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Wed 18th Nov 2020 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

‘Talk more to us and talk sooner’ says Ralph Findlay in government call to evidence, ‘we never got above break-even’ says Kate Nicholls: Ralph Findlay, chief executive of Marston’s, has called on the government to talk more to the hospitality sector and “talk sooner”, as he told a BEIS Select Committee his business would need “at least a week” to prepare its 1,300 sites for possible reopening. Meanwhile, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said the sector “never got above break-even” during summer reopening. Both were talking on Tuesday (16 November) to the BEIS Select Committee to discuss the impact of covid-19 on businesses and workers. Findlay said: “In terms of communication, when we came out of the lockdown back in July, the level of communication with the government was pretty good. That communication level seemed to weaken considerably as we went towards October and the second lockdown. The industry lost confidence in government, probably due to two things, the amount of stuff that was coming out via leaks as opposed to direct communication, and secondly, the amount of engagement that we had had. My point is talk to us, and talk to us early, not late. We haven’t had any communication from the government over that process so far, and we need it. We’re here on 17 November and I understand we will open on 2 or 3 December for the biggest trading period of my year. I don’t know what restrictions at this point I’ll be working to. I don’t know how many people of the 10,000 on furlough I can bring back. I don’t know what discussions I need to have with my supply and logistics teams about getting beer into my pubs.” Nicholls said the sector never fully reopened during summer, given social distancing, group sizes, household mixing and other regional and national restrictions. She said: “We never got above break-even, before we had a return to national restrictions in September.” And that tighter measures had progressively knocked larger holes in firms’ revenues, with income currently down around 66%, according to UKHospitality figures. The trade body expects firms to burn through around £500m in November because of England’s lockdown. She added: “Our businesses going into this second lockdown are in a far less resilient place than they were in the first lockdown. They’ve got depleted capital reserves, and are going through a terrific amount of cash burn while they’re closed.” She warned 660,000 jobs have already been lost this year, and hospitality faces missing out on “what should have been our golden quarter” at the end of the year. 

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Accolade Wines Europe packaged portfolio to go carbon neutral by end of 2020: The core branded portfolio of Accolade Wines Europe – including Hardys, Mud House, Jam Shed, Banrock Station, Echo Falls and Kumala – is now certified carbon neutral. Accolade’s ambition is to complete 100% portfolio neutrality by the end of 2020. The certification is part of the company’s long-term commitment to sustainability and reducing its impact on the planet. The carbon neutral footprint analysis is certified by the Carbon Trust, an independent organisation with the mission to accelerate the move to a sustainable, low carbon economy. To offset the remaining carbon emissions, Accolade Wines Europe has also partnered with climate and sustainability experts ClimateCare to offset its residual carbon emissions across its brand portfolio. If you have information you would like to feature in a sponsored message, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com

Propel’s ‘lessons of lockdown’ video series to feature Matt Snell next: In the latest Propel “lessons of lockdown” 15-minute video, Ann Elliott talks to Matt Snell, chief executive of Italian casual dining group Gusto. Snell talks about the lessons of the first lockdown that he is applying to this lockdown. The video will be released at 9am on Wednesday (18 November).
 
Paul Charity to explore how pub landscape has transformed in a generation as part of latest Propel Premium column: Propel managing director and founder Paul Charity will explore how the pub landscape has been transformed in a generation as part of this week’s Premium Opinion, which will be sent to subscribers on Friday (20 November) at 5pm. “It’s almost laughable how misguided public perceptions can still be about pubs,” he writes in his 1,500-word piece. 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. An annual premium subscription costs £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers. Email anne.steele@propelinfo.com
 
