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Mon 10th Mar 2014 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Liberal Democrats pass policy motion to give pub tenants right to buy freehold if pub company puts site on market: Liberal Democrats has passed a policy motion, “A Better More Sustainable future for British pubs”, at their Spring conference in York, that gives pub tenants a right to buy their freehold at an independently assessed market value if their pub company puts the site on the market. The other key policy proposals include: supporting pub company reform, including a consultation by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which asked how the principle that the tied licensee should not be worse off than the untied licensee, could be enshrined in law; change the planning system so that no pub is given change of use or permission to demolish, without it being offered at a fair market price and properly advertised for sale for at least six months. MP Greg Mulholland said: “The Liberal Democrats have firmly positioned themselves as the pro-pub party in Britain and I hope that this will encourage more action from the Coalition Government over the coming year and also send a clear message to licensees, pub goers and communities that the Liberal Democrats are serious about standing up for the Great British pub. I am also delighted that the party has adopted key policies to give pubs more protection in planning law. Despite the welcome but limited powers given to communities to register assets of community value, pubs can still be sold and closed, including being turned into supermarkets and betting shops, without this even needing planning permission. That is simply barmy and some simple, commonsensical changes to the planning system would give thousands of the pubs the protection they need and stop the unethical collusion between indebted pubcos and supermarkets.”

Industry News:

A total of 3,655 attend first Casual Dining show: The first Casual Dining show proved a big hit with 3,655 attendees. Next year, the show, which is set for 25 and 26 February 2015, will be expanded to include some of the Upper Feature Level at the Business Design Centre in Islington, north London. Group event manager Chris Brazier said: “We knew that expectations were going to be high – particularly because there’s been nothing quite like it before. But the way it has been so positively received – by thousands of suppliers and operators, from right across the UK – has been truly amazing. We now have an exceptional foundation from which to grow and develop over the coming years. I’m looking forward to Casual Dining 2015 already!” Anthony Pender, managing director of The Yummy Pub Company, who appeared at the show as part of the Future Directions of the Pub Sector panel, hosted by Propel Info’s managing director Paul Charity, has called Casual Dining a “welcome change” to the trade show calendar. He added that he “would definitely recommend more pub operators visiting Casual Dining next year”.

Stonegate Pub Company hires Longbottom as chief executive as it eyes IPO: Stonegate Pub Company has hired Simon Longbottom as chief executive in the wake of the departure of Toby Smith. The appointment comes amid suggestions that Stonegate will launch an Initial Public Offering towards the end of 2014 or early next year. The Times reported that Stonegate like-for-like sales have been rising by about 4% this year. Longbottom, who was formerly managing director of Greene King’s tenanted division, brings with him a wealth of experience in the pub and bar sector having held senior positions at Mitchells and Butlers and Mill House Inns and will take up the position on a date to be agreed. Toby Smith has agreed to work with Longbottom to ensure a smooth handover of the business and build on the growth that Stonegate has delivered this year.

Study reveals contribution of migrants to UK business start-ups: Some 500,000 people from 155 countries have launched businesses in the UK and are responsible for creating 14% of total jobs, a study by the Centre for Entrepreneurs and DueDil has found. There are currently 456,073 migrant entrepreneurs running active businesses in the UK, and some own more than one. With a total of 3,194,981 firms in the UK, migrant entrepreneurs are behind 14.5% or one in seven of companies with turnover between £1m and £200m. The majority of those come from Ireland, as there are 48,854 Irish founders behind businesses in the UK. In second place is India, with 32,593, followed by Germany with 30,755 and America with 29,933. Dr Gerry Ford, chairman and group chief executive of Caffé Nero, came to the UK from California three decades ago. He said the UK is one of the easiest places in Europe to run a business because there is ‘not an excessive amount of red tape’.

