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Thu 22nd Dec 2016 - Propel Thursday News Briefing
This is the last Propel newsletter of 2016. We would like to take the opportunity to wish our readers a Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year

Story of the Day:

Trade bodies urge licensed sector to support PASS scheme as government encourages drinkers to leave passports at home: Trade bodies have urged the licensed hospitality sector to support the National Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) following the launch of a Home Office campaign encouraging people to leave their passports at home. Industry bodies including the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) want operators to accept PASS cards in their venues rather than rely on more recognised means of identification as the government bids to tackle passport fraud. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls, who is also interim chairman of the new PASS Community Interest Company, said: “The PASS scheme is a fantastic, industry-driven scheme and one we encourage retailers to support. The card itself is very secure with no successful forgeries to date. It is endorsed by the Home Office and we are encouraging venues to accept the card as the best method of ID. Phone-based apps for identification are proving flawed and insufficient against Home Office criteria, but PASS ticks every box. Not only are lost or damaged passports an inconvenience, they are enormously expensive to replace. Half of all lost passports, a considerable number, occur when holders take them to pubs, bars or nightclubs. There is an opportunity here for the sector to support its customers and lead a fundamental change in attitudes regarding acceptable forms of ID. We echo the Home Office’s encouragement of customers to sign up to the scheme and leave their passports at home. This can only happen if there is widespread acceptance of PASS cards as the preferred form of ID across the UK.” BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds added: “A huge effort has gone into developing and promoting PASS over the years – not just to young people but to venues as well. Carrying your passport around on a night out is not a good idea and, of course, PASS cards should be treated the same as passports or driving licences by door and bar staff.”

Industry News:

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 Whitbread, PizzaExpress, Bourne Leisure, Frederic Robinson, ASK Italian, Dirty Martini, FrogPubs, Eclectic Bars, Enterprise inns, Star Pubs and 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 Pub Company, 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 Knight, 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

UK hotel data company acquired by STR: UK hotel data and intelligence company AM:PM has been acquired by data benchmarking and analytics firm STR for an undisclosed sum. Through the acquisition, STR will enhance its hotel data and analytics platform with AM:PM’s market intelligence and interactive online database and mapping tool. STR president and chief executive Amanda Hite said: “AM:PM has developed an innovative platform for the UK and Ireland and we are excited about our ability to expand this offering for the benefit of clients throughout the world.” AM:PM co-founders Alan and Morag Gordon added: “For years our clients have been asking us to expand our services outside the UK and Ireland. We are delighted we will now be able to do this with STR and, at the same time, enable our clients to benefit from STR’s extensive historical and forecast revenue and profitability data.” Founded in Aberfeldy, Scotland, in 2011, AM:PM’s suite of products covers UK and Ireland hotel supply and pipeline trends as well as sector development news.

Pub17 to explore changing pub food landscape: Pub17, the only trade show dedicated to the UK pub industry, will explore the changing landscape of pub food when it returns to London Olympia on 7 and 8 February. Attendees will be shown how to incorporate the current trend for street food into pub menus and create an “innovative and exciting menu that plays on the growing consumer demand for premium and personalised menu options”. There will also be a seminar session featuring gastro-pub chefs dedicated to the evolution of pub food. Exhibitors such as charcuterie company Serious Pig, gourmet pie business Square Pie, and Emily’s Fruit Crisps will also be on hand to talk about premium bar snacks and drinks pairing. Pub17 marketing manager Sam Chance said: “We see this as a growing area of concern for the pub industry and feel it’s something that needs to be tackled head-on. With a broad range of exhibitors at the show and an exciting speaker line-up, Pub17 is set to highlight how diverse and exciting today’s pub landscape is.” Pub17 will feature more than 200 suppliers as well as inspirational speakers, providing an insight into industry trends along with a chance to network. For free registration, visit www.thepubshow.co.uk/register

Company News:

Former Marston's acquisitions director takes on Thwaites site for first opening under new vehicle Artisan Inns: Former Marston's acquisitions director Tony Walsh has renewed his relationship with north west brewer and retailer Daniel Thwaites by taking on one of the company's pubs for his new vehicle Artisan Inns. In 2004 Walsh sold the 14-strong Rosewood Pub Company to Thwaites in a £7m deal. Now Walsh, who helped develop the Pitcher and Piano brand while at Marston's, has taken on Thwaites pub the Waggon and Horses in Clitheroe, Lancashire, for Artisan Inns' first site. The companies have invested more than £100,000 to transform the Waggon and Horses. The style of the pub is modelled on the group of cask ale houses Walsh developed in the Midlands. He studied the history of the Pimlico Road pub and has restored fireplaces, refurbished the bar and used quarry tiles for flooring to highlight the pub’s Victorian heritage. Walsh said: “This has been a labour of love. The pub dates to the early 19th century and has so much history. This pub is all about Lancashire. I want to celebrate the craft of local people so we will have a range of products from micro-breweries and source all our food locally, which will be hand-prepared by my wife Julia. I’m a Lancashire lad and I know it has got some amazing craft and artisan suppliers.” Andrew Buchanan, director of pubs and brewing at Thwaites, said: “Tony has done a fantastic job and it’s been a pleasure to collaborate with him. The pub looks amazing and the food and drink on offer is celebrating the best of Lancashire including, of course, our Thwaites beer.”

The Italian Job to open third site, in Notting Hill: The UK’s first Italian craft beer pub, The Italian Job, is to open its third site, this time in Notting Hill. The company will open the pub in All Saints Road on Monday, 13 February. The ground floor will feature a bar offering beers from its Italian brewery as well as a selection of bottled beers and an extensive wine list. Upstairs, there will be a speakeasy-style bar serving cocktails. The new site will feature a more expansive food offer, including hand-made pasta alongside Italian Job’s usual street food and burgers, reports Hot Dinners. The Italian Job first opened in Chiswick before launching a second venue in Borough having raised more than £400,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. The Italian Job is a joint venture between the founders of Italian brewery Birrificio del Ducato, and Marco Pucciotti, who owns several pubs and restaurants in Rome, including Hop & Pork and Epiro.

Pembrokeshire-based wholesaler acquires first pub: Pembrokeshire-based wholesaler Templeton Beer Wine & Spirit Co has taken on its first pub after buying the freehold of the Prince of Wales in Pembroke Dock. The pub will be operated by newly formed sister company Templeton Taverns, with the three-storey, town centre pub also featuring ten guest rooms that enjoy high occupancy levels via contracts with workers who service petrochemical and gas terminals in nearby Milford Haven. Templeton managing director Lyndon Belt said: “We are delighted with our first pub acquisition. Templeton Beer Wine & Spirit Co has supplied the Prince of Wales for many years and has inside knowledge of the pub’s current trade and potential. While gastro-led Sunday lunch pubs with roses round the door are romantic ideals, this type of outlet fits perfectly within our business growth strategy and we are considering additional outlets of similar style within our geography”. Templeton will retain the pub’s management and staff to ensure an “uninterrupted, seamless transition of ownership”.

The Original Bierkeller to start expansion with second site, at former JD Wetherspoon pub in Lincoln: The Original Bierkeller, which operates a Bavarian-style beer hall in Sheffield, is set to start expansion with a second site, this time at a former JD Wetherspoon pub in Lincoln. The Forum in Silver Street will reopen as The Original Bierkeller in January, creating 150 jobs. The concept offers seven draught German beers by the half, pint or stein, alongside hand-pulled guest ales and cocktails. The food menu includes 100% Bavarian hotdogs, plus burgers, pizzas, pork knuckle, schnitzel, and platters. The company is advertising for staff at the 300-capacity venue, which will also host live oompah bands. Matt Winterbottom, of The Original Bierkeller, told Lincolnshire Live: “We will have anything up to 30 staff on the night. We work from a pool of 70 to 80 staff, then the promotion, maintenance and management. These things work with good service and good interaction. When everyone is seated you don’t have to get up to go to the bar. We come to you – but we need to be doing that for everyone at the same time so no-one is waiting for ages. We’ve always had our eye on Lincoln. It’s a great destination town for the surrounding areas and it’s got a great nightlife.”

