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Thu 11th Dec 2014 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Restaurants outperform pubs as collective like-for-likes rise 3.4% in November: Pub and restaurant groups saw collective like-for-like sales grow 3.4% in November, against the same month last year. The latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker also showed that London remains more buoyant than the rest of the country with like-for-like sales in the capital up 6.1%, against 2.4% outside the M25. “Managed pub groups saw 2.8% like-for-like growth, with casual dining chains up 4.8%,” said Peter Martin, vice-president of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group, Baker Tilly and UBS. It was the 20th consecutive month of positive like-for-like growth for the sector. Martin continued: “Eating out is now ingrained in the British way of life, and for the pub groups in our sample, food sales are still growing faster than drink – up 4% in November against a 1.5% increase for drinks. Overall, food sales account for an average 45% of revenue in managed pub chains.” Total sales, which include the impact of new openings, were up 6.8% against last November across the 30 restaurant, bar and pub companies in the Tracker sample. Total sales for restaurant groups were up 10%, reflecting the continued roll-out of casual dining brands, especially outside London. “Looking at the underlying trend, the year-on-year like-for-like rate at the end of November was running at 2.9% up on 2013,” Martin said. Trevor Watson, director at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “The figures continue to show steady growth in the sector. Consumer spending power will be sustained in 2015 as a result of falling oil prices, which will help to ensure the casual dining and pub sectors continue on their upward trajectory in terms of sales figures. The London market continues to be the principal engine of the sector and we do not see any reason for this to change in the immediate future.” Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at Baker Tilly, said: “This month we again see another set of cracking results for a jubilant sector. Total sales growth continues to build a head of steam as the evenings have grown longer, posting 6.8% growth, which represents the highest monthly sales increase since April. The strong recent sales growth figures are particularly impressive against a backdrop of stagnant UK wages. The storming success of the recent Chilango and River Cottage fundraisings and the ensuing ownership battles for larger chains such as Ask Italian/Zizzi and TGI Friday’s are testament to the sector's attractiveness to small and large investors alike.”
 

Industry News:

Professor Chris Edger to hold Multi-Site Management Masterclass: The UK’s leading thinker and teacher on multi-site management, Professor Chris Edger, will be holding his second Multi-Site Management Masterclass, in partnership with Propel, on Tuesday 24 February at One Moorgate Place, in the City of London. Professor Edger, who has just published his latest book, Leading at a Distance in Multi-Unit Enterprises, will focus on how area managers can create organic growth through the three-step process of engagement, execution and evolution. Professor Edger currently teaches at City University, Birmingham, where a number of the sector’s leading companies send their general managers to be taught. His one-day seminar will include live contributions from senior UK executives. Paul Charity, managing director of Propel, said: "This is a great chance for multi-site companies to refresh their thinking – and the thinking and expertise of key staff – as 2015 gets under way." Tickets are £295 plus VAT for ALMR members and £345 for non-ALMR members. CLICK HERE for more details or e-mail adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com to book.

Daily Telegraph columnist – pubs have suffered from UK backlash against alcohol: The Daily Telegraph columnist Allister Heath has argued that the pub sector has suffered in line with declining alcohol consumption in the UK. He argued: “There has certainly been a massive backlash against alcohol in the UK, with per capita consumption declining by 18% since 2004, one of the most interesting figures that I have come across in a long time. But that alone is only one of the many reasons why the pub trade has suffered so badly. The decline in alcohol consumption has been driven primarily by a slump in beer sales: in 2003, the average adult drank 218 pints per person; by 2011, they consumed just 152 pints, an astonishing 30% drop. To make life even harder for pubs, it is in the on-trade where the collapse has been spectacular, rather than the off-trade. Over the ten years to 2013, per capita sales in the latter were down 16% but they had slumped by a shocking, catastrophic 54% in the former. As [Christopher] Snowdon [of the Institute of Economic Affairs] puts it: “Britons are not just losing their taste for beer, they are losing their taste for beer in pubs in particular."
 
