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Tue 4th Oct 2016 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Starbucks aiming to make tea as popular as coffee in stores again as it launches Teavana hot brews in UK: Starbucks tea category manager Charlotta Oldham has told Propel it aims to make the drink as popular as coffee in its stores again as it launches its Teavana hot brews in the UK. The company has introduced ten new hot teas to the range following the launch of its Teavana iced brews this summer. Oldham said Starbucks, which acquired Teavana in 2012, was trying to “create a modern tea experience for the new generation of millennials”, with the new range including green tea and tea lattes. She said: “When Starbucks opened its first store in 1971, we had 27 teas on the menu – it was all about the tea and all about the coffee. Today, most people associate Starbucks for its coffee and we want it to be known for its tea again as well. We are trying to re-image tea. We love our tea in the UK but we are looking at how we can modernise the tea experience with both traditional and contemporary flavours and appeal to millennials. That is the market we are trying to tap into. They are adventurous and want to try new things and we think this new range encourages that. Teavana is a very exciting long-term commitment for Starbucks. We are certainly in this for the long haul. The iced teas are available all year round and we have seen great success with them since they launched. This is just the start. There are lots of exciting products in the pipeline and loads of new ideas. There are so many flavours and formats – hot and iced – it’s very innovative.” The ten hot brewed teas include jasmine pearls, green, black and white teas, as well as three tea lattes. Also joining the menu for a limited time is the citrus mint green tea latte with matcha. Customers are also able to buy Teavana packaged tea sachets (available in four varieties – black tea, green tea, white tea and infusion) and an assortment of Teavana-branded mugs and tumblers for the first time in the UK. Starbucks is celebrating the launch of its Teavana hot brews by offering customers a free tea after 3pm on Thursday (6 October). They will receive a free, tall-sized hot Teavana tea with any transaction made in store from 3pm until close or until midnight in drive-thru stores.

Industry News:

Speaker schedule for Propel Multi Club Conference unveiled: The full speaker schedule for the Propel Multi Club Conference on Thursday, 3 November at Congress Hall, London, has been unveiled. Operators of multi-site pub, restaurant and foodservice operators can claim up to two free places by emailing anne.steele@propelinfo.com. Richard O’Donnell, head of the leisure sector at Canaccord Genuity, will provide an overview of the restaurant sector M&A landscape, current valuations in the market and the do’s and don’ts when attempting to attract investment or sell a hospitality business. James Spragg, chief operating officer of Casual Dining Group, will give his views on how brands can be revived, majoring on a case study of how Cafe Rouge has been revived thanks to a focus on menu authenticity, investment in facilities and environment, staff training, and head office support. Fraser Bradshaw, partner at investment fund Imbiba, will talk about how it identifies opportunities in the market place, finds and backs talent, assimilates innovation from around the world, and its current group of investments – Darwin & Wallace, Camm & Hooper, Ruth & Robinson, Wright & Bell, and Casper & Cole. Ed Brown and Griff Holland, co-founders of healthy eating brand Friska, will outline the company’s approach to ethically sourced healthy food, service, its journey as a company from its south west base, and perspective on the healthy eating market. Christian Rose, managing director of All Star Lanes, will talk about the “brand’s revolution”, improving the food and beverage offer, updating design, the growing importance of “experiences”, market potential and expansion plans. Professor Chris Edger, the UK’s leading author on multi-site brand management and leadership, will draw on his forthcoming book written in partnership with Tony Hughes, eMotion – How leaders mobilise positive feelings in super-performing teams, to outline the “ten moments of emotional truth” of leadership that separate the best from the rest. Ian Leigh, managing director of Thai Leisure Group, operator of Chaophraya and Thaikhun, will share how the company is successfully retaining its unique company culture while moving forward its brands and rolling out eight sites per year. Brian Whiting, founder of gastro-pub operator Whiting and Hammond, will talk about the company’s £200,000, 24-hour fund-raise through Funding Circle to open its latest pub, partnering with pubcos, developing slow-starting sites to realise their potential, tikki huts, and menu evolution, including the introduction of a high-end smoker. British-born entrepreneur Jonathan Segal is founder of ONE Group, which operates the STK brand. He will discuss the challenges and opportunities that come with operating an international restaurant brand, with locations from Las Vegas to London, and Chicago to Ibiza, as well as regularly catering for the stars at the Oscars and Super Bowl. David Henkes, advisory group senior principal of food service insights and research firm Technomic, will provide insights on the hottest new concepts in the US, what makes them successful and their common threads. He will also report on which categories are performing best in the US market.

