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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 19th Apr 2024 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Individual Restaurants plans to launch premium pizza concept: Individual Restaurants, which comprises 31 venues across its Restaurant Bar & Grill, Piccolino, Piccolo and Riva Blu brands, is planning to launch a new premium pizza concept, in Manchester, later this year, Propel has learned. Individual Restaurants is understood to be planning to launch the concept under the name Forbici and is thought to have secured a former Betfred site in Manchester’s Cross Street for the new venture. The business said the new concept will place a “strong focus on the art of pizza making, with the cookline and pizza preparation areas visible directly from the kerbside”. Inside the restaurant, customers will be able to choose from a range of artisan pizza, complemented with a carefully selected drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) menu. The concept will also provide customers with the opportunity to “takeaway and enjoy at home”. In addition to the restaurant, a small retail range of tailored merchandise (pizza flour, serving boards and other pizza accessories) will also be made available for customers to purchase. It comes as the business is set to take its Piccolino concept past 20 sites with a pair of openings this summer in the Home Counties. A 5,000 square-foot Piccolino is set to open in the Market Square in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, in June following a £2m investment and renovation. The 140-cover restaurant will be situated in a grade II-listed building that incorporates a river walk entrance, two bar areas, a winterised courtyard and a private dining room. The nearby Marlow Bar & Grill, at 92-94 High Street in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, which is also owned by Individual Restaurants, will also be undergoing a £500,000 renovation ahead of reopening its doors in July as a Piccolino. In January, Propel revealed that trading in Individual Restaurants’ current financial year has been “strong”, despite the premium dining market being adversely affected by cost-of-living pressures.
 

Industry News:

M&B divisional director Susan Chappell to speak at Excellence in Pub & Bar Retailing Conference, open for bookings with 20% discount on tickets for Premium Club members: Susan Chappell, divisional director at Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), 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. Chappell, who is responsible for the All Bar One, Browns, Nicholson’s and Castle estates, which have an annual turnover of £500m, will highlight how M&B is evolving its business to stay abreast of trends in digital and premiumisation, and how its business transformational programme Ignite is delivering ongoing improvements. 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: kai.kirkman@propelinfo.com to book places.
 
Premium Club members to receive next Who’s Who of UK Hospitality today: Premium Club members will receive the next edition of the Who’s Who of UK Hospitality today (Friday, 19 April) at midday. This month’s edition includes 865 companies and more than 233,000 words of content. There are 65 updated entries and seven new companies. 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 kai.kirkman@propelinfo.com today to sign up.
 
AlixPartners – as we peer through the lens of investment in the sector, we have now entered a ‘new normal’: The hospitality sector, when looking through the lens of investment, has now entered a “new normal”, with M&A activity increasing, Graeme Smith, managing director at financial advisory firm AlixPartners, has argued. Smith said that although operating conditions are not easy, the volatility of recent years has calmed. “M&A activity is increasing; interest rates have stabilised; financing markets are functioning,” Smith said, writing exclusively in today’s (Friday, 19 April) Premium Club Opinion. “Debt is available – it’s more expensive than it used to be, but it is available. We expect these more stable conditions to translate into more deal activity. On the back of this stabilisation, we're thankfully returning to a world where business value is driven by operational performance and growth prospects. Good businesses with demonstrable growth opportunities are attracting the kind of healthy valuation metrics that could have only been anticipated in ‘normal’ times.” Smith and colleague Craig Rachel will share more of their thoughts in today’s Premium Opinion, which will be sent to Premium Club members at 5pm. 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 a supplier. The single subscription rate is £495 plus VAT for operators and £595 plus VAT for suppliers. Email kai.kirkman@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription.
 
