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Tue 7th Apr 2015 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Starbucks commits $250m to graduating 25,000 employees in next ten years: Starbucks has announced that the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, first introduced in June 2014, will now offer 100% tuition coverage for every eligible US Starbucks employee. Nearly 2,000 employees have successfully enrolled to date and Starbucks has commited to at least 25,000 graduates by 2025. Over ten years, Starbucks estimated investment could reach up to $250 million or more. As part of its commitment to ‘redefine the role and responsibility of a public company’, Starbucks developed this program in partnership with Arizona State University (ASU) to create additional ‘pathways to opportunity’ for its staff. Full tuition coverage was previously available to juniors and seniors, but now all eligible part-time or full-time partners can apply for and complete all four years of a bachelor’s degree through ASU’s online degree program. In addition to partners receiving full tuition coverage, the company is offering faster tuition reimbursement – now at the end of each semester. “Everyone deserves a chance at the American dream,” said Howard Schultz, chief executive of Starbucks. “The unfortunate reality is that too many Americans can no longer afford a college degree, particularly disadvantaged young people, and others are saddled with burdensome education debt. By giving our partners access to four years of full tuition coverage, we will provide them a critical tool for lifelong opportunity. We’re stronger as a nation when everyone is afforded a pathway to success.”

Industry News:

Scottish health promotions body raising legal age for buying alcohol to 21: NHS Health Scotland, the Scottish government’s health promotion agency, has proposed increasing the legal age for buying alcohol to 21 to combat binge-drinking. The idea is contained within a report titled “Best Preventive Investments for Scotland – What the Evidence and experts say”. The report argues that to “increase the minimum legal drinking age to 21 would be highly cost-effective as it would both improve people’s health without having to spend much money and reduce demand on the NHS”.

Pret A Manger launches evening service trial: Pret A Manger has introduced a ‘Good Evenings’ trial with wine and beer now on the menu at its flagship site on The Strand, Marketing Week has reported. The menu has several new items including spicy meatballs, chicken and bacon cobb, as well as salt beef sourdough toasties, and will offer alcohol options. There will be a sparkling wine option, three whites and three reds, with all the French wines supplied by Bibendum. There will also be two UK craft beers on offer from London brewer Meantime. The highest priced item (chicken and bacon cobb salad) on the evening menu will be £6.95, and it will also include some of the same day-time items, such as macaroni cheese. Hours of service have changed from 6pm to 11pm.

UK restaurants slip in list of top 100: An annual survey of a wealthy elite to find the world’s top 100 restaurants has seen the number of UK venues dropping by a quarter and every British entry slipping in the rankings. Voters in the Elite Traveler Survey are regular private jet passengers and only one of the eight UK venues nominated, The Fat Duck in Bray, makes the top ten, slipping two places to rank fifth. Individual UK entries fell by an average of 16 places. Four restaurants – Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, Zuma and Nobu in London, plus The Waterside Inn at Bray – fell out of this year’s top 100 list. The accolade of best restaurant in the world went to Chicago’s Alinea – the fourth consecutive year it has topped the poll – and the US overtook France, with 19 restaurants featured to France’s 14. New York produced nine of the top 100, with Eleven Madison Park ranking the highest in fourth place, followed by Paris with eight restaurants and London with five.

McDonald’s trials waiter service in Germany: McDonald’s is trialing table-side service at its biggest restaurant in Germany, in Frankfurt Airport. Diners at the restaurant, which seats more than 500 people and serves more than one million customers a year, can now choose to be served at their table after placing an order either at the front counter, via a digital kiosk or with a waiter carrying a tablet computer. McDonald’s has tested table service in other markets already and touted Germany as the ideal location for its introduction. The company’s new chief executive Steve Easterbrook, speaking at the reopening of the restaurant, said: “This is where McDonald’s is headed.” Germany has been a challenging market for McDonald’s but the company has identified Germany, the US, Japan and Australia as priority markets to roll out a waiter service.

