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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 16th Aug 2021 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Payne – we plan to invest ‘a lot of money’ in our managed estate, cocktail sales leading the way with Slug & Lettuce delivering ‘unbelievable’ numbers: Ian Payne, executive chairman of Stonegate Group, the TDR Capital-backed business, which last March completed a £1.3bn deal for Ei Group, has said the company plans to invest “a lot of money” in its managed estate in its next financial year. Speaking on Propel’s Friday Wrap series, Payne said: “We’re sitting here with circa 4,560 pubs and our plan has always been to put the right format in the right pub. Will we build our managed estate? Yes. We are doing that and we plan to invest a lot of money in that area in the next financial year, which starts in October. Will we build Craft Union? Yes. We have already done about 50 Craft Union transfers during lockdown, which has been quite incredible. Do will still believe in a strong leased and tenanted estate? Yes, and we are investing behind that as well. With the number of sites we have got and the capital to invest that we have got, everything is in place to deliver our plans. Does that involve more M&A? Not at the moment, but we will always look at everything that comes up, which we have done since we launched in 2010. We have never worried about what size the business would be, it is about being the best, that’s all that matters. The frustrating thing is we are 16 months behind the strategic plan we put in place, but we will get there.” In terms of how the business has performed since the sector’s reopening, Payne said: “[Chief executive] Simon Longbottom and I both thought the thing people would miss the most was cask ale, which probably shows you our age. We were completely wrong, people have missed cocktails. The two standout brands since reopening have been Be At One and Slug & Lettuce. The latter has delivered some unbelievable numbers. I have known some of these sites for 20 years and they are now doing numbers I didn’t think possible. Be At One is also trading unbelievably well. We have got a Slug in Lincoln with a huge terrace, from 12 April it was selling 6,000 cocktails per week, just with the outside area open. The number one trend since we reopened has been the growing appetite for cocktails. What we call our proper pubs, mainly drink-led, and mainly appealing to a slighter older customer, have not done as well. Having said that, almost all of them are sports-led and we are very hopeful those businesses will pick up again now the football season has begun. The other area is the City of London, which is very problematic at the moment. We have five sites within walking distance of Fenchurch Street station and there is nobody there at present. London coming back in September is something we are going to watch very closely, because it is very important to us. It is not so bad in the West End or the suburbs, but the City is very difficult.”

Industry News: 

Propel Premium subscribers to receive updated database of multi-site companies on Friday, 27 August, with at least 53 businesses added: The next edition of The Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, will be sent to Premium subscribers at midday on Friday, 27 August, and will contain at least 53 new companies – and is updated every month. The 53 new companies operate 385 sites between them. 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. Premium subscribers will also receive the second edition of The New Openings Database at exactly the same time on Friday, 27 August. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and will be updated every month. Meanwhile, subscribers also have access to another database called Turnover & Profits Blue Book. The Blue Book, which is also updated every month, with the latest version having been sent out on Friday (13 August), provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. 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.

