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Tue 19th Aug 2014 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Gatecrasher denies online reports of financial distress: The nightclub company Gatecrasher, led by Simon Raine, has dismissed online rumours and speculation about its financial well-being and the health of its Ibiza site. The company, which went through a restructuring last year, has been hit by claims of unpaid debts. But it is insisting that its Birmingham and Ibiza sites remain open for business. On its website, the company said: “As usual, sensationalist online portals and blogs need to create some air of speculation in order to further their own selfish pursuits and boost reach/exposure at the cost of the truth and anyone else. Also it is worth pointing out that not once has any blog or portal made any attempt to contact anyone from Gatecrasher for comment. Many so-called 'facts' are completely removed from the truth. 2014 has been a tough season for all venues in Ibiza, not just Gatecrasher; it has been challenging to say the least, we have made some mistakes but we are in a much better position to deal with the challenges in 2015. When we set out with the Gatecrasher Ibiza project we, like most promoters, got caught up in competitively bidding on acts, artists and brands. As is the pattern, artist and brand fees are becoming more and more inflated, to the point that a lot of events become commercially unviable. Sadly, some nights have just have not performed, hence why we have had to make some changes to the programme. Of course, people have been entitled to refunds for any pre-booked line-ups and events that have changed as a result and we do our best to communicate this. Gatecrasher Ibiza remains open until September 2014 and we would like to thank all who have been so far to the events in the summer of 2014. We will also be back in 2015 with new exciting news and events. For avoidance of any doubt, Gatecrasher Birmingham and Gatecrasher Ibiza both remain open for business.” The company also said it was in on-going negotiations with the landlord of its Watford site, Cameo, which has been served with a forfeiture notice. It said: “The trading company was and is still in talks with the landlord and authorities to re-open but only under viable licensing conditions. The venue is currently limited to a 2am licensing restriction, meaning the operation is financially unviable. Over the past 18 months, the group has operated these venues at substantial losses, investing over £800,000 to safeguard jobs.”
 

Industry News:

Carluccio’s boss appears on Undercover Boss tomorrow: Carluccio’s chief executive, Simon Kossoff, is to appear on Channel Four’s Undercover Boss tomorrow night at 9pm (Wednesday 20 August). The programme summary says: “Chief executive Simon Kossoff goes undercover as his restaurant chain Carluccio's plans to double in size in five years. He's planning to spend £50m and is keen to expose problems that could jeopardise successful growth. After scrubbing dishes and being run off his feet, Simon is shocked to discover branches struggling with chaotic kitchens, inefficient systems and demotivated staff, and is forced to consider whether Carluccio's should worry more about existing employees than expansion.”

Reuters – Shake Shack eyeing an IPO: The news agency Reuters has reported that Shake Shack, the US restaurant chain that opened in Covent Garden, central London last summer, is preparing to go public Shake Shack's majority owner, Union Square Hospitality Group, has interviewed investment banks in recent weeks to appoint underwriters for the IPO. Shake Shack, which started out of a hot dog kiosk in Madison Square Park, New York in 2004, is expected to post earnings of around $20m next year.

Taco Bell launches 11-item dollar menu in the US:
Taco Bell has launched an 11-item value menu, the Dollar Cravings menu in the United States as a permanent addition to its listings. The company said it selected a variety of items, including meatless, spicy, cheesy and sweet options, to appeal to all customers. It told Nation’s Restaurant News that “craveable and quality value items” are important for Taco Bell because Millennials drive nearly half of the chain’s transactions. According to the consumer research firm NPD Group, Taco Bell’s key 18 to 34-year-old demographic is visiting quick-service restaurants 6% to 14% less frequently than five years ago.

People with strong religious views more likely to be aggressive when drunk: People who hold strong religious beliefs are more likely to be aggressive when drunk, according to a recent study in the United States. The Daily Mail reported that a study carried out in Kentucky on 520 individuals aged between 21 and 35 years found that those who held strong spiritual and religious views were more likely to become aggressive and violent after drinking, compared to people without such beliefs. Each participant was given either an alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink, with psychologists having already assessed the degree of their spiritual beliefs. The study was originally intended to identify risk factors to predict alcohol-related violence, with the correlation drawn between religion and aggression said to be a surprise. Professor Peter Giancola, who conducted the study, said the results suggested that alcohol "releases the beast within" in those with strongly held religious beliefs.
 
