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Fri 3rd Jul 2020 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day: 

Phil Urban – M&B discounting unnecessary to entice customers, reduced capacity a bigger issue: Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) chief executive Phil Urban has said the company isn’t planning on widespread discounting to encourage customers back into sites and believes the bigger issue will be accommodating people because of reduced capacity. Urban said despite the reduction in social distancing measures to “one metre-plus”, which would allow the majority of its sites to operate at 90% of capacity, the company would leave a greater distance between tables. He said this would help its teams operationally while trying to spread demand through the day. He added as the furlough scheme continued to unravel there would inevitably be further casualties in the sector and therefore a reduction in supply. Speaking on a call to analysts from The Royal Saracens Head in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, Urban said he believed there was “pent-up demand” from consumers to return to pubs and restaurants. The Royal Saracens Head is fully booked for the opening weekend and Urban said bookings on Saturday “weren’t far off normal levels, just spread through the day”. Urban said it would be an opportunity to push trade in quieter parts of the day as well as reassure customers. He added: “We have a strong portfolio of sites – 81% of which are freehold. M&B has the pick of many locations. About 90% of our sites have outside space. We are able to control capacity because we’re using our own booking system and our wet-led brands such as Ember Inns and All Bar One have order at table. That gives us confidence as we start to rebuild and get back on the journey we were on before lock-down. We’re not intending to do a huge amount of discounting – we think from the initial demand we’re seeing, reduced capacity will be a bigger issue.” The company, which furloughed 99% of staff, expects to have 90% of its sites open by the end of July. The remaining 10% are smaller sites, in city centres that rely on demand from office workers and within properties owned by third-party landlords that have yet to reopen such as at The O2. M&B said trading in its 46-strong Alex bar estate in Germany had been at 70% of last year’s level in the past five weeks since reopening. Urban said: “A repeat of that in the UK would delight us and exceed expectations.” M&B also said it had plenty of liquidity in place to navigate “any bumps in the road”, such as local lock-downs. Finance director Tim Jones said: “The strategy we have followed in terms of reducing debt has in hindsight been the right thing to do and puts us in a strong financial position.”

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Trail launches Solo, the new way for independents to go paperless: Trail, the work management app, now offers single sites a simple way to stay on top of their operations and manage ongoing changes. Prices start at £14 and include a library of covid-19 and FSA-approved tasks for a quick set-up. With regulations in flux for the foreseeable future, hundreds of businesses have gone digital. Trail co-founder Joe Cripps said: “With even more things to do each day than before, hospitality businesses are finding paper checklists aren’t good enough any more. So many things are changing so fast. Our app makes it much easier to adapt, communicating changes to teams so they quickly become daily habits.” Trail is widely used by multi-site operators to maintain brand standards and handle compliance. Teams are guided through their day with a list of tasks, from covid checks to cashing-up. The new app will give independent businesses better control and visibility over their operations, removing the need for costly risk assessments and audits every time regulations change. Cripps added: “There has been a lot of focus on reopening for hospitality businesses but the key to long-term survival will be adapting to change and maintaining these changes every day.” If you have information you would like to feature in a sponsored message, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com

Alex Reilley to reveal industry insights in latest Premium Opinion: Loungers executive chairman Alex Reilley will give his insights into what he’s seen on his travels across the country during the past three weeks in this week’s Propel Premium Opinion, which will be sent to subscribers on Friday (3 July) at 5pm. Reilley has been visiting his sites as they gear up to reopen and will reveal the differences between towns, suburbs and cities and the reactions of staff and the public. Trevor Watson, executive director of Davis Coffer Lyons, will also call on the government to free business from the shackles of bureaucracy and controls to stimulate the economy. 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

Elton Mouna to feature in latest ‘navigating the coronavirus’ video: In the latest in Propel’s video interviews with leading operators about “navigating the coronavirus” pandemic, Elliotts chief executive Ann Elliott talks to Elton Mouna, managing director of east London-focused pub collection Remarkable Pubs. Mouna talks about preparing for reopening, coping with stress and anxiety, dealing with “awkward” customers and what lies ahead for him personally when he steps down from the company. The video will be released on Friday (3 July).

