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Thu 27th Sep 2018 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Pret reports turnover boost in US business but sees Ebitda hit after 'notable challenges', pre-tax losses rise to £24m: Pret A Manger has reported a turnover boost in its US business but saw underlying Ebitda hit by a more competitive market and changes to labour laws and taxes. Turnover increased 16.7% to £172,829,000 for the year ending 31 December 2017, compared with £148,143,000 the previous year. Underlying Ebitda dropped to minus £1,140,000, compared with £3,852,000 the year before. Pre-tax losses increased to £24,161,000, compared with £13,717,000 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. During the year, Pret opened 16 sites, 13 of which were company operated, taking the total to 90 sites, of which 87 were company operated. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: "2017 has been another year of turnover and estate growth. Underlying Ebitda decreased to minus 1,140,000 from £3,852,000 reflecting notable challenges, with the business facing a more competitive market and important changes to local labour laws and taxes. Net liabilities at the end of the year were £70,838,000 (2016: £51,957,000). The company incurred net one-off costs of £78,000 (2016: £824,000) relating to costs associated with a landlord dispute. An impairment charge of £5,488,000 (2016: £2,413,000) was recorded against property, plant and equipment reflecting the competitive market, and changes of local labour laws and taxes. In addition, onerous lease costs of £345,000 were charged (2016: £224,000). As a result of the challenging consumer market, the directors remain cautious about the economic outlook in the USA." Meanwhile, two lawsuits have been filed against Pret in the US, claiming it deceptively labelled and marketed breads as “natural” when they contained glyphosate. Laboratory tests allegedly found traces of glyphosate in Harvest oatmeal raisin cookies, egg salad and arugula sandwiches, and other products made with Pret's nine-grain granary bread, reports The Guardian. The Organic Consumers Association, a plaintiff in the case, cited surveys showing consumers expected the word “natural” to mean pesticide-free products. Pret declined to comment. Last year, Pret was censured by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for claiming its products did not contain the sort of “obscure chemicals, additives and preservatives” used by its competitors. The ASA ruled this misleading because the chain’s sandwich bread in fact contained three E numbers widely used in the food retail sector – E472e, E471 and E300.

Industry News:

Welsh restaurant owners hand back Michelin star as they take business in new direction: The owners of a Michelin-star restaurant in Wales have taken the unusual step of handing back their coveted award. Stephane Borie, his partner Sarah Francis and her sister Kathryn first won the accolade in 2011, within months of opening The Checkers in Montgomery, Powys. The trio cater for up to 40 diners, using produce from local farms in Powys and Shropshire. But they have decided to take the business in a new direction and put their families first. Borie and Sarah have three young children while Kathryn is a mother-of-two. Sarah and Kathryn will relaunch the restaurant in November as Checker Pantry, open for breakfast and lunch as well as having luxury bed and breakfast accommodation. Meanwhile, Borie is set to expand his culinary portfolio for private clients across Europe, though will make guest appearances at the new-look venue. Sarah Francis told the BBC: "It was an emotional decision because we have absolutely treasured our star. We've loved getting it, loved keeping it and always nervous every year as to whether we were going to be in the guide. So to give it back was a big decision but ultimately the right one." Last year, French restaurant Le Suquet withdrew from the guide's listings, having held a three-star rating for 18 years. Chef Sebastien Bras said he no longer wanted to cook under the "huge pressure" of being judged by its inspectors. It was said to be the first time Michelin had allowed a restaurant to bow out. Earlier this month, Marco Pierre White was reported to have refused Michelin Guide inspectors permission to visit his latest restaurant in Singapore. The new list of entrants to the Michelin Guide is due to be announced on Monday (1 October).

Rusk & Rusk enables Instagram job applications: Independent restaurant group Rusk & Rusk is enabling job applications via Instagram in a bid to tap into the vast number of people who use the social media platform. The move follows a recent survey by Twitter, which revealed more than two-thirds (70%) of people aged 18 to 24 feel CVs don’t allow them to showcase who they are to an employer, while 44% would prefer to apply for jobs via social media rather than writing a CV. Rusk & Rusk is looking to fill 80 positions across its portfolio of restaurants in Glasgow that include Hutchesons City Grill and The Spanish Butcher. The company is also hiring for its latest venue – So L.A. – that is due to open in the city centre later this year. Rusk & Rusk co-owner Louise Rusk said: “Our decision to add Instagram as a recruitment channel was fuelled by a desire to tap into the vast number of people who express themselves through the platform. This unique addition to our recruitment strategy allows us to assess applicants’ food knowledge and eye for design as well as providing us with a taste of their creative flare.”

