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Thu 9th Jul 2015 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

YO! Sushi reports early success at directly managed US locations: YO! Sushi has reported success at its first two directly managed locations in the US, located in Paramus, New Jersey, and Sarasota, Florida. “Both places have had an exceptional reception from all sorts of people,” Alison Vickers, YO! Sushi director of development told Nation’s Restaurant News. She said that the New Jersey location opened to “awe and wonder”, and has since built a regular clientele. The Florida restaurant, meanwhile, “had a line out the door, and it continues to have a line out the door,” she said. “That’s been really exciting for us.” YO! Sushi currently plans to expand in the eastern US with company-owned locations, targeting sites in an opportunistic fashion. The company also wants to target non-traditional sites like airports, where the chain has operated successfully elsewhere. Vickers said there are dedicated Japanese suppliers that can supply much of its ingredients, like sushi rice and sauces. And she reported New Jersey has an “amazing fish supply chain”. “We’ve worked very hard on our supply chain,” Vickers said. YO! Sushi has tweaked its menu to satisfy the American palate. “A few menu items have changed,” Vickers said. For instance, in the UK, YO! Sushi serves two large rolls of sushi. In the US, customers prefer four smaller rolls. “We’re a flexible business,” Vickers said. “We react to change pretty quickly.” Americans love choice, she added, and international concepts have to consider portion sizes when they move into the US. At the same time, Vickers said, much of what the chain sells is well known. “Sushi is universal,” Vickers said. “It looks the same everywhere. A piece of nigiri is a piece of nigiri.”

Industry News:

Azzurri Group set to buy Coco di Mama: ASK Italian and Zizzi owner Azzurri Group is set to buy the Italian quick service operator Coco di Mama, according to The Times. Coco di Mama opened its sixth London outlet on Margaret Street last month. It offers ‘simple, flavoursome’ Italian dishes ranging from pasta items to freshly prepared salads, baguettes and premium coffee. Founded in 2011, the brand has sites on Fleet Street, London Wall, St Pauls, Monument, and Houndsditch – and has a turnover of circa £5m. The concept was founded by former City workers and “pasta fanatics” Daniel Land and Jeremy Sanders who decided, after travelling around Italy, there was a lack of quick but high quality Italian food options available in the UK. On previous trips to Italy, the pair often complained that a mediocre bowl of pasta in London would cost £9. “I wanted to pay £4, and we felt there was no reason it couldn’t be done,” Land told City AM last year. In the evenings and weekends the pair would design sauces suitable for mass production, and ask friends and family to lend their ideas and their palates. The first recipe was put to paper in 2009, although the business didn’t launch until 2011.The intervening period was spent sourcing ingredients – “I’ve spent the past five to ten years going to all the farmers’ markets in London and trying different restaurants,” added Land, who has taken on the role of head chef. Shareholders include ex-M&S chairman Sir Stuart Rose, Arjun Waney, who has backed Suma and Roka restaurants, and former colleagues. The business uses Climpson & Sons in Hackney to create a hand ground roast. 

Meantime founder Alastair Hook named as Brewer of the Year: Meantime Brewing Company’s founder and master brewer Alastair Hook has been named Brewer of the Year by the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group. The announcement was made at the group’s annual awards dinner held at One Great George Street in Westminster and attended by MPs, peers and leading lights of the UK brewing fraternity. As the founder of Meantime Brewing Company, Hook is most notably attributed as one of the true pioneers of the craft beer revolution in the UK. With humble beginnings in a small flat in Greenwich, Hook’s decision to establish one of the UK’s first modern-craft brewery’s came in 2000 when he, and a group of likeminded friends, grew tired of the mass-market homogenisation of beers at the time. Andrew Griffiths, MP for Burton and Uttoxeter and chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, said: “Alastair Hook is one of the most passionate and inspiring brewers not just in the UK, but in the world. One of the pioneers of Britain’s thriving craft beer scene, Alastair’s dedication and knowledge is second to none.”

