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Thu 13th Aug 2015 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Pub and restaurant like-for-likes up 1.1% in July, strongest trading in branded restaurants outside M25: Expanding casual dining brands are increasingly competing with pubs for out-of-home consumer spending, latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker show. In July collective like-for-like sales for the managed pub and restaurant market grew 1.1%, with the highest growth coming from restaurant groups. “While the overall eating and drinking out market continues to grow steadily, it is the growth of branded restaurant chains, especially outside of London that is driving the market,” said Peter Martin, vice-president of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group, Baker Tilly and UBS. “Restaurant operators in our Tracker sample collectively registered like-for-like growth of 4.3% last month – and 4.9% outside of London. In contrast, pubs and bars had an essentially flat month against the same time last year, with food-led pubs, including pub restaurants, collectively seeing a fall in like-for-like sales. It is a trend that we been seeing for some months now. Big name casual dining brands have been opening new sites, particularly away from London, and also improving their offerings, giving the public more choice – and the public has been taking advantage of that choice.” The Tracker numbers show total sales in July, which include the impact of new openings, were ahead 4.8% across the market as a whole. Within that, restaurant chains contributed a 9.2% total sales increase against July 2014, with a 12.3% increase outside the M25. “These figures simply underline the fast roll-out of new sites that casual dining groups are driving,” added Martin. “Where managed pubs are doing better is in London. Like-for-like sales were up 1.4% in July, with drink-led pubs, aided by better food sales, performing best. Alongside solid casual dining growth in the capital, this helped London to trade better than the rest of Britain in July, with like-for-likes up 2.1% compared to just 0.8% for the rest of the country. In a highly competitive market, the public is being given more choice than ever, and appears to be happy to be tempted by the new and different.” Trevor Watson, director at Davis Coffer Lyons, part of the Coffer Group, added: “The continuing strength of these results is being replicated in the property market with strong corporate demand for sites outside London. The central London market is equally strong, however. It is dominated by fast growing smaller independent operators, which are more difficult to track due to their size and emerging status. The health of the sector is also clearly reflected in recent corporate activity as well.”

Industry News:

Kate Nicholls to present at Bar and Nightclub Conference: Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) chief executive Kate Nicholls is to present at the Bar and Nightclub Conference, which is being held on Tuesday, 27 October at Bafta Piccadilly. Nicholls will provide an update on political and regulatory developments affecting the bar and late-night market. The conference, the first stand-alone event for this part of the market, examines the key issues affecting the markets with contributions from key figures within the sector. Tickets are free for operators and cost £145 for ALMR supplier members and £195 for ALMR non-suppliers. Tickets can be booked by emailing Jo Charity on

Nominations still open for 2015 ALMR Late Night Awards: Nominations are still open for the 2015 Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers’ (ALMR) Late Night Awards with the winners announced at this year’s Dusk ‘til Dawn awards event on Tuesday, 27 October. The Late Night Awards will follow the ALMR’s inaugural Bar and Nightclub Conference for the late night sector and night time industries, which is being held in partnership with Propel. Nominations can be made via the ALMR website at in the following categories: late night food, late night drink, late night entertainment, service and team development, marketing and promotions and late night venue. Initial nominations need to be submitted by Friday and up to three nominations can be made in each category. Nominations should be for the company, rather than individual outlet, with the exception of the best late night venue category. A panel of judges will then decide a shortlist for each category, which are then published for open voting. Participants can vote in all categories across multiple nominees, but may not repeat vote. The top three in each category are then announced in advance of the ceremony where the winners will be crowned. Tickets are also on sale for the event through Jo Charity by emailing and more information can be found on the ALMR website.

More than 11,000 different real ales now brewed in the UK: New research released by organisers of the Great British Beer Festival shows there are now more different real ales being brewed in the UK than ever before. With more breweries per head than anywhere else on earth, and an average of eight core beers now being produced by brewers – a staggering 11,000 plus in total – there has never been a better time to be a British beer drinker. Campaign for Real Ale head of communications Tom Stainer said: “The Great British Beer Festival is all about offering the widest choice of fantastic beers all under one roof. This year we have some really interesting beers for people to try, from beers aged in bourbon barrels or brewed with fresh oysters, to beers that are bright green or flavoured with chillies. We’re confident there’ll be a beer that everybody will love.” The research takes into account core beers as well as beers brewed for at least three months of the year, but doesn’t include the thousands of one-off specials, limited edition and seasonal beers brewed across the UK. This year the Great British Beer Festival will feature more than 300 British breweries, as well as hundreds of international beers, ciders and perries.

