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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 11th Jan 2017 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Flour Pot Bakery to more than double size of production facility to support retail expansion plans: Brighton and Hove-based artisan bakehouse Flour Pot Bakery is to more than double the size of its production facility to support its ambitious retail expansion plans. The company, founded by Oli Hyde, has just opened its fifth site in the city, in Seven Dials. Hyde told Propel the company, which makes and delivers its products daily, had outgrown its current 2,000 square foot production hub in Hove and would move next month to a 5,500 square foot venue in Fishersgate. He added there was probably room for “one or two more” stores in the city but was looking at expanding to other parts of Sussex, particularly to the west of Brighton and Hove. Eventually he would like the company, which started out selling its products at Small Batch Coffee before opening its first shop about 18 months ago, to open stores in other regional cities. He said: “It’s been going extremely well. We know there’s a demand for the products we make and there’s a real opportunity for us down here. Our new facility will allow us to upscale production as we continue to develop the retail side of the business, particularly in Sussex. It can certainly grow anywhere. Places such as Bournemouth, Eastbourne, Southampton and Winchester could be serviced from the new facility. Eventually we could head north to somewhere such as Manchester but that would depend on building a hub bakery in that area. It’s been easier for us to grow rapidly because we are not looking for big sites – something of about 500 or 600 square feet. We like them to be south facing, which allows the sunlight to flood through the windows. We’re going to concentrate on the new production facility for the next few months and then in April or May we’ll start focusing again on further retail expansion.” The new Seven Dials store is 520 square feet and is on the corner of Melville Road and Dyke Road, at the site of a former independent sandwich shop. Hyde said: “We’ve been open a week and its exceeded expectations – we’re getting terrific support from the locals.” Hyde said the retail and wholesale side of the business would continue to develop side by side. He added: “Our stores are the shop window for our wholesale business. We can open a shop for relatively low cost but that leads to the development of the wholesale business. I think it’s important for the two to work together. Until recently, we were delivering to London seven nights a week, which lasted about 18 months. It was a terrific learning curve for us and our customers in London included the entire Breakfast Club group, for which we still supply Brighton, and Foxlow, which is part of the Hawksmoor Group. Unfortunately, the economies of scale make it very hard to be competitive because we had to travel up and deliver every night. We do look at the market leaders in globally respected artisan bakeries – we can learn a lot from them – but I’m thrilled with how it’s going. We are a positive company and have a great team.”

Industry News:

Propel Multi Club Conference opens for bookings, Wright & Bell boss Jane Wright to present: The first Propel Multi Club Conference of 2017 is now open for bookings. Wright & Bell managing director Jayne Baker will talk about ground-breaking £3.2m Imbiba-backed Kitty Hawk – the “department store of dining” concept that combines shopping drinking and dining – as well as progress at its first site in South Place 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 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 to book or for more details.

Company News:

Bavava Restaurants to begin expansion of Papadoms concept with £1.4m Bradford opening: Bavava Restaurants is set to start expansion of its Indian restaurant and craft beer concept Papadoms by opening a second site, this time in Bradford. The concept launched in Sunderland 18 months ago and the second site will open at the end of March in The Broadway shopping centre. Following a £1.4m fit-out, the 6,500 square foot unit will house a bar and cocktail lounge on the ground floor and 400-cover restaurant with an “Indian streetscape” on the first floor, with the opening creating 90 jobs. Bavava Restaurants founder and chief executive Sanjeev Sanghera told the Telegraph & Argus: “We think it’s going to be one of the most iconic Indian restaurants in the country – not just Yorkshire. When looking for a site we looked at Leeds but were blown away by Bradford and the regeneration of the city centre. We have created a brand and brew our own craft beer. We opened our first Papadoms in Sunderland 18 months ago and it’s now the number one Indian restaurant in the city.” Sanghera has been in the restaurant business for more than 30 years, mainly in Glasgow.

