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Mon 18th Jul 2022 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

One in seven pub business no longer viable as BII calls for government support with cost-of-living crisis escalating: One in seven pub operators have said their business is no longer viable as the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) called on the government for support as the cost-of-living crisis escalates. The survey of BII members revealed more than 75% are down on the revenues they saw in 2019, with 84% of those being down by more than 10% and 28% by more than 30%. In addition, 86% have reported their profits are down versus the same period in 2019 and almost half of those were seeing profits down by more than 30%. Their profits are being eaten away by the exceptional cost inflation they are facing across the board, with 66% saying their costs have increased more than 10%, 43% saying their costs have increased by more than 20% and one in ten experiencing inflation of more than 40% in the last six months. One in three said they currently have no cash reserves in their business, with a further 50% only having between one and three months’ worth. Furthermore, 70% have debts in their business, with more than a third of those carrying debts of up to £30,000, 40% having debts of up to £50,000 and one in four pubs having debts of in excess of £50,000. Three quarters (75%) of pubs currently have vacancies in their businesses they are struggling to fill. Of these, more than half have in excess of 10% of their roles currently vacant and one in eight have vacancy rates of more than 20%. It means one in two pubs are having to reduce their trading hours, and one in four are having to close for one or more of their usual trading days. The BII is calling on the government for support with a VAT reduction for hospitality businesses, energy price rise cap for pubs, full cancellation of business rates for 2023-24 and a draught beer and cider duty cut. BII chief executive Steve Alton said: “Without support we will lose the opportunity for growth and regeneration, we will lose pubs from the heart of their communities, and we will lose something very special in our nations’ unique heritage and culture.”

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Hospitality Rising hits almost 200 investors: The team behind Hospitality Rising would like to thank the scores of sector companies that are already backing the campaign. The initiative aims to unite the industry and create the biggest sector recruitment advertising ever seen. Not listed below? What’s stopping you? Supporters include Super 8 Restaurants, Supper Deliveries, Tampopo, Tarts Kitchen, The Bath Pub Company, The Beautiful Pubs Collective/SSOOSH/Hospitality Minds, The Beetle and Wedge, The Belfry (TB Resort Operations), The Berkeley, The Church Inn, The Connaught, The Grand Brighton, The Goring, The Grove, The Hand & Flowers, The Regent Pubs & Clubs, The Seafood Bar Soho, The Torridon, The Westbourne Hove/Chilli Mint, The Woolpack, THM/Wild Flor, Tipjar, Topo la Bamba (Holdings), Townhead Hotel SHG, UK VAP, Underdog Restaurants/Hawksmoor, Urban Leisure, Vapiano, Vine Hotels, Wahaca, WB HO, Welcome Break, Wellfound, Wells & Co, Weston Park Enterprises, WH Pubs, Whatley Manor (MAC Hotels), Wine & Spirits Education Trust WSET Global, WMT Troncmaster and Work with Mum. The campaign has raised £700,000-plus and is now in the creative planning phase and aims to launch nationally in September, with a flood of support still coming in. Back Hospitality Rising today 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.

Several chicken shop brands among those added to third UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, released on Friday: Several chicken shop brands are among the 20 new franchisors expanding in the UK and abroad featured in the third UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (22 July), at midday. The second edition will feature 140 companies and more than 58,000 words of content, providing insight on the offer, locations, cost and other key details. Among them is Dallas Chicken, which first opened in Tooting, south London, in 1996 and has since grown to 23 branches. Also featured is Mary Brown’s Chicken, a fast-growing Canadian brand with circa 200 locations across Canada, and which is currently looking to recruit experienced UK partners to expand into the British market. AJ’s Piri, launched in 2016 by FFS Brands, whose flagship chain in Southern Fried Chicken, is also featured. So too is Chunky Chicken, which was founded in Rochdale in 2005 and now has 14 UK locations and a “healthy pipeline of development enquiries”. Premium subscribers also receive access to The New Openings Database, the Propel Multi-Site Database and the Turnover & Profits Blue Book. 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.

