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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 8th Sep 2020 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Up to 12,500 jobs at risk across Scottish pubs and bars as 90% of operators report revenue drop: Up to 12,500 jobs could be lost across Scotland’s pubs and bars as a new survey revealed the “significant” impact of coronavirus of the industry. The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) research showed 45% of business owners do not expect a return to any sort of normal trading until a vaccine is found. Almost 90% of premises reported revenue was down versus last year, with 38% reporting revenue decreases of more than 50%. There is evidence that venues in rural and tourist locations are faring slightly better than in urban areas with 77% showing a revenue decline versus 89% nationally. Operators have adapted to new ways of working and serving their customers with 43% increasing their use of digital technology and 35% offering food for takeaway. The average pub or bar spent £2,500 on training and social distancing measures, and this equates to a £15m investment across the entire sector. SLTA managing director Colin Wilkinson said: “Right now, our industry is fighting for its survival with many businesses on the precipice of business failure. The sector is a critical part of Scotland’s tourism and food and drink economies, and we urge UK, Scottish and local governments to provide continuing support for our pubs and bars and protect the jobs that they provide directly, and the associated jobs in the wholesaling, brewing/distilling and food producing sectors.”

Industry News: 

UKHospitality – timing of new calorie and salt reduction targets is ‘throwing petrol on the fire’: UKHospitality has accused the government of “throwing petrol on the fire” with regards to its timing of publishing new calorie and salt reduction targets for the sector. The government said the voluntary guidelines are a key commitment of its obesity strategy and have a “renewed urgency” following evidence being overweight can increase the health risks from covid-19. Among the targets are a 20% calorie reduction for most meal categories in the out of home, takeaway and delivery sector, alongside a maximum calorie guideline for all categories. For children’s meal bundles, a 10% calorie reduction ambition has been set to reflect progress already made. Combined guidelines for both operators and food producers have been set for sandwiches (5% reduction target) and pizza and pastry products (20% reduction target). New voluntary salt reduction goals have also been published to encourage businesses to further reduce salt levels in the foods that contribute most to salt intakes. Industry’s progress against the programme’s ambitions will be monitored with reports on calorie and salt reduction expected in 2022. The government said it remained committed to further action if results are not seen. However, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The hospitality sector has been supportive and proactive in helping to provide healthier choices and nutritional information for customers. We continue to support the objectives and will never absent ourselves from such well-intentioned pursuits, but the timing of these announcements, with the country still in the grips of a pandemic and hospitality businesses struggling to stay afloat, rather sticks in the craw. Never have the burdens threatening the existence of hospitality businesses been more acute – this is not the time to throw petrol on the fire.”
Eat Out To Help Out raises expectations as well as confidence: The Eat Out To Help Out scheme has drawn consumers back to restaurants, reassured them about their safety and tempted them to try new venues. Those are among the positive messages in the latest data from the We Hear You survey, launched by CGA, restaurant intelligence platform Yumpingo and UKHospitality to collect the opinions of consumers returning to hospitality after lock-down. But the survey also uncovered evidence of rising expectations around both safety and experience as people settle into the new normal of eating and drinking out. Among those visiting venues from Mondays to Wednesdays in August, two thirds (67%) were doing so because of the Eat Out To Help Out offer. More than nine in ten (95%) of them were satisfied with the level of hygiene and cleanliness they encountered, and almost as many (88%) were satisfied with the following of hygiene practices by their venue’s team. While safety approval levels have stayed consistently high since the end of lock-down, general satisfaction scores have dipped since the launch of the half-price offer. Eat Out To Help Out users have produced a net promoter score of 