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Wed 8th Apr 2015 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Nine out of ten diners want more frequent menu changes: The vast majority of diners – 86% – would like to see more frequent menu changes when they eat out, research by the guest experience management company HospitalityGEM has found. Two thirds of those surveyed by HospitalityGEM said they would expect at least quarterly seasonal menu changes in restaurants and pubs. Independent restaurants are under even more scrutiny, with 50% of diners surveyed expecting multiple changes to the menu every month. This is putting increased pressure on operators of these sites as guests are now expecting a different dining experience on every visit, HospitalityGEM said. However, this does not mean that the menu needs to be completely re-worked every time, as four out of five diners surveyed already know in advance what they are going to order from their chosen eatery, with three in four picking a venue purely for a specific dish on that restaurant’s menu. This clearly demonstrates the pulling power of a site’s hero products, and the value of building a reputation for doing certain favourites consistently well, HospitalityGEM said. Steven Pike, managing director of HospitalityGEM, said: “The frequency that menus need to change has always been a difficult question, weighing up the loyalty of diners to a certain dish against the need to remain on trend with seasonal produce. From this research it is clear that the need to change a menu completely should never be an option, as many guests do come in looking for that one signature dish. The key here is identifying the dishes that shouldn’t change, and training your staff to shout more about the new dishes, as the old favourites will sell themselves.”

Industry News:

US craft brewer increase exports to Europe by more than a third: Craft brewers in the United States increased exports to Europe by 37% last year, with overall sales topping $100m for the first time. Bob Pease, president of the Brewers Association, which represents small, independently owned brewers in the US, said: "The growth is being driven by the beer drinker The American craft beer revolution is not restricted to the US. It's a global phenomenon." More than 80 US craft brewers exported in 2014, increasing their sales to Brazil by 64% over the previous year and to the Asia-Pacific region by 38%, with sales to Canada up by 32%.
Wall Street Journal throws spotlight on Starbucks' European tax affairs: The Wall Street Journal has thrown a spotlight on Starbucks' European tax affairs. The newspaper reported: “Last year, as European Union regulators opened a formal investigation, a profit materialised: €407m (£297m), reported by the company’s European head office in Amsterdam. The coffee chain has since moved its headquarters to London. The reason for the windfall: 502m Swiss francs (£350m) in dividends, transferred from the company’s coffee-buying unit in Switzerland, which has fewer than 40 employees, according to corporate filings. Starbucks has long insisted that its complex European structure, which until recently centred in the Netherlands rather than the UK, by far its biggest market in the region, was not designed to avoid tax. The structure, it said, was built around its Amsterdam-based coffee-roasting house and reflected that city’s rich history with coffee. Even so, the tax advantages are clear: The Amsterdam unit paid just €2.6m in corporate tax on last year’s €407m pretax profit in the Netherlands ,or well under 1%, as part of a deal with the Dutch government that has drawn the attention of EU regulators. All the coffee Starbucks uses world-wide is bought by the company’s Swiss unit, even though the coffee never actually transits through Switzerland. It is then sold to Starbucks operations around the world at a 20% markup, the company’s former chief financial officer, Troy Alstead, told British lawmakers in 2012.”

SA Brain hosts visit from David and Samantha Cameron: Welsh brewer and retailer SA Brain hosted a visit from David Cameron and his wife Samantha yesterday. During the hour’s visit to the Cardiff brewery, the pair met with senior members of the Brain’s management team including chairman John Rhys, chief executive Scott Waddington and finance director Martin Reed. Head brewer Bill Dobson led a tour of the brewery yard. The visit concluded with a demonstration in the brewery’s development kitchen where catering chef, David John and a team of chefs assisted the Prime Minister and his wife in preparing a Brain’s black and stilton pie. Waddington said: “Clearly we are proud to welcome any major party leader to visit our business, and were delighted to host Mr and Mrs Cameron. To have the opportunity to share the passion of one of Wales’ best known businesses with the Prime Minister and to share our focus on developing people and providing exceptional customer experiences was a real honour.” Brain’s, which employs around 2,000 staff across its pubs and coffee estate, recently announced strong annual results with operating profit growing by 113%.

