Story of the Day:
Carluccio’s new tipping policy leads to team turnover falling: A new tipping policy implemented at Carluccio’s, the Mark Jones-led, Italian restaurant chain, has led to six consecutive months of team turnover declining and mystery diner-based service scores rising, Propel has learned. The new policy, which sees tips distributed by hours worked to all of the respective restaurant’s team – managers, waiters, bar staff and kitchen staff – is understood to have been implemented on the request of its employees and after a successful trial earlier this year. The new policy came under scrutiny in a Sunday Times piece over the weekend, which reported waiting staff at the chain were revolting over the change, which the newspaper reported has left them hundreds of pounds a month worse off and handing a greater share of tips to managers. However, Propel understands the new policy came about after the company’s “tronc” committee, which is independent and has no senior managers or directors on it but a cross section of staff including waiters, asked for a change via firstly a trial and then its implementation. Jones, chief executive of Carluccio’s, said: “Our independent tronc committee has come up with a scheme that I believe to be one of the fairest in the industry, and the company makes no profit from it whatsoever. We are a ’no service charge’ business. We used to split the credit card and debit tips only (cash stays with waiters) 65%/35% in favour of the waiter. It is now distributed by hours worked to all the team – waiters, bar, deli, kitchen and managers – and at one point of distribution per hour. Managers hours are capped so they can’t take more than contracted hours. The trial was a success and we have seen six months in a row of team turnover falling and service scores rising. So, we are happy and so are the vast majority of our teams – our famiglia. Of course, cash stays with the waiters and this can be very substantial, unlike with the service charge, therefore customers always have a choice on what to leave.”
Propel Multi Club Conference open for bookings, Andrew Ball to present, two free places for operators:
The final Propel Multi Club Conference of 2019 is open for bookings. The full-day event takes place on Thursday, 14 November at the Millennium Gloucester hotel in London. Andrew Ball, of sector accountancy specialist haysmacintyre,
will share the key metrics sector multi-site companies are reporting in this year’s haysmacintyre benchmarking survey. Multi-site operators of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele at firstname.lastname@example.org
Business confidence among sector leaders at lowest for two years as Brexit fears mount: Business confidence among the leaders of Britain’s pub and restaurant groups has taken a hit amid fears about the long-term impact of Brexit – pushing market optimism to its lowest ebb for two years. The downturn is revealed in the latest quarterly Business Confidence Survey from insights firm CGA in association with hospitality software provider Fourth. The study indicated less than one-third (30%) of industry bosses are optimistic about prospects for the general market – down 9% on the previous survey three months ago. The figure is the lowest since November 2017 and the joint lowest since the EU referendum in June 2016. Operators’ confidence in their own businesses has also dipped in recent months. Less than three-fifths (58%) of leaders are optimistic about their firm’s prospects in the next 12 months – down 7% from the last poll to the lowest point since late 2017. The survey spotlighted Brexit as the overwhelming source of pessimism and revealed leaders are concerned about the long-term as well as immediate impacts of leaving the EU. Although more than two-fifths (44%) gave uncertainty around Brexit as their leading concern, more than half (52%) cited the potential consequences of departure as their biggest worry. Almost three-quarters (74%) of leaders said they were concerned about increased food costs post-Brexit and nearly as many are worried about increased labour costs (72%) and a fall in consumer confidence (67%). CGA group chief executive Phil Tate said: “This is a sober message to the government from the country’s pub, bar and restaurant operators. It’s clear the long-term consequences of Brexit are front of mind in the industry at the moment and leaders don’t regard this as simply a short-term problem. There is an urgent need for clarity around Brexit’s impact on areas such as imports and the labour market, and this sector deserves support that reflects its enormous contribution to the UK’s economy.” Fourth chief executive Ben Hood added: “In an industry known for its positivity, energy and a can do, will do culture, our latest leaders’ survey is telling. Brexit and the prevailing uncertainty is clearly and understandably weighing on the sector. With consumer confidence starting to tick down as well, these findings should sound the alarm in Westminster that Britain’s resilient, dynamic and world-class hospitality sector needs government to deliver clarity and a workable departure that protects our best interests.”
