Almost half of Wimpy’s 68-strong estate operating takeaway or delivery, opens new site: Burger brand Wimpy is bucking the downward trend on the high street having opened a new restaurant this week, while also adding to the number of sites now offering home delivery and pushing ahead with refurbishment plans. Almost 50% of its 68-strong estate nationwide is now operating home delivery or takeaway services and general manager Chris Woolfenden said the company was “well placed” to keep serving customers. “Since the lock-down was announced, our franchisees have really stepped up to the mark,” he said. “The fact many of them are family-owned businesses means they are already working together under one roof and they simply want to make sure they can meet demand and give their customers what they want. In addition to takeaways, working with our home delivery partners has been a game changer. It’s clear consumers are turning to delivery services to brighten up their mealtimes and remind them of the ‘good old days’ by enjoying the brands they love in their own home.” Wimpy opened in Orpington on Easter Monday (13 April), marking a return to the town after 35 years. Joint franchisee Nico Sokoli, an experienced chef and manager who is running the new operation, said: “From the moment we opened, the response has been amazing. Obviously this wasn’t the big grand opening we had initially planned, but we think providing a takeaway and home delivery service for local people is really important right now and the people of Orpington are proving us right.”
Starbucks tests variety of service options as it prepares for ‘new, dynamic period’: Starbucks has been testing a variety of service options as it prepares to adapt for the next stage of the coronavirus pandemic based on its experiences in China. Chief executive Kevin Johnson said the company was ready for this “new, dynamic period” as some governments look to start lifting restrictions with case numbers beginning to flatten. He said: “As we have experienced in China, we are now transitioning to a new phase that can best be described as ‘monitor and adapt’. This means every community will continue to monitor the coronavirus situation and people and businesses in that community will begin to adapt. Gradually, more schools and businesses will open. What does this mean for Starbucks? As was the case in China, this means we will gradually expand and shift the customer experiences we enable in our stores. For example, some Starbucks stores will continue as drive-thru only, others may utilise the mobile ordering experience for contactless pick-up and delivery and others may reopen for ‘to-go’ ordering. As we experienced in China, this will be a journey and we are thoughtfully preparing for this next phase as we adapt in the US. More than 60% of our store formats in the US include a drive-thru, and about 80% of all customer orders were placed ‘on-the-go’ even prior to coronavirus. We have tested a variety of service options in more than 300 stores across the US over the past few weeks, including contactless service, entryway pick-up, kerbside delivery and at-home delivery. We are finding new, innovative ways to serve our communities safely while working hard to exceed public health requirements and adjust to new customer expectations. Thanks to our digital leadership, we are positioned to evolve the Starbucks experience for millions of our loyal customers.” Johnson said the company would also be looking further at its approach to pay and benefits as it continued to prioritise staff welfare “during this critical period”. He added: “As we monitor and adapt, we will support our communities, and we will grow stronger as Starbucks partners. That is Starbucks resilience at its best.”
Just Eat signs up circa 3,000 new restaurants since lock-down: Just Eat has said almost 3,000 restaurants have signed up to its website since the coronavirus lock-down. In an interview with The Telegraph, Just Eat UK managing director Andrew Kenny said more than 35,000 firms were now operating on the platform. Kenny said new partners include dozens of chains as well as independent neighbourhood restaurants. However, he warned the firm has been hit by big-name brands such as McDonald’s and Greggs suspending their operations. Over the past week, Just Eat has handed more than £2.8m of fees back to independent restaurants and takeaways as part of a package worth more than £10m to help struggling partner companies. He added government efforts to shore up the restaurant industry have been heartening, despite widespread concern vital cash was not yet reaching those companies most in need of it. Meanwhile, Dutch online food ordering company Takeaway.com can proceed with its integration of Just Eat after the UK competition watchdog lifted an enforcement order. Takeaway.com bought Just Eat for £6.25bn in January after a bidding war. The companies had been banned from integrating under the order although the Competition and Markets Authority continues to investigate whether Takeaway.com might not have re-entered the British market, which it quit in 2016, had it not bought Just Eat. The first phase of the investigation is expected to be completed by 19 May.
Homeslice reopens Marylebone site for delivery and collection: London-based better pizza brand Homeslice has reopened its site in Marylebone to offer delivery and pre-ordered collection. The company has also launched a weekly charity raffle, with all proceeds to go to NHS Charities Together. The business said: “We have reorganised our restaurant to make sure everyone will be safe, with proper social distancing and rigorous hygiene protocols. We’re putting our most experienced people in place because it’s about trust and because they just want to make great pizza again.”
The Chestnut Group to provide meals for front line key NHS workers: East Anglian-based pub and restaurant company The Chestnut Group has teamed up with Food4Heroes to help provide meals for front line key NHS workers. The not-for-profit initiative has been launched to initially provide 300 free meals per week to NHS workers at the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital critical care unit, with the aim of adding more meals and hospitals in the region as funding increases. Funded entirely by the goodwill of the local community, Chestnut Group has launched the “Giving Tree”, which is a newly established arm of the business dedicated to supporting its local communities with “not-for-profit” initiatives. House builder Hopkins Homes and law firm Birketts have provided the initial funding to kick-start the initiative. Philip Turner, founder of The Chestnut Group, said: “We have been inspired by many heart-warming initiatives across the UK and as East Anglia is our heartland, it makes complete sense to support our local front line teams as best we can. There has already been some great response by businesses and local people in the region.”
Mindful Chef launches next-day recipe box delivery service: Mindful Chef, the healthy recipe box service, is launching what it claims to be the UK’s first next day delivery service, selling its new eponymous Care Box. Available to purchase from the Mindful Chef online store from Sunday (19 April), the company said people can order one-off care boxes for their loved ones with guaranteed next day delivery, if ordered before 7pm. No subscription is required and customers can choose between a meat or plant-based box. Each Mindful Chef Care Box includes three meals for two people, with recipes including Chipotle pork meatballs with Mexican-style rice, and coconut, butter bean and mushroom stroganoff. Mindful Chef chief executive Tim Lee said: “The recipients of these boxes are often highly vulnerable and unable to leave the house or simply struggling to find the food they need in the shops.”
Bite Me Burger launches contactless delivery service: Bite Me Burger, the David Michaels-led concept, has opened a new contactless delivery service in London. It serves households in a five-mile radius of its Bermondsey and Hackney kitchens via UberEats, six days a week. Delivery boxes are available in various sizes. Meanwhile, Orasay, which is run by Jackson Boxer and Andrew Clarke, is offering delivery within a five-mile radius of its Notting Hill restaurant. Boxer told Hot Dinners: “I change the menu every day based on what I feel like cooking, but not a total overhaul. It’s very much the food I love to cook at home, for the people I hold dearest – I’m trying to figure out how to give people that special sense of being in a restaurant where the team really care about looking after you, but in a time of social distancing and isolation.”