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Fri 7th Jul 2017 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Bird reports first-half turnover tops £2m as menu changes ‘pay off’: London-based fried chicken restaurant group Bird has reported net turnover of £2m in the first six months of 2017, posting its third consecutive £1m quarter. The company said the sales figures had been spread “very evenly” across its four London sites, with Bird’s restaurants in Shoreditch, Islington and Camden posting like-for-like sales increases of 11.3% in the first quarter and 18.6% in the second, while the latest site in Westfield Stratford City “continued to exceed expectations” with sales set to exceed £1.2m in its first 12 months. Co-founder Paul Hemings told Propel: “The changes we’ve made to our menu in the first three to four months of the year, bringing in a few lighter dishes, more desserts and a revamped cocktail menu, have paid off. The quality fried chicken core is still the same, with chicken and waffles, wings and burgers driving the lion’s share of sales, but the choices around the edges of the menu have made a positive difference.” Hemings said that in 2017 delivery sales had continued to grow but, for the first time in two years, had fallen as a proportion of overall sales, with in-store sales gaining significant share. Hemings also said going through the past three quarters without any new openings had enabled a much-needed intensive focus on quality, consistency and service. He added: “Between our Islington and Westfield Stratford openings, we quadrupled the size of our estate in 11 months, which was a big step. Since then we’ve taken the time to iron out as many kinks as possible and to really focus on being the best at what we do.” Hemings said Bird was delighted with performance and remained focused on carefully scrutinising the right opportunities for growth, particularly “in light of the current environment”.

Industry News: 

ALMR urges Low Pay Commission to show caution over wage rises: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has urged the Low Pay Commission to show caution on future upratings of National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage rates. The trade body highlighted “unprecedented” cost increases for businesses, tightening margins and continued political instability as reasons to avoid significant cost increases that could undermine investment. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Employers have already had to swallow a significant wall of costs in the form of recent wage increases and continually mounting property costs. Any considerable wage increases could seriously limit the sector’s ability to invest in sustained job creation, training and growth. Research by the ALMR and Ernst & Young forecasts the sector to be contributing £166bn GVA by 2020, providing an additional 19,000 jobs and contributing an additional £50bn to economic turnover. That potential investment may be threatened by additional costs to employment. ALMR research shows the cost of the introduction of the National living Wage on the hospitality sector could be more than £1bn. Businesses in the sector are committed to developing their workforces but recent increases in wage rates have not led to increased spend at tills. Some employers have had to adjust the number of hours they offer staff as a result of increased wages. With uncertainty around Brexit causing instability for businesses, now would not be the time to drastically increase wage rates. The Low Pay Commission should act with care if it wishes to avoid risking future investment and jobs in the UK.”

British and Irish Lions victory provides 8% uplift in beer sales: Pubs that screened the British and Irish Lions victory over New Zealand on Saturday (1 July) saw an 8% uplift in beer sales during the match, according to analysis by beer quality and insight expert Vianet and sports pub app MatchPint. The match kicked off at 8.35am UK time with many sports pubs opening early. Data powered by Vianet’s iDraught beer quality system showed sports venues saw an 8% uplift during match-time compared with the previous weekend, with customers staying longer to celebrate the Lions’ epic victory. Across the whole day, the average sports pub poured 406 pints, according to Vianet’s data. The MatchPint platforms showed 35,000 searches for the match, which took the overall searches to 93,000 across the two tests so far. The sample comprised more than 700 sport pubs that promoted the match on the MatchPint platform. The final and deciding test kicks off at 8.35am UK time on Saturday (8 July).

Company News:

BrewDog appoints managing director for US business: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has appointed Tanisha Robinson as managing director of its US business, ahead of the official launch of its 100,000 square foot brewery in Columbus, Ohio. Robinson will be responsible for establishing the BrewDog brand, sales strategy, operational growth, and developing its American bar division. With its first US-brewed beers hitting stores and venues next week, Robinson will spearhead the growth of BrewDog’s distribution, initially focusing on Ohio before expanding to neighbouring states. She will also manage the expansion of BrewDog’s US bar division, starting with plans to open two craft beer bars in Columbus before the end of the year. Robinson has a wealth of entrepreneurial experience having founded several successful companies, including Print Syndicate, a design, technology and marketing company. BrewDog co-founder James Watt said: “We have been searching for someone to head up our US operations and as soon as we met Tanisha we knew we’d found our top Dog. The killer combination of her astute business instinct, huge passion for craft beer, and her love of our new home town, Columbus, made her the perfect fit.” Officially launching in August, the brewery was part-funded by BrewDog’s record-breaking crowdfunding programme, Equity for Punks, which has raised more than £40m globally. The US arm of the initiative, Equity for Punks USA, is still open for investment until Friday, 28 July.

