In light of new research* revealing the great British pub continues to make way for 6,000 new eateries across England, Scotland and Wales, The Restaurant Club, a fifteen-thousand-member scheme supporting local restaurateurs over chains monopolising the high street is celebrating the increase. However, Louisa Walters, Founder of The Restaurant Club warns that the economic situation remains challenging for independents.
The largest growth areas included lounge bars (116%), cake makers (51%), juice bars (46%) and speciality restaurants. There was also a 31% increase in the number of coffee shops. Indian, Italian and Chinese are the most popular types of restaurants across England, but there are regional quirks as well - in Leeds, there has been a rise in Spanish restaurants, while American diners are proving to be popular in Bristol.
Louisa Walters, says "Eating out has become the number one leisure activity in the UK, with restaurants and cafes fast replacing pubs as the go-to venue for socialising. Independent outlets have recognised the need for fresh, healthy ingredients served in convivial surroundings with a regularly changing menu to keep customers’ interest piqued."
"The Restaurant Club is thrilled to be working with so many independents who have stepped up to the mark, and are keeping their customers coming back for more by offering incentives through schemes such as ours. But our restauranteurs tell us they are under pressure from the chains who have greater buying and advertising power. Therefore, were are calling on everyone to support their local independent eateries so they can continue to offer an outstanding experience.”
To arrange an interview with Louisa Walters, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org 0207 637 0656
Notes to editors
*Local Data Company figures, analysed by the BBC
The Restaurant Club currently boasts a cult following of over 15,000 self-proclaimed food critics on its Facebook group of the same name. Journalist and food writer Louisa Walters posted her first review in 2013. The Mill Hill mother of two decided to set up the private group after enjoying reading reviews and swapping recommendations on a Facebook book club.
Martin Ment of ‘Hudsons’, Whetstone:
The Restaurant Club can raise the profile of any restaurant overnight and helped Hudsons instantly when it launched in February 2015. Over time, the Club has given me constructive feedback so that I can make the necessary changes to improve my business. Member feedback allows me to better the customer experience that I can offer on an ongoing basis. My wish, like all restaurants, is to generate additional ‘bums on seats’ in the restaurant through the quieter periods and to enhance my brand through this association – The Restaurant Club’s loyalty scheme does this for me.
The members are all active foodies who eat out regularly and who have extended family and friend circles. They are usually instrumental in selecting the choice of restaurant and this presents a great opportunity to drive customers towards your business at the times the suit you.
Philp McGuinness of ‘Tootoomoo’, Crouch End and Whetstone:
The Restaurant Club has opened up my business to a new audience of customers who want to see local restaurateurs succeed and are hugely supportive. They give great feedback. The loyalty scheme will generate more traffic and maybe give a little excuse for someone new to try us. Any restaurant joining up will see more customers, lots of goodwill and great feedback to help them keep things fresh.
Jesse Dunford Wood of ‘Parlour’, Kensal Rise:
The Facebook Group Restaurant Club has been amazing with its promotion and outreach, especially on our Chef’s Table, where it is most probable that someone in the group has heard about it from a friend who is a member of the Club. Lots of our other guests come recommended and spurred on by some great reviews we have had too. Being part of the loyalty scheme offers more to those in the group, with the specific targeting of quieter and less popular shifts. Having a continuous stream of regular restaurant-goers and keen foodies will only benefit your business, especially if you can help out in the leaner periods. Sign up!