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Mon 27th Apr 2015 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

McDonald’s to unveil turnaround plan on 4 May: McDonald’s chief executive Steve Easterbrook will unveil details of his turnaround plan for the company on Monday 4 May. Current initiatives include simplifying its menu, selling healthier items and letting diners customise burgers. McDonald’s has also begun experimenting with selling breakfast all day in 94 stores in the San Diego area. Like-for-like sales were down 2.6% in the US in the first quarter. Nation’s Restaurant News columnist Jonathan Maze said the results were even worse than they look. He said: “McDonald’s sales actually increased slightly at breakfast in the first quarter. So if you factor out that 25%, McDonald’s same-store sales at lunch and dinner are down at least 3.5%. But then you have to consider the current (favourable) economic environment. That environment has otherwise been a boon for many of McDonald’s competitors. Gas prices are more than $1 a gallon lower than they were at this time a year ago. That’s helped Sonic Corporation, Jack in the Box, Burger King and other chains that have middle class consumers for whom the excess cash has been a nice shot in the arm. That kind of decrease in gas prices should help McDonald’s, in theory, because of the chain’s sizeable drive-thru business and its otherwise low-end price offerings. But there’s been no discernible impact on the chain’s sales.” The comeback plan could include selling more restaurants to franchisees, according to Mark Kalinowski, an analyst at Janney Capital Markets. McDonald’s also may borrow money to buy back stock, he said in a report. And the chain could get more aggressive about cost cutting, Kalinowski said. “Folks hoping for a near-term rise in the stock may be hanging their hat on hopes that McDonald’s can spark some pizazz in investors,” he said.

Industry News:

Beds and Bars chief executive Keith Knowles founder to present at Propel summer conference: Bed and Bars chief executive Keith Knowles is to present at the Propel conference at the Oxford Belfry on Thursday 2 July, which is followed by Propel’s summer party. Knowles will explain how the company’s food, beverage and accommodation performance has been transformed in the past 18 months. Operators can book as many as two free places by emailing jo.charity@propelinfo.com

Greene King – Drinking and eating spend increase in March despite fall in overall leisure spend: March saw the average British household spent £195 on leisure, down 2% versus the same time last year and unchanged compared to February, according to the Greene King Leisure Spend Tracker. However, drinking out increased 6% year-on-year, ahead of eating out which was up 5% – the first time drinking out has led growth since the report began. Other leisure spend continued to decrease on a year-on-year basis, down 11%, although up 1% versus February. Households in London and the south east saw spend on eating out decline 3% year-on-year, while in comparison, the rest of Britain saw spend increase 8%. The rest of Britain also led the growth in drinking out, up 8% compared to a marginal increase in London and the south east of 1%. Fiona Gunn, Greene King marketing director, said: “Although the gap has reduced this month, we are still seeing households cut their domestic leisure spend year-on-year. This could be due to people choosing to spend on big ticket items instead, such as cars and holidays, and last month saw Gatwick and Heathrow see record passenger numbers as many chose to get away for an early spring break.” Decline in leisure spending was driven by households in London and the south east. In fact, these households saw a particularly sharp fall in their total leisure spend, down 9%, or £22, while the rest of Britain increased spend by 1% of £2. Gunn added: “Most interestingly, the growth in spend on drinking out is the largest we have seen in the Leisure Spend Tracker and this month it even grew faster than eating out. As retail figures suggest, the high-street enjoyed relatively strong growth during March, so operators in these areas may have benefitted from passing footfall as shoppers looked to recharge with a drink during shopping trips.”

Restaurant owner to face crown court over customer’s peanut allergy death: The owner of an Indian restaurant in North Yorkshire will have to appear at Teesside Crown Court over the alleged manslaughter of a man who suffered a fatal allergic reaction to peanuts after eating a takeaway curry. Mohammed Zaman, owner of the Indian Garden, in Easingwold, appeared at Northallerton Magistrates’ Court on Friday charged over the death of Paul Wilson, 38. The court was told that Zaman was charged with manslaughter, perverting the course of justice and an immigration offence. He also faces six offences in relation to unsafe food. The case was adjourned to Teesside Crown Court on 8 May.

