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Mon 20th Apr 2015 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

G&D Ventures buys Animal Inns sites: G&D Ventures, which is the vehicle of business partners Gregory Adjemian and Daniel Smith and operates the Bib Gourmand-recognised Ingham Swan, near Stalham, Norfolk, has bought independent restaurant group Animal Inns in a deal that will see it take control of The Wildebeest Arms at Stoke Holy Cross, and The Mad Moose on Warwick Street, Norwich. Adjemian said: “We have a solid and achievable plan to grow significantly our business. We’re committed to investing in Norfolk (and) we’ve got real purpose and the talent in our team to back this up. Through this acquisition, we are putting a firm stake in the ground. We’re hungry and driven by our plans. Both The Wildebeest and The Mad Moose are located in prime locations and we feel we can add value to both sites to take them to the next level.” Smith, chef patron at The Ingham Swan, spent ten years at The Mad Moose and The Wildebeest Arms when it was under the ownership of restaurateur Henry Watt. He previously worked for Michel Roux Jr’s Le Gavroche in London and Galton Blackiston’s Morston Hall, where he earned a Michelin star whilst head chef at the age of 23.

Company News:

Asha’s owner buys Metro Bar and Grill in Birmingham: Brandasia Group, owner of the Indian restaurant chain Asha’s, has acquired the Metro Bar and Grill on Cornwall Street in Birmingham for an undisclosed sum and will now introduce a new menu and cocktail bar. Director Pawan Kenth said: “The opportunity to acquire one of Birmingham’s more celebrated eateries, which has a legendary status in the local community, was simply too good to miss. It ties in with our strategy to build a significant quality food and drink business in the city centre and complements our Asha’s restaurant in Newhall Street. We hope to add to the existing outlets with acquisitions in the near future.” As well as the Asha’s restaurant in Birmingham city centre, named for the Bollywood singing superstar Asha Bhosle, Brandasia has venues in Dubai, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. It is also launching a branch in Manchester later this year. Metro opened in 1997 and employs 15 staff.

YO! Sushi adds Japanese craft beer to menu: YO! Sushi has added two Japanese craft beers, Kagua Rouge and Kagua Blanc, to its menu. The two beers, flavoured with sansho, or Japanese pepper, and yuso, a Japanese citrus fruit, are brewed in Belgium to a recipe devised by the Japanese entrepreneur Shiro Yamada and with ingredients flown out from Japan. Each is bottle-conditioned, and comes with a label designed to echo the traditional Japanese kimono. The Blanc is 8% abv, the Rouge 9% and each currently costs £1.90 for a 330ml bottle. YO! has also added two soft drinks to its menu, a yuzu and pear fruit juice, and Ramune Soda. New dishes include beef curry ramen with a chilli sesame oil and curry broth and albacore tuna and truffle ponzu sashimi.

Stonegate to reopen Leeds Living Room as Liquorist: Stonegate Pub Company is reopening the former Living Room site in Greek Street, Leeds as a new concept called The Liquorist. The new bar will serve cocktails, wines and world beers, ales and craft lagers, while the food menu will include salads, steaks, burgers and desserts. Happy hour cocktails will be available at just £5 from 4pm to 9pm every day, and deals include “Prime and Wine” nights on Mondays, which offers a rump steak and glass of wine for just £10, and a “Ladies of Leisure” evening on the last Thursday of every month, when a pre-booked table of four or more females will get 25% off the food bill. The new bar is due to open on Tuesday 5 May. The Leeds Living Room closed on 6 April, leaving just three outlets still open under the fascia, in Edinburgh, Manchester and Newcastle upon Tyne, out of the 13 Living Room sites Stonegate bought from the brand’s then owner, PBR Leisure, in August 2013. Other Living Leisure sites have been converted to Stonegate’s Missoula Montana and Slug & Lettuce brands, while one former site, in Chester, was re-acquired by the brand’s original owner, Living Ventures, for its Botanist brand.

