Opera festival is a big hit with local business owners

By amy lewis

Published 20/10/2015 | 00:00

Aidan Rae from the Red Kettle.
Aidan Rae from the Red Kettle.
Darron Jordan of Westgate.
Warren Gillen of Cistín Eile.

The beginning of the Wexford Festival Opera signifies show time, not only for the performers and crew, but also for the many businesses around the town.

So says Warren Gillen of Cistín Eile, who has been busy preparing his restaurant for the large influx of diners that the Festival always promises to bring. According to him, the festival is a 'massive' occasion for all restaurants in Wexford.

'We see about a forty per cent increase in profits during this time,' he explained. 'It's a brilliant time of year. We get a good international audience in. People see our name and want to get a taste of Ireland.'

In order to accommodate for the visitors, Cistin Eile extends their opening hours throughout the period of the festival. They also run daily lunch, dinner and post-theatre menus in an effort to draw in hungry festivalgoers.

The business boost that the festival brings can be seen long before it even begins. Cafes such as The Red Kettle are hot spots for the performers, crew and administrators who need to fuel up during the many weeks of rehearsals. Cafe manager Aidan Rae sees the increase in business from early September when preparations begin in the nearby National Opera House.

'This year has been very good. It is hard to tell what income we get but I can say that this carries us on into the Christmas season,' he said. 'We don't see the post-summer slump like other businesses outside of town do.'

Westgate Design is another popular venue for singers and dramatists who do lunch. Manager Darron Jordan sees an increase in business in the lead-up to the festival with almost double the profits during the 12-day festival.

'With the Spiegeltent on also, momentum slowly builds through September. During the 10 or 12 days of the festival we are out the door,' he said.

According to Darron, their gift store also sees a great jump in sales, with many visitors picking up gifts and souvenirs during their time in Wexford.

Simon's Place on the corner of Henrietta Street is known by many as the unofficial watering hole for anyone who's anyone in the Wexford Festival Opera. Its proximity to the Opera House make it a surefire winner for visitors during the festival, as do the wide selection of beers on offer. Along with nearby pub The Sky and the Ground, Simon's Place stocks a range of Oktoberfest beers throughout the festival period which always prove to be a big hit.

'The festival brings a lot of money and people into the town,' said pub owner Simon Lambert. 'They need to be fed, have a bed and be watered. It's a huge help to the people of Wexford.'

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