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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 26th Sep 2014 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Cask ale ‘absolutely essential’ to M&B brand strategy says Alistair Darby: Cask ale is ‘absolutely essential’ to four of Mitchells & Butlers’ biggest pub brands, the company’s chief executive, Alistair Darby, told the Cask Seminar in central London yesterday. Speaking at a seminar in Brew Wharf, Southwark, held to mark the start of Cask Ale Week, Darby said: “We take cask ale very seriously – far more seriously, maybe, than we might have done a few years ago. Cask ale is absolutely essential to four of our brands and really important to a whole load of other brands as well. It’s particularly important in Nicholson’s, Vintage Inns, Castle pubs and Ember Inns. Two types of people use Nicholsons pubs, inside London primarily but also outside: affluent professional gentlemen and tourists. If you’re not selling a fantastic, exciting range of cask beer in a Nicholson’s pub, half your customer base is going to leave, utterly disappointed. In Vintage Inns it’s crucial to have cask beer, because people expect to go to a great country pub and see a roaring fire, steak pie and chips, and cask beer. The users of Castle pubs are young professionals, and offering a great selection of cask beer and contemporary craft beer as well is crucial to those customers. It’s got to be a real point of difference. In Ember Inns, we see cask beer as being crucial to building a link with a locality. We want our pubs to be famous not just for great pub food but for really interesting local cask beers.” Darby hailed what he called “a remarkable generation shift. Cask beer, craft beer, whatever you want to call it, has suddenly become really, really interesting to younger people, and, hallelujah, to women. Lest we forget, more than half the customers in our pubs are women. There is real joy that a product that is at the heart of pubs is now interesting to women. Guinness used to make the argument that the decision-maker in where people went for a drink was the Guinness drinker,” Darby said, “but there is increasing evidence that the decision-maker today is someone who is interested in cask and craft beer. It’s clear to us that pubs that have got Cask Marque accreditation are attracting more custom than pubs that haven’t.”

Industry News:

CAMRA wins second High Court battle over historic pub: A historic pub of national importance has been the subject of a landmark High Court battle between the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and Bradford City Council. On two occasions, CAMRA has succeeded in getting the High Court to overrule the decisions of Bradford City Council to grant planning permission and listed building consent for alterations to The Cock and Bottle – in connection with its conversion to a restaurant – including the tearing out of most of the historic interior. The Cock and Bottle in Bradford is a listed building with an interior of “outstanding historic interest” according to leading pub heritage campaigners. Taking the case to the initial Judicial Review was the first-ever such action by CAMRA. However, a second action was needed less than eight months later as planning permission and listed building consent was once again re-applied for and granted by Bradford City Council – prompting the second High Court battle. Colin Valentine, CAMRA chairman said: “This is a landmark case of national importance and is an important step in our fight for the protection of Britain’s few remaining heritage pubs. Concerted action by CAMRA’s dedicated volunteers, and the subsequent case brought by CAMRA’s lawyers, Susan Ring of Richard Buxton Solicitors and Richard Harwood QC, has challenged the illegal ripping-out of the pub’s listed interior and is another step forward to seeing public justice done.” Dave Gamston, member of CAMRA’s national pub Heritage Group, said: “This outcome corrects what was a truly shameful decision by Bradford’s planners and should send out a strong message to planning authorities across the country that protecting our important pub heritage is to be taken extremely seriously – and that CAMRA may now be less hesitant in calling them fully to account. For the Cock & Bottle itself, though, the ruling is somewhat bittersweet as the pub’s owner had already jumped the gun and stripped out much of the interior – another wrong that still remains to be righted.”

Professor Chris Muller’s Multi-site Management Masterclass held today: Professor Chris Muller, the leading US academic, teacher and thinker on the subject of multi-site management, will lead the Propel Multi Site Management Masterclass today, the first time he has held a seminar in the UK. His interactive seminar will include a contribution from Shake Shack’s chief executive, Randy Garutti. Attendees include: Loungers, Spirit Pub Company, Giraffe, Amber Taverns, Punch Taverns, Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, Enterprise Inns, Ed’s Easy Diner, Draft House, Castle Rock Brewery, McMullen, Hall & Woodhouse, Bourne Leisure, Beds and Bars, TLC Inns, Dorbiere, Bulldog Hotel Group and Yummy Pub Company. Propel managing director Paul Charity: “The event sold-out within a week of it being announced and we have had a very large waiting list build up. We are delighted to have partnered Professor Muller for this event and are sure delegates today will find his seminar hugely insightful.”