NTIA – 4 July shaping up to be ‘doomsday’ rather than ‘independence day’: Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), has said the mass reopening of venues on Saturday (4 July) is shaping up to be “doomsday” rather than the “independence day” the government envisages. He blamed the government for a lack of clarity surrounding its new guidelines and said if it failed to alter the guidance the night-time industry faced being “wiped out altogether”. Kill said: “This week has seen businesses battle to get to grips with these new guidelines, which are unfit for purpose. The lack of clarity has also meant some businesses are falling victim to the lack of flexibility between what the government is asking them to do and what licensing and planning regulators say they can do. Our members feel stuck in a bizarre tug-of-war between government, licensing and planning regulators, and the police. But no-one knows which rope to pull and in which direction, leaving businesses stranded in the middle with no way to move forward and out of this mess. No-one wants to see a rise in illegal raves and gatherings like we have seen in recent weeks but the threat of these events becoming a mainstay is real unless night-time economy businesses are given a clear roadmap for them to safely re-engage the market place, with further financial support to recover from the impacts of covid-19. Our businesses form a rich part of the UK’s cultural tapestry and are being crippled. If guidance is not urgently altered the industry faces being wiped out altogether.” Meanwhile, the NTIA has revealed the results of its survey regarding opening on 4 July. Out of 938 respondents, more than half (51.6%) said they won’t reopen yet, with that figure rising to 65% for late-night venues. Almost two-thirds (65%) of pubs, bars and restaurants, however, are set to reopen. Out of the respondents who said they wouldn’t reopen on 4 July, more than half (52.6%) said it wasn’t “financially viable”, while 30.8% said they couldn’t “meet covid guidance requirements”. When asked whether they would require further support from the government during this period of re-engagement, 94.3% said “yes”.

Sector trade bodies publish track and trace guidance: The British Beer and Pub Association, British Institute of Innkeeping and UKHospitality have issued joint guidance on how sector businesses can support the government’s track and trace customer registration scheme. The aim is to provide clarity to help businesses achieve public health objectives and business obligations. The guidance explains what information should be recorded, how to record it and relevant GDPR issues. A spokesman said: “There has been a significant amount of interest from businesses and customers about the track-and-trace scheme and some confusion. It is a core component of the safe reopening of businesses and something all venues are going to have to get to grips with. This can help us to avoid a second spike and the disastrous consequences. This guidance provides clear instructions to businesses on their obligations and reminds them why it is important they make a success of the scheme. It’s in the interests of everyone we all understand our role in the scheme and its importance in the context of the pandemic. Businesses are urged to read the guidance thoroughly and ensure they have the proper procedures in place before they reopen. If they are unsure about any element they should contact their trade association immediately.” Click here to access the guidance.

Pub-goers urged to support operators and respect safety measures: Industry bodies and police chiefs have appealed to pub-goers to support landlords and staff and respect new safety measures during the reopening of venues on Saturday (4 July). In a joint statement, the British Beer & Pub Association, UKHospitality, London night tsar Amy Lamé and the National Police Chiefs’ Council said: “We know people are keen to get back to normal and understand the important role the pub can play in that. We look forward to welcoming people back into pubs this weekend but want to impress on people the importance of behaving responsibly. We ask pub-goers to be supportive of landlords and pub staff, helping them to reopen in the best way possible. It’s important everyone respects the new measures to ensure everyone can enjoy the return of our pubs safely. If we all work together we can ensure the reopening of pubs and hospitality is a success and an enjoyable experience for everyone.” Meanwhile, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has released an easy to follow guide to help people use pubs safely during the new measures. 

Soho streets to be pedestrianised: Streets in London’s Soho are to be pedestrianised after a campaign to support hospitality businesses by allowing alfresco dining attracted 6,500 signatures. From Saturday (4 July), 17 streets in the district will be temporarily car-free, including Greek Street, Old Compton Street, Frith Street and Dean Street. Most of the street closures, which have been agreed by Westminster Council, will be between 5pm and 11pm. Staff from Soho venues have volunteered to marshal gates to ensure the roads stay clear of traffic. The measures will pave the way for Soho’s restaurateurs to offer alfresco dining, which should help them counter loss of custom incurred by social distancing. Although business owners will still need to apply for new licences to serve in the streets, the council has introduced a fast-track system to push through applications within five to ten days. Led by Soho Estates and Shaftesbury, the Soho Summer Street Festival campaign was launched in early June and has been backed by a host of operators including Soho House, Tonkotsu, Maxwell’s Restaurant Group, Polpo and L’Escargot.

Welsh sector firms to reopen outdoor spaces on 13 July but UKHospitality calls for definitive date for indoor services: Pubs and restaurants in Wales will be able to reopen outdoors from Monday, 13 July, the Welsh government has announced. A phased return for businesses in the hospitality sector, including bars and cafes, will be allowed as long as coronavirus cases continue to fall in the country. Wales minister for international relations Baroness Eluned Morgan said any businesses able to reopen in this way would be “expected to comply with clear guidelines such as pre-booking and table service”. Reopening indoor services will be considered at a later date and will “depend on the success of outdoor opening and the state of the virus in Wales”. The reopening of self-contained accommodation has been brought forward from Monday, 13 July by two days to allow Saturday-to-Saturday lets. Outdoor attractions may also be able to open from Monday (6 July). However, UKHospitality has called on the Welsh government to provide firm opening dates for indoor hospitality, with Wales the only part of the UK without one. David Chapman, UKHospitality executive director for Wales, said: “While premises remain closed or partially open without the surety of a full opening date, the spectre of large numbers of redundancies hangs over the industry and the vulnerable communities it serves across Wales. They are reporting the possibility of 35% to 40% redundancies in our sector. We need clarification of the opening date to give businesses confidence. We also need a refreshed and substantial support package to help our businesses operate to the highest level possible so they can retain as many of their workforce as possible.”

