Why pub grub rather than pints is key to industry's survival
THE way to a pub-goer's heart is through their stomach, as a new study found food is key to the future of the trade.
The traditional Irish pub is under threat with a survey finding 90pc of owners predict further declines in business.
But researchers at the University of York found that Irish pubs that offered food and/or accommodation had "significantly higher turnovers than those serving drinks only", which also has a direct impact on the local economy.
"Pubs serving food are likely to perform better in terms of turnover compared to wet pubs and other categories," according to the study.
"In addition, pubs serving food or providing overnight accommodation are likely to generate more employment and use local grocers, farmers and fish mongers with more assiduity compared to other types of pubs."
The report also found that the growing popularity of local craft breweries or microbreweries could inject new life into rural communities, while bringing down the price of a pint.
Researchers noted that "the recent growth of craft beers and microbreweries in Ireland may bring a number of advantages to the pub trade sector by increasing the choice in terms of suppliers and by introducing competition in the brewing market, with positive effects on prices".
"Successful microbreweries could eventually purchase pubs experiencing difficulties in urban and rural areas and use them as outlets for their products."
The study called 'The Role of Pubs in Creating Economic Development and Social Wellbeing in Ireland' was commissioned by the Vintners' Federation of Ireland.
However, the survey of 293 rural publicans found that many were continuing to struggle since the start of the recession in 2008.
More than one-quarter of respondents (28.2pc) reported a decrease in turnover of between 26pc and 50pc this year compared to last year.
Close to one-third of respondents (32.4pc) reported that their costs had increased by up to 10pc over the previous year.
The high tax on alcohol was cited as a major reason for increased costs and declining business.
The availability of relatively cheap alcohol in super- markets, rising costs for rates and suppliers, and a crackdown on drink-driving were also cited as negative factors.
Close to 60pc of respondents also said that the recession was "a major cause of distress", as was emigration of young rural people.