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Fri 9th Nov 2018 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Leisure sector slowdown accelerates in first half of 2018: The slowdown in the leisure sector accelerated in the first half of 2018 as more pubs and bars shut, new research has revealed, although independent numbers remained stable. The latest bi-annual retail and leisure trends report from Local Data Company (LDC) revealed the net number of leisure units across Britain in the first six months of 2018 fell 1,088 – down 2.4% compared with the previous year. This marks a notable change in the sector as leisure units experienced consistent growth up to the second half of 2017, which saw the tide turn and the number of leisure units decline by 67 – the first fall since 2012. LDC market data showed the drop was driven by a slowdown in store openings and an increase in closures by chain brands. The number of sites occupied by independents – brands with fewer than five outlets nationally – remained stable. The decline in chain units was driven mostly by pubs, which were down 6.5%. Other leisure categories to see net losses were bars (5.7%) and nightclubs (1.4%). Chain cafe and fast food and accommodation operators remained resilient in the first six months of the year, with little net change in numbers, while there was some growth in the leisure market with concepts such as ice cream parlours (51 stores) and independent coffee shops (52 stores) increasing in number. The overall GB vacancy rate across retail and leisure remained stable at 11.2%, partially due to increases in the modification of units such as merging, splitting and redevelopment for other uses such as office, residential and warehouse. However, in October the vacancy rate increased to 11.4%. LDC senior relationship manager Lucy Stainton said: “Previously, the sustained growth in the leisure sector has provided a balancing force for many high streets, shopping centres and retail parks, as sectors more challenged by online growth have reduced their physical presence. This reversal of fortune could have wider implications for our shopping destinations, with potentially fewer leisure operators acquiring sites vacated by retailers such as clothes shops and high-street banks. However, it’s not all doom and gloom with many of the key areas of growth so far this year in newer leisure concepts such as ice cream parlours and independent coffee shops. We hope, therefore, this decline in the leisure sector will stabilise in the coming months and years as newer brands and international concepts chart further growth.”

Industry News:

Restaurant Marketer & Innovator tickets now on sale: The Restaurant Marketer & Innovator European Summit is returning for its second year following a bumper inaugural event. The summit is a partnership between Propel and Think Hospitality and aims to build a community, promote idea sharing, recognise talent and define the future of eating out. Bookings are now open for the two-day conference, which will be the centrepiece of the event series and take place on 16 and 17 January at One Moorgate Place, London. The event will focus on marcomms strategies, proposition and concept development, the latest market insights, technology and digital developments, building strong links between marketing and operations, embedding a brand throughout a hospitality business, and future trends. It has been designed for marketing, development and innovation teams as well as senior executives and investors who want to better understand the latest marketing, innovation and development opportunities to build market share and grow. The event will feature more than 40 speakers, with a unique blend of senior marketers, business leaders and entrepreneurs from companies including TGI Friday’s, YO! Sushi, Hakkasan Group, Casual Dining Group, Claus Meyer Restaurant Group, New World Trading Company, Wagamama, Hilton, Inception Group, Coca-Cola, Just Eat, Arc Inspirations, Novus, SSP, Be At One, Marriott International and Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group. As well as sharing successes from across the UK, the event will bring international speakers to the conversation. The 2019 edition will feature speakers from five countries including Anders Houman, partner at multi-award winning Victor Restaurant Group in Copenhagen; John Rigos, chief executive of New York-based Aurify Brands; and Australian entrepreneur Sarah Holloway, co-founder of Matcha Mylkbar, which became an overnight hit after posting one incredible shot on social media. Special guest speakers will include Chris Miller, founder of the White Rabbit Fund and investor on the BBC’s Million Pound Menu; Martin Morales, Ceviche Family founder and winner of Innovator of the Year 2018; and Zahra Kahn, founder of Feya, a concept designed with Instagram in mind. Early-bird tickets are available until Monday (12 November) at the special rate of £525 for operators and £795 for suppliers for the two days. Full-price tickets after this date will be £575 for operators and £845 for suppliers. Group ticket packages are available when purchasing three tickets or more. Tickets can be purchased by emailing Anne Steele, of Propel, at anne.steele@propelinfo.com or calling her on 01444 817691

