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Mon 12th Nov 2018 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Mark Jones – Carluccio’s was ‘three weeks away from going bust’ but will ‘end year with 75 profitable and sustainable restaurants’: Carluccio’s chief executive Mark Jones has said the company was “three weeks away from going bust” but would end the year with 75 profitable and sustainable restaurants thanks to its £10m “Fresca” programme. His comments at the Propel Multi Club Conference follow Carluccio’s emergence from a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) following a “tough year”. Jones revealed the company had overcome many challenges this year with rapid expansion within the casual dining scene one reason to blame for the CVA, which saw the group exit up to 30 loss-making sites from its 103-strong UK business. He told delegates: “2018 has been a very tough year. We went from being a rapidly expanding casual dining brand to suddenly being in a business that had an existential moment. We were literally three weeks away from going bust. We have a fantastic flagship in Garrick Street in London’s West End and we do about £8,000 to £10,000 per day. We opened in Ilkley, Yorkshire, and took £8,000 in the first week. That summed up for us we had taken the brand too far into too many marginal sites on this dash for growth. Many restaurateurs boast about the Ebitda their restaurants make but I always take off Ebitda as money each year that should be reinvested in the company for maintenance capex. If you don’t do that, you are floating your Ebitda by a big margin. The best way for me to describe that within Carluccio’s is we were spending maintenance capex within the business about half our depreciation number. What that means is your estate is eroding and denuding by that number every year and that in itself was starting to come back and bite the business.” Another issue, Jones said, was Carluccio’s hadn’t evolved at the same pace as competitors. He added: “We weren’t alone. Of every single casual dining brand that had over-extended during the same timeline, nearly all of them were facing the same difficulties we were. What got us through our CVA was a very robust plan – we reviewed everything.” In September Carluccio’s launched “Fresca”, which will see 20 restaurants a year transformed. Jones said: “Our focus now is on recruiting, training and developing great teams including 75% promotion from within, lower team turnover because it’s currently too high, and developing an ‘employer brand’ based on our Famiglia and operations excellence. We intend to regain our leadership on fresh food – have focaccia made from scratch every day and fresh pasta is also being tested. We will focus on consistency and aim to enhance and evolve the deli. We will end the year with 75 restaurants – all profitable and sustainable. We are aiming for 60 sites to be refurbished out of 75 as 2019 marks our 20th anniversary.”

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.

Leisure industry continues to benefit from consumer drive towards experiences: The leisure industry is continuing to benefit from the drive towards experiences as consumers prioritise what they do, rather than what they own, according to new research. A UK leisure trends report by agents CBRE revealed bowling, trampoline and theme park operators were thriving in particular. The report showed more than three-fifths (61%) of millennials and almost two-fifths (38%) of adults are actively seeking new experiences to try. More than 140 trampoline parks have opened in the UK since 2014, while the tenpin bowling market grew 5.6% to £301m in 2017 and is estimated to increase 3.3% to £311m this year. There are now more than 840 escape rooms in the UK, while Britain’s first shuffleboard club launched in Shoreditch, east London, in July. In its leisure snapshot, CBRE stated: “Bowling remains one of the fastest-growing leisure sectors and shows no signs of slowing. The challenges highlighted in the trampoline sector include increased competition, pressure on consumer spending, regulatory requirements, increasing insurance premium, and regular capex required to keep consumers returning. The stronger operators in the market with sites in high-footfall leisure and retail destinations will be best placed to deal with the challenges, while poorer-performing sites are more likely to close leading to more consolidation in the sector. Theme parks were particularly desirable destinations in July, despite news of service disruption and closures at some locations because of hot weather. Cinemas in the UK have had a lot to contend with in the first half of 2018, starting with the Beast From The East, followed by the World Cup and finishing with a blistering summer. One would have thought operators would be wringing their hands in despair but not so! The return to more normal weather patterns and success of the second-round franchises of Mamma Mia and The Incredibles is proving a strong draw and the year is expected to be a good one. This positive sentiment is reflected in the continued capex investment in older sites by the main four operators as this development cycle slows. In what is described by some as the ‘golden age of television’, the cinema operators are confident movies are still best viewed on the big screen and are spending capex to prove it.”

