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Meet Lily Bovey, founder of Haus Party Collective and GROUND Climate Positive Burgers

Last month we spoke to Rishim Sachdeva. Chef and founder of Tendril, a (mostly) vegan kitchen. If you missed it, you can find the interview here. And whilst we’re all for making veggies the heroes, we thought it only fair to talk to someone who’s committed to quality meat that’s responsibly produced, and kind on the planet.

Lily has form in food. Having spent the last six years cutting her teeth on London’s food markets and at events with her STAKEhaus business and other offshoots.

We sat down for a chat about where it all began. The journey from leaving a corporate PR job through back garden trials, to running a thriving operation with multiple brands in multiple locations.

Delving into the nuts and bolts of her new business, in partnership with The Ethical Butcher, bringing carbon-negative burgers to London and beyond.

Discovering a passion for produce

Growing up between rural Surrey and West Sussex, Lily happily admits that food wasn’t always on her radar. It wasn’t until she moved to London, forced to cook her own food, that she began experimenting with produce and ingredients.

“I don’t really come from a foodie family”, she explains. “My mum doesn’t even really cook. We ate mostly ready meals and frozen food and there were so many things I didn’t enjoy. I was a really fussy eater”.

But mum needn’t be upset. Because Lily believes this is exactly why food is now such a big part of her life. “It was a strange journey. But it led me to be more interested in food as an adult. Suddenly, you’re cooking your own food, going to restaurants of your own choosing. And really exploring all the cultures and cuisines that big cities have to offer”.

“Now, ten years, later, I’ve realised I do really like mushrooms and hummus. I used to think hummus was so weird”, she jokes.

What exactly does PR stand for?

Having left school at 18 without pursuing a degree, Lily wasn’t immediately sure what it was she wanted to do. The self-titled “Blonde white girl” envisaged a future in PR. Even if she didn’t really know what it meant.

After a handful of internships, Lily landed a job with Universal Pictures. Determined to start from the bottom and work her way up the ladder.

“I really tried to enjoy it. But I absolutely hated it. The monotony, the commute. It was killing me”.

Lily flippantly mentions “an early mental breakdown”. Being at a total loss when realising that this previously hallowed path wasn’t anything like she expected.

“All my friends were at Uni doing what they wanted. And I hadn’t found my thing yet. It was causing me so much angst”.

But from these dark times, a light was emerging. “The only thing that bought me joy was getting home and cooking meals for all my flatmates. Food was something I was good at. I was cooking for people and they were wowed by what I was serving them”.

Just go for it

The story of falling into food and hospitality is a common one. And in many ways, the typical entrepreneurial journey. Fuelled by the eye-opening cultural exposure that moving into a big city creates.

But Lily has a drive and a level of motivation that is in no way typical. It’s evident in her passion and enthusiasm for everything she does.

A raw talent was emerging from increasingly “understanding flavour and how to make things taste good. It all stemmed from there. I started putting energy and time into [developing an idea] whilst still working a full time job”.

Lily spent some time on other food stalls initially, learning the ropes and getting to know the community.

It was the golden era of street food. With the barriers to entry - and the costs - being relatively low, whilst the market was still wide open for new concepts.

“I finally did a trial run in my back garden under a Gazebo. Inviting friends and getting them to fill in feedback sheets. I just wanted to practice as much as possible”.

With the product beginning to take shape, Lily jumped at the first opportunity to do her first event. And STAKEhaus was born. However she’s happy to admit, it wasn’t all plain sailing.

“Every meal we sent out was freezing cold. And some people waited for 20 minutes”. But sure enough, future events followed and things began falling into place.

“I’ll be forever grateful to the people who supported SteakHaus in the early months. Because they allowed me to just get on with it. Get out there. And just do it”.

“Then I just quit my job and decided that this was what I wanted to do”.

From grilling to form filling

The business grew to a permanent location in Camden with Kerb, the launch of HENhaus - a sister Rotisserie concept - and a packed events calendar.

Lily went from doing a couple of markets a week to a seven day a week operation. With the staff, admin, and responsibility that comes with this. Increasingly splitting her time between the grill and her laptop but still loving every minute. This was the second steep learning curve in her burgeoning career as a food entrepreneur.

SteakHaus continued to go from strength to strength, HENhaus was offered a permanent spot at Streetfeast in Woolwich. And before she knew it, Lily’s thriving business celebrated its sixth birthday.

But with a sense that STAKEhaus had hit its peak - considering the proliferation of new entrants into the market and that six years is a phenomenal stretch for a street food business - lockdown was looming. Lily had her sights set on another sister business.

Green Red Meat

Talking to Lily, it’s easy to take her casual modesty in a happy-go-lucky kind of way. But there’s actually a real sense that she’s carefully considered, diligent, and detail-oriented. And like many creatives, she’s able to visualise something as it emerges from just a seed of an idea.

“I was hungry for something else”, Lily explains. “I was chatting with The Ethical Butcher guys about finding a buyer for their burger meat. Their steaks were selling out but they wanted to minimise waste by using as much of their animals as possible.

But as it turned out everyone’s loyalty with their existing suppliers - and the high regard in which they hold their recipes - meant that her search was unsuccessful. And after a few further conversations, a partnership emerged and GROUND was born.

“I was selling a lot of meat and was hearing more and more about the impact beef production has on the environment. I wanted to understand how I could make STAKEhaus better and more sustainable. There was definitely a part of me that felt guilty about this”.

Lily began researching regenerative agriculture. And discovered that if executed properly, cows can play a vital role in repairing the damage done not only by industrial farming practices. But by common approaches to farming, too.

“Cows and other livestock play a crucial role in the success of regenerative farming. And the practice is totally different to even pasture-fed cows. It’s part of an entire system. The beef needs the farmer and the farm needs the cattle.

“The cows serve a purpose. Bashing in poop, pee, and seeds into the soil. This has untold benefits for the soil”.

Beginning a conversation

GROUND will trade from their freshly-kitted out van, and at food markets across the UK. And Lily and the team are shortly releasing their “Covid-proof” burger kits.

But their focus is ultimately on creating a retail product that fills a gap in the market between existing meat and meat-alternative burgers. Promoting regenerative agriculture and its benefits to the consumer and the planet.

Turning to our friends and collaborators at Dapple Studio, they began work on the brand’s narrative and visual identity.

“The brand needed to be fun and accessible, but above all, a real conversation starter,” says Lily. “We wanted to help the regenerative farming cycle to make sense”.

GROUND carries a strong message and wears its principles on its sleeve. But this is precisely the point.

This article from this month’s The Rebel Post covers the topic in more detail, as it vies for attention with Veganuary, in the form of the now-controversial Regenuary. And GROUND deserves to be at the heart of the discussion.

“We want to make choice easier, provide better value, and communicate that there are options out there that don’t have the negative impacts customers are used to hearing about”.

But Lily isn’t delusional about the fact that people eat too much meat. “We’re offering an option where customers can understand all the conditions surrounding how what they eat was produced. And make an informed choice from there.

“Regenuary isn’t about excluding people from doing the vegan things. Rather asking people to generally look where your food comes from. But it’s unrealistic to expect the world to turn vegan any time soon. So while in that space, why can’t we provide a product that’s filling the gap?”

With GROUND, Lily is aiming for a proper standard of zero waste and carbon neutrality. But is realistic about growing into those aspirations.

For now, happy that the fledgling business is pushing an agenda out there that’s been building. And bringing into people’s eye view.

“It seems obvious if you’re in the industry. But the wider public isn’t aware. Mainstream food isn’t pointed towards carbon emissions or its environmental impact.

“You can’t expect someone who’s struggling to feed their children to start questioning what food they’re buying. Or buying more expensive produce because it’s coming from the UK. Let alone from regenerative farms.

“What we can do is start influencing those who are in the middle and have the ability to buy better. Then hopefully things trickle down from there”.

A controversial but bright future

Lily’s enthusiasm and energy are infectious. And she’s clearly completely committed to her business and the wider cause. Her “you have to start somewhere” attitude is laudable. And whilst she’s focused on the pursuit of perfection, it has never stopped her from going out and doing things.

“I believe you’re better off just going for it. And apologising afterward”.

GROUND is a new business championing a little-known approach to an industry mired in misinformation and complexity. And controversy and virulence will inevitably follow.

But something tells us that Lily will relish the challenges. And that the business she’s backing with her heart and soul will do very well in the process.

Follow GROUND’s journey at @greenredmeat

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Can regenerative farming create a sustainable future that doesn't involve quitting meat?
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Hospitality can lead the way in promoting better ways of eating

If one good thing comes out of the last twelve months, it will be that many folks rediscovered the joy of shopping locally. Buying from independent stores or by supporting their favourite food businesses online.

And it goes without saying that much depends on this shift in behaviour not only outliving the pandemic. But continuing to proliferate.

Food businesses and brands continue to evolve at a pace. As competition increases and consumers demand more. We’ve seen a shift, possibly accelerated by Coronavirus, in two specific areas.

Health. And veganism.

But somewhere along the way, it seems that - aside from some notable ‘vegan junk food’ exceptions - the two became implicitly conjoined.

A Rush to Save the Planet

This year, ‘Regenuary’, a growing movement, is vying for attention - and eating habits - on the merits of regenerative farming.

A practice that seeks to farm more holistically. Promoting soil health, biodiversity, and the environmental benefits that follow.

The crux of this argument is that meat production can be a sustainable - even carbon negative - part of the system.

Veganuary got Cancelled

This unintentionally provocative Instagram post was where it all began. Debunking Veganuary’s claims that any vegan diet is better for you and better for the planet.

And then the inevitable happened. A polarised argument ensued.

In these times of “cancel culture”, I asked the author, Glen Burrows, from The Ethical Butcher if the strikethrough, in hindsight, was slightly misjudged.

“I’d use the same graphic [if I had the chance again]. But would change some of the wording. I think speaking in absolutes was dangerous.

“We didn’t expect it to be quite so incendiary though. I thought people might be a bit upset, but wanted to start a conversation”.

From a strategic standpoint, this presents an interesting case study.

Provocation and polarisation can sometimes work in a brand or movement’s favour. In the sense that it talks clearly to a specific audience and gets a message out there.

But it’s often better to take a gentler approach. One that promotes healthy discussion and education. I sense from our conversation, that this was Glen's intention.

When asked if he’d be happy to join forces with Veganuary, he was very open to the idea.

“I’d love to and would happily talk to them. Because we should agree with 95%. But they need to change their tack and retract their key statement.

“They need to concede on the point that ‘not eating meat is the only way to save the world’."

The Misinformation Machine

Veganuary’s key messaging is undeniably factually incorrect.

In an age of transparency, consumers expect trust from the brands they support. Veganurary are in position of responsibility. And they’re going to want to re-look at their positioning if they’re going to increase their reach.

“Our vision is simple: we want a vegan world” the website states.

“A world without animal farms and slaughterhouses. A world where food production doesn’t decimate forests, pollute rivers and oceans, exacerbate climate change, and drive wild animal populations to extinction.”

