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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 17th Apr 2024 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day: 

Exclusive – Wasabi looking for new expansion opportunities after restaurants post strong lfl growth in 2023: Wasabi, the sushi and bento chain backed by Capdesia, has told Propel it is looking for new UK restaurant expansion opportunities, and sees “huge potential for growth for the brand both within and outside London” on the back of a strong 2023. The Henry Birts-led business, which carried out a recapitalisation at the start of last year, said it saw strong growth across both its restaurants and grocery businesses through 2023, leading to “healthy Ebitda delivery, which exceeded expectations”. It said its 41-strong restaurant business reported strong like-for-like growth in 2023 versus pre-covid, on the back of strong demand from office workers, shoppers, students and tourists, albeit with a different weekly trading pattern to pre-covid. However, it said it had been significantly impacted by rail and tube strikes throughout the year, particularly given its strong presence in major travel hubs. The company said its grocery business showed “continued excellent growth” in both Sainsbury’s and Tesco, through continued distribution gains and successful new product development. The brand’s ready meals are now available in around 3,500 supermarkets across the country. The company said: “Manufacturing momentum continues with strong improvements in yields and labour productivity with plenty more opportunities to come as we look to benefit from the combination of further automation and growing volumes. Easing of inflationary pressures is also helping profitability as we progress into 2024.” The business also said it has positive support from its investors alongside a right-sized balance sheet and that it repaid all covid related liabilities in the first half of 2023. The business completed its refinancing in February 2023, which included an injection of new equity capital from existing shareholders and a reduction in its bank debt, “further strengthening the balance sheet as a platform for future growth and success”. Birts told Propel: “We are investing heavily in the core brand and business. We are also now looking for new UK restaurant expansion opportunities, where we see huge potential for growth for the Wasabi brand both within and outside London. At the same time, our three-strong New York business was profitable at a group level in 2023 and we are reopening our Penn Station location in summer 2024. Penn was our largest revenue and profit generator before redevelopment of the whole scheme began in 2021.” It comes as the business posted turnover for the year 31 December 2022 of £106,685,723 (2021: £68,467,970), with Ebitda of £2,047,137 (2021: £2,018,083) and a pre-tax loss of £7,688,885 (2021: pre-tax loss of £10,972,568). It said a disrupted first quarter due to Omicron and the war Ukraine had a material impact on profitability. 

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Kurve acquires PointOne, ‘merging for enhanced innovation and excellence’: Bristol-based technology company, Kurve, which specialises in providing electronic self-service point of sale (EPoS) solutions to the hospitality sector, has acquired pointOne, marking a significant milestone in the evolution of both companies. This merger brings in “a new era of collaboration, innovation, and increased capabilities for the hospitality industry”. A spokesperson said: “Combining the resources and expertise of both businesses, both Kurve and PointOne can offer their existing and future customers best-in-class EPoS and self-service solutions. The strategic acquisition reaffirms their collective mission to continue supporting businesses, drive innovation, and shape the future of the hospitality industry.” Steven Rolfe, co-founder and chief executive of PointOne, will take over the reins from Steve Boyes as chief executive at Kurve, while Boyes will move into a chairman role. Rolfe said: “The acquisition of PointOne and the merging of the two companies brings together the complementary strengths of both and offers an extended suite of services and solutions. From Kurve’s android based self-service focus to PointOne’s experience, product depth and theatre specific functionality, the combined capabilities and products will enable our joint customers to access a wider range of expertise and drive greater value for their businesses.” To find out more about the acquisition, click here. If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email
Next Who’s Who of UK Hospitality to feature 865 companies, released on Friday: The next Who’s Who of UK Hospitality will feature 865 companies when it is released to Premium Club members on Friday (19 April). This month’s edition includes seven new companies and 65 updated entries as well as more than 233,000 words of content. The companies, listed in alphabetical order, will have their most recent results reported as well as broader information around Ebitda, plans and trading style available. The database merges Companies House information, interviews and other public information to provide an easy to reference and exhaustive guide to the sector. Premium Club members also receive access to five other databases: the Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; the New Openings Database; the Turnover & Profits Blue Book; the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database and the UK Food and Beverage Franchisee Database. All Premium Clubs members will be offered a 20% discount on tickets to five Propel paid-for events – The Excellence in Pub Retailing Conference (14 May), Social Media for Profit (18 July), the Talent and Training Conference (1 October) and Restaurant Marketer and Innovator (two days in January 2025). Operators that are Premium Club members are also able to send up to four members of staff to each of our four Multi-Club Conferences for free. Premium Club members receive their daily Propel Info newsletter 11 hours earlier than standard subscribers, at 7pm the evening before. They also receive videos of presentations at eight Propel conference events two weeks after they are held. This represents around 100 videos of industry insight over the course of the year. Premium Club members will be sent a dedicated monthly newsletter that will highlight key updates in the sector and direct subscribers to all the vital content their membership offers. Premium Club members also receive exclusive opinion columns every Friday at 5pm, which include the thoughts of Propel group editor Mark Wingett and a host of industry leaders from across the sector. A Premium Club subscription costs an annual sum of £495 plus VAT for operators and £595 plus VAT for suppliers. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Premium Club for a year for £995 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or supplier. Email today to sign up.
