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Thu 24th Jun 2021 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Fledgling plant-based quick-service restaurant concept Ready Burger raises more than £1.7m in hours as it aims to roll out: Ready Burger, the fledgling plant-based restaurant concept founded by boxer Anthony Joshua’s former personal chef, has raised more than £1.7m within several hours of launching its fundraise – as it aims to roll out. The company – founded by Adam Clark, who worked for Joshua during five of his world title fights, and entrepreneur Max Miller – is raising the funds on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. It was aiming to raise £1.5m in return for 19.61% equity, giving a pre-money valuation of £6.9m. About 300 investors have pledged more than £1.7m and the campaign is “overfunding” with 30 days remaining. Ready Burger operates a site in London’s Crouch End and is set to open a second site in Finchley Road this summer. Propel understands Ready Burger is planning to open another two sites this year before expanding into other major UK cities towards the end of 2022. It is thought the business will start opening franchise sites in 2023 and plans to have a 40-strong estate by 2024. The company is believed to be targeting turnover of £3.4m by the end of the year with an Ebitda of £211,000, with revenue rising to £48.7m by 2024 and Ebitda of £6.8m. Sites planned are understood to be a mix of restaurants in high streets and retail parks, dark kitchens and motorway drive-thrus. The pitch states: “Fast-food that’s better for your health, better for the planet and better for your wallet! Ready Burger brings plant-based fast-food to the high street. Inclusive, technology focused, and with all the taste, speed, experience and striving for the price of McDonalds. We believe there are no high quality, value driven, fully plant-based quick-service restaurants, but the plant-based food market is expanding fast. Existing offerings are expensive and often compromise on taste and texture. Ready Burger has mastered the science behind taste and texture of plant-based foods to make it indistinguishable from its conventional counterparts to create the UK's first scalable, value driven, fully plant-based quick-service restaurant brand. We're building a range of proprietary plant-based proteins making many menu items unique to us. All the while getting closer to a 99p saver menu burger! Ergonomically designed kitchens and front of house areas are set up to enable us to produce thousands of items a day, serviced from our central distribution centre. Integrated web-app ordering, in-store ordering kiosks and an innovative delivery solution means customers will have their food in under 30 minutes. From automated stock control and back-of-house order fulfilment systems to HR and scheduling, we can monitor each store through our portal, while stock gets automatically distributed to our outlets making Ready Burger scalable and franchise-ready.”

Industry News: 

Sponsored message – MAPAL Group launches free whitepaper about employee well-being in hospitality: Hospitality recruitment has never been so difficult. As the pandemic forced the hospitality workforce into furlough, people’s mental health became challenged. Many began to question their work-life balance and realised there’s more to life than just work. Now our doors are open again, it’s becoming harder to retain our teams. Returning to work with covid restrictions and staff shortages puts those who are working under more pressure. It’s now more important than ever to look after our teams and their mental well-being and convincing them our companies are good places to work and stay in the long term. Never has it been more important to understand the link between mental well-being and employee happiness, productivity, and retention. MAPAL Group has gathered the latest industry expertise and insights in this area in its whitepaper “Employee well-being in hospitality”. Learn how successful brands such as Fuller’s, Hawksmoor, Marriott and Starbucks approach employee well-being and create positive workplace cultures. Take away some best practices from the sector and strategies to ensure your team’s mental well-being. The whitepaper is free, and can be downloaded here. If you have information you would like to feature in a sponsored message, email