Camden Town Brewery – Ebitda in January and February is ahead of budget: Camden Town Brewery, which is negotiations over a £10m investment by a Belgian manufacturing company in return for a 20% stake whilst raising money on Crowdcube, has reported a good start to trading in 2015. Finance director Patrik Franzen said: “We are at 99% of our forecast volume sales in Quarter One, 2015. Ebitda is currently ahead of forecast for January and February 2015.” Camden Town is also currently working on opening a second bar in Kentish Town, due to open in July, and founder Jasper Cuppaidge said the business is in discussions to open another bar in central Camden as part of the planned redevelopment of the area. Cuppaidge will remain the largest shareholder after the investment, holding 40% of the business. Cuppaidge, his wife, his father-in-law and three friends collectively own 75% of the business.

Coffee Republic signs new international franchisee: Coffee Republic has signed a new international franchisee – Bahrain-based Arcadia Group has inked a master franchise multi-site deal with the first site expected to open soon. The new deal follows the opening of the coffee firm’s 18th international franchised coffee bar in Spain’s second largest airport, Barcelona El-Prat, Airport Terminal 1 (Airside). The same franchisee also operates a site airside at Lanzarote Airport, which opened in summer 2014. Coffee Republic is set to double its UK presence by the end of the year, having just opened at Northampton railway station, Whitechapel, and East Shopping Centre. New openings are also planned shortly in various locations in and around London. The company is seeking new prime high street, busy footfall locations, the average footprint being 100 sq m, with corner aspects and outside seating of particular interest.

‘Around the world’ bar 80 Days Bier Haus opens in Hull: A bar promising to bring beers from around the world to the doorsteps of local residents opened in Princes Avenue, Hull, on Saturday (18 April). The 80 Days Bier Haus has been started by Andrew Murphy and wife Karla Wiseman Murphy and will be serving beer from places including Spain, Germany, Japan, Laos, Belgium and the Netherlands. Andrew Murphy told The Hull Daily Mail: “It’s always been my dream to have my own place and I figured now is the time to start my own venture. When I’m travelling, I am always trying local beer and often think to myself, ‘I wish I could get this back home’. I am sure others feel this too and now 80 Days Bier Haus will bring that to their doorstep.” Karla Murphy said: “The feel of the bar has been inspired by our travels throughout Europe and the US. We are a place to come to try something you don’t see everywhere else. We feel we are bringing something unique and different. The taste for different beers has been increasing in popularity over a good number of years. Craft beer bars have been opening in most other major towns and cities all over the UK, but the people of Hull can now taste world beers in their home town.” The premises were previously The Boar’s Nest restaurant.

Galway Bay Brewery to open Ireland’s first dedicated craft beer pub: Galway Bay Brewery, which operates nine pubs in Ireland, is to open the first venue in the country that only sells craft beer. The Beer Market, in Christchurch opens this Wednesday (22 April). Galway Bay Brewery operations manager Andy Bryne said the company wanted to “push the boundaries a bit” with it new pub. “We’re trying to do something that’s dedicated to beer only. The idea was to source and serve the best craft beers available,” he said. The beers will be served from numbered rather than branded taps. Bryne added: “It’s actually very simple. A branded badge on a beer tap means the beer is permanent – we envisage the beers changing constantly, so instead of a badge we have numbers.”

Wholefoods cafe pair to open third outlet: The brother and sister behind two wholefood cafes in Tunbridge Wells, Kent are to open a third outlet in nearby Tonbridge. Matthew and Julia Castle opened the first Basil cafe on St John’s Road, Tunbridge Wells in 2008. They opened up their second cafe in Lime Hill Road in 2011, and have now lined up a third on Tonbridge High Street, which is due to open before the end of this month. Every dish is created using wholefood ingredients with meat supplied from Fullers of Hawkenbury and breads supplied by Rusbridge Family Bakery in Southborough.

Tesco takes full control of Euphorium bakery chain: Tesco has taken full ownership of the Euphorium bakery chain. Euphorium was founded in 1999 by Danny Bear and now has 59 concessions in Tesco stores after the supermarket first took a stake in the bakery in 2012. A Tesco spokesman said when it made the investment in Euphorium it was “always the intention to take ownership of it”. The spokesman told Retail Week: “We’d like to thank Danny Bear for all his hard work and dedication in making Euphorium the business it is today. Euphorium is a great brand and where we have extended it into stores it has proved really popular with customers. Our priorities remain the colleagues working for Euphorium and providing a great service to customers.”

