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Wed 4th Feb 2015 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Burger & Lobster founder hails automation and technology as key restaurant trends: Automation and technology are key future trends for the restaurant industry, according to Mikhail Zelman, founder of Burger & Lobster in London and the Goodman Restaurant Group in Moscow. In an interview in advance of the Global Restaurant Investment Forum in Dubai from 16 to 18 February, Zelman said that "providing food more quickly and efficiently, utilising technology to drive service, increasing the current status of technology in a supporting role" would be vital. "There are a lot of patterns emerging in London, with self-service, self-payment and automated ordering – we have just installed iPads in our newest venture, Rex & Mariano [in St Anne's Court, Soho, London], from which customers order their food to be brought to the table by runners," he said. Zelman, who is speaking at the forum, also predicted a rise in the popularity of Singaporean and Malaysian food served in a "casual, fast-but-fine" atmosphere. "As well as this, I see there being a continuation of the rise of the mono-product restaurant with chefs providing smaller, focused menus and concentrating on a quality product. Following the success of Burger & Lobster, I’d predict that other operators will single out a dish and maximise its potential quality," he said. 

Industry News:

Full Propel Multi Club Conference speaker programme unveiled: The full speaker schedule for the Propel Multi Club Conference on Thursday 12 March at the Lancaster Hotel, London has been unveiled. CLICK HERE to see the full programme and timings. Operators of multi-site companies can claim two free places by emailing
Two new French restaurants awarded three Michelin stars: Two new French restaurants have been awarded three Michelin stars in the 2015 edition of the guide, the French Foreign Ministry announced. Yannick Alleno’s Ledoyen in Paris and the French chalet restaurant La Bouitte, run by the father-and-son team Réné and Maxime Meilleur, joined the pantheon of top eateries. The 2015 guide crowned 26 three-star restaurants in France, one fewer than last year. Worldwide, there are 111 Michelin three-star restaurants. There were 80 two-star restaurants, seven of which were new, and 503 one-star restaurants, 37 of them making the grade for the first time. In total, there are now 609 Michelin-starred restaurants in France.

Class is no longer a barrier as middle classes drinkers flock to Aldi and Lidl: Class is no longer a barrier to British adults shopping for food and alcohol at Aldi or Lidl, research from the Wilson Drinks Report has found. Almost half – 45% – of ABC1 adults had shopped at Aldi or Lidl over a three-month period, as did 45% of the lower socio demographic group C2DE. Tim Wilson, managing director of Wilson Drinks Report, said: “In the past we might have expected a much higher proportion of C2DE shoppers to buy food and alcohol at the big discounters. However our new research confirms that the upper and middle classes are just as happy to grab a bargain. Initiatives like the recent launch of premium French wine in Lidl, endorsed by a Master of Wine, only adds to the increasing credibility of the discounters in the minds of the shopper. We think that this provides real evidence that any perceived embarrassment of more middle/upper class shoppers being seen shopping at the discounters has now gone."
Randy Garutti – there is a huge shift in dining behaviour: The chief executive of Shake Shack, Randy Garutti, has argued that his company, whose shares more than doubled in value on the company's flotation last week, is the beneficiary of a “huge shift in consumer behaviour", with consumers willing to spend more for better food at limited-service concepts. He said: “There is a huge shift in dining behaviour. People are trading up from QSR. They’re trading down from casual. They’re meeting in the middle. That’s taking the best of fast casual. No one who went to Shake Shack would call us fast. But you’re sprinkling into that our fine-dining background. We’re working with small, artisanal, wonderful producers. We’re making sure our product is the best possible community gathering experience. It’s not about feeding people anymore. It’s not about perfect box-unit economics. We created this to support an art project in the park. I don’t know of anything more sincere than that.”

