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Thu 12th Apr 2018 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

TGI Friday’s UK staff ballot to strike over pay and tips: TGI Friday’s UK staff will ballot to strike in a dispute over wages and tips. The Unite union said it would hold strike ballots at two branches every week from Friday (13 April), starting in Milton Keynes and Covent Garden in London. A protest will be held outside the Covent Garden branch on Friday to mark the start of ballots, which Unite said were the first to hit TGI Friday’s since its first UK restaurant opened in 1986. Unite has accused TGI Friday’s of using unpaid trial shifts and taking 40% of waiters’ card tips and redistributing them to kitchen staff in lieu of a pay rise. Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull told the Press Association: “Our members are bravely fighting back against a system that forces workers to live on low pay and without income security. They have decided to ballot for strike action in a wave of rolling strike ballots over the coming months because their employer has refused to address their concerns on tips and other issues.” The move follows an announcement that McDonald’s workers at six branches are to be balloted for further strikes over pay and working conditions. Staff from restaurants in Cambridge and Crayford in London walked out last year in the first strikes in the chain’s history in Britain. A TGI Friday's spokesman said: “At TGI Friday's, 100% of tips go to our team members. The decision to give 40% of tips paid by card to the kitchen teams is to ensure all team members responsible for our guests service are rewarded. Servers continue to keep 100% of the cash tips they are given. These decisions are based on the Troncmasters consultation with team members. Tips and wages are entirely separate and our tips policy has no impact on salary. We will continue to talk with our team members, our Friday's family, to clarify information and resolve concerns."

Industry News:

Full speaker schedule for Finance and Investment Conference revealed: The full speaker schedule for the Propel Finance and Investment Conference has been revealed. The full-day event takes place on Thursday, 24 May at One Moorgate Place, London EC2R 6EA and is open for bookings. Ramzi Qattan, director at Christie & Co, will provide an overview of the pub, restaurant, foodservice and hotel sector mergers and acquisitions landscape, current valuations in the market and the do’s and don’ts when attempting to attract investment or sell a hospitality business. He will also provide insights on the range of businesses that are seeking to invest in the sector. Andrew Ball, partner at leisure sector specialist haysmacintyre, will give his top ten tips to maximise tax efficiency. Peter Hansen, partner at Sapient Corporate Finance, will provide an overview of mergers and acquisitions trends, give his view on where we are in the economic cycle and predict what lies ahead. Matt Smallwood, partner of the sector’s foremost financial public relations firm Instinctif, will provide his do’s and don’ts of financial PR. Richard Hamlin, partner at First Merchant, will offer expert insights on the London leasehold market and how to raise finance. Julia Groves, of Downing, will set out how Downing LLP has provided almost £24m of funding for Oakman Inns and Restaurants over the past three years using a variety of innovative funding solutions ranging from EIS funds to bonds from its award-winning Downing Crowd platform. Darrel Connell, of sector investor Imbiba, will talk about the company’s £50m Growth Fund, which will invest in as many as four new growth companies in the leisure and hospitality sector each year. Martin Sherwood, of Enterprise Investment Partners, will set out how pub, restaurant and foodservice companies can navigate the current rules on Enterprise Investment Schemes. Sector investor Luke Johnson will give his state-of-the-sector overview in conversation with Propel managing director Paul Charity. Clive Watson, founder and chief executive of City Pub Group, will provide insights on the process of undergoing an initial public offering and the benefits of going public. Meanwhile, there will be a panel discussion with Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack; Steve Crosswell, commercial banking director, hospitality and leisure at Metrobank; Mowgli founder Nisha Katona; Burning Night Group chief executive Allan Harper; Jonathan Simon, of Business Growth Fund; and Gary Robins, head of business development at Growthdeck. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers, while tickets for Propel Premium subscribers are £245 plus VAT. To book, email anne.steele@propelinfo.com or call 01444 817691.

