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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 5th Aug 2021 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day: 

Itsu builds equity store pipeline as it gears up to open first franchise site: Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain created by Julian Metcalfe, has begun building its equity store pipeline as it gears up to open its first franchise site. Propel understands the circa 70-strong business has secured sites in Bath’s Stall Street and in St Peters Street, St Albans, for openings later this year. It is thought it is also close to securing a further site for its equity estate in a town in the south east. The business, in which Bridgepoint invested in June, will open its first ever franchise restaurant in Reading on Monday (9 August). The new restaurant is located at the Reading Gate Retail Park and will open in partnership with Heart with Smarts (HWS), which is operated by the team behind Pizza Hut Restaurants. The 2,970 square foot restaurant will offer customers the choice of freshly prepared “grab and go” takeaway options or a more leisurely dine-in experience. The venue will seat up to 160 customers and will operate with extended opening hours. It will also feature order and pay screens, with card-only payments, enabling customers to place their orders in under 40 seconds with a huge range of customisable options. Ganan Kanagathurai, chief executive of Itsu, said: “Located just off the M4 and a short trip from the city centre and football stadium, Reading Gate Retail Park is the perfect location for Itsu to engage a new audience that is looking for affordable dining. Reading’s population is growing rapidly and the new Queen Elizabeth Line that will further connect Reading to London promises to see this growth continue still further. We are very excited to be expanding Itsu’s presence in Reading and demonstrating to the local community what eating beautiful looks like. There is growing consumer demand for healthy food options that can be enjoyed either on the go, or in restaurants. We are delighted to be working in partnership with Heart with Smarts, for this Reading restaurant, which brings a wealth of experience in franchising and has demonstrated a real passion for the Itsu brand.” Last month, Propel revealed Itsu had signed an agreement with Savvi Dining Group to open the brand’s second franchise restaurant in the UK. The new restaurant, scheduled to open in late September, will be located at Food Central, the recently completed £168m expansion to Leicester’s Fosse Park shopping and leisure destination. Itsu’s first international franchise site will open in Brussels Airport in partnership with Autogrill. The company plans to open 100 new outlets, creating 2,000 jobs in the UK alone, within the next five years. 

Industry News: 

Sponsored message – Mapal Group introduces operations and compliance checklist application to the UK: After the successful acquisition of Swedish based technology provider, GetCompliant, earlier this year, and subsequent trials with multiple high-profile, multi-site restaurant coffee and pub brands in the UK, Mapal Group is launching its operational and compliance checklist tool to the market. An alternative to Trail, the application is created especially for hospitality and provides multi-site brands with digital checklists, audits, documentation storage, task training resources and performance tracking to helping them to stay compliant, save time, and achieve everyday goals swiftly and quickly. The tool has been successfully used for many years by operators throughout Scandinavia and by several delivery aggregators. It has been adopted by all UK operators included in the market entry trial. Find out more about this technology and others offered by Mapal Group, the operator-led technology solutions provider just for hospitality by clicking here. If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email

Next edition of Propel Blue Book of Turnover and Profitability shows £6bn of losses as pandemic takes effect: The next edition of the Propel Blue Book of Turnover and Profitability, produced in association with Mapal Group, shows that 180 companies out of the 352 featured are reporting a combined loss of £5.9bn. A further 172 companies are in profit by a collective £1.5bn. The next edition of the Blue Book will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday, 13 August, at midday, and will feature Propel insights editor Mark Wingett’s Ones to Watch, his guide to outstanding smaller companies. The Blue Book features 352 UK pub, restaurant, cafe and hotel operators with a total turnover of £29.6bn. The Blue Book, which is updated every month – on the second Friday of the month – provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Last Friday (30 July), Propel Premium subscribers received the updated database of multi-site companies for July, which is produced in association with Virgate. The latest edition of The Propel Multi-Site Database included 71 new companies, operating 477 sites between them, and increases the total number of companies on the database to 1,951. Subscribers received the database as a PDF and an Excel spreadsheet, they were also sent a 12,094-word report on the businesses added during July. 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. In a new feature this year, there is a synopsis of what the business does and significant news associated with it. It is updated at the end of every month. Subscribers also received a new database on Friday (30 July). The New Companies Database, produced in association with Starstock, focuses on the newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and will be updated at the end of every month. 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. 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.

