Restaurateurs change formats to stay afloat, admitting 2017 operating pressures

By Georgia Bronte contact

- Last updated on GMT

Restaurateurs change formats to stay afloat, admitting 2017 operating pressures

Related tags: Restaurant, Eating

Restaurateurs have started the new year by taking to social media to admit how tough 2017 was and discuss how they may need to change their formats to survive the next 12 months.

Harrogate’s Scandinavian restaurant Norse, which was voted the town’s 2017 Restaurant of the Year and received a glowing review from Jay Rayner, posted a blog on its website this morning titled ‘Norse is under threat’.

Asking customers to “use us or lose us”, director Paul Rawlinson admitted in the post that “the numbers haven’t been adding up”, and that he had been struggling behind the scenes, particularly during the period before Christmas.

“There have been some new openings and pressures within the market, but all restaurants have to deal with those,” he posted. “I’ve just not got the formula right.”

In a bid to boost trade, the restaurant is set to change its menu, distancing itself from the Scandinavian small plates that brought it such acclaim in favour of a more traditional menu style. The format will comprise simply starters, mains and desserts with a selection of sides, described as ‘modern food using Yorkshire produce’.

“Norse has grown a reputation as a restaurant to visit for a special occasion where you might eat our tasting menu, which is great but that isn't enough to make a sustainable business,” said Rawlinson in a statement.

“We need to change and encourage guests to visit more regularly. This format change is our last chance to alter the trajectory of the restaurant.”

“If we can’t force a change then an amazing team of people will lose their jobs and Harrogate will lose a restaurant that we firmly believe has something to offer our dining scene.”

Last week Nuno Mendes took to Instagram to admit that he too had found 2017 to be a particularly hard year, especially for his “beloved” restaurant Taberna do Mercado in London’s Spitalfields.

“We took some major hits this year and we were faced with some of the biggest challenges so far,” he said of the Portuguese restaurant, which opened in May 2015. “I honestly didn't think we would manage to stay open until the end of the year.”

“There is a lot of uncertainly at the moment so I don't know if we will manage to stay open to see the end of next year but let's hope so.”

In December of 2017, CGA’s Business Confidence Survey Optimism found that among leaders in the eating and drinking out sectors, confidence had been substantially dented since the start of the year.

More than three quarters of the leaders surveyed said that increasing costs of raw materials and rates had negatively affected their businesses.

It also found that a third of leaders admit their business’ performance has been below expectations in the second half of 2017. 

Related topics: Venues

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