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Morning Briefing Strap Line
Mon 9th Jan 2017 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Restaurants, bars and hotels spearhead strongest quarter for consumer spending since 2014: Restaurants, bars and hotels spearheaded the strongest quarter for consumer spending for two years, according to the latest data from Visa. Average year-on-year growth for each month in the fourth quarter of 2016 was 2.8%, twice as high as the average rates for quarters two and three, Visa’s UK Consumer Spending Index has revealed. Consumer spending was up 2.6% on the year in December, led by a 7.3% increase in expenditure at restaurants, hotels and bars and 6.4% in recreation and culture. On an annual basis, total expenditure was down slightly from November’s 22-month record of +3.1%. Food was another sector that performed well, with spend up 2.9%. Spend on clothing and household goods, however, fell 1.1% and 0.7% respectively in December following a Black Friday boost in the previous month. Health and education, along with miscellaneous goods and services, also saw drops in spend of 1.6% and 0.4% respectively. Spending growth remained solid in e-commerce categories (+5.5% year-on-year), but rose only slightly in face-to-face categories (+0.7%). Visa UK and Ireland managing director Kevin Jenkins said: “Consumer spending continued to increase solidly in the run-up to Christmas, rounding off the fastest-growing quarter for two years. Average year-on-year growth for each month in the fourth quarter of 2016 was 2.8%, twice as high as the average rates for quarters two and three. Online retailers enjoyed strong sales over the whole Christmas period, while bricks and mortar retailers saw an improvement after a disappointing dip in November as consumers made a last minute dash for gifts on the high street. Growth was once again led by the experience sector, with consumers going to Christmas markets, travelling to visit loved ones or venturing to various parts of the country to celebrate. Food was, unsurprisingly, another sector that performed well, with spend up 2.9%. Spend on clothing and household goods, however, fell in December following a Black Friday boost in the previous month.”

Industry News:

Propel Multi Club Conference opens for bookings, Be At One’s Steve Locke to present: The first Propel Multi Club Conference of 2017 is now open for bookings. Steve Locke, co-founder of Be At One, sets out how the company has developed its own distinct position in the cocktail market with a focus on staff training and development, progress in the regions and future prospects. The full-day conference takes place on Thursday, 9 March at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel, London. Multi-site operators of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets can book up to two free places. Email Anne Steele on anne.steele@propelinfo.com to book a place.
 
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 kitchen, run by Ed Mason, founder of Hackney’s Five Points Brewing Company, at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The tour will then head to brewery and pizza venue Crate Brewing 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.
 
London accounts for 50% of all UK hotel deals in 2016 as total count tops 220: Investment into the London hotel market accounted for more than 50% of all hotel deals in 2016, according to agent Savills. Volumes transacted in London reached £2bn, up on the 45.2% share of the market in 2015. Investment into the UK hotel market as a whole totalled £3.9bn in 2016 as robust demand continued to drive activity in the sector. Savills said resilient levels of demand resulted in the deal count exceeding 220 in 2016, above the 195 reported in 2015 and even ahead of previous peaks in 2006. Overall investment volumes were down from £8.1bn in 2015, however both 2014 and 2015 were exceptional years due to portfolio activity, with the 2016 year-end transaction volumes of £3.9bn only 3.6% below the long-term average. Marie Hickey, commercial research director at Savills, said: “We were always expecting 2016 volumes to be down due to lower portfolio activity. What is key is deal count actually increased in 2016, proving investor demand and activity has remained strong across both the London and regional markets, in spite of the result of the EU referendum.” Savills highlighted that London’s increasing share of the market was helped by a number of large-lot deals, including the £350m acquisition of the former War Office by the Hinduja Group and Obrascon Huarte Lain for hotel redevelopment and the £300m purchase of the Hilton Double Tree Tower of London by Gulshan Bhatia. It said post the referendum vote, London’s appeal to overseas investors had been aided by the favourable currency exchange, with deal activity by international buyers doubling in the second half of the year with eight deals recorded post-June as opposed to four in the first six months. In terms of market share, overseas investors were the most active in the sector, accounting for 29.2% of 2016 transactions with volumes at £1.1bn, according to Savills. The year saw an increased level of activity from private individuals and property companies, with transaction volumes by these groups increasing by 152% and 65% respectively. Martin Rogers, head of UK hotel transactions at Savills, said: “Hotels continue to be a favourable option for investors looking to the UK. Even in a post-Brexit environment the UK, and in particular London, will continue to be attractive to visitors meaning hotels will be in demand, and this offer of long-term income will therefore make them attractive assets for investors. For private investors and high-net-worth individuals, the smaller lot sizes found in the sector are an added draw. 2017 will see continued demand for both London and regional hotels and we expect demand from Far Eastern investors to increase. In addition, we expect further single assets will come to the market as a result of the break up of the portfolios purchased over the past few years.”