Access Group acquires hospitality checklist app Trail: The Access Group has announced the acquisition of Trail, the hospitality checklist app. The company said Trail would be integrated into its Hospitality division to help customers increase productivity and maintain compliance. Trail replaces paper in hospitality businesses to “streamline operations, boost productivity and uncover efficiencies”. Access Group said: “When integrated with existing Access Group solutions, including training, HR and scheduling, EPoS, CRM, reservations, property maintenance and purchasing, all powered by Access Workspace, Trail becomes a complete operational hub.” The acquisition of Trail follows other recent deals for Access including Acteol CRM and CPL learning. Henry Seddon, managing director of Access Hospitality, said: “With operators facing an increased need to focus on productivity and compliance, adding Trail to the Access Group’s portfolio creates an unrivalled end-to-end offering that gives customers freedom to do more. Trail’s smart digital checklists let teams know exactly what to do and when to do it, reducing pressure on managers and team members. Dashboards and notifications give remote visibility to head office so operators can track performance, discover trends, and identify efficiencies. Trail closes the communication loop between individual sites and head office, allowing everyone to do more with less. I’m confident there’s a great cultural fit between the two companies, as well as experienced talent within the Trail team that will be a great addition to the Access Hospitality family.” Joe Cripps and Wil Grace, co-founders of Trail, will join Access Hospitality to help integration with existing hospitality software products through Access Workspace and steer further product development. Cripps said: “This is an exciting step for Trail. Since its creation in 2014, Trail has become the UK’s leading hospitality checklist app with strong integration into feedback, EPoS and TNA technology. Over the past year, the adoption of digital technology has accelerated in the hospitality industry and digital checklists will be key consideration for improving productivity as businesses get back on their feet. With staff shortages and high turnover currently making it even harder to maintain standards, Trail helps ease the pressure. Access Hospitality is well known for providing innovative technology solutions for the hospitality and leisure sector. Existing Trail customers will benefit from the company’s extensive experience in accelerating product development, investing in customer success and providing software that gives customers the freedom to focus on guest experiences.”

New York City to require proof of covid vaccination for indoor activities: New York City will require proof of vaccination for people attending indoor venues such as restaurants, gyms and shows, mayor Bill de Blasio has announced, making it the first major US city to introduce a vaccine pass. The mayor said it would apply to both staff and customers in those indoor spaces. It will be phased in from 16 August, with full enforcement by 13 September. De Blasio said he hoped other cities would implement similar measures. He said: “This is a miraculous place, literally full of wonders. If you’re vaccinated, all that’s going to open up to you. But if you’re unvaccinated, unfortunately you will not be able to participate in many things.”
Laundries warn hospitality industry price rises are inevitable: Commercial laundries serving the hospitality and leisure industries have issued a warning that price rises are inevitable. They have said cost increases and labour shortages are crippling their recovery after lockdowns and restrictions, resulting in them being forced to charge more. “There are massive inflationary pressures bearing down on our industry,” said David Stevens, chief executive of the Textile Services Association (TSA), which represents commercial laundries in the UK. “Commercial laundries are already on their knees, having had virtually no government help through lockdowns, despite seeing volumes drop by up to 80%. Now they’re being hit by price increases they can’t absorb – they simply don’t have the resources.” The cost increases faced by laundries cover just about every area of operation and amount to double-digit inflation. Labour shortages have led to wages going up by between 10% and 25%, with chemical costs rising by 15%. Many laundries also supply textiles services such as linen hire to the hospitality industry. Here the prices are skyrocketing, with sheeting and bedding up by 55% and container freight costs by 300%. In response to the acute labour shortage, the TSA is lobbying government to allow greater access to overseas workers and has requested further classifications of workers to be added to the shortage occupations list. UKHospitality is aware of the situation, and said 94% of hospitality businesses are already experiencing difficulties with the supply chain, through shortages, delays and inflation. Businesses that rely on commercial laundries include hotels, restaurants and health clubs.

