Stores that double as restaurants, customised menus and concept stores with pavlovas on the side. The biggest international brands are already catering for meals while selling clothes.
Fashion and gastronomy have never been more ‘in love’ and this relationship is spelling the end for stores as we know them.
In June 2015, Burberry opened one of the trendiest spots in London, “Thomas’s on Regent Street”, a restaurant within the store, designed for clock-out, chill-out moments. For Christopher Bailey, the brand’s creative director, it is a ‘place where clients can experience the Burberry world in a more relaxed, sociable atmosphere. A few months later Ralph Lauren followed suit when it opened Ralph’s Coffee in the most famous avenue in New York. And so did Armani, Gucci, Bulgari and Chanel.
© Thomas's Café at Regent Street Burberry Flagship Store
There might be numerous ways to explain this phenomenon. The most consensual might be that it is an attempt to offer something differentiating in physical stores, providing clients with yet another reason to visit them. Joe Pine, author of the best-seller The Experience Economy, believes clients are now, more than ever, looking for memorable experiences:
‘If, as a salesperson, you manage to make your clients spend more time with you, they will naturally spend more money with you too.’
There’s no denying it, catching up with your friends at your usual hangout is always a good thing, but having somewhere where you can do it after an afternoon shopping is even better. Porto is already on board with the trend – at Mondo Deli you can experience Mediterranean, Asian and Middle Eastern flavours among design pieces. More than a store and a restaurant, it is a gastronomic trip around the world taking place in an intimate space at number 501 in Almada Street.
© Miss'opo and Miss Pavlova at Almada 13
Still in Almada Street, Almada 13 can be surprising – it is an alternative concept store showcasing five new brands and with pavlovas that cater for all tastes on offer.
But there are more examples, like Miss’Opo, a guesthouse boasting a very particular restaurant. Ana Luandina, one of the owners, would rather think of it as an experience taking place in Porto. A place that is ‘real’ - you leave something behind and you take something with you. A very similar concept is Pedro Limão’s kitchen workshop: neither dishes nor prices are pre-set, everything is customised according to the client’s wishes.
Food is the new black. And the most prestigious brands know it.
Implementing food areas in fashion stores enables customers to associate them to new sensations and experiences, thus generating positive memories about the brand.
© Jantares da Lua at Coração Alecrim and Mondo Deli
Size restaurant, on the top floor at Marques Soares, is another example of the need for a more varied offer, an effective strategy when it comes to keeping and bringing in new clients.
At a time when online shopping is on the rise, innovation is key to a generation who loves wearing fashionable clothes, eating out and sharing it to exhaustion on social networks. These non-restaurants tear down the walls between gastronomy and the city, and it is understandable that they are becoming more and more popular.