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Thu 22nd May 2014 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Luminar to extend Jongleurs comedy club offer to six more sites: The chief executive of Luminar, Peter Marks, has told Propel that the company is to add the Jongleurs comedy club offer to five or six more nightclub sites. The company has launched Jongleurs nights in Nottingham and Cardiff and has begun a Jongleurs night on Saturdays only in Southampton. Marks said the owner of the rights to Jongleurs is now being more flexible about how the brand is deployed and will allow the company to use the name on a more ad hoc basis: “We’ll add Jongleurs at another five or six sites, either on a weekly or monthly basis, with peppering around Christmas. It’s a nice add-on [to our offer].” Marks said the company has now completed the assignment of leases across the estate with the exception of two sites, Ipswich and Basildon, which are expected to be assigned in the next few months. The first three conversions of Oceana sites to the new Pryzm three-room music venues are showing encouraging early results. A fourth Oceania from the remaining estate of seven, Cardiff, will be converted during the summer. “We see a conversion to Pryzm as a fix where the Oceana brand is struggling,” Marks said. The company will invest around £5m in the current financial year and has repaid £6m of the £36m that its investors provided to fund the company’s acquisition of the Luminar business from administration. Overall, the most recent full financial year saw a 4.2% increase in spend-per-head. On acquisitions, Marks said: “The most important thing is to refurbish the nightclubs we’ve got. Our view is that there’s still lots of potential in the estate we’ve got. Having said that, if someone came along with something a bit special, like our acquisition in Chelmsford, we’d be tempted.” Luminar is expected to consider its options, including a sale and flotation in a year’s time.
   

Industry News:

Industry executives to deliver US foodservice verdict after ALMR and Propel Info Chicago study tour: More than 40 industry operators travelled to Chicago at the weekend for the National Restaurant Show on a trip organised by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and Propel Info. The trip involved four study tours, two of which were led by the foodservice insights firm Technomic. Tomorrow, in a Propel Friday Opinion special, members of the party, including Draft House founder Charlie McVeigh, Innventure founder Chris Gerard, the former SA Brain retail director, Philip Lay, the chief executive of the ALMR, David McHattie, and Ann Elliott, chief executive of the Elliotts agency, will contribute articles on their impressions of the current state of foodservice across the pond. Technomic and Propel Info are partnering for a conference on Tuesday 10 June that will examine current UK and US food and beverage menu tends. E-mail jo.charity@propelinfo.com for more information or to book.
   
McDonald’s closes corporate headquarters as 2,000 protest over low pay: McDonald’s took the unprecedented step of closing part of its Chicago headquarters yesterday as 2,000 workers and activists demonstrated outside over low pay. The mass protest ended in more than 100 arrests. The demonstrators were calling for a rise in the minimum wage and the right to form a union without retaliation. The action is thought to be the largest demonstration McDonald’s has ever faced. Chanting, “Hey McDonald’s You Can’t Hide, We Can See Your Greedy Side,” and “No Big Macs, No Fries, Make our Wage Supersize,” protesters blocked the entrance to McDonald’s campus in Oakbrook, which is located 20 miles outside Chicago. McDonald’s holds its annual meeting today and dissident shareholders intend to vote against chief executive Donald Thompson’s $9.5m pay package. Protesters also plan to picket that meeting, with the media excluded. In regulatory filings, McDonald’s has already noted the unprecedented pressure it is facing to raise hourly pay.
   
ALMR invites late-night operators to enter awards: Nominations for the second annual Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) Late Night Awards have opened in the search to identify the best in the late night sector. The awards will be handed out at this year’s Dusk ’til Dawn ceremony on 14 September at the Birmingham Metropole, sponsored by Monster Energy. The company, which currently sponsors a variety of sports and music events worldwide, is also the ALMR’s newest supplier members. Monster Energy’s brand manager, Mike Swingwood, said: “We are pleased to be joining the ALMR and look forward to working with the association to promote the on-trade and highlight the good work being done in licensed hospitality across the UK. We are also very excited to be supporting the upcoming Dusk ’til Dawn awards ceremony and look forward to an enjoyable evening recognising the best late night operators.” The Late Night Awards recognise and celebrate the highest standards of excellence in the licensed trade across six categories. The ALMR’s chief executive, David McHattie, said: “We are excited about the prospects for this year’s awards ceremony honouring a vibrant late-night sector and we look forward to a prosperous relationship promoting UK licensed hospitality.”
   