Squatters move into site of Marco Pierre White’s former restaurant in London’s Leicester Square: Squatters have moved into the site of Marco Pierre White’s former restaurant in London’s Leicester Square. They arrived a week ago and have secured the doors of what was Mr White’s Steak Pizza and Gin House, reports the Evening Standard. They have also put a sign in the window warning that they cannot be removed without a court order as the building was not being used for residential purposes and was vacant. The venue, which opened in 2021, was reported to have closed in February and occupies 14,500 square feet across two floors. The 600-cover venue was run under a franchise agreement by Black & White Hospitality, the company White set up with entrepreneur Nick Taplin which operates nearly 30 restaurants around the UK. Meanwhile, Gordon Ramsay has served papers to the squatters who have moved into his York & Albany pub in Camden. The Camden Art Cafe took over the York & Albany pub earlier this week, plastering a notice on the front of the pub to claim it was a legal occupation of the building. The group of so-called “autonomous” activists said it is “committed to providing free food and creating a space for the community”. But the group said it has now been served legal papers and has been forced to cancel the opening of its community cafe on the premises. Ramsay in talks to acquire ex-Haugen site – see Company News.
Restaurant grant programme returns for its third year, expands to Manchester: Small independent restaurants in London and Manchester can now apply for a share of £220,000 to help grow their business as an American Express-supported grant programme returns to the UK for a third year. Run by the International Downtown Association (IDA) Foundation in partnership with the Association of Town & City Management (ATCM) in the UK, the global Backing International Small Restaurants programme has expanded to nine major cities across five countries in 2024 – London, Manchester, Sydney, Melbourne, Toronto, Montreal, Tokyo, Osaka and Mexico City. This year, the UK programme expands to Manchester. A total of 20 eligible restaurants of community significance across both Manchester and London will each receive a grant of £11,000 to enhance their business operations in the months ahead. These improvements will have a long-term impact on business growth and sustainability, allowing owners to grow their customer base and increase community vibrancy. According to new American Express research, in the UK, one third (33%) of hospitality businesses plan to invest in their premises over the next 12 months. The top factors driving this investment are the desire to win new customers (43%) and improve the customer experience (36%). Restaurant owners in London and Manchester can learn more about the programme, eligibility and apply for the grant at The deadline for applications is 30 May 2024. Dan Edelman, vice president and general manager of UK Merchant Services at American Express, said: “We’re delighted to once again back small independent restaurants and this year, extend the grant programme to cover venues in Manchester. Our hope is that the grant funding offers a welcome boost to its recipients.”
