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'Eventually you have to move the costs to customers'

RESTAURANT and bar owners say high outdoor seating costs are "making business very hard".

Recent figures released by the Restaurant Association of Ireland claim that the average business is spending more than €15,000 on the fees.

Trinity Bar and Venue general manager Omar Darouiche said that the costs of having seating outside was becoming "too expensive".

He said that the business - a bar and hotel based on Dame Street (inset) - "would be lucky to break even" on the costs incurred.

"The rates are already excessively high, so it's definitely difficult to see a return on that," he said.

"At least if we were seeing a return on the street, and if we were informed enough about rising costs, then that would be better.

"If this is a business it has to have profit at the end of the day and eventually you have to move the costs of those increases to the customers," he said.

May Frisby, owner of Pasta Fresca on Chatham Street, said that her restaurant was paying more than €5,000 on outdoor seating this year.

Her restaurant has just seven tables outside its front door, but she says that the costs have made business "very hard".

"The fact that Dublin City Council are operating this at a profit and we're suffering, is really quite harsh on us," Ms Frisby said.

Pasta Fresca will keep the tables despite the weather rarely permitting customers to sit there, and despite not making a profit from it.

"We want to keep it because we want to be cosmopolitan and be part of a cafe society" she said.