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Fri 10th Apr 2015 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Indian burrito brand Wrapchic eyes international growth: Wrapchic, the Indian burrito brand founded in 2012 by Mahesh Raikar, is eyeing international growth after opening a 12,000 square foot production centre and proving its franchise model at seven sites. Raikar, who has 18 years of food industry experience behind him, including a senior role in a Fortune 500 company, worked on the brand for over two years before opening the first Wrapchic in Birmingham City Centre. Wrapchic is a healthy fast-food outlet that combines Indian food with the convenience of the Mexican wrap. Raikar said: “We are a business built on wowing our customers, combining heritage alongside invention and a simple and precise business methodology. The idea behind Wrapchic was simple – people all over the world love Indian food, yet there was no way for people to enjoy it with the informality of a lunchtime sandwich. We see ourselves as a new trend in the fast-food market, our success since day one shows the massive demand for the product, there really isn’t anything else like us around.” Franchises sites have opened in Leicester, Coventry, Roehampton, Middlesex and Derby. Wrapchic is currently looking for more UK franchisees, and plans are in place to expand internationally. All Wrapchic’s products are freshly made at a central production unit by sub continent chefs and delivered to sites. The company has just opened a new 12,000 square feet central production unit with the capacity to supply 100 Wrapchic outlets. Wrapchic franchisees have three different business models to choose from: Wrapchic K – a kiosk outlet providing Indian burritos on the go; Wrapchic Eat – a small diner giving customers the option to either sit down and eat or carry out and Wrapchic Premier – a large diner where customers can sit down and enjoy the full Wrapchic restaurant experience.

Industry News:

Conservatives – 15 million workers to get three days’ paid volunteering leave each year: 50% of the UK workforce would be given three days’ paid leave each year for volunteering work, under Conservative plans set to be unveiled today, The Daily Telegraph has reported. Every public sector worker and anyone working in a company with at least 250 employees – more than 15 million people in total – would be entitled to the volunteering leave, David Cameron is expected to announce today. The Telegraph reports that the prime minister will say the pledge is the “clearest demonstration of the Big Society in action”. Workers could use the paid leave to carry out charity work or other activities such as serving as a school governor, under the plans, which would create up to an extra 360 million volunteering hours. David Cameron told the newspaper: “This election is about building a better future for our children and grandchildren. The foundation stone of that better future is our economic security. But Conservatives know the society we build on top of that is just as important too. That’s why today’s announcement is a double win. It’s good for our economy, as it will help create a better, more motivated workforce. And it’s good for our society too, as it will strengthen communities and the bonds between us.”

Starbucks moves to share research findings to create sustainable coffee sector: Starbucks Coffee Company yesterday unveiled what it said were "critical advancements in research and transparency benefiting the entire specialty coffee industry" as part of the evolution of its ethical sourcing programme and support for the sustainability of the speciality coffee industry. The company said it would make a decade of agronomy research available for commercialisation in collaboration with the Costa Rican Coffee Institute. This research, combined with Starbucks' blueprint for transparent and sustainable sourcing, benefits more than a million farmers and workers around the world, the company said. By sharing this work with the industry, Starbucks said, it would broaden its impact on the 25 million people across the globe who rely on coffee for their livelihoods. Craig Russell, executive vice-president of global coffee for Starbucks, said: "Reaching our ethical sourcing milestone shows that it can be done and coupling this with our research advancements, we believe we are defining a sustainable way forward for our industry. We have been committed to farmers for over 40 years and will continue to find ways to bring social, environmental and economic advancements to them so that we can ensure that there is a future for farmers and our industry.” 
 
