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Fri 12th Jun 2020 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day: 

Greene King unveils reopening plans and new £15m ‘Pub Safe’ initiative: Brewer and retailer Greene King has unveiled details of how its pubs will look and operate ahead of them reopening, including launching “Pub Safe” – a new set of five promises to its team and customers. Greene King is investing £15m in “Pub Safe” measures for a phased reopening that all its 1,700-strong estate of managed pubs will follow. It said the scheme centres around hygiene and safety, “while maintaining the atmosphere of the Great British pub”. The five promises are safe socialising layout throughout the pubs; looking after its team, so it can look after its customers; minimise contact; hand sanitising and hygiene; and a “Pub Safe Monitor”. A new safe socialising layout is being introduced in the pubs, with clear signage to direct customers. Tables will be spaced out further in-line with any government guidelines and customers will be encouraged to pre-book. The bar service area will have Perspex screens and screening will be positioned between booths where necessary. There will be new one-in-one-out red and green indicators at the entrances to the toilets so customers can flip the indicator with their elbow as they enter and exit, with toilets cleaned every 15 minutes. The company said its teams are undergoing comprehensive training and will be temperature checked ahead of every shift. Investment is also being made in additional team members to keep hygiene standards high. Greene King is also rolling out its order and pay app ahead of schedule to all managed pubs. Pubs will provide one-time-use menus that can be disposed of in a sustainable way, cutlery will be wrapped and condiments will be in sachets or in fresh ramekins. A pub host will be on hand at the entrance to welcome each customer, show them to their table and manage queues. Customers will be asked to use the hand sanitiser stations at the entrance on arrival and utilise the many stations placed in key positions during their visit. The fifth pledge by Greene King is every pub will have its own dedicated “Pub Safe Monitor” – a team member, easily identifiable by their uniform, with the responsibility of “ensuring additional cleaning of tables and public space is done swiftly and efficiently”. The monitor will also be the point of contact for any customer or team member who wishes to raise a concern. Chief executive Nick Mackenzie said: “The safety of our customers and team members is always our number one priority and against the backdrop of a slow recovery from covid-19, we are investing to put in place all the necessary arrangements. Of course, customers will notice some differences when they return but it’s important alongside implementing the changes, we maintain the very essence of the Great British pub.” Karen Bosher, managing director – Premium, Urban Pubs and Venture Brands at Greene King, talks more about the Pub Safe initiative, among other things, in the latest of Propel's video interviews with leading operators about “navigating the coronavirus”. The video will be released today (Friday, 12 June) at 9am.

Industry News:

Mark Wingett calls on government to finally provide some clarity in his latest Premium column: Propel insights editor Mark Wingett looks at why the last week has felt like a new low point for the sector, and urges the government to provide much-needed clarity and leadership, as part of the latest Propel Premium column, which will be sent to subscribers on Friday (12 June) at 5pm. Meanwhile, he also takes a closer look at Fuller’s’ disposal of The Stable chain to Three Joes. There will also be the latest sector rumblings from Premium Diary. Propel Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out, discounts to attend Propel conferences and events, and regular columns from Mark Wingett. Subscribers also receive access to our database of multi-site companies, which has grown to 1,600 businesses. An annual premium subscription costs £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers. Email anne.steele@propelinfo.com

Abramson – landlords need to accept this isn’t a short-term issue: David Abramson, chief executive of lease restructuring experts Cedar Dean Group, has said landlords still need to accept the impact coronavirus has had on the hospitality and property sectors isn’t a short-term, three-month issue. Speaking on a lease restructuring webinar as part of the Propel Insights Series, Abramson said: “This is a systemic issue, which is going to affect the industry for the next couple of years and it is them getting their head around how are they proactively going to deal with this. I think there has been a complete absence at the moment from landlords proactively looking beyond three months. I haven’t heard one landlord looking at a two-year plan. Once businesses accept some units can’t survive this, and landlords accept their new reality then the conversation can go forward in a cordial, mutual manner.” Vernon Dennis, partner at Howard Kennedy, said there was starting to be a pick up in the number of landlords in financial distress. He said: “It has often been the tenant who has been saying I am in distress and you need to provide me with some leeway. We are now seeing a reversal of that with some landlords in significant distress, and we are going to see some failures there. That is the way it has moved. Intu is one of the most high-profile cases out there at the moment, but there are a number of others playing the same card.”

