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Fri 18th May 2018 - Update: TGI Friday's strike, new Roadchef chief executive, Killer Tomato
TGI Friday’s staff stage first UK strike over tips: Workers at two TGI Friday’s branches have staged the brand’s first strike in the UK. Waiting staff at sites in Milton Keynes and Covent Garden walked out today (Friday, 18 May) in protest over a new policy in which the Unite union 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. The waiting staff, all members of Unite, had voted unanimously for 24-hour strike action. Further industrial action is due to take place next week at TGI Friday’s sites in Trafford Centre, Manchester, and London’s Haymarket Piccadilly. Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull said: “Our members have sent a very clear message. We won’t back down but we are ready to talk.” A TGI Friday’s spokeswoman said: “Our team members are a part of our Friday’s family, and we care about them. We believe all our team members should be – and are – treated and paid fairly. Despite this, a small number at Milton Keynes Stadium and Covent Garden have voted to strike. We are listening to them and are collectively working to find a resolution. In the meantime, we will be doing all we can to ensure our guests receive the usual great dining experience and the restaurants remain open as normal.”

Roadchef confirms Mark Fox as chief executive: Motorway services operator Roadchef has confirmed the appointment of Mark Fox as chief executive. He succeeds Simon Turl, who is moving into a new role as chairman. Fox joins the business with experience in senior roles in the UK and international hospitality industries, including KFC, Pizza Hut UK, Starbucks and most recently chief executive of casual dining brand Bill’s. Fox said: “I’ve been thoroughly impressed by how much the Roadchef brand has evolved over the last ten years and really look forward to working with colleagues and our trading partners to continue to develop the organisation in the coming years.” He will join the company on Tuesday, 12 June before officially moving into his chief executive role in September. Turl said: “It has been my privilege to lead the Roadchef business over the past 11 years and I am looking forward to a new challenge in my role as chairman. I am thrilled we have been able to attract someone of Mark’s calibre to lead this fantastic team and I wish him every success for the future.”

Killer Tomato puts Portobello Road site on the market: Cashless concept Killer Tomato has put its Portobello Road restaurant on the market to concentrate on its debut site in Shepherd’s Bush. Killer Tomato only opened the 34-cover, 750 square foot Portobello Road site in October. Agent Christie & Co has been instructed to dispose of the leasehold interest. The restaurant is close to other restaurants including Core by Clare Smyth, Tonkotsu, and 108 Garage. Christie & Co business agent Will Langton said: “This is a great opportunity for a purchaser to acquire premises in excellent condition having recently been renovated to a high standard with a lengthy and protected remaining term. The unit will be available with vacant possession and provides a prospective operator the opportunity to build on current foundations laid by the exiting tenant in an enviable area in central London.” Initially a street food trader, founder Matt Paice opened the first permanent Killer Tomato site in Shepherd’s Bush in July 2016. The concept offers Mexican dishes such as burritos with fillings including pork belly and crackling, and tacos with fillings such as cheeseburger and Korean sticky fried chicken.

Former FA head to launch Alpine-themed restaurant and events space in Newcastle next month: Gary Hutchinson, former head of venue sales and commercial partnerships at the Football Association, is to launch Alpine-themed concept Antler in Newcastle next month as part of his Chrysalis Leisure business. The venue will open at the 55 Degrees North development in a space formerly occupied by Fat Buddha Asian Bar & Kitchen. Antler will feature a year-round garden with seating in “ski gondolas” and an extensive programme of entertainment. Hutchinson said Antler would maintain Fat Buddha’s Asian roots with an oriental restaurant on the upper level, while the whole space would be able to cater for 800 people for events and conferences, with add-ons such as cocktail masterclasses. He said: “People seem to appreciate the fact we’re doing something really different here. It’s a huge and versatile site we are also offering for hire in its entirety or in sections. We’re very pleased with the response we’ve had so far and the level of interest we are attracting.” Hutchinson took control of Fat Buddha Asian Bar & Kitchen from Utopian Leisure in September 2017.

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