Nightclubs must ‘move away from traditional models’ if they’re to truly help struggling towns level up: Nightclubs need to move away from the traditional one-size-fits-all model and offer more specialist and safer nights out if they’re to really help struggling UK towns level up. That is the opinion of Arith Liyanage, who operates Night Owl nightclubs in both Birmingham and London, and has plans to roll out the concept nationally. Lisa Nandy, the MP for Wigan and shadow levelling up secretary, recently said reopening the UK’s nightclubs – a third of which have closed in the last decade – is key to turning around struggling towns. Liyanage told Propel: “Nightclubs should certainly be a big part of the economy mix as we’re trading in the early hours of the morning, so it’s a good pillar of support to the daytime economy. But if you take retail as an analogy, the old days of one-size-fits-all under one roof department stores is over. It’s the same with bars and clubs – the old-fashioned mainstream nightclubs with the big disco ball and dry smoke model is pretty much dead. People have a lot more choice in hospitality now and will pick something that fits their lifestyle. Longer term, I would be like to be opening a Night Owl in every big metropolitan area – look for further investment off the success of London and grow nationally.” Central to Liyanage’s concept is safety, with his Birmingham venue led by an all-female management team for the last five years. It is also starting a monthly event for vulnerable people and their carers, where the music levels are lower and they feel in a safe space. Nightclubs suffered more than most hospitality venues during covid, with longer closures and stricter guidelines when allowed to open, and Liyanage now sees a post-covid reality setting in. “We went back to 2019 levels after Omicron, with lots of pent-up demand, but figures are back where you’d expect these last couple of months,” he added. “We’re past that phase of getting it out the system and people are now back to the reality of the cost of living. But a lot of businesses grow out of recessions, and I’d like to think if we have a downturn, it’s an opportunity to grow. We were fortunate to receive Arts Council funding and Coronavirus Recovery Fund cash, as without that we would have had to shut probably permanently, and we also focused on live streaming and merchandising.”

UKHospitality – proposed tipping legislation ‘a good start’ but more issues to address: UKHospitality has called new proposed tipping legislation “a good start” towards fairer practices for hospitality staff, but warned there are further issues still to address. The Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill 2022-23 was given its second reading in parliament on Friday (15 July), following historic reports of unfair tipping practices by major restaurant chains and other hospitality outlets. This led to calls for reform, requiring employers to pass on all tips and service charges in full – calls which were renewed amid concerns that changing payment habits were seeing a fall in cash tips. The new Bill would amend the Employment Rights Act 1996 to require employers to pay all tips to workers in full, without deductions, by the end of the following month. It would also seek to ensure fair distribution of tips among workers and introduce a new code of practice. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Tips and service charges provide a significant and welcome boost to hospitality employees’ take-home cash, so this should also reassure prospective hospitality sector workers at a time when the industry is seeking to fill vacancies. The Bill is certainly a good starting point, from which there are a few additional issues to address. These include the length of time necessary for businesses to adapt; the onerous levels of red tape required; the worrying need to disclose sensitive business information; and for tips to count towards earned income, thus helping those workers seeking mortgages.”

Six in ten consumers believe restaurant prices too high but diners understand reasons for rises, 43% planning to spend less in outlets: Six in ten UK consumers have said current restaurant prices are too high, but diners understand the reasons behind the rises, according to new research. The survey of 300 consumers by Revenue Management Solutions (RMS) showed 72% believed increased food costs are a justifiable reason for restaurant price increases. Meanwhile, 65% also agreed restaurants were justified in increasing food costs due to the rise in the minimum wage and inflation levels, while 46% agreed an increase would help a restaurant's profitability. Almost one in two (46%) believe the industry to be worse off today than it was in 2021. The survey also found 43% of respondents would be spending less of their disposable income on restaurants compared with 2021. Of those, 40% are choosing less expensive restaurants, while two in five (39%), are either ordering less from the menu, or opting for less expensive items. When analysing dining out habits in the last month, three in four (75%) reported at least one weekly visit to a restaurant, with 65% opting for a takeaway, 57% home delivery and 49% drive-thru. One in five (19%) plan to dine out more. The survey identified consumers are cooking more everyday meals at home, compared with 2021, with more than three in five respondents choosing this option. However, 37% reported entertaining less at home when socialising with family and friends, while 33% stated they are more likely to visit a restaurant when celebrating special occasions. 