Research shows upselling has declined: Research by the guest experience management company HospitalityGEM has found that upselling in the foodservice industry significantly declined over the past two years, featuring in only 70% of customer visits in 2014, down from 83% in 2012. The data found that upselling was at an all-time low for the industry in December 2014, when it was recorded in just 66% of visits, against a record high achieved in February 2012 of 87%. This was likely to be a result of the higher numbers of customers and large group bookings at Christmas-time, particularly as consumer spend on eating out continues to rise in spite of economic difficulty, and the increased pressure this in turn places on staff, HospitalityGEM said. Generally, up-selling is at its highest throughout January, at 80% in 2014, suggesting the traditionally lower levels of footfall throughout this month leave staff with more time to focus on upselling through service, aided by the new year promotions that are commonplace, it said. In terms of industry sectors, upselling is at its highest in fine dining restaurants and high end hotels which registered at 79% and 76% across the year respectively, which could mean staff feel more comfortable offering additional food and more premium drinks choices in an environment where customers expect to spend a larger sum of money. It is at its lowest in the counter service sector, just 56%, no doubt due to the speed of service required at these establishments, leaving little room for offering extras to enhance the experience, the company said. Steven Pike, managing director of HospitalityGEM, said: “While staff may feel uncomfortable offering customers additional or more expensive products, it’s well worth operators investing in training to ensure this takes place. Our research identified that the Net Promoter Score is actually higher on visits where upselling features; this suggests that the customer appreciates the offer and the implied consideration of their requirements, and this is ultimately translated into positive word-of-mouth.

Online craft retailer Honest Brew raises £250,000 from two groups of angel investors: Honest Brew (, the world’s first personalised craft beer delivery service, offering a new way to discover craft beer with Honest Brew’s team curating beers from over 50 different breweries to match customer’s individual tastes, has raised £250,000 of investment from two groups of angel investors. The funds will see Honest Brew focus on acquisition growth and further develop its online platform. Andrew Reeve, founder of Honest Brew, said: “We are thrilled to be working with More Than Angels and Turning Point as Honest Brew enters an important growth stage. The investment will see us accelerate our growth and allow more people to experience the service. The team are passionate about giving customers the best experience possible and will continue to develop our online platform to give the customer even more control.” Keith Foreman, founding partner at More Than Angels, added: “We are delighted to be working with Andrew and the team at Honest Brew at what is an exciting time for the craft beer industry. Honest Brew is a company with massive growth potential and is truly focused on delivering what the consumer wants – quality product and a flexible service.”

Company News:

Giggling Squid expects £2m run-rate ebitda by the time it recruits investor: Giggling Squid, the Thai chain led by Andy and Pranee Laurillard, is aiming to have attracted external investment by the summer this year, when it expects to have run-rate ebitda of £2m. The company is currently undertaking a beauty parade of advisers prior to seeking an external investor. The Thai chain has ten sites open at the moment and expects to open in Bristol and Salisbury in the current quarter and Guildford in the second quarter, taking it to 13 sites. Giggling Squid expects to have a high quality pipeline of around seven further sites by the time it sells a stake. Andy Laurillard told Propel: “We are pleased with our pipeline sites, which are all extremely high quality. More generally, we decided to put ourselves in play a week or so ago and have had very strong interest already.” Last month, Andy Laurillard told Propel the company expects to hit £7.7m turnover in the current financial year to 31 March 2015, with ebitda of circa £1.25m and average site ebitda of 23%. Average return on capital employed is 97%.

Pho to launch 14th site with Pho To Go takeaway service: Pho, the Vietnamese street food group, will open its 14th restaurant, in Covent Garden, Central London, tomorrow, with a launch day promotion, Pho for a fiver. The special £5 menu will be available all day from 12pm to 11pm. The soft launch period will continue into the weekend, when the outlet will be offering 25% off the bill, until 9 February. Pho Covent Garden will seat 52 people, one of the chain's smaller restaurants. On Tuesday, 10 February, a Pho To Go takeaway service will launch in Covent Garden, where customers can call ahead and pick up their orders at a dedicated “stable door” in the walkway east of the restaurant. Pho has restaurants in London, Brighton and Leeds, and will open in Birmingham and Manchester later this year.
Angela Malik disappoints in Crowdcube push to expand Modern Asian Deli: The entrepreneur Angela Malik, who launched a fund-raising push on Crowdcube to raise £350,000 to expand her Modern Asian Deli concept in return for 18.9% of the equity a month ago, has so far raised just £2,080 from eight investors, 1% of her target, with six days to go. Funds of £350,000 to £500,000 are being sought to support the opening of the next location(s), recruit a chief operating officer and provide working capital for the business. Total investment in the business is £832,000 to date. A third site is due to open in May 2015. The company forecast ebitda of £2.227m by the end of the financial year 2018, assuming 12 sites are open and operating. In the current year to March 2015, total sales are forecast to be £357,000, with a net loss of £328,000.

