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Mon 14th Mar 2016 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day: 

Busaba Eathai reports booming delivery revenue through Deliveroo: Busaba Eathai, the Thai chain founded by Alan Yau and led by chief executive Jason Myers, has reported it has grown delivery sales from virtually zero to “£3m a year and growing” in just 18 months after partnering with Deliveroo. The company believes it can hit between £5m and £6m of delivery turnover at existing sites and is creating more capacity. A special delivery point has been fitted at its latest opening in Manchester and will be a feature of its new Liverpool site, due to open later this week. Delivery points are likely to be retro-fitted to existing sites if they are successful at the two trial sites. Myers said the soaring demand for takeaway the brand has experienced is driven by consumers’ appetite for “craveable, flavoursome, fresh food”. Busaba Eathai is planning a three-fold estate increase in three years, growing to 30 sites but Myers believes there is room for more than 100 Busaba Eathai sites in the UK. Myers has developed two models for the brand – Classic (as seen in central London) and a Restaurant version with less communal seating, which was launched successfully in Kingston and Shoreditch 14 months ago, and now in Manchester. There are circa 1,500 licensed Thai businesses in the UK, with a large number of them operating from pubs. However, the Thai branded multi-site market accounts for less than 100 of the total. Myers told Propel: “Busaba Eathai is a brand for people serious about quality Thai food – we’re still working with David Thompson, the two-star Thai Michelin chef that created the menu in 1999. Thai food has definitely become a disruptive force in the Asian cuisine market. There is a very big gap in the fast casual market. It is worth £4.9bn of annual sales, of which £330m comes from the pan-Asian segment – Wagamama accounts for half of that. The pan-Asian category is in 14% growth – it’s the ultimate casual dining experience in terms of wonderful flavours.” The brand’s original site was in Wardour Street, London, and was launched in 1999 – Myers reported it is still as busy as it was on opening with queues still forming – despite the arrival of 40 food and beverage operations in the same street since 1999. Busaba Eathai sites can turn covers as many as seven or eight times a day and serve as many as 5,500 covers a week. 
 

Industry News:

New benefit for Propel Premium subscribers: Subscribers to Propel’s Premium service will receive a new benefit from this week – access to a new 30-minute audio recording every fortnight featuring a leading sector executive. The service will launch this Friday featuring the interview conducted by Propel managing director Paul Charity with sector investor Luke Johnson at the Casual Dining Show, discussing the economy, the pizza market, his investment strategy, and sector multiples. Recordings will be sent to subscribers once a fortnight. Operators, drinks companies, law firms, accountants, distributors and marketing firms have been among the first companies that have signed up to receive the Propel Premium subscription service, which launched at the start of March. The current free service to all existing readers remains the same, but readers can opt to upgrade to receive the Propel Premium service. Propel Premium subscribers receive the Morning Newsletter, which is sent at 6.30am each day, 12 hours earlier at 6.30pm the day before. Subscribers also receive a copy of the Propel database of 500 multi-site companies, which will be updated every six months, and receive a digital version of Propel Quarterly magazine a week before publication. For operators, annual subscription costs £345 plus VAT, with an extra £50 per additional subscriber at each company. For suppliers, annual subscription costs £445 plus VAT, with an extra £50 per additional subscriber at each company. To subscribe to the Propel Premium service, email adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com
 
Good Food Guide – being rushed through dinner is customers’ biggest annoyance: A Dining Out survey by The Waitrose Good Food Guide, ahead of the launch of its annual reader-nominated restaurant awards, has found four out of five diners want tap water on their table. The survey found 26% of customers were annoyed the most about being rushed through dinner, and 57% of those polled want to be offered a doggy bag (but a quarter of men don’t need one). A total of 59% of those surveyed said they were brave enough to ask for a service charge to be removed from the bill after poor service. Editor Elizabeth Carter said: “While there’s no doubt that diners are looking for excellent value from their local restaurants, 80% said free tap water should automatically be put on the table and being rushed through a meal is their biggest annoyance. As a regular victim of the two-hour booking slot and that other common wheeze, the second sitting, I believe local restaurants can offer genuine value, and a point of difference, by giving diners the time to enjoy a meal at a pace that suits them.”

