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Fri 20th Oct 2017 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

More than three-quarters of Brits buy lunch out every day, weekend brunch on the rise: More than three-quarters (76%) of Brits buy lunch out every day compared with less than two-thirds (64%) in 2016, according to new research by Mintel. Sounding a death knell for the packed lunch, three-quarters (75%) of respondents buy lunch out of home for a leisure occasion, up from 68% in the previous year. More than one-quarter (26%) of respondents are eating out for a leisure occasion once a week or more, compared with 22% in 2016. Almost two in five (39%) of respondents buy lunch to eat out of home once a week or more, up from 35% the previous year, while 41% who bought lunch to eat out of home in the past month said they eat more grab-and-go than sit-down meals, a figure rising to 50% among full-time employees. Of those, more than half (54%) said workday lunches are more “functional than enjoyment-based”. A further one-third (34%) of Brits said brunch had replaced traditional weekend lunches such as Sunday roasts, rising to 48% of those aged 25 to 34 and 45% of Londoners. Of those who buy lunch out of home, more than two in five (41%) are influenced by their state of mind when deciding whether to buy lunch out of home, for instance if they are tired or happy, while almost four in five (79%) agree “food can improve your mood”, rising to 83% among female respondents. Of those who buy lunch to eat out of home, fewer than one-third (32%) look for the cheapest-priced item for a Monday to Wednesday lunch, while 31% do so on Thursdays and Fridays. Only 22% look for the cheapest lunch option on a Saturday or Sunday. Mintel senior leisure analyst Helen Fricker said: “The range of options for lunch on the high street has grown, which means those with dietary needs are far better catered for than in previous years. State of mind is also a key driver behind lunchtime food choice and the increased availability of healthy, mood-boosting and functional foods is tapping into this need. It seems diners cannot get enough of weekend brunch. During the past few years there has been a huge rise in brunch availability and all types of foodservice outlets have entered this space. The range on offer is constantly expanding and the variations available continue to evolve.”

Industry News:

BBPA and brewers launch strategy to boost British beer exports by £100m: A new strategy to boost British beer exports by £100m over the next five years has been launched by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA). The strategy is part of the government’s International Action Plan for food and drink to help create opportunities for UK exporters. Export-boosting measures being put in place by the BBPA and British brewers include a major “export hub” on a new BBPA website to bring British brewers and potential overseas buyers together, and a new “best practice guide” to ensure a top-quality British pint is delivered, alongside guidance and intelligence for brewers on how to navigate their way through export markets. The BBPA will work with government on key markets identified by brewers to build a programme of inward/outward missions and liaise closely with government to set priorities for free trade agreements, breaking down trade barriers, frictionless trade with the EU, and an agenda of regulatory reform. BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “We are launching an ambitious strategy for British beer exports from 2017 to 2022. Beer exports were worth £583m in 2016, third on the list of food exports from the UK. With the right strategy in place, there are real opportunities for growth. This builds on work already carried out through the government’s own food and drink strategy and shows that through working together and sharing best practice, we can boost British beer exports and overcome existing barriers to trade.”

ALMR – government commitment to EU nationals is ‘kind of commitment sector needs’: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has said prime minister Theresa May’s reassurances on the future status of EU migrants in the UK was the “kind of commitment the sector needed”. Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “This is the first official, public and unconditional confirmation from the prime minister that employers will be able to share with their teams that those EU nationals working in the UK today will be allowed to stay. First and foremost, this will provide peace of mind and stability for EU workers who are making a valuable contribution to the UK. Many of our teams have been uncertain about their futures and this announcement will allow them to begin planning to remain in the UK with a clear and unambiguous offer that, if they are here when Brexit happens, they can stay. This is also exactly the kind of commitment eating and drinking out businesses needed and one the ALMR has been pushing for. It will help provide a stable platform for businesses looking to invest in their team members. The prime minister’s confirmation the process of applying will remain low cost is equally important. It is crucial for EU migrants and employers we have a system in place that is easy to manage, is a notification rather than a complicated application, and is affordable.”

