Rising menu sharing at UK restaurants as customers cut back | Hospitality industry

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Linden Stores in the village of Audlem, Cheshire, has launched an entire sharing menu of modern British dishes, with two people sharing seven dishes, including charred pepper and Cornish Quartz cheddar croquettes, hake wrapped in wild boar pancetta and chocolate peanut butter pie.

Laura Christie and her partner, Chris Boustead, moved the restaurant to London Village in 2020. She was surprised by the reaction.

“We didn’t expect it to be such a big deal,” said Christie, who grew up in Wirral.

“It was a pretty new idea for people. We are in a small village but it turned out that we were breaking more boundaries than we thought with this concept of sharing. A customer said to me, “Is that how everyone eats in London? », which made me laugh. A lot of people said, “I tried things I wouldn’t have chosen and really enjoyed it.”

Linden Stores isn’t alone in revamping its menu to make sharing food a trivial thing. Stealing your partner’s dessert is a centuries-old restaurant tradition, but restaurateurs are increasingly making two spoons a no-brainer as sharing platters become the latest way for the hospitality industry to fight the recession. One in seven desserts on restaurant menus is now meant to be shared, according to leading research firm Lumina Intelligence, which notes that people are spending 14% less than last year. Part of this reduction in spending is due to people only buying main dishes and skipping starters and desserts.

“It makes people feel like they’re having more experiences”: restaurateur Laura Christie.

“Restaurants are introducing more shareable dishes to optional entrees, including appetizers and dessert dishes, to encourage spending as customers cut back,” Lumina said in its latest Menu Tracker report.

Sharing works because restaurants have become less formal and stuffy, Christie believes, although she makes sure customers don’t have to fight over portions.

“It makes people feel like they’re having more experience. This helps our per capita expenses. This contributes to efficiency, because you know what you need to prepare and you need fewer people to deliver it, because you know, in advance, what you are doing.

Christie’s other restaurant, Oklava in Shoreditch, east London, which she co-owns with Selin Kiazim, serves modern Turkish cuisine and also emphasizes sharing. Nearby, Apothecary East has started offering several Japanese-inspired sharing menus.

Tom Kerridge has introduced a £15 two-course lunch menu at his Michelin-starred restaurant, the Coach, in Marlow, where diners can try dishes such as rotisserie bacon with fried Cacklebean eggs and chips , and will present it at Kerridge’s Bar & Grill in London in the New Year.

Chief Tom Kerridge
Chef Tom Kerridge has introduced a £15 two-course lunch at The Coach in Marlow. Photography: Christian Barnett

Lumina Intelligence research also found that customers were drinking less – from June to October, the number of meals that included alcohol fell from 38.5% to 33.9%, with the biggest drop being among cocktails and other spirits. People aged 18 to 34 were the most likely to eat a non-alcoholic meal.

And people were more likely to meet friends for coffee than for a full meal, the research showed. Average spending per person in a restaurant rose from £25.38 to £21.80, while cafes and sandwich shops rose from £6.05 to £6.69.

A separate study by consumer consultancy CGA showed that 34% of people chose cheaper food options and 25% ordered fewer courses.

“We have started to see major changes in the market – consumers are using their purchasing power to manage their own basket inflation,” said Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium. , to the members of the environment, food and rural affairs committee. Last week. “We see people changing their shopping habits, just to try and increase their household income a bit.”

People are eating less ready meals and more often cooking from scratch, he said. “And also, [there’s] eating out less, potentially, in the future,” he added. “People eat more at home, so more attention at home.”

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