D&D London considers suburban sites as it plans for post-Covid era

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

D&D London Des Gunewardena considers suburban sites as it plans for post-Covid era

Related tags: Des Gunewardena, D&d london, Restaurant, Coronavirus

High-end restaurant group D&D London is considering expanding its suburban presence in light of the changes to people's social behaviour caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Chairman and CEO Des Gunewardena says that while the group will still continue to focus on growing its city centre portfolio, the impact of Covid-19 has pushed the business to also contemplate a shift to opening in more residential locations. 

"Our sites are often large, landmark restaurants - it's what we’re known for and I don’t see any reason to change that policy as it’s what we’ve had great success with it," he tells BigHospitality​.

"But one thing we are thinking and talking about, given the pandemic, is how the pattern of people's social lives could change. If commuters are working from home more regularly in the long term, will they make more effort to stay local when they go out.

"Virtually all of our restaurants are in the centre of cities, be it London, Manchester or Leeds. But now we’ve asked ourselves whether we should consider doing some more restaurants in the suburbs; and I think the answer to that is yes."

While no concrete plans for suburban expansion are currently in place, Gunewardena says any such openings would be on much smaller scale to the huge, 150+ cover destination restaurants D&D is primarily known for.

Despite potential changes in people's work and social patterns post pandemic, Gunewardena adds that he still has plenty of confidence in customers returning to the city centre.

While no details have been disclosed, he confirms the group has just signed to open a restaurant within a new development in the capital.

"You might say given the move to working from home that’s become the norm for many as a result of the pandemic that maybe it’s not wise to open restaurants in the centre of cities, because that’s not where the workers are going to be in the future; but I don’t get a sense of that," he says.

"We’re still seeing lots of huge projects going ahead, and businesses are signing contracts on office space in anticipation of workers returning."

D&D London currently operates more than 40 restaurants worldwide, principally in London, but also with locations in Leeds, Manchester, Paris and New York.

Earlier this week it was reported that Gunewardena had written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak asking the Government to properly compensate businesses forced to close​ by the Coronavirus.

In the letter he described the Government’s additional support of £9,000 per venue to businesses​ as 'wholly inadequate' and revealed that the pandemic is costing the company £2.5m per month of closure even after rent negotiations and business rates relief.

Related topics: Business & Legislation

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