36%, well below the 52% of all visitors since hospitality reopened. The research suggested this was a result of consumers increasing their expectations but it may also be a side effect of the offer’s popularity, which has filled many venues to capacity and left some operators struggling to deliver consistently high experiences. The survey echoes anecdotal evidence Eat Out To Help Out has prompted people to increase their repertoire of venues, with four in five (85%) saying they would use it to try new restaurants. Users of the deal have also spread their visits widely across dayparts – from lunchtime (26%) to mid-afternoon (23%) to early evening (33%) to late evening (15%). The figures are based on about 114,000 responses to the We Hear You survey at the end of visits to almost 1,000 venues between Saturday, 4 July and Monday, 31 August. Yumpingo chief executive and founder Gary Goodman said: “It is fantastic to see what Eat Out To Help Out has done to help the sector, but the dipping of satisfaction scores clearly show it is crucial for operators to keep an eye on the overall experience, simplifying the guest journey where possible and ensuring they do all they can to delight guests at every opportunity.” For more about the We Hear You initiative and how to take part, click here. For a copy of the PowerPoint presentation email
Yumpingo and UKHospitality are Propel BeatTheVirus campaign members

Pubs and bars profit as overall spending rises for first time since February: Spending at pubs and bars enjoyed a 9.3% year-on-year growth in August, according to a Barclaycard report on transactions. Takeaways and fast food purchases saw their highest increase (20.7%) since tracking began for this category in September 2019 with meal subscription services climbing by a huge 65.8%. These highlights came as overall consumer spending rose by 0.2% year-on-year for August, which is the first rise since February. Data also shows essential spend lifted by 5.1% year-on-year, driven by supermarket shopping (up 14.9%), while the number of petrol pump transactions were similar to last year (down 2.4%) despite spend declining by 13.3% as more people went back to their workplaces. Non-essential spending was down 1.6% year-on-year but this was the smallest drop since lock-down began – with a 0.3% rise for clothing sales. In the leisure sector, hotels, resorts and accommodation recorded their smallest decline since lock-down of 19.1% year-on-year, as bookings for staycations during school holidays came to the fore. Travel spending, however, slumped by 61% versus August 2019, which included transactions at airlines and travel agents. Barclaycard head of consumer products Raheel Ahmed said: “It’s encouraging to see the first uplift in spending after a turbulent time for retailers. The final throes of summer have spurred households to get out and about with clothing stores, pubs and bars welcoming growth for the first time since lock-down began. Months of lock-down has helped accelerate the trend towards digital, meaning the road to recovery may still be a long one for bricks-and-mortar stores. The restaurant sector benefited from the boost provided by the Eat Out To Help Out scheme.” Meanwhile, data from Cardlytics’ monthly State of Spend report, which analyses UK consumer spending across 22 million UK bank accounts, states the break-up of schools in July led to increased spending on toys (29% year-on-year), sports and fitness equipment (22%) and pet supplies (19%). Cardlytics commercial director Duncan Smith said: “Businesses may well be breathing a sigh of relief as UK consumer spending in July showed its first signs of year-on-year growth since the start of lock-down. There’s a clear opportunity for brands to appeal to new and different consumer groups or even rebrand themselves and their offer, as we all adapt to a new normal of spending.”
NPS hits record levels after Eat Out To Help Out scheme: The hospitality industry net promoter score (NPS) has bounced back to record levels following the end of the Eat Out To Help Out scheme, according to the Customer Sentiment Tracker from Feed It Back and KAM Media. For the first time since reopenings began, the NPS score hit 60, which is higher than pre-lock-down levels and up seven points compared with last week. KAM Media managing director Katy Moses said: “We’re excited to see the hospitality industry NPS bounce back like this. Eat Out To Help Out certainly drove additional feet through the door but it also presented challenges with some service levels. In research terms, [scores above] 50 are, generally, considered an excellent net promoter score, so this week’s industry score of 60 shows the UK hospitality industry is back to delighting its customers. Some operators’ scores were as high as 86.”
