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Tue 26th Jul 2022 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Sector operating costs up to 55.2% of turnover before rent – highest level since 2007: Operating costs across the UK’s hospitality sector have increased to 55.2% of turnover before rent – the highest since 2007, according to the latest report from UKHospitality and specialist business property adviser, Christie & Co. The 13th edition of the UKHospitality Christie & Co Benchmarking Report, which covers more than 5,000 hospitality businesses, said this had been driven by soaring utility, premise and operational costs facing operators, as they attempted to rebuild following the pandemic. The survey, which covered the six months to December 2021, found a contraction in like-for-like sales of 2.3% in comparison to the second half of 2019. However, certain segments of the market saw top line growth, with accommodation-led businesses leading the way with a 9.8% like-for-like growth in revenue, as they took advantage of the staycation boom. Stephen Owens, managing director – Pubs & Restaurants at Christie & Co, said: “Despite the significant challenges that lie ahead in 2022, new opportunities and ways of operating have emerged over the last few years, and with consumer demand returning, there is still reason to remain cautiously optimistic. With full year trading returning for next year’s survey, we look forward to updating the sector with an increasingly accurate benchmark against which operators can compare performance.” Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, added: “This year’s survey highlights the extreme pressure that hospitality operators are labouring under, with costs soaring to a new record high. We have been working with the government to make clear the harm this is causing to our ambitions for growth, investing in high streets and creating skilled roles. It’s imperative that the government takes action to help us tackle the inflationary headwinds we face, unlock growth by removing regulatory barriers and creating a tax and investment framework for the future.”
 

Industry News: 

Sponsored message – two weeks until London Craft Beer Festival, register now: It’s only two weeks until the London Craft Beer Festival takes over Tobacco Dock for its tenth edition. The trade session is 11:30am-4.30pm on Friday, 12 August – and registration is open. The event hosts more than 120 market-leading craft breweries, larger breweries, cider, spirits, ready to drink/cocktail brands and businesses – “the perfect chance to try the greatest and latest and meet the key people behind them”. This year, the event expands into more space, with large activations from Tiny Rebel, Budvar, Gipsy Hill and Cave Direct Brands, bars from fast-growing breweries like Verdant, Deya and Vault City, and special features from Brewers’ Association of America and Raise The Bar – We Are Beer’s profiling of the very best new breweries. Greg Wells, co-founder of We Are Beer, said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming key trade to London Craft Beer Festival. It’s great to be able to host such a dynamic showcase of craft beer and be able to connect businesses across the category. Despite challenging times, the scene continues to inspire and grow.” To register for trade tickets, click here. If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com.

Host of pub operators set to join updated Premium Database of Multi-site Companies: A host of pub operators are among the 43 new multi-site companies being added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-site Companies, which will be released on Friday (29 July), at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, features Donnington Brewery, which is run and owned by James Arkell and operates 19 Cotswold pubs as well as its brewery and two luxury accommodations. Also added this month is Totally Brewed, owned by Robert Witt, which currently operates the Totally Tapped micropub and bottle shop in Beeston’s Chilwell Road and is planning a second site on the same road. In addition, London pub operators Darren and Janet Wellman, who have taken on their fourth pub with Shepherd Neame, the Spanish Galleon in Greenwich, will be featured. Also included this month is FB Taverns, which is a new pub vehicle backed by high-net-worth individual Alexander Embiricos and led by James Maizels, which has launched with the acquisition of a seven-strong package of pubs from Admiral Taverns. Premium subscribers will also receive a 3,200-word report on the new additions to the database. The comprehensive database is updated monthly and provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different. It features more than 2,000 companies. Premium subscribers will also receive the next edition of the New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, on Friday, 5 August, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The next edition also includes a 17,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to another database – the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group. The Blue Book, which is also updated monthly provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers have also been given exclusive access to a new database. The UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database is an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK and will be updated every two months. The third edition, which was sent on Friday (22 July), features 140 companies and almost 60,000 words of content, providing insight on the offer, locations, cost and other key details. 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 Mark Wingett.