Pick of Manchester’s Street food vendors chosen for Spinningfields spot: Six of Manchester’s best-known street food traders are setting up shop at a new casual dining destination coming to Spinningfields. Bangers and Bacon, Chaat Cart, Hip Hop Chip Shop, Mumma Schnitzel, Wholesome and Raw and Yakumama will take up residence at the Kitchens in Irwell Square, Leftbank, next month. The vendors were chosen from hundreds of start-ups that entered a competition to win a space in the building. Now they will spend the next year competing to win their own fully-fledged cafe space in Spinningfields as well as backing, mentoring and investment from the site’s owner and developer, Allied London. Allied London's chief executive, Michael Ingall ,said: “The Kitchens is a truly collaborative environment, a new concept to the city, featuring communal indoor and outdoor seating areas, world-class interiors and, most important, finalists cooking out of their kitchens, serving straight from the pass to the diner. Spinningfields is entering into a new generation of international development, with its food and drink offering alone fast becoming globally recognised. The Kitchens will form the backbone of our new neighbourhood, Leftbank, encapsulating its new, dynamic and forward thinking environment. We’ve seen how successful independent operators can be in Spinningfields, and with the right concept and delivery, these vendors could have a bright future on the estate.” The Kitchens opens on 21 May.

Company News:

Sticks ’n’ Sushi reports UK profitability in line with Copenhagen: Sticks ’n’ Sushi, the Danish brand that has 11 sites in Copenhagen and plan to open its fourth London site in Canary Wharf on 1 May, has reported that UK profitability is in line with its Copenhagen sites, where it achieves very high profits thanks to the integration of a takeaway business that accounts for 45% of turnover. Andreas Karlsson, who has become managing director of Sticks ’n’ Sushi in the UK, told Propel that the company aims to open a couple of restaurants a year in the UK after proving the brand works in London despite “astronomical rents and tougher competition”. Its high profile 150-seat Covent Garden site, which opened 18 months ago, is exceeding its budget. Karlsson said: “There was a relatively slow start in the first two to three months but not it’s hard to get a seat there on the big nights.” The company has also managed to build takeaway at its original London site in Wimbledon to about 10% of turnover, although it does not expect the level to ever match Copenhagen levels. The next opening in Canary Wharf will be its biggest site so far, with 200 covers, and take UK staff numbers to around 200.

Deadline of 30 April set for offers on Maclay Group pubs: A deadline of 30 April has been set for offers on the 15 pubs owned by Maclay Group, which went into administration earlier this year. So far, more than 50 expressions of interest have been received or the portfolio or parts of it, which consists of 13 freehold sites and two leaseholds. The administrator, Ernst & Young, has reported that administration occurred after an unpaid liability of around £600,000 in VAT accrued, creating a unexpected funding requirement of around £630,000 in the short term, rising to around £1.2m in the medium term. The company’s overdraft facility was £500,000. The total arrears due to HMRC are estimated to be around £1.9m.

Luminar signs deal with Glee Clubs as it aims to have 20 venues hosting comedy club nights: The nightclub company Luminar Group has signed with a deal with the Glee Clubs group of comedy clubs which should see 20 Luminar venues hosting comedy clubs by the end of the year. The Glee Clubs, which has more than 20 years’ experience running comedy clubs in Birmingham, Nottingham, Cardiff and Oxford, will open new ventures with Luminar in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent on Saturday 30 May, and Coventry Saturday 26 September. The Glee Clubs' arrival in Stoke marks the brand’s first new opening in five years, and re-opens the JJ’s venue in the basement of the Theatre Royal, the rest of which Luminar operates as Fiction. Mark Tughan, The Glee Clubs' founder, said: "As soon as we were shown the venue, we knew we had lots to offer Hanley. These venues are built for entertainment and we can’t wait to bring some big laughs and top comics to town.” Luminar’s head of procurement, Philip Cooke, said: “It’s a delight to be working with one of the pioneers of live comedy, with 18 awards for best comedy venue to its name. This is a great addition to our entertainment repertoire. Our clubs are ideal venues to host comedy and we’re looking forward to the opening night with great anticipation. Glee has a fantastic reputation for hosting the best comedy talent on the circuit and creating an atmosphere that is loved by both comics and audiences. We know we’ll be delivering some unforgettable nights of first-class entertainment in Hanley.”
 
