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Mon 12th Dec 2016 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

ETM Group reports pre-tax profit passes £1m mark, renegotiates banking facility: ETM Group, the gastro-pub operator led by brothers Ed and Tom Martin, has reported pre-tax profit has passed the £1m mark. The company saw pre-tax profit of £1,058,617 for the year ending 29 February 2016, compared with £799,110 the year before. Since the year end, the company had sold the freehold of The Gun pub in central London to Fuller’s, which “realised a significant gain on disposal”. ETM Group said the site had been an “integral part of the company’s early growth and will be a cornerstone for its future strategy”. This had also allowed the company to renegotiate its banking facility. Turnover for the year increased to £22,878,586, compared with £19,558,887 the previous year. Group Ebitda was up to £2.3m and represented 10.1% of turnover, compared with £1.7m the year before. Dividends amounting to £506,739 were paid out, compared with £333,395 the previous year. The company stated: “The group has continued its expansion plans during the year to 29 February 2016 with a view to increasing its presence in the eating out and drinking market in London. It opened one new site, the Botanist at Broadgate Circle, which traded well above expectations. The established estate continues to be profitable and adds to the increasing profit figures. During the year under review, gross profit remained steady at 42.4% (2015: 41.8%) as a result of continued control over direct costs, including wages. The directors continue to actively seek further expansion, both at site level and with proposed new appointments to the board, with the aim of bringing in further expertise and new ideas to carry the group forward. They are very excited about both the new sites already secured and those currently under discussion.”
 

Industry News:

Dates revealed for Propel Multi Club Conference in 2017: The dates for the Propel Multi Club Conference in 2017 have been revealed. The first takes place on Thursday, 9 March at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in Kensington, west London. The summer conference will be held on Thursday, 6 July at the Oxford Belfry, which will be followed in the evening by Propel’s summer party. The final event of the year will be on Thursday, 16 November, again at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel. 
 
Itinerary unveiled for third Craft Beer Retail Study Tour: The itinerary has been unveiled for the third Propel and Thinking Drinkers Craft Beer Retail Study Tour. The event, which this year focuses on east London, takes place on Thursday, 26 January and will visit six of London’s leading craft beer retailers and a cider specialist during the seven-hour tour. It starts at Urban Pubs and Bars’ ping-pong concept Bat and Ball at Westfield Stratford. The tour will then visit Tap East in Stratford, the brewpub operated by Mike Hill and Richard Dinwoodie, the duo previously behind Utobeer. The next stop will be Mason & Company, a specialist craft beer bar and deli at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The tour will then head to brewery and pizza venue Crate Brewery and fresh tank beer venue Howling Hops, both based at Queen’s Yard. It will continue to artisan pizza and cider brand The Stable, which is 76% owned by Fuller’s, in Whitechapel before finishing at Dinerama in Great Eastern Street, the street food craft beer concept run by Henry Dimbleby and Jonathan Downey. The tour will again be led by Thinking Drinkers, award-winning beer writers Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham, who will provide the latest craft beer facts and figures, market segmentation and analysis, and spot up-and-coming trends. The day includes travel between venues by coach. Tickets are £345 plus VAT for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) members and £395 plus VAT for non-ALMR members. Email anne.steele@propelinfo.com to book or for more details.
 