Industry leader make beer duty plea: A total of 36 industry leaders have signed a letter to The Times this morning calling on the Chancellor to freeze beer duty in the Budget this month. They say that beer duty is at extraordinary levels and it will take years to undo the damage caused by the 42% rise under the previous government’s tax escalator policy. The letter states: “Britons drink 12% of the beer in the EU but pay 43% of all beer taxes. British duty is still an astonishing 12 times higher than that in our largest neighbour Germany.”

Company News:

Starbucks open 24-hour drive-thru in Milton Keynes a part of drive to build 200-strong network: Starbucks has opened a 24-hour drive-thru in Milton Keynes, one of 200 new drive-thrus Starbucks is planning in the UK. Half of the Starbucks outlets will be located at petrol stations following an agreement with Euro Garages – a further 5,000 employees will be hired across the UK. In the US, about 60% of the 1,500 units planned in the next five years will have a drive-thru. “Drive-thrus create incremental revenues and profits compared to traditional stores and represent a fast-growing and highly profitable format for Starbucks, comprising just over one-third of our US company-operated stores but contributing nearly 45% of our US retail profit,” said Howard Schultz. Meanwhile, The Times reported that the company has decided to turn half of its 746 UK outlet into franchises in one of the biggest overhauls of the business since it arrived in the UK.

JD Wetherspoon reveals latest set of bouquets and brickbats: JD Wetherspoon has revealed its latest set of compliments and complaints from customers in its in-pub magazine. Customers praised its Christmas offer, the value of its pub bedrooms, the 500 calories-or-lower menu items and the new Friday fish ‘n’ chip offer. However, customers also criticised dirty tables (“they remain a sticky subject and one which want us to clean up”), menu readability (“seems like the size of the menu lettering and the choice of lettering are leaving some of you in the dark about what food we offer”), local ale provision (“Christmas ales are fine but do we need so many at the expense of a bit of local ale?”) and table provision (“the perennial problem of single diners finding a table, going to order food, only to lose the table in he process”).

London Brewing Company plans micro-brewery at Mitchells & Butlers pub: London Brewing Company (LBC) is planning to open a micro-brewery at the Bohemia in North Finchley, a pub whose head lease is owned by Mitchells & Butlers but was sub-let to Downing-backed Gregarious until August last year. Agent Colliers International has now let the pub to LBC, which already runs local brewpub The Bull Highgate, in North Hill, Highgate Village. It has pledged to brew many of its beers on site in a micro-brewery in the middle of the bar, and has also promised that the Bohemia will specialise in local community events. Dan Fox, owner of LBC, said: “I am thrilled we are able to return The Bohemia to North Finchley. As a local resident, The Bohemia was my local pub before its closure and I feel strongly that this has given me a real understanding of what the community loved about it as a venue.” Alex Hill, an associate director, at Colliers International, added: “The Bohemia is a fantastic community asset and received a vast amount of interest from many established pub operators. We and our clients could not be happier that this much-loved pub will now be returned to the community with such an outstanding operator on board with its unique brewing concept.”

Greene King wins Hungry Horse go-ahead in Greenock, Scotland: Greene King has won planning consent for a Hungry Horse pub restaurant on Greenock waterfront, 25 miles west of Glasgow (population: 45,467). Inverclyde Planning Board unanimously approved the development at East India/Victoria Harbours. Up to 40 full and part-time jobs will be created. Board chairman David Wilson hoped the pub restaurant would prove the trigger for progress in developing the rest of the harbour area. A spokesperson for Greene King said: “We are pleased with the positive outcome at the planning committee and are now another step closer to bringing our family-friendly restaurant to Greenock.” The site occupies part of the East India Breast road surface, hard landscaped ground to the south of this, and part of the quay between East India and Victoria Harbours. The two-storey building has been designed to take advantage of views in northern, eastern and southern directions. Outdoor seating and tables are proposed with views towards Victoria Harbour – there will be a beer garden with views over East India Harbour plus a play area. A total of 80 parking spaces would be provided. The site is half a mile from Brewers Fayre’s family pub restaurant The Point at Cartsburn. Meanwhile, construction is underway on a Marston’s pub restaurant at Port Glasgow, due for completion in April.