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with an international hospitality concept that is looking for a global HR director based in London. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The business is looking for a strategic and operational HR professional who excels at dealing with challenging, fast-paced, and complex businesses. You will lead and motivate a global team of HR professionals with key focus on continual development for a growing hospitality brand. As global HR director, you will maintain an effective level of business literacy including company goals, mission, financial position, strategy, competition, technology, and culture.” The salary is up to £200,000. For more information, email gemma@corecruitment.com. 

Company News:

Shakir Moin to become interim CEO of Costa: Shakir Moin, currently chief operating officer for Costa in the US, is to become the global coffee chain’s interim chief executive, Propel has learned. Moin will be in charge while a successor for Jill McDonald, who is to step down from the role at the end of this month, is found. McDonald, who joined Costa in 2019, is leaving the Coca-Cola-owned business to become the president of McDonald’s international operated markets segment, which includes the UK. Moin has been with the Coca-Cola Company since the start of 1997, which has included stints as vice-president for global strategic initiatives, vice-president and chief of staff – global growth function, and head, global growth operations. He has spent the past three years as chief operating officer for Costa in the US. Meanwhile, it is understood Todd Beiger, who has been with the Coca-Cola Company since 2001, and most recently was chief financial officer of its global ventures group, has become chief financial officer of Costa. Coca-Cola Company acquired the circa 4,000-strong Costa from Whitbread in a near-£4bn deal in 2018. McDonald worked at McDonald’s between 2006 and 2015, when she was head of the company’s UK division as well as northern Europe. McDonald became chief executive of Costa in 2019 when she took over from Dominic Paul, who at the end of last month was named as the new chief executive of Whitbread. He is currently chief executive of Domino’s Pizza Group.

Snowfox Group to launch first retail park site for YO!: Snowfox Group, which owns the Taiko and Bento brands, is to open the first retail park site for its YO! restaurant chain. The 3,000 square-foot site at the Middlebrook retail park, Bolton, will feature YO!’s third longest belt across its circa 60-strong UK estate. A Snowfox Group spokesman told Propel: “As we focus on expanding across the UK, Middlebrook is the ideal location for us to open our newest YO! restaurant. Bolton is a growing and attractive location. Work on the site is well under way and we expect to open later this summer, creating more than 25 jobs.” Last week, Propel revealed Snowfox Group had launched the trial of a new concept called Uzuzu By YO! in the Middle East. The Richard Hodgson-led business has launched the trial site in the new Forsan Central Mall, Abu Dhabi with its franchisee in the region, Gourmet Gulf. It is a beltless concept and the company said it will build on the popularity of the YO! brand and food in the UAE. 

Stonegate begins roll out of new premium food-led format: Stonegate Group has begun the roll out of its new premium food-led format, with a new opening in London’s Marylebone. In May, Propel revealed Stonegate had launched a new division aimed at growing an estate of premium food-led pubs. The group has traditionally focused on wet-led formats, with a circa 35% or under food mix, but the new format, which was launched at The Clerk and Well pub in London’s Clerkenwell Road, aims for a more 50/50 drink/food sales mix. The new division will feature unbranded sites but is understood to come under the umbrella of The Chapter Collection internally at Stonegate. At the time, the company was thought to have a couple of further pubs “highlighted” to convert to the new format but was keen to first take learnings – around offer, front of house and back of house – from the Clerk and Well. Propel understands a second site has now been moved to sit under the Chapter Collection umbrella. Stonegate has refurbished and reopened the former Henry Holland site in Duke Street, Marylebone, under the name The Duchess. The company said the pub has been renamed after the BBC drama The Duchess of Duke Street, which is loosely based on the life of Rosa Lewis, the eponymous “Duchess” who works her way up from servant to renowned cook to proprietor of the upper-class Bentinck Hotel.

