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Tue 15th Mar 2016 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Coffee shops lead rise in new store openings on the high street: Coffee shops led the rise in new store openings in British high streets last year, according to new research. Figures from PwC and the Local Data Company revealed in total the number of coffee shops increased by 4%, or 80 units, in 2015, thanks to companies such as Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee, which plans to open an extra 500 UK stores by 2020. The research showed British high streets lost 14 stores a day last year although the rate of closure has slowed to its lowest level in five years. About 5,138 shops closed down in town centres in 2015, compared with 5,839 in the previous year. Bank branches and cheque-cashing shops were particularly badly hit as well as clothing chains, convenience stores and mobile phone shops – the latter led by the collapse of Phones 4U. However, this was offset by 4,640 new openings last year, taking the net number of store losses to 498, compared with 987 in 2014. It also represents the lowest levels of churn – entries and exits – since 2010 as retailers adapt to changing consumer shopping habits. Mike Jervis, insolvency partner and head of deals retail specialist at PwC, said: “The openings are concentrated on experience type outlets, especially food and beverage and I’d also expect to see more growth in discount store openings this year. The closures reflect ongoing structured changes in retail banking and the higher regulatory hurdles facing so called money shops.” He added anecdotal evidence showed retailers choosing not to renew their leases was also adding to store closures, with the trend set to continue as more leases expire.

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

More than 350 to attend Propel Multi Club Conference on Wednesday: More than 350 people are booked in to attend the Propel Multi Club Conference on Wednesday (16 March), which takes place at a new venue, the Congress Centre, Congress Hall, 28 Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3LS. Speakers include leading executives from Horizons, Just Eat, Downing, Al Tayer Hospitality, Punch, Burger & Lobster, Bill’s, New Moon Pub Company and London Union. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “This is our tenth Propel Multi Club Conference and has another great speaker line-up. The event was sold-out a month ago, which is an indication of operators’ interest in hearing about the latest market developments in these ultra-competitive times.” 

Budget 2016 – leading brewers and pub operators join forces in letter to The Times urging fourth cut in beer duty: A total of 36 British Beer and Pub Association members have signed a joint letter to The Times, which featured top-of-the page on the letters page on Saturday. Headed “beer duty and jobs”, the letter calls for a fourth cut in beer duty in the Budget on Wednesday (16 March), to boost investment and protect jobs. The letter reads: “Three successive beer duty cuts have boosted investment and confidence in an industry that supports nearly 900,000 jobs throughout the UK. Brewers and pub operators will invest around £1bn this year, yet beer duty is still 37% higher than in 2008. The UK tax rate is still an astonishing 13 times higher than in the largest European beer market, Germany, and three times higher than the EU average. More jobs, and an end to the steep decline in beer sales, mean that a cut in duty would cost very little in overall terms. It would also be a popular measure with voters, who want an affordable pub pint and rightly value the role that pubs play in their communities. We hope the Chancellor continues his investment in our brewing industry, our pubs, and our local communities, with a further penny off a pint in the Budget.”
 
Children’s Food Trust chief calls for children’s menus to be scrapped in restaurants and pubs: Linda Cregan, chief executive of the Children’s Food Trust, has called for children’s menus to be scrapped in restaurants and pubs because the food is so bad for them, reports The Daily Telegraph. Cregan, speaking at the Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum, said restaurants should stop offering children junk food such as chicken nuggets and chips and let them eat smaller portions of adult meals instead. She said: “When I was a child we did not have little smiley faces and shapes. We need to get back to children recognising the meal and that starts at home but should be available in restaurants. There are quite a few restaurants that have ‘mini-me-sized’ portions and I very much support that concept rather than having only chips and chicken nuggets and pizza available everywhere I go. I do think the children’s meal and children’s menu concept is a marketing concept that is not necessary.” The Children’s Food Trust charity was originally established as the School Food Trust by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to improve food standards in schools.
 
