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Tue 28th Jun 2016 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Savills – smaller casual dining brands have grown by 39% over three years: Casual dining brands in the UK with fewer than 25 sites have grown by 39% during the past three years, opening a combined 489 new outlets across the UK, according to the recent “Casual Dining in the UK” report by Savills. David Bell, head of leisure at Savills, said: “The significant growth by the smaller brands emphasises the development we’ve seen in new concepts. These smaller chains have provided consumers with more choice and offered a point of difference in the market, and with this success it is driving them to open more sites around the country. Furthermore, with the investment from private equity we could see more brands with the capital to grow.” The research reveals that smaller brands such as Wahaca, Franco Manca and CAU have grown faster than established large brands, adding 489 outlets (+39%) since the end of 2012, compared with brands such as PizzaExpress, Prezzo and Nando’s, which have opened 297 (+13%). Savills highlighted that 80% of the casual dining market is made up of brands with fewer than 25 restaurants. In the report, Savills’ research also showed the growth in different cuisines, with North American, Caribbean and Thai cuisine restaurants having the greatest growth during the past four years. The report noted 66% of all North American restaurants opened after 2012, compared with 11% of all pizza restaurants, showing a cultural shift in the UK dining market. Tom Whittington, research director at Savills, added: “Post-recession we saw a real boom in the leisure market and that meant the demand for new cuisines from the consumer saw a number of new chains emerging such as Turtle Bay, which is Caribbean, and North American casual dining restaurant Red’s.”

Industry News:

Bar and Nightclub Conference open for bookings, Toby Smith to present: This year’s Bar and Nightclub Conference, organised by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and Propel, is now open for bookings. It takes place on Tuesday, 11 October at Bafta, Piccadilly, and follows the successful launch of the event last year. It will be followed by the Dusk ’til Dawn Awards for bar and nightclub operators at Cafe de Paris in the evening. Toby Smith, chief executive of bar, nightclub and restaurant operator Novus Leisure, will talk about how the company is meeting the needs of customers in London’s evolving bar and nightclub scene, including offer evolution and social media developments. Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the ALMR, said: “The conference will highlight the success being achieved by many of our best operators in the late-night segment alongside the challenges the sector faces.” Paul Charity, managing director of Propel, added: “Last year’s event was a big hit, highlighting the importance of bar and nightclub culture in creating a vibrant evening environment in the UK’s town and cities. This year’s event will also feature a host of the UK’s best operators – and offer strategic insights into the key drivers affecting the market.” Tickets are priced at £95 for operators who are ALMR members and £145 for non-ALMR members – there is a £20 early-bird discount for operators booking in June. Supplier tickets are £145 for ALMR supplier members and £195 for suppliers who are not ALMR members. Tickets can be booked by emailing Jo Charity at jo.charity@propelinfo.com

Next premium recording to feature Chris Gerard: The next audio recording sent to Propel Premium subscribers this Friday will feature gastro-pub operator Chris Gerard, who presented at the recent Brands Masterclass. Gerard sets out how he moved his burger offer upmarket by improving quality and how his d’Arry’s brand has evolved in the competitive Cambridge market. Propel Premium subscribers also receive the Propel Blue Book guide to sector turnover and profitability. The Blue Book lists and ranks 200 sector companies by turnover, profitability and profit conversion. It also provides a five-year overview of profitability and directors’ salaries. 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 Anne Steele on anne.steele@propelinfo.com

Major rises in cost of food and drink predicted following Brexit: Procurement and supply chain consultancy Prestige Purchasing has predicted major rises in the cost of food and drink as a result of the UK’s decision to leave the EU. Chief executive David Read said some effects, such as import tariffs and rising labour costs, would only have an impact on prices once the UK actually left the EU, but he added that if recent significant falls in the value of sterling continued, we would “see prices increasing by the end of the summer”. He added: “As a nation we run a £21bn trade gap in food, as we produce only about 60% of what we eat. Almost 70% of our imported food is from the EU, but sterling has fallen against the dollar and many other currencies, so all of our food and drink imports will be affected.” After spectacular falls in the value of the pound in the immediate aftermath of the referendum result, sterling rallied late the following day to $1.37. As foreign exchange markets enter a second week of trading, there is strong speculation a fall to about $1.20 is possible in the coming weeks. Read said: “A currency fall of about 20% was predicted before the referendum, and is now looking increasingly possible. If this position occurs for the mid-term, and the mix of imported products does not change, the price of a caterer’s basket of goods will rise by as much as 8%. Most caterers run sub-optimal supply chains. There has seldom been a better time to review the range of products purchased and take positive action to ensure supply chains are at maximum efficiency.”

