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Fri 17th Jul 2015 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Mitchells & Butlers could be hardest hit by the NLW, with Wetherspoon also vulnerable: Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) could the business hardest hit by the introduction of the National Living Wage, delaying reinstatement of the dividend until as late as 2018, Deutsche Bank warned yesterday. The company has 60% of its staff over 25 on the minimum wage, by far the highest in the sector, said Deutsche Bank. The broker downgraded M&B to ‘Hold’ but also forecast Wetherspoon could be see profit before tax down by as much as 25% as a result of the NLW unless it takes mitigating action. Analyst Geof Collyer said: “We see the greatest negative impact for M&B, with extra staff costs placing greater pressure on cash flows and possibly delaying dividend reinstatement until the 2018 financial year. Investors should look at which companies have a good track record for absorbing cost pressures without impeding margins (Greene King, Whitbread), or those with superior like-for-like track records (Greene King, Whitbread, Merlin, JD Wetherspoon), though be wary of those that have just driven top line sales at the expense of margin, or maybe to be fairer to JDW, driving the top line to make the same profit per site. By increasing starter wages by +8% in August 2015 following last year’s +5% increase, JD Wetherspoon no longer considers itself a Minimum Wage employer (according to the chief executive at the FY15 year end IMS call). Paying higher wages as we have discussed above has always been part of JDW’s attraction as an employer, along with the training and staff bonuses (£29m paid in FY14), 80% of which go to the group’s hourly paid staff. Our estimate of the potential NLW impact for JDW is £13m, but we are also forecast staff bonuses in FY18 of £36m, some £29m of which would be going to hourly paid staff. The group could easily switch some of this bonus to cover the additional NLW cost, if so chose to do. It could find a way around the NLW; if only it could find a way around the continual fall in operating margins at the same time.” 

Industry News:

Host of companies sign up for Professor Chris Muller’s Multi-site Management Masterclass: A host of sector companies have signed up to attend the next Multi-Site Management Masterclass led by Professor Chris Muller, on Friday 2 October. Those attending include: Good Life Diner, Beagle & Co, Banwell House, Hickory’s Smokehouse, Brewhouse & Kitchen, Benito’s Hat, PubLove, Paul UK, Maxwells, My Lahore, Taylor St Baristas, Roadchef, Corbin & King, K10, Forum Cafe Bars, McMullen, Small Batch Coffee, Fuller’s, Spirit Pub Company, Bulldog Hotel Company and Baabar. 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.”

Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin branded a ‘hypocrite’ for objecting to National Living Wage: The Daily Mail has branded JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Marin a hypocrite for objecting to the National Living Wage proposals. The newspaper reported that the company’s lowest-paid workers earn £6.35 an hour if they are over 21, meaning an employee working an average 35-hour week would take home £11,557 annually before taxes – more than 30 times less than the £353,000 collected by Martin last year. But Luke Hildyard, deputy director of the High Pay Centre, said Martin’s comments were ill-judged and branded him a “hypocrite”. He told the newspaper: “There’s something pretty ugly about the multi-millionaire owner of a massive business bleating about having to pay his staff enough money to live on. Everyone wants businesses to flourish, because this benefits the whole of society by creating jobs and growth. But if those jobs don’t even enable workers to put food on their table and a roof over their heads, then the benefits to society are lost and support for business-friendly policies is undermined.”

Heart surgeon set to launch new burger bar concept in Croydon: A heart surgeon is set to launch a new burger bar concept in Croydon. Dr Aziz Anjum, a consultant vascular surgeon at Epsom and St Helier Hospital in Carshalton, is opening Moj Y Moj at the former Red Square bar in the High Street. Anjum is aiming to open the restaurant, which will be “Ritz quality at McDonald’s prices” with his wife by November. Moj Y Moj, which means “fun” in Punjabi, will have an Indian influence and all the burgers are Anjum’s own recipes. He told the Croydon Advertiser his “high quality” of ingredients and having “everything in moderation” meant his burgers would come recommended. Anjum, whose wife would mange the restaurant while he continues to work at the hospital, added: “I can say they are tasty. As long as you don’t eat burgers every day then it is fine. We will be slightly cheaper than our competitors like the high-end burger chains but I can promise that we will be better.”

