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FOOD / OPINION

Food feedback

Coverpoint’s Jonathan Doughty serves up his regular shopping centre foodservice review. This month he visits Ed’s Easy Diner at London’s Euston Station

Retail Parks need Shock Therapy

If you’ve ever experienced the combined sense of pride and fear that you get when your daughter passes her driving test you’ll know why buying her a sat-nav seemed such a good idea. A leisurely Saturday afternoon father-daughter bonding at our local retail park seemed the best solution. How wrong I was! Firstly, the three mile trip took 30

minutes on roads virtually grid-locked with shopper traffic. Once in store, we stumbled across a confusing display of sat-nav units – but you couldn’t ‘play’ with any of them and there was no immediate help.

When assistance finally arrived we

‘Authentic’ American Diners have never really taken off in the UK in terms of volume of units, nationwide coverage and shopping centre locations. OK Diners, the market leader, has eight units, mainly in Central England and predominantly located adjacent to major A-Roads and in service stations. And Eddie Rockets, an institution in Ireland, has made it as far as Liverpool and Swansea. This may all be about to change with

the purchase of Ed’s Easy Diner by European investor Rankvale in May 2009. The brand has been trading in the UK for nearly 25 years but with only three core units – Soho, London’s Trocadero and Bluewater, with a unit in Brent Cross since taken over by Wagamama. Since the sad death of Barry Margolis,

the ‘larger than life’ entrepreneur who owned the business, the company was held in Trust and growth did not appear on the group’s agenda. However, the exciting news is that, with the backing of the well-funded Rankvale, including a number of significant characters in the restaurant industry, the group has just opened its first unit in London’s Euston Station. Located on the Piazza, sandwiched

between Prêt and Caffe Nero, the 1,600-sq ft unit is the first in a planned roll-out of the brand. Rankvale has set its sights on growing the current estate to 11 restaurants in the

SHOPPING CENTRE April 2010 www.shopping-centre.co.uk

next three to four years, with target locations in airports, stations and shopping centres, and a unit set to open in Lakeside. We visited the Euston unit one evening with the need for a burger, fries and shake ‘experience’. The unit is well presented, combining an open kitchen with booth seats, sit-to counters, 50’s juke boxes and lashings of neon lights – very Pulp Fiction! Service was exceptional – engaging and

friendly and the food and drink prepared swiftly and delivered efficiently – this was authentic American-style customer care. The food and drink bill came to £23.00 for a ‘Big Bubba’ burger, an all day ‘Breakfast Bubba’ and two freshly made shakes – value for the portion sizes. Railway stations are becoming

increasingly like shopping centres in their retail and foodservice provision and we believe the Ed’s format is now well placed to capitalise on this cross-over. A good, family orientated, affordable casual dining offer, we expect the brand to appear in more shopping centre locations in the near future .

Food ★ ★ ★ ✩ ✩ Service ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Value ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩

explored the options and made our choice. But what about the price? With iPhone in hand I did a quick price check with other retailers and the web. My suggestion to the sales assistant that retailers provide a computer in-store to enable customers to price compare was met with the observation – “Before long I’ll be replaced by a robot”. So much for listening to customer feedback. It emerged that we could get the same unit £10 cheaper down the road and £25 cheaper at Amazon! The experience got me thinking:

What’s the point of the average retail warehouse shed? Why would anyone choose to shop there rather than shop online? The answer should be four-fold: Service, Choice, Value and Convenience. But judging by our experience, retail parks are falling short on all counts.

Howard Morgan is managing director of RealService, the real estate customer service specialist Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36
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