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Mon 1st Feb 2016 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Luke Johnson to export Gail’s Bakery expertise to Florida site with founder Tom Molnar: Sector investor Luke Johnson and Gail’s Bakery founder Tom Molnar are planning to use their experience gained at Gail’s Bakery to open a bakery in Florida. Johnson and Molnar, who hails from Florida, have won planning variances that will allow Johnson to develop iconic Florida restaurant The Surf, in Cocoa Beach, that he acquired in 2012 for $625,000 – the restaurant has been closed since 2010. Cocoa Beach’s board of adjustment approved two variances that will allow Johnson to move ahead with planning the building of a restaurant, bakery and retail space on the site. The variance allows Johnson to build up to the south property line, which abuts to a closed alley, instead of leaving the normally required five feet. He will also be allowed to reduce the number of parking spaces to half of the required 137 off-street spaces. There are more than 260 public parking spaces within 500 feet of The Surf, according to city staff. Johnson can now move ahead with site plans and building plans, which will be brought before city staff for approval. “To me, The Surf would be an anchor for downtown,” Molnar told the planning meeting in Florida. “I think it would really help downtown. It could be the anchor and impetus for downtown.” Johnson told Propel: “It won’t be a Gail’s but we will be using our knowledge of baking in the launch of course.” Gail’s Bakery has previously reported that it exceeded its sales target for the year to 28 February 2015, producing turnover of £18,319,000, up from £14,066,000 the year before. Pre-tax profit was £662,881, up from £559,275 the year before. In Companies House documents, it stated: “The business has exceeded its sales targets for the past year. The strong like-for-like sales growth with the core retail bakeries has been supported by operational improvements across the company along with new retail bakery openings.”

Industry News:

Inquest into Mitchells & Butlers food poisoning death: The husband of a woman who died after eating a reheated Christmas dinner at a Mitchells & Butlers pub says the result of an inquest has finally helped him to understand what happened and “what should have been done differently”. At an inquest into the death of mother-of-one, Della Callagher, senior coroner Nadia Persaud said her reaction to a toxin, which caused vomiting and diarrhoea, was so severe that hospital admittance would have been unlikely to have saved her. Mrs Callagher, 46, of Hornchurch, died two days after eating at the Railway Hotel, Station Lane, Hornchurch, on 25 December 2012. Ms Persaud explained that the “rapidity of Mrs Callagher’s collapse” from “relatively normal clinical observations” less than three hours before a cardiac arrest was largely due to an “aggressive pathogen” caused by the toxin. The family’s civil claims for negligence against Mitchells & Butlers are ongoing. A spokeswoman from Mitchells & Butlers said the company will “learn the lessons” of Della Callagher’s death. “What happened to Mrs Callagher was an absolute tragedy and the family continue to have our sincere sympathy for their tragic loss,” she said. “We have always co-operated fully with the authorities to understand the circumstances that led to Mrs Callagher’s tragic death so we can learn any lessons to make sure nothing similar can ever happen again.” In 2015, Mitchells & Butlers was fined £1.5 million for placing unsafe food on the market and in 2014, the Railway Hotel’s chef Mehmet Kaya and manager Ann-Marie McSweeney were jailed for perverting the course of justice.

US consumers name their favourite restaurants in four categories: A total of 100,000 US consumers have voted for their favourite restaurants in four categories in a poll by insights firm Technomic – consumers were asked to rate more than 120 leading US restaurant chains on more than 60 different attributes. Technomic stated that the attributes capture the consumer experience from every angle, from the quality of the food to the overall brand reputation. “It’s important to point out that it’s the consumers who rated the chains and selected the winners,” said Darren Tristano, president of Technomic. “In essence, the award is from the customers themselves.” The winners were: Food Quality: Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake pizza (quick service category), Firehouse Subs (fast casual), Bonefish Grill (full service); Intent to Return: In-N-Out Burger (quick service), Rubio’s (fast casual), Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen (full service); Provide Value through Service: Chick-fil-A (quick service), Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches (fast casual), Cracker Barrel Old Country Store (full service); Socially Responsible: Ben & Jerry’s (quick service), Chipotle Mexican Grill (fast casual) and Seasons 53 (full service). 