Brewers increasing number of on-trade sites according to updated database of multi-site companies, exclusively available to Premium subscribers: Brewers are increasing the number of sites they have as direct trade to customers via pubs, according to the updated Propel Premium database of multi-site companies, which will be released on Wednesday, 30 June, at midday. Another 63 businesses will be added to the most comprehensive database of multi-site operators in the sector. Among that number is brewer and pub operator Wolfpack Lager. It was founded by ex-rugby union professionals Alistair Hargreaves and Chris Wyles, and runs pubs in Queens Park and West Hampstead. It has announced a summer 2021 opening at the former Malt House in Fulham, which was acquired in an off-market deal from the Jolly Fine Pub Co. Norfolk brewer Woodforde’s is a brewer and retailer based in Norfolk that operates the Fur & Feather Inn, which is next to its brewery in Salhouse. It opened its second pub this month – the Lord Nelson in the village of Burnham Thorpe. Available only to subscribers, the exhaustive database was most recently sent at the end of May and included the details of 1,819 companies. The go-to database 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, and what each business specialises in. In a new feature this year, there is a synopsis of what the business does and significant news associated with it. 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. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. 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. Email to sign up.

Greene King calls time on racism with new manifesto: Brewer and retailer Greene King has published its race manifesto, Calling Time on Racism, following its commitment last year to accelerate its inclusion and diversity strategy to support the careers of people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, Propel has learned. The plan sets out four long-term commitments to drive cultural change in the way it recruits and develops its people and ensure that its pubs, restaurants and hotels are welcoming to everyone to deliver on its ambition to become an anti-racist organisation. Chief executive Nick Mackenzie said: “Racism in an issue that runs across our sector and we want to play a lead role in championing change across hospitality. We’ve spent time listening to a wide range of people, both within our business and to external stakeholders, to help us develop our manifesto and I am confident we will turn those words into action so that everyone who passes through Greene King doors is treated equally and respectfully all of the time. The Calling Time on Racism manifesto is the start of an evolving plan and we know there is much to do, but I believe it will help enable us to become a truly anti-racist organisation, so we eliminate individual, institutional and systemic racial inequalities.” As part of wider discussions about British companies with historic links to slavery following the death of George Floyd last year, Greene King pledged to take time to listen and learn then implement a plan to transform its business. The company has nominated a board sponsor for race, has an executive board-level steering group to drive the programme and will report on progress annually. Greene King also has an employee-led group called Unity, is developing new partnerships with external organisations and are signatories to Business in the Community’s Race at Work Charter, the Valuable 500 and the “If Not Now When?” campaign.

City centre hotels ‘hammered’ by covid restrictions on travel: Hotels located in city centres are “really struggling” as Brits pick resorts over cities and travel restrictions curb tourism. Most hotels in British resorts such as Cornwall are full, but city centre hotels are only between 30% and 40% booked, according to data from hotel technology provider Avvio. London has seen a 32% increase in bookings in the past two months, compared with 31% for the UK as a whole, but it is struggling mainly due to the lack of tourists visiting the capital. Just 12% of those searching “Greater London hotels” are from outside Europe, according to Avvivo’s data, which would typically be much higher. Avvio chief commercial officer Michael De Jongh said: “With the UK’s resorts pretty much full up for the summer months there’s been some overspill into city centre hotels but with no inbound international travel many of them are still really struggling.” The lack of tourists entering the country then has a knock-on effect in cities such as London, leading to hotels, restaurants, pubs and entertainment suffering and struggling to pull in profit. Hotel cancellation rates in the UK are currently extremely low at about 4%, but De Jongh fears if international travel is opened up, UK cancellation rates could reach 40%. He said: “It’s not just about people booking both a hotel abroad and one in the UK. There’s also a growing trend of booking rooms at multiple UK hotels, and then cancelling all but one at the last minute. This causes incredible problems for hotels, in precisely the same way as multiple restaurant bookings did during Eat Out To Help Out.”