Host of companies sign up for Advanced Marketing and Insights Masterclass: A host of companies have signed up for the Advanced Marketing and Insights Masterclass. They include Dirty Martini, FrogPubs, Eclectic Bars, Enterprise Inns, Star Pubs & Bars, Le Bistrot Pierre, Thai Leisure Group, My Lahore, Living Ventures, Beds and Bars, Black and White Hospitality, City Pub Company, The New World Trading Company, Greene King, Marston’s, Be At One, PizzaExpress, Mitchells & Butlers, Oakman Inns, Young’s, Coaching Inn Group, TRG Concessions, Cambscuisine, Electric Star Pubs, Coal Grill & Bar, Signature Pub Company, Epic Pubs, Parkdean Resorts, Namco UK and True North Brew Company. The line-up for the Advanced Marketing and Insights Masterclass, in which Propel is partnering with leading sector public relations and marketing expert James Hacon, has been previously revealed. Hacon will share industry-leading marketing campaigns and activity from some of the biggest and best brands across the globe and share tips on how to capture ideas and apply this innovation to a brand. He will also share his strategy and direction for marketing at Thai Leisure Group and will reveal how the company has refined and defined the Chaophraya and Thaikhun brands, developed the proposition, and delivered a research-based, award-winning marketing campaign. Charles Banks, of The Food People, will dive into the hot new concepts, foods and products in the international market to see what eating trends are shaping the industry, how the traditional business model is evolving, and how millennials are changing the models and concepts of the future. There will be a guided group session sharing best practice, seeking advice and sharing stories. Oliver Taylor, senior insight manager at Elliotts, will share the latest insight on how consumers are making decisions on where to go to drink or dine out, what inspires them, how they plan their evening and how they prefer to book. Cote marketing director Andrew Gallagher will reveal what’s at the top of his marketing agenda and what he thinks will have an impact on this during 2017. Helen Baptist, senior vice-president of Fishbowl USA, will show how data can be leveraged to understand and better target customers to drive revenue, and share top tips on data-driven wins. She will also share real-life case studies from leading-edge, fast-growing US concepts, including Blaze Pizza, Average Joe’s and Jamba Juice. There will be also be a panel discussion led by Hacon with Maxwell’s marketing manager Anthony Wright, G1 Group marketing director Lyn MacDonald, and Drake & Morgan marketing and sales director Pooja Sharma Jones about where they see success, their plans for the future, and other topics discussed throughout the day. The event takes place on Thursday, 12 January at One Moorgate Place in London. Tickets are priced at £295 plus VAT for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) members and £345 plus VAT for non-ALMR members and are available by emailing Anne Steele on anne.steele@propelinfo.com
 
Fast food executive to head US labour department: Incoming president Donald Trump has appointed fast food executive Andy Puzder to head the US Department of Labor. Puzder, chief executive of CKE Restaurants, which operates the Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s fast food chains, has been a vociferous critic of government regulation of the workplace, reports the Wall Street Journal. Puzder has frequently published commentary and given television interviews in which he argued a higher minimum wage would hurt workers by forcing restaurants to close and has praised the benefits of automation in the fast food industry. Contrastingly, in a statement announcing the nomination, Trump said Puzder’s record of “fighting for workers” made him the “ideal candidate” to lead the department. Puzder said: “I look forward to the opportunity to help president-elect Trump restore America’s global economic leadership.” Fast food workers, who are largely non-unionised, are engaged in a multi-year campaign known as the “Fight for $15”, which is supported by labour unions, to raise minimum wages around the country to $15 an hour. They have garnered state-wide successes in New York and California and in cities and municipalities such as Seattle.
 
Lords licensing committee to hear from government ministers in final evidence session: The House of Lords committee investigating the Licensing Act 2003 is set to question two government ministers on the impact of licensing laws on public health, enforcement and price controls in the last evidence session of the inquiry. Giving evidence on Tuesday (13 December) will be Sarah Newton, parliamentary under secretary of state for vulnerability, safeguarding and countering extremism, at the Home Office, and Nicola Blackwood, parliamentary under secretary of state for public health and innovation at the Department of Health. During the past six months, the committee’s inquiry has heard evidence claiming the licensing committee system is failing and should be aligned on planning, appeals should no longer go to magistrates’ courts, legislation has failed to keep pace with the huge growth in off-trade and online sales, minimum unit pricing would be an effective control of alcohol abuse, loopholes in the law are likely to lead to serious alcohol-related issues at airports, and the night-time economy is skewed against local residents. The committee will also ask the ministers for their views on all these points.
 