Mussel and Steak Inn acquires second site: Edinburgh’s Mussel and Steak Inn, based in the Grassmarket, has acquired a second site in the Scottish capital, in Jeffrey Street. It will be taking over premises vacated by Iggs restaurant on the retirement of owner Ignacio Campos, who ran the site for 25 years. Campos told The Edinburgh Evening News: “I now look forward to taking a few months off to consider my next move. I hope to run a restaurant again but maybe on a much smaller scale. I wish The Mussel and Steak Bar the best of luck – I’m sure that it will be a success.” In 2012, Iggs received a makeover from Fernando Peire, the director of The Ivy in London, as part of the Channel 5 show The Restaurant Inspector.

Enterprise signs deal for thousands of pubs to stock e-cigarettes: Enterprise Inns has signed an exclusive deal with a manufacturer of electronic cigarettes for its products to be stocked in thousands of pubs. The company will be encouraging its 5,500 tenants to stock the products of the Birmingham-based electronic cigarette manufacturer Nicolites as an alternative to tobacco products. Nicolites’ managing director Nikhil Nathwan, said: “We are delighted to announce that we have agreed an exclusive deal with Enterprise Inns to stock Nicolites at thousands of UK pubs. It means that customers who smoke now have the opportunity to buy electronic cigarettes while they’re enjoying a drink and a meal. It also gives landlords the opportunity to take advantage of the attractive margins on offer. We are making our products available at the heart of the social smoking circle – the pub trade, which has always been very important for us. You often hear smokers say, ‘I only have a cigarette when I’m out drinking,’ and so it has always made sense for us to have a presence where even non-core smokers are tempted to have a couple of cigarettes. It is a major deal and, with Nicolites now being available to hundreds of thousands of drinkers, it continues the trend of e-cigarettes becoming more and more mainstream as the benefits they offer compared to tobacco encourages smokers to make the switch.” The action by Enterprise Inns contrasts with JD Wetherspoon, which has a complete ban on e-cigarettes on its premises.

Boston Tea Party lines up 15th site: Cafe bar concept Boston Tea Party (BTP) is set to open its 15th site, this time at The School Yard in Harborne in late June. It will seat around 100 customers inside, with a further 50 outside in a private walled garden at the Grade II listed landmark, The School Yard, which is already home to Prezzo and Urban Coffee Company. Developer EDG Property is understood to be about to unveil a new food school at the clock tower scheme shortly. BTP managing director Sam Roberts said: “Following the opening of our existing cafe-bar in Birmingham city centre in 2012, our customers have been suggesting we look at the surrounding areas too. We’ve been searching for suitable locations and buildings, and Harborne fitted the bill perfectly. The School Yard is a great scheme with bags of character.”

Buffet pioneer looking to expand: A company founded in 1990 as the first “all you can eat” buffet restaurant on Tyneside is now looking for expansion opportunities in the region. The plans come after Big Lukes World Buffet secured a new ten-year lease on its premises at the Metrocentre in Gateshead, where it moved in 1998 from its original home in Newcastle upon Tyne. Mark Harford, Big Lukes’ owner, said: “By having a secure future in the Metrocentre for another ten years, we can continue to build on our success, reinvest confidently and maintain our growth and continue to hold our position within the Metrocentre whilst also exploring new avenues in some prime locations around the country.” Richard Freeman-Wallace, partner at the Newcastle law firm Hay & Kilner, which assisted Big Lukes on securing the lease, said: “In these tough times, it is certainly refreshing to see an independent, customer-facing business prospering, especially given the level of competition Big Lukes faces from several multinational chains located nearby. The lease agreement is a great vote of confidence for the Big Lukes brand.”