Data shows restaurant insolvencies up by more than 60%: The number of restaurants falling into insolvency has increased by more than 60% in the past year amid worker shortages and the cost-of-living crisis, which has forced customers to cut back on spending. New data from the accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young showed that 1,406 restaurants in the UK closed their doors in the 12 months to May, up 64% on the previous year. In proportional terms, that is an even larger increase in closures than for the wider hospitality industry, which saw a 56% rise in insolvencies over the same period. “Pressure is rising on the restaurant sector every day, and more and more of them are shutting their doors as a result,” said Peter Kubik, a partner at UHY Hacker Young. “Restaurants that only just managed to survive the pandemic thanks to government support are now facing fresh challenges in the form of rising inflation, a post-Brexit labour shortage and consumers who simply cannot afford to spend as much.”

Sector job vacancies double to 176,000: Pubs, restaurants and hotels in Britain are facing a recruitment crisis after the number of job vacancies hit a record 176,000 – double the amount before covid. There were 1.29 million job vacancies across all sectors of the UK economy between April and June this year, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Hospitality accounts for 13% of the national total, despite companies hiking their staff wages in an industry-wide rush to claw back staff. The figures rose by 10,200 since the last recorded figures, and UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls said the statistics were “concerning” as Britain enters its busiest summer holiday period in a decade. She said: “These figures show that the hospitality industry continues to return to growth and is attracting new people into the workforce. However, high vacancy rates are impeding our ability to trade. This is particularly concerning as we enter the summer, a key trading period for much of the sector.” In April 2022, weekly earnings were 15.1% higher than a year earlier – against a 9%rate of inflation. This is the highest wage growth of any sector and means hospitality is one of the few parts of the economy seeing real wage increases. 

Delivery and takeaway sales drop again post-covid for pubs and restaurants: Restaurant and pub groups’ delivery and takeaway sales continue to plateau after booming during covid lockdowns, the latest CGA & Slerp Hospitality at Home Tracker reveals. It shows that combined sales in June 2022 were 23% below the level of June 2021, when venues were subject to trading restrictions and some consumers remained hesitant about eating out. It is the eighth month of year-on-year decline in a row recorded by the Tracker. Nevertheless, sales remain well above pre-covid levels, with growth of 113% in June 2022 from the last pre-pandemic June of 2019. The Tracker’s breakdown of sales indicate that delivery sales were 275% higher than three years ago, while takeaway and click-and-collect sales were up by a much more modest 39%. This reflects a steady move away from takeaway pick-ups to the convenience of deliveries to consumers’ doors via third-party platforms. Karl Chessell, CGA’s business unit director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “With trading conditions in restaurants and pubs returning to normal, a slowdown in delivery and takeaway sales was to be expected in the first half of 2022, and it suggests that most of Britain’s consumers have returned to their pre-covid eating-out habits. However, this sector is still more than twice the size it was before the pandemic, and it’s now worth nearly 24 pence in every pound spent in managed pubs and restaurants who contribute to the tracker. Balancing eat-in and at-home operations, and achieving growth in both without compromising either, will be a top priority for businesses over the second half of the year.”

Remarkable Pubs’ £1.5m gin palace investment lands CAMRA award: London-focused pub collection Remarkable Pubs, which operates 16 sites across the capital, has landed a Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) award for its £1.5m investment in a 19th century gin palace. It was awarded the Community Local Award at CAMRA’s Pub Design Awards for its restoration of the Boleyn Tavern in East Ham, which included the addition of a dining room and open kitchen. South west boutique hotel and pub group Stay Original Company, which last week took its portfolio to six with the acquisition of Somerset restaurant At the Chapel, won the Refurbishment Award for its revamp of the historic Kings Arms in Dorchester. The New Build award, meanwhile, was shared by Wells & Co and Joules, for Brewpoint in Bedford and the Crown Wharf in Stone, Shropshire, respectively. Wells & Co, which plans to move its circa 42-strong estate up to 50 sites by the end of 2022, built Brewpoint as a state-of-the-art, multi-functional brewery and office space at the gateway to the town. Joules, which operates 39 taphouses, returned to Stone after a gap of 40 years with the Crown Wharf, which includes a first-floor function room and space which will become a theatre. Nik Antona, CAMRA’s national chairman, said: “We hope beer-lovers across the country will seek out these examples of excellence and plan visits to them over the summer.”
 