Chipotle boss – ‘our customer service is slipping’: Chipotle Mexican Grill joint chief executive Steve Ells has said the company’s customer service is slipping. He said the company had internally rated half of its roughly 2,100 restaurants with a “C” grade for service. He cited flaws such as messy soda stations, dirty tables, and slow-moving lines, reports the Wall Street Journal. Ells said: “We took our eye off the ball on the customer service side.” This is a critical issue for Chipotle, which is trying to dig itself out of a massive slump following an E.coli outbreak that sent sales plunging by as much as 30%. Customers have been slow to return to Chipotle in the wake of the outbreak, which started late last year, and now service issues are threatening to drag out the recovery even longer. As a result, Chipotle management is getting nervous about meeting the 2017 guidance it issued in October, Ells said. In the most recent quarter, Chipotle’s like-for-like sales dropped 21.9%. Many analysts have said customers have been slow to return to Chipotle because they were forced to try new restaurants during the E.coli outbreak and, in many cases, they discovered they liked those restaurants more. Others have blamed the slow recovery on menu fatigue, saying that even before the outbreak customers were growing tired of Chipotle’s menu, which has been virtually unchanged during the past two decades.
 
Nando’s ranks higher than John Lewis as one of the ‘best places to work in Britain’: Nando’s is the best foodservice operator to work for in Britain, according to job and recruitment site Glassdoor. The Glassdoor site allows staff to say what they think is good and bad about their job, as well as give opinions on the company and management. They are also asked if they would recommend working there to a friend. Glassdoor compiled reviews to create a list of the 50 best places to work in the UK, with Nando’s ranked 20th – higher than John Lewis – and Screwfix better than Google and Apple. Expedia was ranked as the number-one place to work in Britain for being “accessible and communicating a lot with all employees”. A review by a second assistant manager at a Nando’s restaurant in Brighton stated: “Social, flexible, seasonal parties, daily food allowance, laid-back, well above minimum wage, weekly pay for nandocas, quarterly bonus scheme – achievable, progression.” Drinks company Diageo ranked 23rd, with one member of staff praising its “flexible working policy”, while Harrods was 29th, John Lewis 33rd, and Waitrose 36th. Glassdoor head of staffing and search for UK and EMEA Diarmuid Russell told the Mirror: “The Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards are solely determined by the authentic voice of those who really know a company best – the people who work there.”
 

Company News:

Sheikh’s Snapchat shot aids Cereal Killer Cafe’s international expansion: Cereal Killer Cafe co-founder Gary Keery has said the company’s expansion into the Middle East has been helped by a chance Snapchat shot taken by a sheikh. Cereal Killer, which launched its third UK site last month, in Birmingham, will make its international debut in Jordan, Kuwait and Dubai this month before opening in Oman, Bahrain and Qatar. Keery said: “We had a rush of customers from the Middle East and I found out a sheikh had Snapchatted a picture of his visit. Now 20% of our customers are from there.” Keery said the brand would be licensed to local operators in the Middle East. He added that despite failing to find a chain to handle expansion in the US, he remained on the hunt for more international openings, including America. The company was launched in Shoreditch in 2014 by Belfast-born Keery and his twin brother Alan. The Keerys opened a second site in Camden last year.
 
Cote opens first Jackson & Rye site outside London: Cote Restaurants, which is owned by private equity firm BC Partners, has opened the first site outside London for its American-style food brand Jackson & Rye. The new restaurant in Guildford, Surrey, is the brand’s sixth venue, adding to sites in the capital at Chiswick, Kingston, Richmond, Soho, and Old Jewry in the City. The venue in High Street offers home-cooked American classics, including ribs, hamburgers, steak and fried chicken, plus indulgent puddings such as pecan pie, and blueberry and apple cobbler. The restaurant is also open for breakfast and brunch, with dishes such as buttermilk pancakes with blueberries, crispy bacon and maple syrup. The drinks list includes cocktails, American whiskeys and craft beer, and thick shakes. Cote bought Jackson & Rye in January. It was originally led by Gordon Ramsay Holding’s head chef Mark Askew and former Hakkasan operations chief Hannah Bass and was initially backed by restaurateur Richard Caring.
 