Brasserie Blanc to open in Beaconsfield on 24 March: Brasserie Blanc is to open on March 24, in London End, Beaconsfield. The 180-seater restaurant is the centrepiece of the Hall Barn Estate development. The opening creates 30 jobs. Founder Raymond Blanc told the local newspaper: “Beaconsfield, I am very excited to be opening my Brasserie in your lovely community, so close to where I live.”

Yorkshire pub commissions Tour de France beer: A pub in Harrogate has commissioned a local brewery to make a beer for the Tour de France 2014, which ends its first 119-mile stage in the town on 5 July, after starting in Leeds and passing through the Yorkshire Dales and Ripon. Pedal Power beer, which is on sale now in The Coach & Horses pub in Harrogate, has been made by Daleside brewery, which is based just outside Harrogate. John Nelson, of The Coach & Horses, said of the 3.4% abv beer: “We’ve created an ale to capture people’s imagination and remind them about the excitement of the Tour, but not as a short-term gimmick – this is a proper beer.” Craig Witty, chief brewer at Daleside, said, Pedal Power, is made using Galaxy hops and goes on general release soon.

Eclectic Hotels poised for planning consent Manchester city centre boutique hotel: Eclectic Hotels looks set to get planning consent this week for a new boutique hotel in Manchester city centre. Eclectic Hotels, who run The Great John Street Hotel in Castlefield and The Didsbury House Hotel and Eleven Didsbury Park in the south of the city, are planning to transform a 140-year-old building in the heart of Manchester into a 40 bed hotel. It is expected to be granted the go ahead for the conversion of the former Manchester and Salford Trustees Savings Bank building, at 8-10 Booth Street, next week. The grade II listed building dates back to 1872. Plans for the Booth Street building include restaurant, bar and event space as well as a rooftop spa and terrace – a popular feature of The Great John Street hotel which is situated in a former schoolhouse and has become a get away for celebrity clients, including Take That, and is a popular wedding venue in the city.

TCG plans novel take on Mother’s Day offer: Managed pub operator TCG is planning a novel approach to Mother’s Day by encouraging groups of young mums to book a babysitter and head out for a party. Selected TCG venues around the UK will be holding ‘Mums Rock’ events across the weekend of Friday 28 to Sunday 30 March. On offer will be a specially created ‘Mother’s Magic’ cocktail at a two-for-one price, as well as a free bottle of prosecco for groups of six or more mums. Ben Levick director of operations – bars at TCG, said: “The typical Mother’s Day offer focuses on family meals and a fairly restrained celebration. That’s great in the right style of operation, but many of our young bars have a very different target customer. There are plenty of young – and young-at-heart – mums, juggling jobs and family, for whom a rare night out with the girls is a very appealing prospect. Our ‘Mums Rock’ events are a reward for mums who may not fit the conventional Mother’s Day stereotype, but deserve to know that their hard work and commitment is appreciated just as much.”

Restaurant chain permanently closes flagship after mouse droppings find: A Teesside-based Italian restaurant chain has permanently shut its flagship outlet in Middlesbrough, three months after council inspectors found mouse droppings throughout the kitchen, poor standards of cleanliness and foods at risk of contamination. Joe Rigatoni’s in Middlesbrough town centre was closed temporarily in November after the local council issued it with a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice. At the time, owner Paulo Arceri apologised to customers, saying it was the first forced closure in almost 20 years of trading. However, last week Arcieri announced that the Middlesbrough outlet would be closing permanently, and he would now concentrate on his restaurants at Castlegate Quay, Stockton, and Grange Road, Darlington. He told The Middlesbrough Gazette: “Business is about change. We decided that we wanted to be out of Middlesbrough.”

