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Restaurants with shops, symbiosis between businesses?

The traditional hybrid format of establishments that combines the retail sale of products and the restaurant service in the same space continues to this day. This formula, thanks to its multi-activity, provides oxygen in the face of the restaurant limitations imposed by the pandemic. Along with the already essential delivery service, this segment, led by the bakery café, maintained its operational networks thanks to the sale of products, even in the months of strict lockdown: ham-shop beer cellars, themed, gourmet and vegetarian establishments, etc. that include, with more or less weight, this mixed format in their catalogues.

27 May 2021

The mixed formula in organized catering establishments with a retail offering diversifies income thanks to multi-activity and stands out for its heterogeneity. However, although it encompasses a wide variety of gastronomic concepts, the bakery café segment is the leader in this niche, which also notably includes ham-shop beer cellars, themed, vegetarian and gourmet establishments, etc. Along with the already essential delivery service for catering establishments, the possibility of diversifying sales has allowed the retail activity in some of these spaces, and also through the online channel, to become a source of oxygen against the limitations and closures imposed by the pandemic in the hospitality sector. In fact, depending on the type of product - without a doubt, the purchase of fresh produce, including bread, has an important proximity component - the capillarity of its networks is essential. Of all of them, bakery café brands and their nearly 1,400 establishments, spread throughout the land, are the greatest example of this mixed format in organized catering.

Bread, sweets and coffee for everyone

The rapid development of the bakery-café business, largely linked to manufacturers of doughs for bread and pastries, as in the case of the Granier-Consupan and Bertiz-Berlys (Monbake Group) partnerships, both leaders in the sector, has brought about some new faces in recent times. Among them, La Manon, Manolo Bakes and Levadura Madre who, together with the arrival of international brands such as the French Paul and Maison Kayser, want to enjoy their slice of the cake. Like the bakery-café segment, the delicatessen sector has also expanded its business and has a significant presence in eat-in shops. Several brands that have their origin in the distribution of hams and sausages have implemented this mixed model, led by Enrique Tomás from Badalona, ahead of names such as Moniberic from Barcelona, Rokelin from Teruel and La Cueva de 1900 from Granada (Industrias Cárnicas Zurita) .

Close, natural and healthy

For its part, the commitment to local products, with a return to natural agriculture and healthy eating and the trend in favour of vegetarianism and veganism, with products and ingredients that are not always easy to find, have led to the emergence of specialized brands that offer both gastronomic and retail sales. Among these, is Woki Tribu (Grup Raval) that has eight 'Woki Organic Markets', "an ecological supermarket where you can find more than 3,000 100% organic food products, as well as cosmetic and dietary products, and even yoga" . Usually the offer is capped off with “a butcher shop and a bakery, as well as a cafeteria-bakery or restaurant, to enjoy dishes that can also be ordered for “take away”. Without leaving Catalonia, Ametller Origen is one of the main food distributors specializing in fresh and quality processed products. Its business model is based on its "vertical integration in the food sector and its emphasis is on fresh produce." Although most of its stores do not have an eating area, since mid-2016 it has had the Mercat d'Autors, which includes, among others, a 'coffee lab' signed by Cafés Novell; a bakery led by Jordi Morera, from the 'Espiga d'Or' oven in Vilanova i la Geltrú; a veggie area and a gastronomic space. Furthermore, Casa Ametller has owned, since 2017, 85% of the 'healthy' restaurant chain Green Vita, with half a dozen premises operating in Barcelona. Without a doubt, vegetarian cuisine has in Lleida-based group Teresa Carles Healthy Food (TCHF) one of its main benchmarks. This family business, founder of the restaurant 'Paradís', aspires to become "a food industry that wants to innovate in healthy food, more than a restaurant group", says Jordi Barri. To do this, the company started up a factory in Lleida in 2017, after a significant outlay of €7 million. Shortly before the arrival of the pandemic, the Teresa Carles group's plans were to “boost the sales of products through e-commerce and in our stores, since they still account for 5%, until reaching close to 50% in 2023 ”.

Facing the crisis

In any case, the closure of the premises during lockdown and the limitations imposed on the hospitality industry by the pandemic have also caused great difficulties for the sector that supplies the catering industry. Among the many initiatives to overcome the situation of these suppliers, the one led by the Cantabrian restaurant group Deluz stands out in its commitment to retail. With eight restaurants and taverns in Santander and Madrid and a powerful catering line, the Zamora family company launched a brand of supermarkets last summer, with more than 150 natural and artisanal products from the small producers that they supply to their establishments. . 'El Súper de los Pastores' already has eight stores in operation in Santander and its surroundings, and has just landed in Madrid with a space set up in one of its restaurants, 'La Vaquería Montañesa'. In its case, the brand seeks to bring together "ecological, artisanal and kilometre 0 products", which reflects the philosophy centred on "buy little, buy delicious, buy healthy and buy direct", explains Carlos Zamora, CEO of the group, " to help maintain the activity of small producers throughout Spain, after the drop in the hospitality business due to Covid-19 ”.

For its part, the event catering service, now paralysed except for "virtual events", and linked to companies usually dedicated to the sale of gourmet and delicatessen products, has other protagonists such as Mallorca, Viena Capellanes and Cristina Oria from Madrid, or the Barcelona-based Semon, Hoffman, and Aspic, which, in addition to serving these social and corporate meetings, have a line that combines the restaurant business with retail. In the case of the latter, with two 'Aspic Selection' establishments in Barcelona, its managing partner, Quique Roca-Umbert, highlights establishments with the mixed hospitality + store model, since, “from the customer's point of view, they find in the same space and at the same time the possibility of having restaurant and shop service, which remain open throughout restaurant hours, so any necessary product can be purchased right away”. In fact, "today both spaces complement each other, and that is how our clients understand it." Before the pandemic, these two activities generated 35% of sales, while 65% came from catering for events, both family and business. At the moment, however [in October, the Government of Catalonia decreed the closure of hospitality establishments], the restaurant service in the establishment is not allowed due to the pandemic, while sales in the store and delivery are rising greatly”.

Similarly, Antonio Lence, CEO of the Madrid group Viena Capellanes, affirms that, “under normal conditions, activity is evenly split between the sale of take away products and the cafeteria. In the current situation, however, this proportion has been unbalanced in favour of the sale of take away products, due to the obvious limitations. This split in recent months may have been tilted to 70 or 75% of take away sales, compared to 25 or 30% of restaurant activity”. The group, which has all its stores under the hybrid format, except for the 'Café Viena' restaurant, has been able to continue offering a part of the "usual service to our customers throughout the pandemic, by having both lines available". Even in the months of strict lockdown, "we were able to continue operating with the sale of products in some of our establishments, which has allowed us to maintain some activity, although greatly diminished by the circumstances of the health crisis."