UKHospitality – UK-EU youth mobility agreement would be ‘huge success’ for sector: A UK-EU youth mobility agreement would be a “huge success” for the sector, UKHospitality has said. It comes after the EU Commission proposed to open negotiations to facilitate new youth mobility agreements, allowing young people from the EU and UK to study, work and live in each other’s countries. UKHospitality has been calling for youth mobility schemes to be expanded to the benefit of hospitality, tourism, live music and events. Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The sharing of cultures, cuisines and knowledge have long been the bedrock of the UK’s world-leading hospitality sector and agreements like youth mobility schemes have been a key part of that success. We have been calling for these schemes to be expanded and I’m pleased to see the EU Commission coming to the table with a plan to open negotiations. I hope the EU Council agrees with the proposal and that talks between the UK and EU can begin as soon as possible. Such an agreement would be a huge success for hospitality and tourism and, practically, it would solve challenges for the live music and events sectors.”
 

Company News:

London egg-free cake concept aiming for 30 franchise locations by end of 2024 after launching first one, eight more in pipeline: London egg-free cake concept Cakes & Bakes is aiming for 30 franchise locations by the end of 2024 after launching its first one, with eight more in the pipeline, Propel has learned. Cakes & Bakes was founded in 2002 in East Ham by Ashok Duppati and Dheeraj Siripurapu and has since grown to 15 sites, with a 16th set to open later this month. Most of these are spread around Greater London and its outskirts in Surrey, Kent and Essex, with a single outpost in Leicester. Having launched its franchise programme, it opened its first franchise site in February, in Tonbridge. “We have six franchise locations under construction,” a spokesman for the business said. “Our growth strategy includes achieving the goal of opening 30 franchise locations by 31 December 2024.” Cakes & Bakes was among the exhibitors at this month’s International Franchise Show at ExCel London, and director Jaisekhar Kothandaraman said the event was a success. “Our cakes were a very big hit and so were the enquiries,” he said. “Get ready for eight more new franchise locations, with our 16th store opening this month. What an achievement in the last nine months by the team.” Specialising in celebration cakes in more than 100 flavours and designs that can be personalised, Cakes & Bakes also offers brownies, biscuits, savoury pastries, drinks and party items like balloons, candles and cake toppers. “Cakes & Bakes was first established after we saw a gap in the market for boutique cake shops, and with the public’s increased demand for high end celebration cakes, it has grown exponentially over the past 20 years, and the trend is set to continue,” the spokesman added. “We’ve seen an increase in the demand for vegetarian and egg-free products are looking to expand our vegan range, while 99% of our products are also halal. Cakes & Bakes has gone from strength to strength, but we don’t just want to stop there. We want to expand Cakes & Bakes across the country and bring our delicious, freshly made cakes to a city near you.” The business is offering franchise packages for £150,000 (shop) and £80,000 (kiosk) total investment, with both including a £10,000 franchise fee – although the kiosk model is only available to existing franchisees. Duppati is also behind Indian restaurant concept Hyderabad Wala, which has locations in East Ham and Ilford in London along with Leicester and Luton.
 
Electric Group – the live music sector remains buoyant, in talk on two new sites: Dominic Madden, co-founder of the Electric Group, which operates some of the UK’s leading music venues, has told Propel that the country’s live music sector remains buoyant and that younger consumers have moved on from the “old-fashioned nightclub model”. The company currently operates Electric Brixton, Bristol’s SWX venue and NX in Newcastle, while also owning the freehold of The Leadmill in Sheffield. Madden told Propel: “The live sector is very buoyant. We’ve taken some of the best bits of what would have been historically the late-night model and fused it together with an event focused/live music model. There’s a huge demand for a curated approach to music programming because the old-fashioned approach, in a world where students and young people have gotten very sophisticated in terms of their approach – they know what they want – is not working. They go to festivals, they go to Ibiza, but their discretionary and disposable spend is decreasing as a result of the cost-of-living crisis, which means that going to an old-fashioned nightclub session on a Monday night because it’s cheap is no longer a priority for them. The old-fashioned nightclub model has moved on, students are going out less. That means those buildings are dependent on an economic model based on a 600-capacity Friday, a 1,000-capacity Saturday, and hope for the best for the rest of the week. Obviously, the fixed costs of running these buildings, the rising tide of costs have increased.” Madden is looking at two other prospective sites at the moment – one in London and one in a major regional city. He said: “Our sweet spot from a capacity perspective is 1,200-plus. So, in lots of cities, there are small spaces in pubs and rooms above pubs but there’s no medium capacity because the Academy-type venues do 2,000 capacity plus, but that sort of 1,200 capacity space is great in the market as there is significant demand for acts touring at that mid-level. We get quite a lot of that, and that’s really, really good for us.”
 
