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Fri 4th Oct 2019 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

BrewDog reports double-digit like-for-like growth in bars business in 2019, full-year UK turnover nears £35m: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has seen double-digit like-for-like growth across its bar division so far in 2019, Propel has learned. The announcement comes as the company reported sales in its UK bar division rose to £34,889,000 for the year ending 31 December 2018, compared with £24,206,000 the previous year. Operating losses were up to £235,000 compared with £37,000 the year before, while pre-tax losses increased to £235,000 from £45,000 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. BrewDog opened 12 bars during the period while eight have launched in 2019 so far taking it to circa 50 sites. The company said “several more” were in the pipeline to open before the end of 2019. Employee numbers in the division rose to 534 by the end of 2018 from 362 the year before. Retail director James Brown told Propel: “2019 has been a really strong year for us so far, with our UK and global bars business in double-digit like-for-like growth. At the same time we have opened some cracking bars in the UK, including Cambridge, St Andrews and Manchester Oxford Road, and internationally such as Hamburg, Nice, Indianapolis and DogTap Berlin.” Earlier this week Propel reported BrewDog had targeted a new site in Manchester. Last month Brown told Propel BrewDog would continue trading at its Peter Street bar in Manchester until early 2020, despite receiving an eviction notice. BrewDog has been in Peter Street since 2012 but has to move to make way for a new hotel. However, Propel understands the company has submitted a licensing application to Manchester City Council for 18-20 Fountain Street, a three-storey building that forms an endpiece to Lowry House in Marble Street. Meanwhile, BrewDog has launched a hybrid burger aimed at flexitarians. The burger, made of 50% beef and 50% Beyond Meat, sits between two matcha tea buns and is topped with vegan cheese, onion straws and potato rosti.

Industry News:

Six weeks to go until Casual Dining Summit, open for bookings: There are just six weeks to go until 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; Tom Molnar, founder of Gail’s; Shereen Ritchie, UK managing director of Leon; Byron chief executive Simon Wilkinson, Giggling Squid co-founder Andy Laurillard; Red’s True Barbecue co-founder James Douglas; Brasserie Bar Co chairman Mark Derry. Prue Freeman, founder of fledgling group Daisy Green; Phil Eeles, co-founder of Honest Burgers; and The NPD Group insights director Dominic Allport. 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. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium subscribers and £345 plus VAT for all others. To book, email or call 01444 817691.

More than two-fifths of ‘affluent’ Brits visit chicken shops and restaurants as segment continues to soar: More than two-fifths (45%) of “affluent” Brits visited chicken shops and restaurants last year as popularity of the segment increased from 40% a year ago, according to new research by Mintel. “Affluent” refers to respondents who have money left at the end of the month for a “few luxuries or to add to their savings”. Mintel said the “guilt-free indulgence” of healthier, free-range chicken had met affluent consumers’ “value expectations”. Two-thirds (67%) of respondents said chicken restaurants offered more healthy options than a year ago, with Korean fried chicken (71%) proving popular. Almost half (47%) of respondents with stable finances – those who get by each month but “don’t have a lot left after the basics are taken care of” – visited a chicken shop in 2019, compared with 41% a year ago. However, the number of visits by respondents who are “making ends meet, but only just” – fell from 45% in 2018 to 42% this year. Following KFC’s supply chain issue in 2018, the chicken restaurant market’s value is expected to increase 5% in 2019 with sales of more than £2.3bn. The study found British diners are set to eat £7.5bn worth of burgers and chicken in 2019, with almost two-fifths (37%) ordering home deliveries from burger and chicken venues more often than they did a year ago. Mintel senior foodservice analyst Trish Caddy said: “Improvement in animal welfare is helping to attract a more affluent clientele to chicken restaurants and outlets, with chicken meals typically costing more than other fast food choices. More ‘exotic’ offerings, such as Korean fried chicken, are also broadening the appeal. The guilt-free indulgence of healthier, free-range chicken has clearly met affluent consumers’ value expectations, even if better chicken costs more than a burger. Well-off Brits’ love for chicken also suits other food trends, such as eating more high-protein food.” Burger sales, meanwhile, are expected to grow 4% in 2019 to more than £5.2bn. Mintel’s Burger and Chicken Restaurants UK 2019 report surveyed 2,000 internet users aged 16 and above.

