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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 11th Dec 2015 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Whitbread new boss – ‘there’s room for manoeuvre to increase prices at Costa Coffee’: Whitbread’s new chief executive Alison Brittain has argued there is “room for manoeuvre” to increase prices at Costa Coffee. Brittain, who started her job this week, told analysts during a presentation of the company’s quarter three results yesterday (Thursday, 10 December) it was reviewing its prices for the brand. She said: “The business has not put up its prices for four or five years. The gap has grown between our pricing and our competitors Starbucks and Caffe Nero, which have just put up their prices again. Given we are the cheapest by a considerable margin, out hypothesis is there is room for manoeuvre and an opportunity to us. The strength of the business is we are a value option for customers. We are keeping it under close review.” Costa’s price for a 16oz cappuccino or latte has remained at £2.45 since 2011 while rivals Starbucks and Caffe Nero had both raised its prices from £2.50 to £2.60 and £2.75 respectively. Brittain said the new food-led Costa Fresco was both a concept and a test and was in response to customer demand. She added it had street appeal and would test ongoing customer reaction to see what works and doesn’t. “The space required is very small,” she said. “The ovens are not a big deal in terms of size. Once we have established what the consumer preference is it could be retro-fitted to a number of stores or rolled out. There are quite a number of stores that would be suitable for the concept if customers are enjoying it.” Brittain added there were no plans to increase prices of its Premier Inn brand. She added: “Our proposition is a quality good night’s sleep with a quality experience. Brands that go against their proposition, so they can get a bit more revenue, fail in the long term. You can put up prices but it can come back to bite you in the long term. We are opening more rooms but still maintaining occupancy rates and growing revpar and that is the fundamental story of our business. There is no room for any complacency. We’ve not seen any impact on occupancy, revpar or room rates but we are keeping a very close eye on our competitors.” Brittain said Whitbread had “bold but achievable” milestones for growth. However, it would now open 200 rather than 220 net new Costa Coffee stores over the next year. She added: “The business has focused extensively on growth in recent years and needs to invests in its systems. We’ve got to ensure they are right for not just the size of the business we are now but the size of the business we will become.”

The Sky and Propel Christmas Advent Calendar competition:

Win 46-inch HD Smart television in Sky and Propel Christmas Advent Calendar competition: A 46-inch HD Smart television is up for grabs (see terms and conditions here) in today’s Sky and Propel Christmas Advent Calendar competition. To be in with a chance of winning, answer the following question: Against which nation will Team Europe compete for the 2016 Ryder Cup? a) Australia b) USA c) France. Once you have chosen your answer, you can enter by clicking here. We will announce the winner in Monday’s newsletter along with providing the next question and the prize on offer. Congratulations to Dan Shotton, from The Bickley in Chislehurst, Kent, who was yesterday’s winner of a M&S Christmas hamper worth £100. Sky has partnered with Propel to give away a fabulous prize each working day until 22 December. Prizes still up for grabs include a free 12 months’ Sky subscription for a licensed venue, tickets to an NFL match at Wembley, the 2016 British Grand Prix and Barclays Premier League football matches. There is also another M&S Christmas hamper worth £100 as well as another 46-inch HD Smart television to be won. Good luck!

Industry News:

Itinerary unveiled for second Propel and Thinking Drinkers Craft Beer Retail Study Tour: The itinerary has been unveiled for the second Propel and Thinking Drinkers Craft Beer Retail Study Tour. The event, which this year focuses on south London, takes place on Thursday, 28 January and will visit seven of the capital’s leading craft beer retailers in an eight-hour period. It starts at the Four Thieves brewpub in Battersea, owned by Laine Pub Company. The tour will then visit hybrid craft beer and bottle shop We Brought Beer in Clapham Junction, which was founded by former BrewDog employee James Hickson, followed by the Craft Beer Co site in Clapham Manor Street. The next stop will be the Crown & Anchor in Brixton run by London Village Inns before heading to independently operated Stormbird in Camberwell Church Street, which was runner-up in the Timeout Love London Awards this year. The tour then continues to Late Knights Brewery’s micro-pub Beer Rebellion in Gypsy Hill and ends at Utobeer’s The Rake in Borough Market. The tour will again be led by Thinking Drinkers, award-winning beer writers Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham, who will provide the latest craft beer facts and figures, market segmentation, analysis and spot up-and-coming trends. The day includes lunch and breakfast and travel between venues by coach. Tickets are £345 for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) members and £395 for non-ALMR members. To book, email

JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin promises to make beer mats available again: JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin has promised to make beer mats available in its pubs once again. The company plans to provide mats at the bar for customers to use should they wish. Martin agreed to the move after receiving a letter from customer Kevin Diss, who wrote: “My wife and I are big fans of Wetherspoon and actively seek your pubs wherever we are in the country. I do, however, have one small gripe! Why can you not supply beer mats? The tables get sticky and messy, and people have no alternative but to use the paper menus to rest their glasses on. These obviously get tatty more quickly. Can you start providing beer mats please? I think it would improve the drinking and eating out experience at your otherwise excellent pubs.” Responding in the company magazine Wetherspoon News, Martin said: “Fair comment. Our managers and floor staff have historically disliked beer mats since ex-smokers, such as my good self, invariably rip two or three to shreds in the course of an evening. Our suppliers make them available, and I will suggest to our pub managers that we try to have a stock at the bar for customers.”

All-day breakfast seems to working for McDonald’s in US:
According to the market research firm NPD Group, McDonald’s decision to sell breakfast items after 10.30am has brought new or lapsed customers into the chain’s restaurants in the first two months. The firm’s study was based on an analysis of receipts from 27,000 customers who visited McDonald’s before and after the launch of all-day breakfast on 6 October. The study found the chain has enjoyed a “sizeable lift” in breakfast orders throughout the day. NPD found a third of the people who purchased breakfast items at lunch or dinner had not purchased from McDonald’s at all before the promotion. Customers aren’t just limiting their orders to breakfast items. Nearly two thirds, 61%, of customers who bought breakfast items at lunch also bought some non-breakfast items. That helped increase average cheque size. Customers were most likely to buy breakfast items at lunch. “This preliminary review of McDonald’s all-day breakfast offer suggests consumers are receptive to ordering McDonald’s breakfast foods beyond traditional breakfast hours,” Bonnie Riggs, NPD’s restaurant industry analyst and author of the study, said. “It’s early, and there are other questions to answer as time goes on, but for now it’s working.”

Revenues near £1bn at Tesco-owned convenience store chain: Sales have climbed close to the £1bn-mark at Tesco-owned convenience retail operator One Stop, newly filed accounts have revealed. And while the set-up of the group’s franchise model racked up “significant” costs, it is expected to be a “source of growth” in the future. In the 53 weeks to 28 February 2015, One Stop posted turnover of £924.6m, compared with £788.6m in 2013/14. The group launched 54 new stores during the period, which were a mix of new openings and acquisitions, bringing its estate to 750. One Stop is now poised to expand into Scotland for the first time as it seeks to broaden its reach. It is also investing to maintain its existing stores and distribution centres in Walsall, Southampton and Wakefield. At the group’s year-end, 75 independent retailers had become One Stop franchisees as part of its new business model, with associated costs leading to a trading loss of £3m. But a statement from directors said they were “committed to building a business that helps independent retailers grow”. Total administrative expenses for the year climbed to £120m from £104.5m, with pre-tax profit dropping to £10.2m from £21.3m. Although One Stop is owned by Tesco, it operates as a separate entity with no Tesco branding in any of its stores. The group was bought by Tesco in 2002 as part of its £377m acquisition of T&S Stores.