Starbucks pledges to open 15 stores in ‘under-represented communities’: Starbucks has pledged to open stores in 15 diverse, low to medium income urban communities across the US, with at least five stores expected to open in 2016. These stores will be a key strategy in achieving the company’s previously stated goal of hiring 10,000 Opportunity Youth – young people between the ages of 16-24 who face systemic barriers to meaningful jobs and education – and the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative’s collective goal of hiring 100,000 Opportunity Youth by 2018. Starbucks will open the first of these stores in the Englewood neighbourhood of Chicago’s south side; the West Florissant neighbourhood in Ferguson, Missouri; the Jamaica neighbourhood in Queens, New York; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and will remodel its store at 7th and Camelback in Phoenix, Arizona. Each of these locations will have an onsite training space where young people can learn valuable customer service and retail skills. Starbucks also plans to collaborate with local women and minority-owned contractors and businesses in the design and development of these stores, and work with women and minority owned suppliers to bring locally-made food products to the stores.

Jamie Oliver – I’m looking to focus on cooking and writing: Chief Jamie Oliver has hinted that he is looking to end involvement with his restaurant business. Asked if he would consider closing some of his businesses, Jamie told The Times: “Absolutely. Whatever. Closing. Selling stuff on. Selling stuff to management. I just want to really concentrate on cooking and writing, and that’s it. I’m currently reviewing my life, trying to focus in. Reducing the things we’re doing,” he added.

Company News:

BrewDog secures Soho site: Scottish brewer and bar operator BrewDog is to open its latest bar in Soho after agent Davis Coffer Lyons sold the former B-Soho on Poland Street on behalf of a private operator for an undisclosed sum. BrewDog currently operates 21 bars in the UK and nine internationally with six more in the pipeline. It is also planning to open a new brewery in Columbus, Ohio. The 4,000 sq ft bar unit benefits from trading space across ground floor and basement with large bar areas. Jonathan Moradoff, associate director at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “Due to its excellent location in the heart of Soho this was a highly desirable site and we had a huge amount of interest from a wide range of operators. BrewDog is an excellent operator and we have no doubt that they will be a valuable addition to the area’s vibrant bar scene.”

Better hotdog concept Hungerdog secures first site: Better hotdog concept Hungerdog, led by Tim Mills, former operations director at Pho and head of operations at Paul UK, has secured its first site, located in Camden, opposite the Koko club on the high street and due to open at the end of August or early September. Mills said: “Hotdogs in the UK are a variety of food that has neither been served as a particularly decent quality nor offered in a dynamic venue whereby the hotdogs are created in front of the customer, served from a smoking grill. All of our fresh and delicious toppings will be proudly on display; there’ll be none of the common sticking it all together behind a wall. Our range of hotdogs means everything to us. The range will consist of pork and beef sausages as well as an exciting vegetarian option and you’ll even be able to create your own dog! None of our toppings are bought in, everything is made by us, without any additives or preservatives, using the most healthy ingredients possible. We have given every ingredient within our hotdogs equal focus, this meaning we wanted to give our bread as much attention as our sausages and toppings. It took us well over seven months to find meat and bread suppliers who were able to produce products to our exact specification as our bread had to be handmade fresh every night, with a touch of sour dough and our sausages received from farms of only the highest accreditation. We were adamant to not serve brioche-flavoured bread that disintegrates in your hand, nor would we serve smoked sausages that overpower the toppings and often feel like rubber!”

The Snug reports 12% like-for-like sales growth in first quarter: The Snug, the seven-strong operator of neighbourhood style bars and kitchens, has reported like-for-like sales growth of 12% in its first quarter. The first quarter saw The Snug celebrate its tenth anniversary, with an update to all branding, and refurbishments across most sites, to bring all venues in line with the new revamped look. The High Wycombe and Cambridge sites will be updated later this summer. This first quarter saw the opening of the new Snug in Ware, following an initial period trading as a pop-up. Team member turnover has been halved, in just one quarter, by focusing on bespoke training and “exciting” incentives – successful team members have been rewarded with holiday vouchers, festival tickets and gig tickets. The Snug also received recognition this year for its innovative cocktail menu, winning the “Best Cocktail Menu” in the Hertfordshire Food and Drink awards in June. Giles Fry, owner of The Snug, said: “Guest feedback is becoming ever more important to us as a business and this first quarter we’ve utilised the feedback we’ve had to react accordingly and change guests of The Snug into full blown fans, which has helped us to achieve higher sales across the period. The next quarter will see us continue to focus on growth across the sites we already own, bringing in more customers with our consistently strong customer service and our much loved comfort food and cocktail offerings.” The Snug’s seven sites are located in Hertford, Hitchin, St Albans, Ware, High Wycombe, Cambridge Lensfield Road and Cambridge Grafton.