Away Resorts acquires Aria Resorts: Leading UK holiday park operator Away Resorts has reached an agreement to acquire Aria Resorts. This acquisition follows CVC’s investment in Away Resorts in June 2021. The newly formed group will welcome more than 750,000 holidaymakers a year and be one of the largest holiday resort brands in the UK with more than 20 high-quality holiday park resorts and one award-winning luxury boutique hotel, across coastal and country locations. Both operators have experienced unprecedented demand in 2021. Away Resorts has seen bookings increase by 41% year-on-year with holiday home sales up 32% as guests have enjoyed a great British summer. The combined group has ambitious investment plans to continue to develop the existing estate as well as grow its footprint to enhance its market-leading position. Carl Castledine, chief executive of Away Resorts, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Aria to pursue our shared ambition of forming the leading staycation provider in the market. Our combined businesses, with a focus on customer care and top-quality facilities, will offer exceptional destinations for holidaymakers and holiday homeowners seeking to relax a little closer to home.”
Scottish hospitality sector calls for recovery plan: Business owners behind some of the country’s top hospitality venues have said Scotland needs to launch an industry-specific recovery plan if it has a chance of recuperating to pre-pandemic levels. Following first minster Nicola Sturgeon’s update yesterday, there is still no clear strategy for the sector that has been so significantly impacted by restrictions over the past 17 months. UK government business minister Paul Scully launched the UK Hospitality Strategy last month, outlining plans for the three “Rs”: reopening, recovery and resilience, which will support workers back into jobs, focus on training to match the industry’s digital transformation, offer support for rent management and promote the trade internationally to build back. Now Scottish Hospitality Group members are calling for a similar plan of action north of the border that encourages employees back into the sector, creates sustainable long-term jobs, improves city centres, and sets out a strategy for future-proofing after extended closures. Stephen Montgomery of Scottish Hospitality Group said: “Scotland is moving in the right direction and we welcome the easing of restrictions, but it needs to go further. We need a recovery plan now that will entice people back into the sector and give them confidence that they are entering a stable industry again. The lockdown has shown how hospitality can adapt in city centres and we are willing to put our weight behind new ways of operating, but we need support behind us to ensure that there are long-term solutions supported by the country and we are not left on our own again.” 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is currently on the lookout for a commercial finance director to join a hospitality and facilities management business. The role is based in the Surrey area, paying circa £80,000. This role will provide commercial oversight to the UK sales function for this growing business. This will be a pivotal role with responsibility for delivering profitable, sustainable and long-term growth. A spokesman said: “We are looking for someone who has experience of the bid/contract tender process and understands how to competitively tender, assemble and manage a specialist commercial team that will work closely with the UK sales functions, offering commercial oversight while building our proposals, negotiating with the client and subsequently supporting the mobilisation. The goal is to support a successful client relationship to allow operational management to make the client’s worlds the best they can be.” If this sounds like an interesting role and you’re keen to find out more, email
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Company News:

McDonald’s UK promotes ‘world-class leader and marketer’: McDonald’s UK and Ireland has appointed Michelle Graham-Clare to senior vice-president, chief marketing officer. The company stated: “Since joining the business in January 2015, Michelle has played a pivotal leadership role in the UK & Ireland marketing team, holding a number of key roles across all categories, most recently in the role of VP, marketing and food development. Michelle, who worked as a crew member at McDonald’s earlier in life, will take ultimate responsibility for all food strategy and marketing campaigns as well as continuing to lead her marketing teams and agency partners. Her leadership over the past 18 months has been pivotal as she helped the business through the pandemic, with award-winning work, delivering record-breaking brand scores for the UK and Irish business. When McDonald’s faced the challenge of closing and reopening more than 1,400 restaurants in 2020, connecting with customers, understanding their concerns and providing reassurances around the steps the business had taken was paramount, and, ultimately, played a significant role in successfully welcoming customers back. The quality of work delivered by both internal teams and agency partners speaks volumes to Michelle’s long-term emphasis on developing the talent around her. She has overseen the exceptional delivery of a leading food strategy, and award-winning marketing campaigns including the McCafe range, Spicy McNuggets and the Grand Big Mac, which is currently the most successful promotion to date for UK and Ireland. Michelle also plays a leading role in the development and execution of the Trust strategy, which runs McDonald’s marketing campaigns and communications across the business. This also encompasses our charity partnerships and community work, ranging from the long-term relationship with Ronald McDonald House Charities, to the new partnership with Fareshare that saw five million meals provided for families in need. Michelle is a mum of two, and is committed to championing women in business through her role in the women’s leadership network and mentoring across the business. Paul Pomroy, chief executive of McDonald’s UK & Ireland, said: “I am delighted to announce Michelle’s promotion. What has always been clear to me is that Michelle is a visionary marketer with strong business and commercial acumen and a passionate brand advocate. Since taking responsibility for the marketing team last year, she has demonstrated her strong, brave and balanced leadership to create a marketing and food strategy that truly seeks to connect with our customers through understanding the role McDonald’s plays in their lives and the communities we serve. The role of chief marketing officer is critical to our ongoing success as a brand, and I know that in Michelle we have a world-class leader and marketer.”
Electric Star Pubs to open eighth site: Electric Star Pubs, which is led by Ron Star, is to open its eighth site, the Lord Napier pub in Hackney Wick. Unique features include a huge 80-seater roof terrace boasting panoramic views across Hackney Wick with two first-floor function rooms that can be booked for private parties, meetings and other gatherings. Star said: “I used to go to parties at The Lord Napier in the early 2000s and for many years it has been my dream to turn it back into a proper boozer. I have been working with landlord Stewart Schwartz for more than six years to turn that dream into a reality and sometimes I still can’t quite believe it’s actually happening. It’s the only pub in Hackney Wick, so I will be making sure it appeals to as many people in the community as possible. It will also be my local because I only live a stone’s throw away, so it needs to be extra special.” The in-house food will offer Hackney flavours from northern Thailand, based around punchier and much more complex notes from neighbouring countries Laos, Myanmar and China. A spokesman added: “This will be Electric Star Pubs’ eighth venture, with its first being the Star of Bethnal Green. However, no two pubs are ever the same. Catering for different demographics in each location, every pub is built from the ground up to suit its location and local community. The Lord Napier is no different. Falling back to its indoor pub roots with exterior coated in graffiti, The Lord Napier is set be one of the best-looking pubs in the eight-pub arsenal.”
Lupo Bros to open Fitzrovia site: Lupo Bros, the south west London-based cafe concept, is to open its first central London site, in Fitzrovia. Propel understands the company, which is led by James and Matthew Drago-Ferrante, has secured the Bibimbap site in Charlotte Street, for an opening later this year. Lupo Bros currently operates sites in East Sheen and Wimbledon Park. Korean concept Bibimbap currently operates a restaurant in Soho’s Greek Street and a smaller format site in St Swithin’s Lane, near Cannon Street. CDG Leisure is understood to have acted on the Fitzrovia deal.

Heaven nightclub to be turned into pop-up covid vaccination centre: London late-night venue Heaven is to become the UK’s first nightclub to be turned into a pop-up covid vaccination centre. More than 1,000 doses of the Pfizer jab will be available at the club near Charing Cross on Sunday, 8 August, from midday until 9pm. Jeremy Joseph, who owns the G-A-Y group of London and Manchester bars, which includes Heaven, urged Londoners to take up the opportunity. He said people would be able to turn up on the day or book an appointment. London’s night czar Amy Lamé said: “Nightclubs have always been part of the covid solution and I’m really proud to be working with NHS England, Westminster City Council and Jeremy Joseph to make this happen.” Pop-up clinics have been used by health officials to ramp up their drive to vaccinate younger adults. Last month, a similar clinic opened at Thorpe Park in Surrey that allowed people to get a vaccine before riding a roller coaster.

Shaftesbury appoints Matt Thompson to new role of head of property insights: Landlord Shaftesbury, which owns a 16-acre portfolio in the heart of London’s West End, has appointed Matt Thompson to the newly created role of head of property insights. The role will see Thompson provide cross-sector and consumer insights to help drive the company’s portfolio curation strategy, as well as support the performance of Shaftesbury’s occupiers across the portfolio. He joins Shaftesbury from Colliers, where, most recently, he was head of retail strategy. Brian Bickell, chief executive of Shaftesbury, said: “Matt’s in-depth understanding of our industry, its customers and domestic and international consumer trends, combined with his extensive experience, is a great addition to our skill sets and local knowledge, which enables us to continue to develop our research capabilities and evolve our highly regarded curation strategies for our popular West End villages.” Thompson said: “As we emerge from the pandemic disruption, I am excited to have the opportunity to build on the work Shaftesbury has been doing to support its occupiers and contribute to shaping the future of its unrivalled West End portfolio.”