Taxpayers Alliance backs tax cut for wine producers: The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) has added its voice of support to the industry that’s on the receiving end of an “unfair” tax system that is “crippling” the sector – English sparkling wine is subject to 30% higher tax than still wine. With sparkling comprising 70% of all English and Welsh wine, the UK duty on sparkling wine disproportionally disadvantages homegrown wine, making it the most highly taxed product per unit, the TPA said. Removing the sparkling “supertax” could help boost the UK economy at a time when producers, suppliers and consumers nationwide are building back from the pandemic, the TPA argued. TPA chief executive John O’Connell said: “Hospitality and leisure have been battered by the pandemic and English Wine Week is a perfect time to remind politicians that these industries need a helping hand, not least by simplifying the system to prevent punishing higher rates slapped on products such as sparkling wine. What's more, TPA research shows if the temporary VAT reduction to 5% was extended beyond September to April 2023, it could save the UK hospitality sector and consumers £15.7bn. That's why the government should keep the tax cut in place, and include alcoholic drinks within its scope, to give British businesses and drinkers a break.”

10k run in aid of Tim Bacon Foundation to take place in September: A 10km run is aid of the Tim Bacon Foundation (TBF) is to be held in Manchester. The TBF Hospitality Team Challenge will take place on Sunday, 26 September. The entry fee for teams of four will be £300 per team, which will include donation to TBF, race entry fee, T-shirt and entry and drink at the post-run party in central Manchester. “Compete against fellow hospitality companies, against your company colleagues or just take part for fun in this major event,” said Jeremy Roberts, chair of the Tim Bacon Foundation, the charity set up to support cancer causes in memory of the restaurant and bar entrepreneur. “We all want to stay healthy in mind and body and what better way to fight the pandemic blues by getting involved – and raising money for people living with cancer.” To register, click here.

Job of the day: COREcruitment is supporting a large retailer as it looks to appoint at head of learning and development. The ideal candidate will have large team management experience, retail or restaurant band experience, knowledge of extensive openings and ideally experience working with apprenticeship programmes. The business has historically invested extensively in its employee well-being and learning and development and the individual will be given space and autonomy to creatively grow the function. The salary is circa £80,000 plus package. Anyone interested can email
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Company News: 

Timothy Taylor’s remains profitable in latest financial year despite pandemic, trading ‘satisfactorily’ since reopening: Keighley-based brewer and retailer Timothy Taylor’s has reported the business remained profitable in its latest financial year despite the pandemic and has traded “satisfactorily” since reopening. The company saw turnover fall 23% to £19.6m for the year ending 30 September 2020, compared with £25.5m the previous year as a result of pubs being shut for more than three months during the first national lockdown and then subsequent regional lockdowns. Despite the disruption, the company generated a pre-tax profit of £875,000, down from £2.1m the previous year. Chief executive Tim Dewey told Propel: “Given restrictions, we had a low seven-figure operating loss for the first six months of our current financial year (October 2020-March 2021) but have traded satisfactorily since pubs reopened in April. Like everyone else in the hard-pressed hospitality industry, we are hoping the government’s vaccination strategy works to limit hospitalisations and deaths, allowing the sector to benefit from fewer restrictions and increased consumer confidence from 19 July.” In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “For the first five months of the trading year to the end of February 2020, draught sales were 13% up on the previous year with a corresponding increase in brewery turnover and operating profits 24% higher than for the same five-month period the previous year. On 20 March 2020, the government announced the closure of all UK pubs, bars and restaurants in an attempt to slow the spread of covid-19. When pubs were allowed to reopen on 4 July, significant operating restrictions were in place, keeping some pubs closed. Restrictions were tightened in September through a series of regional lockdowns. Trading from our pub estate reflected the broader nationwide picture. Following the national lockdown, the company received support from the government under the various support initiatives, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, rates relief and the deferment of tax due to HM Revenue & Customs.” Timothy Taylor operates 19 pubs. They have all reopened except for The Town Hall Tavern in Leeds, which is set to welcome customers again on 19 July when all restrictions are due to be lifted. 
Timothy Taylor’s features in Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is now available to Premium subscribers. Timothy Taylor’s has turned over an average of £22.5m in the past five years with an average pre-tax profit of £2.1m. The Blue Book provides a five-year overview of turnover and profit, ranks companies according to turnover, pre-tax profit and profit conversion. It also provides details of directors earnings and highest paid directors. 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.
Richard Caring eyes Sexy Fish openings in Miami and New York: Sector investor Richard Caring is planning to open Sexy Fish sites in Miami and New York — along with a collection of marine-themed artworks by Damien Hirst and Frank Gehry. The New York Post reported Caring is scouting locations to launch a Sexy Fish in Manhattan. He’s eyeing possible spaces in “Billionaires’ Row” as well as downtown and the Upper East Side, where David and Simon Reuben recently bought the Surrey Hotel. “I hear downtown New Yorkers will go uptown, but that ‘Upper East Siders’ rarely leave their neighbourhood,” Caring said. Meanwhile Sexy Fish in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood will open in October. Caring commissioned $20m worth of new art and sculpture pieces from Hirst and Gehry for the restaurant, at 1001 South Miami Avenue. Caring said he wants to make the same investment in New York. The Miami opening will feature a 23-foot Hirst octopus and a giant bronze wall relief that’s 88-feet long called “Sea Life”, along with a coral urinal. Gehry, meanwhile, has created fish sculptures “that will be floating in mid-air”, hanging from a gold ceiling, Caring said, along with 26 fish lamps. There will be a 21-foot-long fish tank with live coral and tropical fish. Outside, there’s a garden and Koi pond. The10,000-square-foot space will seat 242 inside and 58 outside. 

