Story of the Day:
Stephen Thomas to re-launch Birmingham Oceana as Electric: Exeat Leisure, the company led by nightclub veteran Stephen Thomas that emerged from the administration of No Saints, will re-open part of the troubled former Oceana super-club in Birmingham as Electric this Saturday (27 September) after a major refurbishment. Oceana opened in November 2006 when Thomas led Luminar and involved a £5m investment originally. It was put on the market by Luminar in 2010 after turnover dropped from £4,239,000 in the year-ended March 2008 to £2,293,467 in the year to March 2010 – it originally had a capacity of 3,290 and a rent of £347,000 per annum. It failed to sell and the company that emerged out of administration as Luminar in December 2011 led by Peter Marks did not take the site because terms could not be reached with its landlord. It has been closed since February 2012. An attempt by No Saints to re-open the site as a Wonderland failed a year ago after police objections. The Birmingham venue now has a capacity of 1,800, and includes a large main room with music and lighting system, two VIP suites, VIP movable booths, a smaller second room a chill-out room and a feeder bar. It opens tonight (Monday) for a series of pre-launch events. No Saints went through a pre-pack administration in July, with its management successfully bidding £1.73m for the seven trading sites under the Exeat Leisure vehicle. Electric opens tonight (Monday) for a series of pre-launch events. Its general manager Amo Taib said: “This is what Birmingham has been waiting for, something powerful and exciting.” It will face competition from the Birmingham nightclub Snobs, which is being relocated close by. The final night at the current home of Snobs took place on Sunday, 21 September at its long-running home on Paradise Circus. Snobs will open in its new £2m venue in the former Vudu club, on the corner of Smallbrook Queensway and Hurst Street, later this month.
Supply chain expert David Read to present at the next Propel Multi Club Conference:
A leading supply chain expert is to present at the next Propel Multi Club Conference on Thursday 20 November at the Lancaster Hotel, London. Prestige Purchasing chief executive David Read will talk about how operators are learning lessons from the retail world, and developing proactive strategies to drive value from their supply chain. Read examines the outlook for food and drink inflation and strategies to mitigate the impact, and examines what drives food inflation. Operators can book up to two free places by emailing email@example.com
Number of empty shops on high streets falls: The number of empty shops on high streets across the UK is falling at the fastest rate in eight years, according to figures from agent Colliers International. The vacancy rate has fallen from 15.1% six months ago to 13%. The fall in the number of empty shops is the biggest since Colliers began its survey in 2006. Head of retail Mark Phillipson said: “For retail landlords, the challenge is to provide a key point of difference which will attract shoppers. In this respect, an attractive leisure element and free or cheap parking is essential.”
Labour – the minimum wage will rise to £8 an hour if we win the election: The minimum wage would rise to £8 an hour over the course of the next parliament if Labour wins the general election, the party has pledged. Leader Ed Miliband said it was “not good enough” that one in five people in the UK were on low pay. But the Conservatives said they had already delivered an above-inflation increase as, from October, the minimum wage will rise from £6.31 to £6.50. The minimum wage for adult workers was £5.80 at the time of the last election. Chancellor George Osborne suggested in January that the minimum wage would rise to £7 an hour in 2015 to return the level it was at before the economic downturn. The rate is recommended by the Low Pay Commission, which is overseen by Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable. The government has suggested that the rate would probably rise to £8 by the end of the next Parliament if it continued on current trends.
TripAdvisor introduces live booking for 13,000 restaurants: TripAdvisor, the online travel reviews site, has introduced an ‘Instant Reservation’ feature covering more than 13,000 restaurants in France, Spain, Switzerland and Belgium. The move comes after the company’s acquisition of the specialist restaurant booking site Lafourchette in May. Restaurant availability search has been integrated directly into TripAdvisor’s city pages in each country, allowing users to search availability and reserve a table for a specific date and time. Diners who wanted to book a restaurant previously had to complete the process on the Lafourchette site. Users can view restaurant menus and are made special offers, such as discounts of up to 50% off or fixed price menus. Discounts are automatically applied to the bill when users book online, removing the need to present a coupon at the restaurant. The system also gives users the opportunity to see alternative dining times and restaurants. TripAdvisor’s global product senior vice-president, Adam Medros, said: “We are focused on improving the customer online restaurant booking experience, and Instant Reservation will help more people find and book great restaurants.”
