The Rise of the Independents

Friday, 8th June 2018

Blog by Ilona Alcock, Sector Group Manager

Opening pro-manchester’s “Casual Dining – a recipe for trouble?” event, Felicity Tulloch of Kuits, commented that despite the number of big brands in trouble, licence applications are actually going up year on year. They have seen a huge growth in the number of independent restaurants, who appear to be exploiting new niches in the market.

One such success story is Lunya. Founder Peter Kinsella shared his rollercoaster journey with delegates. From securing credit in the recession (at an eye watering 49%!), to running out of cash and planning closure in 2012, to getting ready to open a third site this year. Lunya’s success can be credited to Kinsella’s overwhelming passion for Catalan and Spanish foods, a willingness to risk it all (“if you’re going to go bust…. do it spectacularly”) and a clear understanding of what his customers want.

Kinsella noticed on a visit to Barcelona that the UK was missing a space for people who loved good food but didn’t want the full fine dining experience. Instead, they wanted to concentrate on the food itself and people they were sharing it with. In many ways, Lunya spotted what would become the casual dining revolution.

This “recipe” is clearly still working for Lunya. Focusing on getting the culture right and only opening a second site in Manchester after six strong years in Liverpool, Kinsella has been able to keep control of the business where other, bigger brands have lost their way. It also enables him to take calculated risks. Such as moving the Liverpool restaurant 12 metres away on a hunch it would be a better site. The risk paid off with a massive 30% increase in trade, against just a 5% increase in rent. As Kinsella and the team prepare to open the first “Lunya Lita” on Albert Docks this summer, they are ready for the start of another exciting chapter.
If you would like to hear more from Peter Kinsella over a Catalonian Feast, don’t miss the next pro-manchester Taste Networking at Lunya.