McDonald’s starts rolling out mobile app in the US: McDonald’s has started rolling out its new mobile app in the US and one of the main features is a loyalty programme for the company’s drinks. The app, which was made available recently for people in the San Diego area, lets people earn a free beverage after five purchases of McCafe drinks like coffees and shakes. The company said it plans to make the mobile app available nationally by October, after tinkering with variations in tests. McDonald’s chief executive Steve Easterbrook has conceded the company has been a “little behind some others” with its app. The McDonald’s app made available in San Diego this week is still fairly limited. It has a store locator and lets people scroll through the company’s menu and see the nutritional information for various items. Customers can’t order or pay for food through the app. Franchisees will also be able to promote the local deals in their respective regions through the new app. In the San Diego area, McDonald’s said initial offers include a buy one, get one free coupon for Big Macs. Meanwhile, McDonald’s is planning to shrink its estate in the US by 59 restaurants this year. The company is closing 184 restaurants and opening 125 new ones in 2015, according to a franchise operations document filed with the Minnesota Department of Commerce, reports Bloomberg.

Medical experts call for ban on smoking outside restaurants and pubs: Smoking should be banned outside bars and restaurants, leading medical experts have argued. The Royal Society for Public Health wants ‘exclusion zones’ around pubs, in parks and at the entrances to schools. Its proposal comes eight years after smoking was made illegal inside pubs, clubs and other public buildings. The society says reducing the ‘convenience’ of smoking will prompt more people to give up. Instead, they should be encouraged to switch to safer sources of nicotine such as e-cigarettes. Stopping smokers from lighting up in prominent public places will prevent them setting a bad example for children, says a report published by the society.

Restaurant rewards and pre-ordering app launches on Seedrs: Beli, an app offering customers the chance to pre-order at restaurants and earn rewards, has launched on crowdfunding platform Seedrs. It is offering 16.67% of its equity in return for £150,000 of investment – it has attracted £59,600 of investment so far, meaning it is 40% funded. The pitch states: “Time will be won back by ordering food and drink ahead while on the way to work, during your lunch break or on the weekend from your favourite coffee shops, sandwich bars and restaurants without having to queue, wait for preparation or pay with cash or a bank card. It will also help you record and track your calorie intake on a daily basis and set yourself goals towards achieving your personal eating plan and fueling your body with what it needs to perform better. Finally Beli will reward you on each use with points, which can be redeemed for exclusive rewards and food related experience.”

Shake Shack to increase minimum wage to $12-an-hour at Washington DC sites: Shake Shack is raising the starting pay at its four Washington DC area restaurants to $12-an-hour as part of a strategy to stay ahead of rising minimum wages in many communities. Executives said they expect to be able to handle increases in the minimum wage in New York, where many of Shake Shack’s restaurants are located and where the governor there has mandated an increase in the minimum wage to $15 at quick-service restaurants. Shake Shack raised menu prices by 6% in recent quarters, in two separate price increases last year and this year, chief executive Randy Garutti said, and yet traffic in the second quarter ending 1 July increased 4.3%. “The first labour increase will come in December,” Garutti said. “There’s no doubt it can take a toll on the entire industry. We’ve always paid above minimum wage and we’re well-positioned to increase that as we need to.” Minimum wages are rising in many states and communities and Washington DC is expected to vote on a $15 minimum wage next year.

Blackpool plans more family-friendly restaurants as part of ‘British St Tropez’ vision: Blackpool is planning to introduce more family-friendly restaurants as part of a vision to make the Lancashire seaside town more upmarket. The council’s tourist arm VisitBlackpool has already moved to ban stag and hen dos from certain parts of the resort as it looks to become the “British St Tropez”. It has set out its vision in the Destination Management Plan for Blackpool that aims to transform the town over the next three years. This includes opening four new branded family restaurants within the town centre along with the completion of a budget hotel and family restaurant on the site of the former Yates’s in Talbot Square. It wants to convert the Tower Lounge into a family restaurant/attraction and rejuvenate the Blackpool Illuminations. The council also plans to roll-out a “Blackpool Approved entry-level accreditation scheme” for hotels and guest houses and create an additional 500 bedrooms at three or four-star standard accommodation in the town centre. Cabinet member for tourism and leisure Cllr Graham Cain said: “The opportunity that now beckons is to apply a subtle brand repositioning of Blackpool; one that creates a contemporary, family-oriented beach resort that is renowned for the breadth and quality of its visitor offer in terms of attractions, accommodation, leisure facilities, transport links, events and entertainment. If we are to achieve that, there must be a clear commitment from all public and private sector stakeholders to continue to collaborate to reinvent Blackpool as an exemplar destination for new generations.”

