Restaurant entrepreneur Luke Johnson takes up role at TellTheChef

Oxford-based TellTheChef has employed Luke Johnson to its management to aid with further growth capital fundraising and development in technology.

Johnson, who is also chairman of Risk Capital Partners, his own investment firm, has also taken up an “undisclosed” stake in the company.

The foundation of TellTheChef dates back to 2009 when Andrew Norton found he was not able to find a way to automate and manage pre-orders at his dining venue The Jam Factory. His system now provides users with access to what it describes as “rich data and feedback loops, improved customer service levels and reduced costs”.

Commenting on what attracted him to the business, Johnson said: “Managing group bookings is time consuming and prone to human error.

“TellTheChef makes pre-orders easy and creates a direct link with each customer that helps restaurants grow their customer base and obtain detailed feedback data. As a simple innovation that solves a big problem, TellTheChef is a scalable business with great potential.”

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In August 2013 TellTheChef processed its 100,000th order, completed by Malmaison in Oxford, and is now used by 300 business and venues in the UK, Norway and Australia.

Johnson’s Risk Capital Partners currently has active investments in Patisserie Valerie, the GAIL’s bakery chain and restaurant business Red Hot World Buffet. The firm floated Patisserie Valerie in May of 2014 and achieved a sizeable exit by selling Giraffe to Tesco in March 2013 in a deal with an enterprise value of £48.6 million.

With Johnson now installed as non-executive chairman, TellTheChef will reportedly focus on seeking new growth capital so that an investment in sales can be made, technology development and refining its data business.

Norton added: “The hospitality industry has been slow to innovate and simple ideas like JUST EAT, OpenTable and TripAdvisor have rapidly scaled into hugely successful businesses.

“We aim to do the same and we’re delighted to have the backing of one of Britain’s most foremost leisure industry entrepreneurs to ensure we get there.”

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