Get My Grub to expand across the Humber region: A Grimsby businessman who has seen demand for his takeaway delivery service go through the roof is now aiming to roll it out across the Humber region. Simon Seed established the business in February 2012 after losing his job as a courier driver. Inspired by a friend who had launched a delivery service in East Anglia, Seed decided to do something similar in North East Lincolnshire. The business, initially called Takeaway Express, but now known as Get My Grub after a rebrand, has seen demand skyrocket and now has seven drivers on its books. The service, which operates between 8am and 11pm each day, collects orders from fast food and takeaway outlets and delivers them to customers’ doors. People place their orders from a variety of menus through the getmygrub.co.uk website and a driver is dispatched to pick up the food. The service has proved particularly popular with people wanting to order food from establishments which do not have their own delivery service, such as the fast food chains McDonalds, Burger King and KFC. Get My Grub delivers to homes within a ten-mile radius of Grimsby, and receives between 200 and 300 orders a week.
 

Company News:

Punch looks to recruit new chief executive: Punch Taverns will look to recruit a new chief executive with Stephen Billingham stepping down from his executive chairman role once its current £2.4bn debt restructuring is compete, The Times has reported. Billingham, who has overseen the restructuring for the past three years, will revert to a non-executive position once the new chief executive is hired. Punch will launch a formal external search for a chief executive although chief operating officer Neil Griffiths is regarded as a strong candidate, according to The Times.

Peter Andre’s New York Coffee Club brand launches mobile: Peter Andre’s New York Coffee Club brand, which has sites in East Grinstead and Brighton, launched its own mobile truck at the weekend’s V Festival in Essex and Staffordshire. The appearance of the mobile, which will be touring music festivals, comes after Andre’s own coffee brand was launched in  Tesco. He said: “Since opening my coffee shops, the New York Coffee Club with my brothers, I’ve wanted to create my own brand of coffee – and now I’ve had the chance to do just that! The best part is that I’ve managed to combine my passion for coffee with my passion for my charity. Every time someone buys a pack of New York Coffee Club coffee from Tesco, 50p will be donated to the Peter Andre Foundation, which is supporting Cancer Research UK’s life saving work. The coffee is stocked exclusively in Tesco stores and I’ve personally chosen three fantastic flavours to create the perfect range – so there’s something for everyone."

Brakspear sells pub to local peer's estate for £400,000: Brakspear has sold the Bottle and Glass in Harpsden Road, Binfield Heath, near Henley on Thames to a local landowner who is looking to reopen the currently closed pub and run it for the community. The buyer, the Phillimore Estate, founded by the Phillimore family, currently headed by the fifth Baron Phillimore, owns 3,500 acres in the area, as well as a slice of Kensington, West London around Holland Park. Adrian Beales, the agent who handled the purchase for the estate, said: “I brought it to the attention of the estate, who thought they would like to try to effectively help the community and try to save it as a pub. They are the biggest landowner in the area and just like to make a community-spirited approach to the way they do things and interact.” Beales said the estate planned to extend the pub and refurbish the interior of the thatched, timber-framed building, which is Grade II listed. The pub would be let and it was hoped the tenant would sell beer from the Loddon Brewery, which is brewed on the estate in Dunsden. It has had a patchy history in recent years, with one couple, Graham and Jill Hughes, running it for almost a year before quitting, saying they had lost more than £35,000 because villagers did not support the pub.
 
Spirit buys Mitchells & Butlers site in Blackpool for Flaming Grill conversion: Spirit Pub Company has bought a Mitchells & Butlers Crown Carvery site in Blackpool and will invest £300,000 converting it to a Flaming Grill site trading under its old name, the No 3. Flaming Grill's investment manager, Chris Gorton, said: “We’re thrilled to be undergoing such a huge refurbishment, and look forward to welcoming lots of our ?regulars to our new pub, as well as many new faces over the coming weeks and months. The No 3 has been popular in the local community for years, so we’re proud to be bringing it back with a new look, but with the old name and atmosphere that it’s known for.”