Company News:

Robinsons returns to profit and in ‘strong position financially’, looking for further acquisitions: Robinsons Brewery in Stockport has announced a return to profit and says it is in a “strong position financially”, as it looks for further acquisitions. The business generated a pre-tax profit of £15,421,000 (2020: loss of £4,717,000) in the year ending 31 December 2021 and reported sales growth from £45,624,000 to £63,324,000. It also invested more than £3.5m across its 254-pub managed and tenanted pub estates. This performance was helped by some significant land disposals alongside the recent acquisitions of the Woodman Inn, West Yorkshire, and the Swettenham Arms, Congleton. The company says its long-term plan is to continue investing in its tenanted pubs and growing its managed pub estate, with large scale investments planned in the next two years. Joint managing directors, William and Oliver Robinson, said: “We remain in a strong position financially, with no borrowings and significant cash reserves, and we continue to be acquisitive, looking for individual pubs and or small freehold groups which match the style of business we operate. We are looking forward with optimism and are well-placed to make the right long-term strategic acquisitions of tenanted and managed pubs.” The company added that trading across its estate was strong between the covid-enforced lockdowns, during which it supported its licensees through rent reductions and help with grant applications. “We were grateful for the government’s continued support through the furlough scheme, reduced VAT rate and a reduction in business rates,” the directors said. “Notwithstanding this support, we contributed more to the Exchequer in business taxes than we received in support, with a net contribution of £3.7m. We continue to engage with the government on the disproportionate tax burden pubs and breweries face, through business rates, beer duty and VAT. This has been further exacerbated by unprecedented cost-price inflation caused by global uncertainty and the crisis in Ukraine. It is more important than ever that we strive for great service and premium experiences while supporting our loyal licensees running our more wet-led pubs.” The company also re-launched its apprenticeship programme, Aspire, during the period.

Reef launches first ever virtual food hall: Dark-kitchen operator Reef has launched what it is claiming is a first-of-its-kind virtual food hall, in the US. The “getReef Virtual Food Hall” has been launched at Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina. The kitchen features nine brands including Krispy Rice, 800 Degrees Pizza, Pei Wei, Xochimex Cantina Grill, Zinburger, and Rebel Wings, as well as local concepts Beyu Caffé, Hubb Kitchen and American Meltdown. Customers can place and pay for their orders on their mobile devices or directly at getREEF kiosks, located in the airport’s Terminal 2. Orders are picked up in specially marked lockers near the order kiosks. Travellers are able to mix and match food from any of the brands in the same transaction for greater variety and convenience. In the future, it will offer delivery to guests at their gate. Valentina Ellison, senior vice president of Reef Kitchens, said: “Reef’s first-ever virtual food hall brings dramatic innovation to the future of airport dining by giving travellers unprecedented variety and convenience.” Reef said it expects to rotate brands and menu offerings to suit travellers’ evolving taste and preferences as its portfolio of partnerships continues to grow.

Kitchen United completes $100m fundraise, secures backing from Burger King owner: Kitchen United, the US-based ghost kitchen and restaurant hub technology operator, has announced a $100m (£83m) Series C fundraise, which includes investment from Burger King owner Restaurant Brands International. A number of financial and strategic investors participated in the fundraise alongside the Tim Hortons and Popeyes owner, including The Kroger Co and B Riley Venture Capital, and two-time NFL Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning. The company, which has approximately 200 operational kitchens across 20 regions, has raised circa $175m in total to date. The business said it plans to significantly increase its technological and physical footprint in the near term. Michael Montagano, Kitchen United’s chief executive, said: “Kitchen United uniquely sits at the intersection of technology, food, and real estate. Our solution serves as the technological and physical infrastructure revolutionising centrally located distribution hubs through streamlining off-premises ordering and consumption. To that end, we are thrilled to partner with leading investors across grocery, convenience, restaurants, malls, packaging, logistics, distribution, automation and urban and suburban real estate development.”
 