Maggi – consumers want a gravy boat on the table: Leading gravy brand Maggi has conducted new consumer research revealing that 93% of consumers prefer to pour gravy themselves, and that 83% said they would be more likely to return to a pub if they were allowed to pour their own gravy. The new research further disclosed that almost all of the 2,000 UK adults interviewed said good gravy was crucial to a roast dinner (96%), and that 94% of consumers would like to be given a gravy boat for their table when eating a roast dinner at a pub or restaurant. Susan Gregory, head of food at Nestlé Professional, said: “Our new research reveals that the British public are passionate about gravy and want – almost unanimously – to see pubs and restaurants put gravy boats back on the table.”
Illustrious Pub Company buys fourth Cambridgeshire venue: The Illustrious Pub Company, founded by Paul Beer, has bought a fourth venue in Cambridgeshire, The Black Bull, Post Street, Godmanchester. The pub, formerly owned by Enterprise Inns, has been closed since February, but renovation work has begun and an opening date lined up for mid-October. Beer said: “The layout is going to be similar, but it will be lighter and there are going to be wooden floors as we’ve ripped up the carpets.” He said the premises will have two defined dining areas which will serve food similar to his other pubs, The Eaton Oak in St Neots, The George and Dragon at Elsworth and The Rose in Stapleford.
Enterprise Inns hires Paul Harbottle: Enterprise Inns has hired former JD Wetherspoon chief operating officer Paul Harbottle, who also spent three years as chief executive of Atmosphere Pubs and Bars. Industry sources have reported that former Orchid chief operating officer Simon Dodd has held very preliminary discussions with Enterprise but is on a non-compete clause until January. Last month, Enterprise Inns chief executive Simon Townsend told Propel that the company is increasing the proportion of its £65 to £70m current annual capital expenditure budget that it directs towards growth-oriented projects within the company’s 5,429-strong estate. Enterprise Inns also added to its managed pub expertise by hiring former SSP managing director of UK and Ireland Air Nathan Wall in May 2013. Wall, who also previously served ten years at JD Wetherspoon as operations director, is a divisional director at Enterprise.
Picturehouse to convert part of Trocadero into art-house cinema with bars and restaurants: The arthouse cinema chain Picturehouse is to turn part of the Trocadero in central London into a 1,000-seat seven-screen flagship venue. The company will redevelop the former Cineworld multiplex in the building between Shaftesbury Avenue and Coventry Street where the French hotel operator Accor has just announced plans for the West End’s biggest budget hotel. Clare Binns, the company’s director of programming, said the company wanted to bring what it does in boroughs such as Brixton and Hackney to the heart of the West End. An exclusive Picturehouse members’ bar will be created on the second and third floors with a roof terrace while the public will have access to a New York deli-style cafe on the ground floor and a cafe-bar with views over Shaftesbury Avenue above it.
Chinawhite to open in Belfast: Chinawhite, the high-end nightclub operator with venues in London and Dubai, is to open on Franklin Street, Belfast next month. Paul Langsford, director of Chinawhite Belfast and also of some of Belfast’s most successful bars, including the Albany, El Divino and Filthy McNasty’s, said the new nightclub will bring a completely new dynamic to night life in the city. “Our target customer will be focused on 25-year-olds and over and it will be like no other Belfast nightclub experience,” he said. “We expect it to be extremely popular with people wanting to experience a unique night out locally as well as attracting new visitors to Belfast from throughout the UK, Ireland and beyond. This is the second phase of our three-part development, which will transform entertainment and night-life in the Linen Quarter. We believe that Chinawhite will make a significant contribution to that dynamic.” The club will be spread over two floors of a 112-year-old building that formerly housed Bar Bacca and the La Lea nightclub and will have an Asian-style rooftop garden overlooking the city. It is due to open on 31 October, creating 60 new jobs. In the first part of the redevelopment, an Asian-inspired bar, Shiro, opened in June in place of the former Irene and Nan’s pub in Brunswick Street.
Purple Pig to open in Hull: The Purple Pig gourmet burger chain is to open its third outlet on 8 October in Trinity Square, Hull. The north of England-based chain currently has Purple Pig outlets in Middlesbrough and Yarm, Stockton, with plans for another in the Feethams Leisure development in Darlington town centre. It also owns the Da Vinci Grill Italian restaurant in Yarm.
