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Thu 13th Apr 2017 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Laine acquires two London pubs from Flynn’s: Laine Pub Company, the London and Brighton-based multiple pub operator and craft brewer backed by Luke Johnson, has confirmed it is acquiring two pubs from the Flynn family, operators of high-quality pubs in the London area. The two pubs are Tommy Flynn’s in Leytonstone and Flynn’s Townhouse in Hammersmith, the latter of which sees Laine make its first foray into hotel rooms. Both pubs will be held on free-of-tie leases following the transfer to Laine, which has almost doubled the size of its London estate in a week following the acquisition of the six-strong New Pub Company. The addition of the Flynn’s pubs takes Laine’s London estate to 19 sites in four years. Laine chairman Gary Pettet, who made the initial approach to the Flynn family to buy the pubs, said: “I am delighted we have been able to secure these substantial sites for our growing London estate and I look forward to the relaunch of Leytonstone as an exciting new Laine’s craft beer pub. We hope to also add value to the existing offering in Hammersmith which, with ten letting bedrooms, is already a very profitable business. I’m grateful to Gerard and Averil (Flynn) for working with me to reach a mutually beneficial agreement following a swift and professional negotiation.” Chief executive Gavin George added: “The opportunity to open a pub in Leytonstone is very exciting, especially given the development we have planned for the site. We hope the local market will love our creative treatment of the pub and enjoy the new beers we bring in from our own brewery and from other innovative local craft producers. The Hammersmith pub will be our first foray into hotel rooms and we hope to learn much from what is already a very successful letting business with a great management team.” Gerard Flynn said: “Laine’s offer was very fair and we’re pleased to be selling the sites to such a solid and reputable operator. I wish them the best of luck with the relaunch of Tommy Flynn’s in Leytonstone and further development of the great business we have built in Hammersmith.” Laine Pub Company operates almost 60 sites in Brighton and London.

Industry News:

Host of operators sign up for US Restaurant Franchise Forum: A host of UK operators have signed up to attend the US Restaurant Franchise Forum, with attendance free courtesy of CPL Training, which has become headline sponsor of the event. Attendees includeBoparan Restaurant Holdings, Star Pubs & Bars, Square Pie, Papa John’s, Hasty Tasty Foods, TGI Friday’s, Chozen, Fulham Shore, Beds and Bars, Yummy Collection, The MSG Group, SSP, Young’s, Pret A Manger, Distinct Group, Black Truffle, Burton Inns, HMS Partnership, Hungerdog, BRGR Co, Triangle Pub Company, and Black and White Hospitality. The half-day event, which takes place on Friday, 28 April at One Moorgate Place in London, will see leading US operators present to their UK counterparts about franchise opportunities in Britain. CPL Training chief executive Dan Davies said: “We are delighted to sponsor this important seminar to allow operators to attend for free.” The five high-profile US foodservice franchisors to present at the event have been confirmed as Panda Express, the largest Chinese quick-service restaurant (QSR) chain in the US, with 1,800 sites; Little Caesars, which is the third-largest pizza QSR restaurant chain in the US, with 4,250 sites; Wingstop, the fastest-growing US QSR chicken brand, with 1,000 sites; Wienerschnitzel, the largest hotdog QSR brand in the US, with 350 locations; and fast-emerging Indian QSR/fast-casual brand Chutney’s Indian GrillOperators can claim up to two free places by emailing anne.steele@propelinfo.com.

Finance and Investment Conference opens for bookings: The Propel Finance and Investment Conference is open for bookings. Speakers will include Darren Tristano, president of insights firm Technomic, who will look at the key criteria US investment firms are applying in the US foodservice market and make his pick of the most interesting emerging US brands. Andrew Ball, partner at sector accountants haysmacintyre, will set out the most tax-efficient ways to offer investment in a company – and how to involve employees in a business by creating an employee shareholder scheme. Meanwhile, Andy Laurillard, founder of Thai restaurant brand Giggling Squid, which attracted investment from the Business Growth Fund in 2015, will talk about the process of preparing to attract investment, his experience of talking to potential investors and the difference the Business Growth Fund investment has made to Giggling Squid. Click here to see the full programme. The full-day event takes place on Thursday, 11 May at One Moorgate Place, London EC2R 6EA. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers, while tickets for Propel Premium subscribers are £245 plus VAT. To book, email anne.steele@propelinfo.com or call 01444 817691.

