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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 27th Mar 2014 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Technomic and Propel Info partner to launch UK and US foodservice perspectives conference: Leading insights and research firm Technomic has partnered Propel Info to launch the first ever full-day conference that compares and contrasts current eating out trends in the UK and the US. The day will look at some of the most innovative foodservice launches in the US in the past year – and provide analysis of the US brands currently looking to enter the UK market. Technomic’s vice-president Darren Tristano will examine best practice in menu, concept and service among growth concepts. There will also be insights on today’s foodservice consumer, current key UK industry metrics and forecasts and beverage trends in the UK and the US. Panel discussions include leading UK and US culinary directors and consumer insights directors, as well as a case study of a new beverage menu roll-out. Technomic’s Patrick Noone will provide insights on current UK trending menu flavours and preparations and consumer priorities and attitudes. Don Fox, chief executive of Firehouse Subs, the 750-strong US-based, fast casual restaurant chain that specialises in hot subs, will offer lessons from a leading US growth chain. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “The conference offer a great way to understood both UK and US foodservice trends, with panel discussions involving leading operators from both countries.” The conference takes place on Tuesday 10 June at Stationer’s Hall, Ave Marie Lane, London and tickets are priced at £345 for operators and £395 for suppliers. Those attending will also get a free copy of a Technomic report on the performance of the 250 leading US restaurant companies and the UK’s leading 100 foodservice brands. To book a place e-mail jo.charity@propelinfo.com

Industry News:

Bloomberg – McDonald’s in US still doing twice unit revenue of Burger King: Bloomberg ha reported that the average McDonald’s in the United State produces $2.6 million in revenue, with average Burger King unit revenue put at $1.2 million. The difference is linked to four main factors: McDonald’s gets more customers during off-peak hours, especially breakfasts; the Happy Meal provides McDonald’s with the largest share of children’s meal sales in the fast-food industry, with about 10% of total sales from Happy Meals; more marketing dollars – McDonald’s advertising costs in 2012 were $787.5m, versus Burger King’s $78.2m – and McDonald’s has an edge on efficiency, with its drive-through service able to handle more cars at peak times. McDonald’s restaurants are adding a third service window to get customers through even faster. The average service time at McDonald’s drive-throughs is 189.49 seconds, against 198.48 at Burger King, according to QSR Magazine; The gap widened last year when Burger King spent only a few million on advertising in order to focus on equipment updates.
   
South Tyneside pub named Europe’s fourth strangest place to dine: A South Tyneside pub has been listed as one of the strangest places in Europe to dine. The Marsden Grotto pub in South Shields was rated No 4 in the list of peculiar eateries compiled by the travel price comparison website GoEuro.co.uk. The website read: “It is usually reasonable to assume that caves are full of a) stalactites or b) bats. It is also usually reasonable to assume that no one really wants to eat inside a cave. But that isn’t the case on the coast of Tyne and Wear, where the Marsden Grotto does a roaring trade.” Beating the Grotto into the top spot is the Dinner In The Sky chain, which is based in London, Rio and Sydney and sees diners strapped into their seats up to 100ft into the sky. Ristorante Solo per Due (Just For Two) in Vacone, Italy, takes the second spot as the smallest restaurant in the world, which only has space for two guests at a time. The Electrolux Cube, based in various locations around Europe, took third place, with its pop-up restaurants which appear on the top of famous buildings for short periods of time.
   
Think Tank says better protection needed for staff on zero hours contracts: Workers on zero hours contracts should be given a legal right to fixed hours of employment, a think tank has urged. The Resolution Foundation argued that zero hours workers – who are on standby without any guaranteed minimum hours – deserve better protection. The report comes as the Commons Scottish affairs committee has been taking evidence on how widespread the contracts are. Committee chairman Iain Davidson said they committee would now focus on the use of the contracts in the publicly funded care sector. The Resolution Foundation’s key recommendation is a legal right for a worker to switch to a part-time fixed-hours contract if they have worked regular shifts for at least 12 months and their work pattern has been “relatively consistent”.
   
