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Wed 6th Jul 2022 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Pret’s sales in London’s suburban areas stabilising at nearly 25% above pre-pandemic levels: Sales through Pret A Manger sites in London’s suburban areas are stabilising at nearly 25% above pre-pandemic levels. According to the latest Bloomberg’s Pret Index, the chain’s stores in these areas are “broadly benefitting from hybrid working arrangements and home buyers opting for more spacious houses outside the city’s centre”. The Index found that transactions are still slightly below pre-pandemic levels in the West End arts, entertainment and shopping districts, but may see a boost in coming weeks as international tourists fly into London for their summer holidays. Pret’s recovery is even stronger in airports, where a rebound in travel has driven transactions 40% above pre-pandemic levels, despite airlines cutting flights due to staffing shortages and technical setbacks. Pret’s business in London’s airport terminals climbed again last week amid strong demand for leisure and business travel. Transactions in London train stations are back to normal levels after dropping to just 78% of pre-covid levels a week earlier due to transport strikes. Pret A Manger chief executive Pano Christou is urging train operators and unions to agree a deal to prevent further train strikes and avoid any further slump in trade. Christou told The Times further strikes could have a damaging impact on businesses that were only just recovering from the impact of the pandemic. Pret said sales at its outlets in the City and Canary Wharf had fallen to 62% of pre-covid levels in the week of strikes at the end of last month, the lowest level since April. Its station shops also fell sharply.
 

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Hilton backs Hospitality Rising, invest today: Hilton is supporting Hospitality Rising, but will you? The initiative aims to unite the industry by asking it to invest in and back its plan to change the perception of hospitality for the better, in the biggest sector recruitment advertising campaign the UK has seen. Kay Harriman, senior director – HR for the UK, Ireland and Israel, said: “Attracting talent is the single biggest challenge we as an industry face now and in the future. It is critical to our sector that we attract the best talent, which is why Hilton has joined Hospitality Rising. We know this industry is a special place to build a career. Whether you’re looking for better flexibility, career progression or want to embrace something completely new, a career in hospitality can offer a real world of opportunity. Join the campaign and let’s show the country what a great place hospitality is to work!” Invest in Hospitality Rising now from just £10 per employee here. If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com.
 
Number of dessert brands to feature in the next edition of The New Openings Database, 19,100-word report included: A number of dessert brands will feature in the next edition of The New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock. The database will show the details of 371 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches for Premium subscribers when it is published on Friday (8 July), at midday. The database shows the details of which company has opened a site or its plans to open one in the future. It will have details on what type of site it is and its location. There will also be a website link to the businesses so you can find out more about them. It is published on a monthly basis. The next edition of the database features Pheby Food Concepts Group, which is behind the Wok&Go and Dough Dough brands, and is launching the Crepe Delicious concept in the UK, in London’s Leather Lane. Meanwhile, dessert parlour brand Kaspa’s, which has more than 100 UK locations, and has opened a new 1,650 square-foot site at Chatham Waterside in Kent, will be featured. In addition, international ice cream parlour franchise Anita’s, which has opened its debut UK site, in London’s Seven Dials, is included. Also added this month is Cake Box, the specialist retailer of fresh cream cakes, which has opened its latest store, at the Swan Centre in Rugby. Premium subscribers will also receive a 19,100-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to three other databases – the Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate; the Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group; and the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database. 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 single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription. 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 group editor Mark Wingett. Premium subscribers will also be given exclusive access to five videos, which will be sent out on Friday (8 July), at 9am. They will feature Mario Aleppo, founder of the fast-growing pizza franchise Fireaway; James Hacon, global chief marketing officer of Mapal Group; Graeme Smith, managing director at AlixPartners; Alan Laughlin, chief executive of Vapiano; and Sarah Willingham, founder of Nightcap.
 