Company News:

Karen Forrester – we’ll have grown TGI Friday’s profits eight-fold in seven years by the end of 2015: TGI Friday’s chief executive, Karen Forrester, has told the Daily Telegraph that the she expects to have grown its UK profits eight-fold in seven years by the end of 2015. She said TGI Friday's turnover is on course to reach £193m in 2015, equating to 2% like-for-like growth. Forrester expects earnings of £30m before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation. “By the end of this year, we will have grown profits eight-fold over the last seven years of the journey,” she said. The company plans six more sites this year in addition to the 66 it has at present. A further ten new restaurants are planned for 2016, meaning the chain will have added 35 sites since 2011. Forrester said staff turnover was about 40% a year, which she said was “industry-defining” in a sector where average turnover was around 90%. She also reported there were 2,000 applicants for the chain's first opening this year, in Leicester.
Brain’s chief re-appointed Welsh commissioner to UK Commission for Employment and Skills:
Scott Waddington, chief executive of the Cardiff-based brewer and pub operator SA Brain, has been reappointed Wales commissioner to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. His re-appointment has been confirmed by the deputy minister for skills and technology, Julie James. Waddington was originally appointed to the post in 2012, on a three-year term. The reappointment is until 2018.The UK Commission for Employment and Skills is a publicly funded, industry-led organisation meant to provide strategic leadership on skills and employment issues. James said: “I am delighted to re-appoint such a highly regarded employer as Scott Waddington to the important role of Wales commissioner to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. This re-appointment will ensure that the Welsh skills agenda and Welsh employers’ needs are recognised across the UK. His reappointment will enable Scott to build on his first term of office to ensure the UKCES reflects Wales’s skills agenda. During the next three years he will be able to continue promoting the need for employer investment in skills. Scott will also play a key role in championing the UKCES’s aim to raise employer ambition and investment in skills.”

BrewDog offers £1,000 site-finding fee: The Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is offering shareholders a £1,000 site-finder’s fee as it looks to expand its bar network. It has issued a target list of cities areas that are of particular interest: Oxford, York, Manchester, Cambridge, St Andrews, Portsmouth, Exeter, Stirling and Plymouth, and Kings Cross, Soho, Camberwell and Brixton in London. The company said: “[We] are particularly keen on Oxford and Cambridge, as well as more sites in London.” BrewDog said that sites should be 2,500 to 5,000 sq ft, with the majority of that space at ground level, while external areas are an added bonus. It said: “Corner units are even better – we do love corner units – but by no means a requirement. In terms of consents, ideally the site would have A4 class use and a premises licence for bar use. These are by no means essential, but existing consents definitely make getting the bar open easier. One other thing to bear in mind is the BrewDog style – we prefer our bars to be off-pitch; so don’t worry if the sites aren’t slap bang in a city centre. We are also keen to look for new sites for potential BottleDogs, following on from King’s Cross and our planned BottleDog Edinburgh. The site specifications for these are a little different – we are after a unit of 500 to 1,000 sq ft, ground-floor preferred, with consent for A1 or A3 class use. For BottleDog, an off-licence in place is a big bonus, obviously.” Meanwhile, BrewDog Leicester will open on Thursday 16 April.
Cafe Rouge hires snail sommelier as it returns to classic French dishes: Casual Dining Group’s Cafe Rouge brand has hired a snail sommelier after lunching a new menu that celebrate classic French dishes. Cafe Rouge has developed two special dishes for its new menu, a taster pot of snails with garlic butter, and ragout d’escargots, snails and mushrooms in a rich sauce with truffle oil and a pastry top. Helen Howard, a former geography teacher, is being given the task of testing the quality of Cafe Rouge's snails. For the past five years, she has run Brogdale Farm, near Faversham, Kent, breeding and raising as many as 50,000 snails at once. As the brand snail sommelier, she is tasked with promoting snails as a delicacy to be eaten. Howard said: "It's great to see Cafe Rouge hero snails on the menu in such an appealing way. Cafe Rouge is providing diners with a chance to be adventurous and tap into the growing snail trend without having to venture too far from home. I really hope more Brits will give snails a go, because they are a fantastic and delicious food with some serious superfood credentials." Snails are said to be low in fat and high in protein, and demand among Britons is growing, with 750,000 snails eaten in the UK last year.

