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Wed 18th Sep 2019 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Flight Club team spent more than three years developing shuffleboard concept: The team behind Social Darts concept Flight Club told Propel it has been developing its shuffleboard concept, Electric Shuffle, for the past three and a half years as it prepares to open a debut site. Electric Shuffle will launch in Cabot Square in London’s Canary Wharf on Friday, 29 November. Former Thai restaurant Sri Nams is being transformed into a 350-capacity venue that will feature ten shuffle tables hosting up to 16 players a time with a choice of three different games. Co-founder Steve Moore told Propel: “Electric Shuffle has wonderful synergies to what we’ve done with Flight Club – two activities being played in an amphitheatre with food, drink and seating around the game. I think one of the great things about shuffleboard is it’s a real leveller. Because not many people have played the game, it can be won by almost anybody. However from a brand and gaming point of view, Flight Club and Electric Shuffle are in two different worlds. Paul (Barham), Jason Dale and myself have been developing Electric Shuffle for three and a half years. Along the way we’ve developed the software and gameplay with focus groups, made tweaks where needed and then gone back to them, so the product has effectively been developed by potential customers. David Ramsbottom and Ben Morris have led the gaming and branding development and our operations director, Dustin Acton, has also been instrumental.” As well as the launch of Electric Shuffle, Flight Club sites will open in Boston in December for the brand’s second US venue, while a sixth UK site, in Leeds, is in the pipeline for next summer. In terms of further sites for both concepts, Moore said the team would look to regroup at the start of 2020 and assess the situation. He added: “With regards to Electric Shuffle, we need to take our learnings from the first site before thinking about opening more but we’re confident we have a good product. With both concepts, all the sites are individual so they take time to develop.”

Industry News:

Casual Dining Summit open for bookings: Propel has launched the Casual Dining Summit in which some of the sector’s leading operators – big and small, new and established – will share expertise and insights into how they are seeking to win in one of the toughest trading environments ever experienced. The full-day event takes place on Friday, 8 November at One Moorgate Place in London and is open for bookings. The event will see a wide spectrum of company leaders and entrepreneurs from across the industry talk about the strategies they have put in place to make sure their businesses have been able to survive, thrive, evolve or pivot. Speakers will include YO! chief executive Richard Hodgson, who will explain the group’s move away from being a pure restaurant-focused business to becoming a global multi-format, multi-channel company; Tom Molnar, founder of Gail’s, who will chart the brand’s growth trajectory and evolution into a growing force on the high street; Shereen Ritchie, UK managing director of Leon, who will set out how the healthy-eating chain has focused on its core offer to remain relevant; and Byron chief executive Simon Wilkinson, who will discuss the steps being taken to turn the brand around and how it plans to differentiate itself from the pack. The day will also see Giggling Squid’s Andy Laurillard discuss how the Thai brand’s trading model is proving successful in the regions, its expansion strategy and potential; Red’s True Barbecue co-founder James Douglas talk about the rise, fall and re-emergence of the smokehouse concept and the lessons he has learned during that time; and Brasserie Bar Co chairman Mark Derry explore the steps the group continually takes to make it future-proof and its daily quest to control costs and improve NPS scores. They will be joined by Prue Freeman, founder of fledgling group Daisy Green, who will discuss how the independent business has managed to grow a presence in London in the highly competitive all-day dining market; and Phil Eeles, co-founder of Honest Burgers, who will talk about how the business has avoided getting caught up in the wider issues the better burger category has faced, its culture and whether now is the time for the brand to diversify. There will also be a panel session featuring Thom Elliot, co-founder of Pizza Pilgrims, Dan Houghton, co-founder of Chilango, and Gavin Adair, managing director of Rosa’s Thai, who will explore the benefits and challenges that come with offering a delivery option, its impact on business models, staff and expansion opportunities. The NPD Group insights director Dominic Allport will highlight the underlying rude health of the sector despite its well-publicised challenges. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium subscribers and £345 plus VAT for all others. To book, email anne.steele@propelinfo.com or call 01444 817691.

