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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 29th Apr 2019 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Junkyard Golf directors behind new Manchester bar and restaurant venture: Junkyard Golf directors Lyndon Higginson, Bart Murphy and Mat Lake are part of the team that has taken over the site of former vegan cafe Folk & Soul in Manchester for a new bar and restaurant venture. The trio have partnered with Dan Morris, former group manager of Trof and operations director for Cottonpolis, to launch Wilderness Bar and Kitchen. The quartet will open the Thomas Street site in the summer in place of Folk & Soul, which closed earlier this month after less than a year. Higginson, Murphy, Lake and Morris are also behind Withington's new Wilderness Record Store, which opened earlier this month. Morris said: "We have been working hard on this new concept for some time and believe we have now found the perfect site for us. We plan on opening mid-June and have recruited what we consider to be some of the best young food and beverage talent in the UK to help us create what we hope will be a great addition to Manchester’s hospitality scene." The design of the new site will be led by Higginson, tying in with the look of the Withington sister site. Based in the former Deco site, just off Wilmslow Road, the record shop includes a cafe serving freshly made toasties, cakes and pastries, alongside a range of beer, wine and gin and tonic.

Industry News:

Propel summer conference and party open for bookings, Mos Shamel 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. Mos Shamel, chief executive of Las Iguanas for more than 15 years, talks about moving forward in a difficult market, maintaining and strengthening company culture (and margins), and evolving to maintain the brand’s strength. 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.

Other upcoming conferences: The Finance and Investment Conference is on Friday, 24 May. Click here for details. The Coffee Conference takes place on Tuesday, 11 June. Click here for details. 

Europe’s hotel industry sees rises in average daily rate and revpar in first quarter: Europe’s hotel industry saw rises in average daily rate and revpar during the first quarter of 2019, according to the latest data from STR. Average daily rate increased 1.6% to €101.28, compared with the first-quarter of 2018 and revpar rose 1.3% to €64.56. Occupancy levels across the continent were down 0.2% to 63.7%. STR’s data highlighted two cities – Madrid and Athens. In Madrid, revpar and occupancy reached record first-quarter levels for the city. Revpar rose 8.4% to €75.95 while occupancy lifted 2.6% to 71.7%. Average daily rate increased 5.7% to €106.79. STR analysts attributed a 4.4% rise in demand to major events hosted in the city, including such as Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Madrid and the World ATM Congress. In Athens, occupancy was at its lowest level for a first quarter since 2014. Occupancy fell 11.0% to 54.5% while revpar was down 9.3% to €56.32. Average daily rate was up 1.9% in the quarter to €103.34. STR analysts noted a 9.2% decline in demand for rooms in Athens came in comparison with a strong first quarter in 2018, when the number of rooms sold grew 5.4% and revpar jumped 13.2%. New rooms played a role in the equation as a 2.0% increase in supply was the largest for a first quarter in the city for “quite some time”.
Airline bosses criticise culture of heavy drinking at airports: Airports have been accused of fuelling binge drinking by serving double measures of spirits in their bars and pubs as standard. Airline bosses said many airports now resemble “happy hour” at a nightclub – even at 7am. An audit by the Daily Mail has revealed air-side bars and restaurants at airports including Liverpool, Newcastle, Bristol and Manchester serve 50ml “doubles” when a customer orders a spirit such as whisky or vodka. Many bars, including those at London Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton, only display prices for large glasses of wine – between 175ml and 250ml – equivalent to a third of a bottle. Licensing laws do not apply to bars and restaurants in the departure lounges of airports, which means passengers can buy alcohol from as early as 4am and throughout the night. UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist SSP, which operates bars including the Cabin at Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle airports, said it automatically offers double measures of spirits and larger servings of wine because it is what customers want. It also said its bar staff are trained to offer smaller measures when the customer orders their drinks.

Job of the week: COREcruitment is seeking a financial controller on behalf of a London-based pub group, which is about to undergo an extensive roll-out programme. The position will report into senior management and will support the six business with full P&L responsibility as well as the opportunity to develop and motivate a small team. The salary is circa £55,000 plus benefits and there is an opportunity to progress. For more information, click here, or for a confidential chat, email

Company News:

