Restaurant Bigwig

Restaurant Bigwig

Is Restaurant Bigwig the most innovative, realistic, and engaging management simulation game ever, or is disappointment on the cards?


On this week’s Cost of a Coffee, the Prof and Brian get all festive and play a restaurant management simulation…

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“We’re on a mission to highlight interesting and unusual games that you could purchase in place of a cappuccino, after all in the United Kingdom we spend £2.5 million pounds on coffee every day.  But that’s nothing compared to the 22.5 billion pounds we will spend on Christmas this year, so with all the festive cheer and Christmas spirit, perhaps we should be substituting a gingerbread latte for a game you can play on your Gingerbread Device.

With Christmas just around the corner, what could be more festive than a restaurant management simulation game?  Well plenty of things probably, but we work with what we’ve got.  This week’s Cost of a Coffee game is Restaurant Bigwig for the iPad from Bigwig games.

Restaurant Bigwig is a turn based strategy game where you are responsible for opening restaurants using expansion cards and allocating resources to these restaurants in the form of operations cards that allow you to improve food quality, customer service, marketing and efficiency.  Each turn lasts a year (not in real time) and games can be played over 20, 40, and 60 years against other humans with local pass and play, or each against bots of various skill levels.


When everybody’s played their turn, a procedurally generated newspaper will update players on their progress, inform them of any awards or random chance events and offer tips for improvement.  The newspaper also contains real-world restaurant industry facts and historic advertisements, which is a nice touch.  Restaurant Bigwig claims to be “the most innovative, realistic, and engaging management simulation game – ever!” so we decided to send Andy from Codec Moments to the Eten Café in Sheffield, to ask some people in the catering industry what they thought of the game.


So is it worth the Cost of a Coffee?  Well the game costs around £5 on the app store, but until 31-Dec it’s reduced to the £2 mark; at that price you can’t really go wrong.  The game looks good and it’s quite addictive, but in my mind it’s not a true simulation game; you don’t set your food prices or marketing budget and you can’t choose to invest your profits in food quality, customer service or efficiency drives.  Sure you decide where and when to allocate your resources based on each restaurant’s revenue and profit, but the random nature of the cards strongly guides your hand.


Still that’s not such a bad thing when we consider our review of Air Tycoon 3 earlier this year; sometimes when a simulation is too realistic it can become mundane, taking all the enjoyment out of it.  This is a game after all.

Cost of a Coffee is a 2014 production of Codec Moments, for more information visit  A copy of Restaurant Bigwig was provided by Bigwig Games for this episode, actually they gave us two and we gave the other to Phil.  We really want to thank Phil and Lee from the Eten Café, for taking the time to play games and speak with us in the middle of the busy Christmas period. Please pop in and get a coffee and something to eat if you’re in Sheffield, they’re on East Parade, right next to the Cathedral in the City Centre; you should also follow them on Twitter @EatEten.  Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter too, @ProfAndBrian; you can contact us there or e-mail if you can recommend a game that costs less than a cappuccino.

Well that’s it for 2014, we’re off on a break until January so, see you next year.”

The Verdict


The Good: Looks good | Draws on real-world data | Addictive gameplay

The Bad: Not a true simulation

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Former DJ, now a freelance scientist, writer, gamer and father.

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