Multi-million brewery project at Hall & Woodhouse nears completion: A £3.8m project to modernise Hall and Woodhouse’s Blandford brewery in Dorset is almost finished. The work by Greendale Construction of Poole has involved the demolition and rebuilding of the main packaging hall, an extension to the tank farm and a new weather canopy added to the loading area. Greendale's project manager, Scott Sykes, said: “The project at the brewery is essentially complete, although we are still here attending to variation works that have been added to the contract, namely an additional loading dock and ramp at the northern part of the site. The office and welfare areas were offered and accepted three weeks ago and the brewery staff have now occupied these areas and have full use of the facilities within.” Blandford Brewery’s new premises and bottling plant are adjacent to the original buildings in Blandford St Mary, which have been a part of the town for 115 years.

Nando’s to add two sites to Merseyside estate: Nando’s is to add two new sites to its six-strong Merseyside estate in the coming weeks.. Merseyside currently has branches of Nando’s, in Queens Square, Liverpool One, Widnes, St Helens, Southport and Ellesmere Port. The chain will open in Aintree Shopping Park in Aintree on 29 April, and at the Croft Retail and Leisure Park in Bromborough on 20 May.

Gordon Ramsay set to open third Maze in May: Gordon Ramsay Group will open a third Maze Grill in Chelsea, West London at 79 Royal Hospital Road, originally the site of Ramsay’s Foxtrot Oscar restaurant, this May. Stuart Gillies, managing director of the Gordon Ramsay Group, said: “Following on from Maze Grill Park Walk, set to open on 22 April, we are delighted to be re-opening in Chelsea. Our flagship Maze Grill in Mayfair continues to thrive and we are now growing the brand by extending into cosmopolitan neighbourhood locations. The Royal Hospital Road and Park Walk restaurants will offer casual, informal all-day dining and we will look at other locations for this already proven format.” Maze Grill Chelsea will be the 14th UK restaurant opening for the Gordon Ramsay Group.
 
Former PizzaExpress head chef to open Italian restaurant: A former PizzaExpress head chef, Paul Piddington, who already operates the Frog and Moose in Ackworth, West Yorkshire, is to open a Mediterranean restaurant called Oregano on the site after "substantial" investment. He said: "We have worked long and hard to create the perfect balance of good food, atmosphere and value for money. Ackworth is a vibrant place to live and we want to give local people an option which goes beyond the typical pub grub. Oregano is a restaurant in a pub setting, quite an unusual concept. It was important to us that we had a theatre-style kitchen so that people can see us prepare the dishes and the stone-baked pizza oven is a great addition to the purpose built kitchen.” The Frog and Moose recently underwent a £300,000 refurbishment to include structural repairs, refit and entire redecoration plus fixtures and fittings throughout.

Burger King ranked worst restaurant in Somerset to close: A Burger King restaurant ranked the worst restaurant in Somerset is set to close. The outlet, based in Clarks Factory Village, Street, was rated 1,814 out of 1,814 still-open restaurants in Somerset on the TripAdvisor website. Managers at the outlet centre have since announced the closure of the Burger King franchise operated by FAB Group. Geoffrey Nidd, centre manager at Clarks Village, said the reason for closure was unresolvable financial difficulties on the part of the franchisee. “We are sorry to see the Burger King brand go as it was very popular with our younger customers,” he said.

Starbucks franchisee opens chain's first drive-through in Scotland: A Starbucks franchisee has opened the company’s first drive-through in Scotland. The new outlet, based at the Phoenix Retail Park, Dumbarton, where the Hillman Imp factory, home to Scotland’s last car manufacturer, closed in 1981, will be operated by , OCO Westend, Starbucks’ first franchise partner in the region. OCO Westend, led by a former Franchisee of the Year at Pizza Hut, JJ O’Hara, plans to open a further store in East Kilbride later in the year. O'Hara said: “Since coming on board as one of Starbucks' first franchise partners, maintaining and enhancing the Starbucks brand experience has been very important to us. It’s particularly exciting to open the first drive-through in Scotland in a town with such strong roots in the British motor industry. It’s great to be a part of the ongoing regeneration and job creation in Linwood and the surrounding areas.”
 