Kill expresses concerns over FCA insurance case: Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, has expressed his concerns regarding the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) test case, which regards the extent of business interruption coverage afforded to policyholders affected by the government’s lock-down. Kill said: “This is clearly a cynical attempt by insurers to reduce their exposure at the expense of the UK taxpayer and is especially galling given the times in which we are living. The furlough payments are essentially a scheme by which the UK government has sought to enable the economy to hibernate until such time as it can reopen safely following the covid-19 pandemic. For the insurance industry to seek a benefit from this gesture, especially after repeated attempts to avoid coverage following the pandemic, is a shabby and disappointing way to treat clients. In addition, we are aware insurers will seek to impose a reduction on any claims received based on a ‘covid downturn’, which in essence involves a conception of what the turnover of a business might have been had it not closed at the end of March. Shortly after the UK government enforced widespread business closures, it also implemented a more general lock-down for the country as a whole. As such, insurers have sought to suggest the takings of businesses within the hospitality sector would have been significantly reduced even without the enforced closure. While the FCA case is looking to test the principles of the ‘trends’ clauses built into wording, insurers have asserted takings within the commercial area would have dropped between 70% and 75%, based on a Swedish model. However, our analysis suggests in 2017 only 12% of the Swedish population attended restaurants once or twice a week whereas in the UK it was one-third of the population.” In response, the Association of British Insurers stated: “The role of insurance is to act as a final safety net for any losses that cannot be covered elsewhere. For claims relating to covid-19, insurers will generally expect businesses not to claim for losses that are already adequately covered by any government grants they have received.”

Treasury blasted over raise a glass tweet: The Treasury has been accused of publishing the “most tone-deaf tweet in history” after urging people to celebrate pubs reopening in England. The government department’s message to “grab a drink and raise a glass” on Saturday (4 July) prompted a social media backlash. Users blasted the tweet as being in incredibly poor taste given the UK’s official coronavirus death toll is now almost 44,000, with other estimates suggesting it is much higher. There was also anger the message could fuel chaos at the weekend amid fears lock-down easing might cause a surge in infections. The tweet was subsequently deleted but screenshots continued to go viral on social media. ITV Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan was one of many people to lash out at the Treasury. He tweeted: “This must be the most tone-deaf tweet in history – 65,000 people dead, millions facing unemployment – and the Treasury wants us all to go out and celebrate.” Others labelled the tweet “irresponsible”, in “bad taste” and “wholly inappropriate”. Pubs and restaurants will be allowed to reopen from Saturday but government guidance suggests premises should provide customers with hand sanitiser and encourage table service. 

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Company News:

The Restaurant Group begins reopening Frankie & Benny’s estate: The Restaurant Group (TRG) will begin reopening its Frankie & Benny’s estate with the launch of a click and collect and takeaway offer through six sites from Friday (3 July). The company, which saw creditors approve a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) for its leisure business including Frankie & Benny’s earlier this week, will reopen its sites in Chesterfield, Doncaster, Dudley, Lincoln, Merryhill and Peterborough. Delivery will be available through UberEats and Just Eat. In terms of reopening for dine-in, the brand said: “Unfortunately we are unable to confirm the status of individual sites until the restructuring process is complete. We will start to open after 4 July and will confirm individual restaurant details nearer the time.” TRG’s leisure estate comprises 313 branded restaurants, with Frankie & Benny’s, Coast to Coast, Joe’s Kitchen, Chiquito, Garfunkel’s and Firejacks as the primary brands. As exclusively reported by Propel earlier this month, the 214-page CVA document sets out four lease categories with the largest (category 4) comprising 148 sites, mostly under the Frankie & Benny’s brand, earmarked for closure as part of the proposals. Talking to Propel earlier this week, TRG chief executive Andy Hornby said the company would take a gradual approach to reopening its leisure division. He said: “Our leisure business will be pretty similar to Wagamama in terms of gradual reopening, with about a third of the sites opening in July then rolling on through August and September, with the aim of being fully reopen by October.”

