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Tue 28th Jul 2015 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Cabana accelerates expansion plans outside London with Southampton and Watford sites: Cabana, the award-winning Brazilian barbecue group led by Jamie Barber and David Ponte, is accelerating its expansion outside London with its tenth and 11th sites in Southampton and Watford. The company has taken up a 3,703 sq ft unit on the upper promenade of the new £80m WestQuay Watermark complex in Southampton being developed by property company Hammerson that is due to open next year. A spokesman for Hammerson told the Daily Echo: “Cabana, which will bring a real taste of Brazil to the south coast with its relaxed dining atmosphere and authentic Brazilian barbecue food, is a great addition to restaurants that have already signed up including Jamie’s Italian, Wahaca, Byron, Five Guys and Bill’s.” Cabana is also one of three restaurant brands that have signed up to be part of Intu Watford’s £100m Charter Place redevelopment scheme where it has taken up a 3,020 sq ft unit. Barber said: “Intu Watford is already a popular shopping destination and the new extension will really strengthen its appeal making it the perfect location.” Also signing up to Intu Watford is Casual Dining Group’s Latin American-inspired brand Las Iguanas, which has agreed a 3,500 sq ft unit, and burger company Byron, which has taken up a 3,700 sq ft unit. Cabana completed a £5m equity raise last week to help fund expansion and has also just signed for its ninth site in the redevelopment of the Manchester Corn Exchange. The company, which launched two years ago, currently has six sites in London with a seventh in Brixton due to open in September. Its only site operating outside the capital is in Leeds, which opened in November last year and had been a “runaway success”. Earlier this year Barber said he had set a target of opening five new Cabana sites a year for three years.

Industry News:

Pizza Hut UK owner to consider sale options later this year: The private equity owner of Pizza Hut restaurant business will start to look at a sale of the business later this year, its chief executive has told The Daily Telegraph. Rutland Partners bought the UK restaurant franchise from US giant Yum! Brands in 2012 and, since then, Pizza Hut has embarked a £60m refurbishment programme that has helped to return it to profitability. Rutland typically holds onto its investments for between three and five years, said Jens Hofma, the boss of Pizza Hut. “We’re approaching our three-year anniversary in November so they will start evaluating options, in terms of what sort of exit they will potentially contemplate,” he told the newspaper. While discussions about a sale are always ongoing, those talks will intensify in coming months, Mr Hofma said. “I would imagine there would be quite a few interested parties,” he added. Suitors would likely include other private equity firms or overseas trade buyers. A stock market float is also possible, he said. He was speaking as the restaurant business unveiled annual results that showed profits after tax rose to £3.3m last year, from £1.7m in 2013. Pizza Hut has now recorded two straight years of after-tax profits and, after closing a host of underperforming sites, is preparing to open its first new locations since 2011. Pizza Hut has 280 restaurants and hopes to open between four and five sites annually from next year.

Industry operators form partnership to promote pub accommodation: Industry operators and trade bodies have formed a group to promote pub accommodation. The group is chaired by Paul Nunny, of Stay In A Pub, and includes British Beer & Pub Association, Visit England, Inapub, Eviivo, Enterprise Inns, Punch Taverns and Young’s. The group has agreed to: draw-up a set of guidelines and best practices for the sector so they can meet the customers expectations; encourage pubs to gain star ratings as inns for their accommodation from either Visit England or the AA – this helps to promote the pub; to work with Visit England to encourage tourists to use pub accommodation – for incoming tourism the pub is ranked third in the places to visit; commission research on the health of the pub accommodation sector and benchmark performance; encourage journalists to write about the sector and its offering; create a Stay In A Pub Week to coincide with English Tourism Week; generate a regular newsletter for the industry. A Best Practice Guide is due out in September, populating the Pubs Are Great tourism website with accommodation. A total of 1,400 pubs with accommodation are now listed on www.stayinapub.co.uk and a PR agency has been appointed to promote the sector. In the autumn new research on the sector will be published. Nunny said: “Why do customers want to stay in a hotel and B&B’s when they can stay in a pub and have a good standard of accommodation, sociability of the pub, good honest pub food with some gaining Michelin star ratings and drinking great cask ale? Wouldn’t it be great for Visit England not only to have a section for hotels and B&B’s but also a section for pubs on its website and travel writers to mention pub accommodation as places to stay. Let’s get people thinking about Staying In A Pub.”