Plans lodged for retail and restaurant scheme at Gateway Wolverhampton development: Plans have been lodged for a retail and restaurant scheme at the Gateway Wolverhampton development in the West Midlands. Ask Developments and Trebor Developments have sought permission for the second phase of work at the site, located at junction two of the M54. The plans include a Costa Coffee drive-thru and up to 5,000 square foot of space for restaurant, retail and leisure use. Phase one comprises a Porsche dealership, which has been leased by car dealer Pendragon and will open in the new year. Trebor managing partner Bob Tattrie told Business Insider: “The submission of this planning application leads to the next step in delivering this exciting retail/restaurant-led development on the prominent Gateway Wolverhampton site and we believe the units will attract a great deal of interest through our letting agents.” Subject to approval, ASK and Trebor will begin work on the site next spring. Bartlett Property and Bulleys have been appointed as joint letting agents for the new space.

David Solomon – National Living Wage another cost burden on businesses that have seen margins squeezed: Maxwells Restaurants director of property David Solomon has described the National Living Wage as another burden on squeezed businesses. Contributing to a report on the subject by property agent Christie + Co, he stated: “The reality is that for most operators the National Living Wage is another cost burden on businesses, which have already seen margins squeezed, mainly through increased property costs with rents soaring to record levels in the traditional prime restaurant locations. Restaurants cannot keep putting prices up, the mid-market sector is too competitive for that and the danger is that to keep margins operators may have to cut labour and look at new, more streamlined ways of running restaurants – more casual and less personal with more automated systems. People forget that a lot of staff in the hospitality industry earn far more than the basic minimum wage via a share of service charge and tips – the real issue is perhaps that the National Living Wage means an employee’s total pay is inflated beyond the value of some roles and to a level where for example a waiter is earning significantly more than a junior manager, which then has a knock-on effect with wage demands further up the ladder. Restaurants provide great employment opportunities but to create more jobs through further expansion, restaurants need to be able to make sense of labour costs, which work for the business as a whole and allow reasonable returns.”

Eight finalists announced for Parliamentary Pub Chef and Young Pub Chef of the Year award: The eight finalists have been announced for the Parliamentary Pub Chef and Young Pub Chef of the Year award. The accolade has been launched by the British Beer & Pub Association and the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group in partnership with Nestlé Professional to recognise a pub chef or chefs renowned for their great food. The chefs were assessed by a panel of six expert judges and sorted into two age groups – with those under 30 being considered for the Parliamentary Young Pub Chef of the Year. The Parliamentary Pub Chef of the Year finalists are: Michele Cremona from The Candlemaker, Battersea, Milan Hukal of the Dog Inn, Grundisburgh, John Calton from Staith House, North Shields, and Gordon Jones of The Brit Pub, Port Talbot. The Parliamentary Young Pub Chef of the Year finalists are: Gordon Stott from The Sun Inn, Dummer, Robert Yuill of D’Arcy Thompson, Dundee, Edward Hackland from The Waggon, Halam, and Matt Long of The Raglan Arms, Llandenny. The eight finalists will now proceed to a cook-off event at The Vintry pub in London in January, where they will cook for a panel of judges including experienced and Michelin-starred chefs.

Personal chef company owner using Tinder to recruit male chefs: The owner of Mychefit, the company that aims to bring the restaurant experience into homes by having professional cooks serve up a three course meal, is using Tinder to recruit male chefs. Ariella Young quit her job as a City lawyer earlier this year to set up the company and has recruited male chefs through mobile dating app Tinder as an alternative to “corporate” networking forum LinkedIn. Young has spoken to nine chefs by “swiping right” on the app – with six of them recruited to work for her company. In screenshot messages with one Tinder match known as Olivier, Young wrote she was looking for chefs with “personality, looks and cooking skills”. She told the Evening Standard: “I’ve used LinkedIn as well but I find it is too corporate and not authentic. With Tinder I can see the profile pictures and match the personalities I want to work for me. It depends on the nature of the business but I would totally advise using Tinder.”

