Sponsored article: The restaurant sector has been one of the very hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Industry data shows that there are around 3,000 fewer restaurants than there were in March 2020 – which is the equivalent of eight closures every day. Since the start of this year, the trend has accelerated with the independent segment suffering 2,000 closures in January and February alone.
However, with a reopening roadmap now in place, there are reasons to be positive, with pent-up consumer demand and a renewed sense of the importance of supporting local businesses and how people value their local independent restaurant, takeaway or pub.
Restaurant Collective is on a mission to save the UK's independent restaurants. We're launching as the first of its kind: a member-led and -owned, non-profit community, intended to champion, connect and support independent restaurateurs and other hospitality operators across the UK. We want to provide the passionate and hard-working individuals running these venues with a louder voice and to level the playing field - offering guidance, deals and inspiration that enables them not just to survive, but thrive.
Hundreds of independent restaurateurs have told us what resources and support they need and we've got backing in place to start building our membership around these. This includes advice on running their business; mentorship and tips from successful operators who have been in their shoes; access to an exclusive online marketplace offering great supplier deals; and greater power and control over their online presence.
It's still early days, but we're putting our Mentorship Programme together with the goal of pairing every interested member with someone who has been where they are now. Got Michelin aspirations? Imagine learning from someone who turned a restaurant like yours into a destination dining venue. Want to build a bigger brand? Pair up with a pro who grew from single site to a multi-site group.
Whatever the day-to-day challenges, members can pop a post into our Members Forum and get immediate feedback from someone who's been through the same issue. Besides being somewhere to share learning and tips, our community will also be a place to feel a little less alone and connect with a fellow member.
Bringing together a community
As well as supporting independent restaurateurs with a range of member benefits, Restaurant Collective will look to encourage consumers to back their local independent businesses through social media activity that aims to boost footfall and keep independent outlets front of mind.
We're also building the UK's most comprehensive Independent Restaurant Directory so that members can promote themselves to the kind of customers who care about supporting small businesses. In time, this listing will also act as the digital blueprint for your entire online presence. No more calling 15 different review sites just because you need to change your opening hours or your menu. The plan is for them to come to us! We're going to try to connect with all the major sites so you only ever have to update your details in one place, which will then feed out to everywhere you're listed.
From the start, Restaurant Collective is being championed by celebrated chef and patron, Brian Turner.
He says: "The ethos of hospitality has always been to bring people together and provide them with an enjoyable and memorable experience. While this remains the case today, it's more complex running a restaurant nowadays compared to when I opened my first venue many years ago, with significantly increased competition and attention on eating out.
"That's why I firmly believe Restaurant Collective is a fantastic initiative, 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."
Restaurant Collective is open to anyone who runs a single-site venue 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. Members will be able to influence the direction of Restaurant Collective, ensuring it provides value-adding services that help to grow businesses.
Benefits of Restaurant Collective membership 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
- A boost to their online presence with a unique content management tool
- Skills training and business inspiration for themselves and their teams in the Knowledge Base
- Inclusion in the UK's largest directory of independent restaurants.
To sign up and for more details, please click here.
About Restaurant Collective
Restaurant Collective is backed by a number of founding members.
"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!" – Andrew Pern, Michelin-starred chef and gastropub owner.
"This has been the toughest time for hospitality and we need the whole country to get behind our campaign to save and support struggling independents." – James Tanner, owner, Barbican Kitchen and the Kentish Hare.