Japanese government to invest in ramen noodle restaurant chain's expansion into Europe and US: The Cool Japan Fund, financed mostly by Japan's government to promote Japanese culture overseas, is to invest as much as two billion yen (£10.7m) in the ramen noodle restaurant chain Ippudo to set up premium outlets in Europe and the United States. Ippudo, founded in Japan in 1985 and owned by Chikaranomoto Holdings, opened its flagship European restaurant in October in Central St Giles, central London and now operates more than 120 restaurants across 13 different countries, with sites in New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and Sydney. The London restaurant is meant to be the first of several European openings over the next five years. Cool Japan Fund will inject 700 million yen into Chikaranomoto Holdings. The company can also borrow 1.3 billion yen from Cool Japan Fund. Nobuo Sugiuchi, co-chief investment officer of Cool Japan Fund, said: "In Japan, people leave the ramen shop as soon as they finish eating. But we want to build a ramen shop chain in a different style overseas. A ramen shop should be a place where customers can enjoy sake and side dishes as well as ramen." Cool Japan Fund is willing to invest in other ramen restaurants if they meet the fund's investment criteria, Sugiuchi said.

US craft breweries hit record numbers:
Craft breweries are now opening in the United States at a rate of 1.5 every day. In November, the number of operating US breweries crossed 3,200, with 13 states now housing more than 100 breweries each, according to an end of year review by the Brewers Association. There are another currently more than 2,000 breweries in planning. Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers Association, said: "It's remarkable to see how beer has evolved in the past century. Year over year we're seeing tremendous growth in the craft beer sector and 2014 proved that craft beer is moving into the mainstream.  Consumers are making a conscious choice to buy and try the plethora of options produced by small and independent craft brewers." In the year to June 2014, US craft brewers grew by 18% in volume, with continuing double-digit growth for craft in the second half of the year predicted.
 

Company News:

Peach Pub Company reports Christmas bookings up 18% on last year: Peach Pub Company has reported Christmas party bookings up 18% on what they were this time last year and all 17 of its pubs reporting brisk trading. “We are well up on bookings for Christmas meals and parties and are very optimistic about how things are going in the run-up to Christmas,” said Peach co-founder Hamish Stoddart. “We moved to Opentable Guest Center, which has helped us manage our planning and our management of the services. Things are going well and we’re definitely beating last year, with like-for-like sales up this quarter 4% and the teams working flat-out to keep everyone well fed, watered and entertained. We’ve made Christmas a real focus this year, making our pubs look stunning and serving up some fantastic food on our festive menus, with traditional favourites as well as some inspired new dishes. We decided to take more bookings in advance this year, and push hard on filling the pubs, which is paying off so far in terms of Christmas sales. The challenge is still to take the same number of walk-ins and smaller tables as well to build total covers. It’s a bit of a bet on our hosting skills. We will see! Our newest pub, The High Field in Edgbaston, is really flying with sales over £40,000 a week and filling a gap there for a top quality gastro pub and restaurant. It’s already a hub on the Edgbaston social scene, with strong bar and restaurant sales, sell-out events and a big call for its two private dining rooms.”

Restaurateur to open second Bell-A-Pizza Café: A burnt-out Victorian building in Bradford city centre’s ‘Independent Quarter’ is being turned into a new pizza restaurant – The Bell-A-Pizza Café. The building in Westgate, Bradford, was gutted in a blaze four years ago when it housed a school uniform shop called Natasha’s and the new owners have been awarded a £159,000 Bradford Council Growth Zone Grant towards the extensive £340,000 refurbishment needed to save the building and convert it into a restaurant. Restaurateur Sid Hussain started out as a pizza chef before opening his first Bell-A-Pizza restaurant in Bracewell Avenue, Allerton – a Bradford suburb – three years ago. He says the city centre venue will be a modern, trendy, bistro-style cafe, serving freshly-cooked Italian food, cakes and coffee. Now that the grant has been approved, it is hoped the new Bell-A-Pizza venue will be ready to open in February 2015.

McDonald’s in the US to chop eight menu items: McDonald’s in the US will cut eight items from its menu in January as part of a broader effort to overhaul its service model to meet the needs of different type of customers. Chief executive Don Thompson briefed analysts on a radically different service model that uses a combination of mobile and web ordering and customisation. Executives also suggested that they will focus on improving the quality of food the quick-service burger chain offers by analysing the ingredients in every item and focusing on the “authenticity” of its food. Executives also said that the company’s customisation platform, Create Your Taste, which it plans to offer in 2,000 units next year, is a major part of its plans. “Create Your Taste is not a test,” Thompson said. “It’s a rolling implementation now.”