Mitchells & Butlers to re-name last pub on Oxford Street: Mitchells & Butlers is to re-badge The Tottenham, the last pub on Oxford Street in Central London. It will revert to its former name, the Flying Horse. Applications for listed building consent and other documents were lodged with Westminster City Council in March and show proposals for alterations to the facade, ground floor, new pub signs, and a revamped basement area. The pub at 6 Oxford Street, is within the Hanway Conservation Area and is a Grade II listed building. It was called the Flying Horse from at least 1809 until 1894, when it became the Tottenham. In 1841 there were 34 pubs along Oxford Street.
Whitbread set to get go-ahead for £10m Blackpool scheme: Planners look likely to approve proposals for a £10m Whitbread hotel and restaurant in the heart of Blackpool, on the site of a former Yates’s which burned down six years ago. Whitbread revealed last November that it wanted to build a 150-bedroom Premier Inn on the site of the former Yates’s pub in Talbot Square. The scheme will also include a Beefeater pub-restaurant on the ground floor. If it gets planning permission, the new hotel is expected to open in mid to late 2017 and will create around 70 jobs. Councillors are being recommended to approve the application when the town’s planning committee meets on Monday 13 April. The application has been submitted by the Shlomo Memorial Fund, a London-based investment company. The proposals have been slightly revised, with the height of the building reduced by two metres, while the art-deco style clock tower will now feature a wrought iron balcony at first -floor level to create more of a focal point. Planners say the six-storey, three-sided building will be a welcome development on the site, which has been vacant since the Yates’s burned down in February 2009.
Innovation Pub Management adds to estate with opening of Cleethorpes venue: Innovation Pub Management, headed by Paul Weeks, has expanded its North East Lincolnshire estate with the opening of Status Party Rooms in Cleethorpes. The outlet was formerly known as The Dolphin and has been closed since Christmas. The company runs a number of other venues in North East Lincolnshire, including the Bank, the White Hart and Eden in Grimsby town centre. Two of the venue's four rooms are open: the Love Shack, a 1970s to 1990s-themed room; and the Beach Bar, which plays R&B and dance music. The Lounge Bar, which will trade during the daytime, is due to open its doors within the next few weeks. The Loft, an "exclusive nightclub-type" room with table service and a champagne bar, is due to open in May.
Carluccio’s adds Italian craft beer offer: Carluccio’s has added an Italian craft beer offer by stocking beers from Birra Del Borgo in Lazio in all its 88 sites. The beers are the brewery's flagship brew, ReAle, and a golden ale, Cortigiana. ReAle is an IPA with an ABV of 6.4% and what the brewery says are "notes of grapefruit and freshly ground white pepper and a balanced yet bitter finish". Cortigiana at 5% ABV, is "softer with a floral citrus aroma and honey-like malt backbone". Michael Stocks, international operations manager at Carluccio’s, said: “We’re always looking to offer authentic Italian products and introduce new food and drinks to our customers. With the rise of Italian craft beers, we thought now was an ideal time. We chose Birra Del Borgo as one of the pioneers of the Italian craft beer scene and selected two very versatile beers , perfect as an aperitivo, yet with enough structure to pair perfectly with our antipasti dishes or lighter mains.”

Noble Inns opens second Smokehouse site: Noble Inns has opened its second Smokehouse site, in Chiswick, West London on the site of the former Hole in the Wall pub. Noble Inns was founded in 2008 by husband and wife team Scott and Maria Hunter, who were later joined by Simon Holroyd and executive chef Neil Rankin. The chain says the cooking at Smokehouse "celebrates small farms" and the sites have a dedicated smoking shed with an "Ole Hickory pit smoker" and a Robata grill. There is a wide selection of craft beer and ales, an exclusive European wine list, and a whisky list of more than 100 varieties from Scottish and Japanese whisky to American and Irish. The first Smokehouse opened in Islington, North London.
Camra Pub of the Year installs microbrewery, to host fellow brewers: The Campaign for Real Ale's Pub of the Year, the Salutation Inn in Ham, Gloucestershire, owned by first-timers Peter and Claire Tiley, has installed a new microbrewry, and will host guest brewers. The pub said: “We’ve invited our favourite breweries from across the UK to come and brew a special one-off version of one of their flagship beers – just for us! Each brew session will be an open brewery so [customers] can come in, look round, talk to the brewers, ask questions and see them in action. When the beer is ready a few weeks later, they’ll be able to taste it in an exclusive, limited edition, ten-cask run, only at the Sally. The brew sessions will take place throughout the year and breweries lined up (include) Bristol Beer Factory, Arbor Ales, Severn Vale and Siren.”

