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Tue 18th Mar 2014 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

TLC Inns secures third Grand Central site, wins bank backing for another four to six: TLC Inns, the operator of pubs and restaurants led by Steve and Jo Haslam, has secured its third Grand Central Bar and Grill site. The company is completing paperwork on a 6,000 square foot site that will combine two properties, one of which is an existing restaurant. It is understood the new site in located in East Anglia and is expected to be open for June. The first Grand Central opened in Basildon, Essex on a former Outback Steakhouse site in November 2011, and sales have grown by £200,000 in the most recent year. A second Grand Central will be unveiled in Ely, Cambridgeshire, occupying the former Boathouse venue previously traded by local multi-site operator Cambcuisine, just before Easter. Steve Haslam told Propel: “Barclays Corporate has told us it is happy to fund another four to six Grand Central units, which is fantastic.” Meanwhile, the company has moved to add additional responsibilities to its general managers, each of whom has been tasked to develop areas of the business such as training, IT, and menu development. Haslam said: “We have no barrier between our GMs and the founders, no middle tier of management – the GM have become part of the company’s inner board.” Haslam also reported like-for-like sales in February up 14%, with warm weather this weekend producing £20,000 weekend takings at a number of sites. The latest East Anglia acquisition takes the TLC Inns estate to eight sites.

Industry News:

UK foodservice outperforms large European neighbours in 2013: The UK out-of-home foodservice industry outperformed its European neighbours in 2013, Cyril Lavenant, director of foodservice at insights firm NPD Group, has told the Propel Multi Club Conference. The UK market saw a 0.5% drop in spend, against an average of a 1.5% fall across the five largest European markets. Spain was down 3%, Italy dropped 2.2%, while France and Germany both saw a decline of 0.9%. Annual visits per person stood at 176 in the UK in 2013, second only to Italy with 197 visits per person, where the market is skewed by heavy coffee-based breakfast usage (45% of breakfast daypart usage, against 19% in the UK). The UK still lags Canada, Australia and the US, which have annual out-of-home visits per person of 211, 204 and 201 respectively. Breakfast was the main area of growth in the UK last year, up 2.4% in traffic terms, with dinner also making a recovery, up 0.2%. The big marketplace winners were pubs (up 1.6%) and the pizza, bakery, coffee, sandwich and burger areas of the quick service market.

McDonald’s in the US to focus on marketing, digital and menu: McDonald’s in the United States is to focus on marketing, digital and menu innovations to reverse declining like-for-like sales. Marketing at McDonald’s used to be organised by product but it is now organised by consumer group such as millennials, families and adults. The company is also fast-tracking testing of mobile payments and ordering. Chief financial officer Peter Bensen said: “By later this year … [there will be] multiple tests around the digital payment and digital ordering in various markets around the world, and a lot of work on how do we come up with a loyalty program or this customer relationship aspect that can be uniquely McDonald’s”. He added that in a move that will be “a bit unnatural for McDonald’s”, the chain will probably have to put digital initiatives out into the market “that we know are not 100% perfect, but if you wait in this space until everything is 100% figured out, then you’re going to miss the whole opportunity.” McDonald’s has admitted rolling out four new products in the US in too quick succession last year, a move the chain said ultimately slowed down operations. Bensen said that this year the company will focus more on core products such as burgers. Last week, the chain rolled out its Bacon Clubhouse burger, an item it now considers a core-menu product. Another emphasis will be on McDonald’s breakfast, one of its strongest dayparts and one that will likely see increased competition when Taco Bell rolls out its breakfast at the end of the month.

New York State restaurant claims to be the most exclusive in the world: A New York State eaterie, the Damon Baehrel Restaurant, three hours north of Manhattan in the town of Earlton, has laid claim to be the most exclusive in the world. The power of the internet and social media, combined with word of mouth have transformed Damon Baehrel, a humble chef, and his eponymously named restaurant into a viral phenomenon, turning the 16-cover basement bistro into perhaps the most hard-to-get reservation on the planet. The restaurant, which cooks all it ingredients from scratch, claims a ten-year waiting list – and 40,000 reservations in the past seven weeks alone.

