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Wed 24th May 2023 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Sector like-for-likes up 6.9% in April but inflation erases growth: Britain’s leading managed restaurant, pub and bar groups saw like-for-like sales grow 6.9% in April 2023 compared with last year, the latest Coffer CGA Business Tracker shows. It is a seventh positive month in a row for the tracker – which is produced by CGA by NIQ in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM UK – and significantly higher than the figure of 1.4% in March. However, growth remains well below the current rate of inflation, and rising costs continue to impact both consumers’ spending and businesses’ margins. April trading was boosted by public holidays, including Easter and the start of the early May bank holiday weekend. Pubs saw like-for-like sales 8.1% ahead of April 2022, restaurants were up 7.6%, but bars had another difficult month, with sales down 9.1%. Managed groups continued their strong post-covid recovery in London, where April sales rose 10.4% year-on-year – just ahead of inflation. Growth beyond the M25 stood at 5.8%. Karl Chessell, director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA at CGA by NIQ, said: “April’s trading figures show the impressive resilience and appeal of managed restaurant, pub and bar groups in a very challenging market. It’s particularly pleasing to see the sustained recovery in London, where covid restrictions took a heavy toll on hospitality. Consumers clearly remain eager to eat and drink out, and we can be optimistic that their spending will increase when household bills start to ease – but with inflation so high, real-terms growth remains elusive.” Mark Sheehan, managing director at Coffer Corporate Leisure, added: “Pubs and restaurants continue to see sales growth much of which is on the back of price rises. There is much innovation in the sector and competition remains strong. Inflation can breed inflation. Consumers are not surprised by price rises but operators need sales to at least keep up with costs and volumes to increase. While numbers continue to improve, we are not yet seeing this.” UKHospitality – sector growth has stalled compared to pre-pandemic levels as inflation bites – see Industry News.

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Hogs Back Brewery celebrates hop farming traditions with local community: Hogs Back Brewery welcomed 150 guests to the annual hop blessing at its brewery and hop garden in Tongham, Surrey, this year adding a shortened version of the ancient “beating the bounds” tradition. The Rev Claire Holt, of St Paul’s Church, officiated and, with Hogs Back managing director Rupert Thompson, led a walk around the 8.5-acre hop garden. Crop blessings have traditionally been held at this time of year to encourage a plentiful harvest, and Hogs Back hopes the 6,000 hop plants in its garden will yield a good crop in August. The brewer grows three hop varieties: Fuggles, used in its Tongham TEA; Cascade, used in Hogstar lager; and Farnham White Bine, used in Farnham White, recently brewed again to mark the hop blessing. Thompson said: “When we planted our first hop garden in 2014, we also revived local traditions around hop farming, which have brought the local community together – 3,000 people joined our Hop Harvest celebrations last year. Growing our own hops is also about becoming a more sustainable brewer: the hops travel just yards from the hop garden to the brewery, resulting in a miniscule carbon footprint for this part of the brewing process. We are aiming to reach net carbon zero by 2030.” If you have a sponsored message you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email

Two days to go before release of updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, 21 businesses being added: A total of 21 new multi-site companies, operating 145 sites, have been added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released on Friday (26 May), at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, includes regional restaurant operators, growing café brands, and expanding franchise operators. Premium subscribers will also receive a 1,300-word report on the new additions to the database. The comprehensive database is updated monthly and provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different. The database now features 2,853 companies. Premium subscribers will also receive the next edition of the New Openings Database on Friday, 2 June, 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 5,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to three other databases: the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book; the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database; and the Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £995 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £495 plus VAT for operators and £595 plus VAT for suppliers. Email to upgrade your subscription. Premium subscribers are also to be given exclusive access to the recording and slides to Propel Multi-Club Conferences. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel group editor Mark Wingett.

