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Wed 13th Jul 2022 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Hornby – the grab-and-go space is going to be at the most resilient end of the sector, doesn’t rule out further acquisition: Andy Hornby, chief executive of The Restaurant Group (TRG), has said the next two years is going be very tough for the sector but the grab-and-go space is going to be at the most resilient end. Hornby was speaking to Propel after TRG, which also owns Wagamama and Brunning & Price, acquired the 16-strong burrito bar chain Barburrito, for £7m, with an initial expansion plan to double the existing estate over the next four years. He said: “We’ve been very clear on how we want to grow Wagamama and Brunning & Price, and we have also been incredibly clear we’re not going to go off piste on it. You know, we see Wagamama as having long term 200-ish sites. We see Brunning & Price long term, having 150-ish sites. We’ve got good opening plans over the next five years to take those two brands forward. But we also know that to sort of repeat the sins of the past of TRG in overexpanding leisure brands would be a real mistake. We’ve always said there should be opportunities post-covid to buy one or two brands. It will probably be only one, but I wouldn’t rule out one more brand, which is small and a really good concept and where for whatever reason the current owners just either haven’t got the financial power to take it from ten-15 sites to 60-70 or they don’t want to because of a personal situation. Secondly, the next two years are going to be very tough for the sector. This space is going to be at the most resilient end, not just because of demand but also the spend per head is quite low and also all the cost pressures that we’ve all got on the operating side, both utilities and particularly labour, are relatively low cost in this space. At the very least, I don’t think we will ever look stupid doing it and it could actually in five years’ time look to have been really quite smart in our mix.” Hornby said there was a definite possibility of adding Barburrito to its existing virtual brand portfolio, and was pleased the business was “ready to go from the off”. He said: “We’ve got an awful lot on our plates. Integration wise, it’s just the lowest effort. It’s ready to go and we are looking forward to seeing what we can achieve with it.”
 

Industry News:

Sponsored message – PizzaExpress transforms culture and achieves impressive KPIs with new guest insight partner HGEM: PizzaExpress, which launched guest feedback survey and review management solutions with HGEM in November last year, has reported stunning results, such as a 200% increase in feedback volume, 57% more reviews and an average increase of 0.25 in its Google ratings. “Since we launched the programme, we have transformed the culture and the way that PizzaExpress listens to customers,” said Stephanie Farrow, head of strategy and insight at PizzaExpress in a recent case study with HGEM. “It’s a strong partnership because of that.” To read the case study, click here. If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com.
 
Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book shows Greggs is sector’s most profitable company: Food-to-go operator Greggs is the sector’s most profitable company, the next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book shows. Greggs is making a pre-tax profit of £145m and turning over £1.2bn. Marston’s is also generating pre-tax profit of more than £100m, with its £119.3m putting it second on the list followed by Domino’s Pizza (£98.9m), Whitbread (£58m) and KFC (£51.6m). The next edition of the Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group, will feature 590 companies, which produce total turnover of £28.6bn. The database shows the effects of the pandemic, with total losses of £5.8bn being reported by 344 companies. However, a further 246 sector companies are still reporting total profits of £1.2bn. The next edition will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (15 July), at midday. The Blue Book, which is updated every month, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers also receive the New Openings Database, produced in association with StarStock, and the Multi-Site Operators Database, produced in association with Virgate, which are also updated each month. Premium subscribers also now have access to the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which is an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK and will be updated every two months. 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 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.
 
Co-founders of Little Door & Co join speaker line-up for Propel Multi-Club Conference and summer party: Kam Dehdashti and Jamie Hazeel, co-founders of Little Door & Co, have joined the speaker line-up for next month’s Propel Multi-Club Conference and summer party. It takes place on Wednesday, 31 August, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Oxford Belfry, and is open for bookings. The all-day conference will focus on “prospering in a post-pandemic world” and will be followed in the evening by the summer party with a barbecue, a three-hour performance from the house band for live music venue group The Piano Works and more. Dehdashti and Hazeel discuss the growth of the London bar business and how it goes about creating and making a success of venues styled around house parties and fictional flat shares. They have replaced Ben Hedley, co-founder of Neyba. Operators can claim up to two free places each by emailing jo.charity@propelinfo.com. A room can also be booked for the evening for £120.
 