Enterprise boosts pub estate with £11.5m investment: Enterprise Inns has invested more than £11.5m on upgrading its pub estate in the first few months of the company’s new financial year, with sites across the north of England receiving a major slice of the total spend. More than £4m has been invested on improving pubs across the north, including nearly £500,000 for the Beacon estate, the highly supported managed tenancy model that provides a “simple, value-for-money wet-led offer” to publicans. The Baht’ap in Leeds city centre is among the latest pubs within the Enterprise leased and tenanted estate to benefit from refurbishment, with a £130,000 upgrade to facilities, supporting a new retail offer, which is focused on craft beer. Run by Stewart Taylor, a successful multiple operator who also has another Enterprise site – the Black Hat, in Ilkley – the Baht’ap will be launching a new street food offer this week to complement the craft ale selection, which has a strong Yorkshire twist. Elsewhere, more than £180,000 has been invested in the Sir Thomas Brown, Eaglescliffe, which has a new multi-operator from Ginger Village Pubs at the helm. Using the new Enterprise segmentation model, the company worked with publicans John and Donna Price to reposition the pub from what was a fully wet-led local. A new kitchen has been added so the pub can introduce more of a food-based proposition, supported by the creation of one open plan lounge bar. Enterprise sales and marketing director James Armitage said the segmentation model was playing an increasingly influential role in supporting the company’s on-going capex programme across the estate. “As segmentation becomes more embedded within the business, our operations teams are using it in the planning process with publicans enabling pubs to be repositioned where necessary so the retail offer is the most appropriate for the customers and location,” he said.
 
Greene King pledges to take on 10,000 apprentices: Pub retailer and brewer Greene King has pledged to take on 10,000 apprentices over the next three years. The company said by 2019 it expects to have supported more than 17,000 apprentices in just eight years. It follows last year’s pledge made by Greene King to hire 2,000 apprentices in the 12 months to March 2016 – a pledge the company not only met, but exceeded. Chief executive Rooney Anand said: “We are thrilled to have exceeded our 2015 apprenticeship target. The fact that we are now aiming to hit an even higher target of 10,000 is a reflection that as a leader within the UK’s hospitality industry, we believe we have a responsibility to support young people by creating these opportunities to earn and learn. Not only do we want to ensure our apprentices have a great experience, we want to continue to improve the programme itself. We will provide the best advice and guidance to potential learners so they understand their commitment and ensure the qualification is best suited to their career aspirations.” One of the apprentices to have risen through the ranks is Lindsey Parr. Now a general manager at Sherwood Manor, Nottingham, and supporting other Greene King apprentices, Parr is also leading a Greene King team of nine apprentices as part of the Brathay Apprentice Challenge. Since its launch in 2011, the Greene King apprenticeship scheme has to date helped support over 7,400 apprentices to achieve a qualification while working across the group’s pub, restaurant and hotel outlets. The scheme offers bespoke qualifications that cover a range of job roles, including front-of-house, kitchen and management, which are tailored to each of the Greene King retail brands.

Company News:

Heineken to accelerate roll-out of SmartDispense after proven beer quality and profit benefits: Heineken is to accelerate the roll-out of its SmartDispense draught cooling system and aims to have 10,000 in place by 2020. Commercial director Richard Bradbury told Propel it had installed about 2,000 systems to date and was now looking at a rate of 2,000 to 3,000 a year. Bradbury also said within Heineken’s 1,300-strong tenanted pub estate, Star Pubs & Bars, where 400 sites now had SmartDispense, beer sales had seen an 8% uplift following installation. He added licensees across all pubs with the system were seeing savings of between £3,000 and £5,000 a year. Heineken first began installing SmartDispense in 2012 and besides its own Star Pubs & Bars estate, pub companies including Amber Taverns as well as licensees with firms such as Enterprise Inns are using the system. It is in discussions with other pub companies as well as hotel and restaurant operators about installing SmartDispense. Bradbury said one of the hardest jobs has been convincing licensees to pay for a system, which historically had been provided free of charge. He added: “On the Continent, it’s down to the brewery to clean the lines whereas the licensee does it in the UK. So, as part of the service, we clean the lines. It also allows the licensee to spend the time they were cleaning the lines on other areas of the business. The system is improving the quality of beer and cider coming from keg to tap. It generates savings in terms of costs and it’s very environmentally friendly. What we have been able to prove after just three years is that the system increases net profit by between £3,000 to £5,000 a year. Licensees are also growing their sales year-on-year by having better quality beer and cider.” Heineken has a range of SmartDispense system solutions, “anything from under the bar to something for outlets with a traditional cellar”. Bradbury said it means even venues opening in smaller spaces without a traditional cellar are able to serve “good quality draught beer and cider”. He added: “We are seeing draught beer becoming even more popular in the on-trade. The split was 90%-10% in favour, now it’s about 93%. Cider is also moving back to draught. The level of interest in SmartDispense has been phenomenal.”
 
