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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 12th Mar 2014 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Eataly sells 20% stake for €120m: Foodservice phenomenon Eataly, which is eyeing an opening in London, has sold a 20% stake to Tamburi Investment Partners (TIP), as part of a plan to list the rapidly-expanding retailer on the Italian stock exchange in 2016/2017. The Milan-based investment firm paid €120m (£100m) for its stake in Eataly, paving the way for the food company’s global expansion. Since being established in 2003, Eataly has opened retail outlets across Italy and internationally, and this year expects to reach €400m in consolidated revenues, TIP said in a statement. New stores in Florence and Chicago have recently opened, while plans are in place for a Milan outlet and further expansion in the US. Founded in Alba by Oscar Farinetti, Eataly has Ebitda of about 45 million euros. Between 2010 and 2013, Eataly had average yearly sales growth higher than 33% and Ebitda growth of more than 75%. Contracts for openings in Moscow, Sao Paolo, Brazil and London have already been signed, one report has claimed. Meanwhile, Eataly has combined forces with the municipality of Bologna to develop a food-centric theme park called Fico Eataly World. The venture aims to boost the Eataly market-wonderland experience by giving tourists a way to sample the food and drink of the Italian region in one accessible location. Though still in the planning stages, the park will probably take up more than 20 acres and will cost in the region of €40m. Aside from the indoor market, which is the staple of all Eataly’s 26 locations around the world, Fico Eataly World will also have dozens of world-class restaurants, food labs, grocery stores, and even a giant aquarium. Chicago Eataly attracted 80,000 visitors in the first week and the New York version is supposed to be the fourth most-visited tourist attraction in the city. An Eataly spokeswoman said last month it is “looking at a possible opening in London in the 2016 time frame” – reports suggested the Eataly would be sited at Selfridges on Oxford Street.

Industry News:

First Propel Multi Club Conference of 2014 takes place tomorrow: The first Propel Multi Club Conference of 2014 takes place tomorrow in London. Demand for places was so high in 2013 that Propel has moved to a bigger venue, the Lancaster Gate Hotel. Propel’s managing director, Paul Charity, said: “We have moved to a bigger site but are delighted to report the event was fully subscribed six weeks ago.” Speakers are: Cyril Lavenant, director of foodservice UK at the market research firm NPD Group, who will explain the key foodservice trends – and how the market compares with Europe and the US; Karen Fewell, who founded Digital Blonde, a digital consultancy specialising in the hospitality, foodservice and food sector, who will examine how you turn social media conversations into footfall and a higher spend; Richard Samarasinghe, managing director of the design agency Mystery, which has created branded identity for Giraffe, Freshies, Caffe Italia and Za Za Bazaar among many others, who presents on the importance of branding, and how a brand identity is created and then brought to life; Gavin George, chief executive of the 47-strong pub operator InnBrighton, who talks about the company’s approach to retailing, including brewpubs, food franchising, manager incentives, and retailing in London versus Brighton; Peter Borg-Neal, founder and chief executive of the award-winning Oakman Inns and Restaurants, who talks about raising money through an Enterprise Investment Scheme, banks, blending pub and restaurant offer, design and plans for 2014; Mark Lilley, founder of the healthy eating brand Abokado, which plans ten openings in 2014, who examines healthy eating trends and what sets the Abokado offer apart in a crowded market; My Ly, senior marketing manager at YO! Sushi, who looks at how to use social media to engage, persuade and reward customers; Philip Lay, retail director at the Welsh brewer SA Brain, who talks about the retail learnings, training focus and future prospects for the company’s award-winning coffee shop concept Coffee #1; Alex Hazzard, managing director of the Burning Night Group, operator of six-figure turnover sites, who presents on retailing within multi-concept bar complexes and control of the business; and Karen Forrester, chief executive of TGI Friday’s, who examines the importance of staff recognition as a motivational force in her business.