Draft House to install Pilsner Urquell tankovna tank beer at Seething Lane site: SAB Miller is to offer Pilsner Urquell tank beer at Draft House’s Seething Lane site in the City of London. Four Czech copper tanks have been installed at Draft House Seething and every week on a Wednesday, a tanker will arrive from Plzen in the Czech Republic and decant thousands of litres of original unfiltered, unpasteurised brewery beer into the tanks. The beer will be available to the public in early September.

US food trucks now number 4,100: A new study has found that more than 4,100 food trucks are now open for business in nearly 300 cities in the United States. The rise of food trucks is causing a degree of resentment among bricks and mortar sites. Gavin Coleman, who owns The Dubliner in Washington, said: "I don't hate food trucks. (But) I think they make it tougher on the restaurants to survive." From the moment food trucks started lining up right outside, he said, some profits from his crucial lunch hour crowd disappeared and never came back. "We depend on these peak hours of service, and lunch [is] one of them. So to have food trucks come in and sit right outside of my door and take away from that peak hour makes it tough to survive the other 18 hours that we're open," Coleman said. Concerns over competition, safety and public health have divided cities on how best to regulate food trucks. Chicago bans them within 200 feet of a restaurant. Pittsburgh is among the toughest, forcing operators to move every 30 minutes.

Douglas Jack – we are 'hold' on Punch shares after restructuring launch: Numis Securities' leisure analyst Douglas Jack has issued a hold note on Punch Taverns shares, with a 10p price target, after yesterday’s launch of its debt restructuring. He said: “Punch has announced the full terms of its capital restructuring proposals. These terms are almost unchanged: they would result in a 25% reduction in total net debt, materially reducing financial risk but at the cost of equity dilution. This is all reflected in our forecasts. Recent trading has remained in line, with LFL net income in the core estate up 1.3% during 48 weeks to 19 July 2014 (our full year assumption is 1%). Average net income per pub is positive overall across the whole estate. £103m of disposals occurred during the first 48 weeks, ahead of the £100m target. Underlying ebitda guidance remains £201-209m for 2014E; our forecast remains £205m. Our 10p target price equates to 9.6x 2015E EV/ebitda. We estimate debt reduction would grow this equity value by 17% (1.7p/share) pa. The company's EV/ebitda valuation is in line with Enterprise Inns’ (HOLD; 125p) although Punch should have lower leverage, no bank debt and no refinancing event (before 2021E)."
 
Craft Beer Co to hold mega-craft festival again: The Craft Beer Co, the five-strong multiple that claimed the title of the UK’s biggest pub beer festival in April at its site in Clapham, South London, is to run the festival again this September. The Craft 100 festival will run from 18 to 21 September and will once again showcase a staggering 100 beers from the very best breweries across the UK. Craft Beer Co's managing director, Martin Hayes, said: “Craft 100 delivered an experience at the highest level back in April, with a range of beers that totally blew people away – many of which were brewed specifically for the festival. We are so keen to run the event again, it was a huge success earlier in the year, making it an easy decision to make it happen again. The four-day festival will celebrate the very best British breweries, something the Craft Beer Co. has a reputation for championing, and this latest Craft 100 will support this in every way. The festival is structured in a way that there are ‘No tickets, No tokens, No hassle’. Just pay a deposit for your glass and then go discover.”
 
Marston’s renews five-year MCC cricket deal: The MCC has announced the renewal of its association with Marston’s Beer Company in a new five-year sponsorship and pouring rights deal. In an association that began with Lord’s in 2008, Marston’s will continue its sole supply of all bars at the ground in London, including its range of premium cask and craft beers, led by its flagship brand, Marston’s Pedigree. Marston’s will also retain signage and hospitality benefits in the ground as part of the deal up to 2019. Jonathan Robinson, assistant secretary (commercial) for Marylebone Cricket Club said: "Marston’s is a valued commercial partner here at Lord’s and we are delighted to continue our association, particularly in this ground’s bicentennial year. With its excellent portfolio of beers, training and dedication to quality at every level it is the perfect complement to the hospitality services that we offer to members, guests and visitors." Richard Westwood, managing director of Marston’s Beer Company, said: "Given our long association with cricket from grassroots to the national game it is only fitting that our beers have a place on the bars at the home of cricket.”