Sector investors invest in new restructuring advisory firm: Sector investors Imbiba and Paul Campbell, founder of Hill Capital, have both invested in Oak Ridge Advisory, a newly formed restructuring advisory firm, focused exclusively on providing “best-in-class advice” to leisure and hospitality small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) impacted by coronavirus, Propel has learned. It is the first time Imbiba, which is behind businesses such as Vagabond, Darwin & Wallace and Farmer J, and Campbell, who is an investor in and chairman or non-executive director at Hawksmoor, Vinoteca, Hickory’s, Blacklock, Tortilla, The Alchemist and Gusto, have invested in an advisory firm. Oak Ridge Advisory has been founded by Scott Millar and Kevin Coates, two former senior partners at AlixPartners and, prior to that, Zolfo Cooper. Millar was formerly co-head of AlixPartners’ UK turnaround and restructuring practice and Kevin Coates was formerly joint UK head of the company-side advisory team. They said Oak Ridge will provide “high-quality advice to leisure SMEs with an innovative, flexible and contingent fee structure, aligned with the needs of individual businesses”. The new firm will work with founders, chief executives, boards and shareholders of leisure and hospitality companies “to help ‘right-size’ businesses for the post-covid-19 world and, where required, assist in rebuilding the capital structure of companies adversely impacted by the virus”. Darrel Connell, partner at Imbiba, told Propel: “Scott and Kevin are seasoned restructuring professionals who have both the technical expertise and empathy to work with businesses that are fundamentally sound but have been significantly impacted by coronavirus.” Campbell said: “At a time when the leisure and hospitality industries are crying out for smart, fast and pro-active advice, Scott and Kevin are launching Oak Ridge with a fresh and innovative business model.” Coates and Millar said: “We are extremely excited about the opportunity to provide a progressive consultancy model. We are also delighted to have access to the significant industry experience that both Paul and Imbiba bring.”

Pesto Restaurants owner urges sector to seek VAT reduction: Pesto Restaurants owner Neil Gatt has written to his MP, Edward Timpson, requesting action to support the hospitality sector “as we look towards exiting lock-down” – and urged other operators to do the same. In his letter Gatt wrote: “If VAT was reduced to 10% for our sector for one year it would create an immediate, material and positive effect on cash flow and profitability and help us to rebuild our businesses.” Pesto operates 11 restaurants throughout the north west and Midlands and like all businesses in the sector the sites have been closed since 20 March. Gatt told Propel: “Germany has already announced it is reducing VAT on restaurant and catering services from 19% to 7% for a year from 1 July. If the UK did the same it would provide a very effective subsidy for our sector as we try to recover from the effects of this crisis. I would urge all operators to write to their MPs demanding a reduction in VAT. So far, the only government ‘cash’ support for actual businesses (and not just employees) has been the grant scheme, but most of us don’t qualify for that as rateable values are typically higher than £51,000 threshold. And as it looks more and more likely government are not going to step in to help with rent arears, reducing VAT for one year would provide real meaningful cash support to help offset the huge losses we are all incurring.”

On-trade beer sales fall by record low in first quarter: On-trade beer sales fell by 16.4% in the first quarter of 2020 compared with the previous year – to a record low 668 million pints, according to the latest Beer Barometer sales data from the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA). Overall sales of beer in the quarter were down 7.2% compared with the year before, to 1.5 billion pints – also the lowest level on record. The BBPA said the sales data showed the immediate impact the lock-down on pubs from 20 March had on the industry, following warnings from prime minister Boris Johnson four days earlier for people to avoid pubs. Earlier this week the trade association called on the government to “get Britain brewing again” by giving the UK’s beer and pub sector a clear, definitive pathway to reopening from 4 July as indicated in the roadmap for recovery. It said with pubs needing a minimum of three weeks’ notice to allow them sufficient time to prepare to reopen, the government needed to confirm by Saturday (13 June) at the latest that pubs will reopen from 4 July and failure to do so could risk pubs reopening without enough fresh draught beer. BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “These stark figures reveal how the lock-down is having a devastating impact on our world-class breweries and pubs. The cliff-edge impact on our sector, when people were told to stop going to the pub and then when they were shut down, is clear to see. Beer sales were at a record low in the first quarter of this year, so it’s imperative we get brewing our beer again and reopen pubs as soon as possible. This will help save pubs from permanent closure, allowing them to start to get back on their feet and protect the vital local jobs pubs and breweries support across the UK.”