Company News:

Wyn Ellis – we have three key concerns about Whitbread: Numis Securities leisure analyst Wyn Ellis has issued a ‘Reduce’ note on Whitbread following yesterday’s (Thursday, 10 December) quarter three results and has three key concerns. He stated: “We are holding forecasts, but the quarter three Costa performance is a little disappointing and Whitbread says that November was ‘soft’. In addition, Premier Inn underperformed the market both in London and the regions. Management confirms that Whitbread is on track to deliver its growth milestones. Restaurants delivered total sales growth of 2.0% and like-for-like sales growth of 0.6% for the 39 weeks, which was ahead of the competitor set. Costa grew its worldwide total sales by 15.3% and like-for-like UK sales by 3.7% for the 39 weeks (quarter one to three) with quarter three like-for-likes of just 2.5% being the weakest performance for some time. We have three key concerns: UK hotel revpar growth is slowing; Travelodge has been rejuvenated and is likely to provide tougher competition, and; that the impact of the sharing economy (Airbnb etc) will become increasingly disruptive.”

Couple acquire Northumberland-based restaurant, plan to roll-out concept across north east of England:
Restaurateurs Lindsay Sanderson and Jamie Hardy have acquired Northumberland-based restaurant Franco’s and plan to roll-out the concept across the north east of England. The couple, who have a background of working in restaurants, are already on the look out for their second site. Significant investment is being made in refurbishing the Italian restaurant in Front Street, Prudhoe, and a revamped menu has been introduced. Hardy, who previously owned Pepe’s in Beamish, County Durham, and has worked as a chef in a number of venues around the region, has taken on the role of head chef in Franco’s. He told Bdaily: “Franco’s is very well known and it is that great reputation, combined with the authentic Italian feel of the restaurant, that attracted us to buy it. We are putting our own stamp on the place by redecorating and introducing a new menu, but the excellent food and atmosphere that Franco’s is known for will of course continue. Our plan is to open other restaurants under the Franco’s brand and recreate exactly what we have here. We are already looking around the region for the perfect place for our next one.” The couple were supported in their acquisition by Newcastle law firm Sintons.

Mitchells & Butlers opens first Miller & Carter in Surrey at converted Harvester site: Mitchells & Butlers has opened its first Miller & Carter steakhouse in Surrey after converting its Harvester site in Ottershaw. The company closed The Otter in Guildford Road for refurbishment last month and has now reopened it under the Miller & Carter brand, creating 25 additional jobs. It is the 38th restaurant in the country for the brand, which specialises in 28-day aged British steaks and is known for its swanky chairs and tables and bull imagery on the walls. General manager at Miller & Carter Ottershaw Artwell Mwatsiya told Get Surrey: “Bringing Miller & Carter to Surrey is extremely exciting for the brand and the new restaurant offers the best steaks and hospitality that Miller & Carter is renowned for.”

Neville and Giggs get green light for hotel regeneration plan in Manchester: Former Manchester United players Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs have secured the green light to press ahead with their ambitious regeneration plans for a key site in Manchester city centre. The St Michael’s joint venture partners, Jacksons Row Development Partnership (JRDP), Rowsley and Beijing Construction and Engineering Group, have announced that the strategic planning framework for the mixed-use scheme has been approved by Manchester City Council. JRDP is run by Neville, Giggs and Brendan Flood. The 1.43-acre £200m scheme is located between Jackson’s Row, Bootle Street and Southmill Street, helping to link Deansgate to Manchester Town Hall. Neville said: “We’ve been working with our design team to deliver a robust planning framework for the city council. We’ve reached another milestone in the development and are fully committed to submitting the planning application in the spring.” The scheme is being designed by Make Architects, which was founded by Ken Shuttleworth in 2004. Neville’s property consultancy Zerum is acting as development manager on behalf of the joint venture partners. More details about the development are due to be released early in 2016 as part of the pre-planning application consultation. It is expected to feature a five-star international hotel, apartments, grade A offices, retail, leisure and bar/restaurant accommodation, a new purpose-built facility for the Manchester Reform Synagogue, basement parking and public realm.