Bill’s makes Liverpool debut: Bill’s made its debut in Liverpool yesterday, opening a 3,153 sq ft restaurant in Liverpool One. Scott Macdonald, co-managing director of Bill’s, said: “We are very excited to be opening in Liverpool One and confident that the addition of a Bill’s restaurant will add something a little different to the already diverse mix. As we are open from early in the morning until late at night, it’s important we choose locations that will deliver customers, and Liverpool One is ideal for us, with its growing footfall of local and international customers throughout the day. Plus, of course, the context and surroundings are a perfect fit, as the quality of the locations we choose is key to our success.”

Hard Rock Cafe – we’d like an amicable solution to Soft Rock Cafe trademark dispute: Hard Rock Cafe has claimed that it wants an amicable solution to a trademark dispute with a Liverpool venue called Soft Rock Cafe. The Soft Rock Cafe in Liscard has been contacted by lawyers acting for the Hard Rock Cafe saying its name and logo are too similar to the international chain’s branding. Soft Rock Cafe's owner, Robbie Forbes, said he had been inundated with messages of support since the local Echo newspaper revealed the row. Hard Rock International, the parent company of Hard Rock Cafe, said it had no current plans to sue Forbes, but warned that it would take action to “protect the goodwill and reputation of the brand”. A spokesman said: “Hard Rock has been attempting to resolve this situation in an amicable manner with the owner of Soft Rock Cafe for several months. Our representatives have reached out to the owner on numerous occasions to try to reach a resolution, but have not received a reply from him. At this time, Hard Rock has no intention to initiate legal proceedings, but if the owner continues to refuse to engage in meaningful dialogue, Hard Rock reserves the right to consider necessary actions to protect the goodwill and reputation of the brand.”

No Nonsense Taverns and Spirit Leased reposition student-led pub: No Nonsense Taverns and Spirit Leased Pubs have repositioned the student-led Cross Keys in Cottingham, near Hull, with a £140,000 investment. It has become a premium venue, after the introduction of several value-led bars close to the area’s student halls. The pub’s pool table is gone, replaced by a social seating area, with Victorian-style flooring and benches. The beer garden has also been extended, and the Cross Keys has introduced a food menu for the first time, taking more than £3,000 of dry sales in its first week serving food. Cocktails are another new addition, with Spirit Leased working with No Nonsense to take the whole of the bar staff to a cocktail bar in Sheffield for extended training. Spirit Leased's managing director, Chris Welham, said: “It has been a privilege to provide invaluable investment to a loyal, long-term Spirit Leased Pubs licensee. We understand how important a repositioning such as this can be, and we’re pleased to see the end result is such a strong, premium offering.”
 
Judy Murray and Colin Montgomerie to head hotel and sports academy plan in Scotland: A 150-bedroom hotel is at the centre of plans to develop a grassroots tennis and golf academy near Stirling, headed by Judy Murray and Colin Montgomerie. Alongside the four-to-five star hotel, the Park of Keir project will feature six indoor and six outdoor tennis courts, a six-hole golf course, a multi-sport all-weather pitch, a cafe-restaurant and the Andy Murray tennis museum. There will also be a development of 100 houses.

Plan for Marston's pub in fuel storage site blast zone is 'major hazard': A plan to build a Marston’s pub and restaurant as part of a development close to a fuel store owned by the petrol company Total near Nottingham has been condemned by the Health and Safety Executive as a "major hazard". The proposed pub, at Colwick, just to the east of Nottingham, is 150 metres from the storage tanks at Total's fuel store off the Colwick Loop Road. A spokesman for the HSE said: “As the site is considered a major hazard due to the quantities of fuel stored there, we considered that there would be a significant risk to the public should there be an incident there.” Total, which uses the site to distribute fuel nationwide, said it agreed with the HSE's assessment. The overall development, which also includes a Sainsbury's supermarket, was given outline planning permission in November 2013 and is expected to create up to 1,000 jobs. Dale Fixter, co-director of City Estates (UK) Ltd, which owns the land, said strict regulations leave the HSE no choice but to rule the pub unsafe, which he considered to be unfair. Marston’s said it did not wish to comment because it was too early in the design process.

