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Tue 9th Feb 2016 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

‘Crisis talks’ to take place in London today to explore ways of ensuring long-term future for Britain’s curry houses: More than 600 curry house owners and industry representatives are to hold “crisis talks” in London today (Tuesday, 9 February) to explore ways of ensuring a long-term future for the sector. The event has been organised by Catering Circle, a body set up to share the issues facing family-run and often isolated businesses. A combination of tough new immigration laws, exacerbating an existing shortage of skilled chefs, and the reluctance of a new generation to work in the sector is threatening to undermine an industry that provides jobs for about 100,000 people and contributes £4.5bn to the UK economy. Some analysts fear a third of the UK’s 12,000 curry houses face closure. Ahmed us-Samad Chowdhury, the chief adviser to Catering Circle, who is also chairman of Channel S TV and the former owner of ten restaurants, told the Guardian: “We need to work as a community to solve the curry crisis.” From April, restaurants that want to employ a chef from outside the EU will have to pay a minimum salary of £35,000 – or £29,750 with accommodation and food – in order for their employees to qualify for visas. Oli Khan, Bangladesh Caterers Association vice-president, who runs a curry house in Luton and two in Stevenage, said: “This is an inflexible policy that will force our costs up and inevitably lead to more curry restaurants going out of business. Indian cooking is an art, yet we are being prevented from hiring the staff we need.” British Curry Catering Industry chairman Paul Scully, Conservative MP for Sutton and Cheam, is also undertaking a comprehensive state-of-the-industry survey. “It’s a big exercise,” he said. “But it is worth doing. It is unimaginable to think of Britain without a curry house on every high street.”
 

Industry News:

Last-minute restaurant deals app Wriggle ‘biggest mover’ on crowfunding platform Seedrs, goes live in Brighton: Last-minute restaurant deals app Wriggle was the “biggest mover” in the past week on crowdfunding platform Seedrs. The company, which was launched in Bristol in 2014 by Rob Hall, is looking to raise £350,003 to prepare its technology for a scalable launch across the UK. Wriggle acts as a restaurant discovery tool and offers users same-day discounts to fill excess capacity. It is offering an 18.92% equity stake in return for the investment and so far 176 investors have pledged £242,757 with 46 days remaining. Already available in Bristol and London, Wriggle has now also gone live in Brighton. The company stated: “Our campaign had a fantastic week: with Wriggle being Seedrs’ ‘biggest mover’ for amount, percentage raised and number of investors. With more than 140 individual investors taking the chance to invest, it helped us to hit 56% of our target within the first week. Things are moving quickly! We’re delighted so many people are seizing the opportunity to invest. One of the exciting things is hearing from real Wriggle customers who have invested their hard-earned money to support a business they believe in. Wriggle is also officially live in Brighton! The city becomes Wriggle’s third location, and with the Seedrs round moving along quickly, the team can now begin preparations for launches in multiple new cities across the UK.” Wriggle previously crowdfunded on Seedrs in 2014 when it raised £160,000 from 200 investors.
 
M Restaurants owner reports 31% like-for-like growth thanks to ‘industry-first’ airline-style ‘choose a seat’ format: M Restaurants owner Martin Williams has reported 31% like-for-like growth during the last month of 2015, which he attributes to its “industry-first”, airline-style “choose a seat” format. The system, introduced in October, uses drone-style technology to allow customers to virtually walk round the restaurant and book the table they want to dine at. During December 9% of customers booked using the tool and for the recently-opened M Victoria Street, the second M restaurant, larger groups can also choose between booths and tables. The company, which also has a site in Threadneedle Street, also operates an “anti-turn time” policy, meaning guests can keep their table as long as they wish and Williams said he believes the policy should be an industry standard. He told Imbible: “Diners in London are the most experienced and discerning in the world. I firmly believe that dining should be a relaxing, bespoke experience, which can last as short, or long as the guest wishes. Many restaurants give diners a short time slot in which to enjoy their meal – a policy that is the opposite of a positive dining experience. At M, we are leading the way to redefine heightened hospitality. After you choose your own table, when you dine at M, the table is yours for as long as you wish.”
 