Deadline approaching for Restaurant Marketer & Innovator 30 Under 30 nominations: The deadline is approaching to nominate for the Restaurant Marketer & Innovator “30 Under 30” list for 2020, which recognises 30 talented future leaders in marketing, innovation and strategy roles within the sector who are under 30 years of age. Judges will look for creativity, confidence, commercial awareness, ability to collaborate, leadership skills and perseverance. They will also look for experience in senior stakeholder management, understanding of how to develop strategy, ability to self-reflect, and clear potential to be an industry leader of the future. Nominees should have at least three years’ experience in the hospitality sector. Nominations close on Monday, 30 September. They are anonymous and can be made by anybody by clicking here. Self-nominations are accepted. Selected candidates will be invited to a presentation evening on 20 January 2020 at Google London and will receive a ticket to the Restaurant Marketer & Innovator European Summit. All those applying for a place will be automatically considered for the Future Marketing Leader of the Year prize at the Restaurant Marketer & Innovator Awards. The award is the pinnacle of the 30 Under 30 programme, and up to ten candidates will be shortlisted. This year the prize will be accompanied by a travel scholarship, where the winner will be supported with a fully funded and co-ordinated overseas trip to aid their development while meeting industry leaders. Programme co-founder and Think Hospitality chief executive James Hacon said: “The 30 Under 30 programme is great recognition by the industry of your achievements to date and highlights you as a leader of the future. As part of the programme you will be in a network of like-minded professionals, who you will meet and get to know. You will be our guest at international conference day and get invited to a presentation evening to network with industry peers.”

Almost half of consumers would head to pub for a coffee if it ‘opened earlier’: Almost half (48%) of consumers would head to the pub for a coffee if it “opened earlier”, according to research by UCC Coffee UK & Ireland. The option to take away and buy coffee as part of a meal deal were also specified as key purchase drivers. However, the survey of 1,000 UK consumers by Allegra Strategies found only 9% of patrons rate coffee in pubs better than high-street coffee, with poor quality stated as the number one reason for not purchasing coffee from a pub. Pub-goers now demand better quality and consistency and expect to pay less than on the high street for a coffee – about £2.39. Phil Smith, head of category and insight at UCC Coffee UK & Ireland, said: “We are starting to see consumer habits shift – pubs are now considered a coffee destination. Coffee can help drive sales and increase footfall during traditionally quieter periods – but there’s a catch. Operators must be willing to give coffee the same attention as they do their alcohol and food offers.”

TripAdvisor rejected 1.4 million fake reviews in 2018: TripAdvisor said it rejected 1.4 million fake reviews last year as the website tackles claims it doesn’t do enough to prevent fraudulent and misleading reviews. In its 2019 TripAdvisor Review Transparency Report, the company revealed it received 66 million reviews last year, with 2.1% – or almost 1.4 million – found to be fake. TripAdvisor said almost three-quarters (73%) of the fake reviews were blocked before they were posted, while 374,220 (0.6%) made it on to the platform before being removed. The report follows a study by UK-based consumer group Which? Travel earlier this month, which criticised TripAdvisor for “failing to stop a flood of fake and suspicious five-star reviews and artificially boosting hotel properties”. TripAdvisor said all reviews were analysed using “advanced fraud detection technology” and 2.7 million of the 66 million reviews submitted last year were subject to additional human assessment. Overall, 4.7% of reviews were rejected or removed for reasons ranging from guideline violations to fraud.

New York chefs protest against foie gras ban plan: New York chefs and producers have protested against a foie gras ban being considered by New York City Council. Restaurant operators defended the culinary benefits of foie gras, while producers said a city-wide ban would harm foie gras farms in New York. The council is considering outlawing the product, which is a staple at many of its top restaurants. Critics of foie gras say the process is cruel because ducks and geese are overfed through a pipe that can expand the liver up to ten times its normal size. A New York State-wide ban has been mooted several times but never voted on. Chicago banned foie gras in 2006 but the move was overturned shortly after. A ban was re-enacted in California in 2017. Foie gras production is illegal in several countries, including the UK and India.