Northern Ireland-based Wine Inns reports losses: Wine Inns, which runs around a dozen of Northern Ireland’s best-known pubs and restaurants, including The Belfast Empire and Cutlers Bar and Grill, has reported losses in 2013. Turnover dropped 3% to £14,874,065 and there was an operating loss of £244,846 compared to a profit of £702,578 the year before. Pre-tax losses were £923,381 compared to a profit of £167,290 the year before. In Companies House documents, the company stated: “Whilst the directors expect a difficult trading year ahead, they will continue to seek every opportunity to increase turnover and profitability where possible.”
Tiger Bills founder – Blackpool Pleasure Beach approach and Propel conference among highlights of my career: James Eyre, founder of the Tiger Bill Thai business that operates a franchise arm as well a running its own sites, has told The Torquay Herald Express that an approach to open within Blackpool Pleasure Beach – and addressing the Propel Multi Club Conference in July this year are among his career highlights. He said: “When I created Tiger Bills, I had expansion in mind. I wanted to create a new kind of restaurant franchise that would be sustainable, and function as a joint venture – a managed risk, so that it had every chance of success. I worked with a number of people I really respect to create the Tiger Bills franchise model, but no-one could have predicted just how quickly it would expand, both in the UK and overseas. There have been many, many, highlights, not least being approached by Blackpool Pleasure Beach to put a franchise in their park, being named ‘Ones to Watch’ by commentators in the food-service industry and speaking to hundreds of my peers at the Propel business conference. And that’s just this year. We have just signed a major eight-country deal with the Indian-Pacific Ocean territory that also incorporates the UAE and Arabic nations. We don’t just sell franchises, so a big part of the next 12 months will see me concentrating on the profitability and sustainability of the new Tiger Bills restaurant openings, including the six imminent London launches.”
Krispy Kreme creates ‘Double Hundred Dozen’ doughnut box promote events catering: Staff at Krispy Kreme’s Enfield Hotlight store in Great Cambridge Road, Enfield have created the first ‘Double Hundred Dozen’, a Krispy Kreme box more than three and a half metres long, just under a metre tall and filled with 2,400 Original Glazed doughnuts, to promote the chain’s new Occasions service. Customers can now place big orders for an event, corporate do or wedding treat, which includes door-to-door delivery of doughnut towers, corporate gifts and even personalised doughnuts to suit the event. Judith Denby, chief marketing officer at Krispy Kreme UK, said: “Whether you need a pick-me-up for your staff, catering for an event or even a wedding cake tower, Krispy Kreme offers the ideal solution to mark every occasion. We thought the Double Hundred Dozen was the perfect way to get fans of Krispy Kreme excited and show we are now available for big occasions.” Krispy Kreme is giving away the Double Hundred Dozen to a business to celebrate its “Big Occasion”. Companies need to tweet @krispykremeUK about their upcoming #BigOccasion with their #officename, and the company with the greatest support will receive a delivery of 2,400 doughnuts.
Burger and Lobster woos Welsh tweeters before Cardiff opening: The Burger and Lobster chain has been wooing Welsh tweeters prior to its planned opening in Cardiff in December next door to a Miller & Carter outlet. As the news about the planned opening broke in Welsh media this week it tweeted: “Trying to teach myself the #welshnationalanthem ... any teachers out there?”, and began following a host of Welsh tweeters, including Cardiff Street Food, Cardiff food blogger The Plate Licked Clean and Cardiff restaurant The Potted Pig. The chain is now advertising for staff for the Cardiff outlet, including a head chef and general manager, but has not yet named a specific opening date for the new outlet, in the Hayes. Burger and Lobster has six outlets in London, and is planning to open in Manchester.
German ping pong and pizza concept opens in Nottingham: A new bar Das Kino, inspired by 1930s German cinema, has opened in Nottingham serving pizza by the metre and offering ping pong. The venture is located in a former lace warehouse in Fletcher Gate, which has traded as Old Vic, Cabaret and, more recently, Escucha. Three local men are behind Das Kino but they don’t want to reveal their identity – because the venue is off-the-wall, they don’t want it to be linked to the other nightspots they run. General manager Adam Sumner said: “One of them visited Berlin a few months ago and fell in love with it, as it’s quite an artistic city with a big graffiti movement.” The venue offers two long bars, a new kitchen and a ping-pong arcade with four Olympic-sized tables and, come summer, a fifth outside. The 1930s derelict German cinema decor was recreated by designers from the Nottingham Playhouse.