Company News:

Aaron Mellor – immersive theatre is the future rather than superstar DJs: Entrepreneur Aaron Mellor, who runs the largest private estate of bars and nightclubs in the UK, a portfolio of 36 sites under the Tokyo Industries banner, has told the Bar and Nightclub Conference immersive theatre is the future rather than superstar DJs. Mellor said its Impossible Manchester venue, which got its name because it was "pretty much impossible to develop", was originally going to be a second site for the company’s Tup Tup Palace, which had proved a success in Newcastle, with a Brewhaus site upstairs. However, while Mellor was involved in setting up Heart in Ibiza, he decided to change its entertainment away from “superstar DJs” towards more “immersive artists”. Speaking alongside Tokyo Industries operations consultant Paul Gourlay, Mellor said: “In Ibiza, we deliberately decided to go against the whole ‘superstar DJ’ mechanic. In the UK, the superstar DJs have got superstar agents and superstar invoices, and you just can’t get that money back. Whilst certain sites remain headlined by the ‘superstar DJ’, that can not longer work in smaller venues, we are leaning to ‘immersive acts and performers’ to deliver the guest experiential that ‘superstar DJs’ previously filled.” Impossible Manchester now consists of what Mellor calls a “trilogy of three different spaces” that trade throughout the day. Dayparts are served by a bar restaurant with its own Impossible Taco Shack and full-service kitchen, while upstairs is a secret “gin nest” – Ginpossible – with 150 gins and a cryogenic freezing chamber. In the basement is a 550-capacity theatre space – Theatre Of Impossible – which launched in September. Mellor said: “It would have been a lot easier to have done a Tup Tup Palace and an RnB bottle service club and we’d probably have smashed it out the park. It’s ten times harder and ten times more expensive but, for me, it’s what we should be doing. We’re really involved in this now, moving away from DJs and into this immersive theatre idea – and that for me is super important.” Impossible Manchester, which launched in the summer, won best new venue at the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers’ late-night awards – but it nearly did not get off the ground. Mellor added: “It’s called Impossible because it was pretty much impossible to develop – it took almost two-and-a-half years. Almost as soon as we signed a lease on the site, which is in probably Manchester’s coolest street, Peter Street, the freehold was sold to a new developer, which thought the site was empty. The company was looking to build a 30-storey tower block without realising we’d taken a 25-year lease on the site it was going to sit on. We got involved with some interesting discussions about perhaps running a boutique hotel or Shoreditch House-style venue with rooftop terrace. That all fell by the wayside with planning, water penetration and landlord problems so we started calling the site the ‘house of a million possible problems’.” Mellor’s next project will be to open a Los Angeles nightclub in the first quarter of 2018.

Comptoir Group sells central processing unit for £2.69m: Comptoir Group has sold its central processing unit for £2.69m. The company said the sale, which was made at a property auction, is expected to complete before the end of the year. The sale price was before costs associated with the transaction. The company stated: “The sale of the central processing unit was highlighted to shareholders in the placing announcement released by the company on 28 September. The company will notify shareholders when the sale completes. The company will use funds raised from the sale for general working capital purposes and to assess further new restaurant opportunities.” Comptoir Group raised £4m via the share placing, which will fund four new sites. Last month, Comptoir Group reported trading had “stabilised”. It reported revenue increased 36.1% to £13.1m in the half year to 30 June, compared with £9.6m the year before. Gross profit was up 36.4% to £9.5m, compared with £7m the previous year. Adjusted Ebitda was down 81% to £0.2m, compared with £1m the year before.