Company News:

Wells & Co trials sales sharing tenancy agreement: Bedford-based brewer and retailer Wells & Co is trialling a new sales sharing tenancy agreement, Propel has learned. With no payable rent, a “low” security deposit and all utilities paid for by Wells & Co, the company said the agreement allowed “newcomers to the industry to gain a foothold in the world of hospitality”. The first pub to operate under the agreement is the Rose & Crown in Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire. The pub has reopened after being closed for eight months and is being run by Robin Smith and Lynn Reeves. A Wells & Co spokesman told Propel: “We have decreased the personal investment and risks typically associated with opening a new pub venture. By removing barriers to entry, we aim to attract talented entrepreneurial individuals who otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity. Once on board, all pub partners taking up the agreement will also benefit from a comprehensive support package from Wells & Co including a full retail induction programme as well as marketing, financial and licensing support, leaving our partners free to focus on growing their business. The sales sharing agreement will allow our pub partners to be their own boss while having access to a wealth of expertise in the form of Wells & Co, a family-owned, independent business that has been making beer and overseeing a portfolio of pubs for more than 140 years.” Smith said: “Having been regulars for a number of years, the Rose & Crown has become a home away from home to us. It is an important part of the community in Newport Pagnell so it was key for myself and Lynn to line up ways to bring the pub back to life, including serving home-cooked, traditional pub classics for the first time.”

Hickory’s eyes expansion outside heartland as it looks to open three sites a year: American-style smokehouse and barbecue brand Hickory’s Smokehouse, which is backed by Piper, is eyeing expansion outside its north west and Midlands heartland as it looks to open up to three sites a year, Propel has learned. Hickory’s head of property Jim Bishop said the company was seeking sites in Yorkshire, while its restaurant in Worcester gave potential for the company to extend into Cheltenham and Bristol. Hickory’s has also agreed a deal for its first new-build restaurant, in Staffordshire, which will open in late summer 2020. The company operates ten sites having launched the latest in Poynton in July. It is currently on-site in Shrewsbury for an opening in late November, while it has signed for the lease of The Boddington Arms in Wilmslow, which was previously operated by Mitchells & Butlers and will reopen in spring 2020. Bishop said Hickory’s was in negotiations on a couple of sites and was looking to spread its wings further afield. He said: “We have gone from six to ten sites in the past 20 months and we’re aiming to open about three a year. We’re looking to cross the Pennines at places such as Harrogate, Leeds, Sheffield and York. It opens up that M1 corridor for us, going down to Coventry and effectively joining the circle. In the other direction, Worcester opens up the south west so Bristol and Cheltenham are places we’re looking at as we build the pipeline for 2020 and beyond. The market is providing us with plenty of opportunities and we’ll consider interesting buildings and new-builds on sites of about an acre in good residential areas.” Following a trial, Hickory’s has also rolled-out heat recovery systems across its estate. The systems provide hot water and are making “significant” savings. Founder Neil McDonnell opened the first Hickory’s in Chester in 2010 after extensively researching the American barbecue and smokehouse sector.

Giggling Squid to replace Zizzi in Harborne as it gets set to launch in Leamington Spa and Weybridge: Giggling Squid, the 32-strong Thai restaurant brand founded by Andy and Pranee Laurillard, has further added to its openings pipeline by securing a site in Harborne, West Midlands. Propel understands the BGF-backed business has secured the Zizzi site in Harborne High Street. Meanwhile, Giggling Squid has announced it will open its latest sites this autumn, in Leamington Spa and Weybridge, Surrey. The 100-cover Leamington Spa restaurant will open at the ex-Cau site in Royal Priors Shopping Centre, while the 110-cover Weybridge venue will be located in the former Cote in Church Street. Pranee Laurillard, who was named Wireless Social Women’s Entrepreneur of the Year at last week’s Women’s Entrepreneur Conference, organised by Propel and Elliotts chief executive Ann Elliott, said: “Thais have a love of all things royal so it’s fitting we’re welcoming Royal Leamington Spa to our Giggling Squid family. We can’t wait to share the Giggling Squid experience with the town.” Regarding Weybridge, she added: “Welcoming Weybridge into our Giggling Squid family is something we’ve been wanting to do for a while. Buzzy, vibrant and full of foodies, it’s the perfect place for our Giggling Squid experience.” BGF, which invested £6.4m in the then 13-strong Giggling Squid in 2015, remains supportive of the company’s self-financed roll out strategy and is said to be looking forward to further growth. The pipeline for sites remains strong as Giggling Squid looks to open between six and ten restaurants a year while embarking on a refurbishment programme of its more mature restaurants. Sites in Cambridge and Leicester were recently added to the pipeline. AG&G is understood to have acted on the Harborne deal. The disposal of the Harborne site is part of Zizzi’s natural churn of its national estate. The Azzurri Group-owned brand has launched three sites this year, with a further opening set for the new Drake’s Circus development in Plymouth.

