Obviously

Restaurants run by celebrity chefs such as Heston Blumental and Marcus Wareing have been classed as some of the most overpriced, worst food among the top London restaurants.

According to Harden’s London Restaurants, whose 2015 edition is published on Thursday, London’s restaurants are “in overdrive” with the highest ever rate of net new restaurant openings in the capital recorded.

But the guide’s co-founder, Peter Harden said some celebrity restaurants were become victims of over-rapid expansion and the quality had suffered as a result.

“We are generally sceptical of celebrity chefs cashing in on their brands and most are showing signs of difficulty in keeping the quality high as they try to grow their restaurant empires,” he said.


In one sense
, that’s what a brand is. Something to persuade you to spend your money other than the actual quality of the offer itself…..

11 thoughts on “Obviously”

  1. The purpose of a brand is to create irrational loyalty. The proof of a brand is a demand curve less elastic that your competitors. A brand is therefore an overpriced product. If it’s not overpriced the product has a logo not a brand.

  2. Nope. A brand is a reputation signal, a signal of what to expect. Heston Blumenthal is as much a brand as Pizza Express or McDonalds. You choose Pizza Express over the unknown local pizzeria because you know it’s reliable, everyone in the family likes something on the menu, and the food & service are good enough. You could try the local place, but there are too many unknowns.

    Of course there are luxury brands, the consumption of which is mainly about signalling your wealth; but that’s not the case for most brands.

  3. I ate at that Marco Pierre-White’s place once. Had liver, bacon, and onions. It was some of the best food I have ever tasted. Just astounding, that something that basic could be made so, so good.

  4. The thing with brands is that perception often needs to catch up with reality.

    I bought a Samsung TV in the 90s when they were almost unknown. Paid a lot less than a Sony or Panasonic set. And it lasted me about a decade. Today, people know Samsung TVs are as good as Sony ones, so the prices are about the same.

    The problem with celeb restaurants is that once they get known, they then take their eye off the ball and cash in on their name. They spend all day doing adverts, TV shows, spreading their expertise across multiple restaurants.

    Plus, you’re mad to dine out in London if you don’t have to, because you’re paying for all that London rent. You can get 2* Michelin food in Newbury or Cheltenham.

  5. A brand is a reputation signal, a signal of what to expect.
    Quite so.
    And when you define quality in the industrial sense – absence of variation – you see that the product didn’t need to be any good in the first place. (e.g. Renault is a brand…)

    And anyone who buys branded bleach, paracetemol, fuel, paper, and a host of household items is a bit simple, really.

  6. Gary – my “Nope” was directed at Tim’s original post – I wrote mine before seeing yours.

    Stigler – Yes, see Hyundai cars, etc. People are slow to change from their favourite brands. Equally, lots of people get burned by changing brand too soon.

  7. @ the stigler. yes I am sometimes reminder of the Heinz story. Supposedly, canning in the early days was quite difficult, and risked bacteria getting caught inside the can and poisoning the food. Heinz were the first to perfect that process, and “we wont poison you to death’ become something of a USP. For decades later they had a brand that stood for quality, but that was just a relic. A lagging indicator, not reality.

  8. > The problem with celeb restaurants is that once they get known, they then take their eye off the ball and cash in on their name. They spend all day doing adverts, TV shows, spreading their expertise across multiple restaurants.

    That’s what happened to Paul Rankin — though he was sensible, realised what the problem was, and sold everything off to concentrate on his core business, rather than soldiering on into ever deeper and deeper debt. Which is how a friend of a friend of mine now owns his old restaurant in Belfast.

    Danny Millar seems not to have been seduced by the fame: on TV occasionally, but concentrating on the restaurant business and expanding it very slowly. If any of you are ever in NI, you really need to try his food. One of the best chefs in the country, and cheap.

    > Heinz were the first to perfect that process, and “we wont poison you to death’ become something of a USP. For decades later they had a brand that stood for quality, but that was just a relic. A lagging indicator, not reality.

    That might have been the first origin of their brand’s popularity, but that doesn’t mean it was the only one. I’d never heard that story before, but I’m still loyal because I like their recipe.

    > And anyone who buys branded bleach, paracetemol, fuel, paper, and a host of household items is a bit simple, really.

    My brother-in-law, who is a Jaguar mechanic, refuses to buy Tesco petrol. Claims it’s shite and bad for the engine. He’s not a snob — he thinks it’s crazy that people spend over the odds for expensive new parts when they could get something just as good from a junkyard — so he may actually be right. Not that that stops me buying Tesco petrol.

  9. “but that was just a relic. A lagging indicator, not reality.”

    But we all have highly imperfect knowledge about reality. We have to take measured risks about our choices all day everyday. Risk that the thing we’re purchasing is going to meet the demand we have. Brand reputation helps us bracket the risk of getting something we wouldn’t want. We can reduce the risk in other ways… like spending time looking into it further.. which we may do if there are no brands we are aware of. We can even accept the risk and live on the wild side, but brands perform a function valuable to those who choose to reduce that risk. Again because they have imperfect knowledge and because there is a cost to perfecting it (time, effort, training, experience all those)they are willing to pay a premium.

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