Chipotle to launch new loyalty programme on Friday in bid to tempt regular customers back: Chipotle Mexican Grill will launch a new loyalty programme in the US on Friday (1 July) rewarding frequency of visits rather than cash spent, as the company looks to win back regular customers after a series of foodborne illness incidents last year. After the company’s first-quarter report in April, chief creative and development officer Mark Crumpacker said Chipotle saw single-digit declines in frequency from its most loyal customers, those who visit Chipotle 25 or more times a year, following the foodborne illness outbreaks. The new “Chiptopia” programme is designed to bring that customer back. The Chiptopia card offers three levels of status – mild, medium and hot – and members can gain rising levels of free food and be eligible for special bonus rewards at the end of the three-month promotion. During each month of the programme, a customer’s fourth, eighth and 11th visit, as long as they spend at least $6, triggers a reward and elevates the customer to a new status level. Customers can only earn points once per day and the programme resets at the end of each month. Guests who manage three consecutive months at the Hot level can earn a catered banquet for 20. If Chiptopia proves successful, the company could look to initiate a long-term rewards package. Crumpacker told Nation’s Restaurant News: “We will be listening carefully to our customers and using what we learn as we consider the design of an ongoing rewards programme.”

Indian restaurant sector pays tribute to Peter Grove: The Indian restaurant sector has paid tribute to Peter Grove, founder of National Curry Week and the Curry Tree charitable foundation, who died suddenly while on a family holiday in Gran Canaria. He was 74. A former sports journalist who also made TV travel documentaries, Grove went on to write and edit hotel and restaurant guides as well as appearing regularly on radio and TV as an ethnic food and drink expert. Grove started the Best in Britain Awards for the Asian restaurant sector in 1992, National Curry Week (originally National Curry Day) in 1997, and Curry Capital of Britain in 1999. He was also president of The Federation of Specialist Restaurants and founder of The Curry Tree Charitable Fund. National Curry Week is now in its 19th year and, as part of the event, towns and cities compete for the coveted Curry Capital of Britain award. Asian Catering Federation chairman Yawar Khan said: “He gave me great support and advice. He was an honest man who made a massive contribution to the curry industry.” George Shaw, chief executive of restaurant marketing company Avocado Media, added: “No one did more for the industry in terms of promoting community relations, raising money and recognising the efforts of leading restaurants.”

Mike Clist and Paul Hegarty join PubAid board: PubAid, an organisation created to celebrate the great work UK pubs do for charity in raising more than £100m every year, has welcomed two new members to its board. Mike Clist, chief executive of the British Institute of Innkeeping, and All Parliamentary Beer Group honorary secretary Paul Hegarty join a board that already features many leading figures in the trade, including Keith Knowles and Tim Sykes, managing director and chairman respectively of pan-European hostel and bar company Beds and Bars, and former chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) Nick Bish. PubAid chairman Des O’Flanagan said: “It’s been a great year for the group. We organised the World’s Biggest Pub Quiz, with 26,760 people taking part across 1,044 pubs to raise £127,781. Now we’ve appointed two new members to the board, both hugely respected within our industry and fantastic additions to our group. It promises to be another busy year for the team, who will be dedicating time to help the pub industry defend its reputation, promote the great work it does and celebrate the Great British pub’s position within the fabric of our society.”

