A helping of issues

James
James McLeod
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Restaurateurs want government to pay attention to industry

Speaking to Garth Whyte, you almost get the impression he's about to bang pots together and shout, "Please pay attention to us."

As the president of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA), Whyte said the group has lots of specific issues, but mostly they just want government to think about the industry.

Brenda O'Reilly (left), chairwoman of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, and Garth Whyte, president and CEO, speak to a Telegram reporter at Yellowbelly restaurant on Water Street Wednesday. - Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

Speaking to Garth Whyte, you almost get the impression he's about to bang pots together and shout, "Please pay attention to us."

As the president of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA), Whyte said the group has lots of specific issues, but mostly they just want government to think about the industry.

"What's (the government's) vision for our sector? We hear a lot about the auto sector in Ontario, we hear a lot about agriculture, we talk about the dairy farmers. What's the vision for our sector?" Whyte asked.

Whyte was in St. John's this week speaking with politicians, giving awards to longtime CRFA members, and visiting with Brenda O'Reilly.

O'Reilly does double-duty as the chairwoman of the CRFA's national board and owner of Yellowbelly Brewery.

O'Reilly said by being right on the front line with consumers, restaurants, bars and caterers are often squeezed by everything from minimum wage increases to the H1N1 pandemic.

"The biggest thing that sticks out for me is how much our bottom line is shrinking. In the past 10 years its gone from 10 per cent profit margin to 3.2 per cent," O'Reilly said.

"We're the first ones hit. So whether it's a downturn in the economy or a pandemic scare or whatever it may be, ... the first businesses to go are our businesses."

What makes that worst, according to the CRFA, is without any sort of strategy or plan from government, they get no help in the squeeze.

And Whyte said they really should have a plan, since foodservice stacks up ahead of the fishery, agriculture and forestry in terms of employment.

"Issue after issue after issue it's hurting our industry," Whyte said. "And the reason we're getting hurt is no one has a vision for our industry."

As an example, Whyte said in the dairy industry, government regulation states farmers must make a fair wage, and the product they produce must be a good quality.

"They don't talk about the price to the consumer," he said. "A quart of milk is as much as a quart of orange juice from Florida"

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association

Geographic location: Ontario, St. John's, Florida

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Recent comments

  • Whatever Bud
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    The restaurants that are good will always do well.The ones that aren't terrific will fall victim and become nothing but spots for tourists.Get it together,provide food,service and atmosphere and you will not have to rely solely on the tourist trade.
    Start by providing good food,not overpriced,overcooked,poorly served pub grub (or at least admit that it's pub grub and price it accordingly) and stop gouging people when the season permits (aka St. Paddy's Day,when the greenest thing is the price hike in pint$$$) and maybe you can get some loyal customers.

  • robert
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    The food and beverage industries employs 1000's and 1000's of man hours yearly in this province alone. It makes sense for the gov't to have an interest and working partnership.

    Taxpayer not everyone spends their weekends home looking at the TV. Some people actually do go out, but I don't think they have to beat the door down to do so.

    All this article is saying there should be a government plan/vision for such an important industry.
    Industries like the fishery, forestry, and diary get daily hand outs. Gov't should be more open to removing barriers and obstacles that hinder business...

  • Taxpayer ll
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    So Brenda, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Yet another private group looking for a handout. If the product is there people will beat a path to your door, if not you see your profit margin slip to 3.2 percent.

  • Music fan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Hey Donny, not working today?

    Just curious what bands would you would like to see?
    Instead of complaining, come up with some ideas....

  • Donny
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    It's really nice to hear these penny pinching business owners complaining about having to pay their employees minimum wage. They would love to pay their devoted employees less but it's against the law...only for that!
    Did she ever think that if she paid some real money for a 'real' band people would come out to see them instead of the same tired ol' fiddle crap by the same 3 guys playing under 3 different band names? Cowboy hats on! Cowboy hats off!
    No handout for you! If you don't want to pay the bands and your employees a decent wage then get out of the business all together. This stuff turns my stomach!

  • Whatever Bud
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    The restaurants that are good will always do well.The ones that aren't terrific will fall victim and become nothing but spots for tourists.Get it together,provide food,service and atmosphere and you will not have to rely solely on the tourist trade.
    Start by providing good food,not overpriced,overcooked,poorly served pub grub (or at least admit that it's pub grub and price it accordingly) and stop gouging people when the season permits (aka St. Paddy's Day,when the greenest thing is the price hike in pint$$$) and maybe you can get some loyal customers.

  • robert
    July 01, 2010 - 20:18

    The food and beverage industries employs 1000's and 1000's of man hours yearly in this province alone. It makes sense for the gov't to have an interest and working partnership.

    Taxpayer not everyone spends their weekends home looking at the TV. Some people actually do go out, but I don't think they have to beat the door down to do so.

    All this article is saying there should be a government plan/vision for such an important industry.
    Industries like the fishery, forestry, and diary get daily hand outs. Gov't should be more open to removing barriers and obstacles that hinder business...

  • Taxpayer ll
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    So Brenda, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Yet another private group looking for a handout. If the product is there people will beat a path to your door, if not you see your profit margin slip to 3.2 percent.

  • Music fan
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    Hey Donny, not working today?

    Just curious what bands would you would like to see?
    Instead of complaining, come up with some ideas....

  • Donny
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    It's really nice to hear these penny pinching business owners complaining about having to pay their employees minimum wage. They would love to pay their devoted employees less but it's against the law...only for that!
    Did she ever think that if she paid some real money for a 'real' band people would come out to see them instead of the same tired ol' fiddle crap by the same 3 guys playing under 3 different band names? Cowboy hats on! Cowboy hats off!
    No handout for you! If you don't want to pay the bands and your employees a decent wage then get out of the business all together. This stuff turns my stomach!