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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 26th Oct 2017 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Butcombe makes £4m investment in brewery operations: Butcombe Brewery, part of Liberation Group, has made a £4m investment in its brewing business in the West Country. The brewer has invested in four new projects, including a new craft beer production unit, newly installed packaging lines, alongside a beer storage and delivery facility in Bridgwater, Somerset. In addition, there will be investment at the existing brewery to increase capacity. The investment will see Butcombe install a bottling and kegging line at its second site to bring the quality control of its bottled and kegs beers back in house. The development will support the double-digit growth in its keg range. The new brewery facility and distribution unit's proximity to the M5 will allow for faster distribution across its heartland and further afield. Butcombe is also investing in its current brewery through the purchase of extra fermentation and conditioning vessels to improve capacity and capability. The improvements to the brewery will allow Butcombe to produce up to an additional 40,000 barrels of beer per year. Steve Wilkinson, managing director of brewing and brands at Butcombe Brewery, said: “This significant investment will provide us with a new platform to better service our loyal Butcombe customers more effectively at a lower cost, which we intend to reinvest in our Butcombe beer brands to secure our future growth, and keep pace with the increasing demand for all of our new beers. Bringing our packaging 'in-house' will give us better quality control over our brands and enhance our capability. The investment in specialist bottling and kegging equipment is a rare opportunity for a regional brewer of our size to really gear up and satisfy the rapidly changing market, to redouble our efforts in our heartland with Butcombe cask beers at the centre of what we do supported by the same consistent quality beers in bottle and keg. These improvements will allow us to ensure we retain and enhance our quality reputation while stepping up production to move closer to our long-term goal of becoming the number one regional brewer.”

Industry News:

Propel launches sector’s most comprehensive marketing conference: Propel has launched the most comprehensive marketing conference the sector has seen with a two-day event. Restaurant Marketer & Innovator, in partnership with Think Hospitality, will take place on Wednesday, 17 January and Thursday, 18 January at One Moorgate Place in London. The two-day event will bring together marketers, strategists and business leaders from the foodservice sector to understand trends, share success and define the future of the sector. A total of 40 speakers from four countries, representing more than 30 brands, will provide advice and insight. They include Kathryn Austin (Pizza Hut Restaurants), Emma Woods (Wagamama), Lisa Campbell (Las Iguanas), Lizzy Barber (Cabana), Stephanie Lloyd (New World Trading Company), Hayley Simpson (The Breakfast Club), Camilla Katte (Giggling Squid) and Michael Ingemann (Claus Meyer Restaurants). The first day, curated and moderated by James Hacon, will include Gleam Futures chief executive Dominic Smales sharing secrets of the elusive digital influencer industry and how restaurant groups can leverage some of this stardust to make their own brand shine. Meanwhile, Jim Rogers, chief marketing officer at Tony Roma’s, will share his experience of revitalising brands, defining brand DNA and creating a winning strategy to win back market share. The second day, curated and moderated by Ann Elliott, includes Susan Martindale, group HR director at Mitchells & Butlers, highlighting the importance of people to the sector and discussing the increasing importance of a close relationship between the people and marketing teams. Katrina Lawson, head of marketing at Costa Coffee Innovation, will give an insight into how the brand innovates while Kate Eastwood, sales director at Revolution Bars Group, will share how the company has grown revenue through pre-booked sales, driving overall business performance. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “We are delighted to partner with Think Hospitality to launch the most comprehensive and stimulating marketing conference the sector has seen. The changing landscape of the food and beverage sector, with the exponential growth of multi-site brands and companies, has seen marketing become an ever more important part of the sector. This two-day conference will provide attendees with a multitude of insights and perspectives as 2018 gets underway.” Prices for the two days are £525 plus VAT for operators and £795 plus VAT for suppliers. A one-day rate of £345 plus VAT is available to operators only. To book, please click here. For more information or any queries please contact either Jo Charity on 01444 810304 or or Anne Steele on 01444 817691 or

