AIR was officially launched in 2015
Unofficially though it extends all the way back to 2008. Like every good organisation its foundation was unplanned, organic, clandestine……
Location: A West London coffee bar
In attendance: 10 west London restaurant owners
Agenda: sharing problems….and occasionally solutions
A problem shared is a problem halved…..it’s almost true. The ten caffeine guzzling hospitality business owners met once a month. There was little structure to the meeting.
One would call out a problem they faced. Someone around that table would always be able to step in and share their experience or open their phone and find a contact or suggest a fresh way of approaching a given issue.
The meetings engendered comradeship and support but real solutions remained limited.
Coffee and friendship is great….but not enough
As time went on new people came to drink coffee and some the old ones drifted off.
The comradeship was still strong. Real friendships evolved but dynamic problem solving was rare simply through a lack of structure.
As with all good communities the cracks appeared. There were those who just needed a coffee…..and there were those who had started to believe this could be more. Much more.
Fast forward almost a decade
The Alliance of Independent restaurants has a growing membership. Over 500 independent hospitality businesses are members of AIR.
AIR provides real support to every member that joins.
AIR continues to provide free membership for all independently owned hospitality businesses from restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs and hotels to groovy pop up’s and crowd funded start-ups.
Team AIR is constantly contacting companies that supply the sector and asking them to partner with AIR and provide members with significant cost saving advantages.
AIR already has amazing deals across the entire food supply chain as well as financial deals for insurance, HR support, legal support, energy brokers, recruitment and many more.
To secure these deals AIR does exactly what the high street chains have done over many years: Group together the entire membership so that all can benefit from economies of scale.
AIR is now the established voice of the independent. The scope of support is now impressive: networking events, campaigning, workshops, supper clubs….It still offers comradeship, support and coffee but crucially it is very capable of supporting all its members whatever challenges they face.
Incidentally AIR is still (Independently) operated by 5 of those coffee guzzling wannabe entrepreneurs. Not one of them came up with a concept worth rolling out so they all remain ardent independent operators and all 5 benefit from membership of the UK’s only organisation supporting all local independent restaurants.