Colliers International draws up three-point plan ‘to get London shopping again’: Colliers International has drawn up a three-point plan it has urged the government to look at to help boost the retail and hospitality sector and stimulate shopping across London. The measures encompass the immediate introduction of an online sales tax; public transport incentives including free travel into the centre of the capital; and substantial VAT relief on items bought in stores. Colliers said London’s retail industry was being particularly hard-hit by the lock-down, with more than 50% of its shopping sales depend on overseas tourists and visitors from outside the capital. Colliers head of London retail agency Paul Souber said an online sales tax “should be the number one priority”, while VAT relief on “in-store” purchases would “stimulate physical visits and help reintroduce and revive our high streets after lock-down”. Depending on the success of the initial measures the Treasury should be ready to extend rates relief on retail and food and beverage premises after April 2021. Souber added: “We have to get London shopping again otherwise the economic impact in terms of lost jobs and revenue to the Treasury will be felt far beyond the capital.”

New national grass roots campaign for pubs launches: A new national grass roots campaign for pubs has been launched, with a clear mission to campaign to promote, support and protect pubs. It has been established by a group of prominent licensees, leading pub campaigners, small brewers and pub lovers including academics, musicians and actors. The campaign exists to provide a #realvoiceforpubs and to campaign for a “better, freer and fairer, more sustainable pub sector”. It has been formed partly in response to the “urgent need” for a powerful voice for thousands of pubs currently facing an existential threat due to the enforced closures resulting from the coronavirus outbreak. The Campaign for Pubs is a member organisation of the British Pub Confederation and will administer and support the ongoing work of the confederation to further strengthen representation for pubs and publicans.

Direct hotel bookings increase 37% ahead of hospitality’s reopening: Direct hotel bookings have increased 37.23% compared with a year ago while those online travel agencies (OTA) have fallen by 16.6%, according to new research. Alongside an increase in direct bookings, the data from hospitality booking solution company ProfitRoom also revealed traffic to hotel websites is rising rapidly, with a 634% increase from 7 May to 7 June, as demand soars with lock-down measures beginning to ease. ProfitRoom said hoteliers were encouraging guests to book directly as they look to reduce the impact of OTA commission fees on the bottom line by offering best prices and additional extras to entice. It added: “Guests are not only checking the hotel is open for bookings (something already visible via OTAs), they’re also likely looking to establish which services are functioning and what the hotel’s coronavirus precautions are. For most of those looking for a hotel booking, this would involve actively visiting a hotel’s website – with a direct booking the next logical step if they’re keen to proceed, especially if hotels offer active encouragement to do so and have a smooth booking process. From what we’re seeing, hotels should ensure they’ve got all of the appropriate measures in place to take advantage of this new trend while interest is starting to boom.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is supporting an up-and-coming food business seeking to hire a senior operations director as it looks to embark on national expansion. In order to grow, the business is implementing new procedures, systems and infrastructure to ensure quality, service and uncompromised brand values. The company is flexible on industry background – restaurant, grocery or general retail. However, it is essential the incoming senior operations director has extensive knowledge of distribution, delivery service and ecommerce. A salary in the range of £120,000 to £150,000 will be considered. Anyone interested can email Hollie@corecruiment.com 
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Company News:

Corbin & King launches delivery service with all profits used to top up furloughed staff salaries: London restaurant operator Corbin & King has launched a delivery service with all profits being used to top up the salary of furloughed staff. The company is offering a selection of dishes “that just need finishing off at home” from all of its restaurants, including Manzi’s – its forthcoming seafood venue in Soho. The menu features Soutine's coq au Riesling, Colbert's duck confit with bean cassoulet and The Wolseley's wiener schnitzel. A curated selection of wine is also available. Orders can be made on weekdays between 9am and 6pm and delivery is available within a four-mile radius of the West End. The company stated: “Home dining meals are prepared by our chefs to our restaurant recipes, saving you time and effort in cooking at home. The meals arrive refrigerated and can be stored for three days.” The delivery service has launched after Corbin & King asked customers to buy dining vouchers in advance. The company is giving 50% directly to staff to help “alleviate the desperate situation many are finding themselves in”. Co-founder Jeremy King previously said the “overwhelming” generosity of customers buying dining vouchers in advance meant the company could pay staff 80% of their wages in May but also said: “We still have a long way to go.” The initiative was launched after King said the business could not continue topping up furloughed workers’ pay without putting the future of the company in jeopardy.

Greene King invests £250,000 in PPE for leased and tenanted pubs as it unveils additional support: Brewer and retailer Greene King has unveiled additional support for its leased and tenanted partners, including a £250,000 investment into personal protective equipment (PPE). Since pubs closed for lock-down, Greene King has provided about £11m in rent concessions as well as investing about £4m in support for its partners. The latest update to its 1,000 partners confirmed every pub would receive a £250 PPE kit for reopening, including face masks, visors, gloves, and hand sanitiser gel. Each pub has also been offered £120 of covid-19 signs for pub gardens and interiors, plus free online training courses covering covid-19 topics such as service after lock-down and personal protection. The PPE kits will be posted to pubs from 29 June ahead of reopening, with the earliest pubs can legally reopen currently scheduled for 4 July by the government. Greene King Pub Partners managing director Wayne Shurvinton said: “We wanted to make this additional £250,000 PPE investment as it’s the right thing to do for our partners, to give them the best platform possible to recover their business during this hugely challenging time for us all. I’m pleased we can offer this next step of support for reopening, backing up our 90% rent discount for the first four weeks of reopening and 50% for the following four weeks.” Greene King is also offering an estimated £3.6m of product support, which includes the replacement of kegs and casks for unopened barrels that will be out of date when pubs reopen and discounts for tied tenants on kegs/casks purchased for the first eight weeks of reopening.

Le Pain Quotidien UK acquired in pre-pack deal: The bulk of the Le Pain Quotidien UK business has been acquired through a pre-pack administration by a new vehicle BrunchCo, which is a subsidiary of Cobepa, a Belgian-based investment firm that is the chain's existing backer. Sky News said the deal involved 16 of Le Pain’s 26 sites in the UK. The brand’s current UK head office and ten remaining sites are to be closed, which will lead to almost 200 staff being made redundant. Propel understands Steven Whibley, former managing director of Le Pain Quotidien UK at the turn of the decade, has been involved in the BrunchCo bid. BunchCo is believed to have fought off a bid from Ian Zilberkweit, the co-founder of Le Pain Quotidien Russia and current board member of Farmer J, for the UK business. Zilberkweit was previously chief financial officer of Le Pain Quotidien UK between July 2004 and January 2007, co-founding the UK operation with Philippe Le Roux. The brand’s main shareholder Cobepa, together with a recently-launched investment group M80, is currently in advanced talks to take on the remaining Le Pain Quotidien businesses in France and Belgium. M80 will take a majority share, and Cobepa a “substantial” minority holding. According to reports, the two companies have said they are prepared to spend several million euros on relaunching the chain, including in the UK. Propel revealed in April an emergency sale process for the UK business had been launched, with Alvarez & Marsal overseeing the auction and was likely to be appointed as administrator unless a solvent sale was concluded swiftly.

