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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 3rd Apr 2012 - Everards, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Distinctive Inns

Story of the day:

Everards set for first Project Artisan site: Leicestershire brewer Everards is to open its first Project Artisan site – an evolution of its Project William venture with micro brewers - at a site in Birmingham’s Stirchley area this June. Project Artisan looks to install local food and drink businesses – such as bakers, chocolatiers and butchers - in Everards pubs. Everards will invest £250,000 into converting a former pool table supply shop into Stirchley Village Store and Bakery. The venue will serve as an artisan bakery, co-operative food store, cookery school and craft beer outlet. It will be overseen by Tom Baker, a former NHS dietician who set up Loaf, a commercial maker of artisan bread, a few years ago. Baker, who has been producing his artisan bread from home for several years, will invest £20,000 in the venture. He has raised the money through a community bond, with 20 investors contributing £1,000 each and paid a six percent rate of interest. The money will be paid back after three years and bond holders receive a fortnightly loaf of sourdough, in lieu of interest payments, during the 36-month contract. The wholefood shop will be run by South Birmingham Food Co-op. Project Artisan follows Project William in which Everards bought unloved pubs and worked with small, independent artisan brewers to transform them into bustling brewery taps. The scheme now has 22 micro brewers running Everards pubs, with eight more in discussions with the company. Everards chief executive Stephen Gould told Morning Briefing that the principles of Project Artisan are similar to Project William with Everards looking “to learn lots” from working with artisan producers that it can apply to its wider 170-strong estate. He added that he expected Project Artisan to work like Project William in creating a virtuous circle by which artisans who work with Everards act as advocates to attract others to work with the company.

Propel Info Opinion: The latest evolution of Project William is sure to be followed closely. It draws on the principles of Project William by looking to recruit passionate, committed individuals who can add their own dimension to a licensed retail environment. Meanwhile, Everards efforts to forge bonds with local producers in Leicestershire continues apace. The company now sells a local cider, Farmer’s Fear, based in Sutton Bonnington, the only cider produced commercially in the county, through 50 of its pubs.

Industry news:

Night deliveries to be allowed during Olympic Games: Businesses in London will be allowed to make and receive deliveries during the Olympic Games to get around lane closures and loading bans within a restricted 109-mile road network. Transport for London has announced a “sympathetic and flexible” attitude to movements of freight at unsocial hours while the Olympic Route Network is in operation between July and September. However, there will be limited access along the route between 6am and midnight. London director for the CBI Sara Parker said: “With so many Londoners and visitors out and about in the capital over the summer it’s really important that shops, pubs and restaurants can remain fully stocked.”

Baked potatoes evoke happy memories: Research has found that the smell of a baked potato makes people feel happy. When asked what thy felt about a freshly baked potato, subjects said they were uplifted by fond childhood memories of family meals and favourite grandparents. Microwave potatoes did not produce the same positive reaction.

Junk food band for mental health: A study, published in Public Health Nutrition, has found that junk food consumers are 51 per cent more likely to suffer from depression compared with those who ate little or none at all. Those eating fast food were also found to be more likely to be single and less physically active. Researchers say the study confirms earlier work that found a link between poor diet and depression. 

Youth unemployment doubles: The number of 18 to 24 year-olds out of work has doubled to 107,000 since January last year. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has launched a Youth Contract scheme that includes a wage subsidy of £2,275 in an attempt to create 410,000 work places for young people over the next three years.

Fuel prices set to rise by 10p a litre this week: Shortages of fuel could lead to price rises of up to 10p a litre this week, with an increase of 4p to 6p more common. On Friday, fuel prices hit a record average high of 141.1p a litre for regular unleaded and 147.38p for diesel on the back of panic-buying. The AA predicts an average 1p rise this week. 

Morrisons goes upmarket in Royal Tunbridge Wells: Supermarket chain Morrisons is to stock lemongrass, asparagus and purple potatoes to tempt residents to its new store in Royal Tunbridge Wells, which opens on 23 April. The opening comes six years after the company’s previous store closed amid criticism that it did not stock enough fresh produce.