SIBA claims Beer X a triumph: The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) is heralding its second BeerX event, held earlier this month in Sheffield, as a triumph, with attendance by industry delegates and consumers well ahead of last year. More than 800 delegates visited BeerX over four days, listening to the 25 speeches and seminars delivered by high-profile figures and experts drawn from across the brewing and wider industry, visiting the 100 exhibiting suppliers and celebrating the success of the brewers winning an award for their beer or their business skills. The Festival of Beer, which ran alongside BeerX, attracted 2,500 members of the public.
   
Luke Johnson offers to co-fund a 3D printer for every school in UK: Sector investor Luke Johnson has offered to co-fund a 3D printer for every school in the UK if one or two co-sponsors can be found. In his Financial Times column, Johnson said: “I think the best straightforward way we can stimulate innovation and manufacturing at the ground level at a modest cost would be to put a 3D printer in every secondary school – and possibly each primary school. 3D printers are about bespoke, craft, micro-manufacturing – not mass production – hence perfect for classrooms. I believe this initiative is so vital that I will part-fund the project, if one or two other co-sponsors come on board as well. We will need not just 3D printers but training and materials. One might say that financing and executing this plan is the government’s job: but waiting for the state to find the budget and then implement the scheme could take years. There is no time to be lost. We should be installing this equipment and instructing teachers across the country this year.”
 

Company News:

Pub and restaurant freeholds sold at biggest Allsop March auction since 2008: A number of pub and freehold restaurant investments were sold at an Allsop auction on Monday (24 March) - the auction house describes it as the largest March sale since 2008. The auction raised £78m with an average success rate of 82%. A total of 107 lots were sold including 20 lots for over £1m including Carlton House, Putney at £13.5m, the largest lot ever sold on an auction contract. Partner Duncan Moir said: “The strength of the market continues and while there is focus on London and the south east, the demand for correctly priced regional assets is improving.” The 128-year unexpired virtual freehold of a Frankie & Benny’s on the Stoneside Retail Park, Merseyside sold for £550,000 producing a yield of 12.95% – The Restaurant Group’s lease expires in 2027 and rent of £71,225 per annum is paid. The freehold of a pub tenanted by JD Wetherspoon, The Roebuck in Rayleigh, Essex was offered for £1.4m plus and was sold prior – the company pays a rent of £87,600 on a lease expiring in 2028. A PizzaExpress tenanted site in Slough, Berkshire was sold for £1.17m – PizzaExpress pays £64,004 per annum on a lease expiring in 2029. A second freehold tenanted by PizzaExpress in Hamsptead, London, was sold for £1.66m – the company pays a rent of £84,500 per annum on a lease that expires in 2020. The freehold of a site tenanted by Prezzo in Norwich’s Tomblands area was sold for £1.22m – Prezzo pays £71,300 per annum on a lease expiring in 2024. A McDonald’s tenanted 107-years unexpired virtual freehold in Plymouth city centre was offered for a guide price of between £1m and £1.25 and sold prior – McDonald’s pays £104,650 per annum on a lease that expires in 2032.
  
Tampopo moves into small profit: Tampopo, the five-strong Pan-Asian chain that came close to being acquired by Mitchells & Butlers, has moved into the black in its most recent year. The company reported turnover rose to £7.07m in the year to 30 June 2013, up from £6.9m the year before. Operating profit was £99,000, a turnaround from an operating loss of £367,000 in the previous year. Profit before tax was £1,620, against a loss of £461,000 the year before. Tampopo said: “The company has consolidated its position, concentrating on existing sites to enhance the customer experience whilst maximising operational efficiencies. The outlook for the current financial year is viewed with confidence as there are signs of economic recovery and the directors feel that the company is well-placed to move forward.” The company has estimated losses of £725,000 to carry forward against future trading profits. Tampopo has three sites, in Manchester Reading and Bristol.
  