Company behind Wahlburgers UK placed into administration: The company behind the UK launch of Wahlburgers, the US burger chain run by chef Paul Wahlberg in partnership with his brothers Mark and Donnie, has gone into administration, Propel has learned. FRP Advisory was appointed as administrator last week to WON 2O, which was the franchisee for the brand in the UK. Wahlburgers announced earlier this week it was to permanently closed what was its debut European restaurant, in London's Covent Garden, little more than a year after it first opened. The company cited the financial impact of the ongoing coronavirus crisis as the reason behind the closure. Propel revealed in December the company had begun marketing the site at 8-9 James Street, with a premium of £2m thought to have been placed on it. US Wahlburgers franchise owner Antonino Cutraro and Formula One executive Otmar Szafnauer were directors of WON 2O. Cutraro, who owns a number of Wahlburgers franchises in the US, and Szafnauer, the chief executive of the Racing Point Formula One team, had the master franchise for the UK market for the brand.

Yum! Brands reports record off-premise sales at Pizza Hut but Taco Bell ‘hurting’: Yum! Brands has reported record off-premise sales for Pizza Hut but said Taco Bell was “hurting”. Pizza Hut’s US segment, which has struggled to find its footing in the past few years, recorded in early May its highest delivery and takeaway average sales week in the past eight years, Yum Brands said in a mid-quarter update. It added: “In our delivery and carry-out only focused restaurants, quarter-to-date like-for-like sales growth was about 15%, reflecting strength in our off-premise business.” Taco Bell has done well at dinner, but continues to experience “significant traffic declines during the breakfast and late-night occasions”, Yum Brands said. Global like-for-like sales at Yum! Brands declined 19% for all of April and May. The figure does not include Habit Burger Grill, which became part of the Yum! Brands portfolio in mid-March. Yum said the vast majority of the decline was driven by temporary restaurant closures. Temporary closures across the globe, primarily tied to the company’s Pizza Hut and KFC brands, reached about 11,000 locations during the peak period of the pandemic. For the same period, KFC global like-for-like sales declined 26%, Pizza Hut global like-for-likes fell 10% and Taco Bell global like-for-like sales dropped 11%. The company said: “Trends have improved meaningfully in recent weeks, however, the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact sales in numerous markets across the world, particularly in markets where we continue to experience significant temporary restaurant closures.” During this intra-quarter period, KFC US is experiencing like-for-like sales growth in the mid-teens; Pizza Hut US is seeing like-for-like growth in the low-teens; while Taco Bell is experiencing “slightly positive” like-for-like sales. As of June 9, the company said about 5,000 locations, or 10% of the company’s global system, remained temporarily closed.

Papa John’s launches virtual discovery meetings for potential franchisees: Papa John’s is holding a series of virtual discovery meetings as it looks to attract new franchisees in the UK. The weekly one-to-one remote sessions give potential franchisees the chance to learn how the franchise concept works. The company has adapted parts of its recruitment process in light of the coronavirus pandemic and is planning virtual regional recruitment events, which will start to be held early in the summer. Papa John’s is particularly looking for franchisees to develop businesses in the north west, north east, Nottinghamshire and the south west. For those a little further down their franchise journey, Papa John’s will soon hold its first online guest visit event. Under normal circumstances, this is the next step where prospective franchisees visit its headquarters in Milton Keynes. The remote visit will include meeting key members of the team including those from marketing, construction and site selection, finance, product development plus the leadership team. The guest visit will now last half a day instead of a full day and will be held each month until the company is able to resume in-person visits.

Seven Bro7hers Brewery launches fund-raise for six new beer houses: Manchester-based Seven Bro7hers Brewery is raising funds as it looks to open six beer houses in the next two years and expand production, Propel has learned. The company, founded by brothers Keith, Kit, Guy, Luke, Daniel, Nathan and Greg McAvoy in 2014, was looking to raise £50,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, offering 1.24% equity in return for the investment, giving a pre-money valuation of £8m. It has already secured £130,000 from selected investors even before the campaign has gone public. The funds will be used to add to its two existing beer houses in Manchester as well as expand production capability at its brewery to two million litres per annum. The company said one beer house site had been secured in Liverpool with another in Leeds under negotiation and is looking to add another four to the portfolio. In 2019, the company reported revenue of £2m with a loss before tax of £200,000. Last year Seven Bro7hers Brewery raised more than £665,000 on Crowdcube to aid its expansion plans.