Ed’s Easy Diner set to expand in Northern Ireland with second Belfast restaurant: Ed’s Easy Diner is set to expand in Northern Ireland by opening a second restaurant in Belfast – just weeks after launching its first venue in the country. The company is lining up a site in Castle Street and has applied to Belfast City Council to open the new restaurant in units previously occupied by gadget shop Gismo and Phones4u, reports the Belfast Telegraph. It comes just weeks after the company opening its first venue in Northern Ireland, which was also in Belfast at the new Boucher Square development, creating 25 jobs. Ed’s Easy Diner has more than 30 restaurants across Britain and is one of the UK’s fastest-growing food chains.

New bar and restaurant opening today on former Loungers site in Formby: A new bar and restaurant will open today (Friday, 17 July) on the site of a former Loungers bar in Formby, Merseyside. The Hop & Horn, which offers cask ales, draft beers, an extensive wine list and its own brew – the Hop & Horn pale ale – as well as food, is an independent venture by a group of friends. It is launching on the site of the old Haro Lounge, which closed in February some 15 months after Loungers invested £500,000 opening the venue. Co-founder Sean Gallagher told the Southport Visiter: “There is definitely a gap for what we are trying to do. We are working with local suppliers and an exciting chef to deliver a fast-casual dining experience offering gourmet burgers, piri piri style chicken and indulgent brunches that you would normally have to travel in to Liverpool or Manchester for. The completely remodelled upstairs space will host a calendar of events including weekly live music, sports and comedy and be available for private functions. At the crux of it all though is a desire to create somewhere new and different for the local community to come and dine as a family or enjoy a night out in a group of friends.”

North west freeholds occupied by restaurant operators sold: The Manchester home of restaurant The Botanist has been bought for just over £7m, reflecting a net initial yield of 5.47%. Acting on behalf of CBRE Global Investors, which was itself representing the Shell Pension Fund, property consultancy King Street Commercial oversaw the acquisition of 76-80 Deansgate. The 34,346 sq ft building is home to The Botanist and La Tasca while the upper floors are vacant. Meanwhile, King Street Commercial has also completed the acquisition of the 5,400 sq ft Amba Lounge in Hale for private clients at a price of approximately £1m showing a net initial yield of 7.75%. In addition, it sold the 2,706 sq ft Restaurant Bar & Grill in Alderley Edge on behalf of a private client to a property investment company at a price of about £1m reflecting a net initial yield of 5.8%. Darren Moorhouse of King Street Commercial said: “The leisure industry is a very active sector of the market and these three prime properties are home to highly successful restaurant operators in established popular locations.”

Tampopo to unveil evolved format in Manchester: Pan Asian restaurant Tampopo is to feature a “reinvented” design when it reopens at the Corn Exchange development in Manchester at the end of September. Tampopo was one of the few restaurants to be based in the previous Corn Exchange incarnation, and will be the longest-standing Manchester brand when the redeveloped complex opens as a drinking and dining destination in September. The new Tampopo will be a brighter, more colourful and vibrant expression of Pan Asian food culture. There’ll also be a bigger emphasis on the natural world with bamboo, greenery and exotic flowers in abundance, contrasted with commercial imagery and bright lights that abound in the cafes of south east Asia. David Fox, co-Founder of Tampopo, said: “After 18 years, this is only the second evolution of the Tampopo brand. A lot has changed in south east Asia in that time. We wanted to capture the current, cool, but fun, cafe-style dining that is prevalent in many areas from where we draw our inspiration. This has western and colonial influences, but is a style very much ‘owned’ by the south east Asian culture. Our food will be, as ever, the best cuisine of its kind in Manchester, and our new facilities, such as private dining, mean there’ll be even more scope for Tampopo good times – bring on the next 18 years!”