Krispy Kreme appoints Jamie Dunning as new UK & Ireland MD: Krispy Kreme has appointed Jamie Dunning as its new president and managing director for the UK & Ireland. As former managing director and president at Mars Retail Group and sales director at Cadbury Schweppes, Dunning will take over from Richard Cheshire, who recently took the decision to step down from his role as Krispy Kreme's UK & Ireland chief executive after almost 20 years of working in leadership roles at the company. Dunning will begin his new role on Monday, 25 July, and, after taking some time off, Cheshire is expected to set up his own business. The company said during his time leading Mars Retail Group, Dunning oversaw a transformation in the fortunes of the business and its associated brands, coming in at turnaround phase, and taking it to a “phase of transformative accelerated growth”. It said his appointment comes at an exciting stage of Krispy Kreme's journey in the UK & Ireland as the company looks to maintain the strong growth it has seen in the past five years. Josh Charlesworth, global president and chief operating officer at Krispy Kreme, said: “The work Richard did to build the brand's presence and reputation in the region was nothing short of extraordinary, and we wish to thank him for his two decades of service. In Jamie we have a worthy new UK head, and I am excited to see the fresh perspective and wealth of knowledge that he will provide us with as we enter this thrilling new phase of our presence in one of our most valued markets.” Dunning added: “I will focus on continuing Krispy Kreme's signature Hub and Spoke model through expansions into online delivery, drive-thrus and bricks and mortar stores.” Having entered the UK market in 2003, Krispy Kreme now operates 133 shops in the UK and Ireland and has a presence in more than 1,500 outlets. Cheshire said: “This year was, for many reasons, for me the right time to hand over. I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has played their incredible part over the last 20 years.”

South west chicken burger and wings concept to open third site, first in Wales: South west chicken burger and wings restaurant concept Eat The Bird is to open a third site this autumn, which will mark its debut in Wales, Propel has learned. Eat The Bird, created by Dan Aldridge and Chris Kenny, is taking over the former The Grazing Shed site in Cardiff’s St Marys Street. The concept began life in 2017 as a street food stall before the friends opened a restaurant in Taunton. It opened a second site two year later in Exeter, in Sidwell Street in the unit left vacant by Hubbox, the Richard Boon-led restaurant business, following its move to larger premises in the city. Eat The Bird’s menu features six chicken burgers and a selection of chicken wings. Earlier this year, the concept featured on an episode of the BBC programme Britain’s Top Takeaways. 

Global amusement park operator makes UK debut: Global amusement park operator, Babylon Park, has made its UK debut. The company has opened the site at Camden Market’s Hawley Wharf development in north London. Babylon Park has agreed a deal with LabTech for a 35,000 square foot space, which is its largest to date. The three-floor leisure venue is Babylon Park’s flagship location, providing a multitude of activities. These include a roller coaster and drop tower, alongside arcade machines, soft play areas, and rooms for karaoke and events. It has an intergalactic theme and a family-friendly food and beverage offer including soft and hot drinks, ice cream, and waffles. Babylon Park has 19 sites in three different countries, and has plans for further worldwide expansion in the coming years. Efi Malka, owner of Babylon Park, said: “This is a very exciting time for us at Babylon with our very first site in the UK. Camden Market Hawley Wharf marks a massive step in our global expansion, and we are looking forward to seeing the excitement that Babylon generates for families across Camden and beyond.” Colliers and CBRE represent Camden Market Hawley Wharf.

Bruce Group acquires Loch Lomond hotel off £3m asking price: Scottish pub group Bruce Group, which operates 15 managed and two tenanted sites around Edinburgh and Fife, has acquired The Drovers Inn in Inverarnan, Loch Lomond, off an asking price of more than £3m. The Drovers has been on the same site for more than 300 years and is on the West Highland Way. It had been under its previous ownership since 2004. Gary Louttit, head of hospitality and leisure at Shepherd Chartered Surveyors, who acted on the sale, said: “I am delighted to have been instructed to sell such an iconic hotel and to have been able to secure a sale of The Drovers on behalf of our clients. I am particularly pleased to have sold The Drovers to operators whom I know will take the business on to a new level of prosperity in the future.”

