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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 17th Aug 2016 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Overall like-for-likes up 0.3% on July 2015, London outperforms rest of Britain: Britain’s managed pub and restaurant groups saw collective like-for-like sales grow 0.3% in July against the same month last year – the first indication that the country is not giving up on going out to eat and drink in the wake of the Brexit vote. Latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker show, however, that performance was not uniform across the market, with London operators seeing a healthy 2.9% like-for-like sales uplift against July 2015, while those outside the M25 saw like-for-likes fall 0.5%. “Pub groups also did better than restaurant chains, but that was probably more to do with the good weather than anything else,” said Peter Martin, vice-president of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM. “The market will be relieved, however, that trade has more than held up post-referendum as confidence among the bosses of pub and restaurant chains took a tumble after the vote, as our own exclusive CGA Peach research showed,” added Martin. “Interestingly, operators in London emerged as slightly more upbeat about business prospects in the wake of the vote than their colleagues outside the M25, in part down to anticipation of increased UK tourism – and that seems to have been reflected in sales on the ground. The London market is looking more robust,” he said. Managed pub groups collectively saw like-for-likes up 0.9% over the month, compared with a 0.6% like-for-like decline among casual dining chains against July last year. But Martin put this down to the good weather during the month, particularly during the mini-heatwave of the third week. “Sunny weather always favours pubs over restaurants, and that is particularly true during holiday periods,” he added. Total sales for the month among the 33 companies in the Tracker cohort were up 4.0% on July 2015, reflecting the new site openings during the past 12 months, especially outside London. The underlying annual sales trend shows sector like-for-likes running at just 0.8% up for the 12 months to the end of July, with restaurant chains up 1.0%, pub groups ahead 0.7%. “It’s been a fairly sluggish market so far this year and the Brexit vote doesn’t appear to have altered that trend one way or another – and July’s performance was actually stronger than April or May’s. The eating and drinking out sector remained fairly resilient during the uncertainty of the recession and it may not be too optimistic to expect that people will continue to go out to eat and drink during the current uncertain times,” said Martin. “Where they choose to go is another matter and, in an underlying flat market, that means competition will remain fierce.” Mark Sheehan, managing director at Coffer Corporate Leisure, said: “These numbers show some resilience post-referendum. While we expect to see costs continue to increase and margins erode over the coming months, putting pressure on profitability for the hospitality sector, a weaker pound should be particularly helpful for attracting tourists to London and other mainstream tourist centres. The pub sector continues to outperform restaurants, where we do expect to see further pressure on sales outside London.”

Industry News:

New speaker added for Chris Muller Multi-site Management Masterclass: A new speaker has been added for Professor Chris Muller’s Multi-site Management Masterclass. Former Rosinter chief executive Kevin Todd will give his insights on “talent management”. The event takes place on Friday, 30 September at One Moorgate Place in London and is now 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 Las Vegas study tour bookings more than half-full: Propel and the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) are heading to Las Vegas for their next study tour, and bookings are already more than half-full. 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.

New food market to open in Hampstead: A new Saturday food market will open next month in Hampstead, hosting more than 45 award-winning farmers, street-food traders and artisan producers. Hampstead Market opens its gates on Saturday, 10 September and will take place every week, from 10am to 3pm. Mike Norledge hopes to replicate the same formula that has proved successful at his debut venture – Primrose Hill Market in Hampstead – which is a local market where you can buy your weekly shop from small-batch, artisan producers while choosing lunch from a wide selection of street-food traders. Visitors to Hampstead Market will be able to buy produce such as organic salad and vegetables from Wild Country Organics, raw milk and butter from Hook & Son, and fresh sourdough bread from Olivier’s Bakery, while tucking into street food such as Muffin Man’s muffins and Sub Cult’s subs. Norledge said: “The benefits of food markets are wide-ranging. By shopping at Hampstead Market shoppers will help to preserve farming traditions and support local artisan producers. We also work exclusively with schools, which host our markets with the aim of benefiting the communities around them and the education of schoolchildren in the area. We want our markets to benefit both the community and local enterprise.”

