Three years ago, he launched the CODE app, the only hospitality benefits platform, which has since spread North . . .
What gave you the idea for a discount scheme exclusively for hospitality workers?
Before I started working directly in the hospitality industry, I used to spend all my free time (and little money that I had as a student) dining out. Every now and then I was lucky enough to dine out with my parents at some of the best (and usually expensive) restaurants in London and further afield.
I used to sit thinking how ironic it was that the amazing people working in both the kitchen and FOH probably couldn’t afford to eat in the restaurants they worked in – it almost didn’t seem right.
Back in 2012, after launching The CODE Bulletin e-newsletter in London I started getting chefs such as Mark Hix suggest that I formalise the “industry benefits” that go on behind the scenes in restaurants.
A lot of the time managers would look after each when they went into each other’s restaurants but we wanted to spread this, so it was available to everyone working in hospitality, no matter how junior their role. I spent the next year or so researching the idea, talking to restaurateurs and developing the app. We then launched in January 2014.
When was the app rolled out to the North?
The plan was never to actually extend the app outside of London. But then we started to getting people from places like Manchester approach us – both restaurants and hospitality professionals – saying that we should do the app there. We officially launched in the North in the summer of 2015.
How successful has the take-up been in Manchester?
Manchester has a great food and drink scene. We’re working with some great restaurants and bars and we’ve noticed and real surge in app downloads and use over the past six months now that the CODE name, brand and offering is familiar with hospitality professionals in the North.
We have approximately 1,000 paying subscribers (6,000 in London) in the North and we work with over 50 of the best restaurant and bars in Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool doing special industry offers such Albert’s Schloss, Hawksmoor Manchester and Bundobust.
Does a venue have to qualify for participation?
We work very hard at trying to work with the best restaurants and bars on the app. For example, collaborating with great independent pizzerias or burger bars right through to two Michelin starred restaurants. There is a small participation fee for restaurants and bars to feature on the app.
What’s a typical offer?
In Manchester, the offers range from 25% off total bill to 50% food or drinks. The idea is that it’s meant to be a generous offering for industry folk but because it’s not open to the general public there’s no risk in restaurants or bars damaging their brand. Plus a lot of the offers on Sundays and Mondays – which are naturally quieter slots for the industry.
Do you have any plans/hopes to enlist venues in other North West cities and towns?
We’re actively looking to grow across the board in Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds. And if anyone believes there’s pockets of the North West that would benefit from the app and where it would work well, then please let me know!
For further information visit www.codehospitality.co.uk/code/the-code-app