Sales at Pret’s airport-based sites up 40% on pre-pandemic levels: Coffee, sandwich and salad sales at Pret A Manger stores in Heathrow, Gatwick, City and Luton terminals are now more than 40% higher than they were before the pandemic. The latest Bloomberg Pret Index said this indicated the “surging demand for leisure and business travel isn’t abating despite staff shortages and technical failures leading several operators, including British Airways, EasyJet and Wizz Air, to cancel bookings”. It said Pret’s business in London’s airport terminals is the strongest it’s ever been. Meanwhile, transactions are still slightly below pre-pandemic levels in the West End, but this may see a boost in the coming weeks as international tourists fly into London for their summer holidays. The index found transactions in London train stations surged last week as tourists headed into the capital to shop and dine. As previously reported, Pret’s sales in London’s suburban areas are stabilising at almost 25% above pre-pandemic levels.
 
Almost two thirds of guests not planning to cut back on eating and drinking out: Almost two thirds of diners surveyed for a new study have said they are not planning to cut back on eating and drinking out over the next few months. Customer experience platform Feed It Back surveyed almost 60,000 diners to form its latest report on their opinions and habits in 2022. Asked if, when faced with cost-of-living challenges, they’ll be spending more or less on dining out over the next few months, 59% said about the same, with only 36% said less. And when asked, holidays aside, how they plan to spend their disposable income, 50% said it would be on eating and drinking out. The poll also found 58% of guests are less likely to book a venue if it doesn’t offer instant booking online, and a similar number are less likely to book when a deposit is required. In terms of new calorie labelling, 41% said they are likely to change to lower calorie dishes if they are visible when ordering, but 48% said they were indifferent to it. Furthermore, 79% said they would not look at calories if available on a venue’s website before booking. Generation Z guests would be more likely to switch to lower calorie dishes, with almost half of 18 to 24-year-olds saying it would be likely to change their meal choice compared with 35% of over-65s. Overall, guests flagged up good quality food as their biggest concern for a positive experience, with friendly service a close second, while cold food and wait time were the two biggest reasons for complaints. Feed It Back managing director Dan Hawkie said: “People are still planning on eating and drinking out as they enjoy an experience, which is a huge positive for the industry, but they want it to be easy and enjoyable.”
 
More than a third of Londoners are still working from home: More than a third of Londoners are still working from home, stoking fears about the city’s economic recovery from covid-19. The Telegraph reported the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said 37% of professionals continue to stay away from the office. Prior to the pandemic, just 14% of Londoners worked remotely. The capital had the highest proportion of homeworkers in the UK during the first three months of 2022, the ONS said. Across the UK, homeworking has doubled to 30% since the onset of covid, the latest sign the pandemic has permanently changed working habits. Low office attendance rates come despite ministers and officials urging people back to the workplace, with fears London’s recovery is lagging other cities because of a lack of commuters. Widespread homeworking has led to a spike in employment tribunals as managers and staff struggle to adapt. The ONS said Northern Ireland and the north east of England had the lowest level of homeworkers in the UK, at just 16% and 22% respectively.
 
Pizza Hut Delivery offers grants of up to £5,000 as part of national entrepreneurs programme to help launch almost 100 businesses by 2025: Pizza Hut Delivery is offering grants of up to £5,000 as part of its programme to help entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds bring their business ideas to life. The company launched the New Founder Programme in partnership with national enterprise charity Hatch in May 2021 – aiming to help start 97 businesses and reach 1,025 entrepreneurs by 2025. The programme has three stages – from “hackathon” interactive workshops and 12-week “launchpad” courses and masterclasses through to four-month “incubator” programmes for those already running their business. So far, the programme has invested £1m and reached 440 entrepreneurs, including 58 at launchpad level and 32 at incubator level. As part of the next phase, launchpad graduates can now apply for a grant for up to £1,000, while those who completed the incubator programme can apply for a grant of up to £5,000 to grow their businesses. Those receiving grants, which will be administered by the charity Groundwork, will be selected based on the impact it will have on their business. Katie Mellor, chief capability and culture officer Pizza Hut UK & Europe, said: “As a brand, we stand for more than just pizza. We are passionate about helping to open the door for a new generation of entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds – especially as, like our franchisees, entrepreneurs give so much back to their communities. Launching the next phase of our New Founder Programme with Hatch and Groundwork through this grant scheme is the perfect step to continue supporting more underrepresented business leaders to grow their businesses and thrive.”
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a multi brand restaurant and bar group that is looking for a director of operations for its growing business. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The business is seeking someone who lives and breathes hospitality and excels in both premium dining, bars and casual dining. Ideally, it requires a hands-on candidate who has operated in restaurants at a senior level. You will understand how restaurants work from the ground up, be comfortable with implementing procedures and process, and will enjoy a fast-paced lifestyle and getting in the restaurants to see how they all tick.” The salary is up to £120,000 and the position is essentially based in London. For more information, email kate@corecruitment.com 
 