Heineken launches initiative to boost on-trade by £1bn in three years: Heineken has launched The Greenpaper – its largest piece of category research – and said the findings could “boost the on-trade by £1bn over the next three years”. The company has identified six growth drivers – and their worth – that offer licensees solutions to grow cider and beer sales. “Let’s Get Together” (incremental value £249m) states licensees should create occasions that give people a reason to visit the pub rather than stay at home. “Maximise The Core” (£225m) states “enhancing kerb appeal” can increase footfall and widen trading hours with items such as free Wi-Fi or food at different times of day communicated via outdoor signs or online advertising. Maintaining and pouring consistent quality cider and beer would also drive repeat custom. “Great With Food” (£189m) states licensees should maximise consumer spend by pairing food with their cider and beer – food is present at a third of all drinking occasions, a figure that is growing. “Live Better” (£174m) focuses on the trend for people trying to lead healthier lifestyles, including the more than one million people who have chosen to abstain from alcohol in the past four years. Heineken said having a range of no and low-alcohol alternatives or natural and sustainably produced cider and beer meant licensees could “remove the barrier of consumers feeling a trip to the pub is not in line with their lifestyle”. “My Generation” (£108m) is aimed at 18 to 24-year-old beer and cider drinkers, who have a lot more choice than previous generations. On-trade visits by this age group per week have fallen 20% in the past decade. Heineken said licensees should have the right balance between well-known brands at reasonable prices and more unique choices, while “speaking the right language in terms of marketing and utilising digital” would also drive footfall. “We’re Worth It” (£72m) is about encouraging consumers to try a more premium beer or cider. Heineken said although it was vital to have a mainstream offering – two in five pints of draught beer sold is Foster’s, John Smith’s, Guinness, Carling or Carlsberg – licensees should offer a range of mainstream and premium drinks at the “right price points”. Outlets should give the best spots in the fridge and on the bar to the more premium options. Tasting notes for a craft range could also create trade-up opportunities. Heineken category and trade marketing director Jerry Shedden said: “Months of research have been condensed into an easy to understand category strategy that will grow our customers’ businesses.”

SIBA chairman steps down: The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has announced Buster Grant has resigned as chairman with immediate effect to dedicate more time to his business activities. Vice-chairman Ian Fozard will provide leadership for the organisation until a new chairman has been elected by the SIBA board. Chief executive Mike Benner said: “I would like to thank Buster for his hard work, dedication and leadership since his election to the chair in March 2017 and wish him the very best of luck for the future.”

Top 500 US restaurant companies see sales growth slow to 3.1%: The 500 largest restaurant companies in the US experienced total sales growth of 3.1% in 2017, down from 3.8% in the prior year, according to insights firm Technomic. Joe Pawlak, Technomic managing principal, said: “We expect to see a lot of the same challenges operators were facing in 2017 carry over into 2018. Operators will be tasked with finding new ways to steal share from the competition and the rise of technology in foodservice will likely play a part.” As an extension of the report, Technomic tracks sales, unit counts and locations, key contacts and more for an additional 1,000 emerging chains in the US. It showed that while Technomic’s top 500 is essentially evenly split between limited and full-service operators, almost two-thirds (65%) of chains ranked 501 to 1,500 are classified as limited service. Chains ranked 501 to 1,500 accounted for about $21bn in sales and 21,800 locations in 2017. Chains poised to break into the top 500 based on sales and unit growth include California Fish Grill (ranked 504), Keke’s Breakfast Cafe (508) and Jimmy’s Egg (530). While the top 500 chains outpaced emerging chains in 2017 in both overall sales growth and unit growth, the limited-service chains ranked 501 to 1,500 outperformed the top 500 limited-service companies, seeing sales grow by 4.5% versus the 3.9% observed by chains in the top 500.

Company News: 

Market Town Taverns reports increased losses as it takes on five more sites: Yorkshire-based Market Town Taverns has reported increased losses after taking on five more sites. The company began operating five sites previously operated by Okells (Isle of Man), a company related by common control, in February last year. That helped Market Town Taverns increase turnover to £10,054,500 for the year ending 3 February 2018, compared with £7,075,266 the previous year. Drink sales climbed to £8,057,324, compared with £5,224,219 the year before. Food revenue was up to £1,891,602, compared with £1,745,013 the previous year, while accommodation sales fell slightly to £105,574 compared with £106,034 the year before. Pre-tax losses increased to £361,881 compared with £234,459 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. During the year, employee numbers increased to 260 from 193. Market Town Taverns operates 19 sites in Yorkshire and north west England.