Average meal price increases 8%, consumers now view value for money most important factor in eating out: The average price of a meal increased 8% from the first quarter of 2022 to the first quarter of 2023, while consumers now view value for money as the most important factor in eating out. The findings came from customer experience dashboard Feed it Back’s new product pricing and guest feedback analysis, Driving Value and Pricing for Profit in 2023. Having analysed around 7,000 products among its client base, Feed it Back found the average price of a dish rose by 7.8% over the 12 months to March 2023. At the same time, value for money moved into top position in Feed it Back’s guest feedback surveys for April – the first time it generated more negative feedback than speed of service. The study said. “From a guest experience perspective, we see value is front of minds for the consumer more than ever. Since many guests cite value for money as the key negative factor, it’s easy to understand why hospitality operators are cautious to increase prices.” Feed it Back recommends caution in considering price increases on signature dishes or higher priced items such as steaks as these will be noticed most, while prices of dishes that “are being well received”, such as desserts, burgers, chips and kebabs, can safely be increased in line with around the 8% mark. It also recommended breaking down any price rises being considered over the next nine to 12 months into two or three smaller incremental ones as these were less noticeable and had a short-lived negative impact on value perception. It added guests will happily pay for great food and experiences, and that value perception can be maximised by combining guest feedback with gross profit margin-boosting factors, such as portion sizes, presentation and combining main dishes with other items. Gusto is seen as a prime example of having successfully nailed guest experience – having enhanced its food offering and decor, stopped almost all discounts and taken fewer guests. This resulted in a net promoter score increase of 22 points, a £3.57 increase in spend-per-head, an £11.84 increase in profit per customer per visit and an annual increase in customer value of £13.94.

UKHospitality – no surprise that sector growth has stalled: UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has said it is “no surprise” that sector growth has stalled as inflation continues to bite. Hospitality turnover in the last year was 14.7% down compared to pre-pandemic levels, when accounting for inflation, the trade body has said. The UKHospitality Quarterly Tracker, in association with CGA, shows that the revenue generated in the last 12 months is 4.1% above that generated pre-pandemic, demonstrating strong consumer demand but still falling significantly below the ‘like-for-like’ sales required to keep up with inflation. The tracker also shows that the sector’s turnover contracted by 0.3% in the first quarter of 2022, compared to the same three months in 2022. Nicholls said: “Unfortunately, these figures no longer come as a surprise and simply reinforce the chronic nature of the pressure hospitality is under due to inflation. Despite consumer demand remaining strong and revenue being up on 2019, businesses are simply nowhere near able to keep up with the cost pressures they’re facing across energy, food and drink. Even more concerning is that our fears that this endless pressure would cause the sector to contract are starting to be realised, with turnover contracting in the first quarter of this year.”
Ireland signs law requiring cancer warnings on all alcoholic drinks: Ireland will become the first country in the world to require alcoholic drinks to display health warnings that they could potentially cause cancer. Irish health minister Stephen Donnelly has signed into law the Public Health (Alcohol) (Labelling) Regulations 2023, which means that all alcohol sold in Ireland from May 2026 must carry warnings about the increased risk of health conditions that come with drinking. The caution will sit alongside information on calorie and alcohol content. Donnelly said: “I welcome we are the first country in the world to take this step and introduce comprehensive health labelling of alcohol products. I look forward to other countries following our example.” However, critics said the new policy was not based on hard evidence and would create unnecessary trade barriers within the EU. The move has led several of Ireland's major trading partners to raise concerns with the European Commission. Nine EU members, including France, have submitted unfavourable opinions in response to the plans. Cormac Healy, director of Drinks Ireland, told The Telegraph: “Unfortunately this is an example of zealotry rather than evidence-based legislation. The government has been staunch defenders of the harmonised EU market, but is now clearly causing unnecessary tensions with important trading partners. We do not need two labelling systems.”
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a wholesale services business that has members in the on-trade, foodservice and retail sectors that is seeking a member development manager. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “You will be responsible for working closely with group members with queries and providing advice on the best way to achieve maximum results from their membership. This role will also include training group members, assisting with group strategy and building strong relationships with group members.” The salary is up to £55,000 plus benefits and the position is based in southern England. For more information, email

Company News:

Esquires Coffee co-founder set to launch Pan-Asian cuisine concept in UK: Doug Williamson, who co-founded Cooks Global Foods-owned Esquires Coffee in 1993, is set to launch Pan-Asian cuisine concept Pokérrito in the UK, Propel has learned. The Canada-based concept was founded by Williamson and Gary Buckland in Vancouver and has now grown to 11 locations in Canada. It is now looking for franchise partners to bring the brand to the UK. Williamson said: “Introducing Pokérrito, one of Canada’s hottest Pan-Asian poke concepts, now spreading its flavourful wings across the United Kingdom! We are seeking a joint venture franchise partner to launch our flagship store in the greater London area on a 50/50 basis. Royalties will be rolled into the flagship franchise outlet to provide excellent cash flow and an unbeatable return on investment.” It comes five months after Williamson told Propel he was preparing to launch Korean concept StickBug in the UK, with plans for 100 sites here by 2023, although no stores have yet launched. Propel understands Pokérrito had originally been lined up to launch here first, but StickBug was then seen as a better entry point into the UK market.
