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Mon 5th Nov 2012 - C2 Original Inns, Papa John’s and Tokyo Industries

Story of the day:

Work begins on £1.5m upgrade to iconic Hoste Arms in Burnham Market: Work began at the weekend on a £1.5m refurbishment of the iconic Hoste Arms in Burnham Market. Plans include a new garden room, bedrooms and New Zealand-style lodge dining areas. The refurbishment comes after the coaching inn was acquired earlier this year by Brendan and Bee Hopkins from Jeanne Whittome, the widow of Paul Whittome, who built the venue into a North Norfolk landmark and who is credited with turning Burnham Market into Norfolk’s most fashionable village. The new owners have also started upgrading the existing 58 bedrooms and refurbishing the dining room. Bee Hopkins said: “Like anything, in order to survive you have to evolve. The issue at the moment is that we have to turn people away on a Saturday night. This gives us the opportunity to really add to our existing table capacity.” As well as a new garden room, there will be dining lodges built around the garden. Bee said: “The concept of having outside lodges around the garden is inspired by visits to New Zealand, where you often have an option to eat in a summer house or outside lodge.” Brendan Hopkins added: “There is nowhere on the coast that has this size of facility – it is the perfect place for a company to take their staff away. We are totally full more than half the year. Our capacity to grow is limited by the availability of bedroom space. We are going to build more bedrooms with the development. Sixty per cent of our customers have stayed here before so we get a lot of repeat business.” Work is expected to finish in May 2013. The Hoste Arms reported a pre-tax profit of £491,904 in the year to 1 May 2011. This was a decline from £565,122 the year before. Turnover was £4,715,300 compared to £4,669,822 the year prior.

Industry news:

Raymond Blanc claims British chefs ‘best in field’ on food culture and sustainability: Restaurateur Raymond Blanc has argued that British chefs are leaders in the field of food culture and sustainability. He also claimed that Britons are among the most discerning and demanding diners and food buyers in the world. He said: “Britain is leading the way in terms of food culture and sustainability and that has been led by consumers who want to know where their food and ingredients come from. People in Britain are very demanding. They want to know that the animal welfare is good, the food is local, how it has been grown and how it has been cooked. The chefs here are used to doing that and other countries are now following the example.”

Amsterdam cannabis cafés to remain open for tourists: Amsterdam cannabis cafes will now not ban tourists. Mayor Eberhard van der Laan said the city’s 220 coffee shops will remain available to the estimated 1.5 million tourists per year who use them. He said: “These 1.5 million foreign visitors are not going to say, ‘Okay then no more weed.’ They will roam across the city looking for drugs, with fights over fake drugs and no quality control. Misery will return.”

Tim Martin – minimum pricing is “nuts”: JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin has told The Guardian that minimum pricing is “nuts” He added: “It is obfuscation by trying to pretend that the government is dealing with the issue. All that will happen from a pub’s point of view is that the tax inequality [when compared with supermarkets] will remain. Tax equality between pubs and supermarkets would be much more effective than minimum pricing. (Minimum pricing) is a placebo that won’t have any effect on the underlying problem. It’s utter rubbish, basically. If you want people to pay more for their beer, there is one solution: get them to go to pubs. The problem with Cameron and Osborne is they haven’t worked in a pub.”

West Cornwall Pasty Company undertakes VAT u-turn: West Cornwall Pasty Company has changed its mind about keeping its pasties hot, which means they are subject to 20 per cent VAT. The company had moved to switch off its heated cabinets in October to avoid 20 per cent VAT, a move it has now reversed after customer pressure. A spokesman told The Mail on Sunday: “We have been listening to our customers and over the past month they have been telling us that they expect pasties to be served hot and they would rather pay the VAT and be guaranteed this. For that reason we have turned our cabinets back on.” 

Music Festivals owes creditors £7.5m: Music Festivals, the AIM-listed festival organisor that went into administration last month, owes its creditors £7.5m, The Mail on Sunday has reported. A total of about £2m will be left over to distribute. The company failed because of poor ticket sales at its Hop Farm Music Festival.

Young drinkers turned off by celebrity excess: A sharp drop in excessive drinking among young people has been linked to them being turned off by excessive consumption among celebrities. Tom Smith, of Alcohol Concern, told The Sunday Times that young people “disliked celebrities depicted drinking to excess”. Another key reason for the drop is that young drinkers are gathering in coffee bars, cinemas, sports club and gyms rather than the traditional pub. The percentage of men drinking eight units or more on a single day in the preceding week fell from 39 per cent in 2009 to 22 per cent in 2010.