Papa’s Fish and Chips to open ‘world’s biggest fish and chip restaurant’ after acquiring Cleethorpes Pier: Papa’s Fish and Chips, which operates 16 sites across the UK, has said it will open the “world’s biggest fish and chip restaurant” after it acquired Cleethorpes Pier for an undisclosed fee. The family-owned firm said the new venue would have capacity for 500 diners, with the opening creating more than 100 jobs. An “ecstatic” Papas family, who opened their first restaurant in Margate, Kent, in 1966, vowed to bring the Lincolnshire pier “back to its heyday”. The pier will continue to operate in its current format, with the tea room, bar and function room remaining open alongside the new restaurant, which is expected to open in early March. Head of the business Sid Papas told the Grimsby Telegraph: “We want to offer affordable and accessible fish and chips with a smile. It’s a traditional pier and we are so pleased and so proud and want to make everyone else proud of it.” Papa’s Fish and Chips bought the pier from the Huxford family after Bryan Huxford said he had taken the business as far as he could. He reopened the pier in summer 2015 following a £4.7m, two-year transformation. Last year, Papa’s opened what it claims is the “world’s biggest fish and chip restaurant” in Willerby in Yorkshire, alongside a museum about the UK’s favourite dish.
 
Chopstix launches flagship Oxford Street site, unveils new brand identity: Noodle brand Chopstix has opened its flagship site in Oxford Street, London, while unveiling its new brand livery and interior scheme. The restaurant is the 60th Chopstix noodle bar in the UK and Ireland, and the fifth in London. The new brand identity, customer communications and interiors scheme, has been designed by agency Mystery and represents the brand’s evolution and rapid growth during the past six years. The new look had been trialled at the Chopstix site in Aberdeen since August and rejuvenates the company’s image, with standalone self-venting pods, mobile food trucks and digital menu screens, according to greatreporter.com. The redesign includes a new corporate identity, while guidelines for franchisees have been created, including “store packs”, graphics packs and templates, with instructions on how to apply the new design.
 
Freehold of pub near Ipswich let to Spirit sells for £1.225m at Allsop auction: The freehold of a pub near Ipswich let to Spirit Pub Company has sold at an Allsop auction for £1.225m, which means the buyer earns an 8.57% initial yield on their investment. Spirit holds the lease of the Golf Hotel in Rushmere Heath until 2024 and pays an annual rent of £105,000 per annum. The pub was one of 40 of the 173 lots that sold for more than £1m in one of Allsop’s largest December auctions. A total of £119m was raised at the two-day event at the Berkeley Hotel in London, with a success rate of 77%. The average lot size was £689,000, while 12 lots sold in excess of £2m. The highest-value deal was a parade of five shops in Kentish Town, north west London, which sold for £4.06m, representing a net yield of 5.27%. Partner and auctioneer Duncan Moir said: “We were delighted to finish what has been a fantastic year with another positive result for our clients, the result brings our yearly total to 962 lots sold raising £606m and reflecting an overall success rate of 87%, compared with 791 lots, £449m and 90% in 2015.”

PizzaExpress – ‘Christmas campaign just the start of how we use chatbots in our marketing’: PizzaExpress has said its Christmas campaign is just the start for how it uses chatbots in its marketing. The company recently tested the waters with “Shake The Tree” – a game its customers can play in-restaurant to win prizes, like a free serving of its dough balls. Now it will be exploring how to use it across the business in the coming year. Tim Love, senior manager for social media, told The Drum: “We try to get back to all our customers personally to talk about their restaurant experience. But if a customer wants quick information such as opening hours, table booking etc, bots can definitely be a very useful tool.” Shake The Tree sees its in-store marketing featuring a Facebook Messenger code urging diners to scan on their phones and type #shakethetree to start the game. It had 75,000 players in the first two weeks and is set to hit 100,000 (or about 7% of its customers). Love added: “We want to make every customer’s journey with us as simple as possible. So being able to book a table or download a voucher without leaving the [Facebook] Messenger app makes things very easy. Payment through Messenger is also something we’re keen to adopt as soon as possible. Beyond this, the sheer volume of new customers the bot allows us to communicate with is very exciting for us. The challenge is to find the right way to do it. People are on their phones when in our restaurants and are happy to spend time on their phone interacting with PizzaExpress, which represents a big opportunity for us.”
 