JD Wetherspoon agrees to defer rent payments or go monthly: JD Wetherspoon has forged deals with landlords to pay zero rent now and defer payments until next year or switch to monthly payments. The company, which operates 875 pubs in the UK, has unveiled plans to reopen 750 branches in England on Saturday (4 July) after the lock-down forced them to close on 20 March. Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “We have contacted all our landlords and agreed individual deals. In some cases we’ve agreed zero rents while pubs are closed. In other cases, especially involving smaller landlords, we’ve asked for rent deferrals to be paid back in 2021, sometimes with interest. We’ve usually asked for monthly rents for the next 18 months or so. Landlords have generally been helpful and co-operative, for which we’re grateful.” Wetherspoon will introduce a raft of social distancing measures when it reopens its pubs this weekend, including separate entrances and exits where possible.

Pret to reopen seated areas from Saturday, trialling evening delivery: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-owned group, will reopen seated areas in all its stores in England from Saturday (4 July). As well as existing measures in place in its kitchens and on the shop floor the business, which has so far reopened more than 300 sites for delivery and takeout, has put a number of additional steps in place to support social distancing in seated areas. These include tables spaced one metre apart, a maximum of four people allowed to sit together, staff wearing face masks and trays sanitised after each use. As part of the launch of a summer menu, Pret will also begin to trial evening delivery from seven shops and a new hub kitchen in north west London. The seven sites involved in the trial are in Bristol (Broadmead), Cambridge, Dalston, Nottingham, Tooting Broadway, Notting Hill Gate and King’s Road SW3. The evening menu, which will be available from 5pm, will feature a new range of salad bowls; hot items including lasagne mac and cheese, fish pie mac and cheese, and a butternut squash gratin; and Pret’s Heat Me At Home range.

Red Oak Taverns secures £2.6m loan to weather covid storm: Red Oak Taverns, the national pub operator founded by Aaron Brown and Mark Grunnell in 2011, has secured a £2.6m loan from OakNorth Bank. Red Oak Taverns said it had taken the loan as a standby facility to ensure the business had available liquidity to support its gradual ramp-up of trade during the next few months. Red Oak Taverns will also use the funds to assist working capital and contractual obligations should the sector face another lock-down. OakNorth was able to disperse the funds through the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). Red Oak Taverns has received a number of loans from OakNorth since 2016, including a £42m loan in 2018 to refinance its debt and support acquisitions. The team has since tapped this facility twice to purchase 19 pubs – 18 from Wiltshire-based brewer and operator Wadworth – to grow the business to 180 pubs. Grunnell said: “We don’t have the comfort of overdraft or revolving credit facilities so this standby capital gives us the flexibility to focus on our wider business, support our tenant partners and safeguard our business.” Mohith Sondhi, senior debt finance at OakNorth, added: “With hospitality and dining one of the hardest hit sectors, it’s instrumental we continue to lend to businesses that were profitable and successful prior to the crisis. Red Oak Taverns has provided support packages to all its pubs, including substantial rent concessions, free PPE packages, furniture to maximise outdoor occupancy, and an order and pay app to minimise contact. Having the additional liquidity CBILS provides positions Red Oak Taverns well to weather this and any future covid-19 storms.”

Turtle Bay to reopen majority of estate this weekend: Turtle Bay, the Caribbean restaurant brand backed by Piper, will reopen the majority of its estate for dine-in from Saturday (4 July). The 44-strong company will initially open 24 sites, including those in Bath, Birmingham, Guildford, Leeds, Nottingham, Sheffield and York. It will follow this with a second wave of reopenings on Thursday, 23 July including sites in Cheltenham, Derby, Exeter, Newcastle, Oxford and Winchester. The company is taking bookings for up to six people for bottomless brunch, lunch and dinner. All the group’s restaurants will offer Turtle Bay At Home delivery and click and collect as soon as they open.

Boparan Restaurant Group to begin reopening Giraffe and Ed’s sites: Boparan Restaurant Group will begin the gradual reopening of its business for dine-in by opening a select number of Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner sites during the next week. The company, which paid £3.2m to acquire 30 Carluccio’s sites and buy the rights to the brand in May, will reopen the first of its 19 Giraffe sites in the UK on Saturday (4 July) at the Southbank Centre. The business will reopen its Ed’s Easy Diner site in Selfridges Birmingham on Wednesday (8 July). It’s set to gradually reopen the other 12 sites in the Ed’s estate during the next few weeks. Propel understands it won’t reopen any of the Carluccio’s sites it acquired until Thursday, 30 July. In terms of Cinnamon Collection, Cinnamon Kitchen in Battersea will reopen this Saturday while The Cinnamon Club in Westminster will reopen on Friday, 10 July.

