The fall in petrol prices drove consumers to pump an additional £12.81 each into the UK economy last month, as they benefited from an extra £19.81 in their pockets. The figures are based on the card spending data of more than 800,000 UK bank customers during January and have been released by Cardlytics, an advertising and technology company specialising in card-linked marketing, which helps brands deliver rewards to consumers through their mobile and online banking services. According to Cardlytics' data, the fall in prices at the pump meant spending on petrol was down by 13% in January, representing an average fall in spend per UK adult of £19.81 compared to a year ago. In contrast, spending on other products for the same period increased by 4% or £32.62 per person, a net benefit to the UK economy of nearly £13 a head. Most of this additional spend was on eating out in cafes and quick-service restaurants, as well as online shopping, which saw a 16% increase in spend compared to January last year.
An activist investor in the United States that has built up a stake in McDonald's has met the hamburger chain's management to urge it to separate its property holdings into a publicly traded investment trust or franchise more of its restaurants, according to the Wall Street Journal. According to the Journal, Glenview Capital Management, which manages assets of more than $9bn, has not revealed how much McDonald's stock it owns. A chain's property holdings are a frequent target of activist investors because restaurants generally get lower returns from owning property than they do from selling hamburgers or, in particular, selling franchises. However, Sara Senatore, an analyst at Bernstein Research, said it was unlikely the chain would heed Glenview's call because McDonald’s prefers owning property, and the income stream and system control it provides.
Three leading trade organisations have joined forces to fight the shortage of chefs and improve chef skills for those working in the pub and bar sector. The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) have been working together on behalf of their members to find solutions to tackle the growing issue of chef shortages that operators face as the growth in eating out continues to rise, and to highlight the huge opportunities for young people in the sector. Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA, said: “With the eating out market growing at around 2.8%, and further growth expected throughout 2015, we need to take action to attract and train young chefs who can develop their skills as our sector continues to be at the forefront of this trend.” The BBPA has created a video that seeks to inspire young people to pursue a career as a pub chef. The film, a snapshot of the fast-paced arena of the pub kitchen, will be promoted around schools, colleges, and universities to help raise awareness of the opportunities and aid in recruiting the most promising candidates into the industry.
The Wright Brothers, the oyster specialist and seafood wholesaler, is to open its fifth restaurant in South Kensington, London in June. The new outlet, on the former site of La Bouchee on the Old Brompton Road, will include an "independent" bar accessible from the street, which will sell wines, cocktails and "pound a pop" oysters during happy hour. The restaurant itself will sell oysters and fruits-de-mer along with a regularly changing specials board. The chef will be Philip Coulter, who is moving from Wright Brothers Oyster & Porter House in Borough Market, South London after five years. Robin Hancock, who founded Wright Brothers with his brother-in-law Ben Wright in 2002, said: "We have always wanted to open in South Kensington, it feels like that little corner of Paris where we first began top dream about repopularising the oyster in London." The company's other outlets are the Soho Oyster House in Central London, Wright Brothers Spitalfields in East London and the Ferryboat Inn, Helford, Cornwall.
