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Thu 1st Mar 2018 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Maxwell’s live music venue The Roadhouse in Covent Garden facing eviction threat: The Roadhouse, operated by Maxwell’s Restaurants Group and one of Covent Garden’s oldest live music venues, is “facing eviction” if landlord Capital & Counties (Capco) is given planning permission to develop part of the building, supporters have said. The Roadhouse has traded for more than 25 years in the basement of Jubilee Hall in The Piazza. In October, it won the “best entertainment” category at the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers’ Late Night Awards. Maxwell’s was in the process of renewing its lease, with heads of terms agreed, but the group’s founder Brian Stein said Capco had changed its mind and he fears the landlord is “forcing him out to make way for a big international brand”. Capco has said it needs to lower the floor of The Roadhouse premises and has submitted a planning application to Westminster Council. However, Stein claims documents reveal Capco’s plan to create a 15,000 square foot restaurant by joining The Roadhouse premises with a former Wagamama site in the adjacent Driscoll House. Stein said: “Over the past decade in London, viable and well-patronised venues have been targeted by developers because the buildings and the land on which they sit are worth substantially more when put to an alternative use such as an upmarket, large-scale restaurant.” London night tsar Amy Lamé added: “I urge the landlord and developer to honour The Roadhouse’s valuable contribution to London’s life at night so it can thrive in the West End for years to come.” Former Rolling Stones bass player Bill Wyman said: “Venues like The Roadhouse give musicians the opportunity to play in front of live audiences. To lose it would be a devastating loss for London’s live music scene.” A Capco spokeswoman responded: “The lease relating to The Roadhouse has expired and we plan to redevelop the unit, significantly improving the space, including providing disabled access. We have been, and remain, in regular dialogue with The Roadhouse. We are currently going through the appropriate processes necessary to undertake redevelopment works. Capco Covent Garden is a responsible landlord and long-term investor in the area. We are proud of our track record of stewardship of the neighbourhood, improving the experience for visitors, occupiers and residents. More than 100 new brands have been introduced and significant investment continues to be made in cleaning, security and environmental initiatives such as ongoing greening, air quality and public realm improvements.” To sign a petition to help save The Roadhouse, click here 

Industry News:

More than 160 sector companies book for Propel Multi Club Conference: More than 160 sector companies have booked to attend the first Propel Multi Club Conference of 2018. The full-day event takes place on Wednesday, 7 March at the Grange Hotel in St Paul’s, London. Multi-site operators of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele at Speakers include Tim Barrett, travel and leisure analyst at Numis; Ian Edward, who is leisure advisor to Canaccord Genuity and sits on the boards of Brasserie Blanc; Seafood Pub Company and Hippo Inns; Jon Collins, former chief executive of CGA Group, who has returned to the UK after living in Chicago for two years; Sarah Bridge, former Mail on Sunday leisure correspondent and founder of the hospitality website; Iqbal Wahhab, founder of Cinnamon Club and Roast; Max Hilton Jenvey, global head of franchise for Chopstix; Alex Salussolia, managing director of Glendola Leisure; Paul Wells, chairman of Charles Wells; Bob Ivell, chairman of Mitchells & Butlers; Nick Taplin, chief executive of Black and White Hospitality; and Yasha Estraikh, of Piper.

UK’s casual dining operators urged to ‘instil confidence in value for money’ as consumers cut back: Casual dining operators in the UK have been urged to “instil confidence in value for money” as more than four-fifths (81%) of consumers claim to be increasingly mindful of their finances and exercising caution or cutting spending, according to Morar HPI’s Consumer Compass. The company said it was imperative operators in the UK connected with customers to consider drivers and motivations from their financial point of view. It said operators were going to have to work harder, with targeted marketing going a “long way to acquiring and retaining customers”. The study identified four customer groups based on their attitudes and behaviours around financial risk and purchasing. The largest group (36%) is “Cautious”, which is careful regarding spending and saving a bit more; followed by “Squeezed” (31%), who are buying cheaper brands or shopping in less expensive places. The third group is “Insulated” (19%), who don’t feel overly affected by problems in the economy; followed by “Sufferers” (14%), who have cut expenditure because they are worried about the future. Morar HPI said no matter which group an individual belonged to, the thought process remained the same – if a consumer believed a product or offer was “essential”, they would continue to buy it regardless of their economic outlook.

