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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 11th Mar 2015 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

ALMR to survey operators on online booking and comparison website amid rising concerns: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) is surveying operators on their experiences with open review and comparison websites. The survey comes after the news that the Competition and Market Authority has launched a probe into their practices. The ALMR's chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said: “Concerns have been growing among operators for some time about the apparently unregulated activities of online booking and comparison websites. Although this has been far more prevalent in the area of hotel bookings, bad practices are increasingly creeping into the restaurant world too, and the launch of this inquiry highlights just how seriously the concerns of operators are being taken. This is not simply a matter of dealing with the occasional bad review – although there are questions for the websites to answer about anonymity, right of reply and authenticity of reviews. There are more pressing commercial points of concern, too, that we need to nip in the bud. These range from paid-for rankings and false reviews posted against offers to anti-competitive contract terms, such as rate parity clauses, best price clauses and commission payments linked to customer reviews, and compliance with 'most favoured nation' clauses, all of which restrict an operator's ability to control their pricing and respond to the market and their customer needs. We need to ensure that a free, fair and flexible regulatory framework exists which keeps pace with the way in which consumers are increasingly using technology so that operators and guests alike know that it can be trusted and that their interests are protected.” Nicholls said the inquiry was “a unique opportunity to address legitimate commercial concerns surrounding these sites”. Operators are asked to complete a short survey about how online review and comparison sites have impacted their business by clicking here.

Industry News:

Host of companies sign up for Propel Social Media Masterclass: A host of leading sector companies have signed up for the Propel Social Media Masterclass being held in partnership with Digital Blonde’s Karen Fewell. They include: Spirit Pub Company, Cabana, Pub People Company, Charles Wells, Bill’s Restaurants, JD Wetherspoon, Admiral Taverns, Young & Co, Camerons, Ignite Group, Hall & Woodhouse, Loungers, Luminar, Burning Night Group, TCG Management Services, Chilled Pubs, Hickory’s Smokehouse, Good Life Diner, Anglian Country Inns, Yummy Pubs, Trust Inns, PubLove, Oakman Inns and Restaurants and Bulldog Hotel Group. The Social Media Masterclass provides a comprehensive overview of how to make the best use of social media (CLICK HERE to see the programme). Tickets are £295 for ALMR members and £345 for non-members. Email adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com to book.

BBPA launches energy audit solution: The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has launched a new scheme designed to reduce the costs associated with the new Energy Saving Opportunities Scheme (ESOS) legislation. In order to comply with the ESOS, companies must carry out an energy audit by December 2015. The scope of the new legislation is large, covering brewers and tenanted/leased and managed pub operators. Any company employing more than 250 people will be covered, which could mean operators with as few as ten outlets. Those with a turnover in excess of £42.5m and with a balance sheet over £36.5m are also covered. The regulations require companies to measure their energy use across their operations, identify areas of significant energy consumption and carry out audits on these processes. Audits then need to be signed off by a registered "head assessor". The BBPA says that there is strong interest in its new scheme, which is open to non-BPPA members. Companies have already begun to sign up, reporting that the costs are significantly lower than other offers they have considered. The BBPA's chief executive, Brigid Simmonds, said: “We have put together a flexible, low-cost compliance package that offers great value and is specifically tailored for brewers and pub operators to help them get to grips with these new obligations. I am very confident it will prove an attractive offer and that we will rapidly recruit clients from both inside and outside the BBPA membership.” Companies wanting to know more can contact the BBPA to receive a no-obligation quote.

