Speaking on the retention of the lower nine per cent VAT rate for the hospitality and service industry, she welcomed the decision not to increase the rate in last week’s budget.
‘It was a relief to be honest,’ said Bernie, who was behind a strong local campaign ‘keep the VAY rate at nine per cent’ over the last few months.
‘We are delighted here in Riva, and I know other restaurants and coffee shops will feel exactly the same. If the rate had gone up to 13 per cent it would have been disaster for so many businesses.’
The onset of the economic recession saw a hugely challenging times for the hospitality sector in general.
The introduction of the lower VAT rate in June 2011 saw some respite for an industry that employs tens of thousands of people across Ireland.
The most tangible impact of any VAT change is pricing, added Bernie, with customers benefiting from lower priced options as a result.
‘We are able to offer three courses for €20, which is a very good deal. When you have four or five per cent of that going to VAT and the labour costs involved, there is very little profit to be made.’
‘For any restaurant, the aim is to offer the best prices and quality in order to get people in the door. Luckily we are consistently busy, but behind all the costs the VAT is always snapping away at your heels.’
‘It has been a difficult few years, and that led to us having to restructure ourselves. But we are fortunate in that we are now a well established business in town,’ said Bernie.
Riva Brasserie was opened in August 2006 in Earl Street, and has gone on to become one of the most popular town centre restaurants.