Five Guys to open Edinburgh site in December: Five Guys has announced its unit in the Fort Kinnaird Shopping Centre in Edinburgh will open in December. The Edinburgh location will be Five Guys third confirmed location in Scotland. Plans for two units in Glasgow have already been announced. Five Guys will also introduce the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine to Scotland.
Starbucks reveals plans for Bideford: Plans for a Starbucks coffee shop alongside a new Aldi supermarket at the Atlantic Village development in Bideford, Devon have been unveiled. Work on the first phase of the development, a new McDonald’s, a 70-bed Premier Inn and a Brewers Fayre restaurant, is due to start soon. A consultation was held at Atlantic Village last week, where locals were able to view the proposed plans of the second phase of development at the site, in Clovelly Road. Simon Allen, a representative from Starbucks said that reaction had been encouraging. “The main questions have been about the drive-through aspect of the plan, but mostly people seemed to be pleased at the idea of another coffee shop here,” he said. Planning agent Maria Bailey said the majority of the feedback received had been positive. “The last consultation we had regarding the plans for McDonald’s, more than 500 people turned up. People were much more concerned and outspoken, I think this maybe shows that the idea of having a Starbucks and an Aldi in Bideford is not such a contentious issue – people are not as concerned or worried,” she said.
Didsbury cafe bar owner opens second venue round the corner: The owner of the cafe-bar Folk on Burton Road, West Didsbury, Manchester, is opening a second venue this week just round the corner. The new outlet, called Wine and Wallop, is based in a former video rental store on Lapwing Lane and opens on 27 September. The three-floor shop has been given a more “lighter, cleaner and airier” makeover than its sister bar Folk, and will have 13 ales on tap, as well as a comprehensive wine menu, teas and coffees and a simple light bites food menu. Key feature pieces include 300-year-old Canadian pine walling, Blackpool Illuminations and a bar top made out of reclaimed panga-panga flooring. The first floor has been converted to give a mezzanine and double height ceiling with chandeliers hanging overhead. At the top of the building is a function room with a disco ball. The feel of the space is industrial meets jaded glamour.
Westbourne Leisure buys Worcester pub from Punch: Westbourne Leisure, the Birmingham-based managed, tenanted and leasehold pubs, hotels and restaurants operator, has acquired The Coppertops pub in Dines Green, Worcester from Punch Taverns. Westbourne currently owns more than 40 properties in and around the West Midlands, with its outlets tied for draught beers only.
Would-be bar entrepreneur claims Apprentice star Karren Brady is thwarting his ambitions: A would-be bar entrepreneur who wants to turn a disused site in the heart of Sevenoaks, Kent into a smart new commuter bar says Apprentice star and businesswoman Karren Brady is standing in the way of his dreams. Sevenoaks DJ Matt Neave wants to open a sophisticated drinking hole in the town by converting an unoccupied L-shaped unit close to Sevenoaks station, owned by the family of Brady. He told The Sevenoaks Chronicle: “The Very Smart Bar would be the perfect meeting point before going to London or the theatre and could be a general meeting point or pick-up point generally. I even looked into having screens displaying the train times, a bit like an airport lounge, with a quality feel, and a focus on good wines would be present, together with beers from Westerham Brewery, subject to agreement and discussions I will put forward to them.” However, despite having the support of five investors, Neave says he is “completely stuck” after failing to receive a reply from Brady, who is currently Small Business Ambassador to the UK government. Neave told The Chronicle. “I am going to go for it one last time but without their response I can do no more.”
Bar and deli combination opens in Manchester: A new venue that opened in the heart of Manchester on Saturday is a deli by day and a cocktail bar by night. Eleska’s Bar and Restaurant in Eleska House, a disused warehouse in Dale Street, operates as a bar and deli during the day, serving hot breakfasts, pastries, bagels, sandwiches, panini, salads, home-made soups and other dishes. During the evening it serves cocktails, platter foods, cheese and paté boards and craft beers.
Dorbiere declines to sell pub to garage after campaign by locals: Pub company Dorbiere has turned down an offer for its Amberswood Tavern, in Ince, Wigan from the garage next door after a campaign by locals. The Westwood garage was looking to expand its showroom, and wanted to buy the pub and demolish it. Although Dorbiere entered into initial negotiations on the sale of the pub, it has now pulled out. Martin Lowe, area manager for Dorbiere, said: “We have been forced to reconsider the sale after such strong support for the pub. It was a 50/50 decision about whether we would sell or not as we were approached by the garage as part of its expansion plans. As a result of the nice campaign from residents, we decided against selling the pub and took it off the market. We didn’t realise that it was such a community hub. The more people who use it, the less likely we will consider selling it in the future, so support your local pubs.”