Brewhouse & Kitchen reaches one million own-brewed pints a year milestone: Brewhouse & Kitchen, the brewpub business led by Kris Gumbrell and Simon Bunn, has reported it brewed more than a million pints in the past 12 months from its in-house breweries. The company offers up to 22 draught beers and ciders, of which own-brewed volume consists of seven cask and keg brands that are unique to each Brewhouse & Kitchen brewpub. Gumbrell said: “We believe in providing a wide choice of craft beers and ciders from an amazing range of producers but within the group we now have 325 different beers in our own-brewed range. Hitting the one million pint per year milestone is a fantastic achievement for our brilliant band of head brewers, and with Bournemouth, Lichfield and Nottingham only just coming onstream in the past quarter, we look forward to continuing to grow this volume further in the next 12 months.”

Former Jason Atherton’s Social chef to head kitchen at Clapham Common restaurant, opening this month: Jake Boyce, former head chef at Jason Atherton’s Social Wine and Tapas, will head the kitchen at Minnow, a new all-day seasonal European restaurant that will open at Clapham Common on Wednesday, 19 July. Boyce, who has also worked at Dean Street Town House and Pollen Street Social, will offer a main menu that features Robata-grilled whole roast poussin, caramelised watermelon with blood orange and Campari sorbet, and baby octopus with curry-leaf paste. Brunch and cocktails will also be on offer, while the venue will feature a walled garden. Street-side seating will be accompanied by a “juice honesty box”, while wine will be served in “pay as you drink” bottles. Cocktails will take inspiration from local heroes and landmarks, alongside local beer on tap. Minnow is the brainchild of Chris Frichot, formerly of Caravan, Hawksmoor and Hoi Polloi, and fiancée Saba Tsegaye. Frichot said: “We’ve decided to call ourselves Minnow because we know we’re going to be a small but fiercely independent fish in a big pond – it’s something we’re proud of.”

Plant-based burger concept The Vurger Co closes crowdfunding campaign for permanent site after raising £300,000 in only 55 hours: Plant-based burger concept The Vurger Co has closed its campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to open a permanent site after raising £300,000 in only 55 hours. The company, founded by Rachel Hugh and Neil Potts, was offering a 23.08% equity stake as it looked to raise £180,000 to open its first bricks and mortar venue following a series of successful pop-ups. It hit that target within 30 hours of launching and has now closed the campaign having hit its overfunding target of £300,000 from 284 investors. The Vurger Co’s mission is to “revolutionise fast food forever through the power of plants”. The pitch stated: “We believe our restaurant will be one of the first entirely plant-based concepts to target the mainstream market, reimagining fast food completely. Simply vegetables, with no meat substitutes, lovingly crafted into one of the most accessible and informal dishes the world has ever known – the burger! Why are we doing it? Because our diets are changing and demand for plant-based food is increasing rapidly. After suffering from persistent health issues for years, and after a life-changing trip to California, we came back to London looking for fantastic and natural plant-based food, served quickly, in a space with mainstream appeal. We couldn’t find it so we created our own and our popular pop-up restaurants have shown us London is ready for, and excited about, The Vurger Co.” The company said it has more than 10,000 followers on social media, with a total reach of two million having featured on 15 prominent influencer platforms, and sold 1,148 burgers in May from only 35.5 trading hours. The Vurger Co hopes to open its first permanent site in early 2018.

Deltic Group to launch sixth Steinbeck & Shaw site, in Brighton next week: The Deltic Group, the UK’s largest operator of premium late-night bars and clubs with 57 venues across the UK, is to open a site for its Steinbeck & Shaw brand in Brighton next week. The brand’s sixth venue will open next to Deltic’s Pryzm nightclub in West Street on Friday, 14 July creating 20 jobs. General manager Damian King said the venue would be heavily stylised with original works of graffiti art, skull imagery, modern sculptures and a separate tiki bar Lua Lalai. He told The Argus: “Steinbeck & Shaw promises to be a great addition to Brighton’s buzzing bar scene. We will offer the best hand-made cocktails, a range of craft ales and premium spirits, and table service. The bar will open daily from 5pm so will be a great place to meet with friends for a drink and bite to eat after work. Lua Lalai is a fun addition to the Brighton bar scene and we’re sure the extensive cocktail menu will be a big hit.” Last month, The Deltic Group reported plans to invest £8.1m in its estate this year, including Pryzm sites in Portsmouth and Bournemouth, Atik in Edinburgh, and a continued roll-out of Bar & Beyond. The other Steinbeck & Shaw sites are in Bristol, Canterbury, Cardiff, Plymouth and Watford.