Critical action needed in Budget to support ‘vital’ hospitality sector, says ALMR: Critical action is needed in next month’s Budget to support the “vital” hospitality sector, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has said. In its Budget submission, the ALMR has highlighted the outstanding work in job creation and investment being done by the sector, but called on the government to safeguard employment and growth. It said growth was at risk as costs pressures on businesses continued to increase and consumer and investor confidence fell, with instability caused by Brexit a particular concern. The UK’s eating and drinking-out sector generates £63bn in economic activity and adds £23bn to the UK’s GDP. Venues in the sector also directly employ 1.6 million people, about 7% of all private sector employment, and have created 30% of all net new employment in the past year. The ALMR has called on the government for immediate, short-term support by undertaking a “much-needed and long overdue” reform of the business rates system and a freeze, or at least a cap, in the multiplier for April 2018. It has also asked for pub-specific relief to be increased to £5,000 per annum and broadened to include the wider eating and drinking-out sector. The ALMR also wants the government to freeze alcohol duty excise rates and commit to being led by the Low Pay Commission’s recommendations when determining minimum wage rates. In the long-term, the ALMR wants the government to secure a future immigration policy that recognises the eating and drinking-out sector’s workforce, work with businesses in the sector to produce a post-Brexit tax and regulatory regime that promotes growth and allows the sector to compete globally, and outline its intention with regards to hospitality sector VAT in Northern Ireland and in a post-Brexit environment. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “This could also be a crucial Budget for the eating and drinking-out sector. The government has the power to provide support for vital UK business that will ease pressure, provide stability and help them unlock even greater potential.”

Pay-per-view boxing boosts beer sales: Pay-per-view boxing is proving a hit for operators who have seen a boost in beer sales, according to new research. Ahead of Anthony Joshua’s title defence on Saturday night (28 October), new data has revealed pubs that showed the Floyd Mayweather versus Conor McGregor fight experienced sustained sales throughout the night. According to analysis by sports pub app MatchPint and beer quality expert Vianet, venues that kept their doors open for the fight saw an additional 22 pints sold per hour between midnight and 5am, equating to a 9% Saturday trade increase compared with MatchPint sites that did not show the fight. The research also showed it was the highest searched for event in MatchPint’s history, with 310,850 searches for the fight. This was 8% higher than Joshua versus Wladimir Klitshcko in April. MatchPint head of operations Robert Stewart said: “Pay-per-view boxing continues to draw massive online attention as sports fans plan ahead to avoid disappointment. The youthful make-up of punters searching for fights also gives operators a fantastic opportunity to access a key demographic. A survey we conducted with Sky Sports highlighted 99% of sports fans said they would return after watching live sport at a venue – this means events such as this are a key way to gain traction with the younger demographic.” Vianet product manager Mark Fewster added: “Live sport continues to provide a huge boost to beer sales for operators. With the upcoming fight it is vital operators focus on their beer quality management to ensure a great experience and get fans to return.”

TripAdvisor launches sponsored ad feature for restaurants: TripAdvisor has launched an ad product that enables restaurant owners to promote their business to diners through sponsored placements on the site. Through TripAdvisor Ads for restaurants, owners are able to buy targeted ad slots – that send customers directly to their restaurant listing – on desktop and mobile web. The ads target people who are actively searching in a specified area, as well as people based on their advanced search queries, such as average meal price, cuisine type, and timing of meals. Bertrand Jelensperger, senior vice-president of TripAdvisor Restaurants, told Mobile Marketing: “We want to provide restaurant owners with the best possible suite of products and solutions to entice and convert potential diners into loyal customers. Now with TripAdvisor Ads, we are providing them with another way to increase their visibility through targeted sponsored placements.” TripAdvisor Ads for restaurants work on a cost-per-click basis. Therefore, restaurant owners only need to set a monthly spending limit before activating their ad, and are only charged at the end of each month based on the number of clicks they received on the ad up to their maximum budget.

Low-sugar and free from genetically-modified ingredients top factors when deciding what to eat or drink: Nearly half of consumers have said “low-sugar or sugar-free” and “free from genetically-modified ingredients” are “very” or “extremely” important factors when deciding what to eat or drink, according to new research. These factors topped the list, just ahead of low-salt, organic, low-fat, or fortified with vitamins or minerals. Market research group GfK asked 23,000 consumers online in 17 countries how important certain factors were, from a given list, when deciding what to eat or drink. Nearly half (48%) said products being low-sugar or sugar-free was “extremely” or “very” important to them, and an equal number said the same for products being free from genetically-modified ingredients. Low-sodium or low-salt products came third highest, with 45%, followed by organic products, low-fat or no-fat products, and products that are fortified with vitamins or minerals with 44%. The research showed organic, pro-biotic, fortified and gluten-free products were more important to people aged under-40. The most selective food and drink consumers were those aged 30 to 39. This group nearly always had the highest percentage rating factors as “very” or “extremely” important. People from high-income households set consistently higher importance on all the factors, compared with the lower income households.