Landbay launches rent check tool: Landbay, the peer-to-peer lender which specialises in buy-to-let mortgages, has launched Rent Check, an online tool that allows tenants and landlords to compare their rents with others in the region. Landbay, which last week signed an exclusive partnership deal with Zoopla Property Group, said rents had grown by almost 5% during the past two years alone, highlighting the importance for both parties to check their rents were tracking the wider market. The postcode search widget uses data from Landbay’s monthly Rental Index, powered by MIAC. The index maps annual and monthly trends in advertised rents, geographically and by bedroom number. It also allows users to access data showing how rental movements for a specific property type have changed. Landbay chief executive and co-founder John Goodall said: “The UK is in the midst of a housing crisis and a severe supply/demand imbalance, meaning the rental property market is buoyant. Together, Landbay’s Rental Index and the Rent Check tool will give tenants and landlords a simple way of accessing data from across the UK, not only providing an in-depth view of the market, but helping inform their next move.”

Cambridge University analysts begin crowdfunding study: Cambridge University financial anaylsts are working with UK finance regulators to vet crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending platforms. The Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) at Cambridge Judge Business School will work with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to carry out research with the investors and fundraisers on the platforms. The FCA and the CCAF are working together in a programme of research that will identify any changes in the nature of the industry, the expectations of its clients, and its place in the financial services landscape. Their joint research will focus on a number of issues, such as what the crowdfunding investor population really looks like and how it is changing, how investors on the platforms assess risks, and how they use the information provided to them by fundraisers. It will also consider what types of investments crowdfunding firms are competing with for investors’ money – and how they compare in terms of risk and return and how platforms and investors share the burden of due diligence and whether an expectation gap exists between the two sides. The research is expected to collect and analyse data from investor and fundraiser surveys, qualitative interviews and crowdfunding platforms’ transactional databases. The first outputs from this work will inform the FCA’s ongoing post-implementation review of crowdfunding regulation.

Company News:

Boxpark Croydon announces full line-up ahead of launch this month: Boxpark Croydon will feature 35 traders when it launches this month. Companies include The Breakfast Club, MeatLiquor, Beijing street food specialist Mamalan, Craft Beer Co and Mexican restaurant Chilango, which has secured a unit for its first south London outlet. Boxpark Croydon will launch with a two-day festival on the weekend of 29 and 30 October, opening to the public on Halloween. Situated next to East Croydon station, Boxpark will be open daily from 7am to 11pm, Monday to Saturday, and 8am to 10pm on Sundays. Traders will be spread across two floors made up of shipping containers. The 2,000-capacity space will also host events such as weekly markets, workshops, masterclasses, launch parties and special shows. Agee Johnston, Boxpark’s retail director, said: “We are excited to bring a selection of street traders, independents and established operators offering cuisine from all over the world.” London mayor Sadiq Khan added: “One of the things I love most about London is that its cultural gems are not just limited to the city centre. Around every corner of the capital there is something new and exciting to discover.” Boxpark Croydon is a collaboration between London Borough of Croydon and CGLP, a joint venture between Schroders and Stanhope.