Food Made Good Awards shortlist unveiled: The Food Made Good Awards 2016 shortlist has been unveiled. The awards, run by the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), take place on Tuesday, 22 March at Lindley Hall and will be presented by SRA president Raymond Blanc, who will also reveal the identity of his Sustainability Hero. The shortlist includes Tom Hunt’s Poco in London’s Broadway Market, The Bay Fish & Chips in Stonehaven, Carluccio’s, and The Pig Hotel in the New Forest. Some venues make multiple appearances on the shortlist, including cafe-ODE in Shaldon, Devon, two-time winner of the Sustainable Restaurant of the Year award, and schools caterer The Brookwood Partnership, both of which are in contention for three awards. The universities of Manchester, Durham and Cork are competing for the inaugural University Champion award, while another new gong – Supplier of the Year – has Delphis Eco, London Linen Group and Trenchmore Farm on the shortlist. The People’s Favourite award will be decided by public vote, while the Sustainable Innovation Award is between Bio-bean, Foodspeed and Virgin Atlantic Airways. Mark Linehan, SRA managing director, said: “With a transformation in diners’ attitudes towards food and how it is produced, we believe these awards reward the unsung heroes of hospitality who go way beyond just serving delicious food.”
 
STR Global – UK has most hotel rooms under construction in Europe: The UK has the most hotel rooms under construction in Europe with 14,785 rooms in 178 hotels, according to a new report. STR Global’s February 2016 pipeline report also revealed there are 163,826 rooms in 1,139 hotels under contract in Europe – a 14.9% increase compared with last year. Under contract data includes projects in the “in construction”, “final planning” and “planning stages” but does not include projects in the “unconfirmed” stage. The region reported 62,885 rooms in 465 hotels under construction for the month – an 8.6% year-on-year increase. As well as the UK, three additional countries reported more than 5,000 rooms under construction: Germany (9,169 rooms in 44 hotels); Turkey (8,341 rooms in 51 hotels); and Russia (7,959 rooms in 39 hotels).
 
Costa has best value coffee per caffeine content, new survey shows: Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee has the best value coffee per caffeine content, a new survey has revealed. Money-saving website Voucherbox.co.uk compared the cost and caffeine content of a standard 12 fluid ounce cup of Americano coffee at the UK’s most popular coffee shops. The findings showed Costa’s 12oz (80mg) Americano had the most caffeine overall at 195mg per serving and the best price per 100mg of caffeine at £1. At the other end of the scale, Caffe Nero coffee had the lowest caffeine content, which makes it the most expensive in the study at £2.56 per 100mg of caffeine – two-and-a-half times that of Costa. Greggs was the second best for cost versus coffee strength at £1.06 per 100mg of caffeine, followed by Pret A Manger at £1.30 and Starbucks at £1.40. Voucherbox.co.uk said the reason for the variation in coffee levels is to do with the number and size of espresso shots in each serving, the blend of bean used and the preparation method. UK manager at Voucherbox.co.uk Shane Forster said: “Many of us have a favourite place for our prized cup of coffee, but if it’s a caffeine rush you are looking for it is well worth taking into account the hugely varying levels of coffee strength and considering what you get for your cash at the main coffee shops on the high street.” The average person should consume no more than 400mg of caffeine in a day and pregnant women should have no more than 200mg, according to the European Food Safety Agency.
 
Chipotle’s co-chief executives see compensation more than halve following E. coli and norovirus outbreaks: Chipotle’s co-chief executive officers’ total compensation more than halved in 2015 in a year when the company lost favour with customers following a series of food-borne illnesses linked to its restaurants. Founder and co-chief executive Steve Ells’ total compensation fell 52% to $13.8m, from a year earlier, according to a regulatory filing, while co-chief executive Monty Moran’s total compensation fell about 51% to $13.6m, reports Reuters. Chipotle shares, which hit an all-time high of $758.61 on 5 August, have dropped sharply following unrelated cases of E. coli and norovirus with another food safety incident reported last week at a Boston-area restaurant. Ells and Moran have been leading the company’s efforts to reassure customers and last month laid out their programme to improve restaurant safety.
 
