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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 17th Jul 2020 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

English venues reopen to weekly sales 40% down on last year but performance better than many international markets: Managed pub, bar and restaurant groups with sites open in England in the first week after lock-down lifted have reported collective like-for-like sales were down 39.8% on the same week last year, according to the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker. Figures for the week beginning 6 July showed 55% of group-operated sites had reopened for eating and drinking inside, up from the 36% trading on the first weekend restrictions were lifted. Full-week sales were also better than they were during the first Saturday and Sunday, when like-for-likes were 44.5% below pre-coronavirus levels. Pubs that were open over the week saw sales drop 39.3% on the same week in 2019. Bars that were open were down 42.9% and group-owned restaurants saw like-for-likes fall 40.0%. However, many more pubs opened their doors than restaurants and bars. The industry barometer showed more than two-thirds (70%) of managed pubs and pub restaurants traded, while only 17% of restaurants and 42% of bars were open for business. “Trading at almost 60% of pre-coronavirus norms is actually a better performance than many other markets, such as the US, experienced on reopening,” said Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM. “The sector still has a long way to go but this sets the benchmark against which the speed of recovery will be judged. Operators told us most would be taking a phased approach to reopening and we have seen this in the figures. The 70% of managed pubs in the first full week compares with just 42% over the first weekend, and although restaurants have been taking an even more cautious approach we know more will be open next week.”  In all, 44 companies provided data to the Tracker, with another 11 operators reporting they had yet to open any sites. CGA will report trading progress via the Tracker on a weekly basis as the market begins to recover and more sites reopen, including measuring week-on-week increases.

Industry News:

James Nye to feature in latest ‘navigating the coronavirus’ video: In the latest in Propel’s video interviews with leading operators about “navigating the coronavirus” pandemic, Mark Wingett talks to James Nye, managing director of Anglian Country Inns, about lessons learned through lock-down; reopening challenges; how to ensure staff weren’t pushed to breaking point; and preparing for more bumps in the road. The video will be released on Friday (17 July). Meanwhile, readers can support independent sector journalism and get their news 12 hours early (at 7pm each night) with a Propel Premium subscription. It costs £395 plus VAT per annum for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers. Email to sign up.

Simon Stenning to look at food-to-go sector’s challenges and its next steps in latest Premium column: Leading sector analyst Simon Stenning will look at the current challenges the food-to-go sector faces and where it goes from here as part of the latest Propel Premium column, which will be sent to subscribers on Friday (17 July) at 5pm. There will also be the latest sector whispers 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 insights editor 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

Covid to cost world’s 25 most valuable restaurant brands $33bn: The world’s 25 most valuable restaurant brands are set to lose up to 20% of brand value because of the covid-19 crisis, equating to a cumulative $33bn loss, according to the Brand Finance Restaurants 25 2020 report. Brand Finance compared current enterprise value in the restaurant sector with how it stood on 1 January 2020. Starbucksretained its title of the world’s most valuable restaurant brand following a 4.5% brand value increase to $41bn. The chain is one of 20 US brands in the top 25, with a total brand value of more than $150bn. Starbucks invested in technology and its rewards programme, which led to strong sales growth during the year particularly in the US and China markets, which saw a 6% and 5% increase respectively. Starbucks has, however, accelerated plans to close 400 restaurants because of covid-19. China’s most popular hotpot restaurant, Haidilao, is the fastest growing brand in this year’s ranking, up 136% to $4.7bn and jumping to ninth from 15th. Serving more than 100 million customers a year, Haidilao has focused on its global expansion programme, with more than 300 stores opening last year. Haidilao aims to have 1,000 stores by the end of 2020. JD Wetherspoon (21st, brand value $1bn) was one of three new entries in this year’s ranking alongside Chick-fil-A (13th, $3.5bn), and Popeyes (24th, $898m). Wetherspoon’s expansion was branded an “impressive feat” amid the sector’s struggles, while Chick-fil-A posted record revenues in 2019, up 48%. However, the brand was forced to close its UK restaurant after only six months following controversy surrounding the brand’s stance on LGBTQ+ rights. Popeyes’ entrance in the ranking can be partly attributed to its chicken sandwich, which sold out in less than a month. In addition to measuring overall brand value, Brand Finance also evaluated the relative strength of brands based on factors such as marketing investment, customer familiarity, staff satisfaction and corporate reputation. According to those criteria, McDonald’s (up 19% to $37.4bn) is the world’s strongest restaurant brand with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 87.9 out of 100. McDonald’s was praised for its Velocity Growth Plan, which last year achieved the highest global comparable sales growth in more than a decade. Despite retaining its strongest brand title, McDonald’s BSI score fell 2.4 points as the brand grapples with a drop in recommendation metrics, web visits and social media followers. Brand Finance said it had seen the same trend across the fast casual sector, perhaps signalling a shift in public attitude towards food perceived as “unhealthy”. McDonald’s was also second in the most valuable restaurant brands list (up 18.9% to $37.5bn). Brand Finance managing director Richard Haigh said: “With consumer habits changing towards delivery and collection, it is yet to be seen how the industry will look in the coming year. More dynamic brands that respond and transform in response to this shift should record a more positive movement in their brand value than those that are slow or reluctant to change.” The other operators in the top ten most valuable restaurant brands list were KFC (up 27% to $17.1bn); Subway (up 3% to $8bn); Domino’s (down 11.9% to $5.7bn); Pizza Hut (up 1.4% to $5.4bn); Taco Bell (up 62.4% to $5.4bn); Dunkin’ (up 12.6% to $5.2bn); and Tim Hortons (down 19.5% to $4.4bn).

