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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 31st Oct 2017 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

London-based premium food delivery service Supper launches £500,000 crowdfunding campaign to fuel growth: London-based premium food delivery service Supper, which brings healthy and home-cooked meals to consumers, has launched a £500,000 fund-raise to fuel its growth. The company, founded in 2015 by Peter Georgiou, is offering a 10.64% equity stake in return for the investment. Supper uses custom-built motorised buggies with temperature-controlled compartments to ensure “perfect deliveries” from restaurants, ranging from Michelin-starred to quality casual. It has completed more than 12,000 orders to date. The company has turnover to date of more than £700,000 with a loss of £66,364. It has eight bikes with a further 20 about to be launched. More than 7,000 customers have signed up, with the average order received being £57 and repeat ordering currently at 60%. The pitch states: “From inception, Supper set out to be the best delivery service in London and with that in mind, we’ve developed a logistics solution that complements the top-end restaurants and food businesses we work with. Our general feeling is delivery isn’t being executed well enough and Supper is a welcome differentiator in a very competitive market place. Since our launch in 2015, we’ve worked hand in hand with owners to make the service works for Michelin-starred restaurants through to causal dining. Our bikes are custom-built to transport food and maintain presentation of the dishes, while keeping temperature constant throughout. Our drivers are employed directly by Supper. Funds will be used to fuel rapid growth by increasing the core team, particularly technology development, and on marketing as we have only spent about £26,000 to date. We expect this to significantly increase our market share and visibility. Rather than striving to be the biggest, the idea has always been to be the best food delivery company, and we think over the next three years we will cement that statement. We want to build a brand and service of value and quality that should make us an attractive acquisition target for a larger player in the sector.”

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. The first day, curated and moderated by James Hacon, will include Dominic Smales (Gleam Futures), Professor Charles Spence (University of Oxford), Jozef Youssef (Kitchen Theory), Russell Danks (Futurist), Olivia Fitzgerald (Zonal), Lizzy Barber (Cabana), Stephanie Lloyd (New World Trading Company), Lisa Campbell (Las Iguanas), Jim Rogers (Tony Roma’s), Mark McCulloch (WE ARE Spectacular), Michael Ingemann (Claus Meyer Restaurants) and Ewan Turney (England Rugby). The second day, curated and moderated by Ann Elliott, will feature Emma Woods (Wagamama), Susan Martindale (Mitchells & Butlers), Katrina Lawson (Costa Coffee), Kathryn Austin (Pizza Hut Restaurants), Kate Eastwood (Revolution Bars Group), Luisa Fernandez (YO! Sushi), Mel Marriott (Darwin & Wallace), Helena Hudson (Real Eating Co), Pamela McNamara (Bluestone Wales), Tania Rahman (Chit Chat Chai), Laura Sheffield (Corazon), Celia Farrer (Eat Poke), Eve Bugler (BabaBoom), Hayley Simpson (The Breakfast Club), Camilla Katte (Giggling Squid) and Sarah Weir (Albion & East). 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, click here. For more information or any queries contact Jo Charity on 01444 810304 or or Anne Steele on 01444 817691 or

CAMRA calls on MPs to counteract taxation ‘triple whammy’ on pubs: A taxation “triple-whammy” in next month’s Budget could break Britain’s pub sector, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has claimed. Calling on MPs to send the chancellor a message he can’t ignore during today’s parliamentary debate on taxation of the beer and pub sector, CAMRA warned pubs could face closure due to a “triple whammy” of taxation, rates increases and an end to rate relief. CAMRA said licensees were already struggling following the 2p-a-pint increase on beer duty in March’s Budget and face a further 2p-a-pint increase in November. It said the chancellor needed to freeze or cut beer duty this Budget to help support the beer and pub industry, which employs 900,000 people and contributes more than £23bn to the economy. This year, pubs were also hit by a change in the business rates system that has left four-in-ten licensees facing rates hikes. The temporary £1,000-a-pub rates relief ends in March, which will leave pubs to “absorb the full force of the increases, which in some cases could simply mean going out of business”. CAMRA said the final part of the “triple-whammy” would see the upper limit on annual business rates rises for community pubs increase from 12.5% to 17.5%. CAMRA is calling for the introduction of a £5,000-a-pub business rates discount. National chairman Colin Valentine said: “The beer and pub sector is already overburdened by tax, specifically business rates and beer duty – with tax making up a third of the price of a pint in a pub. Customers now find the price of beer less affordable, which means decreased sales and the likelihood of more boarded-up pubs. Time and again independent research has shown how vital the pub and brewing sector is to the country as a whole. It’s time MPs listened to beer drinkers and pub-goers in their constituency and demanded the chancellor takes notice.”

