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Fri 25th Jun 2021 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

The Big Table Group to trial new Amalfi concept: The Big Table Group, the Epiris-backed operator of the Bella Italia, Cafe Rouge and Las Iguanas brands, is to trial a new Italian restaurant concept called Amalfi, Propel has learned. The Alan Morgan-led company has begun what is understood will be a four-site trial of the new concept, at the Center Parcs in Woburn Forest. The company converted its Strada site at the holiday park to Amalfi, which is described as the “perfect place to enjoy delicious, freshly prepared food from our open kitchen”. The menu includes hand-stretched stone-baked sourdough pizzas, “delicious pastas and risottos bursting with flavour”. Pizzas and main courses range in price from £9.95 to £14.95. Propel understands The Big Table Group will also convert its Bella Italia in Argyll Street, just off London’s Oxford Circus, to the new concept before the end of the year. The Big Table Group is believed to be close to identifying the two other sites it plans to convert to Amalfi. It will then get all the sites up and trading before deciding on the next stage of development for the new concept. In terms of position, it is thought The Big Table Group believes there is an opportunity for something “flavourful, fresh and premium in the casual dining space”. The Big Table Group was formed last summer when UK-based private equity firm Epiris completed a deal to acquire Casual Dining Group out of administration, preserving more than 4,000 jobs across the UK and more than 150 restaurants. Morgan, formerly of GLH Hotels, The Rank Group and Spirit Pub Company, was appointed its new chief executive in March.

Industry News: 

Food-led businesses specialising in far east Asian cuisine making impact on updated Premium database of multi-site companies: Food-led business that specialise in serving far east Asian cuisine are making an impact on the 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 multi-site database in the sector, including Glasgow-based south east Asian restaurant concept Ka Pao, which is from the team behind the awarding-winning Ox & Finch restaurant. Its first site is in Botanic Gardens Garage, Vinicombe Street, and it will open a second site in the autumn at Edinburgh’s St James scheme in St James Quarter. Takumi is a Birmingham-based Japanese restaurant concept that operates a site in Birmingham’s Chinatown. It is set to open a second site in Old Compton Street, Soho, London, in September. Bon Pan Asian is a buffet restaurant brand that runs three sites, in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent; Liverpool; and Brierley Hill. This month, it announced it was to open Blue Whale Oriental supermarket at Manchester’s St James’s Tower building that will house a 60-cover sushi restaurant counter under the name Aka Sushi. 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. In this week’s column, which will be sent to subscribers on Friday (25 June) at 5pm, Jasper Reid, the founder of IMM, which advises brands on international expansion and owns the Wendy’s and Jamie Oliver restaurant chains in India, looks at the growth of the delivery kitchen sector in India and especially the success of Rebel Foods. Meanwhile, Mark Wingett looks at the latest news from McDonald’s and Itsu. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to sign up.

Propel Friday Wrap video series continues with Simon Wilkinson: Propel continues its new Friday Wrap video series on Friday (25 June) at 3pm. The new series, which is sponsored by innovative staffing solution provider Stint, sees Mark Stretton, former sector journalist and now head of sector PR firm Fleet Street Communications, and Propel’s insights editor Mark Wingett discussing this week’s key issues facing the UK’s hospitality sector, with a leading sector operator or expert. This week they are joined by Simon Wilkinson, chief executive of Famously Proper, the Calveton UK-backed owner of better burger brand Byron, to discuss the challenges faced by reopening; rejuvenating the business; the role delivery is and will play; and the plans for recently acquired chicken concept Mother Clucker.

Greene King supports young people with learning difficulties into employment: Brewer and retailer Greene King has partnered with Landmarks Specialist College to provide 16 to 24-year-olds with learning difficulties and disabilities the opportunity to develop employment and life skills as they enter the hospitality industry. As part of its commitment to improve social mobility, Greene King will support young people with learning challenges to overcome barriers to employment through supported internships with Landmarks, an independent specialist college for people with learning difficulties that operates across five sites in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire. The first programme, which began earlier this month in South Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire, will give nine learners work experience in Greene King pubs. Landmarks Specialist College will also support with a job coach until the individual can work independently. Graham Briggs, head of apprenticeships and employability programmes at Greene King, said: “Improving social mobility and creating the best opportunities in hospitality for young people from all backgrounds is really important to us. Our partnership with Landmarks Specialist College will help provide valuable work experience to young people with learning difficulties, with a view to securing permanent employment with us.” Larry Brocklesby, principal and chief executive at Landmarks Specialist College, added: “The opportunities this partnership will afford our young Interns, who have an aspiration to work in the hospitality and catering sector, is exciting. We are confident our partnership will go from strength to strength each year, with many employment outcomes being achieved.” Supported internships have proven successful for participants, with 88% of Landmarks Specialist College interns sustaining employment in the past three years. Greene King is the first pub company to partner with Landmarks Specialist College offering supported internships for young people following a Wayfinder programme.