Balans Soho Society secures two new London sites: London-based casual dining group Balans Soho Society has secured two new sites in the capital. The company has agreed a deal for a 4,000 square foot rooftop unit at the Cardinal Place development in Victoria. The restaurant will feature indoor and outdoor dining areas and sit alongside other operators including Mitchells & Butlers brand Browns Brasserie, Wagamama and Nando’s. The second new venue to open is at the Dickens Yard development in Ealing. The 3,800 square foot unit will feature a spacious ground-floor dining area with additional outdoor seating. Both restaurants will open later this year. Mark Wright, leisure property consultant at CDG Leisure, who brokered both deals on behalf of Balans, said: “The announcement of two new openings from one of Soho’s most beloved eateries shows the brand’s journey from strength to strength. The roof garden at Cardinal Place is the perfect setting for the restaurant’s next venue. Balans is also the ideal brand to crown the leisure offering at Dickens Yard, a new urban development, which will form part of the town centre’s renovation. And, with the added benefit of the new Crossrail service next year, many new diners will be able to enjoy what the scheme has to offer.”

Stonegate Pub Company to launch Felson’s venues above Bristol and Carlisle Walkabout sites: Stonegate Pub Company is to open two venues for its pool hall concept Felson’s above its Walkabout sites in Bristol and Carlisle. Both venues will launch on Friday, 4 May following a combined investment of £760,000. Inspired by “Fast” Eddie Felson, played by Paul Newman in movie The Hustler, the concept offers pool tables alongside cocktails, craft beer and dishes such as the Mexican 8-Ball Burger topped with crispy bacon, Monterey Jack cheese, jalapeños, guacamole and salsa. The Walkabout site in Carlisle has closed to undergo a complete refurbishment, which will see the top floor turned into a Felson’s venue. Felson’s marketing manager Hayley Pipe said: “Felson’s is such an innovative concept and one we hope our customers will enjoy. The new bar will not only provide a great range of food and drink but also a fun night out.” Meanwhile, Stonegate is opening a craft beer bar and restaurant in Bristol city centre. The Birkett Tap will replace Irish bar Molloy’s, which closed on 1 April. The venue in Baldwin Street will specialise in craft beer from around the world and a tapas menu featuring chicken wings, deep-fried calamari sticks, and chorizo with cider and honey. 

Flight Club lines up third London site, in Victoria: Social darts concept Flight Club has submitted a licensing application for its third London site, in the Nova development in Victoria. The site would be the company’s largest venue, with plans for 18 oches and a 2,500 square foot outdoor space. Founder Steve Moore said: “We’re incredibly excited for this site. We’ve had over 600,000 people throw 35 million darts in our venues and we’re always being asked to bring Social Darts to more locations. Flight Club Victoria provides the perfect opportunity to do this. The Nova development is a landmark site in the heart of Victoria with excellent transport links and is an area we’d love to be a part of. It is anticipated Flight Club Victoria will open its doors in late autumn or early winter.” Flight Club currently has sites in Bloomsbury and Shoreditch, while its first international venue, Flight Club Chicago, will launch this spring.

TRG Concessions extends EAT partnership with new £1m store at Liverpool Street station: The Restaurant Group (TRG) Concessions has opened a new-concept EAT store on the lower concourse at Liverpool Street train station. The opening is part of a series of new food and retail units that will open in the old ticket office. TRG Concessions has invested more than £1m in the store, with the six-year contract valued in excess of £50m. The new concept store builds on the partnership between TRG Concessions and EAT established in 2004. The 2,400 square foot store features stronger digital signage to communicate the extended all-day hot food range. TRG Concessions managing director Nick Ayerst said: “We are very confident our new-concept EAT will be a success. The station’s year-on-year footfall is increasing and we are ready to offer all customers an exciting range of hot and cold food and drinks from the early morning until the end of the day.”

Jamie Oliver to take Pizzeria concept to Dubai: Chef Jamie Oliver is to open a first site for his Pizzeria concept in Dubai. Jamie Oliver Pizzeria will launch in the Jumeirah Lakes Towers development. Oliver previously operated two of his other restaurant brands in the United Arab Emirates city – in Dubai Festival City and Jumeirah Beach Hotel – but both have since closed. Oliver told Time Out Dubai: “My pizzerias are all about authentic, hand-stretched pizzas topped with the most fantastic ingredients, plus salads and delicious desserts. You’re going to absolutely love it.” Despite suffering financial woes with some of his operations in the UK, Oliver’s international arm continues to go from strength to strength. This week, transport hub foodservice specialist SSP Group opened a Jamie’s Deli at Nice airport, while last month the company launched his Pizzeria concept in the Netherlands. Jamie Oliver currently has more than 50 sites internationally across 24 countries.