Desert Hero beer to be sold across Wetherspoon estate to raise cash for soldier memorial: Titanic Brewery is to supply Desert Hero beer to the Wetherspoon pub estate in support of a campaign to erect a £1 million memorial in London’s Victoria Embankment Gardens to pay tribute to soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. For every pint sold, 3p will go towards the fundraising appeal for the permanent monument to the Gulf, Iraq and Afghan wars. Titanic Brewery director Keith Bott said: “We spoke with JD Wetherspoon about the beer and everything came together wonderfully. It’s a beer that has only British ingredients and is a really fresh beer, which recognises the heat the soldiers fought in.” Desert Hero is a 4.8% abv ale brewed with all-British ingredients, including Yorkshire malt. JD Wetherspoon chief executive John Hutson added: “We are very pleased to support such a wonderful campaign and to help to raise money for The Iraq/Afghanistan Memorial Project.” The beer will be on sale at Wetherspoon pubs until June.

Company News:

Wrap it Up launches crowdfunding push: Wrap it Up, which was founded in 2006 by Tayub Mushtaq and aims to become the ‘Subway of Wraps’, has launched a crowdfunding push on Crowdcube, aiming to raise £400,000 in return for 6.25% of its equity. The pitch states: “We grew sales by 53% last year across our 11 stores (both owned and franchised) to £3.1m. We want to put a Wrap It Up on every high street as a tasty healthy alternative to the greasy fast food of the past. We are on the threshold of growth for three reasons; we are profitable and ready for rollout; we have a strong pipeline of franchisees ready to take sites; our new central kitchen will be able to support up to 100 stores. We have just passed what we know is the Number One barrier to entering the fast food market – achieving scale. With a head-office now paying for itself and site-level profits of 20%, each new site adds significantly to our profits because the extra cost to our head office for a new site is low.” The company forecasts £5,938,592 of turnover in the year to December 2017 and Ebitda of £780,686. Its exit strategy is via either a trade sale or a stock market listing in circa five years. So far, 81 investors have pledged £150,500 of investment, which is just above 37% of its target since it launched on Thursday. 

Carvery Heaven set to grow to 15 sites, opens first US-themed concept: Carvery Heaven, the East Midlands multiple led by Mike Perry, is to open two more sites, taking its estate to 15, with its first US-themed offer set to open. The Fairway in Keyworth, Nottinghamshire re-opened this week as The Pear Tree following a £250,000 refurbishment in partnership with landlord Star Pubs & Bars. The pub is the 14th site for Carvery Heaven, 11 of which are with Star Pubs & Bars and is the first time Carvery Heaven has ventured into an American-themed food offer. A twelfth Star Pubs & Bars site, The Chequers Inn in Cropwell Bishop, also a few miles from Nottingham, will re-open following a £300,000 investment a month later. The Pear Tree features a dining area offering New York-diner style food such as burgers, ribs and flame-grilled chicken as well as pulled pork steeped in sauces and cooked overnight. Perry said: “As with all our sites with Star Pubs & Bars, it was the location and the look of both pubs that attracted us. Keyworth and Cropwell Bishop are both large sought after villages, commuter belt territory for Nottingham. We took our time with The Pear Tree before we hit on a diner pub offer, which is different from the other pubs in the village and has all the makings of a successful family friendly venue. Having looked at The Chequers we could see similar opportunity to grow the business and so decided to take that on as well and with the benefit of investment and a new fine dining offer will be able to turn it around.”

Brakspear enhances cask offer at flagship Marlow site: Henley-based pub operator Brakspear has enhanced the cask ale offer at its flagship Chequers in Marlow site, which became part of its fledgling managed estate last September following the decision by multi-site operator Tailor Made Dining to leave the site. The Henley-based operator has now re-opened the site featuring new-look alehouse The Churchill Tap, with a beer expert on hand to guide customers through a wide choice of ales. The company has rebranded the former Whisky Bar to create a ‘snug ale house’, separate from the rest of the pub’s interior. The site retains the Butcher’s Block counter, offering steaks cut to size and shape.

Leon reports profit in momentous year: Healthy eating brand Leon has unveiled its first profit since being founded in 2004. The company reported an after-tax profit of £763,750 for the year ended 28 December 2014 compared to a loss of £829,969 the year before. The company grew like-for-like sales in its existing restaurants by 23%. Seven new sites opened in the year, taking the total number of stores to 21. Total sales were up by 51% to £18.9m (FY13: £12.5m). The company opened Kingsway in Holborn after its year-end, with 11 more stores set for 2015. Leon co-founder and chief executive John Vincent said: “2014 was pivotal for us. We stayed focused on the promise of ‘Naturally Fast Food’ and on putting our culture and people first. The 51% increase in sales is just a result of this internal focus. When we started in 2004, people were surprised and intrigued by the idea that great tasting fast food could be ‘good food’. It has now become a mainstream idea. And it is something people want on their high street. Each day we are sent emails from people keen for us to move into their neighbourhood. It is very flattering, and we are doing what we can to grow. We look forward to welcoming more and more guests.”