Chipotle holds company-wide meeting to mark new era: Chipotle’s 1,971 US restaurants closed for lunch yesterday (Monday, 8 February) for a company-wide meeting to update staff on new food safety protocols and rally them in readiness for the return of customers. Chipotle’s sales plunged 30% in December following an E. coli outbreak and, in what Chipotle said was an unrelated case, 80 students became ill with norovirus after eating at a restaurant in Cleveland. In January, the company suffered another 36% decline in like-for-like sales. However, officials hope to herald a new era for the fast-casual chain as it launches the largest marketing campaign in its history, including significant giveaways and discounts. Monty Moran, Chipotle co-chief executive, said the meeting was “an opportunity for us to describe in detail to our whole team all of the steps that we have taken to make our food safer before it ever arrives at the restaurants, as well as to highlight and explain the reasons behind some of the new procedures that have already been implemented”. New food safety protocols include weekly restaurant audits, with quarterly audits carried out by an un-named third-party vendor. This year, third-party audit scores will account for half of manager bonuses, Moran said. The other half was focused on customer service. He said: “We believe this compensation realignment will further underscore for our managers and teams just how important it is to properly execute our food safety procedures.”
 
SSP withdraws alcohol licence application for Manchester Piccadilly station Burger King following police objections: Transport hub foodservice specialist SSP has withdrawn an application to serve alcohol at its Burger King site at Piccadilly train station in Manchester. Last month, SSP applied to serve alcohol from 8am to midnight, seven days a week, at the site but dropped the application the day after a deadline for representations. A council spokesman said its licensing department had received several objections from agencies, including Greater Manchester Police, British Transport Police (BTP) and the council’s own environmental health team. The licence would only have allowed alcohol to be consumed off Burger King’s premises, which does not have seating. Drinking is permitted inside the station but Network Rail said it was not encouraged and was closely monitored by staff and BTP. Passengers are also allowed to drink alcohol on most train journeys. SSP’s Burger King application also sought longer opening hours, from 7am to 2am every day. In January, SSP applied to Westminster Council for licences to sell alcohol at Burger King restaurants in London’s Paddington and Victoria stations. Alcohol has long been served in several Burger King restaurants in the UK located in airports and other transit locations.

30,000 join world record pub quiz bid, PubAid initiative raises £100,000: An estimated 30,000 pub-goers went to their local on Sunday night (7 February) in an attempt to break the world record for the largest multi-venue quiz. More than 1,400 pubs signed up for the initiative, which was launched by PubAid in partnership with online fundraising platform JustGiving, raising money for more than 700 causes. The quiz also attracted support from MPs, with more than 20 of them taking the role of quiz master. PubAid co-founder Keith Knowles said: “We’re delighted so many pubs registered to join in with the quiz, typifying the spirit that sees UK pubs raising over £100m for charity every year. We’re waiting for confirmation that we have broken the record, but in terms of participation numbers, we are hoping that we have more than enough to do it.”
 
We Brought Beer celebrates double at Drinks Retailing Awards: We Brought Beer, which has specialist craft beer shops in Balham and Clapham, scooped two awards at the Drinks Retailing Awards at the Dorchester Hotel. The company, founded by former BrewDog employee James Hickson, won Best Newcomer and Best Beer Retailer for its commitment to beer as well as working hard in the community by running events, tastings and “meet the brewer” nights. The company also frequently partners with London restaurants to run foodie events. Hickson said: “Nothing beats the feeling of winning and these two gongs are no exception. We are over the moon to have been recognised for our hard graft, and we’re raring to go in 2016.”
 