Greene King backs Maverick’s roll-out: Maverick’s, which has 1980s-themed sites in Huddersfield and Horsforth, has secured backing from Greene King to expand the Maverick’s brand to five more sites in Yorkshire, with the eventual aim of establishing a national franchise, the Huddersfield Examiner has reported. Maverick’s impressed Greene King when it presented the concept at a Dragon’s Den-style event held at the same north London locations used for the popular BBC programme. Mavericks spokesperson Khoa Van said: “Greene King invited all its tenanted pubs to go for the Dragon’s Den presentation with new concepts that they could potentially roll out nationwide. There were 80 presentations from which Greene King chose seven, including ours.” Maverick’s, which has the motto “drink, dine and dance”, has a commitment to develop five more sites to its new concept. Now the company, headed by managing director Sam Baker, is looking at sites to replicate the Maverick’s theme in Lincoln, Harrogate, Ilkley, York and Wetherby, either at existing Greene King outlets or by converting other premises. Khoa said: “The 1980s theme works because it fills a massive void for the over 25s after 11pm who want to party with like-minded people in a safe, fun environment. Now the return to ‘brand’ spending is more apparent. During the recession, people were looking for deals. Now they are asking for doubles at the bar.” Khoa said it was hoped to have two of the three of the sites open by the end of 2015.

Yummy Pub Company names Anthony Pender as its managing director: The founders of Yummy Pub Company have given themselves new job titles. Anthony Pender, who became chairman of the BII last month, has become the company’s managing director, Jason Rowlands is now operations director and Tim Foster is now “head of being awesome”. The company also reported that like-for-like sales were up 47% last week.

Living Ventures sacks head chef at Australasia after hygiene failure: The bar and restaurant operator Living Ventures has sacked the head chef at its fine-dining outlet Australasia in Manchester after the venue scored just one out of five when health inspectors visited. The inspectors uncovered problems with the restaurant's pest control systems, and found it had a sub-standard immersion heater and patchy record keeping. Procedures had not been followed to document sous-vide cooking, when food is sealed in plastic bags and slowly cooked in water baths. If not performed at the right temperatures and for long enough the method can encourage botulism-causing bacteria. The inspectors ordered the restaurant, in Deansgate, to instigate major improvements. Living Ventures' managing director, Paul Moran, told the Manchester Evening News that failures identified in the inspectors' report had been fixed within days. He said: “We have now parted company with the head chef who was there at the time. There were things that were not at the level that they should have been.” Other staff were immediately re-trained to make sure they were up to speed on correct cooking procedures at the restaurant, which specialises in "oriental fusion" cooking, Moran said. He said: “We engaged with them immediately, and ensured any shortcomings identified on our behalf were fixed.” No customers were ever at risk in the restaurant, he said: "It’s not a dirty business, and it’s not a threat.”

Taylor Street Baristas coffee bond hits 40% of target: The nine-strong coffee shop chain Taylor Street Baristas, led by Richard Shaer, hit the 40% mark yesterday of the £1.5m minimum it is seeking to raise through an 8% yield bond, a total of £600,000 from 266 investors, after launching a "coffee bean bond" aimed at raising a minimum of £1.5m. The offer has another 18 days left to run. This year, the company’s unaudited accounts show turnover of £3,337,000 from nine shops, with shop pre-central overhead ebida of £278,000 and actual ebitda of £110,000, producing an overall loss of £276,000. Like-for-like sales rose by 14% between April and September this year.

MyLahore to open fifth site today: MyLahore, the brand that offers a self-proclaimed British and healthy twist on Asian food, is opening its fifth site in Birmingham this weekend, at 191-194 Bradford Street. The brand, which has sites in Bradford, Leeds and Manchester, aims to cater a hybrid of British puddings and national curry dishes, catering for the next generation of British Asian consumers and main stream markets. It was founded in 2002 by cousins Asghar Ali (chief executive) and Shakoor Ahmed (managing director) with the help of family and friends. Ahmed told Propel: “We are looking to take it to 10 in next few years before we decide the next phase of expansion.”
 
