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Thu 18th May 2017 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Alex Reilley – we’d love to ‘have a crack’ at floating Loungers, confirms previous change of mind over exiting the company: Alex Reilley, co-founder of Lion Capital-backed cafe bar brand Loungers, has said he would love to “have a crack” at floating the company. A few years ago there were strong industry rumours that Reilley and fellow co-founder Jake Bishop might exit the company in the medium term. However, Reilley confirmed at the Propel Finance and Investment Conference the pair were committed to the long-term development of the Loungers business they founded with David Reid in 2002. The company hit the 100-site milestone with its opening in Mansfield last week and Reilley said he still got a buzz growing the company. He said: “We have talked about potential exits (but) we’d (now) all love to have a crack at floating the business. I think there would be a huge amount of opportunity with us being listed and clearly it’s a business that can demonstrate the amount of potential growth that is left in it. Clearly that’s a long way off and who knows what’s around the corner. I still get the buzz going to the 100th opening that I got when I went to the first. Growing the business is addictive – it’s the drug that courses through our veins. I had people come up to me out of the blue and say ‘whatever you do, don’t sell that business because you will regret that decision for the rest of your life’. We had some trade interest floating around last summer and it forced us to really sit around the table and talk about us as a team and what our individual aspirations are. We were all very happy to talk about how much we loved working with each other and enjoyed that camaraderie and that buzz you get from doing something we’d never done. It’s something that thrills and excites us and makes us want to go to work. While you could do lots of other things, I never thought we’d get where we are so why not go a bit longer and see how far we can take it.” With the company eyeing a 200-strong estate, Reilley said the company would slightly accelerate its openings to double the size of the company. He added: “I would expect this year we may open 22 or 23 sites and thereafter we will open 25 to 26 a year and the plan is we will rapidly get up to 200 sites. That should, I suspect, take us four years. When we had 20 sites we could see 100 was achievable. Getting to 20 was hard work and it took a long time but once you get into the rhythm you realise this is something that can work in all manner of locations.”

Industry News:

Chief executives and founders sign up for Inspirational Leadership Masterclass: Senior chief executives, company founders and chairmen are among those looking to improve their leadership skills by signing up for Propel’s Inspirational Leadership Masterclass. Companies attending include Cambscuisine, Bone Daddies, Davy’s, Punch, Mitchells & Butlers, Castle Rock Brewery, Vaulkhard Group, The Ivy Collection, My Lahore, Draft House, Jamie’s Italian, Brindisa Tapas Kitchens, Chilled Pubs, Oakman Inns, Ponti’s, McMullen’s, Anglian Country Inns, The Yummy Collection, The Inn Collection, Admiral Taverns, True North Brew, FrogPubs, Jo Delucci’s, The Alchemist, The Piano Works, 16 Hospitality, The Barons Eden Group, and Chameleon Bar and Dining. 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 leading brands consultant Ian Dunstall, who will outline how inspirational leaders set up and evolve a brand that is loved by both employees and guests. Nick Miller, formerly of Miller Brands UK and Meantime Brewery, will share his leadership learning experiences (good and bad) and highlight what he believes were his ten critical leadership moments during this time. Click here to see the full speaker schedule. 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 or call 01444 817691.

Propel Multi-Club summer conference and party open for bookings, two free places for operators: The Propel Multi-Club summer conference and party is now open for bookings. The event, which takes place on Thursday, 6 July at the Oxford Belfry, which is just off the M40, will also involve the Propel summer party in the evening. Speakers will include Cyril Lavenant, of NPD Group, who will provide insights on the current state of the UK foodservice market, how the UK compares with the US and Europe, and outline ten key trends in the foodservice market while forecasting future progress. Roger Perowne, chief executive of Morar Consulting, which launched a daily sector brand tracker in March, will set out major learnings for the sector in Morar’s measurement of consumer perspectives on the major restaurant brands. Husband-and-wife team Ali Khan and Samrien Hussain, whose company Tick Tock Unlocked operates six escape rooms in four UK cities, will talk about how they have developed high-quality, differentiated escape rooms, their most recent opening at Trinity Leeds, their customer base and USPs, and how they see the market in experiential leisure developing. Nick Taplin, chief executive of Black and White Hospitality, will explain how the company is developing a 50-strong franchised restaurant estate in partnership with chef Marco Pierre White, its unique brands, its USPs, and future prospects. Simon Blackbourne, commercial director of Tahola, will share his insights into how operators can use Big Data to support business growth and the current trends in our data-driven economy. James Baer, managing director of Amber Taverns, will set out the company’s progress in creating a 130-plus estate of community pubs, the strengths of its management model, its investment criteria and the developments of its Hogarths Victorian-style gin palace brand and future plans. Click here for the full speaker schedule. Operators can claim two free places by emailing Jo Charity on