Worse to come for food price rises, warns industry: “Relentless” increases in the price of food may not hit their peak until next year, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has warned. The industry group said it usually takes seven to 12 months for producers' costs to reach shop shelves. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has accelerated manufacturing costs such as energy and fertiliser. FDF chief executive Karen Betts warned prices would “absolutely” get worse before they get better. Food and drink price inflation rose to 8.7% in the year to May, according to the Office for National Statistics. “I think the peak could well be into next year and that prices could well rise some way above 10%,” Betts told the BBC. The UK's overall inflation rate hit 9.1% in May – its highest level for 40 years – and the Bank of England predicts it could reach 11% this year. Betts said food and drink manufacturers had already seen costs rise during the pandemic due to supply and labour shortages – but the Ukraine war has worsened the situation. “So, if it is costing more to plant and grow wheat or sunflowers for sunflower oil now then those price rises are going to take 12 months, perhaps longer to make their way into food prices in the UK,” she said.

Transformed Scarborough pub scoops top AA hospitality award: The Farrier in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, has landed the AA Inn of the Year award. Owner Danielle Bushby said: “In 2015, my family and I began a restoration project that would ultimately take three years, but give a new heart to the old soul that was the rather tired, closed down, public house in our village. As we approach our fourth year of trading, I can honestly say that back then we would never have dared to dream that we were capable of what we have achieved and receiving this award has really confirmed for us that everyone’s hard work and determination to go above and beyond, in every aspect of our business, is truly paying off.” The 26th annual AA B&B Awards saw The Hideaway in Windemere, Cumbria, named Friendliest B&B of the Year. AA Guest Accommodation of the Year awards went to the Meikleour in Perth & Kinross (Scotland), Highcliffe House in Lynton, Devon (England) and The Bear in Crickhowell, Powys (Wales).
 

Company News:

Liquidators appointed to parent company of restaurant and deli concept Colette: The three London sites operated by restaurant and deli concept Colette have closed after its parent company was placed into liquidation. Propel understands that liquidators from BDO have been appointed to Colette Holding, which operated sites in Northcote Road, Wimbledon and Fulham. Colette was founded by Dimitri and Mira Plaquet in 2019 and opened its debut site in Fulham Road, Chelsea, in January 2020. Colette’s second venue opened on the site of the former Iris fashion store in Wimbledon High Street in April last year. Last November, the business opened its third London site, in the former Shooting Star charity shop in Northcote Road, near Wandsworth Common, which was its biggest yet. 

Tijbits – we need to re-set perceptions of pancakes, concept to stay focused on London before heading to regions: Where The Pancakes Are founder Patricia Tijbits believes her next challenge – having convinced people than pancakes are more than just a sweet snack – is to persuade them they’re an all-day dining concept. A popular snack or meal in countries including Tijbits’ native Netherlands, multi-site pancake concepts are still quite rare in Britain – although a third Where The Pancakes Are site will open later this year at the Battersea Power Station development, with plans to grow further. But first comes the battle to further change the perception of pancakes in the UK – something Tijbits said wasn’t helped by the covid lockdowns. “When we started, we had to fight tooth and nail to convince people that having a savoury pancake is as good an option, if not better, than a sweet one,” she told Propel. “Nowadays, 70% of what we sell is savoury, and people don’t blink, so that’s a battle we’ve won over the past five years. However, during the pandemic, we became increasingly known as a breakfast/brunch place, and we are keen to hit the re-set button on that. In a night-time economy like London, having a pint of beer with a pastrami pancake in the evenings is an equally viable option.” As part of this drive, the brand is launching a guest chef series from its Charlotte Street site from Thursday (7 July), showcasing just how diverse pancakes can be. These include Philippine pulled-pork pancakes from Lee Johnson, Hainan chicken pancake wraps from Amy Poon and Irish crispy potato pancakes from Anna Haugh. Trijbits recently completed a £600,000 crowdfunding campaign towards future expansion for the concept she launched in 2016. And while she intends to eventually expand to the regions, London remains her focus for now. “In spite of the economic climate and pressures, we are still on track to pursue our nationwide expansion,” she said. “The plan was always to test, hone and fine tune our concept in three distinct locations, develop an affinity with our customers and firmly establish our brand and expand from there – and those plans haven’t changed. We’re looking at mid 2023 for further openings, focusing on London for another one or two years and then open in cities like Manchester, Cambridge, Edinburgh and Cardiff.” 

