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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 17th Apr 2019 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Byron founder Tom Byng invests in Bundobust: Tom Byng, founder and former chief executive of Byron, has invested an undisclosed sum in Bundobust, the Indian street food and craft beer concept, Propel has learned. Byng, who left the better burger chain at the end of 2016, has taken a stake in the current two-strong business and become non-executive chairman as it focuses on further growth. Bundobust, which operates in Leeds and Manchester, opens in Liverpool next month and has secured a second site in Manchester, in Oxford Road, for an opening later this year. The concept, which become known for its vegetarian Indian food and large craft ale range, was founded by Mayur Patel and Marko Husak in Leeds in 2014. It opened is second site in Manchester’s Piccadilly in December 2016. The upcoming Liverpool site will be based on the vacant first floor of a Bold Street building opposite The Crafty Chandler pub. Propel understands Bundobust has attracted investment interest from a number of parties during the past two years. Regarding the Byng investment, Patel and Husak said: “As Bundobust grows we feel we could really benefit from Tom’s advice and experience in building a successful business customers love. We’ve enjoyed getting to know him over the past few months and we’re excited to welcome him as an investor.” Byng said: “I am a big admirer of Bundobust and what Mayur and Marko have achieved so far. They have built a terrific business with a cult following and bags of potential. I’m delighted to be able to offer my support and guidance to help the business grow.” Byng opened the first Byron restaurant in London in 2007. The company was acquired by Hutton Collins for almost £100m in November 2013 from previous owner Gondola Group. Byng left Byron at the end of 2016 when it had grown to a 69-strong business with annual turnover of circa £80m.

Industry News:

Propel summer conference and party open for bookings, Matt Farrell to present, two free places for operators: The Propel Multi Club summer conference and party has opened for bookings. It takes place on Thursday, 27 June at the Oxford Belfry, which is just off the M40. The conference will be followed by the summer party, with an evening barbecue, the Big Fat Quiz and the legendary sounds of DJ Big Lee. Matt Farrell, founder of Graffiti Spirits Group and star of My Million Pound Menu, will talk about his bar and restaurant concepts including El Bandito, Slims Porkchop Express, 81 and Santa Chupitos in Liverpool and the opening of three-storey, 500-capacity Duke Street Food and Drink Market. Operators can claim up to two free places by emailing Jo Charity at Rooms (bed and breakfast) are also available at £125 plus VAT and can be booked by emailing Jo.   

National Licensing Week to return in June: The Institute of Licensing (IoL) will hold its fourth National Licensing Week, from 17 to 21 June. The event provides a platform for licensing practitioners to “get involved and celebrate the role of licensing in everyday lives”. National Licensing Week celebrates all “players” charged with regulating licensable activities, including councils and police. IoL chairman Daniel Davies said: “National Licensing Week is an opportunity for everyone involved in licensing to showcase what they do. Licensing is often invisible – until things go wrong. Let’s change that together by using this week to raise awareness of all the excellent partnership work and initiatives across the country.”

Company News:

TRG boss sees remuneration fall after missing out on bonus: The Restaurant Group chief executive Andy McCue saw his remuneration drop in 2018 after missing out on his annual bonus, the company’s annual report has revealed. McCue, who announced in February he would step down for personal reasons, was paid a total of £729,500 for the year ending 31 December 2018, compared with £1,116,000 the previous year. This consisted of £515,500 salary, £113,000 in taxable benefits and £101,000 pension. In relation to bonus, the remuneration committee set adjusted profit before tax targets and like-for-like sales targets, which were not met, and stretching employee engagement targets, which were met in part. However, for any bonus potential to be paid the threshold of £57m adjusted profit before tax had to be achieved and, since this wasn’t reached, there was no bonus paid. McCue’s salary was raised 1.98% on 1 January 2019 to £525,500, while the average increase for managerial employees across the group was 2.1%. Meanwhile, Kirk Davis received total remuneration of £394,000 in his first full year in office, which consisted of £320,000 salary, £10,000 in taxable benefits and £64,000 pension. Davis has received a 2% salary increase to £362,100. For 2019, in view of his resignation, McCue will not be awarded a bonus or granted a long-term incentive payment award. Davis will again be eligible for a maximum annual bonus of up to 120% of salary – 50% of any bonus earned will be deferred in shares for three years. The remuneration committee intends to grant a long-term incentive payment award of 200% of salary for Davis, increased from 150% in 2018 to reflect the importance of his role during the transition to a new chief executive, based on stretching total shareholder return and adjusted earnings per share targets.