Sector cuts sugar in meals by 4.9% as food industry continues to make progress: Restaurants, pubs and cafes have cut the amount of sugar served in meals by 4.9% since last year, a new report has revealed. Public Health England (PHE) has published its second-year report on progress made by the food industry to voluntarily reduce sugar in everyday food. The report shows the sugar reduction achieved by retailers, manufacturers and the out-of-home sector – including restaurants, pubs and cafes – in foods that contribute the most sugar in children’s diets. For retailers and manufacturers alone, there was an overall 2.9% reduction. The report also looks at progress made under the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, which showed a 27.2% reduction per 100ml for drinks consumed out of home. Meanwhile, there was a 28.8% sugar reduction per 100ml in retailer own-brand and manufacturer-branded products. There was a consumer shift towards zero or lower sugar products, with sugar purchased from soft drinks decreasing in all socio-economic groups. A total of 30,133 tonnes of sugar were removed without reducing soft drink sales, resulting in about 37.5 billion fewer kilocalories sold in sugary drinks each year. PHE chief executive Duncan Selbie said: “We are seeing some encouraging progress from the food industry. Our second year report shows some food categories reducing sugar faster than others but this is realistic at this early stage. We are confident the industry as a whole understands its responsibility to step up and deliver for children and their families.”
Global hotel market slowdown appears to be accelerating as UK growth weakens: The global hotel market slowdown appears to be accelerating as August revpar growth in the UK weakened. The UK hotel market saw revpar growth of 0.6% in August compared with growth of 2.0% the previous year and 0.9% in the year to date, according to Morgan Stanley’s latest Global Hotel Revpar Tracker. Occupancy fell 0.6% in August following a 0.2% drop in July, while room rates grew 1.2% versus a 0.7% increase in July. In London, revpar grew 4.9% in August compared with 2.7% in July and 16.3% in June, with room rate growth of 5.0% offset by a 0.1% decline in occupancy. Regional revpar fell 2.3% in August versus a 0.9% fall in July and 0.1% fall in June, with a decline in occupancy of 0.8% and a 1.5% decline in room rates. The midscale and economy segment, in which Whitbread’s Premier Inn operates, saw revpar fall 2.2% in August compared with a 2.0% drop in July and growth of 0.9% in June, with a 0.9% decline in occupancy and a 1.3% decline in room rates. European revpar growth weakened in August with growth of 1.2%, compared with 3.8% the previous year. The revpar increase was driven by room rate growth of 1.1% (same as July), while occupancy grew 0.1% (0.9% in July). The US saw revpar growth slow to 0.9% from its 1.6% increase the previous year while in the Asia-Pacific region revpar dropped 3.0% in August, down from growth of 0.7% the year before.
Benugo reports turnover up to £116m: Benugo, the operator of deli cafes and catering in high-profile venues such as the Natural History Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum, has reported turnover rose 3% to £116,096,000 for the year ending 28 December 2018, compared with £112,738,000 the previous year. The company said the increase was due to the full-year impact of contracts won in 2017 offset by the strategically exiting of some poor performing sites. Operating profit and profit before tax dropped to £3,878,000, compared with £4,670,000 the year before. Capital expenditure during the period was £5.2m, compared with £4.7m the previous year. At the end of the period net assets stood at £32.1m, compared with £29.2m the year before. Cash and cash equivalent was up to £6.8m from £6.1m the previous year. The company reported a total of £23,854,000 in tax borne or collected by Benugo, compared with £23,775,000 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “As an employer with a significant number of employees but operating in a relatively low-margin sector, corporation tax alone is not a balanced reflection of total tax contribution made by Benugo.” The company staff count grew to 1,273 from 1,238 the year before. Benugo’s immediate parent company is Westbury Street but the ultimate controlling party is Alastair Storey, who controls the ultimate parent company Cheadle Developments.