Battlesteads adds five 'eco-lodges':
The award-winning Battlesteads Hotel and Restaurant a stone-built pub, hotel and restaurant in Wark, near Hexham, Northumberland, has added five luxury environmentally friendly timber lodges to its 17-ensuite bedrooms. The lodges, developed by Swift Timber Homes, all use sustainable wood manufactured in Durham and underfloor heating fed from the hotel's biomass boiler and are furnished and decorated using local services. Richard Slade, owner of Battlesteads, said: "Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do here at Battlesteads, so when we decided to extend the hotel we knew we needed to be as environmentally friendly as possible. Each lodge is made using sustainable materials that blend into our rural landscape and are in keeping with the green ethos that runs throughout the running of the hotel.” Battlesteads was awarded a platinum-level rating in TripAdvisor’s GreenLeaders programme in 2014, a scheme that helps travellers make greener choices when deciding on a hotel trip, and also holds Three Star Sustainability Champion status from the Sustainable Restaurant Association. Wetherspoon launches licence bid for first ever pub and hotel co-location:
JD Wetherspoon has launched a bid for a drinks licence at its new pub in Huntingdon, which will have its first ever co-located hotel development next door. Wetherspoon has acquired two disused buildings, a former post office and George Hall in George Street, as part of a £2.3m investment in Huntingdon. It has been trying to find a suitable site in the town for some years and is also planning to open in nearby St Ives. Wetherspoon expects to create about 40 jobs with the new pub and hotel complex, just outside the town centre in an area to the west which the district council wants to see redeveloped. The hotel, across the ring road from the historic George Hotel, would be built separately and would have 22 rooms, one of which would have full disability access. Most of the rooms would be doubles but the development would include eight linked rooms for families.Heritage Lottery Fund provides £4.9m boutique hotel grant:
The Heritage Lottery Fund has provided a £4.9m grant to convert the derelict Harland and Wolff drawing offices on Queen's Island in Belfast into a boutique hotel. The B+ listed building has been vacant since 1989 and has been considered "at risk" for almost a decade. It is now set to be developed into an 84-bedroom boutique hotel, which will tell the story of Belfast’s industrial heritage. Kerrie Sweeney, from the Titanic Foundation, said: "With HLF's support we will safeguard the drawing offices for future generations and unlock the commercial potential of the entire building as a boutique hotel with heritage at its core. This is a truly unique and authentic project for Belfast that could not have happened without the support from Heritage Enterprise Scheme.” Paul Mullan, the head of HLF Northern Ireland, said: "This is an exciting project that will see one of Belfast's most historic buildings reborn as a major tourist destination. This, like many of the city's historic buildings, has incredible potential to act as a driver of regeneration and economic growth.” First Japanese Izakaya opens in London:
What is claimed to be the first example in London of an authentic Japanese Izakaya, or casual bar for after-work drinking, serving food to accompany the drinks, is due to open just off Oxford Street early next month. The Woodstock Kushiyaki Bar, in Woodstock Street, WC1, has been designed by the London based Japanese designers Total Planner. The ground floor will be focused on casual drinking, with a large slate-fronted bar, exposed wooden walls and limited seating, and an open kitchen. Downstairs will be tables and stools and an additional bar. The menu will offer more than 20 varieties of skewers divided into Kushiyaki – grilled skewers served with salt or teriyaki sauce; and Kushiyage – fried skewers served with miso and dashi sauce. All the skewers will be freshly cooked to order and priced from £2.50 for two. The drinks offer will include Japanese draught beer, Young’s London Stout, Flying Dogfish and Meantime IPA and lager, a large selection of Japanese and international bottled beers, wines, a variety of speciality sakes, and Japanese whiskeys.
Punch pub with own microbrewery attached wins Partner of the Year award:
The landlord of a Yorkshire pub who transformed it from a "challenging" venue to a flagship real ale and cider destination with its own microbrewery and a deserved local reputation has won the overall Partner of the Year Award at Punch Taverns' Regional Partner of the Year awards ceremony. Andrew Stephens from the Closed Shop, Walkley, near Sheffield, beat off competition from more than 360 operators. Punch Tavern’s regional director, Steve Burns, said: “The Closed Shop is worthy of the overall title, having brought the pub back to its former glory just two years after a £250,000 joint investment. The passion of Andrew and his team in delivering first-class food, drink and entertainment with a smile is a winning formula.” The New Business Award winners for the North went to Graham Usher and Martin Firth from the Drovers Arms, Selby. It was their third award in 12 months, after being recognised in Welcome to Yorkshire’s Top 30 Pubs 2014 and picking up a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2014 certificate. Helen Mason from the Three Cottages, Chesterfield was the Southern winner after transforming a historic local into a destination pub, serving up home cooked food with what the judges said was "exceptional" customer focus. Danny Grayson from Champs Sports Bar & Grill, Sheffield received the Mystery Shopper Award for delivering outstandingly high customer service standards, having received 100% scores over nine visits. In all, 20 pubs picked up winners' certificates at the awards, which were help at the Great Northern Hotel in Mickleover, Derbyshire.