Company News:

Mojo Bars unveils first wave of new expansion plans: Voodoo Doll, the company behind the Mojo Bars business, has lined up three new openings, including sites in Edinburgh and Newcastle, Propel has learned. The new Newcastle bar, located on Newgate Street, is expected to open in late September with a capacity of 250. It will offer the full Mojo food menu plus additional pizzas, as currently served in the Sheffield bar. A further site in Liverpool will follow shortly after. Mojo Edinburgh is expected in June 2023. Housed on Rose Street, the bar will have a 200 capacity, pizza menu as per Sheffield and also feature a street café. The company currently operates six Mojo sites in Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Harrogate and Nottingham. Martin Greenhow, owner and director of Voodoo Doll said: “The pandemic meant we had to put a halt on several plans for Mojo and we are so happy that we are now in a position to implement our expansion programme to bring great music, food, cold beer, killer cocktails and friendly staff to cities across the UK. We are in negotiation with several other units across the country. No city should be deprived of a Mojo.” The company said that the announcement of new sites is just part of a “comprehensive growth strategy” that recently saw its Leeds head office become a BIIAB accredited training centre. The business said its goal is to have all employees, across the six current Mojo sites, receive their personal licence. It said that not only will this increase job satisfaction but will help their staff with their professional development. 

Greggs signs deal with petrol forecourt firm Ascona, at least 30 stores to open over next five years: Food-to-go operator Greggs has signed a partnership with petrol forecourt firm Ascona to open stores across its portfolio. Under the agreement, Greggs has opened its first store at Ascona’s Crossways service station in Neyland, Pembrokeshire. Planning permission has also been submitted for Ascona’s second Greggs site at its Holywell service station in Flintshire. Ascona, which is headquartered in Pembroke Dock, aims to see at least 30 new Greggs stores at its forecourts over the next five years. The group continues to execute its growth strategy through the acquisition of forecourts across the UK. Darren Briggs, chief executive of Ascona, said: “Greggs is a much-loved brand and one that we are excited to be partnering with. Creating destinations that serve our customers and communities is at the heart of what we do, and the introduction of Greggs will be another string to our bow as we seek the magic formula at each of our locations. We are actively looking at multiple sites across our portfolio and our ambition is to open 30 new Greggs stores at forecourts across the country in the next five years, something we feel will is eminently doable after the stellar few weeks of trading this first site has had.” Ascona has 62 sites across the UK employing 750 people.
 
Choptsix and Haven to explore more locations after success of debut site: Fast-growing quick service restaurant brand Chopstix has opened its first location in partnership with holiday park Haven, with the site on track to be the highest turnover store in Scotland. The opening at Haven’s Craig Tara park in Ayrshire, Scotland, which marks the first foray into holiday parks for Chopstix, has produced a record opening week of sales. The performance has prompted Chopstix and Haven to explore additional location rollouts in the future. Jon Lake, managing director of Chopstix, said: “This is a landmark event for Chopstix. We’re delighted to be growing our estate footprint with Haven holiday parks, the opening week of sales at the Craig Tara park indicates there is a real appetite for our dishes among Haven guests and points to a long, fruitful partnership between our two businesses.” Cain Savazzi, food and beverage director for Haven, added: “We are constantly looking at ways to improve our guest food and beverage experience and introduce new dining experiences, feedback from guests at the Craig Tara park has been highly positive, and points to how successful the Chopstix partnership could be in broadening our offering.” The opening follows news earlier this year that Chopstix had appointed Aaron Moore-Saxton as the company’s first franchise director, to support its continued growth plans in the franchise space. This year, Chopstix, which operates more than 80 sites, plans to open at least 12 new stores, through a mix of directly owned and operated stores (equity stores), and also in concert with partners.
 
