No, the Brits aren’t tired of dining out. We’re tired of eating at the same greedy chains that offer poor value, poor service, and most of them are on the fiddle when it comes to their taxes.
Go to any Nando’s, Jamie’s Italian, Prezzo or Byron, and the menu, presentation, even the decor is all the same. Dull as dish water! Yes, when Jamie Oliver opened his first few, it was exciting, because it was something new. But once you’ve eaten in one, you’ve eaten in all of them.
The only reason Weatherspoon’s does so well is that the price is competitive, kids are allowed in, and whether you’re having a breakfast or evening meal, the menu isn’t bad.
Now, if the chain restaurants added some unique values to each of their venues, it may be something to write home about. You can be a chain, but you can also give each one some individuality.
Giving management more power is key, as they will know the area they live in, and trends of that area better than the guys at HQ. In fact, they’ll more than likely live quite close, thus meaning they’ll also know the competition and where they can offer something better, be that ordering monthly craft beers, using locally sourced produce, hosting events that are in fitting with the clientele. I come from a place where there’s a monthly Morris Dancing club!
You then have chefs who have trained and trained hard essentially being told they can only make certain dishes and must serve it a certain way and present it in a certain style. A quick look at all the chain menus proves that you can only make Spaghetti Bolognaise so many ways, and with no individual flare being added, the chefs become frustrated. Giving the chefs the chance to shine is one of the few ways that you can show your chef you trust them.
A look at Jamie’s website, and the menu is so rigid, it’s almost like every single restaurant is going to be a clone of the previous one, right down to the decor.
What is apparent though, is that Brits are foodies, but our allegiance to chains is shifting towards smaller, independent businesses. In the Village I grew up, the biggest chain we have there is 1 Tesco. All the restaurants, bars and pubs are all independent and only negated to by the breweries as to which drinks they can get in.
The rest of the operation, be that food, food suppliers, menu choices and entertainment, are up to the Landlord, or in some cases if the venue’s failing for whatever reason, the Area Manager who will then arrange a meeting with the Regional Manager who will take into consideration previous experience and whether they think the suggestions are financially viable.
The chains need to think outside the box and look at it from the eyes of a customer. Not from the eyes of an owner.