Record number of pubs take part in fourth Norwich City of Ale festival: A record number of pubs is taking part in the Norwich City of Ale festival, now in its fourth year. In total 44 pubs are involved in this year’s ten-day celebration, with 200 beers on offer from 39 local breweries. More than 200 events will be held across the city, from the launch party at Dragon Hall in King Street tomorrow, to the final Sunday on June 1, including live music, sport, quizzes and barbecues. The organisers claim that the first three City of Ale events have “established Norwich as the UK’s ale capital”, and each year pubs have reported increased sales and footfall. The organisers will make a presentation to the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group on the City of Ale next month.
   
UK pub app wins global sports start-up competition: MatchPint, the app used by almost 2,000 UK pubs to organise and market live sport on TV, has won the Global Sports Symposium (GSS) Start-Up Competition. MatchPint pitched against three other businesses from around the globe (PlayEnable, FiarFly, and Togeva) in the final of the competition, which took place at the Emirates Stadium in London. MatchPint co-founder Dominic Collingwood, said: “We don’t just see this as a reward for ourselves, however, but also as a great achievement for the UK pub sector, demonstrating its value and importance to the sports industry.”
   

Company News:

UK’s first ‘experiental’ craft brewery and restaurant, to launch in Glasgow: Drygate, the joint venture between the craft brewer Williams Brothers and Tennent Caledonian Breweries, which maker of Tennent’s Lager, opens this week in Duke Street, Glasgow. The combined microbrewery and restaurant claims to be the UK’s first “experiential” craft brewery, and promises to take drinkers on a journey from “the everyday to the exceptional”. A panoramic glass wall will allow customers to watch the 24-hectolitre brewery, with brew kit sourced from Italy, in action from the bar and kitchen, which will open from this Friday (23rd). Drygate was a derelict 1960s box factory that has now been transformed into a self-styled brewing “centre of excellence”. By the end of June, Drygate will have in place its Drygate Studio Kit, a 2.5hl brewery which can be booked for individuals or groups to brew their own beer. The team behind the venture are projecting that up to one million litres of craft beer will be produced by Drygate in its first year. The 120-cover restaurant will be run by a team from the award-winning Vintage bar and kitchen, which originally opened in Leith and was declared one of the top 50 UK gastropubs in 2014. The Vintage at Drygate will serve a menu of what it calls “fearless food for the soul”, including British charcuterie such as spreadable chorizo, pork scratchings and smoked pigs’ cheeks. The project includes a shop where beer made on the premises can be bought, and 24 different craft beers will be on tap in each of the main bars, 17 on the back bars and seven on the front.
   
Greene King applies to re-open landmark Tulse Hull Tavern: Greene King has applied to re-open the landmark Tulse Hill Tavern, near Brixton, South London, which has been boarded up since March. The company has put in two planning applications to upgrade the premises. The application involves a refurbishment of the interior removing internal walls, moving the kitchen and adding four bedrooms to the existing five. The garden will have a complete makeover. A local website said: “We’re delighted that this landmark will remain a pub, and it’s great that the hotel part is being upgraded too, although given the amount of work in hand, we anticipate that the pub will be unlikely to open until much later in the year.” Originally known as The Tulse Hill Hotel, the pub was built in 1840 and has remained more or less unaltered over the following 174 years.
   
Starbucks franchisee lines up tenth opening in 15 months: Starbucks franchisee 23.5 Degrees, led by Anil Patil, is lining up its tenth opening, 15 months after it opened the first Starbucks franchised site in the UK, at the Liphook Services in Hampshire. The franchisee is to open the second Starbucks in Bournemouth in July, converting two empty units on Richmond Hill into a new cafe with an outdoor seating area. Building work on converting the former Bournemouth Jeans store and Barroccoa coffee shop is due to start imminently. A Starbucks spokesman said: “We can confirm that a new Starbucks store will open on Richmond Hill in Bournemouth in July, in partnership with Starbucks franchisee 23.5 Degrees. This store will create around 15 to 20 jobs for the local area and is the tenth store to be opened by 23.5 Degrees in the south west region.” Last month, 23.5 Degrees opened the first Starbucks site on the Isle of Wight, in Newport.
   
