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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 24th Apr 2024 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day: 

F1 Arcade opens first US site, second to open in the autumn as part of plan for 30 sites there: Kindred Concepts, the parent company of F1 Arcade, has opened its first site in the US, at Boston Seaport. The venue covers 16,000 square feet over two floors, offering 69 cutting-edge full-motion Formula 1 simulators and a 2,400 square-foot private room and bar. The second site there, in Washington DC’s Union Market District, will open this autumn, as part of a wider plan to reach 30 US venues. Kindred Concepts opened its first site at the end of 2022, in London’s St Paul’s, which was followed by a second UK site, in Birmingham’s Paradise estate, last November. “We’re thrilled to debut the first US F1 Arcade location in the bustling Boston Seaport neighbourhood, following the incredible success in the UK,” said Adam Breeden, founder and chief executive of F1 Arcade. “Guests can enjoy an exceptional adrenaline packed venue and the thrill of racing in one space. The launch of F1 Arcade Boston Seaport paves the way for our ambitious US expansion, as we look ahead to opening our second venue this autumn in Washington DC.” He added that 30 locations are planned “for 2025 and beyond”. The Boston venue also features a 37-foot bar serving a variety of globally inspired dishes, from wagyu beef sliders and ahi tuna tostada to a seafood tower. There are also Grand Prix-themed cocktails such as “Start Your Engines” (gin, Campari, basil brandy, cherry and Amaro), “Smokin’ Lap” (bourbon, cognac and amaro) and the Champagne-themed “Pole Position”.

Industry News:

Peach Pubs brand director Chris Stagg to speak at Excellence in Pub & Bar Retailing Conference, open for bookings with 20% discount on tickets for Premium Club members: Chris Stagg, who heads up the Revolution Bars Group-owned Peach Pubs, 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. Stagg will speak about evolving and growing the business under new ownership, standing out in the premium pub market and creating an award-winning culture. 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. 

Propel’s latest Multi-Site Database to be released on Friday with seven category segmentation including 510 operators from the cafe and bakery sector: The next Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate, providing details of more than 3,000 multi-site operators, will be released on Friday (26 April) at midday to Premium Club members – and companies are now searchable in seven main segments. The database features 910 (29%) operators from the casual dining sector, 765 (25%) pub and bar operators, 510 (16%) cafe bakery operators, 420 (14%) quick service restaurant operators, 250 (8%) hotel operators, 190 (6%) experiential leisure operators and 53 (2%) fine dining operators. The database is updated each month – this edition includes 23 new companies and brings the total to 3,098. New additions in the cafe and bakery sector include Utter Waffle, a four-times winner in the British Street Food Awards that has sites in London and Reggie – its flagship food truck. There is also Cook’s Café, which was set up by ex-teacher Paul Charlton in 2017 and has five sites in the Teesside area. Premium Club members also receive access to five other databases: the Turnover & Profits Blue Book, the New Openings Database, the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, the UK Food and Beverage Franchisee Database and the Who's Who of UK Hospitality. Plus, all 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 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 a supplier. Email today to sign up.
Bank of England rings alarm bell over private equity industry: Mounting pressure on the £6.5tn private equity industry raises the risk of a crunch that could cause big losses for banks and a crisis that spills over into the real economy, the Bank of England has warned. The Times reported regulators are stepping up scrutiny of the private equity market amid worries that sharp rises in interest rates in the past two years are creating problems for an industry that is heavily reliant on debt. Gauging the scale of the threat has been made more difficult by the “opacity, complexity and interconnectedness of the sector”, Nathanael Benjamin, the bank’s executive director for financial stability strategy and risk, said. He warned that recent developments in the industry had the potential to not only “disrupt the supply of funding to real economy companies in a stress”, which would raise the risk of private equity-backed businesses cutting jobs, but also inflict “significant and correlated losses” on systemic institutions including banks that are exposed to the industry. Benjamin said it was “not hard to work out” why dynamics in this area “cause us concerns related to the financial system as a whole”. His comments are the most detailed yet by a bank official about the potential danger posed by private equity. They come after the central bank’s financial policy committee disclosed last month that it was conducting a closer review of private equity risks and would publish its findings in June. British companies backed by buyout and venture capital firms, which include Alton Towers-owner Merlin Entertainments and The Restaurant Group, now employ 2.2 million people across the globe, while suppliers to these businesses have a further 1.3 million members of staff, according to industry estimates. “The prominence of the private equity sector both within the financial system and for the real economy is significant,” Benjamin said, adding that the recent jump in borrowing costs had increased the challenges facing the industry. Highly leveraged companies backed by buyout houses now face more expensive funding costs and, while some are pursuing refinancing deals to alleviate the pressure, Benjamin said that “the risk is that the impact of higher rates is simply delayed, and an extension gives false comfort, increasing credit losses in the future”.