Number of UK breweries passes 2,500 mark, beer accounts for 70% of alcoholic drinks sold in pubs: The number of UK breweries has passed the 2,500 mark while beer remains Britain’s favourite alcoholic drink, according to new research and data by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA). The findings showed beer accounts for seven in every ten alcoholic drinks sold in pubs, meaning beer duty is a particular burden, the BBPA said. Combined, the pubs and brewing sectors create almost 900,000 jobs in the UK. Using data provided by HM Revenue & Customs, the BBPA conducted analysis that found 8.5 billion pints of beer were sold in the UK in 2018. In comparison, 7.4 billion 175ml glasses of wine and 1.2 billion pints of cider were sold during the same period. The data, collated by the BBPA for its 2019 statistical handbook, also found 100 breweries were founded in the UK in 2018, taking the total number to 2,530 – an increase of 2,030 breweries since 2000. However, while beer remains the most popular alcoholic drink in the UK, the BBPA restated its stance about overtaxing. British drinkers currently pay 11 times more beer duty than their counterparts in Germany and Spain – paying 54 pence in beer duty on a 5% ABV pint of beer. BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “Because the public finances assume a Retail Price Index increase every year, we also face another tax hike on top of that in the next Budget. Should tax on a pint continue to rise, drinking in the pub will no longer be affordable for many British beer drinkers, meaning pubs will continue to close. This is why we are backing the Long Live The Local campaign, which calls on the chancellor to cut beer tax and support local pubs.”

Stonegate launches sports app as survey reveals on-trade expectations: Almost two-fifths (38%) of Brits think value for money is the most important driver when choosing a venue to watch live sport, according to a new survey by Stonegate Pub Company and Molson Coors. A similar amount of respondents (36%) put atmosphere top of their list, while 35% look for ultra high-definition screens when making a decision. Almost one-third (32%) said the look and layout of the venue would have an impact on their decision, with almost one-quarter (24%) making the variety of food and drink available a key factor. Pre-booking is becoming increasingly popular, with 14% booking a place at a venue to watch live sports. Top factors for pre-booking are guaranteed seats (45%), exclusive drinks deals (44%), meal deals (31%) and table service (21%). Men’s football remains the top sport for the on-trade but interest in niche sports has grown, with more than two-thirds (70%) of respondents following sports such as American football, basketball, darts and women’s football. Social gaming is becoming a big element of the on-trade experience, with almost three-fifths (57%) of respondents saying they would stay at a venue longer if there was shuffleboard, while 44% said the same for table football. Following the findings, Stonegate has launched the We Love Sport app, which lets fans find the best venues to watch live sport while earning loyalty rewards for each visit. Stonegate Pub Company sports marketing manager Stephen Cooper said: “Our venues have always been synonymous with sport but this study has shown us how to be even better. Our new app will build a strong sporting community.”

Trade bodies unveil guidance for tackling under-age gambling in pubs: The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and UKHospitality have joined forces to unveil guidance for tackling under-age gambling in pubs. The trade bodies have united to work with their members to produce an updated social responsibility charter for in-pub gaming machines. The charter incorporates a code of practice aimed at promoting collaboration and training to prevent under-age gambling supported by a programme of age-verification testing. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Gaming machines are a vital revenue stream in pubs and many customers enjoy gambling responsibly. There can be no room for under-age gambling, though, and we need to ensure standards on this issue are as high as they are in every other aspect of pubs.” BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds added: “An updated charter and code of practice will help pub companies and independent pubs ensure there is no under-age gambling on their premises. The code highlights the need for focused staff training and the use of Challenge 21/25 guidelines.”