Peach reports like-for-likes up 0.5% in trading conditions that have ‘never been harder’: Peach Pub Company has reported like-for-like sales increased 0.5% for the year ending 6 January 2019, as its boss said trading conditions had “never been harder”. The company, which operates 19 gastro-pubs, said it had delivered another solid set of results despite continued challenges in the market. Turnover rose 9% to £27.9m, compared with £25.6m the previous year. Ebitda before exceptional items was £1,912,622 compared with £2,051,582 the year before, with the £139,000 fall attributed to the impact of rates and the cost of two openings. During the year the group engaged professional advisers at a cost of £472,000 to prepare for and engage with potential investors. The group also incurred costs of £201,000 in respect of the surrender of a lease. This resulted in a loss before tax and minority of £120,946, compared with a profit of £548,924 the previous year. Peach banking facilities consist of a £6.0m loan, £2.4m revolving credit facility and £0.3m overdraft. The company owns four freeholds, which are valued substantially more than its current debt. Net assets before deduction of minority shareholdings are currently £1,692,461, compared with £1,912,530 the year before. Two pubs were purchased during the period – The Bear & Ragged Staff in Cumnor, Oxfordshire, and Boulters at Boulters Lock in Maidenhead, Berkshire. In January 2019 the company disposed of The Old Mill in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire. Managing director Hamish Stoddart said: “Another tough year has inevitably had an impact but we’ve faced the challenges head on and in fact come through stronger than ever. We were poised to capitalise on a great summer, and we nailed it. Our pubs have delivered solid organic growth and, while we might aspire to more than 0.5% like-for-like growth, we are beating the market. We’re still battling the cost headwinds and while it’s not enough like-for-like in our opinion, it’s pretty good in the market place. We intend to be mainly clear of debt and it’s likely we will achieve that in the next few months. We continue our long-term goal of being operationally profitable every year. If we have a loss-maker, we deal with it. We got rid of one in 2018. Trading conditions have never been harder, and I love it. The team is moving us forward and we are challenging all those Peach sacred cows of the past 18 years. We are working hard on how to be even better. Profit might be hard right now, but living our values is easy. We believe it’s the only way to continue staying ahead.” The company stated: “Tougher consumer spending and increased pressure on tax on business will continue. Business rates for 2019 will again rise a further £110,000. Systems implemented in the prior year are giving us the opportunity to hold our margins and mitigate cost pressures. We believe that in a stressed market, great pubs will become available to us and we continue to look for good opportunities. 2019 has started with the same tough trading conditions of the prior year but we are seeing improvement in growth.”
Lane7 unveils plans for five new venues by end of 2020 spearheaded by Leicester ‘super-site’ featuring F&B village: Lane7, the bowling alley, ping pong and karaoke concept, has unveiled plans to open another five venues before the end of 2020 spearheaded by a “super-site” in Leicester that will feature a container-style food and beverage village. The company will launch its biggest site to date as part of a redevelopment of the former Leicester Central railway station, which features in the £47m Great Central Square regeneration scheme. The 22,000 square foot site will feature a double-height shipping container-style entertainment village featuring food and drink offerings, tenpin bowling and other gaming attractions. The make-up of the site will also allow some of the Midlands’ most popular street food trucks to take up temporary residencies within Lane7. The company said Leicester should be operational in early 2020 and revealed its site in Sheffield city centre would also open “within months”. Lane7 has also secured sites in Bristol and Cardiff that should open before the end of 2020 and, in a departure from its usual format, Lane7 plans to relaunch Star Bowl in Newcastle, which closed in February, as a family friendly tenpin bowling alley. Until now, Lane7’s expansion has concentrated on the late-night, city centre crowd. Operations director Rachel Lee said: “Leicester is an enormous project for us. Putting boutique bowling at the centre of a container-style village is something that’s never been attempted in the UK before. This is just one part of our growth and we’re just as excited to be bringing Lane7 to places such as Sheffield, Bristol and Cardiff.” Regarding the move into family friendly venues, she added: “We know this area brilliantly and this is going to bring a fantastic and much-needed family attraction to a thriving part of suburban Newcastle.” Lane7 launched its first site in central Newcastle in late 2013 and has gone on to open sites in Aberdeen, Middlesbrough, Birmingham and Liverpool.