Latin American and Mediterranean fusion concept Zuaya to launch in Kensington High Street: Latin American and Mediterranean fusion concept Zuaya is to launch in Kensington High Street later this year. The 2,500 square foot unit will be divided into three areas. The ground floor will feature a bar counter and dining tables with space for 30 covers. The basement will act as the main dining area with space for 50 covers, complemented by an outside terrace with space for 12 further covers. The menu will draw on the best flavours from Mexico, Peru, Italy and Spain. At weekends, the restaurant will host a DJ with live jazz musicians on special occasions. Tony Levine, leasing agent at Shelley Sandzer, which brokered the deal, said: “Kensington High Street is a highly desirable neighbourhood, making it a great location for Zuaya’s debut. We are thrilled to continue working on deals that see new brands make their debut in London, keeping the city’s restaurant offer fresh and exciting.” Shelley Sandzer recently secured UK debuts for bao concept BunCo and Singaporean snack, food and beverage chain Old Chang Kee.

Adventure climbing operator Rock Up signs for Intu Watford: Adventure climbing operator Rock Up has signed to open a venue at Intu Watford leisure complex. The site will feature more than 30 climbing walls up to eight metres high alongside a cafe serving home-cooked food, function rooms and a soft-play area. The opening will be part of Intu’s multimillion-pound refurbishment and extension project, with a 400,000 square foot retail and leisure extension opening later this year hosting 14 stores, 11 restaurants and leisure activities. More than two-thirds of the extension is now let, with Cineworld and Hollywood Bowl among leisure brands to have signed. Rock Up executive chairman Heidi Duckworth said: “Not only does Watford’s catchment meet our core demographic providing a family-friendly offer but, with 38 million annual visits to Watford high street and 100,000 students within the catchment, there is huge potential for Rock Up. It’s an extremely exciting time for us to open this year alongside the many great brands and leisure operators coming to Intu Watford.” Rock Up currently operates three sites – in Birmingham, Whiteley in Hampshire and Hull – with another due to open at Rushden Lakes shopping centre in Northamptonshire this winter.

Zuma co-founder reveals more details of first UK site for Inko Nito concept, to open in Soho next month: Rainer Becker, co-founder of Zuma restaurant group, has revealed more details of a first UK site for his Japanese robatayaki concept Inko Nito, which will open in Soho next month. The 90-cover site, secured by agents Restaurant Property, will open in Broadwick Street following the concept’s launch in Los Angeles in December. Group executive chef Hamish Brown’s menu will feature signature dishes cooked over an open Robata grill including bone marrow, smoked soy, garlic toast and shallot. Lighter dishes will include Dungeness crab tartar with wasabi mayo, chicken skin and roasted nori, alongside nigaki, a new style of sushi served with roasted nori, sushi rice and a choice of toppings. Inko Nito will also offer cocktails on tap alongside beer, wine and sake. Interiors have been designed by Los Angeles-based Studio Mai, inspired by the “buzz and lively atmosphere of dining in a street market”. Becker, who is behind London restaurants Roka, Oblix, Zuma and The Arts Club, said: “Inko Nito is an evolution of what was the original concept for Roka. We’ve gone back to basics to create a local, accessible destination for London diners. Combining bold and adventurous flavours in a relaxed yet high-energy environment, our ambition is to become a must-visit destination within Soho’s unprecedented dining scene.”

East Kent-based Turkish restaurant opens fifth site, in Dover: East Kent-based Turkish restaurant Aspendos has opened its fifth site, in Dover. The company has launched the venue in King Street on the site of the former Chapter 8 restaurant. Aspendos operates a restaurant in Folkestone and three takeaways – in Dymchurch, Cheriton and Hythe. Co-owner Necati Aspendos said the Dover site was the same as its Folkestone restaurant, which opened in 2015 and features an open grill approach to cooking. The menu includes freshly grilled meat, fish dishes, hot and cold mezze, salads, kebabs, seafood and vegetarian dishes. The new restaurant, which can seat about 160 people over two floors, has created 20 jobs, reports Kent Live.

Number Five restaurant to launch at City of London club on Friday with non-member access: Number Five restaurant is to launch inside the Devonshire Club in the City of London on Friday (13 April), with access for non-members at weekends. The venue in Devonshire Square will offer a fresh seasonal menu to members from Monday to Friday lunch before opening up to everyone else from Friday dinner onwards. Adam Gray will lead the kitchen. He trained under Bruno Loubet and Raymond Blanc and worked with Gary Rhodes for more than ten years, eight of them as head chef of Rhodes Twenty Four. His menu will feature dishes such as duck liver and Lincolnshire smoked eel terrine, and roasted octopus with fennel, cucumber and herb dressing. There will also be an a la carte brunch menu at weekends, Hot Dinners reports.