JD Wetherspoon to reopen Exeter pub next week following £2m transformation including new rooftop beer gardens: JD Wetherspoon will reopen The Chevalier Inn in Exeter on Tuesday (11 July) following a £2m transformation that includes new rooftop beer gardens. The Fore Street pub has been closed for 18 weeks while the work has been completed and an additional 55 jobs will be created. The ground floor has been expanded to include an additional 100 seats after the company acquired a charity shop next door. The kitchen has also been extended and a new food serving area added. The customer area has been divided to create three areas for drinking and dining. A brick fireplace now forms the centrepiece of the rear room, with further booth seating on either side. The first-floor refurbishment includes a new timber floor around the bar, together with exposed brickwork, new seating booths and feature artwork. Fully opening doors fold back to the new first-floor roof terrace, which provides 45 seats. The dance floor has been upgraded with the new roof terrace as a backdrop, reports Devon Live. On the second floor, the roof space has been turned into a panoramic roof garden with views of Exeter Cathedral and room for 115 people. One of four JD Wetherspoon pubs in the Devon city, The Chevalier replaced the Hog’s Head in July 2009.

Bill’s signs for Rushden Lakes development: Bill’s Restaurants, owned by Richard Caring, has signed for a site at the new Rushden Lakes development in Northamptonshire. The company has agreed a pre-let on a 3,100 square foot unit on phase one of the scheme, bringing the total amount of space occupied to 93%. Developer LXB Retail revealed Bill’s would join the line-up at the leisure scheme after communities secretary Sajid Javid decided not to call in the planning application for phases two and three, which was approved by East Northamptonshire Council in February, reports Insider Media. Bill’s has more than 80 sites in the UK with founder Bill Collison opening the first restaurant in Lewes, East Sussex, in 2001.

McDonald’s appoints agency for $100m McDelivery global advertising account: McDonald’s has awarded its $100m (£77m) global advertising account for the new McDelivery home-ordering service to Leo Burnett London following a pitch involving roster agencies. McDelivery has now started testing in the UK following a deal struck with UberEats earlier this year. The service was rolled out across 3,500 McDonald’s restaurants in the US last week. Leo Burnett beat We Are Unlimited, the dedicated Omnicom agency for McDonald’s in the US, and DDB Sydney to the brief, reports Campaign. A global marketing push will start on Wednesday, 26 July and run across television, out-of-home, direct mail, digital, social media and press. Leo Burnett’s brief is to “bring to life the functional and emotional benefit of McDelivery” with creative that will run across international markets. A total of 160 UK restaurants, including most London outlets, are likely to offer McDelivery by the time the campaign launches, rising to about 350 by September. McDonald’s plans to roll-out the service across 12 more countries.

Dirty Bones launches free ‘Instagram foodie pack’: US comfort food restaurant Dirty Bones has launched a free “Instagram foodie pack” at its site in Denman Street, Soho, to tap into the trend of young people sharing pictures of dishes they order on social media. The pack has been created to provide Instagrammers with “everything needed to capture the perfect shot”, including a portable LED camera light, multi-device charger, clip-on wide angle camera lens and a tripod selfie stick for overhead table shots. Dirty Bones Soho said its fourth site, which opened in May, was designed with the “Instagram universe in mind”, echoing New York’s post-industrial chic look with an antique floor-to-ceiling bookcase and bespoke neon lighting signage. The menu has also been curated to provide “picture-perfect shareable content”. A Dirty Bones spokeswoman said: “The first of its kind, the pack is an innovative and fun approach to harnessing the power of one of the fastest-growing marketing tools in the restaurant industry.” Dirty Bones’ other sites are in Kensington, Carnaby and Shoreditch.

