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Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Big chains vs Independents

So, Jamie's Italian opens in our local city next week. You can't miss it, slap bang in the centre of town in probably the best location money can buy overlooking Grey's monument. Most people who visit Newcastle will probably walk past it.

Now I love Jamies Italian. I love how they source their ingredients from sustainable organic farms and I just love the sociable vibe that their restaurants have. It is a shame that not everybody shares my view!

I have witnessed many spats and arguments over social media and in the press over the last few days with people saying we should boycott big chains like this as they are the reason small independent restaurants are closing. Well I say what a load of rubbish!

I strongly support indepependent chains and generally will always choose an independent restaurant over a chain. It feels good to be supporting a local who cares about their community and I like choosing from a menu that you wouldn't be able to choose from elsewhere! The unique atmosphere of an independent restaurant can really make an evening stand out. On the flip side, if a chain restaurant is consistently good - I will also return as you know exactly what to expect on your visit. This is especially the case when visiting with children - as a family we love las iguanas, nandos and yo sushi. We always receive the same experience and it is hassle free with kids.

I can see No reason why independents and chains cannot both live in harmony alongside each other.

The argument that large chains close independents down just doesn't work with me! If your independent restaurant is fantastic at what it does (cafe 21, six at Baltic, peace and loaf, cals own.....) it will still do well even if a chain opens next door! People will return to your restaurant because they love it. In fact, the opening of a chain restaurant in your town can often help the independents by creating more footfall and helping with the influx of customers.

Jamies Italian has provided 120 jobs to local people and offered them a real chance at a successful career. Who knows, maybe one of the people employed will be inspired to open their own independent restaurant in Newcastle in the future. After all, everyone - even Jamie Oliver has to start somewhere.

So, instead of certain other restaurants (who shall remain nameless) slagging off Jamies Italian and telling their customers not to visit as it will force them to close, I really feel they should welcome Jamies Italian to Newcastle and embrace what they have to offer. Don't see Jamie's as a threat, but instead use it as a catalyst to up your own game and show the people of Newcastle what you can offer too. If people like what you have to offer - they will be back and you'll have nothing to worry about!

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