US West Coast concept Pomona’s launches in Notting Hill: West Coast/California-style restaurant and bar concept Pomona’s has opened in Notting Hill. The 120-cover restaurant in Hereford Road is at the former site of The Commander gastro-pub and also features an American bar headed up by Kestutis Sturba, former head bartender at Gordon Ramsay Restaurants. Chef Gareth Sanderson has taken inspiration from his extensive travels along the West Coast of America, including Los Angeles and San Francisco. Dishes include sweet potato toast with avocado, labneh, lime and cilantro gremolata, and crispy pork belly with mojo de ajo, smoked polenta and winter leaf salad. Desserts include caramel croissant and prune pie with crème Anglais.
 
BrewDog opens York site, £10m mini-bond campaign passes £3m mark: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has opened a site in York. The company has opened the venue in Micklegate in the former Portfolio Studios site. The site offer 14 taps of craft beer, a range of wines and spirits and the company’s pizza menu. It also has growler fills and bottles to take away. The company stated: “We have opened bars in the centre of historic cities before – Edinburgh, Rome, Warsaw to name but three – and yet aside from strolling past the Colosseum, York has a sense of the past few others can match. Home to the longest medieval walls in Europe it is a place that carries its history with it, and our latest bar is inside those famous defences 100 yards from one of the iconic gatehouses that served as entry points to the city.” Meanwhile, BrewDog has passed the £3m mark in its £10m mini-bond campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. The mini-bond will pay 7.5% interest per annum over four years, with the move funding the company’s future expansion. The minimum investment for the BrewDog Bond is £500 – and it will be paying out the return bi-annually. So far, 1,172 investors have pledged £3,478,000 with 36 days remaining.

Thai Leisure Group opens £1.5m rooftop Chaophraya restaurant in Newcastle: Thai Leisure Group has opened its £1.5m rooftop restaurant for its Chaophraya brand at the Intu Eldon Square shopping centre in Newcastle. The company has opened the site within the redeveloped £25m Grey’s Quarter dining area, creating 70 jobs. The 5,500 square foot restaurant features a gin bar and overlooks Grey’s Monument. Managing director Ian Leigh told BDaily: “Newcastle city centre has been a key target for us for a while now, so naturally we are incredibly excited to be bringing our new restaurant to the region. Over the past year, we have had a team flying back and forth between the UK and Thailand, sourcing decorations, furniture and finalising recipes – all with the ambition to make the Newcastle restaurant a truly inspirational and immersive experience for our customers.” Intu Eldon Square marketing manager Tania Vesty added: “The arrival of Chaophraya is a fresh and exciting addition to our new restaurant offering in Grey’s Quarter. With the rooftop location of the restaurant providing a fantastic backdrop and the delicious and innovative food on offer, Chaophraya is bringing a new dining experience to the centre which we can’t wait to try.”
 