Living Ventures starts work on Artisan Café, plans cinema and aims to double Alchemist Spinningfields capacity:
Living Ventures has started work on the Artisan Café Bar on the ground floor of the existing restaurant and bar in Spinningfields. It is due to open towards the end of March, with seating inside and out. In the autumn a cinema room will open at the site. A spokesman said: “The first of its kind in Manchester, the room will be perfect for private screenings and product launches with a state of the art screen and sound system. [We] have agreed a venue collaboration with Curzon Cinemas so the cinema room will be showing current releases and popular classics." The room will have a capacity of 25 to 30, while an adjoining anteroom will have a private bar. Elsewhere in the estate, the Alchemist Spinningfields is to be given an extension doubling the restaurant capacity both inside and out. The venue will close from 7 March for six weeks.
Stuart Inns expands into boutique bedrooms: Stuart Inns, run by brothers Oliver and Iain Macmillan and their sister Lorna Pissarro, has expanded into boutique bedrooms. The company runs three Suffolk pubs, the Swan at Long Melford, where they began in 2011, the Ram at Hadleigh, which they added in 2013, and the Greyhound in Lavenham, which they took on last year, all Greene King tenancies. The latest addition is a new departure, with the business having bought Melford House, formerly a family home next-door-but-one to the Swan, which has now been converted to provide four luxury en-suite guest bedrooms. Clive Chesser, business unit director for Greene King Pub Partners, said: “All of Lorna, Oliver and Iain’s businesses have blossomed as a result of their dedication to outstanding customer service, first-rate food and memorable dining experiences. I am in no doubt that Melford House will be another success for them and we are very proud to have this family of young and talented local entrepreneurs running Greene King pubs.”

Harris & Hoole hires new media agency as it lines up 46th opening: The Tesco-owned coffee chain Harris & Hoole has hired Brands2Life as its retained consumer, social media and digital agency as it prepares to open its 46th store, at Stansted Airport, in the coming weeks, according to Drum magazine. Brands2Life, which will report to the chain's chief executive, Nick Tolley, is tasked with building consumer awareness of the brand, driving footfall to stores and developing integrated consumer and digital campaigns. Tolley said that 2015 will be a pivotal year for Harris & Hoole and Brands2Life has devised a clear strategy to move it forward. “The team’s track record with the likes of John Lewis, Ascot Racecourse and Pinterest showcased real creativity and tangible business benefits for online, lifestyle and destination brands,” Tolley said. The chain recently released an app allowing customers to order and pay for their coffee via their mobile devices.
McDonald’s Australia sells limited edition Big Mac sauce: McDonald’s Australia is to sell Big Mac sauce on a limited edition basis. Only 200 500ml bottles being produced, the first of which is being auctioned off on eBay. The bottle has already received 135 bids and stands at $23,000 with eight days still to go. A further 600 25ml tubs will be sold at each of Australia's 920 McDonald's outlets. McDonald's Australia's chief marketing officer, Mark Lollback, said: "Big Mac sauce is one of the most iconic McDonald's ingredients and people often ask us where they can buy it; so we're excited to be the first country in the world to offer tubs of Big Mac sauce to our customers." The sauce's ingredients are relish, mustard, onion, garlic and mayo but it is the balance between the ingredients that creates the authentic McDonald's flavour, the company says. A McDonald's spokesperson said there were no plans for the sauce to be formally sold in the UK.

Craft Beer Co names home-brewer star: The multi-site retailer Craft Beer Co has named Gareth Young from Glasgow as the winner of its National Homebrewing Awards with his 5.6% Saison. The award means that Young, a tutor in philosophy at the University of Glasgow, will now go on to brew his beer commercially with the Sussex-based microbrewer Dark Star Brewing. and walk away with a £5,000 cash prize. Craft Beer Co's managing director, Martin Hayes, said: “Last year’s winner, Andy Parker, used his cash prize to start his own brewery, which launches later this year, something we’re all really excited about. The inspiration behind these awards was two-fold; to recognise the excellent home brewers that are out there and to maybe help one of them take the next step to brewing commercially. I was once again blown away by the standard of entries to the competition, as were the judges, who were our very own Tom Cadden, the leading beer writer Pete Brown and representatives from Magic Rock, Beavertown Brewery and Dark Star Brewing.”