More than 7,000 licensed premises still closed: More than 7,000 licensed premises have not yet returned after last month’s “Freedom Day”, the latest Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners reveals. While it is expected that some are still planning their restart or are waiting for trading conditions to improve – especially in Scotland and Wales, where restrictions were lifted later than in England – others are unlikely to open again. According to the Market Recovery Monitor just under 5,000 of Britain’s licensed premises opened their doors again in July to bring the sector to more than 90% of its capacity. The wave of reopenings was partly triggered by Freedom Day in England on 19 July, which allowed many venues, in particular nightclubs and late-night bars, to trade for the first time since March 2020. Across Britain, 98,790 licensed premises were open by the end of July – 93% of the total known sites. The report highlights sharp contrasts between sectors of the hospitality market, including a stronger reopening for eating venues than drinking ones – 98.1% of food-led licensed premises were back trading by the end of July, compared with 91.4% of wet-led sites. Managed restaurant, pub and bar groups are, meanwhile, returning at a faster pace than independents. Some 98.7% of managed sites are now open – significantly higher than the 89.9% of independently run venues. The new Market Recovery Monitor also provides a review of hospitality’s site numbers over the course of the pandemic. Britain’s total licensed premises plunged by more than 9,000 between spring 2020 and 2021 – 8.1% of the pre-covid total, and equivalent to one net closure every hour. However, total site numbers have edged up slightly in the past two months, indicating confidence and investment in the sector are starting to return. AlixPartners managing director Graeme Smith said: “The long-awaited Freedom Day marked the beginning of a new chapter for hospitality with the focus for operators now shifting to securing a return to viability after almost 18 months of closure and heavily restricted trading. But more than 7,000 sites remain in limbo and the question now must be whether these venues will ever reopen under their current ownership or be lost permanently. The well-publicised challenges in the market around labour and product supply only add to a complex picture during what should be peak trading season, with operators across the country taking drastic action through reducing their hours or closing as a direct consequence of these issues.”
AlixPartners is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
Walkers launches Taste Icons to support local restaurants: Walkers has launched a range of four crisp flavours under the Taste Icons banner inspired by restaurants – and is offering customers £5 off their next meal out. When customers pick up a bag of the new Walkers Taste Icons crisps, which have been inspired by classic restaurant flavours, customers can get £5 off their food bill – at more than 3,000 local restaurants across the UK. The voucher also means that those choosing to only spend the minimum of £20 while dining can get 25% off their food bill. The four new flavours include the Madras Curry from The Radhuni in Edinburgh, classic and crispy Fish and Chips from Yorkshire-based Wetherby Whaler, creamy Thai Green Curry with a hint of zingy spice from Mantra Thai Dining in Newcastle and Chicken Burrito from Yucca in London. To claim the discount, customers need to buy a pack, go to and select a participating local restaurant near them. They receive a QR code voucher, which they can enjoy in any of the restaurants listed. The promotion runs until 15 February 2022, and the discount is only valid on meals.

Independent spirit distilleries see turnover rise 8%: The turnover of independent UK spirit distilleries hit £1.87bn last year, up from £1.72bn, an increase of 8% versus the previous year, according to private equity investment firm Growthdeck. The turnover of independent gin distilleries increased by 15% in the past year, more than twice the rate of growth of whisky distillers, which grew by 6% in the same period. Growthdeck said consumer demand for locally produced drinks and new, unique flavours has fuelled the premium craft spirit trend. This has helped boost the turnover of these independent spirit distilleries. During lockdown, consumers spent an extra £566.8m on spirits as people mixed their own cocktails at home and continued their increased adoption of premium and craft brands.
McDonald’s moves to requiring US office workers to be vaccinated: McDonald’s is requiring US-based office workers to get covid-19 vaccinations and is delaying the return of employees to its corporate offices until October. The company said it was pushing back its planned office reopening to 11 October from 7 September to allow employees time to get the required vaccinations. Heidi Capozzi, McDonald’s global chief people officer, in an internal note to US-based employees, said “a resurgence of infections caused by covid-19 variants has many of us uneasy” and the company was revising its plans. “We have decided to transition from strongly encouraging vaccinations to requiring vaccinations for all US-based staff,” the note said. Capozzi added “employees who are already fully vaccinated are welcome, and encouraged, to still return to the office on Tuesday, 7 September”.