Ann Elliott – government must encourage workers to return to offices or sector will never recover: Hospitality consultant Ann Elliott has urged the government to encourage businesses to reopen their offices or the sector will “never recover”. Writing in this week’s Friday Opinion following her first trip into London since lock-down, Elliott described the deserted streets as “awful to see”. She said: “This scenario must be repeated in every city and large town in the UK. I can’t help but think the government has got the wrong end of the stick. If it wants to protect jobs in hospitality, crucially in city centres, it has to motivate businesses to reopen their offices. There’s no point encouraging operators to reduce their prices when there are no customers to reap the benefit. The government has to do this now because the longer this goes on, the more hospitality businesses will close forever. It’s likely, of course, that ways of working have changed forever and the office as we know it will never return. Why would anyone want to commute if they could avoid it? However, there’s something to recommend the sociability and camaraderie of being part of a team in an office that laughs, works and goes out for a drink together. Even if workers return for only three days a week and operators have to find a way to make money on 60% of weekday trade, it has to be better than this awful vacuum. Operators have been desperately trying to save their businesses and teams. They have been relentless, innovative, working to the point of exhaustion and collaborative. They can’t do this on their own, though. The government is walking a tightrope – I understand that – but if it doesn’t inspire businesses to open up offices in town and city centres, our sector won’t recover. It needs to be decisive and needs to put action in place now.” Elliott will share more of her thoughts in this week’s Friday Opinion, which will be released on Friday (17 July) at 11am.

Colliers – sector rent to fall more than 20% post-pandemic: The weakness in the casual dining market has seen rent fall an average 20% since 2017-18 but property advisor Colliers said it envisages them falling by a larger percentage as the fallout from the pandemic develops during the coming year. As part of its new Casual Dining Report, Colliers has forecast a further large drop in rent following the pandemic, London catching up with the rest of England in terms of percentage reductions, and vacancies exceeding the 30% that weren’t re-let previously. It said the current round of restructuring in the sector was “kicking off this process”. As part of the report, Colliers tracked every restaurant that was released back on to the market following the spate of casual dining company voluntary arrangements in 2017/18. Figures revealed that, on average, rents fell 20% but masked large regional variations. For example, Colliers pointed to the south west, where rent dropped 41%, and London, where it only fell 11%. Ross Kirton, head of Colliers’ UK leisure agency, said: “More than 200 restaurants were handed back to landlords following the ‘Casual Dining Crunch’ of 2017-18. Colliers expects double that number of outlets to close across the UK as the full impact of the pandemic is felt. Independent restaurants that have lower cost bases than multi-site operators can help fill some of the void but already pay lower rent on average than large chains so can’t be the whole solution to landlords’ problems.” In the report, Colliers also said the turnover element of rent demanded by leases would become much higher while base rent would need to become lower if landlords and operators were to find a way of working together. Kirton said: “Landlords will need to have a deeper understanding of the sector to set rents and identify the casual dining offers with which they want to work.” Regarding independent operators, Colliers said if the post-pandemic trend was for “localism”, the company found most independent restaurateurs still trading acquired sites in high streets and neighbourhoods where rent and overheads were significantly cheaper than town centre venues. The report stated: “This may be reflective of the perceived sales projections that could be generated being too low for established occupiers to consider taking representation. With many high streets in fragmented ownership, landlords have been forced to accept substantially lower rent from small groups (minus 25%) and independent restaurants (minus 23%) to secure tenants. While independent restaurants (£66,000) tend to pay lower rent than small groups (£86,000) and chains (£89,000), they also tend to receive shorter rent-free periods (six months) compared with small groups (16 months) and chains (nine months).”