PizzaExpress opens new restaurant at Leeds shopping centre: PizzaExpress has opened a new restaurant at the White Rose Shopping Centre in Leeds. The company has launched the 140-seat venue on the upper level of the complex, creating 45 jobs – its eighth site in the city. The new restaurant’s design uses materials and patterns influenced by Leeds’ textile and cloth manufacturing industry. Walls have been tiled in a striking weave pattern, inspired by the “warp and weft” created in cloth manufacture. It also has artwork featuring Yorkshire dialect, with the wording “Sit Thissen Dahn An’ Tell Me Abaht It”, stitched using a burgundy cord. Manager Ashley Grove told the Morley Observer & Advertiser: “We have a beautiful new restaurant and a friendly and enthusiastic team who are looking forward to welcoming everyone over a delicious pizza.”

Tortilla opens 27th restaurant: Tortilla, the expanding Mexican restaurant group, has opened the doors to its 27th restaurant at the Intu Victoria Centre, which is also their second restaurant opening in Nottingham in the last two months. Located on the ground floor by the Clocktower, the restaurant serves up its usual classic California burritos, tacos, margaritas and beers, as well as its new evening menu offering of chicken quesadillas and nachos queso, all inspired by the taquerias from the Mission District of San Francisco. 2016 is also set to be another momentous year with a string of sites already lined up in Scotland, London and the Midlands. Richard Morris, managing director of Tortilla, said: “It’s been a fantastic year for Tortilla with six restaurant openings, additions to the menu, the launch of the delivery service and we are thrilled to come to the year-end opening our second location in Nottingham, the only city out of London to have two Tortilla’s. We are all extremely excited for 2016 and for what’s to come.”

Theatrical couple launch ‘art house’ cafe concept in Palmers Green: Theatrical couple Aykut and Ingrid Berg Hilmi have opened an “art-house” cafe concept in Palmers Green, north London. The Hilmis have launched Starfish Loves Coffee on the corner of Lakeside Road and Alderman’s Hill to bring a slice of the West End to the area. From January, the couple will be launching open mic nights, poetry nights, and live music in a bid to bring out the talent they believe is bubbling just under the surface throughout the borough. The cafe serves coffee brewed from British-roasted beans and prosecco on tap and has a late licence and tables outside. It features a dedicated gallery wall with paintings by artists including Patrick Morgan. Aykut Hilmi, who is part of the Royal National Theatre Company and has starred in a string of West End hits, said: “There is so much talent here locally, there are artists and designers living in this street (Lakeside Road). The only way we can survive as an art house cafe is to have an alcohol licence, otherwise, to survive people would need to drink 400 cups of coffee a day – that’s one thing in the West End – but in Palmers Green that’s just not going to happen.”

Artisan craft brewery launched in Rochdale with £25,000 start-up loan: A husband-and-wife team have launched an artisan micro-brewery in Rochdale that will draw influences from British ales, US craft beers and Belgian beers. Ken and Jenny Lynch, who have already invested some of their own money to set up Serious Brewing Company, have been boosted by a £25,000 start-up loan from Business Finance Solutions (BFS) to buy new brewing equipment. It will produce beers from a site on Fieldhouse Industrial Estate. The Serious Brewing Company will focus on brewing bottle-conditioned and keg-conditioned beers that draw influence from traditional British ale, US craft beers and aspects of artisan Belgian beers. Initially, the brewery will concentrate on supplying beer in bottles and key-kegs to local shops, pubs and restaurants as well as attending local and farmers’ markets. They plan to produce casks for local pubs and beer festivals in 2016. Ken Lynch said: “Thanks to the start-up loan from BFS we were able to buy the equipment we need to brew premium quality beer. We have a passion for creating interesting beers that are full of flavour and we enjoy being a little bit experimental. Like us, many people are becoming interested in different styles of beer, it is not just bitter, mild, stout and lager which are popular now. Saisons, sour beers, dubbels and trappist beers are becoming increasingly sought-after and we are excited to be brewing beer influenced as much by the brewing traditions of Belgium as our own British ales.”