Punch pioneers apprenticeship scheme: Punch Taverns’ commitment to offering the highest quality training opportunities for its licensees and their staff is helping everyone involved to reap the rewards of government-funded apprenticeship schemes – something that small pub operators typically find too onerous to engage with on their own. Punch’s apprenticeship programme offers licensees staff training, the potential of a £1,500 government grant towards employing an apprentice, and the opportunity to ‘try before you hire’ with a two-week no obligation placement. Punch has been running its apprenticeship scheme since June 2013. To date, 180 Punch Partners have benefited from the government apprenticeship scheme, and 42 licensees have taken on new apprentices, qualifying for £1,500 funding per individual. Partners are also able to take advantage of a two-week no obligation placement. Punch’s HR director, Jackie Burn said: “We’re passionate about supporting our licensees and encouraging them to consider the value that a new apprentice could add to their business.”

McDonald’s plans “whole fruit” in Happy Meals: McDonald’s in the US is planning to introduce whole fruit that rotate with the seasons to Happy Meals rather than apple slices, which require more labour and packaging. Cuties – clementines – that are easy to peel and junior bananas – smaller than conventional bananas to fit a child’s hand – are among the options. Greg Watson, senior vice president of menu innovation, told US Today: “This is consistent with what we’ve said we’d do. This is part of the journey we started four years ago to make Mom feel better about Happy Meals.” Hope Warshaw, a dietitian and author of The Guide to Healthy Restaurant Eating, said: “Due to the sheer volume of Happy Meals that McDonald’s serves, little changes can make big impacts on the health of American children.” Blueberries and grapes in Happy Meals are both under future consideration, with grapes already having had some success in Europe.

Starbucks trials trucks on three US university campuses: Starbucks will trial three trucks on US university campuses this autumn. The trucks offer a menu of drinks and food nearly identical to what customers would find in their neighborhood Starbucks stores. The Starbucks mobile truck can move to various locations on campus throughout the day, making it convenient for students and faculty to grab a snack or beverage. While hours will vary on each campus, trucks are able to adjust business hours to suit the needs of their customers, in some cases staying open later than a dining hall. The mobile truck, which complements Starbucks cafes currently located across campus, is a licensed store operated through Aramark and is an extension of the long-standing partnership between the two companies.
 
Plan launched to turn Swansea’s Salubrious Place into al fresco dining area: Plans have been submitted for a major revamp of one of Swansea's key restaurant, leisure and entertainment quarters. Paperwork has been submitted to the city council seeking permission to create an outdoor continental style eating area at the heart of the precinct. Mansford, the owner of Salubrious Place, plans to turn the street at the heart of the district into what it describes as a "a bustling al fresco dining area", designed to boost the appeal of the city centre. The move comes after the recent announcement that Luminar is to open a 1,700-capacity nightclub in the quarter, creating 60 new jobs. Salubrious Place includes a Vue Cinema and a Premier Inn along with restaurants including TGI Fridays, Frankie & Benny's, Chiquito's and Smoke Haus.

Two-year-old microbrewery links with Everards to open its first pub: A two-year-old microbrewery, the Lincoln Green brewery in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, is taking over the Robin Hood and Little John in nearby Arnold as part of Everards' Project William scheme. The pub, the town's oldest, was acquired by Everards, the Leicester-based brewer and pub operator, last year and has been given a complete refurbishment. The Project William scheme involves Everards leasing out pubs to independent operators. Lincoln Green – named for the colour of the clothing worn by Robin Hood and his men – said it planned to "re-establish the pub as a community-led haven for cask ale and real cider." Founder Anthony Hughes said: "We intend to showcase real ales from near and far at the Robin Hood and Little John. There'll be Lincoln Green beers, but also a good range of guests, including Everards' Tiger. Ten handpulls on each bar will give us great flexibility, with the potential to host a whopping 20 beers if we want to hold a 'beer festival', all through handpull. Who knows, if the demand is there, maybe that could be every week! We're also looking to actively promote real cider at the pub. We're free of tie on ciders and will have a 'cider wall' behind each bar with a total of eight different choices. We're looking at sourcing these ciders from a range of different producers, both in the Midlands and from the traditional areas of Dorset, Somerset and Worcestershire."
 
