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Morning Briefing Strap Line
Mon 22nd Nov 2021 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Hornby – sector could see fundamental shift next April, supply chain cost pressures could be very intense: Andy Hornby – chief executive of The Restaurant Group (TRG), operator of Wagamama and Brunning & Price – believes the sector will face a fundamental shift next April. This, in turn, will impact how companies invest in their estates, Hornby told Propel’s recent Multi-club Conference. He said: “I consider myself very lucky that I am running a scale business that has been through a refinancing. I have genuine sympathy for some players who will be looking at Q2/Q3 next year, especially Q2, when three things will happen on one day. From 1 April the last bit of VAT support goes, the rent moratorium ends, and most will have to increase their wages when the net Living Wage changes. That is going to be a pretty fundamental shift for the whole sector, so you have to put your capex where you are most sure it is going to benefit from. But you do need to spend it, because if we have learnt one thing as we have reopened, consumers want to be in environments where they are having fun socialising again, and that place has been looked after. We are definitely putting more capex into growing Wagamama with new sites, delivery kitchens and some refurbs. We would definitely like to grow Brunning & Price quicker if we can find the right sites. For the first time in six or seven years, we are now spending money to refurbish sites in the leisure estate, and we are seeing good returns on it.” Hornby also warned that cost pressures from the supply chain next year could be “very intense”, but that it will be “more of a financial issue rather than getting hold of the product.” He revealed too that 90% of the group’s staffing challenges are back-of-house and only 10% front-of-house, and that it has launched an apprenticeship scheme which will have more than 700 people on it next year – many of whom are chefs. “In some cases, you will have a degree level, in some the equivalent of an A Level, but you will come out properly qualified,” he added. “I do think that as an industry, you may see the norm going from say a 40-hour five-day week to a 40-hour four-day week. We are also looking at more equal sharing of tips and other ways of making the rewards systems help the recruitment of chefs, but it’s tough.”
Hornby is one of 24 operators in the Propel Premium Advent Calendar, giving subscribers access to a great video each day in December from our autumn conference series. Each day in December in the run-up to Christmas, Premium subscribers will be sent a video featuring some of the sector’s leading operators, who will share insights, advice and expertise. Hornby features on 24 December. 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. To subscribe, email jo.charity@propelinfo.com

Industry News:

Four days to go before release of updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, 54 businesses being added: A total of 54 new multi-site companies, operating 369 sites, have been added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released on Friday (26 November), at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, includes a number of brands growing through franchise, expanding sports concepts, and regional pub and hotel operators. Premium subscribers will also receive a 3,900-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. The database features more than 2,000 companies in total. Alongside this, Premium subscribers will also receive the fifth edition of the New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, on Friday, 3 December, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The fifth edition also includes a 14,000-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 group 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. To subscribe, email jo.charity@propelinfo.com

UK restaurant insolvencies jumped 31% in last quarter, risk of ‘many more’ without government support: The number of UK restaurant insolvencies jumped 31% to 296 in the last quarter, up from 226 in the previous quarter, and many more could now follow. National accountancy group UHY Hacker Young warned of a “wave of insolvencies to come” after comparing the period 1 July 2021 to 30 September 2021, and 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021. It showed many restaurants have been tipped over the edge by a cashflow crisis as they struggle to bring staff back off furlough while repaying government loans that saw them through the various lockdowns. With a ban on winding-up petitions, which had prevented creditors taking legal action against companies that owed them money, now ended too, many more insolvencies could follow as creditors begin to pursue debts more robustly. Peter Kubik, partner at UHY Hacker Young, said: “Unfortunately, fears that the end of covid support schemes would lead to a rise in insolvencies are quickly becoming a reality. With wages no longer being covered by the furlough scheme, this leaves restaurants with a tough decision to make – either bear those extra costs themselves or make redundancies. The restaurant sector is still trying to get back up on its feet, while dealing with the huge burden of costs such as repayments through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Bounce Back Loan Scheme. There’s a risk a wave of insolvencies is waiting to happen if they don’t receive further support from the government.”

