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Thu 27th Apr 2017 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Eating out and holidays prop up UK consumer spending levels: Consumer spending levels in the UK remained steady in the first quarter despite fears of a slowdown, according to the latest Cardlytics Spending Index. Figures from the report, which is based on the spending behaviour of more than three million bank customers, show continued long-term demand for eating out. Growth was driven by the strength of the food-on-the-go and dining out market. Quick-service restaurants (QSR) and (non-fast food) restaurant spend increased 17.6% and 8.6% respectively compared with the same period last year. Both categories increased their foothold in the market, with QSR spend up 0.2% and restaurant spend rising 0.4% year-on-year. Spending on flights increased the most, with a 58.4% spike since the previous quarter – the highest since 2015 – and a year-on-year increase of 8.3%. There are signs the number of domestic trips are also increasing, with hotel spend up 10% year-on-year and spend on petrol up 14.1%, despite a widespread push to lower fuel prices. The grocery and fashion sectors were among the fallers. The index found overall spending weakened but remained intact. Seasonal dip aside (down 10% on the fourth quarter), overall consumer spend was up 2.7% year-on-year and 7% compared with the same period in 2015. Peter Gleason, president of international operations at Cardlytics, said: “The growing trend to spend money locally, at restaurants and hotels among other areas, presents an opportunity for brands to get creative and build relationships with existing customers and attract new ones.”

Industry News:

Host of operators sign up for Finance and Investment Conference: A host of operators and investors have signed up to attend the Propel Finance and Investment Conference. They include Shepherd Neame, Chalk Valley, The Wright Brothers, Bone Daddies, Risk Capital Partners, Business Growth Fund, Barclays Bank, My Lahore, Ei Group, Snug Bar, CBRE, Tamweel Capital, Bounce Ping Pong, We Are Bar, Arlo’s Restaurants, Inn Collection Group, Cambscuisine, Shanti Hospitality, Piano Works, Coaching Inn Group, Electric Star, Wells Group, Distinct Group, Vaulkhard Group, Knot Pretzel, Players Bars, Kheera Kitchen, and Relish Ventures. Speakers will include Stephen Owens, director and head of corporate licensed valuation services at Christie & Co, who will provide an overview of the pub, restaurant, foodservice and hotel sector mergers and acquisitions landscape, current valuations in the market and the do’s and don’ts when attempting to attract investment or sell a hospitality business. He will also give an insight into the range of investors currently seeking to invest in the sector. Propel managing director Paul Charity will talk to investor Luke Johnson about his views on investment opportunities in the sector, valuations, his current set of investments and his views on sector prospects in the post-Brexit age. Loungers co-founder Alex Reilley will talk about the successful investment in the company by Piper Private Equity, the dynamics of the relationship, and growth in estate size and value during the period of investment, developing a high-quality management team, and the recent investment in the company by private equity company Lion Capital. 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.

Inspirational Leadership Masterclass open for bookings: The Inspirational Leadership Masterclass is now open for bookings. Propel has partnered with the UK’s leading thinker and teacher on multi-site foodservice management Professor Chris Edger and Tony Hughes, cited by many current industry leaders as the most influential figure in their career, for the event. Edger and Hughes will draw on their book, eMotion – how leaders mobilise positive feelings in super-performing teams, to outline the “ten moments of emotional truth” of leadership that separate the best from the rest. The event takes place in the Chartered Accountants Hall at One Moorgate Place, London, on Thursday, 8 June and Edger and Hughes will explain their book’s key proposition – that focusing on mobilising positive emotions lies at the heart of inspirational leadership. Speakers will include David Singleton, vice-president of hospitality at Al Tayer Group, who will outline how he instilled desire in workers to join his teams and gave them the confidence to perform and the aspiration to develop. Meanwhile, Gary Topiol, managing director EMEA of Nudge Rewards, will outline the new technologies and interventions that will transform employee recognition and communication processes during the next ten years. Click here to see the full programme. 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.