Batemans boss – larger coastal pubs trading well but food sales ‘extremely challenging’: Stuart Bateman, managing director of Lincolnshire brewer and retailer George Bateman, has said trade at larger coastal pubs appears to be “pretty good” but food sales are “extremely challenging”. He added the situation was like a “game of snakes and ladders” although the virus could have “terrible consequences so caution was a necessity”. Bateman said: “We have found many pubs are working from hand to mouth, keeping their stocks quite low in case trade is poor. This has made it difficult for some of the national breweries to service them as they are unable to offer much flexibility at the moment. We have therefore been carrying out extra deliveries and operating a collection service from the brewery.” With the brewery scaling back-up operations, Bateman added: “Our beer Revival has been extremely well received by customers and has sold out within days of each brew being ready. However, despite requests we’ll not make the beer available permanently as it’s only being brewed to help us get a perfect match between pre and post-coronavirus brews. I’m pleased to say we are almost there.” With that in mind, Bateman said the company was in a position to make its XB beer available, with Triple XB and then Gold following in due course. He added: “We have to hope and pray there won’t be another extensive lock-down. It almost seems like a game of snakes and ladders at the moment – aim for the ladders and try to avoid the snakes – but, as we’re all too aware, this isn’t a game it’s a virus that can have terrible consequences. Caution is a necessity.” Bateman also welcomed the VAT reduction on food and soft drinks but added it was a “pity beer wasn’t included” as well as the Eat Out To Help Out scheme. However, he warned: “This kind of support won’t last indefinitely, though, and pubs and brewers must plan for the future.”

Consumers show support for mandatory face coverings in pubs and restaurants: There is strong support among consumers for the use of face coverings in pubs and restaurants, according to research by guest experience management expert HGEM. The study was launched after the government announced consumers would have to wear face coverings in retail outlets from Friday, 24 July. Although not mandatory for serving staff in pubs and restaurants, three-quarters (75%) of respondents to the HGEM survey thought it should be, a figure that rose to 88% among 18 to 24-year-olds. More than two-fifths (41%) of respondents thought guests should wear face coverings when not eating, a figure that rose to more than half (55%) of over-65s. The results from a survey of mystery guests also revealed women are more inclined to support face covering than men. HGEM managing director Steven Pike said: “The results may be interesting to policy makers looking for ways to rebuild the hospitality economy as they suggest a low-cost opportunity to further boost confidence for people to return to pubs and restaurants. The key would be to not alienate those who expressed an opposing view.”

Property industry renews calls for rent support to stop hospitality CVAs: Calls on the government for a rent support scheme to stop a tidal wave of company voluntary arrangements in the hospitality and retail sectors have intensified following the chancellor’s failure to include rent relief measures in the summer statement. Before Rishi Sunak’s mini-Budget, the British Property Federation (BPF), Revo, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and UKHospitality called on the government to introduce a furloughed space grant scheme, based on a similar initiative in Denmark. The initial proposal was revised after the government indicated the scheme was too expensive, with the cost more equally shared between government, tenant and landlord. Instead, the chancellor opted to back VAT cuts and launch the Eat Out To Help Out initiative in an attempt to support the leisure and hospitality sectors. BPF chief executive Melanie Leech told Property Week: “We were disappointed the chancellor didn’t take the opportunity to say something tangible to support retail and hospitality but it’s still under consideration and still under discussion. My interpretation is it wants to see more data come through from June quarter day but I think the evidence is clear that rental collection is still depressed.” BRC property policy adviser Dominic Curran added: “I hope the government would recognise the economic benefits of spending a relatively small amount to keep otherwise viable companies trading, paying their taxes and employing tens of thousands of people.” Revo chief executive Vivienne King underlined the need for urgent action to “prevent the distress escalating through the payment chain beyond operators and property owners to lenders, pensions funds and the savers that rely on property income”. She added: “The reality is hundreds of thousands of jobs remain in jeopardy if there’s no direct support on rent.”

Rules on sale of alcohol in Northern Ireland to be significantly relaxed: Rules on the sale of alcohol in Northern Ireland are to be significantly relaxed under plans agreed by Stormont ministers. Pubs and nightclubs would be able to serve alcohol for an extra hour, until 2am, almost every Friday and Saturday. Drinking-up time would be extended to an hour, meaning venues could operate until 3am at weekends. If approved by the assembly, the new rules should be in place early next year. All restrictions around Easter drinking would also be removed. Currently, restrictions on selling alcohol are in place from the Thursday before Easter until Easter Sunday. Alcohol can only be served between 5pm and 11pm on Good Friday and bars have to stop serving at midnight on Thursday and Easter Saturday. Meanwhile, rules will be tightened up in other areas. The voluntary code of practice for drinks promotions will be replaced with legal requirements. Stormont began consulting on the new rules eight years ago.