Jason Atherton to transform Mayfair bistro into new concept No.5 Social: Chef Jason Atherton and his business The Social Company are to transform Mayfair-based French bistro Little Social into a new concept. Launched six years ago, the venue in Pollen Street will close on Friday (19 April) to reopen with a new look and menu on Wednesday, 8 May. The 60-cover restaurant, No.5 Social, will feature banquette seating and celebrate seasonal British produce under the leadership of executive chef Kostas Papathanasiou and restaurant manager Nils Cassignol. Formerly, senior sous chef at Atherton’s Michelin-starred Pollen Street Social, Papathanasiou has also worked in The Ledbury and The Fat Duck. His menu will include English heritage tomato salad with goat’s curd, almonds and fennel; and poached Hebridean halibut with celeriac truffle emulsion and purée. Desserts will include Richmond Park honey with oat crumble, milk ice cream and meringue. The wine list will encompass English and international bottles with a focus on lesser-known varieties from Europe alongside cocktails featuring British ingredients. Atherton said: “Kostas has been an important part of The Social Company for the past three years and we felt it was time he was given his own project to run.” Papathanasiou added: “To be given the opportunity to launch a restaurant that reflects my cooking style is a real honour.” Atherton’s empire spans six countries and includes seven restaurants in London alone.

Former Draft House and Jamie’s FD joins Department of Coffee and Social Affairs: Bharti Radix, formerly of The Draft House and Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, has joined Department of Coffee and Social Affairs (DoCaSA), the fast-growing coffee chain and wholesaling group, Propel has learned. Radix joins DoCaSA’s parent company, Coffeesmiths Collective, as group finance director after starting the year as finance director at Petersham Nurseries, which operates two sites – its original restaurant, teahouse and homeware and garden store in Richmond and its more recently opened Covent Garden site. Radix was previously interim finance director at Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group for four months before handing over to Tamsin Ashmore. Radix spent three-and-a-half years at The Draft House, helping the transition period following the pub group’s acquisition by Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog, before departing last May. Radix spent an earlier five-year stint of her career with Jamie Oliver across his Fifteen restaurant, charitable foundation and international business. DoCaSA has been strengthening its presence in London and the rest of the UK through a number of acquisitions in the past six months. It most recently acquired the Nordic Bakery business and took a majority stake in Brighton-based, seven-strong Small Batch Coffee, which was previously backed by sector investor Luke Johnson. It has also acquired Baker & Spice, the Patisserie Holdings brand; Bea’s of Bloomsbury; Tap Coffee; mobile coffee brand Café 2 U; and two Bristol-based independent coffee shops.

Chilango closes mini-bond offer after raising almost £3.8m: Mexican brand Chilango has closed its Burrito Bond 2 offer having raised almost £3.8m. The brand, which was founded in 2007 by Eric Partaker and Dan Houghton, operates ten restaurants across London and one in Manchester. A 12th restaurant is due to open in Birmingham in mid-2019. Burrito Bond 2 was offering 8% interest annually over four years, with bondholders offered the opportunity to redeem their bond in full at maturity. A total of £3,769,500 has been raised, with investors including former Itsu managing director David Haimes, ex-Domino’s Pizza chief executive Chris Moore and former McDonald’s UK marketing vice-president Laurie Morgan. The funds will be used to refinance some of its existing debt and open new sites. Partaker told Propel: “We are extremely pleased with the results of our Burrito Bond 2 campaign. With the support of nearly 800 guests and fans we’ll continue our charge to make the world a more vibrant place.”In the financial year just ended, Chilango’s restaurants generated more than £11m in sales and £2m in Ebitda, with all 11 restaurants profitable. Chilango has identified a number of areas in high-footfall central London locations for its target audience of students and young professionals. It is ideally seeking ground-floor accommodation ranging from 500 to 2,500 square feet with sites in or near residential, office, retail and leisure areas, as well as universities, hospitals and transport hubs. In 2014, Chilango raised £2.1m through a mini-bond on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube.