Filmore & Union extends crowdfunding for 15 days: Yorkshire based healthy eating brand Filmore & Union is extending its crowdfunding campaign for a further 15 days after “overfunding” and exceeding its target of £500,000 in less than 45 days. The company launched its crowdfunding campaign with Crowdcube in May and has raised a total of £654,070 so far from 174 investors, in return for 16.75% equity in the business. Filmore & Union has decided to extend the campaign to accelerate the group’s growth, which will increase the value of the company for investors and make the business more attractive to a purchaser within the timeframe covered in the business plan. The company was founded in 2011 by Adele Carnell, a former wellness clinic owner, and nephew Will Pugh, a Michelin trained chef, who were frustrated at the lack of healthy, unprocessed food on the high street. It now operates at seven locations across Yorkshire serving pure, natural and wholesome food both to eat in and take out with a Central Production Unit (CPU) to maintain consistent quality and contributing to a turnover in 2014 of £3.145m. Carnell said: “It’s been amazing to have been supported by so many people who love our food and concept and we can’t thank everyone enough for their investment and support so far. We’ve not only had support financially in raising our target but we now have some new board members who are loyal customers of Filmore and will be supporting us in other ways as well as being brand ambassadors. We’ve decided to extend our fundraising period as we’re still getting so much interest so we want to make sure that everyone who wants to has the opportunity to invest in us.”

TGI Friday’s confirms 71st site to open in Staines, one of biggest UK restaurants: TGI Friday’s has confirmed it is to open in Staines before the end of the year. Friday’s will open in the popular Two Rivers, which has been rated in the top 20 best retail parks in the UK. The new 7,000 sq ft restaurant will have 250 covers, making it one of the largest Friday’s in the UK. David Carroll, property director for TGI Friday’s UK, said: “This will be our 71st restaurant opening in the UK, and we couldn’t be more excited about expanding and welcoming more people to the Fridays family. We are thrilled to be a part of the Two Rivers and we think that TGI Friday’s will be the perfect fit for locals looking to let their hair down and enjoy our famous food and drink.”

Le Bistrot Pierre applies to open first Birmingham site: Le Bistrot Pierre has lodged plans to open its first site in Birmingham, creating 30 jobs. The company has applied to Birmingham City Council to convert the grade II-listed Waterside House in Gas Street, which was formerly the head office of the Worcester and Birmingham Canal Company, into a restaurant. The new venue includes a seating area outside with views overlooking the building’s courtyard and Birmingham’s famous Gas Street Basin. Rob Beacham, co-owner of Le Bistrot Pierre, told the Birmingham Post: “With restaurants in nearby Leamington and Stratford, our customers in the local area have been keen for us to open one of our restaurants in Birmingham. We have been looking for a suitable location in Birmingham for a while and are delighted our plans are moving a step forward. We will be situated in a prime location near the water and a great part of the city.” Le Bistrot Pierre, which has 13 sites across the UK, announced in 2012 it wanted to open its first restaurant in Birmingham.

Yu and You and Piccolino set for Alderley Edge: Two new restaurant brands are set to open on the site of a former bar and restaurant in Alderley Edge, East Cheshire – one of which is to start expanding. Chinese restaurant Yu and You, which was once chosen by Gordon Ramsay as the “Best Chinese in the UK”, will open its second site on the first floor of the former Panacea venue in London Road in the autumn. The company, which has a restaurant in the Ribble Valley run by brothers Victor and Vinny Yu – who founded their business with father Charlie – specialises in creating modern Chinese cuisine with a traditional but contemporary twist. Victor Yu told the Macclesfield Express: “We’ve been looking to expand the business and open a second site for a while now, but we wanted to find the right location first. Both Vinny and I think Alderley Edge is a fantastic place that will complement the restaurant’s sophisticated style and food offering.” Yu and You will be joined by Individual Restaurants’ Italian brand Piccolino, which will be moving into the ground floor of the building by the winter. Panacea closed in 2013 after fire gutted the building.

Greene King plans Farmhouse Inns site in Oldbury, West Midlands: Greene King has applied to build a £3m flagship Farmhouse Inns site at part of the first phase of a new regeneration project at Oldbury’s Birchley Island. The site, between the island and the slip road for junction two of the M5, has previously been earmarked for a hotel and casino but both schemes were scrapped by developers. A planning application said the new-build would create 80 full-time and part-time jobs. The scheme also includes a car park with 95 spaces.