BBPA makes last call for pubs in England to destroy spoilt beer for free: The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has advised publicans to ensure they have submitted applications to destroy their spoilt beer before the end of July to avoid water company charges. The trade association said the water industry had set deadlines for each region indicating when applications must be received from pubs wishing to destroy spoilt beer under emergency measures. In England, pubs will have until the end of July to apply to destroy their spoilt beer. In Scotland, they will have until mid-August. In Wales, they will have until the end of August. Any publicans who apply to their water authority to destroy spoilt beer after these deadlines will have to pay. To help publicans, the BBPA has launched free website BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “We strongly advise publicans in England to apply to their water wholesaler to destroy their spoilt beer before the end of July. Any publican who misses the deadline will have to pay costly water company charges and face additional bureaucracy. We hoped water companies would waive fees and cut bureaucracy for disposing of waste beer for a longer period but unfortunately the water industry has set these deadlines.”

Group for in-house recruiters launches sector initiative to help redundant workers find jobs: Hospitality’s Internal Recruitment Exchange (HIRE) – a group in which in-house recruiters exchange ideas – has launched an initiative to help redundant “people” and HR staff find a job. Unemployed workers in the segment can post their profile on the HIRE website, which will also post relevant jobs as soon as they become available. The hope is to connect employers with potential employees. For more details, click here. HIRE was formed last year by Honest Burgers head of talent management Oli Cavaliero, Kew Green Hotels head of talent Natasha Nagra, and Boparan Restaurant Group head of recruitment Chad Smith.

Job of the day: COREcruitment is seeking a passionate head of marketing for a UK-wide restaurant and bar group. The company has created a new role within the business due to strong expansion plans for 2020-21, with the position based in the group’s London head office. The company is in strong growth, with some of the best concepts in London and more to be launched. The head of marketing will be responsible for evolving the marketing strategy and marketing plans, working with each individual brand to cover all segments. They will work with the management teams on-site to grow sales and create an engaging and long-lasting strategy. The ideal candidate will have at least one year’s senior marketing management experience as well as hospitality and agency experience. The salary is about £70,000 to £85,000. Anyone interested can send their CV to 
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Company News:

Costa Coffee to pass on full 15% VAT cut to customers: Costa Coffee, which is owned by Coca-Cola, is to pass on the government’s full 15% VAT cut to customers for all food and drink at its owned stores. The move covers 1,500 Costa Coffee stores and more than 9,000 Costa Express machines. In-store reductions include a latte, which was £2.55 and will now cost £2.23; a flat white (was £2.70, now £2.36); ham and cheese toastie (was £2.95, now £2.58) and salted caramel brownie (was £2.25, now £1.97). Diners will still receive a 25p discount for using a reusable cup. A regular-size Costa Express coffee was £2.40 but will now cost £2.10. Costa Coffee said it had also recommended its franchise partners passed on the saving. Managing director Neil Lake said: “It is important to us our customers benefit from the VAT reduction, not just on selected core coffee products but across all Costa food and drink, in-store and from Costa Express machines. As we continue to safely welcome customers back into our stores for takeaway and eat-in, we hope the reduction encourages more customers to enjoy their favourite Costa Coffee, for less.” Regarding reopening its estate, Costa Coffee tweeted: “We are reopening another 195 stores – taking us up to 2,000-plus. We’re also accepting cash and coffee club cards. We now have 966 stores open for eat-in, with all safety measures in place.”

Cote to gradually ramp up reopening programme: Cote, the 96-strong French brasserie chain, will gradually ramp up its reopening programme by opening seven more restaurants at the end of July. The Alex Scrimgeour-led brand has so far reopened sites in Windsor, Kingston and Chiswick. From Monday, 27 July it will reopen its sites in Brighton, Chichester, Guildford, Newbury, St Albans and West Bridgford, with the brand’s Hampstead restaurant opening two days later. The business said it had taken steps to keep its staff and customers safe including reviewing the layout of its brasseries to allow social distancing, installation of hand-sanitiser stations and making all payments cashless. All staff will be subject to daily wellness checks, which will include a temperature check, while visors have been provided to all team members. Reopened brasseries will initially open from midday to 9pm and accommodate groups up to a maximum of six. They will also offer a “simplified menu of Cote classics”.

