Was 2010 good or bad for food and restaurants in Galway?

The answer to this question is like many other questions, it depends; it depends on which side of the counter you are. For consumers, I think it has been a good year, prices for most items are better than before and I don’t believe quality has suffered. For business owners, it has been tough; however most have survived and hopefully most will survive through 2011.

There have been many new businesses opened during 2010, and one can assume that they have negotiated good deals on the dreaded rent. These businesses are probably better off than some of the more long term businesses that are stuck with rents that have been increased over the years, and the word on the street is that many landlords are not inclined to listen to pleas for a decrease. Anyone who opens a new business now is putting a lot of thought into every aspect before opening and the result for us the punters is that we will most likely get higher quality and good prices.

Some of the new businesses that opened during the year are:

• The Fisherman in the Galway Shopping Centre

• Ali’s Fish Shop in Barna (and rumour has it that he is opening another one beside Tesco in Oranmore ).

• Home Farm Butchers Oranmore – this superb new butchers shop opened a few months ago near the astroturf pitch/car park.

• Il Porcetto opened in Loughrea.

• Gourmet Tart Co – opened a new restaurant and shop in Salthill, opposite the church.

• The White Gables in Moycullen opened a new café called Enjoy.

• Le Petite Delice opened its new patisserie in Mainguard Street.

• The Old School House in Clarinbridge was re-opened before last race week.

• The Grain Store opened up in the previously occupied premises of Meadows & Byrne

• Café 8 at the museum brings some great food to a wonderful building.

Other establishments had a major makeover:

• Trattoria in Quay Street

• Town House Restaurant at the Spanish Arch

• Kirwan’s Lane Restaurant in Kirwan’s Lane off Quay Street.

• McCambridges on Shop Street has a new look

• Basilico in Oranmore expanded by taking over the Coach House Hotel and the Coach House Bar.

I am sure there are several I have left out, but this will give you an indication that the people in the restaurant business are continuing to work very hard in making their businesses work for them.

Then we had accolades come to places like:

• Bar Number 8, under the guidance of chef Jess Murphy, who won best chef in Connacht.

• The 12 in Barna scooped several awards including best wine destination in Ireland, best boutique hotel in Ireland, and best hotel restaurant and best service in Galway.

• O’Grady’s on the Pier won best restaurant in Galway

• Regis Herviaux at the G won best chef in Galway

• The Huntsman won best gastro pub in Galway

• Ard Bia won best casual dining in Galway.

So what is in store for 2011? That is a tough one to answer, but Galway has one great advantage over many towns, it is regarded throughout Ireland as a cool place to visit for a weekend or a few days’ break. The fact that it is now only two hours from Dublin by road has had a very big impact, it is an obvious choice for any jaded Dublin city worker to say “let’s go to Galway for the weekend”. This has helped the local hotels, night clubs, restaurants, takeaways, taxis, coffee shops, and the city generally. Let us hope that continues and Galway is seen by many to have the name of being the city with a festival of some type nearly every week.

Happy New Year to all.

Willie Shaw.

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