Courts ‘should sit in pubs and libraries’ to bring justice to the people: Judges of all types could sit in pubs, church halls and libraries to reconnect the justice system with local communities, under a proposal being considered by the Times Crime and Justice Commission. Dame Anne Rafferty, a former Court of Appeal and High Court judge, said reform was needed to restore public faith in the criminal justice system. She proposed that public buildings could be repurposed as courts to expand the settings for a range of hearings and make the legal process more accessible. “The community can embrace justice and justice can position itself locally, as it always did and should still do,” Rafferty said. “Possible venues: library, church hall, school during the holidays, pub, disused newspaper building, supermarket with spare area. Look for buildings in daily use but with slack, or buildings just sitting there.” The plan could be piloted with coroner’s inquests, she said, then be expanded to other forms of hearings.
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a restaurant group that is seeking a head chef for a new opening in central London. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “You will cook seasonal British cuisine in an intimate 60-cover restaurant. The food will be refined and elegant but still affordable. This is a new opening but there will be support from a group head chef and executive chef with a Michelin background. The business already has five successful sites and has plans for more, so this could be a great career path for an aspiring head chef or senior sous chef ready to step up. This would suit a head chef who has worked in a fine dining or Bib Gourmand restaurant, with knowledge of back-of-house admin, and experience in premium restaurants.” The salary is up to £60,000. For more information, email

Company News:

Mr Bao Group plans new concept to complement Master Bao expansion: Frank Yeung, co-founder of Mr Bao Group, has told Propel he is hoping to open a new concept later this year to complement the steady expansion of the company’s Taiwanese-inspired Master Bao format. Yeung, who formerly owned an eight-strong chain of burrito restaurants called Poncho 8, which he sold in 2014, opened the original Mr Bao in Peckham in 2015 with co-founder Abhinav Malde. This was followed by Daddy Bao in Tooting in 2018, in honour of his dad, Joe, who ran The Jade restaurant in Salisbury for more than 30 years. Then came Master Bao, which opened inside Westfield White City in 2019, and a second Master Bao will open in Westfield Stratford in mid-May. Yeung said that the new concept would still be Asian-influenced but would not be like the Taiwanese-focused Master Bao as the business looks to follow a two-track growth plan. He told Propel: “We would like to do more Master Bao sites, and certainly an airport site would be an ambition, but we are in no rush. Our next focus, aside from opening in Westfield London, is to launch a new concept, which will take in a broader look at Asian cuisine. We want to build a collection of stand-alone restaurants alongside the continued expansion of Master Bao. We have built a strong foundation so far and now we want to build on that but not by going down the chain restaurant route.” The group’s new site in Westfield Stratford, which will be on the former Passyunk Avenue site, will feature a new bubble tea menu, exclusive dishes and its very own noodle room alongside Master Bao's signature Taiwanese fried chicken, bao buns, fresh noodles and rice dishes. Kate Taylor, of DCL acted on the Westfield Stratford deal.
Former Hostmore CEO Robert Cook joins Dobbies to support restaurant business: Garden centre retailer Dobbies has appointed Robert Cook, the former Hostmore chief executive, as a board advisor to support the development of its restaurant business. Cook, who also previously headed up Virgin Active, Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, stepped down as chief executive of Hostmore, the parent company of Fridays, 63rd+1st and Fridays and Go, at the start of 2023 after three years in the role. He also sits on the advisory board of sector investor Imbiba. Dobbies currently operates 77 stores across the UK. David Robinson, chief executive of Dobbies, said: “Robert has worked for some of the biggest and best names in UK hospitality and we’re delighted to have him share that wealth of industry knowledge and experience with us. Our restaurants are at the heart of our business with significant opportunity for growth.” Cook said: “Dobbies restaurants have something for everyone, serving thousands of customers every week. For so many people, a visit to Dobbies is not complete without a stop off to enjoy the great food and drink on offer. I’m looking forward to supporting the team to strengthen the offering and ensure customers have the most memorable experiences possible.” Earlier this year, Dobbies hired Phil Thomas, formerly of Costa Coffee and Greene King, as its new chief marketing officer.