Neville and Giggs close doors of hotel to homeless people after three month stay: Former Manchester United footballers and leisure entrepreneurs Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs have closed the doors of their hotel in Manchester to homeless people, after allowing them to stay there rent-free with a package of support for more than three months, The Guardian has reported. The building in the centre of Manchester, which is to undergo extensive renovations before opening its doors to paying guests, was occupied in October by a group of squatters and housing activists called the Manchester Angels. Neville and Giggs told them they could stay, not just for a few days, but throughout the coldest months of winter. “From my point of view, I’m quite relaxed about this,” Neville told an activist, Wesley Hall, at the time. He added that for the past ten years he had offered support to homeless people he had seen on the street while walking through Manchester. The homeless residents promised to keep the building clean and tidy and not to cause any damage to fixtures and fittings. In return, the pair ensured that the homeless guests were kept safe in the building. They put in security and management teams at their own expense and provided regular meals from their Hotel Football to the new residents. It is estimated that they have spent up to £150,000 on keeping the project going during the winter months. Last Thursday, the arrangement came to an end to allow major building work on the 23,000 square foot former stock exchange to begin.

Bloomberg – major brands are investing billions to shift image through design: International news agency Bloomberg has reported that major US legacy brands such as Subway, McDonald’s, KFC, Arby’s and Panera Bread are collectively investing billions into design to change consumer perceptions of them. It stated: “From a purely aesthetic standpoint, these redesigns have a few things in common. Especially at KFC and Arby’s, the emphasis is on ‘bold’ and ‘bright’, in contrast with negative fast-food stereotypes of drab and dirty. While the redesigns are aggressively modern, they also attempt to tap into customers’ senses of authenticity and nostalgia. KFC, for example, features a semi-shrine to Colonel Sanders, while Arby’s is covered in old-school natural wood. Highlighting food preparation is also a major trend, in the US and internationally. In Japan, McDonald’s remodeled stores to include an open kitchen design to increase customer trust. The fast-food giant has also debuted open kitchen locations in Hong Kong. ‘Fast food’ is out, as more and more restaurant chains try elevate themselves as ‘fast casual’ or, in Arby’s case, ‘fast crafted’.”

Company News:

Laine Pub Company opens eighth London pub, the Watson’s General Telegraph with 20 taps: Brighton-based Laine Pub Company, led by Gavin George and backed by Luke Johnson’s Risk Capital Partners, has opened its eighth London site, involving the conversion of The Rose in Honor Oak Park, East Dulwich into the Watson’s General Telegraph featuring 20 draught beer taps. At the end of last year, George said of the company’s burgeoning London estate: “We’ve overcome many of the challenges and risks associated with the swift building of a geographically dispersed business and have continued to create pubs with individuality, enchantment and variety – our objectives since we opened our first pub in Brighton in 1996. I’m thrilled for our London operations team who are making significant advances, typified by like-for-like sales up over 25% for the five months to November (2015) and by five nominations for Time Out Love London awards, winning in Acton with the Aeronaut, Battersea with the Four Thieves and Dulwich with the Great Exhibition.” Of the new pub, its website states: “(There are) Twenty taps to choose from. An amazing 12 taps are devoted to craft beer, including eight on rotation. These will be split equally between local breweries and the best that the global scene has to offer. The huge range of craft cans and bottles will be available to take away at a discounted price. There’ll also be six hand pull pumps for cask ales and cider, again serving a constantly rotating selection. Our food is going to come from head chef Dan Burrell, previously running the kitchen at the Jay Rayner-adored Zest. A little of that kosher Israeli influence will make its way into the menu, as will his time serving up game at a traditional country pub. It’s hard to narrow down the menu to a few dishes but be sure to try the Barnsley chop (slow cooked lamb, beetroot dauphinoise, lamb croquette) and his take on macaroni cheese, using Stilton topped with sticky braised ox-tail and parsley.”

Franco Manca secures Bromley site: Agent Shelley Sandzer has acted on behalf of Leon Oscar Properties in a deal that sees The Compass pub in Bromley let to pizza brand, Franco Manca. The company has taken a lease on the whole building at 10 Widmore Road, Bromley, situated on the corner between Fyfe Way and Widmore Road. The site, which is only the brand’s second in south east London, is adjacent to Intu Bromley. This deals follows three other sites that Shelley Sandzer helped the brand to secure last year including Wimbledon, Earl’s Court and Covent Garden, as part of their expansion plans in the capital. Nick Weir, joint managing partner at Shelley Sandzer, said: “The pub was purchased off-market from Stonegate Pub Company and in line with our close working relationship with Franco Manca we proposed the site. It interested them immediately and we are pleased to see the brand continue its expansion plans in London.”

