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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 27th Mar 2015 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Fast-casual sector performs best in US market in 2014 with 12.8% sales growth: The 500 largest restaurant chains in the United States accelerated their cumulative sales growth in 2014 to put in a 4% increase, totalling an estimated $274.4bn, Technomics has reported. But two of the biggest brands, namely Subway and McDonald's, lost ground to focused-menu competitors and emerging fast-casual chains and reported overall sales decreases for the year. The 500 biggest chains in the US’s improved their sales growth from a 3.4% increase in 2013, when they collectively reported $264.4bn in sales. The Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report also found that the industry's 500 biggest brands grew their overall unit count 2.2% in 2014, to more than 220,000 locations. However, four of the five largest brands in overall sales, McDonald's, Subway, Burger King and Wendy's, struggled in 2014, with estimated declines of 3.3% for Subway and 1.1% for McDonald's. Taken together with Starbucks, which saw an 8.2% increase in sales to $12.7bn and leapt over Subway into the No 2 ranking behind McDonald's, the top five brands squeezed out just a 0.3% increase in annual sales. Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, said: "Brands focused on being the best, not the biggest, were the real winners in this year's Top 500. In many cases throughout the fast-casual and specialised segments within quick service and casual dining, narrowly focused menus and straightforward models for service and pricing have let brands put forward a value proposition and an image of high quality that definitely appeal to consumers. They are seizing market share, and big names like McDonald's and Subway will continue to lose share if their loss of focus continues to erode brand standards." The limited-service burger segment achieved 2014 sales growth of 1.3% among Top 500 brands, despite McDonald's struggles. Limited service overall registered a 4.2 % gain in sales in 2014, and fast-casual dominated that expansion with a 12.8% sales surge. Within fast casual, brands with a customisable menu that allows guests to build their own main dishes grew even faster than chains with standard made-to-order menu items. Fast-casual success stories also powered growth in several other limited-service sectors. The Mexican and Asian/noodle categories led the way with sales gains of 10.4% and 10.2%, respectively. A burgeoning "QSR-plus" sector, in which chains are finding a way to offer foods higher in perceived freshness and quality but without hitting fast-casual price points, is also driving growth. A group of QSR-plus brands that included Chick-fil-A, In-N-Out Burger, Culver's, El Pollo Loco, Potbelly Sandwich Shop, Pita Pit and Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers logged a collective 9.2% sales gain in 2014. Darren Tristano will provide an overview of the most interesting and innovative new concept launches in the United States in the past year at the Propel Multi Club Conference on 2 July at the Oxford Belfry.

Industry News:

Big brewers pledge to list calorie counts: Nutritional labelling on alcoholic drinks could become routine after four of the world's biggest brewers backed plans to add calorie counts to their products in Europe. The Brewers of Europe, a trade body representing beer makers across the continent, said members soon would begin listing nutritional information on their brands. Anheuser-Busch InBev, SABMiller, Heineken and Carlsberg were among those to endorse the proposal. Alcohol producers are coming under pressure to follow the food industry by providing more detail on nutrition, especially in developed markets where consumers increasingly make health-based decisions. Last week said it would begin offering per-serving calorie counts on products in the United States including Smirnoff vodka and Guinness.
Nearly 20% of equity deals funded by the crowd says report: Crowdfunding deals accounted for almost a fifth of all the visible equity deals in the UK during the first half of last year, a new report has claimed. The data company Beauhurt, which conducted research on behalf of the government’s British Business Bank and the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, found that just 2% of deals were crowdfunded in 2011, rising to 5% in 2012, 10% in 2013 and finally 18% by 2014. While crowdfunding is becoming a popular way of raising seed finance, making up 32p% of these early-stage financing rounds in the first half of last year, the amount raised is still small. Some 91% of crowdfunded investments are worth less than £500,000, and 97% are below £1m. Just 2.2% of the total equity investment in the UK was crowdfunded during the six-month period. However, as more established companies turn to crowdfunding to raise capital, the value of these deals will rise, the report predicted.

Select committee asks government to look closer at benefits of VAT cut on food:
The culture, media and sport select committee on tourism has asked the government to look closer at the case for a VAT reduction and the job creation which a cut in VAT on food could bring. The chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, Brigid Simmons, who addressed the committee, said: “It is easy for tourism and tourism policy to be something that is nice to have but not essential to government. It is absolutely essential that we think in all of these things, whether it be visas or transport, about the tourist industry, the importance it has to the British economy and how we can have that at the forefront of all our minds when any government makes any decision about anything.”