UK hospitality industry set for bumper year as home and international visitors plan UK holidays: Britain’s hospitality industry is set for a record year, with a substantial increase in home and international visitors planning holidays in the UK, according to Barclays Corporate Banking report “Destination UK”. The study looked at the 2017 holiday preferences of almost 10,000 guests from the UK, continental Europe, the US, Middle East, Asia and Australia, with almost two-thirds (63%) of international holidaymakers saying they were more interested in holidaying in the UK than this time last year. Almost one-third (31%) cited a weaker pound as the biggest lure, with one-fifth of respondents stating TV programmes such as The Crown appealed most, while high-profile advertising campaigns had attracted 29% of overseas audiences. The average length of a UK visit is nine days, with the average budget, including airfares, at £3,443. However, American and Chinese guests are set to have even larger budgets this year, at an average £5,230 and £5,424 respectively. Regarding Brexit, more than half of respondents (51%) said the EU referendum had no impact on their likelihood to visit the UK, while almost one-third (31%) said they were more likely to visit. Popularity of the staycation also continues to rise, with almost one-third (30%) of UK holidaymakers expecting to spend more holiday time in the country this year. Nearly four in ten respondents (38%) who cited cost as a factor behind a UK break said the weaker pound made holidays in the UK preferable, while 39% said a domestic holiday represented better value for money. The research revealed the average British budget for UK breaks is £800, with more than one-fifth (22%) planning to spend at least £1,000. Brits also expect to spend an average £309 on accommodation, £152 on dining out and £121 on shopping. The report said operators should consider generational differences when introducing technology and experiential offerings, with more than one-third (36%) of millennials more likely to use a bar that offered automated drinks dispensing, compared with 6% of over-55s. Barclays head of hospitality and leisure Mike Saul said: “Underlying this increase is the quality of our hospitality industry and the UK’s enduring appeal. Offering guests tailored experiences will be key to success for operators in the UK hospitality and leisure sector in 2017.”

ALMR begins annual search for best in licensed hospitality: Nominations have opened for the 2017 Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers’ (ALMR) Operations Managers Awards, the annual search for the best people in the licensed hospitality industry. The awards identify and celebrate outstanding individuals who run multi-site businesses within the managed and leased sectors. Awards founder Nick Bish said: “Operations managers are vital to the success of inventive and exciting companies, driving innovation and accomplishment across the UK.” Nominations can be made online at www.almropsawards.org.uk with downloadable entry papers to be submitted before Monday, 31 July. Entry papers will then be scored, with the top 20 nominees making it through to the finals. The finalists will each spend a day in the field with a judge, who will be an experienced and knowledgeable industry executive. The final judging involves interviews with separate panels made up of leading industry professionals. This year, the winners will be revealed at a ceremony in London on Tuesday, 7 November – the same evening of the finals judging – before being presented at the ALMR Christmas Lunch on Tuesday, 19 December at Old Billingsgate, London.

Company News:

Steve Easterbrook – ‘Brexit having no affect on McDonald’s in the UK, 650 sites now open 24 hours a day’: McDonald’s chief executive Steve Easterbrook has reported no affect by Brexit on the UK business so far. He told analysts: “From what we’ve seen in the UK, our business hasn’t missed a beat since Brexit. That’s not to say that as the process works its way through over a couple of years that may translate to consumer confidence but certainly, for now, we have not seen the business miss a beat. Frankly, while others are slightly more hesitant, our owner/operators in the company are investing very aggressively in Experience Of The Future and getting extremely strong performance. I feel really good about where the UK is at – we’re providing greater convenience with increased access to McDonald’s. More than 650 restaurants are now open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which is a huge benefit to consumers managing shifting work patterns and lives that are getting increasingly hectic and complex. We continue to highlight our extensive hours through the We Are Awake Overnight campaign, showing customers we’re available on their schedule. Our leaner operating structure has improved our ability to spread our best ideas from one market to another. In markets around the world, we continue to see a collective lift from all the actions we are taking to make McDonald’s more accessible and easier for customers to visit. On digital, we are reshaping our interaction with customers, whether they eat in, take out or drive through. We’ll bring mobile order and pay to 20,000 restaurants around the world by the end of this year. In the US alone, mobile order and pay will be in 14,000 restaurants by the end of the year. While we’re still in the early days in our pilot markets, we’re moving aggressively, with multiple mobile order-and-pay tests already under way. We’re already in 400-plus restaurants across the US including Chicago, Monterey, Salinas, Spokane and Washington DC and, globally, deployment is under way in markets including the UK, Australia and China. Markets such as the UK and Canada have reached a critical mass with Experience Of The Future and are seeing growth in both guest counts and average check size, meaning sales lifts in the mid-single digits.”