University College Birmingham wins Toq d’Or, apprentice category introduced for first time: University College Birmingham was the winner of this year’s Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or team award, while the competition broke new ground with a new apprentice category. Representing the crème de la crème of the next generation of hospitality stars, Megan Lyke, Katie Lewis and Jack Gameson made up the winning University College Birmingham team, which beat Glasgow College, Gloucestershire College, Sheffield City College, University of Derby Buxton, and York College to land the title. The team was presented with the trophy having came out on top following four days of challenges, including creating and serving a three-course menu at a fine dining dinner in London for 48 VIP guests with front-of-house training from London pub and restaurant chain ETM Group, and covering a lunch and dinner service at Bill’s Restaurants across London. They will now receive a “once in a lifetime” prize, including a range of money-can’t-buy experiences to further enhance their CVs and increase their employability, delivered over the course of the coming year. Meanwhile, the first Toque d’Or Apprentice award was won by Luka Seddon, apprentice commis chef at CH&Co. Contestants faced a series of challenges, including a culinary invention test, a “Question of Catering” challenge, and a Dragons’ Den style presentation, designed to test their knowledge, creativity, communication and entrepreneurial skills across a host of different sectors. Nestlé Professional said it recognised the power of harnessing apprenticeships, and developed the dedicated programme to accompany the successful student competition to showcase exceptional talent within the industry. At 28 years old, Toque d’Or is one of the longest standing competitions in the industry.

No changes to EIS scheme expected for at least two-and-a-half years following Brexit: Martin Sherwood, partner at venture capital business Enterprise Investment Partners, has said there are unlikely to be any changes to the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) for at least two years following the UK’s decision to leave the EU. Any proposed changes to the scheme until now have had to be approved by EU bosses and Sherwood said the thinking was “Brussels would no longer be interested in meeting with UK officials” following Brexit. But he warned the decision was likely to have a “dampening effect on investor sentiment in the short term” with an increase in tax rates forecast. He said: “Assuming notice to quit will be given in the next few weeks, the UK will not finally exit the EU until the second half of 2018, so any changes to the EIS are therefore unlikely to be introduced until the spring of 2019. So, with regard to the EIS rules, we have the prospect of a level playing field for at least two-and-a-half years. The outlook for tax rates is nothing like as clear. (George) Osborne was quoted as saying that if the UK voted Brexit, there would need to be an emergency budget to increase tax rates. This could happen any time soon. People will, if anything, have higher tax liabilities and the means of mitigating those liabilities are likely to remain unchanged. We think the uncertainty thrown up by Brexit is likely to have a dampening effect on investor sentiment in the short term. But assets such as fine wine, which are traded in sterling and whose prices appear to be on the rise, could well attract extra attention. We think investors will be cautious and opt wherever possible for lower risk, asset-backed options. Having said that, there should still be plenty of brilliant new product concepts that will emerge and grow relentlessly, unconstrained by tariffs and border controls. ‘Out of chaos comes opportunity’ said Karl Marx in one of his more intelligent statements.”

Company News:

Pret to keep vegetarian pop-up store in Soho open for summer by popular demand: Pret chief executive Clive Schlee has said its vegetarian pop-up store will now remain open for the summer by popular demand. The company launched the pop-up at its site in Broadwick Street, Soho, at the start of June. It was initially due to finish at the end of this month but Schlee confirmed in a blog post yesterday (Monday, 27 June) it would now be extended. He said: “By popular demand, we’re keeping Veggie Pret open for the summer. Thank you for all your feedback so far – please keep it coming!” Two weeks ago, Schlee revealed sales at the Broadwick Street store have jumped more than 70% from last year with the introduction of the vegetarian pop-up. He said at the time: “It has been almost a year in the making. We had two objectives: 1) Give our chefs a turbo-challenge to come up with delicious new veggie and vegan options and 2) Ask our customers what they would like to see end up on Pret’s shelves permanently. We predicted our Veggie Pret shop would see sales drop by up to 30% and the project was expected to be an investment (ie a loss maker). Our teams put an enormous amount of work into designing and fine-tuning the recipes, bringing in small suppliers new to Pret, dressing up the store and training the staff. The shop is packed and this is the first time I have seen customers in London sitting on the floor to eat their lunch.”