Horler – giving customers and staff confidence will be key to reopening programme: James Horler, founder of 3Sixty Restaurants, which operates the Ego brand, has said the company is taking a gradual approach to its reopening programme as it wants to ensure it can provide confidence to consumers and staff around its new safety measures. The company reopened nine of its sites on Thursday, 9 July with a further six set to reopen on Thursday, 23 July. It will then take a view on when it will reopen the rest of its 21-strong estate. Horler said initial trading in the nine reopened sites had been “mixed but above expectations on the whole”. He told Propel: “We didn’t want to go gung-ho when it came to reopening but take a steady approach so our consumers and staff could get used to and gain confidence in the safety measures and new ways of working. The initial feedback we’ve received has been good and we’re happy with how things have started out – but we know there’s more work to do.” Horler said the company, which secured funding through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme during lock-down, also hoped to make its belated Welsh debut next month with Ego at The Schooner launching at a former Harvester site in Penarth, South Glamorgan. Earlier this year it also secured The Running Mare in Chelmsford for its joint venture with Mitchells & Butlers.

Mojo reports 60% of usual revenue despite running at 40% capacity, cocktails the big seller: Mojo, the brand owned by Voodoo Doll, has reported its estate of five cocktail bars made 60% of their usual revenue despite running at 40% capacity. Mojo’s bars in Harrogate, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham all reopened on Saturday, 4 July in line with social distancing regulations. Cocktails made up more than one-quarter (26.3%) of Mojo’s sales for the opening week – 2,547 units – compared with the last week before lock-down, where cocktails made up 7.8% of the sales mix – 1,277 units. The best-selling cocktail during the first week was Long Island iced tea (319 units), followed by the zombie (207). While closed, all Mojo bars underwent a small refurbishment, while Harrogate has been able to open its rooftop space. The estate has introduced new technology so customers can order and pay from their seat to minimise contact between staff and customers. Mojo managing director Martin Greenhow said: “We are ecstatic at reopening our bars but remain cautiously optimistic. Customer and staff safety is paramount and we’ll keep an eye out for any news or updates and react to government advice.” In February, Mojo Bars lodged plans with Sheffield City Council to open within the former National Union of Mineworkers headquarters in Barker’s Pool, which has been redeveloped. A spokeswoman said the company still planned to launch the venue but with no specific date pencilled in. 

Domino’s Pizza reports global sales up 5.7% in second quarter: Domino’s Pizza has reported global sales increased 5.7% in its second quarter ending 14 June 2020. Like-for-like sales were up 16.1% in the US because of changes in consumer behaviour during the pandemic as dine-in options closed and more people ordered takeaways. The international division saw like-for-like sales grow 1.3%. The figures marked the 106th consecutive quarter of international like-for-like sales growth and the 37th consecutive quarter in the US. Total revenue in the quarter increased 13.4% to $920m, compared with $812m the year before. The company added 39 stores during the period – 38 internationally and one in the US. Diluted earnings per share was up 36.5% to $2.99 in the quarter. The company estimated there were less than 600 international stores temporarily closed as of 8 July. Chief executive Ritch Allison said: “Our focus as a global brand and the commitment of our local operators remains steadfast on serving our customers and communities a convenient, affordable and safe food and service experience. I have never been more proud of our system of franchisees, operators and corporate team members for their continued passion and innovative spirit, which was evident during the second quarter.”

Heineken hit with £500m write-down as bar and pub closures heavily dent sales: Heineken has slashed the value of its assets by €550m (£500m) after the mass closure of bars and pubs dragged it to a loss in the first half of the year. The company said it expects to have posted a net loss of €300m in the second quarter of 2020 after being hit by the write-down. It said sales plunged after global lock-downs heavily dented its on-trade business. Net revenues for the half-year tumbled by 16.4% after it sold significantly lower volumes. Heineken said the impact of the coronavirus crisis deepened in the second quarter of 2020, with revenues reaching a “low point” in April. However, it said sales volumes “gradually recovered” in June as lock-downs lifted around the world. Beer volumes were particularly affected in the Americas, Africa, Middle East and eastern Europe, it said. The company’s European arm saw a “high single-digit decline” in volume, with Heineken hailing the performance of its eponymous brand, which delivered “double-digit growth” during the past six months in a raft of markets, including the UK. The company added: “Heineken has entered the crisis with great brands and a dedicated and talented workforce. The company has a strong balance sheet as well as undrawn committed credit facilities.”

