LONDON — W Communications has launched an incubator for UK restaurant owners and brands, to support the hospitality industry through its post-Covid recovery.

Counter Service will operate as a standalone brand within W’s London office, with a five-person team led by account director Shauna Moran. The agency has pledged £100,000-worth of hours to support brands financially impacted in the last 12-months, fledging start-ups, and those entering the market.

The new offer includes brand launches, site openings, reputation management, brand partnerships, campaign execution, talent and influencer engagement and social media consultation.

Clients will also have access to W’s advisory panel of restaurant owners and industry veterans, including the founders of Pizza Pilgrims and Chris Miller, founder of hospitality investment fund White Rabbit.

W has worked in the hospitality sector for 11 years, with clients including Deliveroo, restaurant groups Caprice Holdings and D&D London, and restaurant brands YO! Sushi, Pizza Pilgrims, Grind and MEATliquor. Counter Service is already working with brands including Pizza Pilgrims and Grind, is set to launch shared kitchen workspace Mission Kitchen; and has been appointed to launch Marugame Udon’s first UK restaurant.

Agency founder Warren Johnson said W's financial investment over the past few years in a number of restaurant brands – including MeatLiquor and Pizza Pilgrims, which have grown from street food vans to bricks-and-mortar operations – meant the pandemic had affected the agency’s equity stakeholdings as well as its client base.

He said "with the sector in despair and reopening timelines in disarray" the new offer would help restaurants adjust their business models and maintain brand value: "Clearly last year was chaos, but amid all the disruption we had some serious successes pivoting restaurant brands to not just survive but thrive, and now we want to give something back to those who are struggling."

Johnson added: “This is our bread and butter – we’ve launched over 100 restaurants in the last decade or so. We’re in a better position than most to help navigate the critical coming months that will ultimately determine how the UK’s food scene will look post-pandemic.”