Sourdough South confirms Three Joes closures, The Stable performing ahead of 2023: Sourdough South, operator of the Three Joes and The Stable pizza brands, has confirmed the closure of half of its Three Joes estate and told Propel that The Stable was “performing ahead of 2023”. Propel reported last week that it was understood Three Joes had closed its sites in Fareham, Chichester and Cambridge – the latter two of which have been open for less than a year. Its remaining three restaurants – in Winchester, Lincoln and Sheffield – remain open. Sourdough South also operates nine The Stable sites. Co-founder Tim Hall told Propel: “In common with many operators in this climate, we have made the decision to trim our restaurant estate and are closing a handful of our Three Joes sites. The Stable and Beach Bar restaurants are in excellent condition and performing ahead of 2023 with an anticipated strong summer ahead of us.” Last summer, Propel revealed that Sourdough South had completed a funding round to support the continued expansion of its brands. The investment was secured from the group’s existing private shareholder base with the additional introduction of Christopher Mills, founder and chief executive of Harwood Capital, as a new private investor. 
PureGym plans between 60 and 70 new sites this year, starts 2024 ‘strongly’: PureGym, Britain’s biggest health and fitness club operator, has said it plans to open between 60 and 70 sites this year as it reported “outstanding” full-year results despite “challenging” market conditions. The company said it has started 2024 “strongly”, reaching the milestone of two million members across the group by the end of January. It comes as the group reported revenue increased 15% to £549m for the year ending 31 December 2023 compared with £476.4m the previous year. Adjusted Ebitda was up 39% to £132.2m from £95.1m the year before. Revenue growth was driven by the opening of new gyms, growth in membership at existing gyms and an improvement in average revenue per member. The group opened 54 sites in 2023, including 40 in the UK, three in Switzerland and 11 under franchise in the Middle East. PureGym ended the year with more than 600 sites across six markets globally. Membership in the period increased 11% across the group and by 16% in the UK compared with 2022. PureGym also completed a refinancing of £805m senior secured notes during the fourth quarter, which is set to support its growth plans. Chief executive Humphrey Cobbold said: “Business conditions in 2023 were once again challenging with inflation rising, high interest rates and energy costs and political uncertainty affecting consumer sentiment and our business directly. Against this backdrop our results and progress are outstanding, demonstrating growth in all key financial metrics, substantial expansion, a highly significant refinancing and meaningful deleveraging. Our proposition – providing accessible, flexible and affordable fitness – continues to be extremely attractive given growing awareness of the need to look after physical and mental health and with cost-conscious consumers seeking out the best value. As a result, we have seen robust demand in our core estate, with the volume of gym visits back to pre-pandemic levels. This has been further supported by the phenomenal performance of new site openings where we have successfully identified pockets of under-served demand, particularly in the UK. Above all, I am proud that PureGym has facilitated more than 125 million gym visits in 2023, contributing a hard to quantify but significant benefit to the physical and mental well-being of millions of people. We have started 2024 strongly, reaching the milestone of two million members across the group by the end of January, and have plans to open 60-70 new gyms this year across our markets.”
Six by Nico to open second bar concept site in Edinburgh: Six Company, the company behind the Six by Nico restaurant business, is to launch the second site under its new fledgling bar concept, Somewhere by Nico, in Edinburgh, later this summer. Propel revealed earlier this month that Six Company had lined up a second opening in Edinburgh for its core brand. The company, which currently operates 15 sites throughout the UK and Ireland under the Six by Nico brand, is planning to open a new site in Edinburgh’s Queensferry Street, in the unit formerly occupied by Foundry 39. Six Company already operates a site in the city’s Hanover Street. Propel understands that the new site will also incorporate a Somewhere by Nico. Talking to Propel in March, Rob Wirszycz, chairman of Six Company, said: “We want to offer our Six by Nico customers additional experiences. As an example, we have spent two years developing Somewhere by Nico, an experiential cocktail-led model similar to Six by Nico with a fixed price, changing menu and so on. We are sold out for the first eight weeks. We are excited to bring this to Edinburgh in early summer and three other locations by the end of the year.” Earlier this month, Propel revealed that Six Company had appointed advisors to assess its funding options as it looks to step up its expansion plans in the UK and overseas. It has begun working with advisors at Cavendish on its strategic options. Until now, Six Company’s growth has been funded out of cash flow and debt provided by ThinCats. Propel understands that Six Company, which was founded by chef Nico Simeone in 2017 and offers evolving six-course themed tasting menus, is trading well and sees an opportunity to secure new funding to ramp up its expansion plans. It will open its latest Six by Nico restaurant on Wednesday, 22 May in the Westgate scheme, Oxford.
