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Mon 19th Jun 2017 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Greene King in zero waste to landfill by 2020 pledge: Brewer and retailer Greene King has set a target of zero waste sent to landfill by 2020, the “first pledge of its kind in the UK’s pub industry”. The declaration follows the launch of Greene King’s partnership with waste management company SWR in April 2016, with the aim to progressively reduce landfill waste across the entire managed estate and remove it completely by 2020. Since the SWR partnership began, Greene King has introduced a number of initiatives across its managed pubs, including a waste recycling back-haul scheme, where pub teams separate waste on-site into dedicated bins, which has cut the number of general waste bins used by the company by 42%. Greene King said it had achieved a 95% diversion away from landfill rate during the same period, with almost 8,000 tonnes of food diverted from landfill across the entire estate. The initiative has also resulted in the business increasing its recycle rate from 49% to 70% and saving 3,950,581 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Greene King group trading director Matt Todd said: “We’re delighted we’re able to set an example to the rest of the industry and show that sustainability and an excellent offering can work hand-in-hand. The results show we’re making real progress towards our goal.” Greene King is also working with resource efficiency charity The Waste and Resources Action Programme to implement two key waste engagement projects – a best-practice training programme for area managers, and an initiative to work with supply chain partners regarding packaging and portion control.

Industry News:

Propel Multi-Club summer conference 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. Operators can claim two free places by emailing Jo Charity on The speaker line-up for the morning session is NPD Group UK foodservice director Cyril Lavenant, Morar Consulting chief executive Roger Perowne, David Bruce, co-founder of Firkin Pubs, The Capital Pub Company and The City Pub companies and currently chairman of The West Berkshire Brewery, and Ali Khan and Samrien Hussain, who operate escape rooms business Tick Tock Unlocked. Speaking after lunch are Marston’s Revere Pub Company managing director Colin Sadler, The Breakfast Club co-founder Jonathan Arana-Morton, and Black and White Hospitality chief executive Nick Taplin. The final session features Tahola commercial director Simon Blackbourne, Mowgli owner Nisha Katona and Rupert Clevely, managing director of Ei Group’s managed expert joint venture Hippo Inns.

Job of the week: Boxpark is looking for a financial controller, paying up to £50,000 per annum, as it steps up its growth plans. Click here for more details.

US fast-casual chains see decelerating sales and unit growth for second consecutive year: US fast-casual chains have seen decelerating sales and unit growth for a second consecutive year, according to a new report by insights firm Technomic. The company’s annual Top 250 Fast-Casual Chain Restaurant Report revealed the top 250 companies in the sector grew sales by 8.4% in 2016 to $40.4bn. While this growth significantly outpaces other industry segments, it lags behind the 11.9% sales growth seen in 2015 and 13.8% in 2014. A key factor contributing to the trend is decelerating unit development within the segment, which registered 8.9% in 2016, following 9.6% unit growth in 2015. The struggles of Chipotle had a substantial impact on the overall performance of the Top 250, as the second-largest fast-casual chain saw sales drop more than 13% in 2016. The leading chains were Panda Express, Jimmy John’s and Zaxby’s, which all saw double-digit growth and operate with annual sales volumes of more than $1bn. The fast-casual pizza segment continues to be a growth engine as well, with the category increasing its sales at a cumulative rate of 35%. Technomic said speciality and health-focused concepts would continue to move up the rankings as chains such as Sweetgreen, Modern Market and Lemonade expand and attract increasingly health-conscious consumers. Technomic industry research manager Kevin Schimpf said: “It will become increasingly important for chains to differentiate themselves and stand out in a crowded playing field. Look for chains to engineer success by reaching further into the breakfast daypart, spotlighting novelty menu offerings to generate customer interest, and by embracing the off-premise market and making smart investments in ordering technology.”
Livingstone – Amazon deal statement of grocery market intent: Livingstone, the international mergers and acquisitions firm, has argued Amazon’s deal to buy grocery firm Whole Foods Market, which has nine sites in the UK, is a clear statement of intent. Whole Foods Market shares rocketed 28% on Friday (16 June) after Amazon said it planned to acquire the grocery store chain for $42 a share in a deal valued at $13.7bn. Harsha Wickremasinghe, associate at Livingstone, said: “This is the clearest indication that Amazon intends to be a serious player in grocery retail – and is a significant wake-up call for grocery retailers in the North America and the UK. It also highlights that Amazon clearly believes that in order to achieve long-term success in the grocery category, it is essential to have a bricks-and-mortar presence. It is widely known that Amazon has been scouting for prime-central London locations as part of its move into grocery retail in the UK. Exactly 12 months since the launch of Amazon Fresh in the UK, and, in one fell-swoop, the online giant will now have nine supermarkets in the UK – seven of which are London-based. Whole Foods’ proposition also has an excellent fit with the typical London-based Amazon Prime Customer. The UK grocers have downplayed Amazon’s impact on their sector to date, but this latest move should have them genuinely looking over their shoulder.”
Keith Knowles receives OBE: Keith Knowles, chief executive of pan-European hostel provider Beds and Bars, ha been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to the community and charity. 

