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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 12th Apr 2016 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Marco Pierre White to launch new franchise concept: Marco Pierre White has confirmed plans for a new franchised “ultra-casual” dining concept known as Bardolino Pizzeria Bellini and Espresso bar. The first two outlets will open at The Cube in Birmingham and at The Club at Cadbury House in north Somerset in May and June respectively. As the name suggests, pizza will be the star dish, however, the restaurant will also focus on Italy’s other classic plate – pasta. The restaurant takes its name from the town of Pierre White’s mother’s birth Bardolino and will feature an all-day express menu of authentic Italian food, coffees and bellinis. Pierre White said: “Bardolino represents affordable, friendly and casual dining with recognisable family favourites and classic Italian dishes. I truly believe that Italian food is affordable and delicious. Bardolino is a restaurant concept created for both discerning diners and aspirational families alike. After all, pasta is a child’s favourite food.” Bardolino will be operated under licence from the celebrity chef’s Black & White Hospitality business, which plans to roll-out the concept in further locations during the next two years. Nick Taplin, chief executive at Black & White Hospitality, said: “Bardolino is sure to be a hit with both daytime and evening diners. The high street has changed a lot in the past few years and the demand for casual dining has become increasingly popular. A trend we believe is here to stay. This concept is designed to offer a fresh alternative, where authentic, uncomplicated food served promptly is absolutely essential. The setting, although influenced by a rustic Italian village, will be vibrant and a little bit quirky with the decor reflecting both old and the new.”

Industry News:

Propel partners with Professor Chris Edger to launch new Brands Masterclass: Propel has partnered with the UK’s leading thinker and teacher on multi-site foodservice management Professor Chris Edger to launch a new Brands Masterclass to help create and evolve powerful brands. The event takes place on Friday, 10 June in the Chartered Accounts Hall at One Moorgate Place in London. Led by Edger, the all-day masterclass will showcase the advice of contemporary brand experts, who will address each aspect of a foodservice brand’s marketing mix. Each expert will deal with a specific dimension of brand longevity and success, making this programme an absolute must for UK foodservice brand leaders in 2016. The day will be split into three sessions to help delegates ensure their brands are evolved effectively to ensure long-term sustainability and success. Session one will cover leadership, proposition and product and include Edger and Tony Hughes, senior independent director of The Restaurant Group, drawing on material from their new book to examine the leadership lifecycles of sustainable food brands. The session also features how to effectively differentiate a brand and its proposition and also create and evolve a compelling food and beverage offer. Session two will cover environment, estate and employer branding with Dan Einzig, founder of leading restaurant and brand design agency Mystery, looking at site design and creating a brand identity while insights firm CACI will explore how operators create a high quality estate. Former Orchid Group chief executive Rufus Hall will talk about creating a people-centric culture and the benefits of having an outstanding team ethos. The final session will look at execution and marketing with Dr Clinton Bantock, associate professor of the Academy of Multi-Unit Leadership, sharing how to achieve operational excellence while James Hacon, group strategy director of Thai Leisure Group, will look at examples of memorable marketing campaigns and the importance of rewarding loyal customers. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) members and £345 plus VAT for non-members. To book email