Company News:

Greene King appoints strategy director: Brewer and retailer Greene King has appointed Paula Kerrigan as strategy director, Propel has learned. Kerrigan replaces Mark Blythman, who announced he would leave earlier this year. Kerrigan has held senior roles with a number of retail businesses. She spent a number of years at Kingfisher, where she held finance, strategy and planning roles with B&Q in the UK and Asia. She was then appointed chief strategy officer for the Co-operative Group and, for the past four years, has been group strategy and transformation director for Superdry. Kerrigan will report to chief executive Nick Mackenzie.

Costa Express breaks three million-cup barrier in hot drinks giveaway: Costa Coffee has said it gave away more than three million hot drinks from more than 8,500 Express machines during the promotion it ran on Tuesday (1 October) to mark International Coffee Day. The move led to long queues forming at shops, garages and other outlets, with one supervisor telling Propel it had been “hard to keep up with demand”. The brand’s latte was the most popular choice, with 1.1 million cups given away, followed by hot chocolate (one million), cappuccino (400,000), mocha (180,000), white Americano (130,000) and black Americano (100,000). Costa Express managing director Scott Martin said: “The response to Free Coffee Day, not only at our machines but through the thousands of responses via social media, demonstrates it’s a new dawn in the self-serve industry.”

Food market with communal dining to launch in Borough Market next month: A food market offering communal dining will launch in Borough Market, central London, next month. The Borough Market Kitchen in Jubilee House will feature 25 traders using seasonal produce from the market. Established operators such as pasta concept La Tua Pasta will sit alongside newcomers including Mei Mei by chef Elizabeth Haigh and a new pintxos bar from Mimo London. The space will be filled with long tables to encourage communal eating. Guests will be able to take their pick from cuisine that will range from Iranian Scotch eggs to freshly made pasta, with at least 30% of ingredients in every dish sourced from the market. Continuing an emphasis on ethics and sustainability, Borough Market Kitchen will be built from recycled materials and be free of single-use plastic. Managing director Darren Henaghan said: “Borough Market has a proud heritage stretching back more than 1,000 years and the 21st anniversary of our opening to the public marks a modern coming of age for the market and its traders. The Borough Market Kitchen will be a new space for London to eat together, a community hub for the market showcasing the incredible diversity of our produce and bringing together market pioneers with exciting new traders.”

Asian tapas concept Chunky Buddha bags Nightjar residency in first for Hoxton venue: Asian tapas concept Chunky Buddha is to take its offer to Nightjar in Hoxton, east London, for an ongoing residency. Lee Chau Le’s concept will bring its tapas plates to the City Road venue from Tuesday (8 October). It is the first time Nightjar has offered a residency in its ten-year history. Lee will continue to serve his tapas at Truman Brewery’s JuJu’s Bar, where he has been for the past year. Drawn from his roots in New York to Chinese and Vietnamese parents before moving to Bethnal Green, Le’s Nightjar menu will include a steak sando and a giant Vietnamese rice cracker filled with edamame houmous.

Cote lines up Solihull site: French brasserie chain Cote is lining up a site in Solihull in the West Midlands. The company has applied to Solihull Council to transform a former Royal Bank of Scotland branch in High Street, creating 30 jobs. The three-storey building has been empty since Royal Bank of Scotland, which used the ground and first floor, left in July last year. As well as a change of use, Cote is also seeking permission to create a 16-table outdoor eating space. The restaurant would open until 12.30am daily, although the seating area outside would shut at 11pm, reports Birmingham Live. Cote operates 96 sites in the UK.