Michelin-starred chef tears TripAdvisor review to shreds: Glynn Purnell, the Michelin-starred head chef of Purnell’s restaurant, hit back at a harsh critic on TripAdvisor with a detailed takedown of the customer’s claims, the London Evening Standard reported. During a one-star review on the travel website, a group complained Purnell’s restaurant served tiny portions that were “sinful in this day and age”. The group, which travelled to the restaurant in Cornwall Street, Birmingham, from Limerick, added they wanted an alternative to fish and were instead “presented with approximately a serving spoon of beetroots”. The post stated: “Maybe the chef should watch MasterChef The Professionals for a few lessons to see how food should be served, and give some decent portions of wonderful food not just the content of a decent starter over six courses.” Purnell hit back at the claims, writing: “Perhaps this reviewer would have more satisfaction from watching Man versus Food. These are four adults all upset by their dining experience who ate all six courses without once alerting us to the fact that they were not enjoying it.” Purnell said he contacted the customer before the review was posted and the restaurant is believed to have offered the table a full refund. However, the reviewer declined and turned to TripAdvisor instead. 
 
Online beer distributor EeBriaTrade hits £250,000 crowdfunding target: Online beer distributor EeBriaTrade has hit its £249,992 fund-raising target on crowdfunding platform Seedrs. The company, which launched in June and whose customers include BrewDog and Innis & Gunn, is offering a 7.92% equity stake as it looks to expand and acquire new beer customers. So far 232 investors have pledged £264,899 and it is now “overfunding” with five days remaining. The pitch states: “EeBriaTrade takes a revolutionary marketplace approach to the huge business-to-business beer distribution industry (worth £16.9bn in the UK, £141bn in Europe and £66bn in the US). Our model enables breweries to sell directly to pubs, cutting out national and regional distributors entirely, with even large breweries seeing us as a valuable new approach to an industry in need of change. In the time that EeBriaTrade has been live, we’ve become a major cause for concern for incumbent distributors and we’re looking for investment to rapidly grow this opportunity and to cement our position in the industry.”
 
Landlord opens UK’s ‘smallest’ distillery – in bedroom above pub based on moonshine still: A landlord has opened what is thought to be the smallest commercial distillery in the UK – in a bedroom above his pub. Hamish Lothian, landlord of The Fat Pig in John Street, Exeter, has imported the distillery from Kentucky, USA – the home of moonshine. The distillery produces vodka, gin, whisky and Apple Pie moonshine – produced from cracked corn. Lothian told the Exeter Express & Echo: “It is something I have always wanted to do. I moved out of the bedroom into the attic and took it from there. The paperwork and bureaucracy were immense and we had custom and excise here and had to provide a bonded warehouse with the duty having to be paid in advance. It has probably been about 12 months from the first idea to going into production. Now we have a 100-litre still that, if we work all week, will provide about 30 bottles. I have checked as best I can and it looks like it is the smallest commercial distillery in the country.” Lothian also operates his own brewery at The Fat Pig.
 

Company News:

Papa John’s appoints Gareth Davies as regional vice-president for Western Europe: Papa John’s has confirmed the appointment of Gareth Davies as regional vice-president for Western Europe. Davies has worked at every level from pizza chef to leading Papa John’s in the UK during 25 years in the pizza industry. He adds responsibility for emerging markets to his remit and will drive store openings in Europe this year, including in France, Spain and the Netherlands. Gavin Lilley, formerly senior operations director, has been promoted to the role of senior commercial director. Davies said: “Papa John’s is experiencing unprecedented growth. We now have more than 4,800 stores worldwide and well over 300 in the UK. We aim to bring our pizza to even more customers by adding further stores in the UK and throughout Europe.” Papa John’s was founded in the US in 1984. 