UK bubble tea brand Cupp targets 50 locations by Christmas after passing 30-site landmark: UK bubble tea brand Cupp has targeted 50 locations by Christmas after passing the 30-site landmark, Propel has learned. The franchise brand, founded by Lee Peacock in 2012, now has 31 stores open and is due to next month open new sites in Nottingham, Aberdeen and High Wycombe. This will be followed by a Sevenoaks opening in July, with Kingsbury, in north west London, and Twickenham, in south west London, also in the pipeline. As previously reported, Cupp, which is yet to make its overseas debut, has several international master agreements in place but is actively seeking international master partners in India, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, the US and Canada. It is also seeking a master franchise deal for Northern Ireland.
Farr Brew acquires seventh pub: Hertfordshire brewery and retailer Farr Brew has acquired its seventh pub. The company has reopened The Bell in Tring after a £300,000 investment by pub owner, brewer and retailer Greene King. It is the second pub that Farr Brew operates with Greene King after The Elephant & Castle in Wheathampstead. The investment has been used to transform The Bell, which is believed to be one of the oldest pubs in Tring, into an upmarket and contemporary pub and includes a new courtyard garden with an eating and drinking area. The pub serves Farr Brew’s ale alongside a food menu of pub classics plus á la carte options and light bites. Nick Farr and Matt Elvidge, founders of Farr, said: “As a growing pub operation, we are delighted to have opened our second pub in partnership with Greene King. We look forward to welcoming customers to experience our great beer and wonderful hospitality.” Dan Robinson, managing director of Greene King Pub Partners, added: “I am delighted to be growing our successful business partnership with Farr Brew as we help it to grow its award-winning pub business. I look forward to seeing The Bell go from strength-to-strength.”
MJMK crowdfund tops £2.5m, eyes Covent Garden site: London bar and restaurant operator MJMK has seen its crowdfunding campaign break the £2.5m mark, which may allow it to open a further Casa do Frango site, with a location in Covent Garden under consideration. The company was already overfunding after passing its £1m crowdfund target before the campaign, through Crowdcube, went public today on 12 May. The campaign will draw to a close this Friday (26 May), with the business having so far raised £2,503,680 from 348 investors. It is currently offering 12.27% of equity, with a pre-money valuation of £17.9m. In an update, the business said: “We have raised all the required funds to open Casa do Frango Victoria in June. We have the funding for our new concept with our Michelin-starred chef-partner Santiago Lastra. There are some prime central London sites in the running for this project, which we will share with our investors in due course. Any further funds raised will allow us to open a further Casa do Frango site. We have a couple of exciting options in the pipeline, including a prime location in Covent Garden. Given the incredible response to the campaign and significant overfunding, the raise will 100% close on or before this Friday 26 May.” The Casa do Frango site in Victoria will launch at the Nova scheme. 
Camino group founder to open UK’s only Rioja bar: Richard Bigg, founder of Spanish restaurant group Camino, is to open the UK’s only Rioja bar. The venue will launch on Thursday, 8 June in Varnishers Yard in London’s King’s Cross, in the premises previously occupied by the group’s Bar Pepito. Bar Rioja will serve serve more than 40 Rioja wines by the glass, spanning all the Spanish region’s zones and styles. Bigg said: “I love Rioja, I love the wine and the people, and I wanted to recreate a bit of it right here in London. It’s been a joy putting the list together and we’ve got something for everyone, from entry level lines right up to show-stopping varieties at £180 a bottle. The idea is to have them all available by the glass – in taster and 75ml and 125ml – so customers can really see and taste the diversity that Rioja has to offer.” Bar Rioja will also serve pincho-style food reminiscent of Calle Laurel, the famous tapas street in Rioja's capital Logrono.