Lincoln Green Brewing Company to take second Everards’ pub: Nottingham-based Lincoln Green Brewing Company is expanding into its second Everards’ pub in Nottingham, The Sir John Borlase Warren, after it opened the award-winning Robin Hood and Little John in Arnold last August. Brewery founder Anthony Hughes said: “We’ve got some fantastic plans that will bring some of the heritage back to the place. On top of our own range of traditional and seasonal ales, we’re also planning on introducing 44 types of unusual whiskies and gins – for example we will have whiskies from countries like Sweden, India and Japan. People are getting more and more interested in a wide variety of flavours of real ale, cider, whisky and gin. There are now thousands of types and I think that offering that variety to customers will make this pub a really interesting place to go.” It will be the second pub run by Lincoln Green under Everards’ Project William whereby the Leicestershire-based brewer joins forces with smaller brewers to rejuvenate pubs. The Robin Hood and Little John won Nottingham Campaign for Real Ale Pub of the Year and Cider Pub of the Year awards this year. Lincoln Green will take over from the week starting 11 May.

Mitchells & Butlers seeks PR support for evolving Harvester brand: Mitchells & Butlers is seeking a PR agency for its Harvester brand, which sells circa 30 million meals a year, PR Week has reported. There is currently no PR agency working on the brand. PR Week reported that Jo Hudson, of Mitchells & Butlers, who is overseeing the process, stated: “This is a really exciting time for the Harvester brand and we’re looking forward to seeing what creative ideas the PR agencies come up with for our campaigns. We’ll be reviewing the submissions over the next few weeks and will be commencing activity shortly.” M&B is in the mist of evolving the Harvester brand – its recently re-opened Haywards Heath branch now offers milk shakes, smoothies, cask ale, an improved salad station, a separate bread station and an improved limitless soft drinks choice with new flavour options. 

TGI Friday’s to open second Birmingham site this summer: The second Birmingham TGI Friday’s is to open at the NEC’s £200 million Genting Resorts World this summer. The new site is set to be one of the biggest TGI Friday’s in the UK – the brand’s Edgbaston branch was the first to open in the UK back in March 1986. Karen Forrester, chief executive for TGI Friday’s UK, said: “This will be our 67th restaurant opening in the UK – and one of the biggest and best yet. This is a very special opening for us as it is our first new restaurant in this great city since our very first location in the UK way back in March 1986.”

Busaba Eathai to take Cafe Rouge site in Manchester Printworks: Thai chain Busaba Eathai is to open in the former Cafe Rouge site at Manchester The Printworks. Cafe Rouge also closed its original city centre site on Deansgate last month whilst refurbishing its Trafford Centre site with the introduction of new main dishes including confit de canard, traditional boeuf bourguignon, poulet breton, moules and loup de mer, the result of many months of work by executive chef Duncan McEwn aiming to combine Cafe Rouge classics with current French food trends. Busaba Eathai will take over the 7,000 square foot Cafe Rouge space at The Printworks towards the end of the year. The restaurant will be spread over three floors, including a mezzanine, al fresco terrace and private dining room, as well as a Kinnaree Bar serving Thai-inspired cocktails, juices and smoothies. It will be the group’s first UK opening outside London, where it has 12 branches, with the first established in 1999. It also has a branch in Dubai. Chief executive Jason Myers said: “This is a pivotal and extremely exciting time for us as we plan to expand rapidly over the coming years. We have taken our time to grow carefully and sustainably over the past fifteen years, cementing our position as the UK’s leading Thai restaurant group. Now it is time to share our tried and tested food and atmosphere with more of the country, and to create more Busaba ambassadors.”