Five Points Brewing agrees terms on new London pub, reports strong growth in 2024 as latest crowdfund draws to a close: London-based Five Points Brewing has agreed outline terms on a new London pub, which it hopes will be open and trading by this summer. The business has also reported strong growth so far in 2024 as its latest crowdfunding campaign draws to a close. In a trading update for the first quarter of the year, co-founders Ed Mason and Greg Hobbs said the company “remains in strong growth” and sales are “up significantly on the same period in 2023”. Like-for-like group revenue was up 18.5% from £894,265 in the first quarter of 2023 to £1,059,460 – driven by a 21% sales increase at The Pembury Tavern and 17.5% at its brewery (including the taproom and courtyard). The company has also agreed an extension of its brewery and taproom lease to 2024, extended a contract with Nando’s until 2025 and secured a listing in 100 M&S Food stores across Greater London from May. It comes after Five Points Brewing hit its £350,000 target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube earlier this month, as the business looks to start expanding its pub estate and increase brewing capacity. With five days left, it has so far raised almost £380,000 from almost 600 investors. The company, founded 11 years ago, is offering 2.25% equity in return for the investment, giving a pre-money valuation of £15,200,000. This raise marks a third crowdfunding round for Five Points Brewing, having previously raised more than £950,000 in 2021 and almost £1.2m in 2018.
 
Bewiched Coffee to open third franchise site later this year: Midlands cafe operator Bewiched Coffee will open its third franchise site later this year. The Matt Fountain-led business launched its first franchise location, with Heart Of England Co-operative Society, in October 2022 at the Balsall Common Co-op store in the West Midlands. This was followed by a second site with the Co-op, at Leamington Shopping Park, in May 2023. Bewiched Coffee will partner with the Co-op once again for franchise site number three, which will open at Glenvale Park in Wellingborough in November. “Today we’ve been at our latest development, Glenvale Park, Wellingborough,” Heart Of England Co-operative Society posted on social media. “The sun might have been shining but it was absolutely freezing. Despite the temperatures the site is really taking shape and is going to be a fantastic addition to this local community and passing traffic. Opening November 2024 with a Co-op food store and Bewiched Coffee drive thru. Who’s excited?! We are!” It will also be a second drive-thru for Bewiched Coffee, having opened its first, at Moulton Park, in April 2021. The 17-strong business opened its first site of 2024 in February, at 41 The Square in Market Harborough. Fountain, who founded the business in 2010, told Propel he was aiming for five new stores in 2024, followed by first designer village outlet in 2025. New stores in Leamington Parade, Bedford and Northampton Grosvenor are among those in the pipeline.
 
Inamo launches Boxpark site for smaller concept: London tech-restaurant group Inamo has opened a new location for its sushi and fusion street food sub-brand Inamo sukoshi, which was created for use in food court operations, and its first with Boxpark. Inamo, which operates restaurants in Soho and Covent Garden, has opened four sites in two years under the new sub-brand, with the latest venue at Boxpark’s Wembley site. The first two Inamo sukoshi sites opened in 2022, in Market Halls Oxford Street and Canary Wharf, and a third followed at the 200-seat Market Place Vauxhall. The concept serves Inamo favourites such as dragon rolls and bang bang cauliflower, alongside a selection of sushi and Asian tapas including ramen, katsu curry and poké. 
 
