|>>|| No. 19327
Exactly this. The reason middling chains are struggling is because quite simply, every other programme on TV for the last decade has been a cooking show, and people have slowly but surely learned that cooking isn't actually hard, especially not the sort of food you can chuck out for fifteen quid a plate in a plush high street location. And Jamie Oliver lead the way in the new, accessible TV chef back in the day. My mum was terrified of the kitchen until The Naked Chef came along.
It's not just him, either, you go onto most of these chain restaurants websites and they're full of recipes showing you how to make their signature dishes at home - this is basically an attempt to say "look, our food is proper and not out of a freezer!" but really just allows someone who's watched Saturday Kitchen a few times to realise that actually, carbonara is really, really fucking easy, and not worth £18.
I personally think that the Great British Bake off had a lot to do with the rise and sharp fall of Patisserie Valerie - when Britain started falling in love with baking, business was booming - but at a certain point people start having a go themselves and start making their own cream horns or whatever the fuck and no longer need to pay over the odds for them.
Also, All chain restaurants really only can sell you an 'experience' - a french cafe or italian side street, they aim to make you feel like you're having an authentic experience, but that veneer is a lot thinner when most of your target market actually knows what a french bistro is ACTUALLY supposed to serve you, and has watched twelve different celebrities make a Bourginon on the telly anyway.
On top of all that, brexit and the prevailing economy has crippled the very tight margins these places operated under. It's not cheap to rent or own 70 premium locations while still turning a profit amidst all the offers and vouchers you're forced to run to stay competitive.
Carluccios is likely next, then probably Cafe Rouge. The biggest ones will fall fastest, with the exception of Wagamamas, because they have a solid model and British people still don't understand Japanese food. I really don't know what the UK restaurant scene will look like once these lumbering giants topple, but hopefully it'll be a lot more exciting and independent. I won't hold my breath, though.