New restaurants planned as part of Solihull shopping centre expansion: A planning application has been submitted to expand Solihull’s Touchwood shopping centre. The expansion would see the addition of 30 new shops, restaurants and cafes and the creation of a new open street leading from the High Street to a new courtyard. The plans also include a covered arcade to link Touchwood’s existing atrium with the new courtyard. The project has been made possible through a development agreement signed in October between Touchwood’s owners Lendlease and Solihull Council. It would see two existing council buildings demolished to make way for the 115,000 sq ft extension, with the council concentrating all its operations in the neighbouring Church Hill House building, its main headquarters. The scheme would see a new opening on to Solihull High Street, which would involve a number of businesses, including Melvyn Danes estate agency, BB Boutique, Revital Health Shop and Letting Places, being forced to move. The Missoula bar and grill would also close as part of the development.

Taco Bell launches delivery at 200 US restaurants: Taco Bell has launched a delivery service at more than 200 restaurants in Los Angeles, Orange County, California, the San Francisco Bay Area and Dallas in partnership with DoorDash, Nation’s Restaurant News has reported. The restaurants are the first wave to offer the service, but the quick-service operator aims to offer delivery nationwide, potentially in every city where Taco Bell and DoorDash operate. Taco Bell has about 6,000 units in the US, and DoorDash offers its service in 250 cities, including 15 major metropolitan areas. The delivery provider expects to double its current footprint to more than 500 cities by the end of the year.

Hospitality Action launches awareness campaign: Hospitality Action, the industry’s benevolent charity, has unveiled a new hard-hitting advertising campaign, featuring images of five of the UK’s most renowned chefs having fallen on hard times and aims to raise awareness of the charity and issues that affect hospitality workers both past and present. The UK wide campaign depicts Hospitality Action Patron and Trustee Jason Atherton struggling with an addiction, Angela Hartnett illustrated as a victim of domestic violence, Tom Kerridge portrayed as someone suffering from a critical illness, Heston Blumenthal, principal patron of Hospitality Action portrayed as suffering a serious injury and Ashley Palmer-Watts shown as a sufferer of depression. Atherton said: “The support and assistance Hospitality Action gives is invaluable. The charity offers aid, kindness and understanding when people are often at their lowest and most vulnerable and this is a real life changer for many, myself included, and cannot not be underestimated.”

New drink-drive legislation is ‘crippling’ Fife pubs: New drink-drive legislation is “crippling” Fife’s pubs, it has been claimed. Bob Young, the region’s licensing board chairman, has told The Courier that he intends to meet Scottish government representatives to discuss ways to assist the beleaguered licensed trade. Young has said that the introduction of a new drink-drive limit in December has had a “huge effect” on the industry and is hoping to raise his concerns with the Scottish government later this summer. He added: “There has been a massive impact on people’s drinking habits. The most extreme case that I have heard was a downturn of 90% and golf clubs have been hit hard in particular. One brewery does have 26 or 27 golf club customers and they say that the downturn on average is 60%.” The new drink-drive limit was introduced before last Christmas, cutting the legal amount of alcohol from 80mg to 50mg in every 100ml of blood.

Company News:

Whitbread plans to add 30,000 bedrooms to current 59,000 Premier Inn stock in Scotland: Whitbread plans to meet very strong demand for bedrooms in Scotland by adding 30,000 additional rooms to its current Premier Inn stock in the country. The company is in talks with Angus Council and its partner Hermiston Securities over acquiring space at their Orchardbank Business Park in Forfar. It is understood the chain would submit plans for a Premier Inn, consisting of 60 bedrooms or more. Premier Inn’s head of acquisitions for Scotland Kevin Murray said: “As we respond to tremendous customer demand, we are looking to invest in sites and build more Premier Inns across Scotland. We’re keen to come to Orchardbank Business Park and are currently working on the details for a deal which, subject to legal contracts being concluded and planning permission, could see us bringing a 60-bedroom Premier Inn to Forfar, as well as jobs and investment.”