KFC development chef – “we’re thinking of producing a gourmet burger”: KFC’s UK development chef Lou Direito has reported the company is thinking of trialing a gourmet burger. She told The Independent: “I think the great thing about being in the UK is that there’s such a love affair with food and it’s not necessarily gourmet food. It’s accessible food – a lot of street food – so we spend time going out and about. We constantly look for what’s coming up from the grassroots in terms of those big trends. It’s always good to watch what the big chefs are doing – the Delias, the Jamies – because they’re relevant to a lot of our customers. But what we increasingly do is look for smaller operators who are doing really interesting things and just watch and learn. We’re thinking about doing a gourmet burger at the moment.”

SO! Bars closes Beer and Burger in Harrogate: SO! Bars, which operates eponymous sites in Ripon, Knaresborough and Harrogate, has closed its Beer and Burger site in Harrogate, which served 20 types of gourmet burger, after failing to reach a long-term agreement with landlord Enterprise. A Facebook statement said: “It is with huge sadness that we have had to close Beer and Burger this week. We created and opened Beer and Burger in July last year and as local business owners we are very proud of the bar we created with our staff and the positive response we have had to it by our customers. It has developed into a very successful bar, but sadly we were recently told that we would not be able to secure a long term lease or would have any long term future in the site, by Enterprise the landlords, as they have other commercial plans for it. We are obviously bitterly disappointed about losing a business we had put our heart and soul into and were also concerned about the long term job security for all our employees. We assessed our options and felt that if we gave notice now we could offer the staff alternative employment in our other bars, which we did. We are now looking for a new site in the area for our ideas and recipes, but in the meantime please come and enjoy the same special burgers at any of our SO! Bars.” A spokesman for Enterprise Inns said: “Unfortunately, the current publicans at our venue Beer and Burger in Parliament Street have given us notice and will cease to operate the pub on the 19th April. However, we would like to reassure residents of Harrogate that we are in discussion with another experienced operator who is keen to take this popular pub on to trade with the same name. We hope that the pub’s local customers will continue to visit and show their support for the new publican when they take over and open the doors.” The Beer and Burger site had previously been Graze and Grill.

Council public health chief attacks ‘poorly written’ Wetherspoon application for pub in Chatham: A licensing application by JD Wetherspoon for a proposed new pub at The Old Post Office in Chatham, Kent has been attacked by Medway Council’s director of public health for being “poorly written” and failing to show how the company intended to protect children from harm and promote other licensing objectives. Dr Alison Barnett said there were already 83 premises licensed to sell alcohol in a 1,000m radius of the pub, in Railway Street, which itself is in an Alcohol Control Zone and a high percentage of crimes in the area are alcohol-related. She said: “There are proven problems with street drinkers, and Kent Police undertake a regular policing operation, called Op Impede to address the problem.” Wetherspoon’s application, Dr Barnett said in her report, failed to identify issues with crime and disorder in the area, failed to address public nuisance or public safety issues, and failed to identify how children can be protected from harm. Wetherspoon’s premises “tend to be frequented by families and shoppers eating meals by day and drinkers by night,” she said and “there is no indication of the times when children will be allowed on the premises and if there will be a time when this is not permitted. This is a poorly written application which fails to show how the applicant intends to promote licensing objectives in an area of high deprivation, alcohol-related crime and which has real social issues caused by the misuse of alcohol.”

Frank’s Hamburger House adds to portfolio: The Frank’s Hamburger House chain has taken over a former Indian restaurant in Watling Street, Towcester, Northamptonshire and is converting it into the chain’s fourth outlet. Tom Hewer, owner of the Frank’s chain, acquired the empty premises a year ago, but has been concentrating on opening other ventures, he told The Northampton Chronicle. Hewer said: “Aside from some of the names of the dishes, the menu is what has worked well at our other burger restaurants. It’s proving popular because everything from our chips to our barbecue sauce is made here from scratch and I think that gives people confidence they will get good quality.” The Towcester restaurant will include a bespoke grill, which will be placed so diners can watch the cooking happen while they wait. The new site comes two months after Hewer’s Frank’s Steakhouse brand took over the restaurant section of The Sevens pub, in Weedon Road, Northampton. Hewer also runs two other Frank’s restaurants in Wellingborough Road, Northampton, The Artizan Pub, in Artizan Road, Abington and a butcher’s shop.