Longbow Bars & Restaurants plans to open Peak District-based premium dining destination: Peak District operator Longbow Bars & Restaurants, which is led by entrepreneur Rob Hattersley, has announced plans to transform the historic Royal Bank of Scotland building, in the heart of Bakewell, into a premium dining experience. The property, which first opened its doors in 1838, has been closed since 2018. Hattersley’s vision is to carefully bring the grade-II listed building back to life. The menu would be designed to showcase the local area’s unique people and produce. The interior would celebrate the building's heritage and location, with emphasis on features like its high ceilings, huge windows, and original cornices. Hattersley said: “I grew up in Bakewell, so reviving the bank and turning it into a place that can be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike would feel like coming home. It also feels right to be rescuing such an iconic building and investing in the local economy. It’s a principle that drives all of my business decisions. My hospitality career started in Bakewell when I was 14 years old, working at my family’s restaurant, Aitch's Wine Bar and Bistro. Since that was sold 20 years ago, many people have said that there has been a gap. We have plenty of great cafes and traditional pubs, but there is definitely room for a spacious, premium restaurant offering exceptional locally inspired dishes.” As with the other venues owned by Longbow Bars & Restaurants, the menu would be designed by Raymond Blanc-trained executive chef, Adrian Gagea. Last month, Longbow Bars & Restaurants opened the doors to The Ashford Arms, a historic high-end pub with rooms in nearby Ashford-in-the-Water. It joined The Maynard, which has won numerous awards as a wedding venue, restaurant, and hotel, and The George, an award-winning historic bar, restaurant and hotel in Hathersage, which was once frequented by Charlotte Brontë.
 
Chef Brad Carter to open first London restaurant: Birmingham chef Brad Carter is to open his first London restaurant. Carter has joined forces with former music publisher Martin Priestnall to open Undercroft, which will nestle below St George’s Church in Mayfair, a 16th century building off Hanover Square. Undercroft will bring together “the best in art, design, music and food, and as such will be more than a standalone restaurant”. The idea is to provide a “sanctuary” for guests, away from the hectic streets of central London, Carter told The Standard. The 107-seat restaurant, housed in a vaulted underground space accessed by a side door and stairway – and recently used by the auctioneers Sotheby’s to store some of its most precious artwork – will be open for lunch through to late evening. Carter is set to revive dishes that have disappeared off menus. They will include wild garlic chicken toast, sea tripe and seaweed soup, Tamworth pork with creamed snails and sorrel, and barbecued duck with offal and oats. The space will also feature a bar and “eclectic” cocktail list, and a varied selection of champagne and fine wine. “Holly [wife and business partner] and I have loved every moment of establishing Carter’s in Birmingham – it has been so rewarding to watch the restaurant and team go from strength to strength over the years,” Carter said. “We’ve always been keen to make the move to London and spent years searching for the right place to open, and the undercroft at St George’s Church couldn’t be more perfect. I can’t wait to get stuck in and create a menu that reflects the history, character and magic of this incredible building.” Priestnall added: “We don’t want to just offer diners a restaurant. Undercroft is going to be a stage for all creatives – be it in music, design or food – we will evolve and move with the talent that comes through the door.” Carter held a Michelin star at his Birmingham flagship, Carter’s of Moseley, for eight years, also finding success with the Good Food Guide. The team is in the process of relocating the restaurant. One Star Döner, Carter’s casual kebab concept in Manchester, remains open.

Chotto Matte to expand to Georgia next year: Japanese-Peruvian restaurant brand Chotto Matte, part of Noble Hospitality Group, is to expand into Georgia in 2025, in partnership with Orbi Group and Block Group. Chotto Matte, set up in London in 2013 by chef and restaurateur Kurt Zdesar, will open at the five-star Central Park Towers Hotel lifestyle complex in the centre of Tbilisi. Central Park Towers will be home to premium fine dining restaurants, with Chotto Matte taking the largest space spanning two floors including the roof terrace and offering a 360-degree panoramic view of the city. Zdesar said: “We are hugely looking forward to launching Chotto Matte in such a flourishing destination with an eclectic food scene. Opening at The Central Park Towers is a unique opportunity to be part of the revolutionising landscape of Georgia, with the location set to epitomise modern luxury, and set a new standard in both aesthetic and experience. This is a pivotal moment in our global brand expansion, and I’m excited to bring the bold, creative flavours of Nikkei cuisine to the rich history and entrepreneurial spirit of Georgia’s community.” Chotto Matte has sites in London; San Francisco, Miami and Toronto in North America; and Doha in the Middle East. Chotto Matte has further confirmed sites in Manchester, Riyadh and Dubai. Noble Hospitality Group is also behind Angus Steakhouse, Steak and Company and Alley Cats Pizza.
 