Marston’s beats ‘over-provision policy’ to win go-ahead for new pub next to Loch Lomond visitor centre: Marston’s has beaten West Dunbartonshire’s stringent ‘over-provision’ policy to get planning consent for a new-build pub next to Loch Lomond’s visitor centre. The policy has a presumption against grant in 17 out of 18 zones within its area. John Gaunt, of John Gaunt Solicitors, said: “This was one of the most important Scottish hearings we have dealt with in terms of confronting a significant and high profile ‘policy issue’.” Marston’s already has four premises open and trading in Scotland all without issue or difficulty, two others under development and a further three sites now licensed. A further proposed development near Bathgate is due before the local Board on Friday. The Loch Lomond hearing is one of six new-build licence applications that the legal firm will argue the case for this month in Scotland.

The Guardian reports on explosion of interest in craft beer: The Guardian has reported on the explosion of interest in craft beer. Tesco’s ale buyer Chiara Nesbitt told the newspaper: “Ten years ago we had about 30 bottled beers and some of our bigger stores would perhaps have stocked what was then considered exotic world brews, such as San Miguel. But nowadays, UK beer drinkers have become more discerning, which is why we now stock more than 300 bottles of ales and carry a whole range of specialist world beers.” Paul Charity, managing director of Propel Info, told The Guardian: “Consumers are searching out new and unusual flavours and are increasingly interested in authenticity, which in the world of beer means brewed locally or using traditional methods or ingredients.”

Colin Wellstead steps down at AG&G: Property market veteran Colin Wellstead has stepped down as chairman of AG&G after six years in the role. A spokesman said: “Colin is one the most respected and experienced people in leisure property and his knowledge, experience and advice has proven invaluable to AG&G in helping it to become one of the most successful firms of chartered surveyors to specialise in pubs and restaurants. The board of AG&G would like to thank Colin for his considerable contribution to the business and wish him the very best for the future. The role of chairman is unlikely to be replaced in the foreseeable future. The feeling among the directors is that they have grown a few grey hairs of their own and are becoming veterans in their own right.”

ALMR holds Growth Finance dinner with Luke Johnson: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) is holding a “Growth Finance” dinner with sector investor Luke Johnson this evening. Around 22 chief executives and founders of pub and restaurant companies are expected to attend the dinner which is being held at Drake and Morgan’s The Folly Venue in High Holborn, central London.

BBPA survey shows hard-pressed Britons cutting back on visits to the pub: The British Beer and Pub Association has published the full results of a new YouGov poll analysing how Britons are coping with the cost of living, which reveals that almost a fifth of workers are putting off going out to the pub until payday, because they cannot afford it. The poll, which featured in the Sun newspaper, sparked an editorial calling for a cut in beer duty in next week’s Budget. There was huge support (69%) among the UK adult population for a cut or freeze in beer tax, while 80% want wider taxes on pubs to be frozen or cut, and 62% want to see a cut in business rates for Britain’s pubs. As well as cutting back on visits to the pub, other coping strategies deployed by the hard-pressed public include holding back on the big grocery shop, cutting back on “non-essential” items, and eating out less in restaurants.

Brighton puts late night levy on hold as operator warns of damage it would cause: A multi-site operator in Brighton has warned that a late-night levy could damage Brighton and Hove’s after dark economy. Proposals for a late-night levy which could raise up to £4m a year to cover the costs of policing and clearing up after late-night revellers were discussed by Brighton and Hove Council’s licensing committee last week. The council has agreed to put the proposals on hold and monitor the success of similar schemes elsewhere in the country before proceeding further. Martin Webb, who owns several pubs in the city, including The Stoneham, The Connaught and The Robin Hood, said the levy was a “terrible and unfair idea” that threatened to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. He said: “The late night economy is already fragile and this could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. We already pay high rents, high business rates and we pay good wages, so anything that brings additional costs is not good.”

BII boss to reveal his plans for the trade body at annual lunch: The chief executive of the British Institute of Innkeeping, Tim Hulme, will unveil his plans for the future of the organisation at its annual lunch on 13 May. The occasion will also feature the announcement of this year’s Licensee of the Year Award. Guests will be entertained with a live Question of Sport quiz and the host for the day will be TV pundit John Inverdale. Hulme said: “The BII has been through a huge transformation over the past 12 months, reviewing and improving what we do for our members and making sure we offer a best in class service. It is now time to unveil the new BII, and what better occasion to do that than our annual lunch, which has been a must attend in the industry calendar for 26 years. I look forward to revealing more about our plans on the day.” The lunch takes place at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London.