Almost three-quarters of Brits happy to dine out alone as millennials drive change in attitude: Almost three-quarters (73%) of Brits are happy to embrace an emerging trend for solo dining by eating out alone, according to new research by Jurys Inn. The study found one-quarter (25%) of respondents had eaten a meal out alone in the past month, with 14% having done so in the past week. More than three-quarters (77%) of men and 69% of women said they would be happy to eat a meal out on their own. Millennials seem to be driving the change in attitude, with four-fifths (80%) of 25 to 34-year-olds more than happy to dine out alone, and 22% having done so in the past week. At the other end of the scale, 16 to 24-year-olds are the least likely to enjoy a meal by themselves, with 32% saying they never would. Lunch was the most popular solo dining meal, with almost three-quarters (73%) of people happy eating their meal alone, closely followed by breakfast (72%) and brunch (70%). Dinner was the least popular, with fewer than three-fifths (57%) of people comfortable with eating an evening meal out without company. Bristol was crowned the solo dining capital of the UK, with almost one-third (31.8%) of people having eaten out alone in the past month. The city was followed by Birmingham (29.2%), London (27.9%), Brighton (26.7%) and Southampton (25.8%).

UberEats now operating in 100 UK and Ireland locations: UberEats is now operating in more than 100 cities and towns across the UK and Ireland. The company hit the milestone this week after launches in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and north east England. People in Aberdeen, Cork, Dublin, Dundee, Falkirk, Galway, Hartlepool, Limerick, Londonderry, Middlesbrough and Sunderland are now able to use the service. Last month, UberEats revealed it plans to launch 400 “virtual restaurants” in the UK by the end of this year in an effort to boost growth and market share in the space. The virtual restaurants make use of existing space, identifying gaps in the market and doubling a takeaway’s resources.

Crowdcube receives £8.5m funding boost to accelerate growth: European venture capital firm Draper Esprit has led an £8.5m funding round investing in crowdfunding platform Crowdcube alongside Channel 4 and Balderton Capital. Draper Esprit has taken a £6m stake in the fund-raising platform to accelerate growth and continue its drive towards profitability. Channel 4’s investment comes via its Commercial Growth Fund, while Crowdcube will embark on a crowdfunding drive next week. The round marks Balderton Capital’s fourth investment in Crowdcube and the second time Draper Esprit has backed the platform following its initial investment in 2015. The move comes as Crowdcube achieved a record quarter for revenue of £1.6m for the third quarter of 2018, up 60% compared with the previous year. In the same period, investment pledged through the platform almost doubled from £25.6m to £50.4m. Annual revenue is forecast to rise to £6m in 2018, up from £3.9m in 2017 and £3.6m in 2016. More than £355m has been successfully invested into more than 600 startups, early and growth-stage businesses on Crowdcube since 2011. Crowdcube chief executive and co-founder Darren Westlake said: “This latest investment will enable us to accelerate our journey to profitability and expand faster in the UK and overseas so we can help more innovative and ambitious businesses from across the globe grow, expand and make a difference to the world.”

UKHospitality reiterates importance of late-night sector to London’s economy: UKHospitality has reiterated the importance of the late-night sector to the capital’s economy as it backed the launch of the London At Night report. Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The mayor is determined to promote London as a world-class 24-hour city and UKHospitality is keen to support his efforts. We understand the importance of a vibrant and flourishing late-night sector and the positive, knock-on effect is has on the wider hospitality industry. It is vital policy-makers have clear and reliable information with which to make evidence-based decisions. This report will provide the Mayor’s Office and the Night Time Commission with the insight needed to promote London’s night life. I am proud to be involved as chairman of the Night Time Commission and UKHospitality will be working hard to support the fantastic late-night hospitality businesses in London.”