‘Lack of covid-19 progress shows hospitality is not the cause’: Negative or slow trends in the battle against coronavirus are proving Scotland’s pubs, restaurants and hotels are not the cause of the problem, the Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) has argued. It said for more than a month the majority of premises across the country have been forced to shut or are doing minimal trade, especially across the central belt where there are both the toughest restrictions and the highest levels of the virus. However, cases in some areas have continued to climb. SHG argued the case after first minster Nicola Sturgeon announced pubs and restaurants in 11 council areas – including Glasgow – will shut from Friday (20 November). They will be imposed in East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow, Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire. North and South Lanarkshire, East and South Ayrshire, Stirling and West Lothian will also move to level four until Friday, 11 December. SHG spokesman Stephen Montgomery said: “Since most hospitality businesses are either shut or virtually empty, how can they possibly be responsible for the spread of the virus? Some parts of the country are even seeing increases and it’s certainly not because people are out drinking or socialising in our premises.” The group is calling for licensing hours for off-sales and hospitality to be aligned from 10am to 10pm in tier two. It also said businesses in tier four must have certainty as soon as possible before 11 December “so they can prepare to salvage Christmas and Hogmanay as much as they can”. Montgomery added: “If alcohol was really that much of an issue then off-sales would have been restricted, but instead people are allowed to make spur-of-the-moment purchases to socialise with friends or family at home. Not only do homes lack the safety measures that we have in our businesses, for example, the legal trace and protect system, but there’s no visibility of the problem for the government and people are never going to self-report they’ve been breaking the rules. There’s no evidence-based argument for allowing off-sales until 10pm while we are prevented from serving a glass of wine with food up until 10pm in tier two. And since the argument seems to be alcohol isn’t that much of a factor, we should be able to serve food and soft drinks until 10pm without alcohol in tier three.”

Legal challenge to 10pm curfew set for second hearing: A legal challenge to the 10pm hospitality curfew is set for a second court hearing on Thursday, 3 December. Jeremy Joseph, owner of G-A-Y nightclub group, is continuing to push for a judicial review after a court refused permission for the case to go ahead last month. He claimed the government has not provided scientific evidence to support the controversial closing time, which has been enforced since 24 September. The curfew, which was in place across all of England’s three tiers of coronavirus restrictions is expected to be reintroduced when the national lockdown ends on Wednesday, 2 December. Government advisers said on Monday (16 November), the tiers might need “strengthening” to get the country through the winter months. Joseph said in a statement: “We would much rather not have to go to court. However, if the government decides to bring [the curfew] back, we are able to challenge them through our hearing immediately. The curfew doesn’t help control the virus and it destroys livelihoods. Hospitality businesses need the opportunity to recover, but they will be unable to while subject to a counter-productive curfew.” The legal action is being backed by the Night Time Industries Association.
 
Sacha Lord releases Greater Manchester night-time recovery plan but warns it could take five years for sector to recover: Sacha Lord, Greater Manchester’s night time economy adviser, has released a plan detailing how businesses can be supported to recover from the impacts of the pandemic – but warned it could take five years for the sector to recover. The Greater Manchester night-time economy blueprint, released with the combined authority and Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, includes a list of key priorities such as lobbying for fairer financial support for those hit hardest by the pandemic, including for freelancers and the self-employed. Lord said there should be schemes to encourage the public to shop local, greater support for businesses looking to diversify their offerings or retrain, and greater mental health support for night-time businesses and their employees. He said, for the past eight months, he has “watched in horror as the sector has been thrown to the wolves”. But he said: “I remain confident in the resilience of Greater Manchester’s nightlife scene and its ability to return bigger and brighter, albeit looking significantly different. I wholeheartedly believe the sector plays a critical part of the growth and leading status of our city-region. However, it’s with a heavy heart I estimate it will take at least five years to recover to pre-pandemic levels. I am, therefore, under no illusion of the hard work ahead, but I have always maintained that together we are stronger. It’s time to look forward to rebuilding on our previous strengths, build on what we’ve already achieved and learn from previous mistakes. Burnham said: “Although the sector has been forced to take many steps backwards in light of the global pandemic, Sacha and the team know we now need to focus on recovery with the same aim at the heart of the work we do; for Greater Manchester to be one of the best places in the world to go out, stay out, work and run a business between the hours of 6pm and 6am.”