The Breakfast Group appoints new managing director: The Breakfast Group, the Eric Yu-founded restaurant bar group, has appointed Ross Palmer, formerly of Novus, as its new managing director. Palmer joins the eight-strong group after eight years at Novus where was operations manager with the company’s Landmark segment, which accommodated its larger multi-room venues predominantly focused in the City of London market. The Breakfast Group was founded in 1991 by Yu and Connie O’Donovan. It operates seven sites in central London including two Salvador & Amanda sites in Covent Garden and Bloomsbury plus 68 and Boston in Soho, and Burlock in Marylebone. It also operates Gas Street Social restaurant and bar in The Mailbox scheme in Birmingham.

Cirrus Inns reports increased losses as it continues investing in estate: Cirrus Inns, which owns 19 freehold pubs and five long leaseholds, has reported increased operating losses as it continues to invest in the estate. The company saw an operating loss of £2,636,344 for the year ending 30 June 2018, compared with a loss of £2,230,175 the previous year. Turnover increased to £24,230,197, compared with £20,282,594 the year before. Pre-tax losses were up to £3,861,656 compared with £3,286,658 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The core focus of the group remains on the countryside but with five London sites the group’s estate has good breadth to balance the seasonal and longer-stay bias of the countryside sites, with a focus on higher-turnover food and drink accounting for £6.6m (one third) of the estate’s turnover and generating 27% of its Ebitda (£976,000). In the year to 30 June 2018, the group invested £2.1m across the estate, adding more bedrooms, increasing trading space, improving the quality of the offering and the estate’s look and feel, with the return outperforming recent investment in new sites. Turnover has increased 21% (£4.1m) at site level and 19% (£3.9m) at group level. With a continued focus on cost control and operating efficiencies, gross margins have improved to 73% (from 71%). The group remains well funded and is close to cash flow break-even. The directors will continue to look at the opportunity for accelerated growth in line with the group’s stated strategy to make the best use of market conditions. The group expects to maintain its core focus on purchasing and managing additional countryside sites with accommodation. The number and type of sites will depend on market conditions and availability.”

Jamaica Blue partners with Next to open first concession, in Birmingham: Foodco-owned international cafe restaurant brand Jamaica Blue is to open its first concession. The company will launch its sixth UK site in total on Friday (19 April) at retailer Next’s newly refurbished store in Birmingham’s Junction 9 Retail Park. Jamaica Blue head of estates Joshua Nixon said: “This opening is the culmination of more than a year’s work and planning with Next and we are pleased to have been the cafe brand of choice for the store’s reopening. We view this as the beginning of a strong brand partnership between Jamaica Blue and Next and look forward to building on this partnership by opening more concessions with them in the not-so-distant future.” Next store manager Marcus Shelley added: “We are excited to open our new store, which will include new concessions Paperchase, Virgin Holidays and the first ever Jamaica Blue at Next.” Jamaica Blue was founded in Australia in 1992 and operates more than 160 cafes worldwide. Foodco opened the first Jamaica Blue cafe in the UK in Cambridge in December 2014 and has launched further sites in Chelmsford, Northampton, Reading and Rushden Lakes, Northamptonshire. Propel understands the company is in discussions on further sites and is also focusing on hospitals, airports and “strong” shopping centre locations.