Spirit Pub Company opens 101st Flaming Grill: Spirit Pub Company has opened its 101st Flaming Grill site, the Rope Walk, in Bradley Mills, Huddersfield, which was converted at a cost of just £78,000. The investment, less than a week after the 100th site opened, has seen the pub receive a complete refurbishment with a new flame grill inspired décor, new furniture and kitchen equipment as well as the Flaming Grill chargrill menu focused on steaks and grills, served on hot sizzling skillets. Sally Whittaker, brand director for Flaming Grill, said: “Flaming Grill is fast becoming one of the UK’s most popular pub brands. Our ‘challenge’ dishes are becoming ever more popular with our guests, who like to team up and make an event of it when taking on one of our challenges. We’ve got a great year planned and we’re in a fantastic position to make the most of this summer and continue to grow the brand – I’m sure we’ll be celebrating our 200th milestone in no time at all.” Last month, Spirit told City analysts that it though there was scope for another 150 plus Flaming Grills in the UK.
   
Mystery ‘high class ‘restaurant chain set for Chipping Ongar: A mystery “high class” restaurant chain is coming to Chipping Ongar high street in the Epping Forest part of Essex with the refurbished Kings Inn heading for a new lease of life as a hotel and restaurant. Nick Dennett, representing the pub owner, Ye Ongar Pub Company, told the local newspaper: “We are just in the process of drawing up the lease and getting the details sorted. For confidentiality reasons I cannot reveal too much but I can say Ongar will have never seen anything like it before. It is a high class restaurant chain – not like your PizzaExpress, Pizza Hut or anything like that. This will be great for Ongar. I can guarantee it won’t be a McDonald’s drive-through, we are talking good food and a known but not crass name.”
   
‘Dirty’ Real China re-opens with a new name: A Real China restaurant in Poole town centre in Dorset which was closed down after an inspection by environmental health officers in March has reopened under a new name. The Real China restaurant at the Dolphin Centre is now the Real China Express and has opened its doors again after structural alterations and a refurbishment to help staff maintain cleanliness standards. Ventilation and dish washing systems have been serviced and upgraded. A number of complaints had been received from diners and the council’s investigation revealed dirty food preparation and storage areas, a kitchen in poor structural condition, unsafe food handling and blocked drainage to a sink.
   
The Columbo Group opens Blues Kitchen in Shoreditch: The London-based bar company Columbo Group has opened The Blues Kitchen Shoreditch in Curtain Road, East London, on the site formerly inhabited by Bar Music Hall. The new opening is an East London sibling to the original Blues Kitchen which opened in Camden in 2009. The Blues Kitchen offers Texan BBQ, live music seven nights a week, and one of the biggest bourbon selections in the UK. The new venue is a converted Victorian warehouse across two levels with room for up to 500 across a diner, two bars, dance floor, a stage and a private events space. The Columbo Group operates the Old Queens Head in Islington, Paradise By Way of Kensal Green, XOYO in Shoreditch, The Nest in Dalston, opened in 2010, and The Cat & Mutton, Broadway Market, Hackney, opened this year.
   
Independent restaurant opens with focus on sustainability: An independent “eco-friendly” and sustainable restaurant has opened in East Molesey, Surrey. Henry’s Kitchen, in Bridge Road, which serves traditional British dishes as well as European cuisine, is part of the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA). Among the sustainable features are interior walls made from reclaimed timber, menus printed on recycled paper and all light fittings holding energy-saving LEDs bulbs. Reza Amini, owner of Henry’s Kitchen, said: “It’s important that everyone does what they can to save the planet, so I wanted to create a sustainable restaurant. This means that not only will we use local ingredients, but we will include many sustainable features, such as using rainwater to flush the lavatories.”
   
10,000 people sign petition to save Brighton nightclub: More than 10,000 people have signed a petition to save a Brighton nightclub that closed after noise complaints from neighbours. Blind Tiger, in Grand Parade, Brighton, was told by Brighton and Hove Council that music from the venue was causing a nuisance to those living nearby. After it was served with a legal order, the club’s bosses were told that they could face court action and a potential £20,000 fine if loud noise was reported. The club’s website described the order as a “music ban” and said that it would be impossible for the venue to operate as a business. As a result, the club has now closed. A statement on the club’s website said: “In effect, the council’s notice is a music ban. And in the case of the Blind Tiger, where music events are essential, a music ban means closure – something that the council is well aware of. We are finally giving up. We believe we have now exhausted all our options and must finally concede defeat in the face of the music ban.”
   
