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Wed 27th Oct 2021 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Italian pasta concept Miscusi to launch sustainable eating reward scheme at debut UK site: Italian pasta concept Miscusi will launch its debut UK site at the start of December with a new loyalty scheme rewarding consumers making sustainable eating choices. The company, which will launch at The Yards, Covent Garden, on 1 December, said its M Loyalty scheme enables customers to collect four ‘seed’ points for every £1, and for every 500 seeds, diners will receive a £5 voucher towards their next meal in-store. Those who choose a dish from the ‘Climate Squad’ (four dishes that have the lowest carbon footprint), will receive eight points for every £1 spent. Originally launched in Milan, Miscusi now has 13 restaurants in seven Italian cities, and attracts a cult following in its home country. It is thought the Covent Garden opening will be the first of several sites the brand will look to open in the UK. Propel understands the launch here is being overseen by Marcel Khan, formerly of Five Guys, Nando’s and Thunderbird Fried Chicken, who is the brand’s head of international development. Founder and chief executive of Miscusi, Alberto Cartasegna, said: “Miscusi is more than just a restaurant, we’re a movement for people who share our values and mission to create delicious pasta that makes you happy and the planet happy. Our planet is experiencing the impact of the climate crisis, and the food system is responsible for over a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. We cannot ignore this, and we want to be part of the solution – from field to fork – that’s why we’ve created the industry’s first loyalty scheme that rewards our diners for making environmentally friendly choices with their food. We can’t wait to bring the Miscusi experience to the UK and, after having served over a million plates of pasta over the last four years, I’m happy to say that the Italians are coming to London!”

Industry News:

Two days to go before release; 67 multi-site companies set to join updated Premium Database of Multi-site Companies: A total of 67 new multi-site companies, operating 448 sites, have been added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-site Companies, which will be released on Friday, 29 October, at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, includes a number of brands growing through franchise, regional pub and hotel operators and expanding seafood brands. Premium subscribers will also receive a 5,154-word report on the new additions to the database. The comprehensive database is updated monthly and 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. It features more than 2,000 companies. Alongside this, Premium subscribers will also receive the fourth edition of the New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, on Wednesday, 3 November, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The fourth edition will now include a 13,500-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to another database – the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group. The Blue Book, which is also updated monthly, 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, plus 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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com to sign up.

Prestige Purchasing to hold free Christmas trading webinar: Foodservice and hospitality procurement consultancy Prestige Purchasing will hold a free-to-view Christmas trading webinar at 9am on 2 November. The 60-minute seminar is aimed at giving operators “the best chance of mitigating the twin effects of inconsistent supply and rising prices this Christmas”. It will focus on the causes of the supply chain crisis and how long it will continue for, what can be done about product availability, how to keep a lid on price inflation and how to ensure longer-term stability. Speaking will be Prestige’s founder and chairman David Read, who has more than 40 years of sector experience, and chief executive Shaun Allen, who has an extensive knowledge of farm-to-fork supply. To register, email jo.charity@propelinfo.com

Hospitality trade body warns Chancellor of ‘catastrophic impact’ of increased taxes: The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has written to the Chancellor urging him not to raise taxes on the sector in his Budget announcement. Rising costs coupled with tax rises would create a ‘perfect storm’ that would see many more businesses close for good and consumers unable to afford a night out, according to the trade body, which represents more than 6,000 nightlife venues in the UK. The letter came from NITA chief executive Michael Kill, who has urged Rishi Sunak not to raise VAT from its current rate of 12.5%, or any alcohol duties. He warned that now is absolutely the wrong time for tax rises, which would only add to a series of cost factors putting pressure on night-time economy businesses to raise prices. These include staff shortages, rising operating costs and high levels of debt. The letter also points out the devastating effect the pandemic has had on the sector, with one third of nightclubs no longer operating and more still at risk. Kill said: “I have written to the Chancellor to make clear to him what a critical period this remains for the night-time economy sector. If he raises taxes now, it will have a catastrophic impact. With all the other operational cost increases, we will see many businesses close and cost the of a night out increase dramatically. For many, this will make a night out, so important for so many people’s wellbeing, totally unaffordable. The Budget is also so important for the wider recovery – he will know there can be no proper recovery of the economy without the night-time economy sector getting back to somewhere near full strength. That it is why it is essential he puts the right fiscal framework in place to enable this.” NITA claims that pre-covid, the night-time economy was worth £112bn to the UK economy per year and provided upwards of 1.9m jobs, the tenth largest employer in the UK.