Waitrose sees gin sales rise 20%, overtakes all other spirits: Waitrose has said sales of gin in its stores have increased by more than 20% in the past year, overtaking sales of all other spirits. John Vine, spirits buyer at Waitrose, said: “It’s no surprise sales of gin have grown in the past few years – but the fact sales have now overtaken other spirits shows just how popular it has become. We’re starting to see a change in the way people enjoy their gin, with many sipping it before their meal as an aperitif. That’s why local craft suppliers, who tend to enhance their gin with unique flavours and aromas, really appeal to our customers.” The increase in popularity of gin has been seen across the UK. Last week the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WTSA) reported sales of spirits were more valuable to the UK Treasury last year than beer. The WTSA credits some of this growth to the UK’s “gin boom”, which saw sales increase by 12% in 2016.
London-based food and drinks startups selected for first PepsiCo incubator: Three London-based food and drinks startups have been selected to take part in the first PepsiCo European incubator. The initiative, dubbed PepsiCo Nutrition Greenhouse, launched in March asking for submissions from European food and beverage companies with sales of €2m or below as part of PepsiCo’s plans to capitalise on demand for more nutritious food and drink options. Nutritious microwaveable meals company Fit Kitchen, organic wholefoods brand Erbology and the company behind healthy drinks brand Tapped Birch Water have joined five other European startups on the programme, with each given a $25,000 grant. The startups will work in partnership with PepsiCo to develop their brand propositions and products, with a €100,000 prize on offer for the business that demonstrates a sustainable and scalable approach to breaking into its target market during the next six months. Other companies on the programme include Jimini’s, a French startup that sells edible insect snacks, and Amsterdam-based No Fairytale, which makes tortilla wraps from carrots and beet. Juan Ignacio Amat, vice-president nutrition for PepsiCo Western Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa, told BDaily: “Our Nutrition Greenhouse programme will create a collaborative space with eight companies that also have an eye towards the future of the food and beverage industry.”
Technology company launches website to serve Scottish pub sector: Technology company has launched an eponymous platform to help Scottish licensees find a pub and companies to recruit staff. The move follows in the footsteps of, which has been match-making pubs with suitable candidates for the past eight years and works with pub companies to recruit and train staff. However, the new platform will focus solely on Scotland. Helen Lees, managing director of, said: “With 4,900 competing pubs in operation in Scotland, 64% of which are independent free trade, there is huge scope for growth. However, with increasing competition from cafes, bars and other outlets offering food and drink, publicans need to be focused on delivering an experience clients will rave about to ensure their pub has the wow factor.”
Street food pop-up event goes on summer tour: British Land is hosting a summer tour of street food event Eats from the Street at 11 local and regional shopping centres. It is the third year that British Land has delivered Eats from the Street and figures from last year’s events showed a 41% increase in footfall during the event period. This year’s programme began at the Gallagher shopping centre in Cheltenham. The two-day pop-up visits the centres on consecutive weekends bringing up to ten varieties of artisan vendors to customers. Eats from the Street also features British Land’s Route Master bus with a festival-themed event area, outdoor seating and music. The programme enhances and enlivens the consumer experience to support British Land’s vision of creating “places people prefer”. Eats from the Street won a Revo Purple Apple award in the events category earlier this year.