Truffle Burger to open third bricks-and-mortar site: Burger specialist Truffle will open its third bricks-and-mortar burger restaurant in Hackney, Propel has learned. The Tom Bickers-founded concept has secured a site in Stoke Newington Church Street for an opening later this summer. The business launched its first permanent site in Soho’s Bateman Street in 2020 and opened its second earlier this year on the ex-Badolina site at 206-210 Bishopsgate. It also operates pop-up sites in Seven Dials Market and on the Southbank. On the new site, Bickers told Propel: “We have some treats in store with local operators for the first couple of months. This spot is really about community for us. One of our first proper trading locations was Hackney back on Broadway Market, and I am part of the local community, so we really want to hammer home the importance of neighbourhood restaurants, staying local and doing the right stuff by the local residents.” On further expansion, Bickers said the business will “keep our eyes open” but that its biggest focus is to “keep the standards high in our already busy locations and to make this new one a success”. In terms of the company’s performance, Bickers said: “Trading has been great. A high influx of tourists in central London has been a massive boost in comparison to 2021. Having been open for every day possible throughout 2020 and 2021 lockdowns, it has shown what bad can be like, and as a team, we couldn't be happier with the year so far.”
 
Peckham operator doubles up with second pub, plans five more in next five years: Clement Ogbonnaya, operator of the Prince of Peckham, has taken on a second pub and unveiled plans to acquire five more in the next five years. Ogbonnaya, who launched the Prince of Peckham in 2017, will open Queen of the South, in Tulse Hill, later this year. It will feature co-working spaces by day, and by night will host live events, complete with a games room and karaoke booth. Ogbonnaya plans to follow this with five more openings through a new pub group he has created, The Village People. He intends to acquire old and disused pubs and regenerate them into “stylish, welcoming and inclusive multi-functional community hubs”. Ogbonnaya said: “I’ve worked in hospitality for 13 years and I’ve seen how the industry has changed throughout this time, both for the better and for the worse. While people are searching for a sense of belonging and community now more than ever, many British boozers have gone from being area hubs to laying empty and derelict, which is a tragedy. I think there’s a massive opportunity to rejuvenate the pub scene and bring them back to the heart of the community. The Village People pub group will focus on hospitality over service, and I’m excited to bring this ethos to my second pub in Tulse Hill.” Eva Arnaiz, former head of inclusion and social impact at The Breakfast Club, has also come on board as community manager, tasked with developing a community outreach programme to support other local businesses.
 
BrewDog to open its largest bar next month featuring immersive cocktail experience, duckpin bowling and retro ice cream van: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has confirmed an opening date of Thursday, 18 August, for its new flagship bar in London’s Waterloo. Set in 27,500 square feet over two floors in the newly developed Waterloo station, The Sidings will be BrewDog’s largest bar. It will feature dedicated co-working spaces and pods, a micro-brewery, a cafe, duckpin bowling alleys, podcast studio, meeting rooms, a floristry and a retro ice-cream van from Hackney Gelato. There will also be an immersive cocktail hideaway with a secret entrance, on which BrewDog is collaborating with London mixologist Rich Woods, also known as “The Cocktail Guy”. Woods said: “I’ve followed BrewDog’s rise over the years and find myself fortunate to now be working alongside it. Just like the venue itself, I will be taking inspiration from the classic speakeasy.” It will be one of the first bars to open following the recent announcement of the company’s “BrewDog Blueprint” staff profit-sharing scheme, where 50% of the profits generated by each bar will be shared directly with the staff who crew them. BrewDog chief executive James Watt said: “This is our new flagship bar for London, so we are making it a true destination. From enjoying a morning artisan coffee in our Grind café to stopping in for a post-work pint, you’ll be able to take your commute to the next level. Record your own podcast, explore our hidden cocktail bar, or stoke some competition with a game of duckpin bowling or ping-pong – BrewDog Waterloo has something for everyone.”
 
Paddy & Scott’s strengthens senior team to drive sales growth across business: Independent Suffolk coffee shop operator and wholesaler Paddy & Scott’s has appointed three new senior team members to support its growth. Since launching in 2007, Paddy & Scott’s has grown exponentially, opening cafes and funding its farming project in Kenya, which supports the local community with jobs, equipment and education. Paddy & Scott’s is now gearing up to drive growth across all areas of hospitality, retail and online with the new appointments. Sean Winney has joined as head of sales, Jonathan Cole as head of retail operation and Joseph Cordy as head of commercial. They have a wealth of experience across the industry, with brands such as brewer and retailer Greene King, Thompson & Morgan and Starbucks. Jon Reed, chief executive of Paddy & Scott’s, said: “We are excited to welcome Sean, Jonathan and Joseph to our growing team and feel honoured to have attracted some huge names from the industry. Our hope is together we can continue to drive the business forward and see sales growth across retail, hospitality and online.” Last month, the business reported the most successful year in its history with an 82% increase in revenue versus pre-pandemic levels, with some of its coffee shops enjoying increased sales of 46.5%.
 