Consumers will spend more on eating and drinking out if they have access to mobile ordering: Consumers will spend more on nights out if they can order food and drinks on their smartphone, according to the latest Go Technology report from hospitality management solutions company Zonal Retail Data Systems and CGA Peach. The poll of 5,000 adults in the UK revealed two-fifths (40%) of 25 to 34-year-olds prefer to use their smartphone to order food and drink and have items delivered to their table rather than queue at the bar or wait for table service. The research also revealed two-thirds (67%) would spend more cash and buy more drinks if they could order from their mobile device, with more than three-quarters (80%) happy to pay via smartphone using “recognisable and trustworthy” brands such as PayPal, Barclaycard and ApplePay. The growing popularity of smartphone usage as part of the eating and drinking out experience has also led to an increase in apps, with several operators developing their own. The report revealed more than two-fifths (44%) respond to regular offers and rewards on apps, with more than two-thirds (68%) of respondents who prefer app loyalty schemes significantly more likely to remain loyal to a brand. Zonal sales and marketing director Clive Consterdine said: “Our latest Go Technology report demonstrates a growing appetite from consumers to use smartphones as a digital wallet to order and pay for food and drink. These consumers clearly value the improved speed of service and avoiding the hassle of queuing at a bar or waiting for table service. The hospitality sector is opening its eyes to the opportunity technology can bring to enhance the customer experience and drive sales. There is still room for improvement and it’s those operators which embrace the change that will reap the rewards.” CGA director Jamie Campbell added: “We are seeing real momentum of consumers growing in confidence when it comes to ordering and paying so it’s a great time to develop your offer in this space as this is only going to increase. Apps need to engage and give a reason to download – consumers don’t want or have space for apps they don’t use on their phone.”

Sales unaffected by cut in sugar content, says Coca-Cola chief: Coca-Cola has quietly reduced the sugar content of some of its biggest brands without affecting sales, according to chief executive James Quincey. The company has made a number of reductions in sugar content during the past four years, including a 30% cut in Fanta two weeks ago. There were similar reductions to Sprite and Dr Pepper in 2013 and 2014. Sweeteners have been added to try to maintain the taste – the company is adding plant extract stevia to Sprite and artificial sweetener acesulfame to Fanta, which now contains less than half the sugar of Coca-Cola. Quincey told Bloomberg Businessweek: “We took some of the calories out of Sprite and consumers like Sprite now as much as they did before. Then we took 30% of the calories out of Fanta to see what would happen. Again, sales seem to be continuing fine.” A sugar tax due to come into force in the UK next year would mean soft drinks producers and importers would have to pay 18p tax more per litre on drinks containing five grams or more sugar per 100ml and 24p per litre more if their products contain eight grams or more. Quincey suggested Coca-Cola might reduce the size of bottles and cans to help cut sugar consumption.

Luke Johnson – Labour manifesto a ‘very scary document’: Sector investor Luke Johnson has criticised the Labour Party’s election promises, claiming they would threaten business growth. Labour’s manifesto includes an increase in the minimum wage, a corporation tax hike and an “excessive pay levy” on salaries above £330,000. Johnson described the manifesto as a “very scary document”, particularly the nationalisation plans and “sharp” increases in public spending and tax. He said: “As far as I can see there’s a lack of real calculations in how it should all be funded and I think it would be very discouraging for those who are prepared to grow business to have these extra burdens and controls imposed.” Theresa May’s policies were more likely to stimulate growth, he added.
Hospitality staff champion front-of-house jobs at fifth National Waiters’ Day: A total of 300 waiters and front-of-house staff took part in this year’s National Waiters’ Day race, which aims to highlight the rewarding career progression routes the hospitality sector offers. The campaign, led by hospitality industry charity Springboard and Galvin at Windows general manager Fred Sirieix, is now in its fifth year. As well as the flagship race in Hyde Park, London, races and activities involving hundreds of front-of-house staff also took place in Ashdown, Colchester, Derby, Eastbourne, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Luton, Manchester, Newquay, Norwich, Stratford-upon-Avon and Wick. Sirieix said: “It’s essential we promote the ocean of career opportunities hospitality has to offer, celebrate the hard work of front-of-house professionals, and encourage more people to begin great careers in hospitality. With all the opportunities available, you can work hard and be rewarded with success – there has never been a more exciting time to join this special industry.”