Frog by Adam Handling introduces corkage-free lunch service and reduced dinner corkage charge: The Michelin-starred Frog by Adam Handling has introduced a corkage-free lunch service and reduced its dinner corkage charge. Guests can bring their own bottles of wine from home to complement their meal at the Covent Garden site at no extra charge for every lunch service, and the corkage fee for dinner has been reduced to £25 per bottle. The changes coincide with the launch of Frog’s new spring menu, which includes the likes of Scottish waters, smoked chilli, citrus; Balmoral quail, wild garlic, asparagus; and Wagyu beef, morel, black truffle. The restaurant offers Handling’s signature modern British cuisine, with sustainable dishes created from the best seasonal produce, and a zero-waste ethos at its heart.
 
Blank Street Coffee opens second Manchester site: US coffee brand Blank Street Coffee has opened its second Manchester site. The company, which has stores in Boston, New York and Washington DC in the US, and London and Manchester in the UK, has opened the outlet in King Street, following its first Manchester opening in Piccadilly Gardens. Ignacio Llado, UK managing director at Blank Street, said: “The launch of Blank Street’s first Manchester shop in December last year exceeded all our expectations – and with fans calling for us to open more across the city, we are delighted to be able to launch our second venture into Manchester. The opening of our King Street shop means we’re able to bring our high-quality products, great service and frictionless customer experience to more people. We look forward to welcoming even more Blank Street fans to meet for matcha or enjoy their favourite coffee.” Last month, Propel revealed Blank Street is gearing up to launch in Birmingham. Propel understands that Blank Street has begun the search for a general manager to oversee its launch in the city. It is also thought that Cardiff is on the company’s radar for future openings. Simon Carson, of Newmark Retail UK & EMEA, acts for Blank Street.
 
JKS and Dominic Jacobs confirm plans to open third pub: JKS Restaurants and publican Dominic Jacobs have confirmed plans to open their third pub together, later this summer in London’s Chiswick. As previously revealed by Propel, the venture, which already operates The George in Fitzrovia and The Cadogan Arms in Chelsea, has acquired The Crown in Chiswick High Road, which closed last month. It is thought that a price of circa £3m was paid to take on the site, which will be operated by JKS and Jacobs. It will reopen this July under the new name The Hound. JKS opened its first pub, The Cadogan Arms, in July 2021, in partnership with Jacobs and James Knappett, followed by the opening of The George, in Great Portland Street, in 2022. Jacobs said: “Following the strong performance of The Cadogan Arms and The George, we are looking forward to opening our next pub in the heart of Chiswick. Over the past three years, both existing pubs have experienced considerable growth, embedding themselves into their respective local areas and thriving as a result. It is with the same ambition we hope to launch The Hound and expand the group one step further.” The Crown in Chiswick was previously operated by Harcourt Inns. A number of the freeholds of the former Harcourt Inns sites were placed on the market through Savills in the autumn of 2022, including the Three Cranes in the City, The Crown in Chiswick, The Coach in Clerkenwell and the Hero of Maida. The latter two were acquired by a private investor and are both set to be operated by the Public House Group, the umbrella company from the team behind The Pelican in London’s Notting Hill. The Public House Group, which also operates The Bull in the Oxfordshire village of Charlbury, is currently gearing up to reopen the Hero of Maida pub, which is based in Maida Vale between Warwick Avenue and Little Venice.
 