Jamaican Jills opens second Swansea site for third restaurant in Wales: Caribbean-Welsh fusion concept Jamaican Jills has opened its third site in Wales and second in Swansea. The restaurant has opened in Walter Road, Uplands, to add to the brand’s venues in Swansea city centre and Neath. The concept combines Caribbean food such as goat curry and jerk chicken with more traditional Welsh and British dishes such as lamb shank and jacket potatoes. Jamaican Jills’ decor is also a fusion. Owner Mark Davies told Wales Online: “We wanted to combine a look that is on trend with the Jamaican ambience. We have a painting of a beach on the wall, which people would associate with Jamaica, but there is also a model of a galleon on the wall, which is a tip of the hat to Welsh pirate Sir Henry Morgan.” The music is laid-back Jamaican and the venue also features a patio for alfresco dining. The drinks list includes rum and a range of 40 cocktails. Jamaican Jills opened its first site in Neath in 2014.

AB InBev rolls out ‘greener way’ to put bubbles in beer, will share technology free with smaller brewers: Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) is rolling out what it claims is a greener way to put bubbles in beer and cut its CO2 emissions by 5%. The company said it had developed a technique to generate bubbles without needing to boil water and hops following four years of tests at an experimental brewery in Leuven, Belgium, and then on a larger scale in two plants in the UK. Traditionally, gas bubbles are generated via steam through the natural cooking process but the new method involves heating the brew to below boiling point and then blowing nitrogen or CO2 into the tank to create bubbles without changing the taste. The company claims that because the beer is brewed at a lower temperature in the early phase, it also stays fresh for longer. AB InBev research director for Europe David De Schutter told the Guardian: “Boiling and these gas bubbles are the sacred formula in the brewing process. Our innovation is to heat everything up to just below boiling point, which provides 80% energy savings. There is a lot less steam released, which allows you to spend less on water. In our case, we managed to go from 5% evaporated water to less than 1%.” The company, which hopes all its breweries will adopt the technique within ten years to produce an overall 5% cut in CO2 emissions, is offering to share the patented technology free with smaller brewers. A fee will be charged to larger rivals, which AB InBev has vowed to invest in further research to reduce its ecological footprint.

D&D London opens second Bluebird site, at former BBC home: Restaurant operator D&D London has begun expansion of its Bluebird brand by opening a second site, at the Television Centre development in White City. Bluebird has been a popular restaurant in Chelsea’s King’s Road for the past 20 years, with the opening at the former home of the BBC the first of a planned expansion of Bluebird cafes, including one in New York. The 5,000 square foot site opens out into the plaza and includes a cafe, bar, deli and outdoor terrace. The interior incorporates British styling from the 1960s and “modern Bluebird Chelsea glamour”. Executive chef Simon Gregory’s menu features dishes such as crispy Goosnargh duck and watercress salad. The venue joins other brands at the £8bn development that include Indian small plates concept Kricket, pizza company Homeslice and better burger brand Patty & Bun, alongside a Soho House members’ club, a hotel and an Electric cinema. Gregory said: “I’m incredibly excited to be a part of such an iconic redevelopment. Television Centre couldn’t be a better home for the first Bluebird Café. We’re thrilled to have brought the very best of Bluebird’s all-day dining to the west London community.” D&D London was founded by Des Gunewardena and David Loewi in 2006 following a buyout of Conran Restaurants.

Mystery brewer to give away beer: A “mystery brewer” is to launch a blind beer-tasting event in London. Beer-lovers can register online to get one of the free pints that will be redeemable on Thursday, 26 April at more than 200 venues across the capital. The brewer behind the giveaway is refusing to reveal its identity to rid tasters of “preconceptions”. The pint will be served without branding to “let the beer do the talking”, with those who redeem their beer sent a text revealing the brewer’s identity. A spokesman said: “It’s a risk but we know our beer speaks for itself. We’re literally putting our money where Londoners’ mouths are. People are becoming more interested in beer, which is great, and with all the fantastic variety on offer breweries are competing as to who can shout the loudest, have the craziest packaging design or the punchiest beer name. We believe drinkers should put taste first.” To register, visit FreeProperBeer.com from Thursday (12 April).