Union warns beer delivery drivers could strike in run-up to Christmas over pay and conditions: GMB, the union for DHL Tradeteam workers, has claimed trouble is brewing for Christmas beer deliveries following a dispute over pay and conditions. DHL workers, who deal with deliveries for companies such as Carlsberg, Coors, Greene King, Mitchells & Butlers and SA Brain, face an uncertain future, claimed the GMB, which is calling on the company to address the “draconian” working conditions placed on its workforce. The union said unless its concerns were listened to, it would ballot its members over strike action. DHL Tradeteam recently won the contract for Carlsberg’s secondary logistics and, following the closure of several of Carlsberg’s UK depots, Leeds has seen unprecedented levels of reductions to its once strong workforce, the GMB claimed. It said this had led to excessive workloads for the remaining DHL lorry drivers, dray and warehouse staff. GMB is holding talks with senior DHL management this week. GMB organiser Ben Kirkham said: “Unless a solution can be reached over the new contract then GMB will consult with members on a ballot for industrial action with a view to taking strike action or action short of a strike in the run-up to Christmas.”

Company News:

Oh You Pretty Things undergoes pre-pack sale: Champagne and cocktail company Oh You Pretty Things has undergone a pre-pack sale. Mixed Blessings F&B trading as Oh You Pretty Things entered administration on 17 October, with Julien Irving and Adrian Poxon, of Leonard Curtis, appointed joint administrators. Oh You Pretty Things has bars at the Trafford Centre in Manchester, Metrocentre in Gateshead, Trinity Kitchen in Leeds, and Intu Lakeside in Essex. Earlier this year, it launched its first concession – Champagne Stories – with John Lewis at its department store in Oxford Street, London. The administrators have since concluded a pre-pack sale of the business to a connected party after a period of marketing. No further details have been revealed surrounding the new owners. A Leonard Curtis spokesman said: “Trading losses resulted in a build up of trade and tax liabilities. The director made attempts to source third-party investment into the business in order to fund working capital, although this was unsuccessful. Legal action was threatened by a creditor and appropriate steps were taken to preserve the business.” Earlier this year, Oh You Pretty Things launched a £750,000 crowdfunding campaign on Growthdeck to help fund expansion. However, last month Growthdeck withdrew the opportunity after a full review, concluding the opportunity was not “suitable for our investors”. The company reported revenue of £1,782,000 in 2016 and forecast it would grow to £2,499,000 this year and £13,725,000 by 2020. Pre-tax profit was £128,000 in 2016 and this was expected to increase to £3,025,000 in 2020. At the time of the campaign launch, Norris Panton, who founded the company with Craig Ince, told Propel he believed the concept could grow to a 50-strong estate.

