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Tue 7th Jun 2016 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Healthy food delivery service start-up Pronto hits £689,000 crowdfunding target as part of central London expansion plans: Healthy food delivery service start-up Pronto has hit its £689,000 fund-raising target on crowdfunding platform Seedrs as it plans to open two more distribution centres to expand across central London. The company, which was launched in June 2014 by James Roy Poulter and Simone D’Amico, is running a convertible share equity campaign with a 15% discount. So far 58 investors have pledged £707,370 and it is now “overfunding”. It aims to deliver restaurant quality dishes from chefs to homes or office in less than 25 minutes and plans to roll-out to mainland Europe at the start of next year. The pitch states: “Our chefs have designed a nutritionally balanced menu, where each meal includes at least two of your five a day with quality ingredients and healthy cooking processes. We include nutritional information on every item of food and drink we offer so our customers can track their daily intakes, a level of transparency only possible due to our vertical integration. Everything we make is fresh today, gone today. In only 18 months post-launch, Pronto will have rolled out four sites in central London (in mid-June we are scheduled to open new sites at Mayfair and Canary Wharf). Pronto plans to continue the expansion of our delivery area to cover the whole of central London. In order to do this we need to build out another two distribution centres. These distribution centres are strategically placed so we can ensure as many Londoners are able to avail of Pronto. We see the majority of customers that come to the site are currently outside of our delivery zone. Our roll-out is planned to cover 90% of customers outside our current delivery zone. We also have plans to roll-out operations to mainland Europe in quarter one of 2017.” Last year, Pronto raised £1m in a seed-funding round led by technology venture capital company Playfair Capital to start rolling out the concept across the capital.

Industry News:

Next recording for Propel Premium subscribers to feature Vapiano managing director Phil Sermon: The next recording for Propel Premium subscribers, to be sent out on Friday (10 June), will feature Vapiano managing director Phil Sermon. He talks about the company’s progress in the UK as well as its approach to recruitment, training, development of its people and interaction with guests. Operators, drinks companies, law firms, accountants, distributors and marketing firms are among the first companies to have signed up to receive the Propel Premium subscription service. 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 will be able to receive the Morning Newsletter, which is sent at 6.30am each weekday, 12 hours earlier at 6.30pm the day before. Subscribers will 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

Tim Martin – ‘I’m confident JD Wetherspoon can make a difference in Brexit debate’: JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has told The Financial Times he is confident the company can make a difference in the Brexit vote. He said: “Some people are opinion formers – everyone has that one mate who you trust, because they have read more than you. My theory is that Wetherspoon will decide the outcome of the referendum. It will be interesting to see the next polls. In all seriousness, I think people feel we have contributed to the debate. Wetherspoon News has articles by David Cameron, Nick Clegg and [FT columnist] Martin Wolf, who all support Remain. People who don’t understand the information too well are grateful to be able to pick up the magazine and get it.”

Commercial Kitchen show launches at Birmingham NEC today: New two-day trade show Commercial Kitchen launches at the NEC Birmingham today (7 June), featuring thousands of catering equipment buyers, specifiers, distributors and consultants. The organisers claim almost a quarter of pre-registered visitors to date (23%) represent companies with corporate spend in excess of £500,000 (a further 10% more than £5m). Eighty exhibitors will showcase a range of the latest devices and utensils covering areas such as cooking equipment, refrigeration, storage, warewashing, fit-out and design. The show will also feature keynote speakers, seminars and interviews, as well as the CEDA Design Gallery and Innovation Challenge Gallery and Awards. Pizza Hut Restaurants head of food Chez Gawen said: “I’m looking forward to seeing what the Commercial Kitchen show has to offer – it’s been a long time coming, a show that focuses on the kitchen or back of house, and it is a great opportunity to focus on many differing aspects of the ‘engine room’ of our various food businesses.” Advance visitor registration closes at 9.30am on Tuesday, 7 June (after which a £20 door charge may apply). To register for a free pass or for a list of exhibitors, speakers and the latest news from the show, visit