Allegra – pub market is fighting back through hybridisation:
The total pub market is forecast to grow by 2% this year to £21.85bn thanks to growing hybridisation in the sector according to the latest new report from Allegra Foodservice. Pubs are winning a share of consumer visits at breakfast, lunch and dinner, so much so that in the last quarter of 2014, 84% of UK adults visited pubs for meals or snacks, the highest level Allegra has ever recorded. The average number of pub meals per head per month also rose to a new high at 1.7, driving annual levels that exceed those for chain and local restaurants, as well as for fast food. Allegra executive director Simon Stenning said: “Pubs have obviously struggled since 2007, but the actions of all pub companies, whether managed or tenanted, corporate or small groups, are starting to change the way that consumers utilise pubs. Pubs are reinventing their mojo and regaining their place in British society. Allegra has identified that for pubs to continue to strengthen their place in society they can focus on one of, or a combination of, four business models – all-day dining, a locally relevant wet-led pub, an after-work high street pub or a food destination. Hybridisation of concepts and models has been one way that attracts consumers to pubs, so any possible combination of these four models will result in a hybrid pub and can potentially see the strongest growth in the pub sector.”

UK Beer Sommelier of the Year to launch Beer Day Britain: Jayne Peyton, UK Beer Sommelier of the Year 2014, is to launch Beer Day Britain, which take place on 15 June. Peyton said: “15 June is also the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta when there will be national and international celebrations to mark its sealing in 1215. Ale is mentioned in Magna Carta, and because it is such a significant document that is why I chose this date to celebrate British beer. The aim of Beer Day Britain is to encourage people to drink beer, ideally in pubs and bars, and to celebrate the national drink. It is about all beer, not just real ale: international pilsner brands, kegged ale, bottled, canned beer, no matter what the format, packaging or brand. The main activity is a national 'cheers to beer', which will happen at 12.15pm on 15 June. At that time we are encouraging people to go to the pub, bar or have a bottle of beer at work or home and raise a glass to British beer and Magna Carta. The time of 12.15pm relates to the year the great charter was sealed. We are aiming to trend on Twitter and we may even attempt a world record for the largest concurrent 'cheers'. We also hope that pubs and bars will arrange special events for customers for the evening so that beer lovers can join in the national party after work too. Major stakeholders in the beer industry are supporting this endeavour. Several pub chains have already committed to joining in, several brewers are brewing special beers and organising events in their breweries, and the Campaign for Teal Ale is marshalling its considerable volunteer enthusiasm. The biggest challenge will be to get the public to join in, so I am hoping that everyone who enjoys beer or pubs will start spreading the word, build expectation and hype.”

Minister praises McDonald’s contribution to soft skills education: The Minister of State for culture and the digital economy, Ed Vaizey, has praised McDonald’s for its contribution to education on “soft skills” in the UK. “I think the biggest education institution in the country is McDonald’s,” Vaizey said during a panel at the WorldPost Future of Work conference in London. “We often forget when we deride the Big Mac that more people are probably getting their qualifications working at McDonald’s than almost any other employer,” he added. McDonald’s recently launched an initiative in the UK aimed at developing “soft skills” - communication, creativity and the ability to collaborate.

Cardiff street food event set to return: One of Cardiff's most successful food pop-ups is to return to the city. Street Food Cardiff saw queues stretching halfway down the city's Dumballs Road when it launched at the end of last year. It will re-open this spring at the Depot after a short period of refurbishment and upgrading. Nicholas Saunders, the 23-year-old Cardiff Metropolitan University graduate behind Depot, has just signed a new lease for the premises. Saunders, from Liverpool, moved to Wales’ capital city to study marketing management in Cardiff. He created Depot as a creative events space and as an alternative to the existing venues in Cardiff city centre.
 

Company News:

M&B to launch “unique” apprenticeship: Mitchells & Butlers is unveiling an innovative and unique new apprentice scheme designed to recruit its managers of the future. Combining practical, on-the-job training with study, M&B reports the new scheme is the first in the hospitality sector to offer apprenticeships from 16 years of age, across front and back of house roles. This pioneering framework gives young people the platform to learn valuable skills while building a career with M&B and one day could see them running a million pound business. The new scheme is set to begin recruiting its first apprentices from March and will add to the 1,400 apprentices currently working across Mitchells & Butlers. Jan Smallbone, director of learning and talent development, said: “We didn’t just want to develop a successful apprenticeship scheme. We wanted M&B to offer the best scheme in the hospitality industry. Our apprentices will work across our portfolio of brands, learn from our experienced teams, gain a professional qualification and have a real opportunity to progress up the ladder.”

