Let’s get the life back into the Costas


LET us be honest about it; most restaurants are not good value for money.

I think I can put more bums on restaurant seats but let us first take stock. If we are going to fix a problem we need to identify it.

Please don’t take me for an amateur who doesn’t know the trade.

I have been in business, including the service and retail trades, for 32-years; twenty of them advising businesses how to run them better.

There was a time when a restaurant’s decor, oozing opulence, offered a pleasing alternative to domestic austerity. Today our homes are as comfortable and often better furnished and decorated than many restaurants. We are not always impressed with what we find.

The restaurant’s waiting on service often falls short of a partner’s good natured bonhomie. At home the atmosphere is lighter, you’re not expected to leave a gratuity, you don’t even have to risk driving home.

Home cooking still has a lot to be said for it. I have no idea why; maybe the influence of television and printed media. Many people are as good if not better at serving up a wide variety of tasty meals as are restaurant chefs; many of whom are unqualified.

These days we pop into a store and pick up easily prepared convenience meals. Many such meals are identical to those offered by many restaurants. I suspect some are one and the same thing but don’t have price tags like €19.95 plus exorbitant charges for drinks.

I have just relished a bowl of soup. In appearance and taste it was identical to that served by many restaurants. I would expect a price tag of €4.95 or more per serving. I got two generous servings from the 75c packet.

We are now spoiled for choice. International cuisine is reasonably priced and offers an excellent choice for those whose tastes are adventurous.

Pretty depressing reading if you’re in the catering trade but perhaps there is a solution. There is one thing the Costas are not short of; top class entertainers. Many can be hired for less than the takings from a four-seat table. Failing to offer an entertainer really is spoiling a ship for a ha’porth of tar.

There has to be a partnership between venue owners and artistes. Good entertainers, appropriate to venue, are as important as the chef and waiting on staff. Time after time I see ordinary pubs pack them in for one reason only; the entertainer.

Artistes for their part need to remember the need to generate enough extra business to pay for their fees. We all have to sell ourselves; encourage diners to bring their friends; tell them what is coming up. Get the fliers out, send press releases; take customers emails so you can remind them what delights are in store for them.

Finally restaurant clients; you talk about the food, the decor; give the entertainers a plug too. If you like them then recommend them. Let’s get the life back into the Costas.



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