UK food businesses fear recruitment struggles will continue to hamper growth in 2016, report shows: Recruitment is one of the largest challenges UK foodservice companies face in 2016, with fears it will continue to hamper growth, according to a new Business Census report of business leaders’ expectations for the year ahead. When reporting on growth, respondents from the food and drink industry were the most negative of all industry sectors, with 45% stating flat or no growth in 2015. Regarding 2016, the survey of 1,000 businesses, carried out by due diligence website Company Check, revealed 21% of respondents expected recruitment to pose a challenge for their company this year, with businesses in the south east and London most concerned. The proposed National Living Wage increase and June’s EU referendum were also predicted to have a further impact on recruitment in the industry. Alastair Campbell, Company Check founder and author of the report, said: “It’s unsurprising that recruitment remains a top concern, with an increase in reported political uncertainties such as the impending EU referendum and the growing security concerns both impacting on companies’ ability to attract and retain staff.”
 
All-night London Underground set to launch in August: London Underground’s long-awaited new night tube is set to launch in August. Transport for London (TfL) has not officially named dates for the delayed service to finally start, but it is understood plans have been drawn up to roll it out line by line. Passengers will be able to travel through the night on Fridays and Saturdays on the Victoria and Jubilee lines in August and then on the Central, Northern and Piccadilly lines in September, reports the Press Association. Part-time drivers are currently being trained to deliver the new service, and are expected to be ready for duty by the summer. It follows acceptance of a pay deal by members of the two biggest London Underground unions – Aslef and the Rail, Maritime and Transport union. The Transport Salaried Staffs Association and Unite have yet to accept the deal, but it is understood TfL is pressing ahead with the launch. The all-night London Underground was due to start on five lines at weekends last September.
 

Company News:

Wetherby Whaler chain reports turnover increase but pre-tax profit drop: Yorkshire fish and chip operator Better Fish, which operates the original Harry Ramsden’s site in Guiseley and four others under the Wetherby Whaler brand, has reported an increase in turnover and a drop in pre-tax profit. The family owned company, founded by Phillip and Janine Murphy in Tadcaster in 1969, saw turnover rise to £8,521,215, compared with £7,936,094 the previous year, according to accounts filed with Companies House. Pre-tax profit fell to £642,753, compared with £856,443 the year before. The company’s other sites are in Pudsey, Wakefield, Wetherby and York.
 
Brewhouse & Kitchen to open at Cheltenham’s Brewery site: Independent pub group Brewhouse & Kitchen is to open a site at The Brewery, Cheltenham’s premier leisure destination. Taking a lease on a 5,000 square foot unit, the Brewhouse & Kitchen brand marks significant further investment into The Brewery – works will start on the kit out straightaway with the aim of opening in May. It will be located in the existing phase one of the scheme. Phillip Martin, investment and development director of Martin Commercial Properties, which manages The Brewery, said: “We’re delighted to announce that Brewhouse & Kitchen has signed with The Brewery. They have a great product offer with fantastic food and craft ales which I’m sure will make them a firm favourite in Cheltenham.” Kris Gumbrell, managing director of Brewhouse & Kitchen, said: “We’re really excited to bring the Brewhouse & Kitchen concept to Cheltenham. The Brewery is the perfect destination for us within the town centre and the history of the site fits well with our love for brewing craft ales.”
 