Wear Inns looks to make acquisitions after £8m finance deal: Pub operator Wear Inns is looking to make acquisitions across the north region after it secured an £8m refinancing agreement. The company operates a portfolio of 26 public houses in the north east and Yorkshire. Founded by chief executive John Weir and chairman John Sands, with support from NVM Private Equity and latterly the Business Growth Fund, Wear Inns has grown through acquisitions since 2005 and last year reported annual turnover of £13m, with similar results expected for this year. The funding arrangement with NatWest includes new facilities to accommodate investment and funding for future acquisitions. Wear Inns has been a NatWest customer for the last decade. Simon Duckworth, finance director at Wear Inns, said: “We are embarking on a series of acquisitions across the north east and Yorkshire regions which will enhance our portfolio of customer-focused pubs. We have developed a strong relationship with NatWest and know we can depend on the bank’s ability to come up with pro-active and innovative funding solutions which meet our business needs.” Liam Glennon, NatWest director of structured finance north, added: “We were delighted to support Wear Inns on this latest funding arrangement which will accommodate the company’s growth plans. It’s an exciting time for Wear Inns and we wish them every success for the future.” The deal was also supported by NatWest relationship director Michael Cross.

Papa’s Fish and Chips to open world’s biggest fish and chip restaurant in East Yorkshire: Papa’s Fish and Chips is to launch the world’s biggest fish and chip restaurant in Willerby, East Yorkshire, at the end of the month. The company is opening its flagship venue on the site of Woody’s Bar And Grill in Great Gutter Lane East, which at 10,000 sq ft would be the world’s largest by floor space. Owner Sid Papas bought the site for £1m and is spending another £250,000 on refurbishment work for the 280-seater restaurant – the company’s first in East Yorkshire. A museum about the UK’s favourite dish that features a traditional chip shop to give guests an insight into the origins of the trade will open alongside the restaurant. Papas told the Hull Daily Mail: “With Hull being UK City of Culture 2017, and with it being a historic fishing port, it just made sense for it to have the biggest restaurant as well. The museum will look amazing.” The restaurant will focus on traditional battered fish and chips, but there will also be prawns, mussels and grilled seafood on offer. Famous Hull patties will also be sold. Papa’s produces batter to a “secret” recipe developed in 1973 and said it uses only regional produce and sustainable fish. The family-owned company, which was founded in 1966 in Margate, Kent, has about 15 restaurants nationwide.

Greene King to cut staff at £3m Farmhouse Inns pub hit by salmonella outbreak: Greene King is to trim staff numbers at a flagship new-build £3m Farmhouse Inns site that opened in April but suffered a food poisoning outbreak in May. A total of 99 people have now reported being taken ill after eating at the Anson Farm restaurant on Teesside Industrial Estate in May. Of those, 49 have been confirmed as salmonella infection, said Public Health England (PHE) North East. All confirmed cases of salmonella are associated with eating at the restaurant before control measures were put in place on 22 May, said PHE. PHE said it is not expecting any further reports of illness, and its outbreak control team will release the results of its investigation in the autumn. The local newspaper reported a number of staff at the pub are facing redundancy. Paul Currie, manager of the Anson Farm, said: “Anson Farm has not maintained the high level of trade that we saw when we initially opened in April and as a result we have to adapt the size of the team.”

Ten restaurant brands sign up to Qube development at Intu Metrocentre in Gateshead: Ten restaurant brands have signed up to the new £17m Qube leisure zone development at the Intu Metrocentre in Gateshead. Five Guys, Bella Italia and La Tasca are coming to the shopping centre owned by Intu Properties. TGI Friday’s is taking the most space – 7,100 sq ft – while The Restaurant Group will have two brands – Coast to Coast and Chiquito, which has a 4,850 sq ft unit. They will be joined by Ask, Subway and Thaikhun, a newcomer to the north east, along with Mexican chain Barburrito, which announced it was coming to the complex last month. Tenants will move in to fit-out their units in January and the 58-week project is due to be completed next March. Kate Grant, regional director of Intu, told Chronicle Live: “When it’s complete, the extension plus the existing Qube area will have 24 restaurants in all plus the leisure facilities, adding to the appeal of an already popular centre. A choice of dining, from grab-and-go to casual dining, is an important part of a contemporary shopping centre experience such as at Intu Metrocentre.” The Qube was created in 2009 at a cost of £45m and houses the likes of PizzaExpress, Zizzi and Wagamama and an Odeon cinema. Intu Properties announced last year it was extending the area to increase the centre’s dining options and replace the dated Mediterranean Village, which was originally opened in 1996 close to the former food court and Metroland.