Clubbers celebrate as Fabric reopens: The reopening of London nightclub Fabric has been praised by clubbers after a successful first weekend. Queues formed outside the venue on Friday evening as doors opened after an enforced five-month closure following the deaths of two people who died after taking drugs at the club. A banner inside the venue read: “You saved Fabric”, praising those who raised £320,000 towards keeping the club open – something Islington council agreed to provided Fabric agreed to stricter licensing conditions. As well as setting a higher age limit for entry, with under-18s banned from the club between 8pm on Fridays and 8am on Mondays, Fabric has had to improve search procedures and surveillance in the venue, while police have been initially stationed on the doors to assist with the initial reopening phase. Superintendent Nick Davies, of Scotland Yard, told the Press Association: “As things settle down and it becomes business as normal for Fabric, it will be subject to the same police and licensing visits as other clubs in the borough.” The club has also pledged to hand a lifetime ban to anyone caught with drugs inside the venue. On the Fabric blog managing director Gary Kilbey asked clubbers to respect the zero-tolerance policy, writing: “Our longevity also relies on you, our supportive clientele, who we are so dependent on. We still need your help. We need you to come with the conditions of our reopening in mind and help us achieve a drug-free environment.”

Company News:

Ralph Lauren to launch first UK bar: Ralph Lauren will launch its first UK bar on Thursday (12 January), in London. Ralph’s Coffee & Bar will open adjacent to the company’s new European flagship store – Polo Ralph Lauren in Regent Street. Inspired by The Polo Bar in Manhattan and its Ralph’s Coffee range, Ralph’s Coffee & Bar will be a new concept for London, adding to the designer’s hospitality portfolio that also includes Paris and Chicago. Paying homage to the equestrian lifestyle long synonymous with Ralph Lauren in a club-like atmosphere, Ralph’s Coffee & Bar will feature saddle leather banquettes, a brass-topped bar, dark wood panelling and green billiard cloth decorating the walls with a collection of equestrian-themed artwork. The venue will seat 24, with 12 additional seats at the bar. Ralph’s Coffee & Bar will serve a selection of coffee and classic cocktails. The cocktail list will feature classics such as an Old Fashioned and Ridgway Margarita, in addition to cocktails devised specially for London to be enjoyed with signature bar snacks – fried olives and mixed nuts. Ralph’s Coffee is roasted specifically for Ralph Lauren using organically grown beans crafted by La Colombe.

StreetDots secures £350,000 investment to expand network and add restaurant brands: StreetDots plans to expand its network of smart street trading pitches beyond London and Glasgow following £350,000 seed capital investment from a private Singapore fund. StreetDots will use the funds to expand its network of pitches – or “dots” – from 30 to 70 nationwide by the spring, as well as introducing retail and restaurant brands to its network. It will also add more features to its technology platform for traders as it gears up for a Series A fund-raising. StreetDots works with private and public landlords, including British Land, Land Securities and TH Real Estate, to run a network of pitches. Truck and stall traders can book a pitch using the free Trade Smart app, with rent and documentation handled online. Co-founder Atholl Milton said: “Street trading is one of the oldest ways of doing business, yet the last to be modernised. It’s hard to believe that in 2017 it is still very much a paper-based sector. StreetDots is changing this and has already transformed dormant space across the UK into vibrant street food hubs. We are looking forward to opening our network to other types of traders and redefining the retail landscape of our cities and beyond.” The investment comes from B.O.H LLC, headed by entrepreneur Laksh Vaaman, vice-chairman of the Indian Motherson conglomerate. 

Ottolenghi reports turnover increase boosted by Spitalfields opening: Ottolenghi, the restaurant company headed by chef Yotam Ottolenghi, has reported an increase in turnover boosted by the opening of its Spitalfields site in east London. The company saw turnover increase to £16,282,714 for the year ending 27 March 2016, compared with £13,165,884 the previous year. Pre-tax profit fell to £737,431, compared with £1,240,458 the year before. The company stated: “During the last period, sales in the NOPI restaurant grew by 1% and sales in the other branches grew by 37% due to the opening of the Spitalfields branch during 2015.” A dividend of £700,000 was paid to shareholders (2015: £1,600,001). The highest-paid director earned remuneration of £140,000, up from £130,000 the previous year. The company has 260 staff, up from 202 the year before.
 
