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Thu 6th Jun 2013 - Inventive, Lovely Pubs and Stonegate

Story of the day:

Lovely Pubs sets opening date for £1m evolution of Farm concept with wigwam in the garden and retail shop: Lovely Pubs, the Midlands operator headed by Paul Salisbury, Sue Salisbury and Paul Hales, has set an opening date of 11 July for The Queen’s Head in Stoke Pound near Bromsgrove in Worcestershire, where it is investing £600,000 evolving its Farm concept – the pub was bought ahead of an auction for slightly above the guide price of £395,000. The Farm in Lichfield has been described as a “posh Harvester” and takes around £55,000 per week. The Queen’s Head will feature a big open kitchen plus a wigwam in the garden with a firepit, bookable for barbecues. The site will also feature a retail dimension with the development of stand-alone site called The Cottage, which will sell local produce plus wine. Paul Salisbury said: “We’ve had a lot of interest in the wigwam already.” Salisbury, whose team developed and rolled out Premium Country Dining Group at Mitchells & Butlers, said that the menu at the Queen’s would be an evolution of The Farm offer with wood-fired pizza, salad cart, a bigger rotisserie offer. Salisbury added: “We thought about re-naming it The Farm but decided that The Queen’s Head is a well-known name locally. It’s on a canal and the demographics are very, very good and there is nothing on offer in Bromsgrove at all. It’s very close to a couple of Premium Country Dining Group sites that have done very well. We saw the car park at The Queen’s Head which has space for 120 cars – it must have been built for a reason.” The pub has around 150 covers inside and a further 70 outside. The Queen’s Head is Lovely Pubs’ seventh site – and the first new opening in more than half a decade.

Industry news:

Veggie burgers the most popular vegetarian dish in pubs: Veggie burgers are now the most popular vegetarian item on pub menus with 35% of all outlets stocking one according to food and drink consultants CGA Strategy. CGA’s Trading Index data shows that not only is the veggie burger the most popular vegetarian menu item it is also one of the most expensive. With the average price of a veggie burger coming in at £7.44 they are significantly more expensive than both a vegetarian curry (£5.88) and a vegetarian lasagne (£6.83). CGA’s Scott Elliott said: “There is no doubt that the public are more health conscious than ever and we believe that credible vegetarian menu items will continue to see growth. That said, the on trade visit is increasingly viewed as a treat event and average quality, uninspired food, whether vegetarian or not, is just not going to cut the mustard. More than most, vegetarian offers need to tick all the boxes in this demanding climate - healthy, interestingly conceived and crucially, delicious.”

Lunchtime food choice follows regular pattern: A survey has found that one in eight people eat the same lunch every day. More than 70% of those surveyed eat a packed lunch every day, one in five buy their lunch and one in ten eats in the staff canteen. The most popular recurring lunch is a ham sandwich followed by cheese, according to the research. One quarter reported that they have a regular weekly food routine, eating the same thing every day. Four out of ten people also thought that the traditional lunch break is a thing of the past. Almost 50% said that their lunch break had got shorter from when they first began working.

Investigation reveals Just Eat restaurants that don’t exist: Britain’s biggest online takeaway service has been advertising restaurants that don’t exist. An investigation by BBC Watchdog uncovered misleading listings on the Just Eat site. Researchers went to six cities, selected a postcode and visited the addresses of restaurants the website brought up. The findings included an Indian restaurant in south east London that was an industrial unit and the address for a Manchester fried chicken outlet that was a field. The Just East website – – lists more than 15,000 restaurants and has five million regular users. Councillor Mehboob Khan, of the Local Government Association, said: “Just Eat are responsible for the restaurants they advertise online.” Just Eat said it had suspended the restaurants identified and was “tightening the registration process” to prevent others using fake addresses.