Center Parcs plans opening in Ireland: Center Parcs is seeking to open a €100m 350-acre site in the middle of the Irish Republic. The site, in the forest at Newcastle Wood, near Ballymahon, County Longford, would have more than 200 lodges and villas, with restaurants and bars, a swimming pool complex and spas. Center Parcs is buying the site from Coillte, the Irish state-owned forestry company, with a planning application already lodged with Longford County Council. The holiday park would have capacity for up to 2,500 guests. Ballymahon is 65 miles from Dublin, and 13 miles from junction 9 of the M6 motorway, which runs between Dublin and Galway. The new Center Parcs site would create 500 jobs, plus a further 600 in the construction stages, according to The Irish Independent. Late last year, Martin Dalby, the group’s chief executive, said expansion in Ireland was on the cards. He said: “Our focus had always been to get Woburn open and get everything settled and we are still in the process of bedding it into the core operation. But the Irish market appears very attractive. We have had some very preliminary discussions around Ireland so I think our attention may well turn to Ireland as we look forward to the future. We’ve had a chat with the tourist board and people like that to see how the land lies.”

YoYo Noodle opens ninth franchise in Southampton: The Chinese noodle bar chain YoYo Noodle has opened its ninth franchised restaurant site, in Above Bar, Southampton. The franchisees are Ross Butler and his wife and business partner Kavita Butler, who have taken a ten-year lease on premises formerly occupied by the Co-op. Filipe Martins, a retail and leisure surveyor at Hughes Ellard, which arranged the letting, said: “YoYo Noodle’s strategic location requirement for a steady footfall of shoppers, workers, students, tourists and leisure visitors was ideally suited to our property. There is increasing vibrancy in the retail and leisure sectors in and around Above Bar, with a destination feel encouraged by the Cultural Quarter development.” YoYo Noodle was founded by Eric Ho and opened its first branch in September 2010 in Nottingham. It now has additional sites in Oldbury and Solihull in the West Midlands, Warrington, Ealing in West London, Newcastle upon Tyne, and Rotherham, with more openings planned in Birmingham, London and Wolverhampton. YoYo Noodle claims to be the fastest growing noodle bar franchise in the UK, with a minimum franchise fee of £50,000.

Wetherspoon in talks for regional depot at Bolton, acquires Welwyn Garden City site: JD Wetherspoon is in discussions with the owner of the Logistics North site by junction 4 of the M61 near Bolton to open a 300,000 sq ft regional distribution centre in the north west of England. The company is expected to sign a deal with Harworth Estates, the owner of Logistics North to buy a 15-acre plot within the next month to six weeks. The company has reportedly spend a year looking for a site for a north west of England distribution base. The planned centre would supply service all of Wetherspoon’s pubs in the north west of England. Meanwhile, JD Wetherspoon has bought a property in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire for a potential pub in the town. The building, at 22 Parkway, was formerly the Maynard Gallery, a popular art venue, and later a clinic for the East Herts Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. It has stood empty for around six months, and was apparently acquired by Wetherspoon last year. The company needs to apply for planning permission and a licence.

Greggs to trial first Northern Ireland shop: Greggs is to trial its first store in Northern Ireland at the end of this month. The bakery chain will open in a motorway service station on the M2, just north of Belfast. It plans to run a 12-month trial at the new store. The outlet will be run by Irish motorway service station chain Applegreen. Greggs chief executive Roger Whiteside first indicated that the chain would expand to Northern Ireland at the company’s Christmas trading update, when he said Greggs was “closer than ever” to opening a bakery in the province. Greggs plans to expand its food range further this year by selling omelettes and breakfast baguettes.

Four microbreweries work together to buy pubs: Four Welsh microbreweries have joined forces to acquire The Old Australia in Porthmadog and The Bridge Inn in Conwy, creating 25 new jobs. The Bragdy Nant, Conwy, Purple Moose and Great Orme breweries, which re-opened The Albion in Conwy in February 2012, have announced that they have taken over The Old Australia pub in Porthmadog and The Bridge Inn in Conwy. Gwynne Thomas of Conwy Brewery said 25 new jobs will be created by the acquisition of the pubs.

Liverpool entrepreneur to double up with landmark acquisition: Liverpool entrepreneur Iain Hoskins is to re-open the landmark Ma Boyles Oyster Bar, opposite the Liver Building, with real ales and home-cooked food. Hoskins previously re-opened Ma Egerton’s in the city. The new acquisition will be re-titled Ma Boyle’s Alehouse and Eatery – dropping the Oyster Bar tag. “People have asked about the oysters,” said Hoskins. “We’ve said we want to get the food and the beer right first. At some point we may bring them back, but it’s about getting the place open first.”