Luke Johnson – it is depressing to hear so many young people voted Labour: Sector investor Luke Johnson has claimed it is depressing to hear two-thirds of 18 to 24-year-olds voted Labour. In his Sunday Times column, he stated: “State intervention on the scale proposed by Labour would make us much poorer. Labour would rapidly undo decades of hard-won improvements in our economy, and make any short tem setbacks from Brexit look like rounding errors. Tragically, socialists see capitalism as a zero-sum exercise, and so inhibit the incentives that actually grow the cake and make everyone relatively better off.”

Company News:

Tokyo Industries to launch Manchester venue on Thursday with hidden gin palace and cryogenically frozen cocktails: Tokyo Industries, the company that operates 32 bars and nightclubs in the UK and is led by Aaron Mellor, is to open a venue in Manchester on Thursday (22 June) featuring a “hidden gin palace” offering cryogenically frozen cocktails. Impossible Manchester will open this week across three floors of the former Bar 38 site in Peter Street in the city centre following a £3m renovation. The ground floor will feature a 280-cover bar and restaurant and a separate Impossible Taco kitchen serving until the early hours. The decor will take inspiration from Mellor’s travels, with nods to famous Mancunians and their achievements. The mezzanine level will host the gin palace, while a cryogenic freezer will freeze spirits to minus 74 degrees to form edible frozen cocktails. There will also be an alcoholic mist condenser and the “Impossibubble” – a lickable champagne bubble machine. Plans are under way to build a “theatre of the impossible” downstairs, which would be an immersive nightlife experience featuring a catwalk, theatre, and VIP areas. Mellor said: “This opening has been my impossible dream made real. Impossible Manchester is an interpretation of a celebration of the city, a city from which many incredible, near impossible, achievements have grown. I’m super proud of Manchester. I’ve lived here my whole life. It feels we do the impossible daily in Manchester, it’s what we do.”

Center Parcs reports profit boost: Center Parcs turnover rose to £440m in the year to 20 April 2017, up from £420m the year before. The previous year’s pre-tax loss of £6m, caused by one-off-financing costs, turned into a £70.5m pre-tax profit. The company, which is owned by Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management, had a 97.3% occupancy rate. It is currently building its first site in the Republic of Ireland, a £203m investment located in Newcastle Wood, County Longford, which is due to open in 2019 and create 1,750 jobs. 

Craft beer bar and wholesaler The Bottle Shop passes 50% mark in £350,000 crowdfunding campaign: Craft beer bar and wholesaler The Bottle Shop has passed the 50% mark in its £350,000 crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube as it looks to double its retail estate as part of expansion plans. The company, founded by Andrew Morgan in 2010, is offering a 10.14% equity stake in return for the investment. So far, 190 investors have pledged £249,310 with 12 days remaining. The Bottle Shop has three sites – in Bermondsey, south east London, and Canterbury and Margate in Kent. Its wholesale customers include better burger brand Byron, Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog and Curzon Cinemas. It plans to use some of the funds raised to open two further London bars as well as a distribution hub and bar in Manchester. The pitch states: “The Bottle Shop exists at the top end of the craft beer world, working with breweries that are producing the most in-demand beers on the planet. As well as fuelling our own bars (and making higher retail margins) we have the scalability of nationwide distribution as a wholesaler. The funds will be used to refrigerate our London warehouse to create our ColdChain platform, open two new London shops in the next 12 months, and a distribution hub/bar in Manchester. With the ColdChain platform in place, we forecast £4.9m turnover for FY17/18 – up from £3.1m in FY16/17. We have raised more than £350,000 in previous rounds from angel investors in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016. We intend to reinvest all profits and find a buyer for the business within five to ten years.”