Genting to cut more than 1,600 jobs: Casino operator Genting is to cut 1,642 jobs across its UK estate. While pubs, restaurants, shops and even bookmakers in England have been allowed to open as lock-down restrictions ease, casinos remain among the businesses not permitted to do so. Genting told staff at 27 of its venues it intended to cut costs by shutting services including poker games and hospitality. In documents sent to staff, the company blamed the “impact of covid-19 resulting in temporary closure of business and reduced trading hours and changes to the operating model”. Genting will permanently close casinos in Bristol, Margate and Torquay, while other sites face severe job cuts including some venues shedding more than half of employees. GMB national officer Mick Rix said: “It’s a serious slap in the face to loyal and long-serving staff – as well as the UK public. Taxpayers’ cash has funded Genting to the tune of millions of pounds during lock-down, now it is making people redundant rather than contributing towards the government furlough scheme from the end of August.” As well as closing three casinos, Genting’s cuts will affect staff at clubs across the country, including in Birmingham, Blackpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London.

BrewDog outlines sustainability ambitions: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has outlined its sustainability ambitions, which were boosted after the founders met Sir David Attenborough. The company plans to make its Ellon brewery carbon neutral and become a zero-waste business within the next 24 months. It has applied for planning permission to build an anaerobic digestor plant in Ellon that will turn waste water into clean water, green gas, organic fertiliser and food-grade CO2. BrewDog is also installing a CO2 recovery system that will capture gas produced during fermentation and use it to carbonate beer. Regarding food waste, the company is looking to use fruit rejected by supermarket partners and replace some grain with surplus bread. BrewDog is also working with design partners to create a “blueprint” for a sustainable bar that could be implemented across its estate, while this year it will install a hop farm on its Columbus campus in the US. Co-founder James Watt said: “This is just the beginning for us and our mission to become the most sustainable drinks company in the world. We are also exploring initiatives for all our breweries globally and all our bars too as well as working across our entire supply chain with our partners to ensure the utmost focus on sustainability at every step. Now is the time to be radical in everything we do. Let’s ensure we have a planet to brew beer on.”

Galgorm Collection to launch bar and restaurant following £2.5m investment: Belfast-based hospitality group Galgorm Collection is to launch a bar and restaurant on Friday (17 July). The company acquired the Templeton Hotel in the village of Templepatrick last year, announcing a £7m investment plan to transform the County Antrim venue. Now the bar and restaurant, called Rabbit, will launch following a £2.5m refurbishment – the first stage of the venue’s transformation plan. The group said extensive refurbishment work would continue to upgrade the hotel’s 24 bedrooms and develop an outdoor spa that’s due to open this year. With a menu inspired by America’s Deep South, the bar and restaurant seats up to 180 people and offers a large terrace. Galgorm Collection managing director Colin Johnston told the Irish News: “It represents a significant investment in the local economy, cementing our long-standing commitment to support and grow our tourism industry.” The company recently invested £1.5m in Belfast-based restaurants Fratelli and Café Parisien. In 2018, the group bought and refurbished the Castle Kitchen & Bar at Galgorm Castle Golf Club.

Crazy golf concept Plonk comes home with London Fields site: London-based crazy golf concept Plonk has returned home by opening a site in London Fields. As well as a nine-hole course, the venue features a tiki bar, ice-cream parlour, arcade machines and more than 100 board games. The in-house Clubs And Wedges kitchen offers a summer menu that includes the Wake And Bake Brunch (free-range eggs, Cumberland sausage, homemade baked beans and mushrooms baked in a sourdough loaf and designed for sharing). There’s also a Plonk picnic package, while customers can bring their own alcohol. Plonk founder Elliot Scott said: “After five years of pop-ups across the capital we’ve settled back in Hackney where we first started. Now we have this great spot in London Fields we can bring all our favourite games, pinball machines, tiki cocktails and, of course, mini-golf to one spot. We’ve come home!” To adhere to government guidelines, Plonk can only allow groups of up to six in one sitting. Extra sanitisation, cleaning and social distancing measures are also in place.

Chris Leach to reopen Manteca next week: Chef Chris Leach is to reopen his pasta restaurant concept Manteca in Soho on Thursday, 23 July. The venue will initially open from Thursday to Saturday with a menu focusing on “nose-to-tail cooking, hand-rolled pasta, and fire-cooked cuts to share”. Leach and his team will also add Italian-style focaccia sandwiches to take away at lunchtimes. Fillings will include ox tongue and salsa verde. Downstairs, guests will be able to dine with their social bubble in a private space available to hire. Leach said: “After a challenging and uncertain few months we’re looking forward to opening the doors and welcoming guests back to Manteca. We’re fortunate to have a big space to allow for social distancing and have reformatted the restaurant and restructured the business to open safely, sustainably and allow our guests to feel comfortable. The menu will be a continuation of what we’ve always done but with the addition of our take on an Italian sub, inspired by some amazing little places in Rome and Bologna, to give guests the option to grab and go.” Leach, who has worked as a chef at Petersham Nurseries and Kitty Fisher’s, began the concept with Smokestak founder David Carter as a pop-up before they opened a permanent site in Great Marlborough Street in November. 