French version of Eataly to open in New York: A 30,000 sq ft French version of Eataly called Le District is due to open next week in Brookfield Place in New York’s financial district. It will have a central wine bar, six gourmet food stations offering everything from French cheeses to freshly baked baguettes and brioches, three restaurants, a patisserie, and a sweet store. Owner Peter Poulakakos, said it was an homage to “the fundamentals of cooking and France”. Le District will have four separate zones. The cafe district will have a massive patisserie, an espresso bar and a French sweet store. The market district is anchored by a wine bar and will have variety of gourmet stations  including a cheese shop), rotisserie, charcuterie, butcher and fishmonger. The restaurant district will have three outlets, Le Bar, the Brasserie Beaubourg and a fine dining restaurant, opening later in the spring, called L’Appart with 7,000 sq ft of outdoor space, seating for 250 and views of the Hudson River. The garden district will sell grocery staples, fresh produce and deli items, while salad bar will transform into a chocolate-mousse bar at 4pm each day.
SIBA hails success of third BeerX: BeerX, the celebration of British beer held in Sheffield earlier this month, attracted more brewers, exhibitors and drinkers than last year’s event, according to the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA). BeerX 2015 ran from 18 to 21 March and was the third time SIBA has staged the event. Delegate numbers were more than 1,000, an increase of 25% on last year, thanks to what SIBA called "a compelling programme of speeches from high-profile industry figures, quality technical seminars and an expanded trade show", with 10% more suppliers choosing to exhibit at BeerX. The Festival of Beer, held on 20-21 March, attracted 25% more visitors than in 2014, as drinkers came to try the hundreds of award-winning beers from SIBA brewers. SIBA's managing director, Mike Benner, said: “BeerX 2015 was a tremendous success, not only in terms of the increased visitor numbers, but also the response from delegates, presenters and exhibitors, which has been overwhelmingly positive about all aspects of the event.”
Intu – free phone charging saw dwell time at restaurants increase: Free-to-use, secure, phone chargers are being installed at all the Intu-branded shopping centres in the UK in the largest shopping centre roll out by ChargeBox. The phone chargers were trialled in four shopping centres, Intu Bromley, Intu Merry Hill, Intu Metrocentre and Intu Trafford Centre, during November and December. Feedback through Tell Intu, the UK’s only national shopping centre feedback system, was overwhelmingly positive, Intu said, encouraging a national roll out. Intu said the trial indicated customers carried on shopping or relaxed in a coffee shop while their phones charged, adding to dwell times for existing retailers and restaurants.
Legal update: Solicitor John Gaunt and Partners provides a useful monthly update on legal issues. The link can be found HERE.

Company News:

Soho House set to double up in Los Angeles: The UK-based bar, restaurant and members’ club business Soho House is to open a second site in Los Angeles, where its existing Soho House West Hollywood venue is "wildly oversubscribed". Founder Nick Jones has told The Hollywood Reporter that he is targeting a 80,000 square foot property in central LA’s arts district. "It will be called Soho Warehouse," he said. "The arts district location will include artist studio rooms where you can stay for a period of time – a couple of weeks, a couple of months." Unlike the West Hollywood site, its central LA counterpart will have a rooftop pool as well as a gym. The West Hollywood site will also be going through renovations. Events spaces are being phased out in favour of an additional restaurant serving Mediterranean-style cuisine and what Jones describes as "a club within a club" called the Sunset Lounge, which will feature music acts in the evenings.

Mitchells & Butlers' Toby Carvery brand turns 30: Mitchells & Butlers' Toby Carvery brand, which achieves its highest net promoter scores, has turned 30, having been founded in 1985. An e-mail to customers said: “To begin our celebrations, we're holding a fantastic competition. Just make a video telling us what you love most about Toby and post it to our Facebook page with the hashtag #ILoveToby. Every week, we'll pick a main winner to receive a £30 gift card; and five runners-up to receive a £5 gift card.”