“For almost every animal-derived ingredient and product, there is now a vegan alternative, and this means that a vegan’s meal may look and taste exactly like a non-vegan’s meal, it just doesn’t come with the animal suffering or the same environmental impact.”

To use a technical term. This is bollocks.

Ok. Let me qualify that slightly. From the perspective of animal cruelty and welfare, there’s no argument here. And if that’s your reason for going vegan. Good on you.

But. Don’t for one second be misled by the statements on health and environmental impact. These have nothing to do with being vegan.

According to their own website, 56% of Veganuary supporters cite health and the environment as drivers for participating.

You don’t have to look hard to realise that a vegan diet that doesn’t question where and how food is produced, is much worse for the vegan and the planet than an omnivorous diet that does.

This misleading oversimplification must not be overlooked.

The Middle Ground

To be clear. I’m not criticising all elements of Veganuary’s mission. Nor the genuine care and passion that is at the heart of the movement. Neither am I criticising veganism itself.

The two sides may be polarised on the animal vs. no animal argument. But there’s plenty of common ground which is where the conversation should be focused.

Whether you’re a Veganuary advocate or a budding regenerative farming supporter. The mission here should be simple. Produce food in a way that not only protects but repairs the planet. Whilst protecting our own health, too.

It’s unhealthy to obsess over - and be critical of - something that’s inherently better than the current alternatives.

Dig Deeper. Just dont Disturb the Soil

In terms of the overall climate crisis. If we stopped 100% of greenhouse gas emissions today, we’d still have to deal with the "legacy load" of 1,000 billion tons remaining in the atmosphere. Continuing to heat the planet for decades. Possibly even centuries.

To address this. We need to look at a cyclical, not linear, consumption model. In every area of our lives.

In this interview, Nick Jeffries from The Ellen McArthur Foundation made the point that “we can’t expect our economy to continue to thrive if it relies on the continual consumption of finite resources. We’ve got to decouple from this”.

Regenerative agriculture seeks to do just that. Rolled out at scale, we could see a large part of our legacy load sequestered back into the soil as part of a process called Carbon Drawdown. The potential for positive impact is quite extraordinary.

I’ve listed some resources for further reading at the end of the article, but here’s the situation in a nutshell -

Poor farming practices decimate soil health. Leaving enormous swathes of land uncovered and unable to capture and store carbon in the atmosphere.

As soil health deteriorates, more and more chemicals are needed to grow crops. Over time, the soil dies. Every year, a landmass the size of the UK is abandoned as it become completely useless.

The cost of farming increases due to the quantity of inputs (pesticides and chemicals) needed to produce a crop.

Government subsidies go towards supporting industrial farming when they could (and should) be used to support better practices.

"Only 1% of the $580bn of US farming subsidies is spent on good things”, according to Nick.

Amongst other things, this leads to food poverty for the very people who produce what we eat.

Then. As we move onto virgin wilderness, we damage more land and destroy its biodiversity. It's become a vicious cycle.

The Cycle Continues

Regenerative farming has the potential to change this. And do so now. Whilst there is a degree of complexity involved for the geeks amongst us. The principles are very simple -

1. Don’t disturb the soil (and release the carbon) through tilling and ploughing

2. Keep the land covered all year round to allow for continuous photosynthesis

3. Replace mono-crops with rotational crops

4. Re-introduce and nurture biodiversity (yes, including livestock)

Healthy soil with cover crops captures extraordinary amounts of carbon. Fast forward 26 minutes into film Kiss The Ground to find out just how well.

Properly managed regenerative farms are actually reducing the greenhouse gases in the environment. And need no inputs either. The soil is so healthy and full of organic matter. Growing thriving plants and feeding healthier people.

And as part of the right rotation, livestock plays a huge part. Grazing, trampling, and peeing and pooping as they go.

The Task is Surmountable

Where we stand today, the entire food system is out of sync. We must align farmers’ decisions with ecological and profitable ones.

Only 5% of farming is currently done regeneratively. This means 95% is actively damaging in some way.

The UK government provides our farming community with 60% of its income, just so it can remain competitive. We can’t have regenerative agriculture without regenerative business.

Statistics around industrial agriculture make for more positive reading. Contrary to popular belief we don’t actually need it to feed the world. We need it to feed animals.

Madelyn Postman from Grain Sustainability confirms this. “Only 30% of industrially-farmed products end up on our plate. The rest goes to animal feed and biofuel”.

Madelyn believes that even the most committed omnivores need to be reducing their meat intake. And focus on quality.

Going on to say that “there’s not enough ethically produced meat to feed the world at the moment. So the only answer is for people to cut back. We can’t have chickens that cost a pound or a market that expects this”.

The world is less reliant on industrial farming than we think. With 70% of the foot eaten globally coming from farms under ten hectares.

And whilst this is likely to vary dramatically between countries. On a global scale, the conversion is possibly simpler than on initial inspection. Especially when you consider that eliminating the need for inputs dramatically reduces costs.

As ever, the change will be driven by consumers. With governments around the world slow to act on the climate crisis. This requires the right information to be out there so people can make informed choices.

Madelyn believes that improved labeling would be a great place to start. Allowing consumers to understand the effect their food choices have on the planet. As well as their health.

“You could easily be a vegan and have a higher carbon footprint than an omnivore.

“Food labeling is a big issue. Whilst you can see from the label where the food is from, and make an assumption about how it’s been processed and transported, you can’t be sure. It requires consumers to dig a little deeper.

“I love the idea of labeling so that you can clearly see the impact the products you’re buying [have on the planet]. The key will always be to eat seasonally, locally, and organically as much as possible.”

Beware of the Bandwagon

Veganuary is being exploited by the food industry. As supermarkets increasingly stock mass-produced, processed, and unhealthy foods. Selling these to an uninformed audience.

None of this deals with the underlying issues and messaging that it’s not meat production that’s bad. It’s how that meat is produced. And that the last thing we need is more processed food in our diet.


Want to go vegan? Great. Caps doffed. But look further. Look deeper. Ask more questions and do more research.

Because a blindly vegan diet, devoid of the facts about how and where that food is produced, is not going to do you or the planet any favours.

And if you’re going to continue to eat meat. That’s fine, too. But do it less and do it locally. Make sure the animals you’re eating were reared as part of a cyclical, bio-diverse, and regenerative process.

And then whichever camp you’re in, you’ll be going a long way towards a healthy planet. Creating a positive effect on the climate through the removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Not just halting future emissions.

Nick Jeffries put it succinctly as part of his closing thoughts for this webinar.

“For the first time in our lives, we saw supermarket shelves empty and that should be a wake-up call.

“We can’t rely on global supply chains and big business to deliver everything we need. We don’t all need to become vegan. But we do need to understand how our food is produced. To over-simplify things is to miss the point”.

Maybe Veganuary should have more in common with Regenuary than they do? If they get their facts straight, their message right, and come in from the extreme of the argument.

Because questioning the ethics of eating quality meat a couple of times a week vs being vegan asks the wrong questions. Imagine what could happen if both sides worked together.

Most of us will remember the time when the food and hospitality buzzwords were fair trade, organic, seasonal. Could 2021 be the year regenerative farming becomes common parlance?

The basis of conversations with guests and customers. Eager to understand more and how they can support the movement.

And who knows. Maybe January 2022 will be the year when folks can support both Veganuary and Regenuary at the same time.


Glen is a fountain of knowledge and statistics when it comes to both reiterative farming and the part animals must play in this. Read on to learn more.


Rishim Sachdeva
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The (mostly) vegan kitchen helping London eat less meat
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Interview with chef and founder of Tendril Kitchen, Rishim Sachdeva

The early years

Rishim grew up in a large family where every meal was an occasion. Cooking with his mum at eleven or twelve, he was making full-blown dinners at thirteen. Realising at this early age that he was going to be a chef. “There’s nothing else I would even consider doing”.

He graduated with a hospitality and tourism degree from Oxford Brooks University (parental pressure over a passion for the classroom). Before moving to London to take a junior position at The Oak Room with Marco Pierre White.

“This was when I realised that this is what I want to do my whole life”.

Rishim has always been passionate about travel and exploration. And this comes through in his cooking. His food is inspired by many places and cultures but remains grounded in technique.

“At The Oak Room, I realised that French food really is the foundation. I spent the first six years of my career perfecting this.”

Becoming increasingly experimental and ready to explore his next challenge, Rishim set his sights on The Fat Duck. “I got rejected for a stage eighteen times”.

But he didn’t give up. “Applying was part of my monthly routine. I’d rework and improve my application and try again”. And two and a half years later his persistence paid off. Rishim was offered a six-month stage and two years later, a junior sous chef position.

Progressing through the ranks was an incredible experience for Rishim. Experimenting with ingredients and techniques on the one hand. Pursuing simplicity on the other.

The pursuit of simplicity

With a growing passion for being close to nature and understanding the seasons, a move was on the cards.

“I set about finding restaurants that were mastering that”.

Rishim joined the brigade at Almeida and worked there for two years. Including a few months under Robin Gill. The two hit it off and Rishim followed Robin to his first solo venture, The Dairy in Clapham, shortly after opening.

The death of Rishim’s mother prompted a return to India where he spent eight months discovering the country’s evolving culinary landscape. Having left the country at seventeen to pursue his career, he’d never known the restaurant industry there.

Returning to London to continue learning and developing his nascent personal cooking style, Rishim took the sous chef role under Nuno Mendes at Marylebone’s Chiltern Firehouse. Followed by a second stint at The Diary.

“We were playing with textures, flavours, and techniques. Watching Nuno create dishes is an experience in itself. A humble zucchini gets layers and layers of memories in a bite. I can still taste it and crave it."

Returning to his homeland

Rishim’s brief time in India had been on his mind. With so many brilliant restaurants opening in Delhi and Mumbai, he felt compelled to get a piece of the action.

“Going back to India was a complete culture shock! I’d never worked in the country. I was still figuring out my style but I knew that I wanted to work with the seasons and with local growers and producers”.

It was at this point that the vegan seed was sewn. “Until now, vegetables were always a second thought for me. The emphasis was always on meat, whilst vegetables were taken for granted.

“In India, 60% of the population is vegetarian so you can’t get away with second rate dishes. People started coming back for my vegetarian dishes. Even the meat-eaters”.

Rishim was executive chef at the multi-award-winning Olive Bar and Kitchen in the trendy neighborhood of Bandra, Mumbai. Owned by arguably the country’s most revered restaurateur, AD Singh, it was a brilliant platform to both showcase and refine his approach to cooking.

A hit with the discerning local audience and the media, Rishim won many awards, making a name for himself as one of the country’s most exciting chefs.

“The culinary genius behind the restaurant is sourcing organic produce from across the country, local artisan cheese, and working with techniques such as fermentation and preservation to extract unique flavours and textures.

“For blurring the boundaries between the traditional and modern, chef Sachdeva won the Johnnie Walker breakthrough chef of the year award” - Conde Nast Traveller

The decision to go vegan

In late 2018 Rishim was newly married and expecting his first child. Thinking long and hard about what he wanted his life to look like and where he wanted to settle. The couple made the decision to return to London and it was at this point that the idea for Tendril Kitchen was born.