Nick Batram – shareholders should look for an opportunity to exit JD Wetherspoon: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Nick Batram has advised JD Wetherspoon shareholders to look for an opportunity to exit its shares after this week’s update warning of cost pressures. He said: “The cold reality of the increased costs being faced by the group hit the shares hard. However, it is not just staff costs that give rise to concern for JDW. Management admit visibility is difficult, whilst they have guided to flat/slightly better operating profits in 2016, they are not confident of how this will be constructed. There may be some recovery in the share price following yesterday’s correction and if this is the case it would present an opportunity to exit. When pushed on how the 2016 guidance would be delivered (ie mix between margin and volume), management admitted that they didn’t have much visibility at the current point in time. There is clearly pressure on costs (rising staff costs were already putting pressure on margins prior to the new living wage), while product mix is also having some impact. However, the general direction of the strategic plan remains unchanged despite the fact that the rate of margin erosion is barely being offset by top line growth. Share buy-back propping up earnings per share but little else: the shares have barely gone anywhere over the past two years, but then again this is also true for its pub peers. Nevertheless, at least Greene King and Marston’s have rewarded shareholders with above average yields and some positive share price performance. JDW has used its cash to buy-back shares and this has helped earnings per share rise circa 30% over the past five years (against profit growth of less than 10%). However, the bigger driver of sentiment is likely to be profit momentum and the outlook for this isn’t exactly exciting. Our discounted cash flow fair value is reduced to 711p (from 770p) and at this level the free cash flow yield (pre-expansion capex) would be circa 10% – which should provide some support. The shares may rally after (Wednesday’s) sell-off and if this is the case we would view at as an opportunity to exit.”

Chipotle to launch ‘Friend or Faux’ to stress the quality of its ingredients: Chipotle Mexican Grill is to launch, on 21 July, an online game, Friend or Faux, that compares its ingredients to its competitors in the limited-service segment in the US. “There’s been a lot of talk recently about fast-food companies removing artificial ingredients from their food, but most of these announcements cover only a portion of the thousands of additives used in processed foods,” Mark Crumpacker, Chipotle chief creative and development officer, said. “Through ‘Friend or Faux’, we are giving consumers an entertaining way to contrast the collective beauty of Chipotle’s food with the complex ingredient lists that make up many fast-food and packaged food items,” Crumpacker said.

Oaks opens in Nottingham: Oaks restaurant and bar has opened in Nottingham serving locally sourced food cooked over burning wood embers. The new dining concept on Bromley Place is serving up a range of handmade sausages created to the chef’s own recipes, with ingredients ranging from chicken, asparagus, ricotta, sage and lemon zest to wild boar, purple broccoli and smoked mozzarella served with mashed potato. The freedom and respect chicken is marinated for 48 hours to bring out the essence of flavours like honeydew beer and black pepper and the burgers range from beef and bone marrow to soft-shell crab. The diverse range of craft ales are delivered by nearby Castle Rock brewery. Oaks uses a smoking hot grill, a cooking technique currently only seen in a handful of restaurants in the UK.

PizzaExpress make changes to controversial Ludlow plan: PizzaExpress has made changes to its controversial plan to open in Ludlow town centre to appease local opinion. The changes at the restaurant, which will replace The Marches, involve the removal of some exterior lighting and the way the windows will be painted. Cllr Andy Boddington, who represents Ludlow on Shropshire Council, believes that the new designs are an improvement. “The new scheme is much improved by removal of intrusive exterior lighting and a more acceptable painting scheme that highlights the windows,” he said. “To my mind, the black frontage at ground floor level is still rather dour for a lively market square. I would also have liked the hanging sign on the street to have been rectangular in keeping with other signs around the town centre. However, I no longer object to this décor scheme.”

HowYa adds two extra functions: HowYa, the “at table” rating system, has added two unique new functions to its customer feedback and management tool system – a social media analysis tool and an automated TripAdvisor review function. The new social media analysis function, free for premium customers, tracks all social media activity relating to the business, giving the owner or operator all the information needed to react swiftly to customer comments via social media, without trawling the internet. The next stage, currently in development, will allow the restaurant manager to respond via the HowYa portal direct to any messages on Twitter and Facebook. The second new function, available for both premium and its free to use FREEmium app service, allows operators to opt for an automated email to be sent to customers as they leave the restaurant inviting them to post a review direct to TripAdvisor. “We have added these two extra functions as a result of client demand,” said Melanie Joseph, head of sales and marketing at HowYa. “The social media function provides an added dimension to our offer and makes managing social media for businesses so much easier. By adding it to our system it becomes one less business tool our clients have to source at additional expense elsewhere.”