Bob Mortimer to take over from Rik Mayall as face of Bombardier: The Bedford-based brewer Charles Wells has announced that the comedian Bob Mortimer will star in a new advertising campaign for its flagship beer, Bombardier, which launches later this month. Mortimer, who takes over the role from the late Rik Mayall, will become Bombardier Bedford in the latest adventures of "The regiment" as they bring Bombardier beer to hostelries and homes around the country. Charles Wells' director of brands, Phil Toms, said: “Bob Mortimer enters the fray as Bombardier Bedford following the sad loss of his predecessor and makes an instant impression. I’m thrilled that, in Bob, we have one of the country’s most original comedy talents bringing his own unique comedy to the character and we believe he’ll have a great connection with licensees and drinkers as he leads the charge for a quality pint of Bombardier.” Marketing manager Emily Hudson said: “Our mission is to connect with drinkers through the Bombardier regiment of beers, of which there are now two variants. The hero of this campaign is Bombardier Burning Gold, the next in line in the Bombardier chain of command, and picks up from where our original Bombardier Bedford was lost in battle.”

Wetherspoon plans first Brighton hotel: JD Wetherspoon has submitted a proposal for a fourth-storey bar at its Bright Helm site in Brighton’s West Street. The company has also put in plans to convert flats above the pub into hotel rooms to create the first Wetherspoon hotel in the region. A decision on the plans could be made as early as next month and would represent the second major investment by the firm in the city in a matter of weeks after planning approval for a new pub in London Road. A Wetherspoon spokesman said: “We can confirm that a planning application has been submitted, to add a small hotel and rooftop garden, to the Bright Helm. At this early stage, prior to the outcome of the planning decision and the project still awaiting the landlord’s permission, no further details are available."
700 Punch Taverns pub sign up to free pint promotion: Punch Taverns has teamed up with Carlsberg and Carling on a nationwide promotion giving UK drinkers the chance of a free pint in Punch pubs. Beginning on 27 April and running till midnight on Friday 1 May, the promotion gives pub customers the chance to win a free pint of either Carlsberg or Carling lager, on Punch Taverns. More than 700 eligible pubs have signed up to the free pint promotion via the Punch Taverns Buying Club, with emails being sent to the customer base from 20 April 2015. The promotion will target more than half a million customers across the country, inviting them to claim their free pint via their smart phone. Each pub taking part is allocated 88 pints at the start of the promotion and each time a free pint is redeemed, an automatic counter removes a pint. Once a pub’s allocation of 88 pints has been used, the pub details will disappear from the web. Any pub that redeems just one pint as part of the promotion will be refunded by Punch with a free 11 gallons of Carlsberg or Carling. Stephen Martin, category manager for Punch, said: “We’ve been running a successful free pint promotion around cask ale week for several years now, so we decided to link up with Coors and Carlsberg to deliver a free pint for the huge numbers of drinkers in the UK who enjoy a pint of lager. Our findings show that 70% of licensees who take part in this kind of promotion see new customers coming to the pub, and 50% see those claiming the free pint staying for more drinks. We’re supporting our partners to get more people into their pubs, staying longer and have a massive opportunity with the lager category.”

Street food operators take charge of food at retirement home: A new restaurant and cafe, The Mock Turtle, has been founded by two street food companies and will be based at Queensway Court in Leamington, Warwickshire, an assisted living development for the over-55s. The Jabberwocky, Leamington’s first street food van, will be providing the restaurant with seasonal produce, home-cooked meals and a varied menu of toasties. Another street food trader, the Cake Doctor, will cater for the cafe side of the operation. Flic Luxmoore, from Jabberwocky Streetfood, said: “This is not the kind of food you would normally expect to find in a retirement complex. Instead it’s a whole new way to eat street food and a first for the town. The street food revolution has transformed the way we eat. From festivals to markets to working lunches, this industry has changed mealtimes all over the country. Why can’t it do the same for retirement home food? We want to prove that great ingredients sourced locally and cooked with passion are the best way to anyone’s heart.” The restaurant and cafe, although based in the Queensway Court development, which was recently completed, are open to everyone.
Four brands set for Harlow: Four brands, Prezzo, the US-style diner Tinseltown, which operates 11 sites, Real China and Subway, are due to open at the Harvey Centre in Harlow, Essex in the wake of a £9m refurbishment. The new scheme, named The Terrace, will be made up of a 25,000 sq ft multi-screen Cineworld cinema and six new restaurant units, ranging in size from 2,000 sq ft to 4,000 sq ft. The restaurant fits are due to start soon, with openings taking place from late 2015 and into 2016. The cinema will open in autumn 2016, despite plans originally to open it late last year.