Shortly after returning to London, the self-proclaimed ‘hardcore carnivore’ used Veganuary 2019 to challenge himself. “Can I create food that satisfies my cravings as a meat-eater whilst also giving me satisfaction as a chef?”

The answer was yes and he’s never looked back. Under the Tendril brand, Rishim hosted multiple supper clubs and catered to several private events. Also running a three-month pop-up close to his home in southwest London. And a second in Hackney for Veganuary 2020.

A bumpy ride

A meeting with the team from The Sun & 13 Cantons in October 2019 led to him being offered the opportunity to take a slot on the roster of emerging chefs at the pub. An established platform that has launched several successful chefs and restaurants. Including Asma Khan’s Darjeeling Express.

His residency was scheduled to launch in March. Just as the country was going into lockdown. He admits that 2020 has been a rough ride, but takes comfort in the fact that his food has been a hit.

Rishim has a growing collection of loyal clients who order Tendril's delivery boxes each week. And people from all walks of life have come through the door at “The Sun”. He’s excelled at converting the pub’s regulars, too.

“A couple of guys who were having a beer in the afternoon weren’t interested in vegan food. So I sent them some free stuff to try. And over the course of the next six hours as more of their friends joined, I ended up serving them 18 portions of the same dish”.

Overcoming adversity

Rishim is committed to changing the perception of vegan food. And to bring it to a wider audience in a fun and imaginative way.

But he’s all too aware of the stereotypes he faces as an Indian chef cooking non-Indian food. And how important it is to challenge this.

“The perception is that if it’s an Indian chef, it’s got to be Indian food. But I’ve never trained in an Indian kitchen. I may just about be able to knock up a curry at home, but that’s about it. I can’t cook Indian food.

“I feel like I have to get my sales pitch right in a way that British chefs don’t need to”.

And this extends to people in the industry too. “Junior chefs would come for interviews for Tendril and the first thing they say is that they don’t have experience cooking Indian food”.

Rishim relishes being part of the hospitality support system and is a great believer in the industry’s ability to evolve. And with the support he continues to receive from chefs including Robin and Nuno, he feels that things are changing.

What the future holds

There’s a certain synergy between Rishim’s desire to challenge these perceptions and his passion for challenging those of vegan food. “My cooking style isn’t bound by nationality. Vegan food is so flexible. It unites all my experience, influences, and the inspirations from my travels”.

Rishim is enthusiastic and positive about Tendril’s future. Despite the ongoing challenges that hospitality faces in the wake of the pandemic. Itching to get back into Soho, he’s keeping himself busy delivering meals three times a week to his growing number of fans.

And what’s next for the business when the residency at The Sun comes to an end in March? Rishim would rather not say. But whatever he has up his sleeve, his passion, and energy for what he does is as unfaltering as his modesty.

“At the end of the day, it’s just tasty food. I worked hard, learned from everyone around me, found what I liked, and built on it.”

After the government announced that London would come out of lockdown in tier two, the immediate future of the Christmas menu he’d been planning is uncertain. So it’s all eyes on the government’s review on December 16th.

Rishim is looking forward to launching his Veganuary menu next month in one way or another. Because after all, it’s the month that inspired him to create Tendril in the first place. And that’s certainly something to celebrate.

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The year that changed the world
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The year that changed the world

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Three things we learned in 2020

For many of us, December will be the damp squib that we all desperately hoped could be avoided. The government showing no signs of offering additional support. Unable to get their heads around hospitality.

With the revised tier system representing another kick in the teeth. And with insulting one time payments offered to pubs who remain closed. In many ways, it’s a continuation of the poor form we’ve seen all year. Undermining the positive actions such as the furlough scheme and VAT reduction.

With M&A activity in the sector being announced as frequently as the next CVA, the industry is in the midst of radical change. Its very viability in an increasingly unstable world is being pushed to its limits.

Whilst we can all be positive about a vaccine helping us return to some sense of normality. There does seem to be a disparity emerging between the enthusiasm and celebration beaming from the government. And the reality that the scientific community continue to reinforce. Even with a vaccine, we’re not going to be out of this for a while.

It’s been so encouraging to see restaurants such as KOL and Noble Rot Soho open to rave reviews. Filling up their reservation diaries in record time. And an early evening stroll around Soho on Friday proved that we’ll do anything to support our favourite restaurants. Even if that means sitting outside in the rain as temperatures plummet.

So what can we take from a year that has genuinely changed the world? Here are three things that we’ve observed and learnt throughout the most challenging time of our lives.

Living with Less

Overconsumption in just about every area of our lives poses the biggest threat to the planet. Whether taking unnecessary flights to unnecessary meetings, grabbing plastic-covered convenience food because we were too busy to care, or rewarding ourselves with a shopping spree.

We’ve been forced to revisit all this. Forced to find comfort in communicating online. And enjoying the simple pleasure of seeking out better produce and products with more ethical credentials.

The challenge will come when we’re faced with the temptation of going back to our old ways. Balancing this with what we now know about how much of a positive impact we can have when we really put our minds to it.

What’s been clear is that brands who stand for something above and beyond the pursuit of profit have fared better in the face of adversity. Seeing success through the genuine connections they’ve made - and continue to foster - with their audience. And this shift away from unquestioning consumerism is only going to continue.

Resilient Business Models

It’s been really interesting listening to business leaders describe how they’ve found strength and security in their businesses. In his recent appearance on James O’Brien’s Full Disclosure podcast, Tom Kerridge spoke openly about the robustness of his businesses. Putting this down to the freehold accommodation interests he has in Marlow and that he’s not allowed his TV work to take his focus away from running his restaurants.

We caught up with Chestnut Inns founder Philip Turner last week and he echoed this sentiment. Having a property portfolio that underpins their operations is clearly something which operators outside of cities see as a real benefit to their businesses.

But in urban areas where leaseholds still dominate, operators have taken to delivery and retail in the pursuit of revenue. And it’s clear that this continued diversification is going to be key to future success. Not just temporary endeavours to plug a gap. In this sense, the importance of really knowing your audience, what drives them, and how and where to reach them cannot be overstated.

Community over Competition

Great things happen when we work together. And we’ve seen this in spades throughout the pandemic. Up and down the supply chain, restaurants and suppliers have been working together to bring products and experiences into peoples homes. At times when we were starved of opportunities to support our favourite businesses.

We’ve seen education really become part of a brand’s marketing efforts. With everyone from the Rare Tea Company to Berry Brothers hosting virtual tastings and experiences to drive engagement. Building brand loyalty, and fostering a sense of community through learning.

We now look to a well-earned rest over Christmas and onwards to 2021. We see transparency, openness, honesty and genuine engagement as the driving factors for success.

Brands are going to need to work harder than ever to stand out from the crowd. To be heard over the ever-increasing noise online.

There may be a retraction in the size of the hospitality industry in the short and medium terms. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easier to reach and connect with your audience.

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Good landlords and agile concepts help independent hospitality bounce back
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The future of the high street and how operators can meet returning demand

The uncertainty that’s bought the future of our industry and businesses into question is far from over.

With the furlough scheme now extended until March, conversations this month centred on rent as the central tenement to the survival of many hospitality businesses. And how accommodating many landlords have been.

The bounce-back is likely to look very different depending on where you are. And on the kind of trade businesses rely on.

So what do some of our friends from the sector think about how the tenant-landlord relationship will underpin growth and future trading? And what will hospitality need to do to withstand future uncertainty?

Read on to find out.

Landlords and tenants need to understand each other’s businesses

Camilla Topham of Distrkt hospitality property consultancy admitted that landlords have been on a steep learning curve over the last few months.

“Transactions have always been done at arm's length and restaurants have always been a bit of an alien. A lot of landlords have never fully understood them. Getting under the skin of how restaurants actually operate has been crucial.”

Alex Moore agrees but hasn’t had the same experience with some of the smaller landlords across his estate of brands. But he understands that they’re limited by their resources.

“The bigger landlords like Shaftesbury have been fantastic and supportive. They seem to have got their head around the economic reality of the situation. The other landlords who may only have one or two sites have been a lot more difficult to deal with. They haven’t had the ability to be more flexible.”

With both parties more invested in the other’s success, the conversation seems to be turning to creating win-win relationships. Acknowledging that the future needs to be faced together.

Camilla cites the Crown Estate’s incubator on Heddon Street - currently occupied by success story Fallow - as a great example of a landlord taking a personal, and longer-term view, on bringing talent into their estate.

Harry Badham from 22 Bishopsgate developer Axa, thinks it's all about driving value for tenants over strong-arming them into long, restrictive and punitive leases.

“I don’t mind if tenants want to sign a one year lease or a 20-year lease. To me the contract is not the valuable bit. The important bit is that tenants are getting value out of using the building.

“Landlords who rely on long leases from tenants like Debenhams are only fine until Debenhams can’t pay the rent. Then the lease is worth nothing. “Anyone who thinks a lease is a proxy for stable cash flow is going to be a loser. You’ve got to create a place, space, or asset where people are getting value out of using it.”

Camilla believes that fairer terms and better behaviour now will aid landlords in attracting the best new tenants in the future.

“From the operator’s point of view, they’re looking to take spaces with landlords that have behaved themselves and behaved well and transparently. Operators are concerned how their relationship with the landlord will fare if this kind of thing happens again.”

Turnover based rents may be here to stay

Opinion appears divided when it comes to fundamental changes to the types of deals that are done.

Alex believes “they [turnover based tents] were on the up anyway. That their acceptance has been accelerated and that they’re here to stay.

“They’re a fair mechanism for both operator and landlord. I don’t mind paying a landlord more if we’re making more. But I expect them to make less when we’re not doing so well.”

Camilla agreed that turnover only deals have been a hot topic recently, but feels their wholesale acceptance may not be a foregone conclusion.

“There are still rents being paid. And what we’re hearing from our clients is that we’re brokering fair deals. In good locations and good areas, there’s still demand.

“Landlords are looking at stepped rents, perhaps with a turnover-only period, or turnover set into a base rent. Most operators are happy to look at things on a stepped basis up to a base rent they’re happy within a few years’ time. The market has not completely fallen away.”

Camilla has seen strong interest from independent operators for a recently-marketed site on Soho’s Kingly Street. Arguing that thriving areas such as Borough “are stronger than they were before.”

Growth is however likely to remain slow into next year. With concerns over future lockdowns and increased disruption causing people to hold onto cash and back from making decisions.

Could turnover based rents also help push some accountability back on to developers and asset managers, should they fail to deliver the footfall they promised into their developments? A problem that many operators we know have faced in the past.

A changing city landscape

Harry remains buoyant about the future of The City and its high streets.

“I do think that people will come back en masse. It will just be an acceleration of the trends we saw before. Variable work patterns, elongated ‘peek time’ commutes, work based on personal preference or character. Or on a job role. We’ll see people choosing different ways to work.”

Whilst he acknowledges that this is likely to result in lower densities in buildings at any given time, he’s confident that demand for quality office space is going to continue to increase. With companies giving their employees compelling reasons to come together and into the office.

