Hotel Restaurant Openings Boom
New restaurant openings in the UK continue to buck the economic trend and growth in new hotel restaurants is particularly strong. We consider why hotel restaurant openings are booming.
The UK economy is in a grim state of affairs. Unemployment and confidence is soul-destroyingly low and reflective of the lead into to the 2008 recession. Back then, times were hard for the UK’s F&B operators –so is it different this time around?
Overall, London openings weakened this year with 107 debuts recorded by Harden’s. However, 107 still reflects a booming F&B scene – last year saw 140 openings, the third-highest figure ever.
However, only 72 closings were recorded – a figure that has confounded the cynics Conventional wisdom dictates that in the current economic climate this figure should be climbing, but it is almost exactly the same as last year and remains in line with closings seen in the past half decade.
The strongest area of growth is in hotels. According to Harden’s, the latest hotel openings are stirring real interest. The guide publishes a list of the top 40 restaurants that diners are talking about and hotel restaurants account for 80% of the newcomers that have hade the list.
London High-End Restaurants
Business is booming in London’s high-end restaurants and there is a glut of new openings in the pipleline. High-end eyebrow raisers include:
- Richard Caring (Scott’s, Annabel’s, Soho House) has just opened 34, his most expensive opening ever in Mayfair.
- Jeremy King and Christopher Corbin (The Caprice, The Ivy and The Wolseley) are opening Delaunay on Aldwych
- Will Beckett and Huw Gott have just opened an enormous new restaurant in Guildhall.
- Three new openings is Mayfair come from Arkady Novikov, the Russian Restaurateur
With more people unemployed and household budgets under stress, these new openings remain an anomaly.
This is especially true when we take into account the rising prices. In the past 12 months, prices have risen by an extraordinary 11.1%. This reflects a ‘perfect storm’ of inflationary pressure – not only the much commented-on increase in food prices worldwide, but also the one-off effect of the increase in VAT in January.
The average cost of a meal for two in London – three courses, wine, service – has now beat £90.
“After a long period where the top end of the restaurant scene appeared to be driven by froth and celebrity, London is at last seeing the launch of restaurants where the emphasis is on serious cooking,” said Harden’s London Restaurants 2012, co-editor Richard Harden.
“Recent openings include Galoupet, Hedone, Medlar, Pollen Street Social and Roganic. It is sometimes said that harsh economic times make for good art; it seems that the same may be true of restaurants!”
The UK F&B industry is in a good position to weather the oncoming storm, but it is likely that tough times are ahead. But for the moment, restaurateurs are jubilant.