Whitbread’s first Premier Inn in Germany scores top marks on TripAdvisor, ranks as highest hotel in Frankfurt: Whitbread’s move to focus on growing its Premier Inn business in Germany has been boosted after its first hotel in the country scored top marks on travel review site TripAdvisor. The company’s Frankfurt Messe hotel, which opened in February, scored five out of five from the 67 reviews it received, placing it first out of 275 hotels in the city. Last month, Whitbread said it would concentrate its Premier Inn international growth strategy on Germany and the Middle East while beginning a “phased withdrawal” from its operations in India and South East Asia. Whitbread chief executive Alison Brittain said at the time: “To build a successful future for Premier Inn overseas, we must focus on those markets where we can grow scale and where our brand proposition is most compelling for our customers.” Whitbread has secured four Premier Inn sites in Germany, with a target of six to eight hotels trading by 2020. Mark Anderson, managing director of commercial property, added: “We’re aiming for more sites to build on our solid foothold in the buoyant German market and fuel our expansion.”

Historic London gay bar saved from development after two-year planning battle: One of London’s most historic gay bars has been saved after a government planning inspector backed a council’s decision to protect it. Westminster Council had been locked in a two-year battle to save popular LGBT venue The Yard in Rupert Street, described as a “jewel in Soho’s crown”. The bar was believed to be at risk after developer Consolidated Property Corporation submitted plans to build flats over its Victorian stable yard. The bar, the Soho Society and Historic England objected to the proposals. The council first blocked the plans in March 2015 but faced two appeals, which have been thrown out by the planning inspectorate. In its decision it said any move to build over the courtyard would “fundamentally alter” the bar’s character. Westminster City Council deputy leader Robert Davis told the Evening Standard: “Soho is one of the most iconic areas of Westminster, with a unique character that everyone at the council is committed to protecting. The Yard is a jewel in Soho’s crown and I am thrilled we have joined forces with the ward councillors and the local community to ensure it remains open for business.” The Yard’s owner, Andy Jones, who led the “Save The Yard” campaign, added: “The support we got from Westminster City Council, ward councillors, Historic England, Soho Society, heritage experts and the LGBT, business and residential communities was huge and unbelievable. Ultimately, all of their support helped to overcome the multiple applications and common sense has prevailed. Long live The Yard!”

London Underground boss expects 200,000 passengers to use night tube every weekend: About 200,000 passengers are expected to use the night tube every weekend, the new boss of London Underground has revealed. Mark Wild said he expected the service to provide a cheap and safe way home for people on a night out as well as a major benefit to thousands of shift workers. He told the Evening Standard: “This is going to open the network for doctors and nurses, people in the hospitality industry and so on. People are getting better travel options.” Services begin on Friday night (19 August) on the Victoria and Central lines, almost a year later than first promised by previous mayor Boris Johnson. Wild said the night tube would be extended to the Northern, Jubilee and Piccadilly lines “by the end of the year”. He admitted the night tube would take three years to break even and would cost £24.6m annually to run, with projected income for the first year of £20m. Many passengers would effectively be able to travel free because journeys starting before 4.30am would be counted as part of the previous day’s travel and therefore included in the Oyster card fare-capping system. Wild said: “Half a million people use the Tube after 10pm on a Friday and Saturday night. We are expecting another 200,000 to be added to that. The Central line will be the busiest.” Wild said the cost of running the night tube was a “modest investment” that would pay dividends. Last week, a London First study estimated the service would deliver a £77m boost to the capital’s economy.

Company News:

PizzaExpress set to ramp up expansion plans in Northern Ireland, targets first sites outside Belfast: PizzaExpress is set to ramp up its expansion plans in Northern Ireland and is targeting its first sites outside Belfast. The company currently has three sites in the country, which are all in the capital. It will be launching two Belfast restaurants next month – one at St Anne’s Square in the city centre, and a second in the Ballyhackamore area of east Belfast, creating 60 jobs. Operations director Zoe Bowley said the company was now looking at further expansion during the next five years, creating more than 200 jobs. She told the Belfast Telegraph: “(Northern Ireland) is now ripe for investment. We’ve been here for 20 years – you get the brand to where people know us, and love us. We think there is probably one more in Belfast, in the Titanic Quarter. We would then look to move out to Carrickfergus, Derry, Newry, and Bangor. We talk in five-year plans. I think we don’t ever have an end point. We’ve got a strong acquisition team that will bring us an opportunity every time there is a development in the market or, indeed, we have a target town list. We would identify markets we would like to go into – we never put a finite number.” PizzaExpress regional director Graham Fenwick added: “(The Northern Ireland restaurants have performed) exceptionally well. They are high-volume stores. Equal stores in the UK would perform at a less high sales rate. Over the past three years I have been involved in it, it has just been growing and growing – a strong customer base.” PizzaExpress has more than 400 stores across the UK, along with 14 in the Republic of Ireland.

