The Courtyard Restaurant

Modern British Steak & Fish Restaurant and Bar

Saturday 8 June 2013, by AndreaOliver

1 inspired

A. The main facts about the activities of the company.

The Courtyard, opened in 2009, is an independent restaurant and bar located in the centre of Brighton; Southern England attracting sophisticated diners with its ethically produced food. Owned and run by a brother and sister partnership that value ethical practice over profitability, The Courtyard prides itself with its locally sourced cuisine in a relaxed and vibrant location. Due to its size, the business employees a small number of personnel all of which believe in ethical custom and most of which, have been with the business since its opening. Their slogan, as stated on the website homepage, is that “menus are produced with one underlying principle – fresh, locally sourced cuisine”

The pillars of its business model include its exceptional food hygiene rating and sourcing of finer local ingredients from its vegetables to its meat and fish. Their food menu ranges from an early morning breakfast to pre-theatre menu, as it is located near the main theatres of Brighton’s city centre. The interior has been designed to mimic that of a courtyard, as well as ethical “green” practises, with plants and trees throughout the premises. (See Exhibit 1)

Why the Courtyard

When undertaking the wedreambusiness project, it was imperative we base the assignment on a company we are all able to relate to, and one which inspired us on, not just a monetary success level, but by their ethical practise. The Courtyard epitomises a business, which individuals are able to relate to, and aspire to achieve similar success. Being an independent restaurant, one would imagine cost cutting and profitability would take precedence when taking decisions on daily operations but with The Courtyard, the owners decided to stick to their values and basic principals for the business, despite the higher costs and difficulties incurred in such activity. The benefit, we can see, pays off, with exceptional customer feedback and a loyal customer base. (See Exhibit 2) Being a group formed coincidentally of aspiring entrepreneurs, we are able to see, from the example of The Courtyard, that ethical practise is possible, and profitable if executed in an appropriate manner. We take the attitude that “if they can do it, we can do it,” which was debatable before undertaking the project.

B. The Ethical challenges this company is addressing.

Sourcing

Given the extensive choice of menus and ingredients required, it is admiring that The Courtyard does not receive its supply from wholesalers. To our surprise, it is not only large-scale chain restaurants which source from wholesalers but most small independent restaurants also do, due to the large price difference. They took the brave decision to stick sourcing its ingredients from local farmers, butchers and fishmongers.

Recruitment and cooking process

When recruiting potential employees, The Courtyard specifically seeks those with similar values and those, which respect the decision to be as ethical as possible. This proves a slight issue in terms of chef recruitment, as the restaurant operates a strict “no frozen food” policy. Everything – be it a steak or a salad, a side dish of vegetables or a fish dish, is prepared to order from fresh ingredients. Furthermore, as stated by the annual health inspectors, The Courtyard is the only restaurant in the surrounding area to not have a microwave in the kitchen – which simultaneously serves an obstacle to chef recruitment. The ethical challenge therefore, proves to be in the form of conflicting interests in the two parties involved in the restaurant – the owners and the chef.

Following on from this, not only is it the chef that causes a challenge during the recruitment stage, but also the floor employees. As stated by the owners, it is imperative that the employees within the business have similar values, and act in line with the basic principles of the restaurant. Therefore, when looking to recruit potential employees, it becomes an ethical dilemma whether to recruit a more qualified individual with lower ethical values, or someone with less experience but in accordance with the nature of the business.

Food hygiene

An ethical challenge most businesses face in the restaurant industry lies in their food hygiene rating. It is, as stated by most health inspectors and industry experts, extremely difficult, and indeed rare, for a restaurant – specifically an independent establishment, to obtain a five star food and hygiene rating. This is awarded to restaurant with exceptional quality ingredients – which most importantly, are not falsely advertised. In a recent inspection, even the vodka in the “Smirnoff” bottle was tested to check it was indeed, what was being sold. What surprised us was the revelation that most restaurants claim to offer high quality goods, but only keep the packaging – replacing the contents with a more cost effective content. The Courtyard, for the second year in a row, was awarded the exclusive award.

C. What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it?

First hand experience

We chose this company, and trust its ethical practise as we have first hand experience of the day-to-day running of the restaurant. Having witnessed the struggle to maintain an ethical approach to operating a restaurant, given the significantly higher costs and difficulty involved in such practise, we were incredibly inspired by the owner’s commitment to their core values when they opened the restaurant. As with most businesses, profitability, cost cutting and revenue generating are among the priorities – not just the larger scale chain businesses but small independent companies striving to succeed.

Charitable support

Furthermore, the restaurant has a system whereby a percentage of their profit is directly given to their chosen charity – also a local organisation, in which they are able to personally see the benefits provided by their donations. Being on one of the most central streets in Brighton – namely the road with the highest footfall in the city, charity events are often held on the street – with an example being the ‘Fringe Festival.’ The restaurant offers discounted meals for charity events, supporting local, reputable causes.

Sustainable practise

The Courtyard emphasises the importance of recycling and proper waste disposal – rather than arranging a far cheaper and easier bulk collection of all waste from the premises on a daily basis, which most restaurants use. The waste is separated into the appropriate bins provided, and these are collected from recycling units every day – albeit at a higher cost to the business.

D.The possible challenges facing the company in the future and how you think this company may improve.

Continued sustainable sourcing

Given the success of the restaurant thus far, the owners have expressed an interest in expanding the business, by which they are looking to open a second restaurant in the near future. The issue therefore, is whether they could afford to keep sourcing expensive, high quality ingredients without damaging their profitability too significantly.

Reuse of the no cooked raw ingredients

Despite the success of the restaurant, at the time the demand increases the ingredients purchase is increasing too. As all the restaurants, The Courtyard is addressing a challenge to what to do with the non-used but bought ingredients. They are already in contact with charity organizations to give the food for free after the closing hour of the restaurant. But after the future expansion of the restaurant and the continuous growing that’s a challenge that always comes up.

Bibliography

http://courtyardbrighton.co.uk/

Location: Brighton (United Kingdom )

Sector: Accommodation and food service activities

Official website: http://courtyardbrighton.co.uk/

Nbr. visits: 293

Nbr. inspires: 1