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a restaurant business that focuses on all-day dining with a fusion of Japanese/South American food and is seeking a head sushi chef. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “This is a growing group with a new opening this year and it is looking for a head sushi chef to lead a team of six sushi chefs in this 100-cover restaurant with a great following and elevated food style. You will need to deliver high quality sushi and have great leadership skills to motivate and train the team through high-volume service. The food style is fusion, but your focus will be just sushi, which makes up half of the business. This position would suit a sushi chef from a premium restaurant background, longevity in roles, good back-of-house management and experience in high quality sushi at high volume.” The salary is up to £60,000 and the position is based in London. For more information, email

Company News:

US fast-casual seafood brand eyeing UK launch as part of global expansion plans: US fast-casual seafood brand Captain D’s is eyeing a UK launch as part of its global expansion plans. Captain D’s was founded as Mr D’s Seafood and Hamburgers by Raymond L Danner Sr in Donelson, Tennessee, in 1969. It has now grown to just under 550 locations in the US and recently launched its first franchise agreement in Canada. The business is currently owned by private equity firm Sentinel Capital Partners, which acquired it from Centre Partners Management in 2017. Captain’s D is now eyeing a launch here and has partnered with Summa Franchise Consulting to explore the possibility, and exhibited at last week’s International Franchise Show at ExCel London. It comes after Captain D’s earlier this year launched a global expansion plan and named Hair Parra, former senior director of international development at Papa John’s International and executive director of Domino’s Pizza Brazil, as its new senior vice-president of international operations and development. “After more than five decades of consistent growth and success throughout the southern United States, Captain D’s has had a banner year of domestic development into the north east and now Canada,” said Brad Reed, chief development officer of Captain D’s. “Our unique brand will quickly capitalise upon an under-served and under-penetrated international expansion opportunity.” Parra, who was also previously director of franchise operations at teppanyaki-style restaurant group Benihana and chief executive at fried wings concept Wing Zone, and most recently led international development at restaurant franchising group Fat Brands, added: “I’ve had the privilege of introducing many distinguished American restaurants to international audiences, and the one quality that stands out as a marker of success is the company’s culture. As we expand into new countries, we will pair the high-quality seafood and hospitality Captain D’s has been built on with a creative and adaptable approach to understanding and respecting cultural variations. That’s the way we’ll deliver on our brand promise to new fans worldwide.” Parra added that Captain D’s expansion will be based around flexible prototypes, including 22 and 44-seat restaurants and an Express model for to-go customers only. The company is currently seeking both master franchisees and multi-unit operators.
AJ Bell analyst – Hostmore deal ‘perhaps the last roll of the dice in terms of making the group a success’: Danni Hewson, head of financial analysis at AJ Bell, has said that Hostmore’s proposed £177m deal for TGI Friday’s US business is “perhaps the last roll of the dice in terms of making the group a success”. The proposed “transformational combination” would merge Hostmore – TGI Fridays’ largest franchisee and operator of the brand’s UK business with the global franchisor, in what is in effect a reverse takeover. The agreement would lead to Hostmore shareholders holding a 36% stake in the enlarged business, with TGI Fridays shareholders having 64%. Hewson said: “Having operated under the TGI Friday’s brand in the UK for some time, Hostmore is now buying the global master franchise owner. It’s a bold deal given how Hostmore has struggled as a listed company and perhaps the last roll of the dice in terms of making the group a success. The deal would significantly increase Hostmore’s scale and give it a big presence in the US. It would also release Hostmore from the shackles of an existing franchise deal, which is described as restrictive. That implies Hostmore will have more freedom to try to breathe more life into the dining group. It might need the biggest breath imaginable to inflate TGI Friday’s back to life. Arguably one of the most tired dining brands on the market, it's a name that now has more connotations with ‘remember the days’ nostalgia TV shows looking at past lives rather than something that still holds its own against a growing number of modern chains. The latest trading update for the business being acquired is as appetising as a bowl of cold gravy. US stores have seen a disastrous first quarter due to reduced demand and a highly competitive market with rivals using big discounts to lure people through their doors. This poor situation is arguably reflected in the price being paid for the business – just 5.4 times 2023 Ebitda. Hostmore will have a lot of work to resurrect the brand. The big question for investors is whether it's worth the effort.”
