Jason Atherton: Sosharu to open in Shanghai, but Brexit has stalled future expansion

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

Jason Atherton to open Sosharu in Shanghai, but Brexit stalls growth
Jason Atherton is to open his Japanese concept Sosharu in Shanghai next year, but has warned that Brexit could put the brakes on his plans for further restaurants. 

Speaking at the Restaurant Congress yesterday (12 June), the chef – who heads up the 17-strong Social Company restaurant group - said that Sosharu would be launching at the upcoming Edition hotel next Easter.

It will be led by Alex Craciun, formerly of Pollen Street Social, who opened  the concept with Atherton and his wife Irha​ in London in 2015.

“It’s very exciting,” said Atherton. “It’s Alex’s restaurant, not mine. I will be part of the opening team but Alex will be at the forefront of that.”

Brexit effect

But Atherton added that Brexit and the uncertainty created by last week’s general election meant he would be putting further expansion plans on hold.

“I think [the hospitality industry] has just got to batten down the hatches,” he said.

“The scary thing is we wanted to do two or three more concepts over the next five years but we’re not going to do those until we find out what Brexit means. That’s the sad thing, because we wanted to continue to invest but we’ve decided to wait as we don’t want to make a mess and tread on a banana skin.

“When I speak to all my restaurateur and hotelier friends everyone feels the same way. The quicker this government gets it sorted the better so we can move forward and start investing in our country again.” 

EU workforce

Atherton also warned that a hard Brexit risked alienating the hospitality industry’s EU workers.

A recent KPMG study estimates​ ​that 75% of UK waiters and waitresses, 25% of chefs and 37% of housekeeping staff are from the EU.

“We all know that most of our workforce in London are immigrants, and they don’t feel confident; we’re making them feel unwelcome,” said Atherton.

“London was built on immigration, you can’t turn the tap off and say we’re all going to go back to the 1950s. I think soft Brexit is the best thing for our industry in my opinion. I think we need the single market, I think we need the flow of immigration to continue. Does it need to be controlled? Yes of course, but I think there are ways of doing that.”

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