Toby Carvery site due to re-open today after norovirus outbreak: A Toby Carvery site that shut earlier this week after a suspected norovirus outbreak is due to re-open today (Friday, 10 April). Dozens of people have claimed to have visited Toby Carvery at the Exeter Arms in Rydon Lane, Middlemoor, Whitchurch, Devon between Monday 30 March and Easter Sunday, 5 April, and since become ill with sickness and diarrhoea for several days. A spokesperson for the restaurant chain said that environmental health officials had confirmed the presence of the virus in the venue. Several members of staff were also affected and they have been advised to stay away from work until they have been symptom-free for 48 hours, in accordance with the company's return-to-work policy. After a second visit from an environmental health officer, the pub and the adjoining hotel closed on Tuesday, 7 April, for a "specialist clean".
 
Hambledon Vineyard see strong response to 'English fizz' mini-bond: The sparkling wine producer Hambledon Vineyard in Hampshire has seen a strong response to the “English fizz mini-bond” on the crowdfunding website Crowdbnk in the three weeks since it launched. The vineyard is looking to raise £2.75m by offering an 8% cash return plus rewards on a five-year term, with a minimum investment of £1,600. So far, a total of £1,586,000 has been raised, with 53 days to go. The rewards for investors include a half-case of Hambledon Classic Cuvee every year. The funds will be used to allow the company to expand to reach a sales target of 200,000 bottles within five years. Investors have the option to convert the bond to shares when it matures.
 
Barr Constructions wins £5m BrewDog expansion contract: Barr Construction has won a £5m contract to expand the headquarters of the brewer and bar operator BrewDog in Aberdeenshire. The contract includes a new 300-hectolitre brew house, which will be added to the existing Ellon facility. Barr will also be responsible for installing 20 new tanks and building a three-storey office at the site. The Paisley-based construction firm said work was due to start on the new brew house later this month. BrewDog, which was founded eight years ago in Fraserburgh by James Watt and Martin Dickie, is undergoing major expansion to meet growing demand for its products.
 
Wetherby Whaler chain reports profit boost: Wetherby Whaler, the trading name of the five-strong Yorkshire fish and chip shop chain operated by Better Fish, has reported a profit boost. The company saw turnover rise 3.6% to £7,936,000 in the year to 31 October 2014 (2013: £7,663,000). Profit before tax climbed to £856,000 from £618,000 the year before. A dividend of £592,000 was paid, up from £300,000 the year before
 
Hakkasan wins influential poll’s vote for best nightclub in the US: The Hakkasan nightclub at MGM Grand in Las Vegas has topped the poll published by the highly respected nightlife publication DJ Mag as the No 1 nightspot in the United States, based on public voting. Hakkasan also jumped from the No 10 spot on the Best Nightclub in the World rankings to No 3. Green Valley Club from Brazil was No 1 and the 25-year-old Space Ibiza in Spain was No 2. Nick McCabe, president of Hakkasan Group, said: “Two years ago, we opened the doors of a nightlife venue that would attract attention from all over the globe, and the feedback from our guests is truly a testament to the strength of our product. Hakkasan Las Vegas was our first venture into nightlife with this brand, and it means the world to us that guests who enter our doors leave with an experience that they will never forget.”

KFC branches out into chicken and rice bowls in US: KFC has launched a new line of chicken and rice bowls in the United States that it hopes will attract Millennial customers. The bowls come in two flavours: Sweet ’n' Spicy BBQ and hand-pulled honey barbecue chicken. They come topped with cheese and ranch sauce. One of the rival chain Chipotle's main menu item is a burrito bowl which comes with rice, beans, protein, salsa, sour cream, and cheese. Ariel Olivo, marketing brand manager at KFC, told USA Today: "We want Millennials to know that we're not just buckets of chicken." KFC has lost share to Chick-fil-A and other fast-casual restaurants in the US. In 1999, KFC controlled 40% of the market, while Chick-fil-A had just 9%. Today, Chick-fil-A is the "category leader", with a 26% share, against KFC's 22%.