Le Pain Quotidien launches London’s first Pay It Forward restaurant sector initiative: Belgian restaurant and boulangerie brand Le Pain Quotidien will introduce London’s first dining experiment linked to the Pay It Forward (PIF) movement. PIF philosophy centres on carrying out a random act of kindness for someone and asking that person to do the same for someone else, creating a domino effect. Le Pain Quotidien claimed it would be the first London-based restaurant group to pioneer the use of PIF when it launches its initiative on Monday, 25 April at its 26 London sites, leading up to official PIF day on Thursday, 28 April. When a customer selects an option on the company’s in-store PIF card – such as a coffee, a dinner or a baking class – when they pay for their order the PIF option is passed on to a chosen person as a gift. Le Pain Quotidien has partnered with charity FoodCycle, which creates meals from surplus food for people at risk of food poverty, with £5 donated for every baking masterclass bought via PIF. Sandi Mann, a University of Central Lancashire psychologist, who has authored a book about PIF, said: “It’s fantastic to see leading industry brands such as Le Pain Quotidien getting behind this kindness initiative, which will hopefully encourage an onward domino effect of doing a good deed.” 
BII announces Licensee of the Year award finalists: The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII), the leading professional body for the UK’s licensees, has announced the six finalists for its 2016 Licensee of the Year awards. The format changed this year, with those in the industry encouraged to not only register themselves but nominate others, with customers, colleagues, pub companies, brewers and operators all nominating their favourite “local”. The finalists are: Gerry and Ann Price, of the Inn West End in West End, near Woking; Andrew Fishwick, of the Truscott Arms in Maida Vale, London; Rob and Lucy Brewer, of the Rashleigh Arms in St Austell, Cornwall; Glen Duckett, of the Eagle & Child in Ramsbottom, Bury; Mel Carus, of the Metropolitan in West Didsbury, Manchester; and Glen Pearson, of the Shibden Mill in Halifax. In May, the finalists will be quizzed by industry experts in four areas – marketing, industry affairs, finance, and people and training. The winner will be announced at the BII summer event on Tuesday, 7 June.
Clive Schlee – granary sandwiches will account for less than 10% of sales this year, customers keep me on my toes: Pret A Manger chief executive Clive Schlee has reported granary sandwiches will this year make up less than a third of the sales of just ten years ago. He also argued direct communication with customers keeps him on his toes. In his company blog, he stated: “Ten years ago, Pret’s granary sandwiches made up nearly 30% of our sales – in 2016 they will account for less than 10%. They have been replaced by a variety of new and less bready products – protein pots, grain salads, cold-pressed juices, flat whites, macaroni cheese, porridge and most recently, 12 gluten and dairy-free soups. Most companies are not murdered by the marketplace – they just die. They don’t face up to the challenges facing them and they are unable to react in time. We strive for a culture of clear talking and honesty – it seems to be the best protection for companies, as indeed it is for human relationships. The most important job of the chief executive is to define reality as truthfully as possible. I get daily practice at this through the exchange of views with customers by email or social media. Nine times out of ten they are either trying to tell me the truth or they are seeking the truth from me about a given situation. What they cannot bear is cover-ups, corporate blurb or any kind of fakery. They are extremely good at spotting these and they keep me on my toes. It helps me to act in ways that will encourage the truth within the business – by being approachable and rewarding those who say it as they see it.” 