Midlands-based operator reopens former JD Wetherspoon pub in Reading for fourth site: Midlands-based operator Darren Brett has reopened Reading pub The Baron Cadogan, one of 16 sites JD Wetherspoon put on the market last month, for his fourth venue. Brett told Get Reading: “The pub has traded successfully for about 20 years and has established itself as an integral part of the community. The Baron Cadogan has offered a combination of value and quality, and has developed into a thriving business. The essence of our new offer is similar, with value, quality and service at the heart of the business.” Brett’s other sites are The Arrow in Yeovil, The Oak Apple in Worcester and the Woodman in Dudley.

Pidgin owners to launch sandwich bar concept at Coal Drops Yard: James Ramsden and Sam Herlihy, who operate London restaurants Pidgin and Magpie, are to launch a sandwich bar concept at the Coal Drops Yard development in King’s Cross. Ramsden and Herlihy will launch Sons + Daughters next month offering sandwiches, salad, soft-serve ice cream, cocktails, beer, wine on tap, and organic coffee. Sons + Daughters has been revealed among the latest wave of brands set to join the shopping and restaurant district. It will be joined by The Hart Brothers’ latest venue at Coal Drops Yard, Parrillan, which will also open next month. The partly covered outside space will see diners grill their own meat, fish and vegetables on their own “parrilla”, a mini-charcoal grill. The Harts already operate a third site for Mexican taqueria concept El Pastor at Coal Drops Yard, a fourth for Barrafina restaurant and new-concept wine bar and restaurant The Drop.

Papa John’s partners with Abbeyford Leisure to open at St Andrews holiday park: Papa John’s has partnered with holiday park operator Abbeyford Leisure to open an outlet in St Andrews, Scotland. The site has opened at St Andrews Holiday Park in Kinkell Braes and will also deliver to the town’s residents. Abbeyford Leisure chairman David Evans said: “We were looking for something different and special to introduce as a food offering at our St Andrews park and were delighted when Papa John’s wanted to ‘play ball’. This is Abbeyford’s first link-up with a big brand such as Papa John’s and, as a group of six holiday parks across the UK, who knows what the future holds?” Papa John’s has more than 400 sites across the UK.

Market Halls reveals more details of West End site: Market Halls has revealed further details of its new site in London’s West End, which will become the largest food hall in the country when it opens in late summer. Taking over a large chunk of what used to be BHS in Oxford Street, it will cover 37,500 square feet across three floors. There will be 12 food vendors, four bars, an events space and a children’s play area. The second-floor bar will feature a taproom and cocktail bar with retractable roof. The food trader line-up has yet to be revealed but Market Halls co-founder Simon Anderson told Hot Dinners: “Our 12 kitchens will have something for everyone, with a roster made up from the most popular traders at Fulham and Victoria and some new exciting concepts.” Market Halls is also set to launch new concept The Hall at Intu Lakeside with the aim of bringing a “new lease of life” to the shopping centre food environment.  

Loui Blake to open second Kalifornia Kitchen site, at Market Hall Fulham: Loui Blake, managing director of Erpingham House, the UK’s largest plant-based restaurant, is to open a second site for his all-day vegan cafe concept Kalifornia Kitchen. Blake launched the concept, which features a pink colour scheme inside and out, in Fitzrovia in December. Now he will add to that next month with an opening at Market Hall Fulham. The venue will offer four new items on the menu including a Galaxy Bowl featuring blue spirulina and banana with blueberries, dragon fruit, granola and chia seeds. Blake said: “Market Hall is the perfect space for us to provide healthy, plant-based food in a setting that caters for a mix of diets and interests. We’ll bring some new menu items as well as some favourites from our Fitzrovia kitchen, with the same emphasis on sustainable food that tastes as good as it looks!” The Kalifornia Kitchen website states: “We are passionate about sharing delicious, nutritious and sustainable food and drink with the world, utilising the power of plants and abstaining from any animal products or harmful plastics. Our message is simple – we want to help everyone look and feel beautiful by consuming energising and loving foods that help the planet.”