Dean’s Diner confirmed for Kent shopping centre: Richoux Group’s Dean’s Diner brand has been confirmed to open at Hempstead Valley shopping centre in Kent, which is undergoing a £16m refurbishment. The centre, which opened in 1978, has already confirmed Nando’s, Frankie & Benny’s and Subway to open in a new unit where McDonald’s previously stood. A cluster of six new family restaurants and cafes will open in total, with the occupiers for the two remaining spaces due to be announced shortly.

The Stable to open new Bath site in mid-May, one of four this year: The Stable, the artisan pizza and cider brand in which Fuller’s holds a 51% stake, is to open at a new site in Bath in mid-May, on of four opening planned this year. It is closing its site in George Street and moving to the former Pizza Hut unit on Kingsmead Square. The move was prompted by a desire to have a bigger site, allowing for increased capacity both inside and outside. All staff at the current site will be transferring across to the new one, and the company has said there is potential to recruit more because to the increased capacity. Nikki Cooper, who co-founded the chain, said: “We opened our Stable in Bath in 2013 and since day one it has been very popular, and it’s become more obvious with time that we require a bigger restaurant. We’re excited about opening soon and the team is looking forward to the move. It’s going to look fantastic, and there will be even more pizzas, pies and cider.”

Street food truck is TripAdvisor’s number one place to eat in Hinckley, Leicestershire: A street food truck serving smokey pulled pork, chicken wrapped in naan bread and macaroni cheese is the number one place to eat in Hinckley, Leicestershire, according to TripAdvisor. The Clarence Food Diner parks up outside Sea Band on Hawley Road on Friday and Saturday nights. The truck is owned by chef Clive Smith and his partner Clare Kelley. Smith said: “We both have full time jobs but we did this looking forward to the future – to make the brand and hopefully one day to open a restaurant in Hinckley. Street food has become really fashionable lately, especially in cities. Originally, I got the van to take away to other places but then I thought why not have a go here in Hinckley, my home town? It was an old chip shop van for an air force base so I gutted the inside and now it is basically all brand new. Everything here is cooked fresh. The pulled pork is rubbed in ten spices and left over night and smoked over seven different woods for three hours and slow cooked for ten hours. We have had lots of repeat customers. The response has been amazing. It’s brought me to tears – it’s fantastic.” All items on the menu cost £5 or less and the customers are able to park in the Sea Band car park and wait for their food to be freshly cooked and hand-delivered to their car.

Plan submitted for new Leeds bar and dining venue: Plans have been drawn up for a mixed-use restaurant and drinking establishment over three floors in the Arena Quarter of Leeds. The architecture and design company Group Ginger, on behalf of North Leeds Developments, has lodged a change of use application for a property on 82 North Street, an area populated by restaurants, bars, offices and light industry, that would see the ground floor converted into a bar with bench and window seating. The first floor would be used for a dining area of about 300 sq ft, which would also be available for hire, while the second floor would be turned into 340 sq ft of flexible multi-use venue space. Group Ginger worked with Arup to redevelop the art deco Tetley Brewery headquarters in Leeds into an “arts and learning” centre with gallery spaces, an auditorium, cafe bar and offices.