Coffee brand Change Please launches site with grocery delivery start-up Gorillas: Coffee brand and social enterprise Change Please has launched a site in London with fast-growing German grocery start-up Gorillas, Propel has learned. The coffee operator, which operates out of seven further sites across London and Manchester, has opened a concession inside the delivery operator’s Finchley Road site that is now called Gorillas Coffee + Collect. At present, it is not clear if this will lead to more joint sites for the two brands. Gorillas – which promises grocery orders within ten minutes –launched in London last spring. It operates across 32 delivery areas in London and one in Manchester. Change Please, which was founded in 2015 by Cemal Ezel, is a social enterprise that trains people who are homeless to be baristas, paying each person the London Living Wage, providing housing within ten days of them starting employment and then supporting them into jobs.
 
Pizza Pilgrims to increase hourly pay for all staff to no less than £10.41: Pizza Pilgrims, the London-based sourdough pizzeria brand, will from this week increase hourly pay for all its staff to no less than £10.41. Gavin Smith, managing director of the 17-strong, Imbiba-backed business, said: “Last year, we made the decision that we would plan to take our minimum earnings (before tronc and gratuities) to London Living wage within three years. This is part of our people strategy, which is the fundamental pillar of our business. At that time, we increased pay by £1 an hour for every employee in the company. I am delighted to say that on 25 July, we are taking the next step in this journey by increasing every single hourly paid member of staff to no less than £10.41 (before tronc and gratuities). This takes our average team member earnings (before tronc and gratuities) to over £12.50 an hour. Today, the London living wage is £11.05 and the national minimum wage is £9.50 (for those over 22 years old). Regardless of role or age, Pizza Pilgrims is now just £0.64p an hour away from London Living Wage and well ahead of national living wage. As the industry recovers from a turbulent two years, we plan to continue to invest in our team, and this is one key step. Additionally, this year we are investing a further £175,000 in our academy in Camden, where we have, to date, graduated 84 salaried roles in under three years.” At the same time, Propel understands that the business, which recently opened its second regional site, in Brighton, is in talks to secure sites in Cambridge, Nottingham, and London’s Queen’s Park and Paddington. The company will reopen its Slice site in Finsbury Park as a Pizza Pilgrims in September.

Giggling Squid secures Shrewsbury site, plans Bracknell opening: Giggling Squid, the Thai restaurant brand backed by BGF, has secured its first site in Shropshire, in Shrewsbury. The 45-strong business, which also operates two dark kitchen sites, will open at 25 High Street, on a former retail unit in the town. At the same time, Propel understands that the business is planning to open a site in The Lexicon in Bracknell, which will be part of the former McDonald’s unit in Eagle Lane. It will join The Botanist and Hollywood Bowl in the town, both of which are set to open as part of the new development area, The Deck. Giggling Squid, which earlier this summer made several changes to its executive team, including two new operations directors, also openings lined up in Winchester, Manchester, Cardiff Mermaid Quay and Cardiff St David’s.

St Austell Brewery launches flexible app-based careers scheme to attract new workers: Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery, which operates 180 pubs, inns and hotels across the south west, has launched a new app-based flexible and inclusive careers scheme. Called Pub Flex, it has been designed to attract new workers by offering shifts and hours that suit people of all ages, skill sets, and from all walks of life – whether looking to boost their income with a few extra shifts or work their hours around the school run. There are no minimum number of weekly or monthly hours required to sign up to the app, where shifts will be posted as soon as they become available – from front-of-house roles to supporting kitchen crews and housekeeping teams. All roles pay £9.50 per hour and can be signed up for in seconds. Tamsyn Allington, communications and people director at St Austell Brewery, said: “We acknowledge that the way we all work has vastly changed in the last 50 years, and covid only accelerated that change. Post-pandemic, it’s so important for hospitality businesses like us to offer balance, tangible benefits and genuine flexibility, as well as career-paths for those who want to progress in the industry. Young people coming into the hospitality sector continue to be essential, but there are so many other groups of people who would be great employees, such as retirees looking for a new challenge or a bit of extra income.” St Austell Brewery owns more than 170 pubs, inns and hotels and is one of the largest employers in the south west region. In May, Propel revealed exclusively that the company had returned to profitability in 2021 as it made a strong recovery from the impact of the pandemic.
 
