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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 19th Jan 2015 - Update: Draft House, Innventure, Bonnie Gull format tweak
Draft House secures seventh site, opens next month: London craft beer business Draft House, led by Charlie McVeigh and backed by sector investor Luke Johnson, has acquired a seventh site, The Laurie Arms on Shepherds Bush Road, which will re-open on 26 February. Draft House acquired the remainder of an Enterprise free-of-tie lease from local publican Dennis McCarthy for circa £200,000. The venue will pay homage to the nearby Hammersmith Palais, which was recently demolished. Draft House added the Birdcage pub in east London last year – and reported like-for-like sales growth of 8% over the Christmas period. McVeigh said: “The interior and playlist will be a celebration of the Hammersmith Palais, demolished in 2013. Many of us have happy, sweaty, pogo-ing memories of the Palais and a little bit of me died when I heard it was being torn down. Original gig posters and photos from the interior will serve as a permanent memorial to the place.” Draft House will restore the pub’s interior, complete with original ten-foot stained-glass windows, which adorn the frontage. Ochre-yellow upholstered steel-framed benches with fluted backs will line the 100-cover pub, and will be lit by antique French ceramic pendants, as well as clusters of glass orbs with golden flex. There are original brick walls and Victorian pitch pine cladding, which will be painted with song lyrics from the Palais, and hung with found artworks from McVeigh’s collection. A neighbouring industrial unit will be brought into the pub’s demise. Its glazed pitched roof will be half covered with stretched canvas and fine wire-mesh, with its north-lights remaining exposed. An oak bar will be overhung by racked glassware and metal trough lights. Draft House will serve a hand-crafted pie menu. Optics cocktails will be served, created by Max Chater of Bump Caves – the bar and distillery recently opened by Draft House in Bermondsey. Optics cocktails, dispensed from traditional three-litre pub optics bottles will include The Manhattan, Bump Martini, and Bump Hi-Bye (all at £5.00). The Hammersmith site was acquired through agent Davis Coffer Lyons. The company is in negotiations on an eighth site.
Innventure seeks to expand two sites: Innventure, the six-strong gastro-operator led by former Mitchells & Butlers executive Chris Gerard, is looking to expand two of its sites. The company has submitted a application in to expand its Greene King–owned d’Arry’s site in Cambridge by creating an upstairs bar with a New York-style roof terrace. The upstairs area houses a Victorian brewery. The site was destroyed by fire a few years ago and it was re-built to allow the fascia to be taken off and the area glazed. The company is also currently seeking a managing partner for the d’Arry’s site, which turns over more than £1m a year. The position comes with accommodation above the business, an agreed basic salary and a bonus scheme equating to 20% of the bottom line profit. Meanwhile, Innventure has secured planning consent to convert an old barn building behind its Cross Keys site in Saffron Walden, a Charles Wells-owned freehold, into four additional boutique bedrooms to add to the existing six. Last year, Gerard also launched a franchise business – Charles Wells worked with Gerard to open the d’Parys hotel in Bedford under a new vehicle called Apostrophe Pubs. The site is a finalist in the ‘Best New Pub’ category of The Publican Awards. Asked whether Innventure plans to add pubs, Gerard told Propel: “The question is how much anyone can eat – and I don’t feel there’s much to prove having run sizeable businesses. Innventure is producing more than £1m a year of Ebitda and the franchise business is generating significant amounts of cash.” 

Bonnie Gull undergoes format tweak: Bonnie Gull Seafood Café in Exmouth Market is to reopen as Bonnie Gull Seafood Bar in Exmouth Market on 3 February. Many will know it in its former guise as Bonnie Gull Seafood Cafe. Co-founder Alex Hunter said: “After eight months trading at Exmouth Market we’ve decided to make a few tweaks to the style of the restaurant. Moving to a small plates menu will allow diners the option to pop in for a quick glass and plate of something delicious at the bar as well as a full sit-down lunch or dinner. We expect Bonnie Gull Seafood Bar to be a lively, energetic bar & restaurant showcasing the best of British seafood and more.” Bonnie Gull Seafood Bar features some new design elements such as a reclaimed 1950’s gymnasium floor and an extensive collection of framed photographs of their suppliers by Chris Cooper. An ‘oyster table’ fashioned from an old barrel is perfect for those wanting to grab a quick bite whilst soaking up the atmosphere of the bar area, which will extend out onto the terrace during the summer months. The marble bar is being extended and glasses will be stored on a suspended rope and wood display along with a neon ‘seafood bar’ sign. Guests will be able to sit at the bar watching the chefs and barmen at work. The bar will retain its original vintage jukebox playing a selection of Northern Soul, 60’s Ska and Rock n’Roll.

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