Paul Nunny – temperature is key issue for cask ale, which is at a crossroads: The annual Cask Marque report on the cask ale market has identified issues causing cask ale sales to decline at twice the rate of the overall on-trade beer market. Cask Marque director Paul Nunny said the cask beer market was 'reaching a crossroads'. In the Cask Marque report, he added: "We need to attract people back into pubs. When consumers are in the pub how do we attract them to cask? Temperature is a key issue. When Cask Marque inspected pubs focused on cask this summer, 25% were selling beer at 14 degrees celsius-plus. This adds little refreshment value and almost encourages consumers to drink other products in the summer and return to the category in the winter months. Once sent elsewhere do they return? Pubs need to check temperature of beer in the glass at least twice a week. We need bar staff to be advocates. Frequently these people are the very age group we need to attract to cask. This is why Cask Marque is trialling a bar staff training programme. Range is important and, in particular, colour and ABV. Pubs need to ensure their range caters for occasions such as midweek and weekend lunch and evening drinkers. And we need to talk about cask, use Cyclops tasting notes, blackboards, beer menus and ‘try me’ stickers. Make the choice easier for the customer. Have staff training to improve the communication with the customers. Lastly, we need to address profitability on cask. Pricing is an issue as it leads to a reduction in margin in comparison with other beers. Our research shows only 32% of people correctly identify cask as being cheaper than mainstream lagers whereas 30% believe the two beer formats are priced the same. A further 24% think cask is actually more expensive than mainstream lager. Is there an opportunity here to increase margin? But you can only do this if you have great quality of beer in the glass and knowledgeable bar staff to go with it."

Wiltons becomes first UK restaurant to join Chefs Against Plastic Waste campaign: London restaurant Wiltons has become the first eatery in the UK to join the Chefs Against Plastic Waste (CAPW) campaign. As part of CAPW, the venue, said to be the second-oldest restaurant in London, has taken delivery of chefs’ jackets made from recycled plastic bottles, some pulled from waters around the British Isles. When the jackets are worn out, they are recycled. Wiltons head chef Daniel Kent said: “I was on a beach in Thailand and every morning staff would come out and clear all the plastic bottles and debris that washed on to the beach. I felt really upset this was happening to the coastline there and to ours in the UK.” The campaign has been launched by Continental Chef Supplies, whose managing director Paul Brown said: “Having such a prestigious and popular restaurant join our campaign is great to see and we hope many more will follow.” Other initiatives to eliminate plastic waste at Wiltons include banning plastic straws and drinking bottles and getting supplies delivered in reusable crates rather than cardboard boxes.

Company News:

Shepherd Neame trying to work 'ten years ahead': Jonathan Neame, chief executive of Kent-based brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame, has told Propel the company is trying to work "ten years ahead" in order to anticipate consumer trends and population movements. Neame said it was about having "high-quality pubs in quality locations", and many of these projects took years to come to fruition. He pointed to the development of a 17-bedroom pub hotel, which will be built in the centre of the Ebbsfleet Garden City scheme. "We've been pursuing that site for as long as I can remember," Neame said. "We are a long-term business that is trying to focus on what the consumer wants, and will be, in ten years time. We're thinking about what experiences they want. In our Kent heartland, there is a lot of economic development planned at the moment, such as in Ashford and the Lower Thames Crossing in Dartford. At Ebbsfleet, there's going to 15,000 homes, 6,200 of which are going to be in the immediate vicinity of the pub. These are the places where we want to be. These are big investments and huge amounts of work so they take time." As well as its long-term projects, Neame said the company was still looking at "opportunistic" acquisitions while continuing to invest in its current estate. He added: "There's still a lot of potential within our existing estate so it's about making the most of that. We've got eight to ten projects of about £250,000 in the advanced stages of planning in our tenanted estate this year as well as investment in the managed division. We've increased capital expenditure to £13m from £7.7m in the past five years. At the same time we continue to have conversations with independent owners and if there is something that comes up that fits into our strategy then we'll go for it. As I've said, we're not motivated by growing in numbers." Neame said he also expected the company to slow down the rate of disposals in its tenanted division, having sold seven pubs and transferred four into the commercial leased estate. Of current trading, he added: "We've certainly benefitted from the sunny weather but I think we are good at exploiting those conditions when they are available because we have quality pubs in the right places. We want our site to be the best in that town, village or city." Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack said of Shepherd Neame's full-year results: "2018 underlying profit before tax was up 5%, at £11.8m (we forecast £11.2m), with brewing materially ahead. Due to this and strong recent trading, we are upgrading our full-year profit before tax forecasts by 3%. In early 2019E, managed like-for-like sales are up 5.1%, tenanted like-for-like Ebitdar is up 6.2% and own brand brewing volumes are up 6.4%. In contrast, the shares are at a 25% discount to net asset value, a rarity that buyers should exploit, in our view." 