Company News:

Steve Easterbrook – McDonald’s in the UK having ‘great success’ with pub-style burger, delivery very promising: McDonald’s chief executive Steve Easterbrook has hailed the success of the company’s Signature range of burgers in the UK. He said: “The UK is having great success in their modernised restaurants with their version of Signature beef, inspired by the English pub burgers with thick, juicy beef and beechwood-smoked bacon, piled high with freshly-prepared toppings on a brioche-style bun.” Of delivery progress, he stated: “We made significant progress with expanding delivery of scale throughout our markets. Over the course of the past nine months, we’ve introduced delivery in more than 5,000 restaurants across 20 countries. Along with the 3,500 restaurants in existing delivery markets across Asia and the Middle East, we now offer delivery in more than 20% of McDonald’s restaurants around the world. We continue to improve the model as we scale, remaining on track to offer delivery in 10,000 total restaurants by the end of the year. We’re taking learnings from our top-performing delivery markets and spreading the best approaches around the world. We remain confident delivery will be a powerful accelerator for our business as we look at markets where it’s gaining traction. We’re certainly seeing it appeal to the younger consumer. We’re seeing some great results around college towns. As I say, from a daypart perspective, we see it skew slightly later, so into evenings and overnights. There tends to be more group orders, so we see the average transaction value somewhere between 1.5 to two times a typical average transaction value in a restaurant.”

Authentic Alehouses extends crowdfunding campaign after raising more than £3.5m: Leeds-based Authentic Alehouses, led by Burning Night Group boss Allan Harper, has extended its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdstacker having raised more than £3.5m. The company launched its funding bid to revive the fortunes of currently underperforming pubs by attracting a new generation of customers with a menu of “quality artisan food and drink, updated decor and a variety of entertainment”. Authentic Alehouses is aiming to raise £5m on the platform, offering investors a 6.5% per annum interest rate through a peer-to-peer loan. Backers are also given the potential to earn income tax-free by investing via Crowdstacker’s Innovative Finance ISA. Authentic Alehouses launched the campaign in July and has so far raised £3,596,042. The next closing is on Thursday, 23 November. Authentic Alehouses plans to use the capital to refurbish sites in prime locations, streamline and modernise their operation to cut down on wastage, and introduce higher quality food, a broader range of new drinks and more family-orientated entertainment. 

Manchester-based The Liars Club Group plans UK expansion following £700,000 investment: Manchester-based The Liars Club Group is planning to expand outside of the city and across the UK after receiving a £700,000 investment. The company has secured a loan from Barclays to help expand its New York-style pizza and cocktail bar Crazy Pedro’s. The rapid expansion plan to open multiple Crazy Pedro’s across the UK will start in Liverpool at the beginning of November. The new venue will open in Parr Street, comprising two floors and a sun terrace. The £700,000 loan follows a previous £300,000 loan from Barclays. The Liars Club Group will also open its first restaurant-focused operation in Manchester at the end of this month. The Bay Horse Tavern, located in Thomas Street, will serve small plates of British dishes, with the drinks offering focused around locally made beers and gins. The Liars Club Group director Ross Mackenzie said: “This funding from Barclays is instrumental in ensuring The Liars Club Group continues to grow, not just here in Manchester, but across the UK. We have great established brands that we feel we can replicate in other cities and look forward to rolling out our expansion plan over the next few years.” Barclays relationship director Stuart Stocks added: “This is a great business. With a strong management team, it is now well-placed in the sector to continue to achieve significant growth.” The Liars Club Group portfolio consists of Cane and Grain in Thomas Street, Crazy Pedro’s in Bridge Street, along with a second Crazy Pedro’s site underneath Afflecks Palace, and its original bar The Liars Club, which opened in 2011.