Company News:

Wahaca quadruples profit: Wahaca, the Mexican food brand led by Thomasina Miers, saw turnover rise to £28,213,967 in the 52 weeks to 29 June 2014, up from £22,479,016 the year prior. Pre-tax profit more than quadrupled to £1,726,417 compared to £416,822. Operating profit jumped to £2,573,569 compared to £1,009,215 the year before. The company achieved a gross profit margin of 47%, a slight increase from the previous year of 46.8%. It added: “The increase in turnover was primarily due to organic growth from the existing estate and three new sites opened during the period. The increase in profit before tax was primarily attributable to the aforementioned increase in turnover. We believe that the Wahaca concept offers customers a unique experience that give us a competitive advantage.” Staff numbers rose to 612 in the year from 485 the year before. A dividend of £107,547 was recommended in the year (2013: £104,000) of which nil (2013: £47,000) was paid in the period. The remuneration of the highest paid director was £60,000. Net debt stands at £9,337,184. The company made a royalty payment of £519,863 (2013: £780,081) to Wahaca International. Meanwhile, Wahaca is due to open in July in premises in Queens Road, in the Clifton Triangle, Bristol, according to local media. Boards advertising the restaurant’s arrival have gone up around the site of the new restaurant, on the ground floor of Maggs House, which was formerly occupied by a furniture and home accessories shop. The new restaurant will have approximately 165 covers, according to the planning application passed by Bristol Council earlier this year. The Bristol branch will be the second outside the south east of England, and the 16th in total, for the chain after an opening in Cardiff in November last year. The Bristol restaurant will be close to outlets for Bill’s, Wagamama, the pan-Asian banquet chain Cosmo and Koh Thai Tapas, among others.

Unsecured creditors of Rileys Sports Bar business to receive nothing: Unsecured creditors owed £5m in the wake of the collapse of the Rileys Sports Bars business will receive nothing, a report by administrator Deloitte has stated. Private equity firm Weight Partners Capital bought the 43-strong Rileys Sport Bar business out of administration, saving 366 jobs in December last year, paying £4.35m with a contribution to trading costs of £250,000. In addition, a premium of £1.6m was received for the sale of the lease on the company’s site in Victoria, London. Secured creditors, including Santander owed £900,000, will be repaid in full. Deloitte itself has earned £2,007,497 from the administration.

Freehold of Mitchells & Butlers pub to be auctioned with £4m guide price: The freehold of The Cock Inn, Chalk Farm, Hertfordshire is to be sold at an Allsop auction on 18 May with a £4m plus guide price. The pub, formerly The Cock and Dragon, is let to Mitchells & Butlers on a rent of £220,000 per annum for a term of 35 years from April 2015 with a rent review every fifth year geared to CPI, collard and capped at 1% and 3% respectively. The lease has breaks at 15 and 25 years.

YO! Sushi yogurt supplier Lick beats crowdfunding target: Lick, which supplies frozen fat-free natural yogurt to YO! Sushi and Whole Foods, has passed its crowdfunding target on Crowdcube. It has raised £253,000 from 255 investors, 126% of its original £200,000 target in return for 6.25% of its equity. The Brighton-based company, which opened its first frozen yogurt shop in North Laine, Brighton in 2008, was founded by Owain Williams and Ky Wright. The company has forecast sales of £1,357,000 in the year to January 2016, producing Ebitda of £93,000. Sales are expected to hit £5,374,000 by January 2018, producing Ebitda of £960,000. Cash raised will be used to increase distribution and international expansion.

Eddie Rocket’s embarks on UK franchisee recruitment push: Eddie Rocket’s, which operates 36 sites in Ireland, has embarked on a UK franchisee recruitment push. The company plans to reach 100 restaurants across the UK, Ireland, Germany and Spain by 2018. It is offering multi-site franchise opportunities for Belfast, London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Of its current 36-strong portfolio, more than 20 are currently operated under franchise. It has two formats – 33-strong Eddie Rocket’s is a modern-day interpretation of an American retro-diner experience while three-strong Rocket’s is a fast casual premium hamburger restaurant with a fresh, urban edge. Eddie Rocket’s won best Irish Franchise at the 2015 Irish Franchise Awards.