Leasehold of TCG site Henry’s Cafe Bar in Covent Garden goes on market: The leasehold of Henry’s Cafe Bar in Covent Garden has been put on the market. The sale, by agent Savills, is on behalf of David Chubb and Michael Jervis, the joint administrators of Tattershall Castle Group. The property, which is in Henrietta Street, extends to more than 8,500 square feet (790 square metres) over ground-floor and basement levels. It is held on a Landlord & Tenant Act protected lease and will be sold without the Henry’s trading name. Paul Breen, director in the licensed leisure team at Savills, said: “This is an incredibly rare opportunity for an incoming operator to acquire a substantial flagship premises in the world-famous location of Covent Garden. It is the first time in nearly 20 years that this property has come to the open market so we anticipate strong interest from a broad range of potential occupiers.”

Hotel Collection set for £10.5m sale of Blackpool hotel, second site in ten-strong portfolio sell-off: The Imperial Hotel in Blackpool is about to be sold to a mystery buyer from a guide price of £10.5m, The Business Desk reports. The sale marks the second deal for a ten-strong portfolio of regional UK hotels that agents Savills and Rothschild are marketing on behalf of The Hotel Collection under the banner Project Solstice – Andrew Brownsword Hotels bought The Imperial Hotel in Torquay in September for an undisclosed sum. The 19th century, four-star Imperial features 180 bedrooms, a restaurant, bar, health club and 14 conference rooms. It employs more than 100 staff and has hosted numerous famous guests since it opened on the promenade in the 1860s, including Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill, and The Beatles. The other Hotel Collection venues on the market are The Majestic in Harrogate, The Old Ship in Brighton, Redworth Hall in County Durham, Billesley Manor in Stratford-upon-Avon, Shrigley Hall Hotel, Golf and Country Club in Macclesfield, The Stirling Highland Hotel in Stirling, The Aberdeen Altens in Aberdeen, and The Angel in Cardiff.

Boothwood acquires seventh site as it begins expansion outside West Yorkshire heartland: West Yorkshire-based multi-site operator Boothwood has acquired its seventh site as it starts to expand outside its heartland. The company has bought The Waggon Inn, a pub and restaurant that lies between Ponteland and Belsay in Northumberland, in a deal brokered by agent Christie & Co. It currently has six sites in rural West Yorkshire villages and towns and intends to replicate its success and ethos in the north east. Director Sarah Stuttle said: “We have been looking to expand outside Yorkshire for some time. I am originally from Newcastle and, since starting my career in hospitality, I have always wanted a site near my home town. When we spotted The Waggon we thought it had a lot of potential and would be a perfect site for us. We would like to keep the character of the building and think that by adding Boothwood’s unique style, we will be able to create a great atmosphere and dining experience for what we hope will become a fantastic destination pub and restaurant.” Mark Worley, director at Christie & Co, who handled the sale, added: “We felt a sustained period of ownership and investment from a hands-on operator was needed to re-establish the business and take full advantage of the pub’s enviable location. Some have tried in recent years but not succeeded and fortunately we have now managed to find the perfect buyer, who intends to transform the business and premises.”

CBRE – fewer distressed sales in Dublin pub market: A total of 30 Dublin pubs were sold last year for a combined total of more than €43m (£37.2m). Research from commercial property consultancy CBRE Ireland showed that while fewer venues were sold than in 2015 – 35 – the total amount outdid last year’s €40m (£34.7m). John Ryan, of CBRE Ireland’s hotel and licensed department, said that while there was a fall in the number of acquired pubs, it was worth noting an improvement in trading conditions in Dublin had been “reducing the number of licensed properties that are being offered to the market for sale”. He added: “There are now fewer instances of distressed sales in this sector of the market with a notable increase in the number of consensual pub sales over the past 12-month period in particular. While the total capital value of the Dublin pub market has remained relatively stable over the past few years, the average price achieved for Dublin pubs has continued to trend upwards. The average sale price is expected to increase further in 2017 considering trading conditions in this sector continue to show signs of improvement.”