Olivier Blanc to launch ‘eco’ street kitchen concept in Wandsworth next month: Olivier Blanc, son of Raymond Blanc, is to launch an “eco” street kitchen concept in Wandsworth, south west London, in partnership with chef and food sustainability consultant Pascal Gerrard. StreetCube will open in the piazza of the Southside Centre next month. The concept will serve sustainable food to go while being committed to reducing CO2 levels, eliminating plastic waste and developing a food system that’s “regenerative, sustainable and healthier for people and the planet”. StreetCube kitchens will be placed in high-footfall locations in the UK, allowing chefs to open quickly on affordable, easy-in/out licences ranging from six months to more than five years and avoiding “crippling rents and premiums that force more than 95% of restaurants to close within the first year”. Blanc said: “We want to bridge the gap between cooking from a gazebo and struggling to open an A3 premises, which few independent chefs can afford. We want to facilitate and support better creativity, individuality and character for young independent chefs who can experiment and try new ideas in sustainable gastronomy.” Gerrard added: “We also want to make sure people have access to more affordable, organic, locally grown, sustainable food.” The first “Cubists” will be Moroccan street food trader The Hungry Bedouin and Indian vegan soul food concept Amrutha Lounge, which operates a restaurant in Earlsfield.

Be At One launches delivery package with UberEats: Be At One, the Stonegate Pub Company-owned cocktail chain, has launched a delivery option through UberEats. Be At One In The House! was launched last week across the group’s sites in Covent Garden, Monument and Cardiff, which allows consumers to have the brand’s cocktail delivered to their door. The delivery package come with its own shaker, along with an ice bag, garnishes and a music playlist to “get your party going”. Stonegate acquired the then 33-strong Be At One business last July for circa £50m. Earlier this year, it began converting three London-based sites to the brand. The company opened new Be At One sites at the former Babble City site in Old Broad Street, followed by openings at the former Gem bar in Beak Street and the ex-Fifty 9 site in Berkeley Square in March. Stonegate previously stated it had identified an “exciting expansion plan for the brand” that would be rolled out during the next 18 months. Stonegate recently converted its first Slug & Lettuce site, in Epsom, to the cocktail brand.

Deliveroo appoints new global vice-president for restaurants: Deliveroo has appointed Susana Voces as the company’s new global vice-president for restaurants. The move comes as Deliveroo continues its global expansion, now in 14 markets and working with 80,000 restaurants worldwide. Voces, who is currently general manager for Ebay Italy and Spain, will be working in Deliveroo’s London headquarters to continue improving the company’s offer to restaurants. Voces will help restaurants with innovation, including continuing to help them create virtual brands, which are run out of restaurants’ kitchens. She will also aid restaurants with data insight, to learn how to improve their service and understand where their competitors have an advantage. Voces will also look to further build and improve the company’s “Marketer” discounts and promotions platform and Marketplace+ delivery service as well as increase the number of restaurants working with Deliveroo. Voces said: “This role is hugely exciting. Deliveroo is a company with huge potential. Everything we do will be about supporting restaurants and helping them to grow, making their food available to as wide an audience as possible.” A Deliveroo spokesman added: “It is great Susana is joining to help us continue to improve the support we offer to restaurants. She has huge experience and talent and will help the team ensure we are offering customers and restaurants the best possible food experience.” Voces’ appointment comes as Deliveroo expands its perks platform for restaurant partners, giving them access to a wide range of deals to save money on everyday business costs. Deliveroo has recently announced partnerships with a range of providers including Yumpingo, which offers restaurants detailed customer insights and feedback; CentralApp, which builds websites for restaurants and monitors their online presence; and Flux, which enables restaurants to use digital receipts.
Famous Madrid restaurant, Amazonico, to open in Berkeley Square, Mayfair: The Dogus International Group is to bring famous Madrid-based restaurant Amazonico to London’s Mayfair. Amazonico provides customers with a dining experience inspired by tropical, Asian, Mediterranean and Brazilian cuisine. The restaurant will operate over 8,500 square foot in the former Allied Irish Bank site in Berkeley Square House in Berkeley Square. The restaurant will be operated by the Dogus International Group, which is currently responsible for or active in seven other London restaurants – Zuma and Roka in Knightsbridge and Fitzrovia, Inko Nito in Soho, Oblix at The Shard, Coya and Ruya in Mayfair, and Tom’s Kitchen. Hanover Green Retail acted on behalf of the landlord, Astrea, on the deal while Restaurant Property is understood to have acted for Amazonico.
Red's True Barbecue to open Leicester site: Smokehouse brand Red's True Barbecue is set to open a restaurant in Leicester. Red's True Barbecue first became a part of the city's food scene when it launched a five-day-a-week kitchen residency at Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog’s bar at the end of February. And now, in response to customer demand, a 75-seater restaurant is being launched, on Friday, 3 May. The restaurant will open upstairs at BrewDog, and in addition, Red's True Barbecue will be extending its hours and serving food seven days a week. The smokehouse brand started out in Leeds in 2012, and has since opened six further restaurants in England. The brand made barbecue history last year, with a fourth place finish at the 2018 World Championship-Bar-B-Que Contest in Houston – the most successful non-US barbecue cook team in the event’s 45-year history. BrewDog and Red’s True Barbecue first established a relationship in 2016 with the smokehouse delivering dishes to the Scottish brewery’s bars in Leeds via a “barbecue phone”.