Company News:

Dirty Martini on the market: Dirty Martini, the 12-strong cocktail brand that is 80% owned by David Coffer and family, has been put on the market after unsolicited approaches, The Sunday Times has reported. It is operated by CG Restaurants and Bars, which has total revenues of £22m and also operates Tuttons in Covent Garden and pizza restaurant Fire & Stone. Stonegate Pub Company, which acquired another cocktail bar brand, Be At One, in July for an undisclosed sum, is among a number of companies thought to be interested.

Sourced Market hits £750,000 target on Crowdcube: Sourced Market, the hybrid deli and dining brand with four London locations, including a flagship site at St Pancras station, has hit its £750,000 target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube – and is now “overfunding”. Investors are offered 6.98% of the equity for their investment, which gives the company a £10m pre-money valuation. Sourced Market is backed by Pembroke VCT and had £6.4m net revenue last year. On average, more than 11,000 customers per week are served at its St Pancras store. The company previously raised £1m of investment through a Crowdcube bond in 2016.

Chopstix unveils ‘next-generation’ design format with Westfield Stratford launch: Noodle brand Chopstix has launched a “next-generation” design store at Westfield Stratford in east London. The opening brings to fruition a brand enhancement exercise for Chopstix, which has launched the site in the former Sticky Rice restaurant at the shopping centre. The new design places further focus on the brand’s core attributes – faster, fresher, tastier. It features new uniforms, communication screens, packaging, product descriptors and, in a first for the business, all dishes are served from authentic woks in a new counter display. Chopstix plans to use the new format for all future openings and, where possible, will look to retro-fit across its estate. Chopstix managing director Jon Lake said: “The opening marks an important step in the evolution of the Chopstix brand and we are confident consumers will react positively to the changes we have made. This is about us refining our approach and strengthening our image to convey our core attributes while emphasising how ‘different’ we are to other quick service restaurants in the space we occupy. We are also pleased to be opening within Westfield Stratford as it fits perfectly with our strategy to grow the visibility of Chopstix by increasing our profile within the country’s most popular shopping and retail hubs.” Chopstix has more than 70 stores across the group, more than 25 of them within high-footfall shopping centres. The opening in Westfield Stratford marks the continued expansion of the brand, which has seen its outlet count treble in the past two years.

Lancaster Brewery owner reports turnover and profit boost: C2 Investment, which owns 84.5% of Lancaster Brewery as well as five pubs and hotels, has reported turnover increased to £5,957,757 for the year ending 31 January 2018, compared with £5,743,681 the year before. Pre-tax profit was up to £667,102 compared with £354,661 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Along with Lancaster Brewery, C2 Investment owns The Brewhouse And Tap in Lancaster, The Sun Hotel in Lancaster, The Duke of Edinburgh Hotel in Barrow-in-Furness, The Mill pub in Ulverston, and The Palatine pub in Morecambe, which is tenanted. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The brewery has carefully managed its sales levels and product pricing during the year to reflect both the quality of the product, which is exceptionally high, and its market position. This has resulted in steady profit growth and the directors believe there are opportunities to grow turnover and profit further in 2018. The Sun has performed at exceptional levels in 2017-18. The Duke of Edinburgh Hotel enjoyed a highly successful 2017-18, with hotel occupancy strong for almost the whole year. The Palatine has had a successful year – the new tenant has performed well. The Mill had a much-improved year following a restructure of the approach in both the kitchen and restaurant. Competition has, however, increased in 2018 with several new venues opening in Ulverston.”

Soho Coffee Co launches Brew Bar concept: Artisan coffee chain Soho Coffee Co has opened a new Brew Bar concept. The “chic” format, which features white marble and bronze decor, has launched at Westfield London in Shepherd’s Bush. It offers a range of 100% organic and Fairtrade single-origin speciality coffee and loose-leaf tea. The new drinks menu features botanical coffee and tonic, and cold-brewed apple, rosebud and mint tea over ice as well as fresh juice and smoothies made to order. The food menu features golden campagrain muffin with Scottish smoked salmon, cream cheese and cucumber as well as vegan brioche with tomato, roquito peppers and sweet potato. There is also a selection of sweet and savoury breakfast pastries and homemade mini tarts. A spokeswoman told Propel: “With attitudes changing towards coffee and customers increasingly enjoying the provenance and process of brewing we’re launching our new Brew Bar, which we’re confident will create a visual and experiential treat, enhancing the first-class retail experience Westfield offers.”

