Diarmuid Hendrick and Ger Holliday, BDO with the report
THE hospitality sector in Limerick is picking up, according to the latest Hotels, Restaurants and Bars Report by BDO.
The report, which reviews the growth of hotel, bar and restaurant businesses nationwide, has shown that room prices in Limerick hotels increased by 23.4 percent between 2014 and 2015.
This works out at a price increase of €7.80 on average per room.
And according to a the Fáilte Ireland Tourism Barometer from last September, the vast majority of hotels have seen an even further increase in the volume of business in 2016. But Brexit's impact on tourism, skills shortages and the increase in minimum wage are all concerns for business owners.
The report features several case studies, including two Limerick establishments — The Hunt Museum Cafe and the Curragower.
The owners commented on their own experiences of growing their businesses.
“During the recession, we developed a catering offering. This came about in order to utilise our staff, kitchen and facilities better,” said Helen O’Donnell of the Hunt Museum Cafe.
“We did it to survive and it has proved very successful in adding to the overall strength of the business,” she added.
The cafe benefits from tourism to the museum, and Helen notes that people are more adventurous with their food than in the past.
“There was a time 20 years ago when if you had goat’s cheese on the menu, people would look at it and say, ‘I think I’ll just have the coleslaw’. Today, Irish people have a much broader palate,” said Ms O’Donnell.
Proprietors of the Curragower, Brian Murphy and Cian Bourke, say their biggest trend is gin, but they see it moving towards whiskeys in the next 12 months. They say that 2016 was the first year for them where food sales surpassed drink sales.
“There is a big skills shortage in our business with chefs and this is a well known issue in the industry. The Government definitely need to get involved at some level to try and focus a bit more on immigration and training,” they said.