Extra MSA Group chief executive acquires second hotel: Andrew Long, co-founder and chief executive of motorway services operator Extra MSA Group, has acquired his second hotel. Long has bought The White Hart in Lincoln as a going concern, in an off market deal negotiated directly with Ambar Paul, principal of Contemporary Hotels. The hotel’s general manager, Ian Robinson, and all employees will be retained under the new ownership. Long, principal director of Travel Sector Property, said: “We are delighted to have acquired this historic 50-bedroom hotel. Our intentions are to invest in its excellent restaurant, cocktail bar, function suite and leisure facilities, restoring the hotel to its rightful status as a premium leisure and business destination at the heart of Lincoln’s popular historic Uphill area.” Travel Sector Property has also entered into a management agreement with Luxury Hotel Management. Long also bought the Hotel Polurrian in The Lizard, Cornwall, earlier this year. He continues to be chief executive of Extra MSA Group and an ongoing investor. He has some 40 years of property and operational experience in the hospitality and roadside sectors.

Subway makes ‘most significant menu update in its near 60-year history: Global sandwich franchise Subway has made what it has described as the “most significant menu update in its near 60-year history” after launching a line of a dozen curated sandwiches. The chain, which is known for its customisable assembly-line model, said its new Subway Series line is intended to streamline production and improve guest satisfaction by offering sandwiches with broad appeal that require minimal decision-making on the part of customers. The all-new line-up of 12 signature sandwiches includes The Philly, The Outlaw, The Monster, Bella Mozza, The Boss; The MexiCali, The Great Garlic, The Champ, All-American Club, Subway Club and Turkey Cali Club. Trevor Haynes, president, North America at Subway, said: “The Subway Series is the most ambitious undertaking in company history as we are changing the nearly 60-year-old blueprint that helped make Subway a global phenomenon. Whether you leave the sandwich-making to us or are craving your custom creation, there are more reasons than ever to make Subway your dining destination.” Subway has nearly 40,000 restaurants worldwide, including more than 20,000 in the US and circa 2,500 in the UK.
 
Provenance Inns and Hotels to reopen Harrogate pub later this month: Yorkshire operator Provenance Inns and Hotels will reopen The Coach & Horses in Harrogate later this month following a refurbishment. The company, formed by Chris Blundell in 2010, acquired the pub, based in West Park, in October 2021 for its eighth site. The pub had been closed since March 2020, but will open once more on Friday, 22 July with a new seasonal gastro-style menu and first floor dining room. Its offer will include the pub’s popular homemade pies, which can also be bought to take home, while a wide range of local and international gin will be available alongside a cask beer selection. Operations manager Chris Cartledge said: “As one of just a handful of Harrogate’s oldest surviving traditional pubs, it’s safe to say anticipation for the return of the Coach & Horses has been high. We’re pleased to say meticulous care and attention to detail has been taken to ensure the pub is subtly modernised, while restoring original features where possible to their best.”
 
Caffe Nero opens debut airport store in Northern Ireland as it replaces Costa: Caffe Nero has opened a new store in Belfast city airport. The opening replaces Costa and is the largest coffee outlet in the airport. Located in the main concourse for arrivals landside at the airport, the 2,100 square-foot store is Caffe Nero’s first outlet in an airport in Northern Ireland. Will Stratton-Morris, chief executive at Caffe Nero, said: “We are seeing strong performances across all our airport sites, and with Belfast city airport predicting passenger numbers will exceed pre-pandemic numbers in the coming years, it is an important site for us.” The location builds on the success of Caffe Nero’s pop-up store, which opened in the terminal in December. Caffe Nero, which has circa 650 UK stores among its worldwide estate of more than 1,000 venues, opened its first UK store in two years in March, in Knutsford, Cheshire. The company has six more openings lined up in the coming months.

