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Mon 17th Aug 2015 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Scotland’s biggest Indian restaurant chain on the market amid staffing crisis: Scotland’s biggest Indian restaurant chain, Ashoka, has been put up for sale amid claims the traditional high street curry house is under threat. Owner Sanjay Majhu has sold four of his 14 Ashoka restaurants in the last year – and is offering his site managers the first chance to buy the rest. Majhu, a former Asian businessman of the year who bought the business from founder Charan Gill in 2005 for £8m, said: “It is getting harder. I do not see myself expanding into Indian restaurants any more. People like going to ‘World Buffets’ because they are cheap and cheerful. We don’t have the capability to compete with large businesses like that. Indian restaurants still do well but they’re up against a lot of competition. Personally speaking, I hope to sell most of them off. I am definitely trying to wind down the business now. You are competing now with large chains and they are getting more savvy. It is getting harder to compete with things like that and it is not a market I want to be in.” Majhu is giving the managers of his existing Ashoka restaurants the first chance to buy them. He said: “We have sold four of our franchises. We always had the plan that after yen years we would sell to existing managers. But a lot of them can’t get money to fund them.” He said finding the right staff because of tighter immigration controls has also become a major concern. Majhu added: “That’s a big problem for Indian restaurants moving forward. They will have to find a way of creating the food without having the specialised skills, which they can’t get from here. I am finding it more difficult to staff Indian restaurants. We sold Edinburgh because it is getting harder to staff them.” Puneet and Poonam Gupta, the millionaire husband-and-wife team who own the Kilmacolm-based PG Paper firm, are understood to have been approached about buying part or all of the Ashoka chain. Edinburgh-based Foysul Choudhury, president of the Guild of Bangladeshi Restaurateurs who represent 500 curry house owners in Scotland, said the lack of workers is a major problems for owners. He told The Daily Record: “The future is very dark. I have been advertising for staff for the last three months at the job centre without a single person making any inquiry. We had a meeting last week and every member has employee issues. It is difficult to find local people here who will work the unsocial hours, particularly at the weekend. If the government does not do something, I can see 25 to 30% of businesses closing down in the next few years.”

Industry News:

Speaker programme confirmed for The Bar and Nightclub Conference: The full speaker programme has been confirmed for The Bar and Nightclub Conference, which is being held on Tuesday 27 October at Bafta Piccadilly. Speakers are: Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, Phil Tate, chief executive of CGA Strategy, Simon Chaplin, director and head of leisure and development at Christie + Co, Trevor Watson, executive director of Davis Coffer Lyons, Graeme Bunn, director of Fleurets, Glendola Leisure managing director Alex Salussolia, Riz Shaikh, co-founder of the Columbo Group, David Henkes, vice-president of Technomic, Peter Marks, chief executive of Deltic Group, Exeat Leisure founder Stephen Thomas, Tokyo industries founder Aaron Mellor, Reuben Harley, chief executive of Eclectic, Alex Hazzard, co-founder of the Burning Night Group, Luke Johnson, of Risk Capital Partners, Andrew Stones, operations director for Be At One and Adam Marshall, founder of Grand Union Group. The conference, the first stand-alone event for this part of the market, examines the key issues affecting the market 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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com

UK’s ‘best pub licensees’ introduce beer wall at Bull’s Head, Repton: Richard and Loren Pope, former winners of the BII Licensee of the Year title, have introduced a “beer wall” at the Bull’s Head, Repton, Derbyshire, their award-winning pub that takes £3m a year and is achieving its ninth consecutive year of growth with like-for-likes on food sales currently running at 10%. The beer wall offers more than 100 types of bottled beer and cider, which they claim is the most extensive offer in Derbyshire and a “permanent beer festival”. One TripAdvisor review this month states: “‘They’ve nailed it!’ were my husband’s words when he saw the beer selection and the fantastic-looking lit fridges.” Richard Pope told Propel: “We’ve had a great reaction to the beer wall.” The pub’s beer offer has been complemented by the introduction of 40 choices of premium soft drinks. Elements of The Bull’s Head’s retail offer have been “borrowed” by many other operators – Marston’s has installed the Popes’ pizza offer in a number of its Revere premium pubs and elsewhere, for example. The pub’s fresh gelato offer, involving specialist equipment imported from Italy to make fresh gelato each day, is also an idea borrowed by a number of operators. The couple’s second pub, The Joiners Arms in nearby Quarndon, Derbyshire, an Enterprise Inns venue, has seen a six-fold increase in turnover since the couple took it over and is due for a major refurbishment.

