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Wed 22nd May 2013 - Giraffe, Jongleurs and Pret A Manger

Story of the day:

Luminar unveils joint venture with Jongleurs to open comedy clubs in Luminar sites: Nightclub operator Luminar has formed a joint venture with comedy club brand Jongleurs to open comedy clubs in Luminar venues. Jongleurs operator Momo Leisure, founded in 2009, currently operates Jongleurs clubs in Nottingham and Bristol independently and in Birmingham and Piccadilly London with Lightning Bars Ltd. The first joint venture site with Luminar opens in Cardiff this weekend, in a refurbished comedy venue adjacent to Luminar’s Oceana nightclub on Greyfriars Road. The comedy club will create 20 full and part time jobs and has capacity for 200 people. Further venues are planned to open across the UK over the next two years as part of the joint venture, including three scheduled for 2013. Sites being considered include Southampton, Leeds, Brighton and Plymouth. Under the terms of the agreement, Momo Leisure will be responsible for the operation of the venues, from the recruitment and training of staff to the provision of food and drink and the booking of comedians through Jongleurs, the brand owners. Luminar chief executive Peter Marks said: “Comedy is a good strategic fit with our business, which is all about giving people a great experience, and this partnership helps us to utilise additional space in our venues to the maximum. Jongleurs is a great brand, that aims at a much wider target audience than our clubs, so it gives us another string to our bow that’s sure to keep our customers happy.” David Elphick, marketing director of Momo Leisure, operators of Jongleurs, added: “The association with Luminar is perfect for us - we are using space that is ideal for a comedy venue, with cutting edge sound and lighting technology, great service standards, and our guests will be able to enjoy a complete night out, from a great evening of entertainment with food and drink to dancing away in the nightclub next door until the early hours.” Jongleurs will celebrate its return to Cardiff with a grand opening weekend on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 May 2013, compared by Time Out’s Best Female Comic Mandy Knight and starring Galaxy Manchester’s co-presenter Alex Boardman and headliner Kane Brown, renowned for his fearless and bold comedy and performances at the Comedy Store, Hackney Empire and Indigo 02. Jongleurs Cardiff will be open every Friday and Saturday from 7pm till 2am and will be adding extra shows in the near future including open mike nights, student and urban comedy shows.

Industry news:

Luke Johnson – hospitality is one of the eight sectors suited to entrepreneurship: Sector investor Luke Johnson has argued that hospitality is one of the eight sectors best-suited to entrepreneurship. In his Financial Times column he wrote: “The restaurant, hotel, travel and leisure industries are fragmented and offer great rewards for resourceful management. The craft requires a service mentality, strong people skills and hard work, but not formal qualifications. Many publicans, hoteliers and restaurateurs I know achieved success after leaving school at 16.” Luke Johnson attended the Propel Info and ALMR study tour to Chicago at the weekend and will give his views on the current US restaurant scene in this Friday’s Propel Opinion. 

Technomic reveals 2014 US foodservice growth forecast: Technomic has forecast US foodservice industry growth of 4.1% in 2014 – although there has been slippage in its 2013 expectations. Since releasing its last forecast in January 2013, the industry has seen slight slippage in 2013 growth expectations for the overall industry from a nominal 3.9% (in January) to 3.8% (current projections). But some improvement is expected over the longer term, with 2014 industry growth forecast at 4.1%. “In general, foodservice is still facing headwinds that are tempering consumers’ willingness to eat out,” said Joe Pawlak, Technomic vice president. “Slow employment gains and stagnant disposable personal income are a drag on growth.”

Darden Restaurants evolves capital-saving dual-brand synergy concept with a branded bar add-on: Darden Restaurants is testing a new bar concept called Atrium that serves a dual-branded Olive Garden/Red Lobster location in North Carolina. Atrium allows the company to test the idea of giving the shared bar area at co-located sites a more unique identity. Since March 2011, Darden has opened six dual-branded locations, which the company calls “synergy units” that save capital investment. The synergy units have separate dining rooms, menus and individual entrances, but they share a kitchen, bathrooms and a bar space. At the first five synergy locations, the bar area was unbranded. “We’re trying to evaluate a different spin on what we could do with that shared bar space,” said Jeffers. “It’s almost a third concept.”