Michel Roux Jr-backed scheme is overfunded: Zero Carbon Food, the business backed by celebrity chef Michel Roux Jr that utilises redundant underground spaces in London, producing leafy greens and herbs using LED lights and hydroponics, producing fresh ingredients with a minimal carbon footprint, has overfunded with 267 investors pledging £300,460 in return for 15% of the equity through crowd-funding website Crowdcube. The largest single investment has been £33,000.

York considers extending Cumulative Impact Zone: Tougher rules on new pubs and bars are set to be extended across the centre of York after police said the city cannot take any more licensed premises. Back Swinegate, Fossgate and Goodramgate are set to be included within a larger Cumulative Impact Zone (CIZ), where the likely impact on crime and antisocial behaviour must be assessed before applications can be granted. The move, to be considered by City of York Council next week, would make it harder for firms to secure new licences or longer opening hours. PC Mick Wilkinson said: “Each licence application is assessed on its individual merits and the council makes the decision. However, an expanded Cumulative Impact Zone gives police the chance to say enough is enough, to object on those grounds, and for applications to be considered in the context of the overall impact on the city-centre.”

Company News:

Oakman Inns and Restaurants ready to accelerate expansion after new operations director hired: Oakman Inns and Restaurants is set to accelerate expansion after hiring a new operations director – Alex Ford, currently business development manager at Greene King, will be joining Oakman Inns in May. Oakman chief executive Peter Borg-Neal said: “Alex is a hugely talented young executive who has impressed at both Mitchells & Butlers and Greene King. Alex shares my vision of building a ‘best in class’ business that can deliver a tremendous outcome for investors, employees, suppliers and customers alike. Following on from the arrival of Joseph Evans as finance director last month, this appointment marks the completion of a very powerful executive team and we are now ready to accelerate our expansion.”

Carluccio’s to open in Harrogate almost a year after applying for planning consent: Carluccio’s is to open its doors in Harrogate on 28 March almost a year after it first applied for planning permission. The brand will open in the former Optical Express building on Station Square after a planning wrangle with Harrogate Council. The council refused two of the Italian restaurant and deli chain’s change of use applications, but Carluccio’s won an appeal after a government inspector ruled the development would improve the vitality and viability of the immediate surrounding area and benefit local businesses with increased footfall numbers.

Better Fish reports turnover and profits down: Yorkshire fish and chip operator Better Fish, which operates the original Harry Ramsden site in Guiseley and four other under the Wetherby Whaler brand, has reported turnover rose 10.1% to £7.66m in the year to 31 October 2013 from £6.96m the year before. Profit before tax was down15.2%, however, to £618,000 from £729,000 the year before. The company had £800,000 cash in the bank at the year-end and secured debt of only £200,000.

Greene King BDMs earn post-graduate degrees: A group of 11 business development managers (BDMs) from Greene King have been awarded a post-graduate degree in multi-unit leadership and strategy at Birmingham City University. The BDMs come from all three areas of Greene King’s pub business; Destination Pubs and Restaurants, Local Pubs and Pub Partners. Peter Knowles, Geoff Liyanage and Mike O’Connor, BDMs in Pub Partners, Greene King’s tenanted and leased division, also graduated with a Masters, complimenting the post-graduate degree they all achieved in the same discipline last year. With the course now in its third year, a total of 23 Greene King BDMs have graduated with the qualification, with even more set to reach the end of the course at the end of this year. Clive Chesser, business unit director for Greene King Pub Partners, said: “They have all worked incredibly hard and I would like to offer my congratulations. The qualification is part of a big investment in our team and success such as this firmly cements in my mind something I have always believed; that our BDMs are the best in the business.”

Loungers opens first of Brighton March double: Cafe bar concept Loungers, headed by Alex Reilley and backed by Piper Private Equity, opened the first site in a brace of new March Brighton openings last night. The company opened Alcampo Lounge on the city’s London Road last night. At the end of this month (Wednesday 26 March), Loungers will open Verano Lounge on Western Road. The two new openings add to the company’s existing site in Hove. 

