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Tue 3rd Sep 2013 - Simon Rogan, M&B, Nando's, Pret A Manger and YO! Sushi

Story of the day:

Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume named by Good Food Guide as UK’s top restaurant: Chef Simon Rogan’s Cumbrian restaurant, L’Enclume, has achieved the top spot in Waitrose Good Food Guide 2014 for the very first time. Restaurants in the Good Food Guide are awarded a cooking score out of ten, with L’Enclume achieving the top score for the second year in a row. In the number two spot is Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck, which has scored a perfect ten for six years in a row - longer than any other restaurant since the guide adopted its current scoring system. Currently, L’Enclume and The Fat Duck are the only two restaurants in the UK to achieve such a score. Elizabeth Carter, consultant editor of the Good Food Guide, said: ‘After achieving the top score in last year’s Guide, Rogan and his team haven’t missed a beat, despite the pressures of the past year – from opening the French at the Midland Hotel in Manchester to overseeing a pop-up restaurant in London. Rogan rightfully takes his place as leader of the pack when it comes to modern British cooking. His fantastic way with seasonal ingredients from the Cumbrian land and coast brings dishes that are a joyful celebration of this county’s magnificent diversity. L’Enclume is truly deserving of the number one spot.’ Simon Rogan, head chef at L’Enclume, said: “I’m so proud of my staff and this phenomenal achievement with The Good Food Guide. This is something we have always dreamed about. We have received this accolade because of our focus on both the food product and the customer - keeping it natural and fresh in the kitchen, and friendly but professional in the dining room.” The 2014 edition has seen all ten restaurants from 2013 hang on to their Top ten ranking, with Cornish venue Restaurant Nathan Outlaw rising to number three. Restaurant Sat Bains, in Nottinghamshire, and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London are at the number four and five respectively. Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social in London remains at number six. Hibiscus, The Square and The Ledbury, also in London, have risen to spots seven, eight and nine respectively. Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons is ranked at number ten.

Industry news:

Glasgow set to grant pubs an extra hour: Pubs within Glasgow centre will be permitted to remain open until 1am under proposals to overhaul the city’s licensing regime. The extra hour, available to around 225 premises, is expected to be implemented before the end of the year and brings the city’s licensing laws into line with those of Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Licensing chiefs say the 1am plan is due to changing socialising habits and the reluctance of older pub customers to continue their evening in nightclubs after midnight. The additional hour, they said, would not necessarily equate to more people consuming more alcohol. The new policy would also see the scrapping of the seven areas across Glasgow currently designated as “over-provision zones”, essentially areas including parts of the west end and city centre considered at saturation point with licensed premises.

David Cameron wants to increase the minimum wage: David Cameron is trying to work out how to increase the minimum wage without hurting the UK’s economic recovery, according to The Daily Mail. One idea being looked at is to give a tax break to companies that pay more than the minimum wage of £6.19 per hour. Another idea is to force large and profitable companies above a certain threshold to pay staff above the minimum wage. A Downing Street source told the BBC’s Newsnight that a policy change “remains a long way off”.

Net lending to businesses drops by £2.3bn: Net lending by banks to small businesses dropped by £2.3bn in the year after the introduction of the controversial Funding for Lending scheme. However, the measure has fuelled a boom in mortgage lending, helping home-buyers at the expense of entrepreneurs. The Bank of England claimed the situation for small businesses would have been even worse without the scheme, which allows unlimited borrowing by banks for as little as 0.25% interest as long as they maintain or increase lending to households and businesses.

Retail and leisure firms should pay a levy to revive the high street: Former Wickes boss Bill Grimsey has urged retailers and leisure firms to invest 0.25% of 2014’s sales into a “fighting fund” to help rescue town centres. His review of high street sustainability has calculated that this investment would amount to around £550m, which would be spent on new high street ventures. Grimsey said it is time the big retail chains, which have made a lot of money out of the high street, “put something back”. He said: “I honestly think the time has come for the big chains to put something back and help re-design the high street. What we’ve seen in a lot of secondary town centre locations is that as the chains move out to more lucrative out of town sites they’re hollowing out the high street.”

Sky broadcasts the UK’s first live event in Ultra HD: Sky has broadcast the UK’s first ever live event in Ultra HD at its West London HQ. The broadcaster filmed Saturday’s 3pm fixture between West Ham and Stoke City and transmitted the whole match live over satellite through its studio facility. A Sky Spokesperson said: “We are constantly experimenting and evaluating new technologies which may help our customers get more enjoyment from the TV they love. As part of this research we have successfully broadcast a test event in Ultra HD. It’s yet another UK first for Sky. We will continue to test and learn so that we’re ready as and when the market for Ultra HD begins to develop.”