UKHospitality backs approach to revitalising London’s night-time economy: UKHospitality, the new unified voice for the sector following the merger of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and British Hospitality Association, has backed the approach being taken to revitalise London’s night-time economy. Following publication of the London Assembly Economy Committee’s report, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The mayor’s approach to supporting and revitalising London’s night-time economy has been welcome and the Night Time Commission, with myself directly involved, is at the heart of these exciting plans. UKHospitality welcomes the London Assembly’s recommendations for the future of late-night business in London and we will be liaising with policy-makers, our valuable late-night members and the mayor’s office to disseminate good practice and ensure positive action. I, along with the Night Time Commission, will continue to liaise with the mayor to provide him with all the assistance and insight he needs to support the capital’s thriving late-night sector.”

Booker and Tesco shareholders approve £3.7bn deal: Shareholders of wholesaler Booker and Tesco have approved plans for a £3.7bn merger. A total of 83% of Booker’s investors voted in favour of the deal despite recent calls by shareholder advisory groups to reject Tesco’s cash-and-shares offer, claiming the 12% premium fell below the wholesaler’s true value.  Booker required the support of 75% of votes cast for the takeover to proceed. The announcement came shortly after 85% of Tesco’s shareholders gave the green light to the deal. The merger will create the biggest food business in the UK, with Booker chief executive Charlie Wilson becoming the UK chief executive of Tesco.

Baroness McIntosh becomes PASSCO chairman: Baroness Anne McIntosh of Pickering has become chairman of the revamped PASSCO Community Interest Company, which operates the Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS). Baroness McIntosh, who has ten years’ experience as an MEP and a further 18 years as an MP, most recently chaired the Lord’s committee that looked into the Licensing Act 2003, whose recommendations are being considered by the Home Office. She takes over from interim chairman Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR). Baroness McIntosh said: “It is crucial that access to, and control of, age-restricted products is well enforced in the UK. Increasingly widespread take-up, use and acceptance of PASS cards – especially in the night-time economy – are central to achieving that aim. My aim is to put PASS cards at the top of the list of Proof of Age documents.” PASS is supported by six trade bodies including the ALMR, British Beer & Pub Association, British Institute of Innkeeping, and the Wine & Spirit Trade Association.

Company News:

Bitters ‘n’ Twisted set for period of consolidation as it focuses on staff retention: Bitters ‘n’ Twisted founder Matt Scriven has told Propel the company is set for a period of consolidation as it prepares to open a fifth site for its South American restaurant brand Bodega Cantina next week. The company has invested £150,000 in the venue, which will open on Monday (5 March) in Birmingham Road, Sutton Coldfield. Scriven said following the opening the company’s focus would be on its existing estate and improving staff retention. With that in mind, the company will launch a healthcare scheme for employees in April to add to its existing benefits, which include discounts at its restaurants. He added: “I think we’re looking at a period of consolidation for the next six months. I think we’ve got a bit of bedding down to do with the new Bodega Cantina coming on. What we are concentrating on is how we can be better and improving our staff retention is a key part of that. It’s a competitive market and if we want to develop further we need to have the personnel in place to move forward.” Scriven said the company had been working hard to improve its food and drink offer at Bodega Cantina, including expanding its gin and mezcal ranges. He added: “We’ve been trying to make ourselves more appealing to a female audience. We’ve also been pushing the authenticity of the brand. We struggled a bit on the food development side but we’re getting there now – we’ve simplified our menu so we can be more consistent. Our restaurant design is still vibrant but looks more contemporary.” Scriven said the company expected to see sales up 2% in February. He added: “The casual dining market is tough at the moment. It’s that magpie effect – something new and shiny comes along and people are attracted to that. We need to make sure we are reinventing ourselves to cope.” Bodega Cantina was launched in Birmingham in 2010 followed by sites in Worcester, Derby and Leicester. Bitters ‘n’ Twisted also operates Birmingham’s The Victoria, Island Bar, The Jekyll & Hyde, Buffalo & Rye and Marmalade at The Rep Theatre.