Bar 44 Group to bring asador-style Spanish cooking to Cardiff, fourth Welsh site: Bar 44 Group, which operates three tapas bars in Wales, is set to open a Spanish restaurant in Cardiff. The venue in Quay Street will expand the group’s repertoire by introducing the “asador” style of Spanish cooking, which involves chargrilling meat, fish and vegetables over charcoal and wood. Asador means “barbecue” in Spanish. Asador 44 will also feature dedicated wine and cheese rooms. The company, owned by brothers Owen and Tom Morgan, has struck a deal with Cardiff-based brewer and retailer SA Brain to open in the spring at its Greenwood & Brown diner, which launched five years ago as Brains’ first standalone restaurant but will close in the new year. Owen Morgan told Wales Online: “Great Spanish food isn’t just about excellent tapas, we also want to offer something new and authentic, and Asador 44 will certainly raise the bar. We are working with a local farmer – within two miles of the restaurant – to rear our own rarebreed beef and lamb, something we’re incredibly excited about.” Bar 44 Group operates tapas bars in Cowbridge and Penarth and opened its first Cardiff site in 2015.
 
Starbucks UK scoops apprenticeship award: Starbucks UK has won the “best apprenticeship programme” category in the Training Journal Awards 2016. The company received the award alongside its scheme partners – Remit Training and BPP Professional Education – during a gala dinner at The Brewery in London. Starbucks and Remit Training have worked together since 2012 to deliver the programme, which has now offered more than 1,000 apprenticeships across the UK. This year, BPP also began to offer HR, finance and business administration qualifications at Starbucks’ European support centre in Chiswick. In total, 80% of people starting a Starbucks apprenticeship completed their training and have remained in the business, with career progression a key focus. Apprentices are supported from entry level up to senior management. Lisa Robbins, of Starbucks EMEA, said: “We are passionate about offering young people opportunities to progress in our business and it’s fantastic to see more than 250 apprentices progress into management positions.”
 
Plans lodged to transform former BHS site in Cheltenham into food hub featuring rooftop restaurant: Plans have been lodged to transform the former BHS site in Cheltenham into a food hub featuring a rooftop restaurant. In place of the 51,000 square foot store in the Regent Arcade Shopping Centre would be three upmarket restaurants, a large retail unit and a two-storey restaurant and bar, which would offer panoramic views. It is part of an effort to upgrade the area to further establish Regent Street as a cafe culture and leisure quarter. Regent Arcade centre manager Scott Lahive told Gloucestershire Live: “The new tenants would be high-quality operators and provide an alternative to what we already have in the town centre. While there is a good selection of chains and also some great fine-dining restaurants, what we don’t have is more places like No. 131, establishments that put the town on the map and attract diners to Cheltenham. This proposed scheme would hopefully be the catalyst to bring everything together to further enhance Regent Street as a distinct and unique retail and leisure destination in its own right.”
 
Manchester-based El Capo to start expansion with second site, in Nottingham: Manchester-based South American-themed restaurant and bar El Capo is set to start expansion by opening its second site, in Nottingham. Founder Peter Skelton has applied to the city council for a licence to open in the former Coco Lounge unit in George Street. It wants to open between 10am and midnight from Sunday to Thursday and 10am until 1am on Friday and Saturday, reports The Business Desk. El Capo, which sells tequila, cocktails, tapas and street food, launched in Manchester’s Northern Quarter in 2014.
 
Mint and Mustard opens fourth site, in Chepstow: Indian fine-dining restaurant Mint and Mustard has opened its fourth site, this time in Chepstow. The company, founded by Ajit Kandoran and Latheesh Kottilil in 2007, has opened the venue in Nelson Street. The restaurant is set over two floors with an outside dining space. It serves south Indian, Kerela-style food. Kandoran said opening in Chepstow was a logical step for the company. He told Wales Online: “Chepstow is an appealing place anyway but also a very good location for us. We get quite a bit of custom in Cardiff from the area and even further afield from the Midlands. Chepstow is ideally situated for us, right off the motorway, for attracting more of that audience.” Mint and Mustard also has sites in Cardiff, Penarth and Taunton.
 