Domino’s launches Apple Watch tracking app: Domino’s Pizza has launched an Apple Watch app in the US that will enable users to track their orders. “Domino’s is always looking for ways to continue leading the e-commerce industry with our customer-focused technology, and our new app for Apple Watch is no exception,” Dennis Maloney, Domino’s vice president and chief digital officer, said. “Partnering with the world’s leading technology innovator to give Domino’s customers yet another way to track their order is one more way we hope to make customers’ experiences even better and more convenient.” The Apple Watch app is a tracking app, rather than an ordering app. It lets customers track the status of their pizza order from the time it is placed, to when it is in the oven, to when it is ready for pick up or delivery.

Freehold of pub let to Spirit sells for £1.37m at auction: The freehold of the Willow Tree in Worcester Park, Kingston, Surrey, let to Sprit Pub Company on a rent of £74,000 per annum, has sold at an Allsop commercial auction for £1.37m. Spirit has signed a 28 year lease that began in April 1995. The buyer earns a gross initial yield of 5.4%. Meanwhile, a Camden freehold restaurant let to Wagamama on a lease expiring in 2024 on a rent of £223,000 per annum, rising to £250,000 in January 2019, is still available for £4.75m. 

Imbiba reports ‘small amount’ of capacity for investors in new Wright & Bell brand: Investment fund Imbiba, which founded and sold Drake & Morgan for more than a five times return for investors, has reported that there is “a small amount of capacity” for investors in its new Wright & Bell investment – the deadline for investment in its Leisure EIS fund is 31 July. The pitch states: “The first site for Wright & Bell is already agreed. It is in an outstanding location in Central London and will provide a significant springboard for Imbiba from their previous innovative concepts. Imbiba believes that constant innovation is key to remaining ahead of the market and maintaining a competitive advantage. The plan for Wright & Bell anticipates opening six sites to help redefine and further evolve the leisure and hospitality market in Central London. The outlets will be bar/restaurants, with strong emphasis on the bar element. The drinks market in the UK and globally has changed radically in the last few years. With an explosion in the ‘craft beer scene’ and other artisanal drinks, these niche products have driven profit growth in the category and are now mainstream revenue drivers, delivering new formats and taste innovations, with an honesty and authenticity that traditional larger brands struggle to provide. The trend of ‘Going Local’ with spirits has followed suit with gin being a notable example. As small, artisan distilleries have started appearing, the market is no longer left entirely to Gordon’s or Bombay Sapphire. These new entrants include East London Distilling Company, Sipsmith, Dodd’s and Jensen. In addition there is already a similar movement within the soft drink market, with brands like Fever-Tree and Eager beginning to establish themselves.”

Multi-site bar operator to launch new high-end restaurant and bar concept in Nottingham: Multi-site bar operator Eddie Rathour is to launch a new high-end restaurant and bar concept in Nottingham on 20 July. Rathour, who also runs 13 bars including Fat Cats in Sherwood, Nottingham and Derby, is opening The Bear and Lace on the site of the former Chambers Pub in Maid Marian Way. If the concept works out, there are plans to introduce it to other cities. The Bear and Lace, which covers two floors, will serve a vast selection of champagne, cocktails, craft ales and fine wines alongside food such as lobster and cheese. Rathour told the Nottingham Post: “We brainstormed a number of names but the Bear and Lace really stood out. The bear half comes from Nottingham being a forest and the lace was inspired by the famous Lace Market – it was very fitting. The only thing is, it isn’t a place for children. It’s more for date nights or office parties. We want to rub shoulders with the most successful bars and restaurants in Nottingham – and hopefully go a bit further.” General manager Lewis Poole added: “If this all works out, we’d like to mirror the brand and introduce it into other cities. PizzaExpress did it and we are working to do something like that again.”

McDonald’s to boost size of Quarter Pounder: McDonald’s plans to increase the size of the raw patties it uses for the Quarter Pounder to 4.25 ounces before cooking. The patties currently weigh in at four ounces, a quarter of a 16-ounce pound. McDonald’s has also started toasting its sandwich buns longer. Executives are hoping the juicier burgers will help boost sales as business in the US has declined in six straight quarters. Steve Easterbrook, the restaurant chain’s chief executive officer, said: “These little things add up to big differences for our customers.”