Mario Batali reveals next sites for Eataly: Mario Batali, who opened foodservice mega-brand Eataly in New York with Joe Bastianich, has revealed locations for the next openings for Eataly. He said: “Next is Chicago. We’ve signed for Istanbul and Dubai. I’m looking at Sao Paulo, Brazil, Mexico City, Los Angeles if I can find real estate, but those real estate guys out there are tough.” Batali is also planning a scaled down version for Las Vegas. Bastianich are also planning to open a burger and beer restaurant in Las Vegas, B&B Burger & Beer, at The Venetian Hotel. There will be more than 20 TV screens for sports fans and beers from Las Vegas and Southern California craft breweries.

Government unveils single gateway for insolvency practitioner complaints: A single gateway for complaints against insolvency practitioners (IPs) which makes the process easier and more transparent was announced yesterday by Business Minister Jo Swinson. As part of the Insolvency Service commitment to the Red Tape Challenge, the Minister also announced a cut in red tape for businesses, by reducing for example the numbers of meetings that have to be held during insolvency procedures which can drive up costs. These savings can then be passed onto creditors in an insolvency process. The measures are expected to save over £30m per year and will require legislation.

New York Health Department targets all sugary drinks: The New York City Health Department, which is trying to introduce a ban on supersized sugary drinks, has added sugary sports drinks, teas and energy drinks to its list of targets. New television ads and subway placards flash pictures of fruit-flavored drinks containing added sugar, saying the healthier-sounding choices can cause obesity and diabetes. “Non-soda sugary drinks have been marketed as being healthier, with references to fruit and antioxidants, vitamins and energy,” New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said. “We’re trying to warn them that these drinks can have as much or more sugar and calories as soda because we still have a major epidemic of obesity.”

Company news:

Stonegate Pub Company looks at craft beer bar offer; plans to evolve Scream: Stonegate Pub Company chairman Ian Payne has told Propel that the company is looking at launching a craft beer bar and evolving its craft beer offer. “It’s something we’ve been looking at although I don’t think it will happen anytime soon. We’ve also got an old Firkin site in Bournemouth with the brewing equipment. We’re not going into brewing but we’re talking to a number of people about starting brewing there. We’ve also got quite a lot of former Hogsheads, with a remarkable selection of cask ales that are popular with CAMRA members. So there is an opportunity to evolve the offer there.” Payne also revealed that the company is looking at evolving its ‘It’s a Scream’ student bars. The company has switched six sites to a traditional pub offer with “mixed results”. But this autumn Stonegate plans to launch the first evolved It’s A Scream site before the academic year starts. “There are an awful lot of students in this country – 2.7 million if you believe the statistics. Our view of this is that there is a definite change in student behaviour and we need to adapt the Scream offer.” Payne also reported that May trading had been significantly better than March and April. “When the sun shines people come out,” he added.

Ossett Brewery lines up second Punch Taverns pub: Ossett Brewery plans to open its second Punch Tavern site later this summer, after its first Punch Taverns pub The Flowerpot, opened last December, beat company forecasts. The new opening, The Black Bull at Rothwell, near Leeds, will see a £200,000 joint investment from the two companies. Ossett’s Jamie Lawson told Propel: “Punch have been an excellent partner, offering a lot of resource to support us. The new pub will be similar to The Flowerpot, offering a friendly well-designed environment within a community setting with a good choice of cask ale. We’re just about to start work on The Black Bull.” Ossett is looking to open four pubs in 2013 to add to its estate of 19 pubs, with negotiations underway over a fifth pub.

McQuater hires former Barracuda colleagues to revamp Inventive food and drink offer: Mark McQuater, who has been running Revolution vodka bar operator Inventive Leisure since March, has hired two former colleagues from Barracuda Pub Company, which he ran for 12 years, to revamp the food and drink offer. Myles Doran is working as a consultant to improve the drinks offer on and behind the bar at Inventive – he was previously head of group sales and marketing at Barracuda for 11 years. Meanwhile, Kate Eastwood, former head of food at Barracuda for almost four years, is overseeing a review of the Inventive food offer. McQuater replaced Inventive founder Roy Ellis who stepped down after 22 years leading the company – he remains one of the largest individual shareholders of the company and a board director. McQuater was founder and chief executive of Barracuda Group from 2000 to 2012, prior to which he was managing director of Greenalls Pubs and Restaurant Division.