Boutique fitness brand Trib3 to open third UK site, in Bristol: Boutique fitness brand Trib3 is to open its third UK site, in Bristol. The studio will be part of the Courtrooms building, a student housing development in the heart of the city. Set to open in late August, it will join corporate-owned studios in Leeds and Sheffield. Chief executive Kevin Yates said: “We are thrilled to bring the Trib3 concept to Bristol in such an iconic location within the city. The UK is the heartland of the brand and we’re focused on bringing the Trib3 workout to more and more people through expansion in the country’s major cities and hubs.” In 2019, Trib3 received investment from Allan and Jonathan Fisher, owners of fitness brand Holmes Place. Trib3 is now embarking on its growth plans, with a primary focus on the UK and Spain.

Technology cafe to launch in Camden on Saturday: Charlene Ankumah, a 32-year-old entrepreneur, is to launch a venue that combines technology and food in in London’s Camden on Saturday (18 July). Tech Lounge Café was due to launch in March until plans were disrupted by lock-down. It has been offering a takeaway-only service since June. Eat-in customers will be seated at smart tables that will allow them to play games, surf the internet and work online. Ankumah said: “I have always wanted to create an engaging space that combines food and technology – two of my biggest passions. Technology will foster social interaction and community spirit, things that have been thought to be mutually exclusive for too long. Tech Lounge Café is a fun and exciting environment with smart tables throughout the site. Customers can play games, work on presentations, update their social media profiles and more while enjoying their lunch!”

MasterChef the Professionals finalist launches fund-raise to house at-home offer: MasterChef the Professionals finalist Dean Banks is fund-raising so he can open dedicated premises for his at-home offering. Before the pandemic Banks was due to open a second Haar restaurant in Edinburgh – a sister site to his St Andrews venture. However, his plans were put on hold amid lock-down, while the original Haar closed in March. To bring his food to customer’s homes during lock-down Banks launched Haar At Home – a luxury box of seafood that people can order for delivery and cook at home. Banks hopes to keep the delivery service going with the help of a £60,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdfunder. The pitch states: “Orders have grown at an incredible rate with hard work, effort and time being put in by the team. We have gradually been able to bring almost all our kitchen team off the government furlough scheme. We’re progressing with plans to open our own dedicated unit with a commercial kitchen, which would assist in the growth of the at-home business and help it flourish.” Banks was a finalist on MasterChef the Professionals in 2018. He will reopen his original Haar site on Friday, 31 July.

Marston’s submits revised plans for new-build pub and lodge in Shrewsbury: Marston’s has submitted revised plans for a new-build pub and lodge hotel in Shrewsbury. The company has applied to Shropshire Council to build the development north of Oteley Road. Marston’s is planning the pub and restaurant alongside a 39-bedroom hotel, creating up to 50 jobs, reports the Shropshire Star. The 1.5-acre site, near the junction with Sutton Grange Drive and about two kilometres south of the town centre, is currently grassland. In a design statement, the company said the pub would “improve the sustainability of the site and the wider community, its businesses and housing”.

Historic Dorset pub brought to market: Well-known Dorset pub The Worlds End has been brought to market. It is in the grounds of the Charborough Estate and occupies a prominent spot by the A31 near Winterborne Zelston. Property agent Savills is marketing the site on behalf of the estate and will consider leaseholds or a form of management agreement/joint venture, with rental offers in the region of £85,000 per annum exclusive with no premium. Until March, the 5,490 square foot site traded as a managed Hall & Woodhouse pub with 88 internal covers, large outdoor areas and five bedrooms. The business is currently closed. The pub was once the oldest pub in Dorset until it was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1991. The two-storey site has a new thatched roof and is ready for immediate occupation. It sits on about 4.91 acres of land. Chris Bickle, a director in Savills’ licensed leisure team, said: “The location and size of the asset lends itself well to a number of complementary uses in addition to a traditional country inn.”

London-based nightclub to launch Costa Del Tottenham outdoor food, drink and events space: London-based nightclub The Cause is to launch an alfresco food, drink and events space next to its Tottenham Hale premises. Dubbed Costa Del Tottenham, the industrial space is being transformed into two areas – Northside and Southside. The Southside, which opens this weekend, will offer street food from Club Mexicana, the vegan Mexican street food concept, and burger concept People’s Burger, with more traders to be announced. The area will feature DJs, palm trees, multicolour pergolas and private booths. Details of the Northside area have yet to be announced. Co-founder Stuart Glen said: “This was never our plan but, being quick to adapt, we’ve been fortunate with our space. The ongoing development has given us a lot of empty avenues for expansion around the site letting us get creative with the coronavirus crisis.”