Quadrant ‘hits hurdle’ in deal for Jamie’s Italian sites in Australia: Sources close to Quadrant Private Equity confirmed discussions have taken place surrounding an acquisition of hospitality assets controlled by the failed Keystone Group, including six Jamie’s Italian restaurants in Australia, according to The Australian Business Review. Keystone has been in the hands of receivers Ferrier Hodgson since June, with about $34m of unsecured debt – $6m of that owed to trade creditors. However, the sticking point is that the operation is a franchise and, while Quadrant would be eager to buy the six restaurant sites, they are leasehold and any deal would require a goodwill payment to celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. Market sources said the interest by Quadrant might extend to one or two restaurant sites within the Keystone portfolio. Apparently, the Keystone portfolio is being pursued by a Melbourne private investor eager to on-sell various parts of the business. Ferrier Hodgson is understood to have received offers for parts of the business and the operation as a whole. The second round of expressions of interest closes on Friday (7 October). In August, Oliver was reported to be “outraged” over the collapse of Keystone, summoning its executives to London for a “heated sit-down”. Oliver gets final say over who takes over the operation of the business.

BrewDog delays US production start until early 2017, looks for US chief executive: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has delayed the start of production at its new 100,000 square foot brewery in Columbus, Ohio, to January 2017 from its previous target of late 2016. The initial delay was because of weather, co-founder James Watt told a meeting of the company’s investors in the US. Although last winter was mild, it was also wet – with on-site flooding leading to delays. The current delay is because of equipment. Watt said there had been issues with the German-based manufacturer and the brewhouse, adding that other key pieces were now scheduled to arrive by 1 November. “It’s not ideal, but we’re dealing with it,” he said. Watt reported that the company’s first bar would be at 463 W Town Street in Columbus, a 4,200 square foot building that was formerly an auto repair shop. The opening target for the site is 2018, with the brewery and its on-site DogTap bar and restaurant the bigger priorities. BrewDog is not actively looking for a chief executive to run the US operation. “I’m happy to pick up that CEO role in the short-term, but we’re keeping our eyes open,” Watt said. He will return in November when the equipment arrives for a prolonged stay in the US. Initial distribution will be conservative (for BrewDog) with a five to ten state reach expected at first. “Our relationships are good,” Watt said. “We have loads of distributors waiting for our beer. The challenge is that we have to make sure we can do it.”

BV Restaurant Group to launch 900-degree pizza concept PizzaStorm in London: PizzaStorm, a new concept by BV Restaurant Group that cooks its pizzas in 180 seconds in an oven heated to 900 degrees, is set to launch in London. The 100-cover restaurant will open in Wandsworth Southside Centre offering “fast, fresh, custom-made, 11-inch, stone-baked pizzas in super-quick time”. The restaurant will offer more than 50 toppings and consumers can craft their own pizza or select from one of six “Hall of Flames” signature pizzas. Consumers opting to craft their own pizza will move along a counter and choose their base sauce, cheese, vegetables and meat toppings, adding the finishing touches via a range of PizzaStorm sauces. The company said no matter how many toppings a person chooses, their pizza will cost less than £9 – to eat in or take away. Sides include guacamole, coleslaw and garlic bread, while desserts include unlimited ice cream with various toppings and sauces. The restaurant will also offer Meantime Brewery craft beer, cider, wine, refill sodas and fruit-flavoured waters. Nick Mackaness, operations manager at PizzaStorm Wandsworth, said: “You can’t escape the UK’s love affair with pizza – so what better way to satisfy that appetite than opening a pizza place where you can create your own freshly made pizza, get great value for money and be ready to enjoy it in less than five minutes?” BV Restaurant Group also plans to open a PizzaStorm restaurant in Newcastle.