Sharp’s Brewery reports turnover and profit boost as ‘sales to large pub and restaurant chains increase’: Cornwall-based Sharp’s Brewery, which is owned by Molson Coors, has reported a turnover and profit boost as “sales to large pub and restaurant chains increased”. The company saw turnover increase 1.7% to £41,608,283 for the year ending 31 December 2016, compared with £40,894,270 the year before. Pre-tax profit jumped 41.9% to £2,143,488 compared with £1,469,310 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. During the period, Sharp’s Brewery invested £2.5m in its facilities to further increase capacity at the brewery. It produced the equivalent of about 60 million pints during 2016. The company stated: “Profit levels increased during the year as sales to large pub and restaurant chains increased. Investment continues to be made in increasing the volume capacity of the business to meet consumer demand for the main brand, Doom Bar, while continuing to develop a wider portfolio of brands. During the year, the company continued to fund its expansion programme using a loan from its parent company. The proceeds of a share issue in December 2016 enabled the repayment of that loan. The company has a capital expansion plan to support the continued growth of its production capacity. The net assets at the end of the year amounted to £20,189,852 (2015: £18,034,282).” Sharp’s Brewery was acquired by parent company Molson Coors in 2011.

Jolly Fine Pub Group co-owner Greg Bellamy steps down: Greg Bellamy, co-owner of The Jolly Fine Pub Group, which operates three London pubs with rooms, has left the company. Bellamy founded the company with chef Paul Merrett more than nine years ago, with its portfolio currently consisting of The Fox and Grapes in Wimbledon, The Malt House in Fulham, and The Victoria in East Sheen. Merrett will continue to run The Jolly Fine Pub Group, which will operate as normal with his first task being to implement a new menu at the refurbished Victoria. Bellamy said he will pursue new business challenges within the hospitality industry. Merrett said: “After nearly a decade of working together, I am very sad to see Greg go. Our close working relationship has meant we have achieved some great things together and he will be sorely missed. I look forward to hearing about Greg’s next venture in due course and, of course, wish him all the very best.”

Shake Shack to open West End restaurant next week for eighth UK site: Shake Shack is to open a restaurant in Cambridge Circus for its seventh site in the capital and eighth in the UK in total. The new West End site will open at a 4,500 square foot site on Thursday, 26 October and offer two new Shake Shack gin lemonades and an exclusive shake, The Cheeky Monkey, featuring vanilla custard blended with caramel and Monkey Shoulder whisky. Shake Shack has also partnered with Neal’s Yard Dairy to create The Yard Burger – a 100% Aberdeen Angus burger topped with Neal’s Yard Cheddar, free-range Wiltshire smoked bacon, and horseradish and mustard mayo. A local craft beer list will include offerings from Crate Brewery, Howling Hops, and Portobello. Shake Shack culinary director Mark Rosati said: “It couldn’t be more important that, as Shake Shack grows, we also deepen our culinary roots in this community. I’m delighted to be working with some of the best at Cambridge Circus.” Julia Wilkinson, group restaurant and strategy executive at the property’s landlord Shaftesbury, added: “This is another example of restaurateurs clamouring for sites on streets that will be major beneficiaries of expected footfall growth from the opening of the Elizabeth Line. The axis of the West End is tipping northwards.” Shake Shack’s only UK venue outside London is in Cardiff.

Smashburger opens first Scottish site, in Glasgow: Better burger brand Smashburger has opened its first Scottish site, in Glasgow. The restaurant, which is the brand’s sixth UK site, has opened in Sauchiehall Street. It is split over two floors and features a bold industrial look with exposed brick, hanging pendant lights, and urban typography. Smashburger is known for its “smash”, in which hand-formed beef meatballs are smashed on to a hot buttered grill. Other menu options include chicken breast sandwiches, an avocado-and-garlic grilled vegetarian burger, salads and sides. The restaurant also offers takeaway options and a touchscreen soda fountain with more than 100 combinations, alongside craft beer, wine, and “hand-spun” shakes. Smashburger’s other UK sites are in Bath, Birmingham, Brighton, Milton Keynes and Newcastle. In May, the group said it planned to reach 35 restaurants in the UK by the end of 2020. Smashburger was founded by Tom Ryan in Denver in 2007. The brand now operates more than 370 sites in ten countries.

