The dog-eat-dog business

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“In the past here the pub experience was followed by the food but now there’s a convergence, an opportunity for operators to offer a food and beverage experience which addresses itself both to restaurants as much as to pubs.”



17 December 2013

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The way that David Kelly, the proprietor of the newly-opened Tap House in Ranelagh, puts this simple statement is interesting. With a string of Irish pubs in the US he’s obviously aware that the food and beverage experience can be a seller for restaurants every bit as much as pubs. He wouldn’t be the first publican to discover a future in providing a good food offering alongside the more traditional beverage offering. We’ve known it for years.

But David’s comment cuts both ways. What’s sauce for the restaurant goose is sauce for the public house gander and restaurants have every reason in the world to try and get themselves into the pub trade. That’s business.

The more realistic publicans have dealt with that and got on with upping their game to outmanoeuvre this development. Those with a thriving wet trade will most likely continue to have one going forward if, by now, they haven’t already been brought to their knees.

Others continue to complain that the restaurant trade is eating into their food and beverage business without giving a thought to how the food product they’ve been offering and building up themselves down through the years has been to the detriment of the restaurant trade – and why should they? That’s just business too.

But with restaurants looking for drinks licences there’s no point in continuing to offer the same service in the hope that by cutting off the competition through legal writ you can retain your customers. You can only prevail using quality of product and service over that of the competition.

The most thought-provoking comment made in the last month on this came from the lips of Gerrry Hussey, performance coach to the Irish boxing team and a clinical psychologist. He told a conference of publicans, “If your standards of service only meet your expectations, you’ve failed.”

That should be your battle cry going forward.

May you have a  Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.



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