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Cafe Rouge Is the Latest U.K. Restaurant Chain With an Ingenious Plan for Reinvention

It will trial the name Rouge, dropping “cafe” from its name

Pandemic in ‘critical stage’ in England: Experts
Cafe Rouge could become known as Rouge
Kate Green/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Following the twin-pronged turmoil of the 2018-2019 casual dining crisis and the 2020-21 COVID-19 pandemic, Cafe Rouge, the British chain based on a stereotypical French bistro, is trialling a rebrand.

Oui, to escape any further charges of having become le petit dejeuner hier, Cafe Rouge is attempting to modernise, with plans set for multiple sites to become known simply as Rouge. The site in Haywards Heath — between London and Brighton — will be the first to trial the new name from 22 November, according to Big Hospitality.

With the new name will come a new look and feel at selected restaurants, plus a few new dishes to attract new customers. In a fresh bid to stay relevant Rouge’s new vibe is designed to “improve ambience and create a more modern, and relaxing dining experience.”

“We have done a lot of research over the last few months and paid careful attention to customer feedback,” Steve Worrall, Café Rouge brand director, said. “As part of our efforts to evolve the brand, we are constantly thinking about the future of our brands and how we can elevate our customer’s dining experience with us.”

A new menu will see classic French dishes such as steak frites and confit duck be joined by a “vegan-friendly” cauliflower steak with harissa hummus, toasted chickpeas and pomegranate, according to Big Hospitality.

The name change recalls the phenomenally unimaginative but very funny tactic employed by Frankie and Benny’s when it dropped Benny from its name in October.

There are, though, wider implications for Rouge’s move: Which restaurant will rename itself next? Which of Pizza Express and Pizza Hut will be first to bagsie Pizza? One, naturally, will be left to call itself either Hut or Express. Hard Rock Cafe? Hard Rock or Rock Hard?

And what next for the big minds and marketing experts inside Big Table Group, Rouge’s parent company? It is also the owner of Las Iguanas and Bella Italia, two other middling high street restaurant chains. All bets are off for Bella reentering the market with “Roman-style pizzas, plant-based Italian classics and a new-look concept for a modern audience” in the summer of 2022.

That is — if Rouge doesn’t go rogue.

Pizza Express

399 Barking Road, , England E6 2JT