All Star Lanes to open first new-generation concept within Westfield’s £600m development, plans several more sites by 2020: Bowling alley business All Star Lanes will open its first new-generation concept at Westfield London. The new 16,910 square foot boutique bowling venue will feature two art deco-inspired cocktail lounges, ten state-of-the-art bowling lanes, a private event room, and a heated outdoor terrace. The design will set a benchmark for several more new-generation sites for the brand that are due to open across the UK by 2020. The new concept will feature large speakeasy-style cocktail bars, luxurious leather booths, private karaoke rooms, and restaurants serving homemade American comfort food. The new site, which is due to open in March, is part of Westfield London’s £600m expansion, making it the largest retail, dining and leisure destination in Europe just ten years after it launched. The venue will be directly beneath the 230,000 square foot flagship John Lewis store and overlook a newly created outdoor entertainment space. All Star Lanes managing director Christian Rose said: “The stunning Westfield London venue represents a new chapter for All Star Lanes and will act as the benchmark for several more across the UK before 2020. With the space in Westfield London’s new expansion, we’ve been able to engrain the quirky and premium nature of the brand in the design and build like never before.” Keith Mabbett, director of leasing, Westfield UK and Europe, added: “A key feature of the expansion is a large open events space surrounded by the very best restaurant and leisure brands, creating a new destination in the capital for going out. All Star Lanes’ new concept will prove to be hugely popular with visitors to this new destination for West London.” Since launching the original venue in Holborn in 2006, All Star Lanes already has a venue in Westfield Stratford City along with further sites in Bayswater, Brick Lane and Manchester.

Cider-maker grows sales but £9m mill deal hits profits: Cider-maker Brothers Drinks Co has grown sales but slipped to a pre-tax loss due to competitive pricing pressures and costs associated with its £9m acquisition of Shepton Mallet Cider Mill. The family-run company, now in its 14th generation, saw turnover increase to £16,064,146 for the year ending 31 December 2016, compared with £14,635,225 the year before. It reported a pre-tax loss, excluding exceptional items and revaluations, of £2,507,054 compared with a profit of £2,187,513 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In April 2016, Brothers acquired the assets of the historic Shepton Mallet Cider Mill, which can trace its history to 1770, from C&C Group for a total consideration of £9,109,500. The deal was completed through a newly created subsidiary, Showerings Cider Mill, before trade was transferred to Brothers Drinks Co in April this year to “improve the operational efficiency of the group”. Brothers also acquired the newly built bottling line, located across the road from the main Kilver Street site, in June 2016. In its report accompanying the accounts, the company stated: “Output and turnover increased during the year. Competitive pricing pressures and a changing product mix led to a decline in gross profit. Additional expenses associated with the cider mill acquisition led to an overall operating loss. Gains from investments made a substantial contribution to profit before tax.”

Yorkshire Meatball Co leaves crowdfunding investors out of pocket as it goes into liquidation: Yorkshire Meatball Co, which last year raised £130,000 in a crowdfunding campaign, has gone into liquidation – leaving investors out of pocket. The company, which is based in Leeds and closed its restaurant in Harrogate last year to focus on its retail launch, has agreed to be wound-up voluntarily. Last April, the company, founded by father-and-son team David and Gareth Atkinson, raised £130,650 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube from 237 investors in return for a 15.12% equity stake in the business. The campaign surpassed its original target of £100,000. Liquidator Geoffrey Martin & Co, of Leeds, was appointed this month, leaving investors in the company out of pocket. Yorkshire Meatball Co had planned to use the funds to diversify the business’ offer, place products in supermarkets across the country, expand the original Harrogate restaurant, and add a further two restaurants to its portfolio. Earlier this year, its products hit the shelves of Morrisons but it is understood the range was removed by the supermarket earlier this month, reports The Business Desk. Yorkshire Meatball Co was founded in 2012 after being inspired by New York’s The Meatball Shop. The Harrogate restaurant opened in 2014 but was shut after losing its kitchen staff to a number of chain restaurants.

