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Tue 15th Jun 2021 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Leon closes Scandinavia operation: Natural fast food brand Leon has closed its operations in Scandinavia to focus on its business in the UK and other parts of Europe, Propel has learned. In 2017, the company, which earlier this year was acquired by EG Group, the forecourt and roadside operator, entered into an agreement with Umoe, which now runs more than 360 restaurants and cafes in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, to open sites across the region. At the same time, Umoe took an undisclosed stake in Leon. In 2018, Leon made its Scandinavian debut, in Norway. The restaurant, operated by Umoe, opened in Oslo Central station. At the same time, by Aker Brygge pier, Leon opened a food truck. This first foothold in Oslo was set to pave the way for further Scandinavian restaurants. A statement on Leon’s website said: “We have loved our time in Norway and will be forever grateful for the welcome you gave us. The continuing pandemic has taken its toll, as it has on everybody. We’re saying goodbye for now to focus on Leon in the UK and our other restaurants in Europe, where our journey to create better fast food began 17 years ago. We hope to be back in the future.” Earlier this year, Leon closed its operations in the US. The business launched in the US in September 2018, with an opening in Washington DC, in L Street. It had grown its US business to four sites, opening a further two sites in Washington DC and making its debut in Virginia, in the Mosaic District, last August. It currently operates sites outside the UK, in Ireland (two sites), in the Netherlands (five sites) and one in Basel, Switzerland.

Industry News:

More than 200 booked in for Propel multi-club conference and summer party, two free places for operators: More than 200 people have booked so far for the Propel multi-club conference and summer party on Tuesday, 7 September, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Oxford Belfry. The conference will focus on “new directions and new ideas” and will feature a line-up of speakers from exciting new growth brands and older established brands with new ideas hatched during lockdown. Speakers include Yasha Estraikh, associate partner at leading investment firm Piper, which has worked with Loungers, Flat Iron, Turtle Bay, Hickory’s Smokehouse and Be At One, who explores the consumer trends that will shape the market over the next 18 months and beyond, how the crisis has impacted investment criteria and what concepts and trends investors are now focusing on. Zonal group product director Alison Vasey discusses how the crisis has accelerated the sector’s digital revolution, the future of EPOS, the rise and evolution payment apps and highlights other emerging technology that is set to shape the foodservice sector for years to come. Tim Wilks, founder of Lane7, the bowling alley, ping pong and karaoke concept, talks about taking the brand national, benefiting from different revenue streams, launching a second concept in Gutterball and the success of Burn It Up, the company’s festival-style street food, drinks and entertainment venture. Azzurri Group chief executive Steve Holmes talks to Propel insights editor Mark Wingett about how the group used the crisis to evolve its digital offer, reassess its estate and expansion plans, and expand its Coco di Mama concept into a national presence through using its other brands. Junkyard Golf managing director Sam Jones talks about the evolution of the experiential brand from pop-ups to five permanent sites, evolving the offer, the advantages of in-house design, developing the bar offer and preparing for future expansion. Honest Burgers co-founder Phil Eeles talks about restructuring the company in an attempt to avoid becoming a chain by changing people’s roles and responsibilities, and “shaking the tree” of the whole business. WatchHouse founder and chief executive Roland Horne talks about how the coffee operator adapted during the crisis, the launch and success of its subscription model and its plans for expansion both in the UK and internationally. Andrew Stones, partner at sector investor Imbiba, discusses how the sector is in for an exciting 12 months in terms of innovation and investment and sets out which parts of the industry investors are looking to tap into. PizzaExpress group chief executive David Campbell talks to Mark Wingett about how the business has evolved, what comes next for the iconic casual dining brand and his thoughts on the lasting impact of the crisis on the sector. Boom: Battle Bar founder Richard Beese explains the thinking behind the adventure bar concept from the team behind trampoline park business Flip Out and its growth plans. There will also be two panel sessions. The first – focusing on the concepts looking to make their mark in a post-covid world – sees Mark Wingett talk to Maragume Udon chief executive Keith Bird, The Bok Shop co-founder Jamie O’Mara, Maray co-founder Tom White and Lime Squeezy Thai Kitchen founder Pranee Laurillard. The second – where the sector goes from here – features UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls; Charlie McVeigh, Drafthouse founder, sector investor and The Breakfast Club chairman; leading industry commentator Paul Chase; Rum Kitchen managing director Mike Parnham; and Hawthorn chief executive Mark Davies. In the evening will be the summer party, with barbecue, quiz, live band and more. Operators can claim up to two free places by emailing
