M&B examines entry into Irish market: Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) is sizing up expansion opportunities across Ireland, with up to six potential locations already thought to have been identified in Cork and Dublin, the Irish Examiner has reported. M&B is initially focused on introducing its family-themed restaurant brands such as Harvester and Toby Carvery but the company is also thought to be looking at opening an All Bar One, according to The Examiner. A spokesperson for the group told the Examiner the group doesn’t comment on market rumours specifically, but added: “M&B is always looking at opportunities to grow its business and, so, it continually monitors opportunities across a wide range of markets.” M&B’s entry to Ireland follows the lead of other UK pub companies focusing on the Irish market for expansion. JD Wetherspoon has already stated it could open between 30 and 50 pubs here over the coming decade, with the first arriving in April in Dublin and a second to follow in Cork. Greene King has also been linked with potential investment. It has been suggested by the Irish Examiner that M&B could open up to 20 premises, across its various brands, in Ireland over the next four years with both board approval and cash apparently in place to do so.
Mitchells & Butlers lines up Miller & Carter opening in former Ant & Dec bar in Newcastle: Mitchells & Butlers has submitted a plan to convert the former Lodge bar in Newcastle, once part-owned by Ant & Dec, into a Miller & Carter steakhouse. The Lodge closed late last year after PBR Leisure, which also owned Blu Bambu on the nearby Bigg Market, called in restructuring specialists Zolfo Cooper after experiencing problems due to the “challenging economic climate” last year. Mitchells & Butlers want to turn The Lodge into a 450-capacity venue. Grey Street, with The Lodge situated at the bottom, has undergone a restaurant renaissance. Cafe Rouge, Browns, Las Iguanas and Japanese restaurant Osaka have joined The Living Room and Zizzi’s on the street, with Carluccio’s also opening last year at the top. In the next few months, Harry’s Bar & Grill will also open opposite the Theatre Royal and, just a few metres away at Monument, Jamie’s Italian is set to open later this year.
Nicholson’s launches beer with world record number of hops: Nicholson’s, the Mitchells & Butlers brand, has launched a beer, Top of the Hops, which has an unequalled 2,014 British hop varieties. No two batches are identical, meaning customers get a fresh experience every time they drink a fresh pint. Top of the Hops is the product of a partnership between Peter Darby of Wye Hops, Nicholson’s pubs, and Great Yorkshire Brewery. Each year, Darby grows thousands of hop varieties as he seeks to develop better ones, but only ever uses a small fraction of each plant’s harvest in his research. So in 2013, Nicholson’s and Great Yorkshire bought all remaining flowers from 2,014 of the different strains Darby had cultivated that year. Once these are dried, a slightly different blend goes into each Top of the Hops batch so the beer is constantly evolving and intriguing. Ben Lockwood, Nicholson’s brand manager, said: “With people’s continued interest in, and greater understanding of, hops and their role in beer’s diverse flavours, we’re delighted to work with Peter on this project. Our guests come to expect innovation from us, and we’re happy to be supporting Britain’s hops industry.”