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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 9th Aug 2016 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

CBRE – pubs moving to mainstream real estate, ‘business as usual’ for restaurant market: Agent CBRE has argued pubs are moving to mainstream real estate and are now being viewed as valid alternatives to offices and shops by investors. In its market overview for the second quarter of 2016, the company said UK monthly all property initial yield was up 5.05%, compared with 4.82% in the previous quarter. London corporate prime pub yield was down 4%, compared with 4.25% the quarter before. London independent and regional corporate prime pub yields remained at 5.25%, while regional independent pub yield stayed at 10%. Simon Johnson, corporate advisory, pubs and leisure at CBRE, said: “UK pubs are moving to mainstream real estate and there are three reasons for this – all real estate has got expansive and investors are looking around for yield; new buyers that have been in the sector before are arriving; and long income funds are targeting operational real estate like never before. It is clear property yields on core real estate assets have moved so significantly that many investors no longer see the value. If we look at good corporate regional pubs, we can see this has moved from a 40 basis points premium yield in 2007 (the peak of the last market) through to a 150 basis points discount in the dark days of 2011 and is now trading back at a 40 basis points premium again, but now at a 5.3% yield. And when we add in London prime corporate, we see that yields have never been lower. New investors are looking at the market with fresh eyes and most importantly seeing value and investing where traditional owners and buyers have previously only seen risk. In pubs we have started to see others looking closely at the sector.” Meanwhile, David Muslin, director of UK restaurants and leisure at CBRE, said the general message for the restaurant property market was “business as usual”. He added: “The top retail and leisure parks in the UK continue to be in demand. High streets still have their place and invariably new pitches find themselves evolving from previously off-pitch locations. Temple Street in Birmingham, for example, where San Carlo has been established for a number of years has, since the opening of Grand Central, become a much stronger link from the office core. The Botanist opened last year and it seems Fuller’s, Wahaca, Las Iguanas, Turtle Bay and Busaba are all bidding for space now topping out at over £40 per square foot. Premiums are less of a feature in the out-of-town market than in central London but they do happen more in the off-market deals where an existing operator has been ‘convinced’ to sell. So the market sentiment is still positive, the sun is now almost shining and, with summer in full swing, we are in a great place!”

Industry News:

Chris Muller Multi-site Management Masterclass open for bookings: Propel will host Professor Chris Muller, the leading thinker, teacher and author on multi-site foodservice management in the US, at its next Multi-site Management Masterclass. It takes place on Friday, 30 September at One Moorgate Place in London and is open for bookings. Leading UK businesses such as Mitchells & Butlers and TGI Friday’s have sent staff to be taught by Professor Muller at Boston University’s School of Hospitality – now Professor Muller is returning to the UK to lead this bespoke day. His interactive seminar will include contributions from Sticks ‘n’ Sushi UK managing director Andreas Karlsson and Eric Partaker, co-founder and brand evangelist at Chilango. The event will provide valuable insights for founders and area managers of small and medium-sized multi-site companies and area managers of large companies. The sessions will include developing multi-unit leaders, leading a team through a strategic growth plan, and a discussion on the importance that transition plays in the practice of management and leadership. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) members and £345 plus VAT for non-ALMR members. To book tickets, email Anne Steele at anne.steele@propelinfo.com

Propel and ALMR launch Las Vegas study tour: Propel and the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) are heading to Las Vegas for their next study tour, which has opened for bookings. The visit takes place between Saturday, 25 March and Tuesday, 28 March 2017. After five hugely successful trips to Chicago, Propel and the ALMR have decided to check out Las Vegas. The trip provides two food study tours, where delegates can explore the hottest concepts in Vegas, as well as two early-evening bar tours led by James Hacon. The trip also includes three nights’ stay at the MGM Grand Hotel, two hosted dinners, and the chance for delegates to explore Vegas at their own leisure. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to gain valuable insight into the trends and concepts that are shaping Vegas and leading the way in the US market, which will no doubt provide fresh ideas and inspiration for delegates.” For more information or to book, email Jo Charity at jo.charity@propelinfo.com or call 01444 810304.