Bubbleology heads for Wales with Cardiff opening: Bubbleology, the London bubble tea bar operator, is set to head to Wales by opening a site in Cardiff. Founder Assad Khan has applied to the city council to open the outlet on the ground floor of Elgin House in St Mary’s Street and hopes to open the venue in April, reports Wales Online. Bubble tea is the name given to flavoured fruit tea and milk tea served hot or cold with chewy tapioca balls. Its menu includes salted cream cheese crowns, which blend Philadelphia cheese, cream, organic milk and Himalayan rock salt; along with hot or cold milk teas; fruit tea and coffee mixtures. Bubbleology, which has ten sites in London and one in Leeds, is looking to roll out the brand across the UK. The company said it is growing at a rate of about 20 to 30 new shops per year and has 60 sites worldwide. Khan launched Bubbleology after discovering the drink in New York’s Chinatown while working in the city. On returning to the UK in 2011, he started working on a plan for Bubbleology and now operates in nine countries.

Pub Invest Group launches gastro-pub at former Liverpool city centre wine bar: Liverpool-based Pub Invest Group has transformed a city centre wine bar into a gastro-pub. The Old Bank has opened at a former National Bank branch in James Street, creating 20 jobs. The venue features a bespoke main island bar and drinking and dining booths over two floors. There is also a mezzanine bar offering cocktails, local beer and craft ale. The menu focuses on locally sourced ingredients with maritime influences, while major sports events will be screened live. Pub Invest Group spokesman Tony McGee told the Liverpool Echo: “We’re proud and excited to revive the former glory of a stunning listed interior within a smart new city venue. The design nods to the incredible heritage of Liverpool’s rich waterfront and commercial history.” Pub Invest Group operates the McCooley’s brand alongside other venues in the city such as Boston Pool Loft and Sgt Peppers. The company’s website states it operates more than 30 sites across the north west.

Revolution Bars Group refused licence for Revolución de Cuba in York following police ‘Beirut-like’ fears: Revolution Bars Group has been refused a licence to open a Revolución de Cuba site in York because of police fears it would add to an almost “Beirut-like” atmosphere in the city. The company saw its application, which was opposed by North Yorkshire Police, turned down by the city council. Revolution Bars Group plans to invest £1.4m to open the site in part of a former BHS store in New Street that sits within the city’s Cumulative Impact Zone. Licensing lawyer Anthony Lyons had argued Revolución de Cuba would offer something different to the area – with Latin music and food and a longer dwell time than other venues, reports the York Press. He added: “We are not the enemy, we want to work with residents in the area and with the police, and we want to be attractive to the good folk who visit York.” His arguments did not convince police licensing officer PC Samantha Bolland, who questioned the venue’s capacity of 600 and said she believed it would become another spot for heavy drinking. PC Bolland claimed York has a unique problem on Saturday afternoons, with an almost “Beirut-like” atmosphere when drinkers clash with families. She said: “I am a serving police officer who goes out in uniform. I hear concerns from members of the public who say they can’t bring children out at 12pm on Saturdays because of drunk people in Coney Street.” Revolution Bars Group has 21 days to decide whether to appeal the decision in the magistrates’ court. A Revolution Bars Group spokeswoman told Propel the company did not wish to comment at this time.

Inamo launches games room at Soho site: London-based futuristic restaurant brand Inamo has launched a games room at its Soho site. The private area features wall projections that span more than 150 inches and offers more than 150 games on popular games consoles such as PS4 and Wii that up to eight players can play simultaneously. Guests can play, drink, eat, watch live sports and project content on to the walls for a presentation, screening or to show their own images or videos. The Games Room has its own bar and is bookable for two-hour sessions with fixed minimum spends for each time slot and a selection of packages. An Inamo spokesman said: “We’ve always been inspired by technology, great food and interactive fun. The Games Room is the next stage of our evolution, bringing a unique private area to the heart of Soho.” Inamo’s other restaurants are in Camden and Covent Garden.