Clive Schlee – Pret A Manger well-suited to the US market: Pret A Manger chief executive Clive Schlee has argued that Pret A Manger is well-suited to the US market. He told Out Of Home magazine: “Our main expansion market has been the United States. We like that because people understand bread products there. They like eating with their hands and they have a lot of office workers and skyscrapers so that’s good for Pret’s time capacity because we serve them quickly. Also, a lot of them are health-obsessed, which is good for us. So we think the United States is an obvious place for us to go. We’ve been there for 13 years and we’re in four cities now. We have 35 shops in New York and 15 across three other cities and we’re still growing.” Pret A Manger is opening in Crawley, Peterborough and Leicester this year. Schlee reported that Pret’s softer format with more seating is “doing well” in Horsham and Tunbridge Wells.

Peach Pub Company to open Spirit site next week: Peach Pub Company, led by Lee Cash and Hamish Stoddart, will open its next site on Thursday 13 July. It’s a Spirit Chef & Brewer site, The Chequers in Eversley Cross, near Hook, Hampshire, a transfer from the managed to leased division that has undergone a £200,000 refurbishment. Spirit, who only nine months ago made a sizeable investment in the modernisation of the building front and back of house and the installation of a new kitchen. An all-new team headed by experienced Peach manager and Caterer & Hotelkeeper Acorn winner Jordan Marr will run the pub, with initial hands-on support from Peach co-founder Lee Cash. He said: “This is a fabulous old pub in a glorious village setting that’s just right for us. It’s smack bang in the middle of a cluster of well-heeled towns and villages, many without a great local of their own, and a pub we immediately felt at home in. It won’t take a lot of work to make it peachy – we’re only really building on what our landlords have already done in getting this great pub to live again.”

TCG partners Tahola for financial planning solution: Managed operator TCG has partnered Tahola for a financial planning solution. TCG wanted a rolling three-year budget and forecasting model, integrated to its general ledgers and wanted to remove Excel from the process given its inherent challenges. TCG chose IBM Cognos Planning and asked Tahola to implement and manage the solution. “We chose Tahola because of their technical competence and knowledge of the hospitality sector,” said Paul Bignell, IS Manager at TCG. TCG now has a monthly profit, cash flow, funds flow and balance sheet projections, all mapped to — and fed from — their monthly general ledger trial balances.

Milton Brewery to run Cambridge’s new-build pub: Milton Brewery is to run the first new-build local pub in Cambridge in three decades, it has emerged. The rebuilt Queen Edith in Wulfstan Way will be the company’s third pub in the city, replacing the existing “tired and redundant” pub, which has stood empty for 18 months. Under the plans, which were voted by Cambridge City Council’s planning committee yesterday, there will be two flats above the pub - including one for the manager - and another 12 in a three-storey block at the rear of the site. Richard Naisby, managing director of Milton Brewery, told councillors he believed he could replicate in the south of the city the success he has enjoyed with The Haymakers in Chesterton and The Devonshire Arms off Mill Road. He said: “The Queen Edith has been shut for some time, it was a failing pub before that, and the previous operators proved the building, as it was constituted, was not viable as a pub. We hope this design will be viable - it’s visible from the road which is a considerable improvement from the present one.”

Morgans Hotel Group explores sale: The Morgans Hotel Group, the operator of The Sanderson and St Martins Lane hotels in London, is exploring a sale of the company. Michael Gross, the company’s chief executive, said that five major hospitality companies had shown interest in the US-based group, which operates a number of lifestyle brands such as the Mondrian, Delano and Hudson, as well as independent properties.

JD Wetherspoon submits plans for Aldershot pub: JD Wetherspoon has submitted plans to increase the floorspace of The Queen Hotel in Aldershot by 1,200 square feet to 3,200 square feet. The company bought the empty Queen Hotel last month and an application to expand the hotel has now been submitted to Rushmoor Borough Council. Spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “From our point-of-view, we are keen to open in the town. We believe this is an extremely good site and we’re looking to make some changes.”

