We’ve decided that this is the year we open La Cucina no. 2 but it is proving rather difficult!! We want to open in the city centre and would love to have a unit on Thomas St or Bedford Row as it seems to be the new “cafe quarter” and it looks so well since the redevelopment. The only problem is the RENT, it is astronomically high and I know we would have better “foot traffic” in this area but I don’t think you could ever sell enough food to cover all the other costs too. Food business owners always complain about the overheads and I think most people just think we are moaning over nothing. People take the price of food at face value and often question why something is so expensive when the cost of the raw materials are so low and this is true, the cost of making a simple pasta dish is so cheap but it’s everything else that costs so much!!! The profit margins in the food business are soooo low, they average between 3 and 8% and staff costs are huge making up roughly 38% of a business’s turnover!!

A couple of years ago food businesses received a lot of bad press about the price of food compared to other countries and customers really began to complain. I remember one customer ringing to tell me that the food was lovely but she didn’t know how we slept at night with the prices we were charging and that she could make it at home for half the price, all she thought about was the cost of the ingredients but if she had to factor in this list she might have a better understanding why prices are what they are, I wouldn’t mind but we were hardly breaking even at the time!! This is a summary of the basic overheads of our business just to give you an insight into the day to day running, so for example out of every pasta we sell the price has to cover the following:

 – cost of ingredients
 – staff wages – preparation chef, pasta chef, wash up and the person who serves you etc
 – packaging it is served in (plastic container, forks, serviettes, carrier bag)
 – cleaning products (huge bill)
 – ESB
 – Gas
 – Rates
 – Rent
 – Accountant 
 – Refuse collection
 – Management Fees premises
 – Printing (menus, flyers)
 – Advertising
 – Machinery – something always breaks down, we recently just got a new fly screen door, insectocutor, dishwasher and till!!
 – Maintenance of Machinery and Shop i.e. servicing of fridges, painting of shop etc.
 – kitchenware – pots, pans, plates, knives etc
 – Eircom
 – Uniforms
 – IMRO – radio license
 – bank charges
 – on top of all this you have to pay VAT and TAX!!!!

There is a very high restaurant failure rate in Ireland and it is definitely a direct result of the costs involved because with any new business it takes time to develop but unfortunately you still have to pay all of the above no matter how busy you are!! I remember when we opened first, it was pretty tough the first couple of years and even now we have to constantly try new things to bring in new business to keep us profitable!! 

Sorry for the serious post but I think most people wouldn’t factor in half of these costs so I just wanted to give our side, don’t worry we do just fine, we’re not out on the street yet;) I’ll keep you updated on the city centre shop as it happens, we will find something!! Back to the food, this recipe is so simple and a great side dish to some grilled fish or meat!


 – vine cherry tomatoes and mixed tomatoes ( Superquinn do a really good organic mixed tomato box with a great variety of colours as you can see above)

 – fresh basil

 – fresh thyme(optional)

 – garlic cloves (leave whole with skin on)

 – sea salt and black pepper

 – olive oil


 – heat your oven to 190 degrees

 – put your tomatoes, basil, thyme and garlic in an oven proof dish, season with salt and pepper and add some olive oil.

 – cook for 30 – 45 mins depending how you like them!! We like them quite dried out so it’s up to you!!