Bistrot Pierre eyes further Greater Manchester sites following ‘busiest ever’ opening at Altrincham: Bistrot Pierre, the restaurant group backed by private equity firm Livingbridge, is eyeing further openings in the Greater Manchester region following the success of its £1m Altrincham site that launched last month. Co-owner Rob Beacham told Manchester Evening News: “It’s been our busiest opening ever. Altrincham is fast becoming a destination for food and drink. For us, it was the perfect place to invest. Manchester city centre has a great food and drink offering but a lot of my customers, who tend to be older, do not dwell in Manchester in the evening. However, the suburbs and towns around Manchester are beginning to redefine their food and drink scene and are providing exciting opportunities for independents to invest. I’m currently looking at four centres in the region and, with Altrincham doing so well, we want to take the same success elsewhere.” Livingbridge director Benoit Broch added: “Bistrot Pierre has had a great first year since Livingbridge came on board as a partner. Growth has been robust, with customer satisfaction levels very high based on both quality and value for money.” Bistrot Pierre was founded in 1994 by Beacham and childhood friend John Whitehead. The Altrincham site is the company’s 17th. Last month, Bistrot Pierre reported turnover increased 18% to £19,519,578 for the year ending 30 June 2016, compared with £16,562,199 the year before. Trading Ebitda fell to £1.89m, compared with £1.96m the previous year. It reported a pre-tax profit of £74,498, compared with £587,479 the year before.
 
Casual Dining Group closes one of Las Iguanas brand’s original Bristol restaurants: Casual Dining Group brand Las Iguanas has closed one of its original sites in Bristol. The restaurant in Whiteladies Road has a poster in the window stating: “A big thank you from the Las Iguanas team to our customers past and present. We’ll miss you!” Las Iguanas launched in St Nicholas Street, Bristol, in 1991. In November last year it opened its 45th restaurant – at the Bond Street development in Chelmsford, Essex. The company has also submitted plans to open another Essex restaurant, this time in Colchester town centre, which it hopes to open this year. Las Iguanas managing director Mos Shamel told the Bristol Post: “It’s with a heavy heart we say goodbye to one of our original restaurants. Our Whiteladies Road branch has always been a little too small for our needs and with us nearing the end of our lease on the building we feel it is the right time to move on and concentrate on our other Bristol restaurants.” Las Iguanas operates two remaining restaurants in Bristol – on the Harbourside and at Cribbs Causeway.
 
Tony Macaroni to rebrand St Andrews site to new pizza concept Mozza: Scottish restaurant company Tony Macaroni is to rebrand its St Andrews site under a new pizza concept Mozza. The company has closed the venue in Bell Street for the revamp. It will be the second Mozza restaurant to open following its launch in Glasgow this month. Brand marketing manager Stephanie Yapp told Fife Today: “We think the market in St Andrews will appreciate something a bit different. What’s different is that Mozza will be serving Neapolitan pizzas – and the refurbished restaurant layout will allow customers to watch their pizzas being baked in the super-hot, wood-fired pizza oven. Our plan is to reopen within about three months, following our first Mozza opening in Glasgow this month. It is a really cool concept, inspired by something similar in London.” The restaurant will still cover two floors, with the pizza oven featuring on the upper level. Tony Macaroni has outlets across Scotland and opened in St Andrews in 2015.
 
Artist Residence acquires famous Oxfordshire pub the Mason Arms, fourth site in total: Artist Residence, the boutique hotel, restaurant and bar operator, is to open its fourth site, in South Leigh, Oxfordshire. Owners Justin and Charlotte Salisbury are refurbishing the Mason Arms, which notably hit the headlines in 2008 when owner Gerry Stonhill was prosecuted for breaking the smoking ban at the pub, which had its own helicopter landing pad. It will relaunch next month as a country pub and restaurant, with five en-suite bedrooms in the original thatched farmhouse. Attached to the pub is a cottage, outbuildings and stables that will be transformed later in 2017 into a further seven en-suite bedrooms. The refurbishment will see the restoration of original features such as flagstone flooring, dark oak panelling, rustic beams and exposed stone and brick. The couple have hand-picked pieces from their favourite auction houses and reclamation yards to complement the features, along with William Morris wallpaper and a personally curated collection of artwork. There will also be a bespoke collection of work for the bar focused around the Salisbury’s fictional character Mr Hanbury – a small nod to the pub’s history. The Mason Arms was once a firm favourite of many well-known chefs, including Marco Pierre White and Raymond Blanc. Artist Residence’s other sites are in London, Brighton and Penzance.
 