Whitbread strengthens Premier Inn portfolio in London area with go-ahead for £30m hotel in Wimbledon: Whitbread has strengthened its Premier Inn portfolio in the London area after being given the go-ahead for a £30m, 176-bedroom hotel in Wimbledon. The company has been granted permission by Merton Council to convert the former Henry J Beans restaurant and job centre in The Broadway into the hotel and Beefeater restaurant. Whitbread has now secured planning permission for 559 additional bedrooms in London within the past month, following permission to convert the former City & Guilds Group office headquarters in West Smithfield and the redevelopment of the Comrades Club in Epsom, Surrey. Whitbread bought the site in 2014 and aims to open the hotel and restaurant, which will create 50 jobs, in 2018. Owen Ellender, development manager for London at Premier Inn, said: “Our London expansion programme is firing on all cylinders, with planning consent now secured in rapid succession for sites in Epsom, West Smithfield and Wimbledon, adding another 560 bedrooms to our committed development pipeline. It shows the effectiveness of our property acquisitions strategy in London and how we are unlocking excellent locations through smart real-estate investments. Right across the capital, we’re bringing forward well-located new Premier Inns for our customers, and at The Broadway we’re ideally placed to breathe new life into this site and deliver substantial investment to the community.” Whitbread, which has about 65,000 bedrooms through its Premier Inn and hub by Premier Inn models, is aiming for 85,000 bedrooms by 2020.

Wadworth makes London debut: Brewer and retailer Wadworth has opened its first London pub, The King’s Arms in Fulham. The Kings Arms will be managed under Wadworth’s premium segment, Great Pub, Great Food. Wadworth has invested more than £300,000 in The King’s Arms. The pub has been completely renovated, including a new kitchen and retro courtyard. Wadworth chief executive Chris Welham said: “We are really happy to welcome The King’s Arms into the Wadworth family. The move into London is in line with our long-term growth plans for the company. It is a great opportunity for Wadworth to expand and make our mark on the capital, and we hope the customers love the new look and feel of The King’s Arms.” Wadworth has also created a new menu for the pub that will feature a pizza oven as well as selection of freshly prepared dishes. 

Name and branding of new Leeds supercasino revealed: The name and branding for Leeds new multimillion-pound supercasino, set to become the largest in the north of England and Scotland, has been revealed. The venue, which occupies 50,000 square feet at the top of the city’s new Victoria Gate development that is being delivered by Hammerson, will be known as Victoria Gate Casino. With a capacity of 1,400, the Victoria Gate Casino, which will be operated by Global Gaming Ventures, will have wall-to-wall screens for watching sport, a restaurant, function space and two bars, including one selling craft beer, ale and stout. It will generate at least 205 full-time jobs. Andrew Herd, chief executive of Global Gaming Ventures, said: “This is a unique venue on a grand scale unlike anything seen before in the north of England and we are delighted to be unveiling our name, our look and our first employees. Although this is a venue in the heart of Leeds, staffed by people from the city, our customers will not just be Leeds-based – evidence shows us a venue like a supercasino attracts visitors from the region and beyond, bringing investment into the area.” Robin Dobson, director of retail development at Hammerson, added: “The Victoria Gate Casino is set to provide a valuable boost for the local economy with the creation of more than 200 jobs, something the Victoria Gate team is passionate about. We’re looking forward to welcoming the casino later this year to enjoy the mixed entertainment offer it will add to Leeds’ new retail, dining and leisure destination.”