Chicago Rib Shack on brink of administration again: Rib Shack Holdings, which runs the Chicago Rib Shack brand and employs 35 people across five restaurants in London and Leeds, is on the brink of going bust for the second time in three years. The company has filed notice of intention to appoint administrators, having first collapsed in 2017. It was bought in a pre-pack deal by Roger Payne, who runs Enhanced Hospitality and also owns South African and Cuban-inspired brands as well as private members’ clubs in the capital. He told The Sunday Times he had made the filing, which pauses action from creditors for ten days, so he could negotiate with landlords. “We are waiting to see if landowners are going to work with us,” he said.

Questions raised over Hop Stuff Brewery: Hop Stuff Brewery, which has raised more than £1.5m from crowdfunding investors, has had its brewery seized by its landlord, been chased for an unpaid debt and delayed its accounts, The Sunday Times has reported. Hop Stuff, based in Woolwich, south east London, fell behind with its rent after issues with the taxman. In February, it was served with a winding-up petition by a shopfitter, C&S, over an unpaid £30,000 bill for work on a new bar in Ashford, Kent. Hop Stuff settled the debt before it went to court. Hop Stuff has crowdfunded three times – in January last year it raised £734,000 at a valuation of £25m. The company has not revealed its trading performance since April 2017 after changing the date of its year-end. 