Middletons Steakhouse and Grill to open at former Jamie Oliver site in Chelmsford next month for eighth venue: Norfolk-based Middletons Steakhouse and Grill will open its eighth site next month, in Chelmsford, Essex. The company will invest more than £500,000 to transform the former Jamie’s Italian Trattoria in High Street. The restaurant will reopen on Friday, 7 December catering for 170 diners across two floors and creating 40 jobs. Middletons Steakhouse and Grill managing director Stephen Hutton told the Braintree & Witham Times: “Chelmsford has a thriving restaurant scene and we’re delighted to announce we will be opening the restaurant before Christmas.” Hutton opened the first Middletons Steakhouse and Grill in King’s Lynn in 2010. The company’s other sites are in Colchester, Leicester, Milton Keynes, Norwich, Peterborough and Watford.

Try Market Halls opens Victoria site: Try Market Halls, the company launched by former property investor Andy Lewis-Pratt and Simon Anderson, the restaurateur behind London’s Pitt Cue Co, has opened its latest venue. Victoria Market Halls has opened in Victoria Street Arcade in front of the station. A derelict building has been restored, with the resulting space divided over three floors to allow seating for 400 people. Operators at the site include King’s Cross-based Malaysian restaurant Roti King, which has launched Gopal’s Corner offering a Malaysian Tamil menu, while Koya Ko is the third site for Tokyo-style noodle cafe Koya. Nud Dudhia and Chris Whitney, who have grown Mexican concept Breddos Tacos in a joint venture with Gleneagles owner Ennismore, have opened a second site for their Tijuana-inspired Super Tacos concept and the food hall is also home to a third venue for Jewish soul food trader Monty’s Deli. There are also three bars, while a roof terrace will open next year. Market Halls Fulham opened in May, with Try Market Halls looking to open a further London site, in Oxford Street, while eyeing Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh and York.

Rusk & Rusk launches California-style concept in Glasgow city centre for fourth site: Independent restaurant group Rusk & Rusk has launched California-style concept So L.A. in Glasgow city centre. The venue, which has opened in Mitchell Street, is the group’s fourth in the city and offers a restaurant, bar and events space with a nod to the lifestyle and culture of California. The 150-cover bar and restaurant is the group’s most ambitious project to date. The menu is inspired by the eclectic Californian dining scene with dishes such as sautéed chickpea panisse and miso-glazed beef fillet. Drinks feature a range of cocktails, wine and beer. Co-owner Louise Rusk said: “Our investment in Mitchell Street is a continuation of our commitment to the city and its economy. We are deeply committed to bringing the best, progressive cuisine and cutting-edge spaces to Scotland – and we believe So L.A. delivers on both these things in a big way.” Rusk & Rusk was launched in 2010. Its three other Glasgow sites are The Butchershop Bar & Grill, Hutchesons City Grill and The Spanish Butcher.

BeerHeadZ to open in Melton Mowbray this month for fifth site: Micro-pub entrepreneur Phil Ayling will open a fifth site for his BeerHeadZ brand this month, in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. Ayling has taken over the lease of a grade II-listed building in King Street. The town centre property most recently housed Melton Toys and is the oldest secular building in Melton Mowbray, with parts dating to 1330. BeerHeadZ will open its site on Friday, 30 November. Ayling told the Melton Times: “We look forward to serving some of the best beers produced, from home and abroad. We hope we can quickly become part of Melton’s food and drink culture.” BeerHeadZ currently operates pubs in Grantham, Lincoln, Nottingham and Retford.