RedCat believed to have paid more than £60m for Coaching Inn Group, deal may put pressure on Greene King: Propel insights editor Mark Wingett believes RedCat Pub Company's deal to buy 18-strong Coaching Inn Group could put pressure on Greene King to do a deal. In his Friday Premium Opinion column, he wrote: “[RedCat] is believed to have paid up to and possibly more than £60m to secure Coaching Inn Group. It has then already taken a chunk out of the £200m it has secured from backer Oaktree Capital to enter the UK pub sector. It now has about 70 pubs under its wing, and is starting to gain scale, and obviously won't stop there. With founder Kevin Charity and chief finance officer Edward Walsh continuing to lead and run the business within RedCat, the company is perfectly positioned to build its presence, scale and momentum. How rapidly it will enable RedCat to expand within the UK pub hotels sector is another question, although there is still plenty to go after here, with the likes of Inn Collection, Cirrus Inns, Red Lion Holdings and Stay Original Group also making inroads. With around 950 market towns to target, there is plenty of runway for the business, which was backed by the BGF since 2015, to go after. Talking of BGF, it has had mixed success with the businesses it has backed in the sector, but Coaching Inn Group has been one of its better bets, and it should get a healthy return on its investment. I wonder what Anand’s old company Greene King will make of his latest deal. I understand earlier this year, the Nick Mackenzie-led business was in talks to acquire Coaching Inn Group, which had been assessing its options pre-pandemic. I expect that part of any deal would have seen Charity and his management team incentivised to grow sales at a number of Old English Inns sites. Greene King will now perhaps come under pressure to make a significant investment in that estate or get left behind in the ‘staycation’ scramble.”

Charlie McVeigh – good company culture will be crucial in the 24 months: Draft House founder and Breakfast Club chairman Charlie McVeigh has argued good company culture will be crucial in navigating the next 24 months. Writing in Propel Premium Opinion, he stated: “It’s one of the great platitudes of our sector that people are the heart of our businesses. Clearly some of those people, coming out of a period where they have experienced another way of living, don’t feel the same way. For the moment, with the VAT and rates holiday, many operations are making money despite having to increase pay – in some cases, dramatically. However, with balance sheets burdened by debt and the tax burden set to return, many face a difficult 2022. Good culture and the resilience it brings will be crucial as teams are asked to take leap after leap of faith while their employers stabilise in the next 18 to 24 months. This is, at least in part, because while we may have to ask for greater sacrifice, we also have to return to growth. Because without growth, the best people will leave.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is looking to speak to experienced hotel general managers who are interested in taking up a post in Cork, Ireland. A spokesman said: “This is an excellent opportunity for an experienced hotel general manager from a luxury background to join the team of this fantastic hotel in Cork. The position is paying between €85,000 and €90,000, with a strong bonus and benefits. The candidate will be responsible for leading the management team, maximising overall hotel targets both financial and operational, and delivering an excellent guest experience. As general manager, you will also be required to manage profitability and guest satisfaction measures. Ideally, the business is looking for an experienced general manager with luxury hotel experience, strong commercial acumen and proven experience in increasing profitability. A degree or diploma in hotel management or equivalent would also be ideal.” Anyone interested in finding out more and applying can email
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Company News: 

Ole & Steen lines up Chiswick opening: Danish baker Ole & Steen is set to further add to its presence in London, with an opening in Chiswick. Propel understands Ole & Steen has secured the former GAP Kids site at 260-262 Chiswick High Street for an opening later this year. Earlier this year, the company opened on the former Cafe Rouge in Hampstead High Street, which became its 13th site in the capital. At the time, chief executive Jason Cotta said the business was in a robust shape coming out of the UK lockdown and was planning to continue its accelerated new openings programme throughout this year and into 2022.
Ole & Steen features in Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which was updated on Friday (13 August) for Premium subscribers. Ole & Steen has turned over an average of £10.9m in the past four years. The Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, provides a five-year overview of turnover and profit, ranks the 351 companies according to turnover, pre-tax profit and profit conversion. It also provides details of directors’ earnings and highest paid directors and now includes Propel insight editor Mark Wingett’s “Propel Pick” – his pick of the companies well-placed to grow in the post-pandemic era. 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.