Food industry body demands government support to prevent ‘wave of closures’: The British Takeaway Campaign (BTC), which represents tens of thousands of small independent takeaways, restaurants and caterers, has calling on the Chancellor to introduce a package of support for independent food businesses in his Budget to prevent a wave of closures. The pressures of the post-lockdown trading environment have been felt particularly strongly by small independent business owners who lack the resources that allow larger chains to weather the storm. Recent data from CGA and Alix Partners showed closures led to the size of the UK’s independent food sector shrinking by 1% between July and September. The BTC is now calling for VAT to be frozen at 12.5% permanently; business rates relief to be extended until the end of 2022; small business grant schemes to be extended into 2022 and a visa introduced to allow skilled workers from Commonwealth countries to plug UK labour shortages. BTC chair Ibrahim Dogus said: “The hospitality sector faces a frightening winter. Supply chain chaos, surging prices and labour shortages could mean that our local favourites won’t make it to Christmas. It’s imperative that the government takes decisive action now to support independent hospitality businesses. If they don’t, thousands of jobs and livelihoods could be at risk.”

Brewing industry warns of ‘business closures time-bomb’ in the new year: The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has warned that the number of small breweries in the UK will continue to decline if they are subject to beer tax rises. SIBA has already called on the government not to make any changes to small breweries relief in this week’s Budget, with independent breweries currently set to pay more in beer duty. This comes at a time of rising costs in essential materials, making it ever more difficult for many small breweries to bounce back from the effects of the pandemic. Reports from SIBA highlight widespread closures in 2020 and around a decade’s worth of industry growth lost, a trend which has continued in 2021. “Increasing costs are making it incredibly difficult for the small breweries who survived the pandemic to fully recover,” said James Calder, chief executive of the Society of Independent Brewers. “Even where pubs have already increased prices, this has not been passed on to brewers, and while nobody wants to see the price of a pint rise to an unappealing level, what we really don’t want to see are widespread brewery closures that will see consumer choice plummet. The total number of breweries in the UK fell for the first time in over a decade in 2020, and that figure is likely to drop even further by the end of 2021, leading to job losses and a reduction in availability of quality local beers in some areas of the country. If the government doesn’t begin to back rather than burden small breweries with tax rises, then we’re headed towards a time-bomb of brewery closures in the new year. The Chancellor needs to provide significant breathing room and support in his Budget, otherwise many communities will lose their local pint.” SIBA currently represents around 750 independent craft breweries across the UK.

McDonald’s to open net-zero restaurant in Market Drayton, Shropshire: McDonald’s, which currently operates around 1,400 restaurants in the UK, will open its first ‘net-zero’ restaurant in Market Drayton, Shropshire, next month. Part of its Plan for Change programme, which aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions across its restaurants, offices, and supply chains in the UK and Ireland by 2040, the new UK restaurant will be the blueprint for all McDonald’s new-build branches. It will support the company’s target to revamp everything from the beef in its burgers to furniture in restaurants, with sustainability-oriented improvements including compostable packaging made from renewable, recycled or certified sources. Beth Hart vice-president of supply chain and brand trust at McDonald’s UK and Ireland, revealed that the Shropshire restaurant will serve as a learning hub for McDonald’s to test solutions for reducing energy and water use. She said that by 2023 furniture, cutlery and trays in new and refurbished restaurants would be made solely from recycled or certified materials that can be recycled or reused, and that the company is in the process of developing a technology to use its waste coffee grind as a material in the construction of new trays and cladding in restaurants. Gareth Hudson, construction director at McDonald’s, added: “Our Market Drayton restaurant is an exciting testing ground to put into practice what a net-zero building, both in build and in use, looks like. From the materials used throughout the build process to how it’s powered, along with creating new areas of natural habitat to enhance the biodiversity of the site and local area, we’re bringing together skills and expertise from across McDonald’s and the partners we work with.” Globally, McDonald’s wants to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

Whitbread reports £23m labour bill through rises and shortages: Premier Inn owner Whitbread has said it will pay millions in wage rises and bonuses to try to combat what it calls persistent staff shortages. The company said hospitality-wide labour shortages meant a “material number of vacancies” remained unfilled. Higher pay rates will cost Whitbread £12m-£13m, it said, while it is also paying £10m in retention bonuses. However, it has seen a strong rebound in demand and says it is better placed than most to deal with cost increases. Whitbread said its recovery during the six months to 26 August had been better than forecast, and it now expects revenue-per-room rates to return to pre-pandemic levels next year.

