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Big Mamma sees post-COVID growth


Katrin Wissman, executive editor of Food Service Europe & Middle East, interviews Big Mamma’s Jack de Wet

ADRESSING the Happetitte session the New Standards to Drive Your Food Business – from a remote video feed – Big Mamma’s Jack de Wet told delegates: “We build destination, experiential restaurants, so a triple-A prime location isn’t necessary. I’d rather go three blocks away, take a bigger space and build a destination.”
Big Mamma is known for its opulent places offering home-cooked food and trades from 16 sites in France, Spain and the UK. As for all foodservice businesses, lockdown meant that all of Big Mamma’s sites were forced to close. But rather than seeing this as a disaster, de Wet and his colleagues used it as an opportunity to fundamentally rethink the way they trade.
First, this meant embracing delivery and click-and-collect. De Wet explained that initially deliveries were conducted from the restaurant sites, but quickly this moved to ghost kitchens. The move was so successful that the company set up a separate delivery brand, the Napoli Gang, trading through platforms like Uber Eats. And now the business has gone full-circle with Napoli Gang opening delivery sites from high street storefronts.
Second it meant embracing digital. “We developed an app to manage deliveries, but quickly this morphed into the app that we call Sunday,” de Wet said. Now the restaurants are open again, customers simply scan a QR code on their table to call up a menu on their phone. And again at the end of the meal they use the Sunday app to pay instantly, removing one of the biggest friction points in any meal. “Operationally, at a time when the industry is short of labour, that last 10th of the process can make or break a customer’s experience,” he said.
“Eighty percent of people have their phone in their hand when they sit down at a restaurant table, so absolutely this enhances the guest experience.” And Sunday is bearing fruit commercially as well: “When people select themselves, the average sale goes up by 10% to 15%, and tipping goes up too.”
It quickly became clear that Sunday had potential to become a tech business in its own right, serving restaurants around the world. Earlier this year Big Mamma’s co-founder Victor Lugger led a $100m fundraising that has turbocharged the rollout and now Sunday has 300 employees in eight countries. “We’ve gone in aggressively to take control of the market, de Wet said. “And we’ve built an ecosystem that could be applied elsewhere – hotels for instance.”

 
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