Over two fifths of UK restaurateurs consider their business to be ‘a concept restaurant’ and 95 per cent say they are on the rise, despite 88 per cent saying they risk leading to poorer quality food.
That’s according to new research by booking service OpenTable, which defined concept restaurants as offering an interactive or unusual experience.
Examples include the ‘naked restaurant’ The Bunyadi in south London, the Inamo group’s touchscreen menu, or the two-Michelin starred Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London, which explores its food history through unexpected presentation options.
The OpenTable study, released this week, also found that 44 per cent of restaurateurs considered their business to be a ‘concept’, and one third (33 per cent) agreed that every restaurant should have a distinct concept, thanks to diners increasingly looking for an entire leisure experience as well as a good meal.
However, almost nine in ten (88 per cent) believe that the quality of food in concept restaurants can suffer thanks to its concept status.
Despite this, 51 per cent of UK diners say they have visited a concept site, with two in five restaurateurs saying this style of dining offers a more enjoyable event.
One quarter (24 per cent) of diners said that the best concept restaurants provided an ‘immersive experience’, and 13 per cent said they enjoyed restaurants that experimented with food. Overall, however, over 80 per cent of diners said that the quality of food was still the most important factor for them when dining out.
Sebastian Lyall, founder of London naked restaurant The Bunyadi, and food and beverage concepts company Lollipop, said: “We are all about creating unique and immersive concepts. It is fantastic to see the growth of concept dining, with restaurants really focusing on what makes them unique.”
Adrian Valeriano, vice president of Europe OpenTable, said: “We are constantly seeing new and more diverse concepts launching…The need for restaurants to differentiate their offering through a compelling story will only continue to grow. Concept restaurants have a dual role to fulfill, both in terms of the quality of their food and the experience that they deliver, to ensure longevity.”