Orderella partners Tamoco to bolster capabilities: Orderella, the app that allows its customers to order and pay for food and drinks with their phone, has teamed up with the proximity technology and mobile insight provider Tamoco to bolster its capabilities in NFC, iBeacon, QR and wi-fi-driven activity. Tamoco plans to work with Orderella to give customers the ability to quickly download the app with a tap of their NFC phone. Customers will also be able to receive special offers and promotions through iBeacon (Bluetooth) technology in their favourite sites, encouraging footfall and boosting sales for operators. Sam Amrani, founder and executive chairman of Tamoco said: “Tamoco are excited to be partnering with Orderella, who are at the forefront of transforming the way pubs and bars fundamentally work. By embracing proximity technologies such as Bluetooth and NFC, we are able to understand so much more about our customers, and provide rich analytics to businesses that are then placed to deliver relevant, contextual and individual offers to each and every customer.” Dennis Collet, Orderella's chief executive, said: “We’re always looking at how we can use technology to enhance a customer’s night out, which makes our new partnership with Tamoco particularly interesting. It provides customers with another way to interact with their favourite bars and restaurants, while also giving operators more opportunities to attract and increase footfall.”
 
Micropub opens in shadow of former Nottingham brewery: A new micropub, to be called the Abdication, will open its doors on Saturday, 23 August, in the Coronation Buildings in Mansfield Road, Daybrook, Nottingham, constructed by Home Brewery in 1937. The Coronation Buildings were meant to celebrate the coronation of King Edward VIII, but in the end they marked the accession to the throne of his brother King George VI, after Edward abdicated over his desire to marry a divorcee, Wallis Simpson. The pub is being opened by a former rail maintenance worker, Matt Grace, 44, who said: “It was all about a change of career. I decided the time was right to do something different and go out on my own. I thought about opening a microbrewery but there are already a lot of those around. We’ll be across the road from the old Home Brewery buildings so there are some links with Nottingham’s brewing tradition." The Abdication will be open on Wednesdays, Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays from 6pm and from 2pm on Sundays, with last orders at 9.30pm each evening.
 
Burton nightclub opportunity offered: A nightclub in Burton upon Trent is being offered to let. Commercial property specialist Rushton Hickman has revealed that a second floor nightclub based at the former Robins Cinema, in Guild Street, is now up for let. Part of the Grade II listed building was recently reopened as The Ritz, "an around-the-world dining experience", after years of stalled developments. A first floor function suite is also for let , both with entrances via the ground floor.

New owner plans to expand Jamaica Inn: Businessman Allen Jackson, who bought the historic Jamaica inn in Cornwall in March for more than £2m, plans to expand the business. He has already added three bedrooms to make a total of 20 and a new cellar to the hotel and has ambitions to turn over £1.6m in his first year. Now Jackson is planning further investment in the property, including adding five rooms and a function suite with the capacity to hold 220 guests. "I've already submitted pre-application documents and received a very favourable report back to install a new kitchen and function suite – weddings should be very popular here at the inn and will have fantastic views of the moors," he said. "I'm also planning to take the hotel from 20 rooms to 25 rooms and add a farm shop." Jackson has also took a number of measures to boost business in the inn, including slashing beer prices, revamping food menus and increasing the museum's opening hours, which has resulted in a 67% spike in takings.

Belhaven partners MatchPint for key Scottish towns and cities: Belhaven, Greene King’s Scottish business, is launching MatchPint in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Stirling. To coincide with the Belhaven partnership and celebrate the start of the new season, MatchPint is giving residents in each of these cities the chance to win prizes during September and October. Users checking in to Scottish pubs on MatchPint will be entered into competitions where each month one lucky supporter in each city will win football and rugby-related prizes. The competition aims to encourage app usage and drive footfall into participating sites. Dominic Collingwood, MatchPint's co-founder, said: “We’ve been fans of Belhaven pubs for a while: the addition of their sites to MatchPint will complement work we’re already doing in Scotland with Landmark, Beds and Bars, Intertain, and plenty of outstanding independent pubs.”
 