US restaurant industry facing ‘defining moment’ as consumers cut back on dining in favour of travel and other experiences: The US restaurant industry is facing a “defining moment” as consumers cut back on dining out in favour of travel and other experiences, new research has revealed. The survey by AlixPartners showed diners plan to cut back on their quick-service usage by 8% and fast casual by 13%. Of the consumers who plan on dining out less, half (50%) cited “saving money” as a reason, with 32% of those planning to spend that money on travel and 31% on “personal services”. Adam Werner, AlixPartners managing director and co-head of the company’s restaurant, hospitality and leisure practice, said: “While lower fuel prices have helped operators by putting more money in consumers’ pockets, that has become a double-edged sword as cheap fuel and the lowest air fares we’ve seen since the recession seem to be enticing consumers to allocate at least some of their restaurant spending on travel and other experiences. Meanwhile, the all-important millennial consumers, enabled the most by social media and other technologies that allow them to stay in close touch with friends even when they’re travelling, is the cohort most fundamentally shifting spending to experiences. Clearly, the challenge for the industry is to reinvent the ‘restaurant experience’ to compete with all the other experiences out there.”

Fatboy Slim partners with Boxpark in bid to build beach hub: Superstar DJ Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, is partnering with Boxpark in a bid to build a community beach hub in Shoreham, West Sussex. Cook, who lives along the coast in Brighton and Hove and operates the Big Beach Cafe at Hove Lagoon, wants to transform a run-down toilet block in Beach Green after a deal was struck with Adur District Council. The local authority began advertising the site last year after a number of unsuccessful attempts to find a tenant. A deal has now been agreed in principle to create the Big Beach Box, a community cafe that could also include a roof terrace, changing rooms and watersports centre. After entering into a preferred developer status with Boxpark, the council will now enter into a full consultation with the community to draw up detailed plans before a planning application is submitted. The proposal will be drawn up by Brighton-based Chalk Architects.

European hotel industry reports 16.2% rise in rooms under construction in March: The European hotel industry has reported a 16.2% increase in the number of rooms under construction in March compared with last year. STR’s March pipeline report showed 73,370 rooms in 461 hotels under construction. The number of rooms under contract fell 0.7% compared with the previous year – 162,732 rooms in 1,035 hotels. Under contract includes projects in the “in construction”, “final planning” and “planning stages” but does not include projects in the “unconfirmed stage”. Among segments, upper midscale accounted for the largest portion of rooms under contract (27.8% with 45,206 rooms) and under construction (24.0% with 17,625 rooms). Upscale (23.1% with 16,927 rooms) was the only other segment to represent 20% or more of rooms under construction.

Hospitality sector set for bumper Easter with spending expected to rise 15%, new research reveals: The hospitality sector is set for a bumper Easter with spending expected to increase 15% compared with the average weekend, according to new research. Card spending in pubs and restaurants is forecast to top £280m during the holiday period, according to payments processor Worldpay. Hospitality businesses in Cornwall are expected to see a 39% rise in visitors, while those in Pembrokeshire are forecast to be as much as 47% busier than normal. Worldpay’s UK chief marketing officer James Frost told City AM: “The weakness of the pound against currencies like the euro could well present a silver lining for hospitality business owners this Easter. According to one recent survey, 80% of Britons are concerned about holidaying in post-Brexit Europe, with many choosing to stay closer to home. This could mean a bumper weekend for small business owners in traditional UK tourist hot spots. Those well prepared for the influx will stand to benefit the most.”

