for what it’s worth

stories and stimulus from a consumer insight consultant

Little Chef gets a mighty makeover

little chef

I knew Heston was giving the Little Chef menu a revamp, but I had no idea they also had the fantastic Ab Rogers design in for a complete overhaul. Created for a Channel 4 documentary ‘Big Chef Takes on Little Chef‘ as part of the broadcaster’s hefty season of British food programs, the newly designed Popham restaurant (somewhere near Basingstoke apparently) opened it’s doors in November, but these are the first pictures i’ve come across.

little chef2

Not only does it look fun, light and welcoming, but extra attention has been paid to the toilets to encourage drivers who are just stopping off to use the facilities to stay for some food. From the press release:

The new scheme incorporates a unique and unforgettable experience: Cooking tips screen-printed on the walls, the ambient sounds of the kitchen in the lobby, the aroma of coffee passing through the space, and an interactive extract sound, all about food, which triggers when the customer enters the toilets.

Even though that does just sound like more marketing, at least it would make your motorway stop more enjoyable – and informative, and if Heston’s worked his magic then it’ll probably be a meal worth pulling over for anyway.

images via dezeen

Filed under: brand extensions, entertainment, food n drink,



The newest addition to the East London bar scene, The East Room is a members-only ‘new world wine room’ with a 24hour license from the people behind the Milk and Honey establishments, offering over 50 wines from the Southern Hemisphere- most of which are available by the glass or tasting measure via a self-operated machine. Simply charge up a wine card with as much credit as you like and try DIY sampling of some rare, unusual, and expensive wines normally only available to buy by the bottle.

These machines, known as Enomatic wine serving systems, seem to be popping up around London- first at trendy Islington wine shop The Sampler where the available wines are rotated fortnightly to allow regular tasting of their 600 bottles – ranging in price from 30p for the cheapest to £30 for 25ml samples of the 1999 Pétrus, which to their surprise, disappeared in just a few days – and more recently at Selfridges new Wonder Bar, an addition to the Wonder Room that they describe as a weekly changing ‘jukebox of wine’, apparently created as a ’suitable riposte to the culture of binge drinking’!

Filed under: food n drink

Jamie Oliver Serves Up UK Coffee Beans

Looking for a less guilty morning cappucino? Opened in May last year, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall restaurant is extending it’s local sourcing to coffee, having just served up the first cups to be made from UK-grown coffee beans. Robusta and Arabica beans are being grown at the nearby Eden Project and Fifteen is the first restaurant to get their hands on a limited harvest- so far managing to procure 2kgs, which produced fifty cups of what bar manager Tristan Stephenson described as “astonishingly good” coffee. Though it may not have a realistic future in the coffee market, it definitely fits with the restaurant’s commitment to minimizing food miles, and possibly even opens the door to new innovative possibilities for UK agriculture.

[via This is Cornwall]

Filed under: evironmental insights, food n drink

Time for One helps Londoners learn the Value of their Own Time

time for one

Time for One is a brilliant new review guide that encourages making the most of individual free time in London. The concept began life as a restaurant guide for single travellers- previously a primary school teacher, self-confessed independent spirit Wendy Fisk often found herself with free holiday time when no-one else was around and so went off exploring on her own. She soon noticed however that there was a real need for people to know of places they felt welcome to eat and experience on their own, and this grew into a four-fold online guide that offers honest advice to likeminded individuals as a comprehensive resource to living life to the full.

The site encompasses Table for One, the only online restaurant guide with advice on where to go and eat by yourself, entertainment and activity guide Play for One, travel and exploration guide Away for One, and personal pampering guide Spa for One, together making the most of what London has to offer. With aims to expand with advice in cities across the globe, and research already underway for a New York guide to debut next year, Time for One hopes to start a global social movement that helps people understand the value of their free time. As the lovely Wendy explained to us “London is a place where there’s not enough time for anybody and anything, and I think people have to see the time in the life that maybe they’ve not been noticing, seeing free time in a whole new light and understanding that you are not by yourself you are with yourself. It’s something that Londoners are starting to pick up on”. And it’s not just for single folk, Wendy says that in fact many of her readers- and reviewers- are happily married but looking to enjoy “my time”, whether it’s on a free evening on business trip or just an hour away from the kids!

A labour of passion, the site carefully vets each venue and only adds places that the team feel understands their ethos that it’s absolutely fine to be there alone enjoying it, primarily through the attitude of the manager whom they always interview. Within Table for One the search options cover a variety of choices based on the attitude of the space rather than the cuisine: from seating (communal/ counter/ tables for one) to mood (vibrant and social/ chic and stylish / relaxed and casual), and the reviews always include the manager’s personal recommendations for their favourite places to eat solo. From this, Wendy has found not only a great deal of places that welcome individuals, but that a lot more people enjoy eating and experiencing things alone than even she had assumed. She described her most recent discovery: “One of our recent reviews was Kensington Square Kitchen, a great brunch and tea place which opened 5 weeks ago. When I was talking to Sarah the manager she said that on an average day she will discover that her entire restaurant is full of single tables. She has found that it is totally normal for people to come and treat themselves and indulge alone.”