Stonegate launches chef apprenticeship programme: Stonegate Pub Company has further enhanced its Albert Theory of Progression (ATOP) programme with the launch of an apprenticeship for back-of-house staff across the country. The ATOP programme, designed to nurture and develop home-grown talent, has seen hundreds of employees progress their careers through structured training. The new 12-month apprenticeship meets the demands of those who aspire to lead and run kitchens and 170 places will be made available each year equipping candidates with a Level 3 senior production chef apprenticeship. The bespoke programme touches on the areas of leadership, customer, business and people. Stonegate chief executive Simon Longbottom said: “The continual development of our Albert’s Theory of Progression enables us to offer a variety of learning choices across the broad range of careers we offer. Our new apprenticeship programme enables our kitchen teams to further their careers through bespoke programmes, tailored to the business needs, as eating out continues to grow.” Training will be delivered in conjunction with Stonegate learning partner Remit. Chief executive Sue Pittock said: “The apprenticeship programme is an exciting step in our partnership with Stonegate. The company’s commitment to investing in its people is paying dividends, with reduced turnover and clear career progression steps.”

TGI Friday’s and Hotel Chocolat to join line-up at The Lexicon Bracknell: TGI Friday’s and Hotel Chocolat have signed to open at the £240m The Lexicon Bracknell development. TGI Friday’s will join the restaurant line-up as it opens a 7,470 square foot restaurant alongside other brands that include Prezzo, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Bill’s and Carluccio’s. Meanwhile, Hotel Chocolat will open in Braccan Walk in a 1,310 square foot space at The Lexicon, which launched seven weeks ago. The two brands are joining the scheme along with British clothing retailers Charles Tyrwhitt and Jack Wills, women’s fashion accessories company Accessorize, and health food shop Revital. The Lexicon Bracknell was developed by The Bracknell Regeneration Partnership, a 50-50 joint venture between Legal & General Capital and Schroder UK Real Estate Fund, working in partnership with Bracknell Forest Council. Schroder Real Estate head of UK retail Jessica Berney said: “The feedback from retailers and food and beverage operators since launch has been incredibly positive, which in turn is continuing to encourage further retailer and F&B occupier interest with little sign of momentum slowing. We look forward to many successful years ahead for The Lexicon.” The Lexicon is also home to the Thames Valley’s only 4DX cinema at the 12-screen Cineworld and London pub retailer Young’s first site in Berkshire, The Bull.

Restaurateur Bea Vo to open first permanent site for Butterscotch bakery concept next week: Restaurateur Bea Vo, who founded the Beas of Bloomsbury chain, is to open a first permanent site for her Butterscotch bakery concept next week, in White City Place. Vo launched Butterscotch online earlier this year, delivering baked goods to homes and offices across London. The debut bricks and mortar site will open on Monday, 6 November on the ground floor of White City’s Westworks development with the menu drawing on Vo’s American heritage. Open Monday to Friday from 8am, Butterscotch will offer freshly baked brownies, cookies, cupcakes and celebration cakes, plus a rotating menu of croissants, buns and madeleines alongside coffee from speciality roasters Squaremile. Butterscotch will also feature “London’s first” custom-designed porridge bar offering five bases and more than 60 toppings. Vo said: “It’s been more than ten years since I founded Bea’s of Bloomsbury and I can’t wait to get back in the kitchen with some new and delicious ideas.” Butterscotch Bakery is part of Vo’s Feed Your Soul restaurant portfolio, which includes Stax Diner in Soho, southern US specialist Boondocks in Shoreditch, and burger bar The Famous Flames in Camden Town. Vo founded Bea’s of Bloomsbury in 2008 and left the company in 2014.

West Wales-based Domino’s Pizza franchisee to open fourth site, two further outlets planned next year: West Wales-based Domino’s Pizza franchisee JJE Enterprises has secured funding to open its fourth site with two further outlets planned for next year. JJE Enterprises was founded in 2010 by Jonathan Evans and his son Josh. It has opened outlets in Gorseinon, Carmarthen and Ammanford, with the fourth due to open in the village of Cross Hands in November. The funding from HSBC, which is made up of an enterprise finance guarantee loan and asset finance facility, has been used to secure a 20-year lease on the premises at Parc Maes Yr Eithan Retail Park as well as to fit out the store. Jonathan Evans told Insider Media: “We are on course to open two new stores next year with support from the bank and are already discussing additional funding options in line with our ambitious growth plans.” Alan Thomas, area director for HSBC in South Wales, added: “Our confidence in Jonathan, his team and the franchise model means we have been able to put a funding package in place to secure, refurbish and fit-out the new store in Cross Hands. JJE Enterprises has significant franchise experience and its ambitious growth plans are testament to the success it has had to date.”

