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Old Yesterday, 12:15 AM   #9781
Fernando Partridge
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slow Burn View Post
The terms 'independent' and 'chain' are not mutually exclusive. You can still have independent chains. It's about how they're owned/run. Black Sheep Coffee for example is an independent chain.
The coffee is shite as well
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Old Yesterday, 12:18 AM   #9782
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The former Living Room on Deansgate is now covered in hoardings for Be At One, opens on 15 November.
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Old Yesterday, 12:20 AM   #9783
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The coffee is shite as well
It takes a bloody long time to get a coffee in the Fountain Street one, and it's not even busy
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Old Yesterday, 01:26 AM   #9784
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Manchesters Pubs, Bars, Clubs, and Restaurants.

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At what point does an independent stop being an independent though (I’m thinking number of outlets). I’m sure Pizza Express started as an independent but just grew. Grindsmiths now has two outlet in Manchester and I’m sure they’ll be more. Northern Soul also has two. No doubt a few more will spring up.

My view of when an independent become a chain is typically when investors get involved and the objectives change. it becomes more about producing a model that can be cookie-cut and re-applied across multiple sites as efficiently and with the highest margins possible.

During the transition the business gets picked apart and each bit gets reviewed and efficiencies applied or mark-ups increased. Some of these may have no impact on the end product, others will. I remember this happening with bar burrito. After the initial award winning start, every time I visited something was cut back and every bit trimmed something from the experience. Nowadays it‘s a shadow of its former self.

Chains become about extracting as much money from you as possible and do it via a multitude of ways (an obvious one being inflated - often poorly advertised - drinks prices) and rolling that out across multiple sites to multiply the profits. Unless discounts are used you often come out of a chain feeling you’ve spent more than you should. And with restaurants there’s often a trend underpinning the concept which the investors know will likely have a shelf life so they expand quickly.

Producing the model extends to fit out and selection of units too. They’ll have minimum requirements and apply the model to the box rather than design the as much to the space which gives them a less personal touch. This also spares places like burton road in west didbsury from an influx of chains; the units are too small for the models to be applied.

There are also lots of one-outlet businesses that are wanna-be chains too . London is full of them. They strive to hone the Roll-out model from the outset rather than start business for the love of it and the business just expanding organically. I’d say these were not independents even though there is only one (or at least don’t remain independent for long).

One of the main reasons chains are generally not as good as independents is running of the business is handed over from the original owner to someone employed to run the model. The management of the business is given from the person with the passion and the idea to someone who, most often, first and foremost just needs a job. And if the new manager does want to add unique touches to the business, they can’t because they’re not allowed, because it doesn’t fit the model.

Likewise, as with some of the Manchester bar operators, you can still have multiple venues and remain independent. They are still individually planned designed to the space, unique in their own concept, utilise local knowledge and remain heavily overseen (during the establishment at least) by the original owners. Yes there will be efficiencies and aspects learned from lessons and reapplied but they’re not chains because they are not striving to produce a model that can be cookie cut as many times as possible with a profit gleaned from each one. If they were all about the money you wouldn’t bother changing the concept, you’d just reuse the same one in other cities. Even then you may have personal reasons for opening an outlet in another city in order to spend time there but beyond one or two you’re definitely in the chain territory then.

Last edited by macc; Yesterday at 06:54 AM.
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Old Yesterday, 12:24 PM   #9785
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My view of when an independent become a chain is typically when investors get involved and the objectives change. it becomes more about producing a model that can be cookie-cut and re-applied across multiple sites as efficiently and with the highest margins possible.

During the transition the business gets picked apart and each bit gets reviewed and efficiencies applied or mark-ups increased. Some of these may have no impact on the end product, others will. I remember this happening with bar burrito. After the initial award winning start, every time I visited something was cut back and every bit trimmed something from the experience. Nowadays it‘s a shadow of its former self.

Chains become about extracting as much money from you as possible and do it via a multitude of ways (an obvious one being inflated - often poorly advertised - drinks prices) and rolling that out across multiple sites to multiply the profits. Unless discounts are used you often come out of a chain feeling you’ve spent more than you should. And with restaurants there’s often a trend underpinning the concept which the investors know will likely have a shelf life so they expand quickly.

Producing the model extends to fit out and selection of units too. They’ll have minimum requirements and apply the model to the box rather than design the as much to the space which gives them a less personal touch. This also spares places like burton road in west didbsury from an influx of chains; the units are too small for the models to be applied.

There are also lots of one-outlet businesses that are wanna-be chains too . London is full of them. They strive to hone the Roll-out model from the outset rather than start business for the love of it and the business just expanding organically. I’d say these were not independents even though there is only one (or at least don’t remain independent for long).

One of the main reasons chains are generally not as good as independents is running of the business is handed over from the original owner to someone employed to run the model. The management of the business is given from the person with the passion and the idea to someone who, most often, first and foremost just needs a job. And if the new manager does want to add unique touches to the business, they can’t because they’re not allowed, because it doesn’t fit the model.

Likewise, as with some of the Manchester bar operators, you can still have multiple venues and remain independent. They are still individually planned designed to the space, unique in their own concept, utilise local knowledge and remain heavily overseen (during the establishment at least) by the original owners. Yes there will be efficiencies and aspects learned from lessons and reapplied but they’re not chains because they are not striving to produce a model that can be cookie cut as many times as possible with a profit gleaned from each one. If they were all about the money you wouldn’t bother changing the concept, you’d just reuse the same one in other cities. Even then you may have personal reasons for opening an outlet in another city in order to spend time there but beyond one or two you’re definitely in the chain territory then.