Wagamama puts case to Planning Inspectorate in Reigate restaurant appeal: Wagamama has made its case to the Planning Inspectorate in its appeal to open a restaurant in Reigate. In April, the company’s bid to convert a former bathroom and kitchen store in Bell Street was turned down by Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, which cited the potential loss of retail space in the town centre as its main reason. The council’s policy is that the percentage of A1 retail sites in the area must be above 80% for a change to A3 to be allowed. It is currently 75%, Surrey Mirror reports. More than 1,000 people signed a petition calling for the chain to be allowed into the town. Caroline Harper, an associate director at Wagamama’s planning agent JLL, told the inspectorate: “The council has still not specified how the change of use will be harmful to the vitality and viability of Reigate’s town centre. [Wagamama] has repeatedly highlighted the numerous benefits associated with the proposal. The council, however, claims benefits such as job creation, bringing a vacant unit back into use, shop front improvement and recycling only attract limited weight and the cumulative benefits, including the potential contribution to the lunchtime and evening economy, do not outweigh the harm and therefore justify the proposed use. This is very difficult to understand, when the specific harm has not been identified or explained.” Wagamama has also applied for the council to pay its appeal costs. The Planning Inspectorate has yet to announce a date for the decision.

Cottons Caribbean owner launches pan-Asian bar and dining concept Miusan in Camden: Cottons Caribbean owner Chris Singam has launched pan-Asian bar and restaurant concept Miusan in Camden. Miusan, which means “new temple” in Cantonese, has opened in Inverness Street and is playfully modelled on the “chic and opulent 1940s opium dens of New York and Paris”. The 2,245 square foot, three-storey venue features a ground-floor bar and dining area, sub-basement dance floor and a mezzanine VIP area available for private hire. Interiors include dark velvet seating and thick and heavy brocade curtains, while staff dress in traditional Cantonese cheongsams. Highlight dishes include king prawn and squid tempura with tamarind guava dressing; jasmine tea-smoked barbecued pork ribs with toasted sesame seeds and honey; and griddled vegetable Buddha dumplings with soy and wasabi dip. Asian-inspired cocktails include Lau’s Den (Absolut vodka, sake, coconut cream, passion-fruit and lychee juice), while DJs perform on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Cottons Caribbean has restaurants in Notting Hill Gate, Camden and Boxpark Shoreditch.

Former Great British Menu chef to launch debut venture in Cheshire next month: Former Great British Menu chef Mark Ellis will open his debut venture next month – in Cheshire. Ellis is leaving his role as head chef of Peckforton Castle in Tarporley, where he earned three AA rosettes, to open Allium by Mark Ellis in Tattenhall, near Chester. The venue will be a restaurant and bar with five bespoke rooms that will open in March. Ellis told The Chester Chronicle: “I am excited to bring my vision for exciting and interesting food and drink to Tattenhall. The location is stunning and the locals seem to be getting behind us, which is great news.” Before joining Peckforton Castle in 2007, Ellis undertook a “cook’s tour” of the UK, where he worked in some of the country’s finest restaurants, including Gordon Ramsay’s Pétrus.

D&D London bids to beat January blues with Blank Canvas campaign: Restaurant operator D&D London has launched its Blank Canvas campaign to bring a “splash of colour” to January by showcasing art throughout its restaurants. The company has also partnered with The Art Room, a charity that supports children with emotional and behavioural difficulties. Rather than adding a donation to bills, D&D is asking diners to gift art materials and its Kensington Place restaurant will display the children’s works throughout the month. Meanwhile, Coq d’Argent is offering a cocktail list inspired by The School of Paris, Threadneedle Bar has launched a range of cocktails inspired by Magritte, while Sauterelle restaurant is offering a dessert inspired by Yayoi Kusama’s Mirrors exhibition. Life-drawing classes at Blueprint Cafe and art-themed tasting menus at Avenue will also be rolled out. German Gymnasium will display fine works from The House of Illustration, while Plateau will immortalise Brigitte Bardot in a selection of images from the Simon Claridge Diamond Dust Collection. This week, D&D London announced it would expand its Bluebird cafe business after signing a deal with property developer Stanhope to take a prime site in the former BBC Television Centre in west London. D&D London owns and operates restaurants in London, Leeds, Paris, New York and Tokyo and the 80-bedroom South Place Hotel in London.