UberEats UK introduces feature that displays calorie information: Delivery firm UberEats UK has introduced a new feature that displays calorie information on meals. UberEats customers will now be able to see how many calories are in each meal, after it launched a new in-app feature to “help the nation make healthier choices”. Calorie information will initially be listed by Pizza Hut, Leon and Burger King, with more restaurants to follow. Sunjiv Shah, general manager for UberEats in the UK and Ireland, said: “It is more important than ever to focus on our own health in light of the covid-19 pandemic. We want to empower our customers to make healthier choices. This is why we’re giving them the information they need to compare different meals and make an informed decision about what they order.” Nick Ayerst, managing director of Leon, said: “We’re delighted to partner with UberEats in trialling this welcome new feature. At Leon, our mission is to make it easier for everyone to eat well and live well, which is why we serve naturally fast food that tastes good, does you good and is kind to the planet. We champion transparency and the sharing of information about the food any business is serving and already provide the full nutritional information of our meals online and in our restaurants, allowing our customers to make informed decisions about what they are eating.”
Marco Pierre White’s son to expand Luccio’s concept: Marco Pierre White’s son Luciano is to open the second site under his Italian restaurant concept Luccio’s, in Exeter. The first Luccio’s opened on the former Carluccio’s site in Dorchester’s Brewery Square at the end of last year. The business has now secured the ex-Carluccio’s in Exeter’s Princesshay shopping centre for an opening this summer. Luciano Pierre White said: “I am hugely excited to be opening my second Italian restaurant in the heart of Exeter in a few weeks’ time. We have an authentic and affordable menu that includes main courses for £12.50 with a complimentary glass of wine. We aim to serve the best-quality Italian food and beverages.” It is understood that an opening of a third Luccio’s is being considered in Woking, Surrey.
Soho House opens second Mollie’s: Soho House has opened it second super-luxe Mollie’s motel, this time on the corner of Cribbs Causeway, close to the M5 junction near Bristol. The £15m investment has created 60 jobs with the promise it will “transform travel in the area with its own distinctive and disruptive ‘budget-luxe’ offering”. Rooms start at just £50 a night for a double. It features 123 Soho House-designed rooms across three floors, all-day food and cocktails served at the 195-cover diner and heated terrace, as well as a communal workspace with free bottomless tea and Mollie’s own artisanal house coffee blend. “Mollie’s is a stylish, fun, brand new concept in hotels that is discerning, design-led and surprisingly affordable, and we have high hopes that it will quickly become Britain’s favourite stopover,” said Mollie’s site manager Darren Sweetland. “Cribbs Causeway, with its incredible links to Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and the south west, was the perfect choice for our second site. We have invested £15m in the property and are proud that we have created 60 new jobs for the local economy, hiring individuals from the surrounding area as part of our commitment to provide opportunity to people within the local community. Mollie’s also marks a new era of positivity for the UK hospitality sector, bringing employment, growth and energy to the market,” he added.