Arc Inspirations to open fourth Banyan Bar & Kitchen in Leeds next month, expects turnover to hit £24m this financial year: Arc Inspirations, the multi-brand bar and restaurant operator, will open its new Banyan Bar & Kitchen in Leeds next month. The company has secured £1.5m in funding from Santander for the 8,000 square foot venue in the Old Post office building in City Square on the former Loch Fyne restaurant, the brand owned by Greene King. It will be Arc Inspirations’ fourth Banyan Bar & Kitchen following openings in Harrogate, Manchester and York. Established in 1999 by Chris Ure and Martin Wolstencroft, Arc Inspirations now owns and operates 13 bars throughout Yorkshire and the north west, employing more than 550 people. The company plans to continue to expand at a rate of two sites per year with the aim of reaching 20 sites over the next three to five years. Turnover is forecast to increase by 27% to £24m this financial year. Ure told The Business Desk: “We are pleased to continue our relationship with Santander, which has helped us with recent new openings of Banyan Bar & Kitchen in Manchester and Manahatta in Leeds, as well as the refurbishment of our Banyan Bar & Kitchen in Harrogate. The business is going from strength to strength and we are very excited for our next new opening in City Square, Leeds, this spring.” 

BrewDog closes Dog Eat Dog hot dog and craft beer bar to ‘re-evaluate concept’: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has closed it gourmet hot dog and craft beer bar Dog Eat Dog in Essex Road, Islington, north west London, to “re-evaluate the concept”, less than five months after launching. The venue opened on 16 October 2015 but a post on the venue’s Facebook page posted on 29 February stated: “We had checked the website and Facebook beforehand to be sure you were open but there was no mention of the closure anywhere. Eventually, (staff) told us the branch was closed for a few days to ‘re-evaluate the concept’. Not cool at all guys – is it really so hard to post on Facebook or update the website so as not to waste people’s time?” Another post dated Thursday, 10 March, asked: “Why are you guys closed?” When the venue launched, BrewDog stated: “In terms of the main offering – our kitchen guru Wyatt has compiled an amazing gourmet hot dog menu, with meaty treats such as tandoori chicken dog with mango chutney and mint raita, to a voodoo cajun sausage with pineapple salsa and spicy mustard. We also have vegetarian hot dogs, and, for early-birds, Dog Eat Dog will be open from 10am every day for ‘breakfast dogs’. To pair with the food, Dog Eat Dog will be pouring a dozen taps of the freshest craft beer, as well as a range of 25 bottles.” Propel contacted BrewDog but no-one was available to comment. Meanwhile, BrewDog has appointed Tim Hawn as brewmaster for its US “mission”. Hawn becomes the fourth member of the team behind DogTap, BrewDog’s $32.5m brewery and pub/restaurant, which is expected to open in Columbus, Ohio, in the summer. 
 
YouTube co-founder launches food-centric live video app: YouTube co-founder Steve Chen has launched Nom – a live, interactive video community and app that allows chefs to showcase their skills by hosting their own food show. He has recruited a number of high-profile chefs for the venture, including three-starred Michelin chef Corey Lee, who is also an investor. Nom allows hosts to communicate directly with their audiences via a no-delay, two-way video chat, so viewers can watch, learn and interact with their “favourite chefs, brewmasters, grillmasters, baristas or bloggers”, reports International Business Times. Chen said: “Nom is a place for food lovers. If you’ve ever snapped a picture of your dinner, Nom is for you. If you have a food blog and want to connect with a bigger audience, Nom is for you. If a restaurant kitchen is your office, Nom is for you.” The platform also enables users to share images and videos with hosts, while hosts can use multiple cameras to broadcast their show if they want to switch between shots. Chen said: “We put you as close as you could possibly be with a chef. You are right there, receiving the live feed of the chef talking in his kitchen. Chefs love to have that control and power to control the message they want to deliver.” The company also plans to broadcast online foodie events. Nom is available on iOS and online platforms.
 