The Play for One section offers not only the expected Music, Arts and Entertainment searches, but also options for Classes (including cooking, cheerleading and chocolate appreciation!), Sports, and even the fabulously titled Something Zen. In fact Wendy describes Play for One as “an indulgence of my own time and interests”, summing up exactly what this whole fantastic concept offers- the opportunity to openly indulge and revel in self-serving space and time that is on your own, not necessarily alone, but definitely all about ‘me’.

Time for One

Filed under: arts & culture, entertainment, food n drink,

Unpackaged: Shopping As It Should Be

Forget your multi-stores banding around the words ‘eco’ or ‘green’ and giving you ‘plastic bags made from 33% recycled material’, how about going back to the good old days of community shops where products were locally-grown, packaging was scarce, and people were friendly. Unpackaged is just that; a store created to be at the heart of the community, and aiming to make environmentally-aware shopping mainstream, desirable and convenient.


Believing packaging to be unnecessary and wanting to sell locally direct to the community who can bring and re-use their own bags, jars and boxes, Catherine Conway created her wonderful store to show consumers that there is another way possible. As she explained, “Everyone treats consumers like they’re really stupid, as though they need all this labeling and packaging. My customers are really intelligent, they get it”. And so do the suppliers; Unpackaged buys in bulk from fair trade companies, gives preference to suppliers who are cooperatives or social enterprises, and does packaging swaps with smaller suppliers to minimize unnecessary waste.

By starting out at a stall on Exmouth Market a year ago, Catherine trialled her idea with a social enterprise grant and found a base of loyal customers happy to supply their own packaging in return for a 50p discount on each purchase and the experience of guilt-free shopping. These shoppers have followed her up the road to her more permanent address, as have a staggering amount of media folk: despite being open for a mere week, Unpackaged has already received press from BBC London TV and Radio, Radio 4, CBS, The Independent, The London Paper, and most importantly for Catherine, the two local Islington papers.

unpacked store

As part of her prototyping for the launch of the store, Catherine trialled a delivery service for local shared office space the Hub. For next year this is mutating into a very clever monthly green delivery service for local offices, which will help small companies without big ‘eco’ budgets to be as green as possible. The service will mean that once a month Unpackaged will go in and fill up all the washing-up liquid, soap, toilet paper, tea, sugar and other non-perishables with environmentally-friendly products.

And as if all of that wasn’t enough, the store itself has been brilliantly designed by creative geniuses Multistorey to give a simple but striking brand identity that completely encapsulates the ethos of the company whilst staying true to the building which itself used to be the local community dairy. What is there about this place not to love? Lets all hope that many more such stores make a return to our local communities, following the Unpackaged mantra:

Reduce by only buying what you need
Reuse by bringing your containers for a refill
Recycle what you can’t reuse

Unpackaged: 42 Amwell Street,  EC1R 1XT

Filed under: food n drink, good, search this out,

Droog Dinner Update


The wonderful people at Droog have put some pictures up on their site of the dinner event they held on Monday. The event, once again created by food designer Marije Vogelzang involved the guests in an ‘abstract, eatable moon landscape’. The interactive evening sounds- and looks- like a lot of fun. Check out more pictures here

Filed under: creative ideas, food n drink

The Reindeer Pops-Up for Business

The Reindeer, London’s Christmas-themed pop-up restaurant, has opened it’s doors for service.Picture_12_1
Located in the Truman Brewery, the restaurant is created by the team at Bistrotheque who have called on all their creative friends to add to the festive experience- plates designed by fashion designer of the year Giles Deacon, decorations by stylist Katie Hillier, and christmas crackers by Pop magazine with party hats by milliner to the stars Stephen Jones add festive cheer to the gourmet meals.

Offering both a Narnia-inspired 250-seater restaurant (including two private dining log cabins seating up to 30) and a theatre hosting comedy and cabaret acts (with shows from comedienne of the moment Pam Ann, American drag act Kiki and Herb, and hot new musical acts Mika and the Puppini Sisters among others), this is by far the most stylish and entertaining pop-up idea seen in London.

Existing for only 23 days the Reindeer is “not for life, just for Christmas” and so after it’s final service is selling off the contents of the restaurant in a huge “Everything Must Go” sale. Anyone interested in a log cabin or an antler chandelier should head down there on the 24th- as the restaurant is already fully booked it’s your only chance to see it anyway!

Filed under: creative ideas, entertainment, food n drink

Droog Dinner Delight

Img_1531For anyone who will be in Amsterdam on Monday 18th December- Droog Design are holding their annual dinner for 40-45 lucky people who can get their hands on tickets. Once again the concept for the dinner will be produced by food designer Marije Vogelzang (last year the amazing meal took place inside the tablecloth- see pic)- but the ideas for this year be a surprise until the night. Check back after the 18th for news from the event.

If you can’t make it for the evening, be sure to check out Marije’s amazing Proef restaurants in Amsterdam and Rotterdam where many of her amazing ideas are put into practice. If you’re really lucky you might be able to catch a workshop


Filed under: arts & culture, food n drink,