“People are going to be free to dictate the time they spend in the office. But they will [be compelled to do so] if they feel that it’s a great space and if they feel that they’re getting something out of it. Whether that’s learning, career progression, or whether it’s social interaction.”

With the future of work playing a crucial role in the future of hospitality, how will other areas fare differently?

Camilla highlights the inherent differences between key London neighbourhoods and the audiences that they serve.

“Canary Wharf and The City are going to take longer to get back on their feet. With some companies reporting that they’re not expecting to be back ‘in the office’ until June.

“A shift is going to need to happen in those locations for operators to be successful going forward. Traditionally inflexible companies and their employees would have been working at home for eighteen months at least. The likelihood is that this is going to continue to the point where there won’t ever be the same volumes of people.”

“Soho is different. It’s made up of much smaller, creative businesses. It’s much more dynamic. The theatre crowd is also incredibly powerful. The market may contract over the short term. But it will build and build again. No question. In fact, it may even be wilder!

“Somewhere like Covent Garden relies too heavily on tourism. Whilst CapCo have worked really hard to reintroduce Londoners to Covent Garden, and has done so brilliantly, the makeup of the space is predominantly tourists and it’s being felt now. Lagging behind places like Soho.”

Alex agrees that we may never see a return to the same quantity of restaurants in areas that cater predominantly to office workers. “I would argue that there would be fewer restaurants. Sadly. There will be fewer bums, but there will be fewer seats.”

And when it comes to residential neighbourhoods, he’s seen a fundamental shift in the makeup of the businesses he’s involved in.

“The locations in the middle of town are now being outperformed by places like Tooting or Clapham. The West End numbers have moved out to the suburbs and the numbers from the suburbs have moved into the West End.”

From surviving to thriving on the high street of the future

So what will hospitality businesses need to look like in order to succeed in the face of these changes? As we emerge from the pandemic and look toward a vaccine.

Camilla is certain that the demand is there. But that confidence really is everything.

“The Pizza Pilgrims guys said that ‘demand is like a coiled-up spring’. Once lockdown eases, the demand is there. And people do feel safer eating out. Even now in lockdown, the confidence is there.”

“Confidence really does drive everything and the uncertainty has been the biggest challenge.”

Agile, evolving concepts and businesses will be the winners as we face a new, uncertain future. With further unpredictable challenges likely to remain a part of our lives. At least in the short term.

Alex believes the fundamental makeup of hospitality businesses has changed for good.

“We’ve survived the last nine months by constantly tweaking the metrics”.

“They used to be quite straightforward. - 30% staff costs, rent, and rates shouldn’t be over 10%, head office costs should sit at 6%, delivery of between 20 and 30% [of revenue]. It’s all changed.

Success for Rosa’s Thai Cafés was very much down to the nature of the product.

“It’s the concepts with delivery-friendly offerings that will continue to thrive. 5% of our trade at Ceviche and Andina was delivery and those businesses, compared to Rosa’s, are struggling. Thai food and delivery is a match made in heaven.”

With on-demand delivery likely to be a key part of a high street business’ model moving forward, how will the explosion of in-home meal kits contribute to the continued success of operators?

Camilla thinks that “being able to tap into your favourite restaurants at home is amazing”.

“It’s here to stay and we’re now seeing loved local brands going nationwide, such is the demand for their food and the love of the brand.”

Alex is less certain.

“Meal kits at home - a lot of people are doing it now and it was a novelty before. Will then end up being around in five years? Will it ever fill the hole of the lost office worker? Let’s see.”

He predicts that cloud kitchens that evolve with tastes and trends, will be required to offset any future disruption to the viability of restaurants.

“[The fun and innovation will be in] collaboration. Restaurants with multiple cloud kitchens. Concepts which only exist virtually. On the front door, you’ve got your main brand, and in the kitchen, you’ve got 4 or 5 different operations running virtually. I think that’s going to be a big thing that we’re going to see a lot more of. And off the back of that, some of those businesses may end up turning into physical businesses.”

Harry sees a bright future in multi-use spaces, underpinned by good design, planning, and product. Catering to a tribe but for a variety of different uses and occasions.

“I do believe - and we’ve said this for a while - that we’ve got this concept of what used to be called ‘mixed-use city centres’. Often called 15-minute cities. Shops, offices, hotels, transport hubs all working together.

“Whereas what we’ve been seeing is a move to ‘multi-use’. A train is an office, a coffee shop is an office, but also an office can be a hotel. A hotel can be an office. The idea that spaces don’t have to be static.

“They can change hourly, daily, seasonally. But what’s important regardless is ‘good bones’. Good light, good air, good space. Allowing you to use the space in different ways.

From an operator's perspective, he thinks that “the winners will be the people who can leverage up.”

“Whether that’s using scale, innovation, technology, or sheer hard work. Those who can accept that life is going to be different and can react quickly."

“People wouldn’t have felt like they could go into a Hilton because they felt that was reserved for the people staying there. The Ace Hotel didn’t feel like you’re going into a hotel when you walked through a flower shop.”

“And a lot of that is psychology and human behaviour.” Breaking down barriers to find new ways of enticing people through your doors.

A boom for independent operators

Pent up demand is being felt across hospitality.

And landlords and asset managers will be looking for ways to entice people back into their buildings and developments. Marketing a return to work to their tenants’ employees.

Hospitality businesses will play a key role in making these trips worthwhile. Even cherished.

“Landlords have to keep marketing, and tempting people into their locations,” says Camilla. “Outdoor seating, bike racks, get people there and maintain that buzz.

“Kingly Court is a brilliant example - good vibe, good outside, covered seating. Nothing is ever going to take away from being at a restaurant.”

The inevitability of vacant sites will create opportunities to meet returning demand. Much of this will be driven by the launch of unburdened independent businesses. And existing operators who have remained agile throughout the pandemic.

Camilla thinks that “now is the time for the independents! Some, but not all, of the big casual dining brands, have been suffering a lot and they’re not as agile as the smaller operators”.

Harry is also confident that a returning workforce will be quick to flock back to their favourite venues. Whilst eager to try what launches in the market.

“[Before the second lockdown] offices were empty but the ground floor of The Ned was heaving. So people are coming in to meet other people. For no other reason [other than missing human interaction].

“If you’re going to meet people, you’ll do it in a more interesting environment. Even if it costs you a bit of money.”

“A lot of the themes we’re seeing are not new. City centres are hubs for people to meet rather than a workhouse for people to come into to sit at a desk.”

A good December’s trading is in no way going to compensate for the losses accrued this year. And the beginning of 2021 is going to be a bumpy ride.

But on the other side, opportunities abound for concepts and brands that are agile and multi-faceted. Those who embrace change. Serving diverse communities what they want, wherever they want it. Be that in dining rooms, at their desks, or at home.

If you enjoyed reading this please share with a friend. And do get in touch to let us know your thoughts.

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Work From Homers are the New Millennials
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And Every Hospitality Business Wants a Piece of the Action

Pre-Covid, we could always guarantee that two topics would come up in meetings with clients. Instagram strategy and millennial audiences. Whilst of course these crucial considerations remain valid today, it’s attracting the #WFH crowd that’s top of everyone’s agenda. And rightfully so.

According to the ONS, in April 46.6% of people were doing at least some work from home. Rising to 57.2% in London. Some estimates put the real number at 60%. 26% of the UK workforce is planning to work from home permanently. So it’s clear that companies across all industries are going to be doing so in greater and greater numbers.

Whilst this is bad news for businesses in commercial areas, it presents an opportunity for others. And this hasn’t gone unnoticed by the hospitality sector.

Quality of Work Doesn’t Mean Quality of Life

A survey conducted by found that 65% of workers said they were more productive at home. Whilst 83% of employees said that they didn’t need to be in an office to be productive. Employers agreed, with two-thirds reporting increased productivity amongst their teams.

Whilst good news for companies, the negative effects of increased isolation, longer working hours and loneliness must not be overlooked. A recent CNBC article quoted someone as saying “[working from home] sounds great, but they missed the informal conversations. ‘I wake up, go to my computer and work all day, teleconferencing, but don’t ever talk to people or see people’. One of the big things I heard was that ‘I miss human contact with co-workers’.” Nearly a quarter of remote workers also admitted to struggling to switch off when working from home.

With an “always-on” working culture already a part of our lives, the decisions companies of all shapes and sizes make over the coming months will be crucial to the wellbeing of their people. Not to mention the productivity of their organisations. Maybe even the success of their businesses.

Whatever happens, we must remember that the transition to flexible working won’t happen automatically. The litmus test for companies will be maintaining consistency and productivity whilst tailoring their policies to suit a variety of individual wants and needs. Fostering a culture of openness to further support employees will be central to success.

And for hospitality businesses of all shapes and sizes, this enormous market is ready and waiting to be offered solutions to some of the biggest challenges of our time. And to the largest shift in how the world works in a generation.

Here are some great examples of how businesses across hospitality have adapted to cater to this audience. Considering a number of models for how companies and their teams elect to work.

1. Flexible Spaces for Neighbourhood Working

The future is bright for businesses catering to the growing number of work-from-homers. Those looking for an alternative to their spare room or kitchen table. Whether for a few hours a day or a couple of days a week. In a destination neighbourhood that reconnects them to the world, or somewhere closer to home.

Hotels including The Stafford in St James are offering their rooms and suites to those looking for a peaceful and productive space to work. However, with rates for suites starting at £395/day - including a two-course lunch - it’s not exactly within reach of the average displaced white-collar worker. And stateside, hotel day-let booking platform Day Use is also getting in on the action. Connecting hotel rooms with local #WFH professionals in New York City including at more accessible prices.

Whether the temptations of a nap in a comfy bed, a long bath, and a day’s Netflix and chill can be overcome remain to be seen. But needless to say, we’ll be watching this all very closely.

Back in our neck of the woods and we’re excited to check out The Tramshed Project on Shoreditch’s Rivington Street. The site has relaunched as “an interdisciplinary food and working space” that “is built to outlast the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic”. With Street Feast founder Dominic-Cools Lartigue at the helm, and opening collaborations from Andrew Clarke, Zoe Adjonyoh, and James Cochran we’re confident the food will live up to expectations.

2. Working Weekenders

More working from home inevitably means more zoom calls, less movement, and less real-life interaction. Forward-thinking businesses know this and have stepped up to the plate. Offering some great solutions that combine time for work, rest, and play in one fell swoop.

Recently awarded The Times Hotel of the Year Birch give you a Sunday night stay on the house when booking in for Friday and Saturday. Guests are encouraged to “come early and leave late”. And with more spaces and activities than anyone could feasibly do of a weekend, the thought of a wellness-focused weekend sandwiched between two days of working from the rural idyl is an appealing proposition.

(just please don’t use the word Rurban - rural/urban in case you were wondering)

3. Work from Anywhere

Ed’s summer in Mallorca has opened our eyes to the possibilities that exist for individuals and teams to up-sticks and head for sunnier climbs. Doing so for regular stints without the need to join the global nomad brigade saying a permanent goodbye to city life. Judging by Ed’s recent interview by The Guardian, we’re not alone.