The Only Way is Essex star buys Southend freehold where Spirit Pub Company held the head lease: Mick Norcross, who starred in The Only Way is Essex and owns The Sugar Hut in Brentwood, Essex, has bought the freehold of The Grand Hotel in Leigh. The freehold was owned by a Dutch investor with Spirit Pub Company, now part of Greene King, holding the head lease. Norcross came up with a proposal to spend £4.5m to turn it into a boutique spa hotel, featuring a restaurant, tearooms, piano bar, 20 bedrooms and a bridal suite in 2012. Work was meant to start in February 2014, but months of delays followed, partly blamed on the discovery of Japanese knotweed on the premises. The future of the Grand seemed very bright back in November 2013 when Norcross took to Twitter to announce he had finally exchanged contracts with the Spirit Pub Group – a year after he got permission to refurbish the old hotel. Since then, Japanese knotweed has again been blamed for continuing delays and a new proposed opening date of Christmas 2015 didn’t materialise.
 
Allibhoy to open fifth Tapas Revolution at Sheffield’s Meadowhall: Spanish TV chef Omar Allibhoy is opening the fifth Tapas Revolution in Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping centre in March. Madrid-born Allibhoy wrote the fastest selling Spanish cookbook of 2013 called Tapas Revolution and has made numerous TV appearances including MasterChef, The One Show, Sunday Brunch and This Morning. Allibhoy said: “Tapas Revolution in Meadowhall is my version of the tapas bars back home in Spain, that act as a social hub for the community as well as providing delicious traditional food. Sheffield has a great food scene that’s growing and is gaining a really positive reputation. I wanted to get involved in the buzz happening there and bring a real taste of Spain to the north of England.”
 
Jones Bar Group opens second Roxy Ball Room in Liverpool ONE: Jones Bar Group has opened its second Roxy Ball Room, the ping pong and pool concept, on Liverpool ONE’s Hanover Street. Set across 6,929 square foot on the top floor of 26 College Lane, bordering with Hanover Street, Liverpool ONE’s Roxy Ball Room features four pool tables and five ping pong tables. In addition, the bar includes a VIP room available for private hire that can accommodate groups of up to 60 people. Launched in 2013, Roxy Ball Room offers a unique mix of gaming, cocktails, beer and bar snacks, including fresh dough pizza and homemade hamburgers. Roxy Ball Room has opened above Wahaca, Reds True barbecue and the forthcoming Busaba Eathai on Hanover Street, with Turtle Bay adjacent. Miles Dunnett, director of portfolio management at Grosvenor Fund Management, said: “The opening of The Roxy Ball Room is another key moment for Liverpool ONE. The brand adds to the eclectic nature of our offer, and is very much about entertainment and fun. Roxy Ball Room is a great complement to our strategy of providing something new for visitors, be they people living and working in the city, visiting from across the wider region, or from amongst the growing number of UK and international tourists choosing to spend time in the city.” Matthew Jones, managing director of Jones Bar Group, added: “Liverpool ONE is a fantastic location, with Hanover Street and the neighbouring Rope Walks area one of the most vibrant parts of the city centre. We had to be here and have created something we feel is quite special for Liverpool ONE.” Catering sales at Liverpool ONE were 12.5% up in 2015 compared with the previous year. The launch of Roxy Ball Room will be followed later this spring by the opening of Busaba, with the brand currently fitting out its latest restaurant, and only its second outside London, in the same building as Roxy Ball Room. Metis Real Estate Advisors and Cushman & Wakefield acted for Liverpool ONE. Creative Leisure represented Roxy Ball Room. 
 
Polpo opens site in Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge: London-based restaurant company Polpo opened its venue in Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge, yesterday (Monday, 8 February). Polpo has targeted six openings in total this year, managing director Luke Bishop has told Propel. The company opened its first site outside London in Brighton at the start of December last year, and its site in Harvey Nichols, Leeds, will open on Friday, 26 February to take the estate size to 12. The company is also understood to be in negotiations regarding a site in Lewisham and Bishop told Propel the company has been looking at “genuine opportunities” in Bath, Bristol and Southampton. Bishop said: “Brighton has gone really well and we’re now looking for sites in classic, regional high-quality towns and cities such as Oxford, Cambridge and Guildford. It will be a sensible expansion plan based on our current combination of cash flow and bank debt.” The company is forecasting £18m turnover for the next financial year ending March 2017. The company saw like-for-likes rise 2% in December.
 