Iced and blended drinks market increases 18% to £338m, sales growth outperforms entire coffee shop sector: The overall value of the iced and blended drinks market in UK coffee shops has grown by 18% in 2016 to reach an estimated turnover of £338m, according to the latest research by Allegra World Coffee Portal. The category currently accounts for 3.8% of the total coffee shop market sales, an increase from 3.6% in 2015. The Iced Beverages 2017 report, part of the Project Café UK Series from Allegra, observed sales growth in the iced and blended beverages category has outperformed the growth in the overall coffee shop sector, which increased by 12% to hit £8.9bn turnover in 2016. With continued innovation from the branded chains, Allegra World Coffee Portal said it expected to see a 17% compound annual growth rate from the category in the next five years. Growth in the category was driven in part by an increase in prices but also by a rise in consumer participation. As more operators offer a wider range of iced beverages, and for longer, the growth is set to continue through 2017. Seasonality is starting to show signs of stretch, with the established May to September season expanding into April and October. A recent consumer study conducted by Allegra World Coffee Portal showed habitual uptake is developing, with one-in-five consumers buying iced beverages all year round. As the health and wellness trend takes hold, operators have been forced to offer a range of iced beverages to meet consumer demand for healthy indulgent treats. Leading brands are innovating with flavours and delivering authentic, handcrafted beverages across the range. According to the consumer study, the most important attributes when choosing an iced beverage are fresh ingredients, value for money, and preparation from scratch. Pre-prepared iced beverages came in as the least important attribute to the consumer. As the category grows, the report said operators will need to step up to the mark with freshly made iced beverage and blended smoothie offerings to attract and retain the increasingly health conscious consumer. The most innovative short-term development will be the growth of cold brew and nitro coffee, with high-street chains following on from Starbucks’ lead. 

Company News:

Marston’s acquires three Pointing Dog pubs for Revere division: Marston’s has agreed to acquire three Pointing Dog pubs for an undisclosed sum. The business will transfer at the beginning of May. The sites – the Clubhouse in Sheffield; the Pointing Dog & Duck in Bakewell; and the Pointing Dog in Cheadle – will be operated by Marston’s premium division, Revere Pub Company. Revere managing director Colin Sadler said: “We are delighted to welcome the Pointing Dog teams and believe the ethos and strength of their retail offer will sit well with our independently spirited business. We are particularly impressed by the passion and commitment of the Pointing Dog team and delighted the management and staff of the bars and restaurants will transfer with the business.” Marston’s said Revere would continue to expand through selective new site acquisitions.

D&D London partners with Workologie to launch affordable remote-working spaces at Bluebird Chelsea: Restaurant operator D&D London has partnered with Workologie, which manages underused spaces in central London, to launch an affordable access scheme for remote workers at its restaurant Bluebird Chelsea. The venue in King’s Road will offer exclusive access space from 9am to 5.30pm, with plans to develop a network of dedicated co-working spaces across London. Workologie was founded by Hugo Campbell-Davys, who also founded VIP lifestyle app Urbanologie. Workologie members can book a space at Bluebird, with access to fast, secure Wi-Fi. They will also get preferential rates to hire in-house private meeting and dining rooms, and exclusive invitations to curated events, as well as a discounted annual membership to Urbanologie. Membership to the scheme is on a pay-as-you-go basis, with standard day-rate membership of £10 for Urbanologie members and £20 for non-members. Bluebird general manager Guillaume Sanzey said: “We have always prided ourselves on the versatility of the space and our ability to move with the times. Teaming up with Workologie to meet the growing needs of people working remotely is the perfect opportunity.” D&D London owns and operates restaurants in London, Leeds, Paris, New York and Tokyo and the 80-bedroom South Place Hotel in London.

Firezza makes restaurant debut in Soho: Firezza, the 22-strong pizza delivery and takeaway business owned by PizzaExpress, has opened its first restaurant – in Soho. The Dean Street venue is the London flagship for the pizza group, which offers “proper pizza” by the metre. Firezza, founded by managing director Edin Basic in 2001, recently added six delivery sites, including Dulwich. The Soho site is described as a “social pizza experience” for customers built around sharing. Basic said: “Our customers have been requesting a restaurant for years and this location is the perfect place to launch the flagship restaurant. Firezza is a brand built on simplicity and sharing and that will be the experience our guests will enjoy, whether they have a lot of time or having a bite before the theatre.” The restaurant trades daily from 10am until late.