Coast & Country Hotel Collection places 18 sites on the market: Coast & Country Hotel Collection has placed 18 of its “leisure-focused hotels” on the market. Positioned in leading resort and leisure destinations across England, Scotland and Wales, the portfolio represents “some of the best-known hospitality businesses in their respective markets”. Christie & Co, which has been appointed to market the sites, said that in many cases, the assets have not been made available on a single asset basis for a generation. The list of hotels includes: Beresford Hotel, Newquay; Broadway Park Hotel, Sandown, Isle of Wight; Caledonian Hotel, Fort William; The Carlton Hotel, Great Yarmouth; the Esplanade Hotel, Paignton, Devon; and the Majestic Hotel, Eastbourne. Ed Bellfield, regional director – Hotels at Christie & Co, said: “This is a unique opportunity to acquire a number of existing hotel businesses in established leisure locations throughout the UK. We expect the hotels to appeal to a wide range of buyers, including single asset purchasers and those looking to expand their existing portfolio. We also anticipate interest from both national and international investors attracted to the UK market.” Coast & Country Hotel Collection operates more than 30 hotels across the UK and was previously part of Shearings Hotels, which went into administration in May 2020. Bespoke Hotels signed a five-year management agreement in August the same year to take over the running of almost all of the hotels, rebranding them under the Coast & Country Hotel Collection in 2021.
New World Trading Company launches new concept North Light with second Chester site: Graphite Capital-backed pub and restaurant group, The New World Trading Company, has launched a new concept with the opening of its second site in Chester. North Light, which, as previously reported, aims to champion up-and-coming artists and Chester’s creative scene, has opened in the city’s Coachworks Arcade. It is the company’s ninth concept – joining The Botanist, The Florist, The Club House, The Oast House, The Canal House, The Trading House, The Smugglers Cove and The Furnace – covering 35 bars and restaurants. The first works to go on display have been selected in partnership with Modern Art Chester. The venue offers speciality coffees and pastries from local bakeries for breakfast and brunch, followed by small plates, sharing charcuterie and cheese and deli dishes for lighter lunches. Unique to North Light is a new grill concept, allowing guests to choose from a selection of grilled skewers, side dishes and an accompanying sauce, while the cocktail menu has been split into three sections – daytime, evening and signature drinks. Propel revealed last month that the business had secured new sites in Bournemouth, Durham and Sunderland for openings later this year, and is also understood to be in talks on sites in Leeds and Brighton.
Swedish artisan bakery and cafe Söderberg opens second London site: Swedish artisan bakery and cafe Söderberg has opened its second site in London, in East Dulwich. The business, which is led by Asa Penman, made its London debut at the start of 2019, with an opening in Berwick Street, Soho. Earlier this year, it secured a new lease on the former Terroirs site on Lordship Lane in East Dulwich, which has now opened. The business is understood to be planning to open more sites in the capital and is thought to be looking at further London “villages” opportunities. Founded in 2007, the company operates its own bakery, three cafes and four bakery shops in Edinburgh. Its offer includes Swedish open-style sandwiches, smörrebröd, signature cardamom buns and chocolate cake, as well as a Scandi twist on classic cocktails. Louie Gazdar, of Davis Coffer Lyons, acted for the landlord of the East Dulwich deal, while Tim Appleton, of Appleton Craig, acted for Soderberg.
Canterbury-based concept Veg Box Café to make London debut: Veg Box Café, the plant-based restaurant concept, is to make its London debut, near Baker Street. The concept, which launched in Canterbury more than six years ago, is to open a site at 136 Marylebone Road this summer. The business, which is led by Russell Saveljev, launched an investment round last year, looking to raise £250,000 to aid the opening of a debut London site. The company said it takes “pride in serving food that is entirely natural and free from synthetic or artificial additives, such as food colouring, preservatives, and MSG”.
Pizza Pilgrims to open ‘deli’ concept at new Queen’s Park restaurant: Pizza Pilgrims, the London pizzeria brand, is to introduce a new “deli” concept at its upcoming opening in London’s Queen’s Park. The Imbiba-backed company will open the concept, which will sell “exceptional Italian produce and dry store goods”, alongside its new 50-cover restaurant on 3 July. Co-founder James Elliot said: “We are so excited to be opening on potentially our new favourite street in London, Lonsdale Road. The new restaurant is a beautiful building and we’ve already found the area to be the kind of place where neighbours unthinkingly introduce themselves and welcome you! As always, we look forward to firing up the oven and serving some Neapolitan pizza to the good people of Queen’s Park. We will also be introducing a new ‘deli’ concept where people can purchase amazing Italian ingredients to take away.” In April, the business made its Midlands debut, with an opening in Carlton Street, Nottingham, and Propel understands it is in talks on a site in south London. Earlier this year, co-founder Thom Elliot said the business would look to add three to four sites to its then 20-strong estate in 2023.