Board games cafe concept Chance & Counters to open third site, in Birmingham: Board games cafe concept Chance & Counters is to open its third site, in Birmingham. Steve Cownie, Luke Neal and Richard Scarsbrook launched the concept in Bristol in 2016 following a campaign on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. Having added a site in Cardiff in 2018, the trio are set for their third outlet, in the suburb of Digbeth. The cafe bar will open next month in one of the Custard Factory’s new units next to Mockingbird Cinema. At 3,500 square feet, it will be Chance & Counters largest venue to date. The new site will offer access to about 500 board games as well as food and drink. Cownie, Neal and Scarsbrook first had the idea to open a place where people pay to play board games while studying in Birmingham. Cownie told Birmingham Live: “Our journey began in Birmingham and we have always hoped to come back. Chance & Counters took off in a way we could never have imagined. Our Digbeth location is perfect. The area offers so many cool ‘experience’ attractions and we are looking forward to bringing something new to the area.”

MJMK confirms second site for Casa do Frango: London-based hospitality company MJMK has confirmed it will open a second site for its Algarvian piri-piri concept Casa do Frango. In June Propel revealed the business, led by Marco Mendes and Jake Kasumov, was looking to open a further site for the concept it launched near London Bridge last year. The new venue will open in King John Court, Shoreditch, in December with additions to the menu such as prawn rice, beef cheek stew, and acorn-fed black pork. The venue will feature a cafe on the ground floor focusing on petiscos – Portugal’s equivalent of tapas – and a bakery, as well as a bar offering Portuguese wine, cocktails and three house beers. The main dining room upstairs will feature an open kitchen and wood-fired grill. Mendes said: “The Algarve region has a rich culinary history and identity that’s relatively unknown outside Portugal. It’s a cuisine that owes its heritage to family recipes passed down through the generations. We hope to be known as the pioneers of the best piri-piri chicken in London.” MJMK opened Casita do Frango, a smaller version of Casa do Frango, at Arcade Kitchen Theatre, the new food hall at Centre Point in New Oxford Street, in July followed by the launch of neighbourhood pub The Belrose in Belsize Park a month later. The company also owns and operates S11 bar and health food cafe Homegrown, both in Brixton.

JD Wetherspoon opens Rainham pub following £2.1m investment: JD Wetherspoon has opened a pub in Rainham in Kent (population: 25,000). The company invested £2.1m to restore The Railway in Station Road, which had been empty since 2012. The venue was originally known as The Railway Hotel and was a temperance establishment until 1901. Manager Peter Pethers told Kent Online: “We have tried to pay homage to the original pub. We have decorated with lots of old pictures of The Railway when it was first built.”

SSP Group strengthens German motorway services presence: SSP Group, the operator of food and beverage outlets in travel locations worldwide, has expanded its partnership with German motorway service provider Tank & Rast. SSP is now operating at 56 Tank & Rast service stations, having added 22 locations along German motorways this summer. SSP and Tank & Rast have also extended their joint brand portfolio with the development of Tabilo, which offers “made to order” dishes that are individually prepared in minutes. The new gastro concept adds to Tank & Rast’s proprietary brands such as Serways, EssBar and Brotzeit, as well as SSP’s many international franchise brands introduced at Tank & Rast motorway service stations. Oliver Dörschuck, chief executive of SSP Dach and Frabel, said: “Besides railway stations and airports, motorway service stations are another important segment for SSP Germany. We have been co-operating with Tank & Rast for 13 years and expanding our partnership was a logical step. The 22 new service stations in our network will also benefit from our collaboration.”

Azzurri Group opens first Pod to Coco di Mama conversion: Azzurri Group, which acquired 13 sites of the 22-strong Pod business out of administration earlier this year, has opened the first to be converted to its Coco di Mama brand. As revealed by Propel last month, Azzurri has transformed the Pod site in More London at London Bridge to its 24th Coco di Mama outlet in the capital. It’s thought Azzurri will look to complete a few more Pod to Coco di Mama conversions before the end of the year. The majority of the Pod estate was sold to Azzurri, owner of the ASK Italian, Zizzi and Radio Alice brands, in a pre-pack administration for a total consideration of £1.6m – more than £1m below its original offer that failed to gain shareholder approval. The pre-pack sale of sites came four days after Pod’s shareholders failed to approve a £2.7m sale to Azzurri in a deal that was worth 5p a share. Azzurri has subsequently continued to operate the sites it acquired as Pod, with the intention of converting a number to Coco di Mama during the next 12 months.