Hospitality groups serve up lawsuits in covid insurance battle: A lawsuit brought by the owner of London’s Wolseley restaurant against insurance group Axa in a dispute over cover for covid-related losses is to be heard in the High Court in January, with implications for UK businesses that held similar policies. The FT reports that Corbin & King is suing the Paris-based insurer’s UK arm after it refused to pay out on a business interruption insurance claim made by the hospitality group. The restaurant chain and the insurer are set to go to the High Court on 24 January for a closely watched case that will examine the scope of so-called denial of access cover — which compensates companies if their venues are shut by a statutory body because of a local danger — and whether it should have paid out due to pandemic shutdowns. “This case is important because there are so many similar clauses in policies held by businesses across the country, and it’s likely to be of significant general application,” said Roger Franklin, head of insurance litigation at law firm Edwin Coe, which is representing Corbin & King. A list of businesses that have similar complaints lodged with their insurers has been shown to the court, according to a separate person close to Corbin & King. Corbin & King’s denial-of-access claim is for around £4.5m, according to two people familiar with the matter. Axa denies it on the grounds that an earlier High Court ruling in the Financial Conduct Authority case concluded similarly worded clauses only provided business interruption cover against the consequences of localised incidents, rather than on a national scale. This point was not appealed in the Supreme Court case — resulting in legal uncertainty. The case will also determine if Corbin & King’s Covid insurance cover is limited to just £250,000 payable by Axa in respect of all premises, or whether there is a limit of £250,000 for each set of premises as Corbin & King argues. In June, the High Court will also hear Slug and Lettuce owner Stonegate’s £845m case against MS Amlin, Liberty Mutual Insurance in Europe and Zurich over the extent to which the hospitality group can claim for covid-related losses. The court will also examine whether furlough payments to the company can be subtracted from claims, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Mackenzie – firms cannot swallow soaring costs much longer: Greene King chief executive Nick Mackenzie has warned that, as a result of the cost pressures impacting the sector, customers will pay more for their food and drinks in pubs and restaurants in the run-up to Christmas and into the new year. In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, Mackenzie said: “We talk to people in the industry, and you hear of people saying there is 40% to 50% inflation on utilities coming down the line. The cost of supply chain and the cost of delivering is going up, labour costs are going up, and on pretty much every profit and loss line there is a cost impact. Cost inflation is real, and the natural response to that from any business is going to be, you are going to have to look at prices. I think it is inevitable that price inflation will flow through the back end of this year and into next year. I think that’s coming.” And while business is booming at Greene King’s country and food-led pubs, Mackenzie says those in central London are still struggling with a drop-off caused by the shift to working from home. The number of people putting down deposits for Christmas parties at Greene King venues in central London was down by up to 50% in early November, compared with 15% to 20% down for regional pubs. Greene King is drawing up spending plans for 2022 with owner CK Asset Holdings, controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, to upgrade more pubs to premium sites serving food rather than traditional “wet-led” pubs. Mackenzie said a strong run of trading over the winter would allow Greene King to set out its plans with confidence after investing in 245 managed and tenanted pubs so far this year. The group’s latest trading update, covering the six months to 4 July, showed a £100m pre-tax loss after revenues fell 24%, to £146.3m, compared to the previous year. Over the pandemic, CK Asset Holdings refinanced a portion of Greene King’s bank debt and accessed a £300m covid loan, now paid back, plus £136m furlough support for its 40,000 staff.

