Strength in Numbers for Independent Restaurants

Launched in April this year to support independent restaurants, Restaurant Collective is a member-led, not-for-profit organisation offering a variety of initiatives from business advice, online booking tools, procurement assistance and a members’ forum.

Paul Shaw, CEO, Restaurant Collective, says “The idea began when we realised restaurants were having problems with their online presence – often basic listings were incorrect” continues Paul, “We wanted to create a platform giving restaurants control of core data. Our purpose is to level the playing field for independents. We’re building a membership community to ensure we offer the resources, guidance and inspiration that makes a positive difference to their businesses.”

The organisation was founded by Paul, former Managing Director of lastminute.com and members of online booking site Livebookings (now Bookatable). Membership to Restaurant Collective is £99 a year and is open to owners of single sites or a small group of sites. The independent restaurant sector were one of the worst hit during the pandemic, between January and February this year 2,000[1] independent restaurants closed their doors permanently in the UK.

Paul says “It’s critical members have a say on how Restaurant Collective develops and how it supports them. We have a membership steering committee and nation-wide regional representatives.”

Patron of Restaurant Collective is acclaimed chef Brian Turner CBE, who says “I firmly believe Restaurant Collective is a fantastic initiative, bringing together independent and smaller operators to support one another. It’s certainly something that would’ve been of great assistance to me and my peers when we were starting out in the industry.”  

Member benefits include a one page website template available from within the platform, complete with menu and table booking capabilities to help get independent restaurants online. “This will ensure the restaurant has a ‘proper’ online presence and information is accurate on review sites,” says Paul. “Most importantly, the restaurant will be listed in the members’ Independent Restaurant Directory.”

The ‘Knowledge Base’ keeps members up-to-date with any element of operating a restaurant from how to run a social media campaign and low energy equipment to how to be Covid compliant. There’s also a mentoring scheme and webinars with various experts.

The ‘Deals Marketplace’ is an online resource which offers members exclusive access to discounts for products and services that support their business. On the community forum, members have the opportunity to make comments, share ideas and offer advice.

Following the UK launch in April, Restaurant Collective was introduced in the south of France in June with plans to roll it out country-wide. Paul says “We want to make sure we’re established in the UK and France before going elsewhere.”

Neil Bellingham, owner of The Crewe Arms in Brackley, Northamptonshire, recently joined Restaurant Collective. “Our website was cumbersome and difficult to keep updated. The Restaurant Collective’s website template was simple to set up and significantly cheaper to maintain. I’m no IT expert, but I find updating it much easier and I’ve not had to contact them for IT support. The new website has had a great response, with locals saying how much smarter it looks. To obtain the services Restaurant Collective offers would require signing up to umpteen different sites and agencies whereas I can now get them all through one source. We’ve already saved money without accessing some of the other benefits, which we’ll tap into as we need them. I’d recommend it for the website support alone.”

To find out more about Restaurant Collective, visit; www.restaurantcollective.org.uk


[1] CGA/AlixPartners Market Recovery Monitor March 2021