Finnish street food brand Fafa’s makes UK debut, in Covent Garden: Finnish street food brand Fafa’s has made its UK debut by opening a restaurant in Covent Garden. Fafa’s was founded by Doron Karavani in 2011 and has grown to more than 40 venues in Finland, Denmark and Estonia. The London site has launched in Monmouth Street offering the brand’s pitas, salads and meze for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dan Bennett, operations and openings manager, said: “We are thrilled to open Fafa’s in the gastronomic capital of the world. Doron has established a successful street food concept across Scandinavia. We use cooking techniques more often used in higher-end restaurants to deliver on taste and presentation. We’re confident this take on accessible street food will be an instant hit with Londoners and tourists.” Julia Wilkinson, group restaurant and strategy executive of landlord Shaftesbury, added: “Independent, pioneering operators such as Fafa’s are key to Shaftesbury’s strategy of maintaining a unique offer in the heart of the West End. We’re thrilled to debut this concept and give the brand a permanent home to flourish in London.”

Gainsborough-based operators to open second site: Gainsborough-based operators Mette and Michael Robinson are to open their second site. The Robinsons will launch The Forge Restaurant and Bar below the Travelodge hotel on the corner of Market Street and North Street. It will serve a menu of modern British food with European influences. Due to open before Christmas, the restaurant will have space for 120 covers along with outdoor seating. The Robinsons currently operate the Cream Cafe in Marshall’s Yard. Mette Robinson told the Gainsborough Standard: “We are excited about the new venture and delighted to have this opportunity in Gainsborough, where we have been part of the business community for more than a decade.” The restaurant and Travelodge have been developed by Dransfield Properties in partnership with West Lindsey District Council. Dave Hale, development surveyor at Dransfield, said: “The new restaurant will really transform this part of the town.”

Whitbread appoints non-executive director: Whitbread has appointed Horst Baier as a non-executive director with effect from Friday, 1 November. Baier, who was chief financial officer at travel and tourism company TUI until September last year, will become a member of Whitbread’s audit committee. Whitbread chairman Adam Crozier said: “Horst has more than two decades of experience in our sector and this, together with his deep understanding of the German market, will be of great benefit to the Whitbread board as we continue to expand Premier Inn in the UK and Germany.”

Former Mother Kelly’s manager to launch craft beer and cocktail bar in Margate: Steve Taylor, bartender and former general manager of New York-style taproom Mother Kelly’s in Bethnal Green, is to open a craft beer and cocktail bar in Margate. Taylor has teamed up with Charlotte Kimber to launch Little Swift in Marine Drive on the site of BottleShop Margate, which fell into administration in March. Little Swift will open on Sunday, 13 October offering a changing menu of craft ale, organic and biodynamic wine, handmade cocktails and soft drinks. Little Swift will grow the majority of herbs and flowers used in its cocktails on the venue’s rooftop terrace. Taylor said: “This bar is about linking our passions for gardening and bartending. It’s about making a long-term investment in Margate, in our coastal cocktail garden and the wider ecology of the lands farmed by our producers.” The ecology theme will continue on Little Swift’s cocktail menu with the Coastal Negroni featuring seaweed gin and maritime botanicals. As well as his stint at Mother Kelly’s, Taylor managed the Snooty Fox in Canonbury, north London, before cocktail bartending at Mark Sargeant’s Rocksalt in Folkestone.