CAMRA calls for alcohol guidelines consultation as public disagrees with advice: More than half of respondents to a new study disagreed with official health guidelines on alcohol consumption, according to figures released by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). Of 2,040 people surveyed by YouGov, 61% agreed moderate alcohol consumption could be part of a healthy lifestyle – and 51% disagreed with the chief medical officers’ decision that alcohol guidelines should be the same for men and women. Publishing the figures at the start of the Great British Beer Festival, a week-long celebration of Britain’s brewing industry, CAMRA is calling for the Department of Health to launch a new public consultation into whether the alcohol guidelines are fit for purpose and evidence-based. CAMRA chairman Colin Valentine said: “The figures we’re releasing today, at the start of the Great British Beer Festival, show that government advice on drinking is at odds with common sense. If the government wants people to take the guidance seriously then it needs to present people with realistic and believable advice, which they can use to judge their own risk when it comes to responsible drinking. If the public feels, as our figures suggest, that the guidelines are not credible and lack evidence, the danger is they will increasingly just ignore them. There have been decades of international scientific evidence showing moderate drinking can play an important part in a healthy and happy lifestyle. We’d like to see that research reflected in a more grown-up approach to help adults understand the risks and benefits associated with drinking.” Numerous scientific studies have shown moderate drinking can have a protective effect against various health problems, including cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline and certain forms of cancer. However, this is ignored in the new alcohol guidelines. This year the Friends on Tap report from Oxford University also found those who frequented a pub were happier, healthier and felt more integrated in their communities than those who didn’t have a local. These latest figures chime with research released by CAMRA in May, which showed 60% of GPs also disagreed with the chief medical officers’ statement that there was no safe level of alcohol consumption, while two-thirds considered moderate alcohol consumption could be part of a healthy lifestyle.

Otium buys central Milton Keynes leisure scheme: Otium Real Estate has acquired the Theatre District leisure scheme in central Milton Keynes from UGS MK in a deal worth almost £17m. The 109,000 square foot Theatre District is the first in-town leisure purchase by Otium, joining out-of-town leisure assets in its portfolio such as Newport Leisure Park in Wales and Westgate Leisure Park near Wakefield. The existing leisure scheme comprises 16 units, including tenants such as TGI Friday’s, Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi, Casual Dining Group-owned Bella Italia, Revolution de Cuba, and Stonegate Pub Company brand Slug and Lettuce. Otium, which plans to begin a comprehensive refurbishment programme to enhance the 1990s scheme, said it was in detailed discussions with new tenants. Otium Real Estate chief executive Ashley Blake said: “The acquisition of this significant leisure asset is a major step forward for Otium Real Estate. The scheme has a varied tenant mix, appealing to all age groups within Milton Keynes. We are looking forward to refurbishing the Theatre District and welcoming new tenants to the centre of Milton Keynes.” Patrick Punch & Co acted for Otium, while UGS MK was unrepresented.

Open brewery UBrew to launch project that sees ten micro-breweries open under one roof in London: Ubrew, the “open brewery” founded by Matt Denham and Wilf Horsfall, has unveiled a project that will see ten new micro-breweries open under one roof in London later this month. The collaborative idea will see micro-brewers launch beer into the commercial market from one location in Bermondsey. The company recently installed a new 800-litre brewing kit that allows hobby brewers to start selling their product. Denham told the Evening Standard: “We’re helping people scale up. We’re helping people develop their recipes. But also we want to help develop their product, their brand and actually getting to the market.” Hugo Moreno, of Vandells Brewery, has been able to launch his product thanks to the new equipment. He said: “Before this we looked into getting our own space and investments and loans but financially this makes more sense to us. It’s going to mean a lot of opportunities and we can brew on a bigger scale. It gives us more freedom for brewing what we want to give out to the public.”