PizzaExpress cabaret club to be London’s answer to New York’s Marie’s Crisis Cafe: A cabaret space dubbed the UK’s answer to Marie’s Crisis Cafe in New York City is being launched at a PizzaExpress site in London. The Singers Lounge will be based in the basement of PizzaExpress on St Martin’s Lane and is described by its programmer, Fran Hardcastle, as “a dedicated space to celebrate vocal talent”. The chain already operates two established London entertainment venues, PizzaExpress Live in Soho and the Pheasantry in Chelsea. As well as being a place for audiences to listen to singers, the space will allow West End actors the chance to drop in post-show and join open-mic sessions. Hardcastle said: “The Singers Lounge was inspired by a fun-filled 12-hour trip to New York earlier this year, with most of those hours being spent in the wonderful Marie’s Crisis, a theatrical piano bar in Greenwich Village, where Broadway artists tend to hang out post-show.” She added: “I wanted to recreate that in London, expanding it to also put on shows with low entry fees, to really support and celebrate the many incredible vocalists we have in this city.” The opening season of shows will take place on Fridays and Saturdays in September, with Broadway performer Shoshana Bean appearing from 2 to 4 October.

Concern over Shake Shack valuation with 40% of stock shorted: Concern over Shake Shack’s current stock market valuation is highlighted by the amount of its stock that is being shorted, it’s been claimed. Nation’s Restaurant News blog writer Jonathan Maze noted: “Shake Shack trades at more than 200 times its forward earnings, making it, by far, the most expensive stock in the restaurant business. A number of analysts have expressed concerns recently about the chain’s valuation. And plenty of investors believe that, too. According to Nasdaq data, more than 40% of Shake Shack’s “float” is short – meaning that four out of every ten shares available for trade are being shorted, or sold by those speculating that the stock price will fall. That’s a big percentage. By comparison, 6.8% of Chipotle shares are being shorted. Only 1.4% of shares at struggling McDonald’s are short.”

Jamie Oliver calls for 7p tax on each can of fizzy drink: Chef Jamie Oliver has called for a 7p “sugar tax” on each can of fizzy drink as he launches a campaign to reduce the number of overweight children in the UK. His campaign comes as he reveals how he lost two stone in three and a half months when he realised he was “really, really tired” as he was about to turn 40. The television chef has been travelling around Britain to see the effects of a sugar-laden diet on children. He witnessed young children having sugar-rotted teeth removed under general anaesthetic for a new documentary, Jamie’s Sugar Rush, to be aired in the next month on Channel 4.

Pubs in Twickenham asked to close early during rugby world cup: Pubs in Twickenham could be asked to close early during the Rugby World Cup so that fans do not disturb residents. The Met requested pubs did not admit customers after 10pm during the England v France rugby union international match on Saturday, a trial run for the forthcoming tournament. The RFU made an announcement during the game that pubs in Twickenham were closed on Saturday evening after 10pm – even though pubs hadn’t agreed to the plan and were open as normal. Jonathon Swaine, the managing director of Fuller’s Inns, told The Times: “Pub operators never agreed to that or suggested that. We were planning to open our doors to everyone. It seems quite Orwellian to say you will not go to the pub for a drink. We have spent time and money preparing all our pubs. It is not happening in Cardiff or other cities that are hosting World Cup matches. Why should it happen in Twickenham?” A spokesman for the Met said: “As part of the policing operation for the England v France rugby union international at Twickenham on Saturday, 15 August, a request was made to licensees in the local area not to admit any customers after 22:00 hours.”