Eclectic Bars – Lowlander buy provides options for three or four of our brands in the same city: The chief executive of Eclectic Bars, Reuben Harley, has told Propel that the acquisition of Lowlander in Covent Garden, central London (the 12-year-old brand was acquired for £850,000 or 3.7x Ebitda with a lease that expires in 2021) provides the company with options to operate three or four brands in the same city. He said: “Lowlander has performed very consistently and sits well with our existing brands.” Lowlander offers a range of 100 different beers with a strong food offering that makes up 40% of takings. The company’s new Dirty Blonde brand, which opens in Brighton today after a £740,000 investment, also offers a stronger food revenue stream, with food takings budgeted at 25 to 30% of sales. Eclectic operates a total of 21 sites with the Lowlander acquisition. Simon French, leisure analyst at Panmure Gordon, issued a ‘Buy’ note, with a target price of 210p. He said: “Since the period end, the group has continued to trade well with similar trading patterns to H1 and is confident this profitable progress will continue. We make no change to our forecasts (unchanged since IPO) and continue to forecast £2.9m Ebitda this year increasing to £3.6m next, although with the Lowlander acquisition (forecast annualised Ebitda >£230k) and the increased bank facilities, the risk appears to be firmly on the upside.”
   
Former chairman Simon Loftus to step down from Adnams board: Simon Loftus, the former Adnams chairman, will step down from the board at its AGM. Current chairman Jonathan Adnams said: “Simon has been with Adnams since 1968, was chairman from 1995 until 2006 and has been a non-executive director since then. He was at the heart of many of the changes seen at Adnams in recent years. He is well known to very many of our shareholders and also to many outside the company and he will be particularly remembered for his leadership of the Adnams wine business. We are extremely pleased that Nicky Dulieu will join our board on 1 May 2014, and a resolution to appoint her is included in the AGM notice. Nicky is in the process of standing down as chief executive of the fashion retailer Hobbs, where she has worked for eight years. Her previous career was at Marks & Spencer ,where she had a variety of roles, notably within finance. She lives in Norfolk and knows Adnams well. We are confident that she will be a most valuable addition to the board.”
   
Chipotle UK hires first creative agency: The Mexican restaurant chain Chipotle, which has six sites in London, has hired Mother London as its first UK creative agency as it looks to build its brand in the UK. Sara Tate, managing director of Mother, said: “Chipotle is the perfect Mother client: creatively brave with a keen conscience and a big heart. Working with brands like this is what we live for. Partnering with Chipotle at this stage of their business growth is hugely exciting and we’re proud to be working with such a values-driven client.” The first creative executions are set to appear in London to support Chipotle’s six outlets in the capital. The overall strategy has focused on “Chipotle’s belief that there are no short cuts to making great food”, and highlights the brand’s attitude to sourcing the right ingredients.
   
Winchester restaurateur bags fifth site: Winchester restaurateur Abdul Tarafder is to open his fifth restaurant after acquiring the former Terracotta premises in the city’s Eastgate Street through the property agent AG&G, a licensed leisure specialist. Richard Negus of AG&G said: “Abdul Tarafder is an experienced restaurateur, who operates a pair of eateries in Jewry Street, the Porter House steakhouse and the Sakura Japanese restaurant, as well as his two Rimjhim Indians. He has indicated that he intends to open another Indian restaurant in the new premises, featuring his unique brand of contemporary Indian cuisine. It has proved a winning formula in the eight years he has operated Rimjhim, so we expect the new venture to be a great success.” The Eastgate Street property was at one time occupied by the current head leaseholder, Cafe Rouge.
   