Bubble and squeak-inspired concept extends £100,000 crowdfunding campaign to open permanent restaurant: Bubble and squeak-inspired concept Bubble&, which has operated at festivals and markets, has extended its £100,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to open a permanent restaurant. The company, founded by Rupert Smith and Marita Lietz, is now offering a 22.22% equity stake in return for the investment, having initially offered 16.67%. So far, 78 investors have pledged £27,230 with 18 days remaining. The largest investment to date is £5,000. The funds will be used to open a restaurant in Southsea, Hampshire, but the company is already looking to open “multiple” sites across London and the south east. Smith said: “Due to the number of ongoing discussions with investors, we have been granted a two-week extension to our campaign. Our campaign will now close on Sunday, 30 April at midnight. We have had a great few days as interest has increased in our campaign and we are excited to continue the discussions we are having with our own network and the Crowdcube community.” The pitch states: “The investment will fund capital expenditure on the kitchen, bar, furniture, construction works and our pre-opening costs, which include professional fees such as lawyers, rent and costs during fit-out and architects. The plan is to expand the concept to have multiple restaurants in the south east and London, and become a nationally recognised brand. We will be aiming towards a five-to-ten-year sale/exit.”

Innis & Gunn opens flagship Beer Kitchen in Glasgow with on-site brewing, fourth venue: Scottish brewer and retailer Innis & Gunn has opened its fourth and largest Beer Kitchen, in Glasgow’s West End. The new venue in Ashton Lane is Innis & Gunn’s flagship bar and restaurant and features the brand’s first on-site micro-brewery. The company, founded by Dougal Sharp, invested £600,000 to develop the site that formerly housed the Cul-de-sac bar. It is leasing the building from G1 Group. The venue is spread over three floors, with the micro-brewery producing special-edition and one-off brews available to buy at the bar. Food is served on the first floor, featuring dishes designed to match the beer, while the top floor is a late-night events bar. Late last year, Innis & Gunn raised almost £2.5m on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to fund the roll-out of the Beer Kitchen brand, which launched in Edinburgh in 2015 and has since opened sites in Dundee and St Andrews. David Hall, managing director of Innis & Gunn Retail, said the company wanted to open “at least two, possibly three” Beer Kitchens this year and “another three or four in 2018”. He added: “We are going to grow this brand and take it into England and maybe other parts of Scotland. We’ve now got the cash behind us to seize opportunities as they come along.”

Tokyo Industries wins consent for lap-dancing club in Leeds: Tokyo Industries, the company that operates 32 bars and nightclubs in the UK and is led by Aaron Mellor, has won permission to open a lap-dancing club next to the historic Corn Exchange in Leeds. The premises were previously known as the Town House and latterly a bar known as Chili Whites. The new use will be a lap-dancing club known as Black Orchid. A petition of more than 200 people and 77 individual objections were submitted against the proposal. West Yorkshire Police did not comment or oppose it. Tokyo Industries already operates a lap-dancing club in Leeds.

Ten Entertainment Group prices Initial Public Offering: Ten Entertainment Group (TEG), the UK’s second-largest ten-pin bowling operator with 40 sites, has successfully placed 16,250,000 shares at a price of 165p per share, representing 25% of the company’s issued share capital on admission. The offer is expected to raise gross proceeds of £26.8m for the selling shareholders. Admission to the premium listing segment of the London Stock Exchange is expected to take place at 8am on Wednesday, 19 April. Non-executive chairman Nick Basing said: “Today represents a springboard for the company to take advantage of the opportunities ahead. I would like to welcome our new shareholders, who recognise our leading and differentiated proposition and the strength of our business model.” Chief executive Alan Hand added: “Our family-focused offering provides great-value entertainment in great locations, delivered with exceptional customer service. TEG’s experienced management and highly cash-generative operating model, together with a clearly defined growth strategy, will enable us to deliver sustainable and growing returns for shareholders. We look forward to the future with real confidence.”