Exclusive – Everards FY turnover up 11%, trading well in current year, sees opportunity to take market share: Leicestershire brewer and retailer Everards has reported an 11% increase in turnover for the year to the end of September 2023 to £34.7m and told Propel that it was “trading well” in its current financial year. The company posted an operating profit for the year of £2.2m, 26% ahead of the prior year on a like-for-like pub basis. The company said it continues to invest in its 152-strong estate, with £3.3m spent through revenue and capital in the last 12-months into repairs, compliance, and refurbishments. It said that in the first half of its 2023/24 financial year, sales of drinks to the pub estate are 12% ahead of the prior year, representing a 5% growth in beer volumes. It also said that following investment into a new brewery in 2021 and innovation in cask and keg beer categories, sales of Everards own brewed beer in the pub estate are 18% ahead of the prior year. In 2021 the company invested in a Beer Hall adjoining its brewery at Everards Meadows in Leicestershire. In the first half of the 2023/24 financial year, it said posted Beer Hall sales of £1.5m, 8% ahead of the prior year. Julian Everard, chairman, said it had been an encouraging performance, both for the last financial year and so far this year. Stephen Gould, managing director of Everards, told Propel that trading in the company’s current financial year has “gone very well”. He said: “We continue to invest in the estate, not just in terms of capex, but also in terms of repairs and compliance, so we’re putting money back into the estate, but we’ve got quite a stable estate as well. As a result, we are performing reasonably well in terms of our sales out to our pub estate. There is nervousness, of course, and this is why we stay close to our business owners. And while the cost base has eased in terms of utilities compared to 18 months ago, the labour line for our business owners will have run ahead of inflation and all the industry awaits with some degree of nervousness in regards to business rates in 2025. Because a combination of those two could be the equivalent of a very, very challenging utilities outlook 18 months ago. So, while the top lines are encouraging, we’re staying close in terms of support with our business owners. We think the best way to support those business owners that are talented, that have got really clear business plans is to back them with investment. Because I think the market in the next two to three years will remain quite challenging. So, if you’re well invested and working alongside people, there’s an opportunity in the short to medium term to take some market share as well.”
Chestnut acquires two Norfolk pubs from Agellus Hotels: East Anglian pub company Chestnut has acquired The Lifeboat Inn and The Chequers Inn in the north Norfolk coastal village of Thornham from Agellus Hotels. The acquisition accelerates Chestnut’s foothold in the region and adds a further 28 bedrooms to the estate – with the opportunity to add more. Chestnut said a 27% increase in the number of overnight stays going into 2023, according to data from Visit North Norfolk, highlighted increasing demands from tourists for accommodation in the area. Chestnut founder and managing director, Philip Turner, said: “We acquired our first property in Norfolk one week prior to lockdown, not an ideal start to the journey. During covid we acquired five assets to capitalise on the growth of tourism in the region and the more permanent ‘work from home’ lifestyle. Building community around our properties is a huge priority for us. I have known both these pubs for many years and feel privileged that Chestnut has the chance to be part of their future.” In 2018, Chestnut acquired Suffolk coastal properties The Ship in Dunwich and The Westleton Crown in Westleton from Agellus. The Lifeboat Inn and The Chequers Inn were its two remaining properties. “As a board of directors, we share the belief that this will enable the further development of the team and the Norfolk business itself,” Agellus said. “It has been a privilege for the Harrod family and the team to be part of two iconic establishments for the past nine years.” Chestnut said all guest room bookings and table reservations will remain in place. Accounts for Agellus for the year ending 25 June 2023 showed the properties turned over a combined £2,580,916 with a pre-tax loss of £81,953. Chestnut recently hired Rob Spillings as head of operations for Norfolk to help drive the expanding business. The Maltings, Chestnut’s largest development project to date – a 28 bedroomed hotel in Weybourne, near Blakeney, with a barn style restaurant and bar overlooking the sea – will open this summer. Last week, Turner told Propel that turnover at Chestnut increased to circa £27.5m and site Ebitda jumped 220% to reach £6.2m for the year ending 31 March 2024. He said like-for-like sales in the first three months of 2024 were up 6% with accommodation sales ahead of expectations. Turner will be among the speakers at the Excellence in Pub & Bar Retailing Conference. The all-day conference takes place on Tuesday, 14 May at One Moorgate Place in London and is open for bookings. Turner will talk about creating sustainable rural managed pubs and diversifying the business, such as acquiring a wine merchant, as part of its growth strategy. For the full speaker schedule, click here. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for operators and £395 plus VAT for suppliers. There is a 20% discount for operators and suppliers who are Premium Club members. Email: to book places.