Papa John's new UK boss – Britain offers biggest market place for pizza sales outside US: Papa John's new UK managing director Liz Williams has said Britain offers the biggest market place for pizza sales outside the US. Williams said the agenda for further regional expansion would be based on "extensive customer and franchisee feedback”. She added: “The UK offers the biggest market place for pizza sales outside the US and our region represents a huge opportunity for Papa John’s and our franchisees. Our franchisees and their staff are highly trained and skilled in working with fresh dough and quality ingredients to create the finest pizzas on the high street and we need to be even better at putting that message across to consumers to grow sales. However, what works for our American operation and customers is not necessarily what works in the UK. My role will see the UK taking complete autonomy to drive the agenda for further regional expansion, based on extensive customer and franchisee feedback. One of the first projects I’ve embarked on since joining Papa John’s is a listening tour of the UK. I’ve been talking to franchisees to uncover their challenges and listening to customers to see how we can become even better. From helping franchisees increase sales through innovative product development based on thorough customer research, to making the most of Papa John’s purchasing power to drive down costs, I will be using the information to review and further improve our operations and franchisee returns across the board. It is an exciting time for the Papa John’s family and we will be developing our culture of listening to generate even more ideas from franchisees, staff and customers alike to grow our market share, all with consumer satisfaction and loyalty firmly front-of-mind. I’m also aiming to introduce a little bit more fun to the brand too. We will reward entrepreneurial spirit, which will be motivating for staff, plus help us appeal to a younger demographic – the future of our customer base over the long-term.” Before joining Papa John’s last month, Williams was chief executive for restaurant brand Whyte & Brown and prior to that, director general manager of Greene King's Loch Fyne business for six years. 

Prezzo reports 70% rise in click-and-collect sales: Prezzo has reported a 70% increase in click-and-collect orders within one month of its new partnership with online ordering platform Orderswift. The growth in revenue was attributed to a 46% increase in weekly orders combined with a 16% rise in the average spend per order. Orderswift’s platform features a two-step interface that enables customers to place orders on any browser or device in less than 60 seconds. The London-based technology company replaced Prezzo’s previous supplier in August, rolling out its platform across the group’s 201-site estate in a day. Prezzo chief commercial officer Darrell Wade said: “Our partnership with Orderswift has had an instant, positive impact on our online orders. Not only are many more of our customers ordering through Orderswift’s platform but they are also ordering more each time. Replacing technology can be challenging for any business of our scale but Orderswift helped us make this transition rapidly – without disruption – and we are now in a great position to drive our click-and-collect business forward.”

St Peter’s Brewery appoints John Hadingham as new managing director: Suffolk-based St Peter’s Brewery has appointed John Hadingham as its new managing director. Hadingham joins from Aspall Cyder, where he was responsible for sales, team development and branding in the on and off-trade. He will focus on sales strategy and new product development as the brand looks to expand into new markets and categories. Hadingham said: “My background is in brand development, sales, and team development and I intend to use my expertise to make St Peter’s Brewery one of the major players in brewing and build on the excellent success it has already achieved in the on and off-trade.” St Peter’s Brewery owner John Murphy added: “John brings with him a wealth of experience and skills that are a perfect fit. We have a great brand, a strong portfolio of products, and the team and equipment to increase production. We have some catching up to do in certain marketing areas but I believe John is fully up to the challenge.” St Peter’s Brewery chief executive Steve Magnall will step down from his role on Friday (28 September).