Cream Group set to open new Mayfair restaurant: Cream Group – which operates London venues including Cirque le Soir, Restaurant Ours, Wild and The Windmill Soho – is set to launch a new restaurant concept in Mayfair. Miro, which will offer covers for 120, will open in the former Street XO site at 15 Old Burlington Street on 22 July. Executive chef Toby Burrowes, formerly of Zuma London and the Michelin-starred Elystan Street, will lead the development of a menu which promises a “Mayfair interpretation of global favourites, with dramatic presentation and a lot of creativity without compromising on quality”.  It will focus on both small and larger plates from Asia, Europe and South America including the £3,000 ‘sunken treasure chest’, which will contain a kilogram of caviar surrounded by treats including blinis, mini brioche buns and mini croissants. The drinks offering will include rare and vintage cocktails, such as the £5,000 ‘Vintage French 75’, made with a rare 1950s gin and a bottle of 1970 Dom Perignon. Ryan Bish, founder of Cream Group, said: “We love creating unique and amazing concepts and I can’t wait for people to try this restaurant.”
 
Panera Bread ends merger agreement with Danny Meyer’s SPAC as it puts IPO plans on hold: US fast casual brand Panera Bread, which is backed by JAB Holdings, will no longer merge with Danny Meyer’s special purpose acquisition group, Hugs, after putting plans for an initial public offering (IPO) on hold. The partnership was initially announced in November and the merger would have gone through once Panera had released its IPO, and Meyer would have invested in Panera and been named lead independent director of the newly public company’s board. However, both Panera and Hugs – a subsidiary of Union Square Hospitality Group – have agreed not to renew the contract that lapsed at the end of June. “We have tremendous respect for Danny Meyer, Hugs and its management team and have enjoyed a very collaborative relationship since last autumn,” Niren Chaudhary, chief executive of Panera, said. “Unfortunately, the deterioration of capital market conditions over the last several months has led to the realisation an IPO may not be imminent, and as a result we felt it was appropriate not to extend our planned partnership.” Chaudhary said the company was still seeking to go public “as market conditions improve” despite the deal with Meyer not going ahead. Meyer added: “We are disappointed that market timing was not on our side, especially as we have such tremendous admiration and respect for Panera, its entire management team and its partners at JAB.” Meyer said the acquisition company was still looking for another partner that “embodies the values consistent with Hugs and our Enlightened Hospitality roots, demonstrating that shareholder success is both dependent on and driven by an employee-first stakeholder culture”.
 
Pachamama Group opens Notting Hill restaurant and cocktail bar for fourth site: Restaurant operator Pachamama Group has opened a fourth site in London, in Notting Hill. The company has launched Zephyr – a Greek restaurant and late-night cocktail bar – at 100 Portobello Road. The business has signed a new 15-year lease on the 3,000 square-foot site. Zephyr focuses on seasonal produce and “applying the bold flavours, aromas, textures and spices that make Asian food so tasty”. Pachamama Group opened modern-Peruvian restaurant Pachamama Bar + Kitchen in Marylebone in 2014 before launching Chicama Bar + Kitchen in Chelsea two years later. At the end of 2018, the company launched its third London site, in Shoreditch. Pachamama East opened in Great Eastern Street offering a different experience to Peruvian-style sister sites Chicama and Pachamama. Guy Marks, of CBRE, acted on the Notting Hill deal.
 
Papa John’s multi-unit franchisee relocates Egham store to more central location: Papa John’s multi-unit franchisee Abid Hussain has reopened his store in Egham after relocating it to a more central location in the Surrey town. The new location, which has been decked out in Papa John’s new branding, is at 43 High Street. He said: “We have moved our Egham Papa John’s to a more central location on the high street. The store is also much bigger and means we have been able to grow our team by creating seven jobs, already filled by recruiting more local team members.” Hussain, who first joined the company in 2016, now runs 19 Papa John’s in the south east and Midlands. He added: “Running multiple franchised stores offers economies of scale in relation to ordering, marketing and it can make recruitment easier too. But my success wouldn’t be possible without my staff. I have really capable area and store managers, and the team behind each of them ensures we deliver superb service and top-quality pizza every time.”
 