Black Cap owner says new operator will need to find more than £1m to reopen Camden Town gay bar: The owner of Camden Town gay bar the Black Cap has said anyone looking to reopen the venue will need to spend more than £1m. For the first time since it was abruptly closed in April 2015, the Camden High Street venue is being marketed as an opportunity for somebody to return the nightspot to its role as a “premier LGBTQ+ cabaret and public house entertainment venue”. It marks a change of tack for owner Kicking Horse, which had previously sought to lease the property to bar operator Albion and East Group. Kicking Horse said the new leaseholder would have to pay £300,000-a-year rent and estimated repair costs of £900,000. A description of the venue states: “The building has been closed for two-and-a-half years so will require a significant amount of capital investment.” Paul Tallentyre, director of pubs and bars at Davis Coffer Lyons, which is marketing the Black Cap, told the Camden New Journal: “We have got some good people who have come forward who we are now speaking to regarding business plans. We are running a process to see who is there to take the property as is, to continue the history of the Black Cap.”

Windmill Taverns combines Irish and Thai influences for fifth London site, first launch in ten years: Family-owned Windmill Taverns has opened its fifth site in south east London, the company’s first opening in ten years. The new site, Mc & Sons, has launched in Union Street as a traditional Irish pub with a Thai twist. The 80-cover space features reclaimed furniture, wooden benches and recycled classic pub pieces sourced from across the UK and Ireland. Frame-to-frame archives and family portraits adorn the walls telling the story of Windmill Taverns founders the McElhinney family, bringing the brand to life. The family’s latest generation has brought with it a south east Asian heritage thanks to head chef Lailar, wife of Johnny McElhinney, who provides expertise in Thai food. Inspired by Chiang Mai, a city in the north of the country, her dishes include spicy pork noodle salad, stir-fries, noodles and curries, with takeaway lunch boxes on offer. Mc & Sons offers table service in the evening, while the drinks list includes Thai beer Singha.

Caravan opens City site for fourth London venue: London-based Caravan, the restaurant, bar and coffee-roasting concept, has opened its fourth site in the capital, this time as part of the new Bloomberg Arcade in the City of London. Caravan City is spread across three levels with plenty of terrace seating and offers additional dishes to the brand’s other sites – in Exmouth Market, King’s Cross and Bankside – as well as a new brunch menu. The new menu section features dishes such as fermented daikon, black salt and pickled ginger, and whipped morcilla with house roti and herbs, Hot Dinners reports. As well as the customary pizzas and larger plates such as wagyu steak with popped capers and anchovy, there is also a “shrub station” where customers can create their own drinks. Caravan City, which is also set to open a site in Fitzrovia, joins other operators at Bloomberg Arcade that include Brigadiers, a new concept by JKS Restaurants; Hawaiian poké specialist Ahi Poké; Bleecker Burger; and wine bar, restaurant and wine shop Vinoteca. Caravan was founded in 2010 by New Zealanders Miles Kirby, Laura Harper-Hinton and Chris Ammermann.

Eddie Rocket’s opens fourth Northern Ireland site as franchisee takes portfolio to three: US-style diner and burger bar Eddie Rocket’s has opened its fourth restaurant in Northern Ireland. Franchisee Justin Ward has launched the outlet at Lagan Valley LeisurePlex in Lisburn on the former site of safari-themed family restaurant Makhulu 5, creating 30 jobs. It is the third site for Ward, who also operates the franchise for Eddie Rocket’s two Belfast restaurants. The Lisburn venue seats 130 people and is styled with the brand’s vintage American dining booths and individual table jukeboxes. Eddie Rocket’s was founded by Dubliner Niall Fortune and has 40 branches in the Republic of Ireland. Fortune told the Irish News: “Justin has proved to be a very successful franchisee and I am sure he will make every success of his latest venture. We are committed to continually developing the brand and, with further expansion planned next year, we are actively seeking to secure additional franchises nationwide.”

