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Mon 14th Jul 2014 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Harry Ramsden’s awards new franchise: Fish and chip brand Harry Ramsden’s has granted the franchise for the southern half of West Sussex to local businessman Ruslan Kyshtoobaev. Under the terms of the franchise agreement, ten new outlets will open across the area between Chichester and Worthing in the next five years. These will include a mix of full service restaurants with takeaway facilities, as well as new ‘traditional locals’ and, currently, sites across the region are being explored. The first outlet will open before the end of the year on the site of the former Connaught Corner Cafe Restaurant, located on Marine Parade in Worthing. The latest agreement is the brand’s fourth major franchise signing in just nine months. Chief executive Joe Teixeira said: ‘‘Over the past two years, Harry Ramsden’s has been enjoying record sales as a result of the brand’s evolution, which includes a contemporary new look and a greatly enhanced menu offering, which I believe makes this the ideal time to increase our presence across the UK.’’ Kyshtoobaev, an experienced restaurateur, said: “Undoubtedly, the high levels of brand recognition associated with Harry Ramsden’s, coupled with the higher quality product they offer, which, unlike many competitors, can be traced from the sea to the plate, makes us confident of success. The details of the final mix of outlets will be dependent on the location and size of units available. However, we anticipate creating in the region of 100 new jobs as a result of this agreement.”

Industry News:

Chinese investment group buys PizzaExpress: PizzaExpress has been bought for £900m by a Chinese private equity firm that plans to roll out the British restaurant chain in the world’s most populous country. Hony Capital won an auction process ahead of Citic, another Chinese investment group, and four other private equity firms. PizzaExpress opened its first outlet in Beijing two months ago. It already has 12 restaurants in Hong Kong and nine in Shanghai. PizzaExpress chief executive Richard Hodgson said the sale was a positive development for the 504-outlet chain: “Asia is a key part of our future growth strategy and Hony’s expertise in this region will be invaluable. We are looking forward to working with them on this as well as our ambitious UK growth plans.” Hodgson and the management team will remain with the business following the deal. Hony Capital’s chief executive John Zhao said: “With PizzaExpress, we have the opportunity to leverage our local expertise to accelerate its growth in the Chinese market, as well as to continue to drive its business forward in the UK.” The company aims to open another 200 restaurants in the UK. The chain has changed hands several times, with Cinven buying it for £1bn at the end of 2006 shortly before the financial crash. The auction process attracted interest from rival Chinese investment group Citic and private equity groups Carlyle, CVC, Advent and former owner TDR. The sale values PizzaExpress at around ten times Ebitda. PizzaExpress owner Gondola will explore options for its own two restaurant brands, Ask and Zizzi, after further work is done on refurbishing key sites.

Pub Love pledges support for Tax Equality Day: Pub Love, the five-strong London pub and hostel provider formerly known as Best Place Inns led by Ben Stackhouse, serving gourmet burger under the Burger Craft branding, has pledged its support to Tax Equality Day, the event promoted by the VAT Club Jacques Borel that will see operators reduce prices by 7.5% to promote the benefits of lower VAT in the sector to consumers. Stackhouse told Propel: “Two years ago, I was in the hospitality business but not at all involved in it. I immersed myself in our wonderful sector and now I (PUB) LOVE it! This fair change to the VAT system would enable us all to continue to grow, provide countless new jobs and spark further regeneration in tired high streets. It seems to me it would be daft not to support it.”

New cafe and restaurants set for Maidstone scheme: A scheme for new cafes and restaurants, a supermarket and shop in Maidstone’s St Peter’s Street, beside the River Medway, has been approved by planning inspector John Gray. The application, from Baltic Wharf, had been rejected by the council in January. A public inquiry was held in April and the inspector has just announced his verdict.

Bloomberg quotes Propel in article on rise of Hawthorn Leisure: New agency Bloomberg has reported that Hawthorn Leisure, which is headed by Noah Bulkin and has bought 363 pubs this year so far, plans to turn them around by tracking everything from the price charged for beer, to daily sales fluctuations and customers’ drink preferences. “Understanding pricing and the mix of drinks is incredibly important,” Bulkin said. “A lot of pubs don’t have that data. If you can make them the core of your business, there’s a fantastic opportunity.” Hawthorn Leisure is backed by New York-based Avenue Capital Group LLC, a sign that “private equity is coming back to the sector with a vengeance,” Paul Charity, managing director of Propel Info, is quoted as telling Bloomberg.