Investment company sells seven freeholds tenanted by Stonegate: PFA Acquisitions has sold seven freehold pubs let to Stonegate Pub Company or its subsidiaries. The portfolio has been acquired by OLIM Property Limited for its discretionary pension fund and investment trust clients. The total purchase price was £9.7 million, at a net initial yield of 7.53%. This follows OLIM Property’s purchase of fifteen Stonegate pubs for £28.27 million last June. The portfolio contains two Yates’s and five unbranded pubs in Bedford, Bournemouth, Cleethorpes, Leigh, Luton, Prestatyn and Selby with a total rent of £772,932. The leases also benefit from indexed uplifts throughout their 25-year term. The purchase completed ten days after it was agreed. Fleurets, Kitchen La Frenais Morgan and Shepherd and Wedderburn acted for the purchasers, with Coffer Corporate Leisure and Charles Russell Speechlys for the vendors.

Gideon Joffe secures second Monkeynuts site: Gideon Joffe has secured a new site for his Monkeynuts steakhouse brand, located at High Road, Whetstone, through agent Shelley Sandzer. Trading over the ground floor and basement with an approximate area of 4,000 sq ft, the second Monkeynuts steakhouse is planned to open in spring 2015. The son of Giraffe founders, Juliette and Russel Joffe, Gideon Joffe started the Monkeynuts steakhouse concept in 2004. Following the success of his debut site in Crouch End, this will be the second restaurant under the Monkeynuts steakhouse brand. Upon opening, the site is set to accommodate around 100 covers. Casey Philips, acquisitions agent at Shelley Sandzer, said: “Gideon has a proven track record of performing well in affluent London suburbs, through his Chez Bob’s restaurant in Belsize Park, Chooks in Muswell Hill and the original Monkeynuts steakhouse in Crouch End, and we are confident he will be just as successful in Whetstone with the second Monkeynuts steakhouse.” The landlord of the new site is Strathclyde Pension Fund, was represented by Savills.

PizzaLuxe hits 50% funded mark on Crowdcube: PizzaLuxe, the fledgling better pizza operator led by Harrods' former director of food, Paul Goodale, has hit the 50% funded mark on Crowdcube. A total of 83 investors had pledged £254,680 by yesterday, meaning the crowdfunding drive is just over halfway to its £500,000 target in return for 30% of the equity. PizzaLuxe operates sites at Trinity Leeds and Westfield Stratford and is due to open in Shoreditch, East London in April. The company is expected to turn over £959,000 in the year to March 2015, producing ebitda of £101,000 and pre-tax profit of £51,000.

CBRE heads Batemans' drive to add managed pubs: The Lincolnshire family brewer and retailer Batemans has hired the property agent CBRE to lead its drive to add managed pubs. The property agent has issued details of Bateman's property requirements: freehold-only sites that are existing wet-led pubs with external areas and letting bedrooms. Batemans' target acquisition area extends from just north of Luton in the south to just north of Harrogate, with Derby at its western extent

Nando’s to showcase South African design in the UK: Nando’s is to showcase a collection of items such as tables and chairs, made by 12 South African designers, in its London restaurants. The plan is to then slowly incorporate more African designs in other locations. Co-founder Robbie Brozin wants South Africa to “own the soul of the brand”. He said: “Doing a project like this where you’re coming back to the roots of the brand, working with African designers, you’re giving them a great platform to grow their own portfolio on an international basis. Most South African designers won’t have that opportunity of ever displaying in London or being [seen] internationally.” This year the brand will open 100 new sites around the world. Brozin said he wanted 5% of those to bring in South African furniture to trumpet the country’s design prowess on a global stage.