£1.6m facelift for Indoor Market in Hull to include restaurant: A new restaurant will open in the historic Trinity Indoor Market in Hull as part of a £1.6m transformation. The market, off Trinity House Lane, has struggled in recent years with declining footfall and more stalls falling empty. Council officials are hoping to revive its fortunes in a new partnership with Hull College. The two organisations are working together on plans to revamp the venue using money from a £3m government funding grant for the Old Town. The proposals include opening a new restaurant in the market, offering hands-on experience for catering students from the college. It will mirror an existing training restaurant operated by the college in its Horncastle Building.

First pay-as-you-stay venue opens in Manchester’s Northern Quarter: The first pay-as-you-stay coffee venue has opened in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. The venue, Ziferblat, charges a flat rate of 5p a minute, measured by the mismatched vintage clocks handed to guests at the door of the Edge Street venue. Gareth Harold, the project’s head of operations, said: “It completely turns the model on its head. When you go into an establishment where you eat or drink, you expect a transaction, you purchase something that enables you to occupy that space for a certain amount of time. That can cause problems for people who just want to take a seat. They feel obliged to buy something, which is overpriced, more often than not, and actually not that good. Here, you can kill time and you don’t actually have to eat or drink at all if you don’t want to, but if you do you can help yourself. The idea is, you’re paying for the space, you’re not paying for what you consume.” The concept was pioneered in Russia by the author-turned-entrepreneur Ivan Meetin as a social space for artists to meet and share ideas. Ben Davies, head of marketing at the Manchester branch, which is the latest of 14 that have since popped up across Europe, said: “They wanted a common space they could use, a shared sitting room.”
BrewDog launches designated driver discount in wake of lower Scottish drink drive limits: Inspired by the recent change in Scotland’s drink driving laws, the Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has launched a designated driver discount, to make it easier for people to enjoy themselves in its network of bars before driving home safely and legally. BrewDog is offering a 15% discount on soft drinks as well as its low alcohol beer, Nanny State in all UK BrewDog bars. To qualify, customers must present a set of car keys at the bar when ordering soft drinks, coffee or BrewDog’s 0.5% ABV "Imperial Mild", Nanny State. James Watt, BrewDog's co-founder, said: “This is our way of giving a little back to those brave souls who have taken on the responsibly to safely ferry their friends to and from the watering hole. We’ve always championed responsible drinking, and with this discount, we want to make it easier for those who have to drive to enjoy themselves in our bars. Nanny State is the perfect choice for designated drivers. It demonstrates the versatility of beer, showing it is perfectly possible to achieve a flavoursome and complex beer with very low alcohol levels.”

Costa Coffee to open in former Harris & Hoole site today: Whitbread’s Costa Coffee brand is to open today (4 February) in former Harris & Hoole site in Crowborough, West Sussex. The chain was interested in opening at the site in Broadway Chambers in 2011. It applied for permission to erect signs when Clinton Cards still had the lease and before Harris & Hoole obtained it.

Purple WiFi partners Molson Coors to provide wi-fi hot-spot driven CRM system: Purple WiFi, the cloud-based social wi-fi software company, has unveiled a partnership with the brewer Molson Coors to create a wi-fi offer for pubs called “Molson Coors Cloud”. In a trial, Molson Coors is offering a secure gated access point for wi-fi in pubs where Molson Coors brands are stocked, such as Carling, Coors Light and Cobra. The pub can use the Molson Coors Cloud for social media engagement, customer interaction and data collection. Alpesh Mistry, Molson Coors' customer marketing director, said: “Being a significant on-trade supplier that continues to have a direct relationship with our customers, we know publicans are looking for new modern ways to drive sales. The idea of having a resource that would capture customer data and then use this to attract these pubgoers back would have historically been left to those with significant time and budget. By creating Molson Coors Cloud, our hope is, we are enabling any of our customers to have this ability.” Daniel Dearlove, general manager of the Backyard Bar & Backyard Comedy Club, said: “The Molson Coors wi-fi portal is already driving more traffic to our free wi-fi service and the marketing opportunities it enables are easy to implement and helping us to engage in new ways with our customer base. With a better understanding of our customers, we can also identify new markets for our events and improve the service we offer, resulting in increased numbers of returning customers.”
Miller Brands UK reports tankovna beer is driving volumes: Miller Brands UK has reported that its fresh, unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell tankovna beer has driven a 28% increase in footfall and trial for London pubs and on-premise outlets that stock it. The company claims the brand is seeing new consumers enter the category and use tankovna venues as a "destination for a quality and authentic drinking experience", with 10% of consumers entering a tankovna venue because of the striking copper tanks. Jez Manterfield, general manager of the White Horse, Parsons Green, in London, said: “Having the tanks inside our pub has not only created a great talking point because they are so visible, but has also helped to deliver great tasting beer. Unpasteurised tank beer offers my customers something really special, a taste of the real Czech! I first saw the copper tanks in Prague. We visited two outlets and were convinced by the look and the taste of the beer, so much so that we have made it our house beer.” Tim Clay, director of sales at Miller Brands UK & Ireland, said: "The British beer drinker is one of the worlds most cosmopolitan, which makes this an ideal market in which to introduce international beers served in the authentic way. Pilsner Urquell tank beer marks a real innovation in the consumer experience and enjoyment of beer in this country."
Wagamama confirms Coventry site: Wagamama has confirmed an opening in Cathedral Lanes, Coventry. Guy Shearer, of Shearer Property Group, the new owner of Cathedral Lanes, said: “There is a shortage of quality bars and restaurants in the city, so we are delighted to announce these important lettings, which mark the beginning of the regeneration process for this core area of the city and mean that our first phase is fully let. We are confident of attracting further quality restaurants to Cathedral Lanes following the opening of our first phase.”