Shoryu Ramen set to double turnover to £12m this year:
The Japanese noodle chain Shoryu Ramen is set to double turnover this year to £12m, founder Tak Tokumine has told the Daily Telegraph. Turnover will be boosted by the opening of a fifth site in the City of London in April, which will have room for 94 diners. There are currently Shoryu sites in Regent Street, Soho and Kingly Court in Central London, with an offshoot, Shoryu Go, a takeaway restaurant, in Piccadilly Circus. Tokumine, who previously founded the Japan Centre, a popular delicatessen and restaurant in Central London, said that Britons were looking for more sophisticated noodle variations to sink their teeth into. He told the newspaper: “We serve 1,000 bowls of ramen noodles a day, and that is rising. British people were waiting for these quality, authentic noodles. British people are very enthusiastic about food and are adventurous about trying a new product.” He is now looking at potential sites outside London, with plans for ambitious growth in the next two years. Busaba Eathai launches free well-being workshops:
The Thai restaurant group Busaba Eathai is launching a six-week series of "Sookjai" wellbeing workshops commencing on Sunday 22 February. Sookjai is Busaba’s living ethos and is based on traditional Buddhist values. It literally means "to enjoy" or "to have pleasure" without being distracted by the chaos of everyday life. The events, which are free to attend, will include workshops in yoga, meditation, mindfulness and Thai cooking. All sessions will take place at Busaba’s new flagship Shoreditch, East London site, which opens to the public today (Wednesday). Guests can book via the Busaba website and Eventbrite (www.busaba.com/discovery/sookjai-events
). The Sookjai events will kick off with CookThai taster classes, taking place every Sunday from 12pm to 2pm. Classes will be held in Busaba Shoreditch’s new CookThai Academy, a dedicated development and teaching kitchen created for culinary exploration and creativity. During the class, guests will be taught how to make the classic Busaba dishes at home, learning techniques and culinary secrets from "wok-masters". Frankie & Benny’s set for Sutton Coldfield site:
A new Frankie & Benny’s looks set to replace a community venue in Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands. A planning application has been submitted to replace Brampton Hall Community Centre in Princess Alice Drive with a new site. The proposed venue would accommodate up to 138 diners and would be two-storey. Dovetail Architects on behalf of the applicant, Burney Midlands, said groups that had previously used the venue have all been re-sited. In a statement accompanying the planning application, it said: “Action has been taken to ensure that the groups that use the community centre have been contacted to establish a relocation of their activities to a new venue." PizzaExpress opens new site in Bristol:
A new PizzaExpress has opened in the Cabot Circus shopping centre in Bristol with a design influenced by the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. The new restaurant, which can seat 149, has created jobs for 36 staff. Large fret-cut balloons suspended across the restaurant appear to float seamlessly from one side to the other. Amy Morgan, manager of PizzaExpress Cabot Circus, said, “The new restaurant looks fantastic and we hope our new customers love it as much as we do.”Micropub boom in Middlesbrough as fifth opening is lined up:
Middlesbrough is in the midst of a micropub boom, with the fourth opening lined up. A premises licence is being sought to transform the former site of the Olde Young Tea House on Grange Road in central Middlesbrough into a new micropub. The Olde Young Tea House was voted the nation’s favourite independent business in August 2014 and moved next door to larger premises last year. Now the current owner of the unit, Michael Hill, has applied for permission to turn the address into a micropub catering for real ale enthusiasts. Hill said: “We’re planning to call it The Infant Hercules after the famous quote from William Gladstone. We already run the Longlands Club and it’s something we’ve been wanting to do for a while. It’s an alternative to the big pub chains and something for the enthusiasts to enjoy. You can come in and talk to someone you’ve only just met, that’s something you lose with a town centre big pub or club. We’re currently renovating it and getting the bar installed. We just hope our application goes through and we can get started.” The existing micropubs In Middlesbrough are Dr Phil’s in Langhorne, the Devil’s Advocate on Borough Road, and Sherlock's and Twisted Lip, both on Baker Street.Truman's doubles capacity, adds kegging line in £500,000 investment:
Truman's, the Hackney Wick-based brewery that revived the name of one of London's oldest brewing concerns, is to double capacity to 500 barrels a week, or 42,000 hectolitres a year, and install a fully-automated kegging line. In what the company said was the largest investment the business has undertaken since the establishment of its new brewery in 2013, the new equipment will be housed in an additional unit that will increase the brewery’s floor space by 50%. In addition, new jobs are being created in sales, marketing, distribution and brewing. Truman's, which was founded by James Morgan, takes its name from the former brewery on Brick Lane in Spitalfields that closed in 1989 after more than 300 years. Morgan said: "We are now approaching capacity, years earlier than we thought we would, and so will be doubling our capacity in the coming months. The addition of a fully-automated kegging line will also mean we can expand our keg range and meet the ever-increasing demand for Truman’s beer.”Plans to open new 650-capacity Manchester nightclub are submitted:
Plans to turn a derelict mill off Trinity Way in Manchester into a 650-capacity nightclub have been submitted. The plans would see the four-storey building turned into a club and arts space open until 4am. The former mill and furniture warehouse, located on Mary Street where Trinity Way crosses the River Irwell in Manchester city centre, would also house studios and arts spaces. The company behind the plans, NA Ventures, said it hopes to provide space for up-and-coming musicians and artists and a community hub for local residents and students. If given permission, the second, third and fourth floors of the building would be used by fashion designers, photographers, artists and musicians, and as exhibition space and dance studios. The first floor and basement would be used as a nightclub with permission sought to open until 4am every day except Sunday.
Troubled Birmingham nightclub to become a restaurant with police backing:
A trouble-hit Birmingham nightclub that became a "war zone" and had its licence suspended after a mass brawl between rival gangs has applied to become solely a restaurant, with the backing of police. A meeting of Birmingham Council’s licensing committee has now extended the suspension for 28 days, and the authority will now consider the restaurant-only plans. The Hurst Street venue has already begun a six-week refurbishment, the meeting heard. Under the proposals there will be no DJs or stages allowed and police have also placed restrictions on how many customers can be served in the small bar area. PC Abs Rohomon said the venue's owner, Bull Frog Leisure, which operates an American diner-style restaurant in Solihull and another restaurant in Stratford, had worked with police and accepted modifications to their proposals. The new restaurant would open until 1am on weekends, with food only served until midnight.
Hawkes launches urban cider made from donated and unwanted apples:
A London-based company, Hawkes, has launched Urban Orchard, craft cider made with apples donated by communities and individuals in urban areas looking to put their unwanted apples to good use. Hawkes' founder, Simon Wright, a former Greene King and InBev marketing executive, said: “In all the years I’ve been in the industry, I’ve noticed a tectonic shift in the way consumers think about what they’re eating and drinking. People have a desire to become part of something real, from the people producing their beer and cider all the way through to how and where the ingredients are sourced and used. I wanted to create a truly London-style blend, for our first craft cider, made for the people and inherently, by the people. I really hope that we can grow our list of community and individual donors over the coming years and that people buy into what we’re doing and why.”