Shoryu Ramen crowns week of openings for Broadgate: A fourth UK outlet for the Shoryu Ramen Restaurant Group, which specialises in authentic Kyushu cuisine from Japan, held its soft opening in the Broadgate Circle Development in the City of London, close to Liverpool Street Station, on Friday (17 April) with 50% off all dishes, marking the end of the first wave of openings in what is planned as a major restaurant hub for the City. The opening of Shoryu Ramen was the sixth at Broadgate Circle in three days, after new branches of the French restaurant chain Aubaine, its ninth in total, the pizza group Franco Manca, its 11th outlet, and the Australian coffee shop Beany Green, now up to five outlets, welcomes their first customers on Wednesday, and Thursday saw openings for the Lebanese restaurant group Comptoir Libanais, also its 11th outlet, and ETM Group’s gastropub brand The Botanist. Other openings lined up include a third venue for the Spanish restaurateur Jose Pizarro, and Yauatcha City and Yauatcha Patisserie, a second site for Hakkasan Group’s Michelin-starred Yauatcha restaurant, and its first stand-alone patisserie, all due to open in May, and the first bricks-and-mortar home for Street Kitchen, which has been serving food around the City from a converted vintage Airstream trailer, due to open in June.

Award-winning pub put up for sale after owner fails to get bank loan for expansion: An award-winning pub in South Wales is on the market for £600,000 after the owner failed to persuade banks to lend him money for what he says is a vital expansion. The Plough and Harrow in Monknash, in the Vale of Glamorgan, was listed among the top ten pubs in Britain by The Guardian in 2011 and voted Cider Pub of the Year by CAMRA in 2014, among other accolades. Dai Woodman, who bought the pub ten years ago with his wife, Debra, and friend Paula Jones, told the Wales Online website they wanted to develop bed and breakfast accommodation at the pub in order to make it pay in the quieter winter months. He said: “Unfortunately, we have been unable to secure a loan from the banks. At the moment banks do not have an appetite for lending money to pubs. We want to keep the pub but that is not possible the way things stand.” Woodman said customers at the pub have included Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, and the actor Elija Wood, who played Frodo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He said: “Robert Plant wanted to stay here because he loved the place. But we didn’t have the bed and breakfast accommodation. If there is anyone out there who would like to get involved and lend us £200,000 we would be delighted if they got in touch.”

Rockfish Brixham opens for takeaway only: The chef-entrepreneur Mitch Tonks’s latest Rockfish outlet at Brixham fish market opened for takeaway customers only on Friday (17 April). The main restaurant is due to open on Thursday week, 30 April, for dinner from 5pm, and then lunch and dinner from the day after, 1 May. The venue will eventually be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner with the takeaway downstairs also open for breakfast from Monday to Friday from 7am to 11am. The site includes the takeaway downstairs by the fish preparation area, a restaurant upstairs, with seating indoors and outside for 170 diners, and a bar where diners can have a pre or post-meal drink, and also the Rockfish training academy, for staff training. Tonks said: “Since visiting Sydney fish market some years ago, it has been a dream of mine to open a fish restaurant right where the fish is sourced, on the fish market! And living in Brixham myself, looking out towards the fish market and regularly buying at the market, I’ve always wanted to open right here, just three metres away from where the boats land their fish.” The Brixham outlet is the fourth under the Rockfish name, with others in Dartmouth, Plymouth and Torquay.

Taplin resumes Cadbury House ownership: The south west’s leading four-star hotel and health club is now owned by the local businessman and entrepreneur who had the original vision for its transformation. Following a deal to buy out Sanguine Hospitality, Nick Taplin, who lives in Wrington, North Somerset has secured control of DoubleTree by Hilton, Cadbury House. Taplin and business partner Caroline Wilce, with continued backing from Downing Investment, will now operate the Congresbury-based venue under Black & White Hospitality. Previously owned by Sanguine Hospitality, of which Taplin is still a director, the deal has seen the North Somerset-based entrepreneur buy out the stake held by the specialist hotel development company to take full control of the venue. Taplin will now resume control to ensure Cadbury House, which has undergone a £26 million redevelopment since he got involved back in 2003, continues to offer the best combination of style and space, reflecting the trends in what is a fast-paced hospitality sector. He said: “It’s been one incredible journey and to now effectively own Cadbury House is an amazing feeling. It’s taken a while to sink in but was the right thing to do. The hard work will now go on to make sure Cadbury House remains one of the leading venues in the south west and it’s business as usual with what is a very strong management team.”