McDonald’s wins innovation accolade at franchise awards: McDonald’s has won the innovation accolade at this year’s British Franchise Association (BFA) HSBC Franchisor Of The Year Awards. Judges said they were impressed with the company’s commitment to customer service and innovation, following the 2015 launch of the “Experience of the Future” programme, McDonald’s UK’s biggest investment in restaurant conversions to date, which introduces digital ordering kiosks, tailored refurbishments and table service. Gareth Pearson, head of franchising, McDonald’s UK, said: “As an established franchisor who this year celebrates 30 years of franchising in the UK and 25 years’ membership of the BFA, I feel very proud that McDonald’s, our franchisees and suppliers have been recognised for our innovation and engagement.” BFA chief executive Pip Wilkins added: “We were blown away by the colossal scale of innovation and the results it is achieving. In listening carefully to its customers and then working in close collaboration with its franchisees and suppliers to achieve its goals, McDonald’s has displayed an incredible agility for a business of this size. It continues to set standards that others aspire to.” McDonald’s, which has been franchising in the UK for 30 years, has 151 franchisees in the UK, who between them oversee 880 outlets. Ten years ago, 35% of the McDonald’s UK network was franchised. Today, that number has doubled to more than 70%, with 3.7 million customers visiting McDonald’s every day. The awards, which have been running for nearly 30 years, recognise the UK’s most exceptional franchise operators in a range of categories, for their business growth and development, service excellence and ethical practice.

Michelin-starred pub chef Andrew Pern opens third site and second in York: Andrew Pern, who won a Michelin star at The Star Inn in Harome, North Yorkshire, in 2001, is to open his third site – and second in York. Pern has launched Mr P’s Curious Tavern in Low Petergate, on the former site of Georgina’s Cafe. He revealed the plan on the Facebook page of his other York site – Star Inn The City. It said: “As some of you may know, our inimitable leader Andrew Pern and his crazy culinary imagination have hatched a plan to open a small eatery in York city centre. Due to open before the end of the month, we give you Mr P’s Curious Tavern!” Of the concept, Pern said: “What we’re trying to do in this establishment is offer smaller plates from further afield, from around the world. We’ve always been known for Yorkshire food, Yorkshire produce. So this time we’re pushing the parameters slightly more. We’re giving people a lot more choice. So they can pop in and have two or three different dishes – more if they wish; have different glasses of wine, of different liqueurs maybe, fine ales, as well as ones from Europe and further afield. The idea is to offer something for everybody. We’re breaking down all the barriers that we’ve ever stood for before – flying the Yorkshire flag. It’ll be a great place. I’d just encourage everyone to come and feed their curiosity.” Pern opened Star Inn The City in an 18th century pump room in Museum Gardens in 2013.

Brewhouse & Kitchen opens Bedford pub, former JD Wetherspoon freehold: Brewhouse & Kitchen, the expanding brewhouse concept led by Simon Bunn and Kris Gumbrell, has opened the Bankers Draft in Bedford, the company’s 13th pub. The pub was one of three JD Wetherspoon freeholds the company acquired in May, the others being the Forest House in Chester and The Bollin Fee in Wilmslow, which are both yet to reopen. Brewhouse & Kitchen operations manager Lloyd Willis told Bedfordshire on Sunday: “We are thrilled with our High Street site and hope people appreciate what we do, offering great beers and ales, fantastic food, and great customer service that will make everybody feel right at home. People seem to really like what we have on offer and the idea behind brewing right here on site. It sets us apart from the crowd.” The venue also offers brewing masterclasses and experience days. Willis said: “People can spend an entire day with our master brewer, who will take them through every step of the process. We will feed you all day and then, two weeks later, you get to come back and take home your very own two-litre keg of what you made.” Brewhouse & Kitchen is headquartered in Stroud and has pubs in Bristol, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Dorchester, Highbury, Islington, Poole, Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Bedford, Southampton, and Sutton Coldfield.

London-based online chef recruitment platform launches crowdfunding campaign to develop and expand: Only Chefs, the London-based online recruitment platform that helps employers find and hire talented professional chefs, has launched an £80,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Seedrs to further develop and expand. The company, founded in December last year by Mark Milner, is offering a 25% equity stake in return for the investment. The pitch states: “With us, jobseekers post and employers search, contacting suitable candidates directly to discuss job opportunities. That’s right, no longer do candidates have to apply to endless job adverts and never hear anything back. Employers and their jobs find them. And that’s not all. Only Chefs is helping businesses to save time and money on recruitment. Through our easy to use platform, employers can quickly connect with the best chef talent and drive down their hiring costs via our range of paid-for CV access products. The amount of investment being sought is £80,000. This sum will enable Only Chefs to further develop and expand. The current technology and website have been entirely self-funded to date. The investment will be used for jobseeker and recruiter acquisition, general platform development, and operating expenses. Initially, our focus is to demonstrate that our platform works as desired within the chef sector of the UK hospitality market. If the concept were deemed to be a success, Only Chefs would be rolled out nationally, from its current London focus. It’s also envisaged that at this point further research would be conducted to look into the viability of expanding this platform’s reach to include other roles within hospitality, such as front of house, management etc.”