Dusty Knuckle launches first pizza subscription service in Wales: Cardiff-based pop-up turned permanent pizza restaurant Dusty Knuckle has launched the first pizza subscription service in Wales. The move follows the success of the brand’s make-at-home pizza kits during lock-down. As of this month, customers in Cardiff, Barry and Penarth can sign up to receive two Dusty Knuckle make-at-home pizza kits delivered every four weeks, with a minimum subscription term of three months. Each kit will include two dough balls, the customer’s selection of pre-portioned toppings, and instructions on how to recreate two Dusty Knuckle pizzas from scratch. Subscribers can select the Chef’s Choice to receive all the ingredients to create a different pizza each month or tailor their subscription to only include meat, vegetarian or vegan recipes. Dusty Knuckle co-founder Phill Lewis said: “We were blown away by the response to our make-at-home pizza kits during lock-down and, after listening to feedback from our customers, decided to make them a permanent fixture. We hope a subscription service will encourage people to try some new toppings and recipes and give us a chance to showcase the incredible producers we use to create our pizzas.” Dusty Knuckle began operating at markets in Cardiff in 2014 using a homemade oven. The company now operates a shipping container restaurant at The Boneyard in Canton, a city centre restaurant called Dark, a summer pitch at Ogmore-by-Sea and a pop-up element for festivals, weddings and other events.

Doughnut concept that started out supplying Hull cafes opens debut site: A doughnut concept that started out supplying cafes in Hull is opening its debut site. Revival Coffee & Donuts is launching on Saturday (18 July) in a former salon in Ferensway. Co-founder Megan Hayward told Bdaily: “I’m into baking and finding things that taste good so I decided to have a go at making doughnuts!” Equipped with a £20 fryer, Hayward set about dishing up prototype doughnuts and, encouraged by the responses after testing on family and friends, secured a contract to supply a cafe in Hull. She said: “By the second week people were queuing at the cafe, waiting for our delivery. Then other businesses heard about our doughnuts and started to contact us and it built from there. It was a struggle to find the right unit but the place we have is in a great location and we were able to make the changes we wanted.”

Ikea to launch plant-based version of iconic meatballs: Ikea is to launch a plant-based version of its iconic Swedish meatballs. The plantballs, which will be available from Monday, 3 August, are vegan but will be served with mash and cream sauce, which isn’t. Ikea branded the new product a “more sustainable sibling to the much-loved meatball”. It said each plant ball had only 4% of the climate footprint of its meat counterpart and consisted of pea protein, oats, potatoes, onion and apple. Those dining in-store will pay £1.50 for eight balls, while a 500g bag of balls to take away will cost £2.75. Hege Sæbjørnsen, country sustainability manager at Ikea UK and Ireland, said: “We are committed to having a positive impact on people and the planet. To reduce the climate footprint of the total Ikea business, including our food business, and make climate-friendly, delicious food available for everyone, we are making sure meat alternatives are an easy, desirable and affordable choice. We can now offer meat-lovers a more sustainable alternative without compromising on the meatball experience loved by so many.”

Newbury-based pub operator opens second site in former Gourmet Burger Kitchen premises: Newbury-based pub operator Warwick Heskins has opened his second site in the Berkshire town. Heskins has transformed the former Gourmet Burger Kitchen outlet in Market Place into a restaurant and micro-pub called The Spare Wheel. The bar features a craft beer wall offering a range of local brews as well as national ones. Heskins also operates The Catherine Wheel pub in Cheap Street, which he has been running for six years. He told Berkshire Live: “It is a restaurant with a micro-pub attached. The Catherine Wheel is a tied pub so even though I paid out of the tie and can be free of it on bottles – and have a huge bottle range and ciders and stuff like that – I still couldn’t do quite what I wanted to do there. Then the lock-down happened. I was reading all about social distancing and knew when The Catherine Wheel reopened it would be a really limited space. I wouldn’t be able to get as many people in so if I could only get half the punters in there, I would open somewhere else so I could get the other half in.”

Family-run Stoke hotel and leisure complex blames pandemic as it closes permanently: A family-run hotel and leisure complex in Stoke-on-Trent has said it won’t reopen after being hit hard by the pandemic. Tollgate Hotel & Leisure, which is owned by the Oldfield family, employed 38 people when it was forced to close as the government enforced lock-down measures in March. A statement from the family said: “We regret to inform you, after much careful consideration, we won’t be reopening the doors to Tollgate Hotel & Leisure. These are very sad times for the family and for many others hit by the covid crisis.”

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