UKHospitality – junk food advertising ban will still impose ‘considerable restraints’ on industry: UKHospitality has raised concerns the new rules on advertising foods online and pre-watershed TV will still impose “considerable constraints” on the industry and appear to offer “little flexibility” to redress measures if they are ineffective. The government has confirmed junk food advertisements before the 9pm TV watershed will come into force at the end of next year, with increased online restrictions also introduced. While large fast-food and confectionary firms will be banned from advertising foods high in fat, sugar and salt online, small businesses with fewer than 250 employees will be exempt. Firms will still be able to promote their products on their own websites and social media platforms. They will also be able to advertise on TV before the watershed, provided they do not show banned foods. In response, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “It’s positive the government has heeded many of the sector’s concerns, such as exempting smaller businesses and limiting the scope to paid-for advertising. Such concessions are appreciated at a time when hospitality is trying to get back on its feet following the huge impacts of the pandemic. There is still plenty in the announcement that will impose considerable constraints, though, with little discernible evidence of them making a positive difference on obesity. Furthermore, there appears to be little flexibility for future redress of these measures, should they prove to be ineffective.”

One in five hospitality and retail businesses say ‘Freedom Day’ delay will cost them half their revenue, more than 17,000 set to close permanently: One in five hospitality and retail owners across the UK expect to lose half of their revenue following the government’s decision to delay the reopening roadmap by one month, according to new research. The survey is the first poll of hospitality bosses since the delay was announced, and was carried out on behalf of staffing solution provider Stint. It reveals more than 17,000 owners said they will have to call last orders on their business as a result of the decision to keep restrictions in place until 19 July. The vast majority of those who expect to lose revenue said it would take more than six months to recoup the earnings lost during the four week delay – 27% of those business owners said they would never recoup these losses. The research also found 20% will not even be able to operate at full capacity upon reopening due to staff shortages. On top of this, about 15% believe at least a quarter of their furloughed workers are unlikely to return, with many workers in the hospitality and retail industries seeking or starting new careers during lockdown. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The delay in lifting restrictions was a hammer blow to a sector in which so many businesses are already teetering on the brink of existence, with so many jobs and livelihoods at risk. This survey tallies with our own findings and affirms the anecdotal evidence that we have received over recent days, weeks and months – that breaking even is a challenge and profit is a distant hope until restrictions are lifted. It also evidences the acute workforce shortage, which look set to stifle the recovery of a sector that otherwise has the potential to drive national economic recovery.”

UK Court of Appeal unanimously confirms Deliveroo riders are self-employed: The UK Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by the IWGB union against past judgments that found Deliveroo riders to be self-employed. The Court of Appeal verdict in favour of self-employment was unanimous among the three judges. The court found past judgments were correct to reach the view riders are not in an employment relationship with Deliveroo. One of the judges described the decision as “inevitable”. This is the fourth court judgment in the UK that has determined Deliveroo riders are self-employed, following a judgment by the Central Arbitration Committee and two such judgments at the High Court. Throughout the pandemic lockdowns Deliveroo said it has experienced a “huge influx” of people interested in working as riders, with up to 16,000 applications a week across the UK. Despite restrictions easing in April and May, the vast majority of Deliveroo riders are choosing to continue to work with the platform, citing the flexibility of the self-employed model as the number one thing that attracts them, the business claimed. More than 90% of riders working with Deliveroo in April and May are still active in June following reopening, alongside tens of thousands more continuing to apply to become Deliveroo riders in the same month. Deliveroo argued this underlines the satisfaction riders feel with the self-employed work offered by the company and suggested a shift in the labour market, with more people choosing flexible self-employment over employment alternatives. A Deliveroo spokesman said: “Our message to riders is clear. We will continue to back your right to work the way you want and we will continue to listen to you and respond to the things that matter to you most. Those campaigning to remove riders’ flexibility do not speak for the vast majority of riders and seek to impose a way of working that riders do not want. Deliveroo will continue to campaign for companies such as ours to be able to offer the full flexibility of self-employment along with greater benefits and more security.”