Belgian brewer builds beer pipeline below Bruges: Chief executive Xavier Vanneste has had a pipeline built to pump beer from his De Halve Maan brewery in the Belgian city of Bruges to a bottling plant outside town. From the autumn, the pipeline will start pumping 1,060 gallons of beer an hour towards the bottling plant, two miles away in an industrial zone, instead of using trucks through the cobblestoned streets of the UNESCO-protected medieval city. The beer will take about ten minutes to travel the length of the pipeline. The brewer raised 10% of the £3m investment through a crowdfunding campaign. Restaurant owner Philippe Le Loup, who poured £7,500 into the pipeline, said: “You have to be a bit crazy – like the beer – to do such a project. I just had the money for that, and I liked it. So I went crazy and gave the money to the brewery.” De Halve Maan brewery is known for its Brugse Zot (Madman of Bruges) and Straffe Hendrik brands. Vanneste said: “At the moment our huge tankers have constantly to make their way through the narrow streets of Bruges. That’s no longer sustainable. This beer pipeline means we’ll be able to remain in the city.”

Jägermeister wins 26th Interbrewery Regatta: The Jägermeister team won this year’s Interbrewery Regatta, which saw 17 crews and 160 people take part in the three-day charity sailing event on the Solent. It donated its prize money to The Benevolent, a charity that supports employees in the drinks trade. Runners-up were Anglian Country Inns, which donated its share to Garden House Hospice, which serves north Hertfordshire, while Faucet Inns came third, donating its share to Pancreatic Cancer Action. This year’s event – the 26th to date – was organised by the winners of the competition in 2015 – pan-European hostel and bar company Beds and Bars. Chief executive Keith Knowles turned the regatta into a cross-industry event – leading to a significant increase on the five teams that took part then. Jägermeister will be responsible for organising the event in 2017, which takes place from 2-4 July.

Company News:

Living Ventures bids to open The Alchemist at MediaCity in Salford Quays, third Manchester site: Living Ventures is set to open a site for its The Alchemist cocktail bar and restaurant brand at MediaCity in Salford Quays. The company has applied to Salford council for a premises licence at The Bund, Dock 9, close to The Lowry Arts Centre, to add to its Manchester city centre sites in Spinningfields and New York Street. A notice of application has gone up in the vicinity to permit the sale of alcohol between 8am and 2am daily and the provision of entertainment between 10am and 2am daily and late-night refreshment between 11pm and 2.30am. If the licence bid is approved, The Alchemist could open next month, Manchester Evening News reports. The stand-alone business under Living Ventures’ umbrella operates five UK sites, with two in Leeds and one in London. Its Liverpool site is set to open this month, with further openings planned for Birmingham and Newcastle. Work has also started on its first “suburban” site in the village of Alderley Edge, Cheshire, 15 miles south of Manchester.

Red Door opens third site, in Manchester: Red Door, the cocktail bar concept by the late Living Ventures founder Tim Bacon, Chester-based entrepreneur Dave Hinds and former Living Ventures bar expert Lee Lynch, has opened its third site in Manchester. The new £350,000 venue has opened in Deansgate, underneath Living Ventures brand The Botanist. Bacon and Hinds’ business relationship stretched back to the early 1990s when they set up JW Johnsons, followed by Via Vita and Life Café across the UK, at which time they were joined by business partner Jeremy Roberts. Together, the trio spearheaded a revival of the dining scene in Manchester city centre. Those venues were sold to Whitbread in 1999 after which Hinds decided to concentrate on his property interests, leaving Bacon and Roberts to establish Living Ventures. The new Red Door site occupies 2,800 square feet with a capacity of 250 and has created 20 jobs. Bacon’s influences can be seen throughout the site – from the eponymous red door he had painted with an eye motif to the portrait of him hung amid the cult film and band posters, psychedelic artwork and taxidermy decorating the walls, reports the Manchester Evening News. Music is a major focus, with a stage area hosting live acts three nights a week, providing a platform for both established and up-and-coming local acts, and DJ sets mixing up disco, funk, soul and rock and roll. Red Door’s other sites are in Chester and Liverpool.

JD Wetherspoon completes deal for Downham Market pub from Oak Taverns: JD Wetherspoon has completed the purchase of the White Hart in Downham Market (population: 9,994) in Norfolk from Oak Taverns. Oak Taverns director Simon Collinson confirmed the deal for the Bridge Street pub went through on Friday (3 June). JD Wetherspoon was granted a licence for the pub by West Norfolk Council in February and is investing £1.7m on transforming the property. The company has also been granted permission to add a single-storey extension at the back of the building despite objections from residents. JD Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon previously said: “Wetherspoon has enjoyed great success in the region and is keen to open in Downham Market.”