TGI Friday’s UK launches Celebrations Club: TGI Friday’s has launched a Celebrations Club to give people on its customer database more rewards. Members of the club are offered exclusive vouchers on their birthday every year which include complimentary cocktails, smoothies or desserts for the customer and five friends. The offer, sent out before customers' birthdays, has been extended to include what the company calls a “half birthday” six months after birthdays. “Who doesn’t want two birthdays a year?” TGI asks rhetorically. Customers are also offered the chance to take part in other promotions and upcoming events at TGI Friday’s.
Bill’s hires new head of food development: Bill’s Restaurants has hired Jennifer McLaughlin as its head of food development. Her role will be to "evolve menus as the business continues to grow, with a keen eye on fresh and seasonal food across all menus". “Jennifer is one of the industry’s best,” said Scott Macdonald, the chain's joint managing director. “We are first and foremost a food business, and to support our committed and continued growth and development in food, Jennifer will be central to driving the success of everything food-related at Bill’s.” Before joining Bill’s, McLaughlin spent seven years as head of development and training at Jamie’s and also worked ten years at Carluccio’s. “I’m very proud to be joining the Bill’s team,” McLaughlin said. “I relish the opportunity to bring my ideas to the Bill’s menu, while working with an open and progressive team. With an emphasis on fresh and seasonal dishes, we will be creating exciting and evolving menus.”

Camden Town Brewery passes £2m fundraising mark: Camden Town Brewery’s fundraising on crowdfunding website Crowdcube has passed the £2m mark, representing 133% of the original target of £1.5m. A total of 1,890 investors have pledged a total of £2,000,260. Meanwhile, the better pizza firm PizzaLuxe, led by former Harrods director of restaurants Paul Goodale, has raised 56% of it £500,000 target with a day to go – a total of 104 investors have pledged £281,540.
Jefferies analysts downgrade Wetherspoon: Equity research analysts at Jefferies have downgraded their recommendation on pub operator JD Wetherspoon to 'Hold', stating that there was insufficient upside to warrant continuing with a 'Buy' rating. The analysts said they believed that margins were likely to remain under pressure, as the company continues to be hit by higher raw material, wage and utility bills as well as increased expenditure on repairs and central overheads, and noted that the new opening programme had slowed.
Former Atmosphere Bar and Clubs venue sells for £140,000 at auction: The freehold of a former Atmosphere Bars and Nightclubs venue in Llandudno, Broadway Boulevard, has sold for £140,000 at an Allsops auction. Broadway Boulevard closed in June 2013 after parent company Atmosphere Bars and Clubs went into administration. Initially the landmark site was put up for sale for £750,000, it was reduced to £500,000 and was then put up for auction in December. At that sale it failed to meet the reserve. The buyer was bidding on the internet but further details about them are not yet know. The site had a reserve price of just £1.

Jamie Rollo – Costa Coffee may have to adopt Starbucks equity model in international markets: Morgan Stanley's leisure analyst Jamie Rollo has argued that Whitbread's Costa Coffee business may have to adopt Starbucks' equity model in international markets to start making meaningful profits. He said: “While comparison with Starbucks might be unfair given it had a head start on Costa, it does show the potential opportunity. Starbucks has an enterprise value of $75bn, against our Costa estimate of circa £4bn. Both have around 30% of their stores outside their domestic market. However, Costa International makes a small loss, whereas Starbucks generates 30% of its profit from outside the Americas. The difference is that Starbucks tends to operate stores under the equity model, whereas most of Costa's are franchised, where the bulk of profit remains with the franchisees. Starbucks plans to invest $1.2bn capex this year, which compares to Costa’s £80m. Starbucks is of course much larger (around 7x Costa’s outlet count), and is investing in other areas such as the supply chain. However, Costa should arguably be investing more aggressively given its smaller scale, and we note it is in 30 countries compared with Starbucks’ 67 countries. We see potential from a shift in Costa's international focus towards increased store ownership, bringing it in-line with its UK strategy.”
Deaf Masterchef competitor to open meatball restaurant in Soho: A deaf chef who starred in MasterChef is opening a restaurant in Soho, Central London. Bonny Porter, an ambassador for deaf charities as well as being a respected chef, has snapped up a prime site in Greek Street. Porter, 25, who appeared in the Australian version of the TV cooking competition, lost her hearing as a seven-year-old. She was working as an apprentice chef in a Sydney restaurant when she entered the MasterChef Professionals show with judge Marco Pierre White and used her lip reading skills to understand instructions. Her Bonny Appetit brand has bought the leasehold to the Lebanese restaurant Kaslik for a meatball eaterie. Morris Greenberg, of the property lease specialist Cedar Dean Gilmarc, who handled the purchase, said: “She is a fast-rising star and combines the hard work of the pro kitchen with being an ambassador for deaf charities. It is a great spot for her first restaurant and the sale is further evidence that London is the place to be if you want to make an international name for yourself.” Porter got to the top six of the competition two years ago before returning to the pro kitchen and developing her own restaurant brand.

