Cafés and coffee shops a better bet for expanding restaurateurs than brasseries and pubs

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Restaurant

David Colcombe, chef director of Opus Restaurant, has opened a new café under the brand and said coffee shops are a better bet than pubs or brasseries for restaurateurs looking to expand
David Colcombe, chef director of Opus Restaurant, has opened a new café under the brand and said coffee shops are a better bet than pubs or brasseries for restaurateurs looking to expand
David Colcombe, chef director of Opus Restaurant in Birmingham, has opened a new café under the Opus brand in the city and has said coffee shops could be a better option than brasseries and pubs for restaurateurs looking to expand.

“We have had our restaurant for eight years and we are always thinking about how we can expand,” Colcombe told BigHospitality. “We all know how difficult it has been to expand so it is a case of looking for the right opportunity."

The right opportunity came in February when the chef opened Café Opus with business partners Ann Tonks and Irene Allen. The eatery is located in the Ikon Gallery which sits within canalside development Brindleyplace.

Brand extension

The venue features an all-day dining menu of classic British dishes freshly-prepared at the main award-winning Cornwall Street restaurant, all of which cost less than £10.

Colcombe revealed he was already in discussions about a possible two further sites for the café concept and said he was pleased he had decided to expand his business into coffee shops.

“It is a growing market and there is no difference in the quality. Seasonality and quality of product is at the fore. It is affordable to serve Lyme Bay scallops or good Scottish beef for less than £10 without the costs that come with a restaurant.

“Hopefully this is the start of us extending our brand further on. We are looking for sites for the future. We would definitely like to move it out of Birmingham, maybe in other galleries or to Brixham where all my fish comes from."

Quality

Visitors to the venue, which features an inside dining area and an outside terrace, are able to order any item from the menu at any time of the day – Café Opus is open until 9pm most nights.

“Chefs need to get away from the snobbishness of thinking what people should do and start thinking about what people want to do,” Colcombe suggested.

The Opus team invested a significant amount of funds in the design of the venue but the restaurateur, who is also a visiting professor at University College Birmingham, explained the new venue had exceeded sales expectations by 30 per cent since it opened.

“It is an extension of the brand, everybody who works at the café has been Opus-trained and the product is more casual but not of inferior quality – all the produce is sourced in the same way.

"There is as much thought going into it as goes into the daily-changing menu at the restaurant,” he added.

The venture has been inspired by Peyton & Byrne’s successful strategy of opening good food businesses in art galleries and public buildings in London.

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