Update at 3:36 p.m. on 21 July: Updated with further information on the closure of The Tramshed Project.
Casual dining desperation go brrrrrrr
Every so often, a certain type of infographic does the rounds. At its edges, a patchwork of fave brand logos are clustered, colourfully broadcasting burgers, pizzas, fizzy drinks, ice cream, macaroni and cheese, macaroni and cheese ice cream, and water. But at the centre, four or five or ten monoliths sit, tendrils coming off them like Cthulhu tentacles to indicate how difference and choice and brand affinity are just an illusion: all the money and the likes and the hot takes on whose is the best in hollow service to corporate awe.
Now. What if this infographic ... But a food hall? That’s also in a supermarket. That’s the promise of Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG)’s new “Restaurant Hub,” set to debut in Birmingham with eyes to spread across U.K. cities, according to Big Hospitality. Having acquired Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Ed’s Easy Diner, Slim Chickens, and (Caffe) Carluccio’s in recent times, BRG is throwing them all together in one canteen, offering diners a choice of mid-market casual fare whereby, whatever they choose, the cash is flowing in one direction.
It’s not hard to see why BPG and other groups are making these bold plays. The U.K. casual dining market was already very, very difficult before the COVID-19 pandemic, and its impact on “travel hubs” (airports, stations, service stations) and leisure facilities has meant that many individual restaurants and kiosks have closed at many individual sites. Bringing multiple brands to one site — where all the brands are making that group money — has the air of the canny... But is a supermarket ever going to be a lunch destination? Let’s see.
And in other news...
- The Tramshed Project in Shoreditch will close after nine months, having launched with food from Andrew Clarke and Daniel Watkin, now working on their new project called Acme Fire Cult. It promised dishes from Zoe Adjonyoh and James Cochran, neither of which eventuated, and has labelled itself as a pop-up upon news of its closure. [The owners have since told Eater that the Tramshed Project was always meant to be a maximum of a year-long pop-up, with a lease confirming the tenure, but the venture was not presented as such up to now.]
- The Engine Rooms will join sommelier and author Bert Blaize’s bottleshop at the Hexagon classic car showroom in Highgate. It’s a loosely Mediterranean restaurant, featuring the likes of mandilli pasta with wild garlic and salted ricotta; a grey mullet ceviche; and a classically spring-like lamb, peas, broad beans, and rosemary affair. [Hot Dinners]
- Gabriel Waterhouse’s eponymous tasting menu restaurant The Waterhouse Project will relocate from its building by the canal in Cambridge Heath to Corbidge Crescent, just over the water. [Evening Standard]
- Good tweet:
In a coffee shop. Someone is trying to order an iced Turkish coffee and there are currently three members of staff trying to talk him out of it.— Abdul-Azim (@AbdulAzim) July 13, 2021