TRG Concessions opens Halo Fizz Bar at Stansted:
The Restaurant Group Concessions has opened Halo Fizz Bar at Stansted Airport. Nick Ayerst, managing director of TRG Concessions, said: “TRG Concessions are incredibly proud to be opening Halo, our new fizz bar, in Stansted. We wanted to create a brand that encapsulated the new ambition and attitude bought to Stansted through its latest developments. Halo is a modern, independent and confident brand and is unique to the airport. It promises to provide a luxurious experience through a carefully crafted menu of food, drinks and fizz. We are committed to serving Stansted’s passengers and Halo is our chance to offer a wider choice for the new generation of eating and drinking within the busy airport terminal.
Coffee Republic Franchise experiencing its biggest period of growth since 2009: The Coffee Republic franchise is experiencing it biggest growth spurt since 2009. The latest Coffee Republic Franchise opened in the new Northampton railway station, after openings in recent months in Chatham, Leicester, Whitechapel,  and the East Shopping Centre in Forest Gate, East London. New openings are planned at Lewisham and Southwark College and in North London and Buckinghamshire. The company is planning a minimum of 20 UK franchises opening in 2015, to add to its existing 25 Franchises and four company owned stores. On the international front, the first franchised site recently opened in Qatar at the Pearl Development in Doha, while in Oman the franchise will be opening in Muscat in a few weeks, Another international franchise is opening soon airside at Barcelona Airport's Terminal 1, adding to the 23 international Coffee Republic sites in Kuwait, Pakistan, Romania and South Africa.
Licence review for high profile Stafford nightclub: Staffordshire Police have applied for a review of high profile Stafford nightclub Couture Noir et Blanc's licence on the grounds of a 'high number of crime and disorder involving persons who have been at the venue'. The force said most of the incidents happened in the early hours of the morning. Stafford councillors will now hold talks on whether the club can continue to sell alcohol at its current operating hours between 11pm to 4am from Sunday to Thursday and 11pm to 6am on Fridays and Saturdays. The borough council's licensing sub-committee has listed the matter for today, Friday, but the case is likely to be adjourned and discussed in full at a later date.
Greene King to donate £30,000 to regional cancer centre: Greene King will donate £30,000 to the Woolverstone Macmillan Centre appeal to raise £3.7m for a new cancer treatment centre at Ipswich Hospital. The brewer said it is making the donation because the centre will support patients around its Bury St Edmunds head office and brewery. Mandy Jordan, fundraising manager for Macmillan Cancer Support said: “Greene King’s donation of £30,000 has enabled our appeal to reach a significant milestone [£80,000] earlier than we ever would have anticipated.” Greene King has supported Macmillan Cancer Support since 2012.
Irish couple to open second Irish-themed bar: A couple from Galway, John and Lorraine Duignan, are to open their second Irish-themed pub. They plan to re-open the Kings Arms in Padiham, near Burnley, in Lancashire, which closed almost two years ago, as Katy Kelly’s. A £50,000 refurbishment has began with a view to having the pub ready to re-open in around six weeks. The couple own the Pub Royale in Great Harwood, Lancashire which is also Irish-themed and sells a range of cask ales. After buying the pub two years ago, the Duignans relocated to the UK from their native Galway in the west of Ireland to run it themselves.
Fratelli la Bufala seeks fourth UK outlet: Fratelli la Bufala, the Italian restaurant that specialises in buffalo meat, is seeking a third outlet in central London, which will be its fourth in the UK. The operation, which describes itself as "not a chain but a network of restaurants that are loyal to the brand identity while each maintains its uniqueness," has more than 130 restaurants worldwide, including 100 in Italy and others in Belgium, Germany, Spain, Turkey, Dubai, and the United States, first opened in the UK in 2012 with an outlet in Shaftesbury Avenue, Central London. This was quickly followed by a second London venue, on Villiers Street, just off the Strand, while a franchise opened in Westbourne, Bournemouth in 2013. The organisation has now applied to Westminster Council for a premises licence at 12 Knightsbridge Green, near Hyde Park. The menu at Fratelli la Bufala outlets includes buffalo steaks and burgers, buffalo mozzarella pizzas, salads and pasta dishes.
Healthy food restaurant to open at Middlesbrough business centre: A chef with 30 years' experience in the UK and overseas, including working with Michelin-starred chefs such as Raymond Blanc, is opening a healthy food restaurant in a 1,100 sq ft outlet at Central Point Business Centre in the former Midland House building in Middlesbrough. Nosh Healthy Kitchen, which will also provide a delivery and takeaway service, will initially employ a workforce of six when it opens on 29 March. It is being launched by Shary Jahangir and his son Jason, and will serve nutritious, low fat, healthy food, catering for vegans, vegetarians, those with gluten intolerance, and others. Shary Jahangir said: "I chose Central Point for the location more than anything else. It's in the centre of town and we are right beside the university, so the passing trade is very good. There's a lot of competition around us, which is actually good because it attracts people to this area, but we are doing something a bit different that will set us apart." As the business develops, the Jahangirs plan to deliver to offices and businesses during the day and to residential customers in the evenings.
Harveys seeks to double size of popular Brighton pub: Harveys, the Sussex-based brewer, is seeking permission to double the size of its popular Lord Nelson pub in Trafalgar Street, Brighton. The latest application seeks to tweak permission granted almost three years ago which would see the pub expand into two adjacent vacant shops. The brewer plans to knock through into the next door property to create a doorway into a new kitchen, storage space and toilets as well as creating additional bar and restaurant seating at the front of the former shop. Harveys' joint managing director, Hamish Elder ,said he hoped that the work would take approximately six months and that the pub could remain open throughout. He said: “Part of our aim has been not to interfere too much with the layout of this much-loved Harveys pub. We did not want to cause huge disruption to the set-up of the existing bar. It will certainly give us more scope in terms of food, but again the intention is not to change too much. We have been carrying out work to ensure that the building is in good structural condition. When you consider that a building just round the corner collapsed the other day, I think ensuring we have good structural integrity is a good idea. The building is a mix of different Victorian work, so we are doing the work carefully.” A decision on the proposal is expected from Brighton and Hove Council's planning committee at the end of April.
Bistro Pierre gathers chefs ahead of new menu launch: A total of 25 Bistrot Pierre head chefs and general managers attended a one-day event in Birmingham ahead of a new menu launch on 31 March. The firm's group head of food development, Ajay Barak, said: “We’ve been busy creating some new lighter, seasonal dishes for our spring/summer menu. It is vital that our head chefs master each element of the new dishes to perfection, so they can teach their chef teams in the bistrots the skills required to ensure we maintain the food consistency our customers expect.”
Russell Brand uses profits from book to open community cafe: The comedian Russell Brand is opening a cafe on an east London council estate that could be run entirely by recovering drug addicts. The Trew Era Cafe will open its doors today on the New Era housing estate in Hoxton where Brand campaigned with residents to save them from eviction. It will be run as a social enterprise funded by the profits from Brand’s latest book, Revolution. The cafe, named after Brand’s YouTube channel, will support the community rather than make money. In an interview last year with Time Out magazine, Brand said: “I’m mindful that the primary consequence of this book should not be a rich person getting richer. That’s why I’m committed to using the profits to create a cafe/meeting space that serves food, and which is going to be run entirely by recovering addicts.”

