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The foodies are faring fabulously, but what of the future?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 By Phil Graves

Graves Jenkins was pleased to attend the October Best industry seminar last week, at the request of the charismatic organiser Euan Macdonald. We met at the renowned Chilli Pickle restaurant with main sponsors Carpenter Box and Reed Recruitment Consultants, plus about 60 representatives and operators within the food and drink industry.

Euan must take full credit for getting such a host of people together, who included Moshi Moshi, Butlers Wines, Cin Cin, Flower Pot Bakery, Red Roaster and plenty of other prominent names. It represented what Brighton and Hove city is all about with its food and drink offer and such a diverse, yet high quality choice on our doorstep.

Interestingly, much talk was on the subject of Brexit. Recruitment and retainment of staff is already an issue for the operators and with a potential exodus (or lack of future supply) by members from the EU, the problem will increase and potentially have an impact on salaries. If costs rise then so will the prices on the menu and there are bound to be casualties in an already tough and congested market.

With a twist of irony, Carpenter Box set out the opportunities in the industry for further investment by way of crowdfunding and some of the tax breaks from third party investment. There seemed to be plenty of options and it reminded us that most of the restaurant chains are propped up by venture capital monies seeking healthy returns. The better value and quality may still remain in the hands of the individual operators?

Time for GJ and the talk by Director Phil Graves. The ‘B’ word was mentioned again – this time ‘Burgers’.

Phil outlined the extensive knowledge the GJ had built up for over 30 years in the sector and that every occupant should always seek advice on the acquisition and sale of business premises, lease commitments, plus rent reviews, lease renewals and business rates. But the ‘B’ word was used due to the explosion of specialist burger outlets, no longer the domain of McDonalds, Burger King and Wimpy.

GJ currently carry over a dozen live enquiries from burger operators seeking to expand into the city and likened it to the coffee shop expansion that has taken place over the past ten years. The coffee shops are sure to have a future, but too many burger outlets are surely not sustainable?

Whatever the future holds as regards to Brexit (and does anyone really know) the robust restaurant sector, with its constant changes, will always be a major feature and attraction for the city. We must support our locals and vote for the excellent food and drink offer with our feet – use them or lose them. Either way, good luck to them.