James Cochran opens sports bar concept and first permanent home for lockdown fried chicken project: Great British Menu winner James Cochran, who co-owns Islington restaurant 12:51, has opened his new sports bar concept, Valderrama’s. Named after flamboyant former Colombian footballer Carlos Valderrama, the 48-cover bar with an outdoor terrace is based at 163 Upper Street in Islington. It is also a first permanent home for Cochran’s lockdown fried chicken project, Around the Cluck. Cochran, who launched Around the Cluck in June 2020, worked in Michelin-starred restaurants including The Ledbury and The Harwood Arms before launching James Cochran EC3 in 2016 and 12:51 in 2018.

CitizenM opens fourth London hotel: Amsterdam hotel operator CitizenM has opened its fourth site in London, at 292 Vauxhall Bridge Road, Victoria. The property has 226 rooms across ten floors, plus communal spaces. Each room has one-touch MoodPad control for ambient lighting temperature, entertainment, wake-up alarm and blinds – all of which can be controlled via the CitizenM app. The opening forms part of plans that will see the company launch six hotels in 2022, taking its portfolio to 30 across Europe, Asia and North America. A further seven properties are planned in 2023, including a fifth London location. CitizenM, which opened its debut hotel at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport in 2008, has other London sites in Bankside, Shoreditch and near the Tower of London. 

Individual Restaurants reopens Soho Piccolino following £1.5m revamp: Individual Restaurants, the operator of the Piccolino and Restaurant Bar & Grill brands, has reopened its Piccolino site in London’s Soho following a £1.5m revamp. The two-storey Heddon Street site, which has been closed since April for the refurbishment work, has had a large lower ground private dining and events space created, alongside an 82 square-metre alfresco garden lounge at the front. With the reopening comes a new summer menu, serving meat, fish and pasta dishes from different regions of Italy, and more than 50 Italian wines. Heading up the kitchen team is Sicilian head chef Natale Falcone, who has been with Individual Restaurants for ten years having started as chef de partie in 2011, as well as master baker Davide Argentino. Individual Restaurants operates 18 Piccolinos, three River Blus and six Restaurant Bar & Grills.

Hoppers alumni branches out with solo restaurant debut: Leo Noronha, who has spent the last few years working as group operational support manager at JKS Restaurants’ Sri Lankan and South Indian brand Hoppers, has branched out with his own restaurant debut. Noronha has opened Postbox, focused on his family recipes from Goa, on the south side of Hammersmith Bridge in Barnes, south west London. Noronha will leads the front-of-house team, with his cousin, Lorenzo, heading up the three-man kitchen. The menu features new takes on Portuguese-influenced Goan classics including pork cheek vindaloo and Cafreal chicken wings, alongside more traditional favourites such as Peshawari masala lamb chops. On leaving Hoppers, Noronha told Hardens: “I had a comfortable job there, but this was something I just had to do. Our food is all freshly made and local, and every dish is cooked to order, with no generic sauces – everything from the robata grill has been marinated for 48 hours.” The short menu will change with the seasons and also feature daily specials.

Wolfox set to open second Japanese restaurant in Brighton: Coffee shop and bakery concept Wolfox is set to open a second Japanese restaurant in Brighton. The company, which also operates Kusaki in New England Road, will later this year open Fumi on the ground floor of the £130m residential and commercial Circus Street development. The restaurant will offer coffee and breakfast in the daytime before transforming into a fine dining Japanese restaurant in the evening. Owner Fabio Lauro told The Argus: “Our superb Japanese chef will be elaborating a mixed meat, vegetarian and vegan menu, creating something special and unique for this exciting new space. Despite the popularity of Japanese cuisine, there is not currently a fine dining experience on offer in the city and we are creating a place for people to enjoy special occasions and smart dinners, inspired by nature and seasonality, which will be a real treat for Japanese food lovers.” Wolfox currently operates ten venues, mainly in Brighton and surrounding Sussex towns, as well as Leeds, and also plans to open in London. These include a hydroponic farm and restaurant, a roastery, a boutique hotel and restaurant and five coffee shops. Fumi will join White Cloud Coffee, the 40-cover 1,130 square-foot cafe and events space that last month became the first business to open at the Circus Street site. White Cloud Coffee, which also has a site in Madeira Drive in Brighton, is run by directors Craig Pitt and Phil Grundy.

