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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 28th Mar 2013 - Costa, Panera Bread and Punch Taverns

Story of the day:

Enterprise Inns pub steps away from Classic Carvery trial: The Star Inn in Winscombe, Somerset, where Enterprise Inns began a format trial called Classic Carvery last June, has stepped away from the trading format in favour of a wider offer. The pub was selling carvery meals for £4.19, serving a buffet breakfast and a limited choice of other meals on a Two for One offer. In August last year, Enterprise chief executive Ted Tuppen reported the pub was selling more than 2,000 meals a week on average and takings hit the £14,000 per week mark. This week, though, original licensee Brian Lines, who worked for Mitchells & Butlers for 33 years before taking on the pub, has increased carvery prices to £5.95 and added an a la carte menu offering 20 choices pitched “at the Vintage Inns” quality range. The pub will serve breakfast between 9am and 11am seven days a week but will cook to order after ditching buffet style service. Lines, who is operating the pub through a new company, 3T Taverns, with his son Travis after parting company with business partner, David Willey, said: “We’ve moved to increase the quality and, therefore, price. We traded reasonably under the Classic Carvery offer but we felt the pub needed a wider offer. We had enjoyed a pretty good relationship with Enterprise but the company has now stepped back. We are looking to move away from gimmicks and introduce more quality.” The Classic Carvery trial was an evolution of Enterprise’s Project Beacon, which sees the company take more control of the retail offer at pubs. The Star Inn at Winscombe, Avon, originally sold carvery meals from £3.89 for adults and £3.49 for children. It offered vouchers for free ice cream or coffee and a “help yourself” English breakfast featuring limitless tea or coffee. Selling prices for food and drinks were set by Enterprise and the company also sets the products range. At the time of the Classic Carvery launch, Enterprise commercial director Ed Cottrell said: “This is us, not testing a new concept, but coming up with new ideas that may lead to new things or may not.”

Industry news:

Panera Bread looks to reinforce caring credentials with expansion of pay-what-you-want to single menu item at 48 sites: Panera Bread, the most successful US quoted restaurant company of the last decade, has expanded its Panera Cares five site pay-what-you-want experiment to a single menu item at 48 sites in the St Louis, Missouri area. Customers ordering a bowl of turkey chilli are invited to pay what they feel is appropriate. The suggested $5.89 price (tax included) is only a guideline. All other menu items are sold for the posted price. Panera calls it the Meal of Shared Responsibility, and says the potential benefit is twofold: above-the-cost proceeds go to cover meals for customers who cannot pay the full amount and to St Louis-area hunger initiatives; and for those in need, the 850-calorie meal provides nearly a day’s worth of nutrition at whatever price they can afford. Panera Bread has looked to differentiate itself by showing a social conscience. “We hope the suggested donations offset those who say they only have three bucks in their pocket or leave nothing,” said chief executive Ron Shaich. If the experiment works in St Louis, it could be expanded to some or all of the chain’s 1,600 bakery-cafes across the US, though Shaich said there is no guarantee and no timetable for a decision. “A lot of cynics think Americans are just gaming the system. Our experience is very different. People do the right thing and are willing to take care of each other,” said Shaich.

Starbucks – China could be our biggest market: Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz has reported that China has the potential to become the company’s biggest market. He said: “(There’s) no doubt that one day China will become our second-largest market after the US and it’s possible that, over many years, potentially the largest one.” Starbucks now has more than 800 stores in 58 cities on the Chinese mainland, and it aims to have more than 1,500 stores in 70 cities by 2015. The number of cafes in China doubled from 15,898 in 2007 to 31,783 in 2012, according to Mintel.

UK restaurants claim 14 places in world top 100: A list of the world’s top restaurants compiled in the US has named 14 UK restaurants in the top 100, which is more than the US achieved. Published annually by US based Elite Traveler Magazine and Laurent-Perrier Champagne, the list placed Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck at Bray second overall, with The Ledbury in London’s Notting Hill ranked 10th worldwide, climbing six places from last year. The other UK restaurants were: Le Manoir (24), Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (33), Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester (41), Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (44), Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles (62), Amaya (64), Le Gavroche (65), Marcus Wareing at the Berkley (69), Zuma (72), River Café (88), The Waterside Inn (92) and Nobu London (93).

Blackpool EMRO deferred: A decision to introduce an Early Morning Restriction Order in Blackpool has been deferred to mid-May after licensees in the town argued that the move would have negative economic consequences. Many owners of pubs, bars and clubs in the Lancashire seaside resort believe the move could be particularly damaging to its night-time economy. Craig Southall, chairman of the town’s Pubwatch scheme and manager of Stonegate Pub Company’s Yates’s, said: “We think we’ve got a good case based on the economic damage an EMRO would do.” 