Beefeater to launch new Mr Men and Little Miss-inspired kids’ menu: Beefeater, the restaurant brand owned by Whitbread, is launching a new Mr Men and Little Miss-inspired kids’ menu on Tuesday, 14 July. The Mr Happy main dishes include Little Miss Trouble’s penne pasta and Mr Noisy’s bangers and mash. The Mr Tickle’s tastebud ticklers starters feature fun veggie sticks with sour cream and chive dip and among Little Miss Naughty’s desserts is Mr Jelly’s wobbly jelly and ice cream. The company is also giving away a free Mr Men or Little Miss toy with every two or three course meal from 20 July and there are six to collect in total.

Tapas restaurant and bar Neon Jamon set for expansion with second Liverpool site: Liverpool-based tapas restaurant and bar Neon Jamon is set to expand with its second site, this time in the city centre. The brand, which already has a site in Smithdown Place in south Liverpool, is planning to open a 120-cover restaurant in a vacant unit in Berry Street at the end of August. General manager Chris Bloomfield said the concept was being expanded following the success of the initial venue, which has even hosted A-list celebrities after Hollywood actor Samuel L Jackson went there with friends in May. Bloomfield told The Liverpool Echo: “It will be exactly the same template as here [Smithdown Place] and the menu will be the same – it’s exciting times.” A licensing application has been made to Liverpool Council in the name of Tribeca Bars, which also oversees Neon Jamon’s sister restaurant TriBeCa. The bar and pizzeria has two venues in Liverpool including one in Berry Street just a few blocks down from the proposed Neon Jamon.

Former ALMR executive Jade Craig sets up new company: Former Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers commercial business manager Jade Craig has set up her own company, Inntegra. She said: “We are a young but experienced new business, full of enthusiasm to bridge the gaps in the hospitality industry. We aim to help others get to where they want to be, with networking, brand awareness to social media, project management and events, training and development, sponsorship and funding.” Visit her website at www.inntegra.co.uk

Young’s reopens Canonbury Tavern in north London run by Oisín Rogers: London pub and hotel retailer Young’s has reopened the Canonbury Tavern in north London following an extensive refurbishment. The grade II-listed pub, now run by landlord Oisín Rogers – who has moved from The Ship in Wandsworth – boasts a new bar, restaurant, private dining room and expansive pub garden. The bar features a mixture of seating includes high tables and leather banquettes and the back wall of the 80-cover restaurant has 200-year-old reclaimed oak panelling. The private Blue Room dining area has a black marble fireplace and space for up to 46 guests or for receptions with 75 people. The garden, where the grill menu is available through the summer, includes navy picnic benches. The main menu features modern interpretations of British classics including slow-cooked belly of pork with savoy cabbage and bacon and potato croquettes and there are a selection of real ales, craft beers and wines available. The Canonbury Tavern has been a public house since the early 1700s.