Michelin-trained chef launches Covent Garden cheesecake concept: Michelin-trained chef Alice Churchill, who has worked at The Ritz, Le Gavroche and with Gordon Ramsay before setting up her own supper clubs, has opened dessert bar Whipped in Covent Garden with a focus on cheesecake. The concept has launched in Drury Lane offering deconstructed cheesecake that is turned into a variety of chilled and frozen soft serve desserts. Whipped is mainly a grab-and-go spot but offers 14 seats inside and ten on the pavement outside. The desserts, made daily in-house, include Signature Whip (vanilla cheesecake with ginger crumble, poached peach, confit ginger and shaved white chocolate); Honey Bee (honeycomb cheesecake with butterscotch sauce and caramel); and Vegan Cherry (cherry cheesecake with cherry crumb base, salted cocoa crumble and cherry syrup). Customers can also build their own dessert, choosing from five cheesecakes, six bases, eight sauces and 50 sprinkles, Hot Dinners reports. Whipped also offers coffee, tea and hot chocolate.

Starbucks begins corporate restructuring in US: Starbucks has begun restructuring and cutting jobs at its US headquarters amid sluggish sales. Chief executive Kevin Johnson told staff in an email seen by Nation's Restaurant News: “We are going to make some significant changes to how we work as leaders in all areas of the company and how functional groups are structured to support our retail stores. There will be leadership shifts and non-retail partner impacts as we evolve the direction of teams across the organisation in size, scope and goals.” The company declined to say how many jobs might go in what has been a shaky year. In June, Starbucks revealed plans to close about 150 stores in 2019 – triple the number of average closures the company typically makes in a year. For the third quarter, the company reported 1% growth in like-for-like sales in the US, down from the 2% increase in the second and first quarters. In recent months, Starbucks has aggressively focused on expanding its digital relationships with customers, adding more stores in China, and introducing premium experiences through its Reserve cafes. Going forward, Johnson said the changes made at the corporate level are aimed at making the company more agile, especially when it comes to implementing innovation. In the email, he said: “We must knock down the barriers in our decision making and provide more clarity on the work that is important and what is not. To this end, our executive leadership team is working with our senior vice-presidents to identify new opportunities to help us work more effectively to increase our speed of innovation in an evolving retail environment.”

Indoor mini-golf concept almost trebles equity offer in £150,000 crowdfunding campaign: Indoor mini-golf concept Pixel City Golf has almost trebled its equity offer in its £150,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to open the first of five multi-activity sites outside London by 2022. The company is now offering 13.04% equity instead of the original 4.76% in return for the investment, with funds being used to open a first venue plus “marketing to drive awareness”. So far 42 investors have pledged £33,820 with 23 days remaining. The company said it aims to take advantage of the fast-growing competitive socialising industry, expected to be worth £129bn this year. The Pixel City Golf team has 25 years of experience in complementary industries and businesses. The pitch states: “We believe the UK is lacking indoor entertainment venues that offer the customer something different – fun for all age groups and with pricing aimed at capturing the majority, not the minority. Pixel City Golf aims to open a multi-activity indoor entertainment and leisure venue designed for all age groups and private hire, offering a 36-hole indoor mini-golf experience. In the UK, there are more than 700 mini-golf venues. However, in Germany we estimate there is one mini-golf venue for every 16,520 people, with 15 million people playing every year. In the US we estimate there is one mini-golf venue for every 10,770 people, with millions playing each year. Compare that with the UK, where our estimation is there is one mini-golf venue for every 93,771 people! In addition, Brits have been spending less on new clothes, cars and foreign holidays and are anticipated to spend more on UK-based leisure activities.”