Alcohol-free draught beer is about to flood British pubs: Pints of alcohol-free draught beer will be served on a mass scale in UK pubs for the first time from January. According to the Sunday Times, Heineken, the world’s second-largest brewer, said after five years of research it had finally solved the conundrum of how to serve non-alcoholic beer from kegs stored in the cellar rather than from a bottle or a can. The breakthrough will be welcomed by Brits who are increasingly swapping a pint of beer or glass of wine for a “NoLo” (no and low alcohol) option. Sales of low and no-alcohol drinks in the UK are forecast to rise by 22% from 2019 to 2024, according to IWSR, the international drinks analysts. Declaring it a “seminal moment for the British beer and pub industry”, Heineken said it was the first time anywhere in the world that non-alcoholic draught beers would be served on a large scale using the existing cellar and keg line in pubs. The brewer said that, previously, yeast in the environment would find its way into the beer pipes and ferment, turning non-alcoholic beer alcoholic in the keg. However, by keeping the equipment cooled in the cellar, Heineken has been able to stop this process. The brewer added that enabling non-drinkers to join their friends for a pint would “make ordering alcohol-free beer more acceptable” at social events and allow people’s drinking choices to be less conspicuous. Despite the huge boom in non-alcoholic beer, “there are still stigmas attached to no and low-alcohol beer among certain sections of society”, the drinks giant said. Heineken UK, based in Edinburgh, has launched the beer in five of its 2,500 pubs in the Midlands and north of England, and said it will be in hundreds more next year. By 2025, it said there would be as many Heineken 0.0 Draught taps in British pubs and bars as there are Heineken Original taps.

Single-use plastic plates and cutlery could be banned in England: Single-use plastics such as plates, cutlery and polystyrene cups could be banned in England as the government launches a public consultation on the issue. Under the proposals, businesses and consumers will need to move towards more sustainable alternatives. Environment secretary George Eustice said it was “time we left our throwaway culture behind once and for all”. About 1.1 billion single-use plates and 4.25 billion items of cutlery – mostly plastic – are used annually, but just 10% are recycled upon disposal. Scotland has already announced a ban from June 2022 on the use of plastic cutlery, drink stirrers and food containers made from expanded polystyrene. Eustice said: “There is growing recognition of the damage that plastics cause to our environment, and marine life in particular. We want to reduce the use of plastics in packaging and ban its use in items linked to littering. We have already banned plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds and now plan to extend the ban to cutlery and balloon sticks where alternative materials like wood can be used.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is looking for an experienced general manager to join an exciting restaurant group. This is a large, busy site with lots of potential to increase sales and sits across two floors. They are really looking for a general manager to help them succeed in coming through the other side of covid. They are looking for a leader of people and someone who can inspire, motivate and develop talent organically. The business is very much about the guest experience, so someone who is customer-focused is essential. The role would suite a hands-on and commercially minded individual. It is London-based and pays up to £45,000 plus bonus. If you are keen to discuss this further, email Kate@corecruitment.com 

Company News:

Popeyes makes UK debut, more sites to follow: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, the US fried chicken quick-service restaurant brand, has opened its first UK restaurant – at a former KFC site in Westfield Stratford. This will be followed by the announcement of more UK locations shortly, according to the company, with Croydon believed to be one of the sites it is eyeing for an opening. Founded in New Orleans in 1972, Popeyes currently boasts 3,400 restaurants in more than 25 countries, and having now arrived on these shores, plans to open 350 new sites in Britain over the next ten years. The Popeyes menu includes its famous Chicken Sandwich, southern biscuits and gravy and hand-battered chicken, marinated for 12 hours in a blend of Louisianan herbs and spices. The company has also used the UK market to launch its first vegan product – a creole red bean sandwich featuring a 100% plant-based red bean patty, lettuce, tomato and Creole sauce in a soft brioche bun.

