Household names open pop-ups in order to claw back young diners with a taste for food trends

Household names open pop-ups in order to claw back young diners with a taste for food trends
Young diners seeking the latest food trend threaten to kill off chain restaurants, industry experts have warned as household names open pop ups in an attempt to reclaim their customers. Jamie Oliver was forced to close 12 branches of his Jamie's Italian chain, while Strada has had to close 10 of its 26 sites and Byron has said 20 of its 67 outlets are under threat.

Oliver's other chain, steakhouse Barbecoa, recently plunged into administration, and its Piccadilly restaurant has closed, while the celebrity chef had to create a new subsidiary to buy and save the other site near St Paul's cathedral. Times also look tough for Italian chain Prezzo, as private equity firm TPG - which bought the chain for £304m in 2015 - has hired consultants at Alix Partners to consider the group's options.

Restructuring plans could lead to closures of some of its 600 restaurants. Additionally, fast food chain Handmade Burger Co was sold out of administration .

This trend is sweeping the industry, and analysis from Moore Stephens showed restaurant insolvencies are up by 20pc in the past year, and blamed the rollout of new restaurant chains competing with each other on the same street.  Other mid-range chains like YO! Sushi, Wagamama and Wahaca have opened smaller venues, offering street food and vegan dishes in the hope of attracting diners looking for "Instagrammable” dishes.

Adam Hyman, the Founder of CODE Hospitality, said a "constant hunger for discovering new, exciting restaurants" is part of the reason there have been so many high street restaurant casualties.

"People love chasing trends and being ahead of the game," he told the Sunday Telegraph. "The cookie cutter restaurant model only works to an extent. Chains have to constantly evolve to keep up with the competition from independent operators which in most cases offer not only a better product but better hospitality and in a lot of cases now at a similar price point to a high street chain. They can no longer rest on their laurels because of a celebrity chef’s name above the front door."  

Mr Hyman said the shift is being driven by millennials, who "are not only doing it from a health point of view but from a sustainable and ethical point of view."

Roger Wade, Founder and CEO of Boxpark, which houses the minimalistic YO! Sushi pop-up, said: "Demand for local operators is growing year on year.

"As an industry we’re seeing a shift towards a more social eating set up, dining out is fundamentally about entertainment and there’s a growing demand for street food and food hall structures."

Mark Selby, the co-founder of Mexican food chain Wahaca, said restaurants need to give customers "unique moments and experiences" to survive. Wahaca opened a small test kitchen in Shoreditch  serving street food and  burrito bowls, in order to adapt their menu to the public's tastes. Read...

James Koroma

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