As locked down foodservice operators looked to explore new revenue streams, a number took the unlikely route of fashion and began selling branded slogan t-shirts. Eateries up and down the country like Bao, Top Cuvee and Crazy Pedro's designed their own merch and offered customers a great way to support their favourite venues.
As use of food parcels and food banks spiralled, MasterChef winner and restauranteur, Simon Wood took it upon himself to spread some of his cooking knowledge and help people make the most of what they had in their cupboards. His collection of fantastic but simple recipes is available online and designed for novice cooks with minimal equipment.
With customers keen to escape the confines of their homes for a meal out but wanting to stay warm and sheltered from the British weather, Croydon's Spice Village came up with a novel idea. Their brilliant bespoke-built trays fit across the front seats of a vehicle to allow punters to tuck into a full meal from the comfort of their car.
In the year that Cop26 hit the headlines and the Michelin Guide started handing out green stars for the first time, sustainability and the environmental crisis was never far from the news. Marylebone restaurant Jikoni became the UK's first independent restaurant to go fully carbon neutral, following groups like Wahaca and Leon who also touted their green credentials. Reducing your impact on the planet is a great way to reduce costs and entice eco-conscious customers.
Chinese eatery Oriental Express made the national news due to the hilariously honest replies to their reviews on Just Eat. The Pudsey-based takeaway has over 300 ratings and owner Alice Cheung has taken the time to respond to each and every one, often with quite defensive comments. Some personal favourites:
"I'm sorry the food was not good for you, you should cook your own"
"the problem is you not the food"
"please get in touch so we can arrange for you to come in and show us how to cook chicken wings properly."
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
We hope you've enjoyed reading Restaurant Talk as much as we've loved hearing about all the fantastic stories from the hospitality industry throughout 2021. Here's to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2022!