All Our Bars reports like-for-likes up 3%: All Our Bars, the south east-based pub and bar group, has reported a 3% increase in like-for-like sales for the year to July 2019. Turnover for the mainly wet-led business stood at £7m, which was marginally down on the previous year of £7.3m. However, the 16-strong group operated three fewer sites at the end of the year. Ebitda improved by 25% during the period. Chief executive Paul Wigham said: “In view of the uncertain world around us, these are great results. This further reinforces the relative strength of wet-led sites in a world where restaurants, particularly branded, are struggling against high rents, rates and operating costs.” One of the pubs that All Our Bars operates is the Lemon Tree in Covent Garden, which is owned by Shaftesbury. Wigham said “Here we have a tiny pub of 16 covers on the first floor, and virtually no kitchen. The business is based on standing customers drinking craft beer and craft gin and the results are very consistent. Turnover to July 2019 was £567,000 compared with £517,000 in 2018 and £519,000 in 2017. Even ignoring sector price inflation, this demonstrates the resilience of properly operated wet-led bars versus other less proven ideas that come and go.” He added: “After the clouds of Brexit clear, we will be well placed to start looking to add new sites in a business with no debt or private equity. We took the decision five years ago to reduce our estate from 38 then to 16 today and focus on what we do best. We are excited for the future and see opportunities to get good sites in good locations as the food operators adjust to their new world.”
All Star Lanes investors shared in £16m dividend 16 months before it ran out of money: Investors of All Star Lanes shared in a £16m dividend just 16 months before it ran out of money, reports The Sunday Times. As revealed by Propel last week, All Star Lanes, which owns five bowling alleys in London and Manchester, was sold to sector investor Luke Johnson’s Risk Capital Partners in a pre-pack administration, a move that preserved jobs and saved the brand. However, the sale, understood to be for about £3m, is likely to wipe out the majority of the company’s creditors, including HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), which issued a winding-up petition this month over unpaid taxes. A source familiar with the process told The Sunday Times the business had been left “underfunded” as a result of the dividend, which was paid from the proceeds of the sale of one of its London sites to a Brunei developer. All Star Lanes, which was founded in 2006, made sales of £15.5m in 2017, according to its latest accounts. Its latest available list of shareholders includes Conservative minister Zac Goldsmith, diamond tycoon Anthony Oppenheimer and fund manager Jim Mellon. Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park, owned shares in All Star Lanes until April this year, according to the register of MPs’ financial interests. All Star Lanes, which employs about 250 people, sold its Whiteleys shopping centre site in London’s Queensway in April last year for £18m, which handed the company a £15.5m profit. Following the disposal, All Star Lanes paid a dividend to shareholders in May 2018 of £5 per ordinary share, equivalent to about £16m. As a result of the sale, the company’s top managers received an incentive payment of £600,000. Advisory firm BDO handled the pre-pack administration to Risk Capital. Secured creditors, including HSBC, which was owed about £1.3m, will be repaid from the sale. However, unsecured creditors, including HMRC, are likely to receive pennies in the pound.