Scottish hospitality venues allowed to stay open beyond curfew to show Euro matches: Hospitality venues in Scotland will be able to stay open later to show European Championship matches that go to extra-time, the government has confirmed. Industry bosses had earlier this month appealed to ministers to allow more flexible licensing laws to prevent them having to show customers the door if games dragged on past closing time. Venues in council areas under level 2 of lockdown, including Edinburgh and Glasgow, must close by 10.30pm while those in level 1, such as Fife, must shut by 11pm. The Euros head to the knock-out phase of the competition from Saturday (26 June) onwards with many games kicking off at 8pm. That means if the match is a draw after 90 minutes another 30 minutes of extra time will be played, followed by penalties if a winner has still not emerged ¬– meaning it could be almost 11pm before a game is settled. But in a letter sent to industry leaders, business minister Ivan McKee said between 26 June and 11 July, pubs could stay open to 11.30pm if needed to show matches. Scottish Hospitality Group spokesman Stephen Montgomery said: “This decision will work in everyone’s interest – we all want to socialise after the difficulties of the past year, and it’s much better to do so in a well-run pub with lots of public health measures in place. It would be fantastic to see the Scottish government’s ‘pragmatic approach’ extended beyond the Euros for the week leading up to 19 July when levels are due to return to zero. Struggling businesses now need to be allowed to trade viably beyond Euro 2020 so they can get back in the game.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is looking to speak with operations directors that have excellent attention to detail and enjoy working in a busy and hands-on style environment. It is recruiting an operations director on behalf of a London-based company that would manage three sites with an oversight on other parts of the business and will focus on driving quality products as well as overall company growth. They will have control over the culture of the business and be responsible for the leadership and mentorship of the management team with the support of an operations manager. The business is set to grow, and is looking for an individual who can look after all operational duties, concept development and business growth over a long period of time. It is essential the incoming operations director has a strong understanding and experience of extensive openings. It is ideally looking to speak with candidates from quality food-led business, with a strong understanding of the London scene. The position is paying circa £80,000 to £100,000. Anyone interested can email Kate@corecruitment.com 
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Company News: 

Burger King UK partners with Parkdean Resorts for latest franchise: Burger King UK, the Bridgepoint-backed fast-food company has partnered with holiday park operator Parkdean Resorts for its latest franchise. Parkdean Resorts has recently invested £3.6m in Trecco Bay Holiday Park in Porthcawl, south Wales, which will be the location of the new Burger King site. The restaurant is part of a major makeover of Trecco Bay as one of Parkdean Resort’s seven “Parks of the Future”. The restaurant will create 20 jobs when it opens in August. Burger King UK chief executive Alasdair Murdoch said: “We’re excited to welcome a new franchisee and look forward to the partnership ahead of us. It’s brilliant to see expansion within the hospitality industry after what’s been a trying time.” Parkdean Resorts chief executive Steve Richards added: “We’re always looking to improve our food and drink offer, and Burger King opening at Trecco Bay will be a great addition for our guests on park to enjoy.” Earlier this month, Parkdean Resorts announced a franchise partnership with Thunderbird Fried Chicken, the wings and fried chicken concept backed by TriSpan. The franchise agreement, which is the first of its kind for Thunderbird, sees an initial two sites open at Parkdean Resorts’ parks in Camber Sands, in East Sussex, and Trecco Bay. The plan is then to roll out the offer across additional parks over the coming year.