Farmer J gears up to launch in St Paul’s: All-day market concept Farmer J, which is backed by Imbiba, will open its sixth site in the capital on Tuesday (23 November), in St Paul’s. As revealed by Propel earlier this summer, the Jonathan Recanati-led business will open on the former Wasabi site in Paternoster Square. In September, Propel revealed that the company had secured its first site in London’s West End when it landed the former EAT site in Regent Street. The company recently doubled up in Canary Wharf with an opening in Jubilee Place, adding to the one it already operates Canada Place. It is thought the business is also close to securing a site in London Bridge. Recanati told Propel in July that Farmer J had always been developed with expansion outside central London in mind, and the group was looking to build its pipeline further. He said the resilience of the business during the crisis had given it the confidence to explore further expansion opportunities.

Thunderbird Fried Chicken to build on Parkdean partnership: Thunderbird Fried Chicken, the wings and fried chicken concept backed by TriSpan, is to build on its partnership with Parkdean Resorts with the opening of three further sites, Propel has learned. In June, the Paul Gilchrist-led brand opened a franchise site with Parkdean at its Camber Sands resort. A month later, Thunderbird opened its second site with Parkdean at its Trecco Bay Holiday Park in Porthcawl, south Wales. The fried chicken concept, which is set to open its next bricks-and-mortar site near London’s Clapham Junction station, is now lined up to open at Parkdean’s sites at Vauxhall in Great Yarmouth, Ruda in Devon and Southview in Skegness.

Eggs-centred concept Yolk set for third site: Eggs-centred concept Yolk is to launch a third site in London, in Soho. The Nick Philpot-led business is understood to have secured the former EAT site in Golden Square. The business launched its first permanent site in Finsbury Avenue Square, Broadgate, in 2017, following a string of pop-ups. The concept, which also has a site in New Street Square, features poached egg pots, sourdough toast and “ultimate sandwiches”. Bruce Gillingham Pollard acted in the Golden Square deal.

Doma Hospitality to open debut bricks-and-mortar Gallio site next month: Doma Hospitality – part of BHL Global, which operates The Stafford London hotel and Game Bird restaurant, Sicilian restaurant Norma London, and Michelin-starred Northcote in Lancashire – will launch the first bricks and mortar site under its delivery-only pizza concept Gallio next month. As revealed by Propel in April, the site will open in Canary Wharf. Gallio – which launches on Monday, 6 December – will be located in The Atrium Kitchen on Upper Level 2 of Cabot Place. The 3,000 square-foot site will accommodate up to 96 covers for lunch and dinner, and from Monday, 3 January, Gallio will add breakfast to its offer. The menu will specialise in artisanal pizza, with toppings including marinated artichoke hearts with sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives and mozzarella; and spiced lamb with labneh, rose harissa, guindilla peppers and fresh mint. It will also feature a range of small plates, flatbreads, salads and desserts. Pizzas start from £7.80, salads from £6.90 and desserts from £3.50. Among the drinks offering will be cocktails and spritzes, wine and beer, non-alcoholic “mocktails”, juice and smoothies, specialty tea and Union coffee. Managing director, James Porter, said: “Diners are looking for healthier choices, better ingredients, fast service and great value. We deliver that guilt-free meal – lighter, cleaner and more sustainable without compromising. We are excited for the brand’s future.”

JD Wetherspoon extends cut-price drinks offer into new year: JD Wetherspoon will roll over the slashing of drinks prices in the majority of its pubs until February. Throughout November, customers have been able to buy certain pints of beer or spirits for just 99p in 671 Wetherspoon pubs – and this will now continue until 28 February. JD Wetherspoon chairman, Tim Martin, said: “Our pubs are known for their excellent choice of drinks at value-for-money-prices at all times. We are delighted to be extending our lower prices until the end of February.” The move brings the promotion in line with Wetherspoon’s price reduction on certain meals across 660 pubs, which started on 10 November and will also run until 28 February. Wetherspoon also last week launched a new Nando’s-style chargrilled chicken range, which start at £7.99 with a soft drink or £9.29 with an alcoholic one.