Casual Dining Group to open Belgo in Nottingham in April: Casual Dining Group will open it first Belgo outside of London in Nottingham in Weekday Cross, in the Lace Market, on Wednesday, 6 April, creating 40 jobs. The premises, which used to be Spanish tapas bar La Tasca, are currently undergoing a £550,000 refurbishment. Belgo spokeswoman Amber Staynings said: “We are delighted to be creating a new Belgo in Nottingham. It’s such a fantastic, cosmopolitan city and we hope our bold Belgian dining and drinking experience will fit right in. We can’t wait to open our doors.” The brand has five sites across London, including Covent Garden and Soho. The Nottingham branch, over two floors with room for 180 diners, will have quirky feature lighting, big banquette seating, reclaimed wood booths, eclectic artwork and a Belgian market theme. The first floor “Zot Loft” will offer Belgo’s beer selection – including Brugse Zot, a blond beer brewed by Bruges’ famous Halve Mann Brewery, or cocktails and schnapps, including a 32 shot stick for the bold.
 
Starbucks hits ten million coffee trees milestone: Starbucks has hit the ten million coffee trees milestone in its One Tree for Every Bag Commitment. The company launched the initiative last autumn, pledging to plant a tree for every bag of coffee purchased at a US store to help farmers in Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador. The trees will be distributed to farms hit by coffee rust, a plant fungus that has damaged millions of trees around the world and affected farmers’ incomes. A spokesman for global commodity merchant ECOM Agroindustrial told EPR Retail the Starbucks initiative would generate almost 800 jobs at the three Guatemalan, four El Salvadoran and three Mexican nurseries producing most of the 11 million rust-resistant seedlings that will be delivered this year.
 
New burger restaurant opens in Exeter city centre: A new burger restaurant has launched in Exeter city centre. Zita’s Bar and Restaurant has opened at The Old Malthouse in Bartholomew Street East on a site formerly occupied by Burgerfest, which closed suddenly in January and was owned by Lifestyle Hospitality Group, which later we into administration. Zita’s manager Mitchell Short told the Exeter Express & Echo: “We took over the place in February and wanted to open it back up as a burger-themed restaurant. We are different because we want to create a mixture of both a burger restaurant and a gastro-pub.” The restaurant is a family-run business and Short said he planned to convert the venue’s ground floor into a cocktail and live music lounge. He said: “We have changed the theme of the restaurant a lot because it was really industrial before. We wanted to give that feel of fine dining.”
 
Fluid Movement launches fourth site – Black Rock whisky bar in Shoreditch: Fluid Movement, the beverage consultancy and events company that operates two venues in London and another in Cornwall, has launched the Black Rock whisky bar in Shoreditch. As well as more than 250 bottles of whisky, with a three-tier price point for a dram, the venue will serve whisky cocktails, which can utilise the “interactive cocktail ageing system” – an 18ft, 185-year-old oak tree trunk, which is the centrepiece of the bar, reports Hot Dinners. Cocktails include Insta-age Rob Roy (redistilled Macallan whisky and Vermouth), and 40 Shades (Black Bush whisky with apple and fennel pollen). Snacks include fried oysters in Guinness batter with Kilkeeny cheese, and haggis balls with scotch marmalade. Fluid Movement’s other London venues are cocktail bars Purl in Blandford Street and the Worship Street Whistling Shop, and Surf-Side Cafe & Bar in Polzeath, Cornwall.
 
New speciality coffee cafe lodges plans to open in Nottingham: A new speciality coffee cafe has lodged plans to open in Nottingham. The Speciality Coffee Shop has submitted an application to the city council to launch the venue in Friar Lane. It would serve a range of coffees and teas as well as breakfast and lunch if approved, reports Insider Media. The cafe will also offer coffee cupping sessions and an afternoon book club. A business review filed with the application said: “We believe that Nottingham has a huge potential to grow in this sector as it is a booming university city and has a great historical background, which attracts thousands of tourists a year.”
 