National Waiters Day set for 21 May: The hospitality industry charity Springboard is organising National Waiters Day, to celebrate all front-of-house and service staff, for 21 May this year, with a waiters’ race in Hyde Park, and other events around the country. The event was first set up in 2013 by Fred Sirieix, general manager at Galvin at Windows, at the London Hilton on Park Lane, and last year more than 400 front-of-house and service staff from hotels, restaurants and food service management companies across the UK took part in the race. As well as the race itself, the public will be able to take part in a range of activities that demonstrate “front-of-house” skills showcased by National Waiters Day sponsors and partners.

Nando’s to open first venue in East Lancashire: Nando’s is to open its first venue in East Lancashire, as part of a redevelopment of the Vue cinema complex in Blackburn. The proposals put forward by M and G Real Estates, the owner of the complex, on the Peel Retail and Leisure Park behind the Railway Station, include two new restaurant units as part of nearly 1,800 sq ft of new floorspace. Nando’s will occupy one new unit while the second occupant is at yet unknown. The proposal, which will require planning permission from Blackburn with Darwen Council, fits with the council’s plans to include five new restaurants in the town centre. One will be on the ground floor of the new Premier Inn rising with the rest of the £33m Cathedral Quarter on the other side of the railway station. The Lancashire Telegraph said that the local council’s regeneration team hope that Nando’s decision will encourage its other target restaurant chains, including Bella Italia, Cafe Rouge and PizzaExpress to come to Blackburn as well. Last month, Ed’s Diner opened a branch of its American-style restaurant in the Mall in Blackburn.

Smashburger signs UK deal with Domino’s franchisee: US better burger brand Smashburger has signed a UK franchise deal with Domino’s franchisee MSG Group. The deal involves 35 restaurants being operated by MSG Group, which operates about 100 Domino’s units in the UK. “It’s a huge move for us,” chief executive Scott Crane said. “It’s one of the largest development agreements we’ve done.” It is the brand’s eighth international agreement. In the US, Smashburger sites average between $1 and $1.1m in sales per annum. About six months ago, Smashburger launched online ordering in the US, which allowed customers to order and pay ahead. All units now have designated pick-up areas called “Smash and Dash”.

Bolton restaurant for sale for £550,000: The freehold of the newly refurbished Suzanna’s country pub and restaurant in Little Scotland, Blackrod, Bolton is on the market off an asking price of £550,000 with the agent Fleurets. Ian Taylor from Fleurets Manchester office, said: “Suzanna’s is beautifully presented throughout. The whole property has been re-designed and fully refurbished to the highest standard. This is a lovely business for the right operator. As no further investment is needed, they can fully focus on developing the trade further.”

Truman’s to hold ‘yard parties’ at Hackney Wick brewery: Truman’s is to hold ‘yard parties’ at its brewery in Hackney Wick, East London on the first Friday of every month throughout the summer. The first yard party will launch on Friday 1 May from 5.30pm to 10pm and will be, the company said, a chance to celebrate the success of the brewery since it opened in 2013 under the name of the former brewery in Brick Lane, East London that closed in 1989. James Morgan, Truman’s managing director, said: “We have such a great space here at Hackney Wick that it seems a shame to not share it regularly with the drinking public.” The yard parties will continue on 5 June, 3 July, 7 August and 4 September. Entry will be free and beers will be priced from £3. There will also be barbecues, games including darts and skittles, and brewery tours. The brewery, The Eyrie, is at 2-4 Stour Road, Hackney Wick. 

Greene King signs up 1,000 employees to become Dementia Friends: More than 1,000 employees at Greene King have joined the Alzheimer’s Society’s latest initiative by signing up to become Dementia Friends. The idea behind the initiative is that by becoming a Dementia Friend, people can find out the little things that they can do to help people living with dementia feel understood and included in their communities. Rooney Anand, Greene King’s chief executive, said: “I am thrilled that so many of our employees have got behind the Dementia Friends initiative. Many of our people work in customer-facing roles, so I hope with the knowledge we have gained by becoming Dementia Friends we can give greater understanding and support to our customers that live with the disease.”