New nightclub concept opens in Coventry, owners plan rapid UK expansion: A new nightclub has opened in Coventry with its owners planning rapid expansion of the concept across the UK. LSM Leisure has launched Daddy Cools in Spon Street following a two-month refurbishment. The two-room venue aims to “bring back the classics from the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. General manager Renan Santos told the Coventry Telegraph: “We are nothing like any other pop club in the UK. We provide the customers not only with the best party tunes, but also with a five-star customer service. It is in our core values to make sure every single customer who enters our premises is destined to have a great night.” Upstairs, the venue features the “Party Room”, where the “best cheesy songs will be heard and enjoyed”, while downstairs, the “Club Room” will “allow the customers to enjoy a whole lot of ‘handbag house’ and RnB”. LSM Leisure said it has a long-term business plan to expand Daddy Cools rapidly across the UK, with the company stating venue number two is already in the lease negotiation stage. A spokesman added: “Daddy Cools Coventry is the first of several venues we intend to launch in the coming years. With our efforts on growing within the West Midlands, our next two venues are already on the way and we intend to open a new Daddy Cools by the first quarter of 2017.”

New pan-Asian bar restaurant concept Ember to open in London: A new pan-Asian bar restaurant concept is set to open in London. Ember is being launched in the City near Monument station in mid-October. It will offer pan-Asian food, an extensive wine list, cocktails, sakes, teas and vintage spirits. The main design theme is the Great Fire of London – not only is the venue based a few metres from where the blaze started but it opens a few weeks after the 350th anniversary celebrations. To further emphasise this famous story, the main elements striking its interior are wood, copper, linen and charcoal. As well as a sit-down area, there will be a number of private dining rooms. Dishes will feature Wagyu beef and foie gras burger while the a la carte menu includes sharing bowls and platters. General manager Anthony Killip said: “We are here to provide our guests the premium service but at the same time to make them feel as welcome and comfortable as possible. We want to share our knowledge and skills and would love to see that everyone enjoys the Ember environment like we do.”   

Hollyoaks star to launch cocktail bar concept Symposium in Cheshire: Hollyoaks and Strictly Come Dancing star Ashley Taylor-Dawson is set to launch cocktail bar and live music concept Symposium in his home town of Wilmslow, Cheshire. Taylor-Dawson, one of the Channel 4 soap’s longest-serving cast members, is putting the finishing touches to his first bar venture with business partners George Yiannis and Nicos Georgiou. Symposium will be at the site of the former Stolen Lamb restaurant in Grove Street. The 200-capacity venue will open Wednesday to Sunday, from 5pm until late, with an emphasis on live music. Taylor-Dawson also hopes to give young musicians a chance to get involved via a “mini Symposium” on Sundays. A symposium was a drinking party held in ancient Greece and food and drink will stick to the theme, with an “ambrosia” menu and “elixir” cocktails. Yiannis, who has worked at the Hilton in Manchester, has created 15 seasonal small plates, with “intense flavours, designed for sharing” and with “different styles of food from sushi to pasta”. Taylor-Dawson, who starred in Strictly Come Dancing in 2013, told Manchester Evening News: “My vision is to make this a hub of entertainment and the arts – music will be at the forefront of what we do. This is a passion of mine. I’ve always worked behind bars because, for me, that’s a performance too.”

Macellaio RC opens third London site with new butchery and bakery concepts: London-based Italian restaurant Macellaio RC has opened its third site but the first to feature two new concepts – a theatrical in-house butchery and a Ligurian bakery. The company, founded by Roberto Costa, has opened the venue in Union Street, Southwark. The beef is dry-aged on-site for five to seven weeks and displayed behind glass. A stage extends into the restaurant between two large banquet tables on which the Macellaio RC team showcase the best cuts of the day. A white marble butcher’s block is framed by curtains in the ground-floor dining hall, where butchers and chefs prepare meat in front of diners. The bakery offers a range of traditional Ligurian bread, vegetable tarts, fresh pasta and pastries. The restaurant menu features Fassona beef from small farms in north west Italy. Macellaio RC’s other sites are in South Kensington and Exmouth Market.