London motorcycle-themed bar and restaurant club targets further expansion with Growthdeck investment, aiming to raise $6.5m: London motorcycle-themed bar and restaurant club Bike Shed has launched a $6.5m fundraise and targeted further expansion after opening its second site, and first overseas, following investment from private equity firm Growthdeck. Bike Shed, which owns a bar and restaurant as well as a tattoo parlour, barber shop and retail outlet at its debut Shoreditch venue, claims to be the “leading venue for London’s biker community”. Launched in 2011, the 12,000 square-foot venue welcomes more than 2,400 bikers through its doors each week and also hosts biker rallies and events. Led by husband and wife team Dutch and Vikki van Someren, the company used funds raised from multiple investors, including Growthdeck, to open a larger venue, in Los Angeles. The 30,000 square-foot space, which also houses a restaurant, café, bar, lounge and event spaces, is projected to register turnover of £8.2m in 2022, rising to £11.7m in 2026, and is expected to be profitable within its first year. Bike Shed is now aiming to continue expanding globally, with further sites planned for the US, Europe and Asia. Charles Williams, investment director at Growthdeck, said: “We’re delighted to back the expansion of one of London’s coolest businesses into a global brand. Bike Shed has been a huge success in London, and there is no reason why that can’t be replicated in Los Angeles and beyond. As well as being an enormously influential part of motorcycle culture in the UK, Bike Shed has also become a very profitable enterprise. The quality of the company’s leadership is extremely high, and has proven its concept well in London. The next stage of its growth is going to be a very exciting one.”
 
Benugo launches new concept store at St Pancras, plans rollout in other major transport hubs: Benugo, the operator of deli cafes and catering in high-profile venues such as the Natural History Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum, has opened a new concept store at St Pancras International, which it plans to roll out at other major transport hubs. The new opening features two distinct offerings – a cafe deli sits next to a cafe bar, “allowing for a smooth transition from morning through to evening”. Both offerings are open each day until 9pm. The store serves 100% carbon neutral coffee alongside pastries at the start of the day, before making way for hot and cold food-to-go classics such as made-to-order fish finger wraps, chicken shawarma and other Benugo classics. A large deli area features a rotating fresh salad option. A carefully curated range of wine and cocktails is available on tap. A food counter features a rotating offer – opening with cheese and charcuterie boards. An “incubator fridge” rotates a number of carefully chosen small producers and there is also a small retail range of oil, pesto and antipasto. Matthew Thompson, Benugo managing director, said: “We are excited to bring our new store design to London St Pancras to meet the needs of the business traveller, tourist, and Londoner alike.”
 
Bulldozer Group to bring taverna concept Gaia to UK: Bulldozer Group, the Dubai hospitality company, is bringing its taverna concept Gaia to the UK. The company has agreed a deal with Crosstree Real Estate Partners to take space at One Berkeley Street in London’s Mayfair. The development will also be home to the 181-bedroom 1 Hotel Mayfair. Gaia, which has sites in Dubai and Monte-Carlo, will be located on the Dover Street corner of the development. Offering Greek Mediterranean cuisine by chef Izu Ani, the 9,500 square-foot multi-level venue will open next year. Gaia London is set to become the concept’s international flagship. The restaurant will feature a signature fish market, with a daily selection of fresh fish and seafood; outdoor seating; an elevated lounge and cocktail bar; curated wine room, as well as members club, NYX, hidden on the lower ground floor. Gaia will join the European debut of 1 Hotels with the 1 Hotel Mayfair, which will be operated by SH Hotels & Resorts, an affiliate of global private investment firm Starwood Capital Group. As previously reported, the hotel will feature a flagship restaurant overseen by executive chef Tom Sellers, a signature bar and ground-floor lobby cafe, and a bespoke fitness and wellness centre, as well as meeting and event space. The hotel is expected to open in the first half of 2023. Nash Bond and CBRE represent Crosstree on the retail lettings. The Leisure Partnership represented Gaia.
 