Hotelier disqualified as a director: Dr Mahfouz El-Tawil (74), an hotelier and sole director of Trade Development and Investment Limited, which traded as The Oke Lodge Hotel in Exeter has been disqualified from acting as a company director for six years, for failing to ensure the company kept proper books and records. Dr El-Tawil’s disqualification begins on 14 March 2014 and follows an investigation by the Insolvency Service. Commenting on Dr El-Tawil’s disqualification, Robert Clarke, head of insolvent investigations north at the Insolvency Service, said: “Directors have a duty to make sure that their companies maintain proper accounting records, and, following insolvency, deliver them to the liquidator in the interests of fairness and transparency. Without a full account of transactions it is impossible to determine whether a director has discharged his duties properly, or is using a lack of documentation as a cloak for impropriety. Dr El-Tawil has paid the price for failing to do that, as he cannot now carry on in business other than at his own risk.”

Jamie Rollo – we are expecting strong like-for-likes to continue at Wetherspoon: Morgan Stanley leisure analyst Jamie Rollo has forecast a continuation of strong like-for-like sales growth when JD Wetherspoon releases first half figure on Friday. He said: “We expect strong like-for-like sales growth to continue. Like-for-like sales in the second quarter were +6.7%, a sharp acceleration from 3.7% growth in Q1, and ahead of the Coffer Peach Tracker which showed circa 2.5% growth in the period. This was boosted by strong festive trading and may have slowed since due to the flooding, although comparables are weak from snow last year, and other operators have reported very encouraging trading (Coffer Peach +7.2% in Jan, Mitchells & Butlers +3.7% in nine weeks to 25 January well ahead of the prior year, Fullers +7.2% in ten weeks to 25 January), and we will look for an update on current trading. We were encouraged that two-year growth accelerated in Q2 to 14.7% from 10.8%. Looking into H2, we expect growth to remain strong at around 6%, and will look for any guidance here. We estimate every 1% to like-for-like sales is worth circa £6m to EBIT / 3p to EPS.”

Pheasant Inn wins runner-up in Britain’s friendliest business awards: The Pheasant Inn in Allithwaite, Cumbria has taken runner-up position in Britain’s Friendliest Business Award, a national competition sponsored by small business funder, Liberis. The Inn, run by the Jones family, impressed judges with its customer and community ethos and the valuable role it plays in Allithwaite and the surrounding area. The company wins marketing consultancy from a top London agency. The Pheasant Inn beat strong competition from nearly 100 UK companies during the four month process and was one of only three businesses to reach the final round. The Inn’s customers, friends and staff championed the business and posted nearly 500 likes and messages of support, which were taken into consideration during the final round of judging. Comments posted described the Inn as “the friendliest pub in the world” and “a fantastic family run business”. Other comments included: “The staff go the extra mile to make a customer’s experience nothing short of amazing” and one post described it as “the icing on the cake for me when looking to relocate to Allithwaite.” Paul Mildenstein, chief executive of Liberis, said: “Without any doubt The Pheasant Inn is a praiseworthy runner-up and should be very proud. Its contribution to the community, especially meals on wheels, Age Concern lunches and fundraising is outstanding. The loyalty and affection shown by customers and staff in return is plain to see.”

New unnamed nightclub operator line up to take over Crawley site: An unnamed but experienced nightclub operator is planning to take over JJ Whispers site in Crawley. The High Street nightspot closed on 20 February before a hearing into its future took place and the owners took the decision to surrender the licence. Sussex Police’s Jean Irving advised the Crawley licensing committee that an approach had already been made by a potential new operator who is seeking to work closely with Sussex Police. She told the committee that thorough background checks had been conducted and police were satisfied that the proposed new operator had no connection with the previous owners of JJ Whispers, and that they wanted to carry out a significant refurbishment and to rebrand the venue.

Burger bar loses appeal to Scottish government over red and green exterior: A burger restaurant and bar in Dumfries, Scotland, has lost an appeal against an order forcing it to repaint its red and green exterior in “muted” off-white, ochre or stone. Planning officials said the paintwork on the listed sandstone building in Irish Street, Dumfries, which forms part of the Mississippi Grill House, breached conservation rules. However, Craig Denman, a partner in the restaurant, said the costs of removing it could force the restaurant to close, and lodged an appeal last year with the Scottish government to allow the paintwork to stay. The appeal has now been turned down by a reporter, the official appointed in Scotland to hear planning cases.