Slide in Burger King’s year-on-year US sales blamed on shift away from paper coupons: Burger King parent Restaurant Brands International (RBI) has blamed a 1.6% decline in its US year-on-year sales on a move away from paper coupons toward digital offers. RBI’s global year-on-year sales in the third quarter were up 7.9% at Burger King and 8.9% at its Tim Hortons chain, which has undergone rapid expansion in the UK. In the US, however, it is a different story. RBI chief executive José Cil explained in an analyst call that the Burger King decline was driven primarily by underperforming value offerings and the brand’s “intentional shift away from paper coupons,” according to NRN. “Historically, Burger King in the US over-indexes in paper coupons relative to peers — something in the neighbourhood of three times the number of coupons compared to most of our peers,” Cil said. “It's been traditionally an important channel, but the effectiveness has eroded a bit over time, especially with younger consumers.” Cil went on to say that digital platforms allow Burger King to tailor offers to guest preferences, adding: “This is what Royal Perks is designed to do, shifting our digital media or digital offers with the known diners, helping us engage them better.” RBI currently has 27,667 restaurants in more than 100 countries, including 18,923 Burger Kings and 5,137 Tim Hortons.

Domino’s Pizza opens first dark kitchen site: Domino’s Pizza has launched its first ever dark kitchen site, in South Wales. Working with franchisee DP Shayban, the company has opened what is described as its first national and international dark kitchen unit, in Pontypool. Domino’s UK & Ireland chief executive Dominic Paul attended the opening of the delivery-only unit. Earlier this month, the company reported a strong performance in its third quarter, the 13 weeks to 26 September, with system sales of £375.8m up 9.9%, and like-for-like sales excluding splits up 8.8%. At the same time, the company said it intends to hire more than 8,000 drivers in the UK and Ireland in the run-up to Christmas. In June, Domino’s said it was hiring 5,000 cooks and delivery drivers as staff who joined during the pandemic headed back to former roles after covid restrictions eased. Domino's operations director Nicola Frampton said 2021 had been a busy year for the firm so far, but the busiest period was “just around the corner”. She added: “Our delivery drivers are vital to the service we provide our customers and the success of our business.”

Third of operators not sure what to expect from Christmas period, expect return to pre-covid levels of holiday business: A third (33%) of hospitality operators surveyed by Lightspeed Commerce are unsure what to expect from the Christmas period. Lightspeed polled 850 restaurant owners, operators and managers in the UK, USA, Canada, Germany, France and the Netherlands to identify the challenges the industry faces and how they are dealing with them. The study included 200 UK businesses and are summarised in Lightspeed’s Global State of the Hospitality Industry Report. Other findings included 37% expecting a return to pre-covid levels of holiday business and 26% anticipating holiday sales to exceed pre-covid rates. When it comes to holiday celebrations, 31% of restaurateurs are expecting corporate holiday parties to return, with just 3% moving to a remote model for festive celebrations. Lightspeed also polled 1,500 consumers across the six markets, with 500 from the UK, and found that 53% plan to meet up for drinks and meals with friends and family, while 17% are looking to host a party for family and friends at a restaurant or bar and 9% are planning a corporate event. Almost a fifth of diners weren’t sure how they felt about dining out during the holiday season, with 12% saying they were looking to order take-out catering for a holiday party.