US co-living brand Outsite is a great example of a business looking to cater to this inevitably high-growth sector. Offering rooms and a ready-made community in a variety of downtown locations across Europe and the US. Specifically targeting remote workers and creatives.

4. The future of the office

So is the office as we know it a thing of the past? We were chatting to a large commercial developer recently who was buoyant about the future of occupancy in their buildings. However, they acknowledge that the makeup of spaces is likely to change.

Banks of desks are likely to make way for more meeting and workshop space; activities that remain challenging when done remotely. They predict this is likely to be accompanied by more ‘touch down’ flexible working spaces, lounges, hot desks, and improved food and drink offerings.

Mark Dixon, chief executive of IWG was quoted in this article as saying “This global crisis has dramatically changed the ways companies will work. In the new world of working post-Covid-19, offices will still be needed but there will be a greater requirement for more flexible space. Some of the big banks are thinking about it, Facebook – it’s pretty universal.”

A “hub and spoke” model is likely to emerge, where smaller satellite offices in suburbs and less urban locations feed a central office in more traditional commercial, city-centre hubs.

Could this also lead more corporate sectors into smaller, independent ‘micro-working’ spaces such as Dalston’s Snackbar? The east London café with two private studios to rent on the floors above. With their brilliant cafe menu delivered from the floor below, it’s easy to see how food and drink continue to be central to workspace offers and their appeal to potential tenants.

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Collaboration And Community Spirit Are Restaurants’ Vital Ingredients
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Our Monthly Long Read

It's been so interesting to see how neighbourhoods feel so different from one another. Soho is a virtual ghost town. Whilst my local park Primrose Hill has been alive with socially-distanced activity.

I rode over to Broadway Market and Victoria Park recently. The contrast between residential and commercial neighbourhoods becoming even clearer.

With a gradual move away from lockdown on the horizon, it's been interesting to think about how the way we use our cities is likely to change. And whether we're looking at a temporary or permanent shift. Personally, I think the former.

It's impossible to contemplate a return to normal life until we have a vaccine. But one thing seems almost certain. Operators cannot base their model on bums-on-seats alone. Retail, delivery and e-commerce will prove to be crucial success factors in the long term. Much as they've been lifelines over previous weeks.

Moving from admirable quick fixes to longer-term strategies and broader, diversified product offerings. Thinking carefully about how to connect clientele with the products they want. And how businesses can come together to do this collaboratively.

Is this the moment for neighbourhood and community-centric operators to thrive? The death of the over-leveraged multiples? Only time will tell. But as people across the world spend more time at home and less time commuting into commercial hubs, the way our businesses operate needs to change. Meeting the needs of both our hard won fans and new advocates currently waiting in the wings.

Connecting purpose with changing customer needs

It's never been more important to heed the much-lauded Sinekism of "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it". In other words, brands need to stand for something.

Leading with a genuine purpose is as important now as it's ever been. But it's essential that this is connected with carefully-considered customer needs.

I always refer to my favourite brand purpose from our old clients and friends, Rosa's Thai Cafés. "The purpose of Rosa's is to create an inspiring environment that makes people happy". Caps doffed, Without Studio for your genius.

This needs to work inside and out. Being inspired and happy are such fundamentals for a great dining or drinking experience. But it rings true for how staff should feel, too. A guiding principle that everyone connects with.

But It's crucial to consider how purpose must evolve in line with customer needs. And these needs are likely to continue to evolve over the coming weeks and months. But there are some fundamentals.

Safety, hygiene and traceability are no longer givens. Staff and guests alike will expect reassurances to be built into brands' DNA, operations and marketing. It's essential that these become part of a brand's purpose. Not merely initiatives deployed in response to the current situation.

Reviewing and updating your brand purpose in such uncertain times will go a long way to instilling a renewed sense of direction. Executed collaboratively with teams and then built into the marketing messages going out to your clients.

Building a strategy around things that will stay the same

In an uncertain world, there are always things that never change. Whilst we've all had to change our behaviour and the way we approach our every day, many of our beliefs and values have remained constant.

Convenience, on-demand, customisation, authenticity and a desire to shop and support local have become fundamentals of our industry. These behaviours aren't going anyway. If anything, the evolution of customer behaviour in these regards have accelerated of late.

We've become more conscious of the food we eat. We want healthy without compromise. And we want to push the boat out and indulge from time to time, too.

We care about where our food comes from. We care about value. We want to align with brands that match our lifestyle aspirations. And we want to tell the world about it on Instagram.

When we double down on what we can be sure of. Combining this with a renewed purpose, focused on the changing needs of our customers. We can begin to create a plan.

Check the competition then focus on you

As part of a branding process we're doing through ourselves (more to follow on that), we've been doing a lot of work on our positioning. It was interesting to drill down on who we're playing against. Whilst this was a great source of aspiration on many fronts, it was also a great leveller as to where we are today. And to a degree, it was quite daunting when we realised just how many brilliant people are our there. Essentially, doing what we do.

I'm sure I speak for many when I say that it's sometimes paralysing. How are we going to cut through? How are we going to stand out? How are we going to capture and maintain market share? There are those with better portfolios, sexier clients and bigger marketing budgets?

And the lesson from this? Understand your market. Understand your audience. Know your competition well. And then look inward, focus on you and crack on!

Because right now, there's so much going on out there it would overwhelm anyone. Don't obsess over the problems, challenges, unknowns and over other people's woes. Work out who you are, why folks love you and do more of that. Talk more about that.

Expand on your core proposition with complementary products and services that are on-brand. And those that add real value for your customers. Balance being nimble and imaginative with ensuring quality remains on a par with the things you've been doing each day.

Strength in collaboration

There's often a great sense of camaraderie in hospitality. Fiercely competitive on the one hand. Passionately community-minded on the other. I think this dichotomy is why I love it so much.

When times are hard people come together. And it's this continued spirit of collaboration that may just get us through the challenging months ahead of us.

We've got to think about where people are going to need to be. Where they're going to want to be. And find a way of bringing them what they want then and there.

And I don't just mean a reliance on Deliveroo and Uber Eats. Because we all know their margins and fees aren't sustainable for restaurants. And that they offer a poor experience for their customers whenever things don't go well. Which let's face it, is more often than they'd have you believe.

If the industry at large is going to have any chance of survival, we need to think differently. Businesses need to understand what slice of the pie they need to be able to stay afloat. And then ensure they help others to do the same. Sharing the love amongst like-minded peers who complement, rather than compete against them.

Could pubs open up their kitchens to others for click and collect takeaways? Could coffee shops broaden their retail range of local products? Could restaurants partner with suppliers to create ready-to-heat meals?

We've seen the green shoots of this already. Now is the time to work out how we move from incidental purchases to key, long term revenue drivers. And then coming up with ways of working together to share the burden and costs of logistics. Making finding, buying and collecting the things we want to buy convenient and easy.

I'd love a world where my local pub reopens as a click and collect point for my favourite local retail businesses. I'd stop in for a pint in the garden (once allowed, of course) and bring some beer home with me too.

Learn from the namaste and don't forget the magic

In these strange times of social distancing and contactless everything, we need to find new ways of showing the warmth, love and generosity that we're known for as an industry.

The Hindu namaste greeting is symbolic both as a spiritual gesture and as a greeting. There are many meanings attributed to its use. But my favourite by far is the assertion "the best in me sees the best in you". It's a lovely sentiment that, when accompanied by sincere eye contact, exudes exactly the kind of spirit that hospitality holds at its core. And what's more, there's no touching.

We live in a mad world. We can achieve so much by focusing on each other's positives. By finding strength in people coming together and doing so gently and with respect.

Last of all. And potentially most importantly. We mustn't take our eyes off the magic of drinking and dining out. And what happens when we come together over a great meal at home. The escapism. The experience. And the joy and respite that we bring to people's lives.

In whatever shape or form our businesses take, we must remember that above all, we're here to create experiences that make lives better. And this is more important now than it's ever been.

So in summary...

  1. Refresh and update your purpose, born from a deep understanding of your customers' needs
  2. Equip yourself with the knowledge of things we can be certain about
  3. Work out partnerships and collaborations that will be mutually beneficial
  4. Do more of what you do best. Expand into other revenue streams and develop complementary products
  5. Know where your customers are and make it as easy as possible for them to get their hands on what they want, where and when they want it
  6. Bring the magic to everything you do

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Deliveruined or Deliverlighted?

Whilst analysts were quickly excited by a potential boom in orders - and therefore revenue - at the beginning of the covid-19 outbreak, it didn’t take long for a very different reality to set in; leading Deliveroo to announce that it’s axing 367 of its 2,500-strong workforce this week. The current perfect storm for a once seemingly unstoppable growth sector came at the exact time the UK competition watchdog provisionally approved a £462m investment in Deliveroo by Amazon.

It seems that, like shopping malls in the real world, online marketplaces rely on anchor tenants too. And with several high street stalwarts including Wagamama, Nando’s, and McDonald's shutting up shop, there was less of an incentive for an already worried workforce of riders to venture out to work. This puts a strain on the system and led to long wait times for those operators still trading, and sub-standard food arriving at their customers’ doors. Add to this the general nervousness about contact and transmission and it's easy to see why the fizz has fizzled from Deliveroo’s glass.

There’s a problem here which we’ve always flagged to clients in an attempt to dispel the myth that the roads riders use to whizz food to their customers’ door are paved with gold. If you’ve got a busy restaurant with excess capacity then selling via Deliveroo, Uber Eats and others can be lucrative businesses on top of the existing operation. But potentially healthy margins quickly evaporate if delivery from a prime, high street location becomes the bedrock of your operation, to the point where it’s just not worth trading. Especially in current times, when companies can furlough their staff and be done with the majority of their wage bill altogether.

Could this be why several independent operators such as Honey & Co and Borough’s Padella were quick to sign up to Deliveroo and Uber Eats, but closed down their delivery operations almost as soon as they were live?

Dancing in the Dark

So whilst the general market continues to face unprecedented challenges, the long-term success of dark kitchens seems almost certain. Even if it is in for a bumpy ride (and we don’t mean the speed bumps making a mess of your Thai Green Curry) in the short term.

Pre lockdown, the dark kitchen market in Europe was forecast to be worth $253m in 2019 and growing to a whopping $655m in 2026 so there’s no doubt that the bright side was outshining the dark, as consumers quite literally stuffed their faces via Deliveroo, Uber Eats, Postmates and the like.

According to Deliverect, one of the leading providers of software to the dark kitchen sector - “Less free time, the rise of online business models, a fixation on convenience and personalised experiences: these are just a few elements that influence almost every industry today – including the food business. The demands of digital-age consumers combined with new technologies are transforming the way restaurants operate from the kitchen floor and up”.