Steve Easterbrook – ‘The UK has excelled by being customer obsessed’: McDonald’s chief executive Steve Easterbrook has argued that the UK outperformance of the company, which has seen 40 consecutive quarters of like-for-like growth, is linked to success in being customer obsessed. He said: “You will hear a whole bunch of people like me sitting up here and talking about being customer obsessed or customer led and every retailer in consumer-facing business will say that, but very few truly live it. The UK market more comprehensively and consistently builds their plans against consumer needs, against the core consumer segment and then has a discipline of executions. So in a way [it’s] not so inspiring as some of the other markets we have around the world in terms of headline energy, but 40 consecutive quarters is a pretty good effort.” However, speaking at the Bernstein annual strategic decisions conference, Easterbrook admitted the company was “a little bit behind” when it comes to incorporating technology within the business. The brand has only recently introduced digital tills at 100 of its UK stores but, as part of its “Experience of the Future” programme, is hoping to introduce more innovations, including table service and wireless charging. However, brands such as Starbucks have proven to be ahead of the curve, having introduced free Wi-Fi in all its stores in 2011. More recently, it launched a “Mobile Order & Pay” feature and added wireless charging pads in ten London shops. Easterbrook recognises McDonald’s needs to do more and is particularly keen to use technology to make the customer experience smoother so consumers can, for example, store their favourite meals on their phone so they don’t have to keep repeating orders when they visit. “[We] can take some of the heavy lifting, the human element out and [offer] a smooth experience,” he said. Easterbrook also believes tech can be about engaging consumers. It is doing this through partnerships with film studios, sport franchises and local communities to reach a diverse range of people. “[It’s about] how can we put more fun into the experience, in a way that the customers themselves curate. There are certain people who care about certain elements but not about others,” he explained. “We see technologies being an enabler of growth to smooth experience, as well as a driver, because we believe we can build a stronger relationship with our customers through technology than we can two 15-second interactions on a drive-through window.”

Subway extends Aramark partnership for Oxford opening, eyes non-traditional store sites worldwide: Subway has extended its partnership with food, facilities and uniform services company Aramark, which will open its fifth Subway site in the UK this year. The companies are also working together on several new store projects worldwide. Aramark already operates four Subway stores in the UK – at Chichester College, Robert Gordon University, Aegon UK and Sparsholt College in Hampshire. It will open a fifth store – at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford – later this year. Greg Madigan, Subway area development manager for the UK and Ireland, said: “The success of our partnership with Aramark is due to the wide range of locations in which the company operates, and how easily the Subway brand can integrate into those locations, whether colleges, universities, hospitals or businesses. Non-traditional locations are a key area of growth for the Subway brand – the simple operations involved in running a store and the convenience offer make it a perfect fit for these locations.” Aramark managing director Frank Gleeson added: “We are always listening to what our customers are looking for and having Subway stores as part of the Aramark portfolio allows us to bring high-street brands and great quality food offers to our client locations directly.”

Peyton and Byrne opens fifth bakery: Artisan bakery Peyton and Byrne, owned by restaurateur Oliver Peyton, is set to open its fifth store – in Great Portland Street, London, later this month. The 1,000 square foot, 40-cover site has retained original features including its Victorian façade and herringbone parquet floor, which is paired with a crafted herringbone slip brick counter display featuring greens, whites and smoky greys. Peyton said: “We are delighted to have expanded our list of bakeries to five and to launch our new product range at the Great Portland Street bakery. This bakery will be the perfect place to stock up for an impromptu picnic in Regent’s Park, while also catering to local office workers looking for a quality weekday lunch”.