Laine Pub Company to reopen fire-damaged Acton site next month: Multiple pub operator and brewer The Laine Pub Company, which is backed by Luke Johnson, will reopen its west London pub The Aeronaut next month. The Acton venue, known for its exotic circus and cabaret shows and quirky carnivalesque gardens, suffered fire damage in the early hours of New Year’s Day. Laine said the site would have some “exciting new additions”, including the UK’s first pub-based combined immersive and virtual reality games set up. Having pioneered virtual-reality and immersive gaming in pubs such as The Four Thieves in Battersea and The People’s Park in Hackney, Laine plans to combine the two at The Aeronaut, which will reopen on Thursday, 30 November. There will be a new range of craft beer brewed by its Laine Brew Co business and the best of London’s brewers plus enhancements to the garden and bar areas and the return of the Aeronaut’s sharing menu. General manager Dene Stevenson said: “We promised the show would go on and we are overjoyed work is continuing apace to rebuild and replace all that was damaged in the fire. The pub’s Big Top room will once again host the hair-raising aerial shows that attracted circus-goers and cabaret fans week in, week out.”

Urban Standard to open fourth site, in Exeter next month: Bristol-based independent bar and restaurant company Urban Standard will open its fourth bar and restaurant next month, this time in Exeter city centre. The new venue – South Street Standard – will open in South Street on Friday, 3 November, replacing Vintage Store and creating up to 25 jobs. Urban Standard is known for its meaty dishes while other offerings at the new venue, which will seat up to 120 people, will include dirty beans and baked eggs, buttermilk pancakes and a seafood club sandwich. Urban Standard co-owner Dominic Wood told Devon Live: “We are aware there are a lot of chains and big brands in Exeter but I believe we can offer something a bit more down to earth and homely. We are just two guys who have worked in the industry since we can remember and we are fulfilling our dream. We are really excited about the opening of the bar in Exeter. It is a big thing for us and it’s an amazing location.” Wood added there would be no major alterations to the building apart from decoration in line with the Urban Standard sites in Cardiff and the two Bristol branches, which feature rustic and industrial decor. The company also plans to provide a rear seating area at the Cathedral Green entrance.

Burgerac returning to original Marylebone site to relaunch Burgershack: Gavin Lucas, the burger blogger known as Burgerac, is returning to Marylebone to relaunch his Burgershack. The concept will return to its old haunt, the Royal Oak in York Street, on Tuesday (24 October) for a residency that will run until Christmas. The menu will retain favourites such as the Hubba Hubba and Chickenshack, with new additions including a vegetarian cheeseburger featuring a Portobello mushroom instead of a beef patty topped with American cheese, ketchup, onions and mustard. There will also be a fish finger bun inspired by the best-selling item at Sonic Sandwich, Lucas’ latest venture – but in a glazed bun rather than toasted white bread. Burgerac’s Burgershack will pair its food with a Camden Town Brewery beer every week. Lucas launched his Burgershack at the Royal Oak in 2014, going on to open a second site in Fitzrovia. Both sites closed at the end of 2016 with Lucas launching sandwiches and soundtracks concept Sonic Sandwich in Fitzrovia in March this year.

Nightclub brand Sankeys to open Stoke-on-Trent site this weekend: Nightclub brand Sankeys, which was forced to close its original site at the grade II-listed Beehive Mill in Manchester in January, will launch in Stoke-on-Trent this weekend. Following the Manchester closure, Sankeys launched a competition asking fans which city it should launch in and Sankeys Stoke will now open at the former JJ’s nightclub. Ed Davis, head of marketing and online for the brand, told The Sentinel he thought Sankeys Stoke was inevitable. He said: “I know the people of Stoke-on-Trent and knew this would be the place to come to. We have a team from Stoke-on-Trent who have taken over the Sankeys brand here and they 100% know what the audience wants. They are local promoters who grew up on the scene with other brands such as Golden and Shelley’s Laserdome. They have brought these classic brands back to Stoke-on-Trent. This is only going to get bigger and it’s only going to make the city better.” Darren Harvey, Nigel Jackson and Andy Dyer, of DNA Event Management, will run the 900-capacity club. Harvey said: “The age of people attending the opening party mostly ranges from 18 to 35 but there are some older people like me who went to Sankeys originally. I was a regular. The brand carries the event. It’s known all over the world.” Sankeys also operates franchises in London, Ibiza, Tokyo, Birmingham and Essex.