German Doner Kebab opens 140th UK site and 13th for Gloucestershire franchisee: German Doner Kebab (GDK), owned by Hero Brands, has opened its 140th UK site and 13th for its Gloucestershire franchisee, Z&K Group. “It’s a been a long time coming, but we are buzzing to finally bring the GDK experience to the vibrant city of Bristol,” the company posted on social media. “GDK Bristol is now open at the bustling Cabot Circus shopping centre in the heart of the city. It is the 13th restaurant opened by our valued franchise partners, the Z&K Group, and our 140th UK restaurant overall. Congratulations to the whole team at Z&K on its opening day, after a series of fantastic pre-opening events.” Z&K Group is led by Zubair Ali, who is also a franchisee with dessert brand Kaspas. It comes after a flurry of openings for GDK in recent weeks. Last month saw the brand’s first UK launch of 2024, at 60 High Street in Epsom, Surrey – a 26th restaurant for franchisee Shazad Khan. GDK has since also opened at 73 High Street in Bedford – a first store for new franchisee Lacky Sohal, and at Hempstead Valley – a second GDK store for Domino’s and Costa franchisee DS Group.
Badiani opens first UK site this year and third in Canary Wharf: Italian gelato brand Badiani has opened its first UK site this year and its third in the Canary Wharf area of London’s Docklands. Badiani has opened at 15 Cabot Place, adding to its Canary Wharf sites in Wood Wharf and Canada Place. The venue is a 15th UK site overall for Badiani, with 13 in London plus outposts in Windsor and Brighton. Badiani, led by Massimo Franchi, told Propel in May last year that it plans an eventual UK estate of up to 40 sites. Founded in Florence in 1932, Badiani still has its original shop in the Italian city as well as five in Spain and two in Japan, for an overall estate of 23.
Caprinos franchisee opens 12th site with pizza brand: Caprinos franchisee Shehzad Rafique has opened his 12th site with the pizza brand. He has opened in a former Subway unit at 2 The Cross in Oswestry, Shropshire. It is a 91st UK site overall for Caprinos, which was co-founded by Khalil Rehman and Gul Mawaz in Didcot, Oxfordshire, in 2014. “Another Caprinos store has opened up in Oswestry, and I am thrilled to express my gratitude to the local community for showing us immense support,” Rahman said. “I would also like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Shehzad, one of our very first franchisees, for successfully opening his 12th Caprinos branch. We are glad to have you as a part of our team and to see you flourish as our franchisee.” Rafique was Caprinos’ franchisee of the year in 2021 and said the majority of his branches have given him a return on his investment within 12 to 18 months. Last October, Caprinos made its international debut with a launch at the DHA Lahore development in Pakistan.
Better burger business opens seventh venue as it gears up for further Scottish expansion: Better burger business Side Street Burgers has opened its seventh venue, in Dundee, as it gears up for further Scottish expansion. The company, founded by Josh Ryan in 2020, has opened at 142 Arbroath Road in the town, ahead of three further openings in the country. Side Street Burgers has a further Scottish site, in Bonnyrigg, plus locations in Rochdale, Fallowfield (Manchester) and Reading, and Walthamstow and Upton Park in London. “I am delighted to announce that Side Street Burgers has swung open its doors in Dundee, Scotland, marking this as franchise location number seven for the on-trend burger business,” said franchise consultant Krishma Vaghela. “A huge welcome and congratulations to new franchisees Osman, Ali and Omar on the opening of their first Side Street Burgers restaurant. The ambitious entrepreneurs aren’t stopping there, as they have already acquired their second Side Street Burgers property, and it won’t be long until they expand their territory. The trio also have plans for a third site. With three further restaurants due to open in Scotland over the next few months, Side Street Burgers will have doubled its estate through a network of multi-unit franchisees. There will be some more in the south too but we’re in no rush to grow – we want to do things properly and are only looking for multi-site franchisees. All the stores are performing well and we will be relaunching our franchise programme this summer.” It comes as Side Street Burgers launches its new American barbecue menu featuring briskets, smoked chicken and ‘tato tots.