BrewDog – “£305m is a sensible valuation”: BrewDog co-founder James Watt has defended the company’s £305m valuation under the current £25m fund-raising which will see investors receive 8.8% of the business. The resulting valuation is more than 70 times the £3.9m operating profit produced by BrewDog last year – and a trailing price-to-earnings ratio of 116 times. Speaking on Friday night at BrewDog’s pub in Glasgow’s Argyle Street, Watt said the company’s growth put it on a par with US burger chain Shake Shack. On their first day of trading earlier this year, shares in Shake Shack more than doubled, valuing the business at more than $1.6 billion (£1.05bn). “Which makes us look very, very cheap,” Watt said. Investors in the second round of Equity for Punks in January 2012 paid £23.75 per share, Watt added. By November of 2014, some were able to sell those shares for £125. “That is why it really annoys me when people say, ‘It is not a serious investment, you’re just selling benefits’ – that is a real and substantial return,” he said.

Hummus Bros raises £174,102 with mini-bond: Hummus Bros, led by Christian Mouysset and Ronan Givon, have beaten their target to raise £150,000 through an 8% interest paying mini-bond on crowdfunding platform Crowd2Fund. A total of 53 investors pledged £174,102 – the bond term is 60 months. The company’s 2017 goals are to expand from four high street locations to seven within central London, growing sales by £1.35m annually and increasing pre-central Ebitda by £250,000, grow corporate popup restaurants from 50 to 200, with expected additional sales of £1.65m per annum and additional pre-central Ebitda of £300,000; implement a food truck, which is estimated will generate sales of £400,000 annually and pre-central Ebitda of £75,000; increase corporate deliveries and events from £6,000 per month to £20,000 per month.

Whitbread expected to set bigger growth targets tomorrow: Whitbread chief executive Andy Harrison is expected to set larger growth targets for the company tomorrow at a results update. He is expected to set a target of increasing the number of British hotel rooms from 58,000 to 85,000 over the next five years, with Costa’s global sales set to rise from £1.4 billion to £2.5 billion.

Raymond Blanc – ‘only one new Brasserie Blanc a year’: Raymond Blanc has revealed that he and his partners in Brasserie Bar Co, the company behind the Brasserie Blanc and White Brasserie Company chains, plan to grow Brasserie Blanc “quietly, maybe one a year”. The company currently has a pipeline of five sites for its pub concept White Brasserie Company, and plans to have 20 to 30 pubs over the next four to five years. Blanc was speaking at the chain’s outlet in Old Beaconsfield, 30 minutes from his home, which opened a year ago. He told The Bucks Free Press: “It’s doing extremely well; we’ve had an extraordinary year. It seems Beaconsfield needed a nice restaurant like the Brasserie.” 

Burger King co-founder – ‘I see $10 burgers on menus’: Burger King co-founder has David Edgerton has forecast that the current campaigns for higher wages in the US foodservice sector could spell the end of the “dollar menu”, and usher in an era of higher-quality, more expensive convenience restaurants. Edgerton, 87, who founded Burger King in 1954, told Time magazine: “What’s going to happen, really, is you’re going to see less and less of the quick and dirty kind of places. You’re not going to be able to run these places [paying workers] $15 an hour or whatever it will be.” A few companies will stick to making “a small cheap hamburger,” he said, but most fast food chains will experience “a slow and gradual” shift toward pricier menu options, he said. “You’re not going to get these dollar hamburgers anymore that both Burger King and McDonald’s had,” he added. “I see a lot of $10 hamburgers arriving on the scene.”