Muffin Break opens third Kent site, in Chatham, 58th UK venue: Bakery chain Muffin Break has opened a site in Chatham, Kent. The 70-cover venue has opened in the Pentagon Shopping Centre creating 16 jobs and offering 200 varieties of muffin alongside freshly-made sandwiches, toasties, wraps, paninis, and hot and cold drinks. The Chatham site is the company’s third in Kent. Muffin Break marketing manager Gemma Sandells said: “We’ve had great success at our branches in Ashford and Tunbridge Wells so we hope Chatham will continue this trend. The early signs have certainly been positive. This is our 58th store in the UK, which demonstrates the growing popularity of the Muffin Break brand.” Franchisee Muhammed Kamal, who also operates a Muffin Break site in Epsom, Surrey, added: “Muffin Break has something for everyone and caters for a wide range of dietary needs.” Founded in Australia, there are more than 300 Muffin Break sites worldwide.
Fever Bars opens nightclub at former JD Wetherspoon pub on Isle of Wight: Fever Bars, led by managing director Mark Shorting, has opened a nightclub in Newport on the Isle of Wight. The twin-themed club has launched at former JD Wetherspoon pub The William Coppin in Coppins Bridge and features two rooms catering for different tastes in music – one offering a retro-chic discotheque with colour-changing floors for pop and party, while the boutique room pumps out the latest house and R&B music. Guests can pre-book booths that include waitress service. The club is open Wednesday to Saturday, from 9.30pm to 3am, as well as on bank holiday weekends, the Island Echo reports. The premises operated as Chicago Rock until its closure in 2009. Wetherspoon took over but made a commercial decision to shut the pub at the end of January 2016. Fever bars operates more than 30 clubs, with the nearest to Newport in Fleet and Basingstoke, both in Hampshire.
Birmingham-based Thai restaurant Sabai Sabai to open third city site, fourth in total: Birmingham-based Thai restaurant Sabai Sabai is expanding from the suburbs to the centre to open its third site in the city and fourth in total. The company opened its first restaurant in Moseley 13 years ago, following that with an opening in the city’s Harborne area in 2011 and another in Stratford-upon-Avon last year. Owners Jureerat Dykins and her partner Torquil Chidwick will now open a restaurant in Waterloo Street in Birmingham city centre at a date as yet to be announced. Sabai Sabai, which means “relax and chill swiftly” in Thai, will be close to Michelin-starred restaurant Adam’s, San Carlo Group-owned Fumo and newly opened Pieminister in an area rapidly being referred to as Birmingham’s Restaurant Quarter. Chidwick told the Birmingham Mail: “The time is right for us to open in the city centre. We’re so excited about the new restaurant and giving more Brummies the opportunity to enjoy the Sabai Sabai experience. We are proud to be an independently run Birmingham business serving first-class Thai food.”
McDonald’s ends Olympics sponsorship deal with three years to run: McDonald’s has ended its Olympic Games sponsorship deal three years early. The company, a sponsor since 1976 and part of the top sponsors programme with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that contributes more than $1bn in every four-year cycle for the games, had a contract running until the 2020 Tokyo summer games. McDonald’s global chief marketing officer Silvia Lagnado told Reuters: “As part of our global growth plan, we are reconsidering all aspects of our business and have made this decision in co-operation with the IOC to focus on different priorities.” Financial terms of the separation have not been disclosed. McDonald’s has been tightening costs as it invests in improving food quality, restaurant service and online ordering to woo back diners in the US, where intense competition has gnawed at sales. The company will continue at next year’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics as sponsors with domestic marketing rights. The IOC said it was not planning a direct replacement for McDonald’s.
North east-based champagne bar concept Glass House to start expansion with second site: North east-based champagne bar concept Glass House is to start expansion next month by opening a second site, this time in Cramlington, Northumberland. The family-run company will open a 120-seater site in the Manor Walks leisure quarter, joining a host of restaurants at the site including Nando’s, Prezzo, and The Restaurant Group-owned Frankie & Benny’s. Glass House owners Mark and Kelly Nigrelli told BDaily they hope the new 7,650 square foot bar will build on the success of their first outlet, Glass House Newcastle, which opened in December 2014. They said: “Our relaxed atmosphere mixed with well-appointed decoration is something we consider an exciting addition to the Cramlington leisure scene. We’re looking forward to becoming Cramlington’s leading dining and drinking venue.” Jacqui Kell, chief executive of Arch, Northumberland council’s body for generating growth in the county, added: “We are delighted to have secured Glass House as an anchor tenant for Manor Walks Shopping Centre as this letting will greatly enhance the leisure quarter.”
Bristol-based pizza restaurant Pizzarova opens second site, at city’s Cargo 2 development: Bristol-based pizza restaurant Pizzarova has started expansion by opening its second site in the city. The company has joined the line-up at the Cargo 2 shipping container development at Wapping Wharf. It does not have the same range of food as the main Gloucester Road site, which opened at the end of 2015. Instead, it offers a new ten-inch street food pizza menu, all cooked on fresh sourdough bases. All ingredients and toppings are sustainably sourced from businesses across the south west and the sourdough bases are made fresh daily. There is also a selection of craft beer and soft drinks, reports the Bristol Post. The Cargo 2 development is also home to brands such as Spuntino, the concept from Polpo founders Russell Norman and Richard Beatty, and Michelin-starred chef Josh Eggleton’s Salt & Malt restaurant.