Z Hotels eyes expansion as it reports record turnover of £49m and return to profit: Z Hotels has said it is seeking opportunities to expand as it reported record turnover and a return to profit. The company, which operates 14 sites across the UK, saw turnover increase to £48,963,368 for the year ending 31 March 2023 compared with £28,860,937 the year before. The group posted a pre-tax profit of £158,563 compared with a loss of £2,515,223 the previous year. Since the year end, the group has refinanced £9.1m of bank loans. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The period represents the first full year of trading without direct limitations from covid-19 and related statutory restrictions. Occupancy began the year in line with 2019 levels, while average room rates were already above those of 2019. Average room rates continued to show good growth over 2019 levels throughout the year. The strong average rate growth was supported by the return of international travellers, which remained some way below 2019 levels. Since that time, international visitors have continued to account for more sales and are now much closer to the proportion of total bookings they represented in 2019. Issues over the availability of staff have continued to lessen in the year. Cost pressures evident throughout the economy were present here too, with employee costs being the most significant. Other areas, however, such as energy costs were less of an issue to the group, since they remain subject to a fixed price contract. The directors have continued confidence in the general hotel markets in which the group operates and in the specific operations, properties, and teams of the business itself and are seeking opportunities to grow the estate and the business.” The group did not receive any government grants (2022: £482,811). No dividend was paid (2022: nil).
Cabaret bar concept Ma Kelly’s secures seventh site: Blackpool cabaret bar concept Ma Kelly’s has secured its seventh site in the town. Ma Kelly’s has acquired The Reflex and Foxhall site in the town’s Promenade. The property comprises The Reflex nightclub on the ground floor, with the currently closed Foxhall pub on the first floor. The site was placed on the market last year with an asking price of £775,000. Ma Kelly’s is headed by entrepreneur Paul Kelly. Its other Blackpool venues are Ma Kelly’s North, Ma Kelly’s Showboat, Ma Kelly’s Station, Ma Kelly’s Foxhall, Ma Kelly’s South and Ma Kelly’s Sports Bar.
Yorkshire escape rooms business plans third site: Yorkshire escape rooms business The Escapologist, which is led by Ellie and Olly McClaren, is to launch a third site, in Gateshead. The business plans to convert the former JG Windows shop at the Metrocentre into an escape room and cafe lounge. The new opening in the Yellow Mall part of the scheme will deliver eight escape rooms and provide between 15 to 20 jobs. The McClarens launched their escape room business in Selby in 2017 after spotting a growing trend for action-packed experiences. The company has since opened The Escapologist sites in Castleford’s Xscape scheme and the White Rose shopping centre in Leeds. It has also created escape rooms in bars including The Works at High Wycombe and The Old Courthouse in Consett. 
Irish customisable toastie concept looking to expand through franchising: Irish customisable toastie concept Griolladh, which has three sites in the country, is looking to expand through franchising. Co-owners Jack Brennan and Jacob Long, who also own The Storyteller pub in Dublin’s Grand Canal Street Lower, founded Griolladh in 2020 – initially launching in Dublin before expanding to Kildare and Cork. What initially started out as a pandemic project when both co-founders, who were previously bar managers, were furloughed, quickly led to a food trailer, a series of pop-ups and then three city centre locations. “We are extremely excited to launch our franchise programme,” Long said. “We are currently looking for the right candidates and locations to grow Griolladh nationwide. We’re on a mission to spread perfectly golden, toastie goodness across the country and we’re exploring franchising opportunities to facilitate the further expansion of our cheesy family.”
Norfolk multi-site operator adds further pub to his estate: Entrepreneur Marcus Pearcey, whose family owns the Distinct Hotels group in Norwich, has added another pub in Norfolk to his estate. Pearcey, who also operates the Butcher Bhoy pub in Norwich, has acquired the Sole & Heel, Rackheath. Property company Fleurets was advertising the freehold of the closed pub as being available for a guide price of £325,000. Mark Phillips, senior associate at Fleurets, said: “We are delighted to have sold the Sole & Heel to an existing operator, knowing that the purchaser intends to refurbish and reopen the pub to serve the local community.” Distinct Hotels runs the Oaklands Hotel and Restaurant and Oaklands Court, as well as an operation called Roast to Go, which home-delivers roast meals. Pearcey also previously operated 7 Heaven Burger and Waffle Company in Exchange Street in Norwich. 
Home Counties hotel operator Distinct Group branches out into serviced apartments: Home Counties hotel operator Distinct Group has branched out into serviced apartments. The group operates The Cromwell Hotel and Rump & Wade restaurant in Stevenage, plus The Swan hotel and spa and Pen & Cob restaurant in Bedford. The group has now launched Bedford Nest, a collection of seven luxury apartments in the centre of the town. Asset manager Gareth Leakey said: “The launch of the Nest apartments is a natural progression for us as we are now able to offer separate luxury living space for guests, with the bonus of using the facilities of The Swan, which is just a few minutes away on the embankment. We have now invested more than £20m in the centre of Bedford since 2018, as the launch of the Nest apartments also coincides with the completion of the refurbishment of The Swan hotel. We have refurbished all 113 bedrooms, introduced a new residents’ lounge, a new riverside bar, brasserie and all year-round terrace structure, new tearoom, and a new vitality pool and thermal experiences. We look forward to commencing the final phase of works at The Swan, which is the addition of a new hotel extension incorporating a further 24 bedrooms, residents’ gym area and staff welfare and workspace.” Distinct Group was previously a London gastropub operator that was behind the likes of the Prince Albert in Camden, the Adam & Eve in Mill Hill Village, the Three Compasses in Hornsey and The Quays in Islington. In 2017, its four-strong leasehold pub estate was acquired by The Laine Pub Company, following which Leakey said he saw more growth potential in the hotel than the pub sector.