Former Petrus by Gordon Ramsey head chef makes solo restaurant debut: Larry Jayasekara, formerly head chef at Petrus by Gordon Ramsey in Belgravia, has made his solo restaurant debut. Jayasekara, who has also worked at the Waterside Inn, Michel Bras and Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, has partnered with businessman and gallery owner Tim Jefferies for The Cocochine at 38 Brunton Place in Mayfair. The restaurant will take bookings by phone only, have no turning of tables and a fully à la carte menu. The main ground floor has just eight tables, seating a maximum of 28 guests, while the first floor features a seven-seater chef’s counter overlooking an open kitchen. There is also a two-storey private dining space. 
 
RBH Hospitality Management to open Australasian inspired all-day restaurant and bar at hotel in London’s Docklands: Hotel management company RBH Hospitality Management is to open an Australasian inspired all-day restaurant and bar at the Crowne Plaza London Docklands hotel in London’s Docklands. Fremantle Bar & Kitchen will launch at the start of May, replacing the hotel’s Docklands Bar & Grill. Fremantle Bar & Kitchen will offer food and drink that “looks to Australasia as a dining destination that riffs on culinary combinations from the Mediterranean, Middle East, Asia and South America”. The open-plan restaurant and bar will also include a year-round terrace and private dining spaces. The bar will offer an international wine list, but there will also be some heavy nods to east London, with collaborations with East London Liquor Co and the East London Brewery. The development of the new restaurant has been managed in conjunction with RBH Hospitality Management. Group director of food and beverage, Will Macpherson, said: “We’re focused on boosting profitability for the hospitality businesses we partner with, and we’re confident that Fremantle Bar & Kitchen will successfully increase food and beverage revenue at the hotel by bringing something new to hotel guests and customers living, working and visiting Docklands. We’re looking forward to opening the doors and welcoming our guests to the new restaurant and bar.”
 
The Breakfast Club confirms May opening for first station site: All-day dining concept The Breakfast Club has confirmed its first train station site will open next month. Propel revealed in December that The Breakfast Club would be partnering with SSP Group to open a site at St Pancras station in London. The Breakfast Club is now gearing up to open the site at the end of May and is currently recruiting for staff, including an assistant general manager. Last year, the business, founded by Jonathan Arana-Morton, partnered with SSP to launch its debut travel hub site, at Gatwick airport. Last month, The Breakfast Club reported it returned to Ebitda profitability after removing £600,000 from its cost base in the second half of its financial year. It said a significant Ebidta loss in the first six months of its financial year ending on 31 March 2023 led to a “significant restructure of central costs removing £600,000 from our cost base”. In January, the business opened a third site in London’s Soho – in the ex-Patty & Bun site in Old Compton Street – 18 years after opening its first there.
 
Darlington brothers open third site: Darlington brothers Ory and Keaton Vanes have opened their third site in the town. The siblings have opened Harry’s Burger Joint in Darlington’s Indoor Market, taking over the former Spud Gun unit. The brothers are also behind Urban Deli and pizza and parmo restaurant PP’s, both also located within the indoor market, as well as running the kitchen at the Hole in the Wall pub at 14-15 Horse Market. They were also previously behind brunch restaurant Sides in the indoor market, and collaborated with fellow Darlington business, Harry’s Handcrafted Doughnuts, for a delivery and collection only smash burger brand, BurgerNSides. “Originally, we were in North Road, we only did night service, so it was takeaways only,” Ory told the Northern Echo. “Once we found out Spud Gun were leaving here, we changed from our original business plan to implement fresh fries into the business, as well as loaded tater tots and smash burgers. The reception we’ve had from people has been fantastic. They love the idea of fresh fries, it’s sort of similar to what Five Guys do.”
 