Intertain opens Chicago Rib Shack restaurant in Camden Lock venue following licence agreement: Walkabout operator Intertain has opened a Chicago Rib Shack venue in its famous Dingwalls venue in Camden Lock, having entered into a licence agreement with the authentic American barbecue restaurant earlier this month. The move coincides with Intertain’s £300,000 refurbishment of the site, which will revert to its original name the “T.E. Dingwall Building”. Intertain wants to build on the venue’s roots as a live music venue as well as continuing to host the London arm of the company’s new comedy offering, The Comedy Loft. Chicago Rib Shack’s menu features baby back ribs smoked in-house over applewood chips in specially imported barbeque ovens, as well as burgers and Cajun chicken. In Illinois style, and in keeping with the venue’s own heritage, live jazz and blues will have a big influence on the Chicago Rib Shack atmosphere, alongside a range of American craft beers and cocktails. Sample bar snacks from the menu will be available on the terrace bar. Intertain chief executive John Leslie said: “The venue is looking fantastic. We’re very much looking forward to building on its incredible reputation for live music, while creating our own history by serving authentic American barbeque, craft brews, jazz and blues.” Chicago Rib Shack managing director Christian Arden added: “I am really excited to be working with the team at Intertain, bringing The Rib Shack to this historic venue in Camden.”

Nespresso opens first UK cafe, in London: Nespresso has opened its first UK cafe site in London in a joint venture with the super-premium food caterer DO&CO. The company has launched the venue in Cheapside in the City following a pilot project in Vienna. It offers non-alcoholic coffee mocktails, including rose cappucino, a macaroon latte, an iced macchiato or a mojito coffee, as well as an array of gourmet coffee recipes. Nespresso maestros are on hand to advise customers on their coffee options, the origin of their blend and even the perfect food accompaniment. Francisco Nogueira, managing director of Nespresso UK & Ireland, told City AM: “London has a thriving coffee culture but Cafe Nespresso is a unique premium cafe experience. The UK is fast becoming a nation of coffee experts and, as we grab our morning latte, we want to know it is personalised to our taste. Cafe Nespresso will offer 11 distinct blends of coffee, which we source from among the top two per cent of quality coffee grown worldwide. Our maestros will guide customers to find their perfect drink from a large array of recipes and combinations, creating an entertaining experience for all.”

Hawaiian restaurant concept Ahi Poké launches in Fitzrovia: Ahi Poké, a restaurant serving Hawaiian raw fish dish poké, has opened in Fitzrovia. The concept is the brainchild of Jeremy Coste, Gabriel Cohen-Elia and David Bellaiche, the trio behind Mayfair’s NAC (North Audley Cantine) and wine bar Chez Chow. Ahi Poké is a “fast casual, all-day dining space – offering eat in, grab and go, and delivery – that embraces the ideals of nutrition, sustainability and variety”, Hot Dinners reports. Alongside signature dishes, diners can build their own poké bowl, choosing a base (quinoa, sushi rice or red kale), and a protein (ahi tuna, sea bream, salmon or marinated mushrooms), as well as a sauce and toppings. Decor at the 25-cover restaurant in Percy Street has been inspired by simple Hawaiian beach shacks crossed with the “laid-back poké bar vibe of Los Angeles”, where the team researched the concept. The design incorporates reclaimed wood and driftwood among bright white and nautical blue hues, with inside and outside seating. Ahi Poké is open daily from 11.30am to 8pm.

Manchester multi-site operator MAD submits licence to open basement bar Selfless: Manchester multi-site operator Mark Andrew Developments (MAD) has submitted a licensing application for a basement bar in the city. The company has applied to the city council to open “Selfless” in the basement of Habib House in Stevenson Square. Habib House is set to be transformed by MAD, which plans to redevelop the former bank into a huge food, drink and events space. MAD declined to comment on the details of the new bar, stating it was still very much in the planning stages. According to the licensing application, the proposed trading hours for Selfless are 11am to 3am from Monday to Thursday, 11am to 4am on Fridays and Saturdays, and 11am to 2am on Sundays, reports the Manchester Evening News. The company already owns a number of bars and restaurants in the Northern Quarter, including Walrus and Tusk in High Street, and Rosylee, Fitzgerald bar and Hula in Stevenson Square. In March, the company bought the Didsbury bar Chalk, formerly owned by King Street restaurant Quill, which closed suddenly this month.

