Monday 4 February 2013

The takeaway cycle

Tired? Bad day at work? Have a takeaway, the perfect pick-me-up and best mood-enhancer I can think of. Everyone loves a takeaway, for me (as per a previous post) it has to be an Indian. However, over the years I have noticed a worrying pattern; I have seen it over and over again, I’m going to call it ‘the takeaway cycle’.

A new takeaway or restaurant opening is big news in my house, and something that needs to be sampled as soon as possible. From the moment the first delivery leaves the shiny new kitchen, a takeaway is in one of three distinct phases.

Let’s cover each of them…


The first order from a new takeaway is oftentimes a little disappointing, I reckon it takes a takeaway six weeks to get its act together and become a well-oiled machine. In this time the food will improve noticeably with each new order. Incidentally, KFC have opened a new restaurant near where I live and this too very obviously went through this first stage. After six weeks we reach the…


The takeaway is at the top of its game, delivering consistently high quality food week after week. I have found that this can last as long as two years on a rare occasion, but inevitably this phase seems to last until the takeaway has been open approximately six months or so. After this six month period it enters a phase of…


It’s hard to make money from serving food. For a takeaway (especially one without a restaurant) the only way you can do this really is through driving economies of scale, getting as many punters served as possible. As business slows down (as it inevitably will after initial opening excitement) it becomes harder to use the best ingredients so the quality will gradually reduce over time until a point when even your die hard punters will drop out. I think for me that this is most often about 18 months after opening. At that point, I’m searching for somewhere new.

Unfortunately I don’t think I can think of a single takeaway anywhere that hasn’t entered the decline phase eventually. As far as I can tell, only two strategies appear to work. Firstly, reduce your overheads by sharing premises with another business, which is what my favourite chippie has done by moving in with a Chinese takeaway business. Secondly, it seems sensible to re-launch the restaurant every two or three years or so and re-kindle that excitement you get (well I do!) when a new takeaway opens. Same people, same menu, different name.

I’m not sure I’m really making any sort of point here, it’s just an observation really and one that is relevant to me right now because one of my favourite takeaway restaurants appears to be at the end of the peak phase and entering the long, slow decline. I hope I am wrong, but I fear not, very disappointing.

1 comment:

  1. I can remember when I was very young that when my Mum was doing the weekly shopping and I was either being towed alongside or sat in the trolley, we would fall prey to the shops clever psychology of putting sweets next to the counter.