The Cinnamon Group turns to lunch trade as business growth slows

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Restaurant

Cinnamon Soho, which opened last year, will be used as the basis for The Cinnamon group's expansion model
Cinnamon Soho, which opened last year, will be used as the basis for The Cinnamon group's expansion model
The new operations manager of The Cinnamon Group has admitted that the business has seen little growth over the past year, but insists there is still room to expand across the UK with the lunchtime trade cited as a ‘key opportunity’.

Hari Nagaraj, who was recently promoted from manager of The Cinnamon Club to Operations Manager across the group, says that the other two restaurants – Cinnamon Kitchen and Cinnamon Soho – still need to find and attract more customers.

“We need to do a bit more than what we are doing at the moment,” Nagaraj told BigHospitality. “Compared to last year we are stagnant with not much growth, but there are new opportunities that we can pursue.

“Mainly we are looking at the lunch trade. There’s a key opportunity there, especially with the sun smiling now. Our menus are all seasonal but for the spring/summer we will be looking at producing some lighter options. We always have one or two special menus running parallel to the regular menus, so we’re looking at really promoting them as well.”

Nagaraj worked within the Cinnamon Group for twelve years, having joined with a nine-strong team which included executive chef and chief executive Vivek Singh. His promotion comes at the same time as the appointment of Helen Geach as The Cinnamon Group’s marketing manager; and Giacomo Podda as restaurant manager of The Cinnamon Club.

Cinnamon Soho expansion

The Cinnamon Group's operations manager Hari Nagaraj is looking to grow sales across the business

Despite admitting that business at Cinnamon Soho – which opened last year​– is not where it should be, Nagaraj says the all-day dining concept has the potential to be expanded across the UK.

“There is obviously room for expansion and Vivek has got plans of multiplying Cinnamon Soho,” he added. “I would like to take on two or three sites and run them, that was my thinking. I am out of the kitchen to learn the financial side of things and once I get the hang of it I’m looking to operate multiple sites.

“Vivek is also in touch with people to expand internationally, but that’s still in its early stages.”

In a recent Pearls of Wisdom interview with BigHospitality and our sister publication Restaurant magazine, Singh confirmed that Cinnamon Soho would form the basis of the group’s expansion model.

He said: “It is not very resource-hungry, it is small, quick to turn around with 75 to 80 seats, has smaller rents and an incredibly exciting all-day offering that suits all pockets. We believe we could sustain eight to 10 in and around London.”

Meanwhile Nagaraj, who still gets behind the stove for occasional Indian cooking masterclasses, concluded that one of the major developments across The Cinnamon Group will come in the form of staff training.

“We’re looking to bridge the gap between the floor and the kitchen,” he said. “My aim is to get 10 per cent of our workforce as apprentices – we’re working with some training providers to bring in apprentices both back and front-of-house.”

Read the full Pearls of Wisdom interview with The Cinnamon Group’s chief executive Vivek Singh here.

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