Matthew Kirby steps down as Fishbowl managing director: Matthew Kirby is stepping down as managing director of marketing firm Fishbowl’s UK operations after seven years to return to hospitality operations. He is replaced as managing director by Jo Fontaine.

Company News:

Alistair Darby – ‘deluge hit August trading, September better despite extra discounting’: Mitchells & Butlers chief executive Alistair Darby has told City analysts that the company is seeing better sales momentum in September after unseasonably wet weather in August. He said: “Unseasonably high rainfall didn’t help in August – the deluge on Bank Holiday Monday meant it was a wash-out. September is a better month and we’re pleased with the progress we’ve made – we’re confident about our growth momentum.” Asked about whether there was increased discounting in September across the sector, he said: “There is no scientific way of calculating the level of discounting (in the marketplace). (But) there has been a step-up the amount of discounting at the margins after a weak August.” Darby reported that the company expects to convert the first ten Orchid Group sites to its own brands by Christmas – 96 of the 173 Orchid sites bought in June will be converted eventually at a cost of £35m. Finance director Tim Jones reported that food volume growth is now stronger than at its Half Year but that “spend-per-head is flat even slightly negative”. He said drinks sales are down but by a far lower amount than the 4.5% the company saw last year.

Abokado adds two sites to London pipeline: Abokado, the healthy eating brand led by Mark Lilley and backed by private equity firm Kings Park Capital, has secured a further two sites in London to add to its property pipeline. The company now expects to open five new stores by March 2015 to take the total estate to 27. Lilley said: “As everyone knows, the London property market is challenging, with very little availability – and what is available is going for crazy, unsustainable rents. We’re fortunate that we have a flexible model which means we’re able to operate out of smaller sites, which most of our competitors shy away from. This has enabled us to continue building our pipeline and to do so in a cautious and considered fashion. Our diligence and selection process is now stricter than it’s ever been.”

World banquet chain Cosmo to open £2m outlet in Nottingham: The world banqueting restaurant chain Cosmo is to open its 16th outlet, a £2m 350-seat restaurant at Trinity Place, Nottingham in November with the creation of 80 jobs. The £2m venue will be the first in a new design for the chain, with Cosmo partner James Brion saying: “Our Nottingham restaurant will be like nothing else anyone has ever seen in this country, in terms of the decor, the layout and the food, which will be the star of the show. We are investing heavily in Nottingham and this represents a bold step, but we believe that it’s the right time and the right place.” The new design features include themed sections showcasing cuisines from countries including Japan, India, Thailand, China, Mexico and Italy. The restaurant will also have three separate kitchens, eight live cooking stations, 80 metres of self-service counters and VIP rooms for private parties. The new restaurant is close to Red Hot World Buffet in Trinity Square, and other buffet-style restaurants in Upper Parliament Street. Cosmo is also due to open in the Silverburn shopping centre in Glasgow shortly. 

Rare Cow restaurant group acquires third outlet: The Essex-based restaurant group Rare Cow has acquired its third outlet, in Waltham Abbey. The new venue, formerly called Parsons, was bought by Rare Cow’s new owner Alfie Best for an undisclosed sum this week. Best is chairman of Wyldecrest Parks and bought Rare Cow earlier this year with a view to a roll-out. He said: “It’s an amazing place, I fell in love with it as soon as I walked through the door. And when I met the owner I knew I had to have it.” The restaurant, which seats 120 diners over two floors in South Street, was built by the Parson brothers, who decided to sell up after less than two years’ trading. Best, who also owns farms in Northaw, Hertfordshire, said: “We will be re-branding it as a Rare Cow restaurant and specialising in rare long horn cattle steaks which are bred naturally in Scotland. We hope to attract even more local people and their families to try some of the best steak in the UK.” The restaurant will close on Sunday for two weeks for staff training and a refit. Rare Cow’s other outlets are in Writtle and Billericay.

