Q: We’ve always been proud advocates of local, British produce in our restaurants, but given the local political landscape and the divisive nature of Brexit, I am not sure whether to shout about our menu change and new local suppliers or if it’s best to keep schtum. What do you think?
A: I think yours will be a case of making a personal decision because you have to be comfortable with whatever decision you make for your business, and of course you have to remember that you can’t please everyone. That said, both my gut and my research are telling me that you should be out and proud about sourcing local and I think the statistics back it.
Looking at the extreme; Tim Martin, the Founder and Chairman of Weatherspoons, is an out and proud supporter of Brexit and believes we should leave the EU post-haste. He’s so passionate about the cause that he’s effectively staked his business on it, drafting a multi-page article extolling the views of being independent again and publishing it in the Weatherspoons Magazine, distributing pro-Brexit ‘beer mats’ in his pubs and spending the best part of £95k on his referendum campaigning through the pubs. Naturally, little has been published about whether this has increased or decreased punter numbers, but there’s been no major shareholder outcries and anecdotally we can all name a few Remainers who have still frequented a Weatherspoons pub because it is their local, or it’s convenient or whatever.
My point is this; if one of the major retailers can afford to potentially alienate half its clientele with a strong stance on Brexit, then your restaurant should be able to weather the decision to source locally, because it doesn’t have any political motive. I think there are some other arguments and statistics which back up what I am saying too:
I think it is also essential that you remind yourself that the issues are two steps removed from each other. You didn’t make a decision to source locally specifically in relation to Brexit, so this is something you have always done and this is part of your culture and something that is supporting your local heritage. Simply put, I think you should definitely be proud about it. Why wouldn’t you be?