Red Kiosk Company receives permission to convert first phone box in Norwich into food and drink pod: Red Kiosk Company, the Brighton-based concept that operates food and drink pods out of unused BT phone boxes, has received approval for its first site in Norwich. The company has been granted planning permission by Norwich City Council to convert a phone box in Tombland and is now seeking a tenant for the unit. Through its subsidiary Thinking Outside the Box it will strip out the booth and turn it into a kiosk to sell either coffee or ice cream. Co-owner Edward Otterwell told the Eastern Daily Press: “We saw two empty boxes at Brighton pier four years ago and through it would be a good location to sell things from. Since then it has been highly popular, especially because 10% of any profit goes back to the community.” The phone box is one of three the company is hoping to transform into businesses in the city with the other two in Church Street. They cost £300 a month to rent and will feature a drop-down seat and swivel-out basin.

Company News:

Greene King hires its 1,000th apprentice this year: Greene King has recruited its 1,000th apprentice this year, putting the company ahead of schedule in its pledge to recruit 2,000 apprentices in the year to March 2016. The company, in partnership with national apprenticeship provider, Lifetime Training, has helped support over 5,500 apprentices since 2011, in its efforts to promote opportunities for young people in the hospitality sector. Luke Myers, 18, Greene King’s 1,000th apprentice, works at the Yorkshire Grey pub in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire. Myers is a Greene King food production and cooking apprentice. This training and work experience will help Myers to hone the skills necessary to progress more rapidly within Greene King from team member to general manager. Jane Connor, Greene King’s group HR director, said: “Reaching our 1,000th apprentice this year is an important milestone for Greene King and the hospitality industry. Apprentices reduce team turnover, increase employee engagement and grow talent organically across all levels and departments. Greene King wants to play its part in combating the industry shortage of chefs and since last summer, more than 75% of all recruited apprentices have been for ‘back of house’ roles, including Luke who is working in the kitchen at the Yorkshire Grey pub. As students across the country receive their A Level and GCSE results, it is important for them to be aware of the alternative education and career paths that exist outside of traditional education. At Greene King we want to support young people get that all-important first step on the career ladder. Apprenticeships provide learners with valuable skills that will help them to build a career. We offer opportunities to those of all ages and we hope that over the coming years we are able to further grow and develop the scheme.”

D&D Restaurants eyes flotation: D&D Restaurants is being readied for a stock market listing by its private equity owner, according to Sky News. Owner LDC has reportedly approached Zeus Capital to manage a float of D&D Restaurants, which was founded by Sir Terence Conran. The private equity house bought into D&D, whose sites include Bluebird in Chelsea and Quaglino’s in Mayfair, in April 2013 as part of a £50m buy-out. It was renamed D&D after Des Gunewardena and David Loewi carried out a buy-out of the business in 2006. The subsequent investment by LDC, which is owned by Lloyds Banking Group, two years ago saw the private equity firm take a 69% stake, with the balance held by Gunewardena, Loewi and the management team. As well as restaurants, the firm also owns the 80-room South Place Hotel in London, which opened in 2012.

More than 7,000 sign petition calling on PizzaExpress to end 8% administration charge on tips:
More than 7,000 people have signed a petition calling on PizzaExpress to scrap the 8% “admin fee” charged on all tips to its staff paid by card. Last week, the Independent on Sunday reported the union Unite was planning a series of protests against restaurants that deduct the percentage from staff tips when it is added onto the bill as customers pay by card. Although PizzaExpress has said it makes no profit from the fee and it is purely to offset admin costs, the union has claimed the company could be “pocketing £1m”. In its message to the chief executive Richard Hodgson it said: “With PizzaExpress celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, there really is no better time to show your staff you care. Until you do we will continue to call on customers to tip in cash.” Many of those signing the petition have stated they will boycott the restaurant until the issue is resolved.