Domino’s Pizza opens its biggest UK dine-in restaurant, in Hull: Domino’s Pizza has opened its biggest dine-in restaurant in the UK, in Hull. The company has opened the site in an empty building in Paragon Square, creating 35 jobs. The dining area, which is on the first floor, has about 40 seats, while a waiting area and kitchen are on the ground floor. Domino’s store opening manager Harry Gardner told the Hull Daily Mail: “It’s our biggest restaurant and we were keen to have it in Hull. We had been looking at starting these restaurants in big cities and, with the City of Culture and already having good business here, it made sense. The restaurant also has what we call a ‘pizza theatre’. It’s got plenty of open seating and we’ve opened it up so customers can see their pizzas being made.” Domino’s, which has five sites in Hull, launched its restaurant venture in 2013 but only a handful have opened in the UK.

Five Guys opens Exeter site: Better burger brand Five Guys has opened a restaurant in Queen Street, Exeter, on the site of the former Ruby’s Modern Diner, which relocated to Exmouth earlier this year. Store manager Anita Salgueiro has moved from London to Exeter to run the restaurant, the Express & Echo reports. The restaurant will open daily from 11am to 11pm. Five Guys was founded in Virginia in the US in 1986 by the Murrell family and opened its first UK restaurant in Covent Garden in 2013. It now operates more than 50 restaurants in the UK, with sites to open soon in Kensington High Street and Manchester. The nearest site to Exeter is in Bristol.

Liverpool-based multi-site operator launches Belgian beer bar concept in Manchester: Iain Hoskins, who runs Liverpool pubs Ma Boyle’s and Ma Egerton’s, has launched a Belgian beer bar concept in Manchester. Hoskins has opened Bock Biere Cafe in Tib Lane on the former site of Filthy Cow restaurant. The three-storey space has been transformed into a continental-style beer cafe with leather booths, marble-topped tables and chequerboard flooring. The venue stocks the “biggest selection” of Belgian beers in the city, with 70 to 80 bottles and ten keg lines. More will be added in the new year, with customers asked to choose a new beer to add to the menu every month. Food will be introduced in January, with a simple menu of charcuterie boards, cheese fondue and dessert platters. Hoskins told Manchester Evening News: “I thought a European-style cafe would work really well here, particularly over this end of town where it’s not as saturated as somewhere like the Northern Quarter. People have been bombarding us on Twitter with these fantastic beers they’ve tried around the world, so every month we’re going to pick a customer’s choice and source a product that maybe isn’t available anywhere else in Manchester – even if it means me having to go over there with a van to bring it back!”

Marston’s secures licence for new-build pub restaurant in Peterhead: Marston’s has secured a premises licence for a new-build pub restaurant in Peterhead, Scotland. The company, represented by solicitors John Gaunt, was granted the licence by Aberdeenshire Council for the 150-cover venue, which will be built next to the A90 Invernettie roundabout. The development also includes a 38-bedroom lodge, representing an inward investment of some £5m by Marston’s into the town. Work on the pub restaurant is due to start in January with opening scheduled for August. The development forms part of the Buchan Gateway scheme by Hermiston Securities, part of the Muir Group. The final development is expected to include more restaurants, a supermarket, petrol station and shops. The pub restaurant and lodge will be at the north end of the development by the bypass. Marston’s operates 12 pub restaurants across Scotland.

Coventry-based Unicorn Bars starts expansion with second site in city: Coventry-based Unicorn Bars has started expansion by opening its second site in the city. The company has launched nightclub Catch Twenty Two in Hertford Street on the site of the former Dog and Trumpet bar. It has opened the venue following the success of its debut site – Bayley Lane Kitchen and Cocktails – which opened ten months ago. Catch Twenty Two features “chic furniture” and “VIP hostessing areas” as it looks to cater for people outside the student community. General manager Kash Hayer told the Coventry Telegraph: “Catch Twenty Two is going to be a great addition to Coventry’s nightlife. It was a big step to go with this venue but the feedback about Bayley Lane Kitchen and Cocktails has been phenomenal.”

Mexican street food trader El Picante opens permanent site in Bedford: Mexican street food trader El Picante, which launched in 2012 offering authentic Latin and Mexican food from a truck in the centre of Bedford, has launched a permanent site in the town. Co-owners and husband-and-wife team Elly and Julio Delgado have opened the new restaurant in Allhallows. The venue seats 30 diners on the ground floor, with another 50 seats upstairs. The lunch menu is based around favourites from the El Picante van, while the dinner menu offers more options. The team will also continue to operate the food van. Elly Delgado told Bedfordshire News: “We’ve been coming to Bedford for a number of years and opening a restaurant seems like a natural progression.”

