According to a report by online booking platform Bookatable, Christmas Day bookings for restaurants listed on its site have risen 251 per cent over the last four years, with 61 per cent of people reportedly opting to dine out on Christmas Day this year to alleviate the stress of cooking at home.
This year Le Bistrot Pierre co-owner Rob Beacham decided to open his 14 restaurants for the first time on 25 December after deliberating for several years. Almost all restaurants, which are located across the UK and will serve a special £59 five-course Christmas menu, are fully-booked.
“Throughout December our Christmas lunch, pre-theatre and evening menus have become increasingly popular with loyal diners coming back year after year and eating out on Christmas Day is becoming more common too so we took the decision based on feedback from customers and knowing the demand was there,” Beacham told BigHospitality.
Although it is not taking bookings or serving a special festive menu, London restaurant Vapiano Great Portland Street is expecting a solid turnout on Christmas Day when it opens for the first time.
Response to the news the 340-cover site is opening from 12pm to 7pm on 25 December has been positive according to Vapiano UK in-house marketing consultant Vikki O’Neill.
“We’ve had a lot of interest, so we’re hopeful it will be a success,” she said. “Even if half of those who have enquired come in we’ll be more than ok.”
O’Neill said she believes the fact the Italian casual dining restaurant is offering an alternative to the usual festive fayre has been part of the appeal.
She said: “We’re not offering a £50/£60 three-course menu, we’re just serving our standard menu and letting people stay as long as they like, which is quite different from a lot of places opening Christmas Day.
“A lot of our guests who don’t celebrate Christmas still want to get together with friends, so they can do that here where it’s a bit more relaxed.”
Although they will be working, staff at both Le Bistrot Pierre venues and Vapiano Great Portland Street will be encouraged to have fun during service and celebrate with diners if they want to.
“The same staff who know our customers and the bistrots so well will be working on Christmas Day, which will be a team of between eight and 15 staff front and back of house, depending on the size of the bistrot,” said Beacham who is giving staff a day off in lieu for working Christmas Day.
All 35 members of staff working at Vapiano Great Portland Street volunteered to work Christmas Day according to O'Neill. As well as putting on breakfast and paying double time, the company is paying for taxis to and from work for staff and putting on a party for them after service.
“A lot of our staff are Italian and Spanish and are not going to be with their family on Christmas Day because they're in another country, so they'd rather be here having fun with their colleagues," said O'Neill.
Also opening Christmas Day - round-up:
- Darbaar, London: Abdul Yaseen's recently opened restaurant will be serving a £45 four course menu.
- Red Hot World Buffet, various locations: All six of the all-you-can-eat buffet restaurants will be open on 25 December serving menus from £9.99.
- La Rive, Cobham: The restaurant's executive chef Eric Payet has created a 'decadent' three-course menu priced at £120.