Next edition of Blue Book for Premium subscribers to add 34 companies with combined turnover of £1.38bn: The next edition of the Blue Book of Sector Turnover and Profits database for Premium subscribers, due out early next month, will add 34 companies to take the total to 250. The database, which is updated and expanded each month, will now rank the top 250 sector operators by turnover and then by profitability – the 34 additions have a combined turnover of £1.38bn, bringing the total turnover of the 250 companies included to £27bn. New companies added to the database will include McDonald’s largest UK franchisee, which has a turnover of £128m. Other companies to be added will include Chilled Pubs, The Inn Collection Group, Inception Group, Ole & Steen, DHP Family, Pure, CG Restaurants, State of Play Hospitality, Fat Duck, Shake Shack, East Coast Concepts, Cubitt House, Vagabond Wines, We Are Bar Group and TD4 Brands. The Blue Book has a five-year overview of turnover and profit, and shows what percentage of turnover is converted to pre-tax profit – or otherwise. Propel Premium subscribers have also received their monthly update to the multi-site database, which has had 108 companies added since the last release at the end of May. They not only received the database as a PDF and an Excel spreadsheet, they were also sent a 14,000-word report on the businesses added during May. The go-to database, which now features 1,819 companies that collectively operate 58,838 sites, provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel insights editor Mark Wingett. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The regular single subscription rate of £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers remains the same. Email to sign up.
Scottish government urged to stick with plan and move to level zero by 28 June: The Scottish government is being urged to stick to the time-frame in its strategic framework and move to level zero by 28 June by UKHospitality Scotland. The trade body said if not, Holyrood must urgently consider further financial support for hospitality businesses still facing crippling restrictions. UKHospitality Scotland executive director Leon Thompson said: “It is vital the Scottish government understands how important it is to achieve level zero by the date of 28 June. Progress to remove restrictions will help hospitality businesses continue to move to improved trading and back towards viability. Hospitality businesses may look busy but most continue to trade at a loss adding to the debt burden built up over 15 months of closure and restricted opening.” UKHospitality Scotland is also calling for an announcement on the details on what life will look like after level zero, as well as the review of physical distancing that had been promised last week. Thompson said: “Level zero is not the end and there will still be significant restrictions on hospitality. Without details of what happens after level zero and the physical distancing review, businesses cannot begin to plan for the future. Ultimately, hospitality needs the removal of all restrictions as quickly as possible. In the absence of this, the Scottish government must urgently consider what financial support it will provide to support hospitality businesses.”
EasyHotel chief executive Francois Bacchetta passes away: Francois Bacchetta, chief executive of EasyHotel, the owner, developer, operator and franchiser of “super budget” branded hotels, has died at the age of 56. EasyHotel chairman Harm Meijer said: “There are no words to describe the sense of sadness and loss we are feeling at this time. He will be greatly missed by all of us and our thoughts are with his wife Angela, his two children and his entire family at this very difficult time. Francois joined EasyHotel in 2020. His wealth of experience, passion for our industry and dynamic leadership style has been invaluable to our business. Francois was one of the most charismatic, professional, talented and modest people I have had the pleasure of working with. He cared passionately about our business and all of the people he worked with. Francois leaves behind a strong executive and wider team in which we have every confidence and of which I know Francois was incredibly proud.”