Company News:

Wetherspoon shelves plan for Wolverhampton museum: JD Wetherspoon has shelved a plan to create a company museum at a pub in Wolverhampton. Last year, the company had £7m plans approved to renovate Wolverhampton’s The Moon Under Water in Lichfield Street, create a national heritage centre showcasing the company history and open a hotel above the pub. The company still plans to create a new hotel and has revised its plans to increase its size and grandeur, building a brand-new roof on the entire building at the expense of the heritage centre. The development will now create 100 jobs instead of the original 50 announced last year. Wetherspoon’s spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “Although the museum will be different to what was originally envisaged, The Moon Under Water will still be home to all Wetherspoon artefacts highlighting the company’s history. The fact the company is investing £15m on the project highlights our commitment to customers and Wolverhampton.” The company has bought the property next to the pub and will add an extra floor and roof to the Lichfield Street property. Covering 8000 square feet on the ground floor and 3000 square feet over two levels at the rear, the Moon Under Water will become one of the biggest Wetherspoons in the country. The renovated pub and hotel was meant open this year originally but covid-19 delayed the project, which allowed architects to refine the application to include more family suites to the 87-room hotel. A Wetherspoon spokesman added: “We believe customers will very much welcome the redevelopment of the pub and the addition of a hotel. Hopefully the investment will act as a catalyst for other businesses to invest in the area.” When plans were unveiled last year the original investment was £7m, but the changes to the plans have increased the total to £15m. Although plans for a museum about the history of the pub chain, established by Tim Martin in 1979, have been shelved, artefacts will be displayed around the pub and the basement could be turned into a heritage centre at a later date.

Wagamama to open second Nottinghamshire site next week – 20 years after the first: Wagamanma, the pan-Asian brand owned by The Restaurant Group, will open a new site in West Bridgford, Nottingham, on 1 November. Occupying a former Carluccio’s site, it will be the second Wagamama in Nottinghamshire and comes 20 years after the first opened. When Wagamama opened in The Cornerhouse in the heart of Nottingham city centre, it was only the second in the chain outside London but now it operates more than 150 across the UK. Earlier this month, it became the first high street chain in the UK to make at least half of its menu vegan.

The Alchemist goes carbon neutral: Bar and restaurant concept The Alchemist has announced it is now officially a carbon neutral business. The 21-strong company, which recently opened its first site in Scotland, in Edinburgh, said that working in partnership with Carbon Neutral Britain, it had calculated and offset its total Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions for the year, supporting verified renewable projects around the world. The company said: “Food waste is no longer an issue with the introduction of machines that convert leftover food into drain-safe liquid. Cooking oil is now collected and turned into biodiesel to operate their delivery vehicles and when you do visit a donation of £1 plants a tree in a third world country to counteract the carbon used in your visit.” Paul Mitchell, property director at The Alchemist, said: “Achieving carbon neutral status bring full circle all the energy saving technology and sustainability initiatives that we have and continue to introduce into our new and existing estate. I’m very proud to work within a company with such a strong ethos on caring for its customers, staff and the planet.”

Greene King to begin roll out of new premium format – Crafted Pubs: Brewer and retailer Greene King is beginning the roll out of its new premium format – Crafted Pubs – with the launch of second site under the new concept before Christmas. The company, which launched the trial of the new format earlier this summer, is to relaunch The Watermill in Dorking, Surrey, under the Crafted Pubs umbrella. Propel revealed earlier this summer, that the Nick Mackenzie-led business had invested a six-figure sum in transforming The Boat in the Solihull borough of Catherine De Barnes into the new format. The company said the trial site was the start of “fulfilling our strategy to explore how we might enhance our pub experiences and expand into the premium market”. The site features a new interior, terraced patio, gardens with an outdoor bar and fire pits, as well as new food and drinks menus. The menus, accompanied by a new brunch offering, include a range of small plates (£4 to £7), artisan pizzas (£11 to £14), vegetarian options, desserts and coffees. Mains, which range from £12 to £19, include beer-battered fish and chips, roast Welsh lamb rump with crispy potatoes, vegan risotto, and beef and ale pie with garlic mash.