Beer Academy sommelier provides beer insight on BBC Two: Beer Academy sommelier Jane Peyton appears on BBC Two’s “Great British Food Revival” at 7.00pm tomorrow (Tuesday, 6 November). In the programme Peyton and the host, celebrity chef Angela Hartnett, recreate a medieval style beer. Peyton said: “Angela was particularly interested to hear that historically the majority of brewers were women not men. Ale was brewed in the home as part of domestic duties. For the programme we recreated medieval style ale. This was a very different brew to what we drink nowadays. In England brewers didn’t start using hops until the Middle Ages and so our ale was flavoured with honey and heather.”

Police halt Morris dancing at pub in the name of community relations: Police halted a Morris dancing display at The White Lion, in Warlingham, on the basis of “community relations” after a complaint about noise. 69-year-old David Young, one of the dancers, told This is Croydon: “They said, in the interest of ‘community relations’, we think you should stop dancing. We were about to go outside to do some more, so we had to cut it short. You would think the police would have let us carry on. The way it all happened, you would have thought it was a BNP or KKK meeting. It’s the first time we’ve encountered anything like it.”

Company news:

Former Mill House Inns boss to open new gastro concept: Bob Williams, the former chairman of Mill House Inns, is to re-open The Crooked Billet in Kingswood, Alysebury, Buckinghamshire, as The Crooked Fillet in the middle of this month. The new concept is a restaurant and multi-faceted farm shop on the same premises. The shop will combine a butcher’s shop, deli and bakery, with customers of the restaurant able to purchase the food they have eaten to take home. Williams founded Mill House Inns in 1995 by buying 12 pubs. With co-founder Chris Parratt, he refurbished the 12 pubs and targeted the family dining market. Mill House Inns was eventually sold to Punch Taverns for £164m. As GrandMet’s property chief in the 1990s, Williams played a lead role in restructuring the group’s 8,450-strong Inntrepreneur pub joint venture with Fosters. The Crooked Fillet is understood to be a private free-of-tie lease with a rent of £50,000 per annum. 

Mitchells & Butlers appoints Colliers to let empty space: The Bristol office of Colliers International has won a contract to manage empty space next to and above the 1600-strong Mitchell & Butlers’ pub estate. Colliers newly appointed commercial property managers Kevin Smith said: “This is a massive contract involving an enormous number of premises, all of which present their own unique set of requirements. Our job is to identify the best letting option for each premises to reduce the amount of vacant space across the portfolio.”

JD Wetherspoon set to bag prime Norfolk site; lodges £1.4m plan for former Spirit pub in Leek: JD Wetherspoon is lined up to take a new 6,000 square foot pub and restaurant in the centre of Diss, Norfolk. The venue is set to be built by landlord Joe Darrell at Kings Head Yard, off Mere Street in Diss. He secured planning permission for the new-build four years ago. A further planning application to build a mezzanine floor to create two levels within the building was submitted to South Norfolk Council this week. The premises will take up part of an existing car park at the Kings Head Yard site and will feature French doors leading to an outdoor paved area where customers can enjoy views of the Mere. Meanwhile, the company has lodged plan for a £1.4 million refurbishment of the Grade II-listed Swan pub, in St Edward Street, Leek, formerly owned by Spirit Pub Company.

Fire hits Luminar site in Essex on Saturday night: Luminar’s Liquid and Envy on Basilson’s Festival Leisure Park had to be evacuated on Saturday night after a fire broke out in the ceiling just before 2am. Essex fire brigade divisional officer Stuart McMillan said: “Some 1,100 people were being evacuated from the building as crews arrived at the scene and fortunately there were no major injuries. The fire has damaged the staging area and some of the internal furnishings in one area of the nightclub. It is too early to say what caused the incident but we will be looking into that now the fire is out.” Meanwhile, Kingston’s Best Bar None awards, due to be held at Oceana nightclub in Kingston, have been postponed after a fatal stabbing at the club that has seen its licence suspended for 14 days. Town centre management company Kingstonfirst said the event had been delayed out of respect to the victim’s family.

Greene King gets Braintree Hungry Horse go-ahead: Suffolk brewer and retailer Greene King has won planning consent to build a Hungry Horse pub on scrubland in Avenue East, on the Skyline 120 business park in Braintree’s Great Notley. Permission had been granted to build a restaurant on the site in 2007, but last week Braintree Council’s planning committee approved an application to allow a pub to be built.