Company News:

D&D London to launch third restaurant with Francesco Mazzei, at Battersea Power Station: Restaurant operator D&D London will launch its third concept in partnership with Italian chef Francesco Mazzei, with a summer opening at Circus West Village, part of the £9bn Battersea Power Station redevelopment. Fiume, which means “river” in Italian, will join Mazzei and D&D London’s other ventures – Sartoria in Savile Row and Radici in Islington. Head chef Francesco Chiarelli will run the kitchen at 120-cover Fiume, which will be designed by Macaulay Sinclair and feature an open kitchen with wood-fired oven, bar counter dining for 15 people, and a terrace for up to 50 guests. Mazzei said: “When I saw the plans for Circus West Village and Battersea Power Station as a whole, there was no doubt in my mind I wanted to be involved. It is a one-of-a-kind project that will attract people from all over the world, and I cannot wait to feed them all!” Rob Tincknell, chief executive of the Battersea Power Station Development Company, added: “Francesco Mazzei is an amazing chef with a strong track record and we are delighted he has chosen Circus West Village at Battersea Power Station to unveil his new concept.” D&D London owns and operates restaurants in London, Leeds, Paris, New York and Tokyo and the 80-bedroom South Place Hotel in London.

M&B – 25% of estate has delivery potential: Mitchells & Butlers has said it believes 25% of its estate has potential for delivery sales. The company told City analysts it has 55 sites live with Deliveroo, with average sales per week of £300 a site. Seven of its top-ten delivery sites are outside London, with particular demand at its new concepts. The company added it believed there was a delivery opportunity in up to 25% of its estate and it would undertake trials with new partners to “access more of this growing market”. The company has launched two concepts, Chicken Society and Son of Steak, where the offer is being “monitored and refined”. It stated that the “process of development is bringing progressive thinking to existing brands”, while “further new concepts are currently in development”. The company reported it now had 67 Miller & Carter sites (15 opened year-to-date), 72 Stonehouse Pizza and Carvery sites (34 opened year-to-date), while its evolved Harvester offer, Harvester Feel Good Dining, has been expanded to 55 sites (23 opened year-to-date).

Be At One secures Bournemouth site for second south coast venue: Be At One, the specialist cocktail bar group, has continued its national expansion programme by securing a site in Bournemouth for its second venue on the south coast. The group has completed a deal on a site in Richmond Hill, close to the seafront. The venue is a former nightclub, with basement trading space and initial capacity for 200 guests. The site will undergo an extensive refurbishment before opening in August. Be At One director Steve Locke said: “We’re really excited to have secured this prominent site in Bournemouth as it’s a location that has long been on our target list. It’s a vibrant city that has benefited from significant investment in recent times that, in turn, has brought a great buzz to the centre from locals and tourists. We’re deliberately creating quite an intimate space that will help generate the unique atmosphere we’re renowned for. We’re eager to get the site open as we move into summer and expect a busy few months ahead.” Be At One operates 32 venues across the UK, with its other south coast site in Brighton.

The Ivy Collection to open City site next month: The Ivy Collection, the Richard Caring-backed group, is expanding in the City with the opening of The Ivy City Garden in Bishopsgate next month. The company will open the venue on Wednesday, 7 June in Dashwood House at a site previously occupied by Des McDonald’s Vintage Salt restaurant. It will feature an onyx bar, pendant lighting, marble floor tiles, leather banquettes and midnight-blue bar stools. There will also be a private dining room seating up to 30 guests. The garden, with capacity for 32 diners, will feature three fireplaces, a summer water fountain that turns into a fire pit during the winter months, and its own bar. As well as traditional Ivy Collection favourites, the menu will feature an exclusive truffle beef wellington sharing platter for four served with foie gras sauce, dauphinoise potatoes and green salad. There will also be a new cocktail menu including the Dashwood Blossom made from Beefeater gin, fresh grape, mint, nettle cordial and aloe vera juice.