Bluebelt acquires Hillbrooke site: Bluebelt Hospitality has acquired the leasehold of the Elephant Hotel, Pangbourne, Berkshire, off a guide price of £230,000, taking its portfolio of properties to four. The historic hotel had been marketed by the property agent Fleurets, on behalf of Hillbrooke Hotels. The Elephant Hotel, which opened in the late 1800s, has been through a major refurbishment and now has 22 themed guestrooms, a 70-cover restaurant, bar, three flexible banqueting spaces which can accommodate a total of 110 guests, and a garden with 150 covers between the alfresco area and a marquee. Will Thomas, of Fleurets said: “We suspected The Elephant Hotel would generate a good deal of interest as the M4 corridor continues to be an area of high demand. The property was in good condition throughout and typically the type of business that would appeal to many of the newly expanding operator groups,. I have no doubt that the Elephant will fit well within Bluebelt’s operations and will assist the group in establishing themselves as high-end hospitality operators.”

Thistle Pub Company III to seek exit for shareholders by June 2016:
The latest accounts for Scottish managed pub company Thistle Pub Company III highlight the directors' intention to create a valid exit for shareholders by the end of June 2016. Thistle III, whose shareholders invested £7.5m to acquire the company's seven freehold pubs, was set up under the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) in 2006. Thistle III's chairman, Alan Stewart, said: "We are beginning to see the emergence of possible purchasers for the company's estate. At the moment their interest is at low-valuation but both their existence and the desire of the banks to be more active in this sector is, to my mind, a reasonable sign that prices will improve over the next year. The move to pursue an exit for shareholders comes shortly after The Herald revealed the company was owed £330,000 from the collapsed Maclay Group pub company. Maclay had run the Thistle III pubs under a management contract until January, when the contract was handed to LT Management Services. The latest accounts for Thistle III show the company made a pre-tax profit of £254,000 in the year ended September 27, up from £168,000 the year before. The profit increase was partly the result of the renegotiation of its management contract, which cut its administrative expenses by £127,000. Turnover for the year dropped slightly to £5.54m from £5.56m.
 
TGI Friday's upgrades payment system with Verifone:
TGI Friday's has upgraded its payments system at its 66 UK restaurants, with more than 600 Verifone NFC-capable portable and countertop payment devices across the estate. Jeremy Dunderdale, head of IT at TGI Friday's UK, said: “We pride ourselves on giving guests the best experience possible, particularly when interacting with our team. Verifone understands our business needs, and its NFC-capable terminals combined with Verifone’s all-in-one service package provides a secure solution that solves our payments challenges while enabling us to accept payments from guests right at the table.” The chain is using Verifone's VX 680 and VX 820 DUET payment device, which are integrated with Verifone’s Payment as a Service. The devices are fully contactless/NFC-enabled for supporting new payment methods, such as Apple Pay, and others as they become available in the future. The set-up also supports TGI Friday's UK gift card redemption scheme.

Maxxium hires Mark Riley as managing director: Maxxium UK has hired Mark Riley as managing director, effective from 1 April. The appointment comes after last month’s announcement of Huw Pennell’s departure from the company to take up a newly created role with Edrington. Riley has 18 years’ experience in the drinks industry. He joined Maxxium UK from Beam Global in 2009 as commercial operations director before becoming off-trade sales director in 2012. He said: “I am delighted to be taking the role at such a pivotal time. We have just strengthened our portfolio with the integration of the Beam Suntory brands which, alongside our Edrington brands, create an unrivalled whisky offering and broadened liqueurs and specialties range. This is an exciting time as we recruit consumers into whisky and help them discover this wonderful category. Our expertise in whiskies and mixology will be a key part of our growth strategy and I look forward to partnering with our customers in this new chapter at Maxxium.” Huw Pennell, Maxxium UK's managing director, said: “Mark will bring his operational expertise, strategic thinking, energy and dynamism to this role. I am very proud to be leaving Maxxium UK in the hands of such a strong leader, who will guide the business on the next stages of development.”
 