Three restaurants in leisure site sell for £2.35m: The freehold of three restaurants located on a leisure park adjacent to the A13 and a Showcase cinema at Barking, east of central London, have sold at an Allsop auction for £2.35m. The three restaurants, including a Frankie & Benny’s and a Big Moe’s, pay a combined rent of £168,500 per annum, meaning the buyer is earning a gross initial yield of 7.17%. The auction raised in excess of £60m, reflecting a success rate of 86%. A total of 107 lots sold including 14 in excess of £1m, of which four were above £2m. The highest value lot sold in the room was Lot 16, an office building extending to 14,105 sq ft let at £196,000 pa, with residential potential under permitted development rights in New Malden, which sold for £3.75m (4.94%, £266 psf). Duncan Moir, partner and auctioneer said: “The strength of demand is very clear. The lack of quality income in this low interest rate climate is putting a premium onto the better investments. Lot 23 for example, a freehold Kwik Fit in Sheerness, which was sold at auction in early 2015 at 6.25% was offered, and the competition in the room pushed this to 5.6%, an improvement over a period of only ten months. The year closes with a record 90% success rate, which augurs well for 2016.”

Enterprise invests £1.47m in Greater Manchester pubs, recruits 40 new publicans: Two Enterprise Inns pubs in Greater Manchester have just reopened as part of the company’s £1.47m investment in the region over the last 12 months. The Navigation, Dobcross, and King William IV, Shore, are back trading following refurbishments costing in excess of £30,000 and £40,000 respectively. It’s part of wider investment across the region, including Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Sale and Stockport, which has resulted in the recruitment of more than 40 new publicans. Mark and Sue Ellis and daughter Laura, have been running The Navigation, a destination food pub in the Saddleworth area of Oldham, for 12 years. The traditional pub, built in 1806, is known for its homemade food, hand-pulled beers and quality wines. Meanwhile, on the outskirts of Rochdale, countryside pub King William IV, run by David Fearon and Craig Anderson, has had a complete refurbishment to widen its customer appeal. “We run the only pub in Shore, so work has been done to cater to a much broader range of people, including the many passing walkers, cyclists and horse riders. There are now many more reasons to visit the pub,” said Fearon. Elsewhere, publican Peter Birtwell is continuing to grow his Enterprise empire with the acquisition of a fourth pub in the area. The Bricklayers Arms, in Altrincham, has recently received a £40,000 investment to revive its internal trading area. Peter already operates The Famous King George, Oldham, The Duke of York, Romiley, and The Globe Inn, near Rochdale. Enterprise divisional director Chris Gott said: “Our ongoing investment programme across the Greater Manchester region is helping our publicans deliver a much better experience for their customers which in turn leads to stronger, more sustainable pub businesses.”

Wasabi pledges support for Shelter with Christmas campaign:
London-based noodles brand Wasabi has pledged support for homelessness charity Shelter this month. A spokeswoman told Propel; “At a time of year when tackling homelessness and bad housing is more important than ever, we are proud to aid the fundraising efforts of the brilliant Shelter team. We’ve given our best-selling sushi boxes a festive rebranding and will be donating 5p from the 100,000-plus we expect to sell this month. Homelessness is an issue close to the heart of our founder and chief executive Dong Hyun Kim, who sees this as the beginning of a long and effective partnership with Shelter and the community.”