Brixton-based wine bar operator to launch bistro at former laundry: Melanie Brown, who operates wine bar New Zealand Wine Cellar in Pop Brixton, is to transform a former laundry in Coldharbour Lane into a two-storey all-day bistro and bar. The Laundry will launch on Friday, 1 November at the former Walton Lodge Laundry. The building was a working laundry for almost 120 years before closing in 2014. The venue will offer banquettes alongside bar and counter seating, with private dining rooms accommodating up to 25 guests. A south-facing, Parisian-inspired terrace will offer cafe seating, while interiors will feature antique mirrors, vintage furniture, original brick walls and tiled floors. The menu by head chef Dylan Cashman will feature dishes such as Hereford beef tartar with fermented chilli, prawn oil, mustard seeds, beer pickled onion and beef fat potato chips. A selection of 50 wines will also be on offer including Brown’s first collection, New Press. Brown has also worked as a chef at The Providores in Marylebone, Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, and at wine bar and restaurant concept Vinoteca.

Bristol-based all-day Indian street food restaurant takes former Carluccio's site in Bath for second venue: Bristol-based all-day Indian street food restaurant Bandook Indian Kitchen is to double up with an opening in Bath. Moe Rahman launched the concept in Wapping Wharf, Bristol, in 2017. Now he has taken the former Carluccio’s site at Milsom Place shopping centre in Bath for his second venue, which will open this month. The menu will incorporate light snacks, small and large plates, with signatures dishes such as Grandma’s curry alongside new additions such as naanwiches, dosas, and cheese and chilli toasties. Rahman told Somerset Live: “Now Bandook Bristol is firmly established we’re looking forward to expanding the concept and the next chapter in the city of Bath.” A Milsom Place spokesman said: “This east meets west, all-day dining venue will bring something new to the centre of Bath and we look forward to introducing it to the city.” Carluccio’s closed its restaurant in Milsom Place in July last year.

South west-based hotel group sees bookings up 4.6% in 2019 as it reports operating profit boost: South west-based hotel group Manor House has seen bookings in 2019 up 4.6% year-on-year as it reported a slight boost in operating profit. The company, which operates the Manor House Hotel and The Ashbury Hotel golf resort in Okehampton, west Devon, reported turnover fell 2.8% to £15,152,819 for the year ending 31 March 2019, compared with £15,587,471 the previous year. Operating profit was up to £1,517,308, compared with £1,495,824 the year before. Pre-tax profit was down slightly to £1,370,972 compared with £1,410,513 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. The Manor House Hotel and The Ashbury Hotel comprise 204 and 222 en-suite bedrooms respectively, as well as restaurants, bars, and craft and hydro spas. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “In the directors’ view the results for 2018-19 have shown the resilience of the business in the wake of continued uncertainty around the protracted Brexit negotiations. This was shown by the maintaining of pre-tax profit levels, despite a 2.8% drop in turnover. This was achieved through a combination of tighter controls on the marketing budget and reductions in the payroll over the winter. These controls will be continued into the new financial year which, when combined with a significant upturn in booking levels (currently 4.6% up year-on-year), should result in an improved Ebitda for the year ending 2019-20.” The Manor House Hotel was developed in 1978, with The Ashbury Hotel added in 1989.

MasterChef semi-finalist opens Brixton restaurant: MasterChef semi-finalist Brodie Williams has opened a restaurant in south London. Fife-born Williams, who reached the last six of the BBC show in 2017, has launched Annapurna in Brixton. The Loughborough Road venue, named after the massif in the Himalayas, serves a variety of curries as well as lamb, chicken and vegetarian dishes, reports The Courier.

Pieminister gets go-ahead for Exeter opening: Bristol-based Pieminister has been given the go-ahead to open a site in Exeter. The company has been granted permission by the city council to convert the former Music Unlimited premises in Station Crescent having previously secured licensing approval, reports Devon Live. Pieminister sold more than five million pies and served 50 tonnes of mash and 4,500 litres of gravy in its restaurants during the 12-month period last year. The family-run business, which has branches across the UK, saw sales grow 14% to £14.3m for the year ending 31 March 2018 – up from £12.6m the year before.