ShakeTastic launches ninth north London store, features new training academy and head office: Milkshake and smoothie company ShakeTastic has opened its ninth north London venue at a site in High Street, Barnet. The site will also house the company’s new head office and training academy. ShakeTastic was founded by Amir Darabi and Josh Kettle in 2009. Kettle said: “We’ve been looking for a head office for some time. The Barnet store offers the perfect solution as we’ve fitted-out a fully operational store and a training centre, where our staff and franchisees can come and learn everything about what makes ShakeTastic a success. This is our biggest step since we started the business and we’re really excited about the next stage of our growth, which will see more UK and international openings as well.” Darabi added: “We see franchising as a big area of growth for us. We’ve come up with a winning formula and we want to share that with franchisees. The Shake Academy shows we care about serving consistently delicious drinks and that we’re investing in developing a super team.” As well as its nine north London sites, the company also has two stores in Qatar.

JD Wetherspoon to open first stand-alone hotel today: JD Wetherspoon will open its first stand-alone hotel today (Tuesday, 4 October), in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire (population: 23,372). The company is launching the £1.1m, 22-bedroom hotel in George Street. The hotel is in separate stand-alone purpose-built premises, set behind its Sandford House pub that opened earlier this year, with rooms on the ground and first floors. It features one family, 12 twin, and eight double rooms, as well as one room suitable for people with disabilities, including wet-room facilities. Manager Sarah Hemingway told The Hunts Post: “The new 22-bedroom hotel is a wonderful addition to the outlet and we are confident it will also be a great addition to the Huntingdon community. We look forward to welcoming guests to Sandford House.”

Gourmet Burger Kitchen signs for £45m Stockport development: Gourmet Burger Kitchen has signed for a site at the new £45m Redrock Stockport development. The company has agreed a deal to open at the complex, which is to launch in late 2017, alongside PizzaExpress, Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi and The Light cinema. The 75,000 square foot retail and leisure development is transforming an area in the heart of Stockport town centre, alongside the M60 motorway. Andrew Reavley, of letting agents Lunson Mitchenall, told The Business Desk: “Gourmet Burger Kitchen takes the development to circa 60% pre-let and the quality of the tenant line-up is testimony to the trading potential of the scheme. We are in active discussions with further occupiers on the small number of remaining units.” Redrock is part of a £1bn programme under way in Stockport to transform the town. GVA and Lunson Mitchenall are appointed as agents for Redrock Stockport.

Chris Evans’ Surrey pub goes on market for £1.15m: The freehold of the Mulberry Inn at Chiddingfold, Surrey, co-owned by Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans, has been brought to market by agent Fleurets off an asking price of £1.15m. Evans co-owns the pub restaurant with business partners Kirit Doshi and Camilla Hanson, and originally intended to run the hostelry at arms-length. However, the producer and presenter ended up as one of its neighbours after buying a nearby house. The property comprises bar and restaurant spaces as well as patio areas, a lawned garden and a children’s play area, with a veranda on three sides. Straddling the border of Surrey and West Sussex, the pub is on the edge of the South Downs National Park and Surrey Hills. Kate Dowd, of Fleurets, said: “We are delighted to be given the opportunity to market the Mulberry, which currently provides food and beverage offerings as well as accommodation in the form of three en suite letting rooms. Furthermore, the property boasts a prominent site in a beautiful area with exceptional facilities.”

PizzaExpress launches new frozen range into Iceland: Design consultancy Bulletproof has designed the packaging for a new frozen supermarket range by PizzaExpress. Artisana is an exclusive range for supermarket Iceland, and follows on from the restaurant’s chilled supermarket range, which was launched earlier this year and was also designed by Bulletproof. The new series includes five pizzas, three ready meals and three gelato ice creams. The consultancy said it wanted to create a “clear differentiation” between the chilled and frozen ranges, while ensuring the new Artisana range still “felt part of the PizzaExpress family”. The packaging features brush-stroke typography with a palette of colours to match the ingredients in each item of the range, alongside food photography. It also features a large crest of the PizzaExpress logo. The chilled range was launched in May this year and also incorporates the handwritten typography style alongside a flavour variant colour palette. At the time, Bulletproof said this was to create “authenticity” and help shelf visibility. The consultancy said the new frozen range aims to have a “premium look” and “stand out in the frozen pizza category”. It began rolling out last week.