Bistrot Pierre recruits children’s tasting panel before menu release: Nine local children have been recruited to visit Bistrot Pierre’s Harrogate restaurant to try out potential dishes for the new children’s menu and give feedback on the dishes before a children’s menu national launch across all Bistrot Pierre restaurants in June. “The kids were great,” said Arpita Anstey, head of marketing for Bistrot Pierre: “Our food is great value for family dining but we really wanted to find out what the children liked most and what they would like to be on the menu when they come to eat at our sites.” Shaun Ruttle, Bistrot Pierre’s development chef, added: “We were also really keen to give the children the opportunity to try some classic French dishes and were delighted that they were a hit. We got some fantastic, valuable, insights from the children.” The new children’s menu will launch nationwide in June and will include dishes such as roasted chicken breast with seasonal vegetables, potatoes or fries, croque monsieur and chocolate torte. The brand will also offer children’s portions for most main courses on its standard menu at half the price of its standard portions.

Arancina Pizzeria enters retail market: Arancina Pizzeria, which serves around 6,000 customers per week from its two west London sites, is breaking into the retail arena with a range of four pizzas designed to be cooked at home whilst retaining a crispy base. The base has also been created using a special blend of stoneground flours, which allow it to be re-heated whilst retaining the crisp base. This type of pizza cannot be found anywhere else on the UK retail market. Edo Mortari, founder of Arancina, said: “We have created what we believe to be the most authentic Italian product in this category – specifically from Rome. It’s made by Italians using Italian ingredients to create the most unique crispy base and a wonderful depth of flavour. We can’t wait to see what British pizza lovers think about it. Early tests show a great deal of amore for it, so we’re feeling confident about the launch.” For sales enquiries, please contact Guljeet Sahney on 07973 891967 or David Young on 07872 502575.

Marston’s to open new pub in Accrington: Marston’s is to open a new pub and restaurant in Accrington, Lancashire in July, creating 45 jobs. The pub, to be called The Brickworks, is currently being built on Hyndburn Road, Accrington on the site of the former Arnold Clarke garage. It will have a pizza kitchen and a restaurant with 180 covers. Phil Holt of Marston’s Inns and Taverns, said: “We’re extremely excited about the Brickworks and hope it will build a great reputation locally when it’s open.” The company has already begun recruiting for staff.

£900,000 bar and restaurant to open in Dudley in July: A £900,000 restaurant being created in a former fire station in Dudley town centre in the West Midlands is due to open in July. The Old Glasshouse project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Dudley Council is transforming a rundown, boarded-up premises once home to Dudley’s first fire station and a former glassworks into a stylish new bar and restaurant. The building, which was last open as Carver’s Cafe, was built around 1770. The Old Glasshouse will be run by chef Craig Willis and Shakeel Zafar, both formerly of Banks Bistro in Chapel Ash, Wolverhampton. The building, which runs along one side of the Stone Street Square, is opposite The Saracen’s Head, which is being converted into a sport bar/pub by Amber Taverns, creating 20 new jobs.

Belfast restaurant group to open two more outlets: The James Street South Group, the Belfast restaurant group run by chef-entrepreneur Niall McKenna, which already runs three restaurants in the city, is to open two more, in the Titanic Quarter and Donegall Quay. The first, Cast and Crew, will be located in a former bank premises opposite Titanic Belfast. It will have 90 covers and employ 25 full and part-time staff. The second, as yet unnamed restaurant, will be on Donegall Quay in Belfast. It will open late next year, creating 30 new jobs. McKenna, whose other outlets are James Street South, The Bar & Grill and Hadskis, said: “We are committed to developing and sustaining Northern Ireland’s growing tourism offering, and this further investment represents our confidence in this expanding market. We are dedicated to offering the finest locally produced seasonal food across all our restaurants, and are thrilled to be able to extend the offering to Titanic Quarter and Donegall Quays. The new restaurants, coupled with our commitment to ensuring the next generation of hospitality excellence through our apprentice scheme, underline the work we’ve done over the years to showcase Belfast as a food destination for the hundreds of thousands of tourists who come here each year and the many visitors we hope to welcome in the future.” Earlier this year, James Street South was named Northern Ireland’s restaurant of the year in the 2015 Waitrose Good Food Guide, and Hadskis, in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter, made the list for the first time. James Street South Bar & Grill was also awarded Bib Gourmand in the 2015 Michelin Guide, one of only three new awards in Northern Ireland.