BrewDog – governments across the world ‘don’t have a handle on climate change’: BrewDog co-founder James Watt slammed governments worldwide as not having “a meaningful handle on climate change” and said going carbon neutral by 2050 is “too late”. He was speaking at AltCop on Monday (16 November) – an alternative climate change discussion after the official 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) was postponed. Representatives from the Scottish brewer and fellow organiser The Hunter Foundation spoke at the event along with other business leaders to find “business-first solutions, without the need for a lagging political agenda”. Watt said “action is needed now” and “going carbon neutral by 2050, that’s too late” while calling out governments across the globe as failing because they “do not have a meaningful handle on climate change”. With co-founder Martin Dickie, the pair outlined carbon negative BrewDog’s efforts being taken already that include using a fully electric fleet of vehicles, recycling of waste materials to bio gas, increasing vegan and vegetarian offerings and powering its bars with wind. Rupert Read, previously of Extinction Rebellion, said governments need to “tell the truth” because climate change “is worse than you think, it’s almost certainly much worse” referring to the Paris Agreement as a paper tiger. Ryan Gellert, chief executive of clothing brand Patagonia encouraged global communities to find the “motivation to take the action” and that making “tomorrow the day” you start tackling fundamental business failings was no longer possible. Sir Tom Hunter, of the Hunter Foundation, thanked his children for highlighting the urgency of climate change. Quoting from his inspiration for action David Attenborough, for whom “the age of indifference is over” encouraging communities across the planet “not to waste time” waiting on governments. He added: “If we think it’s someone else’s problem, nothing will change. It’s our problem to solve.” Marsha Cooke, senior vice-president of Impact, Vice media, encouraged other media platforms to cover climate change “as often and innovatively as possible” and encouraged others to give the “hundreds of thousands of Gretas ‘a voice’”. Meanwhile, Caroline Rush, chief executive of The British Fashion Council, encouraged “everyone at every level to play their part from the producers of raw materials, to farming and retail distribution” citing fast fashion’s supply chain focus on price “not giving the space to truly invest in the environment”. She added: “Everyone has a part to play in this carbon-zero future [in order for this decade] to be pivotal for change.”
 
UK footfall remains at similar level to previous week: UK footfall has remained at a similar level to the previous week with England now almost a fortnight into its latest lockdown, according to data from Wi-Fi solutions provider Wireless Social. Footfall on Saturday (14 November) was 74% below February’s footfall, and on Sunday (15 November) it was at minus 69%. There was no noticeable change in the footfall in English towns and cities, with levels differing by less than 5% from the previous weekend, in most cases. London appears to be the busiest city, with footfall yet to drop below minus 70% of February’s levels like the other English cities have. On Saturday, footfall was at minus 68% of the footfall seen in the capital in February, and on Sunday it was at minus 65%. It was the first weekend of freedom in Wales following the “firebreak” and, in Cardiff, footfall increased by 53 percentage points compared with the previous Saturday (7 November) and by 54 percentage points on the previous Sunday (8 November). Scotland’s change in restrictions to a new five-level system doesn’t seem to have had much impact on footfall. In Glasgow, footfall on Saturday was at minus 54% of the footfall seen in February, and on Sunday it was minus 53%. In Edinburgh, the level on Saturday was minus 61% of February’s footfall, and on Sunday it was minus 62%.
Wireless Social is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
 
Wolverhampton pub fined after breaching lockdown restrictions: A Wolverhampton pub has been fined £1,000 for breaching coronavirus lockdown restrictions. The Glassy Junction pub and grill in Willenhall Road let customers in to celebrate Diwali on Saturday evening (14 November), West Midlands Police said. Officers were called to reports of lockdown laws being broken at the former Malt Shovel pub at about 9.30pm. When they arrived they found drinks were being served and fireworks had been set up outside despite all hospitality venues being banned from operating under the current one-month lockdown in England. The venue has been operating as an Indian takeaway during the lockdown, which is permitted so long as businesses close by 10pm. Fifteen people were issued with fixed penalty notices and the pub was fined £1,000 for the breach.
 

Company News:

YO! to trial franchise model for Panku concept: YO!, the Richard Hodgson-led global multi-brand, multi-channel Japanese food group, is to launch a trial of a franchise model for its pan-Asian street food concept Panku, Propel has learned. YO! currently acts as the master franchisee for the concept, which was founded by Neil Nugent and Andy Upton. It now plans to trial the franchise model across a select number of sites, before assessing whether to roll it out further. It currently operates 35 Panku concessions in Asda stores across the UK, with another two set to open soon. David Hampton, managing director of Retail at YO!, said: “We’ve been really pleased with the reaction to our Panku kiosks. With 35 sites up and running, and more in the pipeline, we are now looking at what the next phase of development might look like. Drawing from our experience with Snowfox and Bento, our highly successful kiosk brands in the USA and Canada, we will be trialling a franchise model across a handful of Panku sites in the UK.” Last month, the company began trialling a new Indian street food concept called Kulaba Kitchen with retailer Asda. The company launched the trial in the Asda in Worksop under a dual site launch with a Panku unit, and is currently rolling it out to supermarkets in Clapham, Halifax, Rotherham and Aintree.
 