Wok&Go founder launches new restaurant concept Jack Burrito, further two sites lined up: The founder of UK noodle bar brand Wok&Go has launched a new restaurant concept serving modern twists on jacket potatoes and burritos. Des Pheby, who launched Wok&Go in Chester, has opened Jack Burrito in the city’s Northgate Street and has another two sites lined up. The quick-service restaurant aims to “propel the humble spud into the 21st century” with fillings inspired by Latin flavours, alternatively accompanied with sweet potatoes or burritos. The menu includes Ring O Fire, featuring fiery hot pulled beef, jalapenos and avocado, as well as The Spaniard, with chorizo, semi-dried tomato, three beans and smoky chipotle mayo. A range of wine and beer is on offer alongside specially selected gins, rums, tequilas and handcrafted cocktails. A second Jack Burrito is already earmarked for Leeds city centre with a third site planned near Aston University in Birmingham. Pheby said: “We’re excited to be opening our new restaurant in Northgate Street. Our menu is going to bring the classic jacket potato up to date and we can’t wait for guests to visit us and try it for themselves. Jack Burrito is just a few doors down from where we opened the first Wok & Go nearly ten years ago. We’ve got big plans for this new concept and we’re hoping it will be just as popular as Wok&Go has proven to be.” Wok&Go now has 24 stores across the UK. Owned by the PFC Group, the chain is growing rapidly, with a further ten stores planned over the next 12 months.

Cott Beverages reports profits almost halve as turnover falls: Soft drinks company Cott Beverages has reported its profits have almost halved after seeing a fall in turnover. The company saw turnover fall to £241,364,000 for the year ending 31 December 2016 compared with £265,994,000 the year before. Pre-tax profit dropped to £18,923,000 compared with £37,639,000 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Gross margin increased to 19.3% compared with 18.0% the year before primarily due to lower logistics costs. Cott said the decline in revenue was as a result of the “continued challenging market environment” and the “loss of a major retail customer contract in the second quarter of 2016”. Earlier this year, Cott Corporation agreed to sell Cott Beverages, which has its UK head office in Derbyshire, to Refresco in a deal worth $1.2bn (£923.1m). The deal had not been completed at the time the accounts were filed. A statement with the accounts said: “During the year the overall soft drinks market showed a slight increase in both volume and value. Own label soft drinks showed a slight increase in volume and a small decline in value, as strong growth in the water category offset declines in the traditional carbonated soft drinks and sports and energy categories. The company has sought to continue to protect its core retail and sports and energy business, develop its own brand portfolio, broaden its channel presence and also its co-packing business.” In October 2016, Cott Beverages bought counterpart Calypso Soft Drinks while in June 2017 the manufacturing facility at Bondgate in Pontefract was sold for £6.5m and leased back for a term of 27 years, generating a gain of £3.6m.

Social media channel Twisted to launch delivery-only restaurant: Social media channel Twisted, which is owned by Jungle Creations, is to launch a delivery-only restaurant. Twisted was founded in March 2016 and has so far amassed a following of nearly eight million on Facebook and Instagram, with its videos achieving more than 200 million global views per month. It is known for its recipe videos that are filmed from a bird’s eye perspective and posted on its social channels. Now it is launching delivery-only restaurant Twisted London. The menu will be revealed shortly but will feature “the same high quality ingredients within new and original dishes, including a vegan offering, that reflect the adventurous spirit of Twisted”. Jungle Creations founder and chief executive Jamie Bolding will reveal more about the venture during his talk at London Food Tech Week on Thursday, 2 November, The Future is Social. He said: “Twisted has been an incredible success since its launch just over a year ago. There’s still a huge appetite for the online recipe videos so we won’t be slowing down there but we really want to expand the Twisted brand to real-life experiences. Twisted London is a natural extension of our offering and provides our followers with the best user experience imaginable. Watch the video, click order, and the meal arrives piping hot to your door within 30 minutes. We are extremely excited about this project and have built a standalone experienced team to run the operation.”

Glendola Leisure to open second Alston Bar & Beef this week: Glendola Leisure, led by Alex Salussolia, will open its second Alston Bar & Beef this week, occupying a “hidden speakeasy” beneath the Corn Exchange in Manchester. The venue will serve more than 60 kinds of gin, including its own cold compound blends made from botanicals foraged around Manchester. They will be served alongside Tweed Valley beef inside the 160-cover restaurant, which occupies the basement of the grade II-listed building. The subterranean space has been brightened up with a marble bar and table tops and white and black honeycomb-tiled floors. General manager Riki Bennett said: “The quality of the steak is evident and the price reflects that but if you don’t want to spend a fortune you don’t have to. We want it to be a really fun place, we don’t want it to be too stuffy or too formal.” Through a velvet curtain, a staircase leads down to a hidden bar, named 1837 after the year the original Corn Exchange that stood on the site was built. Gins from around the world will be served both here and in the restaurant’s main bar, along with a seasonally changing selection of up to ten cold compound gins made in-house by the Alston team. The site opens on Friday (27 October). The first Alston Bar & Beef opened in Glasgow in 2014.