Company news:

Adnams – shops business ‘can and should do better’: Suffolk-based Adnams has reported its Adnams Cellar and Kitchen store business, which has 11 sites, can do better. The company stated: “Our shops business had an improving year. We have worked hard to grow sales in the new stores that we opened in late 2011 and also at the Norwich store, which opened in May 2012. Before allocating central costs, our shops business contributed a profit in 2012, but we believe that it can and should do better. Whilst the business overall is not in profit, it is nonetheless the case that, allowing for shared costs, our total profits are higher with the business than they would be without it.”

Carluccio’s reveals exceptional Christmas trading with sales up 21%: Carluccio’s has revealed that it had an exceptional Christmas trading period with sales up 21% in total on 2012. Since year-end last September, five further sites have opened in Worcester, Westfield London, Dorchester, Peterborough and Watford. A total of ten UK stores will be opened during the financial year. Chief executive Simon Kossoff said: “In a year characterised by a continuing difficult economic background and the disruption of the Olympics and The Queen’s Jubilee, Carluccio’s has continued to perform strongly. We have delivered excellent turnover growth and exceeded our target of opening ten UK stores per annum. The UK remains at the heart of our development. We expect to be operating 76 UK stores by our year-end in a market, which we estimate has a potential of at least 150. The international opportunity for our brand continues to prove exciting. We expect to develop further in all our existing markets this year and to add new territories as we go forward.”

Glendola Leisure adds second Enterprise site in two days: Waxy O’Connor’s and Rainforest Café operator Glendola Leisure has added its second Enterprise Inns site in two days to the estate – it has acquired The Barley Mow on Horseferry Road, Victoria to its estate. Yesterday, Propel reported Glendola had bought the lease on Enterprise’s Crown & Anchor in Neal Street. It now runs 19 sites. Alex Salussolia managing director of Glendola Leisure said: “We are over the moon that we have managed to add two businesses to our company especially in Westminster and Covent Garden. Both pubs are already successful and we are relishing the opportunity to move them forward. We are forever looking for new opportunities, not just in London, but all over the UK so hopefully we can continue to expand further in the near future.”

Antic’s Spanish partnership opens: Antic London opened its tapas bar and restaurant partnership with Gremio, called Gremio de Brixton, in the crypt of Windrush Square’s St Matthews Church. Gremio de Brixton opens in the wake of Effra Social in Brixton. The venue was formerly The Babalou nightclub. Gremio de Brixton will feature a variety of entertainment including dancing, musical and sporting events, with organisers hoping to attract Brixton’s Spanish community in addition to a wider crowd. The aim is to offer locals ‘the taste of Spain in the heart of Brixton’.

Punch Taverns invests £150,000 in Cadillac Jack’s steakhouse opening near Mildenhall US base: Punch Taverns has co-invested £150,000 creating Cadillac Jack’s, a US themed restaurant, in Mildenhall close to a sizeable US air base. The company is partnered by new licensee Corrine Yendle, who previously owned two restaurants in Australia before moving to the UK and setting up The Littleport Steakhouse in Cambridgeshire. She said: “I took the opportunity to work with Punch as I could recognise the site’s potential and shared their vision of offering something completely different for the local community. The investment has given the restaurant and bar a completely new lease of life, transforming it into an American-style steakhouse. Cadillac Jack’s can now cater for the local American contingent as well as local residents.” 

Property developer to knock down former McMullens pub – to build a pub: Property developer Sandhill Homes has applied for planning consent to knock down a derelict pub, The Jolly Waggoners on Widford Road, Much Hadham – to build a new pub and restaurant with bed and breakfast rooms. Sandhill Homes owner David Cooper said: “It does need a pub there, its a good area, a wealthy area and it will go down well. 20 years ago it used to be packed, swarming with families.”

JW Lees prepares for biggest ever beer launch: Tangerine PR has been appointed by JW Lees to work with the Manchester-based brewery on the launch of its new pale ale, its biggest ever beer launch. The new beer, the name of which will be revealed at a trade event on 17 April, is described as embodying “the very essence of Manchester”. William Lees-Jones, managing director at JW Lees, said: “This is our biggest ever beer launch and we strongly believe Tangerine is the right agency to develop and implement a strategy to support it.”

Eataly signs up with Dotcom Distribution for “premium gift packaging” to global customer base: Eataly, the world’s largest artisan Italian food and wine marketplace with 13 sites around the world, has signed with Dotcom Distribution to bring Eataly’s premium gift packaged products to the masses. “To meet the high expectations and brand promises that we’ve set with our bricks-and-mortar stores, we needed a fulfillment partner that would scale to fit our business and deliver products on time, while still going the extra mile to make premium gift packaging a priority,” said Alex Saper, chief operating officer, Eataly. As Eataly’s ‘fulfillment partner’, Dotcom assures that the beautiful, premium gift boxes customers see on the Eataly website arrive in the same quality at the customer’s doorstep.