D&D London to open Haugen in September: Restaurant operator D&D London is to launch Haugen in Stratford, east London, in September. Featuring an all-day dining brasserie, restaurant, deli, outdoor terraces and rooftop bar, Haugen will serve food taking inspiration from Alpine dining in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and France. The menu will feature modern versions of classic Alpine dishes. Occupying The Pavilion at International Quarter London, the venue will have 544 covers. This includes a ground-floor deli with grab-and-go counter, a casual ground-floor restaurant featuring an indoor winter garden and large terrace, a first-floor dining room and cocktail bar with outdoor terrace and two private dining rooms. The second floor will house a rooftop bar. Haugen will have 100 covers outdoors split over a large ground-floor terrace and first-floor wraparound outdoor dining space. Des Gunewardena, chairman and chief executive of D&D London, said: “I hope Haugen will be something unique and special in the London restaurant scene. Our restaurant and food concepts have been inspired by its architecture and location.” Haugen is named after Anders Haugen, who was a ski jumper and American’s first Olympic skiing medallist in 1924. However, he only received his medal in 1974 as there had been a scoring calculation error that incorrectly awarded his bronze medal to another competitor, Thorleif Haug. The injustice was finally reversed when the error was discovered and the bronze medal was given to Haugen by Haug’s daughter.
Individual Restaurants appoints Carroll as new property director and Hobson as interim FD: Individual Restaurants, the operator of the Piccolino and Restaurant Bar & Grill brands, has appointed David Carroll, formerly of Fridays and Whitbread, as its new property director, Propel has learned. Carroll left Fridays after 13 years at the end of 2019, where he was predominantly its property director and more recently its chief strategy and property officer. Previous to that he spent four years as a commercial manager at Whitbread. Meanwhile, the 28-strong Individual Restaurants has appointed John Hobson as its interim finance director. Hobson was formerly finance director at Co-op Funerals and Life Planning and head of finance at Poundland and Dealz. Ice Acquisitions, the new vehicle controlled by Sir Malcolm Walker and Tarsem Dhaliwal, acquired the bulk of the Individual Restaurants business out of administration last November in a deal worth more than £40m.
Tattu appoints Nick Owen as operations director: Contemporary Chinese restaurant group Tattu has appointed Nick Owen as its new operations director, Propel has learned. Owen joins the four-strong Tattu after two years as director of food and beverage at The Stafford Collection. Previous to that he was deputy director of restaurants at Rhubarb Food for three and a half years. Last August, Tattu appointed Gemma Peel, formerly of the Palatine Private Equity-backed Gusto, as finance director. Brothers Adam and Drew Jones opened the first Tattu restaurant in Manchester in 2015, with sites following in Leeds in 2017 and Birmingham and Edinburgh in 2019. Pre-pandemic, the company had been working with adviser Clearwater International to map plans for growth, including bringing in a strategic partner to help it with expansion in the UK and overseas, with the US a possible destination. 