Soho House wins Brighton go-ahead: Soho House has won planning consent to redevelop and renovate the Aquarium Terraces, above Brighton’s Sea Life Centre, at the west end of Madeira Drive. The city council’s planning committee approved the scheme by Soho House to create a cafe, restaurants and members’ club. It will see seven vacant units replaced with modern and sustainable buildings. The new buildings will have large areas of glazing and green roofs. Historic buildings and structures would be retained and refurbished, along with balustrading and iron railings. An oval glass pavilion on the lower level of the site would be demolished to create a new cafe. The circular building on the upper level will also be demolished and replaced with two new pavilions with a ten-metre gap between them. The cafe and restaurants would be open to the public, while the members’ club would have a bar, open air plunge pool, changing rooms and a terraced area. More than 200 jobs would be created, according to the developers.

Chilli Pickle wins best delivery gong at British Curry Awards: Brighton restaurant Chilli Pickle, which is in talks with investors over expansion, won the coveted Best Delivery Restaurant Award at the British Curry Awards 2015. Via video message to the awards night, prime minister David Cameron said: “200 years ago, the Hindustani Coffee House opened in Westminster, the first curry restaurant in Britain. 200 years later, it’s one of the nation’s favourite dishes and this country is home not to one curry restaurant but to ten thousand. Today, the industry generates £4.2bn for our economy. It employs 100,000 people and every single week we eat 2.5 million curries. These awards, founded by the formidable Enam Ali, celebrate the people who made that happen and they celebrate British curry, a unique cuisine that merges western tradition with eastern flavours giving the world prawn puri, onion bhaji, Bombay aloo and, yes of course, chicken tikka masala. I want to thank everyone in this room for what you do. You represent the very best of British values of family, running your restaurants with parents, children and spouses. Enterprise, starting businesses from nothing, hard work, dedicating every hour of everyday to what you do. And above all patriotism, flying a flag for British food right around the world. So congratulations to the winners and to everyone involved in this great British industry.”

Former executive chef opens Mediterranean restaurant and bar concept in Mayfair: Former executive chef Adrian Mellor has launched a Mediterranean restaurant and bar concept in Mayfair. Mellor, who has previously worked for some of the top five-star hotels in the world including Waldorf Astoria, Maldives, and has been King Abdullah and Queen Rania of Jordan’s private chef, has opened 8 Mount Street. The 78-cover restaurant has a Mediterranean-inspired menu, including grilled marinated lamb cutlets with smoked aubergine and lobster linguini, reports The Handbook. A 30-foot long Italian marble bar runs through the middle of the restaurant with stools either side giving an alternative to table dining. There is also an eight-cover private dining area that overlooks the outdoor terrace. Downstairs from the restaurant is Bar 8 that has a triangle bar surrounded by green leather and white marble. It serves a mix of classic cocktails and house specialities including Jade, a mix of Japanese green tea infused Sipsmith gin, Sauvignon blanc syrup, egg white and lime juice. The bar also plans to have a food menu in the new year.

Cotswold Distillery eyes IPO as it launches £500,500 crowdfunding push: The Cotswolds Distillery in Stourton has launched a £500,500 crowdfunding push on Crowdbnk. It’s offering 5.5% of its equity for the investment and had raised £444,000 by yesterday (Thursday, 10 December) lunchtime with 52 days to go. The money will be used to fund the next stage of growth prior to a public listing. The distillery’s Angels’ Share campaign is being organised to help fund production of its new single malt whisky. The Cotswolds Distillery is just over a year old, having been established in September 2014 at its north Cotswolds site. It already produces 175,000 bottles of whisky annually, as well as gin, brandy and a number of small batch liqueurs for sale in its shop, via high street distributors and online. Its Cotswolds Single Malt, made using local Cotswolds barley, has already won plaudits-a-plenty and was awarded 94 out of 100 points by respected whisky writer Jim Murray in his 2016 Whisky Bible. The distillery was founded by former hedge fund manager Daniel Szor and his family, backed by local investors. Representing a £5m investment, it has already become a popular local attraction, offering daily tours and tastings, and has seen more than 10,000 visitors come through its doors. Szor said: “We have come a lot further, a lot faster than we could ever have hoped. Our outstanding natural spirits – in particular our Cotswolds Dry Gin – have been extremely well-received, our distillery and visitor centre are now among the top 20 Cotswolds attractions according to TripAdvisor and our young single malt is already getting excellent reviews – we are over the moon. We have built a wonderful community of loyal customers and fans and our Angels’ Share round is a way of allowing them to own a piece of the distillery and become brand ambassadors while sharing in the upside of this fast-growing business.” The Angels’ Share offering, which starts with a minimum investment of £1,000, includes rewards ranging from bottles of the distillery’s inaugural 2017 release of its Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky to private distillery tours, a one-day distilling class and even a barrel of whisky.