Company News:

Cinnamon Club owner Indian Restaurants report turnover and profit growth: Cinnamon Club operator Indian Restaurants has reported turnover of £8,417,221 in the year to 31 March 2015, up from £8,312,85 the year before. Pre-tax profit climbed to £211,171 from £200,994 the year before. The company stated: “The year has been a positive one for Cinnamon Soho, which is now delivering a positive Ebitda and creating a loyal customer base for the future. The Cinnamon Club continues to trade strongly, taking into account a brief closure in early January 2015, for some essential heating and air-conditioning upgrades. The balance sheet remain strong with shareholders’ funds of £4.016,726 (2014: £3,908,745).”

Square Pie reports company sales up 57% in July: Square Pie, led by Martin Dewey, has reported a 57% boost to company sales in July. The company, which is on track to hit overall sales of £5.4m in its full 2015 financial year, is currently trying to raise £750,000 through a 8% yield mini-bond on Crowdcube – the campaign has hit 43% of target with £327,000 raised and 12 days left. Dewey told Crowdcube investors: “A great July here at (Square Pie) with total company sales up a whopping 57% on July 2014. Great news and driven by a combination of shop like-for-like sales up by an average of 8%, more wholesale and grocery customers as well as the impact of our new restaurant at the O2, which wasn’t open last year.” The company’s business plan projects sales of £22.6m in 2019 and Ebitda of £2.6m. Last year, like-for-like sale sales rose by 16% and by 50% in terms of operating profit generated.

BrewDog to open site in Stockholm this month, located above a brewery: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is to open a site in Stockholm this month, located above a brewery. The company stated: “Already making waves in the local beer scene, new producers Sthlm Brewing Co are literally underneath BrewDog Södermalm. And, as we pride ourselves on getting beer to our customers as fresh as possible, of course we’ve hooked up a tap. BrewDog Södermalm will be a hop-forward shrine to craft beer – with 18 taps devoted to some of the best beer on the planet, as well as offering growler fills for beer 3.5% or below. The opening will also be marked by the launch of a bespoke Beerbliotek IPA that will be available only at BrewDog bars in Sweden. Located at Ringvägen 149B (a short walk from Skanstull Tunnelbana station), the opening party on Tuesday 25 August is exclusive to Equity Punks.”

Everards plan to create food and drink park takes step forward: The owner of Fosse Park shopping centre in Leicestershire, The Crown Estate, has reached a conditional agreement to buy the 12.5 acre Castle Acres Everards brewery site in Leicester to progress a major extension to the shopping parks. The move means certainty over who would buy Everards existing brewery site if planning consent is granted to allow Everards to create a state-of-the art food and drink park, with a modern brewery, in Everards Meadows nearby. The Crown Estate, Next and Everards recently submitted a joint application to Blaby District Council which involves transforming the Castle Acres site into a 150,000 square foot retail and leisure development, incorporating accommodation for around 26 new shops, restaurants and cafes with accessible links, so shoppers can travel between the new facilities and Fosse Park. Next has already confirmed that a landmark Next Fashion, Home and Garden store will feature as an anchor tenant within the scheme. The scheme would create around 1,100 jobs and hundreds more during construction. Hannah Milne, head of The Crown Estate’s regional portfolio, said: “This key strategic acquisition unlocks opportunities for further investment to enhance Fosse Park’s position as a truly best in class asset, providing visitors with one of the best shopping experiences in the UK. We look forward to working with Next and other key local partners like Blaby District Council and Leicester City Council to bring forward this exciting new development for the local area.” Stephen Gould, managing director of Everards Brewery, said: “This is an important step not only for The Crown Estate’s plans to extend Fosse Shopping Park, but also for Everards’ aspirations to create a new state-of-the-art food and drink park. The sale of the Castle Acres site will allow us to reinvest in our business, reaffirming our commitment to creating jobs and growth in Leicestershire.” The site purchase and funding of the new development is conditional upon planning permission being granted by the local authority.