Village Hotels unveils new ESG strategy: Village Hotels, which operates 33 hotels across the UK, has unveiled a new environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy called Village Green. All of its hotels now operate on I00% renewable energy, which has had a significant impact on carbon emissions, while proactive initiatives have reduced waste and increased recycling, with 98% of waste from Village Hotels now diverted from landfill. Village is also encouraging its guests, members and colleagues to switch to electric vehicles, with team members having access to a finance scheme to further encourage their use. An award-winning My Village employee programme also includes a range of sustainability-focused benefits for its teams, including volunteering opportunities, while all hotels are empowered to support sustainability projects within their own community. Kelli Turner, director of ESG at Village Hotels, said: “We know sustainability matters – our guests and members want to know that Village is a sustainable choice, with values that match their own. Our teams want to feel proud of where they work, knowing it is a responsible business. Our communities want Village to be on their side. Our corporate partners and clients want to know Village is a responsible corporate citizen. That is why Village Green sits at the heart of Village Hotels and is helping propel the business forward.” In February, Propel reported that an American private equity fund had kicked off an £800m auction of Village Hotels. KSL bought Village Hotels for £485m from De Vere Group in 2014, when it had 3,100 rooms across 25 sites. Village Hotels has now grown to 33 properties with more than 4,000 rooms. Originally called Village Urban Resorts when it was founded in 1995, the brand’s hotels have about 100 to 150 rooms and feature conference centres, pub dining, gyms and swimming pools.
 
Beeston operators open micropub: Beeston operators Sam Skinner-Watts and Edward Graham Moore have opened a micropub in the Nottinghamshire town. The duo – who are behind Kraft Werks, which offers craft beer, cider and natural wine, and deli Essen – have launched Somewhere Beerhouse. The micropub has opened in High Road, in the former premises of plant and homeware store Little Plant Guys, which has relocated to Derby Road, near Canning Circus, in Nottingham, and whose owner Phill Gaskin is also involved in the new venture. Set over two floors, the 30-seat Somewhere Beerhouse – a play on “shall we go somewhere for a drink?” – offers beer, wine, canned cocktails and soft drinks alongside cobs and snacks. Graham Moore told Nottinghamshire Live: “We cherry-picked and have gone out of our way to find different things. We want to differentiate ourselves from Essen. There is little to no crossover from what is down the road. It's two and a half years since Essen opened. It’s been great, we've really gained good traction. Everyone seems to be enjoying what we are doing, and we are changing it week by week, bringing new products and exciting things and evolving, which is fantastic.”
 
North London Mexican restaurant set to reopen with significantly larger site: North London Mexican restaurant Corrochio’s is set to reopen with a significantly larger site. The new restaurant will be four times the size of the original, which launched in 2021 as the kitchen at Ruby’s Bar & Lounge, when it reopens on Sunday, 5 May at 76 Stoke Newington Street in Dalston. It will offer authentic regional Mexican plates and cocktails from a 120-cover street level bar and restaurant. The upstairs will become Cocina & Cocteleria, serving regional Mexican food and cocktails, while the original restaurant will become Cinco, a drinking den specialising in lesser-known Agave and Mexican spirits paired with authentic regional Mexican small plates. Signature dishes will include Enchiladas Verdes (corn tortillas in creamy poblano and verde sauce, refried beans, cream, cheese, onions and avocado with chicken, potato and chorizo, or potato filling) and Tostada De Camarón (cooked prawn ceviche, avocado bed, cucumbers, charred habanero, pineapple sauce and lime mayo). Co-founders Daniel Corrochio and Amy McQuarrie originally operated Corrochio’s as a pop up at The Bluecoat’s Pub in Tottenham.
 
Nottingham Indian deli concept to open cafe for third site: Nottingham Indian deli concept, Bombay Delicatessen, is to open its first cafe for its third site. Owner Rahul Passan is transforming The former Trib3 gym site, on the corner of Carrington Street and Canal Street. It will be the flagship site for Passan, who also runs takeaways in Hyson Green and West Bridgford. The business, started by his parents in Radford Road in 1995, was originally called the Bombay Street Centre, but it recently rebranded “to create a more modern and fitting name”. The new site is the biggest – bigger than the other two combined. Passan told Nottinghamshire Live it will offer the business’ usual grab-and-go Indian snacks and curries, with the addition of a cafe and with live street food cooking stations. The cafe is due to open on Friday, 26 April.
 