The Inn Collection Group hits 25-site mark with York deal: The Inn Collection Group has secured historic York property The Dean Court Hotel as it continues to expand its pubs with rooms estate across the north of England. The landmark grade II-listed 40-bedroom property will begin trading immediately under The Inn Collection Group’s “Eat, Drink, Sleep and Explore” trading brand. The undisclosed deal takes The Inn Collection Group’s total site count to 25 and is its fifth Yorkshire venue, as the group looks to expand its market base further across the county with further acquisitions in the pipeline. The site will continue trading in line with the group’s food-driven pubs with accommodation model ahead of a sympathetic refurbishment in 2022. Managing director Sean Donkin said: “The Dean Court Hotel is an extraordinary site. We have had York in our sights for a considerable time and are looking forward to operating here and welcoming the Dean Court staff team and customers into The Inn Collection Group family.” The deal was negotiated by Colliers. Ward Hadaway corporate partner Imogen Holland provided legal advice on the acquisition with Method Building Consultancy on pre diligence. The acquisition is the Alchemy-backed group’s sixth purchase of the year as it rolls out a new wave of acquisition and organic growth strategy, supported with banking from OakNorth. In June, the group made its Wearside debut with the opening of The Seaburn Inn on Sunderland seafront. Elsewhere The Inn Collection Group’s portfolio includes sites in Northumberland, the Lake District, County Durham and Lancashire.

Marston’s appoints Mag Dixon as new commercial marketing director, exchanges on new HQ: Marston’s has appointed Mags Dixon, formerly of Itsu and Pizza Hut, as its new commercial marketing director, Propel has learned. Dixon will join Marston’s on 20 September from Itsu where she currently holds the role of marketing director, further strengthening the pub company’s executive team. Marston’s said Dixon has spent most of her career in multi-site retailing helping senior leadership teams deliver change and transformation, “creating cultures of quality, service and innovation”. It said: “Mags is a highly experienced marketeer with board director and chief marketing officer experience. Mags brings with her a proven track record of success with Whitbread and Yum! Brands and vast experience in high-profile brand development. Her previous experience includes the development and implementation of a brand strategy for international markets at Costa Coffee and the growth of the Pizza Hut brand and annual sales.” Earlier this year, Andrew Carlill, stepped down as group marketing and commercial director of Marston’s. Carlill, who had been with the business for more than 15 years, was previously managing director of pubs and bars at Marston’s. Meanwhile, Marston’s has exchanged on the purchase of St John’s House, in Wolverhampton, for the site of the company’s new headquarters. The new office space is set to house the current head office team and will also allow for future growth and employment opportunities. The office plans will consolidate all the company’s facilities under one roof, which will include training and development for head office employees and pub team members. Work is due to start on site in January 2022 and with a target date of completion in January 2023.

Snowfox Group to make US college move: Snowfox Group, the global multi-channel, multi-brand Japanese and Asian food group, which owns YO!, is to make a push into US colleges with the opening of concessions, Propel has learned. It is understood the Richard Hodgson-led business will launch its Bento Sushi-branded concessions on to about 15 US college campuses over the coming months. Earlier this year, the business changed its name to the Snowfox Group, as it considers a possible initial public offering (IPO). The company changed its name to reflect the rapid growth of its US operations, with circa 75% of its profits coming from the US. The business also appointed bankers at Numis to advise on its strategic options, which could result in a potential IPO in London. The newly named Snowfox Group brings together four businesses in the US, UK, Canada, and will be the corporate entity to sit above the company’s four brands – Snowfox, Taiko, Bento and YO!. The company said it also reflects the business is now the leading international, multi-channel Japanese food business, selling more than 60 million trays of sushi a year. Propel understands the group is growing at twice the rate of the market, and has been for the past five years. Snowfox is majority-owned by Mayfair Equity Partners, which acquired the YO! Sushi business in 2015, and funded the subsequent takeover of Canada's Bento Sushi, and the merger with Snowfox in the US last year. 

