Restaurant Collective has launched as a member-led and owned, non-profit community to champion the UK's independent restaurant sector.
The group is seeking to provide independent operators with a louder voice and the support they need to succeed in today's challenging marketplace, including advice on running their business; mentorship and tips from successful restaurateurs; access to an exclusive online marketplace offering supplier deals; and greater power and control over their online presence.
Restaurant Collective will also aim to encourage consumers to support local independent eating and drinking venues following a year in which around 3,000 restaurants have closed and the independent segment suffering 2,000 further closures in January and February alone.
Restaurant Collective is backed by chief executive and former lastminute.com managing director Paul Shaw and the co-founders of Bookatable Jeremy Ormerod, Ken Stratford and James Barnard. Founding members include chef Brian Turner and Andrew Pern, chef-proprietor of the Michelin-starred Star at Harome in North Yorkshire.
As patron, Turner will build awareness of the new initiative among the restaurant community and help to recruit experienced founder members. He said: "The ethos of hospitality has always been to bring people together and provide them with an enjoyable and memorable experience. This remains the case today, the difference being, with significantly increased competition and attention on eating out, it's more complex running a restaurant nowadays compared to when I opened my first venue many years ago.
"That's why I firmly believe Restaurant Collective is a fantastic initiative, and one that I'm very proud to be a part of – bringing together independent and smaller operators to support one and other. It's certainly something that would've been of great assistance to me and my peers when we were starting out in the industry."
Pern added: "The friendships formed and people we work with in our trade are second to none. If we work together and benefit from each other's advice, the hospitality industry can only get stronger and come through this even better as one."
Benefits of Restaurant Collective membership will include:
- Mentorship from experienced operators and individuals
- Exclusive supplier deals in the Deals Marketplace
- Advice and support from fellow operators in the Members Forum
- Access to new staff on loan/recommendation via the Job Exchange
- Power and distribution of their online presence with a unique content management tool
- Skills training and inspiration for themselves and their teams in the Knowledge Base
- Inclusion in the UK's largest directory of independent restaurants.
Shaw added: "We're on a mission to save our independent restaurants and support this part of the market as it emerges from what has been an incredibly tough time. The pandemic has shone a light on the importance of supporting local businesses and we've seen a shift in how people value and connect with their local independent restaurant, takeaway or pub. But these businesses are far from out the woods.
"As a completely member-led and owned, non-profit community, Restaurant Collective's purpose is to level the playing field for independents. We're building a membership community to ensure we offer the resources, guidance and inspiration that makes a positive difference to their businesses. We're hugely excited by this prospect as we all look forward to a much brighter future."
Restaurant Collective is open to anyone across the UK who runs single-site venues or a small group of sites, as well as those from larger groups who are looking to connect with and support like-minded operators – plus supplier partners in a sponsorship capacity. Membership at launch costs £99 per year.