TCG unveils Christmas booking push: Managed pub and bar group TCG is launching its Christmas 2015 sales campaign, aiming to smash last year’s record booking figures and ensure than even more customers celebrate the festive season in its venues. Dedicated Christmas co-ordinators at each TCG site have been equipped with tools needed to persuade customers to book their seasonal events as early as possible. Booking forms and festive menus are on display and the co-ordinators are promoting TCG’s offer to local businesses and organisations with early bird deals and special offers. In 2014, TCG took more than 17,500 advance bookings for Christmas functions across the business, ranging from small groups to large office parties and covering every style of event from a drinks reception and finger buffet to the full turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Ben Levick, director of operations, said: “Our approach is always to equip our teams with the tools they need to make their pub or bar the best in its area – and Christmas is no exception. From our quality venues such as Henry’s Café Bar right through to our community pubs, we have a range of offers tailored to our target customers. It’s a hugely competitive market and much of our success in 2014 was due the success of having a Christmas co-ordinator at each site focused on delivering the style of festive celebration that each customer wanted. We’re building on that this year with a support package that will enable our co-ordinators to get even more bookings ‘in the can’ early.” TCG’s Christmas 2015 package varies by venue, and includes: five different price bands for both sit down meals and buffets; drinks packages including a wide choice of beer, wine and spirits; activities including cocktail masterclasses; early booking incentives and Christmas showcase events for local businesses; and “Plan my night” party co-ordination to ensure guests make the most of their event. Levick added: “Flexibility is the key, with budgets varying widely, which is why we have a broader range of food options than ever. On the drinks front, some customers want a glass a glass of champagne or prosecco, while for others Christmas is all about a pint of cask ale or even a round of sambuca shots. We aim to ensure that every customer gets exactly the Christmas party they want.”

Gerry O’Brien celebrates 30 years at Fuller’s Churchill Arms: The legendary Gerry O’Brien celebrated 30 years as manager of The Churchill Arms, Kensington, last Sunday with a street party for all his long serving customers, friends and family. O’Brien has served nearly two million pints of London Pride since coming to the Churchill Arms. As well as successfully driving business every year at The Churchill Arms, O’Brien has also trained a number of people who are now running their own Fuller’s pub. His attention to detail, love of beer and commitment to the Churchill Arms has seen him win many awards, including the Evening Standard Pub of the Year, London in Bloom and, most recently, was a top ten finalist in Visit Britain’s Tourism Superstar Awards. Una Moir, Gerry’s area manager, said: “Gerry is a true asset to Fuller’s. It is an honour and a privilege to work with him on a daily basis. Gerry works at 100 miles an hour. He has enormous enthusiasm, energy and an effervescent personality. Whenever Gerry walks in behind the bar, everyone feels so uplifted. He has a natural flair to make people feel very special, which is why people from all over the world travel to see him. He is a great entertainer, charismatic, and has a great presence. I would like to say the most enormous thank you to Gerry for looking after all his customers so passionately for the last 30 years.”

Wahaca to open Bristol site next week: Wahaca will open its Bristol site, located in the Clifton area of the city next week on Thursday, 23 July. The planning application to convert the site from a retail premises to a restaurant was approved earlier this year, as was the brand’s alcohol licence. Outside of London, Wahaca opened in Cardiff in November last year, but the Bristol branch will be the next to open in the UK. On the Bristol menu the refried beans will come topped with a sobrasada made nearby at Trealy Farm and the new tostada uses the first Marine Stewardship Council-certified crab in the UK.

Former Deltic managers to re-open Crawley nightclub: Adam Foxley and Kieran Laville, who previously managed Deltic Group’s Liquid and Envy and Moka venues in Crawley, are to reopen JJ Whispers on the High Street as Six Degrees with a capacity for 700 people. The club will open next month with a dedicated cocktail bar as well as a nightclub. Plans are also being worked on to have a shisha area and karaoke booths. The ground floor of the building is separately going to be run as a tapas restaurant by a different team.

