Red’s True Barbecue has described the challenge of modifying kitchens to accommodate growing third party delivery sales, insisting each site has to be taken on its own merits.
The American BBQ chain now operates eight restaurants in the UK and, like many of its counterparts, is having to incorporate delivery orders into its daily service.
Co-founder James Douglas says the brand has so far taken a site-by-site approach to how its kitchens process delivery sales.
“In some of our restaurants we have retrofitted Deliveroo stations and delivery stations, but in some, particularly the Leeds one, it is such a small kitchen anyway and so efficient that I don’t want to change things because if I retro-fit some sort of delivery station I could potentially mess up the bigger part of my operation. We therefore just have to factor it in as another customer really.”
The chain’s newest restaurant is in Newcastle, where a dedicated delivery station was built into the kitchen design from the outset.
Mr Douglas said it was a case of calculating “investment versus reward” when deciding whether to retro-fit kitchens due to the thousands of pounds involved in carrying out modifications.
In Liverpool, for instance, where fewer people live in the city centre compared to Leeds or Manchester, installing a delivery station could jeopardise its core restaurant service without bringing in sufficient returns to offset the disruption to lay-out, he suggested.
Data from the NPD Group shows the UK foodservice delivery market was worth almost £4 billion last year. It grew 10 times faster than the overall eating out market and is likely to maintain that rate of expansion this year at the very least.
“It’s certainly a growing part of our business and I don’t think anyone can shy away from it,” said Mr Douglas. “The statistics show that if you turn it off, those customers don’t walk in through the door, they will go somewhere else. So I think it is definitely here to stay in some form or other.”
Mr Douglas, who was speaking at the recent Commercial Kitchen show, said that his attitude towards catering equipment specification had also changed since Red’s launched its first outlet in Leeds five years ago.
“When we first opened we were on a bit of a shoe-string and we bought quite a lot of cheap shit which is now broken. We have replaced that with stuff that is more expensive but has better warranties and more consistency of use. As a result we have seen downtime reduce a lot and people aren’t ringing up and going, ‘oh my God, this is completely broken, I’m not going to be ready for service’. If you look at the scale of what we do now it is not rocket science but it’s been important for growth.”