Quality Chop House team opens Italian restaurant in Mayfair for fourth London site: Will Lander and Daniel Morgenthau, who are behind London restaurants Portland, Clipstone and Quality Chop House, have launched an Italian concept in Mayfair. Emilia has taken over the restaurant at Bonhams Auction House in Haunch of Venison Yard and takes inspiration from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. The space is split into a ground-floor cafe and wine bar, with a restaurant upstairs. The kitchen is headed by Stuart Andrew, who is executive chef of both Emilia and Clipstone. Emilia has two wine lists, one focusing on Italy and the other sourced with the help of Richard Harvey, head of Bonhams Wine Department. Lander and Morgenthau told Hot Dinners: “The combination of a top restaurant team and a very special site within Bonhams makes for a perfect match.” Quality Chop House is in Clerkenwell while Portland and Clipstone are both in Fitzrovia.
Lyle’s team to launch Borough Market ‘little sister site’, in June: James Lowe and John Ogier are to launch a “little sister site” to their Michelin-starred Shoreditch restaurant Lyle’s, at Borough Market in June. Flor will be a wine bar, bakery and restaurant inspired by the “buvettes of Paris and the pintxos bars in San Sebastián”. Split across two floors, Flor will be housed in a 19th century building in the centre of Borough Market, with floor-to-ceiling windows, a counter overlooking the open kitchen, and a cast-iron spiral staircase to an upstairs space with original brickwork, banquette seating, marble and stone. The bakery counter will focus on sourdough loaves and pastries using stone-ground wheat from Dorset, milled in-house at Lyle’s. Daytime dishes will include raw scallop with preserved gooseberry and green tomato. The evening menu will feature simple plates such as Cornish pollack brandade with pickled peppers, and desserts such as loganberry fool using fruit picked in Sussex. There will also be weekend brunch, while wine will be sourced from “agriculturally responsible producers”. Ogier said: “We have decided to open a bakery, restaurant and wine bar we like to think of as the little sister of Lyle’s, following the same philosophy with a love of good-quality ingredients but with baking at the heart.” Lowe added: “Whereas at Lyle’s we focus on the best produce Britain has to offer, Flor will pay homage to the European ingredients available in London. It will be a smaller, more laid-back space – but with a big personality.”
Social Pantry team to launch third London cafe, in Peckham: The team behind Soane’s Kitchen in Ealing and Social Pantry Kitchen in Lavender Hill is to open a third London cafe, this time in Peckham. Crane’s Kitchen will open within South London Gallery on Wednesday (1 May). It will offer a similar menu to its sister sites, with dishes such as braised chicken with fennel, fregola and broad beans, and smoked mackerel panzanella, Hot Dinners reports. 
Bonnie Gull founder launches chef-led fish shop, deli and seafood bar in Chelsea: Alex Hunter, co-founder and managing director of British seaside restaurant concept Bonnie Gull, has opened a venue in Chelsea that operates as a fishmonger and delicatessen by day and seafood and champagne bar at night. The Sea, The Sea has launched in Pavilion Road offering seafood sourced from mainly British fish markets. Working with Bonnie Gull and other London restaurants, the venue operates a 24-hour stock turnaround policy to ensure all produce is sold within one day of arriving in-store. The brand promotes sustainable species and minimises single-use plastic. The venue, named after the Iris Murdoch novel, also hosts masterclasses on seafood-related activities such as oyster shucking, curing and fish filleting. In the evening, the oyster bar turns into a champagne bar offering small plates, bowls and shellfish platters. Bonnie Gull operates seafood shacks in Soho and Fitzrovia, while Hunter launched grab-and-go concept Salt ‘n’ Sauce in Oxford last year, although the initial site at the Westgate Social has now closed.
Former Mr Fogg’s general manager to head new bar at Trafalgar Square hotel: Former Mr Fogg’s general manager Marco Ercolano is to head a new bar opening in London’s Trafalgar Square next month. Rockwell, which takes its inspiration from the 17th and 18th century, will launch at the Trafalgar St James hotel in Spring Gardens on Friday, 24 May. The lounge area will be fringed by large Longifolia Cabana trees opening up to banquette seating. Ercolano, who was also previously at The Rivoli Bar at The Ritz, draws the influence for his cocktails and mocktails from exotic imports alongside traditional English spirits, with drinks such as Fish in Flight, which features strawberry-infused whisky with citrus, apple and rhubarb. The bar food menu will include marinated chicken skewers with lemon and herbs; and a Welsh lamb, courgette and mint yoghurt flatbread. Ercolano said: “Rockwell will indulge the escapist in all of us, transporting guests from the mayhem of central London to a sanctuary of surreal tropical flora and designs. The hotel and its surrounding area are so rich in history that we couldn’t help but be inspired to draw on British heritage when devising the menu too. The bar will be a plant-filled hideaway where guests can come to sip on botanical cocktails and escape reality with fantasy.”
Jamie Rollo – SSP’s share price is ‘fully valued’: Morgan Stanley leisure analyst Jamie Rollo has argued the share price of UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist SSP Group is “fully valued”. He said: “SSP, Autogrill and Areas are the world's three largest travel concession catering companies. This week, Elior announced a €1.5bn EV binding offer from PAI Partners for its subsidiary Areas, which values Areas at 7.9 times 2018 Ebitda. This compares against SSP trading at 12.3 times Ebitda and Autogrill on 6.4 times (both on 12 months forward consensus Ebitda). An equivalent multiple would value SSP equity at about 400p per share, well below its current 712p share price, though we note SSP has higher margins and a superior sales growth track record to Autogrill and Areas. We also believe Ebitda is not an ideal way to value concession caterers, as they have relatively high capex ratios (about 50% of Ebitda in SSP's case), meaning less of their Ebitda converts to free cash flow than for say contract caterers (about 65% to 70%). SSP also generates an estimated 20% of Ebit from joint venture/associate income, so its minority adjustment adds about 15% to its EV, which consensus does not always adjust for. On EV/Ebit, which adjusts for these issues, SSP trades on nearly 20 times 2019e, expensive for its forecast growth (9% FY19-21 compound annual growth rate), and above Areas' disposal value of 14.7 times and Autogrill on 15.5 times. SSP reports first half results in May and we expect a strong set of results (+6% organic sales, +17% Ebit), and for the outgoing chief executive Kate Swann to present an upbeat outlook, but we think the shares are fully valued.”