Meantime expands ‘tank beer’ outside of London: The Greenwich-based craft brewer Meantime Brewing Company is launching its “Brewery Fresh” beer (or “tank beer”) in Brighton for the first time. The launch of the beer, at Indigo Pub Company’s newly refurbished Hare and Hounds pub, will offer Brighton’s drinkers a beer entirely unadulterated by pasteurisation, filtering or pressurisation. Indigo Pub Company, which operates a further 16 pubs in Brighton, acquired the Enterprise Inns free-of-tie lease in August last year. Meantime’s Brewery Fresh London Lager is delivered by specially modified tankers direct from the maturation tanks at the brewery into specially engineered tanks, installed in the pub, from where it is dispensed. The results are claimed to be a smoother lager, with enhanced aromas and flavours. Brewery Fresh, originally launched in London-based Young’s pubs , is now available in seven outlets in the capital, including the Brooklyn Bowl at the O2 arena and Jacks in Waterloo. However, the launch at the Hare and Hounds marks its first venture outside London.
    
Noble Inns hires Simon Holroyd as managing director as it accelerates expansion plans: Noble Inns, the four-strong London-based award-winning gastro-pub operator headed by Scott Hunter and Maria Larsen, has appointed Simon Holroyd, formerly of Dubai-based Al Tayer Group, as managing director. Noble Inns venues include The Lady Ottoline, The Princess of Shoreditch and the widely acclaimed Butcher and Smokehouse. Hunter said: “As Noble Inns has enjoyed both critical and commercial success for our first four sites we have now taken the decision to accelerate our expansion plans and are looking to expand the business considerably over the next few years. In order to do this successfully we wanted to bring an experienced managing director to support the management team. Simon has spent the last ten years managing large multi-site and multi-brand restaurant groups in the Middle East, and we believe that his experience of company structure and brand expansion will support Noble Inns as we transition to a larger company over the next few years. We have known Simon for a number of years, share the same business philosophy and values and have always talked about us working together. We are excited for the future and look forward to sharing further development news in due course.” Holroyd said: “I am delighted to be joining Scott and Maria in Noble Inns. They have done an amazing job of building a group of businesses that, whilst remaining diverse, all operate to an extremely high standard. I see my role as purely to support the growth of the group whilst maintaining the family ethic and ethos that is the foundation of the company’s success. We have some incredibly successful concepts and some fantastic talent in the group so we feel the natural next step is to take these to a wider audience across a slightly larger geographical spread. We are currently viewing sites and depending on location will put in the concept that we feel will best suit the customers in that locale.”
      
Burger King appoints man behind Dove skin care brand as first president of global brand management: Burger King has hired a senior marketer from Unilever, Fernando Machadoas, as its first president of global brand management, in a bid to create a more coherent image around the globe. At Unilever, Machadoas was vice-president of global brand development for Dove skin care at Unilever, where he is said to have masterminded the “Real Beauty Sketches” campaign. His job at Burger King will be to create one global strategy for the restaurant chain that can then be localised to different markets. He reports to Burger King’s chief marketing officer, Axel Schwan. Machadoas’s appointment to the newly created role reflects Burger King’s move away from decentralised marketing strategies toward fewer, more impactful campaigns. According to Marketing Week magazine, it is likely that future marketing activity by Burger King will continue last year’s efforts to concentrate on a value offering, as the chain,, along with its rivals, looks to resist the advance of premium players such as Nando’s and Chipotle.
    
Brakspear loses bid to build house in pub’s garden: Pub company Brakspear has lost a bid to build a five-bedroom house in the grounds of the Sun Inn in Whitchurch Hill, Oxfordshire. The company sold the pub to businessman Richard Hazell last year but kept the beer garden and play area in the hope of building the two-storey house. Hazell, the owner of the tarmac contractor company Hazell and Jefferies, also bought more than an acre of land behind the pub where he promised to create a new beer garden. Brakspear had revised its plans in January after 96 letters of objection were sent to the council. It shrank the size of the house, moved it further from the site boundary and added two parking places. However, South Oxfordshire Council’s planning committee has now turned down Brakspear’s scheme, saying it would threaten the pub’s viability and the new property would spoil the rural character of the area, even though it had been recommended by planning officers.
   