Swingers to push on with US expansion, handful of leases signed or in progress: Competitive Socialising, the parent company of street food and crazy golf concept Swingers, is to push on with its US expansion plans despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Co-founder Matt Grech-Smith told Propel the company, which operates two sites in central London, had a handful of leases signed and in progress in the US, and is on-site on one location currently. With a vaccine hopefully in place, he is targeting opening the first two US Swingers sites in 2021, with more to follow. “We’ve made really good use of this period to prepare our plans,” Grech-Smith said. “In the US, we’ve been having productive conversations with landlords. We are seeing more favourable rental terms and landlords are engaging – it definitely now seems like a partnership rather than them dictating terms. We’re going to go at it humbly because we have a lot to learn about the US market but if we are successful, we want to make sure we have enough sites in the pipeline to allow us to grow at speed. Meanwhile, in the UK, we’ve overhauled the courses of our London venues and developed a bespoke CRM system. We’d like to do more sites in the UK in time, but the US is our focus for now.” Grech-Smith said trade had been going “really well, all things considered” since reopening its London sites – located in Regent Street and underneath the Gherkin in the City – in September until the latest lockdown was introduced. However, he believes there will once again be pent-up demand when the sector is allowed to reopen – hopefully in time for the festive season. He said: “We sold 85% of our available tickets leading up to the second lockdown. People weren’t booking as far ahead as they were pre-covid, but we were sold out much of the time, so we’re confident demand will return when we reopen. It won’t be a Christmas that matches previous ones – we’ve got minimal corporate trade but we believe, if allowed, many people will still want to go out and celebrate.” Grech-Smith said its backer, private investment firm Cain International, has been “very supportive”, while the business has also secured a “multimillion-pound” sum through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. He added: “By this time next year, hopefully we’ll be putting coronavirus behind us starting to see again some of those revenue figures in the UK that we used to take for granted.”
 
Azzurri Group to trial Coco di Mama delivery through Zizzi sites: Azzurri Group, the TowerBrook Capital-backed business, is to trial the delivery of its Coco di Mama concept through a number of its Zizzi sites, Propel has learned. The Italian food-to-go brand is to trial delivery in new locations prepared through its sister-brand’s kitchens, starting in London suburbs. Coco di Mama managing director Jim Attwood told Propel: “The initial trials in Bromley, Sutton and Kingston aim to bring Coco di Mama’s fast and fulfilling pasta closer to its core customer base of professional City workers as they continue to work from home during lockdown.” Azzurri began the reopening of its 30-strong, London-based Coco di Mama estate at the start of November. It relaunched five sites in Margaret Street, Holborn, More London, Cheapside and Fleet Street. 
 
DHP Family injects £1.6m into business through share issue, restructures management teams: Live music venue operator DHP Family has injected £1.6m into the business via an issue of preference shares to help strengthen its balance sheet and restructured its management teams to help it deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The company, which operates seven sites in London, Nottingham and Bristol, said the brand position of its venues, strength of its management team and cash position left it “well placed for the coming years”. It stated: “DHP and the wider group have, over the years, worked around a freehold basis on the venues we run and operate. Within the group of seven venues are two leasehold properties and five freehold. Careful investment decisions over the prior years as well as our strong financial results have enabled us to have low levels of debt-to-equity. At the start of the covid-19 pandemic, we injected £1.6m of cash into the business via an issue of preference shares to strengthen our balance sheet for the covid-19 period and beyond. We have restructured our management teams and head office functions to cope with the financial impact of the pandemic. We have also negotiated on extending one of the leases for our venues at better terms. [Prior to the latest lockdown] all but one of our venues were back trading on a new socially distanced format. The demand for these nights has been strong, an indication that once social distance measures are lifted, our customer base should return to pre-covid-19 numbers.” DHP Family provided the update as it reported turnover for the year ending 31 December 2019 fell to £44.6m, compared with £58.3m the year before, partly due its Thekla venue in Bristol being shut for an extended period for refurbishment. Pre-tax profit jumped to £1.9m from £469,000 the previous year.
 