Whitbread appoints Savills for going concerns acquisition drive: Whitbread has appointed Savills as its acquisition agent as part of plans to purchase trading hotels across the UK for conversion into its Premier Inn brand. Premier Inn is aiming to complement organic growth with a sustainable pipeline of hotel rooms through this method of acquisition. The search will encompass the whole of the UK, specifically focused on assets with a minimum of 80 rooms, with good accessibility and of modern construction. Premier Inn, which has about 65,000 bedrooms, is expanding in line with strong customer demand and has set a growth milestone to achieve 85,000 bedrooms by 2020. It is on track to open 3,700 bedrooms in this financial year and is continually restacking its development and forward openings pipeline. In the past 12 months, Whitbread has acquired a number of trading hotels including the Campanile in Glasgow, Hampton by Hilton in Derby, and Hilton in Newbury. This strengthened focus on growth through going concerns, alongside ongoing acquisitions through new freehold and leasehold sites and extensions at trading Premier Inn sites, follows the appointment of Andrew Eldridge to the Premier Inn acquisitions team in 2015 as head of going concerns. He said: “We have an active and established growth plan which is delivering year-on-year and appointing Savills will only add to that. Growth through going concerns is an important part of our wider acquisitions mix and our national expansion plan to reach 85,000 Premier Inn bedrooms by 2020. We’re actively looking for opportunities nationwide, both for rebuild or refurbishment, to add to our committed development pipeline.”

Northamptonshire brewer to open first bar: Hart Family Brewers, which brews traditional English beers from its site in Wellingborough, has been given the go-ahead to turn a restaurant in the Northamptonshire market town into the company’s first pub. Company owner Rob Hart will turn the former Chi Chi’s restaurant in Sheep Street into a “drinking establishment”. The council-owned, grade II-listed building features a thatched roof. Hart Family Brewers’ website states: “We brew traditional English beers from top-quality ingredients, hand-made in our custom-built brewery.”

Falkirk-based restaurateur starts expansion of Mexican street food concept with second site: Falkirk-based restaurateur Malcolm Binnie has started expansion of his Mexican street food concept Habaneros with a second site, in Musselburgh. The concept, launched by Binnie last year, has opened the new venue in High Street, reports the East Lothian Courier. It serves burritos, tacos, beef chilli nachos and quesadillas, along with a selection of Mexican beers, wine and frozen margaritas. Binnie also owns Canada Wood Bar and Kitchen on the outskirts of Falkirk.

York-based restaurateur launches city’s first rodizio concept: York-based restaurateur Richard Beal has opened a new Brazilian rodizio concept in the city. Beal has teamed up with Brazilian chef Eduardo Caetano to launch Vaqueiros in Micklegate on the former site of Silvano’s Italian restaurant. Meaning “cowboy”, Vaqueiros, is the city’s first rodizio. The meat, fish and vegetables are cooked on a churrasco grill with room for 36 skewers. On the menu are 16 different cuts of meat, such as rump and sirloin steak, lamb, gammon and chicken. The fish includes sea bass and giant tiger prawns, while there are also seasonal chargrilled vegetables. They are brought out on skewers and carved at the table. The drinks menu features Brazilian cocktails and beer and a selection of South American wine. Beal, who owns Sutlers, met Caetano when he became the Fossgate restaurant’s head chef. “There was a definite gap in the market in York for this concept,” Beale told YorkMix.

Nottingham-based Annie’s Burger Shack gets go-ahead for second site, in Derby: Nottingham-based Annie’s Burger Shack has been given the go-ahead to open its second site, in Derby. Founder Annie Spaziano has been granted permission by the city council to convert the grade II-listed First Church of Christ Scientist in Friary Street into the new venue. The church dates to the 1930s and has been vacant for 18 months. The redevelopment will include alterations to the rear of the building to accommodate an external refrigeration unit, while a former Sunday school building will be converted into kitchens, the Derby Telegraph reports. Spaziano launched Annie’s Burger Shack in Nottingham in 2009. It started at the Navigation pub but became so successful it moved to larger premises in the Lace Market in 2014.