Former Domino’s chief executive and general counsel eye second site for Bristol-based gourmet chicken concept: Former Domino’s Pizza chief executive Chris Moore and the company’s former general counsel and company secretary Adam Batty are eyeing a second site for their Bristol-based gourmet chicken concept Happy Bird. The fast casual concept is the brainchild of Batty, who is founder and chief executive of Happy Bird, while Moore, an investor in a number of food businesses, is non-executive chairman. They launched the concept at Clifton Down shopping centre in Whiteladies Road in January and have now lined-up site number two. Happy Bird has applied to the city council for a premises licence to open the outlet in Baldwin Street at a site formerly occupied by Chinese takeaway franchise Hotcha, reports the Bristol Post. Hotcha ceased trading in October following an investigation into a suspected £35m tax fraud. Happy Bird uses high-welfare, free-to-roam poultry with seven homemade sauces and healthy sides along with shakes and healthy smoothies.

Stonegate Pub Company reopens north west venues following £500,000 investment: Stonegate Pub Company has reopened two venues in the north west following a combined £500,000 investment that has created 16 jobs. The company has relaunched its former Missoula site in Chester as Music Hall Taps. The two-storey venue now offers craft beer, neon lights, shuffleboard, pool tables, screened sports and live music. The “urban” decor features reclaimed wood and industrialised finishes, while the menu offers sourdough pizza, tapas sharers and burgers. In Bootle, Liverpool, Stonegate has reopened a Yates’s venue as the Addison Arms, the pub’s name in the 1980s. The venue now features televised sports, entertainment, craft beer, and national and local real ale. Addison Arms manager Rob Gordon said: “Our regulars are pleased to see the old name back above the door.” John Barlow, of the Music Hall Taps, said: “The comments about the funky look were brilliant and just go to show ‘fun’ is the new ‘contemporary’ in pubs.” The openings are part of a capex programme that has seen 12 post-investment openings in February alone totalling £3.5m.

Falmouth-based restaurateur launches cafe bar for second site: Falmouth-based restaurateur John Duncan has launched a cafe bar for his second site in the Cornish town. Duncan has opened Bahama Mamas in Killigrew Street, a tapas-style cafe that fuses food from around the world and is based on small sharing dishes. Specialities include Caribbean roti, British classics, seafood, vegan dishes, happy hour cocktails and local craft beer. Duncan, who operates Cribbs Restaurant in the town, told Business Cornwall: “Falmouth is a vibrant and bustling town with a thriving food scene. There is already a wonderful array of restaurants here and I believe Bahama Mamas will offer an exciting new option for diners to share and try new dishes. There is something on the menu for everyone.”

Eataly launches payment app in Mastercard partnership: Eataly, the Italian food emporium, has launched a payment app with Mastercard. Eataly Pay is integrated with Masterpass and will be rolled out across its estate following a trial in Milan. Once an order is placed, the waiter sends it directly to the kitchens with customers given a receipt that can be used with the app to finalise payment. The order is updated in real time and can be viewed through the app. Michele Centemero, country manager Mastercard Italy, told Fintech: “Our partnership with Eataly is a concrete example of how the Mastercard technology is helping retailers gain consumer loyalty and improve their business. This solution allows customers to save a lot of time, paying their bill directly through their device without searching for their wallets in a fast, simple and safe way.” Eataly is set to open a 40,000 square foot site in Bishopsgate in the City of London later this year.