Costa Coffee property boss lauds partnership approach leading to first ‘eco-pod’ store: Costa Coffee’s property boss has lauded the partnership approach that led to the opening of its first “eco-pod” format store. Global property and commercial director Clive Bentley said working with businesses such as supermarkets and department stores had benefited both parties by bringing a new experience to customers. The Whitbread-owned company opened its first “eco-pod” store at Wrekin Retail Park in Telford, Shropshire, in April and the idea could be replicated elsewhere. Bentley told Property Week: “Today we have around 130 coffee shops on retail parks and more than 250 concessions in stores such as Next and Tesco. Until relatively recently, landlords and developers didn’t really get the value we could bring and the type of space and service we needed from them. We were pushing boundaries when we started; now it’s commonplace. We led, the supply chain adapted, and we now have fruitful relationships with partners who see the mutual benefit. It might also be illuminating that more than half of our UK coffee shops are on turnover rents. That works for us and it works for our landlords. Having adversarial landlords and tenants doesn’t cut it in our business, it adds time and cost. We want to work as part of schemes to create footfall, broaden the options and experiences available to shoppers, and participate in collective success. The value we create is now well recognised. Building on the spirit of partnership, we have opened a pioneering new ‘eco pod’ format Costa within a zero-energy building. With Hammerson, we have both put in more than is conventional to deliver a potentially revolutionary new building. What we are learning could be scaled significantly.”

Busaba Eathai to make Scotland debut in Edinburgh scheme that has also attracted Drake & Morgan: Busaba Eathai is to open its first Scottish outlet at the South St Andrew Square development in Edinburgh city centre. The company has agreed a 25-year lease on a 6,820 sq ft unit and bar in the development where Drake & Morgan, as previously reported, has agreed lease terms on a 7,050 sq ft unit on a 20-year lease. The South St Andrew Square development is scheduled for completion towards the end of 2016 and the new restaurants will front on to St Andrew Square. The £75m scheme is being developed in a joint venture between Standard Life Investments Pooled Pension Property Fund and Peveril Securities. The development will provide space for up to six restaurants as well as retail outlets and offices for Standard Life Investments.

Fat Pig brand owner launches fourth Exeter site, looks to bring first distillery to city: The owner of the Fat Pig brand in Exeter has launched his fourth site – and is now looking to bring the first distillery to the Devon city. Hamish Lothian has launched the Tabac tap house – a wine and craft ale bar – in Queen Street at the front of Exeter Central train station in a unit formerly occupied by wine merchant Whistle Wines. The concept is aimed at train passengers wanting to buy a bottle of wine or beer or have a drink and also features a vintage football table. Lothian told the Exeter Express and Echo: “When we heard Whistle Wine’s had moved onto online trade we saw a great opportunity to create a wine and craft ale bar with the Fat Pig stamp on it. We don’t want to limit our options too sharply. We take pride in our selection of beers, so we didn’t want to make Tabac too strictly a wine bar.” Lothian is now looking at his next project – bringing a distillery to one of his venues. He added: “Nothing too big, however, perhaps with the capacity for 20 bottles at a time, but a step forward in creating a city drink.” Lothian also owns The Fat Pig pub in John Street, restaurant and bar The Rusty Bike in Howell Road, and small-scale pub The Pig and Pickle in Fore Street in the Heavitree district of the city.

Cheadle restaurant Aamchi Mumbai sets sights on becoming national brand after celebrating first anniversary: Cheadle-based Mumbai-inspired concept Aamchi Mumbai has set its sights on becoming a nation brand after celebrating its first anniversary. The company, owned by Suresh Ruia, Sandeep Gursahani and Sumeet Kamat, is also aiming to turnover £1.25m by this time next year. Ruia told the Manchester Evening News: “We want to expand. Our potential targets are opening at the Intu Trafford Centre, in Hale, Alderley Edge and in Manchester city centre too. The ultimate aim though is to become a national brand but we want to build our brand first, which so far looks very encouraging. More branches will give us a new experience, build a stronger foundation and enhance our brand. After that we will be ready to open in London, which will give us a true platform to launch a nationwide concept.” The Cheadle restaurant, which will shortly be launching a new menu, has 65 covers and is a tribute to Mumbai, with pictures of the city and famous sons of India like cricketer Sachin Tendulkar on the walls. Ruia added: “We are close to hitting our turnover target of £750,000 this year and are looking to reach the £1m mark in the next six months, rising to £1.25m over the next 12 months.”

Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Artigiano sign for new dining quarter at Exeter shopping centre: Gourmet Burger Kitchen is the latest restaurant to sign up to the new Queen Street dining quarter at the redeveloped Guildhall Shopping Centre in Exeter. The company has agreed to take on a two-storey 3,752 sq ft site overlooking Queen Street and the barrel-vaulted ambulatory and plans to open the venue next year. Gourmet Burger Kitchen development director Stephen Evans told the Exeter Express and Echo: “We’ve been searching for the perfect spot for a while and we’re pleased to have secured a space within the highly anticipated redevelopment of the Guildhall Shopping Centre. Exeter has a vibrant food scene so we’re excited to introduce residents, tourists and students alike to Gourmet Burger Kitchen and our fresh, crafted and adventurous burgers.” Meanwhile, Artigiano, which runs coffee bars that transform into wine bars in the evenings, has officially signed for a 9,000 sq ft site to open a craft brew bar known as The Terrace. It will be located above the unit formerly occupied by Poundland and include a rooftop bar with restaurant and outdoor terrace with views of Exeter Cathedral and a club lounge below. The pair will join Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay and Fuller’s artisan pizza and cider brand The Stable at the new-look dining quarter, which will have eight food outlets in total.

Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins sign for first northern combination site: Dunkin’ Donuts is opening its first Northern “combo” store in conjunction with Baskin-Robbins at the Merrion Centre in Leeds. The firm is creating 20 jobs at the site at a former bar on the corner of Merrion Street and Woodhouse Lane. Spring Petroleum, represented by CBRE, and Merrion Centre owners Town Centre Securities have signed a ten-year lease on the 5,000 sq ft space.

ONE Group Hospitality seeks chief operating officer: The ONE Group Hospitality, owner of the high-end STK steakhouse chain, is looking for a chief operating officer. Current chief operating officer John Inserra said he will step down, but will remain to assist with the transition. Jonathan Segal, chief executive of The ONE Group, said: “We greatly appreciate the significant work John has done for the company and we are going to miss him. John has helped us build the scale and infrastructure we need to become a substantially larger business.”

Viva Brazil expects Liverpool site to be closed for up to two months following fire: Brazilian restaurant company Viva Brazil is expecting its Liverpool site to be closed for up to two months following a fire. The restaurant in Castle Street, which had a £250,000 refurbishment last year, was extensively damaged in the blaze last week that started in the cooking range on the ground floor and spread through to the extraction system. The company has now assessed the damage to the building and a spokesman told the Liverpool Echo: “We are looking to reopen in the next six to eight weeks. Refurbishment work is now going on following the fire and smoke damage.” The refurbishment last year saw a new upstairs dining area and a much bigger bar area created at the restaurant. The company also has sites in Cardiff, Glasgow and Newcastle with its largest venue to date due to open in Birmingham next month.

ETM Group site becomes first London restaurant to serve 2015 grouse: ETM Group’s The Jugged Hare site became the first London restaurant to serve 2015 grouse last night (Wednesday, 12 August) – a dish that doesn’t usually appear on menus until the 13 or 14 August at the earliest. Chefs from the Jugged Hare joined Ben Weatherall of Yorkshire Game on the Yorkshire heather moors at first light yesterday to bag the first braces of the season. They then headed back to the gastro-pub in the City of London to pluck, truss and cook the birds before serving up a five-course British game and fine wine dinner for customers.

Colchester restaurant owner to start expanding with new prison-themed concept: The owner of fine-dining restaurant Memoirs in Colchester, Essex, is to start expanding with a new £100,000 prison-themed concept called The Cells. Bob Bettis and his family are set to open the restaurant on Monday in the basement of Memoirs, which is based in the town’s former magistrates’ court in Stockwell Street. The venue has space for up to 70 diners to eat in individual cells with the menu including “chilli convict carni”, steaks, burgers and several vegetarian options. The Cells, which is creating 18 jobs, will be open Monday to Saturday and have a separate entrance to Memoirs. Bettis’ daughter Stephanie Pacheco told the Daily Gazette: “We have had this in our heads for nearly two years now. It is really exciting. It is completely bespoke and a lot of planning has gone in to everything. I think people will really enjoy it.” Bettis opened Memoirs in November 2013 after the magistrates’ court moved to new premises in St Botolph’s Circus.

