Diners to flock to independent restaurants post-lockdown, says Tastecard boss

Troubled restaurant chains could face further pressure after lockdown restrictions lift as customers say they are more likely to support small independent rivals, the boss of Tastecard said.

Matt Turner, founder and chief executive officer of the discount platform, said new research by the company reveals a “more positive” future for local independent restaurants.

A Tastecard survey of customers before the lockdown revealed that 18% of people would prefer to go to a chain restaurant, with 14% of people favouring independents.

However, a survey during the lockdown found that the number of people intending to support independents increased to 20%, while only 12% said they would support chains.

Matt Turner, chief executive officer and founder of Tastecard (Tastecard/PA)
Matt Turner, chief executive officer and founder of Tastecard (Tastecard/PA)

It comes amid a testing period for casual dining chains as they wait for Government guidance on when their sites can reopen after the lockdown was introduced in March.

Since the start of the lockdown, recognisable brands such as Carluccios and Frankie & Benny’s have announced the closure of dozens of sites.

Mr Turner told PA: “It’s been an undeniably challenging period for restaurants but we have seen fantastic examples of innovation.

“I’ve seen independent restaurants near me react to this and reopen as delis or innovate in other ways and customers have bought into that.

“That’s obviously easier for smaller more flexible businesses to do at pace.”

The sudden closure of restaurants also resulted in an opportunity for Tastecard to innovate itself.

It launched the “staying in with Tastecard” platform shortly after the lockdown was announced in March.

Mr Turner said the business reacted quickly to accelerate plans to launch a service partnering with film and TV streaming firm Rakuten.

He said: “I’m really proud of what our team was able to do in such a short period of time.

“But we are still looking forward to seeing our restaurant partners reopen again. We have a great relationship with them and know our customers are itching to dine out again.”

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