Hop secures £600,000 of new funding, secures Paternoster Square site: London-based Vietnamese street food concept Hop, which was acquired by a new vehicle set up by founder Paul Hopper earlier this year, has raised £600,000 of new funding to aid its further expansion, Propel has learned. The new investment has been provided from the business’ existing shareholders, which includes current Burger King UK and Parkdean Resorts chairman Martin Robinson. The company will use some of the funding to open a new site in early October in Queens Head Passage, Paternoster Square, and for a further site next year. Hopper acquired Hop via a pre-pack administration for a total consideration of £80,000 through new vehicle Cau Lau Holdings. The company operated sites in Broadgate, the Cheesegrater, Coleman Street, Cullum Street and London Wall, and it is thought Hopper was in negotiations with landlords with a view to entering into new agreements where commercially viable. The Broadgate site has so far reopened.
McDonald’s to continue delivery kitchen rollout with Sutton site: McDonald’s UK is to continue the rollout of its delivery kitchen format, with an opening in south London. Propel understands the Paul Pomroy-led business is set to open a delivery site in Sutton. In June, Propel revealed the fast food giant had opened its second UK delivery kitchen site in Partnership Park in Fratton, Portsmouth. It came 17 months after the company opened its first UK delivery kitchen site in Hanworth, west London, which it launched to “meet a boom in demand for home deliveries”. The opening in Hanworth in November 2019 was part of a wider trial by McDonald’s to test different restaurant formats. Earlier in 2019, the company had opened McDonald’s to Go, a small format restaurant, in Fleet Street, London. At the same time, Propel understands Wagamama is also set to add to its delivery kitchen estate with an opening in Sutton.
The Coffee House secures ninth site: North west-based independent coffee shop The Coffee House is to continue its expansion in the region, with the opening of a new site in Warrington. The company, which was established by Chris and Stephen Shelmerdine in July 2011, plans to open its ninth site at the beginning of September, on the former Patisserie Valerie site in the town’s Golden Square’s Old Market Place. It will create 15 jobs. The brothers also have Coffee House branches in Sale, Partington, Widnes, Huyton, Northwich, Bootle and, most recently, Runcorn. Chris Shelmerdine said: “This year is a significant milestone for us as we will be celebrating our tenth anniversary, and what better way than to open in a location where we know so many of our existing customers shop regularly.”
Middletons secures Leamington Spa site for tenth restaurant: Norfolk-based Middletons Steakhouse and Grill is to return to the expansion trail with an opening in Leamington Spa. The nine-strong group, which is led by Stephen Hutton, has secured the former Gusto Italian site in the town’s Regent Court, for an opening later this year. Hutton said: “Work on the former Gusto site will start soon and we expect the refurbishment to cost around £500,000. If all goes to plan, and it usually does, we will open in November in time for a busy Christmas.” In December last year, the business opened on the former Cafe Rouge site in Cambridge’s Bridge Street. The company opened its first Middletons Steakhouse and Grill in King’s Lynn in 2010. Its other sites are in Chelmsford, Colchester, Leicester, Milton Keynes, Norwich, Peterborough and Watford. Jake Bernstone, of Stonebrook London, acted on the Leamington Spa deal.
Team behind Berber & Q to open new restaurant in October: Brothers Josh and Paul Katz and Mattia Bianchi, the team behind Berber & Q and Shawarma Bar will open a north African and East Mediterranean-inspired restaurant in Queen’s Park, London, in October. Carmel, in Lonsdale Road, will have an all-day menu with wine at the heart of its offer, incorporating a list of 60 wines. Breakfast dishes with bold, Middle Eastern flavours alongside freshly roasted coffee from Origin Coffee will be available at the start of the day. Lunch options include flatbreads, while evening meals, cooked a wood-fired oven, feature Tamworth pork chops with confit garlic, preserved lemon and borlotti, or slow-grilled chicken from Sutton Hoo with curry-pickled radicchio and apricot glaze. Josh Katz said: “My brother and I opened Berber & Q six years ago and Carmel maintains our core ethos of celebrating good company and eating great food, cooked simply, with real care and passion. The menu continues to take inspiration from the Levant and makes good use of the wood-fired oven. Mattia has had real fun with the wine list and we have created a list that shows off some of the most exciting producers out there.”

Dishoom releases new home feast kit, meals ready in about 30 minutes: Indian restaurant group Dishoom will release a new home meal kit containing a selection of its most-loved dishes. Dishoom Home Feast contains all the ingredients and know-how to prepare a spread of grills, curries, breads, sides and pudding, in little more than half an hour. There are vegetarian and meat dishes included in the kit that will provide a plentiful meal for two to four diners. Kits are priced at £60 (excluding delivery) and for every kit sold, Dishoom will donate a meal to its long-term charity partner, Akshaya Patra, an organisation that provides free meals to school children in India. Orders can be placed now, with deliveries beginning on Thursday, 12 August. Kababs, which arrive pre-marinated, ready to skewer and grill include Lamb Sheekh Kabab and Murgh Malai. Accompanying curries need simply to be warmed through and include vegetarian favourite Mattar Paneer. Tawa Roti dough balls come ready to be rolled and cooked. To finish, there’s Gulkand Mess, Dishoom’s take on a classic Eton Mess. All dishes come with bottled Mango Lassi and easy-to-follow instructions with links to video tutorials by Dishoom’s executive chef Naved Nasir. 
Japan Centre to open sister site to its Heddon Yokocho ramen bar: Japan Centre, the Japanese food hall in Soho led by Shoryu Ramen founder Tak Tokumine, which is also behind Heddon Yokocho ramen bar, is to open a retro 1970s-style sister site called Panton Yokocho. Panton Yokocho will have 120 covers and is located in a 5,800 square foot site on Panton Street, off Leicester Square, Soho. It will serve regional ramen from the cold island of northern Japan to the tropical climate of the south, this time with the addition of noodle favourites udon and soba. Guests will be transported back in time to the 1970s Yokocho “alleyways” of Tokyo, where they’ll be immersed in vibrant Showa era ambiance and retro tastes of the decade. The menu will celebrate the history of ramen, udon and soba and the differences of regional noodle cuisine in Japan, offering speciality bowls with different broths and noodle genres from across Japan, with prices starting at £11.90. Panton Yokocho is slated to open in early September.

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