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Restaurant chains suffering?

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I was out with my daughter and another family last night for pantomime. We ate out at Harry Ramsdens. I booked ahead as I expected it to be busy. We were the only people in there! I've seen it much busier, even midweek it has at least a few tables occupied. What's going on? People reducing spending on meals out?

As we left at 6.30 they were locking up (3hrs early!). Something's afoot....

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I had my works do in a  Chinese restaurant in Camden Town, it was virtually empty which surprised me, I cannot give a comparison as it was the first time I had ever been there 

I was also surprised at how cheap the prices were compared to what I imagined they would be 

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A bunch of us have got into the habit of doing a copycat of "Come dine with me", great fun. Officially there is none of that marking out of 10, but unofficially we are still marked, mostly by ourselves. The meals have been fantastic, to some people it is a real big deal to serve up something good and at a fraction of the cost, I have had far betters meals than at some restaurants.

I want to at some point as well have us all do a meal, but you cannot pay over £10 for everyone and have to prove it, but you can include foraged food as well

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A good friend lives in Suffolk and his daughter has two part-time jobs in cafe's/restaurants in a posh seaside haunt and both establishments have been moaning about how quite it is and 'its not normal' for this time of year.  This seems to be indicative that even the well heeled are cutting back and yet we keep being told how well the economy in the UK is doing?!?

Edited by dougless

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VC injections for short term profits and massive expansion have diluted the sector. Uber Eats and Deliveroo + supermarket meal kits also play a part.

“Hot” eateries in London still have stupid no-bookings and queues but the chains are hardly buzzing.

It all feels pre-recession to me.

I monitor a specialist second hand item market at auctions and online and assure you that people are not spending anything like they were two or three years ago. 

 

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1 hour ago, dougless said:

A good friend lives in Suffolk and his daughter has two part-time jobs in cafe's/restaurants in a posh seaside haunt and both establishments have been moaning about how quite it is and 'its not normal' for this time of year.  This seems to be indicative that even the well heeled are cutting back and yet we keep being told how well the economy in the UK is doing?!?

That's the difference between 'doing well' as in burgeoning production and export, as opposed to 'doing well' spending lots of money you don't really have, I would imagine... Now the ATM (plus pension, and kids' college find etc.) that is the house isn't going up in value, you would have to think that is making people think twice about discretionary spending.

A reminder - don't think...Just Eat.

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People are very fickle though, and I think the novelty/attraction of eating in one of the chains is just not what it was. Prices have also rapidly jacked up due to business rates, living wage, and greed of the financial houses which put up much of the money. I used to think of a main course at £10 and desert £3.50, now more like £15-20 and £8.

I agree some ethnic restaurants - Chinese and Indian - can be very cheap, but they must be cutting corners on ingredients and pay.

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Perhaps people are learning how to cook again and finding out how delicious home cooked can be, spending £20 or £30 for a meal and a drink for one when can easily make a dozen meals for that.....A Christmas lunch turkey and all the trimmings, plenty of meat and vegetables £11.50 plus a drink £3 very reasonable imo.

As for secondhand knick-knacks......you don't want it and the kids don't need it.....they don't have the space to store it, show it or clean it.😉

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Yes and no for me. Our town has recently lost a couple of chain restaurants (including a Prezzos that was located in an enormous Georgian Mansion... very nice but WTF?)

Some places in Reading (nearest town) are hit and miss in the evening. on a school night not really much going on but still fairly busy at the weekends. 

Randomly though we've had a few week days off recently to burn off annual leave and local pubs were packed at lunchtime. 

Also did the hangover breakfast at Cote Brasserie and that was chocca. 

I would say that the eating out offering is over-saturated and the investment houses that seem to own half of them are cranking up the EBITDA by dropping costs, closing stores, and increasing prices. 

As for whether it is a recession indicator, maybe? We would need more than just our anecdotes to form an opinion? I once attended an economics lecture by some top academic and he said outside of all the models and metrics he would look at the length of discarded cigarette stubs. The longer they were the higher the confidence and the richer smokers felt. 

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41 minutes ago, adarmo said:

As for whether it is a recession indicator, maybe? We would need more than just our anecdotes to form an opinion? I once attended an economics lecture by some top academic and he said outside of all the models and metrics he would look at the length of discarded cigarette stubs. The longer they were the higher the confidence and the richer smokers felt. 

Brilliant.

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1 hour ago, onlooker said:

 I used to think of a main course at £10 and desert £3.50, now more like £15-20 and £8.

Yes, eating out is such poor value now. You know that the ingredients on the plate can't have cost more than £3, but they want £16.95 for it.

Still not as bad as beer in pubs though, a fiver for 20 pence worth of fermented grain.

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26 minutes ago, Dorkins said:

Yes, eating out is such poor value now. You know that the ingredients on the plate can't have cost more than £3, but they want £16.95 for it.

Still not as bad as beer in pubs though, a fiver for 20 pence worth of fermented grain.

Rent and or mortgage and business rates, ppl, minimum wages and pensions, insurance, utilities, safety certification, fire systems and testing, commercial equipment testing and repairs, wastage, mistakes and theft etc etc.

For the margin over 80% your restricted to possible pasta, pizza and noodle places....

Its very rare to see a restaurant than makes more than 15% profit at the end of the day....often owners do not factor in their own time.  When you read the particulars and they say "adjusted net profit" they mean some poor ******* works 70 + hours a week.

It's such a pain in the **** that some hotels try and get rid of this function.  

