Liam Dolan elected chairman of Restaurants Canada

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Charlottetown restaurant owner Liam Dolan has been elected chairman of a $68-billion Canadian industry.

Liam Dolan has a lot on his plate these days. The owner of Olde Dublin Pub is the newly-elected chairman of the board for Restaurants Canada, Dolan is in the process of trying to schedule a meeting with federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to discuss issues affecting the industry.

The owner of Olde Dublin Pub, Peakes Quay and the Claddagh Oyster House is now the head of Restaurants Canada, formerly known as the Canadian Restaurant Foodservices Association.

Dolan, already a member of the 30,000-member group as P.E.I.’s representative, was elected to his new post at the association’s annual meeting earlier this month. He’ll sit at the head of the table in a rather impressive group of restaurateurs, a table that includes the president of McDonald’s Canada, Tim Horton’s, Starbucks and Cara Foods (The Cara brand includes Swiss Chalet, Montana’s and Harvey’s).

Dolan says his first order of business is bringing the national board meeting to Charlottetown for the first time ever, May 24-28. That will bring about 100 people to the capital city for meetings at the P.E.I. Convention Centre in Charlottetown.

His next order of business will be scheduling a meeting with federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to talk about some of the big issues facing restaurants across Canada.

Dolan says the skyrocketing cost of accepting credit cards is giving restaurateurs heartburn. He says it’s the fee credit card companies charge on the tax portion of a customer’s bill that’s the problem.

For example, on a $100 food bill, Dolan would charge $14.50 in tax. The credit card company gets a percentage of the $100 and the $14.50.

“It’s costing our industry $40 million a year,’’ Dolan said Thursday. “I don’t have a problem with people using credit cards . . . (but) why should one company make money on the backs of another business collecting tax for the government? They are (charging) a fee on the $100 but they shouldn’t make a fee on the tax portion.’’

Dolan said that fee on the taxable portion of a bill is really hurting small businesses, like mom and pop coffee shops.

“I’m paying anywhere from 1.8 to 3.5 per cent to accept that credit card of yours. They’re making it at every angle. They may guarantee our money but we have to put the devices in and we have to keep upgrading our devices to accept these cards to protect the consumer, myself and Visa.’’

Other issues facing Canadian restaurants Dolan mentioned include a labour shortage.

“It’s going to be a big one across this country in the next three to four years. The population is shrinking. We don’t have enough workers to deal with this industry.’’

Also on his list — taxation when it comes to buying booze for restaurants. Dolan said restaurants want wholesale pricing.

“We’re paying more than a guy on the street for beer.’’

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