SSP Group reopens Ed’s Easy Diner at Manchester Debenhams: SSP Group, the UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist, has reopened Ed’s Easy Diner in Debenhams in Manchester – two months after it closed. The restaurant had been open barely a year at the department store in Market Street when it was shut in October with immediate effect after Ed’s Easy Diner’s previous owners went into administration. Boparan Restaurant Holdings acquired 33 Ed’s Easy Diner sites – but the Manchester concession had not been part of that sale. However, it has now reopened after SSP came forward to run the business. A Debenhams spokesman told the Manchester Evening News: “Debenhams is delighted the Ed’s Diner in our Manchester Market Street store has reopened under the new management of SSP. Our customers love the Ed’s brand and, as a business, we worked very hard to find the right partner to continue operating our Ed’s concessions on our behalf and for all our loyal Ed’s fans. Ed’s Easy Diner’s Sam Wignell added: “The Manchester Ed’s Easy Diner was not part of the Boparan acquisition of October 2016 and closed at the time of sale. We are delighted, however, that through our franchise partner Ed’s Easy Diner at Debenhams, Manchester, has now reopened.”
 
Former Claude Bosi protégé to launch farm to fork restaurant concept in Norwich this month: A new farm to fork restaurant concept is opening in Norwich this month. Andrew Jones, who has worked under Michelin-starred chefs including Richard Corrigan and Claude Bosi, is launching Farmyard Restaurant in St Benedict’s Street. He aims to bring a “bistronomy-style” eatery to the heart of Norwich when it opens on Saturday, 28 January. His new “produce-driven” menu sources ingredients from across the county, with dishes including wild turkey club, pickled pig’s feet and roasted rabbit. The venue’s general manager is Alan Sabol, who began his hospitality career in the city nearly 20 years ago and was previously headhunted to oversee the opening of numerous multimillion-dollar venues in the US. Jones, whose first head chef role was at Antidote wine bar and restaurant in Soho, told the Eastern Daily Press: “Why would I want to be anywhere else in the world when I could be in Norfolk surrounded by my real food heroes – the farmers and producers. They’re so close by I can speak to them directly and hand-pick what’s coming into the kitchen that week.”
 
Churchill’s Fish & Chips owners outline expansion plans for brand they see as ‘vehicle to drive change in sector’: The owners of Churchill’s Fish & Chips have outlined expansion plans for the brand, which they see as a “vehicle to drive change in the sector”. The Chesterford Group has just launched its ninth Churchill’s outlet, this time in Hazlemere, Buckinghamshire, and has secured six more sites for the next financial year. The Hazlemere venue represented the 37th store in total for The Chesterford Group, which operates three fish and chip brands – Churchill’s, Fishnchickn and Bankers. The group’s owners, father and son Hugh and James Lipscombe, are eyeing further growth for Churchill’s. Managing director James Lipscombe said: “We really wanted to challenge the status quo in the industry by changing people’s perceptions of what a typical fish and chip shop experience is, ensuring any of our stores can rival the market-leading, fast-casual dining brands. We have invested heavily in consumer-facing technology, the quality of the fit-out, and the training and development of our teams so we can offer our customers a spectacular experience. We are incredibly excited to have opened in such a strong, bustling trading location. Once again, our site acquisition team has found an excellent location to continue our fish and chip revolution and next year is looking to be even better. We have heads of terms signed on six sites for the next financial year already and are in negotiations with landlords on several other locations – the opening of Bracknell in February sees 2017 off to a good start. Our growth will continue to gain pace next year and we are incredibly pleased with the strength of the locations we will be opening. The site acquisition pipe line is looking strong into 2017/18, meaning this really is an exciting time for our business and wouldn’t be possible without the hard work, dedication and passion of the people across the company.”
 