200 Degrees to make out-of-town debut next month, at East Midlands designer outlet: Nottingham-based coffee roaster and retailer 200 Degrees is to open its first out-of-town site, at McArthurGlen’s East Midlands Designer Outlet at Junction 28 of the M1. The 80-seater, 1,865 square foot store, the brand’s 11th, will launch next month featuring a coffee bar, snug and outdoor seating and serving coffee roasted by the company in Nottingham. As well as coffee, tea, smoothies and milkshakes, 200 Degrees offers deli-style sandwiches, salads, soup, cake and pastries prepared daily on-site to eat in or take away. 200 Degrees co-founder and director Tom Vincent said: “This is the first out-of-town location for us. For people who know us, there will be a lot that’s familiar and we’re keen to offer a seat to everyone from flagging shoppers and fellow workers to business people looking for a bit of space and some Wi-Fi. Our takeaway service has been fine-tuned over the years and we’ll open early for freshly made breakfast.” Centre manager Paul Tyler added: “We are passionate about supporting local businesses and delighted to offer our guests another independent food and beverage offering.” Vincent founded 200 Degrees with Rob Darby in 2012. The company plans to open its 12th site later this year, in Manchester. Earlier this month 200 Degrees appointed Stephen Fern as finance director amid continued expansion.

Papa John’s UK appoints supply chain director to create more lucrative model for franchisees: Papa John’s UK has appointed Robert Taylor as supply chain director. With 20 years’ experience in the foodservice industry, Taylor’s focus will be to “create a more lucrative financial model for franchisees”. Taylor joins Papa John’s from Pizza Hut, were he was responsible for 70% of the product lines within the company’s supply chain. He also set up the logistics systems for dessert brand Creams while supporting the company’s growth from 29 to more than 90 stores during his time with the company. Taylor said: “Until now the Papa John’s team has managed the supply chain as part of a bigger geographical area, which included Russia, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. As the company has grown it has become necessary to have a dedicated regional resource to maximise opportunities and help franchisees grow their businesses in the UK. My remit is wide reaching and I will look at all aspects of the store model and corporate organisation to deliver cost savings and efficiencies that can help to strengthen the Papa John’s franchise model.” Papa John’s was founded in the US in 1984 and operates more than 400 stores in the UK.

Starbucks expands delivery service across UK: Starbucks is expanding its delivery service across London and 11 other UK cities. Starbucks Delivers, in partnership with UberEats, has extended its pilot in London to Manchester and Glasgow, with an additional nine cities to follow suit. The service will also be available in Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Dundee, Edinburgh, Leeds, Leicester and Newcastle in the coming months. Alex Rayner, general manager of Starbucks UK, told BDaily: “We want to meet customers where they are and, through our partnership with UberEats, we have made a significant investment in technology and product innovation.” Toussaint Wattinne, general manager of UberEats UK and Ireland, said: “After the success of our pilot in London we are excited to expand our partnership with Starbucks across the UK.”

YO! launches debut full-service restaurant, in White City: YO!, the global multi-brand, multi-channel Japanese food group, has launched its first full-service restaurant, in White City Westfield. The 2,400 square foot restaurant seats 90 diners at wooden tables and booths and features minimalist design mixed with urban Tokyo street style and a pergola with origami birds for alfresco dining. Famed for introducing the Japanese kaizen conveyer belt to the UK 22 years ago, the full-service restaurant focuses on “kyoyu” – Japanese for sharing. Inspired by the markets and back streets of Tokyo, YO! Kitchen is an Izakaya-style restaurant with long shared tables and dishes suited to mixing and matching. The menu features 40 new dishes, while there are robata-grilled and deep-fried stick menus as well as sushi rolls and sashimi. YO! Kitchen’s larger plates include lamb cutlets with spicy miso and pickle, while a dedicated bar offers cocktails, yuzu gin and craft spirits. YO! chief executive Richard Hodgson said: “After 22 years and almost 100 YO! openings across Europe, Australia and the UAE, we are excited to continue our Japanese food journey with a new concept. YO! Kitchen is the perfect spot for experimenting with new flavours and ingredients inspired by Japan.” A second YO! Kitchen will open in Dublin next month, while Hodgson branded the new concept “probably the biggest thing that’s happened to YO! since it was founded”. 