House that was scene of unsolved murders could become high-end restaurant: A house that was the scene of the unsolved murder of a doctor and his wife 34 years ago could become a high-end bar and restaurant. Nael Hanna, the former director of two restaurants in Dundee, Byzantium and Marco Polo, wants to open a bar and restaurant at 2 Roseangle, in Dundee’s West End, where Dr Alexander Woods and his wife Dorothy were killed in 1989 in what was widely believed to be a robbery gone wrong. Henry John Gallagher is blamed for the murder of the elderly couple, but he has never been tried, as he is incarcerated at Broadmoor Hospital. Hanna told STV: “We’re in talks with the bank but hopefully within this year we will try to open a bar and restaurant and the hope is to have a beer garden as well. It is a listed building so we’re waiting to put an application into Historic Scotland to get a grant to do the windows and roof and a general tidy up.”

Sunderland’s biggest night to re-open as an events space: The 1,300-capacity nightclub Passion in Sunderland will re-open on 29 March as a nightclub and events space called Passion. The Holmeside-based nightclub has undergone a refurbishment, including the installation of a 32,000 watt sound and light system, so that it can become an events venue – rapper Professor Green will re-open the venue. “We’ve spent a hell of a lot of money on becoming Illusions,” said owner Mike Downey. “We think Sunderland deserves to have this type of venue and we want to be more than just a nightclub. We decided to launch with someone really high profile to show what we can do here. As well as being a nightclub, we want to be an events venue that brings all kinds of acts and events to the city. Professor Green is just one example.”

Everards surrenders in battle with Scottish nanobrewery over trademark: The Leicester-based brewer and pub operator Everards has surrendered in a trademark battle with a small Scottish brewer. The Elixir Brew Co, a one-man brewing operation based at The Alechemy brewery in Livingston, which started in August 2012, was threatened with legal action by Everards when it tried to trademark the name, because Everard had produced a seasonal beer called Elixir earlier the same year which it had filed a trademark application for just before the Livingston brewery began operations. Ben Bullen, the owner of Elixir Brew Co, whose best-selling beer is Elixir Benedictine Groove, a 5.3% ale brewed with Buckfast Tonic Wine and tablet, the Scots version of fudge, among its ingredients, was ordered by Everards’ lawyers to remove his trademark application, cease and desist from use of the word “Elixir”, and remove all of Elixir Brew Co’s beer from sale within four days. However, after the dispute was highlighted on the BeerCast blog, the British Guild of Beer Writers’ Beer Website of the Year 2013, a major social media campaign was launched under the hashtag #saveelixirbrewco, with messages of support coming from as far afield as Canada and Australia and the hashtag trending on Twitter. Within a day, Everards posted a message on its Facebook page saying: “Trademarking is a standard business practice that we will continue to use, however the team at Everards have reflected on this particular case. We have decided that, as the name refers to the company rather than the beer, we will not pursue this any further. We are passionate about ale and support other brewers – this is demonstrated by our Project William work.” Afterwards Bullen told The Scotsman newspaper: “It was a global response to the news, the story really touched a nerve with people. I was amazed at the sheer volume of the response – my phone hasn’t stopped. I think Everards expected an easy win, but the response from other brewers and across the internet was pretty impressive. I’m happy I can continue trading as Elixir – I have been trading as Elixir Brew Co for 18 months, and I hope to continue to do so.”