Tokyo Industries tenant admits VAT fraud: A businessman who sub-let a site from nightclub and bar operator Tokyo Industries attempted to cheat the VAT man out of almost £5,000, a court has been told. Christopher James Baird, 39, of Leymoor Road, Golcar, West Yorkshire, ran the Zetland in Huddersfield. Baird admitted five charges of producing false invoices for his VAT return between August 2013 and March 2014 when he appeared before Kirklees magistrates. He rented the premises from Tokyo Industries through his firm Zetland Huddersfield. Vanessa Jones, for the prosecution, said Baird produced false documents which would have defrauded HMRC out of £4,679 if it had gone through. The return did not go through as “suspicions were aroused.” Two invoices were for rent, another for fixtures and fittings, a fourth for valuation of fixtures and fittings and another for bar installation by a joiner called Matthew Harty.
 
UCC Coffee invests £2.5m in Dartford roastery: The coffee supplier UCC Coffee UK & Ireland has announced an investment of £2.5m in its coffee roastery in Dartford, Kent. The changes, which went live on 1 April, increases its roasting capacity by 50% to 12,000 tonnes of coffee a year, cementing its position as the UK’s largest roaster of coffee by volume. Elaine Higginson, managing director of UCC Coffee UK & Ireland, said: “The coffee market continues to develop at an astonishingly quick pace. With this, our customers in both retail and out-of-home are experiencing higher demand for excellent coffee than ever before. This investment in Dartford has significantly increased our roasting capacity and future-proofed our business, so we can fulfil higher volumes for our customers for years to come."

Brains to convert Irish pub to craft beer pub: The Cardiff-based brewer and retailer SA Brain is to convert Kitty Flynn's, originally built in 1830 as part of the Old Brewery in Cardiff, to a craft beer pub called the Cambrian Tap. The name is a reference to its original title, the Cambrian Hotel. When it reopens it will stock a large range of Brains' craft beers, plus rotating guest beers on tap. Danny Champken, brand executive at Brains, said: “The craft beer scene in Cardiff is thriving, and we’re so pleased to play an active part in that with the exciting range of limited edition craft beers we brew through Brains Craft Brewery. The Cambrian Tap will showcase these brews, as well as other craft beers from across the UK and the world, to cater to the growing demand from Cardiff’s ale fanatics. We have chosen this location at the heart of the city centre as the former site of the ‘brewery tap’, alongside the original Brains brewery.”

Stonegate’s Yates’s brand launches new menu: Stonegate Pub Company’s Yates’s brand launched a new summer menu yesterday. The menu sees buttermilk chicken and waffles with maple syrup joining the breakfast menu alongside The Cowboy – barbecue baked beans, bacon, chorizo and a fried egg. New dishes on the main course menu are the buffalo chicken burger and the great balls of fire burger, which is served with extra-hot piri piri sauce and a red chilli. A new dish on the barbecue range is the BBQ chicken feast , buttermilk chicken goujons, chicken wings, chicken and chorizo skewers and pulled chicken served with coleslaw, garlic bread slices and a barbecue sauce. A salted caramel chocolate slice has been added to the dessert range as well as a chocolate heaven party sundae, made up of ice cream, profiteroles, rocky road pieces and caramel-covered chocolate topped with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Alan Armstrong, the chain's head of marketing, said: “There really is something for everyone, from our brand new low-sugar cocktails, which have never been done before, to our innovative brunch cocktails and alcoholic shakes, as well a great range of new craft beers.”

Craft Beer Co serves 15,000 pints in biggest beer festival: The Craft Beer Co in Clapham, South West London hosted what it claimed was the UK’s biggest pub beer festival over the Easter weekend, with more than 15,000 pints bein drunk. The "Craft 100" festival ran from 2 to 5 April and showcased 100 beers from breweries across the UK, with a number being brewed specially for the event. Craft Beer Co's founder, Martin Hayes, said: “This was the third time we’ve run the festival and we knew that the line-up or beers, including some of the very best breweries from the UK and beyond, would mean it would be popular, but it turned out to be an extraordinary weekend. For most of the weekend we were operating a ‘one-in-one-out’ policy and we sold more than 15,000 pints. We usually have a debrief after each event where I ask the team what we could do better – this year I expect them to say, ‘Get a bigger pub.’"