Wetherspoon heeds call to avoid adding to problem gambling by installing fourth machine at Dundee pub: JD Wetherspoon has agreed not to install a fourth gaming machine at a Lloyds No 1 site in Dundee after a council leader raised the issue of problem gambling. Council administration leader Ken Guild asked the company “to withdraw this application or, if not, that you do not install the machine” at the Lloyds bar, on Seagate. JD Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon told the local newspaper: “Mr Guild’s concerns came to our attention after the application was granted by the Dundee Licensing Board on Thursday. We have taken note of Mr Guild’s concerns and his reasonable and moderate approach on this matter. As a result, in this case, we have decided not to install the fourth machine, despite us now being permitted to do so.”
   
Heston Blumenthal tipped to open first international restaurant in Melbourne: Chef-turned-restaurateur Heston Blumenthal is tipped to open his first international restaurant, in Melbourne, Australia. Crown Resorts has indicated Heston Blumenthal will be opening a restaurant at Southbank, with a media conference scheduled for Monday morning. The chef is due in Melbourne next week to announce restaurant plans, believed to be at the former Breezes site. The invitation confirms the announcement will be “regarding his first international restaurant”. The project is understood to be modelled on Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, his two-Michelin-starred restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental at Hyde Park in London.
   
Restaurant Group expends Northern Ireland estate with Derry opening: The Restaurant Group is expanding its Northern Ireland estate with a new Frankie & Benny’s opening. The new opening takes place in the Waterside area of Londonderry on 29 March. The New York Italian-style bar and restaurant’s latest outlet is at the Crescent Link Retail Park. The brand now has more than 180 restaurants across the United Kingdom.
    
Inglenook Inns re-opens Punch pub in Bolton after £200,000 co-investment: Inglenook Inns has re-opened the Beaumont, on Armadale Road, Bolton after a joint investment of £200,000 with owner Punch Taverns. James Waddington, director of Inglenook Inns said: “We have introduced cask ales to the pub – and even encouraging our ladies to give it a try – as well as a new food menu featuring homemade pub classics. We will also be launching our popular ‘chip-inn’ scheme, where every time a portion of chips is ordered, 25p goes to the local primary school.” Punch Taverns’ partnership development manager, Tracy Duncan, said: “Considering the reputation Inglenook Inns and Taverns have built at The Grapes in Goosnargh, The Towneley Arms in Longridge and The Coach & Horses in Freckleton, as well as the opening success at the Beaumont, I have every confidence that James and the team will take the pub from strength to strength.”
   
NatWest provides extra funding for Comptoir Libanais owner: A £1.6m bank loan will enable Comptoir Libanais owner Levant Restaurants to open three new outlets and expand into Kent and Surrey for the first time. Levant Restaurants, which received the funding from NatWest, has expanded its Comptoir Libanais brand in Bluewater, Kent and Kingston, Surrey. NatWest was able to provide the loan as part of the bank’s leisure fund, which covered the leasing of all premises as well as funding for refurbishment. The three new restaurants join a stable of seven Comptoir Libanais spread across London. Chaker Hanna, Levant Restaurant’s managing director, said: “Comptoir Libanais have been a huge success across London and we’re hoping to replicate that success with these three new outlets.”
    
Robert Cook to leaves De Vere Hotels after venue division sale: Robert Cook, chief executive of De Vere Hotels and De Vere Village Urban Resorts, is to leave the company after the sale of sister brand De Vere Venues. Three other colleagues, group creative director Gary Garnczarcyzk, food and beverage director Paul Boyce and group executive chef Keith Shearer, are being made redundant. De Vere Venues was bought by Starwood Capital for £231m earlier this month.
    