SIBA launches initiative allowing independent brewers to take back craft beer: The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has launched an initiative – called “Assured” – to promote independent British craft breweries in an effort to provide greater clarity for consumers looking to purchase beer from genuinely independent craft breweries in the UK. To qualify for the stamp of approval, breweries must be truly independent of any larger controlling brewing interest and pledge to abide by SIBA’s Manual of Good Brewing Practice. Breweries signed up to the initiative will be able to use the stamp on their pump clips, bottles, cans, point of sale and websites. More than 150 SIBA members have already pledged their support for the scheme. To give consumers a quick and easy way to identify the independent craft brewers near them, SIBA has launched indiecraftbrewers.co.uk, which includes a UK-wide interactive map. The organisation’s bar at the Great British Beer Festival in Olympia, London, will also, from 5pm today (Tuesday, 9 August), be displaying details of the new initiative alongside serving its Champion cask beers. With more than 850 brewing members in the UK, SIBA said beer drinkers needed more information to help them make informed choices. Market research commissioned by SIBA showed 46% of beer drinkers regarded craft beer as “made by small brewers rather than large corporations”, although one in ten beer drinkers were unsure what the term meant. 35% regarded craft breweries as “artisanal”, with 22% associating the term with “small” and 14% with “local”. SIBA claimed its entire full brewing membership fell into those definitions. SIBA managing director Mike Benner said: “We’re not being sanctimonious about this or taking ourselves too seriously and we realise that great beer can be brewed by all kinds of brewers but, as more and more brewers jump on the ‘craft’ bandwagon, we think firstly that people want to know where their beer is being brewed and by whom, and secondly that we need to help even our relatively small members compete with the huge marketing budgets of big ‘craft’ brands. This is why we have launched this stamp of approval, which assures independence and quality. The future credibility and growth of the craft beer market would be seriously threatened if consumers simply associated it with a handful of brands from global brewers and not from their very own local brewery. Consumer access to beers from truly independent craft brewers is key to the future of British beer.”

More than 100 million pints of independent craft-brewed beer now sold through SIBA scheme: More than 100 million pints of beer have been sold through a scheme designed to get craft-brewed beer from some of the smallest brewers into the UK’s largest pub companies. Now in its 14th year, BeerFlex was set up by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) to get its members’ beers into pub chains and has proved a huge success, with about 101 million pints now having been sold. In 2002, when the service was launched, there were only 200 beers available through the service, a number that has now increased to more than 3,500 thanks to the craft-brewing boom the UK has seen in recent years. SIBA operations director Nick Stafford said: “BeerFlex has been a hit with pub companies as it allows them a simple, cost-effective way to gain access to a huge range of beers brewed within a short distance of their pubs, which means they can offer their customers genuinely local, fresh-tasting draught beers. On top of that, consumers are happy as they are being given greater choice and brewers are happy as their beers are getting into pubs which were previously a closed door to small-scale producers.” While there are more than 3,500 beers from across the UK available through BeerFlex, the majority of pubs, bars and restaurants buy beer from breweries in their local area – in fact SIBA figures show about 70% of its brewing members sell the majority of their beer within a 40-mile radius of the brewery. 37 different pub companies have worked with SIBA over the years to sell beer from independent breweries in their pubs, including Punch, Enterprise Inns, Admiral Taverns, Thwaites, and NewRiver Retail. Originally set up as the “Direct Delivery Scheme”, which won the BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Award for “best retail initiative” in 2007, BeerFlex has had much more than a name change since its launch, recently adapting to offer independent beer solutions to the restaurant, coffee shop and cafe trade following extensive SIBA research that highlighted consumer demand for craft-brewed beers in these venues. Stafford said: “SIBA is hugely proud to have reached this 100 million pint milestone and hopes the scheme will continue to connect beer drinkers with full-flavoured, independently brewed craft beer, no matter what pub they’re visiting.” SIBA will serve its Champion cask beers and is available to discuss BeerFlex at the SIBA Bar at the Great British Beer Festival, Olympia, London, today (Tuesday, 9 August).

CBRE – UK commercial rents remain stable in July while property capital values decline: Rental values across the UK’s commercial property market were steady in July, while capital values fell by 3.3%, according to the latest CBRE Monthly Index. The fall in capital values was widely expected and pulled year-on-year growth down to 0.4%. Heightened economic uncertainty, especially for financial services firms, hit offices in the City of London, shrinking capital values by 6.1%. But overall, capital value decline in the central London office market was the same as for offices across the UK, at 4.1%. Capital values in the retail sector fell 3.6% but the industrial property segment was more insulated with a lower fall of 2.2% for the month, reflecting continued strong demand but weak supply. Rental value growth dipped to zero in July from 0.2% the month before, holding steady across office and retail sectors (including central London offices), and growing by 0.1% in the industrial sector. Downward pressure on rental values came from standard shops within the retail sector, which fell by 0.3% overall, and 0.6% outside the south east. Miles Gibson, head of research at CBRE UK, said: “Capital value growth was always expected to falter at some point during 2016, as global economic uncertainty cast doubt on the likelihood of the strong growth seen in previous years persisting for much longer. The Brexit vote has now crystallised that expectation, although it is not the only driver of it. It’s reassuring to see rental values have held firm in the face of this heightened uncertainty, a positive sign that the UK occupier market remains strong, sustained by record levels of employment and low borrowing costs. It will be some time until we understand the full impact of the Brexit decision, but the Bank of England’s base rate cut and more quantitative easing are likely to be supplemented by a similarly supportive fiscal stance in the autumn.”

