Restaurant operators have warned that investor uncertainty in the event of a vote to leave the EU could cause the booming food and drink sector to nosedive.
Polled at The Caterer's casual dining breakfast briefing in association with Barclays and Google in London this morning, 82% of the audience said they would vote to remain in the EU.
Ian Edward, a non-executive chairman at Brasserie Blanc, invests in numerous pubs and restaurants. He said voting for political reasons was "a bit like asking a Chelsea fan whether they want Spurs or Leicester to win the title… But for business reasons it is a no-brainer, we have to stay in."
Edward said that the current bubble of investment in the sector, driven by "30% returns" for investors that back the right operators, would swiftly pop in the event of an out vote.
"I think people are currently sitting on the fence. If [the vote] goes negative, I think investment will fall very, very quickly."
Andreas Karlsson, managing director of Sticks ‘n' Sushi agreed that while a run on the pound in the event of an exit could bring in more overseas visitors, Brexit would not be positive for his business.
"I don't think we would have half of Europe [coming over] to eat at our restaurants. " Sticks ‘n' Sushi's main customers were people in the local area, he said, which would be affected by any resulting economic flux. "Uncertainty is not good for anyone," he said.
Meanwhile Philip Richardson, industry director - hospitality & leisure, Barclays, explained that the bank's official position was that on balance it would be best for the UK to remain in the EU.