Alcohol sales fall in Scotland after multi-buy ban: The amount of alcohol sold in Scottish shops has fallen by 2.6% in the year since multi-buy promotions were banned, according to research. A report by NHS Scotland and Glasgow University claimed the Alcohol Act was responsible for a 4% drop in wine sales and an 8.5% cut in pre-mixed drinks. The act, introduced in October 2011, placed restrictions on how alcohol could be displayed and promoted. Dr Jim Lewsey, from the University of Glasgow and co-author of Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland’s Alcohol Strategy, said: “Similar declines were not observed in England and Wales, where the Alcohol Act does not apply. The possible impacts of other factors, such as changes in income and alcohol prices, were taken into account. This provides evidence that the effects were associated with the Act and not some other factor.”

John Torode – I rate Heathrow food highly: Chef John Torode, who is advising on improving Heathrow airport food with Greg Wallace, has argued that Heathrow already offers a quality food experience. He said: “You’d be surprised at just how many good places there are in Heathrow to sit down to a good meal: including well-known high street chains such as Wagamama and Giraffe. At Terminal Five, you also have Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food where you are not only able to sit down to eat but you can also buy a picnic to take on board your flight – a three-course meal for £12.95. You can get smoked salmon to take away from Caviar House, a pizza to go from Strada - perfect if you have kids and you’re going on a long-haul flight and you’re worried they won’t like the in-flight meal.”

Camomile tea linked with cancer prevention: Camomile tea could help prevent cancer, new research suggests. A cancer-destroying chemical that is abundant in the tea has been identified by scientists. The chemical - apigenin – is also found in lots of components of the Mediterranean diet. Prof Andrea Doseff, of Ohio State University, said: “Apigenin re-establishes the normal profile in cancer cells. We think this can have great value clinically as a potential cancer-prevention strategy.”

Company news:

Poundcafe offering £1 meals opens in Liverpool: The first Poundcafe site has opened in Kirby, Liverpool offering £1 meals. Bakery company Poundbakery has opened the new cafe – it has opened 60 bakery sites around the UK in just under two years. The new concept café menu offers freshly made sandwiches for £1, pie and baked beans for £1, or bowl of chips for just £1. Cathy Fulton, regional manager for Poundcafe, said: “This is such an exciting time for us and we’re delighted to be opening our very first café in Kirkby. It will be great to offer customers a place where they can catch up with friends and enjoy some delicious, freshly made food without having to break their bank balance. For customers who are looking for food on-the-go then the Poundbakery shop is adjoined to the Poundcafe so we have the perfect alternative.”

Ever So Sensible Restaurants opens second Lincolnshire Pub and Kitchen site: Ever So Sensible Restaurants, led by Chris Bulaitis, has re-opened The Hume Arms in Torksey, Lincolnshire as its second site operating under the Lincolnshire Pub and Kitchen brand. Bulaitis said: “After taking on the lease, we found ourselves with a stunning old building with plenty of character. It just needed plenty of care and attention. It’s clear that The Hume Arms was once a vital part of the community in Torksey and it’s been about restoring that for the people of the village. Since opening the doors, we’ve had an incredibly warm welcome. I have to say that this is testament to the importance of the local pub and the vital role it can play in the community. So many great venues have fallen by the wayside in the past few years, and we are proud to be in a position where we can actually open doors.” The food and drink offering at The Hume Arms has also received an extensive overhaul, with a focus on local suppliers. As well as an extensive wine list, customers can also choose from a selection of six cask ales, many from small local breweries. Ever So Sensible Restaurants re-opened The Horse & Groom in Lincoln in 2011 as its first Lincolnshire Pub & Kitchen site.