Nando’s fields almost 800 applications for Swindon opening: Almost 800 people applied for just 34 positions at Swindon’s first Nando’s restaurant, which opens at Regent Circus today. Nando’s joins Morrisons, Ask Italian, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Coal Grill & Bar in opening its doors, with the end finally in sight for builders at the former Swindon College site. Prezzo and Cineworld will complete the development on Friday, with two units and a kiosk remaining empty for the time being.

Restaurateur reopens pub after six-figure refit: Restaurateur Kostas Aslanidis, who owns the Marina Vista Ristorante at Roker Marina in Sunderland, reopens The Albion, in Ryhope, Sunderland today (Wednesday) after a six-figure refurbishment and a seven-month closure. Aslanidis told the Sunderland Echo newspaper that while he and his wife Lijie Zhang have taken a hands-on role in transforming the pub and put their personal stamp on the venue, which is believed to date back to the 1920s, they have also ensured that the bar’s period features remain, such as its original fireplaces, a clock and the last orders bell. Aslanidis, who moved to the North East of England in the early 1990s to study hotel and catering and business, said: “It’s very important to us to make a valuable contribution to the Ryhope area, and I’m confident that will happen. We have talked to residents and made sure they have been kept informed of our plans at every stage.” The Albion At Ryhope Restaurant & Bar now has space for about 80 guests, while its side room can be adapted to sit 45 people for special occasion bookings. The menu will feature traditional and contemporary cuisine, with a gastro-inspired special menu and traditional Sunday lunches.

Husband of dead M&B food poisoning victim criticises two-year wait for justice: John Callagher, the former chief executive of the recruitment firm RSA Executive Search, whose wife Della died after eating a reheated Christmas dinner at the Railway Inn, Hornchurch, Essex on 25 December 2012, has criticised the two-year wait for justice over his wife's death. Prosecutors claimed the food was not allowed to cool when it was first cooked and then not properly reheated, creating a perfect breeding ground for the deadly Clostridium perfringens bacterium. The pub's manager, Anne-Marie McSweeney, and its chef, Mehmet Kaya, who had disposed of the food and falsified kitchen records, were convicted of perverting the course of justice and have been jailed for 18 months and 12 months respectively. The company that owned the pub, Mitchells & Butlers, was found guilty of placing unsafe food on the market and fined £1.5m. In a statement provided through his lawyers, Darbys Solicitors, Callagher said: “When Della was killed, our lives fell apart. Della’s passing was completely avoidable. All three defendants appear to have little or no idea what long-term damage their actions and in some cases their lies have done. We have had to wait nearly two years to even begin to understand what happened on Christmas Day 2012 causing me and my family tremendous heartache and frustration. My family have really helped my daughter and me, however life will never be the same. My daughter will now grow up without her mother by her side and that is unforgivable. Della can never be replaced. The company and individuals involved could have made the process a lot easier by co-operating with Havering Borough Council and admitting their guilt at the first opportunity. No sentence passed by the Court can begin to numb the great pain that the actions that both the individuals and the company have caused.”
Bone Daddies to open pop-up in Soho: Shackfuyu, the first Bone Daddies pop-up restaurant, will open in Soho, central London this month. Ross Shonhan and his team will operate a regularly changing menu that will evolve primarily from the use of the previous restaurant’s pizza oven. The new pop-up will be at 14a Old Compton Street, with a menu of small dishes and accompanying sides using flavours and cuisines from Japan. Shonhan said: “We’ve been waiting a long time for this site, so to have the pop-up finally under way is a really exciting project for Bone Daddies. The smaller menu and temporary site gives us the chance to play with dishes and try something new with our guests, without the usual expectations and boundaries. Hopefully we will create a fun dining event for both existing supporters and those discovering us for the first time.”
TCG reopens Chelmsford pub after £120,000 spend with craft beer and rum focus: The managed pub and bar operator TCG has reopened the Golden Fleece in Chelmsford, Essex after a £120,000 investment. TCG said the aim of the refurbishment was to target a broader range of customers, with a particular focus on the daytime and early evening food opportunity, while retaining the loyalty of the pub's live music and sports fan regulars. The company said that by creating four zones to cater for different audiences, the redevelopment had "widened the pub’s appeal and given it a more contemporary and independent feel". The Golden Fleece is the only TCG pub to be serving British craft beers on draught, with Beavertown Gamma Ray, Whitstable Pale Ale and BrewDog Dead Pony Club, in addition to a range of six US bottled beers including Shipyard, Goose Island and Sierra Nevada. The pub is aiming to specialise in rums, with a target of 50 over time, including some high-end selections, which will give it a unique position in Chelmsford, TCG said. Nigel Wright, TCG's chief operating officer, said: “Customers in Chelmsford, as elsewhere, have raised their expectations of a pub visit, and with the refurbishment, we’ve raised our offer to meet them.”