Admiral Taverns hires one of its former licensees to join recruitment team:
Admiral Taverns has hired one of its former licensees to join its recruitment team. The company has appointed the former pub licensee and head chef Tony Moss to its recruitment and training team in Chester, as recruitment coordinator. He will use his previous experience of the pub game to help licensees through the recruitment journey, and to help Admiral identify the right individuals for the right pubs. Suzanne Smith, head of recruitment and people development at Admiral, said: “Tony and his partner were passionate and dedicated licensees at the Griffin Inn [an Admiral tenancy] so the choice to bring him in-house was very straightforward. Tony’s familiarity with our culture and vision will ensure he will make a swift impression.”

Coffee Republic lines up Bedford high street site: Coffee Republic is planning an opening on Bedford High Street. A spokeswoman said: "Coffee Republic strategy is to expand its coffee bars through a franchise model within the UK and globally, offering great tasting coffee and freshly made food on site in every coffee bar. Franchises are joining the company because of the strong international presence and handcrafted coffee." Plans for the new Bedford branch are part of the chain's scheme to double Coffee Republic's UK presence by the end of the year.

Former Apprentice candidate signs deal to open Mexican food offer at Tesco’s: Former Apprentice candidate Tim Stillwell has signed a deal with Tesco to develop Mexican food outlets in the supermarket chain’s stores. Stillwell, who began Burrito Kitchen in a takeaway van at the University of Birmingham before appearing on the BBC television show, is to open two outlets in Tesco stores in London. The first is on Villiers Street, off the Strand in the West End of London, opening this week, and a second opens on Cheapside in the City, next month. Burrito Kitchen opened its first standalone outlet in Birmingham’s Merry Hill shopping centre in July 2013 and continues to operate Burrito Van at Birmingham University. Tesco also opened In Farm We Trust, a concession of a Farringdon-based independent that sells food from British growers, in its Goodge Street store in London earlier this month.
Malmaison plan for Aberdeen city centre takes step forward: Plans to turn a former Aberdeen student union into a Malmaison have taken a step forward. Malmaison and Hotel Du Vin Property Holdings Group have applied for listed building consent to carry out a number of alterations at the Robert Gordon University building on Schoolhill in Aberdeen. David Williams, head of campus development at Robert Gordon University, said: “This is the next step towards the completion of the sale of our Schoolhill buildings which allows us to continue with the development of our Garthdee campus to provide our students with an outstanding educational environment while helping to drive forward the regeneration of Aberdeen’s city centre.” The hotel chain already has a Malmaison on Queens Road in the city.