Soho House opens in Copenhagen: Soho House owner Membership Collective opened its first Soho House in Scandinavia yesterday (25 July). Soho House Copenhagen is located in the former Customs House and ferry terminal in the central of the Danish capital. The oval-shaped House is set across two floors and includes a members club space, an outdoor terrace looking over the water and Club Cecconi’s restaurant, serving Northern Italian dishes. The Customs Room – a relaxed, laptop friendly space during the day that can host events and entertainment in the evenings – is situated upstairs, also with views across the water. Soho House also plans to open Soho Active – a gym and studio space – in late 2022. Nick Jones, founder and chief executive said: “Copenhagen is an exciting city to open our first House in Scandinavia and I can’t wait to welcome interesting, talented and kind people from its vibrant creative scene to our global membership.”

Scotland’s first artificial wave park secures £26m of funding: Scotland’s first artificial wave park is expected to open in 2024 after securing £26m backing from the Scottish National Investment Bank. The Wavegarden Scotland development of Craigpark Quarry at Ratho, near Edinburgh, will bring a 23-hectare country park and more than 100 jobs. The project will involve the installation of underwater technology that can create waves, from slow moving white water for beginners through to powerful barrels up to two metres high for experts. The £55m landmark development will have at its centrepiece the country’s first inland surfing destination using revolutionary new technology. The venue will include a restaurant, café and wellness spa. 

Ivy Asia confirmed for Cardiff site: Ivy Asia, the Richard Caring-backed concept, has confirmed it will make its debut in Wales, in Cardiff, later this summer. The concept, which recently opened its sixth site, in Brighton, will launch on The Hayes, adjacent to sister restaurant The Ivy, which itself opened in late 2019 at the St David’s shopping scheme in the Welsh capital. The 3,900 square-foot eatery will cater for up to 166 guests, with indoor dining and a terrace space. Open from lunch to late, with weekend brunch, the menu will be overseen by executive chef Simon Gregory, with an array of dishes from across the continent. Highlights include an extensive collection of sushi and sashimi, with vegetarian and plant-based options available. There will also be a sushi bar on the mezzanine level, with dishes prepared in front of diners.” Gregory said: “We are incredibly excited to be bringing The Ivy Asia to Cardiff, the first in Wales. Cardiff is known for its vibrant atmosphere and rich culture, making it the perfect place for this new Asian inspired concept.” The brand, which is overseen by Jean-Baptiste Requien, is also set to open on the former French Connection site in Leeds’ Vicar Lane, close to the company’s existing The Ivy Victoria Quarter venue, later this summer. Caring is also exploring an opening in Glasgow for Ivy Asia, and has spoken previously about taking it overseas.
 
Yori continues regional expansion with Staines opening: London-based Korean barbecue brand Yori has further increased its presence outside the capital with an opening in Staines, Surrey. The company, which made its regional debut at the start of the year in Cambridge, has taken on the Koguryo site in Staines High Street, for what is its tenth site in total. As revealed by Propel last November, Yori opened on the former Varsity site in Cambridge’s St Andrew’s Street. Yori, which means “cooked food” in Korean, was founded in 2016 by Jong Soon Kim, who is also behind Japanese restaurant Nori and Korean dessert cafe Cake & Bingsoo – both in New Malden, Surrey – and Japanese dessert parlour Cafe Mori in Wimbledon. Yori operates sites in Clapham Junction, Covent Garden, Ealing, Fulham Broadway, King’s Cross, Piccadilly, Richmond and Wimbledon.
 
