UK restaurants offer DIY meal kits to food fans

From fast food to fine dining, a growing number of UK restaurants are relying on home kits to keep them afloat during lockdown.

Clients are becoming cooks and recreating their favorite meals in the comfort of their own kitchens.

For James Knappett, chef and owner of Michelin-starred London restaurant Kitchen Table, the decision to deliver do-it-yourself meal kits wasn't easy, but it was essential.

"It's a very hard feeling to have to give this control to the guests...But the word that we use every day more than any...is survival, and if we didn't do that there wouldn't be a restaurant to come back to."

Before the first lockdown in March, his restaurant was full every day, had a three-month waiting list and employed 20 staff. Now, just four of them handle the 80 home delivery orders per week.

Targeting the high-end of the market, meal kits start at £150 or 200 U.S. dollars, with the top price boxes for two costing a tasty $334.

For brothers James and Thom Elliot, owners of Pizza Pilgrims, the lockdowns provided an opportunity to offer food fans a “pizza in the post”.

"We tried to launch this back in 2014 and it was a spectacular failure. People just weren't ready for it. But then the pandemic put everyone at home and suddenly everyone was really missing pizza and we relaunched the kit and it's just been madness ever since."

The venture now sells over 1,000 kits a day delivered by couriers.

Priced at £15 - around $20 - for two pizzas, the Elliots say the 'pick your own toppings' business was profitable from day one - and they plan to continue the home kits into next year and beyond.

Video Transcript

NARRATOR: From fast food to fine dining, a growing number of UK restaurants are relying on home kits to keep them afloat during lockdown. Clients are becoming cooks and recreating their favorite meals in the comfort of their own kitchens. For James Knappett, chef and owner of Michelin-starred London restaurant Kitchen Table, the decision to deliver do-it-yourself meal kits wasn't easy, but it was essential.

JAMES KNAPPETT: It's not a decision that you would make, but the word that we use every day more than any day now is "survival." And if we didn't do that, there would be no restaurant to come back to.

NARRATOR: Before the first lockdown in March, his restaurant was full every day, had a three-month waiting list and employed 20 staff. Now, just four of them handle the 80 home delivery orders per week. Targeting the high-end of the market, meal kits start at 150 pounds, or $200, with the top price boxes for two costing a tasty $334.

For brothers James and Thom Elliott, owners of Pizza Pilgrims, the lockdowns provided an opportunity to offer food fans "a pizza in the post."

THOM ELLIOT: We tried to launch this back in 2014. And it was a spectacular failure. People just weren't ready for it, but then the pandemic basically put everyone at home, and suddenly, everyone was really missing pizza. And we relaunched the kit, and it's just been madness ever since.

NARRATOR: The venture now sells over 1,000 kits a day delivered by couriers. Priced at 15 pounds, around $20, for two pizzas, the Elliots say "pick pick your own toppings" business was profitable from day one, and they plan to continue the home kits into next year and beyond.