Allibhoy to open third tapas bar this month: The Spanish chef Omar Allibhoy will open his third tapas bar, Tapas Revolution on Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, East London on Tuesday 24 February. Tapas Revolution Shoreditch will be having a "50% off food" soft launch offer from Tuesday 10 February to Monday 23 February. Tapas Revolution said the venue will be Allibhoy’s personal interpretation of the tapas bars in his hometown of Madrid. It will be open for all-day dining and offer fresh tapas, using ingredients Allibhoy has sourced from across Spain.

'Incredibly busy' Coal Shed to open sister restaurant at Hilton Brighton Metropole to ease pressure: The owner of the Coal Shed restaurant in Boyce’s Street, Brighton, which currently caters for up to 1,000 diners a week, with many more turned away, is preparing to open an ambitious sister establishment at the Hilton Brighton Metropole. Owner Razak Helalat said: “We’ve been incredibly busy at the Coal Shed, and it’s a difficult restaurant to do 1,000 customers a week – we turn away hundreds. The building is under pressure, there’s just not enough space. People said we were crazy to be opening a mid to high-end restaurant in a backstreet, right in the middle of the recession. But before we knew it we had David Gilmour and Nick Cave coming in. Diners couldn’t get what we do anywhere else in Brighton." Helalat said he had assembled the “best of the best” for the Salt Room, including the former head chef of the Ginger Pig and the Coal Shed, Dave Mothersill, and a former general manager with Mark Hix Restaurants, Dariush Tamadon Nejad. The Salt Room, which will specialise in seafood, is due to open on Friday 20 February with 84 covers in the main restaurant, 60 at the bar and another 53 on the terrace. Helalat said: “When people think of Brighton they think of the sea and good seafood. We want people to open the door and taste the salt in the air. We will stick to what we do best, which is high-quality ingredients, cooked really well, and not messed around with. People are willing to pay for quality, and we’ve become a bit of a special occasion place, where people don’t mind spending a bit of money.”

Legendary Pubs buys second site: Legendary Pubs has bought the freehold of the Bull Inn in Cavendish, west Suffolk through the property agent Fleurets. Legendary Pubs already operates the Half Moon in nearby Belchamp St Paul. The Bull will close for refurbishment for two weeks after completion, and re-open mid-February. The property was sold off a freehold asking price of £325,000 plus VAT.

Shepherd Neame fined £10,000 after employee lost finger: Shepherd Neame has been fined £10,000 after one of its employees lost his finger. The brewery was fined at Maidstone Magistrates Court after a 21-year-old man had to have his finger amputated. William Scanlan, from Sheerness, was working as a warehouse operative at the brewers in Court Street, Faversham, Kent when the incident took place on June 23 last year. Scanlan had been hosing down machinery, used to clean and empty beer casks, when he slipped and his hand fell into a sprocket as he tried to regain his balance.

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