Doughnut Time opens debut London site ahead of UK roll-out, first venue outside Australia: Australian chain Doughnut Time has opened its first overseas site, in London’s Shaftesbury Avenue, ahead of a UK roll-out. The company plans to focus on London for its first UK sites, with stores set to open in Old Street, Notting Hill and Shepherd’s Bush before the end of the year. The brand offers a range of regularly changing doughnuts with “punny” names, including the Donutella Versace and Melon Degeneres. The Shaftesbury Avenue venue also offers two UK specials – including the Love Actually (Earl Grey tea glaze with freeze-dried raspberries and heart-shaped Jammie Dodgers) – alongside a rotating range of vegan and gluten-free doughnuts, Hot Dinners reports. The site will also open a “doughnut academy” upstairs in the future where customers can design and glaze their own doughnuts. Damian Griffith founded Doughnut Time in 2015. It operates 23 sites in Australia.

McDonald’s sets new welfare standards for chickens: McDonald’s will require suppliers to follow new standards for raising and slaughtering chickens served in its restaurants. Under McDonald’s updated guidelines, suppliers including Tyson Foods and Cargill must comply by 2024 with rules dictating the amount and brightness of light in chicken houses, provide birds with access to perches that promote natural behaviour, and take other steps to improve animal welfare. It has also pledged to conduct trials with suppliers to measure the well-being of different chicken breeds. McDonald’s said it would not raise menu prices as a result of its new standards. The company’s requirements are the latest changes to affect its menu that address concerns over animal and human health. It previously stopped buying chicken meat for US restaurants from birds raised with antibiotics deemed important to human health and said it would shift to using cage-free eggs in the US and Canada. The treatment of animals in the food chain has become increasingly important to many consumers in recent years as animal welfare groups have released undercover videos showing abuse at US facilities, including those associated with Tyson. Animal activists said the mandates fell short of commitments made by other restaurants, such as Burger King and Subway, and failed to address their primary concern over chicken production – birds bred to grow quickly to large sizes, reports Reuters.

BrewDog passes £3m mark in crowdfunding campaign: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has passed the £3m mark in its Equity for Punks V crowdfunding campaign. The fifth round of Equity for Punks is looking to raise £10m, with the potential to extend to £50m, by releasing 421,052 new B shares. BrewDog will use the investment to further its global expansion, including constructing breweries in Australia and Asia, opening 15 craft beer bars in the UK, increasing capacity at its UK brewery, and creating a dedicated craft beer television network. The campaign will run for an initial three months, closing on 15 January. Shares will cost £23.75 each and be issued in blocks of two, with a minimum investment of two shares for £47.50. BrewDog has seen its value increase by 2,765% since 2010 – it now has an 800-strong global team, 47 bars, and two breweries. Much of its growth has been supported by Equity for Punks, which has raised £41m since 2009. Earlier this year, BrewDog sold a 22% stake to US private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners for £213m, giving BrewDog an enterprise value of £1bn.

Chelsea-based bar and grill Sophie’s Steakhouse to open Soho site next month: Chelsea-based bar and grill Sophie’s Steakhouse is to open a second and much larger site, in Soho next month. Sophie Bathgate and Rupert Power launched the concept 15 years ago inspired by New York City steakhouses. Their new venue will open in Soho’s iconic Moulin Cinema in Great Windmill Street on Tuesday, 28 November featuring an on-site butchery, an open kitchen with a 2.5m “infiernillo grill” and “American-sized” martinis. The all-day restaurant will feature a separate steakhouse, cocktail bar and takeaway kiosk set around the renovated cinema, which features vaulted ceilings and a covered terrace. Food will be similar to the Chelsea premises but “more sophisticated”. Beef will be supplied by Sophie’s farm in Oxfordshire, then dry-aged for a month in the on-site butchery, while there will also be plenty of fish and vegetarian options. Sophie’s Steakhouse closed its Covent Garden site in June.