Local authorities – give us £1bn fast food VAT receipts to fight child obesity: Local authorities have called for £1bn taken in VAT receipts from fast food chains to be given to them to fight child obesity. The Local Government Association said health problems associated with obesity cost the NHS £5bn a year. Chairman David Sparks said: “By taking a slice of existing VAT we would raise millions which would transform the lives and future of obese people rather than simply swelling the Treasury’s coffers. The extra money would help to tackle head-on the crippling problem often associated with conditions like diabetes.”

Company News:

Betty’s staff get bonus after sales record: Staff at Betty’s & Taylors Group have been given the equivalent of an additional five and a half weeks’ pay through the group’s quarterly bonus scheme after the Yorkshire tea-and-cafes business reported a record financial performance. The company, which owns the Betty’s Cafe Tea Rooms chain and the Yorkshire Tea brand, increased sales by more than 10% in its latest full-year results. In the year to 31 October 2013, turnover grew by 12% to £149.1m while pre-tax profit rose to £10.1m. Betty’s & Taylors said its record sales performance came after a year of strong growth across its two businesses. The group owns the family tea and coffee merchant Taylors of Harrogate, six Betty’s Cafe Tea Rooms, Betty’s online shop, craft bakery and Betty’s Cookery School. Group finance and resources director Paul Cogan said: “We’re very proud that, whatever the economic conditions, customers continue to value the quality of a visit to Betty’s or proper cup of Yorkshire Tea.” As well as the staff bonus, the company also gave £360,000 to charitable and community projects in Yorkshire and in tea and coffee growing countries.

An Orchid pub in Scotland closed by administrator: An Orchid Pub Company site in Scotland, The Hunters, has closed with the loss of 21 jobs. Administrator Ernst & Young said the pub was not making enough profit. A spokesman said: “Hunters in Stewartfield, East Kilbride, was a loss-making pub and despite our efforts to achieve a going concern sale, no interest was forthcoming and the difficult decision to close the pub was taken. The lease has been terminated and the landlord is now in possession of the property. Regrettably, as a result of the closure, 21 employees have been made redundant.”

Adastra Pub Company opens fifth site, a Wadworth pub: Adastra Pub Company has opened its fifth site, The Moonrakers pub in Devizes, a Wadworth pub that has undergone a £200,000 refit to become a family steak and grill restaurant. The company already operates four pubs in Hampshire and Sussex. Wadworth marketing director Paul Sullivan said: “We are really optimistic this is going to work and it is something Devizes needs. Around £200,000 has been spent on the refit, with Wadworth paying for the structural work and the tenants paying for the internal fittings. Knocking two bars into one has made a huge difference.”

McDonald’s basing UK strategy on drive-throughs: Drive-throughs will form the majority of the 25 to 30 restaurants McDonald’s will be opening annually in the UK over the next few years, and the chain is putting the drive-through offer at the heart of its competitive position, the company’s UK chief executive, Jill McDonald, has revealed. In an interview with Management Today magazine, McDonald said: “The opportunities I see for our business remain grounded in being pretty much the only drive-through in the UK. Businesses can’t be everywhere and everything. I want to play to the strengths that we’ve got.” She revealed that around £95m a year is being spent on opening new restaurants and expanding and upgrading current ones, both out front and in the kitchens. The chief executive also hinted that mobile ordering, interactive kiosks and similar technology could also soon be coming to McDonald’s, which was the first UK fast-food chain to offer free Wi-Fi. McDonald revealed that a third of those who join the company after leaving school are still there at least five years later, while 95% of the company’s restaurant managers started out at the bottom. While the majority of staff are on zero hours contracts, “it’s a permanent contract of employment with holiday entitlement,” McDonald said. “Secondly, our people know in advance what schedules they’re on.” Almost 80% of 16 to 25-year-old staff, who make up almost three quarters of the company’s British workforce, said they liked flexible working, she told the magazine.