World Curry Festival founder to launch South Asian restaurant concept: World Curry Festival founder Zulfi Karim is to open a South Asian restaurant concept at the end of the month, in Saltaire, West Yorkshire. Karim is launching Curryosity in Bingley Road, which aims to become a destination eatery in the World Heritage Site village. The casual dining restaurant will serve lunch and dinner daily, with speciality Indian breakfasts available at the weekend. Karim told Insider Media: “I’m excited to be heading in a new direction and to be opening what I’m confident will be a very popular Saltaire eatery and launching the Curryosity brand. Saltaire’s rich heritage and the network of local food producers make this the ideal location.”

New steak restaurant concept to open in Peterborough: A new steak restaurant concept is set to open in Peterborough. Agent Savills, on behalf of Webb Properties, has let a property in King Street to a private individual for the venture. The former Sports Lounge is set to become a restaurant operating under the name of XOXO Steak House. The owner has agreed to a new ten-year lease for space totalling 801 square feet. Edward Gee, associate in the business space agency team at Savills Peterborough, said: “Situated in the heart of Peterborough city centre just moments from the prime restaurant area of Cathedral Square, the new business is set to benefit from the existing nearby retail and leisure offer. We are pleased to have secured this deal on behalf of our client and we look forward to seeing this restaurant open shortly.”

Scottish brewer launches ‘take-home craft beer shop’ in Edinburgh: Scottish brewer Stewart Brewing has opened a “take-home craft beer shop” in Edinburgh. The Loanhead-based company has opened Stewart’s Dockside Tap in Leith, with ten taps of Stewart’s beer available to take away in one or two-litre growlers, as well as a range of bottles, mini-casks and a “rent-a-cask” service for party hire. The company said it hopes to secure a licence in the new year to allow drinks to be consumed on-site. Stewart Brewing founder Jo Stewart told the Daily Record: “It’s exciting to finally open the doors as we know there is a thirsty community of locals keen to pay us a visit.”

Glasgow-based Inn House Brewery lodges plans for ‘beer experience centre’: Glasgow-based Inn House Brewery has lodged plans for a “beer experience centre” in the city. The company has applied to the city council to build the craft brewery, restaurant, bar and workshop on the site of a vacant industrial unit in Haugh Road, reports Glasgow Live. Inn House said the venue would be modelled on the success of Drygate Brewing Company, which is based in the east end of the city and is aimed at meeting the growing demand for craft beer and ales, with private tastings and tours on offer as well as a home-brew shop. A planning statement with the application said: “We want to turn the site into a beer experience centre. Internally within the mid and east portals there would be mezzanine decks within the double-height space. One of these would accommodate raised serving vessels over the off-licence. The other would provide catwalk-style seating to the restaurant and bar area to break up the expanse of space and allow for a variety of seating options.”

Plans lodged for new gourmet burger restaurant concept in Tunbridge Wells: Plans have been lodged for a new gourmet burger restaurant concept in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Big Mar has applied to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to convert a former newsagent in Calverley Road into the venue. The restaurant would also offer a takeaway service and open every day until midnight, reports Kent Live.

Social enterprise concept Fork in the Road to launch in Middlesbrough: New social enterprise The Fork in the Road will launch in Middlesbrough this month offering hospitality jobs for ex-offenders, those in recovery from addiction, and the long-term unemployed. Instead of tips, customers will be charged a slight premium on food to allow the restaurant to pay staff a higher wage. The venue in Linthorpe Road will also offer a £10 “sharing dish” with a difference – it will feature no food. Instead, diners will be asked to donate £10 to Teesside charities. Businessman Andy Preston, who is behind the not-for-profit enterprise, told Gazette Live: “Alongside experienced professionals, we’ll train a small cohort of local people who need and deserve that precious opportunity to create a new life for themselves. Giving a tip in a restaurant is a convention that’s become a little controversial, especially when some don’t allow their staff to keep all of the money. So rather than those we employ relying on tips to make a decent living, we’ll charge slightly more for each dish on our menu, allowing us to pay our staff higher wages.” The Fork in the Road is being funded by national charity CEO Sleepout and Public Health England.