Rank Group to open third Luda site, in Leeds next month: The Rank Group is to open a site for its bingo cafe and entertainment centre concept Luda in Leeds next month. The company will open the venue in Albion Street on Monday, 13 November, creating 20 jobs, reports the Yorkshire Evening Post. It will be Luda’s third site following its launch in Walsall in August, with a second venue set to open in Weston-super-Mare on Monday, 30 October. Rank Group said Luda has “reimagined” the bingo experience to “create the next generation in gaming”. The aim is to entice younger players and move away from bingo’s old-fashioned image. The venue offers bingo, slots and retro games in a “trendy modern setting” as well as a cafe. 

Take That singer’s twin brother launches toast-inspired restaurant in Altrincham: The twin brother of Take That singer Jason Orange has opened a toast-inspired restaurant, in Altrincham, Greater Manchester. Justin Orange has launched Toast in Stamford New Road on the site of a former Barclays bank branch. The concept takes inspiration from Orange’s travels to New York. The 56-cover restaurant offers two areas featuring exposed original architectural details, copper accents and distinct seating sections, including booths, and a feature dining table. There is also an alfresco heated canopied section that can seat up to 16. The menu has been created by head chef Edward Carr, previously of Aumbry, The Fat Duck and Eleven Madison Park in New York. Dishes include white crab with lime juice, rocket and coriander, and prawns rolled in sesame seeds with sweet chilli jam. Drinks feature smoothies, wine, craft beer, cider and coffee. Orange told Altrincham Today: “Who doesn’t love toast? It’s been 18 months in the making but it’s been well worth the wait.”

Nando’s looks to add to Liverpool presence: Nando’s has announced it is opening a restaurant in Liverpool’s Edge Lane. The company already has three sites in the city – in Liverpool ONE, Queens Square and Aintree Shopping Park – with plans to open another at New Mersey Retail Park. Nando’s confirmed the Edge Lane restaurant would open next year. A spokesperson told the Liverpool Echo: “We know there are a lot of peri-peri fans in Liverpool and the good news is a new Nando’s will be coming to the area in late 2018. We can’t wait to start hosting people at the new restaurant.” Nando’s will open a site at the new £45m Dolphin Square complex in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, at the end of this month, with further openings scheduled at sites including at a £6.8m development in Eltham, south east London. The brand has more than 1,000 restaurants across the globe, with almost 400 in the UK and Ireland.

Creams Cafe launches Leicester site: Dessert parlour operator Creams Cafe has opened a site in Leicester. The 100-cover restaurant has launched in Granby Street offering waffles, including the new bubble pop waffle, 36 varieties of Italian gelato-style ice cream and an area that can be hired for private events. It also offers a wide range of sundaes, including the hot chocolate fudge volcano, and crepes such as the Belgian banana burrito. Drinks include milkshakes, smoothies and mocktails. The company, which was founded in London in 2008, currently operates almost 60 cafes in the UK, with the nearest sites to Leicester in Birmingham, Coventry, Nottingham and Worcester. The Leicester franchise is operated by businessman Nilesh Karavadra, who is joined by an assistant manager and a team of 18 staff.

Bistrot Pierre to open Southport site next month: Private equity-backed restaurant group Bistrot Pierre will open a site in Southport, Merseyside, next month. The company, which currently operates 21 sites, is investing £1m to convert the former Russell & Bromley store in Lord Street, creating 50 jobs. The new 140-cover venue is due to open on Friday, 17 November. Bistrot Pierre was set up in 1994 by school friends Rob Beacham and John Whitehead, who have grown the group’s presence across the UK. Beacham told the Southport Visiter: “Southport is a beautiful town steeped in history and culture with beautiful scenery, shops and restaurants and I’m thrilled Bistrot Pierre is able to support this thriving local economy.” The company received £9.8m from private equity firm Livingbridge in 2015 to support its expansion plans. Sites in the pipeline include Coventry, Preston and Worthing.