Six by Nico eyes Liverpool launch: Six by Nico, the restaurant concept led by Scottish-Italian chef Nico Simeone, which made its debut in England, in Manchester, earlier this year, is eyeing a launch in Liverpool. The company has applied to open on the recently closed La Vina site in Liverpool’s North John Street. The closure means the Casual Dining Group has one La Vina – in Manchester’s Deansgate – and three La Tasca sites – Lakeside, Liverpool and London’s Leadenhall – left from the circa 40-strong La Tasca business it acquired in the summer of 2015, in a deal valued at more than £20m. Simeone, who opened his third Six by Nico restaurant in March, in Belfast, launched the Manchester venue in the former Roc & Rye unit in the city’s Spring Gardens. The 250 square foot site was transformed into a 66-cover restaurant with a wine and spirits bar and open kitchen. The concept is based on a revolving culinary hub as every six weeks Simeone and his team “reinvent the wheel” by serving a new six-course tasting menu, each one themed on a different place, memory or idea. The Manchester site started with The Chippie, which sees chip shop and takeaway classics reinvented as new dishes. Simeone launched the concept two years ago in Glasgow and also operates a site in Edinburgh. It is also thought Simeone is considering a move into London, with Fitzrovia a possible destination.
Arc Inspirations to convert Banyan in York to Manahatta: Arc Inspirations, the Leeds-based operator of a number of fast-growing brands, is to convert its Banyan Bar & Kitchen site in York to its Manahatta brand. The company is investing £400,000 in the refurbishment, which will be unveiled in November and create 40 jobs. The renovation will showcase the New York-themed bar’s signature features including neon signs and booths alongside a premium cocktail and drinks menu. The investment follows this month’s opening of a Manahatta in Harrogate following the conversion of its The Pit site. A spokeswoman told Propel no further conversions were in the pipeline at the current time. Arc Inspirations continues to focus on developing its core brands, comprising Banyan Bar & Kitchen, The Box and Manahatta as the business executes its cluster approach in key cities. Arc Inspirations chief executive Martin Wolstencroft said: “Our core aim is to continue growing and developing our key brands while we create memorable experiences. We’re delighted to be introducing Manahatta to York and are confident the new bar will bring something different to the area.”
Whitbread draws up hub by Premier Inn hit list as it targets regional expansion: Whitbread has drawn up a hit list of hub by Premier Inn locations as it looks to start expansion into regional cities, Propel has learned. The company operates 11 hub by Premier Inns in London and Edinburgh and now aims to extend across the UK and Ireland. Whitbread has a target of almost 30 cities including Bath, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Dublin, Durham, Exeter, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Plymouth and York. The company is looking for freehold and leasehold opportunities either as standalone, office to hotel conversions or as part of mixed-use developments. Whitbread is also looking to add to its footprint in Edinburgh and particularly London. The company is targeting 29 London areas including Brixton, Chelsea, Greenwich, Notting Hill, Stratford and Waterloo. Whitbread launched hub by Premier Inn in 2013 as a more compact and contemporary sub-brand with a focus on technology. It now has more than 1,500 bedrooms while a further six hub by Premier Inns are on-site, in planning or in the secured development pipeline in London, which will add more than 975 bedrooms to the estate. In February, Whitbread announced it was seeking to expand hub by Premier Inn to key cities as it targets 110,000 bedrooms across both hotel brands. Meanwhile, Whitbread has secured planning permission for its first Premier Inn in the Scottish Borders. The 71-bedroom hotel will open at the Borders Gateway development in Galashiels alongside a BP petrol station and Costa Coffee drive-thru after Scottish Borders Council approved the application. Hotel construction is expected to start next year.
Boston Tea Party to open site in Taunton as it takes over former Prezzo restaurant: All-day casual dining cafe Boston Tea Party is to open a site in Taunton. The company is opening the venue in November in the former Prezzo restaurant on the corner of Corporation Street and Fore Street. The new site, which will create 30 jobs, will cater for up to 150 customers and include a “secret” garden terrace. It will be Boston Tea Party’s third cafe in Somerset, reports the Western News. Boston Tea Party, which last year became the first operator to ban single-use coffee cups, currently operates 23 sites. Earlier this summer, as part of its new National Making Things Better Day initiative, the company pledged to remove all single-use plastic milk bottles.