Douglas Jack – tough first half for JD Wetherspoon: Numis Securities leisure analyst Douglas Jack has issued a ‘Reduce’ note on JD Wetherspoon shares with a target price of 625p following a “tough first half”. Following the company’s half-year results on Friday (11 March), Jack said: “Half one profit before tax fell by 4% to £36m, largely due to an 110bps fall in Ebit margins. We believe the pace of like-for-like profit decline is slowing, but this is solely due to softer comparables; the company is not able to put prices up or make productivity improvements to offset all the higher costs, and further cost pressures are inevitable, in our view. After circa 20% of downgrades over the last year, we are holding our forecasts. Like-for-like sales rose by 2.9% in half one, slightly ahead of our full-year assumption of 2.5%. Two-year like-for-like sales trend has slowed to 6% in quarter two, from 9% in quarter one, but the comparable eases to 1.7% in quarter three and 2.9% in quarter four. This easier comparable is reflected in recent trading: Like-for-like sales rose by 3.7% during the six weeks to 6 March, versus a 1.6% comparable with total sales up 5.7%. Ebit margins fell by 110bps in half one (-150bps in quarter one; -50bps in quarter two), largely due to an 8% increase in starting hourly wage costs in August. The pace of margin decline slowed in quarter two partly due to the company passing the anniversary of October 2014’s 5% wage increase. We forecast margins falling by 40bps in half two. In half one, five pubs opened and two were sold. The pace of disposals should pick up in half two given that the company is planning to sell over 50 smaller outlets in total. We forecast just 12 pub openings (gross) this year. The shares have re-rated to 8.2x EV/Ebitda despite: increasing repairs and wages costs in 2016E, with further cost pressures ahead; limited room to manoeuvre through pricing activity and productivity improvements; and net debt/Ebitda rising (to circa 3.5x) despite the estate contracting in size. A 7.5x EV/Ebitda rating, in line with the historical average, would equate to a share price of 625p.”
 
Jeremy Clarkson punch-up hotel is sold: A North Yorkshire hotel that hit the headlines after the punch-up that led to Jeremy Clarkson’s sacking as the main presenter of hit BBC show Top Gear has been bought. Simonstone Hall Hotel at Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales National Park was being marketed for sale by Colliers International off an asking price of £995,000 and attracted a number of interested parties. The property has now been acquired by Simonstone Hall Hotel, a business set up by architect Jake Dinsdale. Located at the foot of Stags Fell in about two acres of grounds, Simonstone Hall has 18 en-suite letting bedrooms, bar, restaurant and function facilities alongside a variety of staff and management accommodation. It hit the headlines in March 2015 when television star Clarkson punched a crew member in an incident that led to his dismissal. Former owner, Michael Cannon, bought the hotel in 1996 when he acquired shooting interests in the area.
 
Terry Laybourne opens Thai venue in Newcastle, 21 Hospitality Group’s first Asian restaurant: North east multi-site operator Terry Laybourne has made his first foray into Asian cuisine, going into partnership with one of his former chefs to launch a Thai-inspired restaurant in Newcastle. Ko Sai is based in the revamped Fenwick Food Hall and Laybourne’s 21 Hospitality Group has joined forces with Parichat Somsri-Kirby, former head chef at Café 21 At Fenwick, and her husband Steve Kirby. The business also received financial help from TEDCO Business Support and Virgin StartUp. Ko Sai offers dishes from Vietnam, Cambodia, China and Thailand and features an open kitchen. Kirby told the Newcastle Chronicle: “The early days of Ko Sai have given us huge confidence that this is a concept we will be able to replicate, both in a pop-up Asian kitchen format and in the creation of a destination restaurant. We are excited about how we can now take our ideas forward and build on the success of our first venture.” Laybourne said: “An Asian establishment was something we had been looking to add to our collection of restaurants for some time. I am delighted that not only have we created somewhere offering modern, tasty and fresh flavours but by going into partnership with Steve and Parichat, we have enabled two fantastic people to realise their food dream.”
 