Job of the day: COREcruitment is on the hunt for a head of sales and account manager to join a fast-growth hospitality company, with a salary of circa £85,000. This position, based in London, presents an opportunity to join a solutions-focused business, which, after proven success in the US, is now taking on the European market. As the business develops its senior leadership team, it is looking for creative and dynamic individuals. This position is focused on building the business, creating a strategy and leading innovation on all aspects regarding client attraction and retention. It is looking for someone who can find brand partners, match business to location, create customised packages for partners and influence and collaborate with multiple stakeholders. Anyone interested can email
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Company News: 

Busaba returns to the acquisition trail: Busaba, the Thai chain founded by Alan Yau, has returned to the acquisition trail, with a new site lined up in Cardiff, Propel has learned. The Terry Harrison-led group has agreed a lease to operate at the city’s Brewery Quarter. It is the first agreement for a new site the Tnui Capital-backed business has entered into in more than six years. Harrison told Propel: “Having navigated the business through the impact of covid and lockdowns, we felt the time was right to begin the next phase in Busaba’s journey. We believe the present opportunities available in the casual dining market, coupled with our strong brand offer provide enough confidence to begin the process of, once more, growing the Busaba brand. We specifically chose Cardiff for our first new opening as we see it as not only a fantastic, vibrant city, but also a place brimming with discerning diners, who we can’t wait to introduce the Busaba philosophy to. We hope to be serving great Thai food in Cardiff by early autumn of this year.” The company currently operates nine sites across London, but previously had sites in Liverpool, Manchester and St Albans.

Fridays appoints Tony Grizzanti as transformation and change director: Fridays, formerly TGI Friday’s, has appointed Tony Grizzanti, former of Merlin Entertainments, as its new transformation and change director, Propel has learned. Grizzanti joined the Robert Cook-led business after almost a decade at Merlin, where he was most recently divisional director for the company’s London-based attractions, including The London Eye and Madame Tussauds. Last month, listed investment firm Electra announced plans to demerge its Fridays business into the FTSE main market in the third quarter of this year. The move came as Electra reported the brand’s development strategy during lockdown – and like-for-like sales up 76% versus 2019 in the first three days of indoor trading. Electra reported Fridays was immediately cash-generative with partial reopening in April. Valuing the company at £146.2m, the company stated: “Fridays is emerging from lockdown a much stronger and more rounded business. Its market has been equally transformed as a result of the reduction in competitor supply – through the closure of an estimated 21% of direct competitor restaurants. These factors combined give us confidence in Fridays’ ability to demonstrate further material value creation. The company currently operates 87 restaurants, with a further three Fridays and four sites under its new “63rd + 1st” concept in the pipeline for opening over the coming months.
Carluccio’s Counter trial to open at Sainsbury’s Leamington Spa later this month: Carluccio’s will open its first trial site of its Carluccio’s Counter at the Leamington Spa branch of Sainsbury’s on Thursday, 24 June. It will offer cupboard ingredients sourced from Italy, including Puglian penne regine and orecchiette durum wheat pastas, spreadable nduja salami from Calabria, and riso Carnaroli risotto rice, sourced from the Po Valley in northern Italy. There’s also an extensive range of extra virgin olive oils such as Evoo, Due Sorelle from Sardinia and Olio al Limone, a zesty lemon oil exclusive to Carluccio’s as well as handmade chocolate truffles, grissini and torcetti biscuits. It will also serve coffee through two bespoke Italian blends, ground and beans. Freshly made dishes will also be available, including handcrafted pasta bakes, rotisserie chicken and 12-inch hand stretched, stone-baked Neapolitan pizzas made fresh to order and available ready to eat, cold or as an at-home kit. The launch of Carluccio’s Counter follows the opening of Caffe Carluccio’s in St Albans earlier this month and is part of a wider trial between Sainsbury’s and Carluccio’s – a third concept will open in Selly Oak, Birmingham next month.
Slim Chickens lines up Nottingham opening: Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) is looking to add to its Slim Chickens estate, with an opening in the East Midlands, Propel understands. The company is thought to have lined up the site formerly occupied by another US concept – MOD Pizza, in Long Row, Nottingham, while sites in Bournemouth and Brighton are also thought to be on its radar. Slim Chickens recently opened its 11th UK site in the new McArthurGlen Designer Outlet in Cannock, West Midlands.