Brucan Pubs reopens Berkshire pub for third site with Greene King Pub Partners: Former ETM operations director James Lyon-Shaw and ex-The Ivy Collection head chef Jamie Dobbin have reopened The Greyhound in Finchampstead, Berkshire, following a joint £500,000 investment with Greene King Pub Partners. It is their third such partnership with Greene King, having also linked up with them for The Greene Oak in Windsor and Drumming Snipe in Worthing. The refurbishment has seen heated pods and western style wagons added, along with a drinking terrace and a pergola-covered eating area. A village shop called Goswell & Bird’s has been created too, which is transformed in the evenings into an alternative dining and event space. Lyon-Shaw said: “This is the third pub we have taken with Greene King Pub Partners since June 2018. Their values are aligned with ours, so on that basis we have built a really good relationship, and it made sense to seek out their pub opportunities. We learnt from the pandemic that you need to diversify quickly, and that’s why we were keen to develop another premium village pub but with the additional trading areas that provided for different needs.” Mike O’Connor, operations director for Greene King Pub Partners, added: “Working with a visionary business like Brucan Pubs ensures that these pubs have a long and successful future, establishing themselves firmly within their communities. We are encouraged by the way Brucan have invested in their people and what they are doing across their three pubs, and hope to enable them to grow their pub portfolio further.”

Star Pubs and Bars to pump £550,000 into reopening two Yorkshire pubs: Heineken-owned Star Pubs and Bars will spend £550,000 refurbishing and reopening two Yorkshire pubs which have been closed for two years. Work will begin on both The Farmers Boy and The Cask and Spindle in Shepley in next year. The former will gain outside seating for 56, including a 24-seater covered courtyard, while the latter will get 30 extra outside seats. Both pubs will also have a locals’ bar and separate dining areas as well as new function areas. Earlier this month, Star announced that following a £365,000 refurbishment, and subject to recruiting a new licensee, it would be reopening The Westgate in Halifax after it shut its doors three years ago. It is also investing £210,000 into a revamp of the Olympic Hotel in Draycott and has reopened The Crossing in Barnes following a two-year closure.

Laros set to double up with Manchester ‘dark kitchen’ opening next month: Greek street food restaurant Laros, which opened its first restaurant in Liverpool in June, is set to launch its second site, a “dark kitchen” in Manchester. Opening on 27 October, the site will offer delivery only via Just Eat, Uber Eats and Deliveroo. Owner Nikolaos Fylladitakis who has worked in the hospitality industry for many years, said: “Laros has become increasingly popular in Liverpool, and we’ve really enjoyed serving so many people our authentic Greek cuisine. The most important part of this journey is to bring to our guests flavours we have grown up with and to provide a source of education of what truly Greek food entails. Laros is a takeaway of the future, and I want everyone to be able to enjoy restaurant quality dishes from the comfort of their own home.”

New London restaurant looking for final push to reach £30,000 Crowdfunding target: A new all-day dining restaurant is set to open in Tottenham next year – if it can reach its £30,000 Crowdfunding goal in the next eight days. Pasero hopes to offer casual breakfast and lunch during the day before transforming into an intimate bar and restaurant in the evenings. Founded by Genevieve Sparrow, Pasero started as a series of supper clubs run at the Downshill Park Café, which made her realise the potential for a full-scale operation. She said: “I’ve lived in Tottenham for seven years with my husband, Tim, and our two daughters. In 2019, Tim was sick of hearing me go on about how much I wished I could open a restaurant, which gave me the courage to book my first supper club event, and Pasero was born. Two years on and the supper club has gone from strength to strength. We’ve served more than 500 guests across the 17 events we’ve run, and we’ve loved every minute. We are hoping to open in spring 2022, but we need to get our funds in place before we can get much further down the road. I’ll be investing all the profits from the last two years of supper clubs, as well as some other additional funds to cover the build costs. The money raised from the Crowdfunder will help us secure our premises, establish our team, buy stock and pay the rent whilst we do the build.” 

Gather & Gather opens new coffee bar at University College London: Fast-growing catering business Gather & Gather has opened a new speciality coffee bar at the University College London in Camden – the first at a London university. The Brew Bar offers students, employees and visitors a choice of ‘pour over’ brew methods, allowing for more distinctive flavours. The coffee is sourced from London-based specialty coffee roasters, rotating monthly, and the bar will also sell coffee and equipment for brewing at home. Many of its employees will be trainees of the Well Grounded programme, which runs specialty coffee training academies to get people facing social and economic barriers into employment. Gather & Gather managing director Rob Fredrickson said: “The Brew Bar is an incredible space that allows the university community to fully appreciate and enjoy the craft and optimum flavours of specialty coffee. We’re also delighted to continue our partnership with Well Grounded – this fantastic enterprise has already trained and introduced incredible talent to our teams, and it’s great that we’re able to support entry to employment for the Camden community. At a time when hospitality has a recruitment crisis, this forward-thinking enterprise provides a tangible solution, and together we will create opportunities for the next generation of baristas.”