When you combine the efficiency of space, lower rents, simplified and de-skilled menus, and much lower overheads it’s easy to see why so many brands - and Deliveroo themselves - have invested in locations that are centrally-located, but off the beaten track. JKS Group’s Motu Indian Kitchen has been a runaway success (we’re fans and regulars ourselves) and just this week, Soho’s incredible Bao (another JKS-backed business) have launched Rice Error, a Deliveroo-only dark kitchen brand.

And whilst the skeptics were quick to point out the future of robot chefs, deliveries by drone and other dystopian culinary calamities, there is a kinder side to dark kitchens. When established, respected, successful operators diversify and set up their side hustles on city industrial estates across the world, we can’t really see a problem with that.

Hotel, Motu, Ordering In

(Pardon the pun, I couldn’t resist)

Over in the hotel sector, the land grab for Select Service hotel brands by the developer community sees no sign of abating. We’ve been working closely with Marriott on their burgeoning Moxy brand and its more established counterpart, Aloft so it’s an area we’ve come to know well.

There are both challenges and opportunities within hotels across various sectors, as they seek to satisfy their guests’ increasingly discerning expectations. The select-service model relies on low cost to build, skeleton staffing, and limited f&b. And yet generous loyalty schemes provoke repeat stays by guests who quickly tire of a one-size-fits-all model. Even full-service hotels struggle with agility and with maintaining interest and variety in their offer.

Whether they enjoy prime, city centre and neighbourhood locations or service business parks and airports, many hotels would benefit from a shakeup in the way they think about f&b. Their local communities would be better off too.

Hotels often have excess kitchen capacity outside of the space and labour-intensive breakfast service, often coupled with teams to service them. So could this present an unmissable opportunity to give local operators space from which to launch their own dark kitchen brands?

With the opportunity for multiple operators to cook and dispatch from the same space, guests may get the variety and choice that they crave from hotels not blessed with great culinary neighbours. Can hotels in buzzing neighborhoods also drive opportunities to increase revenue by serving their communities in a way they’ve never been able to do before?

At airports, where clusters of chain hotels cater to weary travelers, layovers, and one-night stays, there’s an even greater opportunity to win by servicing other hotels who face similar challenges. And in the select-service sector where kitchen equipment is kept to a minimum, companies such as Rational are working closely with operators to deploy tech-led ready to heat solutions. This is perfect for operators who have the capacity to prepare food off-site - at their restaurants, say - and utilise efficiency, simple processes, and speed to dish up meals to demanding guests in record time.

Hatch and Dispatch

On a recent trip to the US, we were impressed with White Lodging’s Zombie Taco taqueria at the Moxy Chicago Downtown. The simple, open kitchen perfectly integrated with the in-house, brand-standard food operation, and some cleverly placed merchandise. Throughout the day and late into the night, a hatch out on to the street serves hungry passers-by, late-night revelers looking for a tasty settler before they head home, and delivery service riders too.

With a proven model, it’s easy to see a scenario where the identity and product could be flipped simply and cost-effectively at the whim of the operator or at the request of the guest. Surely, it’s a win-win for everyone. And as the world shows signs of a gentle reopening after Lockdown, we need to be looking after each other more than ever.

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Gut Health During #WFH
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Gut Health During #WFH

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As we adjust to working from home, we’ve never been more conscious of our eating habits. Fortunately, there are some brilliant solutions to maintaining a healthy diet during lockdown.

We recently completed work on a project that delivers nutritionally endorsed ready-to-heat meals and snacks directly to busy professionals across London. Dedicated to empowering us to take control of our lives through food, now more than ever Kurami is a brilliant solution as our busy lives show no sign of slowing down, just because we’re confined to our homes.

Eating for a healthy gut is a key nutritional focus of each of the brand’s meal paths. So important is our gut that it is even considered the ‘second brain’ of the human body. It’s also well established that the bacteria present within our guts plays an integral role in many fundamental functions, especially immunity.

Micro-organisms that exist in the gut can even influence behaviour, with some research suggesting beneficial microbes even impact mood and anxiety levels.

Conscious of our dietary habits now more than ever, we’ve been inspired to look at some of the ways we can ensure our diet takes care of our gut as we cook from home. So, here are our top 5 tips to eat well for your gut health.

The community of microbes contained within a healthy gut is complex and diverse, so it makes sense that to satisfy and optimise the health benefits they offer, our diets must be varied too. Incorporating a wide range of veg into your diet is a super-simple way towards having all bases covered. Order a whole box of London’s freshest produce straight to your door from local suppliers through FoodBox London and support the community from the comfort of your own home at the same time.

And if you live in Surrey, Buckinghamshire or Berkshire, then we’ve recently developed and launched Fe2Go, an online store for our favourite suburban clients, Fego - delivering their a la carte dishes alongside ready-to-heat meals, groceries, provisions and fresh produce boxes. Go check them out! For every delivery they make, they’re feeding a key NHS worker.

2. Eat Fermented Foods

Whilst you might be struggling to get hold of some of the basic essentials in supermarkets at the moment, the good news is that some of the lesser known ingredients are likely to be readily available - as well as being a natural source of beneficial probiotics too. Our favourite fermented food is Kimchi - check out BBC Food for some brilliant recipe inspiration to cook with it at home.

And if you’re looking for a small, independent brand then Eaten Alive should definitely be your first stop.

3. Sip On Kombucha

Kombucha is on the up! We saw it frequently feature in restaurants across the UK and it’s now well and truly entered the mainstream, due to its undeniable health benefits.

This fermented tea-based drink is a brilliant source of powerful antioxidants that boost immunity. A brilliant way to support independent business at the moment is to order some directly to your door, enjoying it in the knowledge you’re taking care of your gut health at the same time.

London-based Wild Fizz offer some brilliant flavours through their website, where you can even read about how to make your own Kombucha at home. As if that wasn’t enough, they’re offering discounts to NHS staff throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We were particularly excited by the flavour combination of ginger, turmeric and black pepper - ours is on the way already.

Our friends over at Dapple Studio created the brand identity for Jarr, one of our personal favourites. Order this online from many places, or drop the good folk at Sourced Market online, who stock the product in all of their stores.

4. Add Yoghurt

We’re big fans of starting our day as we mean to go on and in this instance, as un-rebellious as it may be, we never skip breakfast. Adding yoghurt to fresh fruit and granola is an easy way to introduce probiotic cultures that could promote good bacteria in your gut.

Preparing and eating breakfast is also a brilliant way to get into the habit of introducing routine as we settle into remote-working, so by waking up with bowls like these you can win on many fronts.

5. Make It ‘Garlicky’

Beyond flavour alone, garlic brings some brilliant health benefits to the table when it comes to taking care of your gut. It contains a hefty nutrient content , packing a punch far beyond the elevation of taste. Throw some into your weekly shop - if ever you needed a reason to excuse your garlic breath as you boost your immune system, it’s this.

As we all find ourselves balancing the demands of a changing world right now, you’d be forgiven for wishing nutrition could be taken care of for you. Head over to to see how you can order delicious, nutritionally-endorsed meals directly to your door.

We can’t think of a better way to support an independent business and local suppliers, all whilst having our dietary health covered and one less thing to think about. We’re also quite proud of the project, and therefore unashamedly biased.

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Rebels On The Road
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Rebels On The Road

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It’s been a busy year at Rebel and we’ve been fortunate to travel to some amazing destinations for both work and leisure. From sun drenched destinations in The Dominican Republic and Thailand to closer places such as Barcelona and Brussels. From familiar places like India to more remote and unknown places like Kazakhstan. It’s always lovely to go away as a team and therefore one of our favourite trips this year took us on an express trip to the USA to better understand the tier-two city market in the country and to seek some inspiration for a project we’re currently delivering for the Moxy hotel brand in Europe and the US.

We visited a slightly overwhelming thirty five restaurants and bars in six days, but there were some which really stood out. We’ve pulled together some of our favourites here.

New Orleans

We began our trip in New Orleans, the city of Voodoo, Mardi Gras and Beignets. We only spent two nights here but discovered some amazing bars and restaurants.

Bar Tonique

The first place we visited after a long trip, this industry bar served classic cocktails executed to perfection, as well as hand crafted cocktails in a very easy-going atmosphere. The place to be for all of us hospitality people to have some fun and meet some people.

Compere Lapin

Located in The Old No. 77 Hotel in the heart of the Warehouse Arts district, Compere Lapin was not only a highlight in NOLA, but of the whole trip. Caribbean flavours combined with using French and Italian techniques. Sounds complex, but it was simply delicious. Plus, let’s not forget about that strawberry daiquiri and pina colada we had as dessert.

Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits

This BBQ garden felt like the most authentic American experience. Walk in and go through the wine shop to buy your wine, grab a bucket with ice to make it cold, find a spot in the garden, order your BBQ and sit down to enjoy the food and the live Blues & Jazz music. A very cozy night!

Catahoula Hotel

This lovely Indie, boutique hotel near the French Quarter was lovely to visit. Casual and cozy with quirky yet homey decor, and a great Pisco bar and rooftop. A must visit for a cocktail accompanied by live music.


Death & Co

Located in the Ramble Hotel in Downtown Denver, Death & Co have taken everything that they’ve become famous for in New York , and created a craft cocktail lobby bar with a wide selection of sipping spirits. Besides the creative and great tasting cocktails, the lounge itself has a speak easy vibe, with dark heavy curtains and exquisite glassware.

5280 Burger Bar

We are always up for a burger and could not leave the US without having had one. And so we did… but what was even more special at this burger bar were the fried pickles and the “Shaketinis” (milkshakes with booze of all sorts), we literally couldn’t have asked for a better American dinner.

The Family Jones

A restaurant and distillery that is outstanding at both things. Although not much food was ordered (due to the burgers before), everything we did have was sensational. We were impressed by their full lab in which they infuse all kinds of spirits and produce an extensive range of distillates.


Three Dots and a Dash

A speakeasy tiki bar hidden in Chicago’s River North streets. Not only were the cocktails truly tiki, but the glassware and garnishes were outstanding. From mermaid tail stirrers and tropical flowers, to bespoke mugs we were truly impressed by how they managed to make each of their many drinks look and taste unique and different from one another. We must admit, we couldn’t help ourselves and stole one or two mermaid tails…

Bad Hunter

As the name implies, Bad Hunter is a veg-forward restaurant. In an area with many great and renowned restaurants such as Au Cheval and Girl & The Goat, this place still manages to stand out with in-season quality food and great cocktails. Besides the quality of the actual food and drinks, they deserve so much credit for their creativity in the menu design and excellent name (we should never underestimate the power of a good restaurant’s name).

Chicago Athletic Association

Known due to its heritage and excellent bars designed to provide and experience, the CAA is a must visit in Chicago. Not only is this a hotel in a beautiful building, it also has great entertainment and food and beverage areas such as the games room (fuelling our new-found shuffle-board addiction), rooftop, coffee shop and speakeasy amongst others.

We took many things, from inspiration and ideas, to network contacts and a GREAT time. What we are doing with it? That will be revealed soon! stay tuned to see the progress of our cocktail development work with Moxy.

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Making Music Work For Your Brand
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Making Music Work For Your Brand

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It’s no secret that in today’s saturated hotel and restaurant markets, brands who can drive emotional engagement through their music programming are winning over and retaining audiences in spaces where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd.