US craft brewer eyes initial public offering: US craft brewer SweetWater Brewing Company, which brews beers including 420 Extra Pale Ale, Take Two Pils, Hop Hash and Georgia Brown, is making preparations for an initial public offering. SweetWater would join Boston Beer Co, maker of Sam Adams, and Craft Brew Alliance, as one of the few publicly listed craft beer companies in the US. SweetWater, backed by private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners, is in talks with investment banks about a stock market flotation that could come later this year and value the company in the hundreds of millions of dollars. In 2014, the $19.7bn US craft beer industry saw 22% revenue growth, according to the Brewers Association. While the craft beer segment still only comprises 11% of overall beer industry sales, its market share has more than doubled since 2010. The industry has become so large that members of Congress this year sought to pass a law limiting the size of companies that could call themselves craft brewers. Founded in 1997 by former University of Colorado roommates Freddy Bensch and Kevin McNerney, SweetWater sold approximately 190,000 barrels in 2014, a 24% increase from 2013, according to market data.

More than one in three consumers still favour ‘full on’ waiting service despite rise in popularity of fast-casual dining says survey: More than one in three consumers still favour the “full on” waiting service despite the rise in popularity of fast-casual dining, according to a new survey. The research by online recruitment agency The JobsMenu.com showed 36.4% of the 750 respondents surveyed about how they feel about fast casual dining still prefer the traditional “full on” waiting service. 42.9% of respondents favoured a mixture of self-service and the traditional waiting experience while 19.1% preferred a self-service style of dining. Operations director at TheJobsMenu.com Ilona Alcock said: “While many people are embracing the self-service approach that fast-casual restaurants offer, there’s still a sizeable chunk of the population who won’t even entertain the idea.” According to global information company The NPD Group, fast-casual dining restaurants, such as Nando’s, Giraffe, YO! Sushi and Wagamama, have seen an increase of more than 11% in annual traffic since 2009. Meanwhile, a separate survey of 500 consumers by TheJobsMenu.com showed more than 75% did not feel the need to leave a tip in a fast-casual/self-service restaurant.

One Delivery franchise expands to Northampton: One Delivery, a restaurant takeaway franchisee that launched in Leeds two years ago, has opened in Northampton. The service runs daily every week – including Sundays – from 6pm to 10pm. When the web page opens, people type in their postcode, select the preferred choice of eatery, and then choose which items they want before purchasing their orders by either cash or card. A specialist kit is then used to keep the food fresh and warm en-route, with service charging a mark-up on the food of about 20%. The service delivers to all postcodes from NN1 to NN5, with the delivery charges being set at £3.95 for NN1, NN2 and NN5, and then £4.96 for NN3 and NN4. The minimum order is £10.

Redzepi moving Noma to Australia: Danish chef Rene Redzepi, whose Copenhagen restaurant, Noma, was named the world’s best restaurant four times in the last five years, is bringing the entire restaurant to Barangaroo in Sydney for ten weeks at the start of 2016. The decision, which will involve closing Noma back in Copenhagen, is a collaboration with Tourism Australia and Lendlease. Bookings will open later this year and the restaurant will be open five days a week. Earlier this year Redzepi moved the entire restaurant to Tokyo’s Mandarin Oriental for several weeks.

Bars, pubs and restaurants coming together on Thursday to support Team Margot Foundation for Live Your Life Day: Bars, pubs and restaurants are coming together on Thursday to help in the fight against blood cancer as part of the first Live Your Life Day. The initiative has been started by Beds and Bars chief executive Keith Knowles in memory of his late wife Franca, who died in 2014 and whose birthday was 30 July. This year’s charity is Team Margot Foundation, set up in memory of two-year-old Margot Martini, who died from leukemia in October last year, a few weeks before Franca Knowles. It is aiming to help bring awareness to the urgent need for more potential stem cell/bone marrow donors to help leukemia suffers with a transplant the best chance of survival if chemotherapy fails to beat the disease. A northern European and white person has on average a 50% chance of finding a match but for people from an ethnic minority or mixed race (as was Margot Martini) the chances drop to just 21%. Companies supporting the day include Glendola Leisure, Yummy Pubs, Greene King, Drake & Morgan and La Tasca, which will be raising awareness by giving out 150,000 cyan blue wristbands (Franca Knowles’ favourite colour) with every sale. For more information about the Team Margot Foundation visit teammargot.com