New Peruvian restaurant concept Butifarra opens in Soho: A new Peruvian restaurant concept has opened in Soho. Entrepreneur Ali Malik has launched Butifarra in Rupert Street. Named after the Peruvian street snack (a bread roll with slow-cooked meat and salsa), it serves authentic sandwiches and ceviche alongside “cevushi”, a ceviche-sushi hybrid, from 8am to 7pm daily. Sides include a vegan taku taku rice dish and Peruvian alfajor cookies. Own-brand coffee and freshly made juices sit alongside more unusual offerings such as the chichi morada (a purple fruit juice made with corn). Drawing on Peruvian supplier Andes Export’s expertise of the culinary traditions of its homeland plus Davidson’s own travels across Peru and South America, Butifarra’s menu offers eat-in, takeaway and delivery options. It does not take reservations. The restaurant includes giant murals and will also sell authentic Peruvian sauces created in conjunction with Andes Export.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen reopens first rebranded Dublin restaurant after buying back Irish franchise rights: Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) has reopened the first of its rebranded restaurants in Dublin since the company bought back its Irish franchise rights from local businessman Graeme Beere. GBK is spending €3.5m on refurbishment of the five sites operated by Beere, with the site in Temple Bar the first to be completed. To celebrate the reopening, the restaurant gave away 500 free cheeseburgers to customers on relaunch day. GBK’s other sites in Dublin are in South William Street, South Anne Street, Liffey Valley and Swords. GBK chief operations officer Keith Bird said the company was also “actively looking for more sites in Dublin and further afield, with a view to growing by one or two restaurants a year over the next five years”. Beere bought the franchise rights for GBK in 2008, with plans to create more than 600 jobs. He claimed there was scope for more than 40 outlets in Ireland. Beere owned the franchise rights through Master Burger Investments, a subsidiary of Abrakebabra Investments. Master Burger investments had losses of €4.8m to the end of December 2014.

Hakkasan Group appoints marketing agency to develop digital strategy as part of global innovation drive: UK-based restaurant and nightclub company Hakkasan Group has appointed marketing agency Dare to develop its digital strategy as part of a global innovation drive. Hakkasan Group is planning the push with its Asian Luxury Collection channel, which includes brands Hakkasan, Yauatcha, Sake no Hana, HKK, and Ling Ling, into the US, Europe Middle East and Africa, and Asia-Pacific regions. Dare won the work as part of a competitive pitch and will focus on optimising the customer experience across all digital touchpoints, encompassing content, social and the brand’s individual websites. Claire Ashman, executive director of global brand marketing at Hakkasan Group, told BDaily: “It’s been 15 years now since we opened our first restaurant in Hanway Place. Since then, Hakkasan Group has grown from strength to strength. We’re certain that Dare, with its extensive customer experience and digital transformation work, will help keep this momentum going by boosting our digital offering, through creating experiences our customers will really relate to.” Dare managing partner Jamal Cassim added: “Hakkasan Group is a world leader in hospitality. This move to create a coherent, customer-first digital experience that speaks directly to changing times is testament to that. We’re looking forward to using our expertise to help take Hakkasan Group to the next level.”

Amber Taverns to open former JD Wetherspoon pub in Gloucester as sports bar next month: Managed operator Amber Taverns will open a former JD Wetherspoon pub in Gloucester as a sports bar next month. Amber Taverns has invested nearly £500,000 to refurbish the former Water Poet in Eastgate Street, which it acquired from Wetherspoon earlier this year as part of a three-site package. It will reopen as a wet-led sports bar on Thursday, 1 September under new name The Doctors. Operations director Gary Roberts said the name was a nod to the old Dr Foster went to Gloucester nursery rhyme. He told Gloucestershire Live: “We will have a great selection of beers and ales, lots of nice cocktails and gins to try. We are installing a video wall to show the live sport and have booked all the HD sports packages from BT and Sky.” The Doctors is one of about 20 pubs Amber Taverns hopes to open in the next few months. The company, which has about 120 sites, acquired the Water Poet from Wetherspoon in May as well as the Edward Rutland in Stourbridge and the John Capel Hanbury in Pontypool. In June, Amber Taverns acquired two more Wetherspoon sites – The Zachariah Pearson in Hull along with the Old Angel in Doncaster – as it looks to strengthen its operations in Yorkshire. All five pubs were part of a 50-strong package Wetherspoon put up for sale in November last year.

Michelin-trained chef gets go-ahead to open restaurant in Nottingham: Michelin-trained chef Alex Bond has been given the go-ahead to open his own restaurant in Nottingham. Bond has worked under chef Sat Bains and at Abac, a two Michelin-starred restaurant in Barcelona, and El Bulli in Catalonia, which held three stars before its closure. He has now been granted permission by Nottingham City Council to open the 2,430 square foot restaurant in Derby Road, creating 13 jobs. Bond revealed the venue would have about 40 covers but has yet to be named. He told Insider Media: “I think there’s a lot happening in Nottingham at the moment as far as regeneration goes. I think Sat Bains has proved it can be done. Ultimately, I don’t want to create the best restaurant in Nottingham, I want to create one of the best in the country. In the next three years we hope to have a Michelin star. I’d like to join the elite and put another star on the Midlands map. You don’t have to travel to London – I could name a dozen, if not more, starred restaurants in the Midlands. The food scene is changing and we want to be part of that.”