We’re continuing to see real innovation in the sectors, and a key element of this is how different operators are approaching music and programming; and developing a key point of view around how this is communicated. And this is being approached from a variety of angles.

DJs turning their hand to food and drink

Last week saw actor-turned-DJ Idris Elba bolstering his musical credentials by opening his intimate, exclusive bar The Parrot at the Waldorf Hilton in London’s Aldwych, which will feature a programme of DJ’s and live music performances tailored to a discerning, connected audience who know how to manipulate a tricky guest list.

Carl Clarke’s continued success with Chick n’ Sours to some degree proves the theory that DJ’s can successfully transfer their appeal and reputation over to an industry that clearly takes its musical credentials seriously. We were however sad to see local favourite and Krankbrother brainchild Beagle in Hoxton close this year after a decent run in a great space.

Vinyl is back and here to stay

When Brawn on Columbia Road opened its door what seems like decades ago, their turntable and record collection were key features of the dining and drinking experience. This is something that we’re continuing to see prevail, including at recently opened Michelin starred Leroy in Shoreditch where the crackle and imperfections of listening to vinyl is as charming as the pauses between tracks.

We also saw this in action on a recent trip to Chicago, where we popped into the Fox Bar at Soho House to browse their growing vinyl library directly adjacent to the bar.

In other news our relatively new neighbour Mare Street Market, houses a record store called Stranger Than Paradise on site that encourages guests to physically interact with – and take home – the music that they hear playing in the venue. They join the now constantly referenced and locally loved Ace Hotel London Shoreditch who run vinyl haven Sister Ray out of a previously unloved corner of their property.

Just up the road in Dalston, our favourite mid-week hangout Brilliant Corners, has recently opened an extension to their perfectly put together restaurant and bar, that now houses their ‘Giant Steps’ vintage travelling sound system in a semi-private drinking and dining room.

Just add coffee

Pressure from growing rents and rates has prompted traditional retail businesses to consider adding an element of f&b to their operations, and we recently spoke to Appear Here about how we’re increasingly seeing this in the fashion industry. However it’s become a staple of the record shop resurgence too, fuelled by a rise in vinyl sales and the continued proliferation of great coffee into the farthest corners of retail.

We turn to Lion Coffee + Records and The Book and Record Bar for great examples of how this is really working for operators looking to draw in an audience, keep them in store for longer, and drive ancillary revenue at the same time.

3 Tips to make music work for your venue

So whilst we can all enlist the hottest DJs in town to put their names to our bars, or add record shops to our lobbies there are certain things that all operators can do to maximise on the positive effects of putting music at the heart of their guest experiences. Here are our top picks.

Invest in local collaborations

Unless you’re confident you really know what you’re doing (or you employ someone who does) then don’t try and go it alone. Find a programming partner that’s local to your business, who gets your audience, and who is able to create playlists that suit your vibe and your opening hours.

This could be a company such as MAV music which will create evolving playlists around an agreed brief, a local record label or a DJ/producer with whom you can set up a win-win, long term relationship.

Keep it fresh

Playlist curation isn’t a one time thing. The last thing you want is for your regular guests to grow tired of the same playlists day in day out. Invest in the commitment to regular updates to your playlists, and consider extending this to lobby or bar programming on busier nights to give guests another reason to come back to your venue.

Get the tempo and volume right

The volume that your music is played at will help determine how and what your guests order, as it has a direct impact on heart rate and arousal.

Want your guests to indulge and reach for unhealthier options or push the boat out? Turn it up! Whereas if your goal is to create a more mindful, healthier approach then keep the volume knob turned down.

According to a recent article on, “the pace of your overhead music also has a strong impact on how your customers eat and drink. Choosing the wrong speed could have different impacts on your diner’s experiences even if you pick the right genre, volume, and mix.

The National Restaurant Association recently shared some eye-opening statistics about customer behaviour and music:

Customers chew food 30% faster when they listen to uptempo music, decreasing eating times and increasing table turnover.

Men buy more drinks when they listen to uptempo music and drink them faster.

Customers increased the average ticket size of their bill by 23% while listening to slower music. This is attributed to customers buying more drinks and other add-ons (like dessert and coffee) that typically have high-profit margins for restaurants.

Get in touch

We’d love to hear from operators and businesses who have invested in interesting approaches to getting their music right, connecting with their audience and driving engagement. We’d also love to hear about what didn’t work, and what people have tried and failed at.

Please do get in touch.

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5 Beautiful Food Halls Around The World
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5 Beautiful Food Halls Around The World

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2018 is definitely shaping up to be the year that market halls in London come of age. With the opening of three new venues under the Market Hall brand, our new local favourite Mare Street Market right below our office, and Ichiba, the Japanese food hall opening in Westfield London there’s plenty of evidence that we’re moving on as a city from the established torchbearers such as Dinerama and Hawker House at the trendy end of the spectrum, and The Ned at the luxury end of the market.

It’s interesting to see operators’ different approaches to curating their offerings, some including strong retail elements whilst others focus firmly on eating and drinking on site in vast communal seating areas.

Whatever the approach, these developments in the market are signalling a shift in the way consumers want to eat and drink out at a time when the casual end of the restaurant market is seeing its biggest shake-up in years.

We’ll be watching this space closely over the coming months, but in the meantime we’ve had a scout around the world and taken a look at some food hall inspirations in other cities.


This is a popular spot for both tourists and locals. Besides an excellent food hall (Foodhallen) with a great variety of food options, there is also a cinema, craft shop, bike shop, hair dressing academy amongst other cool concept stores. Originally a tram shed, the building is now a hub for culture, fashion, food and crafts.


After being wrecked by hurricane Katrina and following a three year refurbishment, St. Roch Market has reopened its doors in its original location and is stronger than ever. With its high ceilings, white walls and original steel columns, this market leaves us speechless in terms of design. But also, whether it is artisanal grab-and-go goods, gourmet groceries from local vendors, or craft cocktails, this market has it all in terms of local and delicious food, drinks and goods. A must-visit in New Orleans.


This is an oldie, but when it comes to Spanish food, the food hall in San Miguel is the best option to try it all. From boquerones, to jamon and manchego to paella, you can find a seat and eat fresh products with a great glass of sangria.


With numerous cafes, restaurants and counters full of fresh produce, this market is the best for trying Swedish delicacies. But besides outstanding food, this market from the 1880’s is keeping up with an industry that is revolving more rapidly than ever and is currently going through a landmark renovation that we’re sure will be amazing.


Besides the more famous Markthall in Rotterdam that we all know due to its outstanding architecture, there is a more crafty and more local market worth visiting. In a warehouse by the waterside, Fenix Food Factory is home to fresh local products prepared for you on the spot as well as other craft products such as cider, beer and cheeses.

What are the most beautiful food halls or markets that you have been to? Get in touch!

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Why Fashion And Food Are Becoming Fast Friends
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Why Fashion And Food Are Becoming Fast Friends

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“The modern consumer looks to align themselves with experiences and brands that positively affirm their lifestyle, or are inspirational in some way. A relatively easy way to achieve this is through an element of food and beverage.”

Ed Francis is the Founder and Creative Director of the The Rebel Agency and works with brands to conceptualise and install bars and restaurants worldwide. He knows the way to a customer’s heart is (partly) through their stomach and, from international luxury behemoths like Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani through to single-site independents like Aida in London or Away in New York, the future is food and everyone’s hungry.

The concept of cafes in a shop is nothing new, of course. Department stores have traditionally had areas where shoppers can refuel – their key purpose: keeping the customer in the building. At the higher end, Bloomingdales in New York has various restaurant options, while Selfridges in London has just upped the ante by opening a summer pop-up rooftop restaurant with premium Italian restaurant group, San Carlo. But more recently, it’s the fashion brands who are leading the way with creative collaborations.

In 2013, Hackett opened its Beefeater 24 bar above its Regent Street flagship store. Managing Director, Vicente Castellano, told the Business of Fashion they hoped to “build a full luxury shopping experience for the Hackett customer” while boosting that all-important dwell time in the same stroke. “It is widely known that men do not necessarily spend a great deal of time in stores when shopping, so we felt that free gin and tonics were a great incentive to increase browsing time and ultimately increase sales.” It’s still going strong and has been featured in numerous GQ style guides, as has Ralph Lauren’s Ralph’s Coffee & Bar and Burberry’s cafe, Thomas’s.

Although it’s hard to attribute exactly how much these concessions contribute to the final bottom line, the broader facts speak for themselves: a study by the United States Department of Agriculture found that millennials were spending 44% of their ‘food dollars’ on eating out, while the UK coffee shop market is enjoying high-astronomical growth, rising by 37% since 2011.

Combine these head-turning numbers with the millennials’ fierce brand devotion and you’ve got what appears to be a no-brainer: “If you look at millennial behavior – though it’s going on beyond millennials now – they’ll tell you that they don’t like to be sold to,” says Ed Francis. “The reality is that we’re fiercely loyal to brands and we want these brands to evolve.” Where evolution used to mean branded pencils, now it’s single-estate coffee and artisan sandwiches.”

He continues: “as with all things, it’s not quite as straightforward as this. Your first major consideration should be – presuming you are working in collaboration with another brand or partner – that both sides are marching to the same tune. The culture of the businesses involved needs to be aligned. It has to be a win-win. It has to fit with the cultural DNA.”

In San Francisco, last month, online skincare and beauty brand Glossier activated a month-long pop-up in the city’s Rhea’s Cafe. It secured coverage from titles like Elle, Vogue and Hello! and while cafe owner, James Choi, told Eater he “thought it was insane at first”, he changed his mind after sitting down with Glossier’s CEO, Emily Weiss. “She founded her company because she didn’t like what the market was offering,” Choi told Eater. “When I first started my sandwich shop as someone not from the food industry, I wanted a platform for people to enjoy the food without hassle, and she felt the same.”

In a world where olfactive branding is a thing, the issues of smell should not be discounted either. The aroma of roasted coffee might evoke memories of slow Sunday mornings for most, but will it work twirling the rails of your beautiful clothes? Ditto noise: will steaming coffee machines or the sound of ice in glasses interfere with the serene atmosphere you’ve lovingly created? Only you can answer that. The question is simple: in the world where experience is king, what do you want yours to be?

Originally Published on Appear Here

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Top 4 Interior Design Comebacks
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Top 4 Interior Design Comebacks

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What goes around comes around they say. Though this is not only for karma, we have also seen this in interior design trends. Trends that were popular decades ago are making their way back into 2018. Whether it is surfaces, materials or furnishings, they are being reinterpreted and suddenly reappearing into our lives.

1920 -1930’s Art Deco

Whether in its original form or a reinterpretation of art deco, the roaring 20’s have been revived. Last year was all about velvet and metallic finishes, and still, a key influence for this year. But adding to this decade, we see dark woods, sumptuous fabrics such as jewel-toned velvets and the use of materials such as marble and semi-precious stones to get that elegant feeling from the lavish cocktail and champagne decade.