Banwell House Pub Company opens new concept in Bath, looks to expand with new operations manager: Banwell House Pub Company, led by Toby Brett, has opened a new concept in Bath, Tobias & The Angel, occupying the former site of The Stable, which has re-located to bigger premises. The site is the company’s first leasehold, held free-of-tie. Brett’s company also runs Victoria Pub & Kitchen on Upper Bristol Road in the city. He said: “I have lived in Bath for eight years and I’m very pleased to be opening my first city centre business. I have looked to create a place that offers good quality drinks, food and service in a comfortable environment.” There will be 30 different wines available by the glass alongside beers, ciders, spirits and continental lagers. The restaurant offers hand-crafted pizzas. The company is looking for similar property, either leasehold or freehold, in Bristol, Cheltenham or Oxford for expansion – it also employed its first operations manager, Chloe Usherwood, to help with expansion. Banwell Pub Company also operates three other pubs.

Texan barbecue restaurant concept Austen’s Smokehouse launches first venue in Kensal Rise: Texan barbecue restaurant concept Austen’s Smokehouse has launched its first venue in Kensal Rise, London. The brand is the brainchild of Duncan Beiny, better known as DJ Yoda, who was inspired to open the venue by some of the food he had while DJing in the likes of Texas in America. The 80-cover restaurant in Chamberlayne Road spans two floors with bookable tables on the first floor and downstairs reserved for walk-ins. Austen’s Smokehouse serves classic pit barbecue cooked slow and low in American smokers and also has its own house lager brewed by And Union.

McManus Pub Company to convert Nottingham sports pub into ‘premium’ casual dining concept: McManus Pub Company is to convert a sports pub in Northampton into a “premium” casual dining concept. The company will close The Eastgate, which it bought from JD Wetherspoon last year, on 5 September and reopen mid-2016 after a complete refurbishment. Company director Paul McManus told the Northampton Chronicle and Echo: “It will become more of a food-led, premium casual dining concept. We knew when we bought it, we would need to invest in it.” Plans are yet to be drawn up for the two-storey building in Abington Street, which currently runs a grill-type menu and screens a number of live sporting events. The site opened as a Lloyds, part of the JD Wetherspoon brand, in the late 1990s. McManus Pub Company owns 21 pubs, mainly in the Northampton area, as well as two sites in Essex.

Owner of Belfast-based American-style restaurant Bubbacue aims to build ten-strong estate north and south of Irish border: The owner of Belfast-based American-style restaurant Bubbacue is aiming to build a ten-strong estate north and south of the Irish border. John Blisard, who sold the five-strong Irish burrito company Boojum last month, told the Belfast Telegraph he plans to turn Bubbacue into a nationwide brand. He hopes to open a site in Dublin in the next six months and is already working on identifying further locations for the restaurant, which specialises in American-style pulled pork and beef brisket dishes and sides. Blisard said he would also add to the Bubbacue food offering to entice new diners by also offering “healthier alternatives” with the changes being made in its existing Belfast restaurant in Callender Street. He also hopes to speed up the process for serving people in Bubbacue, which is currently a table-service venue, though customers do order at the counter. Liam McAuley, a senior surveyor at GVA (NI), which has worked with Blisard on identifying restaurant locations, said: “Bubbacue has been a tremendous success. Starting from a pop-up restaurant, it has gone on to be one of the most popular restaurants in Belfast city centre and continues to go from strength to strength. If the past is anything to go by, an exciting future lies ahead.”

Ground Espresso Bars explores US launch: Northern Ireland coffee shop Ground Espresso Bars is exploring launching in the US with plans to open in New York. The company, which was set up in Coleraine in 2001 by Darren and Karen Gardiner, is looking at potential sites in the city as it bids to go international. Ground Espresso ventured outside Northern Ireland for the first time last year with a store in Dublin but is now planning to head overseas. Darren Gardiner told The Irish News: “We are delighted to be looking at opportunities in the United States and we look forward to the potential international growth for Ground Espresso Bars.” Meanwhile, the company is set to open its 14th outlet next month in Magherafelt in Northern Ireland in a £150,000 investment that will create 15 jobs. It will be the company’s fifth store opening in just eight months, which are a mix of standalone and concession sites with businesses such as Tesco, Next and Waterstones.

