Meadowhall burger restaurant to be rescued – by man who went from worker to OWNER
A Meadowhall burger restaurant which twice went into administration is being revived by a former worker, who says he is taking it back to its roots.
Handmade Burger Co collapsed in January 2020, with 19 branches including the one at Meadowhall in Sheffield closing and more than 280 jobs being lost.
It was the second time the chain had gone into administration, having previously closed nine restaurants during a restructuring in 2017.
Adam Howitt was a restaurant manager for the company before it first went into administration and he went on to open his own Sheffield-based hospitality consultancy firm, supporting businesses from Glasgow to Southampton.
He is now reviving Handmade Burger Co, with a handful of restaurants, including the Meadowhall branch, ready to reopen as soon as the lockdown is eased and customers are allowed to return.
"I’ve come full circle, from being a general manager for Handmade Burger Co to one of the owners,” said Adam.
"The original owners created a really good brand, with a great product and ethos. There were a lot of profitable sites taking good money and it went into administration solely because of the rapid expansion.
"The new owner came in and ripped the brand to pieces, halving portion sizes and going from making the burgers by hand on site to buying in the patties, which meant it lost that premium feel and took a significant nosedive.
"We’re going back to what the brand did best, back to the original portion sizes and everything being made from scratch on site but with our new up-to-date stamp on things.
"We’re bringing back the original ethos, which was about fresh food done well to maximise the flavour, looking after the suppliers and making everything sustainable all the way through to staff training.
"It’s quite special and pretty humbling to be bringing it back to life.”
Adam said it was reopening a ‘handful’ of profitable sites around the country, including in London, where it has been able to agree a deal with the landlords.
It is also setting up delivery kitchens in the capital, serving customers before the branches themselves are back up and running, though diners in Sheffield will have to wait until the Meadowhall restaurant reopens to get their fix.
Adam said he had been in talks with the administrators about reopening some of the restaurants before the pandemic hit.
He told how he had been able to ‘reach out’ to some former employees who lost their jobs and bring them back.
The Meadowhall branch will employ 20 people at first, rising to around 30, and it is ready to open as soon as restaurants get the green light to do so.
Adam is confident the hospitality industry can bounce back after the Covid crisis.
"There’s light at the end of the tunnel. It’s just a matter of time,” he said.
"It will be a slow-boiler with trade, with some people probably being a little bit nervous to come out at first, and I expect it will take six to 12 months for the industry to fully recover but I’m confident it will do so.”