Derby Brewing Co reports 25% sales uplift since relaunching city venue as smoked food and craft house concept: Derby-based brewer and retailer Derby Brewing Co has revealed its site The Greyhound has seen a 25% uplift in sales since relaunching as a smoked food and craft house. Managing director Paul Harris said the company, which is raising £500,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, would continue to evolve the site in Friar Gate to further increase trade. He added: “We are passionate about evolving our venues to keep ahead of the curve. We take inspiration and like to bring something new to the market place. With this in mind, we have given The Greyhound a new look while creating Derby’s first smoke and craft house, with our own in-house smoked meat and up to 150 craft beers and ciders. In addition, we have built our own craft beer bar in the garden featuring a wood-fired pizza oven. The changes have been hugely successful, resulting in an increase of 25% year-on-year versus 2016. This has been since the relaunch and is based on an eight-week period. We plan to continue to evolve The Greyhound with a heated garden room added to allow an additional 50 diners all year round.” Derby Brew Co is offering a 6.5% equity stake in return for the £500,000 investment, which would support expansion of the brewery, the launch of a new craft range, and the addition of a venue to its four-strong estate. So far, 199 investors have pledged £154,530 with 21 days remaining. As well as The Greyhound, the company operates specialist beer and spirit house The Tap in Derby; The Queen’s Head gastro-pub in Little Eaton; and The Kedleston Country House, a bar, restaurant, boutique hotel and wedding venue in Quarndon.

Filmore & Union opens 11th site, closes Leeds restaurant: Healthy eating cafe and restaurant company Filmore & Union has opened its 11th site, in the Redbrick furniture store in Batley, West Yorkshire. The Redbrick restaurant, which is on the first floor of the store, forms part of the company’s broader expansion plans. It has also closed its Leeds site, which opened in the Victoria Quarter in 2013. Founder Adele Ashley said: “Redbrick is a perfect fit for us, with a great location and diverse clientele, and goes really well with our style. Closing our Victoria Quarter Leeds store was one of the hardest, emotional moments of the Filmore journey so far. We have so many loyal customers in Leeds who have been incredibly supportive of our opening here and we are very excited about the future with this company.” Redbrick managing director Alastair Bailey added: “Redbrick has always had an emphasis on providing our customers not only with an extensive choice of the very best interiors brands but, crucially, an enjoyable experience overall. In that respect, our cafes and restaurants are a central part of a customer’s visit. Filmore & Union’s reputation and award-winning status are undeniably deserved and we are delighted Redbrick was the location of choice for their latest opening.” Filmore & Union opened its first site in York in 2012. It raised almost £1m on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube in 2015 and expects to reach 30 sites, with projected turnover in excess of £25m, in its five-year forecast and targets an ambitious exit multiple. Earlier this week it launched its Fresh from Filmore offer, which features a spin on its restaurant menu, with its in-house nutritionist-designed healthy options available to take away.

Freshii reveals plans for nine more sites in Northern Ireland: Canadian-based health brand Freshii has revealed plans for nine more stores in Northern Ireland having opened its first in Belfast last month to make its UK debut. The company plans expansion in shopping centres and major towns in Northern Ireland, which would create more than 100 jobs. The next Freshii will open in Callender Street, Belfast, with a third following in The Quays Shopping Centre, Newry, in the summer. Freshii also has six sites in the Republic of Ireland. Freshii offers tossed salads, hot bowls, burritos, healthy wraps, soup, fresh-pressed juices, smoothies and frozen yogurt. Meals are based on fibre-rich, slow-burning carbs, essential fats and lean proteins, and cater for dietary requirements including paleo, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and wheat-free. Freshii Ireland chief executive Dave O’Donoghue said: “Freshii’s core mission is to help people live healthier and better lives by making nutritious food convenient and affordable and the reaction in Ireland has been phenomenal. We are really excited about growing the Freshii brand in Northern Ireland. We are investing and creating more than 100 jobs while satisfying consumer demand for healthy food.” Since founder and chief executive Matthew Corrin opened the first Freshii site in Toronto in 2005, the brand has grown to more than 300 stores in 20 countries. Each Freshii restaurant features its own look and feel to fit within its local community.