Confidentiality clause hides ‘major’ bidder for Malvern restaurant: An unnamed major restaurant chain is seeking planning permission to turn two empty neighbouring shop and office premises in the centre of Malvern, Worcestershire into an restaurant. The investment development company Seven Capital is acting on behalf of the applicant, whose identity is protected by a confidentiality clause. Severn Capital’s director, Damien Siviter, said he hoped the project will be delivered by the end of the year if the application is approved by Malvern Hills Council. He said: “It is one of the larger operators in the UK. It will definitely generate jobs locally. It will be, in my eyes, a great benefit to Malvern. It will help to revive that part of the high street that has taken a bit of a nosedive. As it’s a national operator it can help improve confidence in the high street.” The application for 20-24 Belle Vue Terrace is for the change of use of the ground floor to restaurant use and the change of use of the first and second floors to residential use consisting of three one bedroom studios, five one bedroom and three two bedroom apartments. The premises were previously occupied by an insurance broker and a curtain firm. Belle Vue Terrace is currently home to an Ask Italian, while the town also has a McDonald’s, a JD Wetherspoon and a Caffé Nero but no other chain outlets.

Brewery seeks government funding for visitors’ centre: Titanic Brewery of Burslem, in the West Midlands, has applied to the Regional Growth Fund for cash to build new beer tasting rooms for visitors as part of a £300,000 expansion. If it wins the funding, it will create two new rooms for visitor tours at its current offices in Lingard Street. The rooms will include seating areas where visitors will be able to enjoy beer tasting, along with a new kitchen facility and a cellar to store the beers. Brewery director Dave Bott said: “We already hold tours at the brewery but we are a bit embarrassed that up to now, we haven’t got a facility where visitors can actually sit down and sample the beers properly. Currently we have a monthly tour, which is usually attended by between 25 to 50 people and a weekly tour for private parties. When we are not holding tours, we are hoping the facility can be used as conference rooms and places where companies can bring their employees for work functions. This is a much needed expansion so I hope we will be successful with the funding bid.” Titanic currently runs eight pubs, after taking on the Cheshire Cheese in Buxton, Derbyshire, which is owned by the Leicester brewer Everards.

‘UK’s first meatball bar’ opens: What is claimed to be the UK’s first meatball bar has opened in Harrogate, Yorkshire. The Yorkshire Meatball Co on Station Bridge serves hand-rolled Yorkshire Balls, Hit Balls, gluten-free Birdie Balls, Fish Balls and Fake Balls for vegetarians. David Atkinson, who has started the meatball restaurant with his son Gareth, said: “Our research suggests people love meatballs and while many cuisines, including Italian, cater for this humble dish, with the company we wanted to create something truly unique. While we may all enjoy a good plate of spaghetti and meatballs, we wanted to offer Harrogate diners something quite different. We’ve sourced local ingredients, beers and ciders, and offer Yorkshire classics with a new meatball twist.” The meatball dishes are served with Yorkshire beers sourced from the region’s microbreweries and a range of Yorkshire-produced cordials. Gareth Atkinson said the company aimed to source the majority of its ingredients from Yorkshire traders.

Kevin Todd resigns at Rosinter: Former Mitchells & Butlers executive Kevin Todd has resigned from the role of chief executive of Rosinter, one of Russia’s largest restaurant groups with 420 business units in ten countries. Brands include Il Patio, Planeta Sushi, Costa Coffee, TGI’s Fridays and McDonald in airports and railways. Todd said: “The past two years represent one of the greatest adventures of my life. Consolidating this formidable business and creating a solid infrastructure before future growth could be entertained, implied a radical culture change. Without the support of the chairman, fellow board members and last but not least, an amazing team, this challenging task would not have been possible to complete. I am looking forward to coming back to the UK, closer to my family. I will take the necessary time to consider a number of options.” Todd, who wrote a regular Postcard from Moscow column for Propel Quarterly, rejuvenated some of Rosinter’s key brands, working closely with key Mitchells & Butlers executive he hired to work at Rosinter, including Ian Dunstall, Paul Reynolds and David Singleton. Todd also hired Wagamama founder Alan Yau to help evolve the company’s Planeta Sushi brand. Paul Salisbury and Paul Hales, the brains behind Premium Country Dining Group, were also co-opted to work on an evolution of Il Patio, Rosinter’s Italian food focused brand.

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