City investors urge fast food and pub operators to act to reduce farm antibiotics: A group of City investors, who control a combined $1tn in assets, has written to leading fast food, pub and restaurant operators, including McDonald’s, Mitchells & Butlers and JD Wetherspoon, urging them to take action to reduce antibiotic use in their meat and poultry supply chains. The financiers, including Aviva Investors, Strathclyde Pension Fund and Coller Capital, are concerned the drugs’ use in farm animals is linked, via the food chain, to the spread of antibiotic-resistant infections in humans, The Guardian reports. The letter states: “Negative media coverage and civil society campaigning can harm sales and affect consumer loyalty; a matter of particular concern for fast food chains whose customers can easily shift their spending habits.” Jeremy Coller, founder of Coller Capital, said: “These large food companies are key ingredients in the portfolios of most of our pensions and savings – thus it is a case of proper risk management to ask them to work out how they will meet this challenge.” In response to the letter, a JD Wetherspoon spokesman said: “The use of artificial growth-promoting substances, including antibiotics, is prohibited across all our livestock supply chains.” A Mitchell & Butlers spokesperson said: “The prophylactic use of antibiotics in livestock production is an important issue to Mitchells & Butlers and one we are reviewing across all species, as part of our sourcing policy.” McDonald’s and Domino’s Pizza said they had already begun to develop policies for tackling antibiotic use on farms. 
KFC ‘goes back to its roots’ in US with employee retraining and new satisfaction guarantee: KFC has said it has “gone back to its roots” in the US by recommitting to the quality of its products with employee retraining and a new satisfaction guarantee. The company has rolled out an extensive “chicken mastery certification” programme, spending more than 100,000 hours retraining more than 20,000 employees. It will also remake any part of an order a customer is not satisfied with as part of its “Re-Colonelisation” project. KFC’s US president Jason Marker said: “Customers were saying ‘your food doesn’t taste the same’. We’re not making the food the same way the Colonel had, and we’re not making food in what he described as ‘the hard way’. Today marks the end of that.” The company is making the changes as it looks to make up ground on rival Chick-fil-A, which overtook KFC as the number one chicken chain in terms of sales in 2012. The recent Colonel-centric marketing campaign and the idea of “Re-Colonelisation” puts the chain’s historical and culinary roots at the forefront of KFC, the company said. New menu items such as Nashville Hot Chicken have also been introduced to emphasise craft and creativity as it attempts to dissuade customers of the view it simply sells cheap, low-quality chicken.
Tim Martin – cash-poor, social media-living generation are losing pub-going habit: JD Wetherspoon founder and chairman Tim Martin has said the rise in social media had led to a cash-poor, screen‑living younger generation who were “losing the pub-going habit”. In an interview with The Scotsman, Martin partly blamed levels of student debt for adding another unquantifiable pressure on the industry. He said: “There is a link. It seems that people who use social media a lot feel less need to socialise. Many tend to be students and you have a grand impoverishment of our students, what with tuition fees, etc. That’s bound to affect pub sales and other types of consumption. I did not leave university with £50,000 of debt.”
Plans for Late Night Levy in East Yorkshire deferred following police objections: Plans for a Late Night Levy in East Yorkshire have been postponed after police disagreed with the idea. The East Riding of Yorkshire Council had considered introducing either a Late Night Levy or an Early Morning Restriction Order across the county, but has now deferred its decision. It follows objections from Humberside Police, which said alcohol-related crime at night-time was falling, and a number of schemes were already in place to avert offending, which would “not require the introduction of the Late Night Levy”. Assistant chief constable Lee Freeman told the Driffield Times & Post: “In relation to crime and disorder in the East Riding at the present moment in time we are seeing some real positive signs and reductions in many areas. There are opportunities to reduce alcohol-related crime and disorder in the night-time economy in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Many of these opportunities do not require the introduction of the Late Night Levy.” The levy would cover extra police enforcement costs, and would be split between Humberside Police and the council. The 650 premises across the county that would be subjected to the charge could expect to pay anything between £209 and £4,440 a year.