Pidgin owners to launch second London restaurant, in June, with all dishes served from trollies: James Ramsden and Sam Herlihy, who operate Pidgin restaurant in Hackney, are to open a second restaurant in London, with all dishes served from trollies. Ramsden and Herlihy will launch Magpie in Heddon Street in June. The restaurant, which will have 54 covers, will feature high ceilings and a poured concrete bar lined with leather stools. Interiors will borrow from Asian and Californian influences, combining canvas-hung walls with burnt-wood tiling and a huge landscape imprinted on the back wall. The menu will feature about 30 dishes, with diners able to pick what they want from the trollies as they are wheeled around the room – having as much or as little as they want and in whatever order they wish. The menu will feature British small plates, including chicken heart popcorn with hot sauce, mussels with miso and beef dripping toast, and duck rillettes with sourdough and nukazuke pickles. Wine and cocktails will also be served from the trolley, featuring pre-mixed cocktails (including Pidgin’s barrel-aged negroni) and a wine list of about ten white and ten red wines available by the glass, carafe or bottle. Ramsden said: “We’d discussed doing something like this before we even opened Pidgin. It seemed a fun and novel approach to our current eating out habits and a way of tackling some of the more frustrating aspects of ‘sharing’ plates.”

Starbucks to open third US Roastery site, in Chicago: Starbucks is to open its third US Roastery site, this time in Chicago. The company will open the venue in North Michigan Avenue in 2019. It follows Roastery sites in Seattle, which opened in December 2014, and New York City, which is on track to open next year. The company also plans to offer customers multiple international Roastery experiences, including Shanghai, opening in late 2017, alongside Milan and Tokyo, slated to open in 2018. Like its flagship Seattle location, which was the most successful opening in the company’s history, the Chicago Roastery will be a fully sensorial coffee environment dedicated to roasting, brewing and packaging rare, small-batch Starbucks Reserve coffees from around the world. The interactive, four-storey, 43,000 square foot space will also be designed to bring coffee craft to life by offering multiple brewing methods, speciality Reserve beverages and mixology. As announced in December, Starbucks will also include fresh baking on-site in all Reserve Roastery locations courtesy of Italian baker Rocco Princi. It plans to open 20 to 30 Roastery locations globally. Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz said: “Having opened our first Starbucks store in Chicago nearly 30 years ago, our first outside of Seattle, this is a very special city for me. Chicago is a city of neighbourhoods so we took our time to find an incredible space to match the unprecedented coffee experience our premium Roastery will offer. To be located in one of the best-known retail streets in the world is a proud moment for all of us and we can’t wait to bring Chicago and the world a coffee experience worthy of its most premier real estate.”

Boopshi’s brothers to reopen St John’s Wood pub next month: Ed and Ben Robson, the brothers behind schnitzel and spritz operation Boopshi’s, will reopen a pub in St John’s Wood, north west London, next month. The brothers are reopening The Clifton, which closed in 2013, having signed a 20-year lease last year to turn it into a gastro-pub. The venue in Clifton Hill, which will open on Monday, 15 May, will seat 65 inside with space for bar drinkers and an outdoor space for 25. Original features such as fireplaces and wood panelling will be retained, while the pub will be filled with loose furniture, chesterfields and slouchy armchairs. The menu by New Zealand chef Karl Calvert will be split into two sections – Drinking House and Eating House. While the former will feature smaller plates, perfect with a drink, the latter will be a full all-day menu. The pub will offer beer from local and craft breweries, with a house beer in the works. Channel 4 sommelier Raul Diaz will have a hand in the wine list. The Robsons delved into the world of pub dining when they started running The Horseshoe in Hampstead in 2007, the first pub they drank in. Having launched Boopshi’s in Fitzrovia, the brothers were drawn back to their first love.

7Bone opens fifth site, in Newbury: Better burger brand 7Bone, which is backed by private equity firm Kings Park Capital (KPC), has opened its fifth site, in Newbury, Berkshire. The company has opened the restaurant in Bridge Street, reports the Newbury Weekly News. 7Bone’s menu includes corn dogs, cheese steaks and buffalo chicken, alongside burgers such as The Robert Johnston (aged beef patty with cheese, truffled garlic mushrooms and truffle mayo), and The Dirty Linda (chicken-fried halloumi with American cheese, dirty slaw and 7bbq sauce). The drinks menu includes imported beers and “dirty cocktails”. The company has sites in Bournemouth, Camberley, Reading and Southampton, while it has also applied to open sites in Eastbourne, Hove and Tunbridge Wells. KPC co-founder Jason Katz previously told Propel: “We think the management team has what it takes – it is focused on regional growth and has a product that can stand up to any other provider. The burger market is enormous and we are backing a brand we believe can take share in a competitive market.”