Ibérica opens first Scottish site: Spanish restaurant group Ibérica has opened its first site in Scotland following a £1.5m investment. The 113-cover restaurant has opened on the corner of Hope Street and St Vincent Street in Glasgow, at a former Royal Bank of Scotland site. Ibérica’s executive head chef Nacho Manzano has three Michelin stars and his menu will include El Botillo, a speciality featuring chopped and marinated cuts of pork, which are lightly smoked before being cooked and served in a similar style to haggis. Diners can also grab bocadillos (sandwiches) and pinchos (small portions) or shop in the delicatessen that sells olive oil, ham, cured meat, preserved fish and vegetables. Spanish designer Lazaro Rosa Violan has created an interior featuring intricate detailing throughout, including a framed set of Asturian bagpipes – a nod to the Celtic roots of Ibérica’s owners in northern Spain. Ibérica launched its first UK site in Marylebone in 2008 and now operates seven outlets in England – five in London and one each in Leeds and Manchester. It is due to open its second Scottish restaurant in Edinburgh’s St Andrew Square in June next year.

Onecall Hospitality to operate North Wales hotel acquired by Liverpool-based Everbright Lodge: Liverpool-based hotel group Everbright Lodge has expanded its portfolio with the acquisition of the Wild Pheasant in Llangollen, North Wales. The company was advised on the acquisition by hospitality management specialists Onecall Hospitality, which will operate the hotel on its behalf. The Wild Pheasant was closed on 4 August by administrators at Duff & Phelps, with all staff made redundant. Everbright Lodge, which also owns Rossett Hall Hotel in Wrexham, is planning a major refurbishment programme at the 46-bedroom property. Onecall Hospitality regional operations manager Andrew Addison said refurbishments, including improvements to the bedrooms, bar, restaurant and function rooms, were due to start immediately, with the hotel scheduled to reopen in early November. He told The Business Desk: “The Wild Pheasant was one of North Wales’ best-known hotels. It was loved by locals and a popular stop-off point for coach parties. However, in recent years it has suffered from a lack of investment. We aim to restore it to its former position as a focal point within the community, as a venue for dining out and for events and functions, and also to rebuild the tourist trade. Ultimately, the Wild Pheasant will be part of a unique collection of hotels of character under the ownership of Everbright Lodge.” Ryan Lynn, of Christie & Co, acted as agent for the sale of the property, while Bermans provided legal advice to the buyer.

Artigiano launches The Terrace restaurant with rooftop bar at Exeter dining development: Artigiano, which runs coffee bars that transform into wine bars in the evenings, has launched restaurant and bar The Terrace in Exeter. The two-storey, multimillion-pound development includes a rooftop terrace and is the latest venue to open at the £12m dining quarter at the revamped Guildhall Shopping Centre. The Terrace joins Deep South-inspired gourmet chicken brand Absurd Bird, Lebanese restaurant Comptoir Libanais, Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay, artisan pizza and cider brand The Stable, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, barbecue restaurant Grillstock, and Faucet Inns’ Scandinavian-inspired restaurant and cafe concept Kupp at the dining quarter. The Terrace is aimed at a “grown-up” market and will be for over-21s only after 9pm. The venue will open daily, offering tapas-style food on the first floor and an “adventurous menu” of locally sourced artisan dishes on the rooftop terrace, alongside craft beer and cocktails. At night the space will transform into a club lounge, with DJs and dancing. There will also be acoustic music on the rooftop from 10pm every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. A spokesperson for The Terrace told the Express & Echo: “We are trying to appeal to a more grown-up market that will enjoy the stylish venue with great food, drinks, live music and DJs.”