Former Duck & Waffle executive chef and Maslow’s founder to launch new Soho bistro: Former Duck & Waffle executive chef Tom Cenci and Maslow’s founder Guy Ivesha will this summer launch Nessa, a British bistro on the corner of Brewer Street and Warwick Street in London’s Soho. Executive chef Cenci will serve a menu of classic dishes that “champion seasonality with a contemporary twist”. The 98-cover restaurant will sit on the ground floor of the new 1 Warwick members’ house, divided into a bar and dining area, plus outside tables for alfresco dining. Cenci said: “I’m thrilled to be working with Guy Ivesha, and look forward to creating something really special with him and the team at Maslow’s. We have some exciting plans for this menu, drawing inspiration from my background and travels – watch this space!” Ivesha added: “I’m so pleased to bring our new restaurant, Nessa, to the lively streets of London’s Soho. Following our opening of Mortimer House Kitchen in 2017, just a few streets away in Fitzrovia, I can’t think of a better setting for the newest addition to the Maslow’s family.”
 
Tattu appoints Morne Ritter as operations director: Independent restaurant group Tattu, which made its London debut earlier this year, has appointed Morne Ritter, formerly of Hickory’s and Living Ventures, as its new operations director. Ritter joins the five-strong business after a brief stint at Brunning & Price. Previous to that he spent more than seven years at the Piper-backed Hickory’s, including more than five as its head of operations. Founded in 2015 by brothers Adam and Drew Jones, Tattu opened its first restaurant in Manchester, followed by sites in Leeds, Birmingham and Edinburgh, offering contemporary cuisine inspired by traditional Chinese flavours and ingredients. Its London site is a 220-cover restaurant located in Outernet’s The Now Building on the corner of Tottenham Court Road, which offers guests panoramic views of the capital from its position on the building’s rooftop and terrace.
 
Two family-run Cardiff bakeries to merge: Two independent, family-run Cardiff bakeries are merging. Pettigrew Bakeries – a craft bakery based in Victoria Park – is joining with Friends in Knead. Staff from both businesses will continue under the Pettigrew name, offering the best of both bakeries. Friends in Knead founder, Ceri Bower, will also be joining the team in a new role when she returns from maternity leave next year. As part of the merger, Friends in Knead outlets in Moy Road in Roath, and at Newport Market, will slowly switch over to Pettigrew branding. Meanwhile, the current Friends in Knead unit in Castle Arcade will become a standalone showcase for Pettigrew's growing range of patisserie. Pettigrew founder David Le Masurier said: “We are excited to welcome the Friends in Knead team into the Pettigrew family, and for what this means for all of our staff. We have an opportunity to share skills, increase our product range, and expand the business in ways we didn’t think possible until now.” In February, Le Masurier had announced his plans to put Pettigrew Tearooms, his original business that started the whole Pettigrew journey, up for sale. But by taking on the Friends in Knead team, he said he no longer feels as if he has to choose between the tearoom and the bakery. Loosemores Solicitors acted on behalf of Pettigrew Bakeries.
 
Former Brother Marcus head of operations opens debut restaurant: Former Brother Marcus head of operations Ivan Ruiz has opened his debut restaurant. He has partnered with Anjelica Serra to open KiLiG at Deptford Arches in Resolution Way, London, with a menu reflecting the pair’s Filipino and Colombian roots. This includes crab torta with asparagus, tomato pearls, and shellfish butter sauce; crispy pork belly with papaya and mango chutney; and pork adobo and charred pineapple arepas. Ruiz spent seven months as head of operations at three-strong London brunch brand Brother Marcus before leaving in May for his new venture. He previously spent seven years as food and beverage operations manager at restaurant operator and seafood supplier, Wright Brothers.
 
Ex-Duddells and Hotel Café Royal head pastry chef to head up new patisserie at The Dorchester: Michael Kwan, a former head pastry chef at Duddells and Hotel Café Royal, will head up a new patisserie at The Dorchester, opening this autumn. Kwan, who started out as a pastry chef de partie at Laudree Paris and The Fat Duck Group, has also been pastry sous chef at Hakkasan Group and joined The Dorchester as executive pastry chef in March. The new patisserie, Café & Flowers, will be based at the hotel’s entrance on Deanery Street and will also double up as a flower shop.
 