Moorhouse's sees autumn sales surge after Wetherspoon boost:
The Burnley brewer Moorhouse's has reported a sales surge of 8% for the two-month period of September to October 2014, during which turnover reached almost £1m. A roll -out of its Black Cat Reserve special across the JD Wetherspoon chain boosted sales during the period, with the company selling one million pints (5,700 hectolitres) of beer and hitting a turnover of £930,000. Managing director David Grant said the company's consistent growth since launching its £4.2m facility in 2011 was a "welcome reward for our investment in the future of cask ale. Nevertheless, trading is still very tough as we face up to the much troubled economic climate, many pubs closing each week and the relentlessly growing army of micro-brewers all clawing for room on fewer bars. However we remain optimistic. September showed excellent trading, enhanced by the late summer weather, and, as publicans increasingly see us as the brewer of choice for the witching season, we were really delighted with our Hallowe'en results." Grant said that sales held up extremely well for November, which is considered a tricky trading month for pubs. "It is too early to say how Christmas will go, but we expect our new national business to pay dividends," he said.

PizzaExpress opens new Edinburgh site: PizzaExpress has opened at Fort Kinnaird Shopping Park, Edinburgh. The new restaurant, which can seat 110, has created 42 jobs, including 12 pizzaiolos and 25 waiters and waitresses. Inspiration for the new Edinburgh restaurant comes from the near-by port. The design reflects the styling of old ships, using oak timber flooring and panelling. Artwork features images taken from Fisherrow Harbour with screens styled on sail boat masts. Liam Smith, centre manager at Fort Kinnaird, said: “Everybody knows and loves PizzaExpress. It is a firm favourite with adults and kids alike and it is for this reason we know it will be a popular addition here.”

Jamie Oliver schedules West Country opening for February 2015: A February open date has been set for Jamie Oliver’s Exeter restaurant, his first in the West Country. Jamie’s Italian Exeter has taken the spot previously occupied by Strada, between Coal Grill & Bar and Cafe Rouge in Bedford Street. When the news was originally announced in September, business leaders welcomed the move and said it would be a “great addition” to the city’s restaurant line-up. Derek Phillips, vice-president of the Exeter Chamber of Commerce, said: “It’s great news that Jamie has chosen Exeter. It will certainly help to strengthen the growing foodie reputation of the city.”
 
Ask Italian agrees terms on first Edinburgh outlet: The restaurant chain Ask Italian has agreed a 25-year lease on a two-level 4,000 sq ft unit in Shandwick Place in Edinburgh city centre. The property was formerly two separate units occupied by Lothian Regional Transport and the shoe retailer Clarks. The new Ask Italian outlet is expected to open in early 2015. CBRE represented the landlord, Town Centre Securities, whilst Eric Young and Co acted for Ask. Callum Mortimer, associate director in CBRE’s retail team in Edinburgh, said: “In the last 18 months we have seen a notable surge in demand from restaurant operators keen to take space within Edinburgh city centre, however there is a lack of availability, particularly for well-configured units of over 2,000 sq ft. Subsequently when opportunities arise there tends to be strong competition which results in increased rentals being offered alongside long term leases, significant fit-out spend on the property and relatively low incentives. The strength of Edinburgh’s restaurant market has resulted in many operators monitoring the market for opportunities at an early stage; therefore we were able to achieve a fantastic result for our client despite not having to promote the property formally.”

Multiple licensee celebrates second big Punch refurbishment in a year: Multiple licensee Mujdat Karatas is celebrating the reopening of the Railway pub, on Biddulph Road, Congleton, Cheshire, after a £520,000 co-financed refurbishment with Punch Taverns, just over a year after a similar £400,000 refurbishment at his other pub, the Horseshoe in nearby Church Lawton. The pub has been closed for eight weeks while the refurbishment took place. Karatas said: “I’ve been in the pub since March so that I could oversee the renovation and have an input, and I’m delighted with how the place now looks. Lots of pubs are closing down and that’s one of the reasons I chose to open my second Punch pub, I want them to keep opening. I’ve been in Congleton for 12 years so I know the area well and I felt that with an investment, this place could do really well. I just can’t wait to get open again.” As part of the transformation, there have been major changes including new seating, a new bar and fully revamped toilets. plus new furniture and a patio area outside the pub. At the Horseshoe, which reopened in August 2013, Punch had put up around £330,000 for the refit, with Karatas contributing more than £80,000 of his own money.

Red Oak Capital Partners buys Somerset ale house: Red Oak Capital Partners has bought the Fountain Inn, a historic traditional ale house in the Somerset market town of Bridgewater through the property agent Christie + Co. Red Oak Capital Partners intends to keep to keep the business going as a strong community pub with the same menu and same staff, but with a new manager who is local to Bridgewater.
 