Former Orchid Pub Company site in Cambridge to re-open as rotisserie restaurant: A site in Cambridge city centre that was previously operated by Orchid Pub Company as a Pizza Kitchen and Bar is to re-open as a rotisserie chicken restaurant called Reys. The pub, formerly called The Cow and located on Corn Exchange Street, is due to re-open in October, almost a year after it closed its doors. Posters on the building state that Reys aims to bring people “succulent, flavoursome rotisserie chickens” with a range of sauces. The Cow was put up for sale with a £100,000 leasehold price tag in March last year. When the pub was advertised last year, it was stated it produced £426,000 in drink sales and £117,000 in food sales in 2012, and the rent for the ground floor and basement was quoted at £74,500 a year.

Chef Richard Bainbridge launches first restaurant venture in Norwich: Chef Richard Bainbridge has launched his first restaurant venture in Norwich. Bainbridge has opened Benedicts, which offers dishes that take their cue from pan-European classics, in St Benedict’s Street. The menu features regional seafood and eight-week hung Blickling Hall Aberdeen Angus beef as well as desserts including duck egg custard tart. Benedict’s, which is open Tuesday to Saturday from noon-2.30pm and 6pm-10pm, is managed by Bainbridge’s wife Katja. Bainbridge was previously head chef at Morston Hall in Norfolk where he maintained a Michelin star and is also known for appearing on the BBC Two programme The Great British Menu.

Craft beer bar and Gourmet Burger Kitchen confirmed for Exeter dining quarter scheme: Aviva Investors, the global asset management business of Aviva, has confirmed that The Terrace, a craft brew bar and Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) will be opening next year in Exeter’s new Queen Street dining quarter. The Terrace and GBK have now signed contracts with Aviva Investors, bringing the Queen Street restaurant count up to four, joining Turtle Bay and The Stable which have been announced previously. Aviva is also in discussions with tenants for all the remaining units, and has revised the layout of the scheme to meet the demand from restaurateurs for some larger and multi-level spaces, bringing the total number of restaurants, when fully open, to eight.

Cosy Club and Zizzi first brands to open at new Corn Exchange in Manchester: Cosy Club, owned by Loungers, and Italian restaurant Zizzi have become the first brands to open at the new Corn Exchange in Manchester. The two venues have opened inside the former Triangle shopping centre, which is being transformed into a £30m dining destination. Loungers has spent about £1m on its tenth Cosy Club, which is on the first floor of the historic grade II-listed building with the dining room boasting views of Manchester Cathedral. It is furnished in shabby chic style with battered old cocktail armchairs, sleek 1930s settees, mismatched tables and chairs, vintage lampshades and chintzy wallpaper hung with antique artwork and taxidermy. Sections of original tiling have been preserved, while the grand wooden bar was reclaimed from old Liverpool Lime Street Station pub The Head of Steam. Meanwhile, Zizzi has opened next door – its fourth restaurant in Manchester. They will be joined by Mexican restaurant Wahaca, Salvis, Vapiano PizzaExpress, Byron Burger, Pho, Indian eatery Mowgli, Tampopo and Cabana.

ONE Group Hospitality to launch first site in Canada: The ONE Group Hospitality is to continue its expansion in North America by launching its first site in Canada with its high-end steakhouse restaurant brand STK. The company, which is also opening STK Chicago and the first STK Rebel in Denver later this year, has secured a site in Toronto. The 8,800 sq ft restaurant, due to open in 2016, will be located at 155 Yorkville Avenue in the neighbourhood of Bloor-Yorkville, home to the city’s luxury shopping, restaurants and hotels. The ONE Group chief executive Jonathan Segal said: “We think Toronto is an ideal international city for an STK location. We are especially pleased to have found a location that fits the vibe and energy of STK in Toronto. We remain focused on the growth of our company and look forward to the several upcoming openings we have planned in cities across North America.”