Pub19 opens for registration: Pub19, the only trade show dedicated to the UK pub industry, is now open for registration. The event, which is returning for its fifth year, will take place at London’s Olympia on Tuesday, 5 February and Wednesday, 6 February. The show will feature a line-up of more than 50 industry speakers including JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin and BrewDog retail chief executive David McDowall. New features for 2019 include The Barcade – a central networking hub where visitors can play a variety of bar games such as pool, fruit machines and shuffleboard. Meanwhile, the Pub Trends Report will provide the latest consumer insights. Pub19 commercial manager Alex Booth said: “Our aim as always is to demonstrate what a fantastically diverse and dynamic environment the UK pub sector has become. We’re sure visitors will leave the show with a wealth of new information and insight to help them grow their businesses throughout 2019.” To register, click here

Research reveals sugar levels and calories in coffee chains’ festive drinks: Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee is serving the “healthiest” festive drink among the major coffee chains this year while Caffe Nero has the one with the most sugar, according to new research. Online market place OnBuy.com analysed the number of calories and grams of sugar in each “regular” festive hot drink that uses semi-skimmed milk. The findings revealed Costa’s Caramelised Orange Latte had the least sugar at 20.5g – little more than five teaspoons. Next came Caffe Nero’s Salted Caramel Latte (24.6g), followed by Pret A Manger’s Gingerbread Latte (24.8g). At the other end of the scale Caffe Nero’s Belgian Truffle Hot Chocolate contains 56.9g of sugar (14 teaspoons), followed by another Caffe Nero drink, the Winter Spiced Hot Chocolate (51.6g), and Pret’s Orange Hot Chocolate (50.5g). The same drink also had the highest number of calories (454), followed by Pret’s Mint Hot Chocolate (452). The lowest number of calories was found in Caffe Nero’s Salted Caramel Latte (153), followed by Greggs’ version of the drink (240). Out of the top ten calorific and sugary festive hot drinks, seven were hot chocolate.

Company News:

Boxpark clashes with council over Brighton beachfront development plans, signs Just Eat partnership for Wembley site: Boxpark founder and chief executive Roger Wade has clashed with Brighton and Hove City Council over his plans to revive part of the beachfront in his home city. Wade plans to restore the crumbling Victorian architecture of Madeira Terrace and turn the area into an “internationally renowned leisure destination showcasing the vibrancy and creativity of the city”. The plans include a food and beverage offer, which would extend on to Madeira Drive in good weather, and a hotel. However, his proposal has been met with frostiness from the council, which has its own plans to revive and redevelop the area, with one particular sticking point. The council hopes to restore Madeira Terrace’s wrought-iron arches to their former glory and use the spaces beneath, while Boxpark believes the council’s scheme is too small to be commercially viable. The council said it would cost £24m to restore the arches before any redevelopment could take place. So far it has raised £465,000 towards the project via crowdfunding, including £100,000 through its own coffers. Council leader Daniel Yates told Property Week: “Boxpark hasn’t formally submitted anything and it’s hard to imagine what it would submit because it doesn’t own Madeira Terrace and we’re not looking for a developer to take on the project.” Wade estimated his project would cost about £80m and, unlike the council, said he had raised the full amount in principle following discussions with institutional investors and pension funds. Wade also claimed he has had interest from hotel and flexible office groups and, as at its schemes in Shoreditch, Croydon and Wembley, Boxpark would curate and run the retail element and maintain the public realm itself using funds from a service charge. Wade said: “What it comes down to is the council doesn’t have the funds. I might want to drive a Ferrari 250 GTE but I can’t afford to. There has to be some reality in terms of what can be achieved. Let’s not talk pipe dreams.” Meanwhile, Boxpark has announced a new partnership deal with online food delivery company Just Eat at its Wembley site, which opens next month. The deal secures special delivery rates and free sign-up for Boxpark Wembley vendors to join Just Eat, which will invest in co-branded marketing and events programming at the 2,000-capacity venue during the next year.

