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Fri 25th May 2018 - Update: YiFang makes UK debut, Notes, Hop Stuff et al
Taiwanese fruit tea concept YiFang launches debut permanent UK site, secures second: Taiwanese fruit tea concept YiFang has launched its first site in the UK and secured a second, both in London. The brand, which also operates a pop-up in Old Spitalfields Market, has opened a 100 square foot kiosk in Shaftesbury Avenue. A second venue will open in Soho in early summer after agent Shelley Sandzer, which brokered both deals for the company, secured a 300 square foot, ground-floor site in Moor Street. Since its launch in 2016, YiFang has opened more than 600 stores across the globe. Its tea range is made with no preservatives or additives and is harvested from its own mountain plantations, while fruit comes from its own farms or from local markets. Pokai Wang, of YiFang, said: “We are excited to open our first permanent location in the UK and look forward to opening the second site shortly as we introduce the Taiwanese tradition of drinking tea and the culture of our country to the UK.”

Notes passes £600,000 crowdfunding target within two days: Notes, the nine-strong, London-based coffee shop and wine bar concept, has passed its £600,000 fund-raise target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube within two days of launch. The company is offering 5.66% equity in return for investment as it seeks to expand. So far, 293 investors have pledged £641,100 and the campaign is overfunding with 28 days of the campaign remaining. The largest investment so far has been £50,000. The pitch states: “Notes is a growing coffee shop and wine bar concept, which has established itself as one of the market leaders in London’s quality coffee market with nine central London locations. Starting from a coffee cart in a cobbled street market in 2010, we now source and roast our own single-origin coffee, serving more than 1.4 million cups a year. The coffee market currently stands at 2.3 billion cups per year in the UK and customer tastes are moving towards quality. We believe Notes is perfectly poised to take full advantage of this trend. Since our last Crowdcube raise in 2015, we have opened four locations, doubled our revenue to almost £5m (£0.2m Ebitda), increased site Ebitda by three times and expanded our roastery, which now produces more than one tonne per week for Notes and our wholesale partners. Our points of differentiation are serving high-quality, single-origin speciality coffee in high volumes; roasting coffee at our own roastery in Canning Town; a strong wholesale business with significant capacity to grow; a true all day offer – evening sales account for 25% to 30% of sales in full-offer sites; high-end spaces created with a focus on design and attention to detail; and passionate, friendly, knowledgeable staff trained extensively on our menus.” Notes raised £908,400 on Crowdcube in June 2015 after setting a £600,000 target. Chairman James Horler, who has been involved with brands such as La Tasca, Patisserie Valerie and Leon, is investing in the current round. In March 2017, Notes secured a £600,000 loan from OakNorth, the first deal completed under the British Business Bank’s Help to Grow Programme.

Hop Stuff Brewery secures site for fourth taproom, in Greenwich: Hop Stuff Brewery has secured a site for its fourth taproom, at the River Gardens development in Greenwich, south London. The announcement comes less than a week after the company opened its third taproom – in Ashford, Kent. Hop Stuff, which raised more than £780,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube earlier this year for expansion, has targeted eight sites by the end of 2019. Although the Greenwich taproom will be its smallest so far, at 1,700 square feet, it will offer an attractive Thames-side outdoor area. Hop Stuff Brewery founder James Yeomans said: “We’ve been pursuing this site for a long time and we are thrilled to have agreed terms on the lease. It’s a prime riverside destination and purpose-built for a craft beer bar. The inside is a touch more cosy than other taprooms but the waterfront will make a dream space for nearly 200 beer drinkers. What’s better is Greenwich is home to a lot of our investors so it’s great to secure a local craft spot for them as well as hopefully making a lot of new friends in the neighbourhood.” Subject to licensing, the company hopes to launch the taproom in July.

Team behind Hammersmith-based Persian restaurant Mahdi to launch luxury concept in Notting Hill Gate: The team behind Hammersmith-based Persian restaurant Mahdi will launch luxury concept Beluga in Notting Hill Gate. Notting Hill Persia has secured a 2,392 square foot unit at 147-149 Notting Hill Gate through agents CDG Leisure. Beluga will offer a luxury dining experience with a VIP bar and two private rooms set over two floors. The opulently decorated interiors will feature wallpaper by Roberto Cavalli, Swarovski chandeliers and Versace utensils. The menu will specialise in a contemporary and elevated take on traditional Persian cuisine, with signature dishes including mixed grill, caviar and an exclusive cocktail bar – a first venture into the drinks sector for the company. Director Arman Rahiminejad Tafreshi said: “Our new concept will be completely different to our traditional Persian restaurant, Mahdi. It will be larger, with high-end private dining rooms and a top interior, which only felt right to be in an affluent spot like this. We will be serving cocktails for the first time and our new menu will embody the art of plating.” Emma Cousins, of CDG Leisure, added: “The leafy surrounds of Holland Park, Notting Hill and Kensington are the ideal location for this lavish concept by Notting Hill Persia. Beluga is sure to make a wonderful addition to an area rich with residents and tourists.”

Welcome Break to open four further PizzaExpress sites: Motorway services operator Welcome Break will open a PizzaExpress restaurant at South Mimms on Junction 23 of the M25 on Friday, 8 June. The move follows the opening of PizzaExpress venues at Welcome Break’s Oxford services in December. A further three PizzaExpress restaurants will open this year – at Fleet, Cobham and Beaconsfield. The South Mimms restaurant will seat 88 guests and open from 11am to 10pm, 364 days a year. Welcome Break chief executive Robbie Bell said: “We are always keen to offer the best facilities on the motorway network to the 85 million visitors to Welcome Break each year. In recent years we have seen a growing trend with our customers, both business and leisure, of spending more time at our service stations to be able to enjoy a dining experience comparable to that on the high street. I am delighted the opening of PizzaExpress restaurants will allow us to offer that experience.”

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