Former Living Ventures area manager to open rodizio restaurant in former Bradford Brew Haus premises: Former Living Ventures area manager Charles Hewitt is to open a rodizio restaurant in Bradford. Hewitt is launching Ginga Rodizio Bar and Grill next month in in Great Horton Road in the former Brew Haus premises, which Tokyo Industries shut earlier this year. Hewitt said the venue, which will create up to 35 jobs, would be "an all-you-can-eat steak restaurant". He told the Bradford Telegraph and Argus: "Bradford is lacking a lot of good quality independent restaurants. It's lacking an independent choice. This is my first venture. It's an exciting time – I'm a little bit nervous. We've invested £12,000 in a rodizio grill, which cooks the meat over charcoal." The Ginga, which is named after an ancient Brazilian martial art and the country's free-flowing style of football, will serve locally sourced meats in traditional Brazilian style, cooked to a customer's choice. Hewitt said the grill could accommodate up to 50 joints of meat at one time with several different cuts of beef, chicken, sausages on offer. He added the building – the former Victorian Windsor baths that JD Wetherspoon once ran as The Sir Titus Salt pub – was in good condition and did not need any major conversion work. Brew Haus closed in February, two-and-a-half years after it opened. It was part of a £1.2m development of the old Windsor baths.

Chick ‘n’ Sours opens Islington restaurant for third London site: London-based fried chicken restaurant concept Chick ‘n’ Sours has opened its third site in the capital, in Islington. The 60-cover venue has launched in Upper Street featuring a bar, open kitchen and outside space. The restaurant offers a number of new dishes trialled at a Brixton pop-up and the concept’s debut site in Haggerston, which reopened last month following a major refurbishment. New dishes include Korean glazed burger the Seoul Destroyer, while the Weekend Treats menu features hot chicken and kimchi cornbread waffles. Chick ‘n’ Sours was founded by Carl Clarke and David Wolanksi. Clarke said: “Islington holds a special place in my heart. There used to be a wicked buzz round here and I spent many a long night at places such as Medicine Bar and The Embassy. I’d like to bring that amazing north London mix of good food and fantastic music back.” Chick ‘n’ Sours launched in Haggerston in 2015, with a sister site opening in Seven Dials the following year. Clarke and Wolanski also operate CHIK’N in Baker Street.

Drive-thru Costa Coffee site in Bolton sells for £1.23m: A drive-thru Costa Coffee unit at the entrance to the Logistics North development in Bolton has been sold for £1.23m. Harworth Group is behind the sale, with the site having been bought by Fenwall Investments. The 1,787 square foot unit was constructed by Harworth in July 2017 on a design and build basis and immediately occupied by Costa on a 15-year lease following completion. The sale continues Harworth's active churn strategy of selectively disposing some of its more mature income-generating assets to reinvest in higher-yielding commercial property. David Travis, director of business space at Harworth Group, told Insider Media: "Our focus for the remainder of 2018 is to let all remaining speculative space currently available at Logistics North." Fenwall was represented by Hyatt On Property, while Harworth was jointly represented by JLL and B8 Real Estate as retained agents for Logistics North.

Professor Brian Cox starts new mission with beer launch: Physicist and broadcaster Brian Cox has combined a passion for science, beer, and his home town of Oldham to launch Cosmic Brew. Working with north west brewer and retailer JW Lees, he has collaborated on a beer, Cosmic Brew, which will go on sale in January, coinciding with Cox's UK and Ireland arena tour. Between broadcasting and lecturing commitments at The University of Manchester, Cox, with the help of JW Lees head brewer and production director Michael Lees-Jones, has experimented with several different brews. The resulting beer is Cosmic Brew, a "zesty" amber ale made with a blend of British hops, Admiral, Jester and Cascade to give it a "modern hoppy twist". Cox said: “Growing up in Oldham, walking distance from the brewery, JW Lees is a name I’ve always known – and its beers are legendary! So, to work with it, to experiment with different beers, to uncover the secrets and science of brewing and launch Cosmic Brew has been a great experience. I also wanted to put something back into Oldham – to collaborate with a successful local industry to make something worthwhile. I’ve never done anything like this before, but when Michael asked me to collaborate on a beer, I couldn’t resist. It feels right. I enjoyed being involved in the branding and design. The pattern of the stars on the label is the view of the night sky looking north over the brewery on the day I was born – 3 March 1968. It’s what I would have seen had I looked out of the window.” The beer will launch into retail and to the on-trade in January and will be available in 500ml bottle and 9g cask. A special preview of the beer will be available in selected pubs around Oldham and north Manchester in October.