US-style restaurant Harvey’s New York Bar and Grill secures fourth site as it continues North Wales expansion: US-style restaurant Harvey’s New York Bar and Grill has secured its fourth site, in Pwllheli, as it continues its expansion in North Wales. The company is opening the venue in Yr Ala on the site of the former Conservative Club, creating up to 30 jobs. The new site will be a restaurant similar to its offer in Llandudno. It also has drive-thru sites in Rhuddlan and Bangor. Director Craig Holmes told the Daily Post: “We have bought the former Conservative Club in Pwllheli. We will be speaking to planners now about some cosmetic changes to the site with the hope to get work under way before Christmas. This will be a restaurant site like Llandudno rather than a drive-thru. The chain is doing well at its current locations and we think this will work in Pwllheli. This is part of our plan to keep expanding the chain in North Wales.”

Benugo extends John Lewis partnership with Oxford opening: Cafe-deli and restaurant operator Benugo has extended its partnership with John Lewis by opening a cafe in its department store in Oxford. Benugo has launched the site on the ground floor of the new £18m store at the Westgate Centre. It is Benugo’s ninth site inside a John Lewis store. The new cafe offers breakfast, lunch and daily specials, including salads and oven-baked dishes, as well as toasted sandwiches. There is also a range of cakes and scones, alongside speciality tea and coffee. Benugo is part of WSH, a holding company made up of six trading brands in the food and hospitality sector. Earlier this month, Benugo reported sales had moved through the £100m barrier as turnover rose 13% to £100,100,000 in the year to 31 December 2016.

Gravity hires Savills to help with European expansion: Indoor trampoline park operator Gravity has instructed Savills to lead its expansion into Europe, with plans to open sites in Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Ireland and Poland as well as other targeted European countries. Gravity is seeking potential sites of between 15,000 square feet (1,394 square metres) and 30,000 square feet (2,787 square metres) in large-scale leisure schemes, shopping centres and retail parks. It is focused on all major markets, particularly those in prime urban areas and regional shopping and leisure venues. Sites are required to have a minimum eaves height of 5.2 metres for at least 12,000 square feet (1,115 square metres) of the internal floor space. The expansion comes with the UK-based chain having established six venues to date including Xscape, Yorkshire; St Stephen’s Shopping Centre, Hull; The Soar, Glasgow; and Edinburgh Fountain Park. A further two are in development and due to open before the end of 2017 at Bluewater, Kent; and Xscape, Milton Keynes; while more UK sites will follow in 2018. All current locations are within high footfall retail and leisure schemes in the UK. Harvey Jenkinson, chief executive of Gravity, said: “Our property strategy has been a key part of our success to date. We look to partner with the landlords and developers of major retail and leisure schemes and venues, and see the Gravity offer as an integral part of the overall leisure mix. This is in contrast to the cost-focused, standalone approach adopted by many local or less brand focused operators.”

Greek street food restaurant The Athenian opens third London site: Greek street food restaurant The Athenian has opened its third site in London. The company has opened the new venue at the White City development in Wood Lane. There are several new items on the menu with the gyros – the Greek version of a kebab – given the burger treatment. The gyros burger features shavings of marinated pork or chicken with condiments and vegetables served on brioche with sweet potato or oregano fries. Other new offerings include courgette fritters and cheese croquettes. Diners are also able to experience items from its Elephant & Castle and Shoreditch venues such as grilled souvlakis with meat and halloumi options, mezze dips including tzatziki and melitzanosalata, salads, and gyros, reports Hot Dinners. The Athenian, which also has a site in Bristol, is one of the four new restaurants at the White City development with Butterscotch Bakery, which is led by Bea Vo, formerly of Bea’s of Bloomsbury; New York-style Pizza Street; and Azzurri Group-owned Coca di Mama joining the line-up. 