Clean Kitchen Club opens Soho site: Clean Kitchen Club, the fledgling plant-based, fast-food concept, has increased its presence in central London with an opening in Soho. As previously revealed by Propel, the business, which counts Steve Easterbrook, the ex-chief executive of McDonald’s, PizzaExpress and Wagamama, as an investor, has opened on the former Lords of Poke site in Old Compton Street. It follows an opening on Notting Hill earlier this year and preceeds the launch of a flagship restaurant at Battersea Power Station later this year. The business has also secured the ex-Cote site in Jerdan Place, Fulham Broadway, for an opening later this year. Clean Kitchen Club is on the verge of launching a crowdfunding campaign through Seedrs with the aim of raising £2.5m to scale operations through new sites, expanding its corporate catering arm and launching its products across UK supermarkets. It plans to have 40-plus sites operating by the end of 2024 and hopes to start expanding outside the capital next year, with Manchester, Brighton, Leeds, Bristol and Birmingham among its target locations.
 
Wasabi partners with Too Good To Go: Wasabi, the sushi and bento chain backed by Capdesia, has announced joint partnership with surplus food app Too Good To Go, to help it fight against food waste. The partnership means all 44 Wasabi stores currently open in the UK are now signed up to the app so that surplus fresh sushi, bento, salads and snacks can be eaten and enjoyed at a discount price rather than wasted. Wasabi customers can simply download the free app and search for the company’s nearest site with unsold food. Henry Birts, chief executive at Wasabi Sushi & Bento said: “It’s been our ambition over the last few years to ensure that Wasabi is fully focussed when it comes to sustainability. Partnering with Too Good To Go helps us to play our part in tackling food waste and to take another step forward in terms of sustainability. Wasabi is at the stage now where 99% of our packaging is either recyclable or compostable or both, and we’re also sourcing 100% of our power from renewables.”

GSG to close Santa Chupitos in Liverpool, new Caribbean cocktail concept to open in its place: GSG Hospitality has closed its original brand, Santa Chupitos, which will be replaced with a new Caribbean cocktail concept. Cocktail emporium Santa Chupitos was GSG’s first concept when it opened in 2009, with the group since opening several more in Liverpool and Manchester. Founder Matt Farrell told Propel last month that the brand, located at 41 Slater Street, in Liverpool “might be coming to the end of its cycle”. It has now closed for good, and in its place will open Manolo, described as “a speakeasy cocktail bar with expertly created Caribbean-inspired cocktails, reimagined classics and bar snacks”. John Ennis, director of Santa Chupitos, said: “We’re really sad to see Santas go and have loved watching it evolve. Since covid, there’s been a huge shift in clientele, and we recognised that Santas wasn’t trading the way it had done pre-covid.” The site will now be owned by Nick Thomas, who co-owns the Salt Dog Slims brand with GSG. He said: “I have been working diligently behind the scenes for years now on some of the ideas and concepts I want to bring into Manolo – lab-based projects and re-designed classic drinks – for what I believe makes a truly unique guest experience, a London hotel bar style service with Caribbean drinks.” In the building next door, tequila bar concept El Bandito – of which Farrell said last month “we’d definitely take it forward somewhere else, definitely in Manchester, and that would lead elsewhere” – will undergo a refurbishment, including the addition of outdoor seating. Farrell also told Propel that in terms of expansion, GSG would focus on its hot drinks concept, Bold Street Coffee, but also hopes to open its new Asian-inspired restaurant concept in Liverpool’s Plaza building in October.

Portuguese chef Henrique Sá Pessoa to open skyline restaurant and bar at Battersea Power Station: Portuguese chef Henrique Sá Pessoa is to open JOIA, an Iberian restaurant and bar at the new art’otel London Battersea Power Station, later this year. JOIA will comprise three distinct spaces, a 15th floor restaurant; a bar on the 14th floor; and a rooftop bar with infinity pool, all overlooking the iconic site. The restaurant menu will highlight Sá Pessoa’s culinary heritage and travels across the Iberian Peninsula, using the best of British and Iberian produce. Sá Pessoa owns the two Michelin-starred Alma and the trans-Iberian tapas spot Tapisco in his native Lisbon, and he is the executive chef at the critically acclaimed ARCA restaurant (located in art’otel Amsterdam). He said: “It is such a joy to return to London, having trained here in the brilliant emerging scene in the 90s. I love this city and I can’t wait to cook and share with the guests my take on authentic Portuguese cuisine.” Sam Cotton, head of leasing at Battersea Power Station Development Company, added: “Adding a chef such as Henrique with an exciting new restaurant concept to the mix is fantastic and sure to strengthen our position on the culinary map of ‘must visit’ dining hotspots in London.”