Soho House opens final restaurant at The Ned with help from Rachel Khoo: Soho House has opened the seventh and final restaurant at its £200m, 252-bedroom City of London hotel The Ned. Cafe Sou is an all-day Parisian-style venture, with Soho House teaming up with celebrity chef and author Rachel Khoo. Breakfast includes a range of pastries, baguettes and coffee, while salmon and asparagus quiche, and puy lentil salad with kale, walnuts and blue cheese are among offerings to eat in or grab and go later in the day. In the evening, cheese and charcuterie will be served alongside French wine, Hot Dinners reports. The Ned, a joint venture with US hotel owner Sydell Group, is in the former Midland Bank headquarters in Poultry, a grade I-listed building near the Bank of England. The venue’s other restaurants open to the public are California-inspired Malibu Kitchen, Millie’s Lounge serving British and American classics, The Nickel Bar, which offers American dishes and cocktails, Soho House Italian brand Cecconi’s, Asian-Pacific restaurant Kaia, and New York-style deli Zobler’s. The Ned also offers Lutyens Grill for hotel guests and two members-only clubs. Nick Jones founded the company in 1995 in Greek Street, Soho. It has since expanded to have “houses” around the world. Earlier this week, the company announced it would start work on a £60m members’ club on Brighton seafront.

MasterChef winner Simon Wood to launch debut restaurant in September: Bookings have opened for MasterChef winner Simon Wood’s debut restaurant, which is due to launch in Manchester in September. Fine-dining venue Wood Manchester will offer a la carte and “blind-taste” menus, with a third list to feature the three dishes that bagged Wood the MasterChef title on the BBC show. A la carte dishes will include pigeon with fig, endive and lardon, and scallops with gremolata, sardine and lemon. Mains will include duck with peach, sauternes, hazelnut and chard, and chicken with chorizo, black olive, saffron and pimiento. Desserts will include milk and cookies, and beurre gelato. The tasting menu will be presented to booked guests on a sealed scroll on the night, while the chef’s table will be available on Friday and Saturday nights only. Wood told the Manchester Evening News: “I’m really excited to get these menus out there and see what the response is. My focus is on simple dishes and ingredients that pack a punch. I’ve included my MasterChef dishes because so many people say they’d like to try them it would be silly not to!”

Brothers who own Starbucks franchise in Ireland buy 37 square foot Dublin kiosk for €330,000: Brothers Colum and Ciarán Butler, who run the Starbucks franchise operation in Ireland, have bought a kiosk in Dublin measuring only 37 square feet for €330,000 (£289,000). The hexagon-shaped kiosk sits at a three-way junction at the centre of Ballsbridge and was originally used as a store by the fire brigade. The Butlers outbid several other investors for the tiny premises, with the floor area working out to be €8,918 per square foot before purchasing costs are taken into consideration. However, the kiosk’s key location was seen as a unique opportunity to promote the Starbucks operation in Ireland, The Irish Times reports. Declan Bagnall, of agents Bagnall Doyle MacMahon, handled the sale for a private investor, while Stephen McCarthy, of agent Savills, brokered the deal for the Butlers. The Starbucks operation has grown rapidly in Ireland under the Butler brothers, with more than 60 sites currently in the greater Dublin area alone.

London-based, Athens-inspired grill restaurant Suvlaki to start expansion with second site, in Brick Lane: London-based, Athens-inspired grill restaurant Suvlaki is to start expansion by opening its second site in the capital. The company, launched in Soho two years ago, will open the new restaurant in Brick Lane on Thursday, 27 July. The kitchen will be led by executive chef Alfred Prasad, who was the youngest Indian chef to receive a Michelin star at the age of 29. He retained this star for his 12 years working at Mayfair’s Tamarind restaurant. Alongside Suvlaki classics, grilled dishes at the new site will include wild boar sausages with smoked aubergine, and spicy king prawns with dill and rose aioli. Mezze plates to share will feature eel smoked with olive and citrus wood and the traditional Greek ham siglino, smoked with sage. A short wine list will feature only Greek producers, while there will also be Greek craft beer. Suvlaki co-founder Irene Margariti told the Evening Standard: “Having always been a melting pot of different cultures, Brick Lane seemed a fitting location for our new home with its urban buzz and cosmopolitan vibe – everything I love about the dining culture at home in Athens.”