Star Pubs & Bars launches scheme to help licensees combat food challenges: Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars has launched a scheme to help its leased and tenanted licensees combat food challenges. The company is offering its licensees the opportunity to use dishes from its Just Add Talent managed operator pubs’ menu, featuring more than 200 tried and tested pub favourites including starters, mains, desserts and snacks. Ingredients are purchased through Brakes at the same discounted prices, guaranteed for six months, that Star Pubs & Bars has negotiated for its managed pubs. Recipe and allergen sheets are provided and pricing, which can be edited to suit the pub and its local market, with gross profit built in. The package comes with a choice of ready-made menu designs, with licensees only paying for print and the option to have an individual design. Karl Watts, Star Pubs & Bars’ food development manager, said: “Delivering a successful menu has never been more challenging and time consuming for licensees. This new support is designed to make it hassle-free to offer customers good quality food that is also profitable for the pub.”
Lantana to open new Westminster cafe and restaurant next month: London cafe operator and caterer Lantana will open its new cafe and restaurant in Westminster’s Old Queen Street next month. Propel revealed in August 2022 that Lantana – launched in 2008 by Shelagh Ryan, Michael Homan and Caitlin Ryan – would operate the venue, located at the new London headquarters of political and cultural publication UnHerd. Old Queen Street Cafe will now open on Monday, 12 June – a fifth venue in the capital for Lantana, which also offers catering services and runs exclusive residencies. The all-day brasserie’s menu will focus on British producers and ingredients, with weekly seasonal specials. “Our goal is to offer a fresh perspective on British cuisine,” said Ryan “We wanted to celebrate the rich history and traditions of British cooking while also pushing the boundaries and introducing new flavours and techniques. We aim to work with the very best British suppliers, ensuring guests are having the best produce these Isles have to offer.” Executive chef Leo De Oliveria Araujo and head chef Elliot Spurdle will head up a kitchen offering dishes such as Bakewell French toast brioche filled with cherry compote, vanilla cream and almond frangipane for breakfast; beef brisket hash for lunch; and bone-in pork chop with celeriac and apple slaw, confit shallots and cider sauce for dinner. The restaurant, which has covers for 40 people sitting or 100 standing, as well as space for hire, also features the floorboards from Winston Churchill’s Old War Office.
Costa Coffee ups presence in London travel hubs: Costa Coffee has upped its presence across London-based transport hubs with the opening of three new sites across St Pancras International and Liverpool Street Station. Two new Costa stores have opened for those travelling through St Pancras International, with a new store on the Upper Grand Terrace by platforms 1-4, alongside a kiosk by the Southeastern Rail platforms 11-13. In Liverpool Street Station, a new Costa has opened near the main entrance to the London Underground. Costa’s regional operations director for London and the South East, Luke Shaughnessy, said: “We’re making busy journeys a little better at Costa Coffee. Whether you’re after ultimate convenience or a quiet moment of calm, our talented baristas are ready to welcome commuters for a morning lift and afternoon treat.”
London wine merchant set to open tenth store with deli offer and events space: London wine merchant Jeroboams is set to open its tenth store, including a deli offer and space for events and up to 30 guests. It has signed for a 1,298 square-foot unit on Chelsea’s King’s Road, offering a range of award-winning wines, beers, spirits and a selection of produce including cheeses and charcuterie. Opening in June, the new space will be spread across two floors, with an event space on the basement level that will host the brand’s weekly in-store tastings, a monthly wine club and bespoke events for locals. Chief executive Matt Tipping said: “Our growth aspirations have long included a Jeroboams shop in the heart of Chelsea. We already have many existing private clients and trade customers locally, and we can’t wait to showcase the experience and enthusiasm we are known for to the rest of Chelsea.” Miles Commercial, Levy Real Estate and Savills act for landlords Sloane Stanley Estate, and Jackson Criss for Jeroboams.