Starbucks trialing pre-order app: Starbucks is to begin testing a new app that allows customers to order food and drink before they reach a store. The chain said the app was being developed after requests from customers bored of waiting. “It’s something our customers have asked for,” Adam Brotman, chief digital officer at the Seattle-based company, said in an interview with Bloomberg. “We’re not revealing a lot of details about it now.” The app would let customers select coffee or food while in line or before coming into a cafe, potentially speeding up service and saving time. Tomorrow (Wednesday), the company will update its iPhone app to include barista tipping and a new shake-to-pay function. More than 11% of the company’s US store transactions are handled with a mobile device, and that figure may double a year from now, Brotman said. Starbucks is already investing heavily in internet-connected coffee machines, and plans to double the number in stores. The machines could receive the order from a customer’s app and automatically program itself to make their perfect drink.

Smartphone app helps brewery track its beer casks: The Shropshire brewer Hobsons has joined forces with Warwick University’s Warwick Manufacturing Group to develop a system to track its beer casks with a smartphone app. WMG’s dedicated small business team, based at the International Institute for Product and Service Innovation (IIPSI ) at the university, helped Hobsons bring together the right radio frequency identification tags for the casks, a smartphone app and a cloud database system to do the tracking. The system gives Hobsons’ staff the ability to monitor the whereabouts of casks while on the road. The prototype is now in use and is being tested with 3,000 casks. Hobsons’ managing director, Nick Davis, said: “This project has been a real learning curve for Hobsons and has opened up a number of new business opportunities for us. The capabilities in IIPSI have allowed us to test and prototype a concept that we could never have implemented ourselves.” Scott Crowther, knowledge transfer specialist at WMG, said: “We are delighted that we were able to support Hobsons to take their idea right through the prototyping, manufacturing and commercialisation stages.” Stolen casks and kegs are a constant concern in the brewing industry, with the organisation Kegwatch estimating that every year the brewing industry loses many millions of pounds through the theft and misappropriation of kegs, casks and dispense gas cylinders.

CGA – wine an spirits increasingly important for UK on-trade: Wine and spirit sales saw an estimated £280m revenue increase for the UK’s bars and restaurants between 2013 and 2014, according to the insights firm CGA Strategy. Wine currently accounts for around 18% of total drinks sales in the UK on-trade, and spirits hold a 22% share. CGA predicts that this will rise to almost 20% and 24% respectively by 2018. During the same period the company believes that beer will see its share slide from around 50% to 47%.

Company News:

SA Brain reports coffee success on two fronts: The Cardiff-based brewer and retailer SA Brain has reported coffee success on two fronts. The company’s Coffee #1 business, now at 39 sites, has produced a 30% plus return on investment on an average fit-out cost of £220,000. The brand had 14 stores trading when it was acquired in October 2011. Retail director Philip Lay told the Propel Multi Club Conference that the company now “probably makes more money out of coffee than beer”. Meanwhile, the company launched a separate coffee offer, Great Little Coffee Company, into 100 of its pubs a year ago with the same “standards and the same level of training” as is applied to Coffee #1. Lay said average theoretical coffee margin has increased by 4% and there has been an average like-for-like growth in coffee sales of 1.7% compared to the previous Costa Coffee offer.

Burning Night Group selling 5,000 barrels of beer per site: Burning Night Group’s co-founder, Alex Hazzard, told the Propel Multi Club Conference that the company’s three existing multi-themed 15,000 to 20,000 sq ft sites, in Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool, are selling the equivalent of 15,000 brewers’ barrels of beer (24,500 hectolitres) a year. The company offers three brands within the same building: Around the World in 80 beers, Bierkeller and Shooters Sports Bar. Turnover per site ranges from £75,000 per week off-season to £200,000 per week per site during peak season. Hazzard said the company is aiming for five more sites within the next three years, which would push Ebitda to £5m a year.

Patisserie Valerie ‘looking to learn’ from new acquisition Philpotts: Patisserie Valerie is “looking forward to the learnings” that its latest acquisition, the North of England sandwich business Philpotts, could bring to the whole estate, especially in the lunchtime market, according to Paul May, chief executive of Valerie’s parent company, Patisserie Holdings. Philpotts, which was sold for an undisclosed sum, was founded in Chester in 1985 and employs 260 people in 21 branches in cities and towns including Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool, Nottingham, Sheffield, Chester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Knutsford and Leeds. Its financial results for the year to 30 June 2013, showed turnover unchanged at £10m as pre-tax profits rose to £710,000 from £609,000 in 2012. It is the fifth brand to join the Patisserie Holdings group, which also includes Druckers, Backer & Spice and Flour Power City. Lisa Brook, a director of Flour Power City, has now been appointed Phillpotts’ managing director.

