Tuesday 21 November 2017

Ten jobs go as cafe downsizes after council row

Sarah Harty was fined for placing chairs outside her cafe and is now moving to a smaller premises
Sarah Harty was fined for placing chairs outside her cafe and is now moving to a smaller premises
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

A YOUNG businesswoman says she has decided to abandon her cafe premises with the loss of 10 jobs after being fined for placing chairs outside.

Sarah Harty was fined last month by Galway County Council for placing decking and chairs outside her premises, the Gallery Cafe, in Gort, Co Galway.

Instead of going to court and risking a €5,000 fine, she settled with the council, paying €450 instead.

However, Ms Harty told the Irish Independent she was now giving up the premises, because without decking or chairs, it was a constant battle to entice customers into the cafe.

"I'd been struggling to make the place look pretty and had been weighing up whether it was worth it. The fine from the council was the final nail in the coffin," she said.

Ms Harty (33) had last year erected some decking outside the premises to cover up the potholes on the footpath after she was informed by the council that the side street footpath was not a priority.

However, she was ordered to remove it by Galway County Council. She was also summonsed to court after placing a table and chairs outside during the summer.

Ms Harty will now move back to her original premises.

"Instead of a 70 seater I will have a 30 seater. I had been planning on keeping them both open because it's a beautiful building I am in now but outside looks very rough, especially with all the tables and chairs gone," she said.

"I will have to let go some staff. I currently have 16 but that will drop back to six now. It is a massive blow but there is no point thinking I'll be able to hold on to everybody," she explained.

"I put everything into it and I was told 'no' all the time. I need to put my energy into something else.

"It was a massive decision, the cafe was doing okay but the overheads were too much. I tried to classy it up and we were only talking about tables and chairs outside but that got me in trouble. I found it really stressful to be honest," she said.

Irish Independent

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