Itsu planning to open 15 sites a year, reveals 40% of takings come in after 4pm in some stores: Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain created by Pret A Manger co-founder Julian Metcalfe, is planning to open 15 sites a year as demand for healthier food continues to grow. As well as sushi, Itsu also sells hot noodle and rice pots. In some shops, 40% of takings come in after 4pm. Metcalfe has also revealed its Oxford site, which has been open less than two years, is profitable despite a combined bill for rent and business rates totalling about £500,000 – almost £10,000 a week. It serves 8,500 people a week. New site openings are expensive, said Metcalfe, who remains the majority shareholder in the brand among a group of four private investors. All sushi is prepared on site, and the specialist equipment required to rinse the rice and package everything together costs up to £200,000 alone. An average price of about £4 for a box of sushi is about right for the current food market, Metcalfe said. He added: “The prices of burger meals in fast food chains have all gone up. At McDonald’s, a wrap meal is £4.69, so it’s not cheap. I’d rather spent £5 on sushi than £3 in most other places. It’s not just sushi we sell – our chicken noodle soups are selling like crazy – far better than we thought.” According to the latest accounts at Companies House, annual turnover in 2014 was £68m, with profit before tax and other associated costs of almost £7m, a 33% rise on the year before. In October, the company, which has nearly 70 sites and has just opened is first store in Manchester, secured £40m of funding from HSBC to drive its expansion plans.

New World Trading Company opening new bar and restaurant concept The Club House in Liverpool today: New World Trading Company will open its new bar and restaurant concept The Club House in Liverpool today (Monday, 1 February). The company is launching the concept in a specially created pavilion-style building within Chavasse Park in Liverpool ONE. Designed by Paul Danson Imagineering, the traditional decor is inspired by a New England-style Hamptons manor house, boasting an interior complete with white panelled walls, an entrance foyer leading to a grand staircase with feature chandelier, a wrap around first floor terrace and private dining room for up to 15 guests. Away from the 200-cover split-level restaurant is a dedicated beer tasting room complete with self-service taps. Externally the venue has a huge outdoor area that can cater for another 400 covers and features an outside bar and barbecue. The Club House will offer an extensive craft beers and ales list, cocktails, champagne and wine. There is an open kitchen with a focus on deli, rotisserie and barbecue style dishes as well as live music. New World Trading Company managing director Chris Hill told the Liverpool Echo: “It’s been two years in the planning because we wanted to get something that was perfect for Liverpool. For us it’s important that every element works – from the design to the menu, the drinks and of course the service. We already have Smugglers Cove on the Albert Dock and there will be some similar elements, and some very different. This is a big, bright, beautiful pub and we’re all looking forward to showing it off.”

Nando’s to start selling Mozambique lager from April: Mozambican brewery Cervejas de Moçambique (CDM) will start supplying its 2M beer to Nando’s across the UK from April. Nando’s is pricing the beer at £3.70 per 330ml bottle. Nando’s UK currently stocks Portuguese beers Sagres and Superbock, along with Brazil’s Brahma and Savanna Cider from South Africa. Nando’s has started stocking 2M in selected restaurants over recent weeks as a pilot scheme, but CDM will start shipping the lager to the UK in significant quantities from April.

Batemans to close Wainfleet pub following largest refurbishment to date at second site in town: Lincolnshire brewer and retailer Batemans is to close the Royal Oak in Wainfleet having carried out its largest refurbishment to date on a second site in the town. The company said it was closing The Royal Oak in High Street because it can no longer sustain two pubs in the same town. It comes after Batemans spent £150,000 refurbishing The Woolpack – the largest made by the company in its history – just a short walk from the Royal Oak. Managing director Stuart Bateman told the Lincolnshire Echo: “We can confirm we will be closing The Royal Oak sometime this year, having carried out a major refurbishment at The Woolpack. Small towns around the country are struggling to sustain a number of pubs in a small vicinity, as people choose to go out less, but demand a better quality experience when they do.” The pub was due to close in March but Batemans said it will now stay open until it is put on the market and sold.