Giggling Squid adds 63rd+1st site in Surrey to openings pipeline: Giggling Squid, the Thai restaurant brand backed by the Business Growth Fund, is to add a site in Cobham, Surrey, to its openings pipeline. Propel has learned that the 49-strong brand is to acquire the 63rd+1st site in High Street. Hostmore, the operator of TGI Fridays in the UK, launched the 63rd+1st concept in Cobham at the start of 2021, and subsequently opened sites in Edinburgh and Glasgow. The concept was inspired by the original TGI Fridays, which opened in 1965 in Manhattan on the corner of 63rd Street and 1st Avenue. The cocktail and bar concept was set to be a new growth driver for the business, and there was talk of up to four more openings, but the pandemic curtailed its roll out and TGI Fridays UK’s parent company is now focusing on its eponymous core brand. Rosa’s Thai acquired the Edinburgh 63rd+1st site last year. Earlier this week, Propel revealed that Giggling Squid had added sites in Liverpool, Portsmouth and York to its openings pipeline. The business has secured the former Loch Fyne restaurant in the Vulcan Buildings, Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth. Giggling Squid has also secured the Point Blank bar in Liverpool’s Castle Street, and the former Banks’ Music Room shop in Lendal, York, for new openings. As previously reported by Propel, Giggling Squid has already secured sites in Exeter, taking space in the Waterstones facing on to Cathedral Green; in Leeds – a former bank site in Park Row; in Muswell Hill, north London (a former Bill’s); and in Knowle in the West Midlands, another ex-Loch Fyne site. David Muslin, of Ecliptic, acted on the Cobham deal. Richard Negus, of AG&G, acted on the Portsmouth deal.
Gordon Ramsay in talks to acquire ex-Haugen site: Gordon Ramsay is in talks to acquire the former Haugen site in London’s Stratford. Propel understands that Ramsay plans to open a restaurant under his Bread Street Kitchen concept on the site, which closed last autumn. Propel revealed last September that D&D London was to leave the site. Haugen was described as a three-story Bauhaus behemoth when it opened in 2021 with capacity for 500 diners. The Alpine-themed restaurant and rooftop bar has views of the Olympic Park. The site also has two private dining rooms and two outside terraces. Site landlord Lendlease was understood to have a new tenant under offer for the site last year, with the Daisy Green Collection also previously linked to the unit. The site is understood to be being marketed by Shelley Sandzer. Cinema brand Everyman is also set to open a site later this year as part of the Stratford Cross development. 
Shake Shack to strengthen London presence with Notting Hill Gate opening: US better burger brand Shake Shack is to further strengthen its footprint in London with an opening in Notting Hill Gate. The company is opening the venue in the former Royal Bank of Scotland premises at 78 Notting Hill Gate for its 16th site in the capital. Set over two floors, the restaurant will offer its staple menu including the signature ShackBurger, crinkle-cut fries, flat-top dogs, ShackMeister Ale and hand-spun shakes. Last month, Shake Shack revealed it will make its UK train station debut with an opening at Unit 17 The Circle at St Pancras International early this summer. Since the original Shack opened in 2004 in New York’s Madison Square Park, the company has expanded to more than 430 locations including 140 international outposts. There are currently 14 Shake Shacks operating in London and one each in Cardiff and Oxford, as well as restaurants at Gatwick airport and Lakeside in Essex. Last month, Shake Shack announced that it was hiring Papa John’s chief executive Rob Lynch to take up the same position with the business. Lynch, who will take up his new role on 20 May, succeeds Randy Garutti, who announced his intention to retire in December having led Shake Shack for more than two decades.