San Carlo to open three sites this year: San Carlo Restaurant Group, the north west-based operator, has revealed plans to open three sites this year, with its first set to open in August in London's West End. The 220-cover Isola by San Carlo Italian brasserie and bar will be based in the former Carluccio’s site in St Christopher's Place and will offer relaxed all-day dining with a 50-cover alfresco terrace. Inspired by the islands of Italy, the menu will include Sardinian lamb and porchetta, Sicilian red prawns, swordfish and tuna, as well as tagliolini lobster. Managing director Marcello Distefano said: “After a very difficult 18 months in hospitality it's great to be looking forward to a new opening in such a prime location. This project has been a lot of fun, especially as we have evolved from what we have done previously. Isola has been inspired by our childhood memories of Ragusa in Sicily, the birthplace of my father and our chairman, Carlo Distefano. It will be an elegant yet informal space; the menu will be simple, offering some of our classics with a twist on the islands, but as usual using the best ingredients from producers in Italy.” The group's expansion will continue this year with further openings planned for London's Knightsbridge and Manchester Airport's new “super terminal”. San Carlo Restaurant Group is owned by the Distefano family and has 22 restaurants in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol, Leeds and Leicester along with Qatar, Riyadh, Bahrain and Bangkok. 

Gourmet4 set to double estate with 12 new openings lined up: Food marketplace business Gourmet4 is set to double its existing estate with 12 new openings lined up for this year. The 12-strong business, which operates in-house brands such as Fat Burgers, 3Amigos, Smokin’ Buns, Saucy Chicks and Bangon Thai street food, has lined up openings across the country, from Newcastle to Watford, and from Birkenhead to Exeter. New sites lined up include the former MOD Pizza sites at The Brewery, Romford, and in Borehamwood. It has also secured the former Frankie & Benny’s sites in The Tandem Centre, in south west London, and the former Pizza Hut site at the Croft Retail Park, Birkenhead. Propel previously reported Gourmet4, which is led by Aaron Kahn, had secured the former Chiquito site at the Valley Leisure Park, Croydon, for an opening later this year. Last month, Propel revealed Gourmet4 was set to make its debut in London after securing the former Gino D’Acampo My Restaurant in Chalk Farm Road, Camden. 
Cubitt House plans Notting Hill opening: London gastro-pub operator Cubitt House, whose sites include The Alfred Tennyson and Thomas Cubitt, plans to open a seventh site in the capital, in Notting Hill. Propel understands Cubitt House, which is chaired by ex-YO! and Mitchells & Butlers executive Vanessa Hall, is close to securing the former Pomona’s bar and restaurant site in Hereford Road in Notting Hill. It was previously the home of Ruth Hansom, the first female winner of the Young National Chef of the Year award. Previously known as The Commander, the pub is owned by the TDR-backed Stonegate Group/Ei Group. Cubitt House, which is backed by a consortium of private investors led by Manjit Dale, founding partner of TDR Capital, is believed to have applied to add bedrooms to the site. The company opened The Beau Brummell in St James’s Market, its sixth site, in September 2019.