Interesting stuff cheers!

The question of “what makes a chain” is a valid one and the above answers it quite well - broadly it does seem to come down to who owns them.

My earlier post about chains dying was specifically referring to the old school ones which came to prominence in the early 90s. The type of restaurants you’d find on a retail park in Blackburn and people have now sussed are shite and you’re better off popping in trip advisor to find a nice local Italian than heading to Frankie and Benny’s.

These are the ones dying - the new breed of chain seem to be a bit more savvy (eg Almost Famous) but ultimately are diluting their own brand by replicating their formula/menu in multiple cities.

It may be that I’m a stubborn, contrary bastard but I’m suddenly less interested or inclined to go to Rudy’s, for example, when I see they’ve opened in Liverpool, or go to El Gato Negro since it’s announced an opening in Leeds.

That said, I also respect the fact that they just want to make money and don’t exist just to appeal to my own exacting standards.

I do however think though part of the appeal of places like that is that they are one of a kind - you can maybe get away with a couple of extra locations but there is a tipping point where they lose the magic.

I quite like what Salvis have done in Manchester, opening a few places under the same name but slightly different concepts and menus. Sticking to one city as well seems to keep a greater element of “realness” to the concept as well (cue someone telling me there’s a Salvi’s in Milton Keynes or something...)

The modern examples I find quite disconcerting are those which are effectively chains masquerading as indies eg. Junkyard Golf, Crazy Pedros, Bunny Jackson’s - carefully designed to have a thin veneer of “realness” but ultimately just owned be the same group of people who have hit on a successful formula which try are happy to copy and paste with slight tweaks all in multiple cities.
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Old Yesterday, 01:09 PM   #9786
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Very interesting reads, thanks to both monkey rat and macc. The converse argument is that chains have 'branded' themselves into peoples' brains and if the quality of the surroundings and product is good enough (personally I think 'fast food' places like Maccy D's don't fit the bill - I don't know why they are a 'go-to' place especially for kids, must be the advertising), no matter which town or city you go to you know what you will be getting. Humans after all are creatures of habit for the most part.
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Old Yesterday, 01:22 PM   #9787
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Originally Posted by monkey_rat View Post
It may be that I’m a stubborn, contrary bastard but I’m suddenly less interested or inclined to go to Rudy’s, for example, when I see they’ve opened in Liverpool, or go to El Gato Negro since it’s announced an opening in Leeds.

That said, I also respect the fact that they just want to make money and don’t exist just to appeal to my own exacting standards.

I do however think though part of the appeal of places like that is that they are one of a kind - you can maybe get away with a couple of extra locations but there is a tipping point where they lose the magic.

100% agree with this. ‘Cheapens’ the brand for me....
Albert’s Schloß have opened in Liverpool (Different name), I think El Gato Negro too, Neighbourhood, Alchemist, Tattu, Australasia have all opened in other cities over the years.

Appreciate these places want to see growth and they’re replicating a formula which has worked, that’s how all these things start. But they instantly become less special/unique
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Old Yesterday, 01:44 PM   #9788
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Is a place not part of a chain if it's a one off but part of a larger group? Grand Pacific is a one off but owned by Living Ventures who have places all over. Albert's Schloss and Rudy's are owned by Mission Mars, with shareholders including the original Revolution owners and Simon Rimmer.
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Old Yesterday, 02:04 PM   #9789
Fernando Partridge
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100% agree with this. ‘Cheapens’ the brand for me....
Albert’s Schloß have opened in Liverpool (Different name), I think El Gato Negro too, Neighbourhood, Alchemist, Tattu, Australasia have all opened in other cities over the years.

Appreciate these places want to see growth and they’re replicating a formula which has worked, that’s how all these things start. But they instantly become less special/unique
Isn't Albert's Schloss part owned by the Revolution vodka bar owners?
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Old Yesterday, 02:04 PM   #9790
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It takes a bloody long time to get a coffee in the Fountain Street one, and it's not even busy
Same at the Piccadilly Place one. I clocked ten minutes once. I was the only person in there.
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Old Yesterday, 04:45 PM   #9791
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I noticed today that Juggernaut Brewing are open Fridays and Saturdays in what used to be Apotheca on Thomas Street. Also there's a new greasy spoon on Swan Street near Fringe called Cali's Cafe. Also Northern Eudaimonia is open next to Pollen Bakery, looks good and is serving vegan crepes and waffles which I'm told is still very rare in Manchester.
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Old Yesterday, 08:47 PM   #9792
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The excellent Finca are returning to Manchester, they'll be doing the food at Northern Monk
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Old Today, 01:23 AM   #9793
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I go to Black Sheep fairly often as for downloading their app you get any drink free. Haven’t been to Deansgate yet but yes the other Manc ones and most I’ve been to in London (they’re on every street corner! At tube stAtions, office developments e.g. Cheesegrater, high streets etc), have been slow too! I don’t think they’ll last much longer in Manchester. The 2 non-Deansgate ones are in slightly off locations too. I did notice, peering through the door that the Deansgate one seems to be A LOT cheaper than the others or any in London, coffee starting at under £1.50.

I do find their coffee quite rank but I’ll drink anything for free and like their hours, vibe and quietness! (And locations in London!)
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