Neighbours curtail hours at JD Wetherspoon’s Muswell Hill return: Neighbours has succeeded in curtailing the opening hours of JD Wetherspoon’s proposed Muswell Hill opening, the company’s return to the neighbourhood where it was founded by Tim Martin in 1979. Wetherspoon plans to open the Mossy Well pub in Muswell Hill on the site of the old Village bar, which closed in 2013. Rather than apply for a new licence, the company planned to take on the Village’s, allowing it to stay open until 2am. Wetherspoon also applied to extend the serving hours of the pub to allow it to begin selling alcohol at 10am, and planned to extend the licensed area, allowing it to serve alcohol on the basement floor. But this week a Haringey Council licensing sub-committee decided the pub must close at 12am from Sunday to Thursday and 12.30am on Friday and Saturday.

Luminar to develop new Ashford nightclub: The UK’s largest nightclub operator, The Luminar Group has unveiled plans to develop a new club in Ashford. Cameo will replace Luminar’s other nightclub in the town, Liquid currently located at The Flourmills, Easthill which will have its last night this weekend (27 September) as the company prepares to develop its new venue. Luminar has signed a 25-year lease on premises in Station Street, formerly trading as Hustle. Following a £1.25 million investment that will create 45 jobs, the company plans to transform the venue into a destination nightclub for the whole of Kent. Cameo is due to open early December and will feature three dance arenas, the latest light and sound technology and high quality entertainment. Martin Winter, regional director for The Luminar Group said: “We’ve always been committed to having a presence in the town. The lease on our Liquid site has expired and we are delighted to have secured a new lease on the Station Street premises. A thriving town needs a thriving late night economy and we’ve got impressive plans to develop Cameo into the county’s premier nightclub.” The Luminar Group operates two other venues in Kent – Chill, Canterbury and Air & Breathe, Dartford. The company also operates a total 53 nightclubs nationwide.

Bristol’s Thali Cafe looks at nationwide roll-out: The five-strong Thali Cafe chain, which specialises in Thali curries and tiffin takeaways, is looking to expand nationwide from its Bristol base. A year after opening its biggest restaurant to date, next door to the Tobacco Factory in Southville, Bristol, founder Jim Pizer says he is looking at opening similar outlets in other cities across the country. Pizer told the Bristol Post: “We now have a structure and a plan in place, and we are looking to use the Thali Cafe in Southville as a blueprint that we can roll out to other cities. It is one step at a time but we are looking at taking on the middle market. We want to be right in there with the big boys and I can seen no reason why we can’t do it. We are going more down the route of traditional street food and we are aiming to offer our customers a different experience to everything else that is out there. We have never lost our values, and we are very good at what we do. We now have a much clearer view and I think there is a real demand out there for something that is a little bit different.” The chain sells its takeaways in traditional Indian tin tiffin containers of the kind office workers in India carry their lunch in, and claims to have more than 10,000 Thali Tiffins in homes all over Bristol. It began in 1999 with a pop-up restaurant in Montpelier, Bristol.

London gastro-pub operators Perritt & Perritt line up third site: Award-winning London gastro-pub operator Perritt & Perritt has secured a third site, the Magdala, in South Hill Park, Hamsptead. It will re-open in the New Year, having closed on Sunday, 7 September. Jonathan and Andrew Perritt, Perritt & Perritt founders, already run The Stag in nearby Fleet Road, as well as The Mall Tavern in Notting Hill. Jonathan Perritt said: “When we heard it was available, we got in touch with the freeholder immediately. We’re going to take our time and hopefully in January we will be opening a great local pub with a great drinks offer and a simple food offer. Hampstead is a great area, it’s been home to some great pubs over the centuries and it’s exciting to be part of that landscape.”

Laine Pub Company opens Battersea site with distillery and micro-brewery: Laine Pub Company, led by Gavin George and newly-backed by Risk Capital Partners, has opened the Four Thieves in Battersea, brewing its own ale and distilling its own gin onsite. The venue, the 47th opening by the company, will host left-field entertainment from comedians, alternative cabaret stars and vintage DJs. George said: “At Laine’s, we view a great pub as the third place outside the home and workplace that flourishes with a similar emotional, creative and loyal investment. To achieve that our pubs need to be individual, inviting and inspirational and we reckon that with its history, fantastic location and all of the amazing offerings going on inside, The Four Thieves will be all these and more.” Its own onsite brewery will produce up to 40 casks a week – 1440 pints. The pub will house around 45 of the world’s best gins and a range of tonics that will allow for roughly 260 different gin and tonic options. The menu will include street food, European and pan Asian cuisine with dishes ranging from braised BBQ ribs to ceviche of yellowfin tuna with spiced peppers and pea shoots, kimchi and pulled pork and a Laine’s beer battered haddock and chips.