North East of England sees explosion of micropubs: The North East of England has seen an explosion of micropubs in the past two years with nine opening and another on the way. The tenth site will see a micropub in a railway arch behind Newcastle’s Central Station. David Cook, 52, owner of the Curfew on Bridge Street in Berwick, Northumberland, which held its annual festival this weekend, serving up to 40 beers and ciders, said: “We took inspiration from the Rat Race on the railway station in Hartlepool, which was one of the first micropubs in the region. I liked what they were doing, in stripping things back to basics, with quality ale and no music or TV. Now we’ve not yet been open a year, but people have really embraced what we’re doing. We want it to be like pubs used to be.”

Cote lines up Haywards Heath openi
ng: Cote is eyeing an opening in Haywards Heath, Sussex. and has submitted a licence application to the local council. The company has applied to Mid Sussex Council for a premises licence for 59-61 The Broadway, Haywards Heath. The application form for the licence says: “The premises will be a stylish French bistro. It is a food-based operation offering high quality food and wines. The premises are part of the Cote chain of restaurants, who have a number of sites in London and the surrounding areas.”

Brunning & Price reopens White Hart in Chobham: Brunning & Price, the gastro-pub division of the Restaurant Group, has reopened a former Blubeckers, the White Hart in Chobham, Surrey, after a ten-week refurbishment. The pub now has log fires in the bar, and a new open wine cellar, as well as a new menu that showcases “proper foodie credentials”, including 10oz rump steak with horseradish butter, wild mushrooms, tomato and chips (£17.95), braised shoulder of lamb with dauphinoise potatoes, garden vegetables and rosemary gravy (£16.95) and pan-fried seabass with tagliatelle, garlic spinach, baby leeks and mussels and saffron sauce (£15.95).

Manchester’s second five-star hotel opens: Manchester’s second five-star hotel, Hotel Gotham, has opened on King Street. Its design is inspired by the Art Deco heritage of the building, which first opened 80 years ago. The hotel, set out over seven floors, includes the Honey restaurant open for public bookings on the sixth floor, and a private members bar, Club Brass, on the top floor with views across the city. There are 60 bedrooms, all individually designed, with opening prices to start from £150, up to £1,000 a night for the Gotham Suites and “Inner Sanctum Suites” at the core of the hotel. Manchester's other five-star hotel is the Radisson Blu Edwardian on Peter Street. The Lowry Hotel on the banks of the River Irwell is Salford's only five-star hotel.

Taco Bell plans delivery trial in US: Taco Bell is planning to test a delivery service in the United States this year. The company will also roll out a new loyalty programme that will be designed to give what it called "deeper digital engagement with the brand’s passionate fans". It will also open new units in shipping containers, restaurants with open kitchens, and units with a smaller footprint designed for urban locations. The new restaurants and packaging will be more environmentally friendly, and the chain is also looking at ways to become more transparent about food, including a possible switch to meat raised without antibiotics or hormones.

Pub that closed after arrival of Wetherspoon reopens as restaurant: A pub that closed after the arrival of a JD Wetherspoon outlet is being reopened by its owner as a restaurant. Bar Leo in Broughty Ferry, Dundee, closed in December, nine months after Wetherspoon opened Jolly's Hotel in the town. Now Bar Leo's owner, Andrew Hendry, is reopening the venue as an Italian-themed bar and bistro called De Niros, after a £150,000 revamp. Hendry told the Evening Telegraph newspaper that the arrival of Wetherspoon in Broughty Ferry had forced other businesses to try to raise their game to compete with the chain’s alcohol and food prices. He said: "I think that since Jolly’s Hotel has come to the Ferry, it has forced local publicans to raise the bar and meet their challenge or beat it. This, in part, motivated the refurbishment because we are able to do things better than they can. With changes to things like drink-driving and the smoking ban, people go more for a drink on a night out rather than every night or during the day. Soon, I think that there will be very few places that sell only drinks and pubs are going to have to get more and more inventive about how they attract customers." Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon told the Telegraph: “The Wetherspoon pub and hotel in Broughty Ferry has been a success and, as well as being busy, we believe it has also brought in more visitors to the town. When a new pub opens there is further competition, however, we believe this is a good thing, especially for customers.”