Café Rouge launches new menus and Ducasse Education training programme: Casual Dining Group-owned Café Rouge has launched a new seasonal set menu and an a la carte menu as well as a kitchen training partnership with the Alain Ducasse organisation. The latest menu innovation, which champions French provenance and fresh ingredients, follows a six-month study by the brand. The a la carte menu will feature trademark French classics such as casse-croute – a lunch board of cured meat, cheese and wine inspired by provincial French farmers. Café Rouge managing director Simon Wilkinson said: “Listening closely to the wants and needs of our guests, as well as the latest market trends, we have put together a robust menu of classic French dishes. Provenance and quality is a massive focus for us so we scoured France to select outstanding local, niche producers to work with. To help our kitchen teams get the most out of these great new products we are providing them with a training programme from the leading global organisation of culinary arts, Ducasse Education, which will develop their techniques and methodology.”

Faucet Inn lines up Kupp site in Reading along with Pret A Manager: Faucet Inn is lining up a site in Reading for its Scandinavian-inspired restaurant and cafe concept Kupp. The company is looking to open a site on the ground floor of Thames Tower in Station Hill. It has applied to the borough council for planning permission to trade from 7am to 1am. The bar would cater for 180 to 200 people, with 60 more in the bar, although a separate application for external dining and drinking may be submitted at a later date, reports Get Reading. Kupp has venues in Paddington and Exeter, while it has also secured a site in Manchester. Kupp would be joined by Pret A Manger, which has applied to make alterations to the front of a unit on the ground floor of Thames Tower. The application said the proposal had taken into account the building’s scale, layout and access, and was in keeping with the modern appearance and character of that part of Thames Tower.

Mosaic Pub and Dining Group submits plans to reopen Sevenoaks pub with town’s first micro-brewery: Mosaic Pub and Dining Group, formerly known as City Pub EIS Fund, has lodged plans to reopen a pub in Sevenoaks, Kent. The company has submitted licensing and planning applications to Sevenoaks District Council for The Oak Tree in High Street. It acquired the site, which was previously run by Faucet Inn, last year and has revealed proposals to transform the pub that would include the town’s first micro-brewery. The timber-framed listed building was originally a brewery so the installation would be a nod to the town’s history, reports Kent Live. Mosaic Pub and Dining Group is also applying for extended opening hours so the pub can serve alcohol until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays and until midnight the rest of the week. The Oak Tree closed in August before being acquired by Mosaic Pub and Dining Group in November for a reported £1.3m. The company has nine other sites, including in Birmingham and London.

Supermac’s reopens McDonald’s trademark battle: Irish fast food company Supermac’s has made its first move against McDonald’s after suffering a blow earlier this year in their international trademark war. In February, McDonald’s hit the family-owned company with a 41-page objection against its plans to use the Supermac’s name in Europe, stating it would “take unfair advantage of the distinctive character and repute” of its trademarks. Now Supermac’s has submitted a request to the European Union Property Office (EUIPO) asking it to cancel McDonald’s trademarks of the terms “Big Mac” and “Mc”, accusing the global giant of “trademark bullying” and storing brand names in a “war chest to use against future competitors”. The EUIPO will review Supermac’s request, with McDonald’s given time to respond or object to the application. Supermac’s managing director Pat McDonagh told independent.ie: “If any McGrath, McCarthy or McDermott with a business idea uses their name in the title of that business or product the chances are McDonald’s already owns the trademark.” A McDonald’s spokesperson said: “As with all companies around the world, McDonald’s defends the values of its brand, including trademarks, to protect consumers against confusion and prevent others from taking unfair advantage of our trademarks.”