Company News:

TLC Inns in talks over £5m investment for next stage of growth, fifth Grand Central to open in Chelmsford on Thursday: TLC Inns co-founder Steve Haslam has told Propel he is in talks to secure more than £5m from investors as the company prepares for the next stage of growth. Haslam said if discussions were successful, the funds would be invested over the next three years to allow the Essex-based operator to expand from the current nine sites to 20. The talks are taking place as the company, which also runs four premium pubs, prepares to launch its fifth Grand Central site on Thursday (11 August), in Chelmsford. Haslam, who leads the company with wife Jo, said: “We are currently in talks with investors and the funds will allow us to effectively double the size of the business in the next three years. The funding we are looking at is north of £5m. It will depend on the types of site but we want to grow both brands.” Haslam said the company was in the “inquiry stages” over two or three new sites in Essex, Suffolk and Hertfordshire. TLC Inns has spent £750,000 with the support of Barclays renovating a grade II-listed building opposite Chelmsford railway station that will be home to its fifth Grand Central venue. The 240-cover, 6,500 square foot restaurant in Duke Street has created 54 jobs. Haslam said: “It was an empty and dilapidated building for many years but now we’ve got a wonderful site right in the heart of Chelmsford.” TLC Inns’ other Grand Central sites are in Basildon, Ely, Colchester and Ipswich. In March, the company geared up for expansion by appointing four key head office members of staff, including food director Danny Lawrence, formerly of Big Easy, who will design the menu for the Chelmsford site. Haslam previously said it was looking to double the size of the Grand Central brand, and could eventually operate up to 60 sites.

Sales and underlying profit rise at Center Parcs: Sales have risen to £420m at Center Parcs in the year to 21 April 2016, up from £386.9m a year earlier. Overall profit hit £6.4m although one-off expenses of £63.3m, including £42m relating to a debt refinance, led to a £6m loss at pre-tax level. Underlying profit rose by £30.6m to £48.8m. Center Parcs is owned by Brookfield Property Partners. Last month, the company gained planning permission for its first village outside the UK, which is expected to open in 2019. Located in Ballymahon in County Longford, Ireland, Center Parcs Longford Forest will comprise 470 lodges, 30 apartments, a spa, restaurants, shops and leisure facilities across a 395-acre site. It is expected to create 750 jobs once operational and will add €1bn to Ireland’s GDP.

Blanchette starts expansion with second London site, in Brick Lane: The team behind French bistro Blanchette in Soho has started expansion of the concept by opening a second London site. Brothers Maxime, Yannis and Malik Alary have launched Blanchette East in Brick Lane. The 70-cover restaurant is divided into three main parts. A dining counter made from white marble welcomes diners into the restaurant, while the dining room beyond features rustic wooden and marble tables and distressed walls and ceilings, offset by an array of fresh plants. In addition, the private dining room named “The Cote d’Azur” features a large mural replica of a Picasso sketch painted by artist Aldo Gigli. The modern French menu incorporates more southern French and North African influences than the Soho site, featuring spices from the regions and decor inspired by the Parisian Belle Époque era combined with an east London urban feel. The menu is overseen and executed by Tam Storrar, who has taken on the role of executive chef at both restaurants. The menu is made up of sharing plates and snacks with a twist such as crispy frogs’ legs, cheese beignets and croque monsieur, while North African flavours and spices are explored in dishes such as lamb tagine with apricots, almonds and rose harissa, roast poussin with tarragon and pommes sarladaise, and wild strawberry and black pepper vacherin. A concise wine list features French, Spanish and Italian wines, while the cocktail menu focuses on classics.