Feed It Back and KAM Media are Propel BeatTheVirus campaign members

Peter Backman – the three essential factors of eating out have been hit by coronavirus: Sector analyst Peter Backman has argued the triumvirate of pillars in the eating-out market have suffered a huge hit – especially staff. He said: “The three essentials of the infrastructure of eating out are: places, people and product. Each of these has been damaged to a greater or lesser extent by covid-19. The supply chain for product has been affected least because retail has been a secure alternative market for many suppliers (but not distributors) and that will clearly remain. But for the future, we will also have to see what effect Brexit might have on the supply chain. Places have been badly hit over the past six months. In my Monthly Briefing Report, released last week, I examined the popular (sometimes known as the destination) eating-out market – restaurants, quick service, pubs – and I concluded that about a quarter are unlikely to reopen. And within the sector, for several reasons, full-service restaurants are likely to be the worst hit. Places in other sectors will not be so badly affected – schools, hospitals and the like, will still be there in former numbers (perhaps reduced slightly); and while the leisure and hotel sectors will see some closures, they are not likely to amount to the numbers seen in the restaurant sector. And as for people – the prognosis is dire. And, of course, the personal component means that the outcome is very real for many people. If a quarter of popular sector outlets close, then about a quarter of the people involved will lose their jobs. The announcements already made by some well-known chains are already sobering in their severity. And there is more to come as the ending of the furlough scheme, at the end of next month, comes ever closer. People who are let go from restaurants will be joined by many others from other parts of the economy to create a growing army of unemployed. In a sad sense, this is a potential benefit for the restaurant sector because when it regrows, as it surely will, it will require a new cohort of people to prepare food, serve customers, manage businesses. So, in this dark time, maybe the sector should already be looking to the future and working out which skills it’s going to need and how it will train and attract people with those abilities. This has been an imperative for many years and perhaps the post-covid world will provide the opportunity to address this crucial issue full-on.”

Sales up 19.9% on pre-Eat Out To Help Out levels but decline 12.8% week-on-week: Sales last week were up 19.9% on pre-Eat Out To Help Out (EOTHO) levels, according to S4labour, the online labour-scheduling management system from Catton Hospitality. However, as the scheme came to an end, children returning to school and many going back to work, sales tailed off with a 12.8% week-on-week decline. London bore a less severe week-on-week dip than the rest of the country, down 9.4%, but up 26.4% compared with the week before EOTHO launched. Outside the capital, week-on-week sales were down 13.4%, but up 18.8% compared with the week before EOTHO. Over the past month, there has been a significant difference between the like-for-like performance of food compared with drink, with food sales growing more dramatically in the wake of the EOTHO support. However last week, with EOTHO not available for the majority of the week, there was for the first time since July, a relatively modest difference, with drink sales slipping 11.5% and food sales down 14.0% on the previous week. S4labour chief customer officer Sam Wignell said: “This week will be the first full week without the government backed discount and so give a much clearer indicator of the health of the sector. While week-on-week sales were down, it is highly encouraging to see operators are still trading well above where they were six weeks ago. On the whole, these set of figures point to a healthy level of public confidence albeit with a hard road of recovery ahead.”
S4labour is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Amazon fined by CMA over late documents in Deliveroo probe: Amazon has been fined £55,000 by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) after it failed to meet a deadline for vital documents, as part of a long-running investigation into its stake in Deliveroo. Amazon’s investment in Deliveroo, which amounts to a 16% stake, was cleared by the CMA last month – 16 months after leading the start-up’s $575m series G funding round. The CMA said 189 documents — some of which included significant information for the second phase of its investigation of the tie-up – were not produced until after the initial deadline had passed. “Although Amazon did, ultimately, provide all of the information required, the CMA considers Amazon’s behaviour caused unnecessary delays to the CMA’s investigation,” the watchdog added. The fine is split into two penalties of £25,000 and £30,000 because Amazon failed to provide complete responses to two sets of statutory information requests, the regulator said. The statutory maximum the CMA can fine a company for failing to meet a deadline is £30,000. The investigation of Amazon’s stake in Deliveroo was complicated by the coronavirus pandemic, after Deliveroo’s financial health was called into question. As the pandemic hit, the CMA said it was minded to clear the deal because it believed Deliveroo may not survive without the additional cash. However, a few months later, the CMA said Deliveroo’s situation had improved significantly and was no longer reliant on Amazon’s investment. The deal was then approved last month, after the CMA found the tie-up would not lead to a lessening of healthy competition in the sector.