Former MasterChef: the Professionals semi-finalist takes over Blue Group restaurant in Essex: Former MasterChef: the Professionals semi-finalist Andi Walker has taken over the restaurant at the Riverside Inn in Chelmsford, Essex. The venue is operated by The Blue Group, owned by Stephen Andrews, and Walker will use seasonal produce as part of a bistro-inspired concept at the former 17th century mill. The restaurant will be split into three distinct parts. Walker told the Gazette: “The bar area will be for those wanting lighter refreshments, while the main gastro-pub will continue to run downstairs. Fine dining will be upstairs consisting of a seven-course tasting menu that will change in line with the availability of local and seasonal produce.” Walker, who trained under renowned chef Anton Edelmann, will also launch a brunch menu next month. The Blue Group also owns the William B in Hatfield Peverel, the Blue Anchor in Kelvedon and the Blue Crown in Brentwood.

Pizza Hut UK appoints Iris London for £10m delivery account: Pizza Hut UK has appointed Iris London to oversee the creative and strategic account of its delivery business, thought to be worth about £10m. Incumbent agency Ogilvy & Mather London did not repitch for the business, which was awarded to Iris following a four-way contest. The agency has been tasked with launching a fresh proposition across TV, digital and customer experience. This is the second Yum Brands-owned business Iris has taken on in the past six months, with KFC appointing the firm to handle its digital and CRM in September. Iris terminated its five-year relationship with rival Domino’s Pizza last year after blaming a conflict of interest over the KFC account. Iris UK managing director Chris Marlow told The Drum: “We’ve had a lot of fun working in this category, achieving 12 quarters of double-digit growth for Domino’s along the way. This brief from Pizza Hut could not have been more motivating and calls on the forward-thinking disruptive approach that is second nature for Iris.” Pizza Hut has appointed a number of new marketers in the past six months, including Stephan Croix as chief sales and brand officer for Europe and the UK while Beverley D’Cruz became UK sales and marketing director.

Cineworld completes £2.5bn acquisition of Regal: Cineworld has completed its £2.5bn takeover of US operator Regal Entertainment Group. Cineworld said at the time the deal was agreed in December: “The acquisition will create a globally diversified cinema operator across ten countries and allow Cineworld to access the attractive North American cinema market, which has the largest box office market in the world with an industry box office of greater than US$10bn in each year since 2008 and stable admissions in excess of 1.25 billion in each year over the same period. Following completion of the acquisition, Cineworld and Regal will have a combined 9,542 screens across the US and Europe, making it the second-largest operator in the world (by number of screens).”

London-based craft brewer Two Tribes to launch brewhouse and taproom in King’s Cross: London-based craft brewer Two Tribes is to launch a brewhouse and taproom in King’s Cross. Two Tribes KX is due to open at Tileyard Studios on Thursday, 5 April with the aim to unite craft beer, street food and music. In addition to brewing one-off beers and serving hand-stretched pizzas, Two Tribes KX will offer a schedule of cookouts, gigs, DJ sets and parties. The music offering will be part of the brewer’s partnership with record label Island Records. Two Tribes KX will also be available to hire for meetings, private events and tours of the on-site brewery. Two Tribes founder Justin Deighton told BDaily: “Two Tribes has always been about pushing boundaries, bringing like-minded creatives together through the collaborative brewing process and challenging drinkers’ taste buds. It is this heritage and philosophy that has elevated Two Tribes in the industry and cemented its reputation as craft beer purveyors that aren’t afraid to take risks and do things differently.”

Ivy Collection to open Guildford brasserie in April: The Ivy Collection will open a brasserie in Guildford, Surrey, in April. The company will open the venue at the new Tunsgate Quarter shopping centre on Wednesday, 4 April. Set over two floors with a view of Guildford Castle, the brasserie will have space for 189 guests inside and another 62 outside. As well as the main restaurant and a terrace overlooking Castle Street, there will also be a private dining room on the first floor and a bar with room for 30 people. Stuart Harris, commercial director and co-founder of Tunsgate developers Queensberry, told Get Surrey: “We know the restaurant will appeal to the people of Guildford and complement our other tenants.” The Ivy Collection recently opened brasseries in Cheltenham, York and King’s Cross, with further launches lined up this year in Birmingham, Brighton, Dublin, Leeds and Winchester.