Lima team to launch Venezuelan concept at Westfield London next month: The team behind Michelin-starred Peruvian restaurant Lima in Fitzrovia will launch a Venezuelan concept at the new food court in Westfield London shopping centre in White City next month. Gabriel and Jose-Luis Gonzalez will open Sabroso, showcasing the best of the country’s areperas. These are bustling bars that focus on the arepa – a flat, dish-shaped cornbread with fillings such as shredded chicken with avocado and braised beef with cheese. Side dishes will include tequeños (crispy cheese pastries served with homemade mango chutney and yuca chips with cheese sauce), while the restaurant will offer build-your-own ceviche bowls. The Gonzalez brothers launched Lima in 2012, which became the world’s first Peruvian restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star under the auspices of head chef Robert Ortiz in 2014. The brothers launched Floral by Lima in Covent Garden that same year, which brought a “contemporary twist” to traditional Peruvian cuisine. Ortiz opened Chakana restaurant in the Birmingham suburb of Moseley in April.
Moto strengthens team: Motorway services operator Moto has strengthened its team with the appointment of two directors. Nick Tatum joins Moto in the newly created role of chief customer officer from Superdry, where he was director of global retail. Before joining Superdry, Tatum was strategy, change and operations director for the UK commercial food division at Tesco. Meanwhile, Steve Masters becomes property director having previously worked in senior property roles for Asda, Disney, Gap, Thresher and, more recently, Wyevale Garden Centres. Both roles report directly to Moto chief executive Ken McMeikan, who said: “Nick is joining in this newly created role, which will focus our efforts on providing the best possible customer experience for motorway users across the UK. Steve’s vast property experience, combined with his proven ability to identify growth opportunities, will further develop our property portfolio and new-site pipeline.”
North east-based Indian restaurant and prosecco lounge to double up: North east-based Namaste Indian Restaurant & Kings Prosecco Lounge is to open its second site. The concept currently operates a restaurant in King George Road in South Shields. Now it is doubling up with a launch in Gateshead at The Marquis of Granby pub, which closed earlier this year. The Sunniside property is being transformed and, like its South Shields sister site, will feature a prosecco lounge and beer garden as well as a restaurant when it reopens next month, reports Chronicle Live.
Caravan launches Vardo concept: London-based restaurant and coffee-roasting concept Caravan has launch new concept Vardo in Chelsea. It is the brand’s first west London site, with the restaurant housed in a new three-storey stone and glass pavilion in Duke of York Square, beside the Saatchi Gallery. The circular structure offers 360-degree ceiling-to-floor windows that fully retract into the floor to allow a “seamless indoor to outdoor experience”. Vardo is named after a Romani travelling wagon of the 1800s, with the ethos of “no boundaries” as the wagons “travel the globe collecting produce and spices along the way”. Along with the 100-cover restaurant is a private dining room that seats 14. The all-day menu focuses on “back to basics” using low and slow cooking techniques while the bar offers beer, wine, cocktails and drinks inspired by the Silk Road. Active Partners-backed Caravan operates five London sites – in King’s Cross, the City, Exmouth Market, Bankside and Fitzrovia.
Worthing-based bar operator to take on nightclub for second site: Worthing-based bar operator Ben Thompson is to take over a nightclub in the West Sussex town for his second site. Thompson, who runs Manuka in Portland Road, will start operating Liquid in Chatsworth Road at the end of October with business partner Alex Elsden-Smith, who has worked for cocktail bar brand Be At One. Thompson, who is the drummer for indie band Two Door Cinema Club, plans to use his industry connections to attract high-profile DJs and bands to perform at Liquid, which will be rebranded. His vision takes inspiration from Hakkasan nightclub in Las Vegas, which Thompson visited while touring with Two Door Cinema Club. He told the Worthing Herald: “Worthing needs a venue for people aged 21 and upwards that offers them a level of entertainment that hasn’t been brought here before.” Thompson opened Manuka with friend Zach Bimson in December 2017.
