Wimpy opens new site under lockdown as brand plans for socially distanced future
A new Wimpy restaurant has opened offering takeaway and delivery meals – despite the country being under lockdown – as the brand looks to support franchisees in offering socially distanced meals.
Coronavirus didn't stop joint franchisee and experienced chef and restaurant manager Nico Sokoli open a new Wimpy site in Orpington in Kent last week.
He said: "From the moment we opened, the response has been amazing. Obviously this wasn't the big, grand opening we had initially planned, but we think providing a takeaway and home delivery service for local people is really important right now and the people of Orpington are proving us right."
Wimpy general manager Chris Woolfenden added: "We approved the site in January and they had started building it when the lockdown hit, but they got it finished. With the efforts of our operations team we got Deliveroo on board, so they took the bold decision to open and, I have to say, it's going superbly well for them."
Last week 34 out of 68 Wimpy restaurants were offering delivery and, in some cases, takeaway, with a further eight expected to reopen this week. The brand has reduced its royalty fees by up to 30% on popular items to help operators maintain margins, while delivery is its largest driver of trade.
Woolfenden said his teams were in daily communication with those restaurants that are open and supporting them with safety and marketing materials.
He told The Caterer: "We've produced signage for all of our stores, we've educated the franchisees verbally over the phone and briefed them in emails, as well as working with our delivery operators to ensure contactless delivery and collection. We've also had sneeze screens installed in a number of restaurants.
"When restaurants do open for seated trade there may be measures whereby we have to restrict seating to ensure gaps between tables, so we're already looking at that, and looking at effective queuing systems using floor markings so we can provide social distancing, which Wimpy will supply to all restaurants. We're ultimately having to look at everything in the operation again with a fresh pair of eyes to take on board the advice that's currently being given and the possibilities of further advice."
Marketing for the brand has been adapted to focus on delivery through social media channels, with a campaign launched that sees a ‘surprise side' added to some orders with a note thanking the customer for ordering from the restaurant.
Wimpy is also ensuring that it reassures customers, Woolfenden said: "Ultimately, when people engage with us we're being very honest: we're following social distancing rules, we're marking floors, we're implementing sneeze screens. We're going further and further and further as time goes on and we're constantly advising franchisees about what they need to be doing over the phone. I think the customer can be assured that Wimpy is taking everything on board, not just now, but pushing towards where will we be in the future."