Scottish chef and restaurateur Tony Singh creates food bank recipes: Scottish chef and restaurateur Tony Singh has created three bespoke recipes for people, using food banks in Edinburgh. Singh, who has had stints at restaurants such as the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh and Skibo Castle in the Highlands, has created spiced neep soup, cheese cookies and bread soup – reflecting his style of using local Scottish produce combined with fusion influences from around the world. He told the Edinburgh News: “I wanted to create something achievable people without a cooking background or were not taught could cook without having to have fancy equipment and a set of pots and knives. People get a lot of good produce from food banks such as pasta, flour and pulses but I was showing them how easy it is to add a little bit of spice to bring some glamour and colour to a simple meal.” The project is part of a partnership with Hilton Hotels to tackle food poverty as part of its Global Week of Service.

Historic Dartmoor hotel sells from guide price of £1.5m: A historic Dartmoor hotel visited by Agatha Christie has been sold from a guide price of £1.5m. Hieronymus Gruff has sold the Moorland Hotel near Haytor Rocks to a private individual through agents Savills. The hotel has 34 en-suite bedrooms and also features the Tinpickle & Rhum cafe brasserie as well as a bar, restaurant and function room. A two-bedroom owner’s flat is also located on the site. Dating to 1887, Moorland Hotel was built for tourists visiting Haytor Rocks and in 1916 was visited by Agatha Christie for two weeks as she wrote her first novel. James Greenslade, associate at Savills, said: “We are delighted to have secured a new owner for the Moorland Hotel. Its location and potential generated significant interest when brought to market.”

Patisserie Valerie opens fifth Glasgow site as it continues Debenhams partnership: Patisserie Valerie, the company that has sector investor Luke Johnson as executive chairman, has opened its fifth Glasgow site as it continues its Debenhams partnership. The company has opened a concession within the department store in Argyle Street, creating about 20 jobs. The new venue is the brand’s next step in its expansion strategy to open 20 new stores annually. The cafe offers the brand’s patisserie and cake range, with items hand-made on-site. Chief executive Paul May said: “We’re pleased to open our newest store in Glasgow, which sees the continuance of our partnership with Debenhams.” Patisserie Valerie, launched in 1926 in Soho by Belgian-born Madame Valerie, has more than 150 sites across the UK and Ireland.

Bill’s opens site at Rushden Lakes development: Bill’s Restaurants, owned by Richard Caring, has opened a site at the new Rushden Lakes development in Northamptonshire. The company has opened the venue on the boardwalk at the retail and leisure complex. It has capacity for 111 people inside with outside seating for a further 74 diners, reports the Northants Telegraph. Bill’s joins other restaurant brands at Rushden Lakes including Tasty-owned Wildwood and Foodco-owned international cafe Jamaica Blue. Other restaurants due to open in the future include Wagamama and PizzaExpress. Bill’s has more than 80 restaurants around the UK. Founder Bill Collison opened the first site in Lewes, East Sussex, in 2001.

Wahaca co-founder shortlisted for exemplary women in business award: Thomasina Miers, the co-founder of Mexican restaurant brand Wahaca, has been shortlisted for the entrepreneurial spirit accolade in the second annual Variety Catherine Awards, which honour exemplary women in business. Miers, who launched Wahaca with Mark Selby in 2005 having previously won the BBC show MasterChef, is up against A Very Good Company director Natalie Campbell, Essentia Analytics founder and chief executive Clare Flynn Levy, and Slapp founder and chief executive Jamila Robertson in the category. The winner will be revealed at a ceremony on Tuesday, 21 November at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. The Variety Catherine Awards showcase and celebrate inspiring women in the UK who have excelled in their respective industries. All money raised from the awards will help Variety improve the lives of children and young people throughout the UK who are disabled or disadvantaged. Wahaca has 24 sites in the UK and is set to open a restaurant in Birmingham.

Former Gordon Ramsay and Gary Rhodes chef opens tapas restaurant in Belfast: A chef who has worked with Gordon Ramsay and Gary Rhodes has opened a tapas restaurant in Belfast. Jonny Elliott has launched Edo, which is Latin for “I eat”, in Upper Queen Street. The 58-seat venue has a Bertha oven, which allows chefs to cook with apple and pear wood to give dishes a “distinctive flavour”. Elliott told the Belfast Telegraph: “I’ve worked all over Europe and in London with Gordon Ramsay and Gary Rhodes, which was very stressful. I also ran the kitchen on board a Russian billionaire’s Mediterranean yacht. I would go ashore to the markets and pick up the freshest stuff around the Mediterranean and I wanted to bring that to Belfast. It doesn’t matter that we don’t have the climate, we can still enjoy the food and the freedom of tapas dining.”

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