Analyst – pubs and restaurants poised for structural growth: Deutsche Bank leisure analyst Geof Collyer has argued pubs and restaurants are poised for structural growth given strengthening consumer spending power. In his industry update discussing the outlook this summer Collyer said: “We believe pubs and restaurants are poised for structural long term growth as they cash in on increasing consumer spending trends. While the National Living Wage poses some pressure, we believe several mitigating factors exist. Greene King is well positioned to boost profit growth with the acquisition of Spirit – we estimate we have a significant cushion in our forecasts to FY2020E.” In the report, Collyer said the long-term growth in the eating out market is providing scope for real growth for pubs and restaurants while freehold property bias means there is less pressure on companies to drive like-for-likes just to offset rent inflation. He added most groups are in much better shape, both operationally and financially, than for the past 20 years and improving employment, rising real wages and an upturn in the UK economy are contributing to the positive outlook. The pub and restaurant sector is also focused on affordable treats for value conscious customers “which should be a sweet spot as far as the future is concerned”. Collyer did note some key concerns. The “space race” with capacity growing at four percentage points (highest for six years) ahead of like-for-likes while the National Living Wage, would “significantly increase cost pressure”. Debt levels also remain an ongoing concern, though investors should focus more on fixed charge cover. Assessing the overall outlook of the leisure sector, he added: “Generally speaking we see limited scope for the sector to re-rate from here and so earnings per share growth and stock specific catalysts will be key. By sub-sector we are cautious on hotels given rising supply and unattractive valuations, but positive on cruising, gaming and pubs and restaurants. Stock picking in the current environment is important: our top picks are Carnival, Elior, Greene King, Playtech & Whitbread.”

Company News:

PizzaExpress applies to open second delivery site: PizzaExpress is planning to open its second delivery site, this time in Exeter. Permission is being sought for a change of use from retail premises to a takeaway at 47 Sidwell Street, occupied by Everwell Natural Therapy, and next door at 48 Sidwell Street, currently vacant and previously a sweet shop. The application from PizzaExpress is also seeking approval to create a new shop front and design. A decision will be made by Exeter City Council planning committee in the near future. The site is likely to follow the company’s first delivery store in Cambridge, which is due to open in the autumn. The opening of delivery sites constitutes the first major break with the PizzaExpress business model since the company was founded 50 years ago.

Panmure Gordon – we recommend shareholders take their profits at Whitbread: Analysts at Panmure Gordon have recommended Whitbread shareholders take their profits as the company faces an increasing risk profile. A note stated: “Whitbread has done well, carried higher by UK consumer recovery, the boom in cafe culture and execution of its roll-out plans. While the macro backdrop is likely to support current trading in the near term, we believe the hotel and coffee industry-wide race for space will inflate the cost and potentially slow the pace of expansion, dragging down returns and increasing debt levels. On this basis, Whitbread’s premium multiple is unsustainable as the shares start to factor in the increasing risk profile. Thus we recommend taking profits with a ‘Sell’ recommendation and 4,250p price target (both unchanged). On first glance closing net debt of £583m looks low but factor in the sizable pension deficit, capitalized leases of £700m capex with year and debt increases to £3.3bn or 3.3x EV/Ebitdar. Despite this, fixed charge cover of 2.2x provides headroom alongside a healthy debt maturity profile. However, leverage is increasing at a time when London, Edinburgh and many UK locations are entering the ‘late upturn’ stage of the hotel investment cycle – increasing both financial and cyclical risks.”