Simon Rogan to launch latest Lake District restaurant, next month: Michelin-starred chef Simon Rogan will open his latest restaurant in the Lake District on Friday, 4 October. Rogan, who operates two Michelin-starred L’Enclume and Rogan & Co in the Cumbrian village of Cartmel, will launch Henrock at Linthwaite House. It will complete the £12m repositioning of the Bowness-on-Windermere property as a luxury country house hotel by the Leeu Collection, reports The Business Desk. Henrock, named after a rocky outcrop protruding from Lake Windermere, will showcase “seasonal ingredients in a relaxed and elegant setting”. The kitchen will be led by Brian Limoges, who will use produce from Rogan’s own farm in Cumbria. Henrock will lean heavily on the chefs’ travels around the globe including Asia, where Rogan recently opened Roganic and Aulis in Hong Kong. The menu will comprise small sharing plates such as raw aged beef with elderberry and shiso. Leeu Collection also operates three five-star boutique hotels in South Africa and is due to open a property in Florence, Italy, in 2021.
Great British Bake Off – The Professionals contestant open second cafe: Great British Bake Off – The Professionals contestant Marta Child has opened her second cafe. Child, who owns Bom Bom Patisserie in Loughborough, competed in the Channel 4 show with teammate Julie Eldridge, who taught her while she was doing a course in patisserie and confectionery at Loughborough College. Now Child and husband Dan have opened a second site in Loughborough, at Canal House in Lisle Street. The building has a co-working space, part of which is the Bom Bom Patisserie kitchen and cafe. Child plans to expand the menu, which includes cookies, brownies and pastries, over time, and is working with a food development chef, reports Leicestershire Live. Child founded Bom Bom Patisserie in 2012. The business originally operated from her Loughborough home before the cafe opened in Derwent Drive in 2016.
Hollywood Bowl completes £450,000 revamp of Rochester site: Hollywood Bowl Group, the UK’s largest tenpin bowling operator, has completed a £450,000 refurbishment of its venue in Rochester, Kent. The 26-lane centre at Medway Valley Leisure Park has been redesigned to feature new furnishings, contemporary American decor and exclusive VIP lanes. The Hollywood Diner serves gourmet burgers, hotdogs, thick shakes served in retro milk bottles and desserts as well as speciality house cocktails. In addition, the centre’s amusement area has been revamped. Chief executive Steve Burns said: “Our refurbished Rochester centre has been significantly improved to enhance the customer experience.”
Netherton-based distillery to open debut bar: Netherton-based distillery Dr Eamers' Emporium is to open its debut bar. The company, founded by the Lunn family, is opening the site next month at The Waterfront development in Dudley. Jordan Lunn told the Hereford Times opening the bar was the next step for the family-run operation, which has distilled and brewed for generations. Alongside serving the family's gin, the bar will also serve locally produced real ale, craft beer, cocktails and Black Country tapas, featuring pork scratchings, chutneys and cobs. The bar, which will blend old and new, will also pay homage to Black Country culture, as the family live in Rowley Regis and the distillery is based in Netherton. Gin will also be distilled on site in a 100-litre copper pot, known as Doris, in honour of Lunn’s great-grandmother.
Plans unveiled to relocate Manchester events venue: Plans to relocate Manchester venue EventCity have been revealed. The scheme would see EventCity move from its home in Barton Dock Road to TraffordCity. The aim is to bring the venue closer to several leisure arenas and hotels. EventCity would temporarily cease operations in July 2020, reopening in September following conversion of the Soccerdome. The move is part of a proposal by Peel L&P that would see EventCity’s current site house well-being resort Therme Manchester and a new football facility to replace the Soccerdome’s football pitches. The new EventCity would be a flexible conference, exhibition and gala dinner space and include updated features such as a foyer with breakout space and an entrance hall.