Caprice Holdings opens first international site: Caprice Holdings, which is backed by serial sector investor Richard Caring, has opened its first international site. The company has launched Nōema, a restaurant and bar, on the Greek island of Mykonos. Based in Panachra, Nōema, which is the Greek word for meaning or substance, features a 107-cover restaurant, outdoor bar, space for intimate live music sets, an indoor salon for after-dark DJ sets, an enclosed patio, and a stand-alone concept store. The menu, predominantly pescatarian and vegetarian, ranges from raw meze to feasting platters. Dishes, designed to be shared at the table, include crispy octopus with oxymel and wild oregano; and slow-roast pork chops with a cinnamon-anise crust. The Nōema Store is a part gallery, part boutique space showcasing a collection of fashion and jewellery pieces, handcrafted homeware, books, and lifestyle essentials from Greece and beyond. Caring said: “My motivation to open Nōema was a combination of falling in love with the island of Mykonos and very much the people of Greece. It’s also exciting to be taking Caprice Holdings overseas.”
Caprice Holdings features in Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is now available to Premium subscribers. Caprice Holdings had a pre-tax profit of £19,115,588 in its most recent year, making it the eighth most profitable company of the 215 companies featured, converting 29.5% of turnover to pre-tax profit. 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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com to sign up.

Rileys set to hit expansion trail as it hunts ‘multiple’ sites: Sports bar operator Rileys is set to hit the expansion trail. The company has exclusively retained Christie & Co to acquire “multiple” new sites and assist in the expansion of the group’s portfolio in the UK. The brand is looking to expand its number of venues in more densely populated areas of cities. On behalf of the 13-strong Rileys, Christie & Co is seeking large freehold and leasehold opportunities in prime city or town centres across the UK, as well as further premises in London which will complement the company’s existing venues in the capital. In London, it is targeting areas such as Battersea, Canary Wharf and Putney. Outside the capital it is looking to open sites in place such as Brighton, Hull, Glasgow and Southampton. Suitable properties could include sports bars, industrial units, new developments, former car showrooms, retail stores and office space or shared units with licensed leisure and sports operators. Ideally, 8,000 to 10,000 square foot of floor space is required, including a minimum of 4,000 square foot of ground floor area. Outdoor space is preferred but not essential. Rileys offers American pool tables and snooker as well as darts. The clubs also show live sport on HD screens, as well as offering a dedicated sports zone serving food with a large cinema-style HD projector. Competitive sport also happens within the clubs by hosting local and national pool, snooker and darts competitions including the Professional Darts Corporation qualifiers. Rileys chief executive Craig Mayes said: “We are delighted to be working with Christie & Co. The team conducted a thorough review of our estate when the business was acquired by Weight Partners Capital in 2014 and its recommendations were instrumental in getting us to the position we are now – we are actively seeking property to expand our coverage across the UK.” Neil Morgan, senior director in Christie & Co’s licensed hospitality team, is leading the acquisition drive and added: “The importance of community-focused hospitality venues has been recognised all the more over the past year due to the covid-19 pandemic, so this acquisition project presents an exciting opportunity for the brand.” 
Christie & Co is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

YO! to open site in Swindon that will offer ‘ultimate social dining experience’: YO!, the global multi-channel, multi-brand Japanese and Asian food group, is set to open a new restaurant site this summer, in Swindon, which it says has been designed to “offer the ultimate social dining experience”, Propel has learned. YO! said that the new site in the Swindon Designer Outlet will build on the success of its site at the Ashford Designer Outlet in Kent, which when it launched in 2019 featured a new kaiten belt layout and evolved design. A YO! spokesman told Propel: “As well as the new belt technology, it will have a new layout, similar to our restaurant in Ashford, which opened with the same format in 2019. Building on the success of Ashford, this second site is designed to offer the ultimate social dining experience. It will feature a kaiten belt that will flow through large communal tables, allowing greater flexibility in the way groups can be seated, improve efficiency, and improve accessibility for all guests.” The only restaurants with this new layout are Ashford and the upcoming Swindon site. In terms of the group’s upgrade programme for its restaurant estate, the company said all of its 65 restaurants now had digital menus, while the new belt system, which was launched in Guildford last year, has been rolled out to 41 sites so far. In terms of further new openings, the company said it has “a few plans in the pipeline”.