Feast It rebrands as Togather, closes $8.5m investment round to fund growth: Feast It, the London-based event booking marketplace, has rebranded as Togather and raised $8.5m (£6.54m) in its latest fundraising round. In tandem with the closing of its latest raise, the business said that the rebrand marks the firm’s ambition to provide a “wider spectrum of services for planners, now standing at the forefront of a £70bn events industry”. Last year, the business tripled its year-on-year sales, and it aims to double sales again in 2023. More than 120,000 events were created on the platform, with 11 million people attending a Togather-powered event in 2022. Hugo Campbell, co-founder of Togather, said: “Event suppliers’ lives are far less glamorous than you might imagine, and we want to enable them to concentrate more on delivering incredible event experiences, and less sweating the small stuff. For our customers, we want to deliver the best possible experience from the moment they start to even think about their event. We want to be their trusted little black book that can help them create any event any time they need – an always-on, digital event concierge. Finally, we’ll be investing heavily in the brand. We want to establish a brand that is both instantly recognisable and the go-to for unforgettable event planning solutions.”
Former BHS foodservice director expands gelato concept into wholesale offer: Former BHS foodservice director Roger Bolton has expanded his Buckinghamshire-based gelato concept into a wholesale offering. Bolton founded The Works nine years ago, with the family-run company offering artisan gelato from his restaurants in Aylesbury and High Wycombe, as well as at local events. This followed 20 years with BHS – including a decade as its foodservice director – responsible for all its restaurants and cafes across the UK. Previous to that, he was operations director for foodservice at the same company for a decade. Bolton was also one of the original management team opening TGI Fridays restaurants in the UK in the 1980s. “I am pleased to announce the official launch of our new company The Works Gelato,” he said. “After nearly nine years of making gelato in our two restaurants that services our amazing guests and local events, we have decided to spread the love and open up our flavours to the wider hospitality world.” Roger and wife Elaine opened a third The Works site, and first outside of Buckinghamshire, in Chelmsford in 2018, but it shut the following year.
Three-AA rosette head chef to open fine-dining restaurant on Worthing Pier: Three-AA-rosette head chef Johnny Sandford is set to open a fine-dining restaurant, the 25-cover Tern, on Worthing Pier. Sandford began his career working with Paul Kitchin at Juniper in Altrincham before working as sous chef at the Matt Gillan’s Michelin-starred The Pass at South Lodge in Horsham, Sussex. He then had a spell as head chef at Pascere in Brighton and most recently headed up AG’s at Alexander House Hotel, near East Grinstead, retaining its three AA rosettes for the last three years. “I’ve lived in Sussex for almost 11 years now and so much has changed in that time,” he said. “The food scene has exploded with new independent restaurants opening almost every month. I made the decision to use as much UK-based produce as possible throughout our restaurant as although what’s available in Sussex is incredible, this island we inhabit is so small that transporting produce within it is so easy. I think using suppliers on your doorstep is amazing, and it’s something we do every day, but if you concentrate on this 50-mile radius you’re creating a 50-mile wall around your restaurant, limiting yourself to your own bubble.”
Santoro brothers set to launch new better burger concept in London’s Soho: Brothers Alex and Oliver Santoro are set to launch a new better burger concept in London’s Soho. The siblings, who are behind vegan fast food company Raw Imagination, will open Wonderland, which will offer both meat and vegan dishes, on 13 June. Located at 49 Old Compton Street, as well as burgers it will offer a Korean chicken wing and Jalapeño infused buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, alongside both Jersey dairy and dairy-free milkshakes and organic doughnuts. They have pledged to use separate friers, grills and work stations in the kitchen for the vegan and meat-based dishes. Alex said: “Our time in both the food and film industries really inspired us to create a space where everyone can enjoy themselves. Naturally, Soho was the perfect spot for Wonderland, and we can’t wait to welcome everyone!” The brothers also opened vegan restaurant Genesis in Commercial Street, Shoreditch, in 2018, which has since closed. 
Gail’s confirms June openings for Manchester and Didsbury sites: Fast-growing bakery brand Gail’s has confirmed it will open its third and fourth north west sites next month. As previously reported, the brand has taken the former White Stuff unit in King Street, Manchester, and the former HSBC bank site in Wilmslow Road, Didsbury, as it looks to expand across the region. Having opened its first and second north west locations earlier this year, in Wilmslow and Altrincham, the Manchester bakery will now open on Friday, 7 June, complete with an outside terrace. This will be followed swiftly by the Didsbury location on Friday, 21 June. The circa 110-strong company has also submitted plans to convert the former La Boutique d’Or site in Knutsford.

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