Stonegate Pub Company to expand Rosies concept with Exeter city centre opening on Friday: Stonegate Pub Company will start expansion of its Rosies nightclub concept with the opening of a second site, this time in Exeter city centre, on Friday (12 August). The new venue in Mary Arches Street will feature three themed “rooms” over three floors and will open following a £750,000 refurbishment of the site formerly occupied by Mosaic. The Missoula bar will be on the ground floor offering a selection of premium spirits and American craft beers, while Stonegate’s Popworld nightclub brand will take over the first floor, with Las Vegas-style club Dao on the top floor. Alan Armstrong, head of marketing for Stonegate Pub Company’s Venues division, told the Express & Echo: “Exeter is a great city and we think Rosies will be a welcome addition to the club scene here. With three unique experiences in one venue, party-goers will be able to enjoy a complete night out without having to leave the building, with something to suit all tastes. This is a significant investment for us, both in terms of the refurbishment and the creation of 25 jobs.” Rosies will open daily and offer half-price drinks before 9pm. Stonegate Pub Company operates more than 660 sites across its Proper Pubs, Yates, Common Room, Slug and Lettuce, Town, Pub & Kitchen, Classic Inns, and Venues brands, including 16 Popworld sites. The company’s other Rosies nightclub is in Chester.

West Yorkshire-based multi-site operator starts expanding seafood restaurant concept with second site, in Holmfirth: West Yorkshire-based multi-site operator Lee Roberts has started expanding his seafood restaurant concept Catch with a second site, in Holmfirth. Roberts launched the concept last year at a former mill in West Vale, near Halifax. Now he has opened the new venue in Woodhead Road on the site of The Toad & Tatie pub. Roberts, who also owns The Fleece in Barkisland and The Milestone in Ripponden, told the Huddesfield Examiner: “Catch has been a lifelong dream. I have been working towards this concept for more than 20 years. It is an amazing feeling to be opening our second restaurant only a year after we brought the brand to market. Seafood has many benefits, not only the fantastic flavour combinations our chefs can create, but also for its health and nutritional values. We have been looking for the perfect site for our second Catch – we spotted The Toad & Tatie and thought it had great potential. We have undertaken pub renovations in the past and knew it had just what we were looking for – we could create the right atmosphere and feel. Holmfirth is a fantastic town and we saw space for our seafood restaurant.”

Basque restaurant group Sagardi opens first UK site in Shoreditch: Grupo Sagardi, founded 18 years ago in Barcelona by Iñaki Viñaspre to champion Basque cuisine, has opened its first UK restaurant – in Shoreditch. The group also operates restaurants in Madrid, Valencia, Sevilla, Porto, Mexico and Buenos Aires. The menu features the best produce from Basque farms and its coast, flown in daily from San Sebastian, including txuleton (beef steak), piquillo peppers, and lettuce hearts from Tudela, Hot Dinners reports. Dishes include fried txistorra sausage, almalabra red tuna, baby squid in ink sauce, salted cod omelette, and veal sweetbreads with Tudela artichokes. The restaurant in Curtain Road is divided into two spaces – the Pintxos bar offering Basque ciders, regional beers and wines, and a restaurant featuring a central charcoal grill and a butcher selling Galician beef to take away.

New Spanish restaurant concept to open in Carlisle next month: A new Spanish restaurant concept is set to open in Carlisle next month. Francisco Aparicio Hernandez and Enrique Muros Vera are launching Lorca in Botchergate on the site of the former Time bar, creating 16 jobs. The restaurant, which takes its name from the famous Spanish poet Federico García Lorca, will have about 70 covers. Hernandez, who is from Granada in Spain, told the News & Star: “We are very excited as there is nothing like this in Carlisle. We will be serving proper tapas at lunchtime and meals in the evening. There is no other Spanish restaurant around so I hope we do well. My head chef is from Spain and he’s coming over and we are using recipes created by my mum and my grandmother.”

Crisp-maker Tyrrells sold to US company for £300m: Herefordshire-based crisp-maker Tyrrells has been sold in a deal worth £300m. US company Amplify Snack Brands has taken control, buying out Investcorp, which has owned the business for three years. Sales and Ebitda at Tyrrells have more than doubled under Investcorp ownership, with overseas sales growing massively, and now responsible for almost 40% of the group's sales. Tyrrells has grown to be a £60m-turnover company, which exports to 37 countries and has five manufacturing sites around the world. Chief executive David Milner said: “From the outset when Tyrrells was acquired by Investcorp, we projected ambitious growth strategies and that’s exactly what we have delivered. It has been a hugely successful partnership resulting in a business which is in great shape for further international expansion.” The business, founded in 2002 by potato farmer William Chase, has grown through international acquisitions – it bought Australian business Yarra Valley Snack Foods in August 2015 and German producer Aroma Snacks in May. It has also diversified its product lines into other snacks, including popcorn, tortilla chips and vegetable crisps.