Whitbread eyes 80-bedroom expansion to Scarborough Premier Inn to meet demand: Whitbread is looking at an 80-bedroom expansion to its Premier Inn site in Scarborough to meet demand. The old Scarborough Constitutional Club has been purchased by Crown Properties and could become an extension to the Premier Inn, which backs onto the building from Vernon Road. The extension, which would involve a disused warehouse being demolished to create a link between a hotel and the club, will add around 80 hotel rooms. A planning statement said: “The existing Premier Inn has been a great success for the company and is well thought of in the town. It has occupancy figures often as high as 92% and consistently 85%. Whitbread’s ‘turnaway’ figures, for customers who wish to come to Scarborough but cannot be accommodated, justify a further investment of 80 bedrooms."
 
Horse-drawn Michelin-starred pop-up to feature at Royal Ascot: A horse-drawn Michelin-starred pop-up is to appear at Royal Ascot this year. Michelin-starred chefs Michael Caines and Phil Howard have joined forces and will each be cooking a course for two lucky diners who will win the experience through a competition. Caines said: “As an experienced chef, I am used to cooking food under pressure and have worked in some challenging culinary environments. However, I have to say this is probably the most unusual restaurant I will have ever helped to prepare food for.” Howard added: “Hosting a restaurant at Ascot is both an enormous privilege, but also represents an exciting challenge in terms of delivering a high quality dining experience that fits around the racing. Similarly, creating dishes of an exceptional standard that can be served in a genuinely horse-drawn restaurant has been fun and far from straightforward. I hope that whoever wins will appreciate the craft and care that has gone into designing the experience.”

Street food event returns to Cardiff: Street Food Cardiff is return this summer with a new pop-up event called Street Food Circus. Those taking part include as Hokkei, the Asian food offer spearheaded by MasterChef finalists Larkin Cen and Dale Williams, the curry house Purple Poppadom, the buttermilk-fried chicken vendor Dirtybird, Hangfire Smokehouse and the British Street Food trophy recipient Pembroke Beach Food Company. The event, described as "a movable feast of artisan food traders, vintage trailers and chefs", will be based throughout May and June in the old stable directly behind the John Street HQ of NoFit State Circus, the urban big-top troupe.
 
Scotland's first micropub to open in Borders: Planning permission has been granted for the first micropub in Scotland, in Kelso in the Scottish Borders. The pub, to be called The Rutherfords, after its owners, Simon and Debbie Rutherford, will open its doors next month in a former knitwear shop at 38 The Square, providing it gains licensing approval at a hearing next week. Simon Rutherford told the Southern Reporter newspaper that the couple were inspired by visits to micropubs in Berwick and Sheffield. “We’d been looking for a premises for some time,” he said. The Rutherfords will be offering locally sourced charcuterie, cheeses and pies, as well as local quality ales from microbreweries including the Born in the Borders Brewery, the new name for the Scottish Borders Brewery in Jedburgh, Scottish craft gins and whiskies.

US restaurants poised for growth: Restaurant businesses in the United States have spent the post-recession years shoring up their balance sheets and are now ready to grow, as consumers appear more willing to spend, according to the 2015 State of the Restaurant Industry report from the consulting firm AlixPartners, Nation’s Restaurant News has reported. Industry distress levels are near all-time lows, because of efforts by companies to reduce debt levels after the credit crisis of 2008. Now, with sales improving, the industry has shifted into growth mode. According to the study, dining frequency has increased by 16% over the past year. Consumers appeared to shift their dining preferences from quick service and casual dining to convenience stores, grocery stores and fast-casual restaurants. Fewer consumers are dining out on a deal. According to AlixPartners, 36% of consumers said coupons and discounts were important to their dining decisions, a decrease from 60% in 2012.

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