Chef acquires second Lancashire pub: Chef Alex Coward, who took over the Daniel Thwaites-owned White Bull in Alston, near Preston, Lancashire in 2012, has acquired a second pub, the closed Alston Arms in nearby Longridge. Coward, who was manager of the Thyme Restaurant in Longridge before taking on The White Bull, told The Lancashire Evening Post he would be taking Star Pubs & Bars-owned pub back to its traditional pub roots. He said: “It has had a mixed look in recent years and we will be taking it right back to a traditional pub interior and serving traditional pub fare at a different price mark to The White Bull and offering a different experience to what we do down there.” Coward said he was planning on putting a new management team into The Alston Arms, who, he said, have “considerable experience” and hopes to make it appeal to all ages, with “particular emphasis on the exterior area with the beer garden”. The food will be a little bit cheaper than The White Bull, reflected in the style of service, but still serving “very good quality traditional pub fare, all freshly produced”. There will also be real ales, many of which will be locally sourced. Coward will be retaining The White Bull under his Bowland Leisure vehicle and will be developing it still further under the management of Kelvin Bardsley and head chef Mark Wilkinson.

Des McDonald to open Selfridges pop-up: Restaurateur Des McDonald, will launch his third pop-up restaurant at Selfridges on 1 May – On the Roof with Vintage Salt. Open for five months, Vintage Salt will kick off Selfridges’ ‘Great British Outdoors’ campaign. This British summer restaurant, bar and terrace is inspired by a Cornish fishing village, where diners can enjoy a unique British seaside dining experience high above the streets of London. The Drift Bar, located on the terrace will have a separate entrance, accessed via the Boardwalk, which will be lined with nautical ropes guiding the way to the outdoor terrace. McDonald said: “We have a top team to deliver a fresh summer menu featuring a great selection of fish dishes, paired with a lighter range of salads and grains. Vintage Salt will be a secret foodie retreat offering an escape to the hustle and bustle of London.” Nathan Herrmann, Selfridges food and restaurants director, added: “The ‘On the Roof’ concept has been a huge success for Selfridges, and we look forward to inviting customers to a truly unique and exciting space as part of our Great British Outdoors campaign for the summer months.” 

Stonegate invests £220,000 in evolved Missoula site: Stonegate Pub Company is investing £220,000 in an evolution of its Missoula site in Chelmsford, which is re-opening this Friday (24 April). The bar which is situated on two floors is being upgraded throughout with new VIP booth seating for friends to create their own party space, additional seating for dining and a new sound and lighting system installed to create spectacular light shows to music. The trend for new world and craft beers is being adopted by Missoula with the introduction of Goose Island Honkers, Einstock IPA and BrewDog Punk IPA by the bottle as well as fruit flavoured ciders, Magners Berry and Rekorderlig Dry Apple Cider. The refreshed bar will open with a new food menu which includes fresh and fruity breakfast dishes, summery open sandwiches and flatbreads, a larger range of freshly cooked burgers, barbeque dishes chargrilled to order, sharing platters and a selection of healthier lower calories choices.

Vineyard Group buys historic Bedford hotel: The Vineyard Group has bought the historic Barns Hotel near Bedford for circa £3.5m, it has been revealed. The Vineyard Group is owned by Sir Peter Michael and Lady Michael, who own the five star Vineyard hotel in Berkshire, The Vineyard, and Peter Michael Winery in California. Andrew McKenzie, managing director of The Vineyard Group, said: “We are delighted to have already made some cosmetic improvements to the public areas and gardens at The Barns Hotel, and we look forward to integrating the hotel back into the Bedford community making it the first choice for wedding and individuals looking for a lovely meal in a beautiful setting.” Set in a riverside location, 2.5 miles from Bedford town centre, The Barns Hotel is made up of two Grade II listed buildings. The hotel has a four star rating and offers 49-en suite bedrooms, a large reception lounge, a 70-cover restaurant and two bars, both with external terraces.

Maida Vale pub operator to double up: Andrew Fishick, who operates the multi-award winning Truscott Arms in Maida Vale, is to expand with the opening of Truscott Cellar wine bar in June. He has taken over one of London’s first Chinese restaurants, The Weng Wah House in Haverstock Hill. The Weng Wah was celebrated for its high quality and adventurous range of dishes.