New York City restaurant owners sue for £2bn in damages amid continued indoor dining ban: More than 450 New York City restaurant owners are suing governor Andrew Cuomo and mayor Bill de Blasio for $2bn in damages over a continued ban on indoor dining amid the coronavirus pandemic. The city’s outdoor dining scheme ends on Saturday, 31 October, and, so far, there are no solid plans to allow people back inside restaurants. Indoor dining is allowed in New York state with the exception of New York City, where 456 restaurateurs had filed the class-action lawsuit against the state and city. Joe Germanotta, who owns the Joanne Trattoria restaurant in Manhattan and is pop superstar Lady Gaga’s dad, is one of them, and said outdoor dining is not a long-term solution anyway. He told Fox News: “Once the weather gets cold, we are pretty much out of business.” New York has seen by far the most deaths from covid-19 of any US state – more than 32,000 – but its rate of new infections has dropped to among the lowest in the country. Germanotta said he has the backing to survive but added: “It’s so sad because I’m watching some of my dear friends that own places shut down. Something has to be done. They’re not listening, they’re not hearing, they’re just not being realistic. They have to put themselves in our shoes – they’re still getting a pay cheque, these people are suffering. The whole situation affects the entire supply chain. It will affect the governor and the city and the tax base. We have taken the precautions. I was ready on 6 July.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is looking for a senior business development manager for a hospitality-based software company. The client is a leading SAAS provider, which operates mainly within the hospitality tech sector, in the UK and internationally. It is currently recruiting for an experienced senior business development manager that has previously sold hard services into corporate and private sectors. Ideally the company is looking for at least five years’ experience in sales, selling business-to-business and business-to-consumer as well as either a hospitality sales background or software/tech background. The position is based in London but remote working will also be considered, The salary is circa £80,000 to £90,000. Anyone interested can email
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member 

Company News:

Itsu looks to the future after CVA approved: Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain, created by Pret A Manger co-founder Julian Metcalfe, has told Propel it is looking to, and investing in the future, after its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) was approved. Propel revealed in July that Itsu had appointed AlixPartners as it looked to step up conversations with landlords and explore possible restructuring options, including the possibility of a CVA. It was also set to receive £4.3m of new funding and begin an operational turnaround plan if its CVA proposals were approved. Propel understood that Itsu’s shareholders, which includes Ambrosia Investments, had provided a letter of comfort to the company confirming their intention to support the additional funding needed should it not be successful in obtaining the finance from an external source. However, this additional funding was conditional on approval of the CVA proposal. It is thought the company will now exit five sites in Chancery Lane, Lime Street, Ludgate Hill, Old Broad Street and Sackville Street, which were trading at a loss, were close to expiry or were wholly sub-let. An Itsu spokesman told Propel: “The successful vote is proof of the confidence that our landlords, suppliers and our teams have in the Itsu brand and the strength of our business. We thank them all for their support. We are now looking to and investing in the future, and serving our loyal customers with the reassurance of this outcome behind us.” Meanwhile, Itsu has secured a listing for its new brilliant’broth for ramen at Marks & Spencer (M&S). The product (RRP £2), which comes in two flavours – classic ramen and chicken ramen – is also available to as part of M&S’s stir fry meal deal. The £6 meal deal includes the brilliant’broth and noodles, vegetables and a protein.