You may well be able to pay 3-5 for the ingredients for that 16.95 meal but if I wanted you to make it for me in your home, clean it up, then I use you loo.....then take photos of you and then slag you off on trip advisor because I wanted it for free how much would you want for that 🙂

The real stress is that you turn you back and someone serves a customer the wrong dish or a chef decides to add his own twist, they have an allergic reaction and it possibly kills them ....

 

Edited by Fromage Frais

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Where I am (Telford) It's pretty hit and miss. 

Bella Italia has good service/food and is always busy (Hard to get a walk in table).

Pizza express opposite is reasonably busy but no where near as busy as Bella italia. 

Prezzo was known to have "fawlty towers-esque service", It was always empty and closed in the CVA. As did the Chimichanga round the corner (Same owner) 

The buffet restaurant has had 3+ owners, the 2nd going bust owing about £100k to the council. (Location sucks)

The expensive cocktail bar, and the vintage themed "Novello lounge" charge premium prices but are always busy, good food + upmarket feel. 

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1 hour ago, adarmo said:

 

As for whether it is a recession indicator, maybe? We would need more than just our anecdotes to form an opinion? I once attended an economics lecture by some top academic and he said outside of all the models and metrics he would look at the length of discarded cigarette stubs. The longer they were the higher the confidence and the richer smokers felt. 

I saw someone obviously down on their luck collecting up discarded cigarette stubs the other night...I haven't seen that in a while.

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44 minutes ago, Dorkins said:

Yes, eating out is such poor value now. You know that the ingredients on the plate can't have cost more than £3, but they want £16.95 for it.

Still not as bad as beer in pubs though, a fiver for 20 pence worth of fermented grain.

Many people think twice about going out for meals too often when they consider that one meal out somewhere other than wetherspoon etc with wine is likely to cost more then their entire weeks food shopping.

Many know too that they are not paying for the meal...it is mostly rent that goes straight into the pocket of a wealthy landlord...enough to leave a sour taste.

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2 hours ago, PeanutButter said:

VC injections for short term profits and massive expansion have diluted the sector. Uber Eats and Deliveroo + supermarket meal kits also play a part.

“Hot” eateries in London still have stupid no-bookings and queues but the chains are hardly buzzing.

It all feels pre-recession to me.

Don’t use Uber Eats or Deliveroo, their drivers and the bike food compare are filthy and unhygienic. I’m surprised local authorities aren’t forcing them to undergo food hygiene inspections.

Edited by Mikhail Liebenstein

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18 minutes ago, Wayward said:

Many people think twice about going out for meals too often when they consider that one meal out somewhere other than wetherspoon etc with wine is likely to cost more then their entire weeks food shopping.

Many know too that they are not paying for the meal...it is mostly rent that goes straight into the pocket of a wealthy landlord...enough to leave a sour taste.

Yes, and generally most restaurants these days are shooting themselves in the foot with poor service and offering microwave meals.

I now go out very rarely, the exception being if it’s a expensive meal that I know will be enjoyable on a special occasion. I can cook to a far higher standard than most chain restaurants.

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25 minutes ago, Wayward said:

I saw someone obviously down on their luck collecting up discarded cigarette stubs the other night...I haven't seen that in a while.

I saw this in Hyde Park yesterday but the poor chap looked like he was homeless. 

But then again that rise in homelessness would be indicative of things not going well, and said chap proceeded to spark the thing up while it was still as flat as a fire hose. 

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Having just comeback from berlin for a few days i am shocked that any restaurants are still open in the uk. 

Excellent service good quality food large portions and about the same price as the uk.  far more choice too. 

most were packed out by 7pm everyday 

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7 minutes ago, longgone said:

Having just comeback from berlin for a few days i am shocked that any restaurants are still open in the uk. 

Excellent service good quality food large portions and about the same price as the uk.  far more choice too. 

most were packed out by 7pm everyday 

Our German friends spend considerably less of their post tax income on housing which results in greater ability to do other things with their money.  Housing cost (and property cost re: Business) will be a significant factor in our economy continuing to struggle at best.

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22 minutes ago, Mikhail Liebenstein said:

Don’t use Uber Eats or Deliveroo, their drivers and the bike food compare are filthy and unhygienic. I’m surprised local authorities aren’t forcing them to undergo food hygiene inspections.

Citation needed. What difference does it make if the drivers are ‘unhygienic’? They don’t touch the food. Local takeaway delivery drivers don’t exactly look like lab workers.

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3 minutes ago, dougless said:

Our German friends spend considerably less of their post tax income on housing which results in greater ability to do other things with their money.  Housing cost (and property cost re: Business) will be a significant factor in our economy continuing to struggle at best.

i don`t doubt that.  The city is much cleaner than london the trains trams and buses work, the people look less hostile more friendly less fat women walking about 😄  people spending money enjoying themselves. London has more green spaces theaters. 

Can`t beat london for pubs though i give it that berlin is just not like that.   

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The UK has a glut of chain restaurants that are pretty samey throughout the nation with their menu and decor, although the quality of food and service still seems pretty variable under the identikit McDonalds/Wetherspoons/Nando's branding. 

Not quite as good as the most swanky Berlin, Paris, and London restaurant or even decent home cooking, but good enough for casual dining (if overpriced for what it is).

I can remember, a couple of years ago, enjoying the very best fish and chips of my life in a Wetherspoons outlet in Cornwall (while it's so-so in a Bristol Wetherspoons).

The very worst chain restaurant experience I had in living memory, with dingy toilets, awful food, and sluggish service was at the Slug and Lettice. The worst chips I ever had was in greasy diner outside Brussels. And the cafes and bars in early 90s Ibiza Town, before it was dramatically gentrified by the turn of the millennia, smelt like a open sewer.

 

Edited by Big Orange

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  • 293 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

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      • down 5% +
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      • up 5%



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