Beatons Tearooms to open new franchise in Chester: Beatons Tearooms & Bookshop, the combined cafe and bookseller chain founded by Patrick Duffy in Wiltshire in 2010, is to open its third venue, in Chester, at Easter. Franchisee Steve Roberts, from Liverpool, who is opening in a prime location at Bell Tower Walk near Chester Cathedral, said he had been inspired to open the cafe after a visit to its first outlet, in Tisbury, Wiltshire: "When I discovered Beatons, I found a place where you are made to feel special the moment you walk in. With loose-leaf teas, home-made cakes and light meals plus a book selection designed to amuse and delight, it's a magic formula. 'I want to do this,' I thought, and 15 months on, we're preparing to open in the historic city I've loved for so many years." Beatons' second outlet opened in Blandford Forum, Dorset in 2014, while a fourth venue is lined up for Berkshire. The chain takes its name from the fashion photographer Cecil Beaton, who lived near Tisbury. Franchises are available for a standard total investment level of £40,000, including £7,500 initial franchise fee.
 
Starbucks to expand mobile order and pay to Pacific Northwest: Starbucks is to expand mobile order and pay to 650 sites in the Pacific Northwest next Tuesday (17 March) after a successful trial in Portland, Oregon. Starbucks plans to continue a national roll out throughout 2015. Starbucks said the roll-out is expected to increase speed of service, drive incremental transactions and increase throughput across Starbucks stores. The app uses the GPS function on a consumer's iPhone to find the nearest Starbucks offering mobile order and pay. They can then select the food and drink items they want, customising if wanted, and select a store to pick up their order from. The app will show the approximate wait time and, if needed, directions to the store, and take payment for the order from the customer's Starbucks card. Orders are sent immediately to the store, where baristas begin preparing them.

Kettering steakhouse concept opens second branch: Toro, a South American steakhouse concept based at the Old Greyhound in Rothwell High Street, Kettering, is opening a second outlet in Northampton town centre. Toro was established in 2011 and is run by head chef Philip Clark, with a menu that includes Argentinean and Caribbean dishes. It is now fitting out an empty unit on the Wellingborough Road in Northampton, opposite the Tamarind Indian restaurant, and is due to open by June 2015.

Loungers to hit double figures for Cosy Club sub-brand with Manchester opening: The cafe bar operator Loungers will hit double figures with its Cosy Club sub-brand when a new branch opens in Manchester’s Corn Exchange in July. The Cosy Club brand sites take more on average that Lounge venues, involving a bigger investment: £850,000 will be spent on the Manchester opening. Alex Reilley, Loungers' executive vice-chairman, told the Manchester Evening News: “We’re really excited to be opening a Cosy Club in Manchester and we feel extremely privileged that we will occupy space in one of the city’s great landmarks and in a city valued for its leisure offerings and attractions. We couldn’t have chosen a better location. We feel the Cosy Club brand and the Corn Exchange are extremely well suited to each other and we looking forward to opening our doors in July.” It will be the first Cosy Club in the north of England. Other sites are in Leicester, Bristol, Birmingham, Exeter, Cardiff, Salisbury, Taunton, Bath and Stamford.

Amber Taverns to spend £400,000 at Black Swan as it seeks to add 14 in 2015: Amber Taverns, the community pub operator, is planning to spend £400,000 on the Black Swan in Sheepmarket, Leek, after buying the venue last year. The revamp of the pub will include building an extension, and moving the toilets and kitchen upstairs. The company, which operates 104 pubs, is planning to add 14 this year. Its managing director, James Baer, said: “We are planning an extensive refurbishment to create a community pub serving a range of cask ales in comfortable surroundings.” The pub, known locally as the Mucky Duck, will employ four full-time and eight part-time staff when it reopens in the summer.

Suffolk destination venue with shoot close by comes on the market: A Suffolk pub with an excellent reputation for its steaks and a popular shoot close by has come onto the market. The Green Man at Six Mile Bottom, three miles from Newmarket and its race course, has been run for the past nine years by Richard Clarke and his partner Jackie James. Clarke who has also been a gamekeeper since the age of 17, is selling the pub to concentrate on the Six Mile Bottom Shoot, which he owns and which is located close to the pub. It is regarded as one of the finest partridge shoots in the country and is also home to a highly successful clay pigeon simulated game shooting venture. Clarke said: “My experience as a gamekeeper has allowed me to select the finest steaks for the pub during my nine years here. The Green Man attracts diners from miles around who enjoy our excellent selection of top-quality steaks, as well as the other food on offer. I am selling the pub to concentrate on the Six Mile Bottom Shoot, which is busier than ever. It is located just a five-minute drive from the pub and new owners will benefit by catering for breakfasts, lunches and shoot dinners at the pub itself, which will bring in a good income.” The pub is available for £495,000 freehold or £85,000 for a new free-of-tie lease with an option to buy the freehold with the Nottingham office of the property agent Davey Co.
 