Camm & Hooper launches Soho Square site, fourth London venue: Imbiba Partnership-backed event and hospitality group Camm & Hooper has opened its fourth London site – Six Storeys on Soho. The new venue offers a “prohibition era-style dining experience”, with the townhouse featuring six floors of bars, restaurants and private events rooms for the “discerningly curious”. The ground floor houses the Lobby Bar, with the Parlour on the first floor offering “Victorian-inspired food and drink”. Another floor up is the Lounge, while the third floor’s Decantery promises to showcase the work of London’s most talented “booze engineers”, with visitors warned to “expect the unexpected”. The upper two storeys are reserved for small gatherings and private parties, with views over Oxford Street and Soho. Camm & Hooper managing director Claire Lawson said: “We are really looking forward to creating a special experience in the heart of Soho and London’s West End – and bringing our own indulgent escapade to life.” Camm & Hooper also operates Tanner & Co and Tanner Warehouse in Bermondsey, Banking Hall in Cornhill, and The Victorian Bath House in Bishopsgate Churchyard.
 
Brewhouse & Kitchen to reopen listed Bournemouth pub this month: Brewhouse & Kitchen, the expanding brewhouse concept led by Simon Bunn and Kris Gumbrell, is set to reopen the iconic Branksome Arms in Bournemouth this month. The company acquired the listed former Eldridge Pope pub in June 2015. Under plans submitted to turn the town centre pub into a micro-brewery and bar, the Eldridge Pope heritage will be enhanced with branded Victorian-style lanterns across the front of the building, with copper lettering spelling out Brewhouse & Kitchen across the front of the ground floor. Bunn has told the Daily Echo that as well as a bar and restaurant, customers can expect a “proper brewery”, with copper beer fonts, bric-a-brac, stripped wood decor and the “biggest beer garden in Bournemouth town centre”. It has been more than two years since the last pint was pulled at The Branksome. Brewhouse & Kitchen operates 15 other pubs, including sites in nearby Southbourne, Poole and Dorchester.
 
Halewood submits plans for North Wales distillery: Drinks manufacturer and distributor Halewood International has lodged plans for a distillery in North Wales. The company, which owns brands including The Pogues Irish Whiskey, Lambrini and Crabbie’s Ginger Beer, has submitted a change of use application to Gwynedd Council for the Old Stores industrial depot in Station Road in Abergwyngregyn. The Aber Falls distillery would become the first in the region for more than 100 years. Halewood intends to produce a range of alcoholic drinks, including Welsh whisky and gin at the 64,500 square foot facility. Alongside the distillery, Halewood also plans to create an on-site visitor centre and offer training courses in distilling spirits. Chief executive Stewart Hainsworth told Insider Media: “Halewood Wines & Spirits is looking to bring its extensive experience in developing craft spirits to North Wales. We are currently working closely with North Wales Tourism and Gwynedd Council to finalise our proposals, which will help to regenerate the area and deliver a number of new jobs within the local community.”
 
Michelin-trained chefs open permanent Cambridge site for Steak & Honour concept: Michelin-trained chefs Leo Riethoff and David Underwood, who have operated Steak & Honour from vintage vans since 2014, have opened a permanent site for the burger concept in Cambridge city centre. The 40-cover restaurant is next to the Corn Exchange in Wheeler Street and features a semi-open kitchen to resemble the Citroen wagons Riethoff and Underwood operated around Cambridge. A Steak & Honour spokesman told Cambridge News: “They wanted to put some roots down and offer Cambridge something a bit different. The guys are local, the producers are local. It’s all local to the area and that’s really important to them.”
 
Loungers to open Cosy Club in Cheltenham next month: Cafe bar brand Loungers will open its 17th Cosy Club next month at retail and leisure complex The Brewery Quarter in Cheltenham town centre. The 5,000 square foot, first-floor site was due to open this spring but has been completed ahead of schedule, Gloucestershire Live reports. Last month, private equity firm Lion Capital, the former backer of Wagamama, acquired a majority stake in Loungers for £137m. Lion bought exiting backer Piper’s stake in the company and a portion of the founders’ stake. Loungers, which operates 94 cafe bars and restaurants across the UK, was founded in 2002 by friends Alex Reilley, Jake Bishop and Dave Reid. Reilley has stayed on as chairman of the group, while Bishop remains as Cosy Club managing director. The £30m Brewery Quarter, which should be complete by the spring, will feature a mix of restaurants, bars and entertainment, including an 11-screen Cineworld IMAX, restaurant brands Prezzo and Nando’s, Hollywood Bowl and Fitness First Platinum Club. The closest Cosy Clubs to Cheltenham are in Hereford and Bristol.
 
