Six thoughts from the past six days by Ann Elliott

Why did the Mail Online publish an article yesterday entitled “The great chain restaurant rip off”?

The subhead read: “Why the value-for-money chains aren’t what they seem.” It’s as though the writer doesn’t understand the basics of restaurant economics, has never read a profit and loss report from a hospitality business, and has never talked to a financial director in the sector. Or perhaps they have, and they just don’t care. It’s purely a sensational article designed to enrage readers and make them think twice about going out to casual dining chains. The best comment in response came from Wagamama, which said: “The suggestion of huge mark-ups is both factually incorrect and very misleading.” I couldn’t agree more.

Does anyone really pair drink and food nowadays?

Of course I see people drinking white wine with fish and red wine with beef but generally it seems to me people are becoming less concerned about what they drink with which dish. They have moved on, and the market has moved on. Consumers don’t seem to care what they drink with which dish these days – if they like a drink they will drink it whenever and with whatever. Yet many marketers continue to talk about food and drink pairing as if it’s the holy grail. I don’t think it is.

Is Vapiano under-rated?

I went to Vapiano yesterday for the first time for a while and was amazed how busy it was at 3.30pm. It was rammed, as busy and diverse as Nando’s, easy to use, easy to navigate, and buzzy and lively. Some customers were there for three-to-five minutes and others looked as though they were staying all afternoon. It was good value, too, and served great-quality, fresh food made in front of my eyes. Vapiano has been both innovative and consistent in the past few years and it was brilliant to see it doing so well.

Why doesn’t Pret double the size of its Euston site?

Probably because it can’t might be the simple answer. I have gone there three times in the past fortnight but, on each occasion, have turned round and come straight back out because the queues were so long. That puts me off the brand overall – a shame. There must be some other way to sort out speed of service at busy times?

Which is the better restaurant – Blacklock or Flat Iron?

A meal for four at Blacklock the other week was £138 for four plates of prime rib, a carafe of wine, a coke and a coffee. Seems like a lot of money but it was fantastic and a really brilliant experience with awesome service – an evening to remember. At Flat Iron, I had to wait almost two hours for a table and the service wasn’t quite as memorable. However, it was cheaper and another brilliant night. A draw I think – I love them both!

Why isn’t Rhubarb better known?

Anyone who has been to the Sky Garden must be in awe of this business – a huge, complex operation run by Rhubarb that turns over millions of pounds a year. The company also organises and caters for sophisticated weddings and events, operates other restaurants such as Gallery Mess at Saatchi Gallery, and provides food and drink at prestigious locations such as the Royal Albert Hall. I often think contract caterers are treated like the poor relatives of this sector but there are some amazing operators out there that deserve our respect and admiration. Rhubarb is one.

By | 2018-02-19T10:06:36+00:00 February 19th, 2018|Propel|Comments Off on Six thoughts from the past six days by Ann Elliott

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