Volunteer group triggers six-month moratorium on Otley pub as Thwaites looks to sell: Offers for the Manor House pub in Otley have been invited after a six-month moratorium was triggered. The moratorium, part of the Asset of Community Value legislation, gives the local community longer to secure its future as a pub. The venue, which dates back to the 19th century, is situated in Manchester Square. Current owner, north west brewer and retailer Daniel Thwaites, decided to sell after tenants David and Eileen Stefan ended their nine-year stay at the pub. The nearby Black Horse Hotel was bought by Kirkstall Brewery in 2018 after a similar moratorium was triggered, and volunteer group Otley Pub Club is hoping for the same outcome at the Manor. The group is campaigning to keep the building as a pub, saying it will oppose any attempts to change its use. Greg Mulholland, president of Otley Pub Club, said: “We urge Thwaites to commit to working with us and the community, to ensure the Manor remains as a pub. We hope the new owners will approach us and work with the community to ensure the Manor remains as a pub and reopens again once it has been purchased and its future is secure.”
 
Indian restaurant brand Yoko Sizzlers makes UK debut: Indian restaurant brand Yoko Sizzlers has made its UK debut. Yoko Sizzlers, which has a dozen outlets in Mumbai and four branches in Dubai, has launched the venue in Stanmore, north west London. The restaurant, which is based in Church Road, serves Yoko Sizzlers’ “famous and unique sauces and dishes”. Food is served on a hot “sizzling” plate. Signature dishes include the Yoko special steak, chicken shashlik, mutton shashlik and the veg sizzler, reports Harrow Online.
 
York operator set to open new deli and ice cream cafe for third site: York operator Paolo Silesu is set to open a third venue in the city with a new deli and ice-cream cafe – just metres from his Sardinian restaurant Il Paradiso del Cibo. Silesu, who first launched his Il Paradiso business in Walmgate in 2003, will unveil Il Paradiso Dolce e Salato in August. He has taken on a ten-year lease of a former tile shop in Walmgate, at its junction with Fossgate and Merchantgate. He sold another Il Paradiso restaurant, in Leeds, in 2020, but also runs the 100-cover Il Paradiso on the Forest, at Sutton on the Forest, just outside York. The new venue will be a throwback to Il Paradiso del Cibo’s original setting as a deli before becoming a restaurant. “A lot of people were asking about the original place and remembered how we started,” Silesu told The Press. “I realised there was nowhere quite like that in York and I thought a deli and ice-cream place would do well in this street.” Besides 20 flavours of gelato, there will be a selection of artisan bread and sweet and savoury pastries, alongside cakes and pizza slices to go. Silesu also plans to sell pouches of fried vegetables, arancini (stuffed, Italian rice balls) and filled panini featuring cheese and meat imported from Italy. The cafe will have seating for 20, with plans to cater for local offices too.
 
Greek street food restaurant concept Mr Souvlaki to open in Cheltenham for third site: Greek street food restaurant concept Mr Souvlaki is to open its third site, in Cheltenham. Owner Ilias Alexeas is launching the outlet at 38 Clarence Street, in the unit that previously housed health food restaurant Kindness and Co. Launching Mr Souvlaki in 2017, Alexeas was initially working weekend events in London. Then, when furloughed from his engineering job during the pandemic, he took the opportunity to expand operations. With souvlaki – skewers of marinated meat – the original street food, Alexeas’ concept was to develop a small canteen, focusing on high quality and authentic Greek cuisine, with an artisanal twist. Alexeas told So Glos: “It’s the shop I always dreamed of. When I first visited Cheltenham, I knew it was the perfect place for us. We just want to spread some Greek tastes, tradition and warm hospitality to each and every customer by offering a truly authentic eating experience.” Mr Souvlaki operates sites in Banbury and Leamington Spa. 
 
Levy UK + Ireland extends The O2 F&B contract by five years: Levy UK + Ireland, the sports and hospitality division of Compass Group UK and Ireland, has extended its contract at The O2 arena by five years. Core to the extension is delivery on key sustainability targets that support Levy UK + Ireland’s main goal of achieving net zero in the UK by 2027, with operations at The O2, which is owned and operated by AEG Europe, being set up to achieve net zero on food and beverage by 2025. The partnership already delivers plant-forward options across more than 50% of the menus. Levy UK + Ireland has further committed to work in partnership with venues to use 100% seasonal sourcing for all menus by the end of 2022, rolling out carbon labelling on every food menu, and have operational food waste under 1% by the end of 2024.

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