Wingstop secures ex-Byron restaurant for fourth site, teams up with Foodstars to make regional debut: Lemon Pepper Holdings, which is rolling out US chicken brand Wingstop across the UK, has secured its fourth bricks and mortar site, after acquiring a former Byron in South Kensington, Propel has learned. The company plans to open its latest site in Gloucester Road in the middle of next month. Earlier this summer, it opened its third UK site at Bluewater in Kent, in the shopping centre’s Winter Garden area. Lemon Pepper Holdings opened Wingstop’s debut UK site in Shaftesbury Avenue in London’s West End in 2018, it also operates a site in Dalston, plus delivery units in Battersea and Kentish Town. At the same time, Propel has learned that the brand has opened two new delivery kitchen sites with Foodstars in Wandsworth and Birmingham, the latter marking the group’s regional debut. Wingstop, which has more than 1,000 restaurants globally, entered its agreement with Lemon Pepper Holdings in 2017. CDG Leisure acted on the Gloucester Road deal.
 
Eataly announces early 2021 opening of first UK site: Eataly, the Italian food emporium, will open its first UK site in early 2021 at Broadgate, London. The site will be the group’s 43rd while becoming the 16th country it will operate in – and will also create 300 jobs. Eataly London will host a market with a range of more than 5,000 products, three restaurants, London’s biggest Italian winery, a food-to-go area, a bakery, a zero-waste produce refill store, live demonstrations, tastings and a cookery school, spread across two floors and totalling more than 40,000 square foot. One of the restaurants, Terra, which is described as a “finer dining concept” will open in summer next year. Eataly chief executive Nicola Farinetti said: “London has been a key target in our global expansion plans for some time now and we’re happy to bring our vision and a love of high-quality food to the UK. Eataly is all about taking the Italian gastronomic culture abroad, making it accessible to all in a celebration of the craft, taste and traditions of Italian food and drink. Bringing people together is at the heart of what we do and this is even more important in the current climate.” Eataly London store manager Matteo Ferrio added: “We are, of course, considering the safety and comfort of visitors and employees and we will be sure to comply with the relevant guidelines, so everyone can have the proper Eataly experience with peace of mind.” Oscar Farinetti launched the first Eataly in January 2007 in Torino. Eataly, which has the mantra “Eat, Shop, Learn”, employs more than 8,400 people across 15 countries, welcoming 39 million visitors every year. 
 
All-day dining concept Homestead opens at London City Island: Homestead, an all-day dining concept from Sven-Hanson Britt, Tris Hillier and Scott Ward of Unlocked opened on Tuesday (17 November) as the main food and beverage offering for London City Island, on Leamouth Peninsula. For the initial opening period, Homestead will open as a takeaway kitchen, deli and store for collection, with an offering that will reflect the dine-in menu once the restaurant is able to open. Once restrictions have lifted, Homestead will offer dining in and drinking options. The three founders have vast restaurant experience with Ward (JKS, Maze) as director of operations, Britt (Oxeye and MasterChef Professionals: Rematch Champion) as creative director and Hillier (Kanvass Projects) as brand and communications director. Britt said: “The east London food scene has completely changed over the past few months, meaning everything we knew before about eating out is now different. My family and I have moved to City Island, it’s a hub of creativity and artists in need of a great food offering.” Hillier added: “Despite the current lockdown measures we actually feel it is a great time to launch Homestead as everyone is at home.” Ward said: “The team we have put together is amazing. We feel very privileged to be able to hire people during this difficult time for UK hospitality, and buy direct from farmers, fishermen and growers who need our support more than ever.”

Japanese restaurant Roketsu secures debut site: Roketsu, the premium Japanese restaurant concept, which earlier this year held a pop-up event at Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair, will open its debut site next year, after securing a site in London’s Marylebone, Propel has learned. The restaurant, which is fronted by head chef Daisuke Hayashi, has taken a new lease from the Portman Estate on 12 New Quebec Street. Hayashi came to London after training at the Kikunoi Ryotei restaurant in Kyoto and has been executive head chef at Tokimeitē in Mayfair. Roketsu, which also held a series of dinner events at Louis Vuitton in Bond Street this year, will be all about Japanese Kaiseki (multi-course) dining. Split across two floors, the restaurant will also include a dedicated area where customers can witness and engage in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. The interior has been designed by the late Sotoji Nakamura’s family business, known for authentic Japanese tearooms and the Edi Koji shopping alley at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo. Roketsu said it “aims to inspire and teach its diners about Japanese culture, providing them with the most authentic Kaiseki experience”. Adam Bowers, of Stonebrook London, acted on behalf of Roketsu, while Shelley Sandzer acted for the Portman Estate.