Absurd Bird set to open second London site: Absurd Bird, the Southern US-inspired chicken restaurant brand from Splendid Restaurants, part of the Splendid Hospitality Group, is set to open its second London site. Following the launch of its first site in the capital in Spitalfields in March, the second venue will open in Peter Street in Soho, opposite Berwick Street market, this month. The 40-cover, two-storey restaurant will have an open kitchen as well as an intimate basement bar and serves a range of Southern-inspired chicken dishes, using only ethically sourced, additive and hormone-free chickens from Fosse Meadows Farm. The interior is a retro mix of yellow velvet banquettes, modern blue leather seats, dark-wood panelled walls, zinc-topped tables and empty moonshine bottles for lighting. The menu features Southern classics given an Absurd twist such as sweet potato bake and jalapeño mac and cheese, while new additions include waffle cones with popcorn chicken and a selection of wraps packed with Southern punch. Drinks feature Absurd Moonshine, Absurd Lager, served direct from the Signature Brewery in Leyton, and a cocktail list by mixologists Soulshakers. The company said the average spend at Absurd Bird was £20 per person dining in and £12 takeaway. Group operations director Mark Hall said: “Our second London site, while different in many ways from our flagship in Commercial Street, still retains its eclectic Southern menu with an interior exuding some old-school Southern charm and we are confident it will trade well. Autumn launches planned for Exeter and Bath represent excellent regional opportunities for Absurd Bird, with prime locations in new dining quarters within high footfall shopping centres.’’ Splendid Restaurants is targeting a further ten openings during the next five years.

Star Pubs & Bars launches two initiatives to help licensees address chef recruitment crisis: Star Pubs & Bars has launched two initiatives to further help licensees address the chef recruitment crisis. The initiatives – a chef recruitment tool kit as well as a significant discount on Ashburton Cookery School’s Chefs Academy – will help licensees recruit and grow their own kitchen staff. The chef recruitment toolkit will build Star licensees’ confidence and skills in the specialist area of catering staff recruitment. The toolkit contains “how to” guides on interviewing and recruiting candidates as well as a series of professionally written job descriptions, interview questions and job advert templates. Licensees have access to 30 documents covering the complete range of kitchen jobs, from kitchen porter and commis chef to food handler and chef de partie, which they can download and adapt. Star has also negotiated a significant discount with the Ashburton Cookery School, one of the country’s most respected private cookery schools, for its four-week Chefs Academy course. The course offers more than 30 hours of practical cookery a week, teaching the core skills required to cook to a professional standard. Graduates attain a Level 2 Award in Culinary Skills QCF qualification, accredited by the Confederation of Tourism & Hospitality. Star Pubs & Bars managing director Lawson Mountstevens said: “The problem of chef recruitment comes up time and again when we’re talking to licensees. Our toolkit will help licensees promote the benefits and career opportunities offered in pub catering. The materials and support will also give licensees’ recruitment drives the sort of professionalism looked for by candidates who are serious about a career in catering.” The two initiatives are part of a raft of support Star has put in place to help licensees grow their food offering. These include new menu designs, in-pub chef mentoring, and a five-day residential cookery course.

Vapiano reports 726% increase in Snapchat viewers, followers rise 400%: Vapiano, the Italian fresh casual dining brand, has reported a 726% increase in people viewing its Snapchat stories and a 400% rise in followers within 24 hours of an in-house push. The company, which has enjoyed success engaging with its guests on Twitter and Instagram, put mirror selfie vinyls in the bathrooms designed like a Snapchat screen and stickers on the Vapiano swipe card every diner uses to order freshly cooked pasta and pizza. Marketing consultant Vikki O’Neill said: “Within just 24 hours of launch, we saw a 726% increase in people viewing our own Snapchat stories, which is a key criteria in gauging success, and we increased people following us by 400%. We’re now getting hundreds of Snapchats each day, videos and photos of guests having fun in Vapiano, fresh pasta, the chefs cooking – it’s brilliant and gives us a much closer relationship with guests than other platforms – and that’s what it’s all about.” Vapiano has four restaurants in the UK – three in London and one in Manchester.