CG Restaurants and Bars acquires Novus site for Dirty Martini brand: CG Restaurants and Bars has acquired a Novus Leisure, site, Jewel, in Woods Lane, by St Pauls Cathedral to expand its Dirty Martini brand. It follows the acquisition of a site in Monument last month. The site will open as Dirty Martini St Paul’s in mid-November and will mark the brand’s third venue in the core City district and fifth across London. Chief executive Scott Matthews said that the expansion reflects the huge popularity of the Dirty Martini brand. “We are inundated with demand from both walk-in and pre-booked business,” he said. With the recently announced Lovat Lane site in Monument and St Paul’s scheduled to open before Christmas, Matthews added that the group is anticipating a record Christmas period. “Like-for-like bookings are currently up 24% on last year and the demand shows no sign of abating. Customers are demanding premium experiences at reasonable prices and we are proud that Dirty Martini is leading the way on delivering on our customer expectations. Our search for new sites is ongoing and we are in active negotiations on two further locations which we aim to open in the first half of the New Year.”
Krispy Kreme to open in Cambridge: Krispy Kreme is to open a doughnut and coffee store in the Grand Arcade in Cambridge on 20 October. It comes five months after the rival chain Dunkin’ Donuts opened a store in Fitzroy Street, by the Grafton Centre. Judith Denby, chief marketing officer at Krispy Kreme, said: “We can’t wait to open in Cambridge. Grand Arcade is a great location for the store and we’re looking forward to welcoming shoppers in for doughnuts and coffee next month.” In the weeks leading up to the opening, Krispy Kreme will be handing out free boxes of doughnuts to passers-by and offices in the city. John O’Shea, general manager for the Grand Arcade Shopping Centre, said: “We are delighted that the world-renowned brand Krispy Kreme is joining us at Grand Arcade. We know that their addition to the scheme will be very positively received by our customers.”
Gordon Ramsay tells Hong Kong ‘my ass is on the line’ over new restaurant because of ‘terrifying’ rent: Chef Gordon Ramsay has spoken of “terrifying” and “colossal” rents in Hong Kong which means his “ass is on the line” over his new opening. Ramsay, whose Bread Street Kitchen & Bar (BSK) opened last week in Hong Kong’s main restaurant and bar district, Lan Kwai Fong, said: “Let me tell you, rents are cheaper in London. We’re not the only restaurateurs in the city faced with such colossal rents. That helps you focus on the [quality]. It makes you work harder to be a success, it makes you strive for consistency.” Ramsay, who also announced plans to open a restaurant in Macau next year, said he chose the Lan Kwai Fong area because it is modern yet traditional. “This area is Hong Kong at its best. It has the humbleness of what food stands for in this country, as opposed to the big conglomerates in a big, flash setting.” Ramsay is opening the Hong Kong branch of BSK in collaboration with the Dining Concepts restaurant group.
Wetherspoon retreats over plan to demolish 17th century cottage: JD Wetherspoon has withdrawn plans to demolish a Grade II listed two-storey cottage it owns on Church Street, Dereham, Suffolk in order to extend the beer garden at its Romany Rye pub, after dozens of objection letters. Now it says it hopes to fully restore the deteriorating cottage and will be discussing new options for its future with planning officers from Breckland Council. Wetherspoon initially said it would consider whether to appeal against the decision, but spokesman Eddie Gershon said that would not now happen. Instead, he said, the company was looking to either put the pub’s cellar inside the cottage or convert it into hotel rooms. “Wetherspoon is going to discuss these plans with the council planners and discuss what they think is best for the building,” he said.
McDonald’s Dover franchisee sells up: The franchisee of McDonald’s two restaurants in Dover, Sean Barber, 46, is selling up after 15 years. Barber is selling his restaurants in Biggin Street and Whitfield to another McDonald’s franchisee in Kent, Paul Crocker, who runs nine restaurants in east Kent, including Canterbury, Margate, Sheerness and Ramsgate. Barber said: “I have worked at McDonald’s since I was 17. If I don’t move on now I am going to get old. I am leaving it in very capable hands.” The two restaurants employ 150 people.