Boom: Battle Bar to open £2m flagship site in London’s Oxford Street: Boom: Battle Bar, the adventure bar concept from the team behind adventure park franchise Flip Out, is to open a £2m flagship site in London’s Oxford Street. The venue will be spread over 15,200 square feet, with a street level entrance leading to an immersive space occupying the entire lower ground floor of Great Portland Estates’ redevelopment, 70 Oxford Street. The venue will feature Boom: Battle Bar’s mix of games including augmented reality darts, shuffleboard, axe throwing, karaoke, beer pong and indoor curling. The venue will also offer a range of craft beer, cocktails and street food. Boom: Battle Bar co-founder Rich Beese said: “Securing a prime site like this is as good as it gets in our industry, and we’re humbled to be rubbing shoulders with such a prestigious group of operators in Oxford Street. Corner-stoning our business in a development of this quality is a dream come true for all of us. As the face of the high street continues to change so rapidly, the time for Boom: Battle Bar is now, and we are excited to be at the forefront of a retail revolution.” Boom: Battle Bar operates sites in Norwich, Cardiff and Liverpool, with Lakeside due to open in July, and The O2 due to follow closely behind. There are also plans for sites in Ealing and Wandsworth in London as well as Newcastle, Manchester, Hull, Swindon, Leeds, Bath, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Chelmsford, Reading and Oxford later this year.

Greene King self-reports potential pubs code compliance failures to PCA: Brewer and retailer Greene King has self-reported potential pubs code failures to the pubs code adjudicator (PCA). Greene King said it had acted when it was unable to verify it had complied with its duty to provide business development manager (BDM) discussion notes to tenants under the code. Under the pubs code, BDMs must make a note of all discussions with tied tenants around rent proposals and rent assessments, repairs and business planning, and must provide a copy to them within 14 days. However, owing to a process failure, Greene King could not verify that a number of its BDM discussion notes had been sent to tenants. This was the second time Greene King had reported an issue to the PCA with its processes around the issuing of BDM notes. It had previously reported some BDM notes had been sent too late due to an IT system failure. Greene King has sent a letter of explanation to tenants affected along with reissued BDM notes, and reminded all its tied tenants about their pubs code rights in respect of BDM notes. It has committed to implement improved controls to minimise the risk of the error recurring. Greene King said it was satisfied there has been no detriment to tenants, but if any tenants believe they have been affected by this issue, they should contact the company’s code compliance officer Julie Jolly at in the first instance and inform the PCA. The PCA said it would also welcome hearing from any tied tenants who experience future issues in relation to the receipt of BDM notes. A Greene King spokesman said: “We value openness and transparency, which is why we voluntarily self-referred this matter to the PCA at the earliest opportunity, as we take our obligations under the pubs code extremely seriously. We are satisfied no tied tenants suffered any detriment as a result of the late delivery of these notes. This matter represents just 1% of all meeting notes sent out to our partners over the past year, meaning 99% of meeting notes arrived within the 14-day timeframe.”

Team behind cocktail bar Callooh Callay to open site in Dalston: The team behind Callooh Callay, the award-winning cocktail bar concept, is to open a new site in London, in Dalston. The business, which was founded by entrepreneur Richard Wynne in 2008, has secured the former Shep’s bar site in Kingsland Road. Opening next month, The Duchess of Dalston will offer a selection of drinks that will use the herb garden that's been planted for the bar on the building's roof. Drinks will include a Summer of Joy cocktail made with Patron tequila and Bermondsey honey, and the Aunty's Special featuring Slane Whiskey, Jagermeister Cold Brew, Vietnamese coffee and condensed milk. The company currently operates sites in Rivington Street, Shoreditch, and in Chelsea under the Callooh Callay name, plus the Little Bat bar in Islington. Propel revealed last month Wynne has also secured a site in Balham.

Birmingham-based operators acquire second site: Birmingham-based operators Nick Rendall and Trevean Anderson have acquired their second site. The duo have taken on their second outlet with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars, the Rainbow in Digbeth. The pub is renowned for its association with the original Peaky Blinders in the 1890s and as a catalyst for Digbeth’s transformation into a hip creative quarter. The Rainbow has been closed for four years and next week sees the start of a £750,000 joint refurbishment by Star Pubs & Bars and Rendall and Anderson, which will see it transformed into a live entertainment-driven events venue. The Rainbow will reopen in the summer once restrictions are lifted, creating 30 jobs. Funds are being spent creating a bar and dance area in the basement with a raised stage for gigs and a new state-of-art sound system. On the ground floor there will be a cocktail bar and lounge. The first floor is to become an arts focused events space showcasing local artists’ work and will be available for meetings and corporate launches. The outside courtyard garden will seat 96. The Rainbow is Rendall and Anderson’s second live music-focused pub. Their other, The Cuban Embassy in Moseley is inspired by Rendall’s travels in Cuba and passion for “rum, live music, and good food”. Until recently, they also ran The Prince of Wales in Cambridge Street in the city centre, which they had to give up when the council lease finished. Rendall said: “We are always looking for good opportunities in the Birmingham and Wolverhampton areas where live music would work well.”