Redcomb reopens Potters Bar pub following major refurbishment: Redcomb Pubs, led by Dan Shotton, has reopened The Old Manor in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, following a major refurbishment. The company has invested more than £250,000 in the site, which includes a revamped dining room, bar and garden and a new menu that features seasonally inspired dishes alongside traditional pub classics. Redcomb said The Old Manor was one of the largest and best-performing sites within the estate, which comprises 14 pubs and pubs with rooms mainly in London and the Home Counties. The pub was taken over by the group 12 months ago, and the refurbishment has seen many original features retained. The building, which dates to the 13th century, once formed part of the original Wyllyotts Manor House. Shotton said: “Investing in the upkeep of our pub sites is a key pillar of our business plan at Redcomb and a key commitment to the local audience we strive to serve with our trademark top-notch hospitality.” Redcomb has substantially invested in a number of its sites this year, including the Station Hotel in Hither Green, south east London, relaunching The Bickley in nearby Chislehurst as a pub and steakhouse, and the redevelopment of the adjacent sail house at The Seagate in Appledore, Devon, to create an additional seven en-suite bedrooms. The company said further major projects were in the pipeline for 2018.

Fledgling healthy convenience restaurant concept increases crowdfunding equity offer: Fledgling healthy convenience restaurant concept Delish has increased its equity offer having launched a crowdfunding campaign to open its first site. Delish, founded by Alex Heathcote, is looking to raise £50,000 on Crowdcube to open a restaurant in Derby with aims to become a national franchise. It is now offering a 13.05% equity stake in return for the investment instead of the previous 8.43%. Heathcote said: “We have recalculated our offer in light of feedback from investors. We are now offering a much-improved share of Delish as we are committed to doing everything we can to raise the required capital on Crowdcube.” The pitch states: “For too long, convenient food has not necessarily been healthy. Delish aims to be the answer to scrumptious meals throughout the day, all with fewer than 600 calories. A nutritionally balanced dish at an affordable price is what many of us strive for. At Delish, our goal is to become the most innovative and exciting convenience restaurant around. The location for our first restaurant would be in the city of Derby. Along with the fact this area benefits from high levels of footfall and consumer spending, we have great knowledge of the city. However, the ultimate aim is to become a national franchise – the more investment we raise, the more restaurants we will be able to open.”

Rank Group starts expansion of bingo cafe concept Luda with Somerset opening: The Rank Group has started expansion of its bingo cafe and entertainment centre concept Luda by opening a second site. The company launched the concept in Walsall, West Midlands, and has now opened a venue at the new £45m Dolphin Square leisure complex in Weston-super-Mare, offering bingo, retro arcade games and free Wi-Fi, alongside drinks, sandwiches and cakes. Luda managing director Alan Morgan told Somerset Live: “The new venue offers a convenient place to pop in and play, and is perfect for groups of friends on a night out looking for a fun time or those seeking to take time out to recharge their batteries. The new site within the leisure complex offers those living locally a sociable place to meet, play, try new games, have a bite to eat and relax.” The Rank Group will open a third Luda site, in Leeds, on Monday, 13 November. Other restaurants opening at Dolphin Square include Nando’s, buffet brand Mimosa, PizzaExpress, Prezzo and Brazilian grill-house Preto. The complex will be anchored by an eight-screen Cineworld cinema, which is due to open in January.