Lake District hotel collection opens first pub: Lake District hotel collection Another Place has opened its first pub. Another Place was founded in 2015 by Will Ashworth and acquired the Rampsbeck Hotel in Ullswater as the first hotel to operate under the name, which opened in 2017 as Another Place The Lakes. Last year, the group sold a grade II-listed country house in Hampshire it had intended to reopen under the Another Place name and acquired The Machrie on the Isle of Islay, Scotland, which features a Championship Links golf course. Another Place also last year acquired The Brackenrigg Inn in Penrith for £2.1m from Garry Smith and John Welch and has now reopened the pub following a refurbishment. “A short stroll from the Rampsbeck Hotel and commanding views across Ullswater and the fells beyond, the reimagined Brackenrigg has an atmospheric bar, seven en-suite bedrooms, a suntrap terrace and six acres of meadows,” a spokeswoman for Another Place said. “Guests staying at The Brackenrigg can use everything on offer at Another Place – just a few minutes down the hill – including its indoor swimming pool and outdoor hot tub, outdoor swimming and lake sports coaches and equipment, Kids’ Zone, three restaurants and library.” The pub offers local beers, spirits and soft drinks alongside a menu championing Cumbrian producers, including a Ploughman’s platter with Cumbrian speciality cheese and a Cumberland sausage and mash.
Vegetable-centric restaurant Turnips in London’s Borough Market announces ‘heart-breaking’ closure after being served its notice: Vegetable-centric restaurant Turnips in London’s Borough Market has announced its “heart-breaking” closure after being served its notice by the market’s trustees. The restaurant opened in the summer of 2020 as a partnership between Tomas Lidakevicius, former executive chef at Jason Atherton’s City Social, and Turnips, a family run stall at the market for the past 30 years. Director Charles Foster said tomorrow (Thursday, 25 April) will be the restaurant’s last day before closing. “Having been at the forefront of the ‘Feed the Frontline’ campaign at the height of the pandemic, the trustees’ then chief executive encouraged us to open the restaurant, to take advantage of alfresco dining and attract customers back to the market,” Foster said. “Due to the immediacy and uncertainty of the situation, a temporary agreement was drawn up, with the mutual intention of entering a more permanent arrangement, when life was returned to normal. Life has returned to normal, but a change of chief executive has brought a change of heart. We were given no prior notice of, or justification for, this unilateral termination of our agreement and our flourishing restaurant, the destruction of which in no way benefits the Borough Market Trust. We are immensely proud of everything our special little restaurant has achieved: Michelin Guided; three AA Rosettes; ‘very high quality’ Hardens rating; and glowing reviews from the likes of Jay Rayner, The Spectator and Alain Ducasse. We are, naturally, devastated that it must all come to an end before we achieved everything for which we dared to dream. The journey has been incredible for us and we regret deeply that we cannot continue to serve. While it is heart-breaking for the board of Turnips, it is the restaurant team, led by chef patron Tomas Lidakevicius, the driving forces behind the success of the restaurant, who are the hardest hit. Years of money, passion, tears, time and even blood have been devoted to our joint success, which has been gratuitously curtailed.” The Borough Market Trust was contacted by Propel but chose not to comment.
Wingstop UK strengthens London footprint with Clapham opening: Lemon Pepper Holdings, the company behind the rollout of Wingstop in the UK, has strengthened its footprint in London by opening its new site in Clapham. As revealed by Propel in November, the 44-strong business has launched in the former Bodeans site at 169 Clapham High Street. The restaurant has 60 covers and created 50 jobs. Tom Grogan, co-founder of Lemon Pepper Holdings, said: “We are thrilled to open in the heart of Clapham, bringing the best-tasting wings in the business to south London’s hungry diners. As our UK expansion continues at pace, we’re looking forward to opening more sites, meeting a wave of demand while offering an authentic and customised dining experience.” Wingstop UK is on track to open 15 sites this year, including further restaurants in London, in Croydon, and its largest site yet, at Westfield Stratford City. The brand, which launched here in 2018, recently secured a former Burger King site in the Midsummer Place scheme in Milton Keynes. Last week, Lemon Pepper Holdings co-founder Herman Sahota told City AM that it sees potential to grow Wingstop to more than 300 sites here in time. Paul Tallentyre, of DCL, represented Bodeans for the sale of the Clapham site lease at a premium.