Staying Cool wins contract to operate new Manchester aparthotel, first deal following Bespoke Hotels partnership: Staying Cool, the boutique serviced apartment operator, has won the contract to run a new site in Manchester’s Village Quarter. A former cotton warehouse in Chorlton Street will be transformed into a 41-unit aparthotel. The site was home to Oliver Peyton’s Mash & Air in the 1990s and acquired in 2014 by real estate firm Cringle Corporation. Staying Cool won the contract following a competitive tender and the two parties have submitted a joint planning application. Work would begin in the autumn ahead of an opening in late 2018. The scheme is the first of a joint partnership between Staying Cool and leisure operator Bespoke Hotels, announced in April, which will see the former’s brand rolled out across the UK. Staying Cool co-founder Paul Taylor told BDaily: “This scheme is one of a number over the next few years as we move ahead with our ambitious expansion plans. We are especially pleased to be opening in Manchester as it is where our story began.” Cringle director Joshua Senior added: “Interest in leasing the site was significant, with strong bids received from a range of regional, national and international operators. We selected Staying Cool for its forward-thinking business style, attention to detail, quality, and award-winning brand.” Staying Cool was advised by Pure Real Estate Solutions, while CBRE acted on behalf of Cringle. Staying Cool already operates a 45-unit aparthotel in Birmingham.
Liverpool-based Asian restaurant Tiger Rock Hawker to start expansion with second site in city: Liverpool-based Asian restaurant Tiger Rock Hawker is to start expansion by opening a second site in the city. Owners Vikki and Kean launched the concept in Smithdown Road last year. Now they are opening their second site next month, in North John Street. It will serve a range of Asian dishes, including Thai and Vietnamese, and the new site will also include a bar featuring its signature Bellini menu. Vikki Teh told Click Liverpool: “Since we opened our first site on the bustling Smithdown Road just one year ago, we have continued to receive fantastic feedback on our culinary offering and drinks selection and it’s due to demand that we are opening our new site in North John Street. It feels only natural to take our brand one step further. The ethos behind our beloved Tiger Rock Hawker was inspired by our extensive travels across Asia and our passion for fine food, great drinks and a welcoming atmosphere.”
Former Patty & Bun chef opens burger restaurant concept in Bristol: Former Patty & Bun chef Lucien Gordon has opened a burger restaurant concept in Bristol. Gordon has launched Asado, which means barbecue in Spanish, in Colston Street. The restaurant, serves organic, locally sourced meat with West Country cheese, alongside grilled plates, seasonal specials, sides, salads and desserts. The drinks menu includes a classic and seasonal range of cocktails. Gordon, who decided to move back to Bristol after working at Patty & Bun in London, told the Bristol Post: “We’re serious about our burgers, our sides, our sauces, our drinks – everything has had a lot of thought into how we can get across our passion for quality produce and cooking in what we do.”
Former Sat Bains protégé to launch debut restaurant in August, in Nottingham: Alex Bond, who worked for more than three years at two Michelin-starred restaurant Sat Bains in Nottingham, will launch his debut restaurant in the city on Tuesday, 1 August. Bond is opening Alchemilla in Derby Road on the site of a 100-year-old former coach house. It will have 40-covers with a further ten seated at a chef’s table, reports Insider Media. The restaurant will offer a modern British menu with a focus on vegetarian dishes. Bond has also previously worked at Abac, a two Michelin-starred restaurant in Barcelona, and El Bulli in Catalonia, which held three stars before its closure.
Devon-based operator acquires Teignmouth restaurant: Devon-based operator Paul Matthews has added to his portfolio by acquiring the Crabshack Restaurant in Teignmouth. Matthews, who runs licensed businesses in Exeter and the surrounding area, has bought the leasehold off an asking price of £180,000 through agent Bettesworth. The leasehold premises comprise a ground-floor restaurant and a three-bedroom self-contained apartment above, which Matthews hopes to let out as holiday accommodation. The restaurant, which seats 27 diners and has a decked area outside for a further ten, specialises in crab and lobster landed daily, alongside a variety of other seafood. Matthews told Devon Live: “Crab Shack has been my favourite restaurant since it opened six years ago. When it came on to the market, I didn’t hesitate. Food is my passion and it was this restaurant that inspired me to get into the trade.”
Kent-based Eleto Chocolate Cafe starts expansion by opening second site: Canterbury-based Eleto Chocolate Cafe has started expansion by opening its second site in Kent, this time in Folkestone. Owners Martin Joksaf and Dalius Eismontas have launched the outlet in Rendezvous Street. The cafe offers a cakes and crepes alongside other hot food items and sandwiches. India Marsh, manager of the Canterbury site, told Kent Live: “We have established ourselves in Canterbury as a hub, not just a cafe, and we started looking to expand a little while ago.” Joksaf and Eismontas launched the concept in Guildhall Street, Canterbury, in June 2012.
Sushi bar concept to open third site, in Bradford: Sushi bar concept The Little Lotus Sushi and Bento is opening its third site, in Bradford. The company, which currently has outlets in Chelmsford and Huddersfield, is opening the venue at The Broadway shopping centre. The Little Lotus Sushi and Bento, will receive a rate rebate of £15,000 under Bradford Council’s city centre growth zone scheme, which offers applicants rate relief if they create jobs within the city centre, reports The Business Desk.

