Charlottetown restaurant owner hopes to bring luck of the Irish to national industry

Dave Stewart
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Liam Dolan has a lot on his plate these days. The owner of Olde Dublin Pub is the newly-elected chairman of the board for Restaurants Canada, Dolan is in the process of trying to schedule a meeting with federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to discuss issues affecting the industry.

Charlottetown restaurant owner Liam Dolan has been elected chairman of a $68-billion Canadian industry.

The owner of Olde Dublin Pub, Peakes Quay and the Claddagh Oyster House is now the head of Restaurants Canada, formerly known as the Canadian Restaurant Foodservices Association.

Dolan, already a member of the 30,000-member group as P.E.I.’s representative, was elected to his new post at the association’s annual meeting earlier this month. He’ll sit at the head of the table in a rather impressive group of restaurateurs, a table that includes the president of McDonald’s Canada, Tim Horton’s, Starbucks and Cara Foods (The Cara brand includes Swiss Chalet, Montana’s and Harvey’s).

Dolan says his first order of business is bringing the national board meeting to Charlottetown for the first time ever, May 24-28. That will bring about 100 people to the capital city for meetings at the P.E.I. Convention Centre in Charlottetown.

His next order of business will be scheduling a meeting with federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to talk about some of the big issues facing restaurants across Canada.

Dolan says the skyrocketing cost of accepting credit cards is giving restaurateurs heartburn. He says it’s the fee credit card companies charge on the tax portion of a customer’s bill that’s the problem.

For example, on a $100 food bill, Dolan would charge $14.50 in tax. The credit card company gets a percentage of the $100 and the $14.50.

“It’s costing our industry $40 million a year,’’ Dolan said Thursday. “I don’t have a problem with people using credit cards . . . (but) why should one company make money on the backs of another business collecting tax for the government? They are (charging) a fee on the $100 but they shouldn’t make a fee on the tax portion.’’

Dolan said that fee on the taxable portion of a bill is really hurting small businesses, like mom and pop coffee shops.

“I’m paying anywhere from 1.8 to 3.5 per cent to accept that credit card of yours. They’re making it at every angle. They may guarantee our money but we have to put the devices in and we have to keep upgrading our devices to accept these cards to protect the consumer, myself and Visa.’’

Other issues facing Canadian restaurants Dolan mentioned include a labour shortage.

“It’s going to be a big one across this country in the next three to four years. The population is shrinking. We don’t have enough workers to deal with this industry.’’

Also on his list — taxation when it comes to buying booze for restaurants. Dolan said restaurants want wholesale pricing.

“We’re paying more than a guy on the street for beer.’’

 

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

 

Organizations: Claddagh Oyster House, Restaurants Canada, Canadian Restaurant Foodservices Association.Dolan Starbucks Swiss Chalet P.E.I. Convention Centre Visa

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Canada, Montana Charlottetown.His

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  • same story
    March 17, 2014 - 20:51

    Why not offer a small discount for cash so they don't incur the fees ?

    • Bob Suoivbo
      March 18, 2014 - 12:11

      I'm guessing that it's probably illegal. Gas stations used to do this for gas, then government made it illegal. So dumb.

  • Chris W
    March 17, 2014 - 18:21

    If the food industry will pay more then minimum wage, they wouldn't have the problem of not having staff...

    • Islander
      March 17, 2014 - 20:35

      Don't forget they usually get tips, therefore it isn't minimum wage....

    • gotta pay them
      March 18, 2014 - 13:53

      the shortage Liam is referring to is not serving. he's talking about kitchen employees. the problem here is that even the best paying kitchen jobs in the province start at maybe 11 - 13 dollars an hour unless you're THE chef/sous (and many chefs/sous chefs are contract-workers, so what their hourly actually would be is hard to guess). the tip-outs for the kitchen -which are less than $100/head for two weeks anywhere around here-generally come from the serving staff (who, generally, aren't overly receptive to that, unless they have worked back-of-house as well) instead of the business, which can be justified any number of ways... however, what it means really means is that "we don't want to pay you, but we can make the front-staff pay you for us" (I don't know if that is the case with Liam's places, as I haven't worked for him and never have talked shop with anyone who has, but it seems to be an industry standard). servers will be willing to stick out bad shifts so that, every once in awhile, they may get thrown a carrot in the form of working a Friday or Saturday night, but kitchen employees pretty much get paid their wage and nothing more. thus, a shortage. the extra $1-2/hr they get on minimum wage is not enough to keep somebody clothed/fed/housed. if the restaurant industry wants people to work in its kitchens (there seem to have been vacancies advertised year-round the past couple of years) or serve during winter afternoon shifts (if the business is open year round), then businesses need to recognize that. perhaps look at the cost of living in the area and take that into consideration, not simply throw another dollar onto minimum wage to entice people away from McDonald's shift work -which, if my thinly stretched memory serves, was more stable, year-round... i.e. we didn't get "cut" 3 hours into what was supposed to be an 8 hour shift every other day like some of the independent places i have worked in. it's the same everywhere around here. there are definitely workers, the problem is that few business want to pay for them. if offering a wage that allows an adult to live independently cuts into profits too much, then the business is structured ineffectively. in that case, either change prices to reflect realistic labor costs or cut out unprofitable opening hours during the winter and pay the employees with some of the money recouped from not opening on Monday afternoons in January/February (or whatever the slow times are at a given place), both front and back. re: "they get tips so that should be OK" if, lets say, there are 30 staff working front and back of house at a given time. maybe 7 or 8 of those staff will have a "good night" once a week. that still leaves 22 people working for a little more than minimum wage. technically, yes, it isn't minimum wage, but even a bad 1 bedroom apartment in the city costs about $600 a month with heat included if you're lucky. if I'm looking at working 30 hours a week at $11 an hour - a gift in the winter time, even for kitchen staff who usually get more hours than serving staff- that leaves less than half of what I'm making (after taxes) for eating, bills, or anything else. so I suppose if I spend less than $100 a week on food and transportation, I might have enough to pay the electricity bill. I think going west or going to Holland College/UPEI is far more enticing than struggling through a PEI winter in poverty.