Black Country Ales bids to turn Bewdley bank into real ale pub for 23rd site: Black Country Ales, the 12-year-old brewer based in Lower Gornall, Dudley, has submitted plans to transform a former bank in Bewdley, Worcestershire, into its 23rd real ale pub. Maple Design has submitted a planning application to Wyre Forest District Council on behalf of Black Country Ales to transform the former Barclays branch in Load Street, which closed in August 2014, into a pub stocking beers from its brewery in Lower Gornal. The statement pointed out Black Country Ales’ history of “carrying out renovations to run-down and closed pubs” throughout the region. A company spokesman told The Shuttle: “The building will be converted into a traditional pub with an old-fashioned feel. It will serve beers from the Black Country Ales brewery and a wide range of ever-changing guest beers from around the UK. The proposed pub is currently unnamed and the company will seek a name that reflects the traditional feel of the pub and the locality.” Black Country Ales opened its 22nd pub, and first in Stafford, in September. Director Angus McMeeking said at the time: “Stafford is an area we were keen to move into. It is a busy bustling town and there is a growing real ale contingent.”

Just Eat appoints new group head of customer operations: Just Eat, the global marketplace for online food delivery, has appointed Giovanni Lagasio as its new group head of customer operations. Lagasio has joined the company from Google, where he held a variety of strategy and operations roles within its marketing solutions team. Just Eat said Lagasio would be responsible for leading its global customer operations team to “ensure we continue to provide the highest level of customer experience and service to our millions of customers”.

Caprice Holdings to open Ivy brasserie in Cobham on 1 June: Caprice Holdings, owned by Richard Caring, will open The Ivy Cobham Brasserie in Cobham, Surrey, on Thursday, 1 June. The 180-cover restaurant in High Street will offer breakfast, elevenses, lunch, light snacks, afternoon tea, cocktails, weekend brunch and dinner. The venue will also feature a bar, orangery, garden and semi-private mezzanine area. A number of tables will be held back for walk-ins. A company spokesman said: “Whether visiting for a leisurely breakfast, family lunch, cocktails with friends or a three-course dinner, The Ivy Cobham Brasserie will add to the charm and refinement of idyllic Cobham and is an exciting addition to this thriving area.” Last month, Caprice Holdings agreed a deal to open an Ivy brasserie in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. The company has signed a 25-year lease for an empty unit in High Street and will open in “late spring”. The unit is undergoing extension work to allow for a 100-cover restaurant and garden with outdoor seating. Caprice Holdings is continuing its expansion of the Ivy brand, having also secured brasserie sites in Guildford and Tower Bridge, London. The company also operates three Ivy Cafe sites in London.

Comic Strip actor Keith Allen to launch Gloucestershire nightclub and diner: Actor and musician Keith Allen, famous for Fat Les anthem Vindaloo and 1980s cult comedy series Comic Strip Presents, is to launch a nightclub in Stroud, Gloucestershire. Allen and his business partners – publican Lotte Lyster and sound engineer Tom De Brabant – are transforming the former Twisted Fix club that closed earlier this month. The team is also creating an American Diner at a former fish and chip shop that is part of the same building. It will be run by Allen’s wife Tamzin Malleson and is set to open next month. The new club, which will be a “cross between Ronnie Scott’s and the Establishment Club”, will launch in late August or early September. The venue has a ground-floor capacity of 450, while Allen will create a more intimate club setting upstairs and a rooftop terrace. He told Gloucestershire Live: “I want it to be a place that is interesting, fun and late. When the rooftop is open it will be a lovely place to go in the evening, with great views. I remember the first time I saw Raging Bull and Robert De Niro had gone way down and lost everything but had a club. I remember thinking: ‘He has got his own club, going round talking to people. I’ll have a bit of that’.”