Tasty gets go-ahead for Wildwood restaurant in Birmingham, opens brand’s first Scottish site: Tasty has been given the go-ahead to open its first Wildwood restaurant in Birmingham, while the company’s expansion of the brand continues following the opening of its first site in Scotland. The Birmingham venue will open in New Street, with the basement providing 24 covers for diners while the ground floor will comprise 76 covers and a bar. The upper floors of the property are being turned into apartments. Birmingham City Council planning officers said the proposals would be in “keeping with the surrounding area”, Insider Media reports. Wildwood operates 54 sites across the UK and has also applied to open a restaurant in Hinckley, Leicestershire, which would feature a cinema. It also opened a site in York earlier this month. The Scottish site is in Lothian Road, Edinburgh. In November, Tasty raised £9m to fund Wildwood expansion after making a conditional placing of 6,210,000 new ordinary shares at a price of 145 pence per share.
 
Taco Bell set to open Poole town centre site: Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell is set to open a restaurant in Poole, Dorset, in late March. The High Street venue would be the company’s 15th UK outlet as it looks to expand across the south of England. Taco Bell opened a 67-cover site in Southampton at the end of November, where staff being recruited for Poole are expected to initially train. Taco Bell UK and Europe marketing manager Ellen Gault told the Echo: “We are really excited to, hopefully, be opening in Poole in the next couple of months. This is part of our expansion into the south of England.” Founded in 1962 by a former US Marine, the Taco Bell chain serves more than 36.8 million people a week in 6,500 outlets worldwide.

Former Greggs manager to start expansion of cheesecake cafe concept with second north east opening: A former manager at bakery business Greggs who left to launch her own cheesecake business is set to start expansion with a second site in the north east. Alyson Archer operates Simply Cheesecake, which offers 200 varieties of the dessert, at Team Valley Shopping Village in Gateshead. Now work is under way to convert a former wedding shop in Newcastle city centre into the Simply Cheesecake And Friends cafe, which will also offer cakes, afternoon teas, light breakfasts and lunches. Archer told Chronicle Live: “I started out doing markets and food festivals – I still do quite a few – and then set up the Simply Cheesecake shop. We certainly sell a lot – I make hundreds every week. My accountant told me I spent £18,000 on Philadelphia cheese last year!”
 
Real Junk Food Project hits crowdfunding target to open Manchester’s first waste food restaurant: The Manchester branch of the not-for-profit Real Junk Food Project has hit its £20,000 target on crowdfunding platform Crowdfunder. It is now looking to hit a stretch target of £30,000 and has raised £25,932 so far from 706 backers, with seven days remaining. The project will open the city’s first “food waste” restaurant in Ancoats, former Aumbry head chef Mary-Ellen McTague, who will head the kitchen, told Manchester Evening News, with dishes served on a “pay-as-you-feel” basis. The nationwide project intercepts food that would otherwise go in the bin, sourced from wholesalers, supermarkets and restaurants. The Manchester arm of the movement, directed by Corin Bell, has been hunting for a permanent space since its hub at The Wonder Inn fell through. The Real Junk Food Project states on its Crowdfunder page: “We’ve identified a site just outside the city centre where we can stay for six months. We know we might need to move about a bit before we find a permanent home. We’re working with kitchen designers and fitters to develop a mobile kitchen we can move into any space that has electricity and running water. We’re also trying to source as much equipment as possible that is second hand or would have gone to waste… reducing waste is at the heart of everything we do.”
 
Caspian cuisine concept Jan opens in Battersea: Caspian cuisine concept Jan has opened in Battersea, south London. Faizan Iqbal has launched the restaurant in Northcote Road, combining Middle Eastern flavours with innovative cocktails. The 53-cover site features an open kitchen with a medieval-style charcoal oven producing traditionally cooked bread, meat and vegetable dishes. There is also a selection of smaller plates for sharing. The menu includes lamb chops and slow roast shoulder in a pomegranate glaze served with chickpeas and Caspian spices. Drinks feature cocktails incorporating delicate teas, Middle Eastern spices and fresh fruit such as pomegranate and melon. The Jan website states: “Inspired by the golden ages of the Ottoman empire and Persian dynasties, our restaurant reflects a lost decadence and grandeur enjoyed by the former rulers of the Caspian kingdoms. Our mission is simply to make original, hand-made, magically delicious dishes not only to nourish the body and mind but the traditional Transcaucasian spirit as well.”

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