Former Viajante chefs to open permanent site for street food concept Ta Ta Eatery in east London: The ex-Viajante chefs behind street food concept Ta Ta Eatery – the “Chinese family-style rice fix with a Portuguese twist” – are to open their first permanent site. Zijun Meng and Ana Gonçalves, who are also formerly of Chiltern Firehouse, have teamed up with the Curio Cabal coffee shop to launch Curio + Ta Ta in Haggerston, east London. The restaurant will open on Thursday, 16 June within Curio Cabal’s coffee shop in Kingsland Road, reports Hot Dinners. It features a 34-cover restaurant and has an additional outdoor seating area for up to 60. Spurred on by their obsession with rice and drawing on their Druid Street Market success, Meng and Gonçalves have created a concise menu – a choice of snacks, hot plates and cold dishes, all designed to accompany a “perfect” bowl of rice. Eaten “Chinese family-style”, the menu is inspired by the chefs’ home cooking and is subtly reflective of their Chinese and Portuguese roots. Dishes include peanuts (served braised, with edemame and celery); congee (Asian rice porridge with rich chicken stock, herb sauce, crispy skin and dough sticks) and Shime Saba, charred and pickled mackerel.

Hampshire-based pub operator to run new American craft beer bar and restaurant concept in Petersfield: Hampshire-based pub operator Regina Cucina is to run a new American craft beer bar and restaurant concept in Petersfield. Cucina, which manages the Queen’s Head in the nearby village of Sheet, will open the Charles Street Tap in Charles Street on the site of the former Jacobs and Hunt Auction Rooms. It will offer craft beers and American wines, cocktails and freshly cooked meals and expected to open before the end of the month. David Heath, who owns the business with Jonathan Berry and Daniele Oliva, told the Petersfield Post: “It is the first new bar in new premises in Petersfield for a long time and will offer an authentic drinking and dining experience.”

Patisserie Valerie opens sixth Debenhams concession, in Basildon: Patisserie Valerie, the company that has sector investor Luke Johnson as executive chairman, has opened its sixth Debenhams concession, this time in Basildon, Essex. The company has opened the cafe within the department store at Eastgate Shopping Centre. It offers the brand’s patisserie and cake range, which are hand-made on-site. Patisserie Valerie, launched in 1926 in Soho, London, by Belgian-born Madame Valerie, has about 130 sites throughout the UK. Last month, parent company Patisserie Holdings reported revenues of £35.0m, an increase of £6.1m or 21.1%, for the six months ended 31 March for the brand.

Peach opens its first boutique hotel: Peach Pub Company, co-founded by Lee Cash and Hamish Stoddart, has opened its first boutique hotel – next door to its gastro-pub The High Field in Edgbaston, Birmingham. The High Field Town House in Highfield Road echoes the “country feel” of its neighbour and occupies a carefully restored 1860s Victorian villa. Designed by Peach co-owner Jo Eames, each of the 12 en suite rooms is individually furnished with period walnut and mahogany pieces and hand-printed English wallpaper. English-woven curtains, carpets and English-made beds are in each room, while three have free-standing roll-top painted baths. Eames said: “When we opened The High Field in 2014, aiming to create a country pub in town, it was such an immediate hit we jumped at the chance to convert the lovely old house next door into boutique hotel rooms with the same vibe. The High Field Town House is just five minutes away from the centre of the city yet feels a world away amongst the greenery and elegant houses of Edgbaston, which is rapidly becoming a chic place to eat, drink and sleep.” The High Field Town House will be managed by Peach partner Sarah Robinson, and Adrian Corry.

Punch reopens pub saved by community after it faced being turned into a McDonald’s: Punch Taverns has reopened a Southampton pub which was saved by its regulars after it faced being turned into a McDonald’s. When plans were revealed for the Bittern pub in Thornhill Park Road, the local community launched a high-profile campaign. Following a public inquiry, McDonald’s plans were rejected. Residents applied to the city council and the pub was granted special status as an Asset of Community Value in September 2015. After initially putting the pub on the market in 2013, Punch Taverns decided to carry out a £460,000 refurbishment. Landlord Glen McInnes, who has been at the Bittern for the past three years, will continue to run the pub with wife Hayley. He told the Southern Daily Echo: “People are very excited to see the new place and there has been so much support for the pub. The locals know it is so special.”

