JP McMahon, chef-patron of Michelin-star Aniar, Cava Bodega and EAT Galway, has said he plans to close his restaurants for next year's Galway Races, following his staff having had to deal with drunk, abusive customers, as well as people urinating and vomiting outside.
The event, which runs for seven days from the last Monday in July each year, welcomed over 140,000 people in 2015, with this year finishing on Sunday July 31. Taking to social media, McMahon said “some things don't change. We need to change Race Week. Take it out of its belligerent drunkenness and make it something that people are proud of. Every year we just accept that the street drinking and obnoxious behaviour is part of the races. It doesn't have to be. We can change. Make it a cultural event that shows the city at its best.”
Discussing the other issues associated with the Galway Races, McMahon added that people wont give their credit card details when making reservations and that the three restaurants have to deal with many no-shows.
Being interviewed by the Irish Independent, McMahon said, “from speaking to other restauranteurs, I think the festival is more and more about drinking in the last few years,” and that he noticed a huge difference between the Galway Races and last week's Galway International Arts Festival.
Even though Galway becomes a visitor hotspot during this time, McMahon points out that “it’s not a great week for us in Aniar,” and that “we’re getting a lot of people who are just coming in because the restaurant is there, and it’s the wrong crowd for Aniar.”
While Cava Bodega tends to be busier, it means the staff are more likely to have to throw people out for being too drunk.
“If you have a load of no-shows and there are people in the restaurant when it should have been a full restaurant, it does affect the ambience of the space as well. It’s not nice if you have drunken people in the restaurant and falling around the place. They’re falling asleep as well,” says McMahon.
Although the past week has been a tough one for his trio of restaurants, he adds that “August is usually a good month for us so we’ll just try to write this week off.”