CORK has lost some of its best known and loved eateries who recently made the decision to permanently close.
Jam Cafés which operates two cafés in Cork city, recently went into liquidation.
The popular café and bakery had a café located at Hanley’s Garden Centre on the Kinsale Road and its most recent café on Main Street Ballincollig opened its doors back in September of last year.
Jam Cafés, who could not be contacted for comment, also had two cafés in Kerry, one in Killarney and one in Kenmare and its closure saw the loss of 87 jobs across all four cafés.
Popular Midleton restaurant The Pepperstack has also closed its doors for the last time after owners Martin and Imelda Budden confirmed the closure “with the heaviest of hearts” after 15 years of trading.
Mr and Mrs Budden said that the closure was “too raw” to discuss but thanked their “wonderful teams” down through the years who have “been like family”.
They said it had been an extraordinary journey to provide East Cork’s dining scene with bespoke food for so many years.
Recently-awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand, owners of popular West Cork restaurant Dillon’s made the decision to close due to the effects of Covid-19 and said the safety measures required to reopen were not sustainable for the cosy and intimate restaurant.
Co-owners Richard Milnes and Valeria Ventura said they have “absolutely loved every minute” of serving guests from Cork and beyond and thanked their customers for all their support, laughs and love over the years.
They assured that they would be back in the future and told customers to “keep an eye out” for them.
Cork Chair of the Restaurant Association of Ireland and owner of Coqbull and Cornstore restaurants, Mike Ryan, said it was “very sad” to see businesses closing and it reminds other businesses how much they are “on the edge” at the moment.
He said that the lack of direction from government surrounding guidelines for reopening is causing frustration because businesses are facing the differing opinions of their customers in relation to the guidelines upon reopening.
“It’s going to leave a lot of ambiguity and these days some people can be malicious about it.”
He said that “loads more” can be done to support the “over 500 eateries” in Cork city alone and that the government should not expect businesses to reopen at 50% capacity and continue to take 100% of their teams back, pay all of their rates, overheads and VAT.
“That’s not what our business models are built around and it’s such a tight margin of operations that most businesses will sustain the metre for a while but just about and not unless there’s government intervention.”
He said that the lack of footfall to the city with many large corporations still working from home and the loss of corporate entertaining will be a huge hit to the hospitality sector.
“There’s no profit this year or into most of next year, all we can hope to do is not lose money,” he said.
Fine Gael Councillor Des Cahill said as somebody who has had to make the decision to close his business, that it is not easy and his thoughts are with the families and workers of the restaurants but assured that life does go on.
“It’s going to be a tough time for them and I sincerely hope that those who do open will get well supported so that they remain open.”
He said that he hopes the new guidelines for pubs are a “drastic change for the first month” and labelled them as “bizarre”.
Mr Cahill said that the loss of small businesses would change the face of the city entirely with the draw to the city centre being its pubs, restaurants and entertainment sector but that there is “very little extra” that can be done at local authority level.
Over 1,800 businesses have applied for the Restart Grant and the City Council expects that number to rise to 5,000 applications.
Chef Kevin Aherne who owns The Greenroom and Sage, both housed on Main Street in Midleton made the decision prior to Covid-19 that The Greenroom would close.
Both offerings have amalgamated and The Greenroom space is now materialised into a food store which will offer pre-prepared meals and a grab-and-stay fridge to minimise contact with staff.
The building is currently being renovated and the outdoor restaurant in the courtyard will open on July 1.
An online booking and ordering system will be in place so staff can prepare ahead of time and allow for an organised systematic approach.