Immersive cocktail bar concept opens in Fitzrovia: A new immersive cocktail bar concept has opened in Fitzrovia, central London. Matthew Roberts and Elliot Davies have launched Genuine Liquorette inside a converted Victorian pub in Rathbone Place. The New York-inspired bar offers an array of signature experiences aimed at breaking traditional cocktail norms by handing an element of control over to its guests – whether they’re creating their own cocktails to take home or partaking in cocktail masterclasses that grant them the privilege to tend the bar whenever they wish. Meanwhile, immersive bar areas tucked away in the "stockrooms" beyond offer a variety of experiences including an "All Stars" line-up of exclusive cocktails from well-known mixologists to Liquorette’s "Cha-Chunker" cocktails – a novel invention that uses a machine with a metal point to widen the hole of any canned drink so a miniature bottle of alcohol can then be inverted, resulting in a twist on the classic spirit and mix.

Northern Monk Brew Co to open second taproom this weekend, in Manchester: Northern Monk Brew Co, which raised £1.5m on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube earlier this year, will open its second taproom this weekend. The company's new venture – Northern Monk Refectory MCR – will open in Saturday (29 September) in Tariff Street in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Spanning two levels, the venue will offer 16 keg lines, four cask lines and three draft cocktails, as well as four classic mixed cocktails and a menu of northern-inspired small plates. Founder Russell Bisset told BDaily: “It’s been four years since we opened The Refectory in Leeds. In that time, we’ve learnt so much about what makes not just a good beer experience, but a world-class beer experience. We can’t wait to take the next stage of our journey over the Pennines and into the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter.”

Belfast-based cafe Maggie Mays opens third site: Belfast-based cafe Maggie Mays has opened its third site in the city. The company, which is owned by husband and wife team Moya and John Pollins, has opened the venue in Castle Street. It employs 35 people, who also work between the business' other cafes, in Botanic Avenue and Malone Road. The Pollins' daughter Meghann is running the Castle Street venue. She told the Belfast Telegraph: “Maggie Mays is actually named after my granny, my mum’s mum – it was her nickname.” Asked if Maggie Mays would venture outside of Belfast, she added: “It has been talked about. Mum’s dream is to get one in Dublin or Cork.”

Whitbread confirms four more Bar + Block sites, hints at further openings: Whitbread has confirmed it is to open four more sites for its steakhouse concept Bar + Block, bringing the portfolio up to nine – and hinted at further expansion. The first opening in Aldgate this October is the group’s second in London, with Leamington Spa following in November and Wimbledon and Reading scheduled for early 2019. All four sites are located next to existing and new Premier Inn hotels from Whitbread and will follow Bar + Block’s all-day trading format. It features steaks hand-cut to order as well as a “butcher’s block”, rotating specials and an extensive drinks list. They include an open kitchen and copper feature bar, the brand’s signature neon cow and wall calligraphy detailing the brand story. Whitbread Restaurants chief marketing officer Nathalie Pomroy said: “We are delighted to be opening more Bar + Block restaurants as part of our growth strategy. We are in discussions on further locations and believe 2018/19 will be a transformational year for Bar + Block.”

Magnus Reid to close Legs in Hackney: Magnus Reid, formerly of The Rooftop Cafe in Southwark and owner-operator of Cream cafe in Shoreditch, is closing his restaurant Legs in Hackney. Reid, originally from Australia, opened the venue in Morning Lane in May 2016, but it will shut on Saturday, 6 October, to move on to "bigger and better things", reports Hot Dinners. An Instagram post said: "A huge thanks to all of our suppliers, customers, and staff over the years for helping make the restaurant the success it was for us. For the gossipers, we are closing because we are moving on to bigger and better things; things we can’t do here in our little corner of Hackney. Sleep tight sweet prince." Legs serves a daily-changing menu focusing on “fresh, nourishing produce in a light, casual space”. The wine list focuses on small, independent wine producers. In the basement, the team and selected partners handcraft some offerings such as vermouth for the bar, cured meats and pickles for the kitchen, and even ceramics for the tables.