Douglas Jack – ‘M&B starting to show signs of progress’: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has said Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) is starting to show signs of progress. Issuing an ‘Add’ note on the shares with a target price of 300p, Jack said: “Like-for-like sales rose by 1.6% (against a -1.6% comparable) in the first half, with food up 0.8% and drink up 2.3%, ahead of the pubs constituent of the Coffer Peach Business Tracker (+0.7%). The pick-up to 1.9% after 33 weeks (food up 1.4%, drink up 2.4%) reflects Easter moving into the second half. The performance also reflects tail-end disposals, asset repositioning, operational improvements, digital marketing and online delivery. M&B is making progress rebranding its assets. The cash return on expansionary capital has improved to more than 20% since the start of 2016 (2015: 18%, 2014: 16%), helped by M&B increasing its exposure to Miller & Carter and reducing the number of Harvesters, Toby Carveries and Crown Carveries. We believe the company will eventually target having circa 12 brands, with circa 140 sites per brand. Cost guidance has not been changed, so there should be £56m of cost increases in 2017E (3.5% inflation), comprising £30m labour (+4.8%), £12m input costs (+2.2%), £5m utilities (+7%), £6m business rates (+7%), and £3m Apprenticeship Levy. The company expects to mitigate some of this impact through renegotiating supply agreements, encouraging customers to ‘trade up’, and cost-saving initiatives at both site and overhead levels. The tri-annual review commenced in March 2016 and negotiations must complete by the end of June 2017. The pension deficit is likely to have increased (its current balance sheet value is £316m). We are holding our forecasts (profit before tax 180.3m, consensus £180.8m), which assume average sales rise by 1.5% (like-for-like 1.0%) and margins fall by 57 basis points (consensus -51 basis points). In our view, the 8.0 times EV/Ebitda rating (including the pension deficit) is attractive for a high-quality (south England-orientated, circa 85% freehold) estate that is starting to show signs of progress.”

Giggling Squid opens 21st site, in Brentwood: Thai restaurant group Giggling Squid, which is backed by the Business Growth Fund, has opened its 21st site, in Brentwood, Essex. The 100-cover restaurant is spread across one floor and offers lunchtime Thai tapas and a separate dinner menu. It will also offer Giggling Squid’s new Little Tapas For Little People menu, which offers two smaller versions of Giggling Squid dishes for £5.95. Giggling Squid Brentwood also features bar-style seating shaping the centre of the restaurant, a first for the brand, alongside hand-made driftwood artwork by co-founder Pranee Laurillard and books from the town’s charity shops. A floral theme is established throughout, with hand-woven branches and trellises on the walls and hanging baskets on the ceiling. In February, Giggling Squid acquired its first London site, in Wimbledon, which will open in the summer. Giggling Squid took a £6.4m investment from the Business Growth Fund in 2015 to accelerate its growth plans.

YO! Sushi to make Glasgow city centre debut this summer at former Pizza Hut site: YO! Sushi will make its debut in Glasgow city centre this summer when it opens at a former Pizza Hut site in West George Street. The company, which operates venues in the Scottish city’s Silverburn and Braehead shopping centres, said work was under way to convert the new site after getting approval by the city council to make alterations to the listed building. Earlier this year, chief executive Robin Rowland told Propel YO! Sushi planned to double its openings this year. The company, backed by Mayfair Private Equity, has seen like-for-like sales increases of more than 5% since last summer in the wake of moves to evolve the company in a number of key areas. Menus have been redesigned with dish numbers increased from 70 to 100. Rowland said: “The planned openings this year will take us close to 100 restaurants operating worldwide by the end of the year. We’ve got our mojo back as a business and are definitely back on track.” YO! Sushi has also signed a 20-year lease on a 2,300 square foot unit at Glasgow Fort’s new leisure quarter. Other brands to sign for the out-of-town scheme include Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Thai Leisure Group brand Thaikhun, Pret A Manger, and Casual Dining Group brand Café Rouge.