Poké The Bear adds two more sites, brings in Michelin-starred chef: Poké The Bear, the delivery-only poké concept from TV celebrity Calum Best and Fraser Carruthers, one of the team behind private members’ club Albert’s, has added two sites to its portfolio. Michelin starred Richard Galli is also joining the team, with The Goring Hotel executive chef bringing his experience and Brazilian influence to create a new take on the traditional Hawaiian dishes. Poké the Bear continues to grow and has opened its second site, in Clapham, south London. The delivery-only restaurant has also secured premises in Manchester, opening on Tuesday, 1 December. Poké The Bear, which opened its first site in the Chelsea in August, is embarking on an aggressive expansion plan to open further kitchen across major UK cities including Liverpool, Dublin and Bristol. Carruthers said: “I’ve known Richard for many years and have always admired his cooking. His skills go far beyond the kitchen, from sourcing the finest ingredients to implementing a team of chefs that work together like a well-oiled machine. We can’t wait to see the business continue to grow across the UK and show people poké as they’ve never seen before.”
 
Coppa Club to open new Cobham site in December: Various Eateries-owned Coppa Club has announced it will open its new site – in Cobham, Surrey – on Wednesday, 9 December. Founder Hugh Osmond said: “The venue continues Coppa’s central premise to create a space for locals to make their own. When we first opened Coppa five years ago, we wanted to create a space that combined all the best elements of a cafe, bar, restaurant and lounge into one offering that provided something for everyone – a private members’ club experience, without the membership fees, with an informal, relaxed feel – that ethos has never left us.” The site spans two floors with an open-plan ground floor and upstairs is a rooftop terrace garden with five of igloos complete with heated flooring, individual sound systems, blankets and foliage. An all-day menu offers breakfast and dinner while brunch is on the menu at weekends. 

Zuaya founders to launch Italian restaurant: Alberto and Arian Zandi, who are behind London restaurant Zuaya, are to launch a new concept in the capital. The identical Spanish twins will open Como Garden, which will be located next door to its older sibling in Kensington, next month. The brothers set their sights on opening an Italian restaurant having fallen in love with Lake Como from an early age. Como Garden will celebrate dishes from across all of Italy’s regions, with the menu designed to be shared. Centered around handmade pasta, the menu will feature a myriad of meat, fish and vegetarian options with a strong focus on seasonal flavours.  This will sit alongside a curated Italian wine list and cocktails that can also be enjoyed in the bar area. The Zandis launched Zuaya, which serves fusion cuisine from Latin American with a Mediterranean influence, in 2018.  
 
Honey-based culinary restaurant concept with on-site beehives to open in London’s Selfridges: A honey-based culinary restaurant concept is to open at London department store Selfridges. The Hive, which will come complete with on-site beehives and keepers, will open on the third floor when the lockdown restrictions are lifted. The menu will feature a range of fresh dishes, all incorporating natural honey, while diners will be able to experience an immersive honey-inspired environment. Additionally, Hive will also offer a range of honey and cheese pairings to be enjoyed throughout the day. Khalid Samata, founder and owner of Hive, said: “I discovered buckwheat honey and that tasting experience marked the beginning of my evolving journey. For a year, I spent almost every weekend back home in the French Pyrenees, where I am originally from, to discover this buzzing ecosystem, to meet the local experts, to learn about bees, about flowers, about honeys, about the use of honey and its benefits to our health and well-being. I wanted to bring my findings to the UK market.” The rooftop bees are looked after by experienced beekeeper and conservationist Mark Patterson, who will be using his expertise and knowledge to hold monthly talks in the restaurant about the critical importance of bees in the ecosystem.
 
Kitchen space provider Foodstars to up London presence: Foodstars, which provides kitchen space for food companies and is backed by former Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick, is to increase its presence in London with two new openings, Propel has learned. The company, which currently operates nine kitchens in London, will open a site in Mitcham Lane, Streatham, next month. It will follow this with an opening in Greenock Road, Chiswick Park, in January, which will take its kitchen estate to 15 sites. Propel revealed last month, the company was to increase its regional presence with openings in Leeds and Manchester. The business, which was founded by William Beresford, Daniel Abrahams and Roy Shaby in Bethnal Green in 2015, will launch a site in the Burley area of Leeds this month. It will follow this with an opening in Manchester’s Dark Lane. Both new kitchens will be based close to busy student districts. Earlier this year, the company made its regional debut with the opening of a kitchen in Manchester Street, Birmingham. In September, the group opened a site in Croydon’s Beddington Lane. The company leases kitchen space to restaurants that sell food through delivery apps. City Storage Systems, which trades as Cloud Kitchens in the US, quietly invested in Foodstars last year, according to documents filed at Companies House. The investment marked Kalanick’s first expansion outside the US.
 