Worksop late-night venue completes market position move: A Worksop late-night venue has succeeded in completing a dramatic transformation of its market position to an all-day café bar, adding 45 per cent to its turnover. The Corner House had traded for eight years as a late-night venue that saw most of its business on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening. Father-and-son owners Tony and Mark Churchill decided it was time for radical change to position the venue to appeal to the coffee and food market. Design and build company Concorde BGW undertook research on the market in Worksop before completing a £110,000 scheme that created a modern all-day venue that trades from 10am, when breakfast is served, until the early hours. Mark Churchill said: “There’s been a shift in Worksop town centre at weekends with more people using community pubs. We wanted to “open up” our premises and create an all-day offer, taking advantage of the fact that we have a great corner site with big windows – the sort of site that a Starbucks snaps up. Concorde BGW did a brilliant job, creating a lighter, brighter venue with sub-divided areas that are perfect for dining and welcoming for coffee drinks whilst maintaining the traditional feel.” Both coffee and food sales have trebled since the refurbishment.

Award-wining C2 Investment sees turnover up, profit down: C2 Investment, the award-winning north west pub and hotel operator led by Matt Jackson, has reported turnover rose to £4,403,897 in the year to 31 January, up from £3,970,772 the year before. Profit before tax was £114,109, down from £136,819 the year before. The company’s four pubs include The Sun Inn in Lancaster – it also owns 76 per cent of Lancaster Brewery.

Tokyo Group reports £1m-plus pre-tax profit: Nightclub company Tokyo Group, led by Aaron Mellor, has reported pre-tax profit hit £1,073,434 in the year to 31 December 2011, up from £899,377 the year before. The increase in profit came despite turnover edging down by 5.2 per cent to £6,626,651, from £6,994,394 the year previous. Gross profit margin stood at 78.7 per cent. 

Stonegate Pub Company to re-open South Woodford pub after refurbishment: Stonegate Pub Company is to re-open The George in South Woodford this Thursday (8 November) after a refurbishment. The pub will have a new menu, greater variety of drinks and a newer, fresher look. Stephen O’Hallaron, manager of the George said: “At the heart of the George’s offer is a traditional pub that caters for both drinkers and diners and the refurbishment will enhance and improve both these areas.” 

Flagstone Cask & Grill buys first site: Flagstone Cask & Grill, the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) company operated by Ian Grundy and Gavin Drew, has bought its first freehold - The Swan, Chappel, a 15th century inn on the outskirts of Colchester. The site will undergo a two phase redevelopment - an initial sparkle pre-Christmas with plans submitted in the New Year for the installation of a wood-fired pizza oven and a micro brewery, returning the site to a brewing tradition some 100 years after it last brewed. Flagstone Cask and Grill is already successfully trading via its pop-up bar in Marylebone, London - the company has plans to operate as many as three pop-ups at any given time. Meanwhile, Grundy and Drew will continue to manage Foundation Inns, where shareholders have voted in favour of allowing them to continue to run the business until property prices improve. The pair also operate Close Imperial Pub Company where they have improved operating performance, allowing the company to trade beyond its three-year EIS qualifying hurdle.

Lincolnshire brewpub to quadruple production: The owner of the Half Moon pub in Wingham by Stow, near Gainsborough, Lincolnshire is to make a £100,000 investment to quadruple production of the Grafters Ales Brewery he set up at the pub in 2007. The investment will create a larger brewing area, viewing windows so real ale enthusiasts can see the ale being made, a shop for off-sales, plus an office and a large beer garden. Owner Phil Troop said: “Most pubs now do food but we knew we had to do something really different to attract customers and keep them. As a real ale enthusiast I decided that real ale would be our unique element. So I learned how to be a brewer, all my customers liked it and I’ve expanded to take on take on both a full-time brewer and a delivery driver. The extended facilities mean that, instead of the present weekly limit of 36 nine-gallon firkins a week, we’ll be able to quadruple our capacity.”

Thousands protest against loss of Antic’s Catford Bridge Tavern: A total of 1,933 people have signed a petition challenging the planned conversion of Antic’s Catford Bridge Tavern into flats and a supermarket, while a further 375 have made formal objections to Lewisham Council. Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock was urged to introduce better protection for the area’s pubs. Antic, led by Antony Thomas, is one of London’s most innovative pub operators with an estate of 30 pubs.

Breweries on Sky and Arran merge: The Isle of Skye Brewery and the Isle of Arran Brewery are to merge, with the combined brewery known as Arran Brewery. The Isle of Skye Brewery was the first commercial brewery in the Hebrides when it was launched in 1995, with Arran following in 2000. The brewers said the move would create “great synergy” and increase combined turnover tenfold. Gerald Michaluk, managing director of the merged company, told BBC Scotland: ”We are planning to build a new brew house on Arran next year which would increase capacity to 16,000,000 litres per annum. This production is mainly aimed at the export market.”