Allsop marketing JD Wetherspoon freehold by private treaty: Allsop is marketing the freehold interest in JD Wetherspoon’s Tally Ho pub in North Finchley. It is one of JD Wetherspoon’s best trading pubs in the Greater London area, producing approximately £35,000-£45,000 per week in turnover. Allsop is seeking seek offers in excess of £2,370,000, reflecting a net initial yield of 5.75% and a low capital rate of approximately £219 per sq ft. Wetherspoon pays a current rent of £144,282 on a lease that expires in 3034, with a break clause in 2029.

Mitchells & Butlers opens £2m Toby Carvery in Braehead next Tuesday: Mitchells & Butler will open a £2m new-build Toby Carvery in Braehead, Glasgow next Tuesday (2 April). The opening follows the unveiling of a new site in Speke Boulevard, Liverpool two weeks go. The total estate size is now 149. The brand has also added a range of “Toby Tasters”: Garlic bread £1.60; cheesy garlic bread £1.89; bowl of roasties £1.00; home roasties with cheese £1.39; honey and mustard chipolatas £1.79; sausage rolls £2.49; Yorkshire pudding bites £2.29.

Costa – slow progress in India related to building the supply chain: Costa Coffee has linked its slow pace of growth in India to the difficulty in building local supply chains and forging partnerships. The company, which entered the Indian market in 2005, still remains very much a ‘new challenger’ brand, according to Costa chief operating officer international Andy Marshall. “Domestic sourcing and building up the network here is a pain. By this, I mean being able to certify quality and so on. I could use expletives to describe how hard it has been. It’s very difficult process to source and thereby become less dependent on imports,” he said. 

Côte sale in doubt: The £100m-plus sale of Richard Caring’s French bistro Côte looks close to collapse, has claimed. The publication stated: “Bidders including Bridgepoint already dropped out of the process, which is being led by Canaccord Genuity Hawkpoint, leaving TA Associates, Quilvest, LDC and frontrunner Investcorp to jostle for the restaurant chain”. According to a source, however, the sales process is now struggling to draw bids. “There’s a concern that if you give Richard Caring a lot of money, he will run off and do another Côte,” the source told

Oxford’s first Korean restaurant opens tomorrow: Oxford’s first Korean restaurant, The Bamboo, is opening its doors to the public tomorrow. Owners are Min Quan from Korea, and his Chinese business partner Tao Tao, who have converted the former Cafe Coco site, acquired from Oxford restaurateur Clinton Pugh in February. Tao said: “The restaurant is very different now. It has all Korean furniture and Korean paintings on the walls. It looks perfect.”

Brookfield Drinks to add two brands shortly; plans relaunch of Kestral lager: Brookfield Drinks, the company set up by former Wells & Young’s managing director Nigel McNally, is understood to be close to announcing the purchase of two more brands. Meanwhile, it is planning a relaunch for its Kestral brand. LightBrigade has been brought in to help with the revamp of the brand. The agency was handed a retained trade, consumer and social media brief as Brookfield expands the brand’s range. Alan Twigg, founder of LightBrigade, which will be leading the re-branding work, said: “We will be looking to get it to new drinkers who don’t recall it from when it was in its pomp in the 1980s. There’s lots of brands relaunched with nothing other than retro values as their basis but this is part of a complete re-engineering with a new look and new proposition.”

Soul Food Project looks to recruit head chef for second Everards Project Artisan opening: Soul Food Project, the company that is second partner for Everards Project Artisan scheme, is looking to recruit a head chef for its planned re-opening of The Church pub in Birmingham’s up-and-coming Jewellery Quarter. Everards is investing £400,000 on site acquisition and refurbishment with a view to re-opening in May . The site will be the second Project Artisan venture in Birmingham after the opening of Stirchley Stores last month. Soul Food Project was formed in 2010 by Matthew Beck and Carl Finn, who have more than ten years experience in the food, drink, music and hospitality trade. Soul Food Project is based on the pop-up restaurant revolution and has been cooking food “with care and passion” at live events across the Midlands.

Ludlow Food Centre opens ‘estate-to-plate’ restaurant: Ludlow Food Centre in Shropshire, voted Britain’s best farm shop, has opened a new restaurant with 140 covers inside and a further 80 covers in a new courtyard garden. Ludlow Kitchen is aiming to serve an almost entirely estate sourced menu. Head chef Damien McNamara said: “On our estate we rear our own beef, lamb, Gloucester Old Spot pork and we have a wide selection of game. Lady Windsor’s walled garden can provide vegetables in winter and fruit in summer. Ludlow Food Centre with its dairy, butchery, preserves kitchen, bakery and coffee roasting room can provide pretty much everything else. In short we are serving straight from our estate to your plate.”