Bella Italia opens biggest leisure park site to date: Casual Dining Group’s Bella Italia brand has unveiled its largest leisure park restaurant, with the opening this week of a 5,414 sq ft site in Hemel Hempstead. Casual Dining Group describes the restaurant as being “hugely significant”. The £1m restaurant opened at the Hertfordshire town’s Jarman Fields leisure park, which has been the subject of a major refurbishment, and serves a local population of almost 260,000, including from neighbouring St Albans, Amersham and Berkhamsted. Owned by Tesco Pension Fund, the site is close to the M1 motorway and features a cinema complex, which is set to be expanded with restaurants, an ice rink, gym and a Tesco superstore. Phil Derbyshire, group property director at Casual Dining Group, said: “This unit is hugely significant to the brand. It’s on strategy for our current out-of-town/retail and leisure park growth plans, and at 5,414 sq ft, is the largest out-of-town Bella site to date. Its size has allowed us to innovate with the offer, providing a fully-serviced holding bar, and further develop our popular gelato operation.” Bella has signed a 15-year lease on the unit, which will be open all day, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Aparthotel firm names target countries for expansion: The UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Nordics are target areas for expansion for leading aparthotel operator Staycity, which will operate over 2,000 apartments by the end of 2016. Speaking at yesterday’s (Wednesday, 8 July) Serviced Apartment Summit in London, Staycity chief executive Tom Walsh said many of the key European cities offered a healthy mix of business and leisure guests. This, coupled with a current undersupply of serviced apartments, has prompted the company to actively seek properties across Europe. “These markets are very resilient in tough times and show impressive trading in good times so they are the obvious places to gain a foothold,” said Walsh. “The mix of business also suits the Staycity offer and gives us a balanced customer base.” Dublin-based Staycity currently operates 1,000 apartments across eight European cities – Birmingham, Dublin, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Paris and Amsterdam. In March 2015 Staycity obtained in excess of €20m-worth of capital funding from Swedish investment firm Proventus Capital Partners, enabling it to accelerate expansion plans. New Staycity apartments will open this year in Lyon and Birmingham Newhall Square with further openings next year in Marseille, Covent Garden and York. By the end of 2016 Staycity will have doubled in size. Walsh added: “It’s an exciting time for Staycity. We are currently seeking properties across our key target markets and have a healthy ongoing development pipeline and a number of deals to be announced shortly.” 

Dunkin’ Donuts to introduce fruit smoothies and other frozen drinks across its American stores: Dunkin’ Donuts is introducing fruit smoothies and other frozen drinks across its American stores. The company trialled a number of frozen drinks in selected US markets earlier this year and is now rolling it out across the country. The new additions include two varieties of freshly prepared fruit smoothies – strawberry banana and tropical mango – with real fruit and creamy low-fat yogurt. The company is adding other items such as a frozen version of its hot drink Dunkaccino that combines mocha and coffee flavours. A low-calorie version of its Coolatta drinks range called Coolatta Lite, which come in varieties including strawberry, vanilla bean and mango passion fruit, is also being made available.

Merlin plans castle-themed hotel extension at Legoland: Merlin Entertainments has submitted plans for a castle-themed hotel extension to provide 61 “premium” bedrooms at its Legoland Windsor resort. The company wants to construct the three-storey building on the site of the existing ‘”Dino Safari” ride, which it plans to demolish along with a nearby toilet block. Other features of the 38,000 sq ft extension will include its own lobby/reception area and restaurant/bar seating space. It is anticipated the restaurant will serve breakfast and daytime drinks and snacks. The extension will also feature an outdoor seating deck and play area on the southern side, overlooking the lake. Four public exhibitions were held about the proposals between 10 to 13 June, including meetings with local councillors, the local residents’ association and the general public. If approved, the new hotel extension is expected to open in early 2017.

Ed’s Easy Diner set to open second Kent branch in Canterbury: Ed’s Easy Diner is set to open its second branch in Kent, this time in Canterbury. The company, which also has a restaurant at Bluewater shopping centre, is due to open in Gravel Walk in early October. Ed’s chief executive Andrew Guy said: “Canterbury is the perfect location for our upcoming diner and we are looking forward to introducing locals and visitors to Ed’s this autumn. We will be working closely with employment charity Springboard and hiring about 25 new staff from the surrounding area.” The company has about 35 sites across the UK with openings planned in Blackpool, Chester and Woking.

SSP to operate restaurant services at Luxembourg airport: SSP will operate a 1,100 square metre restaurant area at Luxembourg’s main airport. Among the brands to open at the terminal in Findel are SSP’s artisan bread and sandwich brand Panopolis (another first for Luxembourg), Lux Brewery, Moselier and Petit Moselier, and Starbucks. The surface area used up by shopping and restaurant services will grow by 20% to cover more than 2,000 square metres. An important addition will be an offer of food and drink in the non-Schengen boarding area, where there are currently only vending machines. Renovation will get fully underway during the winter season, with the project to be completed by spring 2016.