Hammerson signs Patisserie Valerie for Silverburn: Hammerson has signed Patisserie Valerie, the next restaurant to join its £20 million leisure extension of Silverburn, its flagship regional out-of-town shopping centre in Glasgow. Patisserie Valerie is to open a 1,797ft restaurant located next to Pret A Manger and is due to open in late autumn 2014. Andy Singleton, head of real estate from Patisserie Valerie, added: “Scotland and more importantly Glasgow are very important markets for our brand and we wanted to expand within a successful and established retail and leisure environment. The planned extension and cinema means Silverburn is the ultimate opportunity and we are very excited to be part of the new look destination.”

Former Premium Bars and Restaurant nightclub set to re-open with broader offer: A flagship former Premium Bars and Restaurant nightclub, Blu Bambu, in Newcastle’s Bigg Market is set to re-open with a broader offer. It has been closed since November 2013 when PBR Leisure went into administration. The Newcastle Chronicle has reported the 1,300-capacity venue has now been taken over by Northern Ireland-based Hathor Inns. The company has requested approval to retain its 11am to 4am opening hours and activities at the venue would include live music, dance performances, DJ sets. But it also set to host film screenings, karaoke booths and semi-professional boxing events. If the licence is granted, a temporary boxing ring could be erected on the main dance floor for the fight nights, reducing capacity to 480 people, which would be run in association with local promoters.

Loungers and Bella Italia unveiled for Loughborough development: Cafe bar brand Loungers and Bella Italia has been added to the list of operators set to open in Loughborough’s revamped Baxter Gate development on the site where the derelict hospital used to stand – work is set to start by the end of the year. Harbourside Investments Ltd and Domain Baxtergate Ltd Partnership submitted a planning application to Charnwood Borough Council last year to create an eight-screen cinema with 1,118 seats, seven family restaurants and a coffee shop. Citygrove, which is working on behalf of the developers, says that restaurant operators already committed to the scheme include PizzaExpress, Nando’s, Starbucks and Asian buffet and bar Mimosa. Two other restaurants are set to be unveiled shortly.

Corbin and King’s London hotel to open on Monday: The Beaumont, the first hotel opened by Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, who operate Brasserie Zedel, The Wolseley and The Delaunay, opens on Monday (29 September). Reservations are now open for room bookings from 9 October 2014 onwards at the hotel, which is located at Brown Hart Gardens in Mayfair. Rates for a Classic King room start at £395 for two people, including a Beaumont breakfast, free Wi-Fi, complimentary in-room teas, Nespresso coffees and soft drinks, and VAT.

Nick Batram – progress painfully slow at M&B, Douglas Jack downgrades forecast by 5%: Peel Hunt analyst Nick Batram has described progress at Mitchells & Butlers as painfully slow after yesterday’s trading update from the company. He said: “After a promising start to the last quarter, the period ultimately ended flat. Like-for-like sales for the nine weeks rose 0.1% making +0.6% for the 51 weeks in total (total sales +3.8%). Greene King’s recent current trading statement was also lacklustre so the issues are not unique to M&B but nonetheless still slightly disappointing. We understand that carveries were the relative outperformers and those pubs with large gardens were the underperformers in August. Although no specific guidance was given on the margin, other than it will be lower than last year, our inclination is to trim £3m from our below consensus (circa £188m PBT) forecast. This brings our 2014 PBT to £183m and EPS to 34.2p. At this stage we are leaving our 2015 and beyond numbers where they are. The situation at M&B remains unchanged: good assets, undemanding valuation but slow top line progress. In a sector where consolidation has again come to the forefront, M&B will undoubtedly come under scrutiny. We like management but pressure could start mounting if momentum doesn’t pick up. Q4 was lacklustre after a strong start and in many respects this could be a metaphor for M&B as a whole. There is progress but it is painfully slow at the top line. In a sector where corporate activity has come to the fore, M&B is likely to come under increased scrutiny. Given this and the underlying quality of assets the shares are worth holding on to.” Meanwhile, Douglas Jack, of Numis Securities, downgraded his forecast by 5%. He said: “We expect Full Year margins to have fallen 50bps due to the lack of like-for-like sales growth, initial dilution from the Orchid acquisition, higher pre-opening costs and competitive pricing. As a result, we are cutting all our forecasts by 5%. M&B is struggling to maximise the potential of its high quality estate. Although we have cut our 2015E forecast by 5%, we fear there is downside risk to our assumptions of 1% like-for-like sales growth and 30 new openings. As a result, we now expect the resumption of dividends to be postponed until 2016E.”