Bid speculation boosts SABMiller shares: Renewed bid speculation gave the brewing giant SABMiller its biggest gain in more than a year on Tuesday. The Financial Times reported: “AB InBev, the world’s largest brewer, has been rumoured for more than a decade to be examining a bid for SAB, its nearest rival. The £150bn combination could give InBev about 50% of the global beer market, with little overlap beyond SAB’s ventures in the US and China. According to Bernstein Research, the much-discussed deal has been getting easier to finance. Inbev’s market value has risen to more than twice that of SAB and its net debt will fall to just two times operating profit this year, which has reduced the leverage required for a bid, said Bernstein.”
    
Butcombe Brewery hands back pub restaurant site: The West Country brewer and pub operator Butcombe Brewery has handed back the lease of a pub-restaurant in Weston-super-Mare to its owners, saying it “just didn’t work out”. Butcombe, which is based in Bristol, took over the Imperial Brasserie in South Parade in March 2012, subsequently dropping the “brasserie” part of the name as “too formal” for the town. However, the Imperial closed its doors just nine months later, on New Year’s Day, and has been shut ever since. Now Butcombe, which runs 19 other outlets in and around the Bristol/Somerset area, has exercised a break clause in its lease and handed the Imperial back to its freeholders, Chris and Mike Sanders. Tom Newell of Butcombe Brewery said: “We wish them all the best, because it’s a lovely building, it just didn’t work out for us.” The Imperial is now due to reopen next month under its old name, the Imperial Brasserie, with Claudio de Carlo, manager and executive chef when the Sanders ran it, in charge.
    
Developer makes third bid for KFC drive-through: A developer has put in a third planning application for a drive-through KFC restaurant on a derelict hotel site in Essex, after the first two applications were turned down by councillors and a planning inspector. Laindon Holdings submitted its first plans for the restaurant, in High Road, Laindon, near Basildon, Essex, in 2012. They were turned down by Basildon Council and the developer then submitted new plans with revised opening times. These too were thrown out over concerns about traffic, noise and litter, a decision upheld after Laindon Holdings appealed, with planning inspector Isobel McCretton ruling that the design and appearance of the restaurant was not suitable for the residential area. Now Laindon Holdings has put in proposals which see the height of the single-storey building increased, the introduction of a pitched slate roof and the use of brick. However, more than 500 residents have still signed a petition against the proposed restaurant.
   
Deli No looking to expand after success at former Starbucks site in Hull: Deli No, an independent coffee company whose first site is a former Starbucks, is looking to expand. Daniel Moxon set up the family business at St Andrew’s Quay, west Hull, after Starbucks pulled out last spring. While visiting shops in Bristol and Leeds to learn about the industry, Moxon was struck by how unwelcoming many were. He said: “A number of them were dark and dingy and the staff weren’t that good. Our deli is a family-run business and I think people get that feeling from it. We’ve got the best of both worlds – the way it’s laid out is quite commercial but we mix that with a friendly, family atmosphere. The whole aim as we move forward with this is to look to open new units and progress. We’re in the process of looking for a new unit (in central Hull) now.”
    
Gin distillery to open in Edinburgh: Drink industry executive Alex Nicol is to open a gin distillery in Edinburgh. Nicol, whose career has been spent mainly with Whitbread, Scottish & Newcastle and Whyte & Mackay, is moving production of Edinburgh Gin to a former nightclub in the basement of the Huxley bar in the city’s west end. He launched his Spencerfield Spirit Company in 2005, producing two whiskies which have found a market in Australia, France and the United States. Since adding Edinburgh Gin three years ago, turnover has grown to £1.7 million and is expected to hit £2.2m this year. He is now producing 27,000 cases of whisky and gin. “It has changed the nature of the business by adding a new dimension,” Nicol said. The new distillery, opening in May, will have a bar, visitor centre and private dining room. Nicol initially financed the venture himself but now has a Clydesdale Bank overdraft and a hire purchase deal with Lombard Finance.
    