Joule’s completes second acquisition through sister company Stone Property:
Shropshire-based Joule’s Brewery has completed its second acquisition through a sister company Stone Property, in which it has a two-third stake. It has acquired The Beehive, on Honeywall in Penkhull, which was put up for sale by Marston’s earlier this year. Joule’s managing director Steve Nuttall said: “Stone will buy pubs and lease back to the operator and Joule’s will supply via our free trade team. There is no formal tie and Joule’s sells in a completely free market. We do, however, offer investment to Stone tenants, in this case for the purpose of funding a refurbishment.” Renovations to the building are set to begin later this year. Tenant Andi Lee, who has been at the pub for two years, said: “It really unsettled the residents when it was up for sale, but now it’s been bought everybody’s just so relieved. We’ve definitely had a pick-up in trade over the last week since the sign’s come down, people know it’s not going anywhere now. It’s a big boost for the village, and now we can start looking ahead to the renovations.” A spokesman for the brewery added: “The Beehive is due to have a refurbishment towards the end of the summer. With the intention to keep it as a traditional English pub with those familiar nooks and snugs, we are also pleased that the current landlady Andi will be staying to work at The Beehive.”

Marston’s confirms fourth city centre Revere site: Marston’s has confirmed it will open its fourth city centre Revere Pub Company premium site in Cardiff, Locke & Remedy. The site is centrally located next to the Cardiff Museum and will feature a destination bar offering premium cocktails, craft beers, real ales and wines. The all-day restaurant will serve a main menu of wood-fired pizzas and “adventurous prime-meat burgers”. Locke & Remedy follows the recent major refurbishment and reopening of The Fire Station, Waterloo in London. Colin Sadler, managing director of Revere Pub Company, added: “Cardiff has become known as a city with a vibrant hub of quality bars and restaurants, and many prestigious national brands have recently opened sites there. By opening Locke & Remedy in such a prominent location, we will bring a successful concept of modern informal drinking and dining right to the heart of the city. The simple yet perfected menu of wood-fired pizzas and burgers to feast on is based on premium ingredients with a new flourish.”

Simon French – we are forecasting 1.3% sales growth at M&B tomorrow: Cenkos leisure analyst Simon French is forecasting 1.3% sales growth and positive commentary around margins at Mitchells & Butlers when it reports its third quarter results tomorrow (Wednesday, 29 July). He said: “The stock has been weak in recent weeks reflecting concern and downgrades around the impact of the introduction of the National Living Wage in April 2016. We think this reaction has been overdone and assumes no management action to offset some, or substantially all, of the impact. Pre any downgrades to our forecasts we think the stock offers exceptional value trading on a CY 2016E adjusted EV/Ebitdar of 7.0x and a price-to-earnings ratio of 9.0x.”

Burning Night Group to open fourth Bierkeller with capacity for 1,000 customers: Burning Night Group will open its fourth Bierkeller on Saturday, 8 August in Cardiff, next to the Millennium Stadium. The Bierkeller complex, situated on the ground floor of Stadium Plaza on Wood Street, has three bars, with a licensed capacity of 1,000. There will be The Bierkeller, an original Bavarian-style bar, while Shooters Sports Bar and Grill will show all the latest sporting fixtures and offer an American style menu including nachos, chicken wings and burgers. In the Around The World Bar customers can choose from a selection of beers from across the globe. The 24,000 sq ft space will be home to 88 draught beer lines, 53 TVs and will feature a 50HL copper beer tank. There are also table-top kegs which have five gallons of beer for groups to share. Visitors to The Bierkeller can choose from 450 different drinks, handmade pizzas cooked in the two large pizza ovens, a selection of sharing platters, burgers and traditional German bratwurst. Zoe Field, business development manager, said: “This has been one of our biggest projects we’ve worked on. We’ve recruited around 100 jobs in all aspects of the business and hired local managers. Cardiff is such a vibrant city with so much going on. We’re in a brilliant location, with the new BBC headquarters coming opposite us and with the Millennium Stadium right next door, the atmosphere on any match day will be epic.”

Alex Jagger steps down at Mitchells & Butlers:
Head of internal communication and planning at Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) Alex Jagger, has stepped down after 20 years with the company to write a book. Jagger also worked at M&B as head of operational planning for 18 months as well as working in a variety of roles in operations and human resources.