Manchester restaurateur Adam Karim moves from Italian to Bombay fare with Leeds launch: Adam Karim, who co-founded Italian restaurant Rosso in Manchester with former football star Rio Ferdinand, will open a venue in Leeds this week. Karim, who also owns Don Giovanni, one of Manchester’s longest-established Italian restaurants, is opening Khana Bombay Cafe in the suburb of Headingley. Karim said: “Khana incorporates the sense of the Bombay community in food, so expect a relaxed, friendly atmosphere and fragrant cuisine.” Karim and Ferdinand opened Rosso in 2009 following a £1.5m refurbishment.
 
Cornish clifftop hotel goes on market for £2m: Property agent Savills has brought Glendorgal Hotel in Newquay to market on behalf of a private client for a guide price in excess of £2m. The 26-bedroom clifftop hotel is on a private headland between Lusty Glaze beach and Porth beach, with views across Newquay Bay. It also features a bar, restaurant, function suite, indoor swimming pool, gym and four-bedroom staff accommodation. The sale also encompasses a number of investment properties in the hotel grounds, including seven apartments, nine terraced houses and 15 detached houses, of which five are timeshares. Martin Rogers, hotels director at Savills, said: “This picturesque hotel has a strong trading record. A large area of unused headland space also offers significant scope for further development.”
 
Liverpool multi-siters to start expanding Japanese concept: A group of Liverpool multi-site operators is to start expanding its Japanese restaurant and bar concept Miyagi in the city. The concept, which launched in Bold Street last May, will open its second site in Allerton Road next month. Miyagi describes itself as “Japanese soul food that meets ghetto Asian with Asian comfort food served to a Motown soundtrack”. It serves Japanese style food with buns, skewers, fried chicken, small plates and ramen. The company stated: “After the successful launch of our Liverpool city restaurant, we want to bring Miyagi to the suburbs. Miyagi will offer innovative food and creative drinks, all with a huge emphasis on customer service, staff training and development.” Co-owner Alex Hannah and his partners also operate the Mexican restaurant Lucha Libre in Wood Street, Liverpool, as well as three other venues, Berry and Rye, Jenny’s Bar and Aloha.
 
St Austell Brewery seals deal to sell flagship ale on British Airways flights: St Austell Brewery has signed a deal to make its flagship brand Tribute Cornish Pale Ale the first ale to be available on all non-domestic British Airways flights. The brewer is producing a specially commissioned 330ml can of the 4.2% award-winning ale, one of the fastest-growing premium brands in the UK. James Staughton, managing director of St Austell Brewery, told the Plymouth Herald: “This is a historic day for St Austell Brewery and we are thrilled that passengers will be able to enjoy a true taste of Cornwall while flying all around the world.” Tribute Cornish Pale Ale was selected as part of a move to offer British Airways customers a taste of premium regional brands from across the UK. The ale will be available to all customers flying long-haul and for those in Club Europe on short-haul flights, as well as in British Airways’ network of global lounges. Troy Warfield, British Airways director of customer experience, said: “We’re very proud to bring one of Britain’s premium regional beers to a wider audience.” The deal will see Tribute Ale served on all but the airline’s domestic flights from Tuesday, 1 March.
 