Smoke & Salt concept to replace Kricket at Pop Brixton: Aaron Webster and Remi Williams, who met while working at Gladwin Brothers’ The Shed in Notting Hill, are moving their pop-up concept Smoke & Salt to Pop Brixton. The chefs will take over the space currently occupied by small Indian plates concept Kricket, which is leaving at the end of May after the owners decided to focus on opening a second permanent restaurant in London. Smoke & Salt offers modern, seasonal cuisine using techniques such as brining, curing, fermenting and smoking and will open at Pop Brixton at the beginning of June. Webster and Williams state on the Smoke & Salt website: “We’ve been touring London with some successful pop-ups in different corners of this great city. We’re learning and growing by cooking and meeting amazing new people. We love what we do and can’t wait to serve everyone as we continue on the journey to our own bricks and mortar.” Meanwhile, Pop Brixton will hold its second-anniversary celebrations from 2 to 4 June.

Coffee shop brand Mettricks secures fifth site: Crest Nicholson, represented by agent Savills, has secured a deal with Mettricks for a new coffee, cocktail and food venue at Woolston Waterside, part of the Centenary Quay development in Southampton. Mettricks Woolston Waterside is the fifth speciality coffee-led site operated by Mettricks in Southampton, with sites in the Old Town, Bargate and Guildhall Square quarters of the city, as well as a location in Beaulieu in the New Forest. Mettricks has agreed a new 20-year lease for the 2,793 square foot (260 square metre) property, which is one of 12 leisure units being developed at Woolston Waterside. Spencer Bowman, founder and managing director of Mettricks, said: “Crest Nicholson’s Centenary Quay is one of the largest and most exciting waterfront redevelopments in the city at the moment and Mettricks looks forward to bringing speciality coffee, fresh and tasty food, cocktails, wine and beer to Woolston.” Savills acted jointly with Hughes Ellard.

Redcomb Pubs to launch pop-up floating gin and cocktail bar: Redcomb Pubs, led by Dan Shotton, is to launch a floating pop-up gin and cocktail bar this summer in association with the Merchant Square development. The Botanical Bar will be delivered by Lockhouse, the group’s new craft beer, cocktail and burger venue that opened in Merchant Square in December. Situated on London’s first “Floating Pocket Park”, which will open in Paddington Basin on the Grand Union Canal, the Botanical Bar will offer a range of gin and gin cocktails. Launching on Saturday, 10 June to celebrate World Gin Day, the bar, which can accommodate up to 100 guests, will run on Thursdays and Fridays throughout the summer, from midday to 9pm. The Botanical Bar will also feature a specially developed “G&T” menu. Shotton said: “We’re delighted to partner Merchant Square on this exciting venture and to operate London’s first pop-up bar on a floating park. It will add a real point of difference that’s sure to become a talking point for Londoners this summer.”

Agent markets Buckinghamshire pub with 16 bedrooms for £1.2m: Property agent Fleurets is marketing the Shoulder of Mutton Inn in the Hamlet of Owlswick, Buckinghamshire. The property’s freehold is available off a guide price of £1,200,000. Set within 2.91 acres of land, the property possesses three trading areas, a large car park as well as a letting accommodation block with 16 rooms. Elysia Wilson-Gunn, of Fleurets, said: “We have certainly seen a shift in the purchaser’s market towards acquiring sites with letting rooms or accommodation potential, with pubs diversifying their offering. This premises possesses the perfect potential for the current market.”

New owners reopen Enterprise-owned pub in Portishead formerly operated by Mezze: A new management team has reopened a pub in Portishead town centre. The Old Mill in High Street was The White Lion before Mezze Restaurants, the West Country operator led by Alex Tryfonos, closed it last year. The pub is owned by Enterprise Inns (now Ei Group). A menu featuring classic British pub food is now on offer while the drinks list focuses on wine and cocktails alongside ale, lager and cider. New owner Gavin Wright, who has been in the pub trade for 16 years, told the North Somerset Times: “The response has been really good from the community and I’m really excited about it. The building had lots of character and wonderful features that we have tried to restore but it was soulless and we could see why it failed.” In May 2015, Mezze relaunched The White Lion following a £125,000 investment. The site first opened in 2013 and was Enterprise Inns’ largest single capex investment that year, involving £600,000. Mezze currently operates three venues.

