Browns was the first hospitality venture established by millionaire Jeremy Mogford, who in 1973 invested £10,000 (of which £2,500 was borrowed from his father) in the first Browns Restaurant and Bar in Brighton, East Sussex. He established a chain of seven restaurants, mostly in university towns such as Bristol, Cambridge and Oxford, with an annual turnover of £15 million. In 1996, Mogford sold the Browns chain to Bass Brewery for £35 million.
Mogford was regarded as one of the industry's best and most enlightened employers, which was reflected in a low staff turnover rate. He and his restaurants were used as a case study in a hospitality and entrepreneurship textbook illustrating commitment to employees. In addition, Browns was profiled in a widely used capacity management study by Deterministics Inc. for Cornell University's Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly journal.
The chain now consists of twenty-five restaurants – in Bath, Birmingham, Bluewater, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Kingston, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oxford, Reading, Sheffield and Windsor, and six restaurants in London; Butlers Wharf, Covent Garden, Mayfair, Old Jewry, Victoria & West India Quay.
Browns in Bristol is a listed building that has previously been the City Museum and Library and also the University Refectory and Dining Room. Browns on Woodstock Road in Oxford is mentioned in the novel Restless (winner of the Novel Award in the 2006 Costa Book Awards) by William Boyd.
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- Williams, Claire; Morrison, Alison; Rimmington, Mike (1999). Entrepreneurship in the Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Industries (1. publ., [Nachdr.]. ed.). Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann. p. 16. ISBN 0-7506-4097-9.
- "Applying Capacity-management Science". Cqx.sagepub.com. 1999-06-01. Retrieved 2015-02-01.
- Boyd, William (2006). Restless: A Novel. New York: Audio Renaissance. p. 101. ISBN 978-1408807125.