Westmorland quadruples pre-tax profits to £3.6m boosted by new sites: Premium motorway service station operator Westmorland posted pre-tax profits of £3.6m in the year to June 2015, compared with £800,000 in the previous year. Turnover climbed by 38% to £72m over the same period. The company attributed growth to the first full year of trading at its northbound Gloucester Services on the M5, the acquisition of Cairn Lodge Services on the M74 in Scotland, and strong underlying trading in its Tebay Services on the M6 in Cumbria. During the financial year, Westmorland completed its £45m investment into its Gloucestershire expansion programme on time and on budget. The northbound Gloucester Services opened in May 2014, while the southbound Gloucester Services opened in May 2015. Laurence King, managing director, said: “Last year was an energetic year which saw the successful completion of our investment in Gloucester services and significant growth in employees and in the number of local suppliers with whom we work. We look forward to another year of growth as Gloucester services southbound completes its first full year of trading.”

Craft beer bar opens in function room of historic Leeds city centre pub following free-of-tie lease: A bar launched in the function room of a historic Leeds city centre pub is offering a range of independent craft beers and spirits after its owner negotiated a free-of-tie lease with landlord the Spirit Pub Company, now part of Greene King. Whitelock’s Ale House, which is celebrating its 300th anniversary, has opened The Turk’s Head, the original name of the pub when it opened in 1715, following a £200,000 renovation of its upstairs function room. Launched by Ed Mason, who also owns Whitelock’s and Five Points Brewing Company, the pub will have 12 on-tap beers and two cask lines, as well as ales from other UK breweries. The pub will also showcase independent and artisan spirits. The venue will have a Victorian-influenced menu designed by head chef Robbie Andrews and will feature items such as homemade pork scratchings, crispy pigs’ ears served with caper tartar sauce, deep-fried cauliflower with spiced yoghurt, and The Turk’s Head pickle plate. Mason said: “We love Whitelock’s and nothing will be changing in the main bar – but The Turk’s Head gives us the opportunity to showcase an even wider range of independent UK breweries and interesting drinks producers.”

Lincolnshire Brewing Company to open first real ale shop: Lincolnshire Brewing Company is to open its first real ale shop. The company, founded by Claire and Karl Brown, is launching Crafty Bottle on The Strait in Lincoln on the former site of Mono Boutique. The shop, selling local, UK and internationally brewed ales, is due to open this week. Claire Brown told the Lincolnshire Echo: “We are hoping it will really gain momentum, and we are hoping to do an online shop that will be national.” The Browns started the Lincolnshire Brewing Company in 2014.

Welsh pub/restaurant company BrewStone submits application for second site, plans chain: Welsh pub/restaurant company BrewStone is set to start expanding after submitting plans for its second site, which it said will act as the foundation to develop a chain. The company, which launched in Swansea in 2014, has applied to Vale of Glamorgan Council to open at the former Blockbuster Video store in Windsor Road, Penarth. As well as converting the building, the application includes an outdoor seating area and the conversion of the first and second floor into a seven-bedroom flat, reports the Penarth News. BrewStone, which specialises in wood-fired cuisine, fresh salads, coffees, wines and craft beers, added it is planning to develop the Penarth outlet as the foundation of a restaurant chain. The application said: “Adding a new restaurant in this area will develop Windsor Road as a pub for eating and drinking to the general public. The idea is to promote and unite all businesses on Windsor Road as a social realm with evening vibrance, energy and activity.”

Stonegate Pub Company’s late-night arm nominated for events award: Venues, the late-night arm of Stonegate Pub Company, has been nominated for an Event Production Award (EPA), which take place on 12 February at Lancaster London hotel. Now in its fifth year, the EPAs recognise excellence among event organisers, production teams and suppliers in the indoor and outdoor events industries. Venues has been nominated for the Brand Activation award for its 1 Night Only events, which it ran last year in partnership with SF Leisure – 1 Night Only was a high-energy club night held at all Venues sites, with 40 events in total and another 80 planned for this year.

Kaspa’s opens Swansea dessert parlour, third site in Wales: US-style dessert parlour brand Kaspa’s Desserts has opened a venue in Swansea, its third in Wales and 16th in the UK. The site in Castle Street opened on Saturday (30 January) and sells waffles, speciality ice creams in 24 flavours, 12 flavours of sorbet, six types of frozen yoghurt, sundaes, milkshakes, smoothies and crepes. The dessert specialist has two branches in Cardiff and plans to open a further 14 venues in England, including four in the south west and four in the Midlands. In October, South Wales catering company Pancake World secured a £100,000-a-year contract to supply Kaspa’s Desserts. 