Redcomb founders add Salisbury Pubs site in Marlow to portfolio for fourth venue: Dan Shotton and Mark Draper, former owners of Redcomb Pubs, which was sold to Young’s in 2019, have taken on the fourth site for their Prospect Pubs & Bars business. The duo have acquired The Royal Oak in Marlow from Salisbury Pubs through Christie & Co. Situated in Bovingdon Green, The Royal Oak follows on from the opening of Prospect Pubs & Bars third site, The Blue Ball in Walton-on-the-Hill in Surrey last month. The Royal Oak, which underwent a major refurbishment in spring 2020 following a fire, features a 65-cover dining room, open bar and snug. Outside, the gardens provide another 85 covers along with a 30-cover teepee. Shotton said: “This is an exceptional country pub that’s loved by the local community and visitors to the area, and we cannot wait to continue its legacy. In The Royal Oak, Becky and David Salisbury have created something that meets all our ideals, and the ingredients that we believe are right in terms of operating a successful pub in the UK.” Becky Salisbury, who also owns The Alford Arms in Frithsden near Berkhamsted with her husband, added: “We’ve had many happy years at the helm of this award-winning site, and look forward to seeing many more years of its success – only this time, from the other side of the bar.” Prospect Pubs & Bars plans to open two further sites this year and Propel understands one is in north Oxfordshire and the other is in Hampshire. As previously reported, Prospect Pubs & Bars plans to increase its rate of openings to between five and seven sites a year from 2022. The company opened its debut site, The Evenlode in Eynsham on the outskirts of Oxford, in 2019 and added The Victoria in Woodham, Surrey, in November last year. 

Finish-at-home meal kit platform used by London restaurants raises £10m: Dispatch, the finish-at-home meal kit platform that is used by London restaurants including Angela Hartnett’s Cafe Murano and Ottolenghi, has raised a £10m seed round co-led by Andreessen Horowitz and LocalGlobe. Founded last year by restaurant operations expert Peter Butler and digital entrepreneur James Terry, Dishpatch works with London restaurants to create meal kits that can be posted anywhere in the UK. Customers can choose from a variety of curated dishes and menus, which can be ordered for two or scaled up to accommodate larger groups. The funding round also saw participation from Stride, Entree Capital and Entrepreneur First as well as notable angels including Aron Gelbard co-founder and chief executive at Bloom & Wild; Mandeep Singh, co-founder and founding chief executive at Trouva; Songkick’s co-founder Ian Hogarth, Farewill’s co-founder Dan Garrett, and Tracey Doree, the founder of Llustre and Kindred Capital. Dishpatch said before working with the platform, 95% of the restaurants on it had never delivered food before and had no infrastructure to meet the demand. Since launch, Dishpatch has partnered with more than 25 restaurants and delivered more than 75,000 meals. Jeff Jordan, managing partner at Andreessen Horowitz said: “Covid has been a huge catalyst for innovation and Dishpatch has perfectly captured this with the development of its finish-at-home meal kit platform. It offers restaurants an additional revenue stream, opening their addressable market to every consumer in the country. And it offers diners a large and growing selection of high quality, convenient meals from some of the best restaurants in the country.” Former chief operating officer of Farfetch, Andrew Robb, will join the Dishpatch board.

Dubai-based Il Borro to make UK debut as it takes over former Nobu site in Mayfair: Dubai-based luxury Italian restaurant concept Il Borro Tuscan Bistro is to make its UK debut in September. Il Borro is part of Omar Saideh-led group Orange Hospitality and is based at Jumeirah Al Naseem. The opening in London’s Mayfair will be the third site for the concept, which has sites in Tuscany and Dubai. Originating from the Ferragamo family, the Il Borro Estate located in Arezzo, in the valley of Valdarno, promotes biodiversity and organic farming with its farm-to-table vision. As reported by Propel last year, Il Borro Tuscan Bistro London will open in the former Nobu site in Berkeley Street. Spanning two floors, the 220-seat restaurant will have a menu showcasing traditional Italian dishes using fresh seasonal ingredients and a vast selection of wine. On the first floor will be an open kitchen and a private dining room overlooking Berkeley Street. Saideh said: “We are thrilled to share a piece of our award-winning cuisine and hospitality with London, in one of the most exciting and competitive dining destinations across the globe and look forward to celebrating new openings in the near future.” The other UK sites operated by Nobu Hospitality, the lifestyle brand founded by Nobu Matsuhisa, actor Robert De Niro and Meir Teper, are the Shoreditch Nobu hotel, which opened in 2017, the stand-alone Nobu restaurant at the Como Metropolitan hotel in Old Park Lane, which opened in 1997, and the Nobu hotel in Portman Square.