Norfolk multi-siter open craft beer and gin palace hybrid: Norwich multi-siter Patrick Fisher has opened The Mash Tun pub and gin palace, formerly The Hog in Armour, in Norwich after a £300,000 revamp. Upstairs, customers can take their pick from more than 150 gins and downstairs the pub will serve 21 craft beers on draught including tank fresh beer from the pub’s own tank, which will soon arrive from Holland and will sit in the middle of the bar. The building will also house the pop-up Maddermash Kitchen, brought by the Maddermarket Kitchen, which will serve seasonal dishes in a tapas style. Patrick Fisher also operates The Norwich Tap House in Redwell Street, and The Redwell Brewery in Trowse. Fisher said: “We are calling it the ‘decadent’ gin palace, because people will be able to step back in time and get a full-on experience. The palace is housed in the only part of the building with the original features and the high ceiling. You walk in and there’s copper panelling around both of the rooms and old chandeliers, and the back bar is an old Spanish dispensary. With the downstairs pub craft-led, and the gin palace upstairs, we thought it was quite an appropriate name, and focused on our two special features”.

Working men’s club set to become Wetherspoon pub: JD Wetherspoon is in negotiations to buy Swanley Junction Working Men’s Club in Swanley, Kent (population: 16,588), which has been going since 1911, for a sum thought to be in the region of £1.1m. The club once had a membership of more than 1,400, which has now fallen to fewer than 300, with only a small proportion of them said to attend regularly. A ballot at the end of April saw a majority of members vote in favour of selling the building to developers. That deal fell through, but the club’s steering committee then entered into negotiations with Wetherspoon. Club members will be in line for a pay-off from the sale once debts are cleared and other fees paid. Wetherspoon declined to comment, as a deal has not yet been formally agreed. Meanwhile, Wetherspoon has lodged a licence application for an empty bank in the city in Preston. The company was granted permission to turn the old TSB Bank in Church Street, Preston, into its latest pub at the end of last year. Now it has applied for a premises licence with alcohol for the new bar, which is set to be named The Twelve Tellers. An application was lodged with Preston Council, proposing the provision of regulated entertainment, supply of alcohol and late night refreshment, from 8am to 2am, Monday to Sunday.

Fazenda to open in Manchester: The Brazilian rodizio restaurant Fazenda is to open its first outlet in Manchester in October. The chain’s owner, the City District Group, is spending £2m converting two units on The Avenue in Spinningfields. Fazenda, which already has restaurants in Leeds and Liverpool, operates a system where diners can choose from 15 cuts of grilled beef, chicken, lamb and pork served churrascaria-style, from the barbecue, which are delivered continuously to their table by the restaurant’s passadores (meat chefs). Customers flash a red card when they have had enough or show a green card for more. The restaurants also have a salad bar and options include sushi, smoked salmon, cured meats, hot dishes and traditional Brazilian dishes. The manager of the Manchester restaurant, Tomas Maunier, said: “With our authentic South American background, we offer a unique Gaucho-style dining experience at the highest level. We are confident of repeating our success in other northern cities in Manchester.” The 1,800 sq ft new outlet will seat 178 diners inside, with extra space outside for another 50, and will also have three private dining rooms with a total of 38 covers and a bar with 44 covers. The first Fazenda opened three years ago at Granary Wharf, Leeds. A site at Exchange Flags, Liverpool was opened in December 2013. 

Giggling Squid to open eight sites in the next 12 months: Giggling Squid, the Thai restaurant brand led by Andy and Pranee Laurillard plans to open eight sites in the coming 12 months. The company opens in Sevenoaks next month and Maidstone in the autumn. It is in advanced negotiations on several additional sites across southern England. Giggling Squid currently operates successful venues in Brighton, Hove, Crawley, Tunbridge Wells, Henley-on-Thames, Reigate, Stratford-upon-Avon, Marlow and Horsham.

Individual Restaurant Group to expand Manchester site footprint: The Individual Restaurant Group (IRG) is expanding into an empty unit on Manchester’s Albert Square, connecting to an existing IRG restaurant, Piccolino, on Clarence Street. Manchester Confidential stated: “Cards are being kept close to the chest at present but (we hear) the place will be more of a bar type venue but with lots of beautiful pastries and cakes to suit the impressive location facing Manchester Town Hall. It will be open in time to take advantage of the Christmas markets.” 