Millennials’ spending power has Hilton considering ‘hostel-like’ brand: Hilton is looking at developing a brand that focuses on small, cheap hotels in big cities to meet increasing demand by young travellers seeking no-frills, affordable lodging, chief executive officer Chris Nassetta has said. Nassetta told Bloomberg: “There’s potential for something that has more of an urban flair, more of a micro-hotel. We haven’t made a decision to do anything in that space, but it’s certainly one of the things we’ve been exploring.” The brand would offer “hostel-like” accommodation for younger guests, with lower prices and less service, Nassetta said, adding Hilton preferred to develop new brands itself rather than making acquisitions. Major hoteliers face increasing competition for budget accommodation from online providers such as Airbnb. Global spending by young overseas tourists is forecast to rise to $336bn by 2020, from $230bn in 2014, according to Stay Wyse, a not-for-profit industry association representing the global youth travel accommodation sector. Half of millennials spend at least 1,000 euros during a trip, according to a 2014 Stay Wyse report.
 
Time Well Spent to open first West Sussex site this month: Time Well Spent, the Surrey pub and restaurant operator, will open its first site in West Sussex this month. The company is reopening The Plough and Attic Rooms in the High Street, Rusper, which closed in 2014. The 16th century pub and restaurant is being given a new lease of life and will have four separate dining areas as well as a refurbished garden, which can seat more than 100 people, reports the Crawley News. The pub features low beams, a huge log fire and an upstairs restaurant/function room with a vaulted ceiling and seats about 60 people. Time Well Spent operates seven other sites in Surrey and is also set to reopen the Red Lion in Betchworth, near Reigate. 

Dexters Alehouse & Kitchen of Brigg opens third site: Enterprise Inns and multi-site operator Fine Leisure, led by David Butler, have reopened the historic Black Bull pub in Brigg as Dexters Alehouse & Kitchen of Brigg, following a major refurbishment. The venue in Wrawby Street is the third venue of the growing Dexters Alehouse and Kitchen brand. Butler, who runs Fine Leisure with his partner Dawn Taylor, said their co-investment with Enterprise Inns included a £150,000 spend on upgrading the kitchens. Dexters is open seven days a week, with an emphasis on “quality homemade food and fine cask ales” catering for up to 170 diners at a time. A new terrace has been built at the rear of the extended pub, featuring beach huts and palm trees. The 200-year-old Black Bull closed in June 2015. Dexter’s other sites are in Cleethorpes and Lincoln and it is also due to open venues in Hull and Beverley.
 
New restaurant, bar and coffee concept launches in Corby: A new restaurant, bar and coffee concept has launched in Corby, Northamptonshire. The Glasshouse in Queen’s Square has a coffee shop downstairs, called the Coffee Foundry, and a restaurant and bar upstairs. A spokeswoman told the Northamptonshire Telegraph: “It’s fairly upmarket, with live music and food made with local ingredients. We wanted to step away from what the chain restaurants are offering here and give people something unique.” The Glasshouse is initially serving drinks and light refreshments into the early evening but will launch a full menu on Wednesday, 23 March.
 
Marston’s looks to open new-build pub restaurant in Inverness: Marston’s is looking to open a new-build pub restaurant in Inverness – its first site in the Highlands. The venue is part of a proposed development by Kirkwood Homes, which also wants to build 60 houses on 3.75 acres of land at Slackbuie near the city’s Asda supermarket. The pub restaurant, which would create 48 full-time jobs, will include a licensed bar and an outdoor play area, reports the Press & Journal. The plans, which are being developed with Tweed Estate (New Land Assets), will go on show to the public this week as part of a consultation event. Marston’s operates 12 other restaurants across Scotland.
 
Nando’s eyes Loughborough venue launch in mid-May: Nando’s is set to open its 3,500 square foot venue at the new multimillion-pound Baxter Gate cinema development in Loughborough in mid-May. PizzaExpress, Asian buffet and bar Mimosa, Casual Dining Group-owned Bella Italia, Brazilian grill-house Preto, cafe bar brand Loungers, Mexican bar and restaurant Loco Mexicana, Starbucks and an eight-screen, 1,118-seat Cineworld cinema will also open at the site. The development will create about 250 jobs and inject thousands of pounds into the town’s night-time economy, reports the Loughborough Echo.
 