Tunbridge Wells nightclub reprimanded for midgets advert: A nightclub in Turnbridge Wells has been reprimanded by the advertising watchdog for promising customers they could party with its “Christmas midgets.” Bar Fusion, in Calverley Road, carried a campaign in December, which the Advertising Standards Authority has now ruled to be offensive. A flyer was posted on Facebook, with organisers posting comments below reading: “Christmas Eve with midgets! For the first time in Tunbridge Wells this Christmas Eve, party with our very own Xmas midgets.” It added: “That’s right, midgets!” A member of the public complained to the authority, which described the advert as being “irresponsible” for suggesting people of short stature were a source of entertainment. “The club hired an outside promoter and it produced the flyers without our knowledge,” Bar Fusion spokesman James Tovey said.

Landlord’s cheeky A-board goes viral: The landlord of an pub in Naphill is enjoying unexpected fame after placing a tongue-in-cheek board about the petrol crisis outside the pub. Landlord of The Wheel, Mark Christian, wrote on a blackboard: “Publicans threaten strike action. Pumps will run dry” and “Beer shortages soon. Please panic buy.” The images of the signs went viral on Facebook and Twitter. He said: “It was just a stupid moment. It was just a bit of fun. I didn’t expect it to snowball like it did.”

Company news:

Distinctive Inns starts work on second Punch pub: Distinctive inns, the East Midlands company founded by James Bull and Ross Tunaley, started work on its second pub, The Nuthall Pub & Kitchen, yesterday. The pub, on Nottingham Road in the Cinderhill area of the city, is set to be transformed with a £450,000 co-investment with Punch. The company already runs the highly rated Riverside Pub & Kitchen in Farndon, near Newark. The pair transformed the previously run-down Riverside with a £500,000 joint investment with Punch. The new-look Nuthall Pub & Kitchen will serve “great quality fresh food at reasonable prices”. Food at The Nuthall will be overseen by executive chef Simon Dennis. A re-opening of the Nuthall is scheduled for Tuesday 22 May.

Mitchells & Butlers opens 200th Harvester site: Mitchells & Butlers opens the doors of its 200th Harvester pub restaurant site today (3 April) in Peterborough. The new venue is located at the Pavilions in Hampton. Meanwhile, the company has launched a new brunch menu at weekends where all sites open at 9am. A smaller group of 34 sites are open for breakfast all week.

Laura Ashley to open a hotel: Fashion label Laura Ashley has bought an Hertfordshire hotel for £5.8m and will set about converting the venue and all 49 bedrooms into a showcase for Laura Ashley products. The hotel, which has not been named by the company, will re-open later this year. Chief operating officer Sean Anglim said: “We are not disclosing how much we will spend on the refurbishment but we are going to turn it into something special. The concept of a Laura Ashley hotel has not come out of the blue.” Informed Morning Briefing sources suggest the hotel may be Corus’s Edgewarebury in Elstree.

Charles Wells Pub Company trials franchise: Charles Wells Pub Company is trailing a franchise-style agreement for better-performing pubs in its estate, Pub & Bar magazine has reported. Managing director Peter Wells said: “For the best pubs, a two to three per cent increase in growth could be worth £10,000. It’s about providing the support to get them there. I’m really excited by it and see it as a key pillar of our business going forward.”

Smashburger opens first foreign site: Smashburger, the highly rated US “better burger” concept that is looking for UK franchisees, has opened its first foreign restaurant - in Kuwait. This restaurant is the first of 23 franchise locations planned for the area by regional franchise partner, Georgetown Advisors, a Kuwaiti-owned boutique commercial development firm specialising in culinary concepts. New restaurant openings are planned for Canada and Latin America later this year.

Bombardier signs up for Dave sponsorship: The Bombardier advertising campaign, featuring Rik Mayall, is to launch on Dave with adverts running weekdays for 12 months. Last year’s campaign added 700 Bombardier stockists.