CPL Food Group to open another food court in Bridlington shopping centre: CPL Food Group, which is also a Burger King franchisee, is opening another food court, at the Promenades shopping centre in Bridlington, Yorkshire. As well as a Burger King restaurant, the food court will have a Roosters Southern Fried Chicken outlet. CPL also runs food courts at the Accrington Arndale Centre, the Prospect Shopping Centre in Hull, the Packhorse Shopping Centre in Huddersfield and the Houndshill Shopping Centre in Blackpool, under the StrEAT brand name. Lamen Reddy, operations director at CPL Food Group, said: “CPL Food Group is delighted to be opening another food court, which is part of our nationwide expansion plan across the UK. We believe this food court will give the people of Bridlington a completely new offering which they do not have currently and we know the restaurants will be well received by all.”

Plans for Costa Coffee and KFC outlets at Hampshire development put on hold after retailer pulls out: Work on a development at the Rushington roundabout in Totton, Hampshire that includes a drive-through Costa Coffee outlet and a KFC restaurant has been postponed indefinitely after reports that an unnamed retailer due to occupy the food shop that formed part of the development has pulled out. The company behind the project, Gentian Developments, has issued a statement saying that Costa and KFC were still involved in the scheme, while a Costa Coffee spokesman said: “We have been advised by the developer that the current plan for the site is on hold.” The scheme was originally rejected by the district council last summer. But Gentian lodged an appeal, a government-appointed planning inspector overturned the authority’s decision. 

La Tasca raises £1,000 for Team Margot: A total of £1,000 has been raised for the Team Margot charity at the launch of a new La Tasca restaurant in the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham. The charity campaigns for more people to become bone marrow and stem cell donors to help save lives, as well as supporting research and charities related to bone marrow and stem cell transplants. In October 2013, 14-month old Margot Martini was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of blood cancer and needed a bone marrow transplant to survive. Family and friends came together to form Team Margot, to raise awareness of her struggle and others who were faced with the same plight. Margot eventually found a suitable donor and received her bone marrow transplant in February 2014. Sadly, due to the aggressive nature of her leukaemia, Margot passed away in October last year, aged just two years and two months. Staff at the new La Tasca at the Barclaycard Arena cooked a giant pan of paella and served plates of the authentic Spanish dish for £5 each, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Team Margot fund. They sold over 100 portions raising £500 and La Tasca doubled the donations to make a donation of £1,000. Simon Wilkinson, chief executive of La Tasca, said: “When we heard about Team Margot we knew straight away that we wanted to get involved and help raise funds and awareness and this event provided us with the perfect opportunity to do so. We got a great response from the public selling 100 portions and we doubled the donations to make £1,000 all for this really worthwhile cause.” 

Five Guys confirms Milton Keynes Xscape site: Five Guys has confirmed it has secured a site at Xscape in Milton Keynes, occupying a 3,550 sq ft external unit on the ground floor of the extreme sports leisure destination, which is due to open in July. Five Guys joins the location following the recent opening of Hollywood Bowl, alongside an extensive refurbishment of the Cineworld Cinema. Henry Wilson, of agent Shelley Sandzer, which acted on behalf of Land Securities, said: “This is the third Five Guys deal that we have completed on leisure parks for Land Securities in the past 12 months. The brand has bought a real buzz to these schemes and traded strongly. We envisage this to be the case when Five Guys launches here at Xscape.”

Shelley Sandzer secures Hyde Park site for Aubaine: Agent Shelley Sandzer has secured a new 5,000 sq ft site for French Restaurant Aubaine at Hyde Park Hilton. Shelley Sandzer acted on behalf of Hilton Hotels in securing this prime location in central London, which is due to open summer 2015. Aubaine will be the sole restaurant to occupy the ground floor within Hyde Park Hilton located at 129 Bayswater Road. Providing more than 100 covers the new restaurant will bring the number of London sites up to ten. Acting on behalf of Hilton Hotels, Nick Weir at Shelley Sandzer said: “The cosmopolitan restaurant is a perfect addition for the hotel. We are pleased to have secured this well appointed space as it will benefit from the great location and capture a high end consumer from locals and visitors to the capital.”

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