Taking out clients to the best restaurants in the city can be a significant business expense. Gastro Card offers its customers a solution while also promoting the region’s food
Trevor Land is a man very much after our own heart. Passionate about Birmingham, its food, and its standing in the world, his business Gastro Card aims to boost the prospects of the region’s restaurants. The former NEC director conceived of the business shortly after retiring from the events business. “I used to entertain people at restaurants a lot and so I knew the chefs and owners pretty well. A lot of journalists and politicians used to snipe at Birmingham’s food scene and I wanted to do something about it,” Land says.
Land and his business partner researched the market and proposed the idea of a discount card for good restaurants, which would be primarily sold to large corporate companies. The idea was well received and so Gastro Card was born. “It’s not a totally unique idea, but many of these cards are nationwide and include all the big chains,” Land explains. “We are focused on Birmingham and the Midlands and aim for mid-range restaurants and above. We aren’t looking to sign-up McDonalds.” Gastro Card has now got about 70 Birmingham restaurants on its books and 250 establishments overall. Turner’s in Harborne and Opus in the city centre are among the better places included in the deal for customers. “The cards cost £30 per year for individuals, bulk buyers get a reduction on a sliding scale. Also the deals vary from restaurant to restaurant, as the owners get to dictate the terms. Some offer 10 per cent off, others 15; some are discounts for the whole bill, whereas others won’t include wine or meals on Friday and Saturday nights.”
Gastro Card has been growing nicely since it starting trading three and a half years ago. However, Land suffered a personal setback last summer when his friend and business partner Geoff Abbott died of a heart attack. “We sent out an email letting everyone know what had happened and we had many messages in response from people saying how much they enjoyed working with Geoff,” he says. Land is now the sole shareholder of the business but is working with his partners to ensure Gastro Card has a sustainable future. “We want to strengthen the brand but keep it local. We are creating relationships, which is what it’s all about, and have lots of projects lined up for the future.”