Cafe, grill and bar Megan’s launches second London site: Cafe, grill and bar Megan’s has launched a second London site, this time in Parsons Green. The new venue has opened in Parsons Green Lane offering a Mediterranean-inspired menu, charcuterie sharing boards and sourdough pizza. Like the brand’s debut site in King’s Road, Fulham, Megan’s On The Green is child and dog-friendly. Breakfast and brunch dishes include eggs benedict, sweet potato baked eggs, and a brunch bap with hash brown, cheese and bacon. Main dishes include deconstructed pan kebabs, shakshouka with yogurt, pistachio and pita, and stuffed aubergine with green chilli and tomato, Hot Dinners reports. Decor at the Fulham site includes a ceiling covered in fairylight-bedecked branches and paper blossoms.

Cote opens Newcastle brasserie, first site in north east: French brasserie Cote has opened its first site in the north east, in Newcastle city centre, following a £900,000 refurbishment. The company has converted a former Barclays branch in Grainger Street and an adjacent site into a 94-cover restaurant set across two floors. The former bank is a listed building and part of Newcastle’s conservation area. The brasserie features a mix of table and booth seating downstairs, including two curved booths near the entrance. There is another dining room upstairs – part of the building never seen by the bank’s customers – that features floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking both sides of Grainger Street. A new kitchen is also upstairs, led by head chef Andrew Lall, with the opening creating 36 jobs. Cote chief executive Alex Scrimgeour told Chronicle Live: “Newcastle has a great reputation for offering a diverse range of food and drink options and we can’t wait to add our blend of quality French food, friendly professional service and great value to the mix.” Cote, which is owned by private equity firm BC Partners, has more than 90 sites in the UK, with the nearest venue to Newcastle in York.

Chapel Down completes land purchase for brewery development: Chapel Down Group has completed the purchase of a 1.6-acre site in Ashford town centre, which has full planning consent for the development of its Curious Brewery. Chief executive Frazer Thompson said: “Situated next to the international train station that connects to King’s Cross in 38 minutes and also to the centre of Paris in less than two hours, the Curious Brewery will be a very exciting development for Ashford, for Kent, and for contemporary British brewing. We’ve had tremendous support from Ashford Borough Council and we’re looking forward to working with architects Guy Hollaway and developers U+I to create something exceptional.” Earlier this month, Chapel Down appointed Gareth Bath as new managing director for its beer division. He has joined from Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog, where he was formerly managing director, brewing and international.

Woodforde’s appoints new head of brewing: Norfolk brewer Woodforde’s has appointed Neil Bain as its new head of brewing as he makes a return to the business. Bain, a master brewer with more than 30 years’ experience, will take up the role in January having previously held the position for seven years until 2015. Woodforde’s chief executive James Hughes said: “We are delighted to welcome Neil back to Woodforde’s. His reputation of brewing outstanding beers and his strong connection with the brewery will provide a valuable addition to our senior team. Neil has a proven track record of success over his career and we look forward to him heading up our brewing operations.” Bain added: “With the recent launch of the new branding, the investment in the business, and its strong portfolio of beers, this is an exciting time in the brewery’s history.” Bain will take over from Belinda Jennings, who has been head brewer at Woodforde’s for the past two years.

Amusement park operator to turn derelict Southend seafront pub into fish and chip restaurant: The Stockvale Group, which operates Adventure Island amusement park in Southend, has started work to turn a seafront pub in the town into an upmarket fish and chip restaurant. The company is transforming the former Britannia pub in Eastern Esplanade in a project that should take about 18 months to complete. A campaign was launched last year to preserve the derelict building, which is believed to date to 1793. The pub closed in 2015. It was originally thought the property was too damaged to be preserved but architects believe they can preserve more of the building than originally thought. Stockvale Group managing director Marc Miller told the Basildon, Canvey & Southend Echo: “The first stages involve a careful and detailed demolition process, removing the back of the structurally failed buildings. We will insert a steel restraining frame into the front, tying back the original brickwork and restoring the front and side elevation.”

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