Pull’d launches £350,000 crowdfunding drive to open second site in London: Pull’d, the new slow-cooked fast casual brand, has returned to crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to raise £350,000 to open its second site in London. The company, led by a former adviser to Prezzo and Tasty, Sam Plumptre, and the corporate financier Chris Clarke, is offering a 36.42% equity stake in return for the investment. Having opened its inaugural site in Cannon Street in September 2014, it is now looking to build on its presence in the City by adding a second venue. The pitch states: “During 2015 we have augmented our offering, having reacted to customer trends and tastes towards healthier meals. In addition to adding our fresh juice bar, Squeez’d, we have released three new salads, which sell extremely well. We have also added healthier snacks that are more congruent with what nutrition-conscious customers in the City are seeking. Over the last year we have proved our concept works – significantly growing week-on-week sales and building a loyal and recurring customer base that love our food. Our site has a 1,000 square foot kitchen, which exceeds our present requirements but has the capacity to service more sites. We therefore believe this is the right time to open a second site, leveraging this kitchen to service it, and that’s why we’re here! We would like to build upon our presence in the City of London and open our second site just outside of our current catchment area (which we believe is circa 2km). We would also consider areas on the fringes of the City such as Farringdon, Clerkenwell, Old Street, London Bridge, Tower Hill and Canary Wharf; our key aim is to open in the vicinity of offices and benefit from high footfall.” The company forecasts a pre-tax loss of £105,931 in the 12 months prior to the crowdfund, which would reduce to £31,981 by 2018. It anticipates sales rising from £230,548 to £552,963 over the same period.
 
Gusto Italia pizza and pasta concept begins expansion with second Lancashire site: Italian pizza and pasta concept Gusto Italia is set to begin expansion by opening its second site in Lancashire. Gusto Italia’s original venue is in Bamber Bridge, but owner Vito Bruno will open a second venue, in Ashton-on-Ribble, in May. Gusto Italia serves pasta and wood-fired pizza to eat in or take away. Bruno told Blog Preston: “There are no other Italian restaurants nearby so we thought it was time to expand. We’re a family friendly restaurant and there’s going to be the same good food and atmosphere as we have in Bamber Bridge. We’ll have the same open oven and kitchen and there should be space for 80 to 100 people.” The new Gusto, in Watery Lane, will be set over two floors and open from 10am until midnight.
 
Theo Randall opens new casual dining concept in London: Celebrity chef Theo Randall has opened his new casual dining concept in London. Randall, who recently relaunched his restaurant at the Intercontinental in London, has opened Theo’s Simple Italian at Hotel Indigo London Kensington in Earl’s Court, reports Hot Dinners. The 54-cover venue serves cicchetti, such as grilled bramata polenta with smashed salt cod and red anchovies, and classic bruschetta with roasted datterini tomatoes, fresh marjoram and new season olive oil. There is also an Italian deli on site selling seasonal produce and a cold counter featuring homemade pastries in the morning and cakes, charcuterie and cheeses in the afternoon. Randall has brought in William Leoni to run the kitchen, who worked with him at the InterContinental and, before that, was at Sartoria. The menu includes Carne Salata (fresh rocket salad with cured black Angus beef, aged balsamic vinegar and parmesan), and Pappardelle con Ragu di Coda di Bue (fresh pasta with slow-cooked oxtail ragu and red wine. Drinks feature a mix of local and Italian craft beers plus an all-Italian wine list.
 
St Austell Brewery submits boutique hotel plan: St Austell Brewery, the new owner of the Head Weir House, located next to its Mill on the Exe pub in Exeter, has submitted plans for the redevelopment of the property to provide hotel accommodation. The company bought the property in December 2015. It has now submitted an application to Exeter City Council covering a change of use from residential dwelling to boutique hotel. The proposals will provide 11 guest rooms as well as creating the large beer garden thanks to the consolidation of the two properties. Headweir Mill House was originally attached to a 16th century mill located just below Blackaller Weir. A building is believed to have occupied the site since the early 18th century. The house was refurbished and updated later in the 19th century and retains many original features. Many of these will remain following the new works. Speaking at the time of the acquisition, Adam Luck, St Austell Brewery estate director, said: “We are very excited to have taken on this impressive building in a picturesque riverside spot along the River Exe, just a stone’s throw from Exeter city centre. Working closely with our long standing tenants, John Milan and Steve Bellman from Inns of Cornwall and Devon, the new guest accommodation enables us to offer our customers the complete package.”
 