Journalists hospitalised after eating restaurant’s ‘hottest burger in the country’: Two journalists who ate a XXX Hot Chilli Burger from Burger Off, in Brunswick Street, Hove, advertised as the hottest burger in the country, had to be taken to hospital with stomach cramps and loss of feeling in their hands. The £3.90 burger contains a sauce made in India using 5,000 kilos of piri piri chillis concentrated into one kilo. It is supposedly 1,400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce. Reporter Ruari Barratt from the Brighton Evening Argus suffered severe stomach cramps minutes after taking a bite of the burger, before he lost the feeling in his hands and his eyes rolled back in his head. His news editor, Arron Hendy, suffered similar symptoms, and both had to go to hospital. Hendy said: “I was in so much pain I was telling people I felt like I was dying. It’s embarrassing but it felt that bad.” People who eat the burger have to sign a waiver drawn up by owner Nick Gambardella releasing the staff of Burger Off from any responsibility for its effects. Gambardella said: “We do try and take a certain level of responsibility. We don’t sell the burger to anyone under 18, and if someone’s been drinking we don’t let them have it. I spend about as much time convincing people not to try one as I do selling them. I tell people it will ruin their weekend.” Burger Off was recently voted one of the top ten burger restaurants in the country by users of reviews website TripAdvisor.

Cheshire Cat Pubs and Bars buys in Punch and Wellington freeholds: Cheshire Cat Pubs and Bars, led by Tim Bird and Mary McLaughlin, has acquired the freehold of their Bulls Head Pub from Punch Taverns and also bought the freehold of The Roebuck Inn from Wellington Pub Company, situated opposite The Bulls Head in Mill Lane, Mobberley in Cheshire. Bird told Propel: “It has been exciting doing the two deals at the same time. We have operated The Bulls Head for four years on a lease with Punch Taverns and have built the pub up after carrying out a major refurbishment. We are sure Punch is pleased with the deal but we are delighted to have paid 4.8x Ebitda for a pub we cherish. As for The Roebuck Inn, this pub has been closed for well over a year. It sits straight opposite The Bulls Head in Mill Lane, Mobberley. We were tired of looking across the lane and seeing The Roebuck deteriorate and knew if the deal was right we would go for it. We will hopefully develop bedrooms and a small bistro as well as the barns and gardens. It is the first time in history (some 200+ years or more) that the two pubs are under single ownership. Our bank, HSBC, have been hugely supportive with the two investments and we continue to work very closely with it. In a year of consolidation we had said that we wouldn’t necessarily be acquiring a pub this financial year but this opportunity was a rare one and we had to take it.” The deal means Cheshire Cat Pubs and Bars now own three freeholds and two 25-year leasehold pubs in Cheshire. Meanwhile, its award-winning Cholmondeley Arms, situated on Lord Cholmondeley’s estate, celebrates its claim to fame as the biggest Gin Palace in the north west next week when it holds its first ‘Annual Gin Fest ’. Gin brand owners are asked to visit www.cholmondeleyarms.co.uk to check if they are listed in its collection of 200 gins. Bird added: “If they aren’t listed then we challenge them to bring their ‘Gin to the Inn’ on Saturday 19 July.”

Turtle Bay names Crawley opening date: The Caribbean-inspired restaurant group Turtle Bay has named 21 August as the opening date for its newest outlet, on Crawley High Street in Sussex. The new branch, the chain’s tenth, is based in three units next to a new Morrisons supermarket in the town centre, formerly home to a Bar Med outlet. It has room for 200 covers, a large central island bar and indoor veranda-style drinking spaces. Dishes include chilli fried squid, jerk chicken and blue mountain curry goat – Turtle Bay restaurants also sell 40 different types of rum. 

Epic Group to invest £400,000 in Aberdeen nightclub: Epic Group is to close its Aberdeen nightclub, The Pearl Lounge, for a £400,000 revamp. Mike Wilson, owner of The Epic Group, said: “The Pearl lounge has run its life and the property needs a top to toe overhaul. It’s going to bring a much-needed investment in to the nightclub industry in Aberdeen, which has been hit with numerous closures in recent months. As we have done in the past, we will create a first class venue.”

Spirit set to convert Birmingham restaurant to Flaming Grill brand: Spirit Pub Company is set to convert the former Modern China restaurant in Erdington, Sutton Coldfield to its Flaming Grill brand. The company acquired the site for £1.5m in April. The Grade II listed building was previously a pub called The Stockland – Modern China closed its doors at the end of last year, eight years after it opened. In a nod to the area’s name, the new venue will be known as The Village Green and is expected to open at the end of this month.