Daisy Green to close funding round two weeks early: Australia-inspired restaurant, bar and coffee group Daisy Green is to close its crowdfunding campaign more than two weeks early after raising nearly £2.6m. The company said that its latest, and final, EIS-led fundraise will close at 5pm on 22 November. The Prue Freeman-led business launched the campaign through Seedrs on 8 November to raise circa £2m to continue expansion across the capital. The 11-strong business had an initial target of £1m, which was extended after more than £1.7m was raised in pre-commitments prior to the campaign going live. The campaign has now raised £2,579,704 from 301 investors. The company said its revenues were up 67% on pre-pandemic levels, achieving run rate revenues and site Ebitda of more than £15m and £4.4m respectively. The business has a £28m pre-money valuation based on eight times run rate on group Ebitda run rate of £3.5m. It is targeting revenue of circa £36m by full year 2025 and group Ebitda of £5m. Freeman told Propel the business was hoping to open a further four sites in the capital next year – in Zones 1 and 2 – and had been buoyed by the success of its latest opening, Bondi Green at Paddington canal side.

WatchHouse to become accredited London Living Wage provider: Edition Capital-backed coffee concept WatchHouse is to become an accredited London Living Wage provider, pledging to pay the entirety of its 200-plus strong workforce a ‘real living wage’ of £11.05 as minimum pay, as of 1 December 2021. To coincide with London Living Wage week, the Roland Horne-led business has started the accreditation process and hopes to become an accredited provider by the end of November. Horne said: “The move to become an accredited London Living Wage provider is one that we have been working towards for a long time now, and I hope that paying the real living wage will enable WatchHouse to reward the hard-work, dedication and skill of our teams as we continue to bring the modern coffee experience to more communities over the next 12 months and into the future.” WatchHouse used the covid-enforced lockdowns to significantly expand across all areas of the business and bring the entirety of its coffee and food offerings in-house. In August 2020, it opened its own coffee roastery at 36 Maltby Street in Bermondsey and expanded the capabilities of its food-producing central production unit and in-house bakery. Horne added: “This leaves the business well-positioned to expand the WatchHouse estate with greater scale and consistency going forward.” WatchHouse is on track to open its latest site, in Seven Dials, on 13 December. This will be followed by the arrival of further sites in Marylebone, Covent Garden, Mayfair and Camden, in addition to the opening of a site in Bath, its first foray outside of London, in 2022.

New all-day cafe-restaurant replaces Adam Handling Chelsea at The Cadogan: The Cadogan has launched The LaLee, an all-day neighbourhood cafe-restaurant, in the space previously occupied by Adam Handling Chelsea. Curated by executive chef Chris Hill, formerly of Whatley Manor and The Ritz, the new all-day menu serves up “familiar and favourite European dishes showcasing the highest-quality, ingredients sourced from London and across the UK”. Xavier Lablaude, general manager of The Cadogan, said The LaLee will “take guests on a culinary journey to the grand cities of Europe, inspired by the voyages of one of the hotel’s most legendary past residents, and Chelsea socialite, Lillie Langtry”. He said: “The new cafe-restaurant marks a new era for The Cadogan, with Lillie’s love of entertaining at the forefront and dishes served in true sophisticated Cadogan style with a touch of tableside theatre. Lillie Langtry would entertain the brightest stars of society, including the Prince of Wales, at 21 Pont Street – her elegant townhouse that became part of The Cadogan. Now, The LaLee brings Langtry’s spirit back to life, paying homage to the cuisine she adored during her epic travels.” The LaLee will have more than 80 wines on the menu and a cocktail menu featuring a series of 15 signature creations, each inspired by a European city frequented by Langtry on adventures. Handling ended his consultancy contract at The Cadogan last month.