My Million Pound Menu winners BBQ Dreamz to operate summer season at John Lewis rooftop space under new name: My Million Pound Menu winner BBQ Dreamz is to operate the summer season at John Lewis’ Oxford Street rooftop space under its new name – Bong Bong’s Manila Kanteen. The concept will offer the same authentic Filipino family recipes with dishes such as adobo-glazed chicken, grilled aubergine satay curry and Asian roots salad. New for this year, John Lewis has introduced “walk-in Wednesdays” with visitors able to try the food without booking. The space will also offer bookable dens for four to ten diners and feature the Caravan Stage with performances from DJs, artists and acoustic musicians. There will also be masterclasses and cinema screenings. The event, Roof Fest London, will launch on Friday (19 April) and include a cocktail bar operated by Background Bars with drinks including chilli margaritas and the signature Roof Fest London (Havana rum, banana liqueur, passion fruit and mint). Roof Fest London will run until Sunday, 29 September. Last year’s rooftop operator was chicken sandwich concept Butchies.

Honi Poké and new Patty & Bunn concept to be part of Pergola Paddington line-up: Incipio Group has signed four street food traders for this year’s Pergola Paddington summer season, which launches next month. The space will open on Thursday, 2 May and house a third site for Hawaiian poké specialist Honi Poké. The other traders will be Babek Brothers, which offers kebabs and halloumi fries from its site at Street Feast’s Dinerama; An Choi, a new spicy wonton dumplings and small plates concept by the Salvation In Noodles team; and Smash Patty, a new concept from better burger brand Patty & Bun that will feature a potato batch bun made by Bread Ahead. Pergola Paddington will attempt to transform British summertime into “Balearic high summer”, with the roof removed, white-washed floors, bookable daybeds and DJs at the weekend. There will also be two bars, alfresco seating for 850 diners and undercover seating for rainy days. Earlier this week Patty & Bun said it was “testing the water” with a new chicken concept – Jefferies – at two other Incipio Group sites, The Prince and Pergola Olympia. Last month Incipio Group secured £5m from entertainment and leisure investor Edition Capital to open six sites in the next 18 months, including its first outside London. The £5m was raised through EIS, valuing the business at £20.5m. This will be used for sites in Wimbledon, Brixton and Putney, with venues also planned for Mayfair and Fulham as well as Birmingham.

Bun House scales up in Chinatown: Soho-based bao and pickle cafe concept Bun House has relocated to a larger site, in Chinatown London. Founders Alex Peffley and Z He have relaunched Bun House in Lisle Street offering signature Cantonese steamed buns with two new items on the menu – beef brisket and a soft, brioche-style pineapple bun. The site also pays homage to Hong Kong food stalls, with a small hatch inside serving snacks such as curried fish balls. The drinks menu celebrates Hong Kong’s burgeoning craft beer scene alongside tea-based cocktails and cold-brewed tea. The 16-cover dining space offers a further 40 seats upstairs. He said: “It is particularly exciting for us to open Bun House in the heart of Chinese food in the city.” Julia Wilkinson, head of group restaurant strategy at Chinatown London landlord Shaftesbury, added: “Z and Alex’s design backgrounds add a fresh creative aesthetic to Lisle Street.” Peffley and He launched Bun House in Greek Street, Soho, in May 2017.

Wadworth launches gluten-free menus and increased vegan offering for managed pubs: Wiltshire-based brewer and retailer Wadworth has launched new spring and summer gluten-free menus and an increased vegan offering for its managed pubs. More than 100 new gluten-free or vegan dishes are available for pubs to choose from. They have been created by Wadworth’s food development team. Dishes include gluten-free beer-battered fish and chips and a range of sandwiches using artisan free-from bread. Wadworth operations manager Toby Bartholomew said: “Many people have food tolerances that reduce the choices available to them when eating out and many choose it as a lifestyle choice. We have created menus that offer a great selection to everyone, whatever their lifestyle choice or food intolerance. Gone are the days when it’s acceptable to just offer vegetable lasagne as an option on your menu and, because of this, menus are becoming more exciting and varied and Wadworth is playing a huge part.” In total, 55 managed Wadworth pubs in the West Country will offer the new gluten-free menu.

