Restaurant Business In London

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Restaurant Business in London

Restaurant Business in London


A restaurant is defined as a catering business — or an `eating place' — which supplies both meals and drinks for consumption on the premises.This definition means that takeaway food is excluded, although in practice there are companies to be considered whose premises have a dual eat-in/takeaway function.

Market Size

A distinction is made in the market sizes between expenditure on meals and soft drinks (taken together) and on alcohol to accompany the meal. This is important in distinguishing the `restaurant' trade within outlets — which are licensed to serve alcohol — from their use as bars (for drinks only).

For the market sizes used in this overview, expenditure is restricted to meals paid for by London consumers in a `leisure' context. The exclusions, therefore, are:

meals paid for by businesses as part of corporate catering

meals paid for by foreign visitors to the London.

As with the eat-in /takeaway definition, however, this type of expenditure — although not included in the market sizes — can be vitally important for some companies (e.g. hotels).Restaurants are positioned within the `leisure catering' arena of London consumer expenditure. This means the exclusion of any contract catering facilities such as canteens in workplaces, schools or hospitals. Also excluded is travel catering, another `functional' type of catering, such as motorway services and eating places at train stations. However, hotel meals paid for by London consumers are included as they are part of leisure catering.

The influence of eating trends

This overview has focused on relatively recent trends in the evolving eating-out market, but some long-term trends underpinning the restaurant market are as follows:

London Consumers Eating Out Regularly

Long-term growth is driven by eating out as an alternative to cooking at home, a trend fuelled by changing lifestyles: busier households with both partners working full time, sometimes eating out of necessity but also as a lifestyle choice to `treat' family members.

Shift from `Session Drinking' to Eating

There has been a steady movement of pubs into the pub-restaurant format and pubs continue to increase their eating-out market share. Major pub groups evolved into forces in casual dining, including Mitchells & Butlers, JD Wetherspoon, Whitbread Group and Greene King which were once seen primarily as pub operators.

International Influences

The plethora of traditional Asian restaurants is testament to the longstanding British openness to foreign influences. Taking holidays abroad has broadened tastes further since the 1970s, and the 1990s in particular introduced restaurant concepts based on the likes of sushi (Japanese), tapas (Spanish) and American-style casual dining. In this decade, the popular Nando's chain has offered a hybrid concept involving Portugal and South Africa.

Fluidity of Restaurant Concepts, Breaking the Traditional Mould

For example, high street catering now features licensed café-bars, which are a hybrid of traditional pub, café or `coffee shop' and continental European café or American diner.

Crossovers in Meal Categories

Where pubs used to serve a familiar `pub grub' menu, they may now offer everything from haute cuisine (`gastropubs') to barbecues and curry ...
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