Bar and restaurant boasting ‘Scotland’s most extensive drinks range’ opens in Glasgow: A bar and restaurant boasting what is claimed to be Scotland’s most extensive range of drinks has opened in Glasgow. The Spiritualist, which is based in a once derelict library in Miller Street, has 320 spirits and liqueurs on offer and is the brainchild of bar and restaurant operators Ryan Barrie and Jim Ballantyne. Spiritualist has also set up a “buy a tipple” service, whereby customers can order a bottle of rare spirit and have it delivered to their door. The restaurant, where up to ten people will be able to try a bespoke tasting menu, is headed by executive chef Mark Stocks. Barrie said: “From Scottish malt whiskies and craft gins to some of the world’s most rare and sought-after brandies, tequilas and absinthe, we offer an unrivalled drinks list. We’ve even sourced a must-try range of small-batch and hard-to-source mezcals. Spiritualist is about offering a superb range of food and drink, at a fair and affordable price. We want to give people in Glasgow a unique drinking and dining experience; a grown-up experience; a night-out they’ll treasure.”
 
Greene King pub restaurant at centre of salmonella poisoning investigation closes for third time in four months, sells West Hampstead pub: A Greene King pub restaurant at the centre of an investigation into an outbreak of salmonella poisoning has shut for a third time in four months. Grove Farm, at Enderby, near junction 21 of the M1, has closed again voluntarily for further works “as a precautionary measure”. On its Facebook page the pub said: “As part of our on-going investigation with environmental health and Public Health England (PHE) into a cluster of salmonella cases in Leicestershire last year, we have taken the voluntary decision to close again for further works as a precautionary measure. We expect to remain closed for a short period and are very sorry for any disruption this causes to our guests. We would like to reassure our guests that no new cases have been confirmed.” Grove Farm previously closed before Christmas and all bookings over the festive period were cancelled. It followed a number of diners at the pub falling ill. It then reopened in early January after “intensive cleaning” and a variety of tests, which the owners said included a negative result for salmonella, but then shut again several weeks later before reopening in mid-February. PHE, which is investigating the outbreak, revealed in January 105 cases of salmonella were originally reported, some of which were linked to the pub. It is understood the cases occurred in a limited geographical area, between April and December last year. However, PHE said no further cases had been reported since the pub shut for the first time in December. Meanwhile, Greene King has sold The Alliance pub in West Hampstead, London, to an undisclosed pub operator. The company confirmed it had agreed the sale of the pub in Mill Lane “in its existing use”. A spokesman told the Camden New Journal: “The Alliance at West Hampstead remains open and trading and we have agreed to the sale of the property in its existing use with the tenant remaining.” The sale comes days after Camden Council listed the pub as an Asset of Community Value despite objections from Greene King. The ACV listing applies to the ground and lower ground floors only – meaning the pub is better protected against applications to change its use.
 
London-based gourmet soup company Soupfix launches £150,000 crowdfunding campaign: London-based gourmet soup company Soupfix has launched a £150,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to roll-out to pop-up locations across the City and start a delivery service. The company, founded by Christina Basso and Philip Warner, is offering a 27.27% equity stake in return for the investment. It is led by Robert Rose, former general manager of the three Michelin-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, who is now working with Selfridges but will join the Soupfix team full-time on completion of a successful round of funding. Soupfix has been testing the concept and recipes for the past five months in Copthall Avenue, where it has been sharing a space with a coffee company, but is now planning to expand the venture. The pitch states: “Using pop-up locations within prominent reception areas of office buildings, Soupfix aims to bring something new to the lunchtime choice for City workers. Combining fresh produce with interesting ingredients to create sophisticated flavours, which you would expect to find on a Michelin-starred menu, Soupfix aim to roll-out their high quality offering using a low cost network of locations. Simultaneously we plan to enable direct to desk mobile app orders and delivery on a local level and then partner with food delivery companies once we have a suitable network of locations. After our successful trial launch we plan to grow the Soupfix brand, introduce further product ranges, including chilled soups, smoothies and juices from our unique recipes with a super food focus. Our goal is to expand into dedicated retail space in high traffic locations, leading up to a flagship concession within a prominent shopping centre, such as Selfridges Food Court or Westfield shopping centres. We have secured our own kitchen space at Munch Food Company based in Battersea where we have full use of the latest in kitchen facilities with our own dedicated space. Our current revenue streams are on average £1,650 per week from the sales of a batch of 70 to 90 soup units per day at £3.99 for the small size. To date we have self funded and have invested £80,000 on branding, kitchen usage, point of sale, location equipment and stands, cooking equipment, packaging, research and development and technology. The funds raised in this round will be used for the following: expansion into other pop up locations – a minimum of three; full online and mobile commerce order platform to enable app orders and Deliveroo compatibility; marketing spend – aimed primarily at our captured audience within the buildings through the use of email campaigns. Soupfix will aim to change the lunchtime hour by offering a unique product that cannot be competed with in terms of quality of ingredients and taste.”
 