Saint Espresso secures sixth site with Angel Central deal: London-based neighbourhood cafe and coffee roasters, Saint Espresso, has secured its sixth site in the capital. The company has agreed a deal with CBRE Global Investors to open an outlet at Angel Central. The kiosk situated within the central plaza is the second Islington location for Saint Espresso, around the corner from its debut cafe, in Pentonville Road. A spokesman said: “Our organic growth is a direct result of our approach in creating design-led cafes, where our customers can find their ‘place’ and take a moment to retreat from their daily routines. We pride ourselves on the relationships we build within all of our local neighbourhoods and it is a pleasure to have this opportunity to be in the heart of Angel, Islington.” Ciara Daffy, asset manager at CBRE Global Investors, added: “With strong roots already in Angel, Saint Espresso’s relationship with the local area and passion for coffee makes for the ideal occupier of this prime unit.” CBRE and CWM represent Angel Central for both retail and leisure enquiries.

Gravity founders open multi-attraction experiential site in Wandsworth: The founders of trampoline park operator Gravity have opened a new multi-attraction experiential site in London. The venue offers eight immersive experiences under one roof and is set over three floors, covering 80,000 square foot of the Southside shopping centre in Wandsworth. Southside’s joint owners, Landsec and Invesco Real Estate, have partnered with Gravity to redevelop the former Debenhams, as part of their strategy to redefine the destination’s offer and support the introduction of new and innovative concepts. The site contains the UK’s first multi-level high tech electric go-kart racetrack and a first-of-its-kind bowling alley in the UK, with a choice of projected gaming images on to the alley. The venue sees further evolution of Gravity’s core offering of trampoline parks, with the incorporation of a ten-hole crazy golf experience, Japanese noodle restaurant, dedicated e-sports centre, and old-fashioned pub games. Gravity Southside is family focused during the day, with live music and a high-end cocktail bar designed to attract a younger crowd from the evening. Gravity co-founder Harvey Jenkinson said: “Wandsworth signals a new chapter for Gravity, as our biggest opening yet. Gravity is only six years old and we are pushing the boundaries of leisure entertainment in the UK with a model that is also commercially successful. We are using new technology to create immersive experiences in strategically important locations in the centre of towns and cities that will attract new customers, increase footfall for landlords and breathe life back into the high street, replacing traditional shopping with fun and entertainment.” In 2018, Gravity’s founders Jenkinson and Michael Harrison received a £3m investment from Guinness Asset Management to expand into other areas of experiential leisure. Guinness Asset Management had previously invested £5m in Gravity, which opened its first trampoline park in 2015 and operates 16 sites across the UK and a franchise in the Middle East. Time Retail Partners and Colliers advise on the food and beverage and leisure for Landsec and Invesco Real Estate at Southside. Savills represented Gravity.

Interactive football and entertainment concept spanning 30,000 square foot launches at The O2: A 30,000 square foot interactive football and entertainment concept has launched at The O2 in London. Toca Social aims to fuse the worlds of football, food, drinks and live music “to create a memorable experience”. The venue offers interactive football games that use artificial intelligence-enabled technology alongside food and drink. Guests are able to choose from 17 interactive football-based games, enabled by innovative ball delivery and tracking technology, with each booth providing space for up to 12 people. Toca Social said it “bridges the physical and digital worlds in a way never seen before” and each game has been designed for all ages, abilities, and have different levels of football interest. The menu, created by Michelin-trained chef Ross Clarke, is inspired by modern Americana “with twists from around the world”. The venue includes three bars while a dessert room filled with “Willy Wonka”-inspired creations will be coming soon. The concept is the brainchild of former US international footballer Eddie Lewis, who played for Derby County, Fulham, Leeds United and Preston North End. Lewis is founder of Toca, which owns 12 football training centres in the US and 18 affiliates throughout North America. Toca Social president Alex Harman said: “This space has provided us with everything we need to kickstart Toca Social’s journey.” Toca Social has taken a long-term lease with Waterfront Limited Partnership, a joint venture between AEG Europe and Crosstree Real Estate Partners, which own and manage Icon Outlet and the Entertainment District at The O2. 