Clermont Hotel Group unveils new F&B concept at Thistle Heathrow: Clermont Hotel Group, the largest hotel owner-operator in London, has introduced a new food and beverage outlet at its Thistle Heathrow Terminal 5 hotel this spring. Created to drive dwell time and provide guests with a dining and entertainment space, the Aviator Sports Bar & Restaurant has opened following a £240,000 investment. The company said: “To help enhance and refresh the guest experience, Aviator Sports Bar & Restaurant has been developed by comprehensively refurbishing both the existing bar and restaurant areas. Helping guests kick into ‘holiday mode’ the space encompasses both a restaurant area and bar section – with a pool table and screens for showing sport from TNT and Amazon. The redesign has also helped expand the capacity for guests, with the bar area accommodating 102 covers and the restaurant 100 covers. Offering a range of food classics from fish and chips, burgers, sandwiches and stone-baked pizza, there is also a kid’s menu, bar menu and plenty of beer, wine, spirits and soft drinks to cater to all.” Marc Saunders, group sales and marketing director at Clermont Hotel Group, said: “Our portfolio of Thistle venues are all situated in prime, convenience-focused locations and our Thistle Heathrow Terminal 5 is no different. Extensive research revealed that there is a clear desire for our guests to be able to kick back, relax and switch into holiday-mode as soon as they check in, even if they are staying with us just one night ahead of jetting off on holiday. Alongside this desire for a quality food and beverage offering, there was also a clear need to create a multi-functional space with entertainment elements, which is why we have incorporated screens and a pool table – and inspired by its airport location, the Aviator Sports Bar & Restaurant was created. We also hope that the new space broadens appeal to the local community as well as our hotel guests.”
Creative Restaurant Group opens new bar at London’s The Owo and confirms May launch for new restaurant: Creative Restaurant Group, which is behind London restaurants Endo at the Rotunda and sushi spot Sumi, has opened a new bar at The Owo in Whitehall and confirmed a May launch for its new restaurant at the same venue. Led by Michelin-starred sushi master Endo Kazutoshi, Kioku Bar has opened on the ground floor, which will be followed by Kioku Restaurant, situated on the rooftop, on Wednesday, 15 May. Kioku Bar features the largest saké collection in Europe and is modelled on traditional Japanese listening bars, spotlighting breweries and distillers from across Japan. Saké sommelier Anthony Yukio said: “We are thrilled to open the Kioku Bar, which will offer nearly every single category of saké from almost every single prefecture in Japan. Our mission is to offer an exceptional and unique experience to every guest and become a global destination for an amazing sipping experience.” Kioku Restaurant will offer Japanese cuisine with a Mediterranean influence, in a 55-seat main dining room and eight-seat chef’s table overlooking the kitchen. There will also be an eight-seat private dining room and a 55-cover outside terrace, as well as a piano in the main dining room with weekly live performances. Alongside an à la carte menu with dishes such as cuttlefish nori pesto and elderflower, chashu pork ramen ravioli and smoked yellowtail with green apple ponzu and sobacha guanciale will be Kazutoshi’s “Tuna Trolley”, that guests will be invited to enjoy table side. “The menu at Kioku echoes points in my life that have shaped my culinary journey, from a hotel in Yokohama to the tastes and flavours of Spain,” he said. “I hope to bring food and designs that make you feel at home and welcome into mine.” Last week, Creative Restaurant Group opened Niju – a relaunch of its modern British restaurant 20 Berkeley, in Berkeley Street in London’s Mayfair, as a Japanese grill and sushi bar.

Sheffield gourmet burger bar set to open third site: Sheffield gourmet burger bar Unit is set to open its third site next month. Founded in 2016 by Mohamed Adbulrub and Nabeil Asker as an independent restaurant catering for families and students in Sheffield, Unit opened its debut site at 88 Headford Street in the city’s Broomhall area. Unit launched a franchise programme last year and opened its first franchise site in October, at the Valley Centertainment leisure complex in the city’s Don Valley. Unit’s next location will be within the Blend Family’s Cambridge Street Collective food hall, which is set to open in May. Described as “Europe’s biggest purpose-built food hall”, Cambridge Street Collective in Sheffield will be 27,000 square feet in size, spread over three floors and featuring 24 kitchens. Other businesses that will operate there include Send Noods Ramen, Tang Hotpot, VNam, Baity, Gyros Express and Zaika e Pakistan. Blend Family, formerly Milestone Group, was founded by Matt Bigland alongside his wife and business partner, Nina Patel Bigland. It is also behind Sheffield’s Cutlery Works food court and the award-winning former Milestone gastropub, as well as Liverpool’s GPO food market and Kargo MKT in Salford’s Media City.