SSP partners Snog to add frozen yogurt to Millie’s: Transport hub foodservice specialist SSP has partnered Snog to offer a selection of frozen yogurt alongside its Millie’s Cookies store at West Quay Shopping Centre in Southampton. The new shop offers customers four yogurt flavours – original and chocolate plus two seasonal favourites. A Snog is made with fat-free yogurt, sweetened with agave nectar to give it its refreshing taste. Simon Smith, chief executive of SSP UK and Ireland, said frozen yogurt is very much in vogue at the moment, and the addition of a frozen yogurt range would enable SSP to meet the demands of a culinary trend, as well as offering customers wider choice. He added: “One of the reasons we chose to partner with Snog rather than its competitors is because we believe it really is the best yogurt and it stands out in the market. With its cheeky persona and an outstanding product range, Snog is the ideal complement to our Millie’s Cookies brand.” Snog currently operates in ten locations in the UK, including Soho, Covent Garden, South Kensington and Westfield (White City).
 
Wildwood signs for Ilkley site: Tasty brand Wildwood has signed to open a site in Ilkley, West Yorkshire. The company has exchanged contracts on a 15-year lease at a cost of £100,000 per annum in the newly refurbished space in the town’s Station Plaza units. The 4,500 square foot unit in Brook Street was previously split into two, housing the Dorothy Perkins and Burton clothing store and the Co-operative Travel shop. The buildings have been combined and redeveloped by owner Addington Capital for Wildwood. Alex Wagstaff, partner at Addington Capital, told the Ilkley Gazette: “Ilkley is a thriving Yorkshire town, which is increasingly attracting investment. This parade is located around the town’s train station and benefits from a strong tenant line up, including PizzaExpress, Caffe Nero, Laura Ashley and M&S Simply Food, among others. We are excited about this and other opportunities to reposition and relet the high street properties in the portfolio.” Barker Proudlove will act for the landlords going forward.
 
MasterChef winner launches first restaurant – Mauritian street kitchen concept in Southampton: MasterChef winner Shelina Permalloo is launching her first restaurant in Southampton. Permalloo, who won the TV competition in 2012, will open Mauritian street kitchen concept Lakaz Maman in Bedford Place later this month, the Daily Echo reports. In a post on Instagram, she wrote: “We are ready to open soon so watch this space – it’s definitely this month and I’ll be opening with some offers as well. Cannot wait to share this amazing adventure with you. I’ve had a nightmare trying to get this restaurant sorted but the paint is on, furniture in and finally got the menu sorted.”
 
Restaurateurs launch niche takeaway and delivery concept, fifth venue in Perth: Husband-and-wife team Herve and Paula Tabourel have launched their fifth venue in Perth – a niche takeaway and home delivery concept. Following a six-figure investment, the couple have launched duo2go, a healthy-eating takeaway and sandwich bar serving “super foods and pre and post work-out snack pots in addition to artisan pizzas and home-baked breads”. The venue is in Princes Street in the city centre. The Tabourels, who will add seven posts to their 35-strong workforce, have also resumed control of creperie Breizh in the city’s High Street, which had been franchised out in recent years. The couple originally set up Cafe Tabou in 2002, combining French and Mediterranean flavours, but in recent years have focused their energies on three-times Michelin-recognised Pig’halle and the adjacent Duo. Paula Tabourel told the Daily Record: “Pig’halle and Duo are well-established with good staff so we feel we can commit to these other ventures. We have built an extremely loyal customer base over the years. It’s nice to return to Breizh, which was one of the first creperies in the country.”
 