Cote overhauls learning and development programme as expansion continues: French brasserie Cote has overhauled its ethos around learning and development as it continues its expansion plans. The company, which recently won two learning and development awards, said the changes meant more than two-thirds (70%) of its management roles were now filled internally. Having realised the need to build its talent pipeline, largely due to rapid expansion and a highly competitive market, talent director Kirsten Price and the people team developed a four-tier Career Pathways programme and introduced an employee app aimed at engaging staff by sharing best practice. The Career Pathways development programme comprises leadership workshops with additional skills training delivered on the job. Delegates also undertake project work to apply their learning. The Career Pathways programme has been complemented by the introduction of employee app The Hive. Cote said it had addressed many needs around job enrichment by sharing information and best practice. It said 96% of all employees were enrolled and regularly visited the site, which gets about 600 hits per day. Employees can interact on key business issues, alongside e-learning courses and a newsfeed. Price said: “A commitment to excellent training has always been at the foundation of everything we do at Cote. As a company we are hugely focused on people and we recognise the importance of investing in our teams. We are thrilled to have won these prestigious awards for our learning and development but the real reward is seeing the huge impact these initiatives have had on our teams’ career journeys.” Cote currently operates more than 90 sites and has a "number of openings planned in the next few months".

Vapiano appoints Nicholas Schapira as global franchise head: Nicholas Schapira, former head of Jamie Oliver’s international business, has been appointed global managing director of Vapiano’s franchise division. Schapira, who left Jamie’s Italian earlier this month, will begin his new role on Monday, 26 November and report to the Vapiano management board. Chief executive Jochen Halfmann said: “We are very pleased to having gained such an experienced manager from the restaurant industry, who will be a perfect fit with our Vapiano culture in terms of his personality and mindset.” Schapira added: “Vapiano is a brand I’ve greatly admired from a distance for its ethos, values and for what it has achieved globally. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work for the business and be part of its exciting journey.” Schapira joined Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group in 2007 as concept and brand development manager. In 2011 he was promoted to international business development director at Jamie’s Italian before taking over running the company’s international division last year, which has opened more than 60 restaurants in 25 countries.

US ‘gastro-fast’ concept Buns & Buns to make UK debut in Covent Garden next week: US “gastro-fast” concept Buns & Buns is to make its UK debut by opening a site in Covent Garden next Thursday (15 November). The bread-themed, fast fine-dining restaurant is the brainchild of Miami restaurateur Alex Zibi, who launched the concept in 2014. Having spent the past few months on trial as part of a Deliveroo service in Canary Wharf, Buns & Buns will open in North Hall at a site formerly occupied by Jamie Oliver’s Union Jacks. Buns & Buns will offer the “world’s best bread”, including Taiwanese bao, Italian street food pala romana and Brazilian cheese bread pão de queijo. Bao buns will come with fillings such as shiitake mushroom and bourbon pork belly, while there will be a dim sum trolley and rotisserie chicken. Main dishes on the menu will include brioche lobster roll with skinny fries, while Buns & Buns will also offer bread-based puddings and doughnuts. The drinks list will include seasonal spritzes and black cherry mulled wine for the festive season. Zibi said: “I have travelled all over the world and what struck me most was the huge variety of bread at the centre of every dinner table. I wanted to cherry-pick my favourites and bring them to Buns & Buns, where we hope every table will happily break bread together, something people have been doing for thousands of years.”