Midlands smashed burger franchise on course for 25 sites by end of 2024, hires former Hero Brands development director: Midlands smashed burger franchise Burger Boi has told Propel it is on course for 25 sites by the end of 2024 after hiring former Hero Brands development director, Chris Palmer. Palmer joins Burger Boi after five years with Hero Brands, helping grow concepts such as German Doner Kebab (GDK), Sides and Dirty Bones. He spent four years as GDK’s franchise director – overseeing the opening of 100 new restaurants over four years – and a year as Hero Brands’ group development director, and was most recently director of business development for Sides. Previous to joining Hero Brands, he was franchise manager at Harry Ramsden’s for nearly five years, head of franchising at Creams and senior development manager at Taco Bell. “Very exciting to have Chris on board as we look to accelerate our expansion with his wealth of experience and expertise,” Burger Boi’s head of marketing, Asa Simpson, told Propel. “Our current pipeline is looking strong, with our Kidderminster location opening in two weeks, and then a further two West Midlands locations (Erdington and Coseley). We are on track for 25 locations by the end of 2024. This pipeline will only excel with Chris at the helm of Burger Boi franchising.” Burger Boi owner Surj Bassi, who founded the business in 2020 and launched his first site the following year in Wolverhampton, said: “Chris joins us as we embark on significant growth and his experience will be crucial in developing new multi-site partnerships that will expand the reach of Burger Boi.” Palmer added: “It’s very exciting to be joining Burger Boi as it forges ahead with plans to dominate the quick service restaurant burger market. I am looking forward to moving at pace with our multi-franchise partners to bring the brand to even more consumers throughout the region.” Burger Boi closed out 2023 on 15 sites and has so far opened two this year – at Castle Bromwich and Stratford Road, both in Birmingham. Burger Boi’s longer-term aim is 50 UK sites by 2026 and it is also exploring international expansion, with locations in Canada and Dubai slated for opening later this year. Burger Boi features in the Propel UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK available exclusively to Premium subscribers. The database is updated every two months, and the latest version features 250 businesses. 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.
Heavenly Desserts founder set to open second site for burgers and shakes concept: Heavenly Desserts founder Nizam Mohamed is set to open a second site for his burgers and shakes concept, IceBurg. Mohamed opened the first Heavenly Desserts restaurant in Birmingham in 2008 but agreed in 2021 to sell the rights for the brand to Mohammad Imran and Mohammed Yousif, who have grown it to more than 50 sites. At the time, Mohamed said he would focus on the expansion of Haute Dolci and IceBurg, but while he has grown gourmet burger and dessert brand Haute Dolci to 19 locations, Iceburg has remained a single-site operation, in Preston. But IceBurg Bradford is now set to open later this month at the Yorkshire city’s The Broadway shopping centre. “Brace yourselves. The countdown begins – new IceBurg store dropping soon!” said Tahir Mahmood, head of operations at Haute Dolci and IceBurg. “We're thrilled to announce that your favourite burger and shake joint is expanding. Our second store is on the horizon and we can’t wait to share the deliciousness with you all over again. Located right in the heart of Bradford, IceBurg’s mouth-watering burgers and indulgent shakes that have kept Preston coming back for more, and now we’re bringing that same irresistible taste to Bradford. Get ready to indulge in the extraordinary as IceBurg makes its mark in town.” Last month, Mahmood told Propel that Haute Dolci is lining up seven new UK locations following record-breaking sales and is also set to increase its overseas presence in 2024, having entered its first international market last year with an opening in Lahore, Pakistan.
Burgerism to open in Denton today: Burgerism, the fast-growing, north west smash burger concept, will today (Wednesday, 17 April) open a new site in Denton, Greater Manchester, Propel has learned. It is opening at Unit 1B at 31 Stockport Road for its sixth site and fifth in the Greater Manchester area. It comes hot on the heels of the concept’s return to Liverpool last week, when it opened in the city’s Blackstock Market, having previously operated a site in Bold Street there. It also has delivery and collection sites in Salford and Gatley, a dine-in location at Freight Island and a Manchester city centre deliver-only unit. “We’re super thrilled to be smashing patties for the people of Tameside,” said director of operations Emily Hawkley. “Denton is 100% online and completely point of sales-less, redefining the way people order and interact from an off-premise site. It’s been great to see and hear all the support from this buzzing community – we are so pleased to be a part of it!” Hawkley told Propel that Burgerism hopes to open further sites in 2024.