Wendy’s lines up Romford opening: Wendy’s, the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in the US, which made its return to the UK with an opening in Reading earlier this month, is planning to open in Romford, Essex, Propel has learned. Wendy’s, which hopes to eventually open up to 400 sites in the UK, has submitted a planning application to open a site in the town’s South Street. Propel reported earlier this month Wendy’s has also submitted a building control request for 1 Maskew Avenue in Peterborough. Earlier this month, Wendy’s chief development officer Abigail Pringle told Propel the brand’s launch in the UK came after a two-year process focused on understanding the market here. Pringle said the response to the launch in Reading had so far “been very positive” and the business was looking forward to opening even more locations in the UK this year. The group has confirmed it will open sites in Oxford and Stratford, east London, in the second half of this year. Propel previously revealed Wendy’s had lined up its first out-of-town site for its UK return, in Essex. The company, which plans to open five sites in the UK this year, with a target of eventually operating about 20 company-owned branches in Britain, is understood to be in advanced talks on taking a site at Thurrock Shopping Park. It is thought it could be the location of its first UK drive-thru. The company plans to open company-owned and operated restaurants in 2021 and, in its second phase, will launch in priority areas with multi-unit franchisee operators. It recently applied to open a site in Croydon, and Propel understands Wendy’s is also in talks on sites in Camden and Brighton. In March, the company said it plans to open ten sites in the UK in 2022, and it had secured multiple locations and was engaged with several potential franchisees.

Douglas Jack – Fuller’s already showing green shoots in its recovery: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has argued Fuller’s is already showing green shoots in its recovery and believes there is potential for faster debt reduction in its new financial year. Issuing a “Hold” note on the shares with a target price of 900p ahead of the company’s full-year results next month, Jack said: “The full-year results should be heavily loss-making. This is due to many months of covid-19-related closure. Their only relevance relates to how employees and sites have been looked after, how costs and net debt have been managed, and how innovation and investment have improved long-term prospects. Fuller's has already stated that its pubs were ‘in peak condition for reopening’ and in a position to benefit from ‘transformed digital capabilities. Its 2022E's trading prospects should be helped by higher customer savings and disposable income, staycations, less competition and ongoing government support. Given this and the recent outperformance of London wet-led outlets, despite May being unseasonably wet and cold, we suspect Fuller's previous expectation of managed sales being 20% below pre-covid-19 levels in 2022E may be too cautious, particularly if ‘Freedom Day’ materialises on 19 July. Thus, we believe 2022E forecasts could he upgraded later in the year. The main benefit being a reduction in the level of net debt that is carried forward into 2023E, increasing the company's firepower. Aided by the £53m equity fundraise, we now forecast net debt/Ebitda (IAS 17) falling to 2.1 times in 2023E. The net asset value is 637p per share, but some of the estate has not been revalued since 1997; after factoring in churn and property inflation, we believe a true net asset value of £9 to £10 per share is possible. We are increasing our target price from 875p to 900p to reflect the potential for faster debt reduction in the new financial year.”

Papa John’s appoints new UK director of business development, promotes Justin Gilbert: Papa John’s has appointed Amit Pancholi as its new UK director of business development. Justin Gilbert, who formerly managed the company’s business development, has been promoted to the role of senior operations director of Papa John’s UK. Pancholi has extensive experience in the quick-service restaurant industry. Prior to joining Papa John’s, he was head of property for a large multi-brand franchise group – overseeing a portfolio that included Domino’s, Zaza and Tim Hortons stores. Before that he managed Domino’s estate portfolio for the UK and Ireland for three years. Previously, Pancholi also worked in estate management for Holland & Barrett and Boots. Gilbert said: “Amit has extensive experience of the sector making him perfectly placed to drive our ambition for expansion, as we target more traditional high street locations and also build on partnerships with leisure venues looking to add a quality hot food brand while introducing a new revenue stream to an existing offering.” Pancholi added: “Papa John’s has demonstrated excellent new store growth over the past few years, and I look forward to supporting new and existing multi-unit franchisees and ‘non-traditional’ venues as they each develop their own portfolio of stores.” UK & Ireland general manager James Oakley said: “We are proud to include Amit as part of our team as we drive our brand expansion plans.” 

White Rabbit Projects to operate new restaurant at Oxford hotel: White Rabbit Projects, the Chris Miller-led business, is to operate a new restaurant in Oxford. The company has partnered with Graduate Hotels to launch The Alice within The Randolph Hotel in Beaumont Street. Chris Emery, previously executive sous chef at Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social, and head chef in Atherton’s The Clocktower in New York, will lead the kitchen. The Alice – which will open on Sunday, 1 August – will be an all-day dining restaurant and bar serving classic British dishes, as interpreted by Emery and his culinary team. Main courses will feature roasted Lake District lamb, asparagus, black garlic and morels; and pan seared brill, datterini tomatoes and butter sauce. Within The Alice will be the Alice Bar offering a broad selection of wine, craft beer and spirits. The Alice, a nod to Oxford alumnus Lewis Carroll, will also provide the menu inspiration for the other hotel hospitality spaces, namely The Snug, a cocktail lounge serving drinks and snacks derived from the main restaurant menu; The Morse Bar, which remains an ode to Morse creator Colin Dexter; and the informal lounge and dining spaces – The Drawing Room and The Lancaster Room. 