New pub, restaurant and club to open at former Jumpin’ Jaks site in Gloucester: A new pub, restaurant and club is set to open at the former Jumpin’ Jaks site in Gloucester. Supreme Services has been given the go-ahead by Gloucester City Council to redevelop the 800-capacity building in Brunswick Street that has been empty for a decade. It will convert part of the property into a pub and restaurant, which will have a new entrance in Jennings Walk. The rest of the ground floor will be kept as a club separated from the restaurant by internal bi-fold doors. The company, headed by brothers Paul and Dave Williams, hopes to get permission for seven student flats and a hairdressing salon on the first floor. Paul Williams told Gloucestershire Live: “It’s going to look great.” Supreme Services said it hopes to have the pub and restaurant open before the end of the year.

Authority examines whether Rick Stein restaurant fire was arson: An investigation has been launched into whether a fire at Rick Stein’s flagship restaurant in Padstow was an arson attack. The chef was celebrating his 70th birthday away from the restaurant when a blaze broke out at the venue. Investigators are trying to establish whether the blaze was arson after it was claimed the chef angered numerous residents in the area. Firefighters were called the restaurant when smoke was seen escaping from the front door shortly after 1am. They feared a huge explosion due to the presence of cylinders, and believe the restaurant became minutes from being completely destroyed. Katherine Billing, the incident commander for Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Whether it was arson or not is something that is still being investigated. Because of the severity of fire damage, it is difficult to say at the moment.”