Wales-based Smoke Haus begins expansion into England with Birmingham opening, Bristol planned for next site: Wales-based American-style burgers-and-ribs restaurant concept Smoke Haus has begun expansion into England by opening a site in Birmingham. The company has opened the 150-cover venue above Stonegate Pub Company’s Slug and Lettuce in Brindleyplace, creating 80 jobs. It is the third site for the brand, which has also revealed it will open its next restaurant in Bristol. The company’s ethos is to provide “quality food in a great atmosphere, huge portions, masses of meat and a challenge not for the faint of heart”. The restaurant provides a playlist of music and diners with an iPhone can help to choose the running order. Co-owner Jayne Myall told the Birmingham Mail: (Co owner and fiancé) Mark (Power) found this site and I think it’s an amazing place to be. We are delighted to be open and our next restaurant will be down in Bristol. Once we have had people in here we think they will love to come back again and again.” Smoke Haus, which opened its first site in Swansea in 2012, also has a restaurant in Cardiff.

Masseria Group starts expansion of Ostuni restaurant brand with second London site: Masseria Group, which operates cafes, gastro-pubs and retail spaces in north west London, has expanded its Italian restaurant brand Ostuni by opening a second site, this time in Highgate. The debut Ostuni launched in Queens Park in 2013 and the venue was the capital’s first restaurant “dedicated entirely to the cuisine and wines of Puglia”, Masseria Group founder Rob Claassen said. The new 95-cover Ostuni similarly reflects the style and design of a traditional trullo – or masseria – of Puglia and “evokes the rustic elegance of southern Italy’s largest region in an elegant yet functional space with distressed furniture and Apulian dry stone on the walls and limestone bar and floor”. Ostuni is open daily from midday to 10.30pm.

Tombo launches poké and matcha bar in Soho, second London site: Japanese food and tea specialist Tombo has launched its second venue – Tombo, Poké & Matcha Bar – in Soho. The venue in D’Arblay Street seats 26 diners over two floors and specialises in poké (Japanese-inspired Hawaiian food) and matcha (finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea). The cafe offers a range of poké dishes, with ingredients including salmon, tuna, prawn, kimchee, avocado and edamame served with sushi rice, courgette noodles or black and white rice. Customers can choose from six signature poké bowls such as classic tuna poké, salmon avo lux and matcha miso tofu, with an option to build your own bowl. The cafe also offers side salads such as hijiki black seaweed and root vegetables, as well as miso soup. Operating a no-service charge policy, the venue also offers a range of Tombo green teas – sourced from the foothills of Mount Fuji – alongside Tombo matcha lattes and matcha brownies, gateau and sundaes. The company’s other venue – Tombo Japanese Cafe & Matcha Bar – is in South Kensington, while it also supplies teas to some of London’s best-known restaurants, including Jason Atherton’s Sosharu.

Whisky distillery in Swansea lines up £3.9m grant aid: Plans for a whisky distillery on the site of a former copperworks in Swansea have been boosted by the award of lottery funding. Swansea Council has been given a first-round pass by the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant of £3.75m. It has also received a £189,600 development grant to progress the plans, which could see Penderyn Distillery expand its business into the city with a new distillery and visitor centre at the former Hafod Morfa Copperworks site. The distillery plans to install Penderyn stills at the site as part of an additional operational facility. A new visitor centre could also attract more than 50,000 tourists per year. The original Morfa Works gate could also be restored and reinstated as the primary gateway and visitors’ entrance to the site. Rob Stewart, Swansea Council leader, said: “The Hafod Morfa Copperworks site and the River Tawe have both played a key role in Swansea's history, but they’ve been dormant and underused for some time. This plan, with the iconic Penderyn international brand at its heart, will regenerate the site and reinvigorate the riverfront, looking to the future while celebrating our rich heritage. Building on the conservation work already done on site, this scheme will also attract many thousands of visitors, open up jobs and further improve a local tourism industry that is now worth more than £400m a year to Swansea’s economy.”

Team behind two Aberdeen nightclubs to open live music venue in city: The team behind two nightclubs in Aberdeen is to open a live music venue in the city. Unit 51 is due to launch in September in Carnegie’s Brae on the site of the former Foundation Nightclub. A building warrant has been approved for the venue, which will host live music featuring local bands, as well as having regular club nights. It is also hoped events such as beer festivals and art exhibitions can be held at the site. The team behind the venture, for which about £250,000 has been pledged, runs Bridge Street Social Club and The Underground Klub, which are both in Bridge Street. A spokesman told the Evening Express: “We want to focus on it being a concert and events venue. Live music is something we are really trying to focus on.”

