The Restaurant Racket: The State of Independents


In the fifth of a five-part series, Eoin Higgins reveals the tricks of the restaurant racket to get you to spend more. This week, it’s part V – The State of Independents – why it makes sense for everyone to support the independent guys.

I’m all for supporting the independent guys. I’m also someone who still sneaks into a fast food chain every now and then. I still do it – even though I’m inevitably left with a bad aftertaste – because sometimes you just want to know what you’re going to get, even if it’s not going to be a great eating experience. And sometimes the idea of trying somewhere new is a gamble you just don’t want to take. But we should all be better about these choices, because, preachiness aside, if we don’t support the independents, we’ll be stuck with the places that leave us with a dissatisfied aftertaste.

The same goes for coffee shops, or any other business for that matter. It helps everyone, in the long run, to support the local, independent guy or gal. And besides, there is an intangible yet perceptible difference between the enjoyment gleaned from eating something that has been made with care and passion by an individual, and something that has been assembled via a flat-pack, food-by-numbers process. It’s hard for the independent casual dining folks to compete with the obvious chains on price, but harder still when the chains are so canny at disguising their chain status.

The big money geezers with a background in pubs, property, or just ‘money’ are the ones you should think twice about supporting ahead of an indie restaurateur. Or the serial opener and closer of restaurant businesses, who very often leaves suppliers (and staff) in the lurch and unpaid. These are the folks with wads of cash and a nose for profit who’ve bought over and opened, and closed, an inordinate amount of eateries in the past couple of years.

So, if you really care about Irish food, Irish restaurants and Irish chefs who are truly passionate about what they do, then you simply have to make it your business to support them; make it your business to do a bit of research on provenance (and not just on the provenance of the ingredients, the owner is just as important). Otherwise, it’s McCurtains for the Irish restaurateur …

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