Giggling Squid to reopen entire estate this weekend bar Leicester site: Giggling Squid, the Thai restaurant brand founded by Andy and Pranee Laurillard, will reopen the majority of its 35-strong estate this weekend. The group will open all its sites for dine-in apart from its restaurant in Leicester, with the city under local lock-down restrictions. In May, the company reopened the majority of its 35 sites for delivery only. Last month it secured its immediate future after obtaining a £5m loan through Barclays. Andy Laurillard told Propel the new funding – secured through the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme – ensured the business would be at the “starting line when the restaurant sector began its journey back to normality”.

Pho sets out reopening strategy: Vietnamese concept Pho has set out its reopening strategy. It plans to reopen 12 sites in the coming month and its first Editions unit in August, Propel has learned. The 30-strong company plans to reopen its Battersea site on Wednesday, 15 July. Between then and the end of July the business aims to reopen a further 11 sites including those in Bristol, Chiswick, Cambridge, Liverpool and Westfield London. Co-founder Stephen Wall told Propel: “The remaining sites will roll out in August with the exception of a handful where a potential lack of footfall and custom means we’ll need to monitor and make a call nearer the time. There’s no use rushing to reopen a site if we believe it will lose money. Central London is our current concern and will be the last place we’ll reopen based on what we’re seeing at the moment.” The company is also working on an Editions unit in north London it hopes to open in early August. Alongside the reopenings the group will also launch order and pay technology by the end of July, which follows the click and collect function it launched a few weeks ago.

Wahaca to pursue gradual reopening of entire estate: Mexican restaurant brand Wahaca is to carry out a gradual reopening of its 25-strong estate during the next two months. The company will commence its reopening programme on Saturday (4 July) with its Southbank site in London. It will follow this with openings in Shoreditch and Wimbledon on Wednesday (8 July). New safety measures the business is introducing include checking in with staff daily to make sure they feel well enough to attend work, reducing opening hours and menu size, face masks for all staff, online ordering, and digital payment only. At the end of April it was revealed the business was working with advisers to review its financing options, including its ability to tap into funding schemes launched by the government. The company is working with PwC to advise it on assessing what measures it could tap into, including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

Arc Inspirations reports majority of sites fully booked ahead of reopening: Arc Inspirations, the Leeds-based operator of a number of fast-growing brands, has reported the majority of its sites are fully booked ahead of reopening this weekend. All its outlets, which include its Banyan Bar & Kitchen, Box and Manahatta brands, will reopen on Saturday (4 July). This Saturday and the following (11 July) are fully booked at ten sites – Banyan Leeds; Manahatta Merrion Street; Manahatta Greek Street; Box Leeds; Manahatta and Box Headingley; Banyan Roundhay; Banyan Horsforth; Banyan Harrogate; The Pit Chapel Allerton and Manahatta Deansgate. Arc Inspirations chief executive Martin Wolstencroft said: “Arc has launched a Customer Charter that outlines how all our sites will comply with measures aiming to ensure the safety of our guests and teams. We’ve invested heavily across our estate and installed Perspex between booths and at the bar and will be limiting the number of people in each venue at any one time. We’re encouraging contactless payment and customers will also be able to order and pay from mobile phones and have the orders delivered directly to the table. We’re thrilled at these booking numbers, which are a reflection of the reputation we’ve worked hard to achieve over the past 20 years. We know this is the first step back on the road to recovery but confident the business will bounce back better than ever.”

McDonald’s pauses reopening of US dine-in areas as coronavirus cases spike: McDonald’s has paused the reopening of further dine-in areas in the US, citing a rise in coronavirus cases in the country. The company has reopened dining rooms in 2,200 restaurants, which is about 15% of the company’s almost 14,000 sites in the US. “Keeping with our thoughtful approach to reopening, we are pausing all dine-in reopening plans for 21 days,” McDonald’s USA president Joe Erlinger and franchise leader Mark Salebra wrote in a letter that has been seen by Nation’s Restaurant News. In the letter, the company said locations that had reopened their dine-in areas should “carefully review any new guidance” from state and local government officials that may require the rolling back of dine-in due to coronavirus escalations. It added: “Our resiliency will be tested again. Coronavirus cases are on the rise – with a 65% increase in infections over the past two weeks.” On Wednesday (1 July), California governor Gavin Newsom ordered indoor operations to close at restaurants in 19 counties where coronavirus cases have spiked.