New Italian restaurant and wine bar concept C’Alice opens in Fulham: A new Italian restaurant and wine bar concept has opened in Fulham, south west London. Husband and wife Giovanni Di Stefano and Alice Ravelli have launched C’Alice  – pronounced kah-lee-che – in Munster Road. The 40-cover restaurant serves dishes inspired by both the north and south of Italy, including capesante al pompelo (pan-fried scallops in grapefruit juice), risotto de giorno (risotto of the day) and salmone special dello chef in crosta di papavero (chef’s special poppy seed roasted salmon served in a sweet beetroot puree with sauteed asparagus). There is also a selection of desserts such as home-made tiramisu and a variety of Italian ice creams. Wines are served by both the glass and the bottle and a series of wine-tasting evenings are also planned. Ravelli, who has a background in fashion design, has worked alongside architect Maurizio Balistreri on the look of the venue. 

Team behind Docklands restaurant Noodle Street to open Vietnamese concept in Greenwich: The London-based team behind Chinese restaurant concept Noodle Street in Docklands is to start expanding by opening a Vietnamese concept in Greenwich. The new concept, called Pho Street, will launch on Sunday (12 June) in King William Walk, reports Hot Dinners. It will serve bao buns, taro fries, banh mi, bubble teas and its signature dish Lobster Pho. The team launched Noodle Street where “traditional Chinese cooking meets modern London dining” in 2010.

Owners of French-style brasserie The Pot to open second Cardiff venue: The owners of French-style brasserie The Pot in Cardiff will open a second venue in the city. Husband and wife Rhys and Laura Keogh took over The Pot in Crwys Road two years ago and extended its offering from a daytime cafe to an evening dinner service. The Crwys Road premises will now be renamed Arty’s Kitchen and turn back into a cafe with a Welsh influence, offering rarebit, Welsh cakes and homemade bread. The couple’s new venture in Whitchurch Road will be called The Pot Bistro and open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The larger space will allow the number of seats to increase from 25 to 40, Wales Online reports. Breakfast will be a full Welsh or vegetarian option as well as brunch-style dishes such as eggs benedict. There will be a fixed-price lunch menu and full dinner service when the venue opens at the end of July.

Middle Eastern street food concept Papa Ganoush to open permanent site in Whitley Bay: Middle Eastern street food concept Papa Ganoush is set to launch a permanent site in Whitley Bay. Father and son team Tim and Tom Monkhouse started their pop-up five years ago but will open their first restaurant in September. The venue in Park View will cater for up to 50 diners, with room for another 15 on the second floor, where cookery events will also be held. Tom will be in charge of the kitchen, while his father Tim will be front of house. Papa Ganoush is renowned for its Lebanese chicken, marinated overnight in spices, honey, garlic, lemon and ginger, and served in fresh flatbread. It also offers homemade falafel, salads, yogurts and sauces. Tim Monkhouse told Chronicle Live: “We wanted a community restaurant. A lot of our customers come back to us not just for the street food but because they know us and feel a part of us. That’s the essence of street food, that connection with the customer, and we don’t want to lose that.”

Stoke-based entrepreneur opens second Indian buffet restaurant concept in the city: Stoke-based entrepreneur Saghir Ahmed has opened his second Indian buffet restaurant concept in the city. Ahmed, who owns Saghir Express in Longton, has launched Tandoori Knights in an empty building in Church Street, creating ten jobs. The site has undergone a £200,000 refurbishment, with the 75-seat restaurant having a varied buffet offering with guests bringing their own alcohol. Ahmed said Tandoori Knights, which has an open-plan kitchen, had a special connection because his father ran a restaurant there about 15 years ago. Ahmed told the Stoke Sentinel: “I think we have got the best ingredients to make this work. We have a good chef and a lot of experience. There are more than 50 years’ experience in the family. We have done it once before so we can definitely do it again. I am hoping this is going to be the ‘go-to’ Indian buffet venue in Stoke.”