NQ64 to double up in Manchester: NQ64, the immersive retro-arcade bar concept, which received backing from hospitality investor Imbiba earlier this year, has confirmed it will open a second site in Manchester. As previously flagged up by Propel, the company will open next door to Albert’s Schloss in the city’s Peter Street on 21 June. The company will make its Scottish debut later this summer after securing the former Badabing bar in Edinburgh’s Lothian Road. NQ64 was founded by Matt Robson and Andy Haygarth, with the concept described as an “underground drinking den filled with retro-arcade games and classic consoles”. It currently operates sites in Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham. In February, Propel revealed Imbiba had invested £1.4m in NQ64 to aid its further growth plans. NQ64 is also set to open a site in Newcastle, in the former La Vina unit beneath Zizzi’s at 42-50 Grey Street.
Away Resorts acquired by CVC Capital Partners: A majority share of UK holiday park operator Away Resorts has been acquired by private equity business CVC Capital Partners from Freshstream. Founded in 2008 by leisure entrepreneur Carl Castledine, Away Resorts operates nine parks in the UK, including Tattershall Lakes in Lincolnshire and Sandy Balls in the New Forest, welcoming almost 200,000 holiday-makers each year. The business recently expanded through the acquisition of Cornwall holiday park St Ives Bay and, during the past few years, has invested heavily into its existing estate, to expand parks and add state-of-the-art facilities and entertainment complexes. Investment fund Freshstream acquired a controlling majority shareholding in Away Resorts in August 2019, with private equity owner LDC retaining a significant minority stake. Away Resorts chief executive Carl Castledine said: “CVC’s experience in helping companies scale and expand their operational and digital footprint will be invaluable as we take our growth to the next level. Freshstream has been the perfect partner for us over the past two years, providing capital to expand, and operational and strategic advice to help us scale the business.” CVC Capital Partners managing director David Wells added: “We have been hugely impressed by the success of Away Resorts’ differentiated, family-oriented holiday park proposition. The business is well positioned in a fragmented and growing market that benefits from strong consumer tailwinds.” Rothschild & Co advised Freshstream on the sale of Away Resorts. The acquisition is expected to complete later this year, subject to regulatory approvals.
PizzaExpress unveils ‘summer of innovation’: PizzaExpress has revealed its ‘summer of innovation”, which includes an extended supermarket range and new menu at its restaurants. The new restaurant menu – available from Monday (21 June) – features 16 additional dishes, including new recipes for its dough ball range – loaded pesto and tomato, hot jalapeno and baked cheese. New pizzas include a vegan variety of the Sloppy Giuseppe’s – Sloppy Vegan and the BBQ Burnt Ends pizza. The extended supermarket range features three dipping sauces, including sweet and smoky barbecue, which will be available from Tesco and Ocado from Monday, 28 June. The company has also unveiled a new website and charity partnership with Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy. All this will be championed by a “new, vibrant and colourful look for PizzaExpress”. Chief customer officer Shadi Halliwell said: “Innovation has been at the heart of PizzaExpress since Peter Boizot first introduced ‘casual dining’ in the 1960s. We’re excited to be taking this to the next level in 2021. This is PizzaExpress going back to its roots, strengthening the brand for years to come. Our reinvented brand is strong, bold and ready to make some noise.”
The One Group opens second London site for STK brand: The ONE Group, which operates 23 sites around the world under its steak restaurant brand STK, has opened a second site under the concept in London. The business, which has operated a site in the ME Hotel on the Strand for a number of years, has opened a site in Westminster, in the recently rebranded Doubletree by Hilton London. Hilton has rebranded the property under its Curio Collection portfolio. Located on John Islip Street about a mile from London Victoria station, the hotel has been reflagged and is now known as The Westminster London, following “a multimillion-pound” conversion programme. Food and beverage options include the aforementioned STK Steakhouse with its own bowling alley, and Bao Yum Cafe, which serves “fluffy steamed bao buns and Taiwanese small plates” to dine-in or takeaway.
