Author of top restaurant guide warns owners to 'adapt' or close
Restaurant owners were told yesterday to stop whinging and start changing if they want to survive the recession.
Food writer John McKenna said plenty of restaurants have seen their business increase by more than 30pc in the past year despite the downturn.
And to those that failed to adapt and went out of business, he said: "It's your own fault".
Mr McKenna and his wife Sally have just published their 2011 'Bridgestone 100 Best Restaurants In Ireland' guide which includes 17 new entries around the country.
To restaurateurs decrying high VAT levels and staff costs, Mr McKenna offered no sympathy. "If you adapt, you'll survive," he said.
He cited the bumper profits of the Avoca group (up fourfold to €1.6m this year), and the 30-40pc increase in business in restaurants such as Harry's Bar in Donegal and Fishy Fishy Cafe in Kinsale.
Mr McKenna said social media websites and other means of communicating were playing an important role in spreading word of mouth about good food.
And he urged pubs to provide a unique experience if they wanted to thrive.
"I don't go to the pub because there is nothing there I want to drink," he said. "But if pubs offered a short but good wine list and some craft beers, they would appeal to a broader clientele".
Among the new entries to this year's Bridgestone guide is The Exchequer, which was set up by schoolfriends Peter Rock and Ian Tucker just as the economy went into freefall.
"People thought we were crazy and wanted us to wait for a few years but for us, it was the perfect time. Suppliers wanted our business and the banks nearly wanted us to give them money," said Peter.
The Exchequer already has 3,000 friends on Facebook and hopes to turn a profit in its first full year in business.
Other new entries include Cork restaurants Mad Fish in Crosshaven, Deasy's Harbour Bar in Clonakilty, the Poacher's Inn, Bandon, and Augustine's in the city quarter. In Dublin, entries include China Sichuan in Sandyford, Manifesto in Rathmines, Michie Sushi in Ranelagh, Juno's in Parkgate Street, the Port House in South William Street, Saba in Clarendon Street, and O'Connells in Donnybrook.
Restaurants around the country which made the cut include The Brown Bear, Naas, Number One Pery Square, Limerick, Global Village, Dingle, Co Kerry, Sage in Westport, Co Mayo and Bar No 8, Galway city.