Former head chef at Michelin-starred restaurant Dabbous to launch first venture: Ross Gibbens, former head chef of Michelin-starred restaurant Dabbous in London, is to launch his first venture, in Bristol. Gibbens is launching Wellbourne next month in The Mall, Clifton Village, on a site previously occupied by Indian restaurant Krishnan’s Kitchen. Wellbourne will be an informal 36-cover wine bar and restaurant serving modern seasonal food alongside a hand-picked selection of wine, craft beer and spirits. Dishes will include buttered sea kale with Dorset crab and wood sorrel; loin of veal with sweetcorn, Scottish girolles and meadowsweet; and blackened apricots with fresh honeycomb ice cream. Gibbens told the Bristol Post: “The food will be based on tried and tested combinations but with a modern touch and lack of clutter on the plate. The food will be innovative and seasonal.” Gibbens also worked for Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saison, The Vineyard at Stockcross, and The Square in Mayfair.

AB InBev-backed planning startup hits £250,000 crowdfunding target: Planning startup PlanSnap, which is backed by Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), has hit its £250,000 target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to develop the product. The company, founded by Louise Doherty, who has worked for YO! Sushi and Britain’s Beer Alliance, is offering a 7.69% equity stake in return for the investment. So far it has raised £252,550 from 375 investors and is now “overfunding” with 12 days remaining. The largest investment to date is £25,000. PlanSnap is a social planning app that gets everyone to agree on the details of a plan in a few taps – even if users’ friends don’t have the app. The pitch states: “For brands grappling with the consumer shift towards ‘experiences, not things’, PlanSnap allows them to be a taste-maker by suggesting the best plans and a utility to make their customers’ plans actually happen. PlanSnap works with brands, retailers and media partners to sell ‘planning as a service’ and sponsorship. In the third quarter of this year, PlanSnap plans to move from beta to full launch, with ‘planning as a service’ functionality piloted in the fourth quarter and launched in the first quarter of 2018. The funds will be used to hire a data scientist and a designer to make PlanSnap smarter and faster, and for marketing and business development. PlanSnap has raised £130,000 from Fubra, Techstars and ZX Ventures (AB InBev’s venture arm). In the 12 months to 31 March 2017, PlanSnap turned over £28,000 with Ebitda of minus £103,900.”

Birmingham-based Thai restaurant group Sabai Sabai to open first city centre site, fourth in total: A Birmingham-based restaurant group is expanding by opening its first city centre site. Sabai Sabai, which offers Thai cuisine, has taken a let in Waterloo Street close to Michelin-starred restaurant Adam’s, Pieminister, Gaucho, and Living Ventures’ Italian restaurant brand Gusto in an area being referred to as Birmingham’s Restaurant Quarter. Fit-out work is under way on the 2,550 square foot restaurant ahead of an expected opening in September after the company agreed a 15-year lease on the grade II-listed property. Agents Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) brokered the deal on behalf of landlord Rustic Pine Developments. Richard Jones, LSH head of retail and leisure in the Midlands, told The Business Desk: “This will be a fabulous addition to Birmingham and will add to the diverse food offer available within the city centre and enhance the city’s reputation as a top destination.” Torquil Chidwick and Jureerat Dykins launched Sabai Sabai in Moseley 13 years ago, followed by an opening in the city’s Harborne area in 2011 and another in Stratford-upon-Avon last year. Sabai Sabai means “relax and chill swiftly” in Thai.

Solita to convert Manchester beer hall to taqueria: Manchester-based burger and steak company Solita is to turn its Czech beer hall in the city’s Northern Quarter into a taqueria. The company only opened The Bouncing Czech in October after teaming up with beer brand Kozel to convert Solita venue Montpellier’s in Back Turner Street. El Taquero will open in early August offering freshly-made tacos and quesadillas alongside margaritas and Mexican beer. Diners will choose fillings such as pork, smoked chicken, chorizo, shrimp, fish and vegetarian options inside corn tacos made on-site. They will then add extra toppings and sauces at serving stations. The ground floor and basement is being transformed with vibrant fabrics and artwork, including a full-size neon cactus and a living wall set against a soundtrack of Latino beats. Solita co-owners Simon Pogson and Franco Sotgiu told Manchester Evening News: “Tacos make a great lunch, snack or dinner and we are confident ours will be the best, serving a taco-starved Manchester with something it has never seen before. We’re keen to show people how a real taco should be served.” Solita also owns restaurants in Manchester, Prestwich, Didsbury and Preston.