Tossed plans Houndsditch opening: Healthy eating chain Tossed is to open in Houndsditch, near Leadenhall Street and close to Liverpool Street Station in mid-May – it’s the first of two new City of London openings, the second site currently being agreed. The Houndsditch full address is deliberately withheld as part of a social media campaign to announce the opening. Tossed aficionados, new customers and those just curious, are invited via the website and the newsletter to ‘seek out the new Tossed’ and post a picture of the new store in the making on its Facebook and Twitter pages, in return for meal prizes. Founder Vincent Mckevitt said: “We are very excited to be expanding in the City, following the successful openings at Leadenhall Street and Copthall Avenue. We aim to bring more healthy food to busy Londoners and make a difference to their diet without preaching too much.”

Ex-Waverley TBS boss to launch brand development company: Former WaverleyTBS chief executive Steve Benger is to launch a drinks brand development business. Benger, who oversaw the wholesaler until its collapse last October, will focus on the development of craft beers and premium spirits brands. “It’s about developing niche and premium brands rather than volume brands,” he told The Grocer. “We’re looking to work with brand owners who clearly understand what their brand proposition is so we can help them get better sell through and present their brands in the right place and way.”

Taylor Walker to launch chocolate-flavoured ale for Easter: Taylor Walker, the Spirit brand with just over 100 sites, is launching a chocolate-flavoured ale for Easter. The tipple for the sweet toothed, named Triple Chocoholic, contains chocolate malts, cocoa and chocolate essence to provide a strong chocolate bouquet and rich flavour. The predominately London based brand, which is owned by Spirit Pub Company, launched the ale as part of their Cider & Cask Ale Festival which will see five ciders and more than 30 ales made available to the pubs to showcase until 28 April 2013. Liz Colledge, brand manager for Taylor Walker, said: “Our Taylor Walker pubs are famous for their cask ale offering and our guests are always looking to try something new and different. So with Easter coming up we felt we’d give them an unusual chocolate treat with a special ale to launch our new Cider and Cask Ale Festival.”

Frederic Robinson recruits 650 mystery customers: Cheshire family brewer Frederic Robinson has taken a fresh approach to addressing retail standards within their 340-strong pub estate - ask the customer (and reward them for their feedback). Back in June 2012, Robinsons launched a mystery customer programme aimed at improving pub retail standards using pub customers as ‘agents’. The programme called Perfect Pubs is set to be rolled out further following a flying start. “We looked at the market and how others do things and saw there was a way to do things differently,” said director of marketing David Bremner. “We have had an estate segmented into seven trading types for a few years now and we wanted to make sure we were measuring the things most important to each. So using our partner ‘bemyeyes’ we worked from a bank of 150 questions to pick the 50 most appropriate to each segment and then weighted them accordingly. These are, in turn, split into ten areas of the pub visit such as ‘Roadside Appeal, Initial Impressions, Bar Service, Toilets and External Areas’.” The family brewer then decided they would use real customers to do the measuring for them. Bremner added: “The take up has been fantastic. We have quickly grown to 650 agents, each of which tells us how far they will travel, what sort of pubs they like and how often they’d like to help us out. What we get at the end is real feedback from target customers with the website weighting the positive and negative feedback so that we can address areas of excellence or concern with our licensees.” The brewery hopes to complete three missions per year for each pub so they can track how individual pubs compare over time and where they sit in relation to their peers within a segment.

Orchid launches dedicated apprenticeships for Thai chefs: Orchid Group has launched a new dedicated apprenticeship programme to enhance its Thai offering at Dragon pubs and restaurants. The scheme, which is being run in conjunction with Apprentice 1st, is an addition to the pub company’s extensive training and development programme and believed to be a first for the sector. Orchid has 12 Dragons, which are a fusion of a traditional British pub and exotic Thai restaurant. The division employs many Thai staff, demonstrating the company’s commitment to authentic cuisine and cultural experiences. The level 2 NVQ Diploma in Professional Cookery has been developed for Thai chefs to help them enhance the Dragon offering and help Orchid grow a new generation of talented individuals within the company. It is expected that 12 Thai Chefs will enrol in the first course. “The new Thai cookery apprenticeship is the latest in our extensive professional qualification offerings and demonstrates our commitment to our Dragons and our people,” says Tracy Read, head of development and communications at Orchid Group.

The Times – Whitbread’s budget hotel brand could be called The Yellow Room: The Times leisure correspondent Dominic Walsh has reported that Whitbread’s proposed second budget hotel brand could be called The Yellow Room. 

JD Wetherspoon plans a pearl in Prestatyn: Managed operator JD Wetherspoon has confirmed it is in negotiations to purchase a site in Prestatyn (population:18,496). JD Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “We have identified a site in Prestatyn and are currently in negotiations to purchase the site.”

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