Diageo boss sees remuneration halved to £3.9m: Diageo chief executive Ivan Menezes saw his pay package almost halve in the wake of last year’s lacklustre performance. He received remuneration of £3.9m according to the 2015 annual report, down from the £7.3m received the previous year. One of the long-term incentive awards linked to the share price, which had paid out £1.6m the previous year, only triggered £1,000 in 2015. This was because the shares increased 5% over the past 12 months. Last week investors were told sales at Diageo’s key US business had missed forecasts. The annual report also showed Menezes received £96,000 connected to relocating from his US home to the UK, and a £1,250 drinks allowance.

Starbucks suffers third enforcement notice in a year in Cork: Starbucks has been ordered to cease work on its new store at Patrick Street in Cork, with the company receiving its third enforcement notice from the city council this year following planning irregularities at two other cafes. Work had been taking place to renovate the former mobile phone store at 11 Patrick Street. However, Cork City Council contacted the company and asked it to halt work because it requires a planning application for a change of use from a retail outlet to a cafe. This is the third time Starbucks has attracted negative attention from the local authority in recent months. In July, concern was expressed about the opening of a Starbucks cafe at the historic Queen Anne House at the corner of Emmet Place/Opera Lane in Cork city centre. The location previously operated as a fashion store and before that as a retail outlet for Enable Ireland. Following its redevelopment as a cafe serving drinks and food, a complaint was made to the council that the outlet does not meet the necessary planning requirements. Planners in City Hall issued a warning letter to Starbucks telling it its new store represented an unauthorised change of use. Meanwhile, its Princes Street store, which opened five months ago, has been served with an official enforcement notice that compels it to rectify planning issues.

Drake & Morgan unveils three key staff members for 12,500 sq ft King’s Cross site: Bar and restaurant group Drake & Morgan has announced the appointment of Derek Fraser-Shepherd as general manager, Dave Green as head chef and Jay Newell as bar manager at its new site, Drake & Morgan at King’s Cross, opening on 25 September. Fraser-Shepherd has over 20 years’ experience in the hospitality sector with previous general manager roles at the Soho House Group and La Bodega Negra. Green previously held roles at Edinburgh’s Balmoral Hotel, Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge and the Soho House Group. He will oversee the kitchen and lead a brigade of chefs whilst also developing the restaurant’s new grill concept. Newell has previously held roles at Sushi Samba and Barrio Central. The 14,500 sq ft space will be spread across two floors and will comprise of two bars, a restaurant, deli and lounge, private dining room and two bookable kitchen “pods” as well as an outdoor terrace. The all-day destination will be open seven days a week from breakfast through to dinner and cocktails with brunch available on Sundays.

New a la carte Indian restaurant concept Ba Shoh set for Peterborough:
A new a la carte Indian restaurant concept is set for Peterborough city centre. Ba Shoh, which will feature “imaginative cuisine accompanied with wine and cocktails influenced by the legacy of the British Raj”, is opening in the former Imperial Bento restaurant in Broadway. In Punjabi, bashoh means king. The 200-seat venue is the brainchild of Amir Mahmood, from London, who was in the food business overseas for many years and has decided to make a comeback in Peterborough. He said: “We studied the market and saw a need for this type of restaurant in the city. It will be different to other Indian restaurants as the menus will be inspired by older dishes served for the British Raj. Hopefully we will be open by the end of this month or the first week in September.” Later in the year, Mahmood plans to use the former Bar Fever conservatory attached to the building as a shisha bar.

Amber Taverns reopens Consett pub where former licensee sold fake vodka after £500,000 refurbishment:
Amber Taverns has reopened a pub in Consett, County Durham, following a £500,000 refurbishment after buying the site from Star Pubs & Bars. The pub on the corner of Front Street and Middle Street was sold after former licensee Sunny Gill was caught selling fake vodka. Amber Taverns has revamped the pub, which was known as The Coach and Horses, and renamed it The Whistle Blower. New landlady Diane Wood told The Northern Echo: “We wanted to give it a completely fresh start. The company chooses names of pubs that have a link with the past. We want people to know the problems they used to have here are gone and we are moving on.” Earlier this year, a licensing committee held at Durham County Council heard The Coaches and Horses was visited by police officers who found it had been selling illicit spirits made with industrial alcohol. Amber Taverns owns more than 100 pubs including GW Horners in Chester-le-Street and The Tap@Carter’s Well in Low Fell, Gateshead.

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 £295 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers and are available by emailing

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