Giraffe launches loyalty app: Giraffe, the family dining restaurant chain now owned by Tesco, has launched its first mobile loyalty app for iPhone and Android users. The app will offer two different rewards – a free takeaway coffee and 50% off food, both of which can be redeemed after a number of visits have been reached. The app draws upon existing QR Code technology using an in-built scanner to add virtual stamps onto the loyalty cards. Customers who download the app before the end of June, will receive one free pre-loaded stamp for each offer. Users can also gift each other stamps and swap them with friends by entering their email address. Other functions include reservations (powered by Live Res), geolocation mapping (for the nearest Giraffe), browsing the menu, viewing news and offers plus having a directory of restaurants at your fingertips. Co-founder Juliette Joffe said: “We are delighted to announce the launch of our new app that has a clear focus on rewarding our loyal customers. We’ve tried to keep it as simple and concise as possible to appeal to a wider audience, whether they are popping in for a regular coffee or visiting us for a meal.” Since launching softly on social media on Friday 17 May, the app has received just over 500 downloads with over 300 stamping actions or visits.

Britvic unveils strong profit growth and new strategy: Britvic has unveiled strong profit growth with Ebita up 27% to £53.6m in the 28 weeks ended 14 April. Major initiatives, underpinning the new strategy, will deliver annual savings of £30m by 2016. These include proposals to close two factories in Great Britian and a warehouse in Northern Ireland as well as the creation of a combined Great Britian and Ireland business unit under a single leadership team. There will be an increase in investment of £10m per annum by 2015 in the international business unit to accelerate the realisation of the increasing growth potential of brands internationally. Chief executive Simon Litherland said: “Britvic has delivered strong first-half profit growth, a material improvement in cash flow and a reduction in net debt. This has been achieved by growing our average realised price, a continued focus on cost and the substantial progress we have made in improving the underlying strength of our business. Today we have announced a new strategy which will lead to a step change in performance and improved returns for shareholders. We intend to change our operating model to generate stronger performance in our core markets and accelerate the increasingly attractive international opportunities, underpinned by a reduction in the cost base of £30m per annum by 2016.”

Newcastle firm expands hotel operation in Scotland: A Tyneside leisure firm is expanding its operations in Scotland after acquiring a new hotel in a £2m deal. Newcastle-based Cairn Hotel Group, which owns 22 hotels across the UK, has purchased the freehold of The Queensferry Hotel, Fife. The company, which already operates hotels in Aberdeen and Edinburgh, now plans to invest around £3m in refurbishing and re-branding the 77-bedroom property, which was previously in administration, over the next 12 months.

Arc Inspirations unveils details of second Banyan in York: Leeds-based Arc Inspirations, the eight-strong operator headed by Martin Wolstencroft, is to invest £1m opening a second Banyan site. The next opening is being developed in the 161-year-old chapel in Little Stonegate, York – the first Banyan was opened in Harrogate. The new venue will be the group’s flagship bar when it opens on 12 July. The 212-seater restaurant will serve food from breakfast to early evening from a menu developed by executive head chef John Richold, from Banyan Harrogate, using seasonal ingredients and local suppliers wherever possible. The original chapel provides a ground floor and mezzanine, each with their own bar, and the library which used to host the choir will offer a smaller function room. Work on the site, which used to be part of the old Borders shop in Davygate, began after planning permission was granted in December. Wolstencroft said: “With some seven million visitors to the city each year, its responsive resident and business community, and existing lively nightlife, we recognised that the city could provide us with a terrific opportunity for one of our award-winning Arc Inspirations venues. However, we wanted the right building with something just that bit special so we had to wait until the right property became available. On Little Stonegate, we are also within an area of the city that boasts some superb independent bars and restaurants and Banyan York will need to compete with some of the best in the city.”

Cambscuisine places Ely site on the market: Cambscuisine, the Cambridgeshire gastro-pub operator headed by Oliver Thain and Richard Bradley, has placed its Boathouse site in Ely on the market. The venue is being sold by agent Everard Cole – it has a lease until 2025 with a rent of £50,000 per annum. Cambscuisine won The Good Pub Guide’s Cambridgeshire Dining Pub of the Year and National Pub of the Year in 2012 for its Cock at Hemingford Grey.