Ivy Collection reveals more details of Asian concept launching at St Paul’s in November: The Ivy Collection, the Richard Caring-backed and David Campbell-led group, is to launch its Asian concept restaurant and bar, The Ivy Asia, in London’s St Paul’s in November. The restaurant, which has taken over the former Barbecoa site at One New Change, will open seven days a week for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch and offer “theatrical drinks and cocktails late into the night” alongside Asian-inspired dishes. Diners will be met by a fluorescent pink onyx floor, panelled artwork depicting Japanese landscapes, and a pink-hued pagoda before ascending stairs to the first-floor restaurant. Upstairs, the entire floor will be illuminated by green, semi-precious stone set against an antique gold mirrored bar, Asian fabrics, brass table tops, and large windows overlooking the cathedral. Artwork will include antique 12ft samurai warriors. As well as restaurant, bar and open kitchen seating, there will be a 20-cover private dining room. Earlier this month Propel revealed The Ivy Collection expects to open five sites before the end of the year, including one in Windsor. It also plans to open The Ivy Cardiff and The Ivy Victoria Brasserie at two former Jamie’s Italian sites it acquired this summer. The 33-strong group will also open The Ivy Oxford Brasserie and is thought to be exploring further sites in Liverpool and Newcastle.

Manchester-based multi-site operator to start expansion of cafe bar concept after acquiring Solita’s Prestwich site: Manchester-based multi-site operator Justin Parkinson has acquired the Solita site in Prestwich to start expansion of his Folk cafe bar concept. The venue in Bury New Road can accommodate 170 covers across a main restaurant and lower ground-floor bar plus a 20-cover private dining space and outdoor seating. It has a licence to trade until midnight during the week and 1am on Fridays and Saturdays. Solita owner Simon Pogson will now focus on the two remaining sites for the brand, in Turner Street and Didsbury, alongside other drinking and dining concepts across Greater Manchester. He closed the Solita site in Preston in September 2018. Parkinson, who launched Folk in Didsbury, said: “We are incredibly excited to open Folk in Prestwich. There is already a growing cluster of great independent bars and eateries in this popular village and Folk will sit perfectly.” Tom O’Malley, senior business agent at Christie & Co, who handled the sale, added: “Prestwich is a rapidly gentrifying area that’s becoming increasingly attractive to a range of hospitality operators who would have previously only considered sites in the city centre or South Manchester. We expect this trend to continue.” Parkinson also operates sherry bar Flok in the Northern Quarter and two sites for wine bar concept Wine & Wallop, in Didsbury and Knutsford.

Parle reveals more details of second Pastaio site as he eyes other London neighbourhoods: Chef Stevie Parle is to open a second site for his fast casual pasta concept Pastaio, in November, while he has his eye on opening further sites in a “few of my favourite London neighbourhoods”. The venue will launch on Westfield London’s Southern Terrace offering new dishes, including the group’s first soft-serve ice cream. The restaurant will feature two open kitchens, one dedicated to pasta-making, while chefs will make hand-rolled ravioli daily. As at the debut Pastaio in Soho’s Ganton Street, interiors will feature slab chairs and pendant lighting, while a hung staircase will lead to the first floor. The site will feature a ground-floor restaurant, street-side terrace, and a first-floor balcony, seating 145 in total. The restaurant will incorporate counter-top dining for customers looking for a “quick, inexpensive bite to eat”. Pastaio’s signature alcoholic slushies will be on offer alongside wine on tap and house-made limoncello. Parle said: “Westfield London feels like a great next step in my mission to bring high-quality fresh pasta with awesome British ingredients to as many people as possible. We have our eye on joining a few of my favourite London neighbourhoods in the future.” Parle is also chef owner of Craft London and Palatino, and is partner and advisor to London Union. 