Forest Holidays reports ‘strong’ trading: Derbyshire-based holiday park operator Forest Holidays has reported its sites are trading “strongly” with strong demand for bookings. As a result, the company said its order book indicated the potential for turnover to exceed budgeted levels in the current financial year. Forest Holidays opened its 11th site, in Delamere Forest, in April, which saw the business launch its White Willow Premium cabin concept. The company has also refreshed its brand and website, with the aim of improving the overall trading momentum of the business over the long-term. Forest Holidays provided the update as it reported turnover fell to £23.4m for the year ending 25 February 2021, compared with £37.5m the previous year as a result of its sites being closed for prolonged periods due to the pandemic. Forest Holidays is part-owned by the Forestry Commission and backed by private equity firm LDC.

Hyde & Co to open new ‘clandestine cocktail bar’ in Bristol: Bristol-based restaurant and bar group Hyde & Co is to open a new “clandestine cocktail bar”, called The Raven, in the city. The new bar will open on the former The Raven pub site in Queen Street, in Bristol’s Old City area, at the end of this month. Hyde & Co was the first prohibition bar to open in Bristol in 2010 and was the brainchild of Bristol founders Nathan Lee, Jason Mead and Kevin Stokes. Over a decade on, the business has opened eight venues throughout the south west. These include British steak restaurants with The Ox Bristol and The Ox Cheltenham, a Spanish tapas and wine bar with Pata Negra, a Mediterranean-inspired bar and restaurant with Bambalan, a Japanese-inspired restaurant and bar with Seven Lucky Gods, and bar The Milk Thistle. Earlier this year, it launched pizza restaurant Flour & Ash in Bristol’s Whiteladies Road. 

Australian chef Roy Ner to open debut UK restaurant next month: Israeli-born, Australia-based chef Roy Ner will open his debut UK restaurant, in London’s Mayfair next month, as part of joint venture with Australian hospitality group Seagrass. As revealed by Propel last month, the Middle Eastern-influenced Jeru will launch at 11 Berkeley Street. The restaurant – which will launch on Thursday, 2 December – will feature an open kitchen while an in-store bakery will open at the end of January. The menu at Jeru, which means “old city” in Byzantine time, will include charcoal octopus, cuttlefish ragu, black spinach and chilli; and langoustine murtabak, labneh, chilli and smoked eel salsa. A “wine room”, which doubles as a private dining option, will offer an extensive wine and champagne menu curated to complement the menu and ethos. On the lower level will be the Layla cocktail bar, which will open at the end of January, and have a menu using flavour elements of the Middle East. “We want people to feel at home when they visit us”, said Ner. “Guests will be able to see into the open charcoal kitchen, see where we dry age our seafood, beef and lamb, and see their dish come to life.” Ner is an award-winning chef, who was executive chef of Sydney restaurant Nour. Seagrass currently operates the Butcher and the Farmer concept at the O2 Arena and Ribs & Burgers in Teddington, in the UK. The group operates circa 30 sites in Australia across six brands.

Shepherd Neame begins rollout of electric charging points across pub estate: Kent-based brewer and pub operator Shepherd Neame has just completed the first of a new series of electric car charging stations across its estate. The first station has been installed at The Wharf, Dartford. The pub now has two rapid pay-as-you-go, charging points in its car park. Shepherd Neame is now planning to rollout charging points across more of its 310 pubs and hotels across the south east, with work planned next at the Singleton Barn in Ashford, and The Ship and Trades at Chatham Maritime. Commercial estate manager John Barnes said: “Shepherd Neame is committed to an environmentally responsible approach in all areas of the business. We are excited about this new chapter for our pubs.” The stations are being installed by London-based firm Osprey Charging, which is growing its UK-wide rapid charging network for electric vehicles, powered by 100% renewable energy.

Former The Savoy alumni opens burger restaurant concept in Fulham: A new burger restaurant concept has opened in Fulham, south west London. Foxdens has been spearheaded by Paul Fox, who spent his childhood on the family’s beef farm in Warwickshire and has also held positions with The Savoy and Red Carnation Hotels. The restaurant in Jerdan Place offers the “best gourmet burgers possible by only using British beef and fresh, locally sourced ingredients”. The menu includes the Foxden Burger – beef patty, slow-braised pulled beef, truffled cheese sauce, rocket, and red onion jam; and the Vegan Burger – house-made bean burger, vegan bacon, vegan cheese, healthy slaw, and chipotle veganaise. Sides come in the form of beef nuggets, saucy chicken wings, hot and crispy sweet potato fries, and rosti bites. The drinks list features beer, wine and cocktails.