Street food trader Papa Ganoush to open first bricks and mortar site this week, in Whitley Bay: Street food trader Papa Ganoush is to open its first bricks and mortar site, in Whitley Bay this week. The Middle Eastern concept was launched by father and son Tim and Tom Monkhouse in November 2011, operating at festivals, markets and a stall in Fenwicks department store in Newcastle. The new venue will launch in Park View on Friday (2 March). The Papa Ganoush team set up a commercial kitchen unit 18 months ago and the street food side of the business will continue growing alongside the restaurant venture. Tim Monkhouse told BDaily: “Building a business such as ours takes time and dedication. You have to be consistent and understand the history behind what you do. Customers know their stuff and aren’t fooled by poor food, whether you have a fancy truck or not.”

BrewDog to give away one million pints of Punk IPA to ‘convert drinkers to craft beer’: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has launched a campaign to give away one million pints of its flagship Punk IPA to “convert drinkers to craft beer”. The four-week Punk The Nation campaign will see people enter their details online to claim a beer token redeemable at any of BrewDog’s 50 bars, the company’s online shop and at participating retailers. BrewDog co-founder James Watt said: “The millions of people around the UK who call Punk IPA their favourite beer cannot be wrong, that’s why we’re certain a million more will join them after experiencing their first pint.” The company’s latest fund-raise, Equity for Punks V, has so far raised more than £12m from more than 27,000 investors across Europe. It is due to close in October.

Deliveroo to launch giant billboard made up of thousands of free burgers: Deliveroo is set to launch a giant billboard in London made up of thousands of burgers. The four-metre high by six-metre wide billboard, as tall as a double-decker bus, will be assembled using thousands of burgers that will be free for the public to dig into. The billboard will be made up of six metre rows upon six metre rows of burgers from some of the capital’s best burger joints. Deliveroo said the move was a celebration of burgers being one of the nation’s most popular takeaway dishes and to encourage people to “eat more amazing food”, Metro reports. Burgers will come from some of Deliveroo’s exclusive and most popular restaurant partners, with chicken and vegetarian options also available. The billboard will launch at the Old Truman Brewery on Tuesday, 13 March.

Filmore & Union strengthens John Lewis partnership with Newcastle launch: Healthy eating cafe and restaurant company Filmore & Union has strengthened its partnership with John Lewis by opening a second in-store site, in Newcastle. The 120-cover restaurant is one of Filmore & Union’s 15 restaurants and takeaway delis across Yorkshire and the north east. Founder and owner Adele Ashley said: “This addition to our portfolio in the north east means we now have a train station deli, a small suburban daytime eatery in Jesmond, and a bigger restaurant in the heart of the city’s shopping and nightlife district. This is similar to the way we’ve grown in Yorkshire, building a regional chain that retains its independent feel with a strong local supply chain.” Karen Matthew, head of branch at John Lewis Newcastle, added: “We’re delighted to welcome Filmore & Union into our shop and be part of its expansion.” Filmore & Union’s other John Lewis partnership is in York.

BaxterStorey launches hospitality industry’s first in-house service academy: Contract catering company BaxterStorey has launched its latest training initiative – the Service Academy – the first of its kind in the industry. The company said the programme was designed to ensure hospitality staff across the business were equipped with the skills and confidence to provide a service to rival that of a five-star hotel. It said the academy would complement its learning and development initiatives, including its Chef Academy and Barista Academy. Modules focus on developing soft and technical skills through workshops including hotel visits, afternoon tea and lunch experiences as well as food and wine masterclasses. BaxterStorey is the first foodservice business in the UK to be accredited as an Approved Programme Provider (APP) of Wine and Spirit Education Trust qualifications, with programme developer Gabrielle Le Roux becoming the first in-house APP educator in the foodservice industry. BaxterStorey co-chief executive Noel Mahony said: “Our clients look at hospitality service from a new perspective, with many bringing hospitality in-house, but they demand an offer to reflect that of a five-star hotel or Michelin-starred restaurant. The BaxterStorey Service Academy ensures our people are equipped to provide the very highest levels of service, matching the skill sets of those offering top-level service outside the contract catering industry.”

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