The recession has hit the entire western world. One result of everyone watching their cents, pennies and euros more carefully has been a serious impact on the restaurant industry. Gordon Ramsay must be swearing even more than usual at what's happened to his empire.
Here's how two countries are handling the situation.
July 1, 2009. the French government slashed the TVA--taxe sur la valeur ajoutée--for bars and restaurants to encourage us to eat out just as much, or more, than we're doing now and to create jobs for chefs, waiters and all the other folks in the industry. Formerly 19.6 percent, the tax has been slashed to 5.5 percent. A sign I spotted outside a bistro in Mirepoix on Monday spells out the effect this has on your wallet. Not a vast amount, granted, but arguably enough to swing the decision from "let's go home and make a salad" to "why don't we stay here and have lunch."
Meanwhile, back in our former home, British Columbia, Canada, the government just announced a new "harmonized sales tax" (actually that "h" stands for "higher") that either means diners will pay more or already hard-hit restaurants will earn less. The new tax takes effect1 July, 2010, exactly one year after the French one came into effect. What delicious irony.