HospitalityGEM secures Greene King, Punch and St Austell Brewery as clients, boosts revenue by more than £300,000: Guest experience management expert HospitalityGEM has secured major pub brands Greene King, Punch and St Austell Brewery as clients, which has increased its portfolio by more than £300,000 in revenue. Punch has introduced mystery guest visits to about 400 of its pubs per month, with a particular focus on supporting pubs undergoing change. Similarly, Greene King has also decided to use mystery visits to support trading objectives in its tenanted division, with about 2,500 scheduled to take place annually at targeted sites. This activity will focus on the pubs that will benefit most from structured feedback. Meanwhile, St Austell Brewery has expanded an initial agreement to provide its 30 managed pubs with monthly mystery visits to include biannual visits to 135 tenanted pubs. HospitalityGEM has also taken over and branded the “Smiles” survey site, which St Austell uses to engage with and listen to its guests. HospitalityGEM managing director Steven Pike said: “The main theme that seems to run through the requirements of each of our new pub clients is the need to provide detailed and dependable reports on individual guest experiences that pub managers can use to reflect, learn and improve. In the tenanted market in particular, it’s being viewed as a service to publicans rather than as a standards audit – there to help them be successful and to grow their business in an ever changing, challenging market place.”

Epic Pubs opens third site, in Oakham, first with accommodation: Epic Pubs has opened its third site, the Mill Street Pub & Kitchen in Oakham, Rutland. The pub, leased from Punch, has undergone an extensive refurbishment, with the interior and exterior completely remodelled. The 180-cover pub features an open kitchen and two private dining rooms, including one with a private bar, with the interior comprising a mix of exposed brickwork, bright furnishings and a rusted steel bar. Meanwhile, the pub’s courtyard garden, featuring banquette seating, offers space for up to 80 customers. It is also Epic’s first site to feature accommodation, offering seven boutique bedrooms. Epic operates two other pubs in Northamptonshire and Berkshire and secured its fourth site last month in Apsley Guise, near Milton Keynes. It is led by managing director Andrew Coath, who has worked in the pub and hotel industry for 20 years. He said: “We are really excited to be entering the next phase of Epic’s development with this new pub, which will build on the success of our two existing businesses. Each Epic establishment is unique in character and style, but with the same consistent standards of excellence in our food, drink and service.” Punch development manager Wayne McGarry added: “We are delighted to be working with Epic Pubs who, like us, have an uncompromising commitment to quality. The results at Mill Street are truly stunning. They have created a sensational new venue in Oakham and we are confident it will prove a real success with customers.”

London-based Jamaican restaurant concept Rudie’s eyes second site: London-based Jamaican restaurant concept Rudie’s is eyeing expansion as it prepares to mark the anniversary of its first site in Dalston. The 60-cover restaurant has seen a strong upward trend in footfall and sales, and regularly turns tables on busy nights at least two or three times. Rudie’s is full most days and has been turning away diners due to limited capacity since opening last October. Rudie’s, which provides customers with a “truly authentic taste of the very best of Jamaica” also welcomes new head chef Anthony Camberbatch this month. Camberbatch has worked in London restaurants such as D&D London’s Quaglino’s and Caprice Holdings’ The Ivy, as well as Caribbean eateries including Bubba, Bamboo Grove and Caribbean Scene. Rudie’s co-owner Matin Miah said: “The majority of our customers are Hackney locals but there’s clear evidence we are becoming a destination restaurant, with people coming from across London and beyond and asking when we will open another Rudie’s closer to them! We are thrilled to welcome our new head chef Anthony to the team and firmly believe he can take us to the next level by pushing the boundaries of contemporary Jamaican cooking as we approach our first anniversary.”

