Friday, January 13, 2012
Profit-why is it a dirty word in Hospitality?
Interesting post from Rita today prompted me to bring up a matter that many restaurateurs and café owners consider to be a taboo issue, not so much for them but for some members of the general public. This topic is rarely ever acknowledged yet alone talked about and for many people the mere mention of it causes them great distaste and in some cases revulsion. Banished to the darkest corners, its revered and guiding flame reduced to a faint flicker of an ancient candle eternally at risk of being snuffed out by critical exhalations. Tis the Mercantile Love that dare not speak its name and thy name is ‘Profit’.
For reasons unclear to me, some people seem decidedly uncomfortable with hospitality businesses not only aiming to make a profit but also declaring it with verve and gusto. It just isn’t the done thing apparently, well at least for some in this country, perplexing really! It seems that to celebrate one’s raison d’etre is definitely on the nose. Does this have anything to do with the thought of others perhaps perceived to be doing better than ourselves? Is it too simple to suggest the Tall Poppy syndrome at play? Or do we project a false sort of altruism onto all hospitality businesses, deluding ourselves that they are doing it ‘For the Love’ and thus making excess money off us is somehow not in the spirit of generosity? Adding to this is a greater awareness these days of how much food costs so when we see something sold at a much higher price in a restaurant, a familiar item that we can purchase for the home, we rightly question its value but then I think we got a step further and we fall into the old ‘They’re making a killing’ kind of mentality. The next step down on this dreary ladder is the notion that ‘well if they’re busy then they must be only appealing to the masses’. This mind-set never fails to make me giggle. Firstly: if lots of people like something, it does not automatically mean that they are not providing something worthy or of note. Secondly: Isn’t it a moment to celebrate that a business is doing well rather than seeking a reason to fault it on shaky, less than egalitarian grounds?
Augmenting this attitude as we submit ourselves to a ‘service’ of sorts in an eatery or bar, it might be hard to shake off the reality that we are not in fact the Dukes and Duchesses, recipients of this attention but merely paying customers, forfeiting money in exchange to feel so for a moment. The cold reality is that someone is profiting from our inability to find peace, contentment or escape in its ingestible forms and this ruins the intoxicating charade.
Not wanting to end on a sour note nor make myself a large target for the suggestion that profit is all I’m interested in, which those who know me will attest is not my only passion I will just say that it should not be deemed a dirty word.