Brasserie Zedel offers free meal to celebrate La Fete De Rois to diners wearing crown:
Brasserie Zedel in London, operated by Corbin & King, is offering a free meal to celebrate La Fete De Rois on Wednesday, 6 January by giving customers who wear a crown a free meal. The restaurant, located in Sherwood Street just off Piccadilly Circus, is offering a complimentary three-course Menu Formule dinner with its own traditional Galette des Rois, plus wine and coffee. Customers preferring to eat from the a la carte menu will have £19.75 deducted off the final bill for each person at the table wearing a crown. It is the third year running the restaurant is celebrating La Fete des Rois, which in France is the tradition on Epiphany/Twelfth Night to share a Galette des Rois, to celebrate the time when the three wise men followed the north star to Bethlehem to find baby Jesus and present him with gold, frankincense and myrrh. The Galette dates back to the 14th century and was traditionally divided into enough portions for all the people present plus one more for the first poor person that passed by. Nowadays, the first portion is usually reserved for the youngest person in the family. A white or black bean (fève) is hidden in the cake and the one who finds it is crowned the king or queen and can choose their consort for the day.

Final panel line-up confirmed for Propel and Elliotts Advanced Marketing Masterclass: The final panel line-up for the inaugural Advanced Marketing Masterclass has been confirmed. Elliotts strategy and development director James Hacon will leads a discussion with newly appointed Thai Leisure Group marketing director Iain White-Duncan, ETM Group group marketing manager Zoe Knowles and Greene King partnership director Russell Danks about where they see success, their plans for the future and other topics discussed throughout the day. Propel is partnering leading sector public relations and marketing firm Elliotts for the event, which takes place on Thursday, 14 January at One Moorgate Place in London. The day will provide an insight into all aspects of marketing including contributions from Novus Leisure and Brazilian barbecue restaurant Cabana about some of the marketing initiatives they have used to improve results for their business. It will also include the best ways to recognise and tell a brand’s story to maximise its PR or social media potential and how to develop and deliver effective digital initiatives. There will also be the latest insight into consumers’ behaviour to help companies develop marketing strategies around their customers as well as how to brief and work with an agency effectively. Tickets are priced at £295 for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) members and £345 for non-ALMR members and are available by emailing Adam Dickinson on

ALMR National Restaurant Association Study Tour to Chicago opens for bookings: The Propel and Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) 2016 Chicago Study Tour is now open for bookings. The trip, sponsored by CPL Training and Sky, takes place between Thursday, 19 May and Monday, 23 May 2016. The National Restaurant Association (NRA) draws 58,000-plus industry professionals from all 50 states and 100 countries, seeking the newest innovations and up-to-the-minute information about trends and issues. The ALMR trip provides: insights from industry experts on the rise in fast-casual dining, social media, new and emerging brands, menu development, staff management and a host of other issues – with 70 free education sessions at the NRA show. It also involves two tours of Chicago’s hottest concepts and a market overview briefing sessions from US experts. Paul Charity, managing director of Propel Info, said: “The NRA show combined with our tour of Chicago is a fantastic opportunity to find fresh inspiration and understand the emerging trends shaping the fast-changing US market.” To get more information or to book, email

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