Snug launches new menu with comfort food focus: The six-strong Snug chain has added to its comfort offer this week with a new menu that has a bigger focus on breakfast, lunch and dinner options. New dishes on the breakfast menu include Eggs Benedict and Eggs Florentine, Sourdough toast and a winter porridge. Lunch will be served from Monday to Friday from 12pm till 5pm and prices start from £5.95. New dishes include an American style mac ‘n’ cheese and an offering for vegetarian customers of a grilled halloumi and roasted vegetables sandwich and fries. New dishes on the appetiser menu include chicken wings in a bourbon and cherry glaze, a pulled pork quesadilla and a re-worked “Snug Platter”. Main courses include a creamy prawn pasta and a warm goats cheese salad. The launch of the new menu takes place following a successful summer for the company, which saw its sixth venue in Hitchin open and its bar in St Albans re-open following a complete refurbishment. The St Albans bar has also been shortlisted as one of the top three bars in St Albans in the St Albans and Harpenden Food and Drink Awards this year. Giles Fry, owner of The Snug, said: “This new menu continues to focus on our winning combination of home-cooked comfort food with an added Snug twist. We’ve also made more of a feature of our breakfast offerings and created a quick stop lunch menu, so that our customers can visit any time of the day.”
Canary Wharf McDonald’s closes for two years: The McDonald’s drive-through restaurant at Canary Wharf in East London closed on Saturday to allow the redevelopment of its site, and will not reopen for two years. Permission for the scheme at the Helix site, which is on Trafalgar Way, just north of the Canary Wharf estate, was approved in 2009. It includes two towers of 29 and 35 storeys, containing 414 apartments. A replacement drive-through McDonald’s will be built on the ground floor alongside other shops. A spokesman for McDonald’s said: “Our restaurant will close on 20 September, but I am pleased to say that once complete, the development will feature a new McDonald’s.”
Yum apologises for offending Vietnamese community with red star logo for new restaurant brand: Yum! Brands, owner of the KFC and Pizza Hut chains, has apologised for “unintentionally offending” Vietnamese immigrants with the red star logo for its new Vietnamese fast casual restaurant concept, Banh Shop, and said it is working with community representatives to change it immediately. The move came after Yum! Opened the first of two planned Banh Shop restaurants in Dallas, Texas, earlier this month. Local Vietnamese émigrés started an online petition that raised concerns about the logo’s symbolic links to communism. Thanh Cung, president of the Vietnamese-American Community of Greater Dallas, told the company: “We are hurt and offended by your chosen logo, a red star, which is a symbol of communism and will offend thousands of South Vietnamese refugees in my community. The heavy majority of Vietnamese living in the Dallas area are political and religious refugees who fled Vietnam when North Vietnamese communist rule started in 1975.”
Pizza Hut experiments with lower-calorie ‘Skinny Slice’ pizzas: Pizza Hut is testing ‘skinny slice’ pizzas with less dough and less topping, and nearly a third fewer calories in the US. However, the pizzas cost about the same as the regular version, $11 (£6.75). The chain said the goal of the test “is all about developing a product that doesn’t sacrifice taste in order to be better for you. It tastes great, and it cuts back on calories.” The pizzas offer 30% fewer calories and 25% less sodium, thanks to a thinner crust and fewer toppings. In the test area of Toledo, Ohio, each slice will have 300 calories or less, while the West Palm Beach, Florida test will offer slices with 250 calories or less. Asked if the test was driven by profit considerations, the company said its focus “was on the consumer and the product benefits only”. Pizza Hut recently revealed that sales at stores open at least a year fell 3% in the second quarter, while rivals such as Dominos have seen a rise in revenue.
Taco Bell experiments with fried chicken: Taco Bell, Yum Brand’s Mexican fast-food chain, is experimenting with putting fried chicken on its menu. Although Taco Bell is a sister chain to KFC, it has never sold fried chicken nationally. However, it has been experimenting with fried chicken, calling it “crispy chicken”, and consulting with KFC chefs to prepare its Crispy Chicken recipe. Over the past year or so, Taco Bell has tested double crispy chicken quesadilla, double crispy chicken crunchwrap, dipped crispy chicken grillers and, most recently, a breakfast biscuit taco, stuffed with crispy chicken. Company spokesman Rob Poetsch said: “We’re looking at new items across the menu and fried chicken is one of them.” The chicken arrives frozen at the restaurant, and is cooked in the same fryers where Taco Bell fries its tortilla chips and shells, Poetsch said. “People eat a lot of fried chicken,” he said. “So the question is, how can we do it in a way that’s unique to Taco Bell?”