Cork gastropub The Barn defends 'no-cash, card-only' policy

Paul Dolan, owner of The Barn in Glanmire, Cork, defended his card-only policy for accepting payment, saying that he put the cost of accepting cash at 16%.
Cork gastropub The Barn defends 'no-cash, card-only' policy

Paul Dolan, who runs The Barn in Glanmire, Cork, spoke out after a fresh round of controversy over the policy flared up on social media. Picture: Denis Minihane

The owner of a gastro-pub has defended his ‘no-cash, card-only' policy, insisting that it has ensured lower prices for his customers.

Paul Dolan, who runs The Barn in Glanmire, Cork, spoke out after a fresh round of controversy over the policy flared up on social media in the wake of criticism from one diner.

Mr Dolan, who stopped accepting cash after Covid, said the criticism erupts from time to time on social media, and that an element of it can be quite nasty, with people from all over the country piling on.

But he said those who dine with them have no complaints whatsoever about the policy which is advertised on their website, on the premises, and on its social media platforms.

He said that the biggest threat facing the hospitality sector is the Government’s proposal to restore the 13.5% Vat rate to the industry — a hike of 4.5 percentage points — within weeks, which will lead to unavoidable price increases, he said.

The cost of cash

Mr Dolan said a post-Covid analysis put the cost of accepting cash at 16%, including higher insurance costs for having cash on the premises, security company charges for collecting and transporting their cash, banking fees for lodging and withdrawing it, extra staff costs associated with organising and reconciling tills, and the 2.5% industry standard ‘cash drawer shrinkage’ rate.

Paul Dolan. Picture: Denis Minihane
Paul Dolan. Picture: Denis Minihane

“Pre-Covid cash sales in the industry were at around 60%, which would work out at an extra 9% cost that would have to be made up from sales,” he said.

Accepting cash would push the price of their all-day carvery lunch from €14.90 to €16.20 and the cost of their full Irish breakfast from €10.70 to €11.70, he said.

“We decided that the vast majority would prefer incredible value and pay by card,” he said.

“Ninety-eight per cent of card transactions are by debit card. We pay 0.19% on that transaction. There are no transaction charges for the customer to use a debit card in Ireland. 

To us, it’s a no-brainer. People are voting with their feet.”

Publican Paul Montgomery, who was involved in the 2015 Cork Cashes Out initiative to encourage consumers to shift from splashing the cash towards e-transactions, said Mr Dolan has his full support.

"During Covid, there was virtually no cash used, and people got used to it," he said. "I can't see why we couldn't be 100% cashless."

Skinny’s Diner closes

Skinny's Diner Ballycotton. Photo: Facebook

Meanwhile, a much-loved traditional seaside diner, famous for its fresh fish, ocean views, and deep-fried Mars bars, has announced its closure.

John McEnally, who took over Skinny’s Diner in Ballycotton in East Cork, nine years ago, said the time had come for him to pack it in.

“During Covid, I had to get another job to pay the bills and I was more or less running Skinny’s part-time since,” he said.

And with increased costs, the time just came where I had to make a decision.

“I liked working there. There was nothing like a good busy Sunday to get the heart going, and I’ll miss that, but between my family and the new job, it’s time to take a breather.

"I brought it up a level. I couldn’t do any more with it. It’s time now for someone with fresh eyes to take it on.” 

Skinny's is owned by a local family and there is a waiting list of potential operators.

Mr McEnally said he believes it may be reinvented and reopen soon under new operators.

This article was originally published on February 8, 2023.

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