Richard Caring eyes all-day cafe format: Sector investor Richard Caring is understood to have secured a first site for an all-day cafe format called the Ivy Cafe. Caring’s Caprice Holdings is looking to open the first Ivy Cafe at the former Pizza Unit site at 1a Henrietta Street in Covent Garden, central London. Caring, who also owns Bill’s, Grillshack and Jackson & Rye, has acquired the NatWest Bank site in Berkeley Square, central London for an untitled restaurant scheme.

Geof Collyer – Wetherspoon trading on a 22% premium to its ten-year average: Deutsche Bank’s leisure analyst Geof Collyer has issued a hold note on Wetherspoon shares ahead of Friday’s half-year results. He said: “We see a slower like-for-likes performance in H2 and do not expect guidance on margins to be raised for the full year. PBT and EPS growth will be significantly helped over the next three years by lower net finance costs due to new swap contracts, but Ebita growth looks set to remain no better than mid-single digit, dependent more on the roll out than the UK economic recovery. On nearly 16x FY ’15E P/E, JDW is now trading on a 15% premium to its managed pub retail peers as well as a 22% premium to its own ten-year average EV/Ebita multiple (our preferred valuation metric). The share price seems high enough for now. Since spring 2012, the group has been driving more aggressive like-for-like growth as a way of offsetting the variety of cost pressures that have hit the business (and the peer group). It has also been opening later for food sales. Our margin forecast of -20 bps in H1 Ebita has a number of negative impacts: (i) lower gross margins; (ii) more investment in front line and training staff costs; (iii) continued IT investment for the new epos system; (iv) higher lease rental costs; and (v) higher repairs and maintenance spend. This year’s rollout is going to be back-end loaded again, with only eight of the expected 45 new pubs opening in H1.”

Miller & Carter lines up three openings: Mitchells & Butlers has a confirmed pipeline of three openings for its Miller & Carter steakhouse brand. Last year, M&B chief executive Alistair Darby said the brand would be a key area of expansion focus – it has 30 sites at the moment. New sites will be Newcastle, Manchester and Cramond Brig in Edinburgh.

McDonald’s doubles the number of fruit suppliers after launch of Free Fruit Fridays: McDonald’s UK has doubled the number of UK fruit supplier to four after the launch of Free Fruit Fridays on the first Friday of each moth. The company has signed up Simplyfruit and Hessing to help cope with increased demand for its children’s fruit bags. McDonald’s, whose existing fruit suppliers were Natures Way Foods and Del Monte, expects to sell and additional 3.5 apples and 23 million grapes a year.

Nottingham micropub pioneer opens second in Burnley: The man behind the Beer Shack micropub in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire has opened a second outlet under the same name in Burnley, Lancashire. James Mansfield, owner of the Medieval Beers brewery in Colston Bassett, Nottinghamshire, opened the Hucknall microbrewery in Derbyshire Lane in August last year. His second micropub, Burnley’s first, is in a former hairdressing salon in Manchester Road. He said: “The closest micropubs to Burnley are in Liverpool and Carnforth so it is a real first for the area. It is something quite quirky and different for the town that will draw people in. Our other micropub in Nottingham has had 260 different beers in six months. It is a beer festival every day with all real ales and ciders.”

M&B rolls out ginger beer: London-based Hawkes Brewing has expanded the distribution of its alcoholic ginger beer to 300 Mitchells & Butlers sites across the UK. Under the deal, the brewery’s alcoholic ginger beer will be rolled out to All Bar One, Browns and other selected businesses. Hawkes founder Simon Wright said: “I had early support from a number of fantastic independent bars across London and securing this listing hopefully proves the quality of the product and also the support for Hawkes and what it stands for.” The ginger beer is currently available for sale in more than 100 bars and pubs, including craft beer sites in London.

Irish arm of Starbucks reports profit rise: The Irish arm of Starbucks increased its profits by 47% to €721,000 (£601,000) in 2012, but paid no corporation tax. Abridged accounts filed by Ritea Ltd show the firm recorded an increase in pre-tax profits after its gross profit increased by 4% from €2.41m to €2.49m in the 12 months to the end of September 30, 2012. The accounts for the Irish firm show that the company increased operating profits by 40% from €570,000 to €801,000 in 2012 with net interest payments totalling €80,000, reducing profits. Weeks prior to the end of the 2012 financial year, Starbucks signed a deal with the Dublin-based Entertainment Enterprises Group for it to licence Starbucks’ 17 stores in Ireland. The number of outlets in the greater Dublin area now stands at 33. In 2011, Starbucks Coffee Company (Ireland) paid corporation tax of €35,000 – its only corporation tax paid since 2005. In that six- year period, it paid €5.7m in royalty and licensing fees to its parent firm.