Shepherd Neame reaches halfway point in biggest refurbishment project ever:
A £2.4m transformation of the Royal Wells Hotel in Tunbridge Wells has reached the halfway point. It is the single largest refurbishment project to date for Shepherd Neame, which bought the Grade II listed 18th century hotel in September 2012. Work began in January 2015, and includes replacing the current restaurant with an orangery, which will be able to accommodate up to 70 people inside, while a courtyard garden being created outside the orangery will have seating for up to 52 people. The Ephraim function room on the ground floor, which has its own bar, is being expanded to cater for parties of up to 120. Four additional en-suite bedrooms are being added to the hotel, taking the total to 27. Sheps' director of retail and tenanted operations, Nigel Bunting, said: “We are really pleased with the progress of the work at the Royal Wells Hotel. Our contractors have just passed the halfway point in the project, and everything is going according to schedule. We are taking care to ensure the hotel’s heritage is preserved, while introducing the latest contemporary facilities, and are confident that it will remain one of the town’s most popular destinations.”
Enterprise Inns applies to convert former lap-dancing club to restaurant: Enterprise Inns has applied to convert a former lap-dancing club in Leeds into a restaurant and bar. Deep Blue, on Wellington Street, opposite Leeds railway station, was one of three so-called sexual entertainment venues which were forced to close after having new licences refused by Leeds City Council in 2013. The move, which also affected Red Leopard and Wildcats on The Headrow, came after council officials introduced a new policy capping the number of strip clubs in the city centre at four. A subsequent judicial review brought by the clubs’ owners in 2014 failed. The three-storey Wellington Street building has been empty since Deep Blue shut and has fallen into disrepair. Now Enterprise has applied to bring it back into use. It says it wants permission to use the site as a restaurant with a bar, but does not propose to make any major changes to the building for the time being.
Restaurant operators partner Marston’s to re-open site: A trio of entrepreneurs has partnered Marston’s to re-open the Ley Inn, in Clayton-le-Woods, near Chorley, Lancashire, as Barton’s, creating 21 jobs. Nick White, Peter Milnes and Brian Leyland, who are partners in Dante’s Halfway House, a company that also operates the Mediterranean restaurant Dante’s in Clayton-le-Woods and the Cavendish Arms in nearby Brindle, have joined with Marston’s to invest a total of £400,000 in the pub, which has seen the derelict function room brought back to life and the creation of a new 60-seat restaurant as well as a bar area. White said: “We always had one eye on the pub because one of the team, Peter Milnes, had previously run it for 25 years and Barton’s is complementary to our other venues in the area. The Barton’s menu brings back some old favourites from the 1970s. There are dishes like Dover Sole and Steak Diane that we are flambéing at diners’ tables. Lloyds Bank had full faith in our plan for the business from the start and has given excellent support in getting the project up and running.”
Roosting bats delay opening of new Midsomer Norton Wetherspoon: The discovery of roosting bats in the disused cinema in Midsomer Norton, Somerset that JD Wetherspoon wants to convert into a pub has delayed the new venue's opening for at least two months. Company secretary Nigel Connor told the Somerset Guardian that a survey discovered a "very healthy population of bats" that have taken up home in the building, which has stood empty for more than 20 years, with at least four bat roost locations within the site, in the auditorium, projection room, and storage barn. Connor said Wetherspoon had been hoping to gain planning permission in time for an opening in July but now has to allow more time for further surveys and mitigation work to be carried out, which will push the date back to September. Lucy Corner, an ecologist for Bath and North East Somerset Council, said a European Protected Species licence will be required before any works proceeding that would affect any roost or potential roost location and that further surveys still need to be carried out to establish what needs to be done to encourage the protected species to find new homes away from the derelict building.

US casual dining chains open up drinks menus to local microbreweries: Casual dining chains in the United States are increasingly opening up their drinks menus to local microbreweries in an attempt to capture Millennial diners. The Smokey Bones Bar and Fire Grill chain, for example, which has 65 outlets, has a different "carefully curated" beer menu, featuring local craft beers, at each of its locations. Mike Herchuck, manager of beverage for the chain, told Restaurant Hospitality magazine: “We have over 40 beers, including 20 American craft brews." The Your Pie pizza chain, based in Georgia, teams up with local craft brewer, putting their beers on tap in its outlets, while its Savannah franchisees distribute a monthly newsletter about craft beer trends and what beers are new in different markets. Buffalo Wild Wings, the casual dining and sports bar operation, now has its own exclusive craft beer, Game Changer American Pale Ale, brewed by the Redhook Brewery of Seattle, and has hosted tap takeovers at is restaurants by other craft brewer such as Deschutes and Bell's. The Yard House chain, which is owned by Darden Restaurants, has more than 100 beers on its menu at its 40 or so outlets, including the "Chalkboard beer series", a rotating selection of "unique and complex" beers from local, US and imported brewers. The Tony Roma's chain's new restaurant concept, TR Fire Grill, which currently has two outlets in Florida, has seven beers on draught, all of them from craft brewers, and another 22 in bottle, again all craft. The concept is “trying to grab those millennial diners who are looking for a more unique restaurant experience,” the company said.
Cinema and restaurants scheme passed in Ely: A scheme that would see two drive-through restaurants and up to eight other food outlets, plus a multiple-screen cinema, have been backed by the planning committee in Ely, Cambridgeshire. Negotiations are taking place with McDonald's and KFC over the drive-through venues, councillors were told. The developer, Turnstone, said that 280 jobs could be created as part of the development, in Downham Road, next to the Ely Outdoor Sports Association, with the cinema potentially open by the summer of 2016. Because of the scale of the plans, the final say still rests with the Secretary of State, who will decide whether the plans should be called in for further scrutiny.

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