Richmond riverside hotel the Bingham to launch botanical gin and tonic bar: Richmond riverside restaurant, bar and boutique hotel the Bingham will launch a botanical gin and tonic bar in time for International Gin and Tonic Day (Wednesday, 19 October). The Bingham Gin and Tonic Bar’s cocktails will include the Bloodhound (dry vermouth, strawberry, Brockmans gin and sweet vermouth), the Bingham Martini, and the William Of Orange (orange bitter, green Chartreuse, Sipsmith gin and sweet vermouth). The gin bar, which will operate over the whole winter period, will also feature a vast array of gins from Portugal, Spain, the UK, the US and the Netherlands. The Bingham is a restored Georgian townhouse in Petersham Road on the banks of the Thames, offering a “slice of the countryside in London”.

Stonegate reopens Slug and Lettuce site in Durham as Missoula brand: Stonegate Pub Company has converted its Slug and Lettuce site in Durham into its Missoula brand following a £385,000 investment. The reopened bar in Walkergate features Americana-style decor to match the range of imported American craft beers. The two terraces have also been given a makeover. Food is served during the day, including tapas planks, burritos and pizzas, while the drinks menu includes a range of cocktails, spirits, proseccos and sharing cocktails served in teapots. On the bar’s website, the company states: “With two large outside terraces we are the ideal place for soaking up the sun, while sipping on cocktails or a crisp glass of wine. During the week, we are a laid-back bar ideal for a quick coffee or a meal with friends. As the weekend approaches, we become a vibrant venue and fill with late-night revellers.”

JD Wetherspoon adds Tragus Holdings co-founder to board: JD Wetherspoon has appointed Harry Morley as a non-executive director with immediate effect. He will become chairman of the audit committee. Morley is already chairman of the audit committee and a non-executive director of The Mercantile Investment Trust. Until April, he was chief executive of Armajaro Asset Management and, until May, was a non-executive director and chairman of the audit committee of Bibendum Wine Holdings. Earlier in his career, Morley was co-founder and chief financial officer of the restaurant business Tragus Holdings, and prior to that worked in the shipping industry for P&O. He qualified as a chartered accountant with Price Waterhouse. JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin said: “I am pleased to announce the appointment of Harry to the board and look forward to his contribution.”

Hard Rock owner the Seminole tribe buys back majority of casino and hotel rights: Hard Rock International has completed the acquisition of casino and hotel-casino rights in the western US, as well as in several key international markets, from affiliates of Bref HR, which still owns the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Originally separated from the Hard Rock International’s portfolio more than three decades ago, the rights acquired in the deal, where the price has not been disclosed, reunite Hard Rock International’s global territory for casinos and hotel casinos, which Hard Rock believes positions the company for “unprecedented growth opportunities”. Hard Rock International chairman Jim Allen said: “This is a historic day for the brand and we could not be prouder to announce this acquisition that we believe ignites the path for further expansion around the globe. With the newly acquired rights, the Hard Rock brand has now been united for the first time in more than 35 years under one controlling ownership, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, allowing for globally consistent customer service and standards at all of our locations.” As a result of the transaction, Hard Rock International is now exclusively entitled to develop, own, license, franchise and manage Hard Rock Casinos and Hotel Casinos in the western US, including Minnesota and states west of the Mississippi River, as well as in Australia, Brazil, Israel, Venezuela and Vancouver, British Columbia. Bref HR affiliates will continue to own and operate the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas. As part of the contract, Hard Rock International assumed the agreements between Bref HR and its existing licensees, including Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe, Nevada, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City, Iowa, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Hard Rock Casino Vancouver. Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos’ growing portfolio consists of 23 hotels and resorts, as well as more than 160 Hard Rock Cafes, among other Hard Rock venues in more than 71 countries. 