Midlands micro-pub brand set to open sixth site: Midlands micro-pub brand Ale Hub is set to open its sixth site, in Dudley. Ale Hub has had its bid to convert a former bookmaker in Kingswinford into a micro-pub approved by Dudley Council. After opening its first branch in Dickens Heath, Solihull, in September 2020, Ale Hub has since expanded to Shirley, Worcester, Sutton Coldfield and Droitwich. Owner Connor McDiarmid said in the application: “Our focus is on selling premium craft beer and real ale as well as high-quality gin. These tend to be quite premium brands and we’re not a cheap style pub that sells cheap beer, we focus on quality. We believe our niche is different from most chains as we are purely wet led, so we don’t serve food. Our focus is also away from families, which is evidenced by our no children after 6pm rule.” 

Former Great British Menu winner to bring new sandwich concept to forthcoming Manchester development: Chef Adam Reid, a two-time Great British Menu winner, will bring a new sandwich concept to the forthcoming New Century Hall development in Manchester. Reid, who is also chef patron at Manchester restaurant The French, will operate The Butty Shop exclusively at the new events, music and food and drink destination, which is due to open this summer. Serving specialist sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner, The Butty Shop is one of the first independent food operators to be announced for the ground floor. Joining it will be plant-based Asian food concept Banh Vi, from Harry Yarwood and Jess King, which has operated as a pop-up at Altrincham Market and a residency at Manchester’s Kampus neighbourhood. Their Vietnamese and Thai-inspired dishes will include bánh mì baguettes, bowls of pho and summer rolls. Yorkshire street food caterers and 2021 British Street Food Awards “people’s choice” winners BaoBros23 will also be coming to New Century Hall. Father-and-son team, Iain and Daniel Woodhead’s, Asian-inspired cuisine started off as a food truck before taking up residency at Riverhead Brewery Tap in Marsden. Spread across three floors, seating up to 300 people and featuring 10,000 square feet of kitchen space, New Century Hall will host six independent food operators in all alongside its own coffee and grab ‘n’ go concepts. Outside space Sadler’s Yard will also be used for alfresco dining and regular events. The grade II-listed building is located between Victoria Station and Shudehill.

Nottingham operator to reopen ‘secret bar’ and coffee shop concept as new bar: Nigel Garlick, who operates three sites in Nottingham, has closed his “secret bar” and coffee shop concept and is set to reopen it as just a bar. Garlick, who also runs craft beer bar Junkyard and beer cafe The Kilpin in the city, opened Boilermaker as a cocktail bar hidden behind a combi boiler shop front and accessed through a “secret entrance” in a broom cupboard, nine years ago. The boiler shop display and hidden entrance were scrapped during lockdown and replaced with daytime coffee shop Braze, to make up for lost revenue. However, both venues will now be turned into a single bar, opening on Thursday, 28 July. “There will be a new name, a new layout and a new offering for this new trading environment,” Garlick tod Nottingham Live. “During covid, Boilermaker simply couldn’t operate as it was, so Braze was created to help us generate income during the day. But the two concepts have proved counterproductive, one needing to be more open and accessible and the other preferring to be more hidden. Many have said they miss the old entrance, and it’s tempting to put it back as it was, but there is a much different trading environment post-covid. People are socialising earlier, with a real drop off in trade after 11pm. There is more demand for light, open, well-aired venues and outdoor seating. So, with much soul searching, we have decided Boilermaker, which was hidden away in plain sight for nine years, will be no more. It’s time for a change.”