Beer Shack opens third micropub: Micropub entrepreneur James Mansfield is opening a third outlet next month in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. It comes after Mansfield, owner of the Medieval Beers brewery in Colston Bassett, Notts, opened a second Beer Shack in Burnley earlier this month. The first Beer Shack opened in Hucknall, Notts in August last year. The latest outlet is in a formerly disused building in White Hart Street, Mansfield. Beer Shack co-owner Julia Charlton told the Mansfield Chad newspaper that the new outlet, like the others will sell real ales, ciders and wines, but not lager and spirits.

Viva Brazil plans expansion: The Liverpool-based steakhouse chain Viva Brazil is planning an expansion from three venues to five. At the same time, owner Andy Aldrich is spending £250,000 on a refurbishment of the chain’s Liverpool site that will increase the number of covers to 200, opening a second dining floor upstairs and extending the bar area, all in time for the start of the World Cup in Brazil in June. Aldrich, whose other restaurants are in Cardiff and Glasgow, said: “We are expecting a fantastic atmosphere here in the restaurant throughout the World Cup and have lots of events planned. Viva Liverpool, Glasgow and Cardiff have been a massive success and the concept has gone down extremely well. I cannot say at this stage the cities where we have sites lined up, but they will be perfect for our concept.”

Under-threat Glasgow nightclub hears ‘moments of calm’ call: The under-threat Arches nightclub in Glasgow, where teenager Regane MacColl died after taking a fake ecstasy pill, will be allowed to stay open after agreeing 21 new operational procedures, including a physical search of all clubbers entering the premises and hi-tech identity scanning equipment. Police had demanded “moments of calm” during DJ sets. Officers wanted the music to be stopped and the lights to come on for five minutes each hour – but the club said it would be “unworkable” and deter top DJs from appearing at the venue. In a compromise, club owners agreed there would be periods where the music would be “less frenetic”.
 
Prezzo tipped for Malvern town centre site: Prezzo is tipped by local media as the mystery major restaurant chain with eyes on a prominent town centre spot in Malvern. The Italian brand is understood to have applied to Malvern Hills Council to transform the premises formerly occupied by a solicitor’s firm and Malvern Curtains in Belle Vue Terrace. A spokesman for the chain, which opened its first restaurant in 2000 and now has more than 160 restaurants across the UK, said the company did not comment on individual sites.
 
Gourmet burger operator opens second outlet: A gourmet burger restaurant operator has been so successful since he moved to Whiteladies Road in Bristol two years ago that he is now opening a second venue in the city. Dan Bekhradnia originally opened The Burger Joint on Cotham Hill in 2009, moving three years later. Demand for the venue’s locally-sourced burgers made and cooked fresh every day, means he is now opening another branch, in a former newsagents on North Street, Southville. Bekhradnia told The Bristol Post: “The rise of the gourmet burger has definitely been part of our success, but there have been other factors like the fact we have become more recognised since moving to Whiteladies Road. We have also had some very favourable reviews by bloggers and on social media which has put our name out there.” Of the new restaurant, due to open in six weeks, Bekhradnia said: “Getting through the hoops that the council threw up was a major challenge, but we should have the quietest, least smelly kitchen in the whole of Bristol.”
 
Wetherspoon plans hotel at busy Doncaster site: JD Wetherspoon has applied for planning permission to create 14 bedrooms at The Red Lion in Doncaster, to add it to the 20 or so other hotels it runs. Company spokesman Eddie Gershon told the Doncaster Free Press: “The Red Lion in Doncaster is a very busy site for us, so from our point of view a hotel at that location is a logical step. Our hotels represent good value and the Red Lion, like most of our hotels, is centrally located. We would continue to run the Red Lion as a pub as well, it wouldn’t be a stand-alone hotel.” The plan would create 14 bedrooms on part of the ground floor and one of the upper floors of the Red Lion, which was a coaching inn in the 18th century, and the place where Britain’s oldest classic horse race, the St Leger, was named by a group of local aristocrats and gentlemen, after it was run for the first time in 1776 on nearby Cantley Common. Meanwhile Wetherspoon has bowed to public opinion and agreed to keep the name of The Black Boy Hotel in Newtown, Powys as it is, after locals voted two-to-one in favour of the original name. The company, which bought the 17th Century Grade II-listed pub last December and is carrying out a £1.5m refurbishment before reopening it in May, wanted to rename it the Llywelyn ap Gruffydd. However, after an outcry, Wetherspoon decided to put it to a vote through the town’s newspaper, The County Times. Around 250 people cast their vote and more than two thirds opted to keep the original name. Spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “Although The Black Boy was not our preferred name, we agreed that local people should decide on the name for the pub in Newtown. The Black Boy is a historic name in the town, and as it was by far the most popular name it is only correct that we choose that name for our pub.”