Merlin Entertainments to open first stand-alone Pepper Pig resort: Merlin Entertainments has entered into a formal co-operation agreement to create the world’s first stand-alone Peppa Pig resort in Meishan, part of Sichuan Tianfu New Area, China. This will be established in partnership with a Chinese partner. The resort will include a Peppa Pig theme park and hotel, as well as a new SeaLife aquarium. Construction is due to begin in July, and the resort is expected to open in 2024. Merlin Entertainments has a strategic partnership agreement with Hasbro, owner of the Peppa Pig brand, to build and operate Peppa Pig attractions targeted at the pre-school market as part of its broader strategy to engage in intellectual property partnerships with some of the world’s most popular brands. Over the past three years, Merlin has launched two “in-park” lands within Heide Park and Gardaland Resort in Germany and Italy respectively, with a recently announced, stand-alone Peppa Pig theme park also planned to open in Florida. Merlin have also been rolling out an indoor play centre concept that they developed with Hasbro called “Peppa Pig World of Play”, which currently consists of three sites in the US and one in Shanghai – with further openings planned in 2022 and beyond. China, in particular, is a focus of significant development and investment by Merlin and since the start of 2018, the company has opened six new Midway attractions in the country. Merlin Entertainments chief development officer Mark Fisher said: “Peppa Pig is a global star among pre-schoolers, and we are working with Hasbro to bring the excitement and fun of Peppa and her friends to the world’s first stand-alone Peppa Pig resort in Sichuan. We have already had great success with our immersive Peppa Pig World of Play attractions in both Asia and the US.”

New York-based restaurant Sunday to make UK debut next month: New York-based restaurant Sunday will make its UK debut next month. As reported by Propel last month, founders Todd Enany, Adam Landsman and chef Jaime Young are launching the venue in London’s Notting Hill. It will take over the site previously occupied by French brasserie Cote in Westbourne Grove. The two-floor venue, which will launch on Thursday, 22 July, is “aiming for a vibe that will echo the Brooklyn original”. Its menu includes dishes such as littleneck clams, garlic bread crumb and smoky bacon; and grilled swordfish, charred broccoli greens and butter bean pistou; along with its famed Sunday pancakes with hazelnut maple praline and brown butter. Drinks are set to include an all-natural wine list and cocktails. Enany said: “We are all excited to be opening up in London, a city with a phenomenal food scene that we can’t wait to be a part of. We’ll be bringing a big taste of Brooklyn with us but we’re also looking forward to working with new ingredients and local producers to make this a true London edition of Sunday in Brooklyn.” The original Sunday restaurant was launched in Brooklyn in 2016. Jake Bernstone, of Stonebrook London, acted on the Notting Hill deal.

JD Wetherspoon extends ‘club’ offers throughout the week: JD Wetherspoon has extended its steak, curry and fish and chip “club” day meal deals so they run throughout the week. Previously, customers were only able to order from the “Steak Club” menu on Tuesdays, “Curry Club” on Thursdays and “Fish Friday” on Fridays. Each one lets customers save money when ordering from a set menu – but only on their set days. However, Wetherspoon has now extended the offer across all its 870 pubs at all times. Chief executive John Hutson said: “We are confident our customers will welcome the opportunity to enjoy our ‘club’ meals at all times and not just on specific days as has been the case.”