Michelin-starred chef opens Cambridgeshire pub for second site: Mark Poynton, chef-owner of Michelin-starred restaurant Alimentum in Cambridge, has launched his second venture in the county, this time in Eaton Socon, near St Neots. Poynton has launched a 100-cover restaurant in Ei Group-owned The White Horse in Great North Road. The grade II-listed building underwent a complete refurbishment last year and Poynton has signed a five-year lease. He said the venue would be family-orientated and feature bouncy castles in the garden all year round, weather permitting, while he also plans to host music and beer festivals in the summer months. The kitchen will be led by Alimentum head chef Richard Rogerson, while his partner Francesca Johnson, who grew up in the pub trade, will run front of house. The menu will feature British pub food such as pies, steak, and line-caught fish delivered daily. Poynton hopes to add a breakfast service and make use of five guest rooms at The White Horse at some point in the future.

Pret A Manger to launch Liverpool city centre site this month: Pret A Manger will open its Liverpool city centre site on Friday, 21 July. The venue will launch at the former Exchange pub in Old Hall Street in Liverpool’s Commercial District following a major refurbishment that began in January. The store will open from 7am to 7pm, Monday to Friday, but will close at weekends. It will feature a comfortable seating area for more than 100 customers, free Wi-Fi, and Pret’s range of sandwiches, baguettes, salads, snacks, hot food and sweet treats, with all fresh items made in-house daily. Manager Kate Cooper told the Liverpool Echo: “We’re directly opposite Moorfields Station and look forward to meeting our new customers as they travel to and from the station.” The store will continue the company’s policy of donating unsold food to local charities at the end of each day. During the past year the national scheme has distributed more than three million food items to hostels and shelters across the UK. Pret A Manger operates two other sites in Liverpool – in Derby Square and Paradise Street.

Be At One appoints Fleet Street Communications to handle consumer PR: Be At One, the specialist cocktail bar group, has appointed Fleet Street Communications to handle consumer PR. Fleet Street Communications, a specialist consultancy in the leisure, hospitality, food and drink sectors, has been awarded the brief following its appointment earlier this year to co-ordinate trade and corporate communications for Be At One. The consumer PR programme has been developed to raise the company’s profile on a national scale, while supporting Be At One with regional communications and CSR initiatives as the portfolio of cocktail bars grows. Established in 1998 by three former bartenders – Steve Locke, Leigh Miller and Rhys Oldfield – Be At One has grown from a single site in Battersea to more than 30 bars throughout the UK. Locke said: “Extending our relationship with Fleet Street Communications feels like a natural progression as its team becomes more immersed with our own. It understands our business and shares our goals. The consumer PR programme is a perfect fit and we’re very excited by the new approach.” Fleet Street Communications managing director Mark Stretton added: “Be At One is a fantastic, unique and forward-thinking business that truly delivers on quality drinking experiences, has a rich and fun story to tell, and embraces and builds cocktail culture on a regional and national basis. Having been awarded both the consumer and trade PR brief, we have designed and implemented a 360-degree communications strategy, shaped to deliver on overarching business aims.”

Mystery designs new Brighton bar and restaurant Oddsocks: Sector design agency Mystery has created the look for a new bar and restaurant concept – Oddsocks – at the Jurys Inn in Brighton. Mystery, which has offices in London and Los Angeles, created the concepts for everything from branding and interiors to menus and uniforms, which includes staff wearing odd socks. Oddsocks is an “eclectic mix of convenience and quirkiness, comfort and charm”, brought to life through “outstanding staff, a rustic food and beverage offer, and a space that feels strangely familiar”. Sporadically scattered with quirky furniture, Mystery said Oddsocks’ interior conveyed a “quality of energetic and memorable comfort”, while the artwork and banded colour scheme gave the “warmth and welcome of home”. Each member of staff is encouraged to personalise their uniforms with brooches and bow ties to let their personalities shine through.

Cardiff-based vegan cake pop-up launches crowdfunding campaign to open coffee shop and bakery: The team behind vegan cake pop-up Blanche Bakery in Cardiff has launched a crowdfunding campaign to open a vegan coffee shop and bakery. Amy-Rose Hopkins and Remed Aran have traded from a pop-up stall at vegan fairs and a shop in Castle Emporium in Womanby Street, as well as supplying independent cafes and shops. They have secured a business loan to help cover costs and have now decided to run a flexible crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to secure the remaining funds, raising money for fixtures and fittings. Blanche Bakery is expected to open its vegan cafe this autumn. Hopkins told Insider Media: “We were shortlisted for the Best Vegan Cakes title at the 2017 Vegan Awards and have seen great business success, so we know we have the products to make people smile. We’re asking people to support us in raising funds so we can serve our treats and build friendships within the wider community in the city.”

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