Seventh big name to be announced for Loughborough’s Baxter Gate development: Developers are preparing to announce a seventh big restaurant name for the Baxter Gate development in Loughborough. The multi-million pound development has already signed up PizzaExpress, Nando’s, the Asian buffet and bar Mimosa, Bella Italia, the Brazilian grill-house Preto, Loungers, Starbucks and an eight-screen, 1,118 seat Cineworld cinema. Now Toby Baines, of the developer Citygrove, has revealed that a final restaurant will be announced “shortly”. Construction on the development was due to start in late summer 2014, but after delays, building work finally started in January. It is due to be opened in Easter 2016, providing 250 jobs for local people.

North London’s first community pub opens: The first community–run pub in North London has opened. The Antwerp Arms in Church Road, Tottenham, was saved by The Antwerp Arms Association, a group of people living in and around the Bruce Castle area who banded together to ensure it remained a pub. The group says that the project is the first community-run pub in north London – it is now working in partnership with Tottenham brewery Redemption with two real ales on sale from the brewery.

Owner of long-established Manchester restaurant attacks city’s ‘fickle’ dining scene after closure: The owner of one of the oldest restaurants in Manchester’s Northern Quarter has attacked the city’s ‘fickle’ dining scene after the venue’s closure. Gary Newborough, who ran the Market Restaurant, which has just shut after 34 years, told the national online dining guide Sugarcube: “The restaurant business is notoriously high risk and in central Manchester it seems that there is little room any more for the small independent operator. The shifting demographic in the Northern Quarter and increasing running costs mean that food has to be taken on a new more progressive journey to attract the interest of a new generation of diners. The Market Restaurant would have celebrated its 35th birthday at the end of next month. For almost 35 years our cooking remained very simple. We were never motivated by change for change’s sake, technical wizardry or experimentation at the guests’ expense. However, times do change and staying relevant in the somewhat fickle Manchester eating scene is close to impossible. New concepts and pop-ups now appear almost daily and attract audiences who need to be stimulated by the ‘next new thing’. Fast food, an obsession with burgers and eat as much as you like for a fiver makes it almost impossible to run a business profitably providing locally sourced, organic ingredients cooked in traditional ways for customers who want to linger all night.”

Porthminster Beach Cafe opens second venue: The team behind Porthminster Beach Cafe in St Ives, Cornwall opened their second restaurant in the town on Friday, 24 April. The Porthminster Kitchen, overlooking St Ives Harbour, has “a more urban feel” than its sister beachside eatery, according to Michael Smith, executive chef of both restaurants. He said: “We wanted to create a more casual dining environment where people can enjoy inventive but affordable food.” The head chef at Porthminster Kitchen, Lee Wilson, a South African-born chef who has worked with Smith for many years, said: “You hear it so many times but we really are blessed with amazing produce and an inspirational food culture in Cornwall; Michael and I have both travelled and worked all over the world and it speaks volumes that there is nowhere else we would rather be.”

KFC wins appeal for Aldershot store: KFC has won its bid to open a drive-through in Aldershot, Hampshire after government inspector decided in favour of its application to open a restaurant at the former Northgate Vehicle Hire site in North Close, off North Lane. Councillors rejected the application on the grounds that the premises were in a key industrial employment site. However, Alan Beamish, representing KFC, said that the council’s decision to allow Northgate to operate on the site before the company relocated to Camberley, made in 2003, proved that the council was willing to put the land to different use. “There is no basis on which the council can argue with the proposals of this appeal over the release of this employment land,” he said. Beamish added that the application would create ‘significant employment opportunities’, although the hearing heard that only around ten to 12 of the 50 proposed ‘new jobs’ would be full time. The inspector has now ruled that because the site, when last occupied, was a vehicle hire depot, not an employment site, and there would be employment generated by the restaurant use, the proposal would not harm the supply of employment land.