New Lebanese grill restaurant concept opens in Huddersfield: A new Lebanese grill restaurant concept has opened in Huddersfield. Ghassan Bateha has launched Ugarit in Cross Church Street on the site of the former Your Move estate agents, creating ten jobs. The restaurant, which has undergone a major refurbishment, features a charcoal grill and diners are able to watch their food being cooked. Bateha, who previously worked at the Lancaster London hotel, told the Huddersfield Examiner: “We’re very proud to open here. We have been through a year of working to open the restaurant and we’d like to add something different to the street.”

Cure & Cut deli concept opens in Covent Garden: New deli concept Cure & Cut has opened in Covent Garden, specialising in home-smoked pastrami, freshly made sandwiches and seasonal salads. The concept is named after the process of turning beef brisket into pastrami, and chefs at the venue in Monmouth Street make a lot of produce on-site – curing, spicing and smoking ethically sourced meats and brewing weekly-changing cordials. Cure & Cut is collaboration between restaurateur Jerome Armit and chef Rufus Wickham. Open daily from 8am to 9pm, the menu comprises breakfast, salads, sandwiches and desserts. Trademark sandwiches include pastrami on rye (home-smoked, pepper-cured Aberdeen Angus pastrami with pickles and Tewkesbury mustard on honey rye). Salads are available in three sizes, with customers able to order additional toppings. The breakfast menu features a signature smoked bacon and cinnamon roll and desserts include blueberry cheesecake, while craft beer, organic wine and freshly pressed juice are also on offer. The 30-cover venue is split across two floors and features street-level counter seating and tables in the basement. Cure & Cut also offers grab-and-go options and a local delivery service.

New Italian restaurant concept opens in Shrewsbury: A new Italian restaurant concept has opened in Shrewsbury. Jessica Asfalda, who is originally from Naples, has launched Buonissimo on the first floor of Shearman’s Hall in Milk Street, creating eight jobs. The 60-cover open plan restaurant, which spans 1,420 square feet and has a bar area, features wall panelling, infra-red heating ceiling panels and stone mullioned windows. It specialises in clay oven-cooked pizza, pasta dishes and a range of authentic Italian desserts. Rebecca Welch, of agent Halls Commercial, told Shropshire Live she was delighted the company had been able to help Asfalda find a property for her first restaurant.

Scottish independent hospitality company Crieff Hydro buys two hotels: Scottish independent hospitality company Crieff Hydro has bought two hotels on the west coast of Scotland – the Isles of Glencoe Hotel and the Ballachulish Hotel. Crieff Hydro has managed the two hotels since 2014, during which time the business has improved substantially, the number of employees has grown and the long-term future of the sites has been secured. It worked with banking partner Santander on financing the deal. Crieff Hydro plans to continue investing in both hotels, starting this autumn with bedroom improvements. Chief executive Stephen Leckie said: “These two hotels complement the existing collection we own. Their great locations, access to beautiful scenery and warm homely feel make them a perfect fit. We look forward to seeing these businesses continue to grow.” The 59-bedroom Isles of Glencoe Hotel was purpose-built in the 1990s on the shore of Loch Leven, on the edge of the village of Ballachulish. It has loch views from the restaurant and bar as well as its own swimming pool. The 53-bedroom Ballachulish Hotel is steeped in history, having been the crossing point of Loch Linnhe for centuries, first by ferry and more recently across the Ballachulish Bridge. Crieff Hydro owns four other hotels – Crieff Hydro Hotel and Murraypark, both in Crieff, and Peebles Hydro and The Park, both in Peebles. It also operates The Yorkshire Hotel in Harrogate and The Oban Caledonian Hotel in Oban.

New Italian grill restaurant concept opens in Snaresbrook: A new Italian grill restaurant concept has opened in Snaresbrook, north east London. Ben Milne and Joana Anastasiou-Milne have launched Bombetta in Station Approach, with its menu based on grilled meat from Puglia in southern Italy. The meat is stuffed and infused with cheeses, cured meats, herbs and vegetables, and then grilled. Diners can watch the chefs grilling the meat in the open kitchen. The restaurant also includes wooden furniture and rustic paintings to create a cobbled-together, soulful, southern Italian vibe. There is also leather banquette seating around the restaurant’s fringes, and neon lights. Bombetta takes up two-thirds of the venue space with The Chef’s Deli, which supplies food to restaurant companies including Bill’s, Strada and Prezzo, occupying the remainder.