Fine dining chef opens third site for Dough & Co pizza concept: Chris Sharman, who worked as a fine dining chef under Marco Pierre White, has launched a third site for his pizza concept Dough & Co. Sharman has revived a former McDonald’s unit in the Anchor Street leisure complex in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire. Sharman opened the first Dough & Co in Sudbury, Suffolk, in July 2018 followed by a restaurant in Colchester in December. The 80-cover Bishop’s Stortford restaurant features the company’s trademark furniture made from recycled wooden pallets. Sharman plans to open 50 Dough & Co sites in the next five years. McDonald’s closed in 2010 and was eventually replaced by the short-lived Zest diner.

The Adil Group to open first Taco Bell in Hull next month: Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell is to open its first site in Hull. The 53-cover restaurant, which will launch in Brighton Street on Friday, 11 October, will be operated by franchisee The Adil Group – a key partner in bringing the Taco Bell brand to the UK. The group plans to open more than ten UK stores by 2023 and said it had already acquired sites. The Hull restaurant will be the 39th Taco Bell to open in the UK. Taco Bell UK marketing lead Lucy Dee said: “We are really pleased to open a Taco Bell in Hull – it’s a place we’ve had our eye on for a while. Hull has high footfall with people looking for entertainment and, of course, a bite to eat, providing us with the perfect spot to expand our portfolio.” There are more than 425 Taco Bell restaurants across 27 markets outside the US, with the goal of expanding the brand’s international presence to 9,000 restaurants by 2022.

High-end Mexican restaurant group Toca Madera to make UK debut at west London rooftop space: High-end Mexican restaurant group Toca Madera, which operates sites in Hollywood and Arizona, is to make its UK debut by operating the rooftop restaurant at a west London hotel. The venue will open in November or December at the former Saint George’s Hotel next to BBC Broadcasting House in Langham Place. The hotel has been taken over by US American travel group SH Hotels, which will relaunch the venue as part of its new Treehouse boutique hotel range. Treehouse London will offer 95 bedrooms, including 12 suites, and a ground-floor coffee bar, while the restaurant and bar will offer 360-degree views of London’s skyline. Toca Madera, owned by Tosh Berman, offers tostadas, ceviche and queso fundido along with hot lava stone cooking and a taqueria section, Hot Dinners reports. 

EasyHotel targets under-used public sector buildings: EasyHotel, the owner, developer, operator and franchisor of “super budget” branded hotels, is in talks with UK local authorities with a view to establishing hotels in under-used public sector buildings. Franchise development director St John Harvey said the brand had held “positive discussions” with a number of councils, while it would talk to the NHS in “due course”. Harvey told Insider Media: “Since the financial crash of 2007-08 the public sector has contracted and we suspect it has buildings partly occupied or vacant and in the right position for an EasyHotel. We’ve started to reach out to local authorities, district boroughs, unitary authorities and, in due course, we’ll start talking to the NHS to see what it has available.” Harvey said discussions with councils so far had been “very encouraging”. EasyHotel doesn’t require exclusive use of a building so a hotel could be established on floors above a library, for example. Harvey said: “It is a really flexible model that allows councils to get as much or as little involved as they want. We are driving business to the town centre, stimulating local firms because we’re not competing with bars and restaurants, and attracting people to the town. A building may be an eyesore or threatened with closure – but no longer needs to face that fate.”

Hotel operator acquires Britain’s first purpose-built motel for second site: Hotel operator Jackie Hayes has bought Britain’s first purpose-built motel for her second site. Hayes has acquired the Mercury Motel, outside Bolton, from Glynn and Kwez Heywood. The 20-bedroom motel on the A6 in Westhoughton, which the Heywoods operated for 13 years, includes a cabaret bar and function room. Hayes said: “The Mercury Motel is an excellent addition to my wedding venue at Wincham Hall Hotel, near Northwich.” Tom O’Malley, senior business agent at Christie & Co, who handled the sale, added: “Given the unique nature of the Mercury Motel, we received a great deal of interest.”