Northamptonshire duo open second bricks-and-mortar site in as many months after seven years operating out of food vans: A Northamptonshire duo have opened their second bricks-and-mortar site in as many months after seven years operating out of food vans. David Akinbowane and Moinul Islam launched Munchbox in 2016, travelling to festivals like Reading and Leeds to serve up smash burgers, wings, waffles and loaded fries with African and Benglai spices, before opening their first branch, in Irthlingborough, in March. This has been followed by a second branch, in Grove Road, in the Mounts area of Northampton. “The food itself is unique in that all the spices are homemade – the service and atmosphere are different,” Akinbowane told The Northampton Chronicle. “We want to push the boundaries and do something different. We want to get involved and be a pillar of the community.”
 
Nottinghamshire pub company begins expansion after acquiring lease of Greene King site: Nottinghamshire pub company One Union has begun expanding after acquiring its second site. The company has taken on the lease of The Manor in the village of Toton, which is owned by brewer and retailer Greene King. The Manor joins its other pub – the Commercial Inn in Beeston. Director Ronnie Guest told Nottinghamshire Live “We’re going to be on a long-term lease here so it’s not going to be like a short flash in the pan. Fingers crossed, the plan to make it as good as the Commercial. That’s been a fantastic success story and we see exactly the same potential here. We have been keen and looking around the area, so this is the right place for us. It’s a really good fit.”
 
Team behind Glasgow Scottish gourmet restaurant to open second site: The team behind Scottish gourmet restaurant Glaschu in Glasgow is to open a second site in the city. Maison by Glaschu, which is the sister restaurant to Glaschu in Royal Exchange Square, will open in Princess Square in Buchanan Street at the end of the month. The new venue will be situated on the second floor of the centre and will offer a 120-cover bar area as well as an 85-cover restaurant area, with its own 45-cover terrace. On top of that, the venue will have a private dining space. The restaurant’s menu will be heavily inspired by classical French and Mediterranean cuisine, with local Scottish produce at its core. Director of food, John Molloy, told the Glasgow Times: “Maison will be a game changer in the city centre – a brasserie perfectly tailored to the all-day dining needs of Glasgow. The food has a classic French brasserie feel to it while taking inspiration from our sister restaurant, Glaschu, and really utilising the outstanding Scottish produce we have available on our doorstep.” General manager, Clare Johnstone, added: “I cannot wait to share Maison by Glaschu with the people of Glasgow. We promise a culinary experience that is both timeless and innovative. Maison believes in delivering more than just great service – we aim to create memorable experiences for all.”
 
Nottingham bagel concept to begin expansion as it secures second site: Nottingham bagel concept The Bagel Project is to start expanding. The concept, which launched in the city last year, has acquired the former Good Honest Bakery premises in Mansfield Road, Sherwood. Work is under way to transform the vacant property. Posting a video on Instagram showing the premises being ripped apart, The Bagel Project said: “Site number two. We’ll be opening another Bagel Project in Nottingham very soon. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be updating you on the fit-out works.” The Bagel Project was launched in Carlton Street, Hockley, and its menu includes bagels with fillings such as salmon and cream cheese, all-day breakfast and mozzarella pesto.
 
Plans for zipline attraction in Scarborough secure approval: Plans for a zipline attraction in Scarborough have been approved. UKBC, trading as Big Bang Promotions, submitted a full planning application to North Yorkshire Council last year for the development. It would comprise four zip lines running between two temporary tower structures. The zip line is set to be 650 metres in length, crossing from Scarborough heights, formerly known as the Mr Marvel’s Amusement Park site, towards Scalby Mills and the Sealife Scarborough. The zip line would have a gradient of about 7%. Members of the council’s Scarborough and Whitby area constituency planning committee voted to grant approval, subject to conditions, at a meeting last week. The decision was taken despite a recommendation for refusal in a planning officer's report prepared for the meeting. The report said the proposal “would result in significant harm to the character and appearance of the area and thereby conflict with the development plan overall”. However, the report also noted that “it would be perfectly within the gift of the committee to find that the public benefits of the scheme would outweigh the harm and resultant policy conflicts”, reports Insider Media.

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