Newmark confirms plans for former Dinerama site: Robert Newmark, the owner of Beach Blanket Babylon, the bar and restaurant concept, has confirmed he will open new venture, Lalaland, on the former Dinerama site in London’s Shoreditch, this summer. Propel revealed in February that Newmark had applied to open on the site in Great Eastern Street. The new £1m development will feature street traders, bars and resident DJs across a multi-level venue. The business said: “Visitors will leave the noise and grime of the city far behind as they enter through lush vegetation and emerge into a courtyard resplendent with a sparkling plunge pool, tumbling waterfalls and living walls with bursts of colour. Open daily from midday to late, Lalaland offers traders spectacular surroundings in which to showcase their food. Pitches are available from four square metres to 90 square metres, offering total flexibility. The site will also offer one of London’s most versatile and vibrant private event spaces.” Last October, Jonathan Downey instructed restructuring advisers to liquidate the company that operated his four street food businesses. Trading as Street Feast, the food markets came under parent company London Union, and included Dinerama, Hawker House, Giant Robot and Model Market. A pioneer of the street food market and bar model in the capital, Dinerama in Shoreditch had been described by Downey as “the best business I’ve ever been involved with”. Newmark and his son Brett Newmark were disqualified from acting as company directors in August 2016 for a combined eight-and-a-half years for allowing a company, Rosslyn Hill, trading as Beach Blanket Babylon, to trade while insolvent and owing £1m to the taxman.

Portfolio of eight pubs let to Marston’s on market for £21.6m: A portfolio of eight recently constructed pubs let to Marston’s has been put up for sale with a guide price of £21.6m. Aviva Investors has instructed CBRE to sell the group of pubs, which are located across the UK, with the guide price reflecting a net initial yield of 5.75%. The leases expire in 2055 and have Retail Price Index annual kickers. Additionally, the tenant benefits from a £1 buyback option at lease expiry. David Fraser, senior director and investment specialist in CBRE’s operational real estate team, said: “The portfolio comprises high-quality real estate that benefits from good underlying fundamentals and a strong return profile, in a sector that we expect to flourish as we continue to come out of the pandemic.”

Alcohol-free craft beer brewer Big Drop raises £3.5m, plans central London venue: Alcohol-free craft beer brewer Big Drop has raised £3.5m in equity investment in a Series A funding round, taking the total raised by the company to £6.5m. The round was led by Panoramic Growth Equity, with further funds coming from Rubix Ventures. The round also includes BluepointVC, a venture company led by Stefan Orlowski, an ex-senior executive at Heineken, who joins Mark Hunter, former chief executive of Molson Coors, in supporting Big Drop on its advisory board. The funds will also be used to launch its first bricks and mortar site – The Big Drop Inn in central London. Big Drop was launched in 2016 by Rob Fink and James Kindred, two long-time friends who wanted to create alcohol-free craft beer “that didn’t compromise on taste”. Big Drop, whose revenues are up 150% year-on-year, is forecast to reach sales of £5m by the end of 2021. Big Drop currently brews in Australia, Canada, the US and the UK, and is available in more than 20 countries. Fink said: “This investment will give us the turbocharge needed to build on our mission to brew great-tasting beer that just so happens to be alcohol-free and to pursue our vision of being the world’s best-loved alcohol-free beer.” David Atkinson, senior investment manager at Panoramic Growth Equity, added: “As consumer tastes develop, the alcohol-free drinks market is experiencing high growth and Big Drop is at its forefront. We share the team’s vision to grow the brand in the UK and overseas, and are pleased to provide investment to support this goal.” Big Drop has also appointed Nicole Goodwin, formerly marketing director at Jaegermeister, as marketing director, and Darren West, previously marketing director at Brown-Forman Australia, as Australia country manager. Big Drop has previously raised funds through a mix of private investment and crowdfunding campaigns.