Coventry city nightclub to close this weekend: The Coventry city centre nightclub Warehouse is closing down for good after this weekend, as its home in Bishop Street is being redeveloped. The club was launched under the title Rehab Warehouse 18 months ago but was shut down when it lost its licence last May amid accusations of drug problems. A petition was collected with more than 1,700 signatures as part of a campaign to get it reopened. The club did go on to reopen under the altered name Warehouse, as the former title held “too many negative connotations”, according to owner John Dawkins. The property is set to be redeveloped but before that clubbers will have the chance for one final night at the venue this Sunday.
   
Wetherspoon confirms Biggleswade site: JD Wetherspoon is to open a new branch in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire (population: 15,383) after securing a premises in High Street. The company is to open a new pub at The Crown Hotel, site of the Great Fire of Biggleswade, which destroyed nearly a third of the town in 1875. Up to now, the chain has remained tight-lipped over the purchase of the boarded-up building, declining to comment on the rumours. But Wetherspoon’s spokesman, Eddie Gershon, has now confirmed that the site has been acquired, with the aim of it being reopened as a pub. Gershon said: “Wetherspoon has completed on the purchase of The Crown Hotel in Biggleswade. The company still needs to obtain planning permission and there are no on-site or opening dates as yet. But we have been keen to open a pub in the town for a number of years and are pleased that we are now moving in the right direction.”
   
McDonald’s new Happy Meal mascot branded as scary: A new Happy Meal mascot launched by McDonald’s in the United States has been described as “scary” and “an appetite deterrent”. The menacing mascot has stick-thin pipe-cleaner arms, a massive mouth and huge teeth and was introduced to the US via Twitter on Monday as part of the brand’s healthy image-based overhaul. But the reception has been hostile, with commentator describing it as creepy and scary. The mascot was designed as an attempt to encourage to kids to think about food in a more healthy fashion, coinciding with the release of a new 50-calorie serving of yoghurt and apple slices that can, on request, be served with a Happy Meal instead of fries. Small bottles of milk are also now available to replace soft drinks. Julie Wenger, senior director of US marketing at McDonald’s, said: “At McDonald’s, we’re always looking to bring fun and happiness to families.”
   
Gourmet Burger Kitchen signs for Newport development: Gourmet Burger Kitchen has signed up to the Friars Walk city centre development in Newport, South Wales. The chain will be in competition against Prezzo, Nando’s, Frankie and Benny’s and Chiquitos at the £90m scheme when it opens in November next year. The ground-breaking ceremony, took place at the 390,000 sq ft retail and leisure development, formerly the site of Newport’s bus station, in April. Others signed up to the scheme include Debenham’s, Cineworld, Topshop and Next. Gourmet Burger Kitchen, which is owned by Nando’s, is currently up to 59 restaurants in the UK and seven in Ireland.
   
Luke Johnson – coffee and alcohol seeing divergent fortunes: Sector investor Luke Johnson has argued that coffee and alcohol are seeing divergent fortunes. In his Financial Times column, he wrote: “All the big players, from Starbucks to Nestle, seem to make juicy operating margins [on coffee], stretching from 18% to 30% on categories such as Nespresso capsules. These are much higher returns than typical for food and beverage companies. The industry has been transformed in countries such as the UK and the US, where customers are migrating to more expensive espresso coffee. As a participant in the retail segment, I’m astonished at how demand for higher quality coffee continues to rise. Alcohol is a much larger and more controversial trade. It is estimated to be worth $1tn a year globally. It gives considerable pleasure to hundreds of millions, but also causes a lot of damage. The Lancet, a medical journal, reckons it contributes significantly to one in 25 deaths, and the social costs amount to more than 1% of gross domestic product in western nations. However, in Europe, which has the world’s highest consumption of alcohol per person, alcoholic drinks overall are in sharp decline. In Britain, for example, consumption has fallen 18% in the past ten years. I believe these behavioural changes are more to do with fashion, taste and new habits – including drinking better coffee and more beer and less spirits – than government intervention.”
   