Prezzo set to launch new spring menu with ‘innovative dishes’: Prezzo is launching its new spring menu next Thursday (2 April). It includes a brand new range of flatbread salads and a variety of new dishes with wild mushrooms the star ingredient. The menu features new pizzas, pastas, risotto, grills and salads, as well as new desserts. A new grill has been added to the menu, a seabass dish with basil pesto and asparagus. New pizzas include: Verde (vegetarian) with mushrooms, spinach and asparagus on a béchamel sauce base, Wild mushroom pizza (vegetarian), and n’duja and calabrese sausage pizza with peppers, sunblushed tomatoes, butternut squash and rosemary. New desserts include: chocolate hazelnut cheesecake (vegetarian), a smooth vanilla cheesecake rippled with chocolate hazelnut ganache; salted caramel Arctic Slice (vegetarian), vanilla cream, salted caramel and golden honeycomb sandwiched between two slices of light sponge. Prezzo's executive chef, Paul Lewis, said: “We are always looking to introduce new and innovative dishes to our menu. We are delighted to be serving our new flatbread salads offering and the new dishes and aperitifs included in the spring menu. We believe that the new menu dishes will prove popular with our customers and keep Prezzo at the forefront of Italian dining.”
Papa John’s poaches new franchisee from rival: Papa John’s has announced a new franchisee in Scotland, who has joined the firm from a rival pizza delivery firm, where he worked as a supervisor, because of the potential to build a store network. Waleed Saleem has taken over the company's Ayr outlet. Papa John’s currently has more than 280 stores nationwide, with its franchises available for an average cost of £177,000 to £225,000. Speaking of his decision to join a competitor pizza franchise to his previous company, Saleem said: “I chose Papa John’s because of there is so much opportunity to grow in the future; my ultimate goal is to open ten pizza stores in Scotland and Papa John’s can deliver on that.”