Brewery plans to develop campsite to encourage visitors: A brewery founded just a year ago in Capel Dewi, Carmarthenshire is hoping to boost sales by creating a campsite next to the brewery to encourage visitors. The Handmade Beer Co was set up in August 2013 and was brewing its produce from a temporary site before securing a £5,000 business loan in January from HSBC, later extended to £10,000, helping the business boost its sales to 3,000 bottles and 18 casks a month. Ian Bowler, owner and head brewer at the Handmade Beer Co, said: "As the business began to receive more orders, there was a need to establish a dedicated bottling area. Now we’re looking into further expansion by creating a sampling area at the brewery, as well as a campsite next to the brewery, which would significantly increase footfall given that we’re located within a popular tourist destination."

Horizons – burger popularity has peaked in the UK: Eating-out operators are continuing to adapt to the changing demands of consumers with menus featuring more hand-held, easy-to-eat foods as Britons plump for casual dining over formal occasions, the latest research, undertaken by the foodservice consultancy Horizons shows. Horizon's findings, from a survey in June, showed that while burgers are still the nation’s number one main-course dish, their popularity has peaked. Some 17% fewer dishes on menus featured burgers compared to last year, while hot dogs continue to become more popular, appearing on 86% more menus than they did this time last year, with pork ribs the second biggest riser, at 15%. The survey found that operators are taking a more inventive approach to burgers, perhaps in a bid to boost sales, offering more gourmet versions of the long-term number one dish. Byron, for example, has the Miami Slice, a 6oz burger with potatoes, salami, cheese and smoked paprika ketchup in a sourdough bun, while Fayre & Square sells a "pizza burger", a cheeseburger with tomato sauce wrapped in pizza bread. The Menurama research reveals that American-themed dishes continue to gain popularity, with the provenance of dishes now referred to on menus. Examples include Chicken Louisiana Skins and New Yorker Crunchy Salad at Frankie and Benny’s, New Yorker on Rye at Pret A Manger and Slow Roasted Pulled Pork Denver Fries at Best Western. This innovation extends to new variations of old favourites like coleslaw (or "slaw"), which now comes in a variety of flavours. Blue Cheese Slaw with chopped jalapenos is on the menu at Gourmet Burger Kitchen, with Asian Slaw at TGI Friday’s and Spicy Slaw at Brewer’s Fayre. Salted caramel is one of the newest flavour combinations to feature on menus. Non-existent in summer 2010, salted caramel now appears in 37 dishes, growing 12% in popularity year-on-year. One of this year’s favourite cuts of meat has been the little-known flatiron steak, which can now be seen on 17 menus, including those of Beefeater and Scream. The steak, a cheaper cut, is taken from the shoulder of the animal. The report's author, Nicola Knight, Horizons’ director of services, said: “We are seeing a high level of innovation on menus. Many of the ideas are coming from the US, but street food and ethnic flavours are also influencing menus. Operators are also working hard at providing customers with something new, often by putting a twist on old favourites.” One example is the new toppings being added to macaroni cheese, a dish rarely seen on menus a few years ago. Pitcher & Piano sells Crayfish Mac ’N’ Cheese, while Revolution’s menu features Fennel Sausage Mac ’N’ Cheese. The biannual Menurama research, which surveys the menus of 116 branded hotel, pub, restaurant and quick-service outlets in the UK, reveals how menus are becoming more explanatory and accommodating dietary needs more readily. The term "gluten-free" was found on 8% more menus year-on-year, with "wheat-free" and "flourless" appearing as alternative descriptions. This is expected to show a significant increase as allergens regulations come into force later this year. Knight said: "Operators are working hard at providing consumers what they want. Breakfasts menus are now offering more healthy options, such as Bircher muesli, while sharing dishes continue to be popular – wings and sliders in particular.” The survey also reveals how operators are adapting their menus to incorporate some of the latest high street trends. Japanese Katsu dishes are now featuring on some pub and restaurant menus and street foods.

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