Natural Kitchen to explore options: Deli and cafe concept Natural Kitchen has become the latest London-based operator to begin working with advisers in regards to its future options, Propel has learned. The nine-strong, Justin Green-led business, is believed to be working with property advisers Lambert Smith Hampton in regards to the marketing of its business. It is thought that a deadline for offers has been set for Monday, 21 September. If no appropriate offers are forthcoming, it is thought the business will need to go down a restructuring route. The company opened its latest site, at St Katharine Docks, in summer 2018 after taking over the former Tom’s Kitchen site. Earlier this year, it was linked with taking a site on the ground floor at 100 Bishopsgate. The company also operates sites in Angel Court, Marylebone High Street, Tudor Street, Baker Street, New Street Square, Waterloo Station, Aldersgate and Trinity Square. All of the sites remain temporarily closed. Posting on the company’s website on the continued closures, managing director Green said: “With the continued uncertainty surrounding the covid-19 virus crisis, Natural Kitchen will remain closed beyond the 4 July government reopening date. The reasons for this decision are the challenging social distancing restrictions and the continuing advice to you, our customers, to work from home whenever possible. Therefore, without the majority of our customers back in the city, Natural Kitchen cannot trade successfully and opening too early could jeopardise the whole business. After such a long and enforced lock-down and, so far, surviving this crisis, we believe it foolhardy to reopen just yet with the persisting uncertainty.”
PizzaExpress confirms locations of 73 restaurant closures following CVA approval: PizzaExpress has confirmed the 73 restaurants that will shut after its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) was approved by creditors. The closures see 1,100 jobs at risk. Outside London, the outlets that will permanently shut are Aberdeen, Belmont Street; Aylesbury; Barnstaple, Three Tuns; Biggleswade; Billericay; Birmingham, Corporation Street; Birmingham, Mailbox; Bournemouth, Post Office Road; Bramhall; Bristol, Berkeley Square; Bristol, Regent Street; Bromsgrove; Chippenham; Dalton Park; Darlington; Dudley, Merry Hill; Edinburgh, Holyrood; Formby; Glasgow, Princes Square; Glossop; Gosforth; Grantham; Halifax; Hatch End; Hereford; Heswall; Ipswich, Lloyds Avenue; Leeds, Crown Street; Leeds, Horsforth; Ludlow; Lymington; Melton Mowbray; Midhurst; Milton Keynes, Hub; Moseley; New Brighton; Newcastle; Newport, Isle of Wight; Newport, South Wales; Northallerton; Nottingham, Goosegate; Orpington; Oxford, Oxford Castle; Poole; Port Solent; Ramsgate; Reading, St Mary’s Butts; Scarborough; Sheffield, Devonshire Street; Sheffield, The Moor; Shirley; Southport, Old Bank; Stafford; Staines; Stoke; Stourbridge; Sudbury; Torquay; Uxbridge; Wakefield; Walsall; Weston-Super-Mare; Whiteley Village; Whitstable and Wrexham. The closures in London are Bruton Place; Charlotte Street; Earls Court, Earls Court Road; Fulham Palace Road; Hampstead; O2 Finchley; Wardour Street and Wapping.
JD Wetherspoon records almost six million test and trace pub check-ins within a month: JD Wetherspoon has received 5,742,125 test-and-trace registrations at its UK and Ireland pubs between 3 August and 6 September. Customers can use a QR code as they enter a pub or at stations within the premises or simply fill in a form. However, only one person must sign in per group but has to indicate how many people are in their party. Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin said: “As the weeks have gone by, trade and registrations have increased. There were approximately 1.5 million registrations in the past seven days. Since there are three customers per group, approximately 4.5 million visitors to our pubs are contactable through the test-and-trace system for last week. People are intelligent and, if you explain a system that’s for their own good and for the good of family, friends and the public, generally, they will co-operate.”
Debenhams reopens 100 F&B concessions, complete with new partners: High street retailer Debenhams has relaunched its in-store food and drink offers out of 100 of its sites with a range of new and existing partners. When Debenhams reopened 124 stores across the UK, the stores initially reopened without their in-store restaurants and coffee bars due to continuing government restrictions. Debenhams has now reopened a range of food offers, having secured agreements with new and existing partners, including launching a new Costa Coffee in its Oxford Street flagship. As well as long-standing partner, Costa Coffee, among a variety of others, Debenhams has welcomed new partners to a number of stores, including Donut King, Bentley’s Coffee, Street & Co, Rounton Coffee and Double Zero. Sam Shutt, head of food and partnerships at Debenhams, said: “We know our customers like to come with their families to do their shopping and take a break for a cup of coffee and a snack. We’re delighted to be opening some new and different food offers in our stores.”