JW Lees launches chef’s academy: Brewer and retailer JW Lees has launched its chef’s academy, with 14 trainee chefs from across the north west joining the debut course at Trafford College. The candidates were nominated by their head chefs and general managers for their passion for food. The trainees will now spend two years working towards NVQ Level 2 in professional cookery to enhance their opportunities for progression within JW Lees. The trainees will also watch cookery demonstrations, complete competitor analysis in other local businesses, and visit local markets and suppliers for an overview of how they support JW Lees. Anson Bolton, JW Lees development chef, said: “The JW Lees Chef’s Academy has been created to recognise and harness the talents of our trainee chefs and to ensure they have the best support in developing careers with JW Lees. We’re fortunate to have some fantastic trainee chefs who are keen to take this opportunity.” Adam Bloom, trainee chef at The Rose of Lancaster pub in Chadderton, added: “In the future I’d love to be a head chef in a JW Lees pub and the course will expand my knowledge and give me the training to succeed.” 

Danny Meyer restaurant business extends paid parental leave: Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG), the 13-restaurant New York City operator owned by Danny Meyer, will expand paid parental leave company-wide to full-time workers of more than a year’s tenure as of 1 January, 2017, the company said. Erin Moran, USHG chief culture officer, said the programme was piloted last year in the corporate office. It offers four weeks of 100% of base wages (40 hours or salary) for the first four weeks, and a second four weeks at 60% of base wages. Full-time employees of at least a year’s tenure will be eligible, she said. The benefit is open to mothers, fathers and domestic partners for births and adoption, she said. “It was important to us that we offer the same benefit to our hourly team members as to our salaried team members,” Moran told Nation’s Restaurant News. 

Offers invited for leasehold of Thames-side pub in Putney: Offers have been invited for the leasehold of the Star & Garter, a Thames-side pub restaurant in Putney, south London, brought to the market on behalf of the owner by agent Fleurets. It is not a tied lease, with about nine and a half years of the 30-year lease remaining, Fleurets said. The pub consists of a main bar/restaurant with capacity for more than 80 covers, as well as a separate bar with an additional 40 spaces. There is also a ballroom and 13-bedroom staff accommodation and manager’s flat. The pub’s location on the banks of the Thames makes it a major venue during the University Boat Race. Fleurets director James Davies said: “Putney has a vibrant and ever-increasing leisure scene. The Star & Garter is a substantial Victorian building and really dominates the riverside.”

Remedy Cafe Bar gets go-ahead to double up: The owners of Remedy Cafe Bar in Southport have had their plans to open a second site, this time in the nearby village of Churchtown, approved by Sefton Council. Sarah Simcock and Susannah Porter opened Remedy Cafe Bar in the old Tourist Information Centre in Lord Street in July 2015. Now they are getting ready to expand their business to a new premises in Botanic Road, Churchtown, at a site formerly occupied by Bonham’s Auction House. They told The Champion: “We are planning to knock through to the Manor Road section of the building to make one large cafe bar. It’s a very exciting time. We both love Churchtown.” A spokesperson for Sefton Council added: “The proposal would bring back into use a vacant building and improve vitality and viability to the local centre. The proposal will not harm residential amenity of neighbouring properties and not unduly impact on the street scene, the listed status of the building or the character of the Churchtown Conservation Area.”

Smashburger opens second UK site, in Brighton: Better burger brand Smashburger has opened a restaurant in Brighton, its second UK site. The 100-cover venue spans two floors on the former site of Mucho Burrito in North Street. Smashburger, which has 365 corporate and franchise restaurants in 35 US states and seven countries, was founded by former McDonald’s executive Tom Ryan. The company signed a partnership with AL Ventures, part of MSG Group, last year to launch in the UK. The company plans to open 35 restaurants in the UK in the next few years and last week got the go-ahead from North East Somerset Council to open a site in Bath at the SouthGate shopping centre. Further openings are lined up for Newcastle, Glasgow and Wednesbury, near Walsall. Smashburger, whose name derives from the “smashing” process used in the production of its burgers, opened its first UK site in Milton Keynes in May.

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