Salford couple to roll out ‘English takeaway’ concept: A couple from Salford, Manchester are looking to roll out their “English takeaway” concept to up to 30 sites, selling home-delivered gourmet burgers, including venison and wild boar, lamb shanks, mixed grills and “pub classics” such as sausages and mash. Kate and James Edwards-Tulloch currently run Essence in Station Road, Swinton, Salford, which serves fish and chips as well as the other items. Now they want to expand as a home delivery business with a reputation for English food and gourmet burgers. Kate said: “We’re hoping to open in Liverpool within the next year but that will be purely deliveries. There’ll be no fish and chips, just English takeaway. The plan is to get a warehouse unit we can distribute from. The long-term plan is to open another one or two shops. If that model works out, I would like to come back to Manchester and try one in south Manchester. I’d like to take it as far as it can go, there’s no reason why it can’t work on a big scale.” Mrs Edwards-Tulloch worked at the Lowry in Salford until 2008 when she joined The City Inn at Piccadilly Place, which became a Mint Hotel before being acquired by Hilton. She said: “I had been thinking for a while, ‘Why do people not do this sort of thing [classic English food] but I was busy working my way up in hotels. When Hilton took over I didn’t want to work for a large conglomerate, and I thought it was the perfect time.”

Bem Brasil and Almost Famous for Leeds: The Brazilian restaurant chain Bem Brasil is to open its fifth outlet, and the first outside the north west of England, in the former Giraffe site on Greek Street, Leeds, after Giraffe decided to consolidate into a single city centre unit in Trinity Leeds. The 6,500 sq ft Brazilian barbecue and bar is due to open in September. The chain’s other outlets are in Manchester, Liverpool and Altrincham. It will be joined in Leeds by another Manchester-based chain, Almost Famous Burgers, which is taking over the former Escobar premises in Great George Street. The two-level, 9,300 sq ft outlet is the fourth for Almost Famous, which is owned by Beautiful Drinks. The two premises were let by the leisure and retail property specialist Pudney Shuttleworth, which has also recently let a 4,600 sq ft restaurant to Teppan Two Sixty in the former Casa Mia unit, also on Great George Street. Teppan Two Sixty, an Asian-themed fast casual dining concept, has an at-table iPad ordering system. Nick Brearley, associate director at Pudney Shuttleworth, said: “These lettings demonstrate Leeds is a priority location for many occupiers and all three lettings are to tenants who have not previously had representation in the city. The fact that both Almost Famous Burgers and Teppan Two Sixty have chosen to locate on Great George Street is testament to the draw of Leeds Arena and will inject new energy into this part of the city.” 

Coffee Republic opens first 100% halal outlet: Coffee Republic has opened its first 100% halal outlet, in Hounslow, West London, an area where up to a quarter of the population are Muslim. The chain says it is also opening sites in the new Northampton railway station, and in Chatham, Kent and Whitechapel, East London, later this summer, as well as “a pipeline of numerous others” predominantly in and around London and the south east, as part of its target to open 20 sites annually under its franchise agreement while also growing its overseas presence, adding in the UK to its four company-owned bars, and 16 franchised bars. Richard Shakespeare, head of franchise sales at Coffee Republic, said that the company was developing and growing the brand successfully since the re-launch of the franchise in June last year. “This is the biggest period of growth since the new owners took over in 2009, both within the franchise model and supporting our company owned bars. There are ten franchisees waiting to open Coffee Republic shops as soon as suitable locations can be secured, mostly on a multi-store deal,” he said. “The delay in opening sites is down to finding the right location; working closely with Danny Coole our head of UK and international operations, and his team, we regularly turn down many sites that come to us as unsuitable.” Coffee Republic is looking for premium-location sites, preferably with corner aspects, of 1,000 to 1,100 sq ft on busy High Street locations with high foot-traffic throughout the day. The company is also growing its overseas estate, having signed master franchise agreements in Qatar, Oman, Jordan, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Pakistan. Coffee Republic is due to open in Qatar next month under a master franchise agreement signed in January that will see a minimum of five sites open over the next five years. A similar deal is in place in Oman, where the first site is due to open next January. Meanwhile, a Coffee Republic outlet is due to open at Lanzarote Airport in three weeks and another Coffee Republic, at Vilnius International Airport, in Lithuania will open in early August.