Heineken family buys stake in Double Dutch: The Heineken family has acquired a minority stake in Double Dutch, the UK premium tonic and mixer brand, owned by Dutch twin sisters Raissa and Joyce de Haas. In addition, Michel de Carvalho, husband of Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken, has joined the supervisory board of Double Dutch. The investment, of just under 10%, provides new capital for Double Dutch to invest further in the brand. The Heineken family has stakes in multiple on-trade groups and de Carvalho will use his global network to support Double Dutch’s growth plans worldwide. He said: “This is our first family venture into tonics and Double Dutch is an exciting brand with two driven, ambitious young Dutch women entrepreneurs behind it. No longer a startup brand, it has captured an 8% market share in the UK, which is a testament to the founders’ hard work and tenacity. I see the growth in premium tonics continuing, with the demand for luxury soft drinks, healthier low sugar alternatives and unique mixers for exclusive variants of gin and vodka increasing, and Double Dutch fulfils all of those.” Raissa de Haas added: “As well as being hugely exciting commercially, the relationship is a perfect cultural fit – both businesses are Dutch, family-owned and female-driven – we couldn’t be happier.” Double Dutch was founded in 2015, and now sells more than a million bottles a month in 26 countries. The company previously raised money from, among others, Lord Mervyn Davies, now Double Dutch’s chairman and a Diageo board member.

Dirty Martini launches online shop: Dirty Martini, the CG Restaurants & Bars-owned brand, has launched an online shop offering next-day delivery across the UK. The Scott Matthews-led business, which operates 11 sites – seven in London and others in Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds and Manchester – is also offering takeout from its Islington site. The at-home offer features “Dirty Martini creations” with each bottle costing £22.50 and containing four servings. Consumers can choose from wild strawberry martini, blood orange and vanilla martini, lychee and rose martini, passion fruit martini and espresso martini. The company states: “All of our cocktails contain the freshest ingredients and are made to the original Dirty Martini recipe, with garnishes to finish off your creation in style! Plus all of our martinis are available for next day delivery Tuesday to Saturday or available to collect the same day from Dirty Martini Islington.”

Yorkshire-based street food-style fish and chip concept Fryday to open in Harrogate for third site, others in pipeline: Yorkshire-based street food-style fish and chip concept Fryday is to open its third site, in Harrogate this month, with further outlets in the pipeline. Owner Andrew Daly is launching the venue on Friday, 26 June in the former Subway premises in Knaresborough Road, offering takeaway, click-and-collect and delivery. It is second on a list of openings planned for this year, with other prospective sites being eyed in Leeds and York. Daly recently opened in Wakefield with a door-to-door service, adding to Fryday’s other outlet in the village of Upton, near Pontefract. Daly told The Business Desk: “It’s a really exciting time for us at Fryday and we’re really proud to be a happy story for the food scene, despite the challenging climate. I want to change perceptions of menus, styling, approach and the social consciousness people expect from takeaways.”

TGI Fridays to add cocktails to click-and-collect menu: TGI Friday’s is adding seven new curated cocktails to its click-and-collect menu from Friday (12 June). The cocktails, which range between 10% and 14% ABV and cost £7.50 each, feature the espresso martini, the mojito and the strawberry daiquiri. They will be initially available from 12 of the 36 sites it has reopened for click-and-collect, including Cheltenham, Northampton and its Caversham Road restaurant in Reading. Chief executive Robert Cook said: “For some time we have been working behind the scenes to deliver the bar experience with ‘at home’ cocktails. Since adding alcohol to our click-and-collect service at selected locations in May, we have had endless requests from Friday’s fans to add their favourite cocktails to the menu.”

EasyHotel launches safety pledge for guests as it prepares to reopen: EasyHotel, the owner, developer, operator and franchisor of “super budget” branded hotels, is introducing a new “Stay Easy, Stay Safe” pledge for guests as it prepares to reopen its sites. The company will open its French flagship in Nice on 24 June, followed by its Spanish flagship in Barcelona on 1 July. The brand’s hotels across the UK will begin opening depending on location from July. EasyHotel is already operating a number of its hotels in line with public health guidance throughout continental Europe and the Middle East. The “Stay Easy, Stay Safe” pledge will ensure cleanliness with surfaces regularly disinfected and hand sanitiser provided; keeping contact to a minimum with digital check-in; and maintaining social distancing, which will be signposted throughout hotels. Chief executive Francois Bachetta said: “Since closing our entire estate in March, we have been working hard behind the scenes to prepare for reopening our hotels in a way that puts health and safety first.”