Barbeque pop-up takes Marylebone site: A US-style barbeque restaurant called The Joint that began life as pop-up has opened in Marylebone, Central London. The brand was created by baker Daniel Fiteni and chef Warren Dean and debuted as a pop-up in Brixton Village Market in 2012. The new Marylebone location is a two-floor venue with a 65-cover central bar upstairs and a 25-cover cocktail bar below. The menu includes chicken wings in brown paper parcels, corn on the cob in its husk, and homemade bread-buns on paper plates. The Joint describes itself as “established pulled pork experts”, offering pulled pork cooked for 16 hours and slow-cooked shredded chicken. The average main is priced at £10.

Queensbury gastropub opens offshoot: The team behind the Queensbury gastropub in Willesden Green, North West London has opened a bar and grill in the same road called the Queensbury Kitchen. The 50-seater restaurant at 62 Walm Road, NW2 is open from 9am to 11pm. The head chef is Wayne Bumfrey, formerly at the Queensbury. The decor features tiles and communal tables, and beers include Meantime, BrewDog and Camden.
  
Bernard Manning's Embassy club for sale: The Embassy Club in Harpurhey, Manchester, founded by the comedian Bernard Manning, has been put on the market by his son. The club was established by Manning in 1958 and ran regular cabaret nights until the comedian's retirement in 1999. Since then the front of the building has operated as a pub, with the former club being used for private functions. Bernard Manning Jnr has appointed the Manchester property agent Roger Hannah & Co to market the building for rent or sale. Its brochure says it could be "considered suitable for retail or leisure uses". Bernard Manning Jnr said: "The original idea was to let someone else take over the function room but I'm now open to all types of options. It could be a restaurant or a family pub, it's a question of throwing it out there and seeing what happens. We've been in the Embassy Club for 56 years but my children don't have any interest in the place. I have a few properties and I'd like to add it to my portfolio and maybe someone else could take advantage of 56 years of goodwill. It is an iconic building and is very interesting with lots of history." Bernard Manning, who died in 2007, was pragmatic about the long-term future of club which hosted stars such as Cilla Black and Tom Jones in its heyday, his son said. "Before my dad died he said 'business is business, don't worry about it', We did discuss this and he said, 'If KFC want to take over one day and it works for you and the family then make the decision'." Roger Hannah's director Stuart Cooper said: "We are putting it to the market to gauge interest and have received a decent level of interest already despite it only being placed on the market last week."

Wildwood picks up La Tasca site in Plymouth: Wildwood, the pizza, pasta and grill chain run by the Tasty group, has added to its outlets in the South West after the property agent Davis Coffer Lyons secured a letting for the brand on behalf of Kailash Estates in Plymouth, Devon. The fully fitted restaurant in the heart of the city centre,, which was formerly occupied by La Tasca, is immediately adjacent to Derry’s Cross, Plymouth’s primary shopping destination, which is anchored by Debenhams and House of Fraser. When it opens early next year, this will be the first Wildwood site in Plymouth. Charlotte Wild, a pubs and bars negotiator at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “Wildwood has been highly successful in the South East and in recent months we have seen how it is looking to significantly increase its presence in other parts of the UK. The restaurant unit is in a fantastic location and we have no doubt that Wildwood will appeal to the city centre’s wide range of visitors.”

Operator of illegal nightclub ordered to pay £171,000: A man who operated a nightclub without planning permission and in breach of an enforcement notice has been ordered to pay £171,000 after a London borough successfully secured a confiscation order to seize his criminal gains. Lincoln Smith ran the Hypnotic nightclub in Herne Hill, South London without planning permission and in breach of a planning enforcement notice until it was successfully closed by the London Borough of Southwark in September 2013. The council’s planning enforcement team instigated criminal proceedings and last week the Inner London Crown Court secured a confiscation order of £171,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Smith has now been given a period of three months in which to pay the money or face a two-year custodial sentence.