New pub and drive-thru coffee shop plan for Yeovil: Plans to regenerate a disused engineering site in Yeovil with a new pub and drive-thru coffee shop have been given the green light. Abbey Manor Capital Partners has unveiled a £1.82 million project, to include a discount supermarket off West Hendford. The group hopes to renovate the former Ashley’s Engineering site – and expects to create more than 100 jobs. The plans have now been approved by South Somerset Council’s area south committee.

Burger King franchisee Caspian Group closes Falkirk site: The Burger King franchisee Caspian Group is closing its Falkirk town centre site after 25 years of trading. The company said the closure was because the lease of the High Street property, close to the historic Steeple, was coming to an end. A spokesperson said: “The Caspian Group, who are the franchisee, has announced the closure of their Burger King restaurant in Falkirk after 25 years trading due to the end of the lease on the property. Due to the length of time this restaurant has served the community and provided jobs for the local workforce, it will be very much missed by its regular customers and staff, many having worked at the restaurant for several years, some since it opened in 1989. Caspian are however, pleased to announce that this restaurant will be closing with no loss of staff as places will be found for all their employees at one of their other local restaurants.” Caspian currently has 28 Burger King restaurants in Scotland and a further 52 in England.

Petition launched to persuade Fuller’s to retain Pagham hotel: A petition has been launched to persuade the London brewer and pub operator Fuller Smith & Turner to retain the 11-bedroom King’s Beach Hotel in Pagham, near Bognor Regis, Sussex. A total of 239 people signed in the first week. Petition organiser Rob Castle, 45, of Lagoon Road, said: “There are a lot of people who want to keep the pub and hotel as it is. It’s a fantastic place. We don’t want to lose it. People can have a tea or coffee during the day. They don’t have to drink alcohol. We’re losing our beach in Pagham. We don’t want to lose our only pub in the area as well. We have to keep something in the community. Otherwise, we will be wiped off the map.” It is believed Fuller’s is in talks to sell the pub for a convenience store. A company spokeswoman told the local newspaper: “The King’s Beach Hotel has been on the market since the middle of 2013. We are considering a variety of options for the future of the site.”

BBC filming documentary on KFC: The BBC is spending five months on filming a documentary behind the scenes at KFC. The chain’s vice-president of HR, James Watts, said: “They’re trying to get a look at life behind the scenes at a company like ours. We’re delighted and see it as a good opportunity for people to see what we have achieved here.” The fast food retailer already has several programmes in place to help young people, including a partnership with Barnardo’s and an agreement with De Montford University to run a business degree in the institution. Watts said: “In our sector you have to grow talent quickly within the organisation: two thirds of our management positions are filled from promoting within.”

Wok&Go opens second in Leeds, lines up three more: Wok&Go has opened its second outlet in Leeds, in the White Rose shopping centre, with three more openings set for the coming months. The next will be in Western Road, Brighton later this month, with another opening lined up for Brookgate, Cambridge in April and a third due in St Mary Street, Cardiff which will be the chain’s 15th outlet in the UK. Wok&Go has invested £180,000 in The White Rose centre restaurant which has seating for 35 customers and a restaurant capacity of 50. The opening has created 12 new jobs. Its rivals in the centre include Prezzo, Frankie & Benny’s, Nando’s and McDonald’s.

Historic restaurant with rooms goes on the market: Castle Cottage, the award-winning restaurant with rooms in Harlech, North Wales, is for sale with the property agent Christie + Co. The business, housed in two 16th century buildings, overlooks Harlech Castle, a World Heritage site. Castle Cottage has been being voted amongst the top 100 restaurants in Britain in the National Restaurant Awards. Keith Stringer, associate director of Christie + Co in Manchester, said: “During the past 25 years, Castle Cottage has grown, developed, and been upgraded under the stewardship of Glyn and Jacqueline Roberts. Now, after a quarter of a century, the Roberts are looking forward to a well-earned retirement. Their legacy is a high-quality, award-winning and profitable business, for which we expect to generate exceptional interest.” Christie + Co is seeking £750,000 for the freehold interest.