Three Joes to start staggered reopening programme, appoints group marketing manager: Sourdough pizza concept Three Joes, co-founded by Tim Hall, is to start a staggered reopening of The Stable business this weekend. The group, which acquired 11-strong The Stable from Fuller’s last month, will reopen the brand’s site in Fistral beach, Newquay, for eat-in this weekend followed by the group’s other sites in Cornwall and Devon. The company told Propel its Three Joes site open in Winchester was delivering consistent double-digit, like-for-like growth via a takeaway and click and collect platform. Co-founder Emma Blackmore said: “Customers are loving the trip to collect their pizzas, with one lady telling me she had an argument with her husband because they both wanted to drive into Winchester to pick up their order!” At the same time, the business has appointed Victoria Hassett as group marketing manager. Hall said: “As we get to grips with reopening our newly expanded group it has been a boost to be able to appoint someone as experienced and talented as Victoria to manage the brands. She brings best-in-sector experience to the project having recently been responsible for the fantastic range of brands at ETM Group. We look forward to working with her to reopen and develop The Stable and Three Joes.”

Cityglen Pub Company completes £10m refinancing: London-based, independent pub group Cityglen Pub Company is understood to have completed a £10m refinance of its six-strong managed business. It’s thought the group secured the refinancing through Shawbrook Bank. Led by executive Don O’Rourke, the business operates six south east London pubs – The Gipsy Tavern in Norwood, The Great North Wood in West Norwood, The Brookmill in Deptford, The Portland Arms in South Norwood, The Windsor in Old Kent Road and The Red Lion in Walworth. The group was assisted on the refinancing by Bespoke Business Finance and Davis Coffer Lyons.

Shake Shack makes UK seaside debut via Deliveroo Editions: Shake Shack has made its debut in Brighton and Hove by opening a delivery-only site at the Deliveroo Editions kitchen in the city, the brand’s 16th UK site in total. The American burger brand’s offering includes the signature ShackBurger, crinkle-cut fries and classic drinks. Brighton and Hove Shack will operate daily from 11.30am to 10.45pm. The company said following the closure of its UK sit-down restaurants due to covid-19, it was looking to expand its reach using Deliveroo Editions. Shake Shack launched its debut Deliveroo Editions site in Battersea in May followed by further London sites last month in Swiss Cottage and Bermondsey. Daniel Harris, head of Editions for regional UK, said: “Shake Shack is hugely popular across London so we’re delighted to bring its burgers to Brighton.” Earlier this week the company revealed expansion plans for China. The company is expanding its partnership with licensee Maxim’s Caterers, with plans to open a minimum of 15 Shake Shacks in South China by 2030. Maxim’s, which operates Shake Shack sites in Shanghai and Hong Kong, with Beijing and Macau in development, plans to have 55 Shake Shacks in mainland China within ten years. Since the original Shake Shack opened in 2004 in New York, the company has expanded to more than 280 sites in 30 US states and more than 95 international locations.

Pizza Pilgrims plans phased reopening: Pizza Pilgrims, the London-based sourdough pizzeria concept founded by brothers Thom and James Elliot, is planning a phased reopening of its restaurants. The first site to reopen will be West India Quay on Saturday (4 July), with Kingly Street and Dean Street following on Thursday, 9 July and additional locations “soon after”. All restaurants will have reduced capacity, increased table spacing, digital ordering and cashless payments. Guests are encouraged to pre-book tables with a maximum of six. Booking times will be staggered to reduce congestion. Walk-ins will be allowed but all names will be taken. During lock-down Pizza Pilgrims, which operates 13 sites, has been keeping people cooking at home with the Pizza In The Post kits, which sold out in 37 seconds when first released. These kits, along with click-and-collect, takeaway and delivery, will still be available.

Rockfish to start phased reopening, puts expansion plans on hold: Rockfish, the south west-based seafood restaurant group run by Mitch Tonks, is planning a phased reopening of its estate starting with its Plymouth venue on Saturday (4 July). The restaurant will offer a new menu, ordering system and a host of measures to improve safety and the dining experience. Other restaurants in the eight-strong group, including in Exeter, Exmouth and Brixham, will open in the following weeks. Rockfish, which has retained all staff, has put expansion plans on hold as it “consolidates and deals with the new world”. Tonks said: “We are opening our restaurants one at a time and making sure all the changes and measures work for our customers and teams. We were performing strongly before lock-down and on track for our best year yet. Lock-down has put incredible pressure on hospitality but we’re confident and optimistic about the future. We’ve been helped by our bank and government loans and used the time wisely to develop great ideas we’ve had on the back burner for a while to come out of this with a modern, fresh business.”

