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Saturday, February 21, 2009

What are we complaining about?

As the financial crisis finally seeps into Tasmania, I've been thinking about how it might change our hospitality industry.

An excellent newspaper article in the Sydney based Daily Telegraph last Thursday illustrated the struggle Sydney's top restaurants are now having just to cover their overheads. This time last year, waiting lists at restaurants like Tetsuya's Kent St restaurant were three months or more, now you can get a table at 24 hours notice.

I'm starting to wonder how our top establishments, like Smolt, Marque IV, Piccalilly, Piccolo et cetera will cope when Tasmania's wealthier customers opt for a few more home cooked meals, and a few less pricey nights out. I'm in favour of the "credit crunch lunch," a phrase coined by Sydney restaurateur Justin Hemmes, of Est. restaurant. Two or three set menu courses, for a set price, brings top scale restaurants into the realm of affordability. Well, the realm of my affordability anyhow.

The next few months will be very interesting for Hobart's top establishments, while we all stay home a little more, save a few more pennies, and lean towards, well, the leaner side of life. I will be interested to observe potential changes, a little bird tells of "talks" to restructure a Hobart favorite, in a manner that, in my opinion, is not befitting of its reputation. More on that at a later date.

Perhaps it would do us well to remember that waiters and waitresses that earn a living from taking our orders, clearing our plates and pouring our wines might be starting to feel the purse strings pinching as well. It is not just a few fat cat directors behind the scenes with a few thousand less a week in the bank that suffer here. I hope those directors make the right decisions to secure the future of our hospitality industry. If we have only just started to struggle, there could be a long road ahead.

4 comments:

Rita said...

It's already hitting home Maggie. For instance, Marque IV are looking at re-jigging their menu, and their custom has eased off over the past few months.

I know it's easy for us to not understand the fuller implications of how the global crisis actually affects us here in tiny Tassie, but let me use one illustration:

world-wide retail industries are feeling the pinch (people just aren't buying as much as previously), so concentrating their available dollars on other things than advertising, so not advertising as much as usual. Hence printing/publishing industry is quieter; hence not so much paper being needed or used or ordered. Our local paper mill Norske Skog which employs, either directly or indirectly, most of the population of New Norfolk, is scaling down production as they now have a stockpile of paper (which isn't the norm), and, comparatively speaking, not as much forward orders for their products as usual. This obviously will lead to food outlets, shops etc in the area not having people with money in their pockets for other than essential items - no more discretionary spending.

It's that domino effect, and it IS affecting us here now in Tassie.

Maggie said...

Hi Rita.

I work in the media industry so I am pretty up to date with the way the financial crisis is affecting Tassie.

Rita said...

Hi Maggie
Sorry if I sounded like I was talking down to you, but I feel so strongly about the whole issue, and see daily so many instances whereby various employers and others act so shortsightedly, and just don't seem to comprehend the way this mythical 'global crisis' which they so blithely dismiss on the nightly news is actually here, and slowly creeping into our lives.

Maggie said...

I hear you. I feel exactly the same way. I think a lot of people have their heads in the sand, to mixed results. I suppose you could consider hospitality a luxury industry, but it is the lively hood for a lot of people, especially in a State that relies on tourism as much as Tasmania does.