Victorian Chop House to open landmark Manchester site: Victorian Chop House Company, which already runs three sites, is to open a new £3.5m venue in Manchester’s Grade II listed Memorial Hall. The venue will include a function room and boutique hotel – the hotel part of the business requires further finance to make it a reality. The company currently operates Sam’s Chop House and Mr Thomas’s Chop House in Manchester city centre, as well as a Sam’s Chop House in Leeds. The new venture will be known as The Albert Square Chop House, while the function room will retain the Memorial Hall name. The Victorian Chop House Company has a turnover of £4.2m with 110 staff.

Entrepreneur to re-open Batley pub: Entrepreneur Chris Berry is to re-open a closed Batley pub, The Wilton Arms, as a live music venue called The Taproom. The venue will open under the new name in May and will specialise in acoustic music. It will have two bars and a small stage for musical acts. Berry said he had always wanted to run a venue and after a year of searching decided that Batley was the perfect location because he thought there was a lack of music venues in the area. He said: “There is a great big hole between Leeds and Bradford.”

Dorset businessman opens third pub: Pete Whittle is opening his third venue, The Turk’s Head in Chickerell, Dorset, a Punch Taverns pub. Whittle said: “To me it’s a cosy country pub and it was a good food pub. We’re going to be serving fresh fish from Weymouth Quay.” He already runs the King’s Arms and Turk’s Head in Weymouth.

Marston’s set to open pub in Bourne by Christmas: Wolverhampton-based Marston’s is set to open its new pub restaurant in Bourne, Lincolnshire by Christmas. The company was granted permission to develop land off South Road, Bourne, by South Kesteven District Council last week. The firm wants to build a pub and restaurant with access and parking for 60 vehicles on greenfield land opposite the Elsea Park estate.The new development will create 50 jobs.

JD Wetherspoon opens Nailsea pub: Wetherspoon opens its town centre pub in the North Somerset town of Nailsea today (Tuesday), a commuter town with a population of 18,000, eight miles southwest of Bristol. The company has spent £1.3 million re-developing the outlet, on the site of the former pub The Glass House, at Crown Glass Place.

Carluccio’s faces opposition in Bath: A plan to open a Carluccio’s in Bath has been met with a petition of opposition signed by several hundred people. The Italian restaurant chain wants to open in Bath’s Milsom Place shopping centre, which already houses a Jamie’s Italian and a Cote. But Kambiz Shayegan, who runs two restaurants nearby, argues the plan, involving courtyard seating, would isolate and restrict access to his sites. Local businesswoman Betsi Hughes supports the plan: “(Carluccio’s) use the finest fresh ingredients and provide great food and atmosphere for every budget.” Meanwhile, Carluccio’s has opened its latest site in Liverpool’s Metquarter.

Former O’Neill’s in Durham re-opens as a cask ale venue: Durham businessman Andrew Ward is to open his third venue – a former O’Neil’s in Durham this Thursday (5 April) as The John Duck, a cask ale house serving ten options. Ward also owns the Elm Tree and The Angel. John Duck became Durham’s wealthiest citizen and its Mayor in the 17th Century after arriving in the city to become a butcher’s apprentice. 

KFC US franchisees complain about company priorities: Franchisees of KFC in the US have been complaining about the lack of innovation by the company’s owner Yum Brands, which is focused on expanding the brand in new territories like Africa and China, according to Bloomberg Business Week. The article refers to steady growth at McDonald’s through healthier menu choices, and its McCafe drinks. One West Coast franchisee complains that he can’t even get consent to sell iced tea because of a restrictive PepsiCo contract. As a result, he states, only six per cent of sales come from soft drinks compared to a McDonald’s down the street which gets a quarter of its business from high margin items “such as sodas, peppermint mochas and smoothies”.

Gourmet Burger Kitchens in Channel Islands to close: Sandpiper CI, a franchisee of a number of businesses including Marks & Spencer, Iceland, Costa Coffee and Hotel Chocolat, is to close its two Gourmet Burger Kitchen venues in Jersey and Guernsey. The company opened the sites in February 2011 but will be closing them on 6 April. The company said disappointing results meant investment money could be better used elsewhere.

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