Mother and daughter behind Covent Garden cafe open second site, in North Greenwich: The mother and daughter behind Abuelo, the Antipodean meets South American coffee house in Covent Garden, have opened a second site. Lyneet and Cloe de la Vega have launched “dining and drinking emporium” Mama Fuego in North Greenwich. The concept is described as an all-day space that mixes Australian and Argentine food and drink. There is a restaurant, milk-bar cafe serving Australian speciality coffee, a riverside garden overlooking the Thames, and a bakery and cafe. Decor at the venue, which is in the new Greenwich Peninsula neighbourhood, has been inspired by James Bond and Pink Panther films. The de la Vegas opened Abuelo in Southampton Street, Covent Garden, last year.

Sri Lankan concept Kolamba to launch in Soho this month: Sri Lankan concept Kolamba is to launch in Soho this month. Owners Eroshen and Aushi Meewella grew up in Colombo and will bring recipes shared by friends and family to life when the venue opens in Kingly Street on Monday, 14 October. The 58-cover space will take inspiration from the Tropical Modernism movement, with greenery climbing the walls contrasting with brickwork, raw timber and polished cement. Kolamba is Sinhalese for “Colombo”, the Sri Lankan capital that offers diverse cuisine from the Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, Dutch and Malay communities. Dishes are designed to represent the feasting element of meals in Sri Lankan homes and will include fish cutlets and patties. Coconut will provide the base to many of the curries, while sambols (salad) will complement big plates to counterbalance richer flavours. Sri Lankan alcohol brands Lion Lager, Colombo 7 Gin and Rockland Ceylon Arrack will sit alongside cocktails on the drinks list.

Revolution Bars Group produces three millionth bottle of signature vodka: Revolution Bars Group, the operator of 77 premium bars trading under the Revolution and Revolución de Cuba brands, has produced the three millionth bottle of its signature flavoured vodka including its latest flavour – Espresso Martini. To celebrate, the company will hold a party in its 58 Revolution bars to mark National Vodka Day on Friday (4 October). Commercial director Myles Doran said: “We’ve been known as Vodka Revs for more than two decades and we’re hosting a competition to choose our next vodka flavour, which will appear on our menus nationwide next year.” Earlier this week Revolution Bars Group chief executive Rob Pitcher told Propel the company had been focusing its efforts on its Revolution brand including its vodka brand heritage. He told Propel: “We have invested heavily in our Saturday night entertainment programme, which is now running across 24 sites and producing good results. We’ve also had our events space programme and in six months we’ve hosted 300 events ranging from art classes to masterclasses with some of our suppliers at 28 sites, attracting 12,500 people.” The two latest Revolution openings – in Durham and Glasgow – have generated a 37% return on investment, Pitcher said. 

Everyman to open debut Manchester city centre site this month: Everyman will open its first Manchester city centre venue, at The ABC Buildings, this month. The company has taken 10,500 square feet at Allied London’s Enterprise City cluster at St John’s in Quay Street. The venue, which will open on Thursday, 31 October, will feature three screening rooms as well as a bar and restaurant. Everyman chief executive Crispin Lilly told The Business Desk: “With our neighbouring suburban venue in Altrincham being received so incredibly well since opening last year, we’re delighted to announce our opening in the heart of the city of Manchester. It’s such an iconic city in terms of music, film and all kinds of creative culture, and we think Everyman St John’s will form a fantastic part of that scene.” The wider Enterprise City development has been created for media, tech and creative industries and includes a redevelopment of the former Granada TV studios.

Lima team to launch Venezuelan concept at Westfield London this 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 this month. Gabriel and Jose-Luis Gonzalez will open Sabroso on Monday, 21 October 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 earlier this year.

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