DHP Family to hold ‘immersive’ club nights when new-look Garage relaunches next month: Live music operator DHP Family will hold “immersive” club nights at renowned Islington music venue The Garage when it reopens next month. The company, which owns venues including Rock City in Nottingham and The Borderline in Soho, has created Precinct Presents…, a series of events that will take over the whole venue complex every Saturday, changing its theme every six weeks. The first event, Precinct Presents… Lost In Tokyo, will transport guests into a “dark and dystopian Japanese-style street scene”, with clubbers invited to dress up and enter a multi-sensory world. In addition to refurbishing The Garage’s 600-capacity live music room, DHP Family are creating an all-day bar at the venue – the General Store – that will be a coffee bar by day and craft beer and cocktail bar by night. There will also be a new venue upstairs – Thousand Island – that will host breaking acts and collaborative club nights. DHP Family managing director George Akins told the Nottingham Post: “The Garage was on my radar for ten years but for one reason or another we kept missing out. Its location, layout and history are perfect for what we are looking for in a venue and we look forward to reinventing the space for a new generation.”

JD Wetherspoon to open 14-bedroom hotel in Aylesbury this month: JD Wetherspoon will open a 14-bedroom hotel alongside its pub The Bell in Market Square, Aylesbury, on Tuesday, 24 January. The pub itself will reopen on Saturday, 21 January. JD Wetherspoon is spending £1.1m on the development, which will create an additional ten jobs. The new hotel will be housed in undeveloped areas on the first and second floors of the listed building. In addition, the pub is being refurbished as part of the overall project. The Bell manager Zoe Harrison said: “We are confident the hotel will be a great addition to the pub. We believe it will also benefit the town itself and hopefully act as a catalyst for further investment in Aylesbury.”

Winemakers Club to open wine bar and restaurant in Deptford, second London site: London-based wine importer Winemakers Club is set to open a wine bar and restaurant in Deptford, its second venue in the capital. Winemakers Deptford is due to open at the end of this month in High Street, with the kitchen due to follow in February. It will also offer a small selection of wines for retail, while the restaurant will offer classic food with an “English backbone”. Winemakers Club owner John Baum told The Drinks Business the new site would list 30 to 40 wines, focusing on those from Italy, Hungary, France and Australia. It will also offer a revolving wine by the glass selection, with four white, four red and one sparkling wine available at any one time. Winemakers Club was founded in 1999 and specialises in up-and-coming producers, and organic and biodynamic wines. It supplies a number of bistros, cafes, small restaurants and gastro-pubs in London, as well as a handful of restaurants in Brighton and the north of England. The company opened its first “wine pub” and retail site in Farringdon in 2014.

A to Z Restaurants reports pre-tax profit increase despite turnover fall: London-based A to Z Restaurants has reported an increase in pre-tax profit, despite a fall in turnover following the closure of its Alloro site in Mayfair. The company saw turnover fall to £6,547,848 for the year ending 31 March 2016, compared with £8,220,406 the previous year. Pre-tax profit increased to £655,174, compared with £285,739 the year before. Gross profit margin was 73% (2015: 70%). The company stated: “Alloro ceased to trade during the year to 31 March 2015. Alloro generated £1.3m of turnover in its final year of trade. After considering this, the fall in income of the continuing operations amounts to £363,000 reflecting a decrease of 5.25%.”

Stevie Parle to open Rome-inspired restaurant in Clerkenwell: Chef Stevie Parle, who operates London restaurants Dock Kitchen, Rotorino and Craft London, is set to open his fourth venue in the capital – Rome-inspired Palatino in Clerkenwell. The new restaurant, named after one of Rome’s seven hills, will launch on Monday (16 January) featuring an open kitchen with a fresh pasta machine and both a wood-burning and stone oven. Starters will include traditional fried sage leaves with apple and honey vinegar, and Artichoke Judea, a Roman-Jewish dish. Mains will include fresh pasta dishes, chicken and pistachio meatballs, and native lobster with fennel and chilli. Desserts will include almond, lemon and ricotta cake, and chocolate and hazelnut tartuffi, The Nudge reports. Parle also operates restaurant Sardine in Old Street, east London, with protégé Alex Jackson, offering wood-fired dishes inspired by Provence and Languedoc, the islands of Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily, Italy’s Amalfi Coast and Spain’s coastal Catalonia area. Jackson runs the kitchen while Parle is involved in the operational support and management of the restaurant.