Masseria Group launches second venture of year: Masseria Group, which operates cafes, gastro-pubs and retail spaces in north west London, has launched its second venture of the year – Italian concept Messapica. Named after the historic town Ceglie Messapica in Puglia, the all-day cafe, deli, bombetteria and juice bar has launched in Kensal Rise. The menu showcases artisan produce, also available for retail, and includes homemade pastries, hot and cold salads, lasagne, pizza by the slice, and street food snacks prepared on the Italian charcoal grill. Accommodating up to 30 diners, Messapica, which is based in Chamberlayne Road, has an industrial feel. The front counter and tables, made of Italian carrara marble, bring a touch of Puglia to Kensal Rise, while restored chairs and lighting add a contemporary London edge. Messapica is Masseria Group’s second venture this year following the opening of Ostuni in Highgate in the summer. Founded by managing director Rob Claassen, the group’s growing portfolio includes The Salusbury Pub, The Chamberlayne and Salusbury Winestore, while it is due to launch Irving Foodstore near Covent Garden in January.
 
London-based Indian street wrap concept Pilau opens second site, in Soho: London-based Indian street wrap concept Pilau has opened its second site, in Soho. Having launched its first permanent site in Fitzrovia in November, Pilau has opened the new restaurant in Noel Street. The venue serves all the offerings of its sister branch but in a slightly more compact space geared more towards the lunch crowd, reports Hot Dinners. As well as its traditional Indian wraps, salad and rice bowls, new items include poppadoms, cold-press coffee and overnight oats. Pilau said: “We are excited to bring our blend of delicious food, banging music and our legendary team to lift the days of London’s Soho crowd.”
 
Caveman Barbecue to start expansion with second Surrey site: Caveman Barbecue, which launched in Bookham in 2014, is set to start expansion by opening a second Surrey site, this time in Dorking. The new restaurant will open in High Street after developer Stonegate Homes was granted permission to convert grade II-listed buildings from retail units into a restaurant and duplex apartments. The 429 square metre site consists of three connected buildings on different levels encompassing a four-storey early 19th century house, a warehouse and barn-style building, Get Surrey reports. Caveman Barbecue offers barbecued meat dishes, including pulled pork shoulder with crackling, beef brisket, and “hot and honey” chicken wings. It also serves soft drinks and shakes. Meat is locally sourced with a focus on “animal welfare”. Its website states: “Caveman is all about taking great cuts of British beef, pork and chicken and giving it our twist on a process that has been used for hundreds of years. We believe we highlight the quality of our meats by enhancing them and not overpowering them.”
 
Plan to turn Preston’s tallest tower into £10m hotel and casino gets go-ahead: Plans to transform Preston’s tallest tower into a £10m hotel, casino and spa have been given the go-ahead. Architect and master planner the Frank Whittle Partnership (FWP) has designed a glittering new future for the 15-storey Guild Tower, which will be rebranded as Villa Urban. It has had its proposal approved by the city council to transform Preston’s tallest office building into a 105-room aparthotel with casino, spa and gym. FWP architect Seb Salisbury, who is leading the project, said the aparthotel would bring a new style of accommodation to the city centre in keeping with hotel trends in big cities across Europe. The rooms have been designed to increase in size with the height of the building. The top four levels offer 1,100 square foot-plus luxury suites with viewing balconies overlooking the city, duplex spaces and entertainment and cinema rooms. The plans include a 10,000 square foot casino on the first floor and a 52,000 square foot spa and leisure area, as well as dedicated parking and drop off areas. Salisbury told The Business Desk: “We are delighted our plans for the Guild Tower have been approved and we look forward to delivering this ambitious and visionary regeneration scheme to transform this part of Preston city centre.”
 
Turkish restaurant brand Wood Oven BBQ to open fourth site, in Barking: Turkish restaurant brand Wood Oven BBQ is to open its fourth site, in Barking. Owner Ahmet Tofan is converting the Barking Arms pub in Station Parade, which closed earlier this year, into the new venue. The restaurant, which is set to open in January creating 25 jobs, will also offer a takeaway service, reports the Barking and Dagenham Post. Wood Oven BBQ’s other sites are in South Woodford, Potters Bar and Woodford Green.

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