Toby Carvery extends partnership with Too Good To Go: Mitchell & Butlers-owned Toby Carvery has extended its partnership with anti-food waste app Too Good To Go. Following a successful trial, all 153 of its UK restaurants are now signed up to the app, which lets people buy surplus food and drink from restaurants, stores, pubs, cafes and producers to stop it from going to waste. The Toby Carvery “magic bags” contain a variety of surplus food from the carvery menu and are available on the app for £3.29, for food worth at least £8. Vegetarian bags are also available for £2.29 and contain food worth at least £6. Martin Gosling, operations director for Toby Carvery, said: “We are excited to partner with Too Good To Go following a hugely successful trial and can’t wait to see the positive impact it will have in reducing food waste.” Paschalis Loucaides, UK managing director at Too Good To Go, added: “Our partnership shows that you can still enjoy your favourite comfort food, help the planet and get a great deal. It’s a win-win-win.” Too Good To Go was founded in 2016 and now runs in 17 countries with 126,000 global partners – saving 100 million meals a year globally through 47 million app downloads.

Hotel La Tour to open £39m Milton Keynes hotel featuring sky bar: Privately-owned British hospitality company Hotel La Tour will open an eponymously named hotel in Milton Keynes next April. The £39m Hotel La Tour Milton Keynes will feature 261 bedrooms, 14,000 square feet of events space, a gym and a 14th floor restaurant and sky bar offering the highest viewpoint in the county. A glass lift will also offer visitors to the four-star venue views over Campbell Park and beyond. The 180-cover restaurant will serve an all-day menu, using seasonal, British-sourced produce, while the sky bar will offer cocktails, fine wine and champagne, locally sourced brews and sharing plates. The conference rooms and gym will all feature state-of-the-art equipment, while a dedicated and fully licensed wedding space includes access to a private outdoor terrace. Managing director Mark Stuart said: “Our aim is to deliver best in class, providing visitors, locals and hotel guests with a unique perspective of Milton Keynes and world-class amenities. Encapsulating the town’s aspiration to be better by design, we have worked hard to create an aesthetically pleasing and sustainable building that delivers on luxury as well as functionality.”

Mission Mars makes new appointments ahead of second Albert’s Schloss opening: Mission Mars, the north west bar and restaurant operator led by Roy Ellis, has made a series of appointments ahead of its second Albert’s Schloss opening next month. Adin Memetovic has joined as general manager of the group’s Bavarian beer hall concept, which is set to open its second site, at Paradise Birmingham, on Monday, 6 December. Memetovic has spent the last two years as senior general manager at Birmingham’s Bank Restaurant and has also held managerial roles at The Alice and Ivy Pubs in Oxfordshire, Pryzm in Bristol and Resorts World Birmingham. Also joining are Eleni Constantinou as sales and events manager, Jack Cinense, as head chef and Nathanial Valentino as entertainment manager. With 13,000 square feet of bar and restaurant space over two floors and covers for 500, Albert’s Schloss will serve up Bavarian-Alpine fare including fondue and schweinshaxe. An in-house bakery will produce bread, pretzels, pastries, and puddings alongside freshly roasted coffee, and there will be cabaret and live music performances at night. Roy Ellis, chief executive of Mission Mars, said: “We have long awaited the arrival of Albert’s Schloss in Birmingham. This will be our second Albert’s Schloss since opening the original in Manchester six years ago. Birmingham is a really vibrant and exciting place to be right now and was the natural choice for our next bier palace.” Mission Mars also operates Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza and Zumhof Biergarten in Digbeth.

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