Huck's Rant: Fine Diners, The Great Undead

‘Is fine dining dead?’ is one of the most boring questions ever. It’s about as nauseating as Pauline Hanson, and as equally misguided.

Wheeled out at the death knell like a dessert trolley when a restaurant with an ounce of influence pushes up daisies. It’s become nothing more than regurgitated clickbait and only lubricates the lips of the keyboard warriors that see these establishments as small-portioned highway robbers, rather than the culinary crusaders they in fact are.

Fine dining, in whatever incarnation, will never be ‘dead’ as it were. The notion is as absurd as the chances of Trump becoming President.

Wait, what?

The dining landscape is constantly evolving and the manner in which the belly of the beast dines and imbibes is in constant change.

The issue with fine dining is that most cities, even the size of Sydney, can only sustain a certain amount of establishments of that ilk – so one or two close and the hounds start barking.

By that I mean rabid news scribes. The glee in the tone of some is incredibly grating. Spraying bullets with the same old loaded rhetoric as if they’re social equality warriors in their own fantasy of Sean of the Dead.

“In those moments where you’re not quite sure if the undead are really dead, dead, don’t get all stingy with your bullets.” Zombieland.

Uh huh.

We’ve got quite the insatiable appetite for shootin’ tall poppies in these ‘ere neck of the woods, but restaurants close for many reasons.

Restaurants close every day in Australia. New ones open daily too. From every level. But the moment one or two of note goes you can hear the wheels squeaking under the weight of a throng of overcooked baked cheesecakes again.

Two out of the 67,000+ down under. Exceptions are rarely, if ever, the rule.

The exit and entry rate of all foodservice businesses is astoundingly capricious – around 20 per cent a year.

Equally as staggering, only one in two hospitality businesses survive four years of operation (51.9 per cent) according to Restaurant & Catering as tabled at the 2015 Productivity Commission.

Years ago I penned a piece about the incredibly low profitability of restaurants, and at the time 90 per cent of restaurants couldn’t even muster the energy to blow out the candles on the second birthday cake.

With an industry average profit margin of just 4 per cent you don’t need me to tell you that you’re better off playing roulette than running a restaurant.

Of course chefs, waiters, sommeliers and restaurateurs, for the most part, don’t do it for the money. Not in the Wall Street sense.

They’re an odd bunch. Some socially inept, some social heathens, but all creative, hard as nails workers innately interested in the end result of pleasing diners.

That’s why restaurants are magical windows of joy within the humdrum of our mundane existence. Fine diners represent the absolute pinnacle of such. Are you kidding? They will never die.