Gloucester Services Southbound, with first fishmonger, to open next month: Gloucester Services Southbound on the M5, the sister site to the award-winning northbound services, which opened last year, will be seeing its first drivers calling in next month. The £40m services, which is dedicated to local food, farming and the surrounding community, includes a farmshop stocked with locally produced food, a butchery stocked with Gloucestershire meat and a cafe serving homemade dishes created from locally sourced produce every day. The southbound services, which will open on 19 May, will see the addition of a patisserie and the UK’s first fishmonger on the motorway network. It is owned by the family-run Westmorland, which also operates Westmorland Services at Tebay on the M6. Mark Chamberlain, operations manager at Gloucester Services, said: “It’s a very exciting time for us. We’re thrilled about the additional services we’ll be providing for southbound traffic and our team of staff will have doubled by the time we open our doors on southbound.” The northbound services were recently given five stars by the VisitEngland Motorway Service Area Quality Scheme.

Hotel owners to re-open Manchester’s Taurus Bar: The Taurus Bar on Canal Street, in the heart of Manchester’s gay area, which closed in January, is to be re-opened by Ian Kelly and Edward Breadner, owners of the City Warehouse ApartHotel on Great Ancoats Street in Manchester. The bar, previously run by Iain Scott and Mike Pollard, is currently undergoing a full refurbishment. The refurbished Taurus should open in late April. It will open every day from 10am, offering brunch right through to late evening dining. A downstairs event space will feature local performers, with Taurus hosting events by the Greater Manchester Fringe and Manchester Pride Fringe.

C&C contemplating sale of Gaymers and Blackthorn, says Irish newspaper: C&C Group, owner of Tennent Caledonian brewery in Glasgow and the Magners cider brand in Ireland, is considering selling its English cider operation, which includes Gaymers and Blackthorn, according to an Irish newspaper. In its last financial filing in January C&C admitted it was facing challenges, saying: “In England and Wales, pressure on pricing increased in the off-trade channel, reflecting intensifying competition at both retail and brand owner points in the supply chain. Our cider volume in the quarter was down 9.8%, with net revenue down 18.2%. C&C has, and continues to explore, a range of initiatives within these markets to deliver improved profitability.” Last October C&C sought to buy the pub operator Spirit, in order to gain a foothold in the pub sector and ease its distribution challenges. It was beaten off by a successful counter-offer from Greene King. Now The Irish Times has quoted a major shareholder of the Dublin Based C&C, Third Avenue Management, a New York-based fund manager that bought a stake in the company earlier this year, told clients in a trading update that C&C was working to address its problems in England and Wales, where it suffers from a poor distribution network and heavy competition, and the solutions “could take several shapes, including an acquisition, a partnership or a divestiture of the UK business altogether”. 

Pizza Hut granted permission to convert former Lincoln pub into takeaway: Plans to turn a former Lincoln pub, The Burton Arms on West Parade into a Pizza Hut Delivery franchise have been approved by the city’s planning committee. The change of use from public house to hot food takeaway was approved with conditions: opening and delivery hours will be restricted, with last entry times have been recommended as 11pm, while deliveries will be restricted to midnight Mondays to Saturdays and 11pm on Sundays and bank holidays. In addition, waste collection will be restricted to between 7am and 7pm Monday to Saturday. The pub, which was privately owned, closed in 2013.

Valentina Fine Foods opens flagship site: Valentina Fine Foods, the Italian delicatessen, restaurant, cafe, and enoteca (wine shop) which currently has seven branches in London, Surrey and Kent, is set to open its eighth location in the Shad Thames area of Tower Bridge this month. The newest addition follows a £1 million refurbishment and will be the group’s flagship store and restaurant, with the group planning on further expansion in 2015. Located in the Cardamom building this 6,200 sq ft site will be able to cater to 100 covers. The Tower Bridge location will house a considerably larger wine offering and delicatessen than the other sites and will be the home of the Valentina online business. Valentina Tower Bridge will offer a home and office delivery service and a catering service for private and corporates. The deli range will house over 200 Italian wines and 1,500 products including fresh hams and salami, cheeses and traditional antipasti. Bruno Zoccola said “This is a very big moment in Valentina and we’re hoping to develop a strong base of regular customers from both a residential and business side. All of our other sites have been where the Italians eat and shop and we are hoping that at Tower Bridge guests will feel as though they are experiencing Italy when they walk into our store and restaurant.”

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