Carluccio’s sets Shrewsbury opening date: Carluccio’s is to open its latest restaurant in The Square, Shrewsbury on 11 April. The chain was given planning permission to convert a former Jane Dyas ladies’ fashion shop in August last year. The restaurant is next to Shrewsbury’s new £10.5m museum and art gallery, and will create 35 jobs. Simon Kossoff, Carluccio’s chief executive, said: “We have been keen to open in Shrewsbury for a number of years now and are delighted to have finally found the right site for us.”
    
Scottish leisure entrepreneur plans micro-brewery: Scottish hospitality operator Bill Costley has revealed plans to develop a microbrewery in Kirkoswald, South Ayrshire as part of his firm Costley & Costley’s revamped Souter’s Inn. Cotley, an award-winning chef has been holding talks with two Scottish microbrewers over developing the operation at the former House of Burns site, which relaunched recently after being struck by fire nearly two years ago.
    
Manchester’s Salvi’s to open a second site: The Southern Italian food brand Salvi’s is opening another unit on John Dalton Street in Manchester in three weeks’ time. It will occupy a site opposite Restaurant Bar and Grill and close to a site where Bill’s is currently fitting out. Manchester Confidential said: “The current unit in the Corn Exchange can lay claim to being the best small dining establishment in the city.”
    
Jospeh Holt re-opens Chorlton outlet as ‘urban country pub’: The Manchester brewer and retailer Joseph Holt has re-opened the Horse and Jockey pub on Chorlton Green, Manchester after a £250,000 refurbishment. It relaunches as Chorlton’s new “urban country pub”. The interior of the 400-year-old building has been fully restored, the kitchen extended to accommodate a larger and “more creative” menu and the bar has been renovated to offer an extended craft beer range and a deluxe deli counter with a takeaway service. The pub houses its own microbrewery, Bootleg Brewery, and holds a number of community events including open air music concerts, farmers markets and beer festivals. Rebecca Daniels, marketing manager for Joseph Holt said: “The Horse & Jockey has always fulfilled a fundamental role in Chorlton; not just as a place to eat and drink, but as a real part of the local community. In having done so, it has taken a little wear and tear, so really needed the makeover.”
    
Bristol restaurant entrepreneurs to re-open neighbourhood pub with a difference: The team behind Bristol’s two successful Zazu’s Kitchen restaurants is to re-open the Greenbank pub in the inner city area of Easton. The 110-year-old former hotel was shut in 2011 and developers said it had become “unviable” as a business. The newly formed pub arm of Zazu’s Kitchen was launched by three successful Bristol entrepreneurs: club and bar owner turned restaurateur James Savage; Dougal Templeton, founder of Venue magazine, the vouchercloud discount app and Goldbrick House, and restaurateur Toby Bywater. Savage, who also transformed The Spotted Cow in Southville from a failing bar into one of the most popular and hugely successful pubs in south Bristol, said: “Zazus is all about creating quality local neighbourhood amenities – the kind of friendly place you’d love to have down the end of your own street. And we’re working hard to achieve that with the Greenbank. The bright, spacious upstairs function room is being made available free for non-profit community groups, classes and activities and the pub will re-introduce live music nights and open mic spots. We will also be very supportive of local practitioners offering a community service,” Savage said. “We also want local people to take advantage of the amazing upstairs space – for meetings, classes, events and private functions like birthday parties.”
    
Housing plan for ‘Raymond Blanc Restaurant’ site in Marlow: Plans have been submitted to turn a former pub into a five-bedroom house, just weeks after it was changed into a continental-style bakery. An application has been submitted to transform the Grade II listed Hare and Hounds on Henley Road and create three other houses at the site. The pub building has had several owners over the past few years, including the winners of Raymond Blanc’s TV series The Restaurant, whose venture The Cheerful Soul lasted only a year. It recently reopened as The Continental Bakehouse, which took on a lease from the new owners after the premises was sold by Enterprise Inns in September. Deidre Wells, from Red Kite Developmment Consultancy, the agent for the project, said the tenancy was an interim measure for her client Hamden Homes while the housing plan was put into action.

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