Crussh strengthens management team: Crussh, the healthy food and juice brand with 25 sites, has continued to strengthen its management team by appointing Laura Armstrong as head of design. Armstrong joins from Vital Ingredient, where she was responsible for new store design and roll-out, menu and packaging design, as well as the company’s website. In her new role she will work alongside the management team on the next phase of brand evolution and store expansion. She said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be joining a leader in the healthy eating market. Crussh has a great heritage as a brand and has been leading the way with its freshly-pressed juices, smoothies, and delicious handcrafted food. There’s a real opportunity to spread this message and to get more people to enjoy the superb Crussh experience. It’s great to come on board to help evolve the brand and store design as we expand, bringing the innovative menu and brand values to the forefront.” Chief executive Shane Kavanagh added: “We are absolutely delighted to have Laura join our team at this hugely exciting time for Crussh. We have been London’s leading juice and smoothie business since 1998 and the recent strengthening of our management team has really set us up for the exciting opportunities we have lined up. We are moving into a major phase of growth over the next year with significant plans for expansion in London and beyond. Laura’s eye for design and detail will really add valuable experience to our marketing team that is headed up by Helen Jones.”

Pitt Cue returns to its Soho roots with Little Pitt launch: Wood-smoked barbecue restaurant Pitt Cue has returned to its roots by opening a second site – Little Pitt in Soho. Pitt Cue began as a food truck on the South Bank before its creators, Tom Adams and Jamie Berger, moved into tiny premises in Newburgh Street, Soho, with only five tables and a no-booking policy that resulted in long queues. The award-winning Pitt Cue then moved to much larger premises in the City, in Devonshire Square, with an extended bar and full wine list. Now Adams and Berger have returned to their original Newburgh Street site to launch Little Pitt. The pared-down version of Pitt Cue offers three buns – filled with pulled pork, smoked beef or chicken – two sides (green chilli slaw, and grilled hispi and herbs), and three extras (caramel ribs, pickled shiitake and kimchi). Little Pitt’s motto is “buns, bourbon and beer”.

Carlisle-based restaurateur opens second site in town: Carlisle-based restaurateur Chris Archibald has opened his second site after launching an American-inspired eatery in the Cumbrian town. Archibald has launched The Script @ No. 4 in Green Market, which aims to fuse local produce with the best of the US, creating ten jobs. He has invested £100,000 to convert a former pharmacy, hence the name “The Script”, shortened from “prescription”. The menu includes American staples such as pancakes, waffles and chicken wings. He got the idea for the venue, which is next door to his existing restaurant La Baguette, after making several trips across the Atlantic and is confident it will contribute to the city’s growing food culture. He told In Cumbria: “Our ethos is local produce fused with a New York state of mind. I got the idea from my travels around the world with my wife and children. We want to create a relaxed, informal atmosphere with high standards of service.”

Llangollen’s Wild Pheasant Hotel enters administration: A high-profile 19th century hotel and wedding venue in North Wales has closed after entering administration following health and safety concerns. All bookings were cancelled and all employees made redundant at the 46-bedroom Wild Pheasant Hotel in Llangollen. Steve Muncaster and Sarah Bell, managing directors of Duff & Phelps, were appointed as joint administrators of O&S Hotels, which trades as The Wild Pheasant Hotel, on 3 August. Muncaster said: “We’re conscious that in the busy holiday period there will be many disappointed to hear about the closure of the hotel. Anyone with an existing booking should get in touch with us and those that have paid in advance for bookings on credit or debit card should contact their provider for potential refunds.” The Wild Pheasant Hotel previously entered administration in August 2012 and was bought out by an investor. It was put up for sale in June 2016, with an asking price of £2.25m. The joint administrators are now seeking expressions of interest as they attempt to sell the property.

Northern Ireland couple launch new hospitality app: An entrepreneurial County Antrim couple have invested more than £50,000 in launching a new hospitality app. OhhSocial is the brainchild of husband-and-wife team Kelly and Michael McClements. The company hopes to assist in the growth of the hospitality and leisure industry in Northern Ireland, which has “suffered in recent years”. OhhSocial has developed an app which features more than 150 exclusive, buy-one-get-one-free offers from businesses across the country in four key sectors. For a one-off payment of £19, users can choose from a range of offers from Wine and Dine, Health and Beauty, Leisure and Attractions, and Kid’s Activities categories. The tech start-up has already attracted and partnered with more than 50 businesses, while the McClements hope to have 3,000 active users by the end of 2016. Kelly McClements said: “Our idea is simple and was inspired by our travels in America, Australia and the Middle East, where we’ve seen similar ideas successfully operating. We love Northern Ireland’s thriving hospitality and leisure industry but understand it is a very competitive market.”