Costa Coffee trials SuperDay Smoothies:
Costa Coffee is trialling a new SuperDay Smoothies range across two areas in the UK. SuperDay Smoothies have been created to answer a growing trend for UK consumers who search out real and healthy alternatives that help them stay refreshed during summer. The new Costa SuperDay Smoothies range is chilled containing real fruit, freshly blended with apple juice and ice that is then handcrafted into a smoothie that contains two of the recommended five-a-day. The SuperDay Smoothies are available in: grape, watermelon and strawberry; melon, apple, kiwi and pineapple; melon, mango and passion fruit. Carol Welch, group brand and innovation director at Costa, said, “We are excited about the trial which answers a real customer challenge. Eating a balanced diet is something we all strive to do. Extending the handcrafting skills of our baristas to offer fresh fruit smoothies containing two of your five-a-day provides even greater choice for our customers.” Costa’s SuperDay Smoothies will be available to customers across 35 stores in south Yorkshire and south east London from now until the end of September priced from £3.50. Costa’s full summer food and iced drink range is available in stores now.

Bolton entrepreneur expands business with new tapas restaurant, plans to roll-out concept if it proves successful: Bolton entrepreneur Mouloud Allaoui has expanded his business by launching a new tapas restaurant – and plans to roll out the concept if it proves a success. Allaoui, who owns Ciao Napoli in Mawdsley Street, has opened his latest venture The Tapaz Ristorante in Bradshawgate that serves up dishes such as paella, chorizo and fried calamari. Allaoui told the Bolton News he has decided to expand his business with a different offering to other restaurants in the area and has invested £120,000 in the new site, with the kitchen costing £50,000 alone. He said: “We are testing out this concept, and hopefully we can expand and create more restaurants elsewhere in the future. We hope with our new restaurant that we can bring people into the town centre and help improve it.” Allaoui received support from Bolton Council having been awarded a grant for fixtures, fittings and equipment.

Half Full Beer Co buys Ilkley Brewery: Half Full Beer Co has acquired Ilkley Brewery, which makes two million pints of beer a year. Half Full Beer Co is headed by former Ilkley Brewery manager Luke Raven. There will be immediate investment in expansion of production at Ilkley, leading to the creation of more jobs. Ilkley Brewery was founded in 2009 by Chris Ives, with Glentrool Capital Partners investing a mixture of debt and equity in 2011, enabling the brewery to quadruple its output. Ives said: “When I left the property sector and established Ilkley Brewery six years ago I had no idea it would be so successful in a relatively short space of time. I am extremely proud to have established Ilkley Brewery, and to have strategically guided it in the right direction. It is great to be passing over the reins to Half Full Beer Co which I know will continue my philosophy of brewing great beer.” Paul Nolan, of Glentrool Capital Partners, added: “Our investment in Ilkley Brewery has been very successful, having generated upper‐quartile returns, resulting in its performance attracting a number of suitors. However, we are delighted to have completed the deal with the team at Half Full Beer Co who are passionate about the business and recognise the potential growth of the company.” Richard Shelton, an existing director at Ilkley Brewery, will remain in post, with the aim of ensuring continuity and stability.

Newly-established Newcastle operator Purple Bear Bars set to open first venue at Star Pubs & Bars site: Newly-established Newcastle operator Purple Bear Bars is set to open its first venue after taking on a Star Pubs & Bars site in the city. The company, whose directors have spent their careers within the hospitality industry, has taken up the lease at the former Bar Fleet in Pudding Chare and is transforming the building into an all-American grill bar and restaurant. The Purple Bear smokehouse and cocktail venue is expected to create more than 20 jobs when it opens in September. Hospitality apprenticeships also form part of the plans. It will be set over two floors with a dining area on the first floor and a bar and dining area on the ground floor with capacity for more than 120 diners. The Purple Bar, which will open from 12pm to midnight Monday to Sunday, will specialise in St Louis-style grilled food while there will be a heavy focus on cask ales and cocktails. Marketing manager Ed Fairweather told ChronicleLive: “All three of the directors have a lot of experience and have been keen to run their own business for some time, and have been looking at various venues. This gave them the ideal opportunity.” Star Pubs & Bars owns more than 120 pubs in the north east that it leases to independent businesses.

Artisan pasta bar Pasta Sereni to launch first site in central London: Artisan pasta bar concept Pasta Sereni is to launch its first site in central London in September. The company, owned by Sandro Ferretti, Luciano Sereni and Fabio Beradi, is opening a 300 sq ft restaurant in Air Street, close to Piccadilly Circus. The venue will serve a menu of seasonal pasta dishes, soups, salads, desserts and Italian coffee alongside a wide selection of soft drinks. Feretti spent a lot of his youth in a kitchen as his father was a top chef, Sereni has worked on a number of successful real estate projects and “loves bringing joy to people through food” while Beradi “loves everything about Italian culture and food”.