Greene King renews sponsorship of Ipswich Town FC: Greene King IPA is to be the official beer at Ipswich Town FC under a new five-year sponsorship deal involving a “substantial six-figure sum”. The brewer will also take on the sponsorship of the Sir Alf Ramsey Stand again. The new partnership will include a revamping of the bars at the club’s Portman Road ground, including Legends in the Sir Alf Ramsey Stand, while the corner bars at either end of the Sir Bobby Robson Stand will be renamed the ‘78 Bar’ and the ‘81 Bar’, recognising the club’s triumphs in the FA Cup and UEFA Cup in those years. Chris Houlton, managing director of Greene King brewing and brands, said: “As a Suffolk brewer, we actively look for opportunities to invest close to home and I am proud that football fans can now toast every win and commiserate every loss with a refreshing pint of Greene King IPA at Portman Road.” Ipswich Town play in the Football Championship.

St Austell to launch four-strong range of posh pies: Cornish brewer and retailer St Austell is to launch a range of four up-market pies at its pubs developed in partnership with the Posh Pasty Company. The flagship Posh Pie is the Eden Pale Ale and Steak, which is made with beef sourced from Kittows of Fowey and Charlie Harris’ Tywardreath Butchers, and St Austell Brewery’s Eden Pale Ale – the beer which is also best to be drunk with it. Also on the menu is a Gamekeeper’s pie using venison, rabbit and pheasant with red wine, smoked bacon, roasted garlic and celeriac with rosemary pastry, best served with HSD or Admiral’s Ale; a free range chicken and chorizo pie with sun-blushed tomatoes and lemon with coriander pastry which pairs perfectly with Proper Job; and a vegetarian sweet potato, lentil, spinach and Cornish Fenugreek Gouda pie with turmeric pastry that’s ideally enjoyed with a bottle of Clouded Yellow.

Noma chef to prepare co-op pub’s new menu: A co-operative pub in Yorkshire is to open a Michelin-inspired kitchen. The George and Dragon in Hudswell, North Yorkshire, will boast a menu prepared by Sam Miller, a veteran of the two Michelin star Noma restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark. Mother and daughter team Margaret and Jackie Stubbs are bowing out after four years managing The George and Dragon. Stuart Miller and his partner Melissa McDermid will take over from the end of July, aided by Stuart’s father Keith, his mother Stephanie and his brother Sam. “I’m very lucky to have the support of my family,” said Stuart. “Keith is an experienced chef and manager who has worked in the hospitality catering and food industry all his life. He will be involved extensively in the business. Sam’s one of this country’s, if not the world’s, top up and coming chefs. Having worked at Noma in Copenhagen as a sous chef, he’s currently planning for the opening of his new restaurant in Sydney, Australia, but will be helping his big brother out as often as he can.”

Pop-up restaurateur takes over Charles Wells pub: Pop-up restaurateur Dionne McCreery and her brother Sam Redhead have taken over The Railway pub, in Station Road, Saffron Walden, a Charles Wells pub, after a refurbishment aimed at bringing “an alternative pub scene to Saffron Walden”. “I want to create an atmosphere where eating is just as important as the drinking side of having a pub,” said McCreery. “Above all else we want this to be a community pub. All the food ingredients are sourced locally, some from the market, while the pub is decorated by pieces of art from local artists such as Michelle Thompson and Celia Bartlett.” She has opened a series of pop-up restaurants in the town in the past 18 months that have featured dishes ranging from shellfish platters to Asian fused with fine dining. 

Starbucks UK introduces yoghurt frappucino: Starbucks UK has marked the 15th anniversary of serving frappuccino by introducing a new yogurt version – the yoghurt frappuccino. Yoghurt frappuccino is a combination of chilled yogurt and fruity swirl blended with ice, and was available in stores from 10 July in two flavours, banana and red berry. “We know our customers love to try something new, which is why we offer 80,000 ways to customise our drinks in-store,” said Steve Flanagan, UK marketing and category director. “On our 15th anniversary of Frappuccino in the UK, we’re celebrating by introducing this delicious new Yoghurt Frappuccino into our very popular range of iced drinks.” 

SoLIta plans second site in former La Tasca venue in Didsbury: Manchester bar and grill SoLIta has confirmed its second Didsbury restaurant is set to open at the end of August. The New York/Italian eatery will take over the former La Tasca on Warburton Street. Co-owner Franco Sotigu said: “We’re looking forward to bringing SoLIta to South Manchester. As for the food, expect our popular, signature grill menu and some lighter options too. We can’t wait.” The restaurant will seat around 120 guests with extra space for drinking and dining outside. The news comes as the original Turner Street venue opens its own beer garden just across the road.

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