Larger Pret A Manger opens in Stansted departures lounge: A new Pret A Manger shop has opened at Stansted Airport in Essex this week. The outlet, which is part of the airport's £80m terminal re-development, is in the departures lounge and replaces the company's airside shop. The new design has 50% more seating than before and will have a new range of healthy salads and protein pots as part of Pret's spring menu launch next month. A spokesman said: "We've been serving passengers at Stansted Airport for over a decade and are pleased to continue evolving our menu and shop design to best suit their needs as they travel. Our fresh options are prepared on-site each day and we're pleased to be able to send passengers off on their journeys with delicious food full of fresh, natural ingredients."

KFC promises to introduce hedgehog-friendly packaging: KFC has promised to modify its packaging to make it more hedgehog-friendly. The company took the decision after mounting pressure from a Shropshire-based charity, the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS). The charity had pointed out that hedgehogs were getting trapped in the large holes in the lids of dumped Krushems milkshake cups. BHPS had won a similar battle in 2006 against McDonald's, whose McFlurry cup lids posed a similar danger to hedgehogs, which were getting stuck in the cup while attempting to scoop the remaining ice cream.

Enterprise Inns roadshows attract 2,000 plus licensees: Enterprise Inns’ enterpriselive 2015 roadshows have been hailed a resounding success, after the six events attracted thousands of publicans and more than 120 suppliers. Figures just released reveal a huge increase in visitors, with publicans and managers from more than 40% of the 5,000-plus Enterprise estate represented at this year’s events, compared with 30% that attended in 2014. Supplier participation at this year’s shows also saw huge growth, with demand for trade stands leading to the shows requiring a 50% increase in venue size to cover 30,000sq ft. The first two roadshows were at new venues for 2015, at Glow at Bluewater, in Kent; and at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena, both of which were well attended. Then came Bristol, Bolton and Leeds, before a grand finale staged at the world famous Wembley Stadium.

Big Easy – we’re confident we can take £10.5m a year at Canary Wharf: Big Easy management has responded to a would-be investor in its mini-bond who questioned whether its proposed 11,000 square foot restaurant in Canary Wharf can take £10.5m a year. A spokesman for Big Easy stated: “You are correct in stating that the flow of customers at weekends would be different from the Kings Road and Covent Garden restaurants. The profile of sales throughout the week will be dramatically different with Thursday and Friday taking a significant share of the week’s sales. Our senior management has had experience in operating sites in Canary Wharf, and, whilst the customer type can be different from weekdays, the weekend trade in Canary Wharf can be relatively strong. There is a growing population of residents, evidence that customers will travel to Canary Wharf at weekends from restaurant driven events and evidence of an increase in revenue when the 02 Arena and Excel Exhibition Centre have weekend events. There is planning permission for 100’s of new homes as well as retail outlets in Canary Wharf which may well add to the weekend footfall, and, the Tube will be opening all night on Saturdays and Sundays from September which will significantly increase the opportunity to visit the area. As a consequence we are comfortable that trading levels will support our cash flow forecasts.” So far, £327,500 has been pledged towards Big Easy’s target of £3m.

Carluccio’s set to follow Bill’s in opening at Cardiff’s Mermaid Bay: Carluccio’s is to open a new 1,854 square foot site waterfront site at Cardiff’s Mermaid Quay in May. It follows an opening by Bill’s in the Pilotage Building. One of the oldest buildings in Cardiff Bay, the Pilotage was purchased by Schroder UK Real Estate Fund (SREF) in autumn 2014, after the closure of previous occupier, locally-owned Woods Brasserie. Bill’s comprises 3,329 sq ft on two floors with a 740 sq ft first floor balcony. The new Carluccio’s restaurant will be located nearby, overlooking Landsea Square and boasting waterfront views over Cardiff Bay. The restaurant includes outdoor seating to the front and to the side of the unit.

Brasilian brand open sister restaurant in Camden: A new neighbourhood cachaçaria bar has opened on Camden’s Chalk Farm Road – Made in Brasil Boteco. The venue is a ‘bohemian, favela-style bar’ in the heart of North London. The main face of Made in Brasil Boteco is Renato Paziam, originally from Sao Paulo and a self-labelled ‘ambassador for Brasilians in London’, who for many years has been running its sister restaurant Made in Brasil.

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