Turkish restaurant concept to open second London site in former O’Neills premises in Harrow: Turkish restaurant concept Melissa is to open its second site in London. Owner Cetin Kaygusuz is opening the venue in Station Road, in the premises previously occupied by Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) brand O’Neills. Melissa has operated its current site in Canon’s Park, Edgware, for more than 30 years. Kaygusuz told Harrow Online: “We are going to serve different Turkish soup daily, stew, Turkish lamb shawurma doner, vegetarian dishes, fish and lots more. It’s going to be very different from other Turkish restaurants.” M&B closed the O’Neills branch in March “as part of a continual review of our estate”.

Leon set to open Brixton site: Natural fast food brand Leon is to open a site in Brixton, south London. The EG Group-owned brand is opening the outlet at 462 Brixton Road, reports Brixton Buzz. Leon operates circa 70 sites in the UK. Having recently opened new stores in Tongham, Surrey; Bluewater, Kent; and Kings Road, London, Leon aims to grow to 100 locations by the end of 2022. 

Oasis-themed bar owners set to open second Bolton venue: Paul and Mark Gallagher, owners of the Oasis-themed bar Definitely Maybe in Bolton, are set to open a second venue, despite fears the Greater Manchester town is far from “back to normal” following covid. The duo plan to open a 50 to 60-cover cocktail bar and open kitchen within The Green Room bar in Bowkers Road. “It will be open at the same time as The Green Room but be more chilled and relaxed,” Paul told The Bolton News. “We hope to get people in the afternoons out in the sunshine.” They opened Definitely Maybe in the former Bergarac’s nightclub in 2020, just three weeks before the first lockdown. Paul added: “We did get some council grants, but there was a couple of times we thought about cutting our losses. I do not think we are back to normal, there are about 20% to 30% of people who won’t go anywhere in public spaces. For the next five to ten years, I don’t think anybody will be fully 100%. The problem in this town is people are out on one night, which is Saturday. When I was younger it was Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”

Tim Hortons plans Penrith opening: Canadian quick service restaurant brand Tim Hortons is planning to open a site in Penrith, Cumbria. SK Group, which is leading the rollout of the brand in the UK, has applied to open a restaurant in the former KFC drive-thru unit in Bridge Lane, reports Cumbria Crack. Tim Hortons now has more than 55 UK outlets and has plans to add another circa 30 locations here by the end of 2022. Earlier this month, the brand made its London debut with an opening at the Royale Leisure Park in Park Royal.

Former Gymkhana head chefs to open second site together: Nand Kishor and Sanjay Gour, former head chefs at the JKS Restaurants-owned Michelin-starred Gymkhana in Mayfair, are set to open a second venue for their Dastaan Indian restaurant concept. The pair opened their debut restaurant, which is also in the Michelin Guide, in Ewell, Surrey, in 2017. They are now taking the concept to Leeds, with a new site set to open in Otley Road, Adel, on Wednesday, 27 July. “We were looking to open a new restaurant and Leeds is the obvious choice – the food scene here is really good,” Anurag Singh, who will be overseeing the new site, told Leeds Live. “But we want to make it even better. We are bringing something new, an upmarket Indian dining experience. We did that with the first restaurant in Surrey, and essentially, we’re doing that here again, in Leeds. We can’t wait to start serving up some fantastic new dishes.”

Nightcap opens second Bristol venue: Nightcap, the owner of The Cocktail Club, the Adventure Bar Group and the Barrio Familia group of bars, has opened a second site in Bristol. The latest Blame Gloria, one of the brands of Adventure Bar Group, is located in the former TimBuk2 site at 22 Small Street and covers an area of approximately 8,000 square feet. It follows the opening of The Cocktail Club in the city’s Corn Street last November. Adventure Bar Group founder Tom Kidd said: “With our London bars already hugely popular, we’re thrilled to be branching outside of the capital, and what better city to do so than the cultural hub of Bristol. The venue poses the perfect layout for Blame Gloria’s eccentric interiors, offering a hot spot like no other for the people of Bristol. Alongside our outstanding cocktail offering, we also have many plans up our sleeve to keep up the momentum post launch. We can’t wait to reveal all over the coming months.” It is the first opening for the Blame Gloria brand outside of London, where it operates in Covent Garden and Clapham.

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