Douglas Inns acquires fifth site: Douglas Inns has bought its fifth site, the Royal Oak in Oxted, Surrey, through agent Fleurets. Dougal Inns is based in Surrey, operating the Grumpy Mole Country Inns brand. The property’s freehold was acquired off a guide price of £560,000.

Hull chefs join forces to open casual dining restaurant concept in city: Hull chefs Chris Eastaugh, Jason Gittings, Danny Robinson and Chris Uttley have opened a new casual dining restaurant concept in the city. The foursome have joined forces to launch Butler Whites in an empty unit in the rejuvenated Fruit Market in Humber Street. It offers an array of hearty bistro-style dishes such as steak, chicken and fish, and pizza. While the restaurant is mainly food-led, with produce from local retailers, there is a bar selling cocktails, wines and mixers along with craft beer and real ales. The restaurant has a contemporary feel with high ceilings, eaves, wood panelling and leather seating, as well as a balcony where customers can enjoy views of Hull Marina. Eastaugh, who runs Larkins in Newland Avenue, told the Hull Daily Mail: “We want to offer a casual-style dining experience for all the family. We want to bring good fun food that’s not too expensive – we’ve tried to tick all the boxes.”

Cleethorpes restaurant owners to start expanding concept with second site in town: The owners of Cleethorpes restaurant The Point are to start expanding the concept with a second site in the Lincolnshire town. Owners Liam Davis and Neil Lord have agreed a 15-year lease to open the venue at the former Mama’s Joomla restaurant in St Peter’s Avenue. They said having launched The Point Cafe, Bar and Restaurant at Meridian Point three years ago and with business “through the roof”, the time had come to expand. The concept operates as a cafe during the daytime and as a restaurant in the evening. Davis and Lord told the Grimsby Telegraph they hoped to have the site open by the beginning of September.

Full speaker schedule for Bar and Nightclub Conference revealed: The full speaker schedule for this year’s Bar and Nightclub Conference, organised by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and Propel, has been revealed. It takes place on Tuesday, 11 October at Bafta, Piccadilly, and follows the successful launch of the event last year. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls will provide an update on political and regulatory developments. Phil Tate, chief executive of CGA Strategy, which has retailer specialist CGA Peach as a division, will reveal details of new research of usage, areas of growth, food and drink trends, and evolution within the UK bar and nightclub market. 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. Luke Johnson, sector investor and executive chairman of Brighton Pier Company and investor in Grand Union Group, will speak about his career in the late-night sector starting at Oxford University, set out his reasons for investing in the sector, evolving the offer at the company, and his perspective on the future for the bar and nightclub sector. Serial sector entrepreneur Roy Ellis will talk about the launch of the ground-breaking Albert’s Schloss concept in Manchester a year ago, its USPs, versatility, first-year performance and roll-out potential – and set out the scope of the involvement of his Mission Mars business in Manchester’s late-night scene. Jimmy Bernstein will talk about his 14-strong US bar and live music concept Howl at the Moon. Bernstein was the keynote speaker at this year’s Bar and Nightclub Convention in Las Vegas. Howl at the Moon has sites in key US cities, including Chicago, New York and Orlando, Florida – the company has also licensed the concept to Norwegian Cruise Line, which operates it on four ships. John Leslie, chief executive of Intertain, will talk about evolving the Walkabout brand and opening new sites, working with new comedy partner Comedy Loft, the regulatory regime, its new Birmingham concept 6 on Broad Street, and the company’s relationship with backer Better Capital. Leading licensing barrister Philip Kolvin QC will provide a personal perspective on the key legal issues and developments bar and nightclub operators face in the current climate. There will also be a panel hosted by Nicholls with Alan Miller, chairman of the Night Time Industries Association, Mick McDonnell, national co-ordinator of Best Bar None, Paddy Whur, of Woods Whur, Peter Marks, chief executive of Deltic Group, and Richard Stringer, chief executive of Kornicis, about the challenges, opportunities and threats to the bar and nightclub sector. Tickets are priced at £95 for operators who are ALMR members and £145 for non-ALMR members. 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

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