Scottish chef Jimmy Lee joins Bonnie & Wild line-up for third restaurant: Scottish chef Jimmy Lee is to open his third restaurant. Lee, who has appeared on BBC show Great British menu and presents STV cookery series, “Julie and Jimmy's Hot Woks”, will launch Salt & Chilli Oriental Edinburgh, within Bonnie & Wild – the new food hall concept from the founders of Scottish restaurant brand Mac & Wild – at the St James Quarter. Salt & Chilli Oriental Edinburgh will offer Cantonese street food “reimagined, remastered, and given a playful twist” as well as Chinese classics. Dishes will include bao filled katsu chicken and pulled aromatic duck. Lee told the Edinburgh Evening News: “I love Edinburgh and consider it one of the best food cities in the UK. The menu will highlight delicious Hong Kong-style street side snacks as well as comforting British-Cantonese cuisines that we all love and adore.” The restaurant will join other operators including Erpingham House, the UK’s largest plant-based restaurant; and MasterChef: The Professionals winner Gary Maclean, who are opening sites at the food hall, which launches next month. Lee also operates Salt & Chilli in Glasgow's West End and Lychee Oriental in Glasgow city centre.

Gravity to open site in Luton: Trampoline park operator Gravity is to open a site in Luton. The company will launch the 30,000 square foot venue at The Galaxy leisure park in the third quarter of this year. The attraction will house wall-to-wall trampolines, a ninja run, “wipeout”, soft-play area and party rooms. There will also be a cafe that will feature waffles from Wafflemeister. Co-owner Michael Harrison said: “The Galaxy is in the heart of the town centre with excellent transport links and natural footfall. This is one of many projects we have planned to rejuvenate the high street and bring people back after an exceptionally tough year.” Last month, Gravity announced plans for a £6m multi-attraction experiential site in London. Gravity Southside Wandsworth will offer eight immersive experiences under one roof later this summer. Gravity opened its first trampoline park in 2015 and operates circa 15 sites across the UK.

Freehold of Godalming property operated by Brunning & Price sells for £3.4m: The freehold of a property in Godalming, Surrey, part of which is operated as a pub and restaurant by The Restaurant Group-owned brand Brunning & Price, has been sold for £3.4m. Coffer Corporate Leisure advised a private client on the purchase of The Refectory in Old Portsmouth Road. The property comprises a pub/restaurant, office and residential investment, let in its entirety to Punch with the pub/restaurant operated by Brunning & Price. The price reflected a net initial yield of 6.1%. Jack Silvani, director of Coffer Corporate Leisure, said: “This purchase is the latest in a flurry of activity in 2021 in which we have transacted more than £130m of leisure property. Investment volumes remain below that of previous years, largely driven by lack of stock. There is healthy demand for assets with good fundamentals and strong underlying value.” Savills acted on behalf of the vendor, Aegon Asset Management. 

Chipotle revamps rewards programme: Chipotle has revamped its rewards programme. The new scheme, called Rewards Exchange, is more customisable, with customers can choose to cash in their points for 15 different reward options instead of just entrees, including free guacamole and drinks. To mark the relaunch, Chipotle is introducing gamification to the rewards programme for a limited time, in partnership with Tesla. Chipotle Race to Rewards Exchange is a retro-style racing game that will be available on both mobile and desktop devices for the next 48 hours. Participants must have a Chipotle Rewards account to participate. Participants are racing to win a Tesla Model 3, while other environmentally friendly transportation-themed prizes include an electronic bike or electronic skateboard, along with 250 rewards points for the first 500,000 players every day. “The new Chipotle Race to Rewards Exchange video game is a fun way to demonstrate the speed at which our loyalty members can now earn rewards,” Chipotle chief marketing officer Chris Brandt said. “This is one of the many ways we’re super-charging our superfans and offering exclusive experiences to our most loyal guests.” The racing game is a marketing nod to how fast customers will be able to earn rewards in this newly redesigned rewards app. According to Chipotle, Rewards members can earn free chips after just two visits to Chipotle.

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