Chiltern Firehouse launches ‘to-go’ menu: Marylebone restaurant Chiltern Firehouse has launched a “to-go” menu of its favourite dishes and summer drinks. The menu will be served daily between noon and 9pm with collections made in the open air, from the Chiltern Street restaurant’s garden courtyard, with social distancing measures in place. Dishes include crab doughnuts and frosty summer frosé, alongside fried chicken, three sourdough pizza flavours, hand-made Firehouse cocktails, and wine by the glass or the bottle from the cellar. Seasonally-inspired dishes and daily specials are added frequently. A wider selection of dishes will be added in the coming weeks while there was also plans being put in place to launch a delivery service.

New F&B destination and community hub to open in Hove next week: A new food and beverage destination and community hub is to open in Hove, East Sussex, next week. Rockwater Hove is launching Shacks By the Shore on Tuesday (16 June). The former Venue pub site in Western Esplanade will provide an outdoor space offering locally sourced produce, ranging from local charcuterie and cheese boards and seafood platters, all while ensuring social distancing protocols are adhered to. It will also provide guests an insight into what they should be able to expect upon a full opening of Rockwater Hove in the coming months, with a continuity of branding and food and drink offerings. Furthering its credentials as a wellness and lifestyle hub for the community, Rockwater Hove will be collaborating with local fitness groups to offer classes. Rockwater Hove founder Luke Davis said: “Our vision for Rockwater Hove is that it will be far more than a restaurant and bar that serves as a new community hub.”

Haven launches new cleanliness charter: Holiday park company Haven, owned by Bourne Leisure, has launched a new cleanliness charter as it prepares to reopen in July. The “Clean and Safe Charter” focuses on introducing a range of measures that will help holidaymakers feel safe and secure as lock-down measures are eased. The charter features a contactless check in process, social distancing measures and more cleaning teams on parks. The move also includes the Haven Caravan Cleanliness Guarantee, meaning customers will be entitled to a refund if cleanliness within their lodgings is not up to par. Guest and proposition director Gerard Tempest told Insider Media: “The Clean and Safe Charter covers six key areas from the new arrival process to wayfinding around park, ordering of takeaway food to the new cleaning processes and particularly the new Haven Caravan Cleanliness Guarantee, which we believe will the new quality standard that every guest will be looking for.” Haven has previously said its holiday parks will remain closed until at least Sunday, 5 July. 

Sophie’s Steakhouse launches at-home steak box offer: London-based bar and grill Sophie’s Steakhouse has launched its own at-home offer, under the title Sophie’s Steak Boxes. Available for click-and-collect or local delivery from its site in Chelsea, the offer runs on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Boxes include a Porterhouse steak version for two people to share, which comprises a 33-ounce to 35-ounce Porterhouse steak, Sophie's steak sauce, seasoning and herbs, steak knife, and bottle of Malbec for £75.

Purity Brewing Company launches contactless click-and-collect service: Warwickshire-based Purity Brewing Company has launched a contactless click-and-collect service. Customers book a ten-minute slot to collect their order from the brewery, which is placed into their vehicle by a member of the Purity team while adhering to the current social distancing measures. The company has also introduced a weekly online pub quiz that runs on Wednesdays from 7.15pm. Hosted from the brewery taproom, two of the Purity team are live streaming to an average of more than 600 people each week on its Facebook page. Purity chief executive and co-founder Paul Halsey said: “As other sectors begin to get back to ‘normal’, the hospitality sector is going to wait some time, and we are all having to create our version of the new normal. We have been blown away by the support shown towards us and to see our online sales grow exponentially has been incredible to see.” As a one-off special, the brewery has joined forces with Beer Day Britain, due to be held on Monday (15 June), to host a Beer Special Pure Pub Quiz on its Facebook page at 7pm, when it will also join the national #CheersToBeer toast.

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