The Athenian to open new London Bridge site this month: Greek street food restaurant group The Athenian is to open its latest venue this month, at London Bridge. Continuing the brand’s tradition of naming each site after an Athens neighbourhood, the new site will be called Mikrolimano after a district in Piraeus. The venue will launch on Monday, 20 July within the arches of London Bridge station in St Thomas Street, with its design inspired by a typical Greek urban market stall. The site will operate in accordance with government guidelines and include QR code digital menus, iPads, hand sanitiser and marked social distancing areas. Founded in 2014, The Athenian offers Greek street food such as souvlaki, gyros, handmade halloumi fries and tomato croquettes alongside Greek wine and craft beer. The Athenian’s other sites – in London’s Tooting, White City, Victoria, Battersea and Canary Wharf as well as Bristol – are currently open for delivery. The company also operates out of Deliveroo Edition kitchens in Brighton and Manchester, with a third opening in Leeds on Thursday, 9 July. The Athenian continues to offer all NHS staff 50% discount.

Galvin Restaurants to start phased reopening of estate from Saturday: Galvin Restaurants, led by Michelin-starred chefs Chris and Jeff Galvin, is to start the phased reopening of its estate from Saturday (4 July). The first venues to open will be Galvin Bistrot & Bar, formerly Galvin HOP, in Spitalfields, City of London, and Galvin Green Man in Chelmsford, Essex. Both will open on Saturday with Galvin Bistrot & Bar open from midday to 10.30pm, Monday to Saturday, and from midday to 6pm on Sundays. The Green Man will open daily. Michelin-starred restaurant Galvin La Chapelle will reopen in Spitalfields on Friday, 17 July and open daily for lunch and dinner. The company’s Galvin At Windows at the London Hilton in Park Lane will reopen its 10 Degrees Bar on Saturday, 18 July and the restaurant on Saturday, 1 August. Each venue has undergone a full deep clean and will offer hand-sanitising points at the door. The layouts have been adapted to ensure social distancing, with traffic systems in place to avoid unnecessary close contact with floor staff or other guests. Staff will undergo temperature checks before each sitting, while a reserve team of staff will remain furloughed to replace anyone who fails the temperature test. All menus and napkins will be single use, disposable and made from compostable material.

JKS Restaurants to begin reopening with Hoppers and Brigadiers: JKS Restaurants, led by Karam, Jyotin and Sunaina Sethi, is planning a phased reopening of its estate, starting with its three-strong Hoppers concept and Brigadiers. Following its launch in February, King’s Cross will be the first of the three Hoppers outlets to reopen, on Wednesday (8 July), featuring an extended terrace and limited seats inside. Hoppers Marylebone will reopen on Wednesday, 22 July with a similar layout. Delivery and click and collect will continue from the King’s Cross and Marylebone sites. Plans to reopen Hoppers Soho will be revealed in the coming weeks. Indian barbecue, beer and whisky bar Brigadiers will reopen its terrace on 8 July and its bar a week later. Brigadiers, which opened in 2018, will continue to offer takeaway and delivery.

Michael Caines acquires former Rick Stein restaurant in Porthleven: Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines has acquired the former Rick Stein Restaurant in Porthleven, Cornwall. The move is Caines’ second venture in Cornwall and adds to the Michael Caines Collection that comprises luxury country house hotel and restaurant Lympstone Manor, The Cove at Maenporth, and a new project in Exmouth. Caines said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to pick up where Rick and Jill Stein left off, taking over this wonderful property in Porthleven. We look forward to working with Trevor Osborne, owner of Porthleven Harbour & Dock Company, to continue to grow Porthleven as a destination and develop a restaurant that warmly welcomes locals and visitors.” The venue is currently closed following government guidelines and Caines said he would reveal more about the new venture in “due course”. The Rick Stein Group confirmed the closure of the Porthleven restaurant along with its site in Marlborough, Wiltshire, last month. Meanwhile, Caines is spearheading a new initiative that encourages people to spend a summer staycation in Devon. Caines has launched Destination Devon – a website that features guides, reviews, tips, advice and a host of other information. He has teamed up with publisher Nick Cooper and former newspaper editor Marc Astley. 

Hard Rock Cafe to reopen London venues under new ‘safe and sound’ programme: Hard Rock Cafe is to reopen its London venues – Piccadilly Circus and Old Park Lane – on Saturday (4 July) under the company’s new Safe & Sound programme. The programme includes a thermal temperature-screening process for all staff and guests before they enter a Hard Rock venue. Safe & Sound also includes hand sanitation stations, mandatory face coverings and gloves for staff, contactless menu options and reduced capacity. Retail returns in the Rock Shops will be kept for 72 hours in a safe place off the shop floor. Stephen K Judge, president of cafe operations for Hard Rock International, said: “We have worked tirelessly with our partners at Ecosure and NSF International as well as with local, state, federal and global public health agencies to develop the Safe & Sound programme. As we continue to navigate this new way of life, we are committed to providing a safe and healthy dining environment for our guests and team members.” The Old Park Lane site is the original Hard Rock Cafe. In total, Hard Rock International operates 256 sites in 76 countries.