Spirit Leased lessees win recognition: Spirit Leased division lessees Clarke Oldfield and Peter Lumber have won recognition for their gastro-pub The Newbury Pub, opened in Newbury, Berkshire in 2012. It has been named ‘Best Pub in Berkshire’ in the The Good Pub Guide 2015 and has reached the finals for the West Berkshire Business Awards 2014’s Santander Independent Restaurant or Pub Category. Following a joint investment of £200,000 with Spirit Leased, the pub saw its capacity extended with the upstairs being completely re-modelled to provide extra dining space, multi-media and private dining facilities and a contemporary roof terrace. Chris Welham, managing director for Spirit Leased, said: “Licensees like Pete and his head chef Clarke are really making the change in pub culture we are seeing today. They are turning pub businesses on their head, making them the places to be. It’s great to see they are getting the recognition they deserve.”

Taco Bell opens world’s first ‘new model’ store in Sheffield: The US Mexican-inspired fast-food chain Taco Bell launched its first “new model” high street store in the world on Ecclesall Road in Sheffield yesterday (Thursday). It is the first Taco Bell In Europe to have an open kitchen. Around £350,000 has been spent on creating the restaurant, which has brought 30 new jobs. The urban-style restaurant has seating across two floors, creating a lounge-type feel different to existing Taco Bells. Nick Dawson, general manager for Taco Bell UK and Europe, said: “As one of the UK’s largest cities, with a huge student population, Sheffield is a great location for Taco Bell and we’re proud to be partnering with our franchisee, Northgate Fast Foods, to add a new flavour to the restaurant options in the city.” As well as tacos, burritos and quesadillas, Sheffield customers have the opportunity to sample UK-only menu items, such as seasoned Mexican fries and Churros with chocolate sauce. The first 100 customers through Taco Bell’s doors from 10.30am yesterday were welcomed with free food, while the first 50 were invited upstairs to watch an exclusive gig by the pop punk band, Neck Deep, and given a launch T-shirt. The restaurant has free Wi-Fi and mobile charging points. Taco Bell has three other outlets in the UK, at the Manchester Arndale Centre, the Eastgate Shopping Centre, Basildon and the Lakeside shopping centre in Essex. It is part of Yum! Brands, alongside KFC and Pizza Hut.

TGI Friday’s signs Bookatable partnership: TGI Friday’s has unveiled a new partnership with Bookatable – Europe’s largest restaurant booking site – which is set to enhance the online booking experience at Fridays. Guests are now able to make a reservation just two hours in advance at the brand’s 64 UK restaurants, compared to 24 hours previously. TGI Fridays UK will join over 11,000 existing restaurants in more than 19 countries that work with Bookatable, a service which delivers millions of diners to restaurants every month. The technology allows users to browse restaurants based on a number of factors including location, cuisine and price. The easy to use, digital bookings system means that it will be even easier for Friday’s guests to reserve a spot at the popular restaurant chain – in particular those who want to make a spontaneous reservation at just a few hours’ notice. Karen Forrester, TGI Friday’s UK chief executive, said: “We’re really pleased to be working with a brand as well established in its field as Bookatable. Technology’s a big priority for us as a business, and this is one of the logical next steps to improve the overall booking experience for guests. We’re really excited to see how much this will streamline reservations for diners and team members alike.”

Carvery Heaven in talks over 14th pub: The Mansfield-based multiple pub operator Carvery Heaven is in talks with Heineken about taking over the lease of the Lincoln Imp pub in Scarborough. Carvery Heaven’s director, Rob Joseph, said the company’s plans included a £100,000-plus revamp at the 57-year-old pub, which would double the capacity of the music room and create a new kitchen/dining area. It was hoped that work would start in the New Year and, when complete, an extra ten jobs would be created. In the meantime Carvery Heaven, which has 13 other pubs, has taken temporary charge of the pub, with Lorraine Briggs remaining as the licensee.