Top operators take part in Boutique Bar Show panel: Propel Info managing director Paul Charity is to chair a panel of top operators at the Boutique Bar Show, which takes place on 24 and 25 September at Victoria House, Bloomsbury Square, London. On the panel discussing current industry trends are former Novus chief executive Steve Richards, Yummy Pub Company founder Tim Foster and Cavendish Bars founder Christian Arden. Register for free at www.boutiquebarshow.com. The panel debate takes place on 24 September at 11am.

Company news:

YO! Sushi launches two-week discount promotion: YO! Sushi has launched a two-week promotion to beat September Blues with 50 dishes offered at £2.50 each between Monday and Friday from 2 to 13 September. The company states: “No coupons, no vouchers, no fuss! All you need to do is turn up and enjoy a great selection from our menu – hot, cold, sweet and savoury.” The offer is available at 58 of the company’s sites.

Arc Inspirations opens Leeds underground bar: Arc Inspirations, the bar and restaurant operator headed by Martin Woolstencroft, has opened a new urban and underground bar in Leeds. The Pit on Merrion Street, in the Northern Quarter of Leeds, serves traditional American-style food. Inspired by former mining days, the Pit has a concrete curved bar, original brick and exposed beams and oak and steel furniture handcrafted by local blacksmiths. The Den is home to two custom-made ping pong tables whilst the White Room is more refined and will be used for private parties, dinner and cocktail master classes. Arc Inspirations also owns The Box and The Arc in Headingley. The company hopes to open two more bars in 2014 and opened Banyan in York earlier this summer. The company reported pre-tax profits of £2,557,465 on turnover of £11,655,708 in the year to 1 April 2012. Arc Inspirations had turnover of £12,536,538 and pre-tax profit of £2,760,300 the year before.

David Beckham and Gordon Ramsay plan a pie and mash chain: Footballer David Beckham and chef Gordon Ramsay plan to open a chain of pie and mash shops, according to The Sun. A source told The Sun: “David wants to open a pie and mash cafe in London as a starting point for a worldwide chain. David and Gordon agree there’s a gap in the market and they want to bring it to the rest of the world.”

Health chief attempts to remove Burger King from Addenbrooke’s: A health chief is trying to kick Burger King out of a top hospital to promote better diets. The company has a site on the concourse at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. Chief executive Dr Keith McNeil: “We are trying to persuade them it is in both our interests to be promoting healthy lifestyles. I personally would only like to see healthy options for eating on site.” Dr McNeil said they were having discussions with the company that sublets space to the fast-food chain in a bid to force it out. The lettings firm confirmed it had been having talks with the hospital for two years. But one of its directors Simon Turpin said: “The Burger King always has a long queue and is very popular with hospital visitors. It would need to be replaced by something as popular.”

Nando’s and Pret scoop vegan awards: Chicken restaurant chain Nando’s and sandwich firm Pret are among the winners of the first-ever PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) Vegan Food Awards. In the Best Vegan Burger category, Nando’s Veggie Burger, made from soya and tomato and gently spiced with a dash of cayenne, was the winner. In the Best Vegan Sandwich or Wrap category Pret’s ‘Naked Avocado Bloomer’, served with roasted tomatoes, basil leaves and Kalamata olives, took top prize. “Our winners – from restaurant and sandwich chains to artisan food companies to fine chocolatiers – are proof that astute food retailers are taking note that more and more people are ditching meat, eggs and dairy products and moving towards a healthier and kinder diet,” said PETA’s Mimi Bekhechi.

Malvern Inns introduces bottle of Prosecco for staff mentioned on TripAdvisor: Malverns Inns, the company led by former Mitchells & Butlers executive Alastair Scott that runs two Punch Taverns sites, has begun to give a bottle of Prosecco to each staff member mentioned in TripAdvisor reviews. Scott told Propel: “We give out the bottles on a Sunday morning before service. It really drives great service and we’ve handed out 25 so far.” The company is approaching the first anniversary of the opening of its second pub, the Square & Compass near Harrogate and sales hit £26,000 net last week. Said Scott: “We’ve decided not to expand through the venture capital route. We want to expand the business at our own speed and prefer a target of zero for new openings so we only open a new site if we find a great venue.” Malvern Inns is understood to be looking to add seven bedrooms to it first pub, The George at Backwell, Bristol.