Greene King marks 20th birthday of Hungry Horse by raising £23,000: Greene King's 235-outlet Hungry Horse brand has marked its 20th anniversary celebrations by raising £23,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support after a week of fundraising events in its pubs. During the week commencing Monday 26 January, Hungry Horse pubs held a variety of charity events with the aim of raising £1,000 for every year the chain has been trading. Marc McGuigan, business unit director for Hungry Horse, said: “I am very proud of all of the teams for their amazing efforts in raising this money for Macmillan.
 
TCG refreshes cocktail menu for spring: The managed pub and bar operator TCG is refreshing its drinks menu for spring with a range of seasonal cocktail serves emphasising fresh fruit flavours and lighter spritz-style drinks. A new “Bloomin’ Delicious” spring menu is being introduced in selected TCG venues, and will even be printed on strawberry scented card to enhance the seasonal feel. A number of bars will also be offering six cream egg shots in an egg box. The seasonal offer, available for Easter Week, will be targeted at "groups of friends looking for something different on a night out", the company said. TCG's director of operations, Ben Levick, said: “Cocktails continue to boom in the on-trade, and we’ve set out to make our pubs and bars the very best places in their local market for customers to enjoy mixed drinks. From Pornstar Martinis to Pickle Backs, we now have one of the biggest and best cocktail offer of any mainstream managed operator, and our new spring serves complement the core offer. Innovations such as our strawberry-scented menu and the cream egg carton shots help to add the all-important ‘wow’ factor that adds value to customers’ visits to our pubs and bars and encourages them to return. For customers looking for lighter, more refreshing drinks, spritzers and wine cocktails are set to be a big driver of sales this year – just as soon as we get some warmer weather!”

Salvation in Noodles to open second: Colin Tu, one of the partners in the London pop-up operation Big Dirty Burger, who opened a Vietnamese noodle restaurant called Salvation in Noodles in Dalston, East London last year, is to open a second Salvation in Noodles in Finsbury Park, North London early next month. The Finsbury Park restaurant will have 36 seats and a bigger kitchen than Dalston, he told the Hot Dinners website. "We're going to mix up the menu a bit at both sites, maybe take away some of the noodle soups," Tu said. He revealed that he spent Christmas and New Year travelling round Vietnam for inspiration: "I feel you can get pho pretty much anywhere in London but there are other dishes there that haven't been introduced here." One of these, he said was So Mi Quang , "a dish specific to central Vietnam, but it's half dry, so not as soupy as other dishes. I saw so many dishes out there I think we're ready to introduce here." Tu is also introducing cocktails with a cocktail bar running down one side of the room with seating for six. The new outlet will have a be a banquet table with room for 12 towards the front and booth seating down the side of the room. Tu said he was opening in Finsbury Park because "I'm a long-term fan of Dotori, and that's always popular, so we know there's a demand here for Asian food. And Bleecker Burger's Xan who lives nearby said it was a good idea!"

White Bell Group closes Greenock pub after failure to strike deal with Hawthorne: The White Bell Group, which runs bars and restaurants in Scotland and the North of England, is closing the Waterline in Greenock after failing to strike a deal with its new landlord, Hawthorne Leisure. The pub and restaurant, in Cathcart Street, was run by White Bell for the past five years, and a deal had been in place to buy the premises off the owner, Greene King, and continue to trade. However, in May last year Hawthorn Leisure acquired some 275 Greene King properties, including the Waterline. White Bell director Joseph White told the Greenock Telegraph: “Hawthorn Leisure bought The Waterline as part of the purchase off Greene King. We had a lease with Greene King with an option to buy, which five years ago was a good price – now it’s not. We asked them for a deal and at the 11th hour they refused and said they wouldn’t change and wanted us to re-lease it on a tenancy basis. The deal didn’t work for commercial reasons, so the lease expired and they are getting it back in a few days.” White said that staff who needed jobs had been found them at the company's other venues in Greenock, Word Up and Text. White Bell also runs venues including the Hollywood Studio & Lounge a nightclub and MoonLight, a bar-restaurant, both in Manchester, and Basement Complex in Leeds.