Marston’s seeks family pub site on outskirts of Truro: Marston’s is backing a scheme to build an Asda supermarket and 435 homes at Willow Green, Truro, Cornwall, saying it wants to put up a 180-cover family pub that would create 40 to 50 jobs as part of the development. If planning consent was granted, it could be open to the public by spring 2016. Laura Barnes of Marston’s said: “We have wanted to open a pub in Truro for a long time and are delighted to have finally found the perfect location at Willow Green. We are looking forward to opening a family-friendly pub and restaurant staffed by local people and offering top quality pub food and an unrivalled selection of cask beers from across the country.” Nick Alford from LXB, the company behind the proposed Willow Green development, said: “It is a huge sign of confidence in Truro that Marston’s want to open a new neighbourhood venue in the city. With Asda already signed up, and Marston’s now on board, we are seeing Willow Green take shape for becoming a really important community hub for people living in the west of Truro.” Cornwall Council is expected to hold a strategic planning meeting at the end of June where competing supermarket development site plans will be heard.
   
Leon supports the England U20 Football Team: Leon, the healthy restaurant brand, will support its first sporting event at the 2014 FIFA Under-20 World Tournament in Toulon from 22 May. The chain’s co-founder John Vincent said: “Leon is the future of fast food. These players are the future of English football. This is a beautiful marriage.” The company said engaging in international sporting support to promote an active lifestyle “fits very well with the Leon ethos that food should taste good, and do you good.” Henry Dimbleby, Leon’s other co-founder, said: “Supporting the England Under-20 team is part of us spreading the word more widely about what we do: good food for all.”
   
Specialist gin bar and restaurant to open in Glasgow: A specialist gin bar is to open in Glasgow, celebrating the fact that more than 70% of Britain’s gin is produced north of the Border. Alston Bar & Beef, situated below Central Station, opens next week (29 May) with a choice of more than 50 varieties. Alston Street once housed theatres, pubs, warehouses, yards and refineries, which were demolished to make way for the Caledonian Railway Central Station, which opened in 1879. Alston’s gin specialist, Chris Sproule, said: “Possibly one of the biggest misconceptions around gin is that it makes you sad. While any alcohol is both a mood enhancer and a depressant, dependent on the quantities drunk, there is no proof that gin has the ability to change your mood more than any other spirit.”
   
Domino’s UK to launch World Cup pizzas: Domino’s UK is to launch World Cup pizzas, in a limited edition “Carnivale” range. The offering, inspired by South American flavours, includes two new pizzas and two sides, on menus from 16 June. The pizzas are: Fiesta, with chicken, red onions and red and green peppers, seasoned with a fajita spice with a drizzle of mojito dressing; and Rio, pulled Barbacoa beef, with chipotle sauce, red onions and red and green peppers.
   
Microbrewery owners win consent for micropub: The owners of the Bumpmill microbrewery in Derbyshire have won planning consent to open a micropub in Matlock. The former Cafe Central in Smedley Street, Matlock, is to be transformed after a decision by members of Derbyshire Dales Council. The new pub, called Stanley’s Alehouse, will run by husband and wife team Michael and Michalene McMaster, of Bumpmill Brewery in Shirland, Derbyshire. Michalene said: “My husband and I own a microbrewery which has been very successful and the next step is an outlet in which beers that we do ourselves can be sold, but also to showcase lots of really good Derbyshire microbreweries. It will be a very traditional ale house.”
   
Wharfedale Brewery launches ale trail around Yorkshire Dales: Wharfedale Brewery, housed at the back of The Flying Duck Brewpub in Ilkley, Yorkshire, has launched a new tourist attraction which aims to benefit businesses in the Yorkshire Dales. The Ales Way – Wharfedale’s Ale Trail – takes real ale lovers on a journey from Ben Rhydding to Hubberholme, via 15 of Yorkshire’s most iconic pubs, the vast majority of which can be reached via the Pride of the Dales bus service, which the brewery sponsors. Visitors to each pub will receive a stamp when they order a pint of Wharfedale Blonde, Best or Black. When they have collected ten stamps they will be given a free Ales Way T-shirt. They will also be invited to be entered into a “Hall Of Fame”. Should they manage to visit all 15 pubs on the ale trail they will also receive a souvenir box set of two bottles of beer and a Wharfedale Brewery branded pint glass.
   
