Restaurant diners are turning their noses up at Indian, Italian and Chinese establishments in favour of Middle Eastern, Caribbean and specialist vegetarian rivals, figures have revealed.
The sector’s woes continue, with restaurant numbers falling by 3.4% in the year to the end of June, with a net 18 closures each week.
The decline is the sixth in succession reported in a quarterly survey of licensed premises by the research and consulting firms CGA and AlixPartners. It does not include takeaways or cafes.
But while the industry continues to suffer, a handful of cuisines have bucked the trend, with figures for the past five years illustrating the shifting preferences of the modern British diner.
Fans of jerk chicken and ackee and saltfish have helped to drive the number of Caribbean restaurants up by 144% to 117, boosted by a flurry of new openings by the Turtle Bay chain.
The rise of the meat-free lifestyle resulted in a 69% surge for vegetarian restaurants to 88, while Turkish and Middle Eastern restaurants enjoyed surges of more than 60%, to a combined 668.
Japanese restaurants, whose ranks have been bolstered by the runaway success of large chains such as Yo Sushi! and Wagamama, grew by 27% to 626.
These fast-growing cuisines are still small compared to more established Indian, Italian and Chinese restaurants in the UK, but these old favourites account for the bulk of the industry’s decline.
The number of Italian restaurants fell 4.7% to 2,815, partly owing to the financial collapse suffered by Jamie’s Italian, which shut 22 outlets after customers deserted the TV chef Jamie Oliver’s chain.
Indian restaurants suffered a 2.6% fall to 5,594, but the most precipitous decline was in Chinese food, where the number of restaurants slumped 7.3% to 2,074.
Graeme Smith, managing director of AlixPartners, added: “The rapid growth of restaurants focused on certain cuisine types highlights how they can quickly find favour in response to the fast-changing tastes of British diners.”
But although some of the best-known brands have been hit hard, chain restaurants are in better shape than independents.
While the overall industry experienced a 3.4% decline, group-owned restaurants were down by just 1.2%. That is partly down to growth in American chains, up by more than 58% thanks in part to the popularity of upmarket burger chains such as Honest Burger and Patty & Bun.
The report also charted the continuing slump in the number of pubs and bars, down 2.4% to 116,880 over the past year. However, the pace of the pub industry’s decline has slowed from the average five-year rate of 5.3% and the sector is now shrinking at a slower pace than restaurants.
Licensed premises that also offer entertainment are doing better than old-school drinking dens, with pubs and bars offering extras such as live music growing by 22%.
source – https://www.theguardian.com/