Edinburgh restaurant and deli Henderson’s launches city’s first dedicated vegetarian outlet: Edinburgh restaurant and deli Henderson’s, which specialises in vegetarian dishes, launched the city’s first dedicated vegan outlet yesterday (Monday, 27 July). Henderson’s Vegan has replaced the chain’s Bistro in Thistle Street and manager Barrie Henderson said it was a response to “growing awareness and interest” in vegan food throughout the UK and across the city. He told the Edinburgh News: “We get more and more people coming to our restaurant for vegan food. We have seen it expand in recent years, and vegan diets have become more mainstream as a result of people like Beyonce and Jay Z.” The menu includes raspberry and almond salad and lentil and apricot-stuffed chickpea omelettes. Henderson’s, which launched in the 1960s, has a restaurant and neighbouring deli in Hanover Street.

PizzaBuzz launches in east London: PizzaBuzz, a new concept where diners can customise their pizzas, burratas and salads to eat-in or take away, has launched in east London. The brand has opened in the Alphabeta Building in Worship Street near Silicon Roundabout. Customers can choose from five fresh dough bases from the pizza bar and add their choice of toppings before their pizza is placed in a specialist wood-fire oven, which reaches temperatures of 350°C, for 90 seconds. There is also a selection of burrata pouches with unique toppings as well as freshly made salads. Even the dairy-free homemade Mamoo ice cream has a mix ‘n’ match edge, offering both traditional and novel flavours including vanilla, chocolate, pistachio and confit orange. The drinks menu includes Glera Frizzante prosecco on tap alongside a range of beers, soft drinks that can be customised in 125 different flavours and coffee. The restaurant, which is open from 9am-10.30pm Monday to Thursday, 9am-11.30pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 11am-10.30pm on Sundays, features unpolished timber, whitewashed brick, concrete, exposed vents and piping and a recurring honeycomb and hexagon theme. The layout encourages a casual flow of movement from ordering at the counter to grabbing dessert and drinks before selecting a seat. Diners can also use the FlyPay app to make additional purchases.

Michelin-starred fine-dining restaurant Galvin at Windows to allow some diners to ‘pay what they want’:
Michelin-starred fine-dining restaurant Galvin at Windows, which is run by multi-site operator brothers Chris and Jeff Galvin, is scrapping prices and allowing some of its diners to simply “pay what they want”. The restaurant, located on the 28th floor of the London Hilton in Park Lane, is letting a maximum of 12 covers each night enjoy a special five-course menu – featuring steak tartare and chocolate fondant – with no set price tag. The initiative will launch on Monday, 3 August and continue for as long as the restaurant finds it feasible to do so. If diners pay too little for the restaurant to break even, it will be cancelled. The menu will be available at lunch and dinner and diners wanting the deal will also only be able to book a maximum of two days in advance, and for a maximum table size of four. Drinks will be charged for as usual. The restaurant’s general manager Fred Sirieix told the Evening Standard he believed in his guests’ honesty and was “confident they will pay a fair price according to the quality”. The restaurant currently charges £70 for its three-course Menu Prestige and £110 for its seven-course Menu Degustation, both without drinks. A cheaper three-course Menu Du Jour for £33 is only available at weekday lunchtimes. Other London restaurants have run similar offers for limited times, including Bermondsey Street’s Tanner & Co two years ago. Last month the Galvins, who run restaurants in London and Edinburgh, bought the Green Man pub in Chelmsford, Essex, to convert into their first gastro-pub.