Company News:

Burning Night Group to turn Beverley pub into second Potting Shed venue: Burning Night Group has acquired the Hodgsons pub in Beverley, East Yorkshire, and will reopen it as the company’s second Potting Shed bar and restaurant venue following an £800,000 refurbishment. London-based investment management firm Downing invested £3m in January via its Pub EIS Fund to facilitate the roll-out of the “Potting Shed Bar and Gardens” concept, which was developed by Burning Night Group at a pub in Bingley, near Leeds, last year. Work on the rundown pub is expected to start within weeks, subject to planning approval. Plans submitted to East Riding of Yorkshire Council include extending the rear of the building, adding an enclosed roof terrace and a new bar dining area. The revamped pub, opposite Beverley’s £120m Flemingate regeneration site, could open in the summer. The Potting Shed brand features homemade food with a focus on pizzas and burgers served alongside cocktails, artisan spirits and an on-trend selection of beers. Burning Night Group operates bars and bierkellers in cities including Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Cardiff. Downing’s initial funding package will be used to acquire and develop further sites in Yorkshire, with the intention for further funds to be provided to allow the concept to be rolled out more widely.
Mint Group reports pre-tax loss, looks to expand Mommi bar and restaurant concept: London bar and nightclub operator Mint Group has reported a pre-tax loss and is looking to expand its Mommi restaurant and bar concept. The company recorded a pre-tax loss of £239,614 in the year to 31 March 2015, compared with a profit of £3,765,445 the year before, which covered a 17-month period, according to accounts filed with Companies House. Turnover fell to £9,278,530, compared with £13,120,739 in the prior 17-month period. The company stated: “Group turnover for the year was £9,278,530, compared with £13,120,739 in the prior period (which was for the 17-and-a-half months to 31 March 2014). On a like-for-like basis, group turnover was down 1.5% for the year. Group Ebitda (excluding management charges and profit on the sale of investments) for the year was £1,485,009, compared with £2,347,872 in the period from 17 October 2012 to 31 March 2014. Since the year-end, the company has opened a new restaurant and bar ‘Mommi’ in Clapham, London, which is trading well. The directors are actively looking for further sites for this concept.”
Wagamama to open in Gibraltar: Wagamama is to open it first site in Gibraltar, also the first in the Iberian Peninsula, this summer. It is opening at Gibraltar’s Ocean Village. General manager Sergio de Souza said: “Wagamama has more than 160 restaurants in 18 countries and is now coming to this corner of southern Europe. (It) will be a strong addition to Gibraltar’s restaurant scene and undoubtedly attract many customers from across the border too. (It’s) a completely different concept to anything existing in Gibraltar to date, news of Wagamama’s imminent launch has been met with excitement and enthusiasm.” 
Coffee Republic achieves target of doubling UK estate in 18 months, further sites to open in coming weeks: Coffee Republic has achieved its target of doubling its UK estate in 18 months with the opening of its latest franchise site in Archway, north London. The company has opened the 60-cover venue in Junction Road. It is continuing its expansion with a 40-cover outlet opening in High Parade, Streatham, on Friday (15 April). Further franchise sites are due to open in the coming weeks – in Sutton, Surrey; Muswell Hill Broadway, London; and two new venues in the Isle of Man, two in Glasgow, as well as Dalston in north London. The company’s UK estate now extends to 30 sites, including three company outlets in London, Birmingham, and Bluewater shopping centre, and more than 400 concessions. On the international front, two franchise sites are due to open simultaneously in Bahrain to add to its 20 international outlets, with Oman and Qatar opening last year.
Woody’s Grill ditches plans to open first site outside London area: Restaurant operator Woody’s Grill, which operates seven sites in the London area, has pulled out of plans to convert the former TNT nightclub in Gloucester into its first venue outside the capital. Woody’s Grill, which serves traditional Turkish food including kebabs and mixed grills, bought the former nightclub in Eastgate Street at auction last summer but said it was unable to hire a manager to run the new restaurant and had sold the building. A Woody’s Grill spokeswoman told the Gloucester Citizen: “We will not be opening a restaurant in Gloucester, we have sold the building on. Because it is so far away from our other restaurants in London we were unable to find somebody who would be willing to relocate to Gloucester. Because of that we have sold the building. We cannot say who to as it is private information.”
Whitbread to build four more ‘zero-energy’ Costa Coffee stores in next 12 months after pilot delivers ‘significant’ energy savings: Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee is planning at least four more of its “zero-energy” shops across the UK within the next 12 months, after a pilot store in Shropshire delivered “significant” energy savings. The company launched the eco-pod cafe concept in Telford last year, which took 13 weeks to build. It features a 28kW solar array on its roof, used Forest Stewardship Council-certified timber to reduce the carbon footprint of the building, and a super-insulated facade and underfloor heating system to boost efficiency. Oliver Rosevear, Whitbread’s energy and environment manager for Costa, has revealed plans are already afoot to build four more operational “eco-pod” cafes at undisclosed locations. He told “A lot of people looked at our eco-pod as a potential one-off and some asked ‘are you ever going to build one again?’ But, because the business case is there, we’re building four new eco-pods under the same design. We’re coming to the anniversary of the first eco-pod opening, and we’ve got the results of a performance review coming in. But the ongoing data shows that it is operating in line with how we expected it to. We’ve seen the benefits and, therefore, it makes operational and financial sense to introduce more to the market.”
London-based gourmet soup company Soupfix fails in £150,000 crowdfunding campaign: London-based gourmet soup company Soupfix has failed in its bid to raise £150,000 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, was offering a 27.27% equity stake in return for the investment. However, it failed to secure the investment it was looking for. A message from Crowdcube said: “Unfortunately Soupfix did not reach its funding target before the closing date.” Soupfix has been testing recipes for the past six months in Copthall Avenue, where it has been sharing a space with a coffee company, and was aiming to expand the venture. The pitch stated: “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. 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.”
Staying Cool forms partnership with Bespoke Hotels: Staying Cool, the award-winning boutique serviced apartment operator, and Bespoke Hotels, the rapidly growing British hotel group, have announced a new partnership that aims to expand the Staying Cool brand across Britain and beyond. The deal involves a minority equity stake, a co-development agreement and the appointment of Bespoke co-founder and chairman Robin Sheppard as chairman of Staying Cool. The alliance brings both businesses a number of valuable opportunities including the joint development of new sites across the UK as either dedicated aparthotels or mixed-use sites combining both hotel and serviced apartments, in an innovative new proposition. The pair are currently in discussions over several schemes. Sheppard, who himself has taken a minority equity stake, said: “This partnership is a first for the UK. At Bespoke we see the rapid growth of the serviced apartment sector as a significant market opportunity rather than a threat to established hotels. With its focus on design, innovation and customer service, Staying Cool is one of the most exciting apartment brands we could hope to partner with. We believe they offer something unique and rather special in the serviced apartment space. They boast rave customer reviews, while their award-winning track record speaks for itself.”

