More! Small! Scale! Artisan! Expansion! Of! Restaurants!
David Page, who runs both Franco Manca and The Real Greek, wants the pizza chain to expand into central London restaurants left vacant by its over-expanded chain competitors. Page, who is the former chief executive of pizza and private equity debt slinger Pizza Express, told the Mail on Sunday that landlords cognisant of the need to lower rents would afford the chain opportunities it didn’t have before: “We are looking at all of them: the Byron Burgers, Carluccio’s, Prezzo, Le Pain Quotidien. There are so many sites available.” In the same interview, he said that Fulham Shore, the parent company of the two chains, just raised £18 million to fund further expansion, by increasing bank debt to £25.8 million and selling shares.
Page also took a swipe at private equity restaurant investors: “These guys see something is successful so they invest a few hundred million quid in restaurants and they don’t really know what they own ... They then throw money at it to expand, and then they start to interfere — and they don’t really know what they are talking about.”
Franco Manca, which has 51 restaurants in the U.K., is perhaps well-placed to make such a move because the majority of its estate is outside central London, with neighbourhoods in the city desirable for operators after weathering the economic effects of the pandemic better than an area which remains a “ghost town.”
While Page’s benign views on private equity suggest that’s not an avenue he wishes to go down, and lower rents make expansion more attractive, the risk that Franco Manca will fall to the same fate as the chains Page paints as bloated will remain. It’s already made the journey from cultishly swooned over independent — natural wine! English “mozzarella”! In 2008! — to big chain shadow-boxer, having maintained the point-of-difference of actually quite good pizza relative to the competition of its size.
And in other news...
- Tate Britain responds to criticism of racist images in its Rex Whistler restaurant mural.
- Cub, the Hoxton restaurant-bar from Ryan Chetiyawardana and Doug McMaster, will not reopen.
- It’s still ¡scorchio! so here’s where to eat outside ...
- ... And where to get excellent ice cream.
- No prizes for guessing why the British Meat Processors Association is lobbying for use-by periods on red meat to be extended. [Guardian]
- Good tweet:
de-normalize brioche burger buns— Adam Moussa (@adamjmoussa) August 7, 2020