Multi-site pub owner take ownership of Vale of Glamorgan Brewery: The Vale of Glamorgan Brewery is under new ownership. Sean Murphy and Serge Luceau, directors of Knife & Fork Food, along with Phil Newbould, former manager of The Pilot pub, and Joe Roach, former barman at The Pilot, are the new owners. Murphy trained under celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay and Paul Rankin. The new owners said they would work closely with expert brewer Dave Walbeoff, who has worked at the facility for ten years, and are aiming to expand beer sales throughout Wales and the UK. They plan to continue making the six core beers currently brewed by the Barry-based brewery and intend to experiment with their own products. The brewery will supply the four Knife & Fork Food pubs across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan. Murphy said: “We’re lucky enough to be taking on an already successful business, but ultimately our aim is to really expand the brewery’s exports, not just in Wales but UK-wide. It’s a very popular industry and especially competitive market, so it’s important we’re positioning ourselves at the forefront here. Our connections with Knife & Fork will be hugely beneficial, and it’s a great opportunity for both businesses to work alongside each other.”

New West End hotel proposed: A joint venture between Grosvenor and The Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels Limited is proposing a new 190-room hotel and up to 28 apartments on Grosvenor Place. The hotel, named The Peninsula London, will replace the existing 1960s office buildings on the site and will contain shops, bars, restaurants and a ballroom. The proposed building also includes 24-28 residential apartments with a separate leisure and spa facility, reception and entrance on Halkin Street. Subject to planning approval, construction is expected to begin in summer 2017. Peter Vernon, Grosvenor chief executive, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to shape a very special corner of London. For over 300 years Grosvenor has carefully curated its London estate in Mayfair and Belgravia and The Peninsula London is another important step in our journey. This high-quality development is sensitive to its surroundings, sustainable and will support around 2,800 jobs in the wider economy. It will enhance the West End’s reputation as one of the world’s foremost places to visit and a driving force for the UK economy.” Gerald Eve is advising the JV partners on planning.

CAU partners Action Against Hunger in August: CAU, the restaurant group offering contemporary cuisine inspired by the vibrancy, colour and cultural diversity of Buenos Aires, is launching #CAUnival at each of its 12 UK sites, in association with children’s charity Action Against Hunger, in August. #CAUnival, inspired by the South American festival Dia del Amigo (a public holiday across Argentina which celebrates friendship, kindness and sharing), will be a month-long campaign, featuring a range of events and promotions, a set #CAUnival menu and a feasting menu (which customers can hire for up to 16 friends and family). An interactive social media competition will also be taking place, where daily prizes including tickets to Wireless Festival, premium Spotify memberships, cases of CAU wine as well as CAU burgers and steak sandwiches, which will be delivered to homes and offices by Deliveroo. Daily #CAUnival editorial content celebrating friendship, including ideas and tips for parties and fun things to do with friends, will be posted across each of the CAU social media platforms, and will include customised video content. Additionally a customised #CAUnival playlist will be built and played in each restaurant during August, with tracks appearing on the social platforms. A special competition for children will also run in each restaurant, where kids will be invited to colour in their own section of a giant #CAUnival paper chain, with the most creative winning tickets for a family day out at Thorpe Park. £1 from every #CAUnival menu ordered will go to Action Against Hunger.

Digby Jones joins Thatchers board: Somerset-based Thatchers cider has announced Lord Digby Jones, former CBI director-general, has joined its board. He will join the company in a non-executive role. Lord Jones was director general of the CBI for six years and also served for a time as minister of state for UK trade and investment. He now holds a number of non-executive and advisory roles at British businesses in addition to his cross-bench role in the House of Lords. Lord Jones said: “I am thrilled to be joining such a fabulous family business at such an exciting time. Thatchers is expanding both in the specialist lines they deliver and in the markets they sell to, especially new export markets around the world. I look forward to helping them as they go from strength to strength.”

Premier Inn looking to build £7.1m 80-bedroom hotel and restaurant in Bridlington: Whitbread-owned Premier Inn is looking to build a new £7.1m 80-bedroom hotel and restaurant in Bridlington in East Yorkshire, creating 45 jobs. The company has earmarked the 140-space Beaconsfield car park in the town centre, owned by East Riding Council, for the hotel. Since the authority owns the land, it must agree to sell it before a planning application can be submitted. The council’s cabinet is due to consider the sale at a meeting on Tuesday with officers recommending it goes ahead. Council leader Cllr Stephen Parnaby told the Hull Daily Mail: “Such inward investment and job creation is part of our overall regeneration strategy for Bridlington and we would look forward to working productively with the operator. A national brand hotel would complement the existing guest accommodation in Bridlington to bring even more tourists and conference visitors to the town for the benefit of local shops and services.” The car park was already due to close and be replaced by a coach park, which would need to be relocated if the sale goes ahead.

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