Crepeaffaire expands with PwC partnership: Crepe concept Crepeaffaire is growing its pop-up presence at events and institutional venues. Crepeaffaire’s founder Daniel Spinath said: “After a few exhilarating days at the Grand National at Aintree with our Crepemobile, we are excited to start our co-operation with PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) at More London. We’re confident to find a loyal fan base hungry for our delicious range of savoury and sweet crepes, available for breakfast, lunch and anytime in between!”

PizzaExpress reports 5% like-for-like sales increase in Hong Kong during first week of April despite 30%-plus discounts: PizzaExpress has reported a 5% like-for-like sales increase in Hong Kong in the first week of April despite discounts of 30%-plus to mark its 15th anniversary in the province. PizzaExpress has celebrated by rolling out the marketing campaign “Stripes in Town” around the theme of its iconic black and white stripes brand identity. The restaurant is taking its customers on a trip down memory lane, by serving the original menu at the original prices, for the first two weeks of April. Any guests wearing stripes will receive a complementary bottle of Peroni beer throughout April. The brand is collaborating with Zalora, Canon and Uber to roll-out various promotion campaigns for its celebration. For example, Uber is offering free rides for the pizza chain’s customers. By encouraging customers to share “stripe” images to its Facebook page, PizzaExpress said it had gained the highest reach at 1,177,969 for one week since opening the page.
Amber Taverns acquires Kettering pub: Managed operator Amber Taverns has bought the Watercress Harry pub in Kettering, Northamptonshire. The company has acquired the site in Market Street in an off-market deal by agent Davey Co. The pub, which is currently closed, is a single-room trading venue with an outside courtyard area. Amber Taverns, which has more than 100 sites across the Midlands and the northern part of the UK, will now carry out a full refurbishment of the property prior to reopening.
Bistrot Pierre to open 17th site in Altrincham: Private equity-backed restaurant group Bistrot Pierre is continuing its ambitious expansion plans by opening its 17th site in Altrincham, Greater Manchester. The company, which received a £9.8m investment from Livingbridge in December, is set to open the site later this year in Altrincham High Street. Co-owner Robert Beacham said: “The local economy was negatively affected by the opening of the Trafford Centre but now greater investment into Altrincham has brought about a shift in people’s behaviour who are now spending more time in the town. Altrincham is fast becoming known as a food destination since the historic indoor food market opened its doors again – it’s the ideal location for us to open our latest bistrot. Bistrot Pierre plans to stay in the town for many years to come so the building we have secured will undergo a complete fit-out and will have its very own local feel, just as all our bistrots do. With enough space to seat 120 diners, the bistrot will bring great value dishes, freshly prepared by our chefs daily in a relaxed yet vibrant atmosphere. Around 30 new jobs will be created and we’re delighted to be part of Altrincham’s regeneration and the growing food and drink scene, which could soon be rivalling neighbouring Hale as a destination of choice.” Last week, the company appointed John Derkach, who held chief executive roles at Pizza Hut, Beefeater and Costa Coffee while with Whitbread, and more recently at Tragus Group, as chairman. Bistrot Pierre, founded in Nottingham in 1994, is set to open its next sites in Birmingham and Weston-super-Mare prior to Altrincham. 