Chef launches Manchester pop-up: Award-winning chef Mary-Ellen McTague has launched her first Manchester city centre restaurant – the Northern Quarter “pop-up” venture 4244. The restaurant has launched for a six-week period, on the evenings only, while her Prestwich fine-dining venue Aumbry is given a full refurbishment. It gives city centre diners the chance to taste Aumbry’s award-winning cuisine, with Mary-Ellen creating two five course tasting menus – a meat and a vegetarian option – for £50 and £45 respectively. She said: “There’s been a huge change, from the grassroots up in Manchester. While you can’t underestimate the importance of the opening of The French and Manchester House, it’s also places like Almost Famous and smaller operators doing casual dining food on a much higher level that brings up the whole scene. Food at every level is done really well in Manchester, and once standards are on the up, everyone else has to up their game too. For a long time it was really hard to get a decent meal in Manchester, everything was much of a muchness. But now when people ask me to recommend somewhere I’m spoilt for choice.”

Indian street food pioneer to launch Liverpool restaurant: A barrister who has made it her culinary mission to bring “no holds barred” Indian street food to the British public is opening a new restaurant in Liverpool city centre. Nisha Katona is launching Mowgli Street Food in Bold Street this autumn with funding support from NatWest and the bank’s asset finance partner Lombard. Katona has a worldwide blog, more than 18,000 Twitter followers and hundreds of thousands of viewers of her YouTube cooking videos where she removes the shroud of complexity that hangs over curry making. She is in discussions with TV channels for a cookery show and her first cookbook will be published next summer. Her new restaurant Mowgli Street Food will serve some of her favourite “Chat” recipes.

Dishoom unveils details of flagship Kings Cross site: Indian restaurant group Dishoom has revealed more details about its forthcoming London King’s Cross site, due to open in November. The three-storey, 250-cover, 9,000 sq ft space will include a cocktail bar named the Permit Room, plus a mezzanine kitchen, and a 90-capacity Bombay-style juice bar serving freshly pressed juices and sugar cane cocktails. The new cocktail menu will be centred on the site’s basement bar, and include a choice of drinks that have been aged in bottles or barrels, before being served over chipped ice in traditional Indian measures, such as the “chota peg”. There will also be a selection of beer on tap and bottled ales, as well as the existing Dishoom IPA by London Fields.

Brains launches Halloween beer with first-ever motion effect pump clip: Cardiff-based brewer and retailer Brains is to launch a new seasonal ale for Halloween, complete with its first ever motion-effect pump clip. Open Casket, a rich, deep-red beer with bite, is available across Brains’ pub estate, as well as a number of key wholesalers and retail businesses, throughout October. The motion-effect pump clip uses lenticular printing – a first for Brains – so when the pint is pulled customers will see a changing – and spooky – face. Bruce Newman, head of marketing at Brains, said: “Halloween has become one of the biggest seasonal calendar dates so it’s a great opportunity to bring people together over a pint of Brains. It’s so important to tap into customer mood and maximise that opportunity with a beer that stands out on the bar. It’s a real talking point – we believe it to be the first ever Halloween beer to use lenticular printing on the pump clip – and has a great bar call. We think customers will be dying to try it this Halloween.”

Owners of Liars Club bar in Manchester launch late-night pizza parlour: The owners of the Liars Club cocktail bar in Back Bridge Street, Manchester are opening a late-night pizza parlour in a former Starbucks venue on Bridge Street. The flamboyantly titled Crazy Pedro’s Part Time Pizza Parlour is due to open in mid-October, and will serve pizza from midday until 4am. It is being started by Liars’ manager, Lyndon Higginson, and business partners Ross Mackenzie and Jobe Ferguson, who recently launched Cane and Grain in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Higginson said: “Crazy Pedro’s is a Part-Time Pizza Parlour because we originally planned to open the venue for just six months but the more we developed the concept we decided that it should be a permanent fixture rather than a pop-up. As a bartender the drinks will be just as important as the pizza so expect hard and soft shakes, frozen cocktails and more in Manchester’s first Mezcaleria!” Mackenzie, owner of the Black Dog Ballroom Group, said: “We have been working to secure this venue for some time and are looking forward to finally opening Crazy Pedro’s in October. Pizza by the slice will be the perfect addition to a night out. Plus, the venue offers access to the square outside, making it possible to extend our Liars’ terrace in the warmer months.”