Kegstar moves into cask market, integrates app with Untappd: Australian steel keg rental innovator Kegstar will move into the cask sector for the first time by offering a nine-gallon cask early next year. The new cask will join Kegstar’s 30-litre and developing 50-litre keg offerings, with the same rent, fill, deliver, scan, repeat process for brewers and venues. Kegstar business development manager Richard Atkinson said: “Cask beer is available in 72% of British pubs and is an important part of the British beer industry, so we’re looking forward to working with even more brewers, beers and pubs.” Meanwhile, Kegstar has updated its app to integrate with Untappd, the geosocial and mobile phone application. The integration allows app users to “check into” beers as they drink them and share the check-ins and locations with friends. The app also allows venues to select a day and time as well as location for kegs to be collected from, while brewers and drinks producers can now choose the brand in each keg. Behind the scenes, Kegstar will be able to identify individual kegs for specific maintenance. Kegstar launched in Australia in 2012, with 880 kegs, one person and one customer.

Stonegate reopens Slug and Lettuce site in Bromsgrove following £240,000 refurbishment: Stonegate Pub Company has reopened its Slug & Lettuce site in Bromsgrove, West Midlands, following a £240,000 refurbishment. The company has given the High Street venue a revamp with an improved design as well as a new food, drink and cocktail menu. Manager Paul Humphrey said: “The investment by Stonegate in the business enables us to offer a smart, welcoming venue that has wide appeal to our community.”

New Turkish cafe concept opens in Gloucester: A new Turkish cafe concept has opened in Gloucester. Sam Mohamed and Mona Besiso have launched The Tarbosh Cafe at the King’s Walk Shopping Centre. The menu includes falafel, authentic Arabic sweets and rich Turkish coffee. The modern interior boasts bold Eastern designs and vivid oranges and golds. Besiso told Gloucester Live: “We wanted to bring falafel to Gloucester. There’s no other cafe like us here.”

Glasgow DJs launch city’s first ramen noodle restaurant: Glasgow DJs Jackmaster and Spencer Beveridge have launched the city’s first ramen noodle restaurant in partnership with Paul Beveridge, one of the founders of record label Numbers. Ramen Dayo, which is in Gordon Street in the city centre, is open daily from midday to 10pm, offering authentic ramen and gyoza dishes alongside saké and Japanese cocktails. The Ramen Dayo Facebook page states: “After returning to his home town in 2014, Paul found himself unable to stop thinking about those special restaurants in Tokyo. The lack of proper ramen restaurants in Glasgow gradually became a frustration. Many hours have been spent experimenting in his kitchen – and now the dream of opening the first ramen restaurant in Glasgow has become a reality.”

Mexican bar and grill concept Los Banditos opens in former Sutton Coldfield bank: “Bandits” have taken over a bank, with new concept Los Banditos Mexican Bar and Grill launching in a former HSBC branch in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham. The restaurant in Boldmere Road features an outdoor dining area following a £250,000 refit to give the venue an “authentic” central American look, with toilets based in the old bank vault. Dishes include tacos, quesadillas, burgers, chillis, burritos, chimichurris, and Brazilian fish stew. Desserts include Chocotorta – a “boozy, triple-layer cake with Kahlua” – and Quesillo, a South American take on crème caramel. The concept is the brainchild of Ross Hawkesford and Steve Floyd, who told the Royal Sutton Coldfield Observer: “It’s a Mexican restaurant and we wanted it to be authentic-looking as well as comfortable and trendy.”

New artisan wine shop and bar concept opens in Chester: A new artisan wine shop and bar concept has opened in Chester. Wine merchant Christopher Laidler has launched Covino, which measures 300 square foot, in Rufus Court. The venue sells wine at the bar to take away or for delivery. It also offers a selection of small-batch spirits, craft beers and coffees, as well as regular themed tastings and events. Laidler told Insider Media: “The inspiration for Covino came from visits to some of the best small producers throughout Europe, each showcasing unusual grape varieties and wine from lesser-known regions. Covino is my interpretation of an enoteca – a small wine shop and bar format that is popular on the continent – offering great-value handcrafted wines in a relaxed intimate atmosphere, alongside a selection of artisan cheese and charcuterie.”

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