Mark Hix creates new joint venture with WSH: Restaurateur and chef Mark Hix has restructured his restaurant business to create a new joint venture with hospitality business WSH. Hix said: “Since starting my first restaurant in 2007 I have had the support of several private investors and the business has grown very successfully to nine restaurants today. I want to continue to grow our restaurant portfolio and needed to find a new equity partner who is able to provide the necessary resources and capital to further develop. I have worked with WSH and BaxterStorey for some years now as a consultant helping them with development and sourcing interesting British produce. It was very natural to extend that relationship and become equity partners.” Alastair Storey, of WSH, said: “I have got to know Mark very well over the years and we are huge fans of his style of cooking. I know how keen Mark is to develop his business and we are well placed to help him achieve his goals.” WSH is a holding company for a number of hospitality brands. These companies include BaxterStorey, Caterlink, Holroyd Howe, Benugo, Searcys and Portico.
Marcus Wareing-trained chef launches bar and restaurant concept in Paddington: Andrea Secchi, who worked under Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley and Tredwell’s as well as at other high-profile London venues such as Barracuda, The Laughing Gravy and the Hotel Royal’s restaurant, has launched Roba Bar & Restaurant in Paddington. The concept gets its name from the Robata grill that will be doing much of the work in the kitchen, Hot Dinners reports. The menu has been designed to showcase the “best of modern British cuisine using local and seasonal ingredients”. As well as a strong choice of grills, including 48-day aged sirloin, tandoori cod loin, organic lamb chops, corn-fed chicken from Scotland and grilled prawns, the restaurant also offers a selection of British classics and bowls such as crispy sea bass fillet with carrot and honey puree. The restaurant in Norfolk Place also offers a wide range of wines and cocktails.

Thai pop-up Som Saa opens permanent site in Spitalfields: Thai pop-up Som Saa has opened a permanent site in Spitalfields, London. Former MasterChef finalist Andy Oliver and head chef Mark Dobbie raised £700,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube last year for the site, having operated as a pop-up in London Fields since October 2014. The new restaurant serves regional dishes, including curries with fresh coconut milk made on site, and stir fries made with a mix of Thai and seasonal British ingredients. There are also a number of larger dishes for sharing, including hot-and-sour soup with whole deep-fried pork hock. Several of the pop-up’s most popular dishes, such as whole deep-fried fish, also feature, as do coconut milk puddings and cocktails. Oliver told the Evening Standard: “Running pop-ups and residencies is a really good way to develop your style and learn lessons. We’re lucky to have been able to test dishes, get to know what the customer likes, push boundaries and make a few mistakes.” There are no reservations at the restaurant except for tables of six or more.
Mitchells & Butlers places Leamington Spa pub on the market: Mitchells & Butlers has a placed a Leamington Spa pub on the market. The Robbins’ Well, which is popular among students, has been a part of the town’s nightlife for almost a decade – but operator Mitchells & Butlers has confirmed it is now searching for a buyer. A spokesperson said: “We constantly review our estate and from time take the decision to sell a business. We can confirm the Robbins’ Well is on the market, however, the business will continue to trade as normal while we consider the different market opportunities.”

Leon opens 35th site in Moorgate: Natural fast food brand Leon has opened its 35th site in Moorgate, London. The company has opened the store, which seats up to 50 people, near Moorgate station and it is the second venue to launch this year following Fenchurch Street. Leon people coach Lucy Buckingham said: “Everyone is so excited for the Leon brand to be here – almost as excited as we are. We’re so pleased to be bringing good fast food to all our neighbours.” The store will offer the company’s new spring menu, which launched last week. Last year, Leon secured a £11.5m refinancing package with HSBC to support its expansion both in the UK and overseas. It plans to open 11 sites this year.

General Eliott freehold pub in Oxford on market for £550,000: Agent Davis Coffer Lyons has been instructed to sell the General Eliott pub in South Hinksey, Oxford, which was recently named one of Britain’s best pubs by the Daily Telegraph. On behalf of the vendor, Vale Brewery, freehold offers are being invited in the region of £550,000. The pub includes a substantial beer garden and parking, as well as approved outline planning permission for five additional letting rooms. The three-storey, Cotswold stone building has a detached annexe for staff accommodation. The property is linked to the city centre by the Devil’s Backbone, a historic raised causeway across open floodplains, providing pedestrian and cycle access. Paul Tallentyre, executive director, pubs and bars at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “The General Eliott is situated in a fantastic location attracting custom from Oxford and the surrounding areas. Just last week it was voted one of Britain’s best pubs by the Daily Telegraph.” The pub is named after George Augustus Eliott, a British Army officer who served in three major wars in the 18th century.