Pub developer sells Dorset site to community group, buys Punch venue in Portsmouth: Pub developer REL Capital has completed two deals – selling a Dorset site to a community group and buying a Portsmouth pub from Punch. It has sold the Drovers Inn in Gussage All Saints, Dorset, to the Gussage Community Benefit Society, which raised more than £400,000 to buy the freehold. Villagers raised the money on the community sharing platform microgenius and the group is now seeking a tenant for the venue. The site had been closed for over a year when the last tenant gave notice to vacate in 2014. It was marketed for a year by agent Savills with no operator interest in the site. REL Capital applied for planning permission in December 2014 for change of use and conversion to a large single residential dwelling. Villagers successfully nominated the pub as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) in February 2015, and despite the applicant’s and council’s own viability reports confirming the pub was unviable, the permission was still refused on the grounds the locals, who raised more than £160,000 between them, believed they could make a success of their pub, and should be given an opportunity to do so. The next priority is to replace the roof and refurbish the building. Andy Scott, of REL Capital, told Propel: “With pub closures slowing, but still at a rate of approximately 30 closing each week, the Drovers is an example of how the 2011 localism act is working and allowing locals to club together and buy their local assets. Communities will look at the purchase differently and don’t need a commercially viable return as operators or pub companies do.” Meanwhile, REL Capital has bought The Swan in Portsmouth from Punch through agent Savills. Planning permission has recently been granted for change of use under permitted development rights for four shops along with five flats on the upper floors.

Avant Garde opens new cocktail and restaurant concept in Leeds: A new cocktail bar and restaurant concept has opened on the site of the former site of steak restaurant Rare in Leeds. Rare went into administration last year, before it was bought by Sheffield wholesale drinks company and bar venture Avant Garde for £1m, saving 20 jobs. Now Mr Nobody has taken over the Lower Briggate site, reports The Business Desk. Three entrepreneurs launched the new restaurant under their Avant Garde banner: John Farrar, a chef who has worked for 11 Michelin-starred restaurants; barman Andrew Trudgill, who was placed in the top six UK World Class for mixology; and David Pickard, a self-confessed “computer geek”. Mr Nobody offers cocktails, nibbles and small plates, from a Spanish-inspired menu. Stone bass with scraps, dripping and beer vinaigrette provide a twist to a British staple while there are small plates such as the ox heart and lamb sweetbreads spiced with Indian flavours.

Former Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing chef launches crowdfunding campaign to help with proposed Cornwall restaurant: A chef who has worked for Gordon Ramsay, Marcus Wareing, and Tom Aikens is looking to launch his own restaurant in Cornwall. Lee Skeet is aiming to open a “modern British seafood” restaurant and has launched a £50,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdfunder to “secure the final bit of investment to realise the dream”. The pitch states: “We aim to offer a unique experience using the finest local ingredients and want to cook at the very top level whilst remaining accessible to everyone, and offering value for money. We will offer a multi-course tasting menu in the evenings, as well as a shorter lunch menu. Brunch will also be served throughout the summer months. We aim to have a relaxed bar and terrace area, to enjoy cocktails and local beers and ciders, and we will also have an interesting wine list. We aren’t expecting to raise the full £50,000 but we are looking to raise as much as possible to invest mainly in kitchen equipment and to provide a financial back-up as we get started.”
 
Spanish tapas restaurant in Battersea to be replaced by new Caucasian restaurant concept: The leasehold of Spanish tapas restaurant Lola Rojo in London has been sold. Husband and wife owners Antonio Belles and Cristina Garcia have closed the venue in Northcote Road, Battersea, after nine years and it will be replaced by Jan, a new Caucasian restaurant concept specialising in small plates of salads, dips and spreads served with chargrilled meat and fish. Agent MKR Property acted on behalf of Lola Rojo on the 950 square foot unit, agreeing an assignment of the existing at a rent of £42,000 per annum together with a substantial premium. Jan was unrepresented. Belles and Garcia still operate Rosita & The Sherry Bar, which is also in Northcote Road and will now be open for lunch and dinner seven days per week. Lola, as it was affectionately know by the locals, featured in Gordon Ramsey’s The F Word in his search for the country’s best local restaurant in 2010.
 