Frederic Robinson consults on closure of Cumbrian distribution depot in response to rising costs: Brewer and retailer Frederic Robinson is consulting on plans to close its distribution depot in Backbarrow, Cumbria, in response to rising costs. In a letter sent to pub tenants, managing directors Oliver and William Robinson stated: “Due to ongoing requirements to make changes in our industry, our estate and the impact of higher costs, we have identified it is necessary to make changes within our overall logistics operations.” A spokesman told In The Bay: “A proposal is currently being examined that could result in the closure of the distribution centre at Backbarrow. We are in the process of discussing these proposed changes with our employees concerned and until these meetings have been concluded, no final decisions have been made. We are committed to continuing our investment programme in our pub estate and supporting our free house customers in Cumbria.” The company operates about 300 pubs across Cheshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire, Cumbria and North Wales.

Bitters n’ Twisted founder – ‘our focus is on Bodega Cantina for the next 18 months’: Bitters n’ Twisted founder Matt Scriven has told Propel its South American-themed bar and restaurant brand Bodega Cantina will be the company’s focus for the next 12 to 18 months. Scriven said it would grow the brand organically and was looking to add one or two sites a year during the next decade. The company will open its fourth Bodega Cantina in March, in Derby, which will be Bitters n’ Twisted’s 11th site in total. The 2,100 square foot venue in Sadler Gate will have about 62 covers and adds to Bodega Cantina’s sites in Birmingham, Leicester and Worcester. Scriven added that the focus for expansion would remain in the Midlands in cities with a “university-sized population” and within about an hour of the company’s Birmingham roots. He said: “Bodega will be our focus for the next 12 to 18 months. It fills a nice gap between the Las Iguanas’ of this world and the small Mexican restaurants you get dotted around. We are looking around for sites. We are flexible in terms of numbers but we’re looking to do one or two a year over the next ten years so we will try to add another one this year. There’s no need to expand for the sake of it – it’s about finding the right sites and locations. We don’t want to grow too big, too quickly. There is a lot of opportunity for us in the Midlands still.” Scriven said the company would also look at the possibility of expanding its American barbecue concept Buffalo & Rye, which launched in Birmingham in November 2015. The restaurant had endured a “rocky” time since launch, Scriven said, but things had calmed down in the past three months. He added: “It’s been a challenge but we’re getting there. We might look to do something with that but we’ll see – we don’t want to run before we can walk.” Scriven said much of the challenge for Bitters n’ Twisted continued to be in recruitment, as it is for many in the industry. He added: “I think it’s always going to be a struggle. We have spent a lot of time recruiting and some good people have come in. There’s also the increased competition we face that puts pressure on sales and we need to make sure we continue to adapt to meet that challenge.”

Easyhotel planning hotels in Belfast and Leeds: Easyhotel, the owner, developer, operator and franchisor of “super budget” branded hotels, has announced plans to open its first hotel in Northern Ireland and another in Leeds. The company plans to convert part of the Howard Building in Belfast city centre into an 81-bedroom hotel, above some of the city’s best-known restaurants, including chef Michael Deane’s Michelin-starred Eipic. Easyhotel would convert office space into the hotel and a ground-floor dry cleaners into a cafe. A fit-out could start as early as this month. The Leeds planning bid comes after the company acquired the long leasehold of a city centre property in Lands Lane. It hopes to open a 94-bedroom hotel in 2018, with the total cost of the acquisition and conversion around £5m. The 1920s building originally housed The Scala Theatre and is in the pedestrianised area of the city centre. Easyhotel is part of Easygroup, founded by Stelios Haji-Ioannou. Its first hotel opened in London in 2005 and has expanded to about 25 hotels across the UK and Europe. Last month, the company secured a site in Sheffield’s High Street for a 131-bedroom hotel.   

Gloucester-based Thai restaurant owner to open pie shop in city: Gloucester-based Thai restaurant owner Thitpha Martin is to open a new pie shop in the city. Martin, who owns So Thai in Longsmith Street, is launching So Pie in Gloucester Quays next month. It will be based in Llanthony Road next to Bill’s and have a rotating menu of seasonal pies. The store will be a sit-down with a takeaway option, selling Cornish pasties, sausages and craft beer as well as pies, reports Gloucestershire Live.