Former Duck & Waffle executive chef and House Café Company boss open Bermondsey bar restaurant: Former Duck & Waffle executive chef Tom Cenci and House Café Company boss Adam White have opened a bar restaurant in Bermondsey. They have relaunched House Café venue Village East as the Loyal Tavern offering seasonal menus and cheese toasties for late-night snacks. The former textile factory’s interiors have been given a makeover to offer 100 covers, two bars and a private dining room. Cenci’s menu features Cornish mackerel with apple, pine nut and truffle; venison tartar with beef dripping; and daily specials. Antonio Del Monte, formerly of The Ned, runs the bar offering natural wine to pair with the menu, while wine flights are available in three measurements alongside a broad beer selection. House Café Company operates Rail House Cafe in Victoria and Riding House Cafe in Fitzrovia, which the company relaunched last month featuring a remodelled interior and new menu.

Biff’s Kitchen signs Punch partnership as pub group adds vegan options: Biff’s Kitchen, the vegan fast food operator that specialises in jackfruit-based “junk” food and sauces, has signed a nationwide partnership with Punch. The move will see Biff’s crispy jackfruit burger and jackfruit wingz on menus at Punch’s Champs, Our Local and Our Local Plus pubs. Biff’s Kitchen secured a fund-raise in June that allowed it to “focus on its branded products while growing as one of the UK’s leading vegan operators under its Biff’s Jack Shack brand”. The raise process was led by Snaffling Pig co-founder Andrew Allen, who joined Biff Kitchen as commercial director and partner. A retail range is also in development. The Punch deal marks a full debut for Biff’s foodservice business. Allen said: “When we decided to enter the foodservice market the on-trade felt a natural fit for our indulgent style. As such, having the opportunity to launch with a respected operator such as Punch is incredibly exciting.” Punch head of food Tracey Bell said: “With the rise in demand for vegan menu options we are committed to finding the best suppliers and partners in the space. Biff’s provides our customers with a great product from a brand with an exciting, deeply credible story.” Biff Burrows and Christa Bloom founded Biff’s Kitchen in 2017. After runs with street food business Kerb and a ten-month residency at Haunt in Stoke Newington, Biff’s opened at Boxpark Shoreditch in October 2018 before launching a takeaway concession within Eat 17 Walthamstow in January this year and a dine-in and takeaway concession at Eat 17 Homerton in May.

Wales-based sausage restaurant launches £150,000 fund-raise as it aims for UK roll-out: Wales-based sausage restaurant The Sausage Revolution has launched a £150,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube as it looks to roll out across the UK. Simon Llewellyn launched the concept in Barry last year, with the restaurant profitable in its first 12 months of trading. Llewellyn is raising the funds as he looks to open a site in Cardiff before launching franchises in Bristol and the West Midlands. He is offering 10% equity in return for the investment, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £1.35m. The pitch states: “The Sausage Revolution is serving one of the UK’s favourite foods. The company seeks to increase its presence in the quick service restaurant market and roll-out its distinctive brand across the UK. Investment will fuel this by opening in Cardiff before launching franchises in Bristol and the West Midlands. Primary expenditure will be store logistics and marketing.”

SIBA appoints head of public affairs: The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has appointed Barry Watts as head of public affairs and policy. Watts has joined from the Royal Economic Society and has significant public affairs and communications experience having worked in Parliament and financial regulation. He also ran his own brewing company. SIBA chief executive James Calder said: “I am delighted to welcome Barry to the SIBA team. His knowledge of engagement, communications, stakeholder management and the brewing industry means he’ll be an invaluable asset and will hit the ground running.” Watts added: “My first priority is to meet SIBA members across the country and hear their thoughts on the important issues the industry faces – from the review of small brewers relief to the introduction of a deposit return scheme – so we can continue to make the strongest case for independent craft beer to government.”

Frame to open Angel Central site: Fitness brand Frame will launch a site at Angel Central in north London in December. The company will open the 5,200 square foot fitness studio in a basement offering three studios. It is the latest leisure addition to Angel Central, which is being transformed through an £11m investment. Frame co-founder Pip Black told BDaily: “Angel Central is the perfect next step for Frame, a great location with strong footfall and a great range of shops, restaurants and alternative leisure offers.” Laura Wilson-Brown, head of asset management UK at CBRE Global Investors, landlord of Angel Central, said: “Frame has had great success across London with its unique approach to fitness. We are keen to establish Angel Central as a complete destination for visitors.” CBRE acted for Angel Central, while Insight Retail represented Frame.

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