Former Gordon Ramsay Holdings chief executive Gillies’ second site to open in January: Stuart Gillies, former chief executive of Gordon Ramsay Holdings, will open his second site under his Bank House Wine Bar and Kitchen concept in January. Gillies, who spent more than 15 years working with Ramsay before parting company with him in 2018, launched the original Bank House site in Chislehurst in September 2019. The launch of his second site, called Number Eight, was revealed by Propel last month, and a January opening has now been confirmed. Co-owned by Gillies and his wife Cecilia, the restaurant will open on the former Prezzo site in the town’s London Road. The site will also include The Gallery, a private space with up to 16 covers for more intimate dining which will double up as an art gallery. Gillies said: “Cecilia and I are so excited to bring Number Eight to Sevenoaks – the opening of Bank House in Chislehurst has given us the perfect launch pad from which to integrate ourselves further into the local community. Sevenoaks is such a vibrant town full of incredible independent operators and we can’t wait to be part of it all, sharing our passion for good, honest food and great wine with locals and visitors alike.”

Northern Monk plans to almost triple production capacity following seven-figure investment: Leeds brewery Northern Monk will use a seven-figure cash injection from HSBC UK’s national SME Fund to acquire a brewhouse which will increase its production capacity by 280%. The expansion, which will create an extra two million gallons of beer per year, will help the brewery reach its aim of growing the volume of exports by 50% over the next 12 months. Russell Bisset, founder and managing director of Northern Monk, said: “This expansion will help us service the increase in demand for our products that we have been experiencing solidly over the past few years. The new brew kit will give us the opportunity to create lots of new beer and service larger contracts, while maintaining our commitment to high quality brewing.” Formed in a cellar in 2013, Northern Monk moved into a renovated store the following year before crowdfunding £1.5m to open a second taproom in 2018. The following year, 25% of the business was acquired by Active Partners, backers of Honest Burgers and Caravan.

Deadline set for sale of luxury sea fort hotel, price tag drops to £3.6m: A Solent sea fort with a luxury hotel formerly owned by entrepreneur Mike Clare has been set a sale deadline of 26 November. No Man’s Fort is being sold by commercial real estate group Colliers, which has already sold the neighbouring undeveloped Horse Sand Fort for £715,000 to a UK buyer, who is looking to develop the site for leisure use. No Man’s Fort was previously on the market for £4.25m, but the asking price has now been dropped to £3.6m. The 99,000 square-foot island is currently developed as a 23-bedroom luxury island retreat with a pub, restaurants, spa, helipad and events space. Paul Barrasford, from Colliers’ Hotel Agency, said: “Following our recent sale of Horse Sand Fort, Mr Clare is keen to progress on No Man’s Fort and has reduced the asking price to £3.6m and set a deadline for offers to come forward. This site could be an amazing addition to a property portfolio, whether it is used as a hotel as it is now, a holiday residence or converted into a different use.” A third fort in the collection, Spitbank Fort – which features nine luxury guest suites, a restaurant, two bars and a wine cave – is also available for purchase under separate negotiation. The forts were built in the 1860s to counter a feared French invasion.

Cumbrian-based operators to open cocktail bar for second site: Cumbrian-based operators Louise Stewart and Kieran Mcdaid are to open a cocktail bar for their second site. The couple took over the tenancy of The Clarence pub in Dalton in November last year. Now they are launching a new business venture after revealing online they are opening a cocktail bar. The bar, located in Tudor Square, Dalton, will be situated in the former site of Bar20. They said: “We would like everyone to know the rumours are true and we have taken over the old Bar20. This in no way affects The Clarence Pub as we will still be running that. Bar20 is to be renamed The Olive Tree and will be opening as a cocktail bar on Thursday, 4 November.”

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