Last call from Punch Taverns to meet innovative operators: Punch Taverns has issued a last call to innovative and ambitious operators to come and meet senior executives of the company at a networking event to discuss how the company can work with them. The networking evening is being held tomorrow (Wednesday, 4 September) at The Cock & Lion, 62 Wigmore Street, London starting at 5.30pm. Regional director John Price added: “We really do want to get the message out to as many great, innovative operators as possible that our leases really could work for them.” Anyone wanting to attend, should call Vicky Brown on 01283 523648 or e-mail her on vicky.brown@punchtaverns.com

SSP UK takes on 800 apprentices: Travel hub catering experts SSP UK has recruited 800 apprentices onto its apprenticeship programme this year. SSP UK introduced its award-winning apprenticeship programme in July 2010 and currently has 1,540 staff enrolled onto the scheme. Unusually, the programme is open to all new SSP UK colleagues, whatever their age, academic or professional background. Colleagues join the bespoke programme at Level 2 as a Team Member, progressing to a qualification in Team Leading, culminating in Level 3 – Management. Martin Walder, head of learning and development at SSP UK, said: “The hospitality and catering industry is not always a young person’s first choice for a career, and yet we have a high demand for skilled teams. By providing a structured framework for training and career progression, our apprenticeship programme allows young people to learn while they earn and has enabled us to recruit and retain a number of truly excellent colleagues. Thanks to the programme, our post 90 day retention for new colleagues has improved by 6%, with apprentice graduates confirmed as 50% more likely to stay with SSP UK as a career.”

Loungers opens in Market Harborough: Cafe bar concept Loungers, headed by Alex Reilley and Jake Bishop, has opened Mercado Lounge, based in the former Golden Wonder building in Abbey Street, Harborough. Chairman of Harborough District Council Geraldine Robinson said: “I think it is something that has been needed for a long time. It is really, really child friendly and somewhere where parents can bring pushchairs and where parents are made to feel welcome. It will certainly be coming here when I come shopping. It is lovely, really nice.” Loungers has invested £500,000 to transform the previously empty unit, creating a total of 35 jobs.

M&B to open a new Miller & Carter steakhouse next week: Mitchells & Butlers is to open a new Miller & Carter steakhouse, Miller & Carter Brookmans Park in Potters Bar, a former restaurant called Nolita, on Friday 13 September. The brand, which is overseen by Adrian Frid, will have reached 29 sites with the opening. It is set to hit 30 sites next month having secured the Beau Nash site in Bath’s Milson Street, a former Litten Tree. Recently M&B chief executive Alistair Darby described the brand as one the company intended to “get its shoulder behind” to increase the speed of roll-out. The brand opened its foist city centre site in Leeds The Light Development at the start of the year.

JD Wetherspoon to open in Royston in October: JD Wetherspoon is set to open in Royston on 29 October. Work got under way on the 18th century Manor House Social Club in Melbourn Street in July this year. The £1 million site will bring 40 new jobs to the town with the complete transformation of the dilapidated listed building which has sat empty for two years. In May 2011 the Manor House Social Club put the property on the market for £1 million following a cash crisis at the club, which saw membership dwindle from 1,500 to 421 in just three years.

Balthazar Bakery at Selfridges: Balthazar Bakery has opened a concession in Selfridges Food Hall. The bakery, which is based in Waterloo and is an offshoot of the Balthazar restaurant opened by Richard Caring and Keith McNally in Covent Garden earlier this year, also supplies bread to Balthazar London and other wholesale clients.

Coffee shop owner to open tea shop as interest in tea grows: A tea shop is to open in Henley next month – run by a coffee house owner. Lorraine Hillier has taken on the lease of Askew Art in Duke Street, which closed last month and will re-open as Upstairs Downstairs, selling about 45 different types of tea from around the world. Miss Hillier, who has run the Hot Gossip coffee house in Friday Street for exactly six years, had been searching for a second venue in the town for about two years. She said: “I have noticed a trend for people wanting to experiment with their tea. There is a whole generation that missed out on loose tea because they have grown up with teabags but people are now interested in drinking more specialist teas.“

Enterprise Inns landlady criticises campaign to keep her pub open: A campaign by a group of councillors to keep an Oxenhope pub in West Yorkshire open has been criticised by its landlady who says she has never seen them in the hostelry they are keen to save. The Bay Horse Inn was recently put up for sale by owner Enterprise Inns for £295,000. News of the sale led to three ward Conservative councillors – Glen Miller, Rebecca Poulsen and Russell Brown – launching a campaign to keep it as a pub. Landlady Karen Ward said: “It has never been a really busy pub and we worked out the other day that 98% of the village probably never come in. There are three more pubs in the village so I don’t know what the councillors are so worried about.”

JD Wetherspoon pub re-open as a Sainsbury’s convenience store – 63 years after first opening as Sainsbury’s: A former JD Wetherspoon pub in London Road, Croydon has re-opened as a Sainsbury’s Local. The site is, ironically, the first ever Sainbury’s supermarket to open in the UK on 8 July 1950. It closed 19 year later as supermarkets got bigger and couldn’t offer a big enough range. The re-opened Sainsbury’s Local will function as a hybrid, offering top-up shopper and majoring on food-on-the go for commuters and shop workers. 