Ei Group launches PR support guide for licensees: Ei Group’s leased and tenanted division Ei Publican Partnerships has launched a PR support guide for publicans to help them showcase their pubs in the media. The 16-page “How to PR your Pub” guide, which is available for publicans to download from Ei Publican Partnerships’ online platform, gives advice on a range of PR topics, including approaching the media, photography, newsworthy stories, press release templates and social media. Ei Group head of corporate communication Jon Dale said: “This guide has been created to help publicans drive sales by promoting their businesses to new and existing customers. It also gives them the opportunity to gain recognition for the excellent work they do day in, day out in their local communities. Publicans are incredibly busy people who are juggling a number of tasks at any one time, making it hard to focus on PR. This easy-to-use guide gives them the tools, advice and focus they need to market their business across traditional and digital media channels.”

McDonald’s takes on Sonic with new slushies range: McDonald’s has introduced a new line of Minute Maid Slushies at 6,000 US sites in a move clearly aimed at Sonic, the Oklahoma City-based drive-thru chain that specialises in beverages and boasts more than a million drink and slush combinations, Nation’s Restaurant News reports. Sonic’s like-for-like sales increased 12% in its 2015 and 2016 fiscal years, drawing the attention of McDonald’s, which has lost 500 million transactions since 2012. The chain has indicated most of these transactions were lost to primary competitors, rather than fast-casual chains or convenience stores. McDonald’s slushies use a blend of fruit juice and ice, with flavours including orangeade, fruit punch and cherry limeade, the latter a signature Sonic flavour. The slushies are available in McDonald’s midwest and southern markets, including sites in Atlanta, Houston, Chicago, Michigan and Ohio. Beverages are a key component of McDonald’s revival strategy. The company began 2017 by offering $1 coffees and $2 McCafe beverages. It then started offering different versions of its Shamrock Shake. Now the company is selling soft drinks for $1. The company also plans to revamp its McCafe brand, which includes a requirement that operators install $12,000 machines to improve beverage quality. However, company spokeswoman Becca Hary said the McDonald’s machine used to make smoothies and frappes could also be used to make slushies.

Donostia Social Club owner to launch The Tapas Room in Tooting: The owner of the Pop Brixton restaurant and street food van Donostia Social Club is expanding his remit with the launch of The Tapas Room in Tooting. Paul Belcher is opening the venue in Broadway Market on Thursday, 4 May. Functioning as a drink shop, deli and eatery, The Tapas Room will offer bar seating where guests can enjoy a drink alongside food from a complementary menu comprising Basque-inspired tapas, charcuterie and cheese. The venue will showcase specialist wine, sherry, vermouth and cava from the Basque and Spanish regions. Belcher said: “The Tapas Room allows me to further build on the passion for Basque cooking I’ve showcased through Donostia Social Club. We can expand our wine and beer offering with the new space, which gives us a shopfront for our exclusive products.”

Escape game brand Tick Tock Unlock to launch new virtual reality concept in Leeds this month: Escape game brand Tick Tock Unlock will launch a new adventure concept at Trinity Leeds shopping centre on Saturday, 22 April. The Hyper Reality Experience will be the UK’s “first virtual reality-powered game”. It will be the company’s third site in Leeds and sixth in total, with the new opening creating 13 jobs to take its total workforce to 35. Husband-and-wife team Ali Khan and Samrien Hussain founded the Leeds-based business in 2014, with the company’s other sites in Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow. Hussain told BDaily: “There’s such a big appetite for escape games and we’re always trying to develop new concepts and rooms to keep people coming back for more. As a result, we’re fully booked almost every weekend and it’s going from strength to strength. It’s fantastic to employ local people who have the same passion and vision for escape games as we do, and they all add to the atmosphere of the game. Thanks to our loyal fans we’ve been able to expand our business more quickly than we could have imagined. Since we launched just a couple of years ago, it’s been a roller-coaster ride and we’ve got so much more in store. We can’t wait to see where the next few years takes us.”