Marston’s opens £3m new-build Bognor pub: Marston’s has opened a £3m new-build pub in Bognor, West Sussex. The Charlie Purley takes its name from the father of local racing driver David Purley, who pulled over during the Dutch Grand Prix in 1973 to try to save the life of fellow driver Roger Williamson, whose car was upside down and on fire. Purley was awarded the George Medal for his courage in trying to save Williamson, who suffocated in the blaze. The opening has created 45 jobs, with the pub offering a carvery and “hand-crafted ales in a relaxed atmosphere”, the Bognor Regis News reports. This week, Marston’s opened a new-build pub as part of a residential development in Bilston, West Midlands. Meanwhile, Marston’s Revere Pub Company has been given the go-ahead to open a site for its Lost and Found concept in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. The company has been granted permission by Wycombe District Council to convert the Steamer Trading Cookshop in High Street into a bar and restaurant, creating 45 jobs. Under the proposals, the ground floor would be turned into a restaurant, with a new reception and bar area. Towards the back of the building, a secret bar would be hidden behind sliding doors for private hire, reports the Bucks Free Press. On the top floor, the Assembly Room would be turned into a formal dining space, while there are plans to create a terrace outside and an area called The Orangery, which would feature its own bar.

Blackpool-based operators put two hotels on market for £3.25m: Blackpool-based hotel operators Daren and Amanda Wilkinson have put their two sites in the Lancashire town up for sale for £3.25m. The Wilkinsons are marketing The Lawton Hotel and The Beechfield through agents Christie & Co. They have operated the hotels for a number of years but are looking for a change of lifestyle. Christie & Co associate director Ryan Lynn told The Business Desk: “We know Blackpool has a strong supply of accommodation businesses but these hotels stand out due to their size and third central location. Each business supports the other, which is highly beneficial for the buyer.”

Liverpool-based cocktails and mini-golf concept Ghetto Golf opens second site, in Birmingham: Liverpool-based cocktails and mini-golf concept Ghetto Golf has opened its second site, in Birmingham city centre. Ghetto Golf has opened at independent shopping complex The Custard Factory, offering crazy golf, cocktails, street food and DJs, reports the Express & Star. A post on its Facebook page states: “Our concept combines crazy golf, theatre, cocktails and DJs in an art-infused environment that showcases the very best street art and writers. It was for this reason we chose Birmingham as our next home. Widely regarded as the being at the forefront of the UK graffiti scene and even being dubbed ‘The City of Colours’, we felt it was a no-brainer.”

Cumbria-based gastro-pub operators to open second site, this weekend: Cumbria-based gastro-pub operators Richard and Jo Fenn are to open their second site in the county, this weekend. The Fenns, who run The Queens gastro-pub in the village of Warwick-on-Eden, have taken on The Black Lion in the Durdar area of Carlisle. The pub was popular with locals and Carlisle Racecourse visitors until it closed earlier this year. It will now reopen following an eight-month refurbishment and an investment of about £500,000. Jo Fenn told the News & Star: “It has been many months of hard work by our dedicated team to get the pub, which has such strong connections to the racecourse, ready for its official reopening.” To celebrate the pub’s proximity to the racecourse, a race was named after The Black Lion on the opening day of the national jump season this week. Geraldine McKay, general manager of Carlisle Racecourse, said: “Race-goers have gone into the Black Lion for many years before and after racing and many were sad to see the pub close earlier this year. Jo and Richard have done a fantastic job and there is a lot of excitement ahead of the grand reopening.”

Plans lodged for new hotel in Kettering: Plans have been revealed for a new hotel with almost 200 bedrooms in Northamptonshire. Phoenix Leisure Management has submitted an application to Kettering Borough Council to build the four-storey hotel at Kettering Leisure Village. The hotel would include 192 bedrooms and has been revised from an original plan for a seven-storey building following discussions with the council, reports Insider Media. A document submitted to the authority on behalf of the applicant said: “The layout has been driven by numerous site constraints, which have been overcome through the design process to generate a sensitive scheme that responds not only to the Kettering Leisure Conference Centre but to the wider context. The scale and appearance of the proposal responds to the scale of the conference centre while also respecting the lower-scale neighbouring buildings. The overall appearance of the development is designed to be of the highest quality.” The potential operator of the hotel has yet to be revealed.

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