Leasehold of Aldgate restaurant/wine bar sold off £175,000 guide price for new Italian restaurant concept: The leasehold of a restaurant and wine bar in Aldgate, London, has been sold off a guide price of £175,000. The free-of-tie lease of Bevis Marks the Restaurant, which traded as a kosher concept, has been bought by Antonio Chiodo, who is to create a restaurant that brings the cuisine of Bologna to the people of London. The 2,017 square metre site has circa 100 covers, a main restaurant, two private dining areas and cocktail bar server, was marketed by agent Christie & Co. It has an annual rent of £50,000.

Arc Inspirations reopens Banyan Bar & Kitchen in Harrogate following £400,000 refurbishment: Arc Inspirations has reopened its Banyan Bar & Kitchen site in Harrogate following a £400,000 refurbishment. The company, led by Martin Wolstencroft, has revamped the venue to bring it in line with the look and feel of the newer Banyan Bar portfolio. The design features a warm copper tone running throughout with extensive use of wood and leather. Wolstencroft said: “Banyan Bar & Kitchen in Harrogate originally opened in 2006, so in its tenth anniversary year we felt it was the right time to rejuvenate and refresh the bar loved by many in the town. We hope that we can continue to bring our customers exceptional service, beautiful food and drinks in a far more sophisticated setting.” Arc Inspirations will be opening a new £1.4m Banyan Bar & Kitchen in Leeds city centre in March, bringing the brand to four sites in the north of England.

UK’s largest Krispy Kreme site served 18,000 customers in first week: The UK’s largest Krispy Kreme outlet, opened at Intu Braehead in Glasgow, served more than 18,000 visitors in the first week. Customers queued overnight at the town’s former Clydebuilt Scottish Maritime Museum to be the first in the queue, with over 310,000 donuts subsequently sold in the first week.

Whitbread bids to bring Beefeater to redeveloped £10m Premier Inn site in Wales: Whitbread plans to bring a Beefeater restaurant to its £10m Premier Inn development in Llandudno. The project to transform the Tudno Castle Hotel site, derelict since 2008, into a 63-bed Premier Inn, restaurants and retail units is set to start in March. Now Whitbread has applied to use the lower-ground-floor unit for its own Beefeater restaurant, The Daily Post reported. In a letter to Conwy council, the company’s agent stated: “Whitbread proposes to take the lower-ground restaurant unit for their own Beefeater restaurant chain. As this is one of their own restaurants they would like to use this in place of the hotel restaurant, thereby merging the two on the lower-ground level, with the restaurant providing a guest offering for breakfasts and evening meals.” The project is due to be completed next year.

Chef and entrepreneur to open York city centre restaurant: Chef and entrepreneur Neil Bentinck will open a restaurant in York city centre in the spring. Skosh, which will open in Micklegate, will offer a “grazing-style menu of contemporary and internationally influenced dishes” served from an open kitchen. Bentinck, formerly a chef at Michelin-starred The Pipe and Glass Inn in South Dalton, near Beverley, said Skosh would be a “natural culmination of family influences, worldwide travels and professional growth”. Skosh will serve snacks, small plates and sharing platters, alongside signature dishes such as baked hake with dukkah, and goats curd marshmallow. A spokesman for the restaurant said: “The sourcing of ingredients and service ware has been meticulous – and consciously so. To create a great restaurant, Neil is aware it takes more than one chef, but rather a network of incredible suppliers, producers and craftspeople.”

Travelodge renews lease at Fort Dunlop site in Birmingham: Budget hotel group Travelodge has renewed its lease at Birmingham’s Fort Dunlop development. The hotel chain has signed a 25-year deal on the 100-room venue with EPISO 3, a real-estate investment fund which acquired the site in July 2014. Travelodge has since invested in the modernisation of the hotel, including upgrading room designs. The lease deal was completed by Bilfinger GVA on behalf of EPISO 3’s advisors Tristan Capital Partners. Andrew Whiteford, associate in retail, hotels and leisure at Bilfinger GVA, said: “It is a very positive outcome that Travelodge has decided to stay and renew its lease. Further investment and development of the existing facilities will significantly enhance this landmark site.” As well as the hotel, Fort Dunlop comprises 300,000 square feet of office space and 45,000 square feet of retail space.