Midlands-based restaurant and takeaway lodges plans for 17th site, in Coventry: Midlands-based restaurant and takeaway Big John’s has lodged plans to open a site in Coventry. The company has applied to the city council to convert the former Metro in the Burges into its 17th outlet. Big John's sells a range of food, including pizza, kebabs, fried chicken, fish and chips, and an assortment of wraps and paninis. The pub has been empty since 2012 and was operated by Stonegate Pub Company, reports Coventry Live.
Ping Pong works with Harley Street nutritionist on new summer menu: Dim sum restaurant group Ping Pong has been working with Harley Street-based nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert as part of its new summer menu. Lambert has created four dishes and a smoothie with Ping Pong dim sum master Ruby Wu. These are two dim sum – miso aubergine dumpling and okra and cod dumpling – along with a vegan quinoa, ginger and miso salad, and a red date and coconut pudding. The smoothie is a mix of kale, nashi pear, avocado, ginger, parsley, lime and apple. The menu is available from Tuesday, 4 June until Sunday, 30 August across all eight sites. Wu said: “We wanted to work with Rhiannon because she is one of the most respected nutritionists in her field and she holds a lot of trust with her following on how to live and breathe a healthy lifestyle. We wanted to get the message to our Ping Pong customers about the quality of the ingredients we use and that our food is handmade and healthy too.”
Northamptonshire-based operators to open dinosaur-themed diner in former Chimichanga site in Kettering: Northamptonshire-based operators Joe Mordawska and Natalie Matts are to open a dinosaur-themed diner in Kettering for their second site. The duo are converting the former Prezzo-owned Chimichanga site in Market Place into the Jurassic Grill. Inside the venue, which will open in mid-June, will be a huge, smoke-filled volcano and some 30 life-like dinosaurs under a rainforest canopy, reports The Northants Telegraph. The restaurant will serve a variety of grilled and smoked meat with themed dishes. Its menu will change regularly. Mordawska and Matts also run the Little Country Smokehouse in Cransley.
Loungers and Creams sign for Sittingbourne scheme: Cafe bar group Loungers and dessert parlour operator Creams have signed for sites at a new scheme in Sittingbourne, Kent. The two operators have agreed deals to join the line-up at the Bourne Place leisure quarter. They will join restaurant operators Nando’s and PizzaExpress, as well as an eight-screen Light Cinema and a 63-bedroom Travelodge hotel. Work on the project began at the end of November and construction is due to be completed by the end of this year, with units opening in early 2020. A spokesman told Kent Online: “We are delighted to announce Loungers and Creams will be opening in the Bourne Place leisure quarter. They are joining other major brands, such as Nando’s and PizzaExpress, in what will be a hive of activity in Sittingbourne town centre. With progress well underway in Bourne Place, we look forward to begin opening our offerings to the public early next year.”
Pure Leisure Group submits plans for £35m holiday resort in Fylde: Pure Leisure Group has lodged plans for a £35m holiday resort in Fylde, Lancashire. The company has applied to Fylde Borough Council to establish the venue on a vacant 67-hectare site between the A585 and river Wyre. The scheme, which would become Pure Leisure Group’s 15th park nationally, includes 495 luxury holiday lodges, a 102-bedroom hotel, a leisure complex including a pool, spa, restaurant, bar, shop, gym and indoor golf facilities, an executive nine-hole golf course, and a 2km walking trail, reports The Business Desk. Pure Leisure Group is owned by John Morphet and operates holiday lodge and caravan parks across the UK as well as a golf course and a luxury apartment and villa estate in Barbados. Earlier this year, Pure Leisure Group submitted plans for a 215-lodge holiday park in Carnforth, near Lancaster.
UK bartender scoops second spot in TGI Friday’s world championship: UK bartender Gary Burdekin has scooped second spot in this year’s TGI Friday’s World Bartender Championship. Burdekin, who works at TGI Friday’s in Derby, was runner-up in the event, which was entered by more than 8,000 bartenders from 60 countries across the globe. He secured his place in his debut world final after winning the TGI Fridays UK Bartender Championship in November. Having been rewarded with £2,000 for his UK victory, he picked up a further $5,000 for his second place in the world final. Burdekin, who took up bartending six years ago, was pipped to first place by Ben Becker from the US. Burdekin said: “I had a few nerves at first, but then the adrenaline kicked in, and then I really enjoyed the experience! So when I came in second, I was proud with the result. I feel like if all went to plan, I could have taken the win. So next year, that’s the plan!”
Chapel Down to open multimillion-pound brewery, bar and restaurant next month: Chapel Down Group will open its new multimillion-pound brewery, bar and restaurant next month – the company’s biggest investment to date. The 1.6-acre Curious Brewery development in Ashford, Kent, includes a custom-built, five-vessel brewhouse capable of producing more than four-and-a-half million pints a year. Beer will be kegged and bottled on-site at a rate of more than 4,000 bottles an hour. The ground floor will consist of a 1,000 square foot shop, bar and hosting area for tours. The first floor will feature a 4,000 square foot bar and two dining rooms, where an open kitchen will serve modern British cuisine with ingredients sourced from local suppliers. Chapel Down Group chief executive Frazer Thomson said: “This is the latest jewel-in-the-crown for Chapel Down. In just the last six months, we’ve harvested the single biggest grape harvest the country has seen, leased new land that will give us the biggest vineyard in the country and further extend our lead as Britain’s biggest winemaker and opened the Chapel Down Gin Works at King’s Cross. We’ve been busy. But opening the Curious Brewery is our biggest investment to date. This is the final foundation stone under our belief that we are Britain’s most exciting drinks company.” 

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