Doppio Malto makes UK debut in Glasgow: Italian craft beer bar and restaurant group Doppio Malto has opened its first UK venue, in Glasgow. Taking over the former Jamie’s Kitchen site in the city’s George Square, the new venue is offers a little taste of Italy with its “premium beer and top food” offering. Doppio Malto, which means “double malt”, is set over two floors, comprising a ground-floor beer lounge, a 180-cover restaurant, and an open “cucina” kitchen. It will also feature a basement bar, including an Italian “giardino” area. Doppio Malto Glasgow offers a wide selection of Italian dishes, including homemade pizzas, pasta, speciality meats cooked on the grill and Italian desserts. Doppio Malto chief executive and founder Giovanni Porcu said: “We are so proud to have opened our doors here in the UK – more specifically, in George Square, the iconic centrepiece of Glasgow. Italy and Scotland have many links, going back centuries, so it was the natural choice for our debut UK venue and we are so grateful for the warm welcome.” The restaurateur said the new venue would mirror its motto “un posto felice”, which means “a happy place”. He added: “Everything we do is designed around feeling good, from the food and beer to the service and physical space.”

Ramsay confirms plans for Bread Street Cafe in Ealing: Chef Gordon Ramsay has confirmed he plans to open a site in London’s Ealing under new concept Bread Street Cafe. Propel revealed in June the chef and restaurateur had applied to open a site under the name Bread Street Cafe on the former Limeyard unit in Ealing High Street. Ramsay currently operates two Bread Street Kitchen sites in Southwark and Bread Street, in London. The new all-day dining site will open on Monday, 23 August. Ramsay said: “Bread Street Café, Ealing is inspired by the iconic Bread Street Kitchen in St Paul’s, which will be celebrating its ten-year anniversary this year. Bread Street Cafe provides a local neighbourhood relaxed and friendly all-day dining experience delivering some of our Bread Street classics, along with some new dishes for our Ealing guests.” Ramsay is continuing to grow his UK restaurant business having opened the largest site to date under his fledgling Street Burger brand at The O2 in London last month. He is also set to open a site under the fledgling burger concept on the former Giraffe site in Reading’s The Oracle scheme.

BrewDog open craft beer hotel in Manchester: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has opened a craft beer hotel, DogHouse Manchester. It has 18 bedrooms with bespoke BrewDog touches, including tin-shower beer fridges, draught beer taps and fully-loaded mini-bars. There's also a taproom on the site with 30 taps of craft beer, as well as a new rooftop bar serving up tacos with views across the city centre, just off Market Street. BrewDog said sustainability is a key focus of the venture, with initiatives such as free Brompton bike hire and the reward of free beer for reusing room towels, all adding to the hotel’s sustainability-focused credentials. A “living wall” of 26,000 plants has been installed on the exterior of the hotel, echoing BrewDog’s mission to become the “most sustainable drinks brand on the planet”. BrewDog co-founder James Watt said: “DogHouse Manchester marks a new era for the craft beer revolution. In the past ten years we’ve turned the craft beer scene on its head and are once again demonstrating the power of beer.” 

