BEEFEATER RESTAURANT CHAIN
The inspiration for The Beefeater Restaurant chain was instigated in part by the Doultons joint venture with Whitbread Brewery to develop
Dickens’ London. The brewery business
had peaked and Whitbread found itself with 7,000 pubs across the byways and single lane roads of England, Scotland,
Ireland and Wales. While on paper the asset value was huge, the reality was that
many venues failed to pay the utility bills, as villagers were staying home,
drinking beer from a can and watching the telly.
While most pubs did not have the required potential, 400
or so were well located and of a size and shape that could be reasonably converted to serve other uses. Although the average pub provided little more in way of food than bags of crisps (potato chips) and a ploughman’s
lunch, converting certain pubs into full-service restaurants held merit.
The idea of building a chain of restaurants that serves
even the best of English-Scottish, Irish and/or Welsh food held little promise.
Whitbread opted for a middle ground thereby improving the United Kingdom’s regional foods while introducing a decent
hamburger and other foods that public tastes were ready to experience.
Beefeater went on to build 400+ unique restaurants based
upon the Doultons initial prototype concept. Whitbread
PLC became the largest single chain restaurant company in Europe, adding the Pizza Hut and TGI Fridays European franchises
etc. In the early 1980’s Whitbread’s
core business shifted from brewing, with revenues of a few hundred thousand Pounds Sterling to being the second largest hotel
and restaurant owner and operator in the UK with over 40,000 employees. Current revenues are into the billions
of Pounds Sterling.
Whitbread acknowledge the advent of the Beefeater Restaurant
as the second most decisive act of the company surmounted only by its founding in 1746. The
Doultons role in those first few months with helping Whitbread strategize its new direction was modest indeed, but nevertheless
significant in terms of results, for which we are genuinely proud.