Goodbody – TRG’s acquisition of Wagamama is ‘deal that can deliver’: Goodbody leisure analyst Paul Ruddy has argued the acquisition of Wagamama by The Restaurant Group (TRG) is a “deal that can deliver”. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 370p, Ruddy said: “Our initial sense of the Wagamama transaction was positive and further analysis has reinforced this view. Post-transaction, TRG will be transformed into a group with three of its four business units showing good growth prospects (68% of FY20 Ebitda). We believe the Wagamama business is complementary to the leisure and concessions businesses and there should be scope to drive synergies beyond the guided £22m (split £15m cost and £7m revenue). We like the Wagamama business. It caters to a wide variety of consumer groups and demographics and lends itself well to delivery. Wagamama has a long track record of delivering strong like-for-like growth and this is set to continue. We have concerns across the sector about the margin impact of using online delivery aggregators but feel the Wagamama format is well suited to this channel (quick and cost-effective to package and travels well) and there will be an offset in waiting staff costs. There should also be a scale benefit in the margin given up to the aggregators, although this is hard to quantify. The high street in the UK is undoubtedly challenged but the good concepts continue to perform, consumers still enjoy eating out and delivery is growing strongly. TRG has clearly paid a high multiple for this business (13 times pre-synergies and 8.7 times post) but the deal is transformative. Post-transaction, the majority of the business will be delivering growth and we believe the 15-site conversion target from leisure is conservative. We retain our ‘Buy’ recommendation and we’re encouraged by this deal.”

Hard Rock Cafe opens second site in Dubai: Hard Rock Cafe has opened its second site in Dubai. Hard Rock Cafe DXB has launched in Terminal 3 of Dubai International airport seating 110 guests and featuring unique decor that combines Arabic influences and Hard Rock’s signature design. Artists and memorabilia highlighted in the cafe include a Versace shirt worn by Prince, Jimi Hendrix’s fringed leather vest, and a mask worn by Rihanna. Alongside signature Hard Rock dishes, the menu offers new breakfast selections, Alternative Rock (alcohol-free) beverages, and city-specific merchandise. In September, Hard Rock Cafe UK reported a turnover and pre-tax profit boost with the weakening of the pound following the Brexit vote driving a record number of international visitors to its venues. The company sold circa £30,000 a week of extra merchandise thanks to more German and Italian tourists flocking to the UK – merchandise sales account for 42% of total turnover. The other Hard Rock Cafe in Dubai is in Dubai Festival City.

Wirral-based restaurant Silk Rd heads to Greater Manchester for third site: Wirral-based Silk Rd, the restaurant concept inspired by the Silk Road trail, has opened its third site. Owners Chris Williams and Javier Mellado have launched their latest venue in Bramhall, Greater Manchester, following a six-figure investment. They have opened the 2,500 square foot outlet in Bramhall Lane South. The restaurant has 125 covers and also features a bar serving botanical gin and sangria. Williams told The Business Desk: “We are excited to add a third location to our culinary trail and expand our offering even further afield.” The concept offers cuisine inspired by the Silk Road trail, which runs from the Pacific to the Mediterranean. Williams and Mellado opened their debut restaurant in Heswall in summer 2017 before adding a second site in Liverpool in January this year.

Albert Adrià launches all-dessert restaurant in Soho for first permanent site outside Spain: Albert Adrià, known as the “world’s best pastry chef”, has launched all-dessert restaurant Cakes And Bubbles in Soho. The venue has opened in Hotel Cafe Royal in Air Street and is Adrià’s first permanent restaurant outside Spain. The menu includes a renowned cheesecake from his Barcelona restaurant Tickets; warm green pistachio and yuzu madeleine; passion fruit and chocolate cake with hazelnut ice cream; and frozen caramel and lemon cake. The bubbles side of the concept comes from champagne and sparkling wine available by glass or bottle. Adrià told Hot Dinners: “Our approach and menu is a cross between the classical and contemporary. With meat and fish there are restrictions but pastry is a blank canvas – the possibilities are endless.” Adrià operates five restaurants in Barcelona.