North east-based operator to start work on third Newcastle city centre hotel: North east-based hotel and bar operator Gainford Group is set to start work on its third hotel in Newcastle city centre. The venture, yet to be named, will be the fourth hotel scheme by the Chester-le-Street company, which also operates the Vermont Hotel and Vermont Aparthotel in Newcastle, and the Great Victoria in Bradford. Gainford Group is set to start work converting Grainger House in Grainger Town into a 70-bedroom hotel aimed at the mid-range market. Planning permission has been granted to create the hotel, complete with bar and restaurant, in a scheme which will create about 90 jobs when it opens next year, Chronicle Live reports. Five-storey Grainger House has a total floor space of about 10,000 square feet. In accounts published last week for Gainford Group subsidiary Gainford Hotels for the year ended 31 December 2015, its second full year of trading, turnover rose from £6.08m to £7.61m. Operating profit also increased from £551,003 to £1.355m, while pre-tax profits increased fourfold, from £278,266 to £1.11m. The workforce was also boosted by more than a fifth, with 52 more employees joining the company to take the headcount to 285. Gainford also owns Japanese-style bar and restaurant Aveika and Bar Livello in the city.

New restaurant concept Mama’s Home Spun Kitchen launches in Canterbury: New British restaurant concept Mama’s Home Spun Kitchen has opened in Canterbury, Kent. The restaurant in Sturry Road offers “homemade British grub which showcases the best of our cuisine”, the Canterbury Times reports. Main dishes include shepherd’s pie with rich beef and cider gravy, home-baked gammon with bubble and squeak, Jack Daniel’s and steak pie, and haddock and leek fish pie with sweet chilli crust. The restaurant also offers a city-wide delivery service.

Levi Roots eyes Manchester for second Caribbean Smokehouse site: Reggae Reggae Sauce creator Levi Roots, who opened his first Caribbean Smokehouse in east London last Christmas, is eyeing a second site for the concept, in Manchester. Roots launched the first Levi Roots Caribbean Smokehouse in partnership with Las Iguanas co-founder Eren Ali at the Westfield shopping centre in Stratford. The British-Jamaican musician and celebrity chef now has his eye on opening a second venue in the Manchester area at the beginning of next year. He has yet to decide on a site but said the Trafford Centre would be ideal. He told Manchester Evening News: “It has been seven months since I opened my restaurant in London and I am now looking around for site number two. If there is a shopping centre type of location where young people hang out, that’s where I would be looking to locate.” Levi Roots Caribbean Smokehouse offers jerk chicken and other traditional regional favourites, including Bajan fishcakes, ackee and saltfish, and pineapple and chilli upside-down cake. The restaurant followed the success of the Levi Roots sauce brand, which now has 50 products, after Roots was offered an investment of £50,000 for a 40% stake in the business by Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den programme almost ten years ago.

Punch opens its 25th Mighty Local: Punch has launched its 25th Mighty Local pub, following the completion of a £345,000 refurbishment of the George & Dragon in Hyde. Punch’s community wet-led Mighty Locals focus on delivering a great customer experience, from the provision of TV screens in all areas of the pub, to entertainment, top of the range pool tables and darts areas and a great value for money offer. Mighty Locals also offer a range of entertainment and team activities, including quiz nights, live bands and charity discos. Punch concept development manager Andy Wilkinson said: “This is about making sure our pubs really are at the heart of the communities they serve. Our Mighty Locals concept is proving really popular with customers as it combines all the elements that make the British pub great – a warm welcome, community spirit and a strong offer.” Punch plans to open at least another five Mighty Locals by August, with sites earmarked for development in Elland in Yorkshire and Dunstable in Bedfordshire. “Mighty Locals is a winning formula that will continue to roll-out across the country. It has been incredibly popular and gives us a platform to develop strong local pubs with a robust offer that really engages the community,” Wilkinson added.