PizzaExpress to mark first anniversary of record label by opening record stores: PizzaExpress is marking the first anniversary of its record label, PX Records, by launching record stores in three London locations. Following on from its PizzaExpress Live music venues, last year the brand took that one step further, launching its own record label, live recording the performances and distributing them via PX Records. In celebration of its first anniversary, the label is launching its own record stores located within PizzaExpress Live music venues in Soho, Holborn and Chelsea. Opening from Friday, 26 April, the record stores will offer up vinyl and CDs from PX Records artists including UK soul outfit Mamas Gun, US saxophonist Scott Hamilton, Jamiroquai keyboardist Matt Johnson and multi award-winning jazz duo Ian Shaw and Tony Kofi, all recorded at PizzaExpress Live venues. Since the launch of PX Records in April 2023, the label has released nine records from artists across a range of genres – from jazz to hip hop, and dance to country. The successful albums have seen more than 1.5 million streams in their first year, with countless tracks making it on to national radio. In 2024, PX Records is set to release even more new records, including an album from Brit award winner Jack Garratt, whose album was recorded during a series of sold-out live shows at PizzaExpress Live in Holborn. PizzaExpress music manager Ross Dines said: “For almost 50 years, music has been an iconic part of PizzaExpress, combining live performances and delicious dining experiences. To be able to continue our passion for supporting both up-and-coming and established, global artists through PX Records is something we’re very proud of and we’re thrilled to celebrate this milestone with the opening of our first record stores.” Since its inception in Soho in the late 1970s, PizzaExpress Live has presented more than 1,500 shows per year, including recent performances from McFly and Pixie Lott. 
Burger & Sauce opens first store of 2024: Burger franchise concept Burger & Sauce has opened its first store of 2024 to take its estate to 14. The concept, founded by Saad Masood during the pandemic, has opened at 2 Trinity Street in Coventry. Franchise consultant Anthony Round said: “Great to see the first opening of 2024 for Burger & Sauce in the centre of Coventry. Finally got the doors open after a few delays, and the pipeline now opens up, with several openings planned over the next few months. Congratulations to the franchisee, who has now three sites open with us.” In September 2023, Burger & Sauce said it is aiming to open 15 new stores in 2024. Among the sites listed on its website as “coming soon” are two more in Birmingham (Shirley and Perry Barr), central Liverpool, Telford Centre, Nottingham and Manchester.
Adventure Bar Group co-founder to open new venue in Waterloo: Tobias Jackson, who co-founded the Adventure Bar Group, is to open a new rooftop bar called Circe’s in London’s Waterloo. The new venue, which will serve a Mediterranean-inspired menu and cocktails, will open on the ex-Bar Elba site, which was previously operated by Jackson’s former business. Nightcap acquired the Adventure Bar Group, which operated 12 sites across London and Birmingham, for up to £2.5m in May 2021. Jackson left the business in November 2022. He is opening Circe’s, which will open on Friday, 24 May, alongside Lee Ramskill, who previously worked at Revolution and Sankeys. The new concept will be based on the four-story Mercury House rooftop in Waterloo Road and will have a capacity of 550 across three areas. Jackson said: “In my 20 years of launching and managing bars, I have never been more excited for what this one will offer. Creating this concept has been extremely fun, and I think that really comes through in the atmosphere we are trying to create, raising the profile of the food, drinks and service compared with what we've done in the past.” Bar Elba closed in February.

London private members’ club group reports record revenue: Home House Collection, which operates two private members’ clubs in London, has reported the highest revenue in its 25-year history for the year to 31 December 2023. The group, which operates Home House Club in Portman Square and Home Grown Club in Great Cumberland Place, reported revenue of £21,491,312 for the period, up from £19,984,334 in 2022. Having turned a first profit in four years in 2022, the group saw a reduction in its pre-tax profit from £942,867 to £795,471. The group achieved an Ebitda profit of £3.9m, up from £3.8m, and had an operating cash inflow of £2m, from which loan amortisation of £0.8m was made. No dividend was paid (2022: nil). No government grants were received compared with £8,076 in 2022. “Our 25th year of operation began with a sense of optimism; however, it was a poor economic year with the UK falling into recession in the second half of the year,” director Charles Tuke said. “Staffing, inflation, rising interest rates and a continuation of train strikes softened expectations as the year progressed. Despite this challenging environment, Home House Collection has again proven resilient to difficult market conditions. Total revenue grew by 8% at collection level, with both Home House and Home Grown achieving record bedroom sales and steady increases in members. Food and beverage sales growth was held back by disappointing private event sales earlier in the year; however, November and December results showed a positive bounce back. Home House Collection will continue to grow its community while working to retain and hire the very best talent available.”