LabTech unveils mixed-use scheme featuring 60 bars and restaurants in Camden: LabTech, the property investment and technology company that owns Camden Market, has unveiled its vision for Hawley Wharf Camden – its latest mixed-scheme venture that is due to open next summer. At 580,000 square feet the canal-side development, which is bordered by Chalk Farm Road and Regent’s Canal with a frontage on Camden High Street, will revitalise the site’s railway arches, which will sit alongside new buildings influenced by the area’s historic warehouses. The scheme will house 150 independent and branded stores, more than 60 restaurants and bars, 195 apartments and 60,000 square feet of co-working space. Hawley Wharf Camden’s 30 arches will provide space for select UK and international brands and artisan producers. The development will also include the largest farmers’ market in north London, a 12,000 square foot fitness concept, canal-view rooftop bars and restaurants, and 100 food stalls. A 24,000 square foot, triple-height basement will provide a new entertainment and leisure space. LabTech commercial director Tomer Bercoviz said: “We are very proud to be the first single owner of several key sites in Camden. With this ownership comes a clear vision for Hawley Wharf and our other developments – to retain the character of Camden Town while improving the offering for all, especially those who come to shop, explore, eat and drink as well as live and work.” Colliers International has been appointed to lead the retail, food and drink, and leisure leasing for the development.

Idris Elba opens cocktail bar and music venue in Aldwych hotel: Actor and producer Idris Elba has opened a cocktail bar and live music venue in London. He has teamed up with identical twin brothers Lee and Nicky Caulfield to launch The Parrot within The Waldorf Hilton in Aldwych. Visitors to the 60-seater bar can expect a “host of surprises”, including a hidden cocktail menu, unannounced secret shows and an exclusive guest list. Inspired by the tropical home of its namesake, The Parrot’s menu offers cocktails alongside small plates served on repurposed seashells created by The Waldorf’s executive chef Karl Richardson. The Yamaha London Stage At The Parrot provides nightly entertainment, with a house band performing covers. In an exclusive partnership with Aston Martin, The Parrot is also the first bar in London to offer its own chauffeur-driven car. It is branded with The Parrot logo allowing VIP guests to “arrive and leave in unrivalled luxury”. Waldorf Hilton general manager Guy Hilton said: “The Parrot was a natural move for us, building on the history of The Waldorf as an entertainment hub nestled between five major West End theatres. The range of music, theatre and comedy acts The Parrot will promise is an exciting move for us, which naturally pays homage to the glittering heritage of the hotel.”

liveRES serves up 200 millionth booking: Zonal’s online booking tool, liveRES, has checked in its 200 millionth guest. Since becoming part of the Zonal group in 2015, liveRES has seen 60% year-on-year growth, with customers such as Mitchells & Butlers, Greene King and PizzaExpress, and has increased its head count from five to 75. Zonal Marketing Technologies commercial director David Charlton said: “200 million is an incredible milestone for liveRES and we look forward to building on this. The success of liveRES is testament to our talented R&D team, which has developed an incredibly intuitive cloud-based system that helps our customers optimise profitability by maximising tables and covers and reducing the risk of costly no-shows.” It has been a busy year for liveRES, which last month announced the launch of its events and pre-order service, which is the hospitality industry’s only fully EPOS-integrated party planning, booking and advance payment solution. Charlton added: “2018 has been a coming-of-age year for liveRES and we look forward to ongoing success in 2019 as we continue to evolve our product and customer offer.”

Social enterprise Cafe Britannia to take on Ei Publican Partnerships pub in Norwich for fifth site: Social enterprise Cafe Britannia is to take over an Ei Publican Partnerships-owned pub in Norwich for its fifth site. Gibraltar Gardens in Heigham Street closed in September but will reopen as Britannia Gardens in early December offering mentoring and hospitality training to former prisoners. The riverside venue will feature a carvery, with a full menu launched in the new year and plans to host weddings and private functions in a marquee. Davina Tanner, chief executive of Britannia Enterprise, told the Norwich Evening News: “We have been looking for another Norwich venue for some time and Gibraltar Gardens offers us exactly what we need. It occupies a large riverside location and can accommodate more than 450 diners. We want to make this pub great again and put it back at the heart of the community. It will share the same values and ethos of the Britannia brand.” Ei Publican Partnerships regional manager Adam Cogan said: “Davina and her team are experienced operators who are well respected in the local area. We are confident the pub will be welcomed by regulars and new customers alike.” Cafe Britannia opened its debut site in the former Britannia Barracks in Mousehold Heath in 2014 and has added Guildhall Britannia in Norwich city centre, Park Britannia in Waterloo Park and Court Britannia at Norwich Crown Court.