Bournemouth to get first new nightclub in seven years: An entrepreneur has won a two-and-a-half year battle with the local authority to open the first new nightclub in Bournemouth in seven years. Despite objections from Dorset Police, councillors and residents, the redundant Empire Club on Holdenhurst Road will become a 480-person capacity bar and nightclub called the Orange Rooms. Bournemouth’s licensing board first refused the application in December 2011 but applicant Shahab Hashtroudi took it to appeal and won. It is the first new club licence to be granted in Bournemouth since the Cumulative Impact Zone was introduced in the town centre in 2005.

Chimichanga branch and “wine education centre” to open in Bury St Edmunds: A new branch of Chimichanga, owned by Prezzo, is to open in the former La Tasca in Bury St Edmunds’s Abbeygate Street site. A £550,000 refurbishment should see the new site open for Christmas. Meanwhile, Petrus Wine Bar will open on the former site of the Chocolate Bar on Whiting and Abbeygate Street in the next few weeks. Owner Ryan Smith said the bar would be a “wine education centre” for people to come and try as many varieties as they want. He added: “My primary aim is to make wine accessible and relevant – and show how uncomplicated it really is.

Welsh brewer loses battle with PepsiCo: Pontcanna-based Artisan Brewery, led by Simon Doherty, has been told it can no longer sell drinks under the Bare Naked Beer label. Two years ago PepsiCo, the second largest food and drink manufacturer in the world, said the registered trademark on the product was too similar to the upmarket Naked Juice fruit drinks that it makes. A court has now ruled in PepsiCo’s favour.

Gloucestershire couple takes on third pub: Gloucestershire couple Georgie and Sam Pearman have taken on their third pub – The Chequers in Churchill, near Kingham – they already run the Tavern in Cheltenham and The Wheatsheaf Inn at Northleach. “In a village or town, the heart of the community is often the village pub, like the post office,” said Georgie. “It provides a bit of soul to the village. And it’s emotional – people have a lot of feelings for the village pub.”

Costa Coffee – Southwold can’t be compared with Totnes: Costa Coffee is to press ahead with controversial plans to open in Southwold, Suffolk, despite locals claiming the town is comparable to Totnes, Devon where Costa withdrew out of respect for the strength of local opinion. A spokesman for Costa Coffee said: “We made the decision not to open in Totnes based upon a specific set of circumstances unique to the town. We don’t believe that these circumstances are replicated in Southwold.”

Langan’s Brasserie art to go under the humour with £1m expected to be raised: Auctioneer Christie’s is to sell the core collection of 230 artworks from the London restaurants Langan’s Brasserie and Odin’s in December. Ten works will be offered during the Modern British Art Evening Sale on 12 December and a dedicated sale, Peter Langan: A Life with Art, will present the main body of 220 works at Christie’s South Kensington on 18 December. The works are expected to realise a combined total in excess of £1 million. Restaurateur Richard Shepherd said: “People do not need to worry - Langan’s will continue the tradition of surrounding diners with a wide array of art, retaining our signature atmosphere of creativity and comfort. We also hope that the young artists of today will continue the tradition at Langan’s of ‘eating down’ their work.”

Papa John’s to hit profit this year as it reaches 200 UK sites: Founder of pizza delivery firm Papa John’s John Schnatter has forecast that the business will move into profit in the UK this year for the first time since it entered the market 13 years go. Talking to The Sunday Times on a visit to open the 200th site, Schnatter said: “We’ve had 27 quarters, getting on for 28, of positive like-for-like sales growth. Frankly, considering how much bigger Domino’s and Pizza Hut are, and we’re in a recession, I am amazed at our success and the momentum building up.” Papa John’s lost £1m in the year to December 2011 on sales of £23m.

Brakspear aims for low area manager to tenant ratio: Henley-based Brakspear is recruiting a new business development manager, which will see the company’s 148 pubs being supported by a team of five BDMs , believed to be one of the lowest pub-to-BDM ratios in the industry at fewer than 30 pubs each. Chief executive Tom Davies said: “By increasing the number of BDMs, we are getting them back to doing what they do best, which is to help our tenants run successful businesses. We’re already seeing the benefits of investing in the BDM-tenant relationship, as just five per cent of our pubs are currently on the rental market. This is a lower rate than the industry average and we believe it’s because we look after our tenants from the recruitment process right through their career with us. We’re also seeing a growing number of tenants take their second or third pub with us.”

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