Zizzi extends vegan options with new spring menu, introduces dairy-free mozzarella alternative: Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi has extended options on its new spring menu, including the introduction of a vegan and dairy-free mozzarella alternative – Mozzarisella – alongside a range of non-gluten dishes and a vegan dessert. Zizzi claimed it is the first restaurant chain in the UK to provide vegan pizza options that include a mozzarella alternative. Mozzarisella is 100% vegan, 100% organic and made entirely from germinated, Italian whole rice, without milk and lactose, the company said. It is also free from soya, gluten, lactose, food colouring and preservatives. The new menu also features non-gluten dishes such as summer beef short rib, slow-cooked and served with smoky sweet potatoes and Italian slaw. Zizzi has also introduced a vegan-friendly coconut and mango swirl gelato as well as a range of dishes that are 600 calories or fewer. Jo Fawcett, Zizzi marketing director, said: “We know dining out can be tricky if someone in your group can’t eat certain foods, so we’ve worked hard to ensure the new menu really does cater for everyone, no matter what their requirements may be.”
 
Chucs opens second London restaurant and menswear store: Chucs, a joint Italian restaurant and menswear store in Mayfair, has opened a second London venue, in Notting Hill. The restaurant has taken over the ground floor of a building in Westbourne Grove, with the company’s menswear collection housed upstairs, reports Hot Dinners. The Notting Hill menu features “classic Italian cuisine alongside a number of light and healthy options”, with breakfast specialities including matcha pancakes with banana, berries and mango sauce, and “cocoyogurt” (fresh coconut blended with banana and served with quinoa, honey and berries). The brunch and all-day menus both feature venison fillet with grilled polenta and wild mushrooms, while desserts include zabaglione with strawberries. Chucs has also included offerings from its Mayfair menu such as beef carpaccio. The venue also houses the express Italian Effe coffee bar, which features an outside garden terrace and offers light snacks and drinks to eat in or take away.
 
Cornish hotel sold to descendants of original owner: A hotel on the harbourside in Bude, Cornwall, has been sold to the fifth-generation descendants of its original owners. Tim and Dorothy Browning, who have owned the 29-bedroom Falcon Hotel for 35 years, sold the property through agent Christie & Co to Rupert and Christine Brendon, and other members of the Brendon family, for an undisclosed sum. The new owners’ connection to the property goes back to the 1840s, when George Brendon first leased the hotel. He bought the freehold in 1872 and the family retained possession until the 1980s, when the hotel was sold. The family retained ownership of the attached pub, The Falcon Inn, which it renamed The Brendon Arms. Rupert Brendon said: “The Falcon Hotel is an elegant and iconic building, which now has much improved facilities and an outstanding team of staff, thanks to Tim and Dorothy. We are extremely pleased that Tim has agreed to stay on as a consultant, helping make the management transition smooth and seamless.” Tim Browning added: “We have worked hard to make The Falcon Hotel the best in Bude, investing in our people and infrastructure, and maintaining high standards of hospitality and service. We couldn’t have found more fitting owners to pass the reins on to, and are very happy that the hotel is going back to the Brendon family.”
 
Extra MSA reveals details of Leeds services: Extra MSA Group has released the first architect images of its proposed services off junction 45 of the M1 in Leeds, which is to be named “Leeds Skelton Lake Services”. The £50m project has been designed with a timber-framed facilities building, over which sections of wooden panelling and green “living” roof will look to tie the design into the local landscape. Andrew Long, chief executive of Extra MSA Group, said: “This is a truly unique development at an important ‘gateway’ site into Leeds, complementary to the adjacent Leeds City Region Enterprise Zone, and benefiting the Aire Valley Corridor and the wider communities of east Leeds.”
 
York restaurant owners to open wine bar in city: The owners of York restaurant Le Cochon Aveugle are to open a wine bar in the city. Josh Overington and Victoria Roberts, who run the 24-cover restaurant in Walmgate, are launching Cave du Cochon further along the street. Work has begun transforming the former Imagine Moore estate agency into the new venture, which is expected to open in May. The site will have a ground-floor wine bar with 20 seats. Roberts told York Mix: “The wine bar has been on the agenda for the last six months or so, but has always been an ambition of ours – and now we have the opportunity to realise it. The bar will have a very laid back approach. We want to dispel all the snobbery and pretentiousness that comes along with wine, whilst still offering quality and value for money.”
 
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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