prices, a decision has been taken to close on Mondays in an attempt to “ride out the storm”.

“We may have to make a few more changes around hours in the coming months so please just keep and eye on Google and Instagram as we will keep every one up to date,” the statement said.

Cummins said that while food businesses are limited in the decisions they can take on reducing their energy usage – they can not turn off their refrigerators or ovens, for example – some are trying to be more economical about their use of appliances such as dishwashers, using them at different times or waiting until most of their crockery is used to switch it on.

On Dublin pub, Doyles Corner in Phibsborough, has decided to turn off its heating on Tuesday and offer customers a 20% discount on their food bills to make up for the chillier environment.

Co-owner Ronan Flood told Newstalk that the measures does not seem to be putting customers off.

“I don’t think the regulars will have an issue with it,” he said. “I thank God it’s a good busy bar. We can see bookings coming in already for the Tuesday evenings.”

The announcement by the government last week of a Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme (TBESS) to support SMEs is welcome, Adrian Cummins said, as it aims to cover 40% of the increase in electricity or gas bills, up to a maximum of €10,000 per month per business. However he said it should not be delayed until next month as businesses need it now. 

“Businesses are running the numbers, energy prices are still rising so by the time it comes in their bills will be even higher,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough autumn and winter for them, consumer spending is starting to contract. When it come to closures, it’s more-so coffee shops and small eateries that are closing fully, they’re taking the hit already.”

He said the industry is expecting a strong festive season, but businesses need support in the run up to the busy Christmas period.

“When I ask them about Christmas bookings, they say they’re solid, but we’re two months away from Christmas and they need to get there,” he said. 

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