Melia Hotels to open hotel, restaurant and bar in Manchester: Melia Hotels, the Spanish hotel chain, has chosen the 20-acre First Street development in Manchester as the location for its first Innside Hotel in the UK. Plans for the £25m four-star hotel, which will also include a restaurant, bar, spa and conference facilities, will be submitted by Ask Developments next week. The brand, known for its contemporary design, is currently ranked the most popular with German travellers. The proposed hotel will be next to a 600,000 sq ft £20m culture centre, which will include two theatres, five cinema screens, together with galleries and restaurants, and a new outdoor performance space. The architect is Dutch company Mecanoo. Paul Simpson, managing director of Visit Manchester, the tourist board for Greater Manchester, said: “Tourism in Greater Manchester is a £5.4bn industry – supporting 75,000 full time equivalent jobs – and we are delighted that Melia Hotels International has chosen Manchester for its first Innside hotel in the UK.”

Date set for Pieminister Leeds opening: The Pieminister restaurant in a former Oxfam shop in Duncan Street, Leeds, the chain’s northernmost outlet so far, is due to open on Monday 11 May. The restaurant, the chain’s tenth, will be set over two floors, with an indoor “shed” area. It sits next door to what will soon be the second outlet in Leeds for the Five Guys chain, which already has a restaurant in Cardigan Fields, Leeds. No opening date has been announced yet for the Duncan Street Five Guys, but the chain has three openings lined up in May, in Villiers Street, Central London, Ealing, West London and Braehead, Glasgow, which will take it to 24 outlets. It also has an opening lined up in Ashton under Lyne.

Yorkshire licensee seeks £40,000 to develop back-of-house software: A licensee in Yorkshire is seeking to raise £40,000 through the crowdfunding website Crowd2Fund to help develop a software product called PubCube, which will streamline all a pub’s back-of-house operations into one single application. Fred Bell, owner of The Half Moon at Pool-In-Wharfedale, West Yorkshire, is hoping to raise the £40,000 “to save independent British pubs” through a loan offering 8.39% apr, which he is guaranteeing himself. According to Bell, his pub is generating profits of £15,035 based on revenues of £266,428 a year. Bell says the PubCube software will do away with “the usual numerous spread sheets” required to run a pub, and also provide real-time performance indicators, schedule special promotions or events, and enable easy social media management, with a “tips and tricks guide” to making the most of local and national marketing and exposure opportunities. The software will be developed within the existing pub business, “with a view to streamlining operations and ultimately, creating another source of revenue by licensing the software to other pub operators.” PubCube’s programs “will be managed by a full-time support team to prompt trade”. The cloud based platform “will help operators to manage book keeping, payroll and tax operations, to manage their events, promotions, social media activity, simply and effectively, in order to save outgoings and help them free up time and make more profit.”

Cafe owner opens second station outlet in a year: A woman who opened her first cafe at Alexandra Palace station in north London last year has now launched her second cafe, named The Yard, at Palmers Green station on the same line. Adele Young said of the Palmers Green outlet: “By day we will have everything for people commuting and by night we will have oysters, champagne and hopefully live music which will give it a great atmosphere.” The new cafe, a former kebab shop took months to strip back by her son David who also helps with the day-to-day running of the two cafes along with his five sisters, Hayley, Courtney, Chelsea, Ashley and Bonnie. It will be using artisan bread and sourcing ingredients locally.

Camra backs KeyKeg, agrees not to denigrate ‘non-real’ beers: The Campaign for Real Ale is about the promotion and championing of cask beer, not outright opposition to other types of beer such as craft keg, its chief executive, Tim Page, said on Friday, after Camra’s annual conference in Nottingham passed motions in support of an inclusive approach to the beer industry. Page said: “It was clear from the debate in the hall that the majority of members think that criticising drinkers for not choosing real ale is counterproductive. Encouraging people to come back to beer from other drinks is the first important step, and once they’ve discovered the wide range of beers available our job is to educate and help them discover the delights of real ale, ciders and perries. This will reinforce the message that we’re a campaign for, not a campaign against, and also remind people that when they denigrate those choosing to drink ‘non-real ales’, they are not speaking for Camra.” The conference agreed to continue backing campaigns such as There’s a Beer for That and the Cyclops scheme. It also voted to support the practice of serving real ale from KeyKegs, “bag in ball” draught beer containers.