Deliveroo riders to help spot signs of child abuse: Deliveroo riders will be trained to spot signs of child abuse to help identify those at risk who may be hidden due to lock-down. The NSPCC will provide training for hundreds of riders to help them recognise children at risk of abuse and neglect. They will also be able to display a sticker with the NSPCC helpline number to alert adults with concerns. Deliveroo chief executive Will Shu told the Daily Mail: “We are so proud of the vital role Deliveroo riders are carrying out during the covid-19 crisis. As key workers, riders are at the heart of communities and will be able to play an important role to help keep children safe.”

Blacklock sets out reopening strategy: Skinny chops concept Blacklock has set out its reopening strategy, which will see it reopen its three restaurants one at a time during the next six weeks. Founder Gordon Ker said: “With a healthy bucket of excitement and, if I’m honest, more than the usual dose of nervous trepidation, we are going to reopen the restaurants slowly but surely one at a time over the next six weeks. Our thinking is it’s better to do things steadily and excellently than hastily and drop the ball. That all kicks off in Shoreditch on 9 July with Soho following on 23 July before the City comes back to life on 1 September after the summer draws to an end and deal-making hopefully resumes. In those early days, while we find our feet, we’ll be open for dinner service every day as well as lunch on Friday, Saturday and, of course, Sunday roast. To help ensure everyone’s comfort, and in a slight change to usual, the company will be taking bookings at all times for any-sized group up to six (for now).” 

Bao team launches Chinese takeaway and delivery concept: The team behind Taiwanese steamed buns concept Bao is to launch a Chinese takeaway and delivery concept. Call Suzy will launch on Thursday, 9 July from the temporarily closed XU Teahouse & Restaurant in Rupert Street in London’s Chinatown. Call Suzy will offer a “playful, nostalgic twist” on a traditional Chinese takeaway, with a menu featuring contemporary versions of the dishes founders Shing Tat Chung, Wai Ting Chung and Erchen Chang ate while growing up. Dishes will include Taiwanese stir-fry noodles and sweet and sour Taiwanese fried chicken with four-piece bao. Call Suzy will be available daily from midday to 3pm and 5pm to 10pm. XU Teahouse & Restaurant will reopen later this year. Call Suzy is the third new brand to be born into the Bao and XU family during lock-down, sitting alongside Bao’s rice box delivery service Rice Error and Made-By-You, Bao’s first home-cooking kits. 

Lucky Penny to launch Iberian wine bar and cafe concept in Liverpool for second site: Liverpool-based hospitality consultancy Lucky Penny is to launch an Iberian-style wine bar and cafe in the city next month. BoBo will take over the former Veeno site in Castle Street in late August offering an all-day drinks and snacks menu with Spanish and Portuguese influences. It will also offer sharing jugs of sangria, all-day brunch at weekends and a private events space. BoBo will be the sister venue to Abditory bar in nearby Queen Avenue. Lucky Penny Consultants director Josh Moore said: “We love the food and drink of Spain and Portugal but didn’t want to do just another tapas joint. We want BoBo to feel more modern and contemporary.” Fellow founder and director Steven Burgess added: “Castle Street is such a great location and when the Veeno site came up, we knew it would be perfect. BoBo is going to be like you’re back in that great cafe round the corner from that hotel you stayed in on your last city break. We want to create a neighbourhood stop for all walks of life.” Lucky Penny launched Love Lane Brewery in 2017 and opened bar restaurant Abditory in October 2019. In February this year the company announced it had been chosen to deliver a new food and drink experience at the redevelopment of Hoylake Town Hall in Wirral. 

Five Points, Tredwells and The Goring announce reopening plans: A number of hospitality operators have announced reopening plans. London-based Five Points Brewing Company will open its Hackney pub The Pembury Tavern on Saturday (4 July) offering pre-booked tables and a new menu from Ace Pizza. The pub in Amhurst Road will initially open from Wednesday to Sunday. Tables and orders can be pre-booked via the Five Points app, while there will be table service only and a one-way system. Socially distanced tables will accommodate a maximum of six people. Five Points managing director Ed Mason said: “Reopening the pub feels like we can begin to see light at the end of the tunnel.” Chef patron Chantelle Nicholson is set to reopen her Covent Garden restaurant Tredwells next month. The venue will relaunch on Thursday, 6 August offering dinner on Thursdays and Fridays and an all-day service from midday on Saturdays. Nicholson took over full ownership of the business from Marcus Wareing. Meanwhile, London’s family-run luxury hotel The Goring will reopen on Friday, 4 September for overnight stays, drinks in the cocktail bar and dining in the garden and on the veranda. The Michelin-starred Dining Room will open a few weeks later.

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