Epic Group to re-open Aberdeen nightclub this Friday despite 'market contraction': Epic Group is to re-open the Priory nightclub in Belmont Street, Aberdeen this Friday despite a "market contraction” in the city. The Priory is situated in the former St Nicholas Congregational Church and was transformed from a near derelict condition by the Epic Group in 2001. It was closed by Epic earlier this year but has now undergone a £250,000 refurbishment. Mike Wilson, Epic's managing director, said: “I think the investment I am making at the Priory shows my commitment to Aberdeen city centre and the night-time economy. The market has contracted greatly recently with the closure and liquidation of several well-known city venues.”

Prezzo takes former Bramwell site for St Annes opening: Prezzo is to open a new site in St Annes, Blackpool next Tuesday (16 December), occupying a former Bramwell Pub Company site called Sandhills, which traded with the company’s Smith & Jones segment. The restaurant has cost £650,000 to develop and has seating for 106 guests. In all, 18 jobs will be created. Prezzo chief executive Jonathan Kaye said: “We are looking forward to opening our new restaurant, and are confident that it will be an excellent addition to St Anne’s social and dining scene. Hopefully, it will also act as a catalyst for other businesses to invest in the town too.”

Irish Travellers sue Wetherspoon over 'race discrimination':
A group of Irish Travellers are suing the pub chain J D Wetherspoon for up to £100,000 over alleged race discrimination after they were turned away from a pub. A top lawyer, a Catholic priest and a retired police inspector are among a 19-strong group of Travellers who claim they were told they could not enter the Coronet, in Islington, North London, because they were Travellers. The group visited the pub after a meeting of the Irish Traveller Movement in Britain (ITMB) charity at their headquarters next door to the pub. The Travellers told Central London County Court that "the doormen told them that they were not allowing travellers or people from the traveller conference to enter". The case against Wetherspoon is being spearheaded by Martin Howe, a partner in a leading law firm, Father Joseph Browne, a Catholic priest, and Mark Watson, a recently retired police inspector who served 30 years with the Cheshire force. They are seeking a declaration that they were the victims of racism, up to £100,000 in damages and a public apology. Wetherspoon denies discrimination and says the pub's entrance policy in force on the day had "nothing to do with race".
 
Starbucks to make Bedford debut at railway station:
Starbucks is set to open its first site in Bedford at the town's railway station. The chain will join the existing AMT outlet and replace the Pumpkin Cafe. This will be the first Starbucks outlet to come to Bedford, although the town already plays host to five Costa coffee shops after another opened in the Saxon Centre in Kempston on Friday. A spokeswoman for Govia, which runs the Thameslink service between Bedford and Brighton, said: "We are sure that our passengers will welcome Starbucks, who will be trading alongside the established AMT kiosk. Both will provide a great choice of coffee and other refreshments."

Costa Coffee opens fourth site in Limerick: Costa Coffee has opened its fourth site in the town of Limerick, in the west of Ireland. It is the first site in the city centre, and occupies the former HMV building at the Cruises Street/O’Connell Street junction. Brian McMahon, head of operations at Costa Ireland said: “We’re delighted to be opening our new Costa Coffee on Cruises Street with the creation of new jobs. This will be our fourth location in Limerick, and we think we’ve found another perfect location for our customers to relax and enjoy our barista handcrafted coffee and tempting selection of food.”
 
Marston’s opens Derbyshire new-build in record time: Marston’s has opened a new-build pub restaurant in Markham Vale, Derbyshire this week, creating 45 new jobs in the area. The Little Castle was opened on Monday and can cater for up to 180 diners. The pub will have a Milestone Carvery serving freshly roasted gammon, beef and turkey every day, as well as a selection of other home cooked meals, and an extensive range of drinks. The pub was completed in 19 weeks, the fastest build in the Marston’s new build pub development programme.

BBQ street food concept opens permanent Newcastle site:
BBQ pop-up Longhorns Barbecue has opened a permanent site on Mosley Street in Newcastle upon Tyne. Owner Mick Dixon is a surveyor who founded his company after being inspired by Bodeans, Dukes Brew and Que in London, and the Salt Lick in Driftwood, Texas. He said: “If I could sit down to eat anything then it would be barbecue. I’d always wanted to do something in food and so I bought a smoker and spent a bit of time in Texas to see how they did it.” The concept was tested in street food firm with appearances at the Boiler Shop Steamer in Newcastle, Craft Beer Calling and The Free Trade Inn. The new opening offers the Breaking Badass Food Challenge where customers get the chance to take on 7lb of barbecue food, featuring Longhorns’ Texas Badass Brisket and beef ribs, Memphis Smoked Hog Butt, a full rack of ribs, smoked sausage, wings, pit beans, red pickle slaw, brioche bread and fries.