West Berkshire Brewery raises more than £1.7m as it completes crowdfunding campaign: West Berkshire Brewery (WBB) has completed its campaign on crowdfunding platform Seedrs having raised more than £1.7m to pave the way for a new brewery, visitor centre and its first pub. The company, led by beer and pub entrepreneur David Bruce, was aiming to raise £1.5m in return for a 17.59% equity stake. It has now completed the campaign having raised £1,765,482. The new brewery and packaging line is expected to be operational from early 2017. It will be situated in a former dairy just a few hundred yards from the current site after heads of terms were agreed with current landlords Yattendon Estates. The new three-vessel brewery will feature state-of-the art equipment capable of creating a vast range of beer styles and also allow WBB to provide packaging facilities for other breweries with the capability of packing 7,000 bottles or 12,000 cans per hour. It is hoped a shop, complete with bar and beer garden will be included, along with the provision of public brewery tours. It has also secured the site for its first pub, in Islington, north London. Shillibeers will allow the brewery to showcase its traditional cask ales, alongside the new craft beers from its Renegade Brewery range. A new food menu designed to pair with selected beers will be introduced at the venue, which is split across three levels and includes a kitchen and deli. Founded by Dave and Helen Maggs in 1995, the business has annual sales of about £2m.

Wafflemeister set to triple UK store numbers through franchising model: Wafflemeister, the Belgian waffle operator, is set to triple its number of UK stores through its franchised model. The company, founded by Alexander Troullier, said it was “enjoying phenomenal growth” thanks to a solid franchise model in partnership with restaurant industry franchise development consultancy Seeds Consulting. Troullier said: “We appointed Seeds Consulting earlier this year to roll-out our franchise proposition. Since then we have signed up six qualified multi-site franchisees for a total of 13 stores, with another six looking to come on board. This is a testimony to our time and effort in making Wafflemeister a highly systemised and branded proposition, in preparation for roll-out. The pace of expansion will be dictated by site availability. This is where our strong relationships with landlord and agent representation comes in handy.” Most of the new stores will be developed in the London area and in locations such as Brighton and Oxford. However, a northern cluster is being established with cities such as Leeds and Manchester being on target for expansion. Seeds Consulting business director Matteo Frigeri said: “Wafflemeister is taking franchising very seriously – not only has it developed valuable know-how but it also has a professional training programme and franchise manual in place, dedicated franchise liaison staff and infrastructure such as a full-blown training centre, and it is fully committed to providing outstanding support to its franchisees. No wonder there is such huge interest in its franchise opportunity. We are keen to work with the best partners to secure the best sites available. The franchisees that have joined Wafflemeister so far are all experienced business people and some of them are large multi-site franchisees of well-known brands looking to diversify their portfolio.”

Brasserie Bar Co opens two venues in Cheshire including first White Brasserie site outside south of England: Brasserie Bar Co has opened two sites in Cheshire – a Brasserie Blanc restaurant in Knutsford and The Oakwood in Alderley Edge, its first White Brasserie venue outside the south of England and tenth in total. The Oakwood in Brook Lane was previously occupied by a Greene King-owned Loch Fyne restaurant. The building has been stripped out and reconfigured to incorporate a dramatic L-shaped bar as well as a mixture of eating and drinking spaces. The venue features about 60 covers for dining, 50 seats in the bar and a beer garden with another 50 covers. The a la carte menu features contemporary twists on French classics, plus pub favourites such as pie of the week, burgers, and gammon steaks. Meanwhile, Brasserie Blanc has transformed the historic Royal George building in Regent Street, Knutsford, into three distinct zones – from a high-end casual dining room though to big booths and a communal kitchen table. The grade II-listed building was once topped by an assembly hall, where authors such as Elizabeth Gaskell would deliver public readings. Its staircase is now listed and has been restored to sit at the heart of the Brasserie Blanc site. Both venues feature menus co-designed by Michelin-starred chef and company founder Raymond Blanc and his executive chef Clive Fretwell.