Drake & Morgan reopens Devonshire Terrace in City of London: Drake & Morgan, the London-based bar and restaurant group backed by Bowmark Capital, has reopened its City of London venue Devonshire Terrace in time for the summer. The venue near Liverpool Street Station features a new-look bar and restaurant with an expansive all-weather terrace. Dressed with tonal textiles and tropical foliage, the upper terrace and lower lounge offer comfortable sofas and armchairs. There is also a second terrace to the rear, while the bar and restaurant features natural materials such as leather, marble and timber. Four private dining rooms can be created using sliding mirrored screens, offering options for meetings and events. Devonshire Terrace offers a botanical cocktail menu including non-alcoholic versions with fewer than 50 calories, alongside wine, premium spirits, craft beer and cider. The new menu features seasonal small plates, sharing boards, gourmet sandwiches, burgers and a range of seasonal salads created by restaurateur and food writer Peter Gordon. Devonshire Terrace was formerly operated by wine bar business Corney & Barrow, which Drake & Morgan acquired in July 2016.

Cheshire-based Mobberley Brewhouse to open first two bars: Cheshire-based Mobberley Brewhouse is to open its first two bars. The company, owned by James Roberts, will launch the sites in Knutsford and Stockport. The Knutsford venue will be in Minshull Street on the site of The Tap And Bottle, which closed at the weekend. Meanwhile, the Stockport bar will be in Market Place. Both sites will undergo refurbishment before reopening later this year. The bars will offer Mobberley’s own beer as well as a selection from other UK brewers along with gin. There will also be a selection of hand-crafted pizzas. Roberts told the Knutsford Guardian: “The aim for our bars is simple – to provide a taste of the brewery in a handful of brilliant locations in our surrounding area.”

Shepherd Neame appoints new master brewer: Kent brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame has appointed Mike Unsworth as its new master brewer and operations manager. Unsworth, who has almost 30 years of experience in the brewing industry, has taken over from Richard Frost following his retirement at the end of March. Originally from Liverpool, Unsworth studied industrial biology at London South Bank University. As part of his course, he spent a year in industry, undertaking analysis and microbiology at the Charles Wells Brewery, inspiring him to pursue a career in brewing. Unsworth previously worked for Courage Brewery and Coca-Cola before moving overseas to become plant manager at The Cascade Brewery Company in Tasmania, Australia’s oldest operating brewery. He said: “I have been at Cascade for seven years and really enjoyed it, but my partner Jane and I wanted to move back to the UK to be nearer our family and friends. I was really proud to be part of Cascade’s long brewing heritage and carry on its traditions, so when I saw the opportunity was available to work at Shepherd Neame, Britain’s oldest brewer, it seemed the perfect move.”

Gryphon Leisure puts Llanelli hotel on market for £3.8m: Gryphon Leisure has put the Stradey Park Hotel & Spa in Llanelli, south west Wales, up for sale with an asking price of £3.8m. The company, which has owned the four-star hotel on the Loughor Estuary since 2000, is marketing the property through agents Christie & Co. The hotel is arranged over four floors with the reception, main dining room and function rooms within the original stone-built manor house, which dates to 1912. In 1974, the hotel was further extended and now offers 77 en-suite bedrooms, conference and meetings rooms, spa facilities and treatment rooms. Gryphon Leisure director Angela Saunders said: “We had to reinvest heavily in the building when it was first bought and have continued to improve it, with the spa being one of the newest additions. We’re about to open a rooftop restaurant, The 1912, within the next couple of months.”

Cave Direct launches beer training school: Beer importer Cave Direct has launched a beer training school. The four-day course, available initially to Cave Direct North customers, teaches candidates everything they need to know about beer in terms of product, dispense and consumer engagement. The days are split into three levels of knowledge. The one-day bronze course, free to all Cave Direct North customers, includes an in-depth understanding of ingredients, storage and serving. After this, customers or individuals can decide whether to progress to the silver and gold courses, which include advanced technical dispense training and how to write beer menus and pair beer with food. Cave Direct North director Will Evans said: “Our fundamental aim is to grow and expand craft beer by not only growing our business but that of our direct customers too. As far as I’m aware, we will be the first independent craft wholesaler to offer a service such as this and it underpins our resolute commitment to growing the category through knowledge, passion and enjoyment.” Once launched in Manchester, Cave Direct plans to roll out the initiative over distribution hubs in London, Kent, Newcastle, and Bristol.

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