Heavitree swings to loss, cheered by pubs reopening: Exeter-based tenanted pub operator Heavitree Brewery has reported a pre-tax loss of £76,000 for the six months to 30 April 2021, compared with a pre-tax profit of £184,000 the previous year. Revenue fell to £846,000 from £2.6m the year before as a result of the pubs being shut for the majority of the period. The company said it would not pay an interim dividend as “disruption and uncertainty” continues to affect the hospitality sector. During the period, Heavitree sold four non-core assets, including properties and land, for £855,000. Chairman Nicholas Tucker said: “The reopening of the garden areas and, in turn, the reopening of indoor trading areas under restrictions is an early step on the road to a recovery. We have tenants in all our pubs and the feedback from our houses and the support from our customers shows great promise for the summer months and for future trading.” Heavitree operates more than 65 tenanted pubs across Exeter and south Devon.

Team behind Filipino concept Romulo Cafe & Restaurant to open second site: The team behind Filipino concept Romulo Cafe & Restaurant in London’s Kensington is to open a second restaurant, in Soho. Kasa and Kin will launch in Poland Street in September. It will feature an all-day restaurant and bar, a bakery and patisserie under one roof. Overseen by Michelin-starred chef and consultant Pat McDonald and Romulo’s executive chef, Jeremy Villanueva, Kasa and Kin will give a “contemporary twist to long-held family recipes”. During the day, Kasa and Kin will offer a selection of pastries, salads, sandwiches and hot dishes while in the evenings the robata grill will come to the fore, with dishes served alongside a selection of cocktails. The site will have 90 covers – 70 inside and 20 alfresco. Kasa means home and Kin means family in Filipino.

Benugo opens new restaurant in the Serpentine: Benugo, the operator of deli cafes and catering in high-profile venues such as the Natural History Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum, has opened a restaurant in the extension to the Serpentine’s north gallery. The Magazine has Slovakian-born chef Tomas Kolkus at the helm, and has a contemporary menu that puts “sustainability and seasonality at the heart of the kitchen”. It features several dishes following the “climavore” principles; farmed salmon has been removed from the menu, replaced by ingredients that have a regenerative effect on the planet, such as mussels that filter the water. The menu includes Wye Valley asparagus with miso aioli; and slow-roasted cauliflower with chickpea stew. There is a selection of organic and biodynamic wine offered by the tap as well as tea and coffee. Benugo commercial director Shane Kavanagh said: “Working on this project with the Serpentine galleries has been a dream come true. We’ve learned a phenomenal amount, and it’s encouraged us to ask some really interesting questions about how we produce and sell food across our industry.”

Fresh producer supplier launches £500,000 fundraise to help hospitality operators to move towards a closed-loop food system: Fresh producer supplier Pale Green Dot has launched a £500,000 fundraise to expand its operations and work more closely with UK hospitality operators to offer advice and practical solutions to move towards a closed-loop food system. Pale Green Dot will be providing chefs with information on the carbon footprint of every product line they supply, from production through to recycling, “offering a powerful tool on the chef’s journey to become carbon neutral”. It said using its services, restaurants will be better able to calculate the carbon footprint of their menus. Pale Green Dot is aiming to raise the funds via crowdfunding platform Seedrs and is offering 4.76% equity, giving a pre-money valuation of £10m. Pale Green Dot will use the funds to start upgrading its fleet of vehicles to be fully electric, create a carbon zero “last mile” delivery network and invest further in its farms to continue its research into regenerative and low impact farming methods while calculating the carbon footprint of all produce lines. Investment will also be made in growth, strategic team appointments and warehouse facilities to expand capacity while improving efficiency, which will help Pale Green Dot expand its geographic reach and reduce its own operational carbon footprint. Founder and chief executive Dray Simpson said: “We recognise the role top chefs have in creating trickle-down change in the nation’s eating habits, and that carbon labelling is the next issue that chefs need to address – 75% of consumers say they want details on the menu, and by working with us, chefs will be able to easily share detailed information with confidence.”