Cineworld mulls US listing: Cineworld is considering listing all or part of its business in the US. Shares in the world's second-biggest cinema operator shot up by as much as 7.5% in early trading on Thursday (12 August) morning on the update, the Evening Standard reported. In a half-year results statement, the FTSE 250 firm said US equity capital markets “are the largest and most liquid in the world” and a listing there of its Regal brand, or the whole group, could “maximise shareholder value now and into the future by accessing this liquidity”. The cinema giant, which also owns Picturehouse, bought Regal just three years ago for £2.7bn. The US now represents around 75% of its market and runs circa 100 sites in the UK. Cineworld revealed a $3bn 2020 loss to the market in March, and its shares have almost halved in the intervening months. On Thursday, it reported an operating loss of $208.9m for the six months to July, narrower than its 2020 first-half loss of $1,340.9m. But analysts had forecast a jump in revenue to $2.1bn this year, and revenues were just $292.8m in the half. The company said net debt stood at $8.4bn by 30 June, up almost $119m since the end of December 2020. Cineworld’s board will evaluate options, including the US listing, over the coming months. Chief executive Mooky Greidinger told the Evening Standard: “We are considering various options with regards to the next move and capital. There are many, many options. It has to do with the cash flow situation – we want to see this stabilising. We believe that in the last quarter, we will see positive cash flow.”
Market Halls outlines future plans: Market Halls, which is overfunding after passing its £600,000 crowdfunding target, has outlined its future plans as part of its investment path. Writing in his Friday Diary column for Premium readers, Propel insights editor Mark Wingett stated: “Aside from the business looking forward to opening a new site, its fourth, in Canary Wharf next year, it also plans to ramp up live performances; introduce ‘rapid delivery partnerships’, utilising what will then be 40-plus kitchens; explore brand collaborations and partnerships; host corporate events and festivals; and provide flexible working spaces. At the same time, it wants to make a positive impact on the planet and has signed up to BrewDog’s Planet First Locals scheme, which is committed to reducing carbon emissions by at least 15% over the next 12 months. Aside from all of this, Diary’s eye was drawn to a list of figures from the company’s performance in 2019, in which it served 505,000 pints, 86,000 gin & tonics, 56,000 bottles of wine, 214,000 kebabs, 155,000 tacos and 42,000 burgers.”

Coventry-based LGBTQ+ bar to open second international site: Coventry-based LGBTQ+ bar The Yard is opening its second international site. Following the launch of The Yard Gibraltar, which opened in 2019, the new bar will be opening ten miles away across the Spanish border in the resort town of Alcaidesa, which has a large British ex-pat population. Darren Piper, who managed the Coventry venue for the past two years, has moved to the resort town to manage the new venue. He told Coventry Live: “We're really looking forward to this new venture. It feels great to be a part of expanding The Yard, with the support of our entire team in Gibraltar and back in Coventry.”

Bath-based coffee shop operators open third site: Bath-based coffee shop operators Jhampoll and Veronica Gutierrez Gomez have opened their third site. The husband-and-wife team have launched Vero’s in the former Jamie’s Deli premises in Milsom Place. However, in a departure from their other two outlets – the black-and-white branded Colombian Company in Abbeygate Street, Bath, and another in Bristol – this is a is a Spanish-style cafe, with coffee, sandwiches, pastries and Spanish deli goods, reports In Your Area. The site marks for the third opening in four years for the couple.

