The four big challenges facing London restaurants

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London restaurants are facing some punishing wind resistance. The challenge of a growing local competition, cash-strapped consumers and the need to revamp the look of dated décor to compete with flashier restaurants is presenting some new difficulties.

Looking beyond these surface issues, there are other factors that now affect the restaurant business in London and its prospects for the future.

Let’s look at the biggest four challenges facing London restaurant owners today.

Less Time to Dine Out

In much the way that technology was supposed to make everyone’s life easier and yet we seem busier tracking emails, updating our Twitter status and adding our latest selfie to Facebook, consumers are facing a time crunch. We’re all racing around to fulfil so many tasks pulling us in different directions that we have scant time to sit down and enjoy a good meal with friends or a loved one.

YouTube and streaming media is rapidly replacing television watched on a fixed schedule. Similarly, meal times have become varied and less predictable. Tying friends down to meet up for a meal out is harder than ever and this affects how many seats are filled at local London restaurants.

Business Rates

Business rates are also something of a problem for restaurateurs. The larger the space, the greater the cost. Many restaurants are seeing the advantage of offering their food online, like Dinnergise and Gym Food, instead of only directly to restaurant diners. Food deliveries to the door offering healthier options than traditional high-street take-away dishes are picking up with consumers embracing the flexibility and convenience.

Companies looking to rent a dedicated commercial kitchen space in London, will quickly find out it’s a real challenge. The place often isn’t central enough and the cost of a dedicated space, including fitting it out, is astronomical. An affordable kitchen to rent in London doesn’t have to be this way though. New food Startups like FoodStars, are disrupting the space by offering kitchen rentals customised to your needs, which are rentable by the month or longer. Perfect for nurturing an online food business that needs some space to grow without the usual restrictions.

Property Prices

The cost of leasing and paying rent on a space suitable for a restaurant business is rising year-on-year. Kitting out a new restaurant with a kitchen large enough and sufficient facilities to support a seating area full of hungry diners is also increasing.

Acquiring the space by buying the entire building is another option but something that’s available only to a few restauranteurs other than celebrity chefs. Property prices don’t necessarily track inflation well which makes it difficult to increase the price of dishes on the menu to keep up with rising costs.

Brexit

The advent of the Brexit vote to exit The European Union is creating a potential brain drain issue with EU nationals losing their rights and considering a move out of the UK. The UK government is acting to ensure continued access to study loans and funding sources for EU students who plan to begin a new course of study in 2018.

The academic workforce at some of the London’s top universities is also affected as local faculty members may return to their home countries sooner than originally planned. Foreign staff account for 16% of the average university employee roster. The uncertainty of staying in the UK affects confidence with employed workers choosing to spend less on fun activities like dining out and put more into savings.

The key for restaurants in 2017 and beyond is being open to all options. As lifestyle choices and attitudes change, sometimes a move away from a traditional restaurant on the high-street is the right one to take.

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