Chase Distillery inks China export deal: Chase Distillery, a family-run business in the West Midlands set up by the founder of Tyrrells Crisps, has secured a China export deal. The distillery, founded by William Chase, who sold Tyrrells Potato Chips to Langholm Capital in 2008, produces gin, vodka, fruit liqueurs, cider and wines at its farm in Hereford. It has been selling products overseas to 36 countries since 2010. The company will ship 2,500 cases of vodka and gin to China during the next two years, with its drinks available at bars in Beijing and Shanghai. The first shipment of 500 cases is set to go in March. The deal was struck after Chase Distillery export director Simon Davies took part in a UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) mission to China last year. Davies said: “It’s been a five-year process, which we expected because we knew it would take time to make inroads, but we have long been confident that our premium products were right for the Chinese market.” Sally Stevenson, UKTI international trade adviser in Herefordshire and Worcestershire, said: “Chase Distillery is a perfect example of how a business with a unique product in the marketplace can attract the more challenging markets, such as China. By understanding the market conditions, being sensitive to cultural and business etiquette, and working strategically, it has secured a very good export deal.” 
 
Brian Blessed recreates When Harry Met Sally scene for PizzaExpress ad campaign: Actor Brian Blessed is the star of a new Valentine’s Day advertising campaign for PizzaExpress, in which he asks fans to send him pizza poetry. The ten best entries will have their work read aloud by Blessed, which will then be shared across PizzaExpress’ social channels. Tracey Anne Gwynne was the first winner, with her poem allowing Blessed to recreate the famous scene from When Harry Met Sally with the lines: “If Harry met Sally in PizzaExpress, as she’s reading her menu, she’ll shout yes, yes, yes!”
 
Freehold of Brighton boutique hotel available off £1.2m asking price: The freehold for Brighton’s Fab Guest hotel is being marketed by agent Fleurets and is available off a guide price of £1.2m. This boutique hotel is situated in Charlotte Street, approximately a two-minute walk from Brighton’s iconic seafront views of Brighton pier. The mid-terraced Georgian townhouse has 14 en-suite bedrooms spread across five storeys and was renovated in 2013. Situated in Kemp Town, the property is a ten-minute drive from Brighton train station and a short walk from the numerous cafes and quirky independent shops that line Brighton’s Lanes as well as Brighton pavilion. Will Thomas, from Fleurets, said: “This is a great opportunity for either a local existing operator or even an investor who is looking for a stylish and easily managed accommodation business. The property is presented to a high standard and despite having been open for a couple of years the hotel is showing strong signs of growth and already regarded as one Brighton’s leading boutique hotels.”
 
Drinks wholesaler director to co-launch micro-brewery in Manchester: Drinks wholesaler Inn Express director Andrew Lawton is to co-launch a new micro-brewery in Manchester. Lawton, who will continue to work full-time at Inn Express, has teamed up with Paul Mellor, who was north west account manager for Titanic Brewery for five years, to form Manchester Brewing Co, which aims to be up and running by mid-March. Lawton told Propel: “The new business is a side project for me but my business partner is full-time with the brewery. We hope to add to the already excellent Manchester brewing scene with a core range of modern beers that will be available in cask, key-keg and can. Our eight brewers barrel kit arrives at the end of February and we’re based on the ‘Piccadilly Mile’. The aim will be to have four core beers available with monthly specials and seasonals. The core beers will include a 4% pale ale called Factory Pale Ale – a nod towards the cotton mills that Manchester was built on and the record company that put Manchester on the musical map during the 1980s. There’s also a 4.8% American Pale Ale, a 5.9% IPA and a 4.5% Coconut and Raspberry Porter that’s a take on the Manchester Tart.”
 
Compass Hospitality adds seventh UK hotel: Asia-based Compass Hospitality has signed an agreement to manage the historic Hawkwell House Hotel in the conservation-designated Iffley Village, within Oxford’s city boundaries. The hotel, close to the Thames, has three acres of landscaped grounds, 77 guest rooms and suites in the main hotel building as well as in the adjacent Elm House, once the home of Antarctic explorer Francis Bickerton. Four meeting rooms cater for parties of up to 200 guests. In August, Compass Hospitality acquired three Big Sleep Hotels sites – in Cardiff, Cheltenham and Eastbourne. Hawkwell House Hotel is the seventh in the UK to be managed by the group.
 
