Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Bars' Big Day Off

What on earth is everyone going to do? A day with no bars or restaurants. We'll all have to do some work for once. And re-arrange the location for all our meetings. Where? Nary a café nor bar with its doors open, we'll have to use things like offices. We'll have to make our own coffee and, so, rather than complaining about the cost of a café's cortado, we'll moan about the price of a packet of molido from the supermarket. Life will simply be unbearable.

The bars and restaurants of the Balearics are planning on taking a day off. All of them. Ha-ha-ha. As if. One day in the not-too-distant future, in an act of protest against the smoking ban, the coffee machines will lie idle, the tapas will be taped up and the cañas will be canned.

One supposes that the bar owners will hope that this decaffeinated day will prompt an uprising of the dislocated populace, wandering aimlessly like the lost tribes of Israel in vain search of a welcoming terrace. Government buildings will be stormed. Riots will ensue. "We need our coffee!" will shout the dispossessed. Spain's "coffee revolution" will occur.

Will it? Hardly. First problem is going to be getting all bars and restaurants to agree as to the day. What about a Sunday? You must be joking. Busiest day of the week. Erm, so how about a Tuesday? Are you kidding? It's market day in ... (add as applicable). Tell you what. A Saturday. 9 April. You what? It's the first day of the boat fair in Puerto Alcúdia.

The bar and restaurant owners aren't totally stupid, unlike the airport workers. They intend to have their day of protest before the tourism season kicks in. Of course they will. They're not going to close once the punters start streaming in from the easyJets.

But getting agreement or universal support for a day's closure sounds as unlikely as the local population announcing a collective abstinence from coffee, regardless of whether it's inspired by bar closure or not. There's one very good reason why it will be hard to agree to. Self-interest. Takings may, allegedly, be down by 20, 30, 40%, but mass action by a suddenly co-operative union of bar and restaurant owners would reverse the tradition of looking after number one. If this day does go ahead and is a success, I'll eat my coffee machine.

This is not the first time that a protest of this sort has been considered, albeit that previously it was for an altogether different reason. In Alcúdia, rather than a pointless street demo, the idea was floated of a mass closure - during the tourist season - as a way of voicing discontent with the effects of all-inclusives.

Damaging though this might have been, in various ways, it would have been intended to show the damaging, long-term impact of all-inclusives - a resort with no bars or restaurants open, because they no longer have the business. Over-dramatic perhaps, but, as demonstrations go, it would have been powerful. But it would never have happened and never will happen. It's all down to self-interest.

If the bar and restaurant owners' day of inaction does get agreed to, what would happen were some bars to ignore it? Are there going to be pickets flying around, trying to prevent customers getting in?

Assuming that the bars and restaurants are prepared to forego a day's business, what about effects to other businesses? The hard-pressed ensaïmada industry, sales already generally down, will suffer a day's loss of fresh lard being scoffed. Newspaper publishers will also suffer, because there will be no bars to buy their papers for the clientele to read, though they might also benefit as said clientele would have to actually fork out for a paper for once.

There would be ripples in the wider economy from a bar's day of inaction, but these ripples would be nothing compared with the floods that might occur. No bar open. Where the heck do you go for a pee?

Any comments to please.

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