Chimchanga, Prezzo and Dean’s Diner open at Whiteley shopping centre: Prezzo has opens two sites, a Prezzo and a Chimichanga, at Whiteley shopping centre this Thursday. Prezzo is investing £1m across the two sites. Meanwhile, Richoux Group will open a new Dean’s Diner site that has cost more than £450,000 to develop.

Domino’s store manager claims fastest pizza making time – 51.57 seconds: Zagros Jaff, store manager from Domino’s Portsmouth store, located on Fratton Road, has again beaten hundreds of competitors from Domino’s stores across the UK and Ireland to be crowned as the fastest pizza maker. Domino’s Pizza, the pizza delivery expert, held its annual Fastest Pizza Maker competition final at its recent annual awards in Liverpool and Zagros Jaff came first, with an amazing time of 51.57 seconds – a time that four years ago would have bagged him a world record. Store managers and team members from Domino’s Pizza stores across the UK and Ireland have been battling it out over the last couple of months to claim the prestigious title of fastest pizza maker. Regional heats have taken place in England, Wales, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland and the fastest 21 competitors travelled to Milton Keynes to take part in the final.

The Pig buys Hunstrete House: The Pig, the chain set up by Hotel du Vin founder Robin Hutson, has acquired Hunstrete House near Bath from hotel entrepreneur Andrew Davis, founder of Von Essen Hotels, for £5m.

JD Wetherspoon property fraud case had witness statement win: The recently settled property fraud case between JD Wetherspoon and Jason Harris, formerly of First London, saw success for the pub company in getting most of a defendants’ witness statement struck off for ‘abuse’. The witness, ‘Mr G’, was a director of the defendants who had no direct involvement with the matters at issue. His statement described events by reference to documents he had read, commentary on those documents, argument, submission and expressions of opinion. The defendants justified this on the basis that, since they no longer had anyone with knowledge of the relevant events working for them it had been legitimate to ask ‘Mr G’ to give an account based on the documents. They should, they said, be permitted to present their case as best they could. The court ruled the witness had expressed opinion on market practice by commenting on facts of which he had no direct knowledge. Earlier this month, JD Wetherspoon agreed to accept a payment of £400,000 from property investor Jason Harris to settle the legal claim. Wetherspoon alleged that Harris, formerly of First London and now of First Urban Group, was an accessory to frauds committed by its former retained property agents Van de Berg.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall launches food sustainability course: Chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has launched a course that offers insights on creating an ethical food business. He has joined forces with the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) to focus on food chain issues with a new course looking at sustainability. The course is City & Guilds-accredited. Mark Linehan, managing director of the SRA, said they were breaking new ground by demonstrating how it was possible to be make ethical food selection and procurement decisions.

Pret A Manger joins New York push to reduce food waste: Pret A Manger has joined a push by more than 100 New York restaurants to reduce food waste by more than 50%. Of the 20,000 tons of garbage produced in New York City on a daily basis, more than 30% of it is food waste. In an effort to curb the amount of food waste that gets sent to city landfills, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has revealed that more than 100 restaurants have signed on to participate in the first-ever Food Waste Challenge. Restaurant groups including Batali and Bastianich Hospitality Group, Blue Hill, Chipotle, Cleaver Co, Juice Generation, Le Bernardin, Momofuku, Pret A Manger, Union Square Hospitality Group, and ‘WichCraft have signed up. “From franchises to farm-to-table restaurants, New York’s food industry is joining our efforts to cut waste and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to build a greener, greater New York,” Mayor Bloomberg said in a release. “Restaurants are a vital part of our economy and culture, and their participation in the Food Waste Challenge will help inform New Yorkers about sustainable practices and encourage their adoption.” Forty per cent of all food in the United States goes uneaten and the initiative is as much to reduce the amount of food that’s thrown away as it is to turn that food into compost and keep it out of the landfills. When a restaurant signs onto the program, it’s audited to see how much waste it generates and receives a “toolkit” of resources and tactics to help them reduce those levels. 