BrewDog lines up four new UK openings: BrewDog has revealed details of its next four openings. The company stated: “The next bar to open will be BrewDog Liverpool. Located at 1 Manolis Yard on Colquit Street the brand new bar will be open in mid-late October and will feature 30 draft lines, 2 gnarly old shipping containers converted into beer cellars and a weird outside-inside-outside thing that we love without really understanding. We have also agreed a deal for the former Blind Tiger in Brighton. We are just finalising designs and will look to be open in 16 weeks’ time. Furthermore, we are just waiting on final planning permissions on our new Glasgow Merchant City site. This is taking longer than hoped, mainly due to the complete incompetence of Glasgow City Council so unfortunately it is looking like early 2015 for this bar. In addition, we have secured a much bigger site in Leeds (at Crispin Lofts on New York Road) and when this site opens in around March 2014 the plan is to turn the existing Leeds bar into a BottleDog.”

Shortlist for Southampton super casino named: The shortlist for the planned super casino in Southampton has been revealed. Five businesses, Grosvenor, Kymeira Casino, Genting Casinos UK, Global Gaming Ventures and Aspers, handed in a total of seven bids, and all have made it to the final stage of the selection process to find the builder and operator of the casino. It is likely to be located at the proposed £450m Royal Pier development, although one bid has been submitted for the Watermark WestQuay development and another for Leisureworld in West Quay Road. Southampton Council’s licensing committee considered all seven bids and decided to put all of them through to the final stage of the process. The chairman of the licensing committee, Matt Tucker, said: “We looked at whether the applicants met the criteria of our licensing objectives for the large casino, and all of them satisfied the broad criteria. One of the criteria we have laid down is that no-one will be able to look into the casino from outside to see gambling going on. We also want them to adopt a Challenge 25 policy to mitigate concerns people might have. It’s now the responsibility of the committee and myself as chairman to determine which operator ultimately gets the licence.” The final decision is likely to be made in June 2015.

Two offers for Truro brewery: Two offers have been made for the Wooden Hand brewery in Truro, Cornwall after its parent company went into administration in July. Stephen Powell and Gordon Johnston, of HJS Recovery, were appointed joint administrators to RAT Holdings Ltd on 9 July. The group, which consisted of the ten-year-old Wooden Hand Brewery in Truro and the four-year-old Salisbury Brewery in Dinton, Wiltshire had been loss-making despite “substantial” shareholder funding and management changes in late 2013. The Salisbury operation was subsequently closed in June, making three staff redundant. Wooden Hand, which operates from Gramphound Road Industrial Estate, and which had a bottling line installed in 2005 that contract-bottles for other brewers, has continued to trade after the administration. The administrators have received two offers for the stock and goodwill of the business, but are currently awaiting brewery licences. RAT Holdings failed owing unsecured creditors more than £940,000, but administrators are “hopeful” that they will receive a small payment for unsecured creditors. Preferential creditors of the company were owed £2,746 and are likely to be repaid in full. RAT Holdings was incorporated in 1984 and was dormant from 2000 after its London-based assets were sold. It was reorganised in 2012 to brew and bottle beer.

Camerons to create 12 new jobs after funding: The north east of England brewer and pub owner Camerons is set to create 12 jobs after securing circa £150,000 of funding from the Tees Valley Business Compass. The Hartlepool-based company will invest in a modern bottling facility with the money. Chris Soley, Camerons’ general manager, said that without the investment, the company would have lost out on the opportunity to grow the business. “Camerons Brewery is now the only remaining major independent family brewer in the north east and, as it approaches its 150th anniversary, the addition of a bottling capability will allow the business to adapt to changing consumer trends and help cement the site’s future long term prosperity,” Soley said. “As a result of the grant funding, we are able to install a beer bottling line capable of packaging up to 10,000 bottles per hour. The investment adds a further vital dimension to our UK renowned contract brewing services.”

Star Pubs & Bars extends ecommerce site functions: In a new departure for the leased sector, Star Pubs & Bars has extended the capability of its new ecommerce site, Star Pubs & Bars Online, to enable lessees to access their pub specific data including their Brulines reports and key property information such as their gas and electricity safety certificates, insurance documents and details of any loans. Unique in the leased trade, the site allows lessees to administer their accounts, invoices and statements online. As well as ordering product, lessees can access business support and practical advice on everything from maximising income from food to launching accommodation, link directly to suppliers such as Sky and CPL with whom Star Pubs & Bars has preferential terms, track sales patterns on all tied products and make rent payments. The company has also established Star Pubs & Bars Online as an overall communications portal by adding company news to the site. A quarter of Star Pubs & Bars’ lessees have taken up use of the ecommerce site since its launch six months ago.

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