Clink Restaurants signs up buying partner: Pelican, the procurement and supply chain management specialist, is to provide purchasing and procurement services to The Clink Restaurants, which operates fine dining establishments in prisons in Sutton, Cardiff and now in Brixton, London. The Clink has partnered with Pelican to generate financial savings and operational efficiencies across its organisation, which will help towards its overall goal of opening ten training facilities and projects by 2017. Chris Moore, chief executive of The Clink Charity, said: “I was looking for a purchasing partner and Pelican was recommended to me. I was very impressed not only with their approach to our charity, but also of their understanding of what we do. With the aim of having ten sites by 2017, any money we are able to save can be reinvested into our growth plans and so working with Pelican supports this.”

Buffalo opens in Manchester: A new restaurant concept called Buffalo, serving a host of dishes made from buffalo meat, has opened on Didsbury Road in Heaton Mersey, Greater Manchester. The meat is reared in North Wales. Owners Clive and Catherine Tattersall, who run Buffalo jointly with chef Steve Hughes and his Nepalese wife Soni, acquired the site last year. The buffalo is a favourite in Nepal where beef is not eaten for religious reasons. Buffalo is leaner than beef.

Wetherspoon confirms Maldon acquisition: JD Wetherspoon has confirmed it has acquired the 15th century heavily timbered Rose & Crown, in Maldon, Essex (population: 15,513) though the property agent Fleurets. The asking price for the pub was £350,000 and a price in excess of this was achieved. Bob Whittle of Fleurets said: “The sale conveyance of this public house progressed quickly, with exchange of contracts taking place within 17 days of terms being agreed.”

Living Ventures plans £2m Gusto in Manchester city centre and new pub: Living Ventures, the restaurant and bar group led by Tim Bacon, is to open a £2m Gusto restaurant in Manchester city centre. The new Gusto will occupy the current 3,500 sq ft Olive restaurant site on Lloyd Street and knock through into the Grade II listed Elliot House (1878), the former city registrar’s office and more recently the temporary City Library building at 151 Deansgate, to create an 8,500 sq ft restaurant with a Deansgate frontage. The company is taking over the Label bar on Deansgate, which Bacon originally owned as the JW Johnson’s bar in the early 1990s. It will be transformed into The Botanist, after the success of the quirky urban pub model in Alderley Edge with an extensive refurbishment, and a scheduled opening date of July.

Venners promotes Shanks to head food consultancy arm: Auditing and consultancy firm Venners has promoted James Shanks to head its food consultancy arm. In 2012 Venners began creating a new suite of services that analyses food costs, identifies operational shortfalls and highlights causes of margin erosion in a food-led environment. Trevor Heyburn, managing director of Venners, said: “James has been heavily involved since its inception. He and his team are incredibly passionate about the business of hospitality and are providing an amazing return on investment for our customers.”

Sussex restaurateurs to convert Enterprise pub into an Italian restaurant: The Lively Lady, an Enterprise pub in the village of Bracklesham, some eight miles south of Chichester, is to be converted into an Italian restaurant called Don Restaurant, after being bought by unnamed Sussex restaurateurs through the property agent Christie + Co. Bethany Doggett, of Christie + Co’s Winchester office, said: “The sale of this tied Enterprise lease is another reminder of the increased activity Christie + Co has seen in the pub and restaurant sector this year.” The leasehold interest was sold for an undisclosed sum off an asking price of £34,950.