YO! Sushi submits application to take over Pizza Hut site: YO! Sushi has applied for planning consent to open a site in Cheltenham. It plans to convert premises in the Promenade occupied by Pizza Hut. Propel reported earlier this month that YO! Sushi has applied to convert a former Field and Track shop in Chester’s new dining quarter at 46 Bridge Street. YO! Sushi describes itself as a ‘healthy pit stop for time-starved diners’.

Subway to add 3,000 locations this year: The world’s largest restaurant chain in unit numbers, Subway, with 38,000 outlets, is to open another 3,000 sites around the world this year. Since January, Subway chain has opened about 800 new stores in 54 countries in total. Subway franchisees lease nearly 47 million square feet of property around the globe.

Oakman Inns & Restaurants close to completing new funding arrangements; hires marketing manager: Oakman Inns and Restaurants is close to finalising new funding arrangements – and has recruited its first marketing manager, Sarah Sansom. Oakman chief executive Peter Borg-Neal said: “The runaway success of the recently opened Beech House in Beaconsfield has encouraged us to consider a gentle squeeze on the throttle with respect to our growth plans. We are very close to finalising some important additions to our funding arrangements, which will ensure we have sufficient finance to match our ambition. Clearly, if we are to inject further capital into the business we need to ensure we have a top quality team to drive the optimum returns from that investment. I am determined to build the finest executive team in our sector and the recent recruitment of both Peter Wright and Sarah Sansom are important early steps in that process. Sarah has already made a huge impact since joining Oakman. The experience she has gained over a decade in the industry is enabling her to positively challenge our strategic thinking as well as bringing new focus and dynamism to our operational performance. I think it is a sign of Oakman’s emerging status in the industry that we have been able to attract someone of Sarah’s calibre to become part of our future.” Sansom joins the Hertfordshire-based company from Mitchells & Butlers where she was marketing manager for a number of key retail brands including Browns, Ember Inns and Innkeepers Lodge. She previously worked at Whitbread, where she was a marcomms manager having gained experience as a marketing executive at Hertfordshire University.

Council plans £800,000 purchase of Costa freehold as an investment: Basingstoke council wants to spend nearly £800,000 of taxpayers’ cash on the freehold of a planned Costa Coffee because it will be a good investment for the public purse. The council is in negotiations with the developer behind Basingstoke’s new Airkix indoor skydiving centre to buy the Costa Coffee site. Northampton-based Airkix started building the £6 million complex in November after council chiefs gave planning permission in July. The centre will become one of just three indoor Airkix skydiving attractions in the UK – the others are in Milton Keynes and Manchester. Under the proposed deal, Airkix will build the coffee shop next door to the main 20-metre high main building opposite Worthing Road roundabout. If the plan is approved, the restaurant building will be bought by the council, which will collect £65,000-a-year in rent from Costa franchisee Life Coffee Cafes.

Trust Inns to re-open a pub closed for five years: Trust Inns is to re-open a Stafford pub that has been closed for more than five years. The Firkin pub on Eastgate Street closed in June 2008. Estates director Lyn Perry told the Staffordshire Newsletter: “It’s not a complete refurbishment, but we will be doing work on the trading area with a view to reopening as a trading pub. That is due to start in June, the contractors on site at the moment are doing preparatory work for that.”

Outback Steakhouse debuts steak flights: Outback Steakhouse will introduce steak flights and dessert flights on its menu for a limited time, starting May 22. The casual-dining chain aims to encourage customers to explore flavours they wouldn’t normally order, while still giving them the steak they’re familiar with, said Desmond Edwards, vice president of marketing services at parent company Bloomin’ Brands. “People can just taste around our menu in a very fun, engaging way,” Edwards said. “We know something is going to (be a) hit.”

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