Paradise Island Adventure Golf opens Rushden Lakes site: Paradise Island Adventure Golf, which is owned by Brighton Pier Group, has opened a site at Rushden Lakes in Northamptonshire. The 14,000 square foot venue is the seventh for Paradise Island Adventure Golf following sites in Derby, Manchester, Sheffield, Cheshire, Glasgow and Livingston. Paradise Island Adventure Golf managing director Joshua Dantzic told The Business Desk: “We have designed our new site with the adventure golfer at the centre and we’re introducing some new holes and challenges never seen at our venues before. Adventure golf is fast becoming one of the most popular attractions in the UK leisure scene and there is nothing like this in the area. We are excited to bring our unique concept and augmented reality experience to the people of Northamptonshire.” Brighton Pier Group acquired Paradise Island Adventure Golf for £10.5m in 2017.

Galgorm Collection gets go-ahead to convert Belfast church into £8m hotel and steakhouse: Belfast-based hospitality group Galgorm Collection has been given the go-ahead to convert a disused city church into an £8m boutique hotel and steakhouse. The company, previously known as Tullymore House, has had permission granted by the city council to transform the Holy Rosary Church in Ormeau Road. The scheme includes internal and external alterations to the listed building and the addition of a single-storey extension to the rear. The former parochial house will be refurbished and extended to provide 18 bedrooms, a bar and a 150-cover barbecue smokehouse with wood-burning fire pit styled on a similar group-owned venture launched at Galgorm Castle Golf Club earlier this year. Holy Rosary Church has been derelict since 1980, although it was used last year to screen movies as part of the Belfast Film Festival. Project manager Colin Johnston told Love Belfast: “We have extensively engaged with councillors, partners, residents and stakeholders to ensure one of Belfast’s finest historic buildings can be carefully restored to create an outstanding hotel and dining experience for the city and Northern Ireland. We are delighted our approved plans will further enhance Belfast’s growing high-quality hospitality offer in line with our own aspirations.” Galgorm Collection, which is behind Italian restaurant brand Fratelli, also operates Galgorm Resort and Spa and a property development company.

Cheltenham-based cafe and gelateria concept looks to Gloucester for second site: Cheltenham-based cafe and gelateria concept Clementine is looking to open a second site, in Gloucester. Owners Andrew and Deborah Thomas having submitted plans to the city council to open the venue in Westgate Street at the former Raging Bull clothing store. The Thomas’ launched Clementine in Cheltenham last month but previously ran The Swallow Bakery at The Quadrangle, Imperial Square, which shut last month as the building was due to be refurbished, reports Punchline Gloucester. Having opened Clementine in Queen’s Circus, Cheltenham, the Thomas’ plan to bring the concept to Gloucester. A planning statement submitted with the application reads: “Our intention is to invest in the site to open an artisan bakery and tea rooms. We would provide a facility that isn’t adequately provided for at present. All our cakes, bread and other goods will be baked on the premises.”

HGEM partners with Learning Pool to launch 12-part training course for operators: Guest experience management expert HGEM has partnered with e-learning developer Learning Pool to launch Little GEMs, a 12-part training course for hospitality operators. Based on key elements of the guest experience, the modules will enable operators to support their teams in “delivering exceptional customer service while aligning to the company’s brand promise”. Little GEMs provides training on four main areas of the guest experience – people, process, product and place – all broken down into a further three segments for in-depth learning. HGEM head of client success Jason Horn said: “It’s not just about the data, it’s about using the data to drive improvement and results. We recognise the many challenges our clients currently face and engaging the team shouldn’t be one of them. Our Little GEMs modules are designed to provide simple messages to encourage team members to engage with their guests and provide exceptional service.”

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