Sweet & Chilli founders launch Nine Lives cocktail bar and music space in Bermondsey: The founders of drinks agency Sweet & Chilli have opened cocktail bar and music space Nine Lives in Bermondsey, east London. Allan Gage, Emma Hutchison and Tom Soden have launched the venture in a Victorian basement in Holyrood Street. The cocktails fall into five categories – shorts, talls, tarts, lowriders and loops – with the venture’s “waste nothing” ethos ensuring leftover lemons, for example, are used to produce essential oils used in liqueurs and hand soap or turned into compost to fertilise the venue’s herb garden. Even the embroidered staff uniforms have been bought from vintage shops to drive a “positive and sustainable movement within cocktail culture”. Gage said: “Nine Lives is a total passion project. It’s a blend of all the things that make Sweet & Chilli tick – superb service, tasty drinks, mad styles and music we love. It’s a place we want to bring mates to and the proud result of lives spent behind bars.”

The Real Greek opens Reading restaurant: Mediterranean restaurant The Real Greek, which is owned by Fulham Shore, has opened a site in Reading, Berkshire. The company has opened a concession within Debenhams at the Riverside complex at The Oracle shopping centre. The restaurant also has outdoor seating for 80 overlooking The Kennet and Avon Canal. The menu features an array of authentic Greek cuisine – cold and hot mezes, grilled skewers, marinated meats and Souvlaki wraps, with a selection of wines and beers. Christos Karatzenis, head of operations at The Real Greek said: “The Oracle centre is a busy shopping destination all year round, so we hope the new restaurant offers diners a relaxed space, to take a break from the shops. The Real Greek Reading will be a destination for guests to enjoy time spent with friends and family whilst experiencing the taste of the Mediterranean.”
Kanada-Ya launches basement bar below Soho restaurant: Kanada-Ya, which operates two ramen bars in central London, has opened a basement bar below its Machiya restaurant in Soho. Downstairs At Machiya focuses on sake, Japanese whiskey and creative cocktails, alongside a new menu of bar snacks, including wagyu sliders, pop-katsu skewers, lotus root chips with miso-mustard mayo, and spicy Machiya hot wings. Cocktails include Jigglypuff (Portobello gin, Campari, lemon and vermouth foam), while there are also bottles of limited edition Japanese whiskies and rum, Hot Dinners reports. The standalone bar is open until midnight. Kanada-Ya, led by Tony Lam and Aaron Burgess-Smith, launched its Machiya concept in April focusing on “homely” Japanese cuisine and featuring an in-house pastry bar. The company operates ramen bars in Covent Garden and Soho.
Chipotle receives gluten-free accreditation: Chipotle Mexican Grill, which has six restaurants across London, has been awarded gluten-free accreditation by Coeliac UK. The only gluten item on its menu is the tortilla of differing sizes used to form a burrito or taco, which can easily be omitted by customers following a gluten-free diet. Chipotle went through a number of audits with staff also receiving training in order for the company to meet the necessary criteria for the certification being awarded, reports Feast Magazine. According to Coeliac UK, about 1% of people in the UK suffer from coeliac disease. However, it is estimated only 24% of these people have actually been diagnosed. Many others also follow a gluten-free diet.

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