Xavier Rousset opens Mayfair wine bar and cafe, third London site: Master sommelier Xavier Rousset has opened Comptoir Café & Wine in Mayfair, his third London site. The venue in Weighhouse Street, close to Bond Street station, pairs an all-day cafe with a large downstairs wine shop, with wine available to drink on the premises. Comptoir Café & Wine is primarily a 40-cover cafe by day with a no reservations policy, and a wine bar by night. In its daytime guise, it offers classic breakfasts – including takeaway options – as well as soups, salads and lighter dishes at lunch. The evening menu features small plates, including beef tartar, ceviche, seafood, lobster rolls and charcuterie, Hot Dinners reports. The wine shop offers 1,000 wines from around the world, including up to 100 bins of champagne – all of which can be drank in the cafe with a £10 corkage fee. The shop will also host wine tasting and other events. Rousset launched his first solo venture – Blandford Comptoir, an informal restaurant showcasing Mediterranean cuisine with Italian influences – in Marylebone in May last year. He opened French fine dining restaurant Cabotte in Gresham Street, central London, with fellow sommelier Gearoid Devaney in September.  

PizzaExpress opens second Abu Dhabi site to take UAE portfolio to nine: PizzaExpress has opened its second branch in Abu Dhabi, expanding its UAE portfolio to nine sites. The company has opened the venue in The Arc Tower at Al Reem Island. Open from lunch through to dinner, the new outlet offers “great food and distinctive design”, reports Hotelier Middle East. PizzaExpress’ other UAE sites consist of two Jazz@PizzaExpress restaurants as well as JLT, Dubai World Trade Centre, Safa Park, City Centre Mall in Fujairah, Al Hamra Mall in Ras Al Khaimah, The Mall at the World Trade Centre in Abu Dhabi, and The Arc Tower. The company has 70 restaurants across nine international markets and more than 440 branches in the UK.

Hull-based franchisee opens second Papa John’s site, eyes third venue in city: Hull-based franchisee Rohit “Rocky” Pawha has opened his second Papa John’s site in the city and is already eyeing a third. Pawha launched the first Papa John’s venue in the city in Anlaby Road last year after spotting a gap in the market for takeaway food. He has now opened a second site in Holderness Road following a £200,000 refurbishment of a site formerly occupied by Burger Shack. Pawha has created 40 jobs across the two sites and is seeking permission from Hull City Council to open a third store in Cottingham Road later this year. He told Hull Daily Mail: “We were not covering east Hull and people from this area used to ring us asking when we were coming to Holderness Road? This location is in a prime spot opposite McDonald’s and is great for parking.” Papa John’s has more than 350 sites across the UK and over 5,000 stores in more than 40 international markets and territories.

Fuller’s reopens north London pub following refurbishment: London brewer and retailer Fuller’s has reopened The Great Northern Railway Tavern in Hornsey, north London, following an extensive refurbishment. The company has transformed the grade II-listed building in High Street, restoring original features including a skylight in the bar area. The dining area has been reconfigured, while the garden has an outside bar, fire pit and barbecue. The function room upstairs has its own private bar. The pub serves a range of home-cooked food, from pub favourites to signature dishes, as well as a selection of craft beers. Fuller’s Inns managing director Jonathon Swaine said: “The Great Northern Railway has been a fantastic addition to the Fuller’s estate and this refurbishment has brought a new lease of life to the pub.”

Turtle Bay launches new menu: Caribbean restaurant brand Turtle Bay has launched a new menu. Alongside new options, the menu places more emphasis on sharing platters and cutters inspired by West Indian street food. The burger selection has been extended, with a Jammin’ lamb burger, a two-way chicken burger, and a vegetarian mushroom and goats cheese burger added to the menu. Salad choices include avocado, butternut squash and mango, and spinach, watermelon and rainbow beetroot shavings, both of which can be topped with grilled garlic and chilli king prawns, chicken, goats cheese or squid. The Vital Veggie Beach Platter and the spinach, aubergine and sweet potato curry are also vegan friendly. As well as the new dishes, the menu features seven new drinks.