Rockpoint Leisure signs exclusive UK distribution deal with Rich Energy: Rockpoint Leisure, the company led by CPL Training founder and Institute of Licensing chairman Daniel Davies, has signed an exclusive deal with energy drink company Rich Energy to distribute to on and off-trade customers throughout the UK. The premium British energy drink is currently available in more than 30 countries. The UK will remain a key market for Rich Energy, which said the distribution deal would “help facilitate its ambitious growth plans”. Rich Energy chief executive William Storey said: “Rich Energy is expanding quickly around the world as we take on Red Bull and Monster. We are confident we have a product, brand, proposition and performance that beats the market leaders. We believe in Rockpoint and we have a fantastic entrepreneurial UK distribution partner that delivers enormous synergy with our business. We are delighted to ink a deal and look forward to many years of huge success.” Davies added: “We have been working with William and the team for a couple of months and I believe there is great synergy between our businesses. We are both dedicated to creating superior brands and products. Rich Energy stands head and shoulders above any other energy drink on the market and I look forward to working with dynamic operators and retailers that are looking to provide their customer with the best products available.” Rich Energy, which was launched six years ago, was recently announced as Haas F1 Team title partner in a multi-year agreement beginning with the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship. This partnership will be the centrepiece of its international marketing campaign as it rapidly looks to expand globally.

Ossett Brewery launches £1.7m beer factory, opening two venues to showcase products: Yorkshire-based Ossett Brewery has invested £1.7m to transform a grade-II listed Victorian tramshed into a beer factory, while it will open two venues to showcase the brews being developed. Salt is located in the centre of the Unesco World Heritage village of Saltaire, near Bradford. Ossett said Salt was a micro-brewery that “aims to produce hop-forward beers and couple them with an interactive brewery experience”. The 20-hectolitre beer factory features a taproom, a stage for live events, a DJ booth, viewing mezzanines, tank beer dispensers, a gift shop, a wood-fired pizza oven, and private hire facilities. It also hosts brewery tours. Work is under way for the expansion of the Salt brand through two craft-centred venues, both named Craft Asylum. The first bar will launch in Granary Wharf, Leeds, on Friday (16 November), while the second Craft Asylum will open in East Parade, Leeds, at the end of the month. Ossett Brewery owner Jamie Lawson told The Business Desk: “The vision for Salt has been three years in the making. A concept that began with an idea to brew beer at the back of The Hop in Saltaire has evolved into something much greater than we ever imagined. The vision has extended beyond the brewery as we aim to showcase the best in craft beer and gin in a modern pub environment.”

Vegan burger concept Halo to launch in Brixton next month: Vegan burger concept Halo Burger is to launch at Pop Brixton next month. The Halo Burger itself consists of two hand-formed patties layered with white onion, 100% plant-based American-style cheese, beef tomato, lettuce and a house-made sauce. The offering is based on the Beyond Burger, which is supposed to be as close to looking and tasting like a real beef burger as possible while remaining vegan, with beetroot juice providing the “bleeding” element. The concept’s simple, vegan-only menu will only feature The Halo Burger, a quarter pounder with cheese, cheeseburger, hamburger and fries featuring Himalayan pink salt. Halo Burger will open in early December, Hot Dinners reports.