Kilmartin brothers open third restaurant in north east: Brothers Sean and Tim Kilmartin have opened their third site in the north east, Italian Stove in Ocean Road, South Shields. The restaurant serves traditional Italian food as well as seafood, and changes its menu every month. The siblings also run The Tavistock in Stanhope Road, South Shields, and The White Lead, in Hebburn. Sean Kilmartin said: “We wanted to have a presence on the seafront and Ocean Road was the obvious choice. We have different specials every day too depending on what the fishermen catch. All of our meat and fish is local.” The restaurant created 16 new jobs, bringing the total employment figures across the three venues to 75.

Cocktail bar owner to open piri-piri restaurant in Beverley: The owner of a cocktail bar in Beverley, East Yorkshire is to open a piri-piri restaurant called Cosmo’s in the town. The new venue, founded by Ali Tekce, owner of the Kubana Cocktail Bar in Saturday Market, is taking over the corner premises formerly occupied by the Ranch bistro in Wednesday Market, which closed recently. It will be run by Eyyup Demir, the former manager of Lucia’s Wine Bar & Grill in North Bar Within. Demir told The Hull Daily Mail: “I am really excited to run my own place. I have been in Beverley for five years and know the area and the people. Beverley is a very popular place – people like coming here.” Demir said the Wednesday Market area will also benefit when the £120m Flemingate regeneration site opens this autumn. “It will be really good for Beverley because more people will go out in the town instead of going to Hull.”

Founder of I Love Vapour cafe chain defends latest opening after BBC Radio attack: The founder of the I Love Vapour cafe franchise has defended his latest opening, in Ampthill, Bedfordshire, after residents objected to the cafe opening in their town on a BBC Three Counties radio talk show. Ian Quinn said he opened the cafe on Dunstable Street three weeks ago after the success of branches in Leighton Buzzard and Luton. The Vapour Cafe serves coffee and sells equipment for e-cigarettes. Quinn said: “People coming into the cafe have been positive – our customers range in age from 20 to 60 and people have been travelling from London and Biggleswade and all over Bedfordshire to come to the cafe. On the radio show people said they didn’t like the building and they didn’t like the idea of a vapour cafe. But some of those people are chain smokers – I think it is a misunderstanding about what vaping is. I come from Ampthill and I designed the store to fit in with the antique shops on the street. Almost all of our customers are former smokers.”

Health officials admit claims made to try to stop restaurant’s alcohol licence bid were unfounded: Public health officials have been forced to admit that the arguments they put forward to try to prevent a restaurant and bar in Dundee gaining an alcohol licence to sell wines and craft beers with meals were without foundation. NHS Tayside claimed the allowing the Espress Oh! Café on Perth Road to sell alcohol could exacerbate problems with violent crime. On behalf of the health board, Dr Lynne Hamilton asked Dundee Council’s licensing board to refuse owner Barry Thomson an alcohol licence. She said that NHS Tayside was concerned that awarding a licence would only lead to over-provision of alcohol sales in the area and potentially do health and social harm. She also said that the area was “above the average rate for alcohol-related sexual crimes in Dundee”. When pressed by councillors, however, she and a public health colleague accepted that the numbers were “marginal”, and also accepted that it would be unfair to link the business to any particular risk. Solicitor Janet Hood, acting for Barry Thomson and his wife Tammy, told councillors: “To suggest that sexual crimes could be affected by my client’s cafe is beyond the bounds of making an argument.” Police in Scotland said it had no concerns about the award of an alcohol licence and its latest figures show a downward trend in crime in the area. Councillors voted by seven to one in favour of granting a licence. The Thomsons have spent £50,000 upgrading the kitchens and dining area at the cafe and hope to open by the end of May, having hired a chef with experience of fine dining restaurants. Barry Thomson told the Dundee Courier: “We want to match wine and Scottish craft beers with our meals and thankfully this decision allows us to do that.”

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