Marston’s to open £2.7m Kirkcaldy family pub restaurant in June: Marston’s will open its £2.7m family pub restaurant in Kirkcaldy, Fife, in June. The 150-cover venue is being built on a 0.6 hectare site at John Smith Business Park and will be named the Spiral Weave. Whitbread has also received planning permission for a 60-bedroom Premier Inn with a Thyme Restaurant at an adjacent site. In November, Marston’s said it would invest £10m in its Scottish market, creating 300 jobs by opening “three or four” pub restaurants and “three lodges – in Stirling, Livingston and Ravenscraig”. Marston’s is also working on sites in Rutherglen and Lenzie. Marston’s acquisition manager Adrian Blackburn told Fife Today: “We have great hopes for our investment in this part of Fife. We aim to continue to invest in the area.” Chief executive Ralph Findlay added: “We’re positive about the Scottish market and the family dining restaurants we have and the fact we think there is an opportunity for that kind of offer, which isn’t particularly well represented at the moment.”

Busaba Eathai to offer 99p menu on ‘Blue Monday’: Busaba Eathai, the Thai chain founded by Alan Yau and led by chief executive Jason Myers, is to offer a 99p menu on so-called “Blue Monday”. The company will run the menu on 16 January, allegedly the most depressing day of the year, from midday to 4pm at its 13 restaurants. To take advantage, customers need to register in advance on the company’s website. The dishes are limited to one per person and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, reports the Evening Standard. The nine-dish menu includes chilli prawn stir-fry, Songkhla red curry, and Pad Thai as well as crab-meat fried rice, chargrilled chicken, green chicken curry and ginger beef stir fry, many of which come with free rice.

Former chef and sommelier at The Square to launch modern British cuisine concept Lorne in Pimlico: Chef Peter Hall and sommelier Katie Exton are teaming up to launch modern British cuisine concept Lorne in Pimlico. The restaurant will open in Wilton Road next month, with the aim of making the wine and food of equal importance. Hall and Exton met while working at two Michelin-starred French restaurant The Square in Mayfair and the menu will focus on seasonal produce with an emphasis on using trusted suppliers. Dishes will include quail with butternut squash, barley and mountain yam, and short-rib beef with onion, pear and cavolo nero. Wine will be sourced globally and offered to diners at “reasonable, more approachable prices”, Hot Dinners reports. There will also be a seasonally changing cocktail list, London beers, and hot drinks from Monmouth Coffee and Rare Tea Company.

Eddie Rocket’s to open third Northern Ireland site after securing former Ed’s Easy Diner in Belfast: Eddie Rocket’s is to open its third site in Northern Ireland after securing the former Ed’s Easy Diner restaurant in Boucher Road, Belfast. The 280 square metre venue, opposite Boucher Retail Park, will open in the first week of February, creating 25 jobs. It will be run by an existing franchisee and is part of the company’s pipeline of openings in the first quarter of this year. This consists of another site in Northern Ireland at Lisburn Leisure Park in Lisburn along with three venues in Ireland – Portlaoise, County Laois; Point Village, Dublin; and Celbridge, County Kildare. They are mostly franchisee-owned in line with the company’s business strategy for 2017. Rocket Restaurants Group currently has 46 restaurants across Ireland and the UK, of which 25 are owned by long-standing multi-unit franchisees. 

Shake Shack creates new burger for Canary Wharf opening: Shake Shack has teamed up with Middle Eastern and North African grill house Berber & Q to create the ShackBerber burger, a limited edition burger to celebrate the opening of Canary Wharf Shack. 300 burgers will be available on opening day only, with 50% of sales donated to Action Against Hunger. The ShackBerber burger has been created by Berber & Q head chef and co-founder Josh Katz and Shake Shack culinary director Mark Rosati. It features Shake Shack’s custom-blend, Angus-beef patty topped with Berber & Q hand-pulled lamb shawarma, whipped feta, cherry peppers and Harissa ShackSauce. The new Canary Wharf Shack will open at the Park Pavilion in Canada Square on Thursday (12 January) at midday. 

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