Restaurant, pub and supermarket proposed for brownfield Derbyshire site: St Modwen, owner of a 204-acre brownfield development re site in Clay Cross, Derbyshire has submitted proposals for a major supermarket and restaurant scheme as regeneration plans for the area progress. St Modwen is planning to construct a 21,500 sq ft discount food store and fast food restaurant off the A61, which will act as the first stage of a new local centre for the Clay Cross site. If consent is granted, work could begin next spring. The company is also in "advanced negotiations" with a national operator to run a family pub on land opposite the proposed retail site. St Modwen bought the site, the former Biwater Pipeworks, last year. The wider scheme could see the development of almost 1,000 homes and 270,000 sq ft of employment space.

Greene King names Carter Jonas to source sites: Greene King has given the property agency Carter Jonas the job of sourcing sites, properties and leasehold opportunities for its brands across East Anglia, Essex, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire. The Suffolk brewer and pub retailer's group property director, Ken Millbanks, said: "As we continue to expand our retail business, we are pleased to be working with Carter Jonas to secure new high quality sites for our popular pub and restaurant brands." Will Mooney, partner and head of commercial in Carter Jonas's Cambridge office, said: "We are thrilled to have been appointed by Greene King in its quest for new sites to expand its pubs and restaurants. We look forward to working with them as they continue their clear growth strategy."

Wolverhampton gay bar to move to premises five times larger: A Wolverhampton gay bar, Gorgeous is planning to move over the road in School Street to the former Imperial buffet restaurant, which is five times larger than its current home. The current Gorgeous bar will continue to be run as a "pre-bar" under the name Event, and will also be used to stage private functions. Twenty jobs will be created by the move. Shaun Kasey, general manager of Gorgeous, said the new bar would cater for 500 extra people and give the city a venue it could be proud of. The bar first opened in 2009 in Salop Street, before moving to its current home at Network House a year later. Keasey said the uncertainty over the future of the Network House office block, which could be flattened to make way for a new retail development, coupled with the opportunity which lay over the road at the empty Imperial, which closed last year, convinced him the time was right to relocate. The venue’s success over the past five years meant Gorgeous had outgrown its current home, he said: "We are so proud of what we have achieved with the existing Gorgeous, it has become an integral part of Wolverhampton’s nightlife. There are regularly queues at the door which, with the current trade and conditions, is no mean feat. That people are willing to stand outside and wait to get in is testament to what we have achieved."

Second Shake Shack lines up for Westfield Stratford shopping centr
e: Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) is to open its second London Shake Shack, in the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre, East London, in mid-2015. Randy Garutti, Shake Shack's chief executive, said: “Ever since we opened in Covent Garden, we’ve been humbled by the passionate response from Londoners. With fans packing our Shack daily, we thought it was about time we built another Shake Shack. Westfield Stratford City feels like the right place and the right time. We can’t get enough of London’s booming food culture and we’re looking forward to deepening our roots with our fans, local farmers, artisanal producers and community.” Shake Shack said it plans to work alongside the local London Lions basketball team, partner with local vendors for sourcing and support local youth. The opening is expected to create more than 100 new jobs. Nigel Sherwood, business director of Shake Shack UK, said: “This is an area of London where we can really help to make a difference and continue Shake Shack’s mission to Stand for Something Good.”
 
Amazon tests restaurant delivery and takeaway service:
Amazon.com has begun testing a restaurant delivery service in Seattle, its home town. Amazon Takeout and Delivery allows customers to place orders at individual restaurants through its web pages or smartphone application. The Seattle test also allows customers to pay for food using their Amazon accounts. The company does not actually deliver the food, but it connects users to restaurants that do. The potential American market is enormous, with the National Restaurant Association saying surveys found 75% of US restaurant traffic is “off-premise,” which includes delivery, takeout, drive-through and kerb-side. Delivery competition has been increasing, with the taxi alternative Uber rolling out the smartphone app-based UberFresh, a test service that connects restaurants with Uber drivers to deliver customers’ meals. Uber claims it will deliver lunch meals from local restaurants in less than ten minutes, and it offers the local options on its dedicated UberFresh blog. It is now extending the service in Los Angeles to include dinner as well.

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