Marston’s sells Pitcher & Piano site for £7,554,000: Marston’s has sold the Pitcher & Piano site on the Quayside in Newcastle upon Tyne to Cordea Savills, representing a long standing pension fund client, for £7,554,000, which is a net initial yield of 4.35%. The property is let on a new 35-year lease to Marston’s Estates at an annual rent of £350,000. It is one of 18 Pitcher & Piano outlets and saw a major refurbishment in March last year. Andrew Watt, senior director of CBRE’s national specialist markets team, which acted on Marston’s behalf, said: “We are delighted with how quickly a sale was agreed and completed for our client. The transaction is representative of the growing buoyancy we are witnessing within the leisure investment market and is encouraging news as the whole of the property sector shows increasing signs of recovery.”
 
Sticks’n’Sushi to open two more sites in London: The Danish sushi concept Sticks’n’Sushi is to open two restaurants in London in the next 12 months. The company will unveil a site in the Crossrail development in Canary Wharf, as well as another site next year in an as-yet unnamed location. It currently has restaurants at Covent Garden, in the former Walkabout site, and in Wimbledon, its original venue.
 
Subway plans 1,300 new UK locations: Subway has unveiled plans to open 1,300 new locations across the UK over the next six years, which will create more than 13,000 new jobs. Currently the brand has 1,755 stores in the UK and Ireland, all of which are independently owned and operated by franchise owners. Recently Subway has concentrated its efforts on working together with service stations, such as Welcome Break, and garages to open more and more locations in non-traditional sites. Taking into account supply chain and employment, the brand’s estimated total annual output contribution to the UK economy is more than £875m. Mike Charest, assistant regional director for Europe, said: “The UK and Irish markets have been fantastic success stories for the Subway brand and we see opportunities for further growth as more and more consumers demand great-tasting food at a value price-point. The introduction of a varied breakfast menu and longer opening hours have been instrumental in increasing store footfall. In addition to our traditional store development, we see new potential in settings such as universities, stations, convenience stores, hospitals, airports and petrol stations.”
 
Bristol bar operator hopes to refloat the Mauretania: The Bristol bar, pub and club operator Major Clubs is planning to make the city’s Mauretania bar and lounge its flagship. Davide Pontini, Major Clubs’ chief operating officer, told the Bristol Post that he wants to make the Mauretania, which is joined onto the Java nightclub, a must-visit venue once again. The Mauretania bar has wooden panelling, columns and plasterwork from the luxury liner of the same name, which made her final voyage in 1935. Pontini, who is looking for more memorabilia from the liner, told the newspaper: “I would love to get some of the original menus from the liner and put them on the walls, and it would be my dream to get the piano that was on board. I think the Mauretania is the best-kept secret in Bristol. It’s been concealed, but now we want to share it with the people of the city, and beyond. Our aim is to preserve the Mauretania’s famous name, preserve what’s inside and make it visible to Park Street.” Major Clubs also runs The Hophouse in Clifton village, The Robin Hood on St Michael’s Hill, Bristol, Java and The Park Street Cafe, Bristol.

Marcus Wareing to open his third London restaurant: Chef-restaurateur Marcus Wareing is to open his third London restaurant, Tredwell’s, which will cover three floors of a site at Seven Dials, on Upper St Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden, central London. The 130-seat restaurant will cover three floors, with a bar in the basement and an “eat at” bar on the ground floor. Chantelle Nicholson, previously GM at the Gilbert Scott, who has now been appointed group operations director at Marcus Wareing Restaurants, told the Hot Dinners website that Tredwell’s, which takes its name from the butler in Agatha Christie’s detective story The Seven Dials Mystery, will be a “casual but informed restaurant – food you like when you like,” with the offer pitched as a mid-price “West End eatery”. The menu will be British-led, “and of course we’ll have a great burger”, Nicholson said. Wareing himself will definitely not be in the kitchen. He said the opening of Tredwell’s “sees me move further into the role of a restaurateur. Tredwell’s will not be about me and my food, you will not see me in the kitchen, as I remain committed to my restaurant Marcus at the Berkeley Hotel”, which reopens next week after its refurbishment.