Wahaca signs up to Flypay billing app: Wahaca, the Mexican street food chain, and its sister brand Burrito Mama have signed up to a new mobile payment app called Flypay that claims to make settling the bill “waiter-free” and a lot speedier. Flypay, which had its official launch yesterday, announced that it has raised £1m in new funding from the mobile payment specialists Entreé Capital. The new capital will be used to scale its technology, pick up new restaurant partners and develop its product line. Flypay’s iOS and Android apps work by users scanning an on-table QR code/NFC tag to recall the bill, which can be checked by using the app and pay using a credit or debit card. The app includes the option to split the bill with others at your table, either by paying off specific items or splitting the bill equally. Flypay says it is able to offer in-app customer loyalty schemes which integrate with restaurant marketing and CRM systems to potentially provide rewards and discounts for a restaurant’s most valued customers or to entice repeat visitors. Wahaca, which has 11 outlets, mostly in London, is currently using the Flypay app as a pay-at-table solution, and Burrito Mama, which was launched by Wahaca co-founders Thomasina Miers and Mark Selby in November in the City, is using Flypay’s technology, effectively a white-label version “powered by Flyapp”, within its order-ahead app to enable customers to order a burrito as they approach the takeout so that it is ready to collect and be paid for when they arrive.

Everest Spice opens third outlet: An Indian restaurant operator with two outlets in Surrey has opened a third, in Haywards Heath, Sussex. The new Everest Spice restaurant in The Broadway was opened officially by the Mayor of Haywards Heath, Sandy Ellis, who said: “The food was simply wonderful and a lovely eating experience which was complimented by friendly staff and warm surroundings.” Everest Spice also has restaurants in Epsom and Redhill, the latter being rated number one by TripAdvisor out of 43 dining establishments in the town.

New Pizza Hut franchisee on way to three outlets by end of 2014: A new Pizza Hut franchisee, Pizza Delivery, has opened what is planned to be the first of three new outlets by the end of 2014. The new branch is at Woodfield Plantation, Balby, Doncaster, where 28 new jobs have been created. Pizza Delivery’s owner, John Owens, obtained support from NatWest to secure a £100,000 loan as part of the government-backed Enterprise Finance Guarantee programme to help with start up costs. He also obtained another EFG loan of £100,000 to open his second branch later this year. In total, Owens hopes to open three Pizza Huts in total in the coming months. He said: “I loved the franchise model and the idea of building on a recognised brand. I was drawn to the Pizza Hut as it fits well with my business goals.”

Restaurant entrepreneur Barry Dhaliwal opens new venture next door to one of his old ones: Serial Indian restaurant entrepreneur Barry Dhaliwal has opened a new venture in Nottingham next door to a previous outlet he and his brother John sold in 2008. The Dhaliwals’ latest restaurant is the Calcutta Club which has opened in Maid Marion Way, Nottingham. It comes nearly 20 years after they started MemSaab, a modern Indian fine dining concept which began in Leicester and expanded to Nottingham. The Dhaliwals’ other ventures include a stint running a restaurant called Masala Art in Derby, and involvement in a round-the-world buffet food operation in London. However, the brothers missed being involved in day-to-day operations and decided to get back into running their own restaurant again. After looking at sites in Birmingham, Leicester and Milton Keynes the brothers decided the only place to fit the bill was in Nottingham – right next to their old Memsaab premises. John Dhaliwal told the Nottingham Evening Post that the pair talked about the ethics of opening up as competitors next to a business they began. However, “there has been a gap of many years and it is the third generation of operator so there is no direct link any more,” he said.

Sbarro pizza chain files for bankruptcy protection: The Sbarro pizza restaurant chain, which closed 155 company-owned restaurants in the United States last month, has now filed for bankruptcy court protection. Last month’s closures, 40% of its US chain, left it with 220 US locations and more than 600 other locations owned by franchise operators in 40 different countries. The move is the second bankruptcy filing in less than three years by Sbarro, which previously filed for bankruptcy in April 2011. Spokesman Jonathan Dedmon said that no further restaurant closings are envisioned under the bankruptcy plan. He said Sbarro has already closed its weaker locations and expects to shed 80% of its debt during the bankruptcy. It has also secured $20m in new financing. Sbarro was founded in Brooklyn in 1956 by Gennaro and Carmela Sbarro, who had emigrated from Naples. Its typical restaurant format includes an open kitchen and lets customers serve themselves. The company has no outlets in the UK, although its vice-president of international franchise development, Eric Taylor, said last year at FranchiseExpoUK that Sbarro was looking for a franchise partner here, saying: “It’s a perfect market for us. We prefer to go into malls, airports, train stations, high streets and universities and the UK is perfect for that … in five years’ time it’s not impossible to have a hundred units.”

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