Cheesecake Factory signs Asia development agreement: Cheesecake Factory the US-based operation that takes $11m per site and is looking to expand into the UK, is to move into Asia for the first time. The casual dining operator signed an exclusive licensing agreement with the Hong Kong-based Maxim’s Caterers Ltd to develop at least 14 restaurants over the next ten years in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and China, beginning in 2015. The agreement also includes the opportunity to expand to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand over time.
   
Sheffield Chiquito gets permission to expand: The Sheffield branch of Chiquito, the Restaurant Group-owned Mexican chain, is to expand its capacity after planning permission to add another storey to the venue, in the Valley Centertainment development, was approved by Sheffield City Council. The venue will add an additional 565 sq ft floor to the existing 3,500 sq ft restaurant, increasing its dining capacity to almost 200 diners. The work has to be carried out within the next three years.
   
Curry restaurant to open in converted passenger jet: A Boeing 737 passenger jet has been converted into a luxury curry restaurant, with the plane’s seats stripped away to make room for dining tables and chairs. All the other fittings, from overhead lockers and a TV screen to the dials and levers in the cockpit, remain as they were when the AB Airlines plane flew out of London Stansted airport. The man behind the conversion is Mustafa Azim from Wallington in Surrey, who runs a plane salvage business. Azim, 48, said: “It didn’t take too much work because we wanted a lot of the fittings to remain as they are. We stripped out the seats and replaced them and that’s about it. I had the idea in 1993 or 1994, but councils wouldn’t give permission for us to do it – but I think people are more forward thinking now. There has been phenomenal interest in the project and now we’re having a charity dinner on Monday to see how it all works then, hopefully, we’ll be able to open properly in a few weeks.” The aircraft is based at a secret location in Leicestershire and meals are prepared by award winning curry chefs Akki Miah, who has catered for stars including Atomic Kitten, Mofur Miah, who cooked on a Spice Girls tour and Abdul Rob, who cooked for pop stars Lee Ryan and Aswad in a kitchen based in a building next door.
   
Plan for Gloucester’s first micropub hits a wall: A plan to open the first micropub in Gloucester has been called off over the costs of complying with planning requirements and building regulations. Mark Deacon, the man behind the plan to convert the former Cash It centre on the corner of Southgate Street and Llanthony Road into a micropub called Inn The Round, said: “Regrettably we have to let everyone know that our plans for Gloucester’s first micro-pub have had to come to an end. Whilst we really believe it would have added much to the city’s real ale scene, we faced many challenges to achieve compliance with planning requirements. To achieve these in the end would have required far more resources and driven the set-up costs far beyond what was achievable for us. We would like to thank everyone who showed their support.”
   
St Austell adds two sites: St Austell Brewery has announced further investment in its estate, with the purchase of a Somerset pub and a Cornish hotel, adding to the company’s property portfolio across the south west. With the two new sites, the company will now own and manage 170 inns and hotels across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset. The acquisitions come after the company reporting a 10% increase in annual turnover to £116.6m and a 7.4% increase in Ebitda (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) to £13.8m in the year ended 28 December 2013. It was recently revealed that the brewery has bought the Port Gaverne Hotel in Port Isaac, a 16-room hotel five minutes’ walk from the village. The hotel will become part of the brewery’s tenanted estate, with landlords David and Jackie Barnard from The Molesworth Arms taking a second tenancy on the site. St Austell Brewery has also exchanged contracts on The Windwhistle Inn at Cricket St Thomas, near Chard in Somerset, with completion due at the end of June. The busy, food-led pub will be run as a tenancy, with the brewery currently in the process of agreeing tenants.
   
Chipotle asks US customers not to bring guns into its stores: Chipotle is asking customers not to bring firearms into its stores after it says gun rights advocates brought military-style assault rifles into one of its restaurants in Texas. The company said that it had traditionally complied with local laws regarding open and concealed firearms. But in a statement, the company said that “the display of firearms in our restaurants has now created an environment that is potentially intimidating or uncomfortable for many of our customers.” The announcement came after a petition by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which has called on other companies to ban firearms in their stores as well. The group said its petition was in reaction to “open-carry” gun activists appearing at a Dallas-area Chipotle restaurant over the weekend.

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