Lancashire entrepreneur to start expanding Italian restaurant concept with second site in Preston: Lancashire entrepreneur Simon Rigby, who runs Villa Group, is to start expanding his Italian restaurant concept Villa Italian by opening a second site in Preston. Rigby, who launched Villa Italian in Kirkham, just off the M55, is opening the restaurant at the Guild Hall shopping arcade on the site of the former Graham’s bodycare shop. Work has started on the restaurant and it is due to open in June, reports Blog Preston. Rigby’s other venues include tapas restaurant Mundo Tapas, which is also based at the Guild Hall, as well as two hotels and an outside catering company.
London-based pizzeria concept Santa Maria launches second site in Chelsea: London-based pizzeria concept Santa Maria has opened its second site in the capital. Owners Pasquale Chionchio and Angelo Ambrosio opened their first Santa Maria site in Ealing about four years ago. The pair also own Sacre Cuore restaurant in Kensal Rise. The new Santa Maria venue in Waterford Road nestles between King’s Road, Fulham Road, and Chelsea Football Club’s Stamford Bridge stadium. The new 60-cover restaurant serves the same pizzas and daily specials as the original, with a pizza oven made from bricks containing sand and dust from Mount Vesuvius. The menu features specials such as stuffed meatballs with ricotta, smoked mozzarella, and aubergine Parmigiana.
Starbucks store manager combines love of art and coffee to raise funds for coffee origin countries: Starbucks store manger Becca Turner has combined her love of art and coffee to raise funds to support coffee origin countries. Turner has illustrated art cards with coffee facts on the back that feature on 100 Starbucks Rwanda, Sumatra and Ethiopia whole bean coffee bags. They are available in two company stores along London’s South Bank –London Bridge and County Hall – and will accept donations from customers who buy the coffees. The initiative is in support of UK Coffee Week, which launched yesterday (Monday, 11 April). Developed by the Allegra Foundation, UK Coffee Week is a nationwide fund-raising initiative that supports coffee growing countries. All funds collected during the week will be contributed to Project Waterfall that aims to bring clean water and sanitation to communities in the developing world. Turner said: “Rwanda is one of the countries receiving support from Project Waterfall. I recently visited this beautiful and resilient country and was motivated to create the art cards to hopefully increase donations and thank customers for their generosity at the same time.”
Award-winning 17th century Warwickshire pub on market for £550,000: Award-winning 17th century country pub the Buck & Bell in Long Itchington, Warwickshire, has been put on the market for £550,000. The pub was previously owned by local families and a private company but is now being sold by agents Christie & Co, the Coventry Telegraph reports. The pub, which lies between Rugby and Leamington Spa, has an estimated turnover of £760,000 a year and can cater for 100 covers. The pub overlooks the village green and can seat 48 people at the front. It also has a first-floor gallery and manager’s accommodation comprising three bedrooms and a separate bathroom. There is a renovated cottage on the property, which is not included in the sale. However, Christie’s said the vendor might consider selling it. The pub closed in the 1980s but in recent years was taken over by a small company dedicated to preserving country inns. The Buck & Bell won Pub of the Year by travel guide Les Routiers in 2013.
Soho restaurant owners to open second venture in Stratford next month: The owners of Soho restaurant Mele e Pere, a northern Italy-style trattoria concept, are set to open their second venture in London. Peter Hughes and Andrea Mantovani are launching Gotto at the new Here East development in Stratford in May. The duo are currently recruiting staff for their new restaurant, which is close to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Gotto will be a “casual, rustic Italian trattoria”, which will include an open kitchen. It will serve a menu that showcases “seasonal, quality Italian ingredients with the best British produce accompanied by our unique selection of wines, beers, negronis and handcrafted vermouths on tap”. Hughes and Mantovani met while working at the Michelin-starred Wild Honey restaurant in 2008 and launched Mele e Pere in Brewer Street four years later.
Last few places available for Advanced Social Media Masterclass: There are just a handful of places left for next week’s Advanced Social Media Masterclass. A host of sector companies have already signed up for the event. They include YO! Sushi, Apartment Group, TLC Inns, Thai Leisure Group, Enterprise Inns, Be At One, FrogPubs, The Deltic Group, The Big Chill, Camino, MyLahore, ETM Group, Coaching Inn Group, Maxwell’s, Ignite Group, JW Lees, Pebble Hotels, Everards, Novus, Snug Bars, Anglian Country Inns, McMullen, Gaucho, Wright Brothers, Star Pubs & Bars, Burning Night Group, Charles Wells, Pug Pubs, Stable Pizza, Whiting & Hammond, Noble Inns, Brakspear, Eclectic Bar Group, Meatailer, and Signature Pub Group. 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 plus VAT for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers members and £345 plus VAT for non-members. To book email

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