Flower Burger lines up UK debut site: Milan-based vegan burger brand Flower Burger, which earlier this year signed a master franchise agreement with London-based multi-brand multi-unit food and beverage operator Gerry’s Group to develop the brand across the UK, has lined up its debut site here, Propel understands. The brand, which already operates in Italy, France and the Netherlands, is understood to have lined up a site in London’s Charlotte Street. The partnership with Gerry’s, which was brokered by food and beverage business developer and franchise consultant Seeds Consulting, involves 45 openings in key cities over the next ten years. Founded in 2015 in Milan by Matteo Toto, Flower Burger is an “innovative vegan burger concept” with 14 locations in Italy, Marseille and Rotterdam. All burgers are produced from raw ingredients and without the use of additives in its central production facility and they are cooked in store to order. Gerry’s Group is a multi-national company operating more than 30 Costa Coffee locations in the UK, as well as Wok To Walk franchises in the UK and IHOP restaurants in Pakistan. It currently operates a Wok To Walk site in Coventry, with a further opening under the brand due to open in Leicester.
Le Pain Quotidien UK begins reopening its estate: Le Pain Quotidien, the Belgian restaurant and boulangerie brand, which was acquired out of administration earlier this year, has begun reopening its UK estate. BrunchCo paid £500,000 to acquire 15 of Le Pain Quotidien’s 26 UK sites through a pre-pack administration in June, with the deal seeing Steven Whibley, who was managing director of the brand at the turn of the decade, returning to the role. The company has now reopened its sites in London’s Kendal Street and Marylebone High Street, with more set to come back online over the coming weeks. In July, Whibley told Propel the company was in talks about taking on a further three of the brand’s London sites. Whibley said the group would spend six to nine months looking to put in foundations to revitalise the brand and look to open a new site in 2021 before embarking on an expansion strategy of opening three to four sites a year from 2022.
Tomahawk Steakhouse lines two more openings, including London debut: North east-based multi-site operator Howard Eggleston has secured two more sites for his Tomahawk Steakhouse brand, including a debut site in London. Eggleston, who opened his eighth site under the brand last month on the former Jamie’s Italian site at Lendal Cellars, York, will open a Tomahawk Steakhouse on Jamie Oliver’s former Fifteen restaurant site in London’s Hoxton. Eggleston will also take over the restaurant at Middlesbrough’s only grade I-listed building Acklam Hall. Eggleston’s company also operates Brazilian concept Rio in Jesmond, as well as two takeaway stores, in Jesmond and Yarm. 
Red Fox & Peacock to open debut freehold site as it makes first town centre foray: North west multiple operator Red Fox & Peacock, formerly known as Lytham Hospitality Group, is to open its debut freehold site later this month as it makes its first move into town centre bars and restaurants. The new bar, restaurant and live entertainment venue called Lytham House is the company’s sixth site and will create 65 jobs. About £1m has been invested in transforming a former Italian restaurant into the space. A 30-foot tall steel tree rises through the centre of the building spanning two floors. There will also be a photo booth for guests to take snaps. The venue will hold 650 people with a private dining room for 30 and another private room with capacity for 14 guests. It will also add a takeaway service in due course as the company has done at its other pubs. Lytham Hospitality Group partner Ross Robinson, who has previously worked for Revolution Bars Group and as operations manager at Mission Mars, said: “With people staycationing, I think Lytham may be more attractive to tourists and, in fact, become busier. Increasing numbers of people are also looking to move out of the big cities and Lytham and the Fylde coast has lots to offer.” He also doesn’t intend for covid-19 to halt future expansion plans and added: “The disruption to the industry on the back of this pandemic will throw up some great opportunities. We still intend to expand our portfolio but will be very focused on the right sites and right locations that will trade well in a post-covid-19 recessions.”