The Art of Dining to launch new pop-up restaurant with gourmet school dinners concept in east London: The Art of Dining is launching a new pop-up restaurant based on the concept of gourmet school dinners in east London. The company, a collaboration between Moro trained chef Ellen Parr and artist set designer Alice Hodge, will be serving up five courses of “posh school dinners” at the Round Chapel Old School Rooms in Clapton. The restaurant will be popping up on 22, 23, 24, 27, 29, 30 and 31 July and 1 August between 7.30pm and 11pm. Parr’s menu features alphabet spaghetti with a summer squash and parmesan broth with sage and walnut pesto and cardamom and sour cherry spotted dick with pistachio custard and charred peaches. The Round Chapel Old School Rooms will be transformed into a retro dining hall by Hodge including black boards on walls, tables that can be drawn on and globes. Customers will receive on arrival a pencil case containing their cutlery, a school tie, a printed homework book containing the menu and a cocktail. The Art of Dining’s previous themes include Gone Camping, Hackney-on-Sea and A Night with the Mistress.

Chapel Down hires new managing director for wines: Chapel Down, the listed English wine and drinks producer, has hired Mark Harvey, formerly business development director at LVMH, as its new managing director, wines. He joins on 14 September and will report to chief executive Frazer Thompson and is expected to join the board before the end of the year. Thompson said: “We are delighted to welcome Mark to the team. He joins at an exciting time. There are huge opportunities and challenges ahead in both English wine and beer and we need the very best talent at Chapel Down to ensure that we are able to better build our business and our brands. Mark brings a wealth of experience in luxury drinks development as well as the personality and intelligence to help us shape the future of the English wine industry. His appointment will enable us to make our wine and beer business as good as they can be.” Harvey added: “I’m thrilled to be joining the Chapel Down team at such an exciting time for the English wine industry. We have a winning combination of outstanding wines, a fantastic team and world-class customers. I’m really looking forward to the challenges and enormous opportunities ahead.”

Fever-Tree reports strong start to 2015: Fever-Tree, the supplier of premium carbonated mixers for alcoholic spirits, has reported it has continued to perform strongly in the first six months of 2015. It is anticipated sales in the first half of 2015 will be approximately £24m, 61% ahead of the prior year period. June was a particularly strong sales month, although it was accentuated by certain customers and importers building inventory in advance of the summer season. Given the strong sales in the first half of the year and in particular in June, the board anticipates the results for the full year will be materially ahead of board expectations.

Plan for restaurant conditionally passed in Nottingham’s Creative Quarter: Plans to redevelop two buildings in Nottingham’s Creative Quarter to create a new restaurant, gallery, offices and luxury housing, have been conditionally approved by the city council. An application to redevelop 3-5 High Pavement was submitted by Nottingham’s Ecologic Homes on behalf of developer Baldwin Property Consultants in May. The development site is located next to Stonegate Pub Company’s Missoula Montana Bar & Grill. The plans proposed a change of use for a five-storey building at the site, which is fronted by a three-storey grade II-listed property. Following conditional approval, the five-storey building could now be converted into gallery space at basement and ground floor levels, while the attic will be transformed into a penthouse apartment complete with a balcony. The remaining floors will be retained for office use. The other property is set to become a restaurant, although an occupier has not been named.

Propel hosts Professor Chris Muller for Multi-site Management Masterclass: Propel Info is hosting the US’ leading thinker, teacher and author on multi-site foodservice management, Professor Chris Muller, at its next Multi-site Management Masterclass on Friday 2 October. Leading UK businesses such as Mitchells & Butlers and TGI Friday’s have sent staff to be taught by Professor Muller at Boston University’s School of Hospitality – now Professor Muller is returning to the UK to lead this bespoke day. His interactive seminar will include contributions from Welcome Break chief executive Rod McKie and Sticks ‘n’ Sushi UK managing director Andreas Karlsson. The event will provide valuable insights for founders and area managers of small and medium-sized multi-site companies and area managers of large companies. Tickets are £345 plus VAT and £295 plus VAT for ALMR members. To download or view the leaflet as a PDF file please CLICK HERE. To book tickets please contact: adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com. Tony Hughes, non-executive director at The Restaurant Group, said: “Chris is THE world authority on the restaurant industry, the go-to man if you want expertise and knowledge and this is a rare opportunity to see a true master giving a Masterclass presentation.”

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