Short-term rental management company strengthens UK portfolio after acquiring lease of west London hotel: Short-term rental management company Sonder Holdings has strengthened its UK portfolio after acquiring the lease of a west London hotel. Sonder Holdings – which operates a growing portfolio of units across North America, Europe, and Dubai – is now running The Henry VIII Hotel in Bayswater. The 102-bedroom hotel has been owned by the same family for a number of years and has been extensively modernised during this time. The family’s decision to market a new leasehold was prompted by the need to focus on its other business ventures throughout the UK and abroad. The addition of The Henry VIII Hotel has expanded Sonder Holdings’ portfolio to 28 properties across the UK and Ireland. Christie & Co brokered the deal.
 
Neighbourhood store concept Nourished Communities opens second London site: Neighbourhood store concept Nourished Communities has opened a second London site, in Highbury. It has taken over the former Highbury Butchers site at 183 Blackstock Road, reports Hot Dinners. The original store, in Canonbury Road, was set up during the pandemic to support producers that relied on farmers’ markets. It also sells seasonal produce grown in Kent, and once it has the necessary licence, will also offer cider and refillable wine bottles. The new store, which will grow its own mushrooms and make its own honey on site, will also offer local vegetable box deliveries.
 
Merlin Entertainments submits plans for adventure golf attraction at Legoland Windsor: Merlin Entertainments has lodged plans to build an adventure golf attraction at its Legoland Windsor resort. Lined up for land that currently makes up part of Car Park A, the venue – the idea for which was revealed earlier this year – has been described as “an important investment”. A total of four courses would be developed, each having a different theme. While it has not been confirmed, the indicative drawings suggest one would be pirates, reports Insider Media. The proposals, which are with Windsor & Maidenhead Council, have been designed as a secondary attraction. A planning statement said: “It will provide an additional indoor attraction for guests to the park and also the hotel, which is open for additional periods out of season when the main park is closed. It will increase the attractiveness of the park throughout the year and in the future, and it will provide an easily accessible indoor attraction for holiday village guests.”
 
Former Super 8 Restaurants chef to lead menu at new Hackney Mexican cafe: Former Super 8 Restaurants chef Rodrigo Cervantes will lead the menu at The Quarter Kitchen, a new Mexican cafe that has opened in Hackney. Cervantes has previously worked at the likes of Koya, Smoking Goat, Kiln and Brat in the Super 8 portfolio – which was co-founded by former Mitchells & Butlers director of operations Brian Hannon in 2014. The Quarter Kitchen, based in St Johns at Hackney churchyard in Lower Clapton Road, is from Max Fishman, who owns nearby food shop The Quarter Store. The mainly breakfast and lunch menu will focus on gorditas (filled tacos); chilaquiles (tortilla chips soaked in salsa, eggs, cheese, sour cream, onion and coriander) and breakfast burritos, reports Hot Dinners. A programme of guest coffee roasters is also planned.

Tom Kitchin opens new Edinburgh venture: Tom Kitchen, Scotland’s youngest Michelin star winner, has opened his new Edinburgh venture. Kora by Tom Kitchen is the chef’s fourth venue in the region alongside The Scran & Scallie, The Kitchin and The Bonnie Badger. It replaces French bistro Southside Scran, which was also owned by Kitchin but was forced to close due to flooding in 2020. Kitchen also previously co-owned the Castle Terrace, which will not reopen after closing two years ago. The name of the new venue comes from the Greek goddess of spring, flowers and vegetation – representing both new beginnings and Kitchin’s passion for working with fresh and seasonal produce. It includes a bar area for those wanting just a drink or lighter meal, and a 65-cover dining space.

Derry restaurateur set to open third site in the city: Derry restaurateur Ray Moran has opened his third site in the city. Soda & Starch Bistro has opened in Derry’s Craft Village, in Shipquay Street. Moran already runs Soda & Starch Under the Canopy and Artis Restaurant, in collaboration with Great British Menu chef Phelim O’Hagan. “Our existing two venues in Derry’s Craft Village have received phenomenal feedback since they began operating,” Moran told Irish News. “We are proud to launch something of a hybrid between the two that will allow guests to enjoy the best seasonal produce in what is a beautiful part of the city. It is fast becoming a food destination, and we know our bistro will further strengthen that offering.”

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