Ambassador Theatre Group to reopen art deco venue after £28m restoration: The world’s largest commercial theatre company, Ambassador Theatre Group, is set to reopen The Stockton Globe theatre after 46 years and a £28m restoration. The operator will open the doors at the grade II-listed art deco venue for a concert by pop act McFly in September. The theatre, which has hosted The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Chuck Berry, has a capacity for 3,000 people, a £1.8m technical infrastructure and digital ticketing system, flexible standing and seated configuration, new purpose-built bars, VIP areas, dressing room suites, orchestra pits and an additional 200-capacity gig venue and cafe bar called The Link. The restoration of the theatre was funded by Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council and a £4.5m grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Heritage Enterprise scheme, as well as a £774,000 grant from the Capital Kickstart Fund, part of the government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund. The Stockton Globe general manager Jo Ager said: "This is an incredible moment for Stockton-on-Tees, and a testament to the tenacity of the council, our wonderful volunteers and everyone who has supported us on this journey. This gig is the first of many, and we’re looking forward to celebrating for many more months to come.” 
Michelin-starred chef to open a second restaurant in Newcastle: Michelin-starred chef Kenny Atkinson and his wife Abbie are to open a second restaurant in Newcastle. He currently operates Quayside award-winner The House of Tides and has revealed on social media that it will be called Solstice – no other details are currently available. The House of Tides – a first restaurant for Atkinson, who first started out on a fruit and vegetable stall in the Grainger Market – won a Michelin star less than 18 months after its opening in January 2014, within a restored merchant’s house along the Quayside at The Close. Atkinson, who has been a familiar face on BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen, had earned a star twice before: while working at Tean Restaurant on the Scilly Isles then again at Seaham Hall but he saw this one as extra special given the fact he had developed the restaurant from nothing, in a building – initially known as Buttress House – which had stood empty for 30 years.
Beavertown Brewery to open debut pub with more set to follow: Beavertown Brewery will launch its first pub, Corner Pin, located in Tottenham, on Wednesday, 1 September – with plans for more to follow. A spokesman said: “Sitting opposite the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Corner Pin is the perfect hangout for both devoted fans of the beautiful game and non-fans alike. Set over three floors and with a suntrap beer garden for the warmer months, the pub is set to be the go-to destination whether it’s for a quick pre-match pint or a fun evening with friends. A pub has stood on the Tottenham spot for generations and held the name ‘The Corner Pin’ since the 1970s, but was more recently used as Tottenham Hotspur’s former ticket office. The Beavertown restoration of Corner Pin will restore the site to its former glory and bring something brand new to the area.” Logan Plant, founder of Beavertown Brewery, told the Evening Standard he is keen to open a chain of Beavertown pubs, which he dubs “Beaver Beacons”, around UK cities if the venture proves successful.
JD Wetherspoon sells Bristol pub to developer in denial: JD Wetherspoon has sold a Bristol pub in Redfield to a housing developer, which denied making the purchase. The St George’s Hall, in Church Road, will close on Sunday, 19 September with all staff offered jobs at other Wetherspoon pubs in Bristol. The company told Bristol Live the buyer is Landrose, but the newspaper approached the developer, its spokesperson said: “This is incorrect information. Landrose has not acquired this building.” Wetherspoon insisted, however, that Landrose – a private company based at Deben House in Lawrence Hill – is the buyer. It would not be the first Redfield pub recently acquired by Landrose. The firm announced in June it had completed a redevelopment of the Three Crowns, which was a Victorian pub in Blackswarth Road. The developer renamed the site “Kings Court”, replacing the pub with “nine modern flats, each containing three to four individual studio units set within a large communal area”.
Wingstop opens at the Bullring for 14th site: Lemon Pepper Holdings, which is rolling out US chicken brand Wingstop across the UK, has opened a site at the Bullring, Birmingham. The launch is the company’s 14th in the UK and already operates a delivery-only kitchen in Birmingham. The Midlands flagship restaurant has replaced the former EAT venue at the Bullring shopping centre. Lemon Pepper Holdings director Tom Grogan said: “We are thrilled to be part of Birmingham Bullring and expanding on our presence in Birmingham city centre. We are looking forward to building a great relationship with West Midlands patrons.” Wingstop recently opened its 13th store in Kingston, Surrey, and is set to open locations in Manchester and Bristol before the end of the year. In May, US chicken brand Wingstop, which has more than 1,500 locations worldwide, announced a minority investment in its UK franchisee Lemon Pepper Holdings. The company said the investment followed strong performance in the UK and underscored the brand’s confidence in the market as a key growth lever for global expansion.
Restaurant residency host Carousel to move to larger site in Fitzrovia: Carousel, the restaurant from brothers Ed and Ollie Templeton that hosts rotating chef residencies, is relocating from Marylebone – where it has been for seven years – to Fitzrovia, and adding a wine bar. The new venue will take over three townhouses in Charlotte Street in total and will open in November. Alongside the main restaurant space will be a smaller area that will seat ten diners, which is expected to house pop-ups and possibly see use as an incubator space for new concepts. Its new wine bar will be open all day and will boast a menu by Ollie Templeton including snacks and small plates inspired by the food of the Mediterranean. The new residency area will be built around a kitchen island, which will allow the chef to be the centre of attention.  

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