New concept operating as coffee shop by day and gourmet burger restaurant and cocktail bar by night to open in Cardiff: A new concept operating as a coffee shop in the day and a gourmet burger restaurant and cocktail bar by night is to open in Cardiff. Time & Beef is launching on Thursday, 3 March in Cowbridge Road East on the site of cafe-bar Time. By day the venue, which will seat up to 80 people, will serve artisan coffees and homemade cakes and by night it will transform into a gourmet burger restaurant and cocktail bar. Customers will be in full control of the burger menu as they will be able to use a tick-box system to create and personalise their burger. Manager Stephen Chambers told Wales Online: “Customers will be able to create their own burgers using our four step process, choosing everything from bun to sauces! They then personalise their burger with our ‘name your burger’ concept, which is our creative way to connect with our customers and have a bit of fun.” A wide range of craft cocktails, mocktails and locally brewed boutique ales and beers will also be on offer.

Palomar chef to debut at Shepherd’s Bush dining space before launching solo Fitzrovia site: Mitz Vora, former sous chef at The Palomar in Soho, will be the first to take up a six-week residency at a new dining space in Shepherd’s Bush before launching his solo project – Foley’s Tasting Kitchen – in Fitzrovia. The residency will launch on 10 February. Foley’s Tasting Kitchen will serve a menu inspired by street food, with dishes such as spiced sweet potato fritters with grilled pineapple, jalapeno yoghurt and saffron coconut curry, and ribeye cap steak with tater tots, whipped anchovy butter, grilled gem lettuce and homemade black olive mustard. Market Yard, located under railway arches off Goldhawk Road, has been set up by the team behind the Little Feast street food market, who brand the venture a cross between a residency space and a test kitchen for new businesses. Market Yard will open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday night, as well as all day Saturday and Sunday, and can seat 60. The second restaurant to take up residency will be Brixton-based Made of Dough, which will be at Market Yard until 20 March.

Norwich-based pub operators take on fourth site in city: Norwich-based pub operators Russell Evans and John Linford have taken on their fourth site in the city. The pair have secured the lease of the Number 12 in Farmers Avenue, which is owned by Enterprise Inns and has been closed since the previous licensee left at the start of January. Evans and Linford will reopen the building, which is thought to be about 250 years old and has views of Norwich Castle, on Friday (5 February). The layout has been changed to give a less formal feel and there will be a focus on homemade food. In terms of drinks, Evans said there would be Bullards beers on tap – the traditional Norwich brand he runs together with the Trowse-based Redwell Brewery – as well as craft beers, cider and wine. He told the Eastern Daily Press: “It’s known as a good food place, so that will very much be part of our offer. It’s a pub that has different things for different people at different times of the day.” Evans and Linford also run the Belle Vue in St Philips Road, the Buck Inn in Yarmouth Road and the York Tavern in Leicester Street.

Tony Singh opens restaurant in Glasgow casino: Tony Singh has partnered with Alea Glasgow casino to launch a restaurant on the banks of the river Clyde. Tasty by Tony Singh opened on Saturday (30 January). The celebrity chef told the Daily Record: “Tasty is a unique culinary mash-up which delivers an unforgettable taste explosion. Eating and enjoying food should be fun. So where better to open my restaurant than within a casino – where adults come to enjoy themselves.” Paul Rety, venue director at Alea Glasgow, said: “We’re always looking for unique ways to excite our customers, and Tasty promises to do just that. Tony’s artistic style and love of experimental cooking is the perfect partner to our gaming offer.” Leith-born Singh is the third celebrity chef to open a restaurant within a Caesars Entertainment UK casino, following Marco Pierre White’s Steakhouse at Alea Nottingham and James Martin at Manchester 235. Visit Scotland recently made Singh an ambassador for Scotland, with the responsibility of globally promoting the country and its delicacies.

New seafood bar and grill concept set to open in Chesterfield this month: A new seafood bar and grill concept is set to open in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. Catch 22 Bar and Grill is launching in Corporation Street with the site currently undergoing building work for a mid-February opening, said its owners. The venue will feature an oyster and Prosecco bar and giant fish tanks. Manager Levi Silcock told the Derbyshire Times: “We have been creating amazing dishes this last week with our newly-formed team. Fingers crossed we’ve made the right calls for everyone. Our head chef is from Whitby and has owned and operated his own Whitby seafood restaurant. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience but most of all excitement to Catch 22.”