Punch licensees take part in Future Buying Club Summit: Punch licensees have gathered at a summit to discuss future development of the company’s online Buying Club. The forum took place at St George’s Park, the national Football Association centre based in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire. Adrian Keast, who has been in the industry for only two months, travelled from Oldham, Manchester, for the forum. He said: “As someone who is relatively new to the industry, I believe initiatives like this are very important and show that communication with Punch is a two-way process. They are proactively looking for new ideas and are open to our feedback.” Caroline Jackson, head of the Punch contact centre, said: “We have over 3,000 registered users on the Buying Club and we really want to make it the best possible tool to help support the growth of our partners’ businesses. As result of the feedback, we are looking to review our online product range and multi-channel help options as well as looking into the possibility of creating interactive ‘community’ initiatives.”

Former Wetherspoon finance director joins the Co-op: Former JD Wetherspoon finance director Richard Pennycook, has been hired as group finance director by the Co-op. He joins from Morrisons supermarket where he spent eight years in a similar role. Pennycook has simultaneously announced his resignation from the board of Thomas Cook. He will join the Co-op on 1 July and replaces Steve Humes, who announced he was stepping down at the end of last month.

Tesco launches The Bakery Project in partnership with Euphorium Bakery: Tesco has launched The Bakery Project, a new style of in-store bakery site in partnership with Euphorium Bakery. The Bakery Project opened at the supermarket chain’s Hackney site in Morning Lane, east London earlier last week. According to its Facebook site, The Bakery Project will “restore old-school classics, train apprentice bakers, work with local suppliers and charities, but most of all make simple, straight, great bread and cakes”. Five Euphorium sites have been launched across Tesco’s London estate in the past 12 months. 

Fuller’s PR executive joins Fleet Street Communications: Adam Driver, who previously worked as a public relations executive at London brewer and retailer Fuller’s, has joined the fast-expanding sector public relations company Fleet Street Communications, headed by former M&C Report editor Mark Stretton. The company has also hired Melanie Rawlings, who previously worked for Hill & Knowlton Strategies. Fleet Street’s client list includes Admiral Taverns, BII, Captive Media, Fourth Hospitality, Travers Smith and Vianet. 

Coventry nightclub to discover fate today: Coventry nightclub Rehab Warehouse will find out today whether it can re-open. The Bishop Street venue was shut down last month after police raised serious concerns over drug use, violence and links to gang crime. A city council committee revoked the club’s licence on the force’s advice. Clubbers quickly vented their frustration at the decision with over 1,700 people signing an online petition calling for it to re-open. Bosses have admitted ‘teething problems’ but stressed the use of drugs on the premises, or violence towards anybody, would never be condoned. However, police have again called on the council to consider revoking the club’s licence.

Nando’s get go-ahead at former Yates’s site in St Helens: Nando’s is set for a July opening date in St Helens after plans to revamp the front of its soon-to-be restaurant were granted planning permission. Earlier this year the company announced it plans to open the 110-seat restaurant in the former Yates’s pub, at the corner of Chalon Way West and Water Street. It had originally scheduled a May opening but it is now listing a July launch for St Helens on its website. Proposals to make renovations to the former bar’s entrance were granted planning permission by St Helens Council this week.

Lincolnshire multi-site operator get go-ahead to convert landmark Boston building into a nightclub: Lincolnshire multi-site operator Matt Clark, has won planning consent to change the use of Boston Assembly Rooms into a nightclub. Clark said: “This is great news that has ensured the future upkeep of this dominant landmark within Boston marketplace. Being able to acquire such an asset, in the town that I was brought up in is amazing, but securing its future is a really proud achievement.”

Shepherd Neame to launch its own range of craft beer next month: Kent-based brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame will launch its own range of modern craft beers next month. Sales and marketing director Graeme Craig told Marketing Week: “Branding will be contemporary. As Britain’s oldest brewer, it allows us to play in this sphere - but we won’t play as Britain’s oldest brewer.”

Ducksoup to open sister restaurant in Hackney: Soho restaurant Ducksoup is to open a sister restaurant site in Hackney later this month. Rawduck, a wine shop-cum-bar based in Amhurst Road, will offer all-day dining at its Amhurst Road premises and will open at the end of June.

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