Tess Posthumus headshot

Challenges stack up for hospitality

31 October, 2022

Tess Posthumus hates to be a doom-monger, but the reality is that many bars are facing a decidedly tough time.

While I don’t want to be the constant bearer of bad news, I have another issue facing the hospitality sector which needs addressing. The cost of living crisis across Europe is the latest in a series of tough challenges facing our industry. 

As a whole, we’re still recovering from Covid-19 and there’s definitely a feeling of concern from bar owners, particularly around heating bills. The obvious solution is to increase prices to account for the rise in costs of ingredients, glassware, bills and everything else which has increased with inflation. However, it can be very easy to increase too much because, ultimately, your guests are feeling the same strain and they’re trying to be more careful with their money, so you don’t want to scare them off. 

For example, at The Flying Dutchman we used to have three classes of cocktails based on price point, but now the cheapest bracket no longer exists because we couldn’t make enough money from them. But we’re also conscious of raising the prices because it’s crucial to stay competitive. 

Opening times can be changed also. My other bar, Dutch Courage, is now closed Mondays and Tuesdays and I’m considering reducing the opening hours because, aside from heating and power, the biggest cost is staffing. This is a tricky decision to make because, normally, the quiet times are when you build your regulars as you have the time to invest in them, but now it’s more important in the short term to be open at the peak times. 

Deals with booze companies is the other element which can make a big difference. Of course, in an ideal world we would stock our favourites, but some tequilas, for example, simply aren’t a ordable given the supply and demand issues. However, what’s great about the industry now is that there are so many great products out there that you can still make top-quality drinks with that don’t demand top prices. 

The reality is that there are going to be a lot of bars going out of business this winter, which is sad. Particularly with a lack of government support. But at the same time, if you keep your prices competitive and find a way to stay open regularly, then you’ll gain customers in the long run when there’s less competition and the cost of living begins to level out.

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