Sheffield boutique hotel goes on the market: A four star boutique hotel in Sheffield city centre has been put up for sale. “Substantial offers” are being invited for the Leopold Hotel in Leopold Street in the heart of Sheffield. The grade II-listed property started life at the turn of the 19th century as a boys’ Grammar school. In 2007, the building was refurbished and converted in to an 89-bedroom boutique hotel. The Leopold also has a bar, restaurant/breakfast room, small gym and conferencing/wedding facilities. Julian Troup, head of UK hotels agency at Colliers International, said: “The Leopold Hotel is Sheffield’s only four star boutique hotel and attracts business from Sheffield’s corporate market, together with tourist and function related business. The hotel has good quality room stock and facilities and is well positioned to compete in the local market place. The hotel has the potential to be branded, which could enable a purchaser to enhance the earnings and profitability of the business.”

Giraffe set to open in Dubai leisure scheme: A Giraffe is to open in Riverland Dubai, part of the Dubai Parks and Resorts complex that is set to open in October, offering three theme parks, a water park and a resort hotel. Riverland Dubai’s management confirmed in the statement that it has leased over 50% of the 220,000 square feet of dining and retail space – achieving one of the destination’s key targets for 2015. Raed Kajoor Al Nuaimi, chief executive of Dubai Parks and Resorts, said: “We are delighted to be able to announce the new restaurants, cafes and retailers who will be joining us at Riverland Dubai. In just eight months the management team has done an excellent job in securing a number of high-profile and exciting tenants for two-thirds of the 50-plus outlets available at Riverland Dubai. This means that we have exceeded our 2015 target of leasing out 50% of the available space and are on track to open with both unique and internationally recognised tenants.” Newly announced openings add to those previously announced which include Famous Dave’s barbeque, Mr Greek, Galito’s Flame Grilled Chicken, Tortilla, the Turkish restaurant Simit Sarayi, Jamba Juice, 800 Degrees Pizza, Starbucks, Shake Shack and Japanese restaurant Katsuya.

Full speaker programme for Propel Multi Club Conference on 16 March unveiled: The full speaker programme for the Propel Multi Club Conference on Wednesday, 16 March at Congress Hall, London, has been unveiled. Multi-site pub, restaurant and foodservice operators can book up to two free places by emailing Adam Dickinson on The conference series is the best-attended in the sector. Speakers are: Nicola Knight, analyst at insights firm Horizons, investigates the key trends in the UK foodservice market, including major menu trends, growth areas and discounting – and looks ahead to the key trends of 2016 and beyond. Adrian Blair, chief operating officer for Just Eat, provides an overview of the company’s role in the takeaway market, current key trends and future potential for operators to develop revenue. Steve Kenee, partner at investment firm Downing, talks about the firm’s long term investment partnership with Antic London, developing an estate of more than 30 London pubs, the businesses USPs, the risks and rewards of operating near the leading edge of urban regeneration and the development of non-licenced premises. David Singleton, vice-president of hospitality for Al Tayer Group, provides an overview of the foodservice landscape in the United Arab Emirates, the brands that are winning, the potential for UK brands and his company’s approach to growing sales. Punch Taverns chief strategy director Neil Griffiths outlines the company’s evolved strategy, involving as much as £300m of investment over five years, developing operator and trading agreements, expanding its fledgling concepts and brands, taking greater control of its retail offer and realising additional value from its property portfolio. Simon King, managing director of Burger & Lobster, talks about the progress of Burger & Lobster in London and elsewhere, the unique thinking and philosophy behind the brand, sourcing quality ingredients, recruiting and training staff, evolving the offer, expanding outside of London and international prospects. Phil Sermon, managing director of Vapiano, talks about progress in the UK as well as the company’s fresh approach to recruitment, training and development of its people and interaction with its guests. David Mooney, co-founder of New Moon Pub Company, arguably the UK’s most versatile food pub operator, talks about the company’s approach at country and city pubs, its Beef and Pudding concept, New York-influenced The Bronx brand, its pizza concept Casa Matta, evolution and future plans. Roberto Morretti, chief operating officer of Bill’s, talks to ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls about the brand’s USPs, trading all-day, developing a retail dimension and staying true to the brand founder’s vision. Henry Dimbleby and Jonathan Downey, co-founders of London Union, set out their progress in creating neighbourhood food markets based on experiential food discovery, crowdfunding, their plans to create the world’s greatest food market and the development of 12 London neighbourhood markets.

ALMR National Restaurant Association Study Tour to Chicago open for bookings: The Propel and Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) 2016 Chicago Study Tour is 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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