Mamma Dough to open second site in Brixton: Better pizza concept Mamma Dough is to open its second site, located in Brixton. It will open in Coldharbour Lane at the former site of the Angel pub, which closed in 2011 and was bought by property developer Lexadon in 2012. The sourdough pizza brand will seat around 55 – the first Mamma Dough is located in Honor Oak Park. Owners William Moore and Jake Harrison told the Brixton Blog that they were drawn to Brixton because there is ‘nowhere like it’. Harrison said: “Every time I come here I’m struck by how vibrant it is. And I love this building, it has such character.” Moor added: “I think Brixton fits with our values: we’re independent and creative – we’re not polished. Big chains would have covered up the old style features in the building but we won’t – we want to preserve them.”

Wicked Hathern Brewery granted permission to open first micro-pub: Wicked Hathern Brewery has been granted permission to open its first micro-pub in Loughborough, Leicestershire. The micro-brewery, run by Sean O’Neill and John Worsfold, has been given the go-ahead by Charnwood Borough Council to convert a former electronics shop in The Rushes. It will now start refurbishing the site and apply for a premises licence with view to launching the micro-pub later this year. O’Neill told the Loughborough Echo: “We have been looking for a pub for many years and we have come close a few times but never been able to quite pull it off. One of the reasons it never came off for us is the thought of having a more traditional pub with long opening hours and more complicated to run. I became increasingly aware of the growth of micro-pubs and changes in the market whereby people are wanting decent quality beer and wine without added things like food or pool tables or fruit machines. We have a long and complex project ahead of us but I have a passion for real ale and wine and a passion for Loughborough.” Wicked Hathern Brewery was formed in 1999 and currently operates from Leek in Staffordshire.

New sushi brand to open in Newbury: A new sushi brand is to open in Newbury’s Market Place in the first week of September. Sushi Restaurant & Takeaway, which will open next door to Strada, will have the capacity to serve 18 people and most of the fish on the menu will be shipped daily from Japan. Plans were recently approved to convert the building, formerly occupied by bakery and coffee shop Silva Robinson, into the new restaurant, which says it will provide ‘the best quality of sushi and sashimi selections’. Owner Arif Goksel told the Newbury Weekly News: “We have all sorts of restaurants in the Market Place, but we don’t have anywhere which serves proper Japanese food. I love sushi and I’m really excited to bring it to the place I live.”

Five Guys plans second Wales site, this time in Swansea: Better burger brand Five Guys is planning to open in Swansea, its second site in Wales. The company, which opened an outlet in Cardiff earlier this year, will develop a site within the Castle Quarter in Swansea city centre. Swansea Council has received a planning application for signage at the development which will be carried out on the ground floor. Five Guys has already started recruiting for assistant managers for the outlet in Swansea. The brand opened its first restaurant in the UK in July 2013.

Caffe Nero site with a rat problem is closed for refurbishment: A Belfast city centre Caffe Nero coffee shop that closed down after rats were apparently filmed scurrying over the counter is undergoing a five-week refurbishment programme. Caffe Nero on Donegall Square West was closed after passers-by videoed the rodents on a mobile phone in the early hours of the morning. The video subsequently went viral on the internet. The video has been viewed thousands of times on YouTube. A spokeswoman for Caffe Nero said: “I can confirm that the store is being refurbished. At the moment Caffe Nero is unable to confirm an exact opening date.”

Burger King hires digital agency to drive innovation: Burger King has appointed Isobar UK as its digital agency of record in the UK without a pitch, Campaign magazine has reported. Isobar has been tasked to develop the restaurant chain’s digital strategy “with an ambition of driving innovation in their digital communications”. Vizeum, Isobar UK’s sister agency, picked up the £60 million European media business for Burger King in November last year. David, part of the Ogiilvy & Mather group, is Burger King’s global creative agency. CHI & Partners handled the £9 million UK business up until the review in 2014. Isobar UK’s first digital campaign will launch towards the end of the year. Nick Bailey, the chief executive at Isobar, said: “Burger King has a legacy of ground-breaking work in the digital space. We are hugely excited to be working with them to continue that legacy and to be working with our partner agencies within Dentsu Aegis Network to deliver a truly integrated solution.”