Hippo Inns opens alpine-themed pub in Blackfriars for 12th site: Hippo Inns, the joint venture between Ei Group and Geronimo Inns founder Rupert Clevely, has opened its 12th site – The White Haus in Blackfriars, London. The 3,800 square foot, 160-cover pub sits on the site of the former White Swan pub in Farringdon Street and takes inspiration from the “mountains of Val D’Isére and chalets of Verbier”. The decor features exposed wood, a fireplace and cuckoo clocks, while vintage ski memorabilia has been donated by the Ski Club of Great Britain, from whose former headquarters the pub takes its name. The venue features a ground-floor bar offering tank 1936 Biere – a lager brewed in the Swiss Alps – and a 40-cover mezzanine level complete with retro cable car doubling as a bookable private booth. On the lower-ground floor, a wooden-clad “chalet” offers two flexible private dining rooms for up to 60 people, while a small terrace accommodates 12. The all-day menu features pub favourites with a European twist such as chicken schnitzel with fried egg and anchovies alongside cocktails and wine. Clevely said: “We’ve been incredibly lucky to have the support of the Ski Club of Great Britain – its range of memorabilia gives the pub a unique ambience.” Ei Group managed investments operations director Nathan Wall added: “We are delighted Hippo Inns continues to grow and develop – the exciting features and design bring something new to the city.”

Cheshire-based Mobberley Brewhouse opens second bar: Cheshire-based brewer Mobberley Brewhouse has opened its second bar. The company, owned by James Roberts, has launched Project 53 in Minshull Street, Knutsford. The bar, which has launched at a site formerly occupied by The Tap And Bottle, offers Mobberley’s own beer as well as a rotating range of guest ales across 11 keg lines and three cask hand-pulls. The bar also specialises in gin, serving 30 varieties mainly from British small-batch producers, along with cider, spirits and wine. The food menu comprises hand-made pizza, while the decor has a stripped-back, industrial feel featuring concrete floors, bare brickwork, wood cladding, beer barrel tables and pot plants. The company also operates Project 53 in Market Place, Stockport, which opened in August and has the same offering as the Knutsford site. Roberts, who founded the brewery in 2011, told the Knutsford Guardian: “We have wanted to open bars since day one. When I started the brewery I was heavily inspired by the American brewery tap set-up where you have a lot of direct contact with your consumers – the real people drinking your beer.”

London nightclub Chinawhite opens Manchester site: London nightclub Chinawhite has opened a site in Manchester. The original Soho club was frequented by celebrities such as Kate Moss and Prince Harry in its heyday before moving to Fitzrovia, where it was later rebranded Libertine By Chinawhite. Now its owners have brought the brand to Manchester after taking over the former Milton Club in Deansgate, which closed in March when its owners revealed the venue had been sold to an “international club brand”. The interior of Chinawhite Manchester features terracotta warriors, oriental artwork and ornate carvings. Chinawhite managing director James Spallone told The Business Desk: “Having dabbled with a couple of franchises over the years we decided, in our 20th year, it was time to take the plunge and open our own site. Manchester has an amazing and vibrant nightlife so it was obviously our first choice.”

Charles Wells relaunches flagship Bedford pub with new look and menu: Apostrophe Pubs, the managed division of Bedford-based brewer and retailer Charles Wells, has relaunched its D’Parys pub in the town. The flagship site, in De Parys Avenue, has a new premium all-day dining menu while the 14 en-suite bedrooms have been refurbished. New dishes at the venue, which has 130 covers inside and a further 60 outdoors, include chilli breaded squid with ginger and sesame dressing, and rack of lamb with buttered greens and heritage carrots. The new bar, which seats 30, serves cocktails, wine and beer while a private dining area for up to 30 people has also been added. Steve Wilkins, managing director of Little Gems, which is the operating partner for Charles Wells’ Apostrophe pubs, said: “Charles Wells is investing heavily in its UK pubs and the work that’s gone into the D’Parys is testament to this commitment. We’re delighted with the new look and dining offering.”

Brighton-based operator opens second site: Brighton-based operator Señor Buddha, owned by Lee Shipley, has opened its second site. The company has launched tapas bar and restaurant Pabellón in North Street in a listed building next to Brighton Pavilion. The focal point is a long bar with an open kitchen, where diners are served by the chefs. The venue is a sister restaurant to Circo, previously known as Señor Buddha, which opened at Preston Circus in 2015. Pabellón’s menu also features modern Spanish tapas with east Asian flavours, albeit with a “more refined, fine-dining edge”. Shipley said: “The Spanish culture of relaxed, casual dining – or tapeo – is what we’re all about.”

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