Darwin Escapes acquires Yorkshire holiday leisure park for 20th site: North Wales-headquartered Darwin Escapes, the fourth-largest operator of holiday parks in the UK, has acquired golf, lodge and events resort The KP Club in East Yorkshire. The park, near Pocklington, is Darwin Escapes’ 20th site in total and features an 18-hole championship golf course. The KP, which hosts weddings and is a popular conference venue, comprises 34 letting lodges, seven of which are hotel pods. There are also two on-site restaurants. The KP Club was acquired from private owners for an undisclosed sum. Darwin Escapes managing director Lindsey Bamford told BDaily: “The KP Club is the perfect addition to our Darwin Escapes portfolio of holiday parks. Darwin has invested heavily across the portfolio to create some of the best holiday destinations in the UK and we look forward to carrying on the legacy of The KP Club to ensure it continues to be a leading resort.” Colliers International’s Richard Moss, who handled the sale, added: “The parks and leisure resorts sector has been very active so far in 2017 and Darwin’s continued investment in the industry illustrates the continued strong demand for UK holiday and leisure businesses. Furthermore, it signals the company’s intention to grow its business in the north of England.”

Stonegate Pub Company launches Yates’s spring menu: Stonegate Pub Company has launched a spring menu across its 50-plus Yates’s estate in an effort to put the “feel-good factor” back. Additions to the “saintly” side including vegetable panang and spinach and broccoli quiche, both fewer than 650 calories. More calorific additions include a brunch burger and the challenge burger, a man-versus-food option that features a southern-fried chicken fillet and two double cheese and bacon burgers inside a sesame seed bun – with chips, beer-battered onion rings and smoky mayo. Yates’s “Legendary” menu section has also been expanded to include fish and chips, barbecue chicken melt, and beef and ale pie, while a Mexicana section has been added for the first time. New desserts include cookie crumb profiteroles and chocolate orange torte. Yates’s marketing manager Alex Botting said: “We’ve listened to our customers and refined our menu with their feedback in mind.”

Spanish chef José Pizarro launches fourth London site, at Street Feast rooftopia Giant Robot: Spanish chef José Pizarro has opened his fourth London site, at Street Feast’s new “rooftopia” – Giant Robot – in Canary Wharf. The menu at tiny tapas bar Little José includes Ibérico pork meatball sub with manchego, crispy fried squid “boca” with aioli and sides such as patatas bravas, padrón peppers and a daily changing tortilla. Drinks include cava, wine, sherry and Pizarro’s gin and tonic. Pizarro, who also operates José Tapas Bar and Pizarro Restaurant in Bermondsey, and José Pizarro in Broadgate, said: “My customers love José, with its cosy feel and simple small plates. I wanted to recreate that vibe here at Little José but also take the traditionally boring lunchtime ‘sandwich’ and give it a 21st century makeover.” Little José joins street food traders Yum Bun and its offshoot Yumplings, lobster specialists Bob’s, and ThunderBird, the new one-stop chicken shop from BBQ Lab. Giant Robot offers panoramic views of Canary Wharf as well as all-day dining and drinking. The indoor space, featuring a huge, wraparound outdoor terrace, is Street Feast’s first seven-day-a-week venue and marks the rapid expansion of the London Union-owned company, which launched in 2012.

Devon-based hotel operators acquire third site: Devon-based hotel operators Brett and Jo Powis have acquired a third site. They have bought The Rainbow International Hotel in Torquay from a guide price of £3.25m in a deal brokered by agents Christie & Co. The 143-bedroom hotel, which is in Belgrave Road near the seafront, comprises a restaurant, ballroom, club, indoor pool and gym. The Powis’ also own the nearby Babbacombe Hotel and Lincombe Hall Hotel. The hotel is one of a number sold in Torquay in recent weeks, following Christie & Co’s sale of the Meadfoot Bay Hotel and the acquisition of three hotels by South African investors from the Duchy Group for £12.5m. Stephen Champion, business agent at Christie & Co’s Exeter office, told Insider Media: “Torquay is obviously a prime location for holidaymakers from the UK as well as abroad. The fact these high-profile hotel transactions have been completed here within the past few weeks shows hospitality businesses in this area, as well as more widely across the south west region, are seen as great investments for both domestic and international buyers.”

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