Starbucks-led plan to create 100,000 youth opportunities in the US launches in Chicago: More than 3,500 young people attended Chicago’s McCormick Place conference centre on Thursday for a job fair launching a project aiming to provide 100,000 jobs primarily to African American and Latino youth. The 100,000 Opportunities initiative is a new program spearheaded by Starbucks aimed at trying to help the roughly 5.5 million Americans aged 16 to 24 who do not have jobs and have dropped out of education, a group economists have dubbed “disconnected youth”. Chipotle, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell are among more than 25 other companies also involved. By 2018, they hope to provide at least 100,000 youth “opportunities” including apprenticeships, internships, training programs and both part-time and full-time jobs. Organisers estimate that around 600 young people in Chicago on Thursday were interviewed and hired on the spot. “This serves as a powerful reminder that a great first job can open up a world of opportunities for a young person,” said Howard Schultz, chief executive of Starbucks. “With nearly six million young Americans completely disconnected from the economy, we desperately need the leadership, creativity and courage of the private sector, working with civic, elected and community leaders, to create meaningful lifelong opportunities for all.” Taco Bell chief executive Brian Nicol added: “Youth are very important to our business with 55% of our employees between the ages of 16 and 24. This effort and events such as these are critically important and are where we find our most passionate customers who become our most passionate employees. And more over, it is our responsibility to build the communities we are operating in.”

Renowned Huddersfield pub to become late-night community dry bar: A renowned Huddersfield town centre pub is to become an alcohol-free late night community ‘dry’ bar. The former popular Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender scene New Union Bank pub off New Street, which closed down last month, has been bought by addiction help The Basement Recovery Project, which wants to turn it into a pioneering no-alcohol hub for all. A late night cafe-bar, chill out zones, an IT suite and meeting spaces are just some of the plans for the over 5,000 square foot space spread over three floors. The project is being made possible thanks to a £350,000 Public Health England grant and will also be supported by Kirklees Recovery Partnership.

Ed’s Easy Diner opens in Woking: Ed’s Easy Diner has opened a new 2,526 sq ft restaurant in the Peacock’s Centre, Woking. Andrew Guy, chief executive of Ed’s Easy Diner, said: “Woking Shopping is a great new location for Ed’s Easy Diner. The centre has a very strong following and the town’s dining scene is thriving. Our position in the heart of the Peacocks Centre puts us in a high footfall location amongst some other great brands. We are very excited to have opened and are delighted with the reception we have received so far.” Ed’s Easy Diner joins other key dining brands at Woking Shopping including Carluccio’s, Bill’s Restaurant and Las Iguanas, all of which have opened in Woking Shopping this year. Nash Bond and JLL acted for Woking Shopping. Syteways represented Ed’s Easy Diner.

Revolution founders plan world’s best bars after taking stake in Manchester company: Revolution Vodka Bar founders Roy Ellis and Neil Macleod have acquired a 50% stake in Manchester bar operator Trof Group, founded by Joel Wilkinson and Adelaide Winter, with a view to opening the “best entertainment venues and bars in the world” under a new vehicle called Mission Mars. Trof Group has a £6m annual turnover and operates three multi-award winning venues in Manchester, including Gorilla and Deaf Institute. The first project for Mission Mars is the £3.5m opening of Albert’s Schloss on the ground floor of the grade II-listed 3,000 capacity Albert Hall, which offers a total of 24,000 sq ft of space, on Peter Street. The 2,500 capacity upstairs area of Albert Hall has been operated for two years as a live entertainment venue by Trof Group, hosting circa 130 sell-out events including gigs by Sam Smith, the Manic Street Preachers and The Script. (See Friday’s Propel breaking news for the full story)

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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