Beeston-based tapas restaurant The Frustrated Chef to start expansion by opening second site, in Nottingham: Beeston-based tapas restaurant The Frustrated Chef is to start expansion by opening its second site, in Nottingham. Owners Mattias Karlsson and Patrick de Souza are opening the new venue in Toll House Hill having acquired the lease of The Gatehouse pub. The Frustrated Chef specialises in small dishes inspired by the flavours of the Mediterranean, Sweden and Asia. Karlsson told the Nottingham Post: “We have plans to create a venue with good pinchos, snacks, things from the grill and nibbles similar to The Frustrated Chef but slightly different and less elaborate.” Karlsson and de Souza launched The Frustrated Chef in Chilwell Road, Beeston, last year.

Cote to open Shrewsbury site on Monday: French brasserie Cote will open a site in Shrewsbury on Monday (1 May). The company is opening the restaurant in Princess House, The Square, having converted an empty unit. There will also be an outside seating area in front of the restaurant and three retractable verandas. Cote, which is owned by private equity firm BC Partners, has more than 80 sites in the UK.

Derby-based brewer bids to open first micro-pub: Derby-based Littleover Brewery has applied to open its first micro-pub. Owner Tim Dorrington has applied to Derby City Council to turn a vacant unit at the Park Farm Shopping Centre in Allestree into a micro-pub called The Pothole. There has been no pub in the local area for more than 15 years. Dorrington told the Derby Telegraph: “We are keen to make this something the local community can feel part of and, once open, we intend to ensure the character and modus operandi are determined by our customers.”

Family-run cider-maker Sheppy’s opens Somerset restaurant: Family-run cider-maker Sheppy’s has opened a restaurant at its Three Bridges Farm in Somerset. The company has built Apple Bay Bar & Restaurant at the farm, which based off the A38 between Taunton and Wellington. Trained waiters “treat cider like wine”, helping diners pair the perfect pint with their meal. Its website states: “The team at Apple Bay will be delighted to serve you a drink from our bespoke bar. We have a specially selected menu of drinks from local producers where possible, which we serve alongside our Sheppy’s cider. Producing Somerset cider for more than 200 years, the Sheppy family specialises in premium craft ciders. We have an experienced, knowledgeable and enthusiastic team who will be able to recommend the best cider for your palate or to accompany your meal.” The restaurant is part of Sheppy’s House of Cider and Fine Foods development, which also offers guided tours and tastings.

Essex-based Italian restaurant Sorano’s starts expansion with second site, in Colchester: Essex-based Italian restaurant Sorano’s has started expansion by opening its second site, in Colchester. Owners Gaetano Sorano and Michaela Luca have opened the venue in St John’s Street in a building that incorporates part of the town’s Roman walls. The building, formerly home to the Lemon Tree restaurant, has been refurbished, including the creation of a Roman Cellar in which diners can sit next to the ancient wall. Sorano told the Daily Gazette: “We wanted to go for a rustic Italian restaurant feel, not really a trattoria but something a bit more sophisticated that incorporated a range of cuisines from Italy.” Sorano and Luca launched the concept in the nearby village of Thorrington in 2015.

Gloucestershire pub sold to London-based commercial property investor: The George Inn & Millingbrook Lodge in Aylburton, Gloucestershire, has been sold to a London-based commercial property investor. The inn, which trades as a pub restaurant, dates to the mid-19th century and contains 14 letting bedrooms. It will continue to be operated by tenants Ian and Carol Lilley who have run the business, which was sold through agents Christie & Co, for more than six years. It is believed the site was originally owned by Whitbread Brewery before being sold to private investors prior to the most recent sale. Christie & Co director Nick Calfe said: “Since the tax changes to the residential buy-to-let market, we have seen an increased appetite for commercial pub investments such as this. With reliable long-term tenants, such investments offer the security of an attractive rent roll that is often backed up by development options.”

Staffordshire-based artisan coffee shop to start expansion by opening second site, in Derby: Staffordshire-based artisan coffee shop Bear is to start expansion by opening its second site, this time in Derby. Craig Bunting and Michael Thorley launched the concept in Uttoxeter in January last year. Now they are heading to Derby having secured a site in the city’s Cathedral Quarter. They are currently refurbishing an empty building ahead of opening the venue in the summer. Bunting told The Business Desk: “Our vision is to combine better coffee during the day with an alternative bar experience in the evenings – served by skilled, passionate staff. Until recently, coffee shops and pubs have been very different places, with a different clientele. Bear is part of a growing movement that breaks the mould and offers a different vibe.”

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