Greene King to shift leased pub to Chef & Brewer estate: Brewer and retailer Greene King is to move a pub it has leased for ten years to its Chef & Brewer estate when the lease expires. The Crown Inn at Hallow, near Worcester, has been run by Will and Sacha Donaldson for more than ten years but their lease, which expires on 15 February 2021, will not be renewed, the Worcester News reports. Despite the couple fighting this decision with their solicitor, Greene King has decided not to renew the couple’s lease as the company plans to revert the pub back to a managed house under the Chef & Brewer brand.
 
Japes offers nationwide delivery of Chicago-style pizza kits: London pizza stalwart Japes has launched deep dish pizza kits for nationwide delivery. The kits are for its popular pepperoni and veggie pizzas. Each kit comes with at least two pizzas and includes the tin foils and Japes’ “secret tomato sauce”, plus all the cheese and toppings too. Customers can assemble the pizzas quickly and cook them in 15 minutes. The Chicago pizza kit comes with dough, mozzarella, tomato sauce, pepperoni, parmesan, polenta and tin foil – and can be purchased volumes of two, three or four pizzas. The Veggie option – available as two or three pizzas – substitutes pepperoni and parmesan for spinach and halloumi. Jovana Kostadinovic and Aleksandar Aleksic opened Japes in December 2018 and claim it was the first Chicago-style pizza restaurant to open in the UK. Each kit comes with detailed instructions and links to videos. Shipping of the kits is free.
 
Tim Hortons lines up fifth Northern Ireland opening: Tim Hortons, the Canadian coffee chain, has lined up its fifth opening in Northern Ireland – a drive-thru restaurant at Riverside Park, Coleraine. Kevin Hydes, chief commercial officer at Tim Hortons UK & Ireland, said: “This will be our fifth restaurant in Northern Ireland, bringing us closer to more of our fans across the country after a brilliant reception in and around the Belfast area. We’re very much looking forward to becoming part of the local community and serving its needs.” Last month, Tim Hortons announced another new restaurant, opening in Cookstown, Northern Ireland, to join the existing three restaurants already operating in the Belfast area – in Fountain Street, at Connswater Retail Park, and Glengormley.
 
Libertine launches DIY kit: Warwickshire-based independent restaurant group Libertine has launched a DIY kit. It means its American-style burgers can now be made at home and are available for nationwide delivery. The offer is launching with Libertine’s signature Burger No.4 box featuring 150g beef patties, Libertine house spice blend, house pickles and home-cured streaky bacon, American cheese and bottles of ketchup and Frenchie’s mustard. The kit comes with step-by-step instructions. Founder Charles Harris said: “While we might be a little late to the party, we’ve taken the time to perfect our process and make sure this DIY kit is as good as we want it to be, and nothing less. It’s crazy to think that Libertine, which started as my little passion project, has grown into something that we are now sharing with people across the country, and in a relatively short time.” Libertine started as a decked-out street food van in 2017 before establishing itself touring street food markets and events across the Midlands. Harris then set up a flagship restaurant in Leamington Spa and then added a site in Rugby.

Bottles N Jars wine shop opens next to car dealership: Wine expert Bert Blaize has teamed up with specialist car showroom Hexagon Classics to launch wine and deli shop, Bottles N Jars. The name comes from Cockney rhyming slang for “cars” to pay homage to the 57-year-old car dealership, which is based in Highgate and East Finchley, north London. Blaize, who is also the author of “Which Wine When”, said the store will act as a place to learn, buy and try new and familiar wines under his guidance. There are hundreds of wines available from funky new labels by emerging wine makers, to bottles as classic as the cars. Local cheese, bread and specialist deli goods are also available. Blaize said: “Opening a bottle shop has long been an ambition of mine, which was amplified following the success of the book. I’m really looking forward to chatting people though their choices, getting to know our locals and creating a fun and interactive space for wine lovers.”

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