Stem + Glory raises more than double £40,000 target towards new Cambridge site: Cambridge-based vegan restaurant Stem + Glory has raised more than double its £40,000 target on crowdfunding platform Seedrs towards its new site in the city. The company set out to raise the funds to add to the £200,000 already raised in grants and capital contributions, for the venue at the CB1 development. Stem + Glory, which operates sites in Cambridge and London, hit its target within a hour of public launch and the inward investment for this round stands at more than £80,000. Founder Louise Palmer-Masterton said: “Our supporters have backed us from the beginning helping to turn the business into what it is today. Stem & Glory is a community-owned business and our 1,000-strong investor community have stuck by us all the way.” During lock-down, Palmer-Masterton developed a new business model, which now spans in-store dining, delivery, click and collect, and a ready meal and product range. She added: “We are on a mission to disrupt both the world of plant-based food and the traditional hospitality model. Our new omnichannel business model is not only innovative, but will also help pave the way for healthier and more conscious ways of living.” The current funding round will close at midnight on Monday, 5 October, and Palmer-Masterton said the investment would help drive the business forward into 2021.

Foodhub reports 66% increase in orders as it prepares to head international: Food delivery platform Foodhub has reported a 66% increase in orders compared with pre-lock-down figures, as well as more than 1,000 restaurant sign-ups per month. Foodhub was founded in 2017 and has a network of more than 15,000 takeaway and restaurant partners across the UK. The business has seen considerable growth year-on-year, with more than one million app downloads since its launch. In addition, Foodhub is also actively expanding into other territories, including the USA, in order to reach new customers and extend its offering on an international scale. Foodhub provides a fixed rental charge to its restaurants, rather than a commission for each order. 

Rousset and Devaney to relaunch Soho members’ club as late-night wine bar and restaurant: Late-night wine bar and restaurant The Black Book will open on Thursday (10 September). The Black Book will take the place of Trade, the Soho members’ club for hospitality professionals run by restaurateurs and master sommeliers Xavier Rousset and Gearoid Devaney. The Frith Street site will specialise in rare and interesting wines and classic brasserie dishes and is open to all. Rousset said: “Soho is a community, and it has always welcomed all with open arms, and that’s why commis chefs, to commuters, date nighters and late-night diners all find refuge here. We wanted to open up The Black Book to all to ensure everyone felt especially part of this community to toast to good health, eat well and embody the spirit of Soho too. Special and rare wines with the option to buy by the glass was an essential aspect to making this inclusive even if there were certain perks afforded to the industry via the Trade app that keep the spirit of Soho and London going. The Black Book blends perfectly the elements that we think make Soho special – some glamour to be enjoyed by all.” 
Mike Robinson to open The Elder restaurant in Bath: Co-owner of Michelin-starred gastro-pub The Harwood Arms, Mike Robinson, will open The Elder restaurant in Bath on Friday (11 September). The site is located within the new Hotel Indigo Bath. The 60-seat restaurant will feature British cooking, created by restaurateur Robinson and group head chef Gavin Edney, with a focus on sustainability, seasonality and locally sourced and wild produce. Robinson, who also owns The Woodsman in Stratford-upon-Avon, said: “This will be very much a neighbourhood restaurant. We have put a lot of thought behind every element of the service to create a warm, relaxing spot with excellent food that’s tasty as hell.” While Edney – who has worked at The Woodsman, André Garrett at Cliveden and Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s – will lead the kitchen, front of house will by stewarded by general manager Paul Halliwell who previously worked at Lutyens Restaurant.

Bierschenke to reopen its Liverpool Street site: London-based authentic German beer hall Bierschenke will reopen its Liverpool Street site on Wednesday, 16 September. Its second site – Bierkeller in Tower Hill – will remain shut temporarily. Bierschenke marketing manager Elli Hornis said: “While the original Oktoberfest in Munich is cancelled, we are over the moon happy to announce that we will celebrate this year’s Oktoberfest. A safe and still traditional experience is essential for us and we will work extremely hard in the background to ensure exactly that.” Temperature checks will be mandatory on reopening after coronavirus forced the closing of both sites in March. 

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