The Athenian co-founder launches Greek-Cypriot street food restaurant: Co-founder of Greek food restaurant brand The Athenian, Neofytos Christodoulou, has launched a Greek-Cypriot street food site called Smashing Plates. The restaurant has opened in St Thomas Street, London Bridge. Open all day, the restaurant specialises in gyros and offer a balance of both meat and plant-based Mediterranean dishes. Diners can order chicken, pork, lamb gyros and plant-based alternatives, marinated in Greek oregano for 24 hours before being seared to order. Sides include hand-cut fries served spicy, cheesy or dusted with house-made oregano salt. Also available are a range of salads. Christodoulou said: “Greek hospitality is based around being welcoming and generous – Smashing Plates is my interpretation of how I’ve always wanted to enjoy Greek street food – but made uncompromisingly with the best quality and freshly prepared ingredients we can lay our hands on.” As previously reported, Smashing Plates’ website shows there are future plans to launch restaurants in Canary Wharf, Tooting and Wembley, plus delivery kitchens in Hackney, Reading, Cambridge and Birmingham. Smashing Plates already operates a delivery kitchen in Battersea.

Former Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver chef opens pub in Englefield Green: Former Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver chef Steven Ellis has opened a pub in the Surrey village of Englefield Green. Ellis, who previously ran The Oxford Blue in nearby Old Windsor, has launched The Bailiwick in Wick Road. The succinct menu reflects Ellis’ commitment to offering guests alternatives to “prime” cuts of meat with dishes including Windsor Great Park roe deer braised leg croquette with morel mushroom and wild garlic. Ellis’ wife Ami is pastry chef and has crafted desserts that include rum roasted pineapple tatin. The drinks menu includes sparkling wine from Windsor Great Park.

The Culpeper Family Hospitality Group and Purity Brewing Company enter new partnership: Pub operator The Culpeper Family Hospitality Group (TCFHG) and Purity Brewing Company have entered into a new business partnership, which sees the businesses join forces in London. First founded in 2012, with the acquisition of The Culpeper Pub in Spitalfields, by co-founders Nico Treguer and Gareth Roberts, TCFHG has grown into a group of four boutique premium pubs across London led by managing director Sandy Jarvis. As part of the new long-term training and business partnership, Paul Halsey, chief executive and co-founder of Purity Brewing Company, will join the board of TCFHG. Halsey said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Purity to strengthen our presence in London. I’ve long been an admirer of Nico and his team’s professionalism and constant drive for excellence.” Both businesses said they have come together through a “mutual desire of driving quality and making a difference in the marketplace, using their collaboration as a greater force for good”. Both businesses have recently set about on a journey to become Certified B Corporations, balancing business purpose and profit. Treguer said: “Strengthening our partnership with Purity felt like an obvious next step in our journey. As a long-standing customer of Purity’s, we have always shared the same high quality, sustainability and community values. Combining this shared ethos with Paul’s [Halsey] extensive knowledge and expertise in hospitality, we are excited to work a lot more closely together for years to come.” As part of the deal, TCFHG will stock a range of Purity cask, keg and packaged brands.

Former JKS and Ole & Steen executives launch ‘riviera meets Provence’ concept in Harrods for second site: Unlocked Brands, the hospitality group made up of former executives of JKS Restaurants and Danish bakery business Ole & Steen, has opened a “riviera meets Provence” concept in Harrods. Harrods’ ground-floor restaurant location has been transformed into Juliette – an “elegant Provençale Rosé bar” with an events space, indoor dining and expansive outdoor terrace seating up to 100 guests. Juliette’s seasonal menu features French pithiviers, a puff pastry dome filled with layers of vegetables and fillings such as native lobster. As well as wine and champagne, the bar offers ice-cold beer on tap and a selection of cocktails. Unlocked Brands was founded in 2020 by Tristram Hillier, of Kanvass Projects, and Scott Ward, formerly of JKS Restaurants and Maze. The business brought in Simon Ward-Nicholson, previously of Ole & Steen and transport hub foodservice specialist SSP, as managing director earlier this year. Victoria Sheppard, owner of luxury cafe Queens of Mayfair, has joined the team to handle media and marketing strategy and brings valuable expertise in the luxury-lifestyle sector. This is the second site for Unlocked with the first being Homestead on London City Island.

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