Fire at Union Jacks leads to evacuation of Covent Garden: A mass evacuation of Covent Garden took place after a fire broke out at a Jamie Oliver restaurant on Sunday lunchtime. Hundreds fled the scene when a blaze erupted at the Union Jacks restaurant in Covent Garden Market. The fire is reported to be the second to have started at the venue since it opened last summer. The restaurant, which occupies two floors, is one of three Union Jacks branches in the capital.

Pizza Hut to convert Wellingborough pub into delivery unit: Wellingborough Council has approved an application to turn the Star Bar in Wellingborough High Street into a Pizza Hut delivery outlet. The application was approved earlier this month with the condition that the opening hours are restricted to 11am to 11pm from Sunday to Thursday and 11am to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. The property was put on the market last year with an asking price of £195,000 freehold.

Gourmet hot dog van developed by Kudos: Contract caterer Crown Group offshoot Kudos is to launch a gourmet hot van in Harrogate – the Haute Dog Van. Jon Pryce, managing director of Kudos, said: “Several members of our staff regularly attend global food festivals to spot emerging trends. We have been trialing the concept for a number of months to ensure we have the right balance of bread, meat and sauces. The choice of the Citroen H Van was key to completing the concept and we are now ready to hit the streets.”

Yorkshire businessman plans steakhouse chain: Jason Mace, who founded the Gala Tents marquee business, is planning a chain of steak houses across South Yorkshire. Gala has grown into a multimillion-pound business that is the UK’s largest designer and manufacturer of tents, marquees and gazebos and has offices in China, where a number of the innovative patented in-house shelters it has designed and developed are made. He has already re-opened the Park View bar and restaurant, near to Gala Tent’s Farfield Park headquarters, as a sports bar and restaurant, complete with a function suite decked out to resemble the interior of a marquee. He’s now bought the Double Barrel public house, on Brampton Road, Thurcroft, and is re-opening it next month as a steakhouse employing around a dozen staff. Mace said: “We’ve a tried and tested plan that has worked so well for the Park View pub and we’ll be using this winning formula for the new steakhouse. I’m hoping this will be the first of many steakhouses we’ll be opening in South Yorkshire.”

Tudor Hopkins buys old Manor Hotel, Trowbridge: The landmark Old Manor hotel in Trowle near Trowbridge has been snapped up by hospitality veteran Tudor Hopkins in a deal brokered by Colliers International. Tudor Hopkins has been operating in the hotels sector for many years with a CV that includes training at the Connaught and Grosvenor hotels in London followed by operating the Place at the Beach in Camber in East Sussex, the Gallivant in Camber and the Leonard hotel in Marble Arch. The Old Manor is his first foray into the West Country since working in a Bristol cocktail bar during his twenties. He said: “We have family in Bath and I lived and worked in Bristol so taking over the Old Manor is very much a return to my roots. This is a wonderful 500-year-old manor house with amazing potential. It’s just in need of a good shake.”

Spirit lines up second premium London opening: Spirit Pub Company will open its second premium London pub later this month after the successful conversion of the George pub in Belsize Park, a Taylor Walker site, earlier this year. The Cricketers in Kew Green, a former Chef & Brewer, is set to re-open as part of Spirit’s Premium Pub Company segment on Thursday 19 September. Spirit operates a second Chef & Brewer site nearby and the pub’s location made it ideal for the move upmarket. The pub, which has seen a £260,000 refurbishment, has been renamed as a nod to the rich cricket history in Richmond. It will pay homage to the traditional British sport within its décor and offer upgraded seating and decking area. Head chef is Tracey De Villiers and general manager is Paolo Corgiolu. Characterised by ‘inspired, great British pub food’, bar snacks include a roast Cornish sirloin and horseradish sandwich; roast chicken club with basil mayonnaise sandwich; and a black bomber and ale chutney sandwich. Typical small plates and sharing boards include a half pint of prawns with garlic mayonnaise, duck liver pate with crusty bread and a farmhouse deli board which boasts wild boar scotch duck egg, roast Cornish sirloin, duck liver pate served with Blacksticks blue cheese and ale chutney. Main courses offer choices such as Rosemary, garlic and parmesan crusted rack of lamb served with Jersey royals and steamed asparagus; Pan-roasted chicken breast served with wild mushroom and stilton mousse, crispy pancetta and broccoli; and seabass fillets with razor clams, king prawns and Samphire. There will be 17 craft ales and 15 different gins available. Spirit chief executive Mike Tye told Propel in June that Spirit would trial its premium format in different types of locations. He said: “It’s going really well at The George – we’re really pleased. We got most things right at The George but you always learn a few things. The George doesn’t have the best pitch so the way it is performing is very encouraging. There are loads of sites we want to do and two are waiting on planning consent.” 

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