Warwickshire pub freehold hits market for £1.35m: The freehold of The Old Bakery in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, has been put up for sale for £1.35m. The 17th century pub and restaurant in the High Street is being marketed by agent Fleurets. The grade II-listed property features a 400-year-old bar, which can seat up to 50 customers, 14 en-suite guest rooms and parking for seven cars. The current owners’ accounts for the year to 28 February 2015, showed a net turnover of £332,291 with a profit of more than £90,000. Andy Tudor, a Fleurets agent, told the Coventry Telegraph: “The Old Bakery is a gem of a property, which is in absolute tip-top condition throughout. With ample scope to increase the already healthy levels of trade and profitability, this is an excellent opportunity for someone to acquire a landmark property and business.”
 
Multi-site operator’s Southport rum and craft ale bar plans approved: Lancashire-based multi-site operator Russel Jones has had plans to open a craft cider and rum bar in Southport approved, reports The Champion. The site in Seabank Road is flanked on either side by sites owned and run by Jones – restaurant Auberge and the Sacre Bleu bar. The new venue is on the site of a former hairdressing salon.
 
London hotel market sees negative year-on-year performance: The London hotel market in February has shown negative year-on-year performance but an improvement from the previous month, a new report has revealed. STR Global’s preliminary February 2016 data has shown increases in supply (+2.9%) and demand (+0.8%). However, there was a 2.0% decrease in occupancy to 75.6%, a 0.4% fall in average daily rate to £127.35 and a 2.4% drop in revpar to £96.33. Analysts noted hotel performance in London is traditionally quiet at the beginning of the year. In January, occupancy fell 4.4%, while revpar dropped 5.9%. For February, the 2.4% decline in revpar was mainly due to the drop in occupancy as demand growth remains soft compared with supply growth.
 
Leasehold of historic North Yorkshire hotel goes on market: A North Yorkshire hotel that dates to the 12th century and as a domestic residence once welcomed former prime minister David Lloyd George as a house guest has been brought to market. The leasehold of the Pinchinthorpe Hall Hotel in the village of Newton Under Roseberry is being offered by agent Christie & Co. Previous owners of Pinchinthorpe Hall, the origins of which date to the 12th century when the Norman family of Pinchun held land there, have included Richard Lee, who went on to become Lord Mayor of London in 1461, Sir Joseph Pease, who made significant improvements to the hall, and Sir Penry Williams, the local MP, who included among others Lloyd George as a house guest. The manor house traded as a boutique hotel and wedding venue until the owners decided to close the business and live in the property. Christie & Co director Mark Worley told Insider Media: “The hall possesses a wealth of charm and period features, which is evident throughout each of the four formal reception rooms, the six bedrooms and owners’ apartment. The delightful setting and lawned walled garden make this an excellent wedding venue or private hire boutique hotel and we feel that the business could be restarted with minimal cost.” 

Propel partners with Digital Blonde for Advanced Social Media Masterclass: Propel is partnering with digital marketing company Digital Blonde for the Advanced Social Media Masterclass, building on last year’s Social Media Masterclass with all-new content. The event takes place on Wednesday, 20 April at One Moorgate Place in London and will provide a comprehensive overview of how to make the best use of social media. Digital Blonde founder Karen Fewell will share research into the importance of social media in customers’ lives as well as insight into the psychology of food and drink marketing in order to produce persuasive social media activity. The day will also include advice on using storytelling techniques to achieve stronger results in marketing and social media campaigns as well as how to use analytics to develop a social media strategy. There will also be a first-look at Digital Blonde’s “Love, Lust and Trust” research, which will unveil the best loved pub and bar brands and what can be learned from their social strategies. Tickets are £295 for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers members and £345 for non-members and to book email adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com

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