Berenjak opens ‘little sister’ site at Soho Farmhouse: Berenjak, the Persian-influenced concept founded by Kian Samyani and JKS Restaurants, has opened a “little sister” site on the grounds of Soho Farmhouse in Oxfordshire. In March, Soho House chief executive Andrew Carnie announced that Berenjak would be opening a site with the company, as it focused on improving the experience for its members. Berenjak said: “As the name suggests, it’s a little sister to our London restaurants in all the best ways. The menu is made up of Berenjak classics, from mazeh and khoresht to kababs and our cocktails. Bookings at Little Berenjak are available to Soho House members only via the Soho House app.” Berenjak currently operates two restaurants in London and one in Dubai.
Joe & the Juice hires ex-Domino’s executive Jeffrey Lawrence as non-executive director: Jeffrey Lawrence, former executive vice-president and chief financial officer of Domino’s Pizza, has joined the board of Joe & The Juice, the juice and café bar brand, as a non-executive director. Joe & The Juice – which operates more than 360 locations across 18 countries spanning the UK and Europe, US, Middle East, and Asia – said that Lawrence brings more than 25 years of leadership experience in building and franchising digitally enabled foodservice and consumer brands, to its board. He previously served in global senior leadership roles at Domino’s Pizza including as executive vice-president and chief financial officer. Over his two-decade tenure at Domino’s, Lawrence helped spearhead the international development and growth of the brand, including key roles in the company’s 2004 initial public offering, digital transformation initiatives, and partnerships with major US and international franchisees. Thomas Nørøxe, chief executive of Joe & the Juice, said: “I am delighted to welcome Jeff to the Joe & the Juice board. He brings deep experience in developing global consumer brands, with a decades-long track record of driving growth and value creation. We look forward to leveraging Jeff’s insights as we accelerate Joe & the Juice’s expansion, with a strategic focus on building our digital momentum, augmenting our omnichannel experience, and driving store rollouts and franchising initiatives in key international markets.” The company said Lawrence’s appointment will support Joe & the Juice as it further accelerates its growth and expansion in international markets. Last year, the company secured new backing from US private equity firm General Atlantic, which is thought to have valued Joe & The Juice at $600m (£489.1m).
‘Hybrid hospitality’ hotel concept makes UK debut with £90m Glasgow site: Hotel business The Social Hub, which describes itself as a “hybrid hospitality” concept that “couples trendy design with quality accommodation”, has made its UK debut with a £90m site in Glasgow. The Social Hub Glasgow has opened in the city’s Merchant City district, offering 494 hotel, student and extended stay rooms and spaces. It also has co-working spaces, meeting and event rooms, a gym, a restaurant and a bar. Headquartered in Amsterdam, the site is the 20th Social Hub hotel – with nine in the Netherlands, four in Italy, three in Spain, two in France and one each in Austria, Germany and Portugal. The Social Hub’s long-term ambition is to reach 50 locations, and further sites in Portugal and Italy are planned over the next two years. The Social Hub was founded in 2012 by Edinburgh-born entrepreneur Charlie MacGregor.
Popeyes opens Aberdeen site: Popeyes UK, the US fried chicken quick-service restaurant brand backed here by TDR Capital, has opened its new site in Aberdeen. The outlet in Union Street seats up to 50 people for dine in, with takeaway also available. Queues started forming 11 hours ahead of the opening. Neil Williamson, chief operating officer of Popeyes UK, said: “After our first Scottish opening set a record for the earliest queue, beginning a whopping 18.5 hours before opening, we knew that the Scottish audience was not to be underestimated. The response to our Aberdeen opening has proven that energy and excitement all over again, and we’re delighted to start serving our famous Louisiana chicken to this great new crowd.” The restaurant is the brand’s second in Scotland and tenth site to open in 2024 and forms part of Popeyes’ plans to open 30 new locations this year. The next opening will be a drive-thru restaurant in New Bury Road, Manchester, on Wednesday, 24 April, with further sites set to open in Swansea, Glasgow and Nottingham. Popeyes has 42 sites in the UK.

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