Nando’s to open seventh Leeds site: Nando’s will open its seventh site in Leeds next month. The venue will launch in The Springs shopping centre on Thursday, 11 October. The shopping centre, which is also due to open in October, is part of the Thorpe Park Leeds development, near Junction 46 of the M1. The opening will create 30 jobs, while the restaurant will accommodate 118 diners inside and 26 in an outdoor area. Tina Hardy, Nando’s regional managing director, told Leeds Live: “We are thrilled to be opening the doors at The Springs.” Meanwhile, the company has submitted plans to open a second site in Dundee, at Camperdown Leisure Park. Nando’s operates more than 300 sites in the UK with restaurants marked on its website as “coming soon” in Bromley, Yeovil and Rushden Lakes in Northamptonshire.

Diageo Reserve appoints Irish chef Mark Moriarty as new global food authority: Diageo Reserve, the luxury portfolio of Diageo, has appointed Irish chef Mark Moriarty to a new food advocacy role within the business – the global gastronomer. The first of its kind in the industry, the position will become Diageo's global authority on food and gastronomy culture, tasked with forging a more meaningful connection between the wider food occasion and the Reserve spirits portfolio. Moriarty was crowned the best young chef in the UK and Ireland in 2015 and has since taken his pop-up cookery concept Culinary Counter, which combines the art of fine dining with theatrical entertainment, to cities around the world. Cristina Diezhandino, global category director scotch and Reserve managing director, said: "We recognise food and drink culture is changing as more people become fascinated with flavour and how spirits can enhance the food occasion. There is no person more suited to pioneer this position in our industry than Mark Moriarty, who, as a culinary explorer, successful business owner and a drinks enthusiast, has a skillset that lends itself perfectly to unlocking the potential of the global gastronomer." Moriarty added: "I can't wait to work alongside the Diageo Reserve community and other industry thought-leaders to bring these revolutionary brands to life through food – ultimately creating some incredible taste experience for consumers and encouraging them to see a great cocktail as a way of maximising the culinary moment."

Marston’s opens new-build pub restaurant in Rhyl: Marston’s has opened its new-build pub restaurant in Rhyl, north Wales, creating 45 jobs. The Sun Verge is part of the £25m Rhyl waterfront regeneration scheme and features a 150-cover carvery and children’s play areas indoors and out. Marston’s new-build operations manager Nigel Whitfield told the Daily Post: “We are extremely excited about The Sun Verge and hope it will build a great reputation.” The regeneration scheme incudes a Travelodge hotel, which is being built on the same site near the former Sun Centre. Denbighshire Council will hold the lease for the Travelodge and Sun Verge, allowing it to make money through rent.

Boutique US hotel brand to make UK debut: Boutique US hotel brand The Standard will open its first London property early next year, in Euston Road near St Pancras station. The Standard, London is set to open in February, and will be the brand’s first hotel outside the US, joining existing properties in LA, West Hollywood, Miami and New York. The 250-bedroom hotel is housed within a converted office block, previously occupied by Camden Council, with two new floors sitting on top of the existing building, reports Business Traveller. Former Young British Foodie Awards Chef of the Year Adam Rawson will be executive chef at the hotel.

Nottingham-based supper club Kushi-ya to open permanent restaurant next month: Nottingham-based supper club Kushi-ya is to open a permanent restaurant next month. Having run sold-out events for the past year, Kushi-ya founders – Iberico World tapas head chef Simon Carlin and The Railway junior sous chef Tom Clay – have invested in their debut bricks and mortar site. The restaurant, which will offer 33 covers and five seats at the bar, will open on Thursday, 4 October in Cannon Court at a site formerly occupied by Alley Cafe, which closed in May. Kushi-ya will offer skewers cooked over charcoal on a traditional Japanese grill, small plates, snacks and specials. Clay told Nottinghamshire Live: “It is always a chef's dream to open a restaurant. Once we started the supper clubs a year ago people were enjoying it and it makes you think it's possible.” Carlin added: “We are focusing on good ingredients. We’re using free-range chickens from a farm near Burton-on-Trent and we want to use local vegetables but with Japanese methods and techniques. In Nottingham there is high-end food that is super expensive, chain restaurants and not much in the middle.”

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