An article headlined “The great chain restaurant rip off!” has prompted a defiant response from chefs who have said it failed to take into account the realities of the restaurant business.
The Daily Mail article, published on Thursday, sought to cost meals offered by brands including Carluccio’s, PizzaExpress and Jamie’s Italian based on supermarket prices, suggesting mark-ups ranged from 114% to 773%.
The mark-ups published did not take into account rents, business rates, wages or energy bills, although the article did reference the rising costs faced by restaurants.
Dhruv Baker described the piece as “a shocking piece of shit of an article”.
He added: “Knowing how hard it is to make a business work it’s just saddening to read stuff like this.”
Yorkshire based head chef David Martin commented: “Most of these dishes are within perfectly normal restaurant business models. In fact, some of the dishes that cost £4 to make could easily be charged at £16, this is why many small restaurants are closing and the chains are taking over, because they can do it cheap.”
Critic Jay Rayner responded to the article tweeting: “Basic gross profit should be 68/70%. So if a restaurant dish sells at £10, the ingredients cost £3. (rest is wages, rent, services etc). That’s a markup of 230%.”
He added a link to a piece he had written earlier this year responding to those who question the prices of restaurant dishes.
Within the piece he says: “Restaurants are not a licence to print money. They are brutally tough businesses, as the number of closures early in 2018 has proved. One of the major problems is British consumers like you who begrudge paying a reasonable amount of money for the experience.”
Sat Bains, of Restaurant Sat Bains in Nottingham, and Tommy Banks, of the Black Swan Oldstead, both described Rayner’s article as “brilliant”.
This year has seen a number of causal dining casualties, with both Jamie’s Italian and Byron agreeing Company Voluntary Arrangement restructuring plans with creditors.
The Caterer‘s guide to costing a menu stresses the need to take into account all costs – including salt, pepper and oil, in order to ensure it is financially viable.
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