Wellbourne to combine Bristol site with rival restaurant: Former Dabbous head chef Ross Gibbens is to combine the Bristol branch of his Wellbourne Brasserie brand with rival restaurant Wallfish Bistro. Gibbens, who has also worked at Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, opened the site in August last year with former Dabbous senior sous chef Michael Kennedy. They also operate Wellbourne sites in London’s White City and Salardu, Spain. The combined restaurants will reopen at Wellbourne’s site in The Mall as Wallfish & Wellbourne Bistro on Wednesday (14 November) focusing on “seafood and larder” dishes. Seldon Curry and Liberty Wenham, who have worked for chefs such as Mark Hix and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, opened Wallfish in 2013 but were set to close the venture. Gibbens told Harden’s: “Wallfish has always been one of our favourite restaurants in the area and Michael has first-hand knowledge of working with the team. When we heard they were closing we started a conversation about how we could combine the best of our skills. We are thrilled to be working with them and can’t wait to deliver the new menu. There will be familiar dishes from both venues but also some exciting new surprises.” Curry added: “We are thrilled to be working with people we like and respect hugely. We will strive to bring our Wallfish stylings to their great restaurant to create something special.”

Wingstop opens West End site for UK debut: US chicken brand Wingstop has made its UK debut by opening a site in Shaftesbury Avenue in London’s West End. Wingstop has more than 1,000 restaurants around the world including 25 owned by US rap star Rick Ross. The 25-year letting in Shaftesbury Avenue is the first of what Wingstop has called a rapid UK expansion programme. The 4,257 square foot premises, previously occupied by HSBC, spans two storeys. Alex Lowry, director for retail, restaurants and leisure at agent Lambert Smith Hampton, which advised the landlord on the deal, told Property Week: “We expect this to be the perfect UK flagship location for Wingstop. It’s a hugely popular chain in the US with big UK ambitions, starting in London. It’s an ideal time to set up shop here. With Crossrail on the horizon, an influx of new visitors will follow.”

JD Wetherspoon to close second south London pub in a week: JD Wetherspoon is to hand over the keys to The Moon Under Water in Balham High Road on Sunday (11 November). It will be the second south London pub Wetherspoon has closed this week after the company sold the leasehold of The White Lion Of Mortimer in Mitcham to an undisclosed operator. Regarding The Moon Under Water, Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon told the Wandsworth Guardian: “There will be no redundancies. All staff will be transferred to other Wetherspoon pubs in the area. This is one of our oldest pubs and we have taken the decision not to renew the lease.” The Moon Under Water was one of 20 pubs Wetherspoon put on the market in June 2015 but chairman Tim Martin told Propel on Wednesday (7 November) further large-package disposals were unlikely. He said: “We are quite a mature company – our sales are up even though we have fewer pubs. We’ve got almost 900 sites but who knows where we might be in ten years? We’ll probably put a few more pubs on the market but it’s unlikely to be at the extent we have done previously.”

Pasta Remoli to open third site, in Ealing this month: London-based casual dining concept Pasta Remoli will open its third site, in Ealing this month. Founder Simone Remoli will open the site at Dicken’s Yard on Friday, 23 November. The venue will have space for 80 covers inside, 12 outside, and takeaway and delivery services. The Pasta Remoli concept sees diners choose their pasta and a sauce before adding cheese. Remoli said: “Dicken’s Yard is such an exciting new location for us, with many shops and restaurants. We’re expanding into west London and I cannot wait to create a new family of regular customers there.” Pasta Remoli’s other sites are in Finsbury Park and Westfield Stratford. Last month, Remoli said the company was gearing up for “strong but gradual” growth.