Five restaurant brands to arrive at Intu Bromley this weekend with new al-fresco dining terrace opening: Five restaurant brands will arrive at the Intu Bromley shopping centre in Kent this weekend with the opening of a new al fresco dining terrace at the complex. Better burger brand Byron, Ed’s Easy Diner, Wagamama, Giraffe, which has just been acquired by Boparan Restaurant Holdings, and US pizza brand Project Pie, which is opening its second UK site following its arrival in Dundee, are coming to the Restaurant Terrace, which is part of a £14m redevelopment of the centre. The new restaurants will join Belgo, Carluccio’s, The Restaurant Group brand Joe’s Kitchen and YO! Sushi at the complex, reports the Sevenoaks Chronicle. The redevelopment project, which includes a rooftop cinema due to open next year, is bringing an estimated 500 jobs to the borough. Intu said the cinema would be a high-quality boutique concept with high-end seating, an enhanced food offer and waiter service.

Operator sought to partner social landlord to develop cafe in Lewisham: An operator is being sought to partner social landlord Phoenix Community Housing to develop the cafe operation at The Greene Man in Lewisham, south east London. Phoenix, which is a resident-owned housing association, is keen to develop The Green Man’s offer as a functions and weddings venue while looking to introduce a wine bar/bistro operation on the site. Presently, the cafe serves the local community and 150-plus employees based on-site. In 2015-16, more than 25,000 people visited the centre. The Green Man, which opened in 2013, offers a range of community facilities and flexible event spaces to breathe new life into the local area, supporting the association’s vision to work with residents to build a better future for the Phoenix community. Earlier this year, Phoenix named The Laine Pub Company, led by Gavin George and backed by Luke Johnson’s Risk Capital Partners, as its partner for the redevelopment and restoration of The Fellowship Inn in Bellingham. Phoenix, which was created in 2007, owns and manages more than 6,000 homes in the Bellingham, Downham and Whitefoot wards of Lewisham. Expressions of interest in the Green Man operation should be made to Phoenix consultant Greg Mangham at gregmangham@hotmail.co.uk

Restaurateur Arjun Waney behind new Mexican concept opening in Notting Hill next week: Restaurateur Arjun Waney is behind a new Mexican concept set to open in Notting Hill, west London, next week. Waney, who has majority stakes in some of the capital’s most successful restaurants such as Zuma, Roka, La Petite Maison, Coya and members-only The Arts Club, has teamed up with Eduardo Garcia, of Maximo Bistrot in Mexico City, to launch Peyotito. The new venture will open on Monday, 4 July in Kensington Park Road, reports Hot Dinners. The food will mainly be gluten and dairy-free and the menu is divided into six parts – ensaladas, crudo, tostadas, masa, cebiche and moleit. It will also serve a contemporary take on Mexican brunch at the weekend. Drinks will include a Peyotito Margarita – a shaken margarita with a spicy tajin-rimmed glass, blanco tequila, Cointreau, agave syrup, lime juice and mezcal vial. There will also be the Mescalero, a twist on the Peruvian Sour. Waney also owns the similarly named Peyote Mexican restaurant in Mayfair.

Nottingham nightclub named best licensed venue in city less than a year after opening: Volt Club has been named the best licensed venue in Nottingham – in awards run as part of the city’s Best Bar Non scheme – less than a year after opening. The club, which is in Broadway and opened last August, was particularly praised for its community involvement and support of the city’s street pastors, along with the quality of its security policies and use of drugs dogs. It beat restaurant category winner Bistro Live; pub category winner the Company Inn; and bar category winner Cape to scoop Best Bar None at the Nottingham Food and Drink Awards. This year, 75 licensed premises in the city centre secured Best Bar None accreditation, up 47% on last year, when 51 venues received accreditation. Dan Heffernan, partner at Volt, said: “We are privileged and honoured to be among the best licensed businesses in the city. Winning this award means so much to me and the rest of the team.” Meanwhile, George’s Great British Kitchen picked up the Best City Centre Experience prize. The upscale fish and chip restaurant in Queen Street offers a traditional menu, sharing boards and British gins. Diners can sit in striped beach huts on the first floor. Both categories were sponsored by the Nottingham Business Improvement District (BID), which aims to promote Nottingham as a regional and national city of choice for shopping, leisure, work and study. Andrew Crawford, a Nottingham BID director, said: “Nottingham has a great range of food and drink businesses with more and more opening up all the time, all contributing to the vibrancy of the city.”

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