Chiquito applies to open Harlow venue on Burger King site: The Restaurant Group’s Tex-Mex brand Chiquito has applied to open a branch in Harlow, Essex, on the former Burger King site at the Queensgate Centre. If granted planning permission, the restaurant bar and Mexican grill would create about 35 full-time and 25 part-time jobs, the Harlow Star reported.

Soho’s Street Food Union livens lunches with disloyalty card launch: Independent street food market Street Food Union is launching a quirky disloyalty scheme tomorrow (Wednesday, 10 February), where diners will be rewarded for trying different traders. Customers will get a free lunch once they have tasted their way through all the street food traders at the market in Rupert Street, Soho. On entering the food hub, customers will be presented with a disloyalty card, which can be stamped with a heart, diamond, spade or club on payment. Each trader will display one of the four symbols. Once customers have demonstrated their disloyalty by receiving two full suits of stamps, they will be rewarded with a free lunch from a street food trader of their choice. Street Food Union, founded in 2013, is open from Wednesday to Saturday, 11am to 3pm.
 
New cinema and restaurant scheme proposed in Macclesfield: Cheshire East Council is to sell a car park in Macclesfield to make way for a major cinema and restaurant scheme aimed at revitalising the town. The authority will offload Churchill Way car park to developer Ask Real Estate, which has beaten off competition from 18 companies to deliver the “high-quality” leisure-led scheme. The plan envisages a six-screen cinema, restaurants, a retail unit and a cafe pod, all designed around a public realm. Cabinet member in charge of regeneration Cllr Don Stockton told The Business Desk: “I am delighted that we are a significant step closer to delivering on our promise to the people of Macclesfield. We have said that we will regenerate the town and increase footfall for the benefit of retailers and businesses and this is the start of that process.” The scheme will be subject to the normal planning process, which will commence once contracts are exchanged.
 
New Italian aperitivo cafe/bar concept launches in Sandiacre: A new Italian aperitivo cafe/bar concept has been launched in Sandiacre, Derbyshire. Leanne Gariano Miller and Marie Hunter have opened Buonissima, which translates as “very good”, in an empty shop in Station Road. The café/bar features a large counter, comfy sofas and wooden tables and chairs. Buonissima’s Mediterranean influence comes from Miller’s father, who is Italian. She told the Nottingham Post: “I used to spend my six-week school holidays over there and stay with my nonna (grandma) who is a fantastic cook and has been my inspiration. The drink tends to be a bitter non-alcoholic or alcoholic drink like Campari or Aperol. Our Aperol Spritz, a traditional Italian cocktail is very popular during our aperitivo hour. The light snacks that accompany the drinks are aimed to stimulate the appetite ready for dinner. We like to serve a selection of olives, authentic Italian cheeses and cured meats.” Miller and Hunter also run Buonissima Catering, which supplies Mediterranean themed buffets for business events and wedding receptions.

G1 Group hails impact of first casino: Scotland’s largest independent managed operator G1 Group has hailed the introduction of its first casino – The Cotton Club in Glasgow – which has seen a steady like-for-like growth in sales. The casino is in the basement of The Corinthian Club in Ingram Street, formerly home to the Mash & Press bar. Michael Horan, G1 Group operations director, said: “Since launching the casino in November, the overall impact has been extremely positive, with great feedback from all our customers and like-for-like growth in terms of sales revenue. As a business, we are looking to really push the boundaries, offering a unique destination in the heart of Glasgow’s city centre, combining state-of-the-art gaming facilities with the best in Scottish hospitality.” G1 Group owns more than 50 venues, including restaurants, bars, hotels, nightclubs and cinemas. The group is the UK’s seventh-largest hospitality employer.