TCG adds four new coffees to drinks range: The managed pub and bar group TCG is refreshing its hot drinks offer for the spring and summer with the launch of four new coffees, including two frappes. The company is also continuing to roll out barista training for its front-of-house staff. The new drinks, created exclusively for TCG by Cafeology, the ethical drinks company, are: Coffee Frappe, Caramel Coffee Frappe, Cinnamon Cappuccino and Vanilla Latte. Thirty TCG pubs and bars will be selling the new range, which is supported with POS material. TCG has been boosting the skills of its pub and bar teams through a series of one-day barista training programmes held at Cafeology’s roastery. TCG’s chief operating officer, Nigel Wright, said: “Updating our coffee range with seasonal variants lets customers know we’re serious about our hot drinks and helps our pubs and bars to compete with the many other coffee providers on the High Street.”

Temporary pub management company directors disqualified: Two directors of a pub management company that failed to pay its creditors have been disqualified from acting as directors for a total of 13 years following an investigation by the Insolvency Service. The directors have both given undertakings to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills not to be directors for the duration of their bans, without leave of the court. William Dene Lyall (age 62), disqualified for eight years and Joseph Harthen (51), disqualified for five years, were directors of Inn Take, which operated pubs on temporary licences for breweries and pub companies unable to find tenants. Their disqualifications started on 31 January 2014 and 29 November 2013. The investigation found that on Mr Lyall’s direction, Inn Take entered in to an outsourcing arrangement under which £1.6 million was paid over to cover utility bills and business rates that were never paid. Mr Lyall subsequently transferred the business of Inn Take to a new company, leaving an outstanding debt of almost £1.4 million to utility companies and local authorities. Commenting on the disqualification, Ken Beasley, official receiver of The Insolvency Service’s Public Interest Unit, said: “The conduct of Mr Lyall and Mr Harthen fell well below that expected of a company director. It is clear that Mr Harthen, despite being aware of his appointment as a company director, took no interest in the affairs of the company or of his responsibilities to creditors. The Insolvency Service will not hesitate to use its enforcement powers to remove culpable directors from doing business.” The investigation also found that Mr Lyall caused the company to continue to make payments under a supposed outsourcing agreement when he should have been aware that hundreds of thousands of pounds were not being paid over to utility companies and local authorities for outstanding bills. Mr Harthen was found to have failed to exercise any proper control over the company. Both Mr Lyall and Mr Harthen also failed to maintain or deliver up adequate accounting records with the consequence that investigators were unable to establish the purpose of payments totalling £2.2 million.

Watermill Restaurant Company plans ex-toilet conversion: The Watermill Restaurant Company, based in Wimbledon in London, has applied to North Somerset Council for permission to convert the former toilets on Marine Parade in Weston super Mare into a new restaurant called the Seafront Cafe. It would sell homemade food in a dining area directly overlooking the seafront, as well as offering takeaway food. The plans also include a decked seating area on the beach side of the building, which provides ramped access to the beach. The documents say: “The application clearly supports the council’s aspirations to bring the existing building back to use and to broaden the Weston food and drink experience.”

Patty&Bun names opening day for Liverpool Street launch: Patty&Bun, the burger operator, is opening its second venue in Liverpool Street, central London on Thursday 17 April, opposite the busiest McDonald’s restaurant in the UK. The company said the new site, previously occupied by Ping Pong, will have 20 covers but will be more oriented towards takeaway than its first outlet, a 30-cover restaurant unit at 54 James Street, just off Oxford Street in central London, which opened in November. Patty&Bun, founded by Joe Grossman, had previously run as a pop-up operation, with stints at the Doodle Bar in Battersea and the Endurance pub in Soho. The company said although the new venue will sell only soft drinks at first, alcohol will follow “down the line”. A soft launch is planned, with the opening day likely to feature a giveaway of free burgers.
 