Casual Dining Group completes new Zonal EPOS roll-out across estate: Casual Dining Group (CDG) has completed the roll-out of a new EPOS programme across its 300-strong estate. CDG said it recognised an opportunity to review and upgrade its EPOS provision and implement a new, cutting-edge system that could deliver real-time insights to its operators. The company partnered with hospitality management solutions provider Zonal Retail Data Systems and, following a pilot programme launched in October 2015, roll-out of the new system began in March and is now estate-wide. The solution includes Aztec EPOS software, which provides operators with complete control and visibility over their business. CDG chief financial officer Tim Doubleday said: “In the past two years, the business has been transformed. We’ve expanded significantly, investing in our existing restaurants, opening new sites and acquiring two businesses. As a result of this ambitious expansion, we chose Zonal Retail Data Systems to effect a step change, providing us with a best-in-class solution and real-time management information on performance across our restaurants. With a commitment to creating fantastic and memorable customer experiences, and recognising the growing importance of technology, we are keen to be at the forefront of technological innovation. We needed a solution that would future-proof our business, give us new tools to engage with our customers, whilst providing robust management information.”

Dolce Chantilly hotel near Paris put on the market: Conferinvest, represented by agent Savills, has brought its Dolce Chantilly hotel, near Paris, to the market. The hotel in Chantilly is held on a long leasehold with 64 years remaining. The four-star, 200-bedroom hotel features an 18-hole golf course and 21,530 square feet of conference facilities, with space for up to 300 delegates. The property also features several restaurants and bars, a health club, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, two tennis courts and a beach volleyball court. Dolce Chantilly is 35 miles from central Paris in Chantilly Forrest and close to Paris Charles de Gaulle and Beauvais-Tillé airports. Chantilly, famous for its handmade lace, also draws more than 500,000 visitors a year to its castle, racecourse and Living Museum of the Horse. Rob Mangan, hotels director at Savills, said: “Dolce Chantilly has traded very well over the past 24 months and generated a total revenue of €13.5m in 2015. The hotel offers several income streams plus the opportunity to increase long-term income by driving occupancy levels even higher and enhancing the conference side of the business.” Neither Savills nor Conferinvest disclosed a guide price for the leasehold.

Speaker schedule for Propel summer conference confirmed: The speaker schedule for the Propel multi-club conference on Thursday, 7 July has been confirmed. The event also involves the Propel summer party in the evening and multi-site operators can claim two free places by emailing Jo Charity on Cyril Lavenant, of NPD Group, will provide insights on the current state of the UK foodservice market, how the UK compares with the US and Europe, and predict future progress. Paul Chantler, founder of leading French brewpub company FrogPubs, will talk about selling cask ale in France, entering the better burger market, the French labour market, the importance of food in the French market, and breaking into the French off-trade. Jonathan Simon, of the Business Growth Fund, which has investments in Boost Juice Bars, Camino, Giggling Squid, Peyton & Byrne, Barburrito, Coaching Inn Group and Wear Inns, will explain the fund’s rationale for investment and appetite for further investment in the sector. Thom and James Elliot, co-founders of Pizza Pilgrims, will tell the story of their decision to embark on launching into the pizza category without a foodservice background, moving from pop-ups to permanent sites, lessons learnt, their mobile van, and plans for the future. Simon Brigg, co-founder of five-strong Porky’s BBQ, will talk about how the company was founded, its Memphis-focused differentiation in the barbecue market, its BBQ lab, London expansion, and plans to go portable and develop sauce and clothing ranges, and tips on crowdfunding in the wake of its £650,000 Crowdcube campaign. Lawson Mountstevens, managing director of Star Pubs & Bars, which invested £30m in its pub estate last year and let more than 50% of pubs to multiple operators, will set out how the company is co-investing with record numbers of multi-site operators across its 1,200-pub estate, improving support for tenants and looking to develop them. Luke Bishop, managing director of award-winning Polpo, will talk about the brand’s USPs, people culture, menu development, expansion in the regions and at Harvey Nichols, plus working with the founder – Restaurant Man Russell Norman. Clive Watson, founder of City Pub Company, will talk about building a pub company from scratch, raising money, finding great sites, market differentiation, incentivising managers, creating USPs at each site, and possible flotation. David Fitzgerald, director of business development at Venners, and Malcolm Muir, director of consultancy, will set out common types of fraud and theft the company comes across and the simple steps operators can take to prevent losses and avoid compliance mistakes. Hamish Stoddart, co-founder of Peach Pub Company, will set out progress at the 17-strong pub company, its USPs, unique “partnership” business model, team and site development, and plans for the future.

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