Multi-site father-and-son team add two Bristol pubs to estate: Multi-site operators Paul and Frank Sprackman have added two further NewRiver pubs to their growing portfolio – The Luckwell and The New Found Out, both in Bristol. Father and son now have six pubs in total, including NewRiver’s Eagle in Redditch, Worcestershire. They have run The Luckwell since May 2016 and took on The New Found Out earlier this year. David Shipton, asset development director of NewRiver’s pub division, said: “We’re really excited to see Paul and Frank take on multiple NewRiver sites, expanding their portfolio of successfully run pubs. While The Luckwell has always been a popular venue with Bristol City football fans, it’s great to see trading is up since Paul and Frank took on the pub last year.

Boopshi’s brothers reopen St John’s Wood pub: Ed and Ben Robson, the brothers behind schnitzel and spritz operation Boopshi’s, have reopened The Clifton pub in St John’s Wood, north west London. The pub closed in 2013 but the brothers signed a 20-year lease last year to turn it into a gastro-pub. The venue in Clifton Hill seats 65 diners, with more space at the bar and outside. Original features such as fireplaces and wood panelling have been retained, while the pub is filled with loose furniture, chesterfields and slouchy armchairs. The menu by New Zealand chef Karl Calvert is split into two sections – Drinking House and Eating House. While the former features smaller plates, the latter is a full all-day menu. The pub offers beer from local and craft breweries alongside a wine list compiled by Channel 4 sommelier Raul Diaz.

Hull-based multi-site operator launches Mexican street food concept for third city site: Hull-based multi-site operator Oliver Johnson has opened a third venue in the city. Johnson, who operates Dope Burger and Wagwan Chicken, has launched Mexican street food concept Boss Burritos in Witham offering burritos, chimichangas, quesadillas, nacho bakes and souped-up fries baked in the brand’s Boss Sauce. Other dishes include chicken, brisket, belly pork and vegetables topped with cheese, while the venue also operates a takeaway service, the Hull Daily Mail reports. Artwork on the walls is inspired by the Day Of The Dead festival.

Nando’s becomes first restaurant to sign for £65m Burgess Hill scheme: Nando’s has become the first restaurant company to sign for the new £65m redeveloped Martlets scheme in Burgess Hill, West Sussex. Developer NewRiver Retail said Nando’s and fashioner retailer Next had both agreed deals to open sites in the new-look shopping area. Work on the 465,000 square foot scheme, which also includes a 63-bedroom Travelodge, is expected to start later this year. NewRiver Retail director Justin Thomas told the Mid Sussex Times: “We are making excellent progress and these key events mark a significant milestone for the deliverability of this development. We are delighted to have popular brands, including Next and Nando’s, to anchor our redevelopment in the heart of Burgess Hill. Key to the success of our proposals is creating a truly vibrant town centre experience, and new restaurants will complement the evening economy we are aiming for, bolstered by the multiplex Cineworld that sits at the heart of the development.” 

Catering company Salt The Radish launches vegetable-focused cafe concept in Finsbury Park: Catering company Salt The Radish has launched vegetable-focused cafe concept Vegcentric in Finsbury Park, north London. The cafe has opened in Blackstock Road at former delicatessen Wittles offering vegetarian and vegan salads for lunch and brunch alongside high-quality coffee and homemade cakes. Owner Kat Halliday told Hot Dinners the venue would undergo a full refurbishment and add a hot food menu towards the end of the summer. The drinks list will include Climpson & Sons coffee and speciality teas.

Drake & Morgan launches summer drinks menu with London Essence Company collaboration: Drake & Morgan, the London-based bar and restaurant group backed by Bowmark Capital, has launched a collaboration with The London Essence Company to create a Taste of Summer drinks menu. The ten-strong drinks list allows consumers to “explore a variety of long drinks across a broad range of liquor categories”. It is available at Drake & Morgan venues The Otherist, The Pagination, and The Happenstance and at Corney & Barrow Wine Bars, which the company acquired last year. The Taste of Summer menu features The London Essence Company’s full collection of distilled mixers alongside a range of spirits curated by Cask Liquid Marketing, with both companies providing staff training and incentives, sampling, and mixology masterclasses at participating Drake & Morgan venues. Drake & Morgan managing director Jillian MacLean said: “The London Essence Company follows the same philosophy as us in terms of customer experience and, with a growing number of alfresco spaces at our bars and restaurants, we are confident the Taste of Summer menu will be a big hit with our customers.”

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