Tim Martin – beer duty cut was not a great victory: JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin has argue that last year’s beer duty cut was not a great victory for the pub industry. Addressing last week’s Siba conference for small brewers, he said: “I argued that the perception of last year’s budget, including the beer duty cut, was badly misconceived. This is because excise duty for pubs actually increased, with rises in wine and spirit duty outweighing the decrease in beer duty. For Wetherspoon, as an example, the overall excise duty we pay increased by about £1.5m per annum more than it would have done had all drink duties been frozen. Since the UK already pays about 40% of Europe’s excise duty, with only 13% of the people, a further increase was not a great victory. I pointed out to the brewers in the audience that if beer duty had been cut, but their business rates had increased, at the same time, by more than the duty cut, then they would not have been better off. Yet that, in effect, is what happened to pubs, which had to fork out more tax as a result of the budget changes. Unfortunately, the government’s tax changes in the 2013 budget did not stop there. A further sleight-of-hand resulted in a little-publicised change to VAT rules in respect of fruit machines. These changes resulted in a £2.5m tax increase for Wetherspoon, creating a total £4m budget tax hike. The toxic factor for pubs is that the fruit machine tax changes did not apply to supermarkets, further worsening the disparity between the two types of business. The impact of this sort of stealth tax, as well as the inequalities in VAT and rates, are where pubs are really getting clobbered – it is especially dangerous for the industry to look at individual taxes, such as beer duty, in isolation. The truth exists, as one historian said, but it’s hidden in a fog by lack of perspective. It’s the job of industry leaders and commentators to see through the fog, but their record in this respect is patchy at best. These arguments seemed to resonate strongly with Siba members, just as they do with individual tenants, the general public, the press and many MPs of all parties. Some industry leaders, perhaps displaying signs of being out-of-touch, have a tendency to swallow the ‘historic beer duty cut’ argument, hook, line and sinker. The reality is that pubs need tax equality with supermarkets to survive in the long run. It doesn’t help the industry to indulge in back-slapping self-congratulation over illusory economic benefits, however well-intentioned the promoters of these views are. In addition, if we were happy with an illusory cut last year, we’re more likely to be offered the same thing this year. Guys, if you think last year’s budget was so great, how come so many pubs are continuing to close?”

Just Eat seeks £100m in London float: Just Eat, the online takeaway food ordering service, is looking to raise £100m through listing its shares on the London Stock Exchange in April. The company, which was founded in 2001, claims to operate the world’s largest online marketplace for restaurant delivery. It operates in 13 markets, the largest of which are the UK, where it claims to be the number one brand in the takeaway food category, Denmark, France, Canada, Ireland and Spain. In 2013 it saw revenue of £96.8m and underlying Ebitda of £14.1m, growth of 61.9% and 518% respectively, compared to 2012. The UK, Just Eat’s largest business, saw a 67.4% increase in revenue to £68.8m, with underlying Ebitda of £25.5m at a margin of 37.1% up from £13.7m with a margin of 33.4% in 2012. Just Eat said the proceeds of the IPO will be used to support its growth, including potential expansion into additional territories and acquisitions of complementary businesses and technologies. Earlier this month it bought its rival Meal2Go. The company said takeaway restaurants “derive clear benefits from the Just Eat platform, with increased order efficiency and yield – online orders were found to be on average circa 30% higher in value than traditional over-the-phone orders – brand halo and ancillary benefits such as collective buying of food packaging, menus and other related merchandise.” Just Eat’s chief executive, David Buttress, said the company “brings together tens of thousands of local takeaway restaurants globally and processes millions of online orders monthly, which I believe makes us one of the most exciting global growth companies in Europe. Our purpose is to empower consumers to love their takeaway experience.”
 
Angel in Dartmouth sold off £750,000 asking price: The Devon-based property investor and restaurant owner John Holland has acquired The Angel Restaurant in Dartmouth, previously operated by 10 in 8, the fine-dining group, via the property agent Christie + Co off a guide price of £750,000. The currently closed restaurant has three floors of trading area, can accommodate 110 covers, and overlooks the River Dart. Christie’s said it received “numerous” offers for both the freehold interest and from experienced operators seeking a commercial lease, and Holland completed the deal within two weeks of agreeing the sale. It said he intends “to breathe new life into this business”.
 
The Bloody Oyster to hold one-night pop-up: The crowd-funding success story The Bloody Oyster is to hold a one-night up in The Hat and Tun, Farringdon, central London on Wednesday 2 April. Bloody Oyster founders Ed Ford and Ben Hamilton successfully raised enough money through the crowd-funding site Zequs to convert a 1980s London double-decker bus into a mobile Bloody Mary and oyster shack.

Pizza Hut in talks to turn store into supermarket: Pizza Hut is in talks to sell the lease on its 30-year-old outlet in Bingley, Yorkshire to J Sainsbury. The supermarket chain is looking to turn the pizza restaurant in Main Street and an empty shop next door into a Sainsbury’s Local. A spokesman for Pizza Hut told The Telegraph & Argus newspaper: “We are still in discussions regarding the future plans for our Bingley restaurant. While this is ongoing we are unable to comment further.” Sainsbury’s was previously due to open a store in the former Bradford & Bingley Building Society HQ in the town, but pulled out of the scheme.

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