Fruit-flavoured or lower alcohol beers 'not the only way to reach women' says SABMiller Europe MD: Fruit flavoured or lower alcohol beers "are not the only way to reach women", Sue Clark, European managing director for the global brewing giant SABMiller, has declared in an interview. Speaking to Marketing Week, Clark said: "It’s important to point out that women’s palates are more sophisticated and more complicated than men. It’s not that they don’t like bitter products, but what they like is something that’s more balanced and maybe has a sweeter taste. When you think about other markets like the Netherlands, we’ve had success among women with more complex but balanced beers such as Grolsch Herfstbok. Around 50% of its consumers there are women, which may surprise those who think that women need something that’s a bit less bitter and a bit blander. In reality, they need something more balanced and are actually quite interested in complex flavours. In Europe, Eastern Europe particularly, 90% of women drink beer, but they only drink it on a few occasions. The big challenge is: how do you make it relevant on more occasions?"

High-profile Birmingham chef to open pop-up: A new pop-up restaurant has been announced for Birmingham with the high-profile chef Alex Claridge at the helm. The venture, Nomad, will open on 3 April at Kitchen Garden Cafe in Kings Heath. Claridge received strong reviews while running the Warehouse Cafe in Digbeth until 2013 and spent two years as group development chef at Bistro 1847 in the Great Western Arcade, Birmingham. With Nomad he is planning to “explore ideas and thoughts about nature, place, memory and British cuisine”. Diners can expect two fixed tasting menus of around five and 11 courses (priced around £32 and £45 respectively). The pop-up starts with a three-month residency running on Fridays and Saturdays (and some Thursdays) at Kitchen Garden Cafe, which has previously hosted pop-ups by Epi Restaurant and Blue Rabbit, but is then expected to appear at other locations around Birmingham with a city centre residency planned for June.
 
Burger King to reinstate UK menu items: Burger King is bringing back a range of products next month including chicken fries and the mushroom Swiss steakhouse burger as part of a promotion. The company is launching a "Party in the Park" promotion in April and is also a introducing a pork BBQ Whopper, ciabatta chicken tendercrisp and chicken fries to its menu. The pulled pork BBQ Whopper will be available for £4.79 or £6.49 for the meal and the chicken fries will be sold for £2.29 (six pieces) or £2.99 (nine pieces), according to blogger BurgerLad.com. There have been online calls for the reinstatement of the mushroom Swiss.
 
Gloucester Brewery begins move: Staff at the Gloucester Brewery in Llanthony Road, The Docks, Gloucester have started moving the production and visitor centre into their new home, the nearby 19th century Fox’s Malthouse. Its current home will become a craft beer bar called Tank Gloucester, and will be home to a nanobrewery so visitors can watch their beer being made on site. The company is aiming to open Tank Gloucester in time for the Tall Ships Festival in May. Brewer Gareth Moore said: “We simply needed more space to convert the building into a pub. We have started stripping out the brewery and taking it over to the new site. We won’t stop production at all so we won’t miss a brew.” Tank Gloucester will feature at least eight hand pumps and ten keg lines and will primarily feature Gloucester Brewery beer. There will also be mature cheeses and deli boards to go alongside the speciality ales when it opens this spring. Moore said: “The pub will primarily feature our own beers but there will be guest beers that you don’t see often around here. The new pub is going to be modern and comfortable. We don’t want it to be too edgy. We want to give people a real sense of community and a bit of excitement because, although they are in a separate building, the beer our customers will be drinking has been brewed just hundreds of metres away.”

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