Chef entrepreneur Alex Claridge opens second site: Birmingham-based chef entrepreneur Alex Claridge has opened his second site. Claridge, who operates The Wilderness restaurant in the Jewellery Quarter, has launched Nocturnal Animals in Bennetts Hill. The bar and restaurant is named after the 2016 film directed by fashion designer Tom Ford but, unlike the moody movie, it offers an “altogether more upbeat and fun experience”. Upstairs offers a 60-cover bar with decor reminiscent of a 1980s nightclub. Downstairs, the 42-cover fine dining restaurant has a menu with Japanese and Chinese influences. A 1980s pop soundtrack plays throughout the venue. Claridge told Birmingham Live: “Nocturnal Animals takes food and drink dead serious, but that’s about it. This is fun dining above all else. We are bringing something different and new to the heart of the city.” Claridge launched Nomad in 2015 before changing the venue’s name to The Wilderness following the threat of legal action by New York hotel NoMad. 

Wright & Bell to open Lino this month for third City of London site: Restaurant and bar company Wright & Bell, which is backed by the Imbiba Partnership, is set to open its third site in the City of London. The company will launch Lino on Thursday, 22 November in a former linoleum and carpet warehouse in the Square Mile. The space will be inspired by minimalist Finnish design featuring shades of peach, salmon pink and rustic green with brass fixtures. The centrepiece will be a clover-shaped, tulipwood bar lined with shelves of craft spirits and jars of house ferments that will be mixed into cocktails. The kitchen will use low-waste ingredients across its all-day menu, which will include wing rib of beef, and oxtail and potato tart. Managing director Sarah Clark said: “We are opening Lino in an incredible space – a beautiful building with an industrial heritage. Both a bar and restaurant, Lino has been designed with its guests and team in mind, taking a new, considered approach to drinking and dining in the City.” Wright & Bell also operates Kitty Hawk and The Back Room Wine Bar, both in Moorgate.

Mykonos-inspired bar, restaurant and members’ club opens in Mayfair: A Mykonos-inspired bar, restaurant and private members’ club has opened in Mayfair. Onima is the brainchild of Alexandros Andrianopoulos, who has managed restaurants such as Nammos and Interni on the Aegean island as well as businesses in New York and Dubai. The five-floor townhouse in Avery Row, once the headquarters of Cartier, offers “five dimensions of pleasure” including a restaurant, lounge, cocktail bar and a regularly changing art collection. The venue also houses a private members’ club and a glass-enclosed rooftop terrace. The menu features Mediterranean dishes with Asian influences including beef tartar with orange ponzu sauce, heritage tomatoes and celery; and pineapple carpaccio with cardamom, star anise and coconut panna cotta. The Onima website states: “We are creating a chic and elegant environment with the heart of a vibrant local restaurant and the exclusive feel of a members’ club that is accessible and comfortable for all our fashionable and discerning guests.”

The Oystermen reopens double-sized Covent Garden site: Seafood specialist The Oystermen has reopened its Seafood Bar & Kitchen in Covent Garden having doubled its size. The company has combined 31 and 32 Henrietta Street into the new-look venue. The extended space hosts a new all-day oyster and raw bar for walk-in visitors, while guests can choose from a broader selection of rock and native oysters sourced by co-founders Rob Hampton and Matt Lovell from fisheries across the UK. The 50-seater restaurant also features a more expansive open kitchen, while dishes continue to change regularly to match the season. The venue, which first opened in July last year, showcases an increased array of sparkling wine as well as a new bar menu of cocktails, craft beer and, for the first time, sake.

Liverpool-based craft beer brewer to go into liquidation: Liverpool-based craft beer brewer Mad Hatter Brewing Company has ceased trading and is being placed into liquidation. The business, which was launched in 2013 and is currently based in Lightbody Street, supplied licensed premises across the UK and as far afield as Australia. Its most popular beers were Penny Lane Pale Ale, Toxteth IPA and Tzatziki Sour. Jason Greenhalgh, partner at Begbies Traynor in Liverpool, has been approached to assist with winding-up the business and selling assets. He told The Business Desk: “The company began to experience financial difficulties in 2017 due to unforeseen costs associated with its premises move. Sue Staring, the owner of the business, decided after every effort to save the business as a going concern, it was necessary to appoint liquidators. She is sad to see the business close after many successful years but is proud of how the business grew from such humble origins.”

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