We particularly like XU and Epoca’s interiors which both feel unmistakably deco whilst completely current.

1950’s Rattan

Rattan continues to be a go-to material for both, indoors and outdoors. Whether it’s chairs, tables, vases or even lamps, we see this originally Indian material coming back and making its way even into the most luxurious spots, as shown here in La Forêt Noire in Chaponost.

1950’s – 1980’s Bold to Pastel Colours

We saw mid-century bold colour palettes coming back when everything became bright pink, but this year we’re seeing more and more colour. Whether a statement chair, a fridge or a full colourful kitchen, we’re seeing bright yellows, greens and purples coming back. However, at the same time, pastel colours remain popular. From pink and peach to mustard and jade green we see these colours taking over and especially when combined with black or metallic details. Whether it is pastel like at SHUGAA in Bangkok or Bold like at Oretta in Toronto, we see colours everywhere especially inspired by graphic patterns.

1970’s Terrazzo

Terrazzo is a material that can be found so commonly, yet it is often under appreciated. A common use for this material was for public floors at, for example, train stations. However, we see Terrazzo coming back as more than just a long lasting floor, but a material to design outstanding lamps (like the ones below from 1stdibs) , and beautiful tables, just like the central island and tables in one of our latest projects, Sapling in Dalston.

We love seeing old trends coming back and reinterpreted for the current day. Did we miss any that you think will take over 2018?

Get in touch!

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Our Favourite Food and Drink Spots in Miami
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Our Favourite Food and Drink Spots in Miami

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Besides having an incredible amount of STUNNING art deco buildings, Miami also has many great restaurants. From Wynwood, to Miami Beach, to rooftops we couldn’t resist trying all the great places that are out there, even if that meant having two dinners in one night. So here is a list of our favourite spots, which we most definitely recommend for your next visit.


Our ultimate favourite and not the first time we visited, but after our first experience, there was no doubt we had to come back. KYU is an Asian fusion restaurant in Wynwood with excellent cocktails and food to die for. If you are there, you have to try the cauliflower, soft shell crab buns and the truffle gyozas. But even better, choose the chefs menu and let the cool staff bring you their signature dishes and favourites.

Doheny Room at Delano Hotel

This hotel is remarkable before you even walk into it due to its classic art deco architecture. When walking in, they have several F&B outlets, but their bar Doheny is definitely one of our favourites. With neon lights, velvet couches and delicious cocktails this bar is perfect for a drinks night out in a stylish and cosy atmosphere.

Matador Room at The EDITION Hotel

As the name of this restaurant suggests (Matador in Spanish means bullfighter), the restaurant setting is a Spanish inspired bullfighting ring, where you can eat delicious Spanish and Latin inspired food with a modern twist made. We were big fans of their avocado pizza, simple ingredients but made to perfection.

Sugar at East Hotel

Besides great drinks and decor, Sugar has the most stunning views over the city. Seeing the Miami skyline is a must when in the city, and what better than Asian-influenced snacks and dazzling cocktails to go with it.


Wynwood again. Like most trendy neighbourhoods, this was a gehtto that got some investment and became one of the hippest areas in the city. Thus, there is no doubt the most amazing restaurants set up here (2 of our 5 favs). So last, but definitely not least, Alter is a full 5 or 7 course dining experience in an industrial setting that merge together beautifully with exquisite food in a fun atmosphere with excellent music.

Think we’re missing something, or want to suggest something to add to the list? Get in touch!

(Image credits: KYU, Alter, Food for Thought Miami, Delano Hotel, East Hotel, The EDITION Hotel)

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6 Things We Dig In Delhi
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6 Things We Dig In Delhi

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2018 looks like another year of exciting projects in the subcontinent as we continue to yo-yo in and out of India. As part of the development and launch of a new café brand in Gurgaon, we’ve dug deep to unearth some seriously interesting, talented people and companies in the Delhi region. These 6 awesome creative companies have captured our attention above everyone else and reminded us of how lucky we are to be able to spend time in such an exciting country.

Taxi Fabric

Set up by our very talented pal Sanket Avlani, Taxi Fabric has given taxi drivers, rickshaw-walas and now buses in India the ultimate tool to stand out from the crowd. Working with emerging designers to create amazing textile designs that narrate Indian stories, the platform has taken the iconic taxi culture in India to the next level. Founded in Mumbai, but spreading to Delhi, Taxi fabric has launched 36 fabulous designs. Here are some of our favourites:

As we are all about food, it is no surprise we fell for this Delhi’s Belly taxi.

A cause we strongly stand for, designed by Indian illustrator and graphic designer, Kruttika Susarla. Also the creator of the Feminist Alphabet.

No. 3 Clive Road

As organic and local tea production continuous to increase, No. 3 Clive Road stands out with their hand blended teas and gorgeous premium letter-pressed stationery also used for their packaging, and available for sale.

The Gourmet Jar

The word “chutney” is derived from the Hindi word चटनी (chaṭnī), so when writing about India, how could we not think of chutney? The Gourmet Jar caught our eye with their range of handmade chutneys and other gourmet condiments, as well as their mission to empower women in India to work and be able to support their families.


Founded by Anand Ahuja in 2012, bhane is a contemporary clothing brand built upon the idea that brand names don’t matter. Their belief in creating a culture of individuality and freedom led them to open their fist concept store in Meherchand Market, New Delhi, which besides a clothing store has a small yet lovely cafe to complete the bhane experience.

Likewise, bhane encourages (and does and excellent job at proving) the belief that India should not only be seen as a manufacturer, but also a leader in apparel design.


Nimai is a handcrafted and artisanal jewellery community with more than 80 jewellery artists from the Indian subcontinent. All work is absolutely stunning, but it was their exclusive collection, “wear a promise”, that we liked the most.

PROMISE is a bangle with a compartment to store a handwritten vow to oneself or to someone. Beautiful jewellery, for a beautiful cause. The first promise is to Laxmi Agarwal, who was attacked and had acid thrown at her face. “wear a promise” wants to encourage hope and change by promising 3% of their sales to improving Laxmi’s future.

Nappa Dori

Last but definitely not least, Nappa Dori, which literally means ‘leather and thread’, has outstanding leather goods handcrafted by artisans. We love the mix of design and craftsmanship that they bring and particularly adore this postman-style bag adorned with a print of Chennai’s railway station.

Pick us up over on Instagram for further details and a sneak peak at our upcoming Gurgaon café project and everything else that we’re up to. And as always, get in touch if there’s ever anything you’d like to chat about.

Cheers – team Rebel

(Image credits – Taxi Fabric, No. 3 Clive Road, The Gourmet Jar, bhane, Nimai, Nappa Dori)

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Design Inspiration From Our Travels
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Article / Insights

Design Inspiration From Our Travels

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2017 has been a great year for us and whether for business or pleasure, we've been lucky enough to travel to some incredible places around the world, making sure that we checked out what the locals were up to every step of the way. Here's a little round up of Design Inspiration and other things that sparked our interest throughout the year.

Ministry of New, Mumbai

Ed has been making monthly trips to Mumbai this year as part of an ongoing contract with celebrated local restaurateur AD Singh and Ministry of New provides welcome calm and solace from the busy, bustling streets of the city. This co-working "Professional Oasis" was designed by Dutch Art Director and Co-founder Marlies Bloemendaal, and is the perfect place for a productive day's work, networking, collaboration and taking time out over a good book.

We adore the Library for it's tranquility and design with Marlies' eye for detail creating an evolving, ever-interesting space, whilst the Gallery is a hushed, bright and serene environment for focusing on the day's task list and getting things done.

Ministry of New

Kitab Mahal 3rd Floor

192 Dadabhai Naoroji Road

Azad Maidan, Fort

Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001

The Pulitzer, Amsterdam

As far as boutique hotels go, The Pulitzer is up there at the top of our list. Spanning a block between the Prinsengracht and Keisersgracht and comprising no less than 25 original canal-side houses, the hotel is a rabbit warren of understated, elegant and considered design encompassing stunning courtyards, restaurants, bars and common spaces.

The property felt warm and cosy on the grey December afternoon of our visit, but we can’t wait to go back in the summer and soak up some sun on one of those courtyards.

The Pulitzer

Prisengracht 323,

1016 GZ Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Cape, a Thompson Hotel, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

This striking property sites at the very tip of Baja California Sur, where the sea of Cortez meets the Pacific. Whilst we weren’t blown away by dinner at their signature restaurant, Manta, we were wowed by the ground floor lobby, lounge and bar which bears the full weight of the property above whilst being open to the elements, and therefore uninterrupted views of the sea and the Land’s End promontory which makes for an incredible back drop to one of the finest sunsets we’ve ever seen.

The Cape, a Thompson Hotel

Carretera Transpeninsular Km 5,

Misiones del Cabo,

23455 Cabo San Lucas,

B.C.S., Mexico

25 Hours Hotel, Vienna

Our projects with Marriott hotels in both Europe and the US have meant that we’ve been keeping a close eye on the mid-market hotel sector this year. Along with stays at the new-ish Hoxton Hotel Amsterdam and Citizen M Tower of London, a night at Vienna’s 25 Hours Hotel gave us real insight in to the sector and how operators are creating original experiences through in room quirks, heavily millennial-focused branding and solid food & beverage outlets patronised by non-residents as much as hotel guests themselves.

25 Hours ticks all the relevant trend boxes as well as features such as free bicycle hire, Minis to test drive, balcony bath tubs, curated retail, in-your-face instagrammable branding and uber trendy staff.

25 Hours Hotel, Museums Quartier, Vienna

Lerchenfelder Str. 1-3,

1070 Wien, Austria

Koinonia Coffee Roasters, Mumbai

Great coffee has traditionally been hard to find in India, and whilst the country has grown coffee commercially since the 1600’s, the industry has been slow to react to industry changes elsewhere on the globe. With homegrown chains such as Café Coffee Day dominating the market alongside Starbucks, the sector has been flooded with mediocrity and pedestrian high street offerings.

We were hugely relieved when Koinonia opened their roastery and café a stone’s throw from our client’s office in Mumbai and, ever since we’ve been making daily visits for their perfect flat whites, cold brew and their ‘Affogato menu’, the latter being their way of introducing a market used to sweet, syrupy coffees, to black coffee and more refined flavours.

Koinonia Coffee Roasters

66, Dr BR Ambedkar Rd,

Chuim Village,

Khar West,

Mumbai, Maharashtra 400052

Anglo, Clerkenwell, London

And so to wrap things up, we’ve racked our brains and debated heavily the subject of best meal of the year. Contenders included Mumbai’s Masque and Stoke Newington’s Perilla, we finally settled on the absolutely flawless Anglo just off Leather Lane in Clerkenwell.

We struggled to find fault in a single element of a single dish, as we made our way through what is probably the best value tasting menu in London, washed down by some fabulous natural Czech wines from Ota Ševčík, whom we’d been introduced to at Moravia’s Autentikfest the week before.


20 St Cross St,



From everyone at Rebel, have a very Merry Christmas and our best wishes for a delicious and beautiful 2018.

All Beliefs Insights