Strada raises more than £13,000 as Alcohol Concern’s Dry January food partner: Strada has raised more than £13,000 as the food partner for Alcohol Concern’s Dry January. Strada offered a de-alcoholics drinks menu at its restaurants, which featured a range of alcohol-free wines including a Californian Chardonnay, as well as an authentic Italian alcohol-free beer to support customers participating in Dry January. For every de-alcoholics drink range purchased, Strada donated £1 to Alcohol Concern. Strada operations director Tom James said: “We were delighted to offer our customers an opportunity to participate in an excellent event for a great cause, without sacrificing their social life.” James said Strada would continue to serve the de-alcoholics range at its 39 restaurants in the UK.
 
Full speaker programme for Propel Multi Club Conference on 16 March unveiled: The full speaker programme for the Propel Multi Club Conference on Wednesday, 16 March at Congress Hall, London, has been unveiled. Multi-site pub, restaurant and foodservice operators can book up to two free places by emailing Adam Dickinson on adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com. The conference series is the best attended in the sector. Speakers are: Nicola Knight, analyst at insights firm Horizons, investigates the key trends in the UK foodservice market, including major menu trends, growth areas and discounting – and looks ahead to the key trends of 2016 and beyond. Adrian Blair, chief operating officer for Just Eat, provides an overview of the company’s role in the takeaway market, current key trends and future potential for operators to develop revenue. Steve Kenee, partner at investment firm Downing, talks about the firm’s long-term investment partnership with Antic London, developing an estate of more than 30 London pubs, the businesses USPs, the risks and rewards of operating near the leading edge of urban regeneration and the development of non-licensed premises. David Singleton, vice-president of hospitality for Al Tayer Group, provides an overview of the foodservice landscape in the United Arab Emirates, the brands that are winning, the potential for UK brands and his company’s approach to growing sales. Punch Taverns chief strategy director Neil Griffiths outlines the company’s evolved strategy, involving as much as £300m of investment over five years, developing operator and trading agreements, expanding its fledgling concepts and brands, taking greater control of its retail offer and realising additional value from its property portfolio. Simon King, managing director of Burger & Lobster, talks about the progress of Burger & Lobster in London and elsewhere, the unique thinking and philosophy behind the brand, sourcing quality ingredients, recruiting and training staff, evolving the offer, expanding outside of London and international prospects. Phil Sermon, managing director of Vapiano, talks about progress in the UK as well as the company’s fresh approach to recruitment, training and development of its people and interaction with its guests. David Mooney, co-founder of New Moon Pub Company, arguably the UK’s most versatile food pub operator, talks about the company’s approach at country and city pubs, its Beef and Pudding concept, New York-influenced The Bronx brand, its pizza concept Casa Matta, evolution and future plans. Roberto Morretti, chief operating officer of Bill’s, talks to ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls about the brand’s USPs, trading all-day, developing a retail dimension and staying true to the brand founder’s vision. Henry Dimbleby and Jonathan Downey, co-founders of London Union, set out their progress in creating neighbourhood food markets based on experiential food discovery, crowdfunding, their plans to create the world’s greatest food market and the development of 12 London neighbourhood markets.

ALMR National Restaurant Association Study Tour to Chicago open for bookings: The Propel and Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) 2016 Chicago Study Tour is open for bookings. The trip, sponsored by CPL Training and Sky, takes place between Thursday, 19 May and Monday, 23 May 2016. The National Restaurant Association (NRA) draws 58,000-plus industry professionals from all 50 states and 100 countries, seeking the newest innovations and up-to-the-minute information about trends and issues. The ALMR trip provides: insights from industry experts on the rise in fast-casual dining, social media, new and emerging brands, menu development, staff management and a host of other issues – with 70 free education sessions at the NRA show. It also involves two tours of Chicago’s hottest concepts and a market overview briefing sessions from US experts. Paul Charity, managing director of Propel Info, said: “The NRA show combined with our tour of Chicago is a fantastic opportunity to find fresh inspiration and understand the emerging trends shaping the fast-changing US market.” To get more information or to book, email jo.charity@propelinfo.com

 
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