Sessions Market launches chef incentive and recruitment scheme: Sessions Market, the food hall concept backed by Imbiba and led by former Deliveroo managing director Dan Warne, has launched a chef incentive and recruitment scheme. Sessions has committed to paying an additional £1 on each delivery order to new and existing partners on its Accelerator platform until the end of August. The scheme is designed to boost chefs’ wages while helping retain key talent and will go directly to the chefs who operate the brands on the Sessions Accelerator platform. Alongside Shelter Hall in Brighton, which provides an incubator for new food concepts, the Sessions team runs the Accelerator platform that pairs delivery brands with hospitality venues. The partnership allows operators to use their existing skilled chefs and kitchen space to operate the brand themselves, opening up a new revenue stream with no additional investment. Sessions has already licensed its brands such as Halo Burger, Lost Boys Chicken and Pittabun with more than 35 venues throughout the UK including ETM Group and Intercontinental Hotel Group. Warne said: “We’ve seen, and experienced first-hand, the struggles and disruptions the industry is facing due to the current chef shortage post-covid. We wanted to show our support to our partners through an incentive that focuses on chef recruitment and retention as well as contributing to getting the industry back on its feet again.”

Tequila Mockingbird moves to larger site in Putney: South London-based bar operator Tequila Mockingbird has moved to a larger site in Putney. The company, which was founded in 2015 by cousins Jon Bas and Jake Brennan, has secured the former Boma Restaurants site at 4-6 Putney High Street for an undisclosed premium. The business said it planned to relaunch its nearby former Putney site under a new guise later this month. The company will open its seventh site later this summer after taking on the Bar Prague unit in Kingsland Road, Shoreditch. In December, Propel revealed the company was to open in Wimbledon after securing the former Smash site in The Broadway. The Putney site is the third and final Boma site that property agent MKR Property has assigned. The other transactions being 271 New Kings Road in Parsons Green, which was assigned to Cocotte Restaurants, and at 116 Wandsworth Bridge Road to Fisher Restaurants.
JD Wetherspoon to start work on €3.8m Waterford pub: Pub operator JD Wetherspoon is to start development work on its new pub in Waterford in Ireland. Work will begin on the new pub in Arundel Street/Broad Street on Monday, 28 June, with the pub set to open on Tuesday, 14 December. A total of €3.8m will be invested in the development of the pub, which is being built on the site of a former bank and ladies’ clothing shop. The site had been empty since December 2014. The pub, which will be named The Arundel Gate, will create 70 jobs. The two-storey pub will feature two enclosed courtyard terraced gardens, as well as an open kitchen. Wetherspoon chief executive John Hutson said: “We believe the pub will be a great asset to the town and will appeal to a cross section of people. Hopefully, our investment will act as a catalyst for other businesses to invest in Waterford.”
Mama Shelter London to open new restaurant in Hackney: Accor and Ennismore-owned hotel and restaurant operator Mama Shelter is to open a new restaurant at its Hackney site next Monday (21 June).  Mama’s French Kitchen takes inspiration from Mama’s French roots while celebrating its London home with seasonal, local produce. The restaurant at Mama Shelter London will have an all-day menu and offer salt and chilli frogs’ legs with wild garlic and grelot onions; confit duck poutine with duck fat chips and crispy onions; and hake papillote with fennel, preserved lemon and dill. Sunday roasts will also be served including Beef Wellington, Yorkshire pudding, duck fat-roasted potatoes, cauliflower cheese, maple glazed parsnips, shallots and gravy for £23. Desserts such as rum-soaked pineapple, coconut & lime sorbet and brulee’d pain perdu, will also be available. A bar menu will be used at Mama’s Garden Bar, an outdoor area with a retractable glass roof. Mama Shelter was founded in 2008 by hoteliers Serge Trigano – of Club Med fame – and his sons Jeremie and Benjamin with the aim of establishing hotels and restaurants in cool locations. It has sites in Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Prague, Belgrade, Toulouse, Lille, London, Paris West and Luxembourg. Future Mama Shelter locations are planned for Rome, Lisbon, Paris La Défense, Bucharest, Bahrain and Dubai. Mama Shelter London features several private meeting rooms, a bar and restaurant, outdoor courtyard and karaoke rooms.

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