Stoke-on-Trent smash burger concept opens second site: Stoke-on-Trent smash burger concept Smash On Trent has opened a second site. Smash On Trent started from a kitchen during the first coronavirus lockdown in 2020 and opened its first branch in King Street, in Fenton, in 2021. The business has now opened in the former KFC unit in Market Place in Burslem, offering gourmet burgers, wraps, hot dogs, sides, drinks and desserts. Smash On Trent also has a catering partnership with Port Vale FC.
Chef Rob Palmer to close his three-AA Rosette restaurant in Solihull and move it to nearby hotel: Chef Rob Palmer is set to close his three-AA Rosette restaurant Toffs in Solihull and move it to nearby hotel. Palmer, who previously helped Hampton Manor to achieve its first Michelin star, opened Toffs in the town’s Mell Square in February 2022, offering a tasting menu of up to seven courses of British cuisine “guided by the seasons”. Two months ago, Toffs was awarded three AA Rosettes – one of just 16 restaurants across the country to achieve the accolade this year. The restaurant will now close on Saturday, 4 May ahead of Palmer and his team relocating to Hogarth’s Hotel, also in Solihull, from Tuesday, 7 May. Initially, Palmer will oversee the hotel’s full kitchen team and relaunch its brasserie menu, afternoon tea lounge menu and Sunday lunch offering – available from Tuesday, 28 May. He will then relaunch Toffs as Toffs at Hogarths, opening in September. “I’m delighted to be joining Hogarths, a name synonymous with luxury and outstanding quality,” said Palmer. “Since launching Toffs, I have received such warm and encouraging support from the community, and I am proud of everything we have achieved. It’s now time for the next step and a new challenge, and I look forward to showcasing Toffs at Hogarths, combining two shining examples of Solihull’s hospitality scene. Guests can look forward to the same ethos that Toffs has become known for, with different menu offerings to suit any occasion as well as a brasserie option. Hogarths’ three counties menu aligns beautifully with my passion for British and ethically sourced produce, and I will be crafting an offering that reflects that, giving diners a truly memorable experience.” The new venture marks the 20th anniversary of ownership at Hogaths for Helena and Andy Hogarth, who have grown the hotel from a luxury eight-bedroom and restaurant offering to a 49 room venue – with a further 11 rooms due to be completed in July. “We have been well aware of Rob’s success and are avid admirers of his flair for food and service, as well as his personality and passion for British cooking,” Helena added. “The decision to work together with Rob felt like a natural step to take, to really drive our menus forward and bring together our combined knowledge of the industry to offer a further enhanced experience to our loyal and new customers.”

North east brewery goes into administration: North east brewery, The Great North Eastern Brewing Company, has gone into administration. Ross Minnikin, who set up the Dunston-based beer company nine years ago, said a barrage of headwinds including pub closures, rising costs and the impact of the Covid Bounce Back Loan Scheme tipped the brewer into administration. Insolvency experts at RMT have been appointed to The Great North Eastern Brewing Company, which continues to trade, and the business is now being marketed in the hope a rescue buyer can be found, reports Business Live. It comes nearly a year after The Great North Eastern Brewing Company secured a six-figure investment intended to create jobs and help the firm expand sales to customers in Edinburgh, York and the Lake District. The £100,000 injection from the British Enterprise Fund was the latest in a series of investments and followed a £50,000 sum from the North East Small Loan Fund, delivered by NEL Fund Managers in 2020. Since its launch in 2015, The Great North Eastern Brewing Company has become known for its range of cask, keg and bottled beer produced at its premises not far from the old Federation Brewery site, which was said to turn out 6,000 litres of ale a week. North Eastern Brewing Company’s Rivet Catcher, Styrian Blonde and Citra Blonde beer is prominent in pubs, hotels and off-licences. “It’s been the closing of the pubs, rising costs of hops and malt, electricity prices that have squeezed margins – that and the impact of Bounce Back Loans that have caused this,” Minnikin said. Chris Ferguson, director and head of recovery and insolvency at RMT, added: “We are currently continuing to trade the business while we establish interest from potential purchasers in the business and assets of the company, and will issue a further update once this process is complete.”

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