Greene King submits plans for second Gloucester Hungry Horse site: Brewer and retailer Greene King has submitted plans for a second Hungry Horse pub restaurant in Gloucester. The company has applied to the city council to build the part single-storey, part two-storey venue at the Railway Triangle development, which is already home to a Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee site and Morrisons supermarket. The proposed opening hours of the pub restaurant are 9am to 11pm, Monday to Thursday and Sundays, and from 9am to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, reports South West Business. The application stated: “This format of premises is designed as a family-orientated facility with an emphasis on family dining and value-for-money food. This site is suited to a Hungry Horse premises due to its size, its close proximity to high-density residential areas, and its proximity to a Morrisons supermarket, which will generate passing trade.” Greene King’s existing Hungry Horse site in Gloucester is the Royal Oak, near Hucclecote.

Turmeaus plans to open its second cigar sampling and fine whisky lounge in north west: Turmeaus Tobacconist, which operates seven specialist shops in the UK, is set to open its second cigar sampling and whisky lounge in the north west, this time in Liverpool. Turmeaus, which already operates two cigar shops in Liverpool, has applied for permission to open the “largest specialist tobacconist in the UK” after it acquired commercial premises at The Albany in Old Hall Street in the city centre. Customers would be allowed to sample cigars and pipes at the premises because their specialist nature means they are not covered by the smoking ban. The new venue would feature a whisky bar, two cigar sampling lounges, and a smokers’ accessories room. It would open until 11pm and also offer food and live music, the Liverpool Echo reports. Turmeaus Tobacconist was founded in Liverpool in 1817. Its other cigar sampling and whisky lounge is in Chester.

Former Living Ventures employee opens first pub after taking on JW Lees site: Former Living Ventures employee Caroline Terrington has opened her first pub after taking on a JW Lees site in Mobberley, Cheshire. Terrington is running the Plough & Flail in Paddock Hill Lane along with husband Martin. As well as working for Living Ventures, she has also previously managed Dutton’s Wine Bar in Chester city centre. The menu has been overhauled, with new additions including seabass with crab and dill potato cake and mussel salsa verde; and duck breast with soy caramelised chicory, dauphinoise potatoes and red wine jus. Terrington told the Knutsford Guardian: “We are very excited to take on a new challenge at the Plough & Flail. The pub is beautiful with so much potential we cannot wait to get stuck in creating menus and events for the local and wider community to enjoy.”

Domino’s Pizza to open first dine-in restaurant in Kent next month, in Maidstone: Domino’s Pizza will open its first dine-in restaurant in Kent next month, in Maidstone. The company is converting a former Spa store at Boughton Parade in Loose Road into the new venue, which will open on Saturday, 3 September. Alongside more traditional collection counters and waiting areas, the venue will also feature a 60-seat restaurant, reports Kent Online. Domino’s launched its restaurant venture in 2013 but only a handful have opened in the UK. Last month it lodged plans to open a 40-seat dine-in restaurant in Hull. Meanwhile, Domino’s has started selling salads across the US through a partnership with Ready Pac Foods to broaden the appeal of its menu amid intense competition and because “sometimes there’s that one person who only wants a salad on pizza night”.

Easyhotel to open third franchise hotel in Amsterdam: Easyhotel, the owner, developer, operator and franchisor of “super budget” branded hotels, has announced its Benelux franchisee will open a third hotel in Amsterdam. The 96-bedroom Easyhotel Amsterdam-Zaandam will be on the ninth to 11th floors of the Saentower in the Zaandam district, with construction expected to begin shortly and the hotel set to open early next year. Easyhotel chief executive Guy Parsons told LSE: “We are pleased to be further extending our presence in Amsterdam, which is an extremely attractive market for us with considerable demand for affordable tourist accommodation. This development, together with the agreements we recently signed for Istanbul, Lisbon and Bernkastel-Kues (Germany), will further increase our presence and awareness of the brand without direct capital investment across Europe.” The 80-bedroom Easyhotel Amsterdam City Centre opened in 2011 and is one of top-performing hotels in the Easyhotel network, while Easyhotel Arena Boulevard will open by the end of 2016.

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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