KoKoDoo grows to five sites with Swansea opening, frozen yoghurt concept makes debut: KoKoDoo, the Korean Fried Chicken founded by Joseph and Mary Yoon in 2006, has opened its fifth site by leasing a temporary food shack in Cupid Way from Swansea Council. The company already operates four takeaway and delivery sites in London, along with a food truck, plus a further food truck in Bristol. Opening alongside it in Cupid Way is new frozen yoghurt concept FrozziYo, founded earlier this year by Katherine Partner, which is making its debut. 
 
My Lahore lines up fifth site: British Asian food concept My Lahore is to open a fifth site, located in the old Red Lion Hotel in Whitebirk Road, Blackburn, and due to open at the end of next month. The Bradford-based chain was granted planning permission for the new restaurant two months ago. The Blackburn site will sit alongside its flagship site in Bradford, plus restaurants in Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham.
 
Green & Fortune opens London Southbank events business: Independent restaurant and hospitality company Green & Fortune has launched a new events business, Rose Court, on London’s South Bank. The 25,000 square-foot venue, the group’s fourth in the capital, can host just over 700 guests across all floors and outdoor spaces, with all rooms featuring direct access to a wraparound terrace. The company said: “The service style is polished yet discreet, while menus reflect the changing seasons and major on small batch producers and artisans. Menus draw on a less formal approach to hospitality, embracing worldwide food trends and ensuring a sustainable approach to food is at the forefront of menu design.” Rose Court Events follows the opening of Kings Place Events in 2008, Sea Containers Events in 2017 and the announcement of a long-term catering partnership with Central Hall Westminster in 2020.

Emerald Hospitality Group lines up fourth opening: Emerald Hospitality Group, current owners of the London venues El Norte, Zuaya and Como Garden, has announced it will be taking over the iconic Sake no Hana site on St James’s Street with the opening of its fourth restaurant. Riviera will be a Southern French restaurant, and the coveted site will be opening its doors in November following an extensive refurbishment. With 170 covers inside and 35 on the outdoor terrace, Riviera is “set to bring French elegance to Mayfair”. Alberto Zandi, the Spanish entrepreneurs who co-founded Emerald Hospitality Group with twin brother Arian, said: “Riviera is set to represent and embody the luxurious lifestyle found in the South of France, in a unique London location.” The Zandis launched their first restaurant, Zuaya, offers a range of Latin American flavours with a prominent focus on Peru, before adding a further two restaurants during the pandemic. These were Como Garden, an Italian restaurant inspired by Lake Como, and El Norte, a high-end modern Spanish restaurant. Coming out of the pandemic, they aim to open two restaurants every year, including plans for international expansion in markets with similar synergies to London – such as Dubai, New York and Miami. 

Entrepreneur Paul Sloan opens boutique hotel in Oban: Entrepreneur Paul Sloan, who has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 35 years, has opened boutique hotel, No.17 The Promenade, in Oban. The 19-bedroom, ocean-facing boutique hotel, previously called The Wellpark Hotel, has undergone a multi-million-pound renovation. Sloan has owned Oban’s Cuan Mor, Waterfront Fishouse, YuWu and Maatchi. He also has city branches of Mexican-themed Topo La Bamba, the Mediterranean-style Mezzidakia and Indian diner Chaakoo Bombay Cafe. On challenges facing the sector, he recently told Drum magazine: “We will need to work lean, and most, have done your homework. For every £1 you trade, we must know our costs to the penny, and how much our break-even is to the penny each week. We must work with our suppliers for better pricing. Everyone must carry a piece of this load, or much of our beloved industry will be gone. We must now make sure we have great teams who will work hard to pull the restaurants and bars through it. It’s not a time for selfishness on either parties’ side, owners and employees have to work together.”

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