New Italian restaurant concept That’s Amore launches in Staffordshire:
That’s Amore, a new Italian restaurant, launched in Burslem, Staffordshire, yesterday (Monday, 27 July) with the owners already looking to expand the concept if it proves successful. Father-and-daughter team David and Tasha Boulton have opened the venue in St John’s Square on the site of a derelict shop, creating 14 jobs. They have drafted in Italian chefs from Tuscany to ensure the food is authentic and already have plans to set up branches in Stafford and Macclesfield if the restaurant proves successful. Tasha Boulton told the Stoke Sentinel: “That’s Amore will offer quality with style. We will provide classic, authentic food with a modern twist. We have been planning this for about two years and there’s a huge buzz about That’s Amore already. We’ve already got plans to open a couple more restaurants in the future.” As well as offering traditional Italian dining, That’s Amore also has a unique cocktail menu. The restaurant is open Tuesday to Thursday from 11am-10.30pm and Friday and Saturday between 11am-1.30am.

Kirkstall Brewery eyes expansion: Kirkstall Brewery in Leeds has submitted plans for a new larger facility at the site of a former milk distribution depot on the edge of the city centre. It has drawn up plans for a change of use at 100 Kirkstall Road where the business hopes to relocate later this year. If approved, the brewery hopes the move will support its ambition to become a dominant player in Yorkshire and allow it to expand and develop its range of imported and premium brands from around the world. The site would incorporate a warehouse and brewery alongside office space, a shop and a bar/café. Kirkstall Brewery’s current location is situated on the side of the Leeds Liverpool Canal, in the shadow of the original brewery. The business hopes to relocate to its new base towards the end of 2015.

London’s smallest craft beer taproom launches in Piccadilly: London’s smallest craft beer taproom has officially been launched in Piccadilly. The London Beer House, which measures just 15ft x 20ft and is owned by bar operator Nathan Lowry and curated by Horsham-based The Beer Collective, has opened in Charles II Street. It has kicked off with nine rotational keg beers and a wide selection of bottles and cans and will stage a series of events from 24-29 August for the inaugural London Beer House Festival. The festival starts with a craft beer and cheese matching hosted by beer sommelier Phil Harding from House of Boda, with cheese provided by Paxton & Whitfield, while the final event is a Pop Up All Grain brewing course by UBrew. Lowry also owns wine bar and wine merchant Pall Mall Fine Wine and the Marquee Club in Leicester Square.

British luxury travel website Secret Escapes receives £38m Google backing, set to launch into Asia: Secret Escapes, the British luxury travel website, has received £38m backing from Google’s European investment arm and is set to launch into Asia. Google Ventures has teamed up with venture capital companies Octopus, Index and Atlas to raise the funds for Secret Escapes, which has attracted 15 million members to its discounted hotel rates, reports The Sunday Times. Tom Hulme, a general partner at Google Ventures Europe, will join Secret Escapes’ board. Secret Escape’s revenues have grown more than 70% year-on-year. Co-founder and chief executive Alex Saint said: “We will start to look at Asia for acquisitions and growth. The wonderful thing is that business has followed the same path in every country in which we have launched. It gives you the confidence to launch in multiple territories.” Secret Escapes operates in 13 markets and has offices in Berlin, Warsaw, Stockholm and New York. It has raised more than £14m from angel investors and venture capitalists.

Technomic and Propel partner for UK and US foodservice trends and direction conference: Insights and research firm Technomic is partnering Propel for a full-day conference looking at UK and US foodservice trends and perspectives. The event is on Friday, 18 September at One Moorgate Place in London and attendees will also get a free copy of Technomic’s Top 500 US Chain Restaurant Report and the UK’s leading 100 foodservice brands worth a combined £800. Technomic’s vice-president Dave Henkes will give an industry update on UK foodservice and compare it with the US as well as providing forecasts and beverage trends in both markets. Fellow vice-president Darren Tristano will examine best practice in menu, concept and service among growth concepts as well as looking at consumer demands. Technomic’s Patrick Noone will provide insights on current UK trending menu flavours and preparations and consumer priorities and attitudes. Paul Damico, group president of Focus Brands – which operates several fast-food concepts in the US including Schlotzsky’s Bakery & Café and Moe’s Southwest Grill – will share best practices around creating a unique positioning, culture and growth strategy. Propel managing director Paul Charity will also lead a discussion of senior executives about current consumer trends, menu and beverage trends. Those taking part are: Jon Yantin, commercial director of the ONE Group, Chris Gerard, founder of Innventure, James Nye, managing director of Anglian Country Inns and Ben Levick, director of operations, TCG Group. Tickets are priced at the two-week early-bird rate of £295 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers and are available by emailing adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com

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