Thwaites reopens Gateway Inn in Kendal after £450,000 spend:
The Lancashire-based family brewer Daniel Thwaites has reopened the Gateway Inn in Kendal, Cumbria after a £450,000 investment co-funded with licensees Garry Smith and John Welch. The renovation includes the addition of eight new bedrooms and new bar and dining areas in the pub. Seven jobs have been created, including the appointment of Eddie Wilkinson, a highly experienced head chef who has more than 25 years of haute cuisine experience. Andrew Buchanan, director of pub operations for Thwaites, said: “I’d like to extend a huge congratulations to the team here. The Gateway Inn looks simply stunning and is surely set to become a jewel in Kendal’s hospitality crown.” National restaurant chains 'already interested' in £3m Plymouth 'boardwalk' scheme
: Restaurant operators are already sniffing out opportunities in the £3m “boardwalk” development at Sutton Harbour in Plymouth, which only received planning permission last Thursday, according to the developer behind the scheme. Sutton Harbour Holdings (SHH) said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange: “The company already has strong interest in units from well-known operators and pre-letting of the units will be targeted to secure development financing." The proposal, to create a boardwalk with two single-storey buildings containing three shop/restaurant/café units and pontoon access to a harbour ferry, is the third plan SHH has come up with, and was scaled back significantly from previous proposals. The scheme now provides a total of 7,807 sq ft of lettable space in two larger units for “quality family and visitor-orientated” restaurant use, and one smaller pavilion unit. The structure, built on piles over the water with views towards the Barbican, will incorporate a boardwalk pedestrian access which SHH said will “greatly improve connectivity from the western to the northern side of the harbour”.Massimo Zanetti signs Asian deal:
Massimo Zanetti Beverage Group (MZB Group), which owns Segafredo Zanetti in Italy, Chock full o'Nuts, Kauai and Hill Bros in the United States) and Meira in Finland, has signed a partnership with TNPI, the leading Asian food and beverage operator, to develop its own franchising coffee shops network. Its subsidiary Segafredo Zanetti Espresso Worldwide, the brand through which MZB manages and franchises the coffee boutiques globally, has signed an agreement to develop more than 50 Segafredo Zanetti Espresso cafes in China and Hong Kong. Segafredo Zanetti Espresso Worldwide has more 330 stores worldwide plus 70 branded Puccino's, Chock Cafès and BoncafèVino sites. Bar ordered by council to remove hand-painted signs:
A bar owner in Bristol has been ordered to redecorate his building because its hand-painted signs are in a conservation area. The black and white signage has been on the building in Triangle West, Clifton since the Manos Liquor Bar opened in November last year. Bristol City Council has now ordered the owners of the bar to paint over the signs within 14 days. A petition has been set up to oppose the decision, which was branded “ridiculous” by the owner, James Smailes. He said: “Our black and white signs were painted by a local graphic designer, and we think they really suit the building and have actually tidied it up a bit. It’s not like we’ve put a big neon sign up. It is just paint on a building, after dark you don’t see it.” In a letter, Bristol City Council told Smailes the building was also subject to planning laws, but any retrospective planning permission was likely to be refused. However, Smailes said he did not think he had needed planning permission to repaint the building. He said: “Hand-drawn signs and images are so common in Bristol. There are similar things on Illusions Magic Bar, Rocotillos and Shark Bite Surf Shop, which are all close by. And the side of the Canteen has a break-dancing Jesus." The city council's policy document on street art, published in 2009, says: “Street art will not normally be considered acceptable in a conservation area as it is not generally appropriate to the character of the historic environment.”
Glendola Leisure fingered for Bar & Beef site in Manchester's Corn Exchange:
Glendola Leisure is close to a deal to open a second branch of its Bar & Beef steaks-and-gin brand in one of the few remaining units in the Corn Exchange in Manchester, according to a report. The first outlet for the brand, Alston Bar & Beef, named for a now-vanished Glasgow street, opened in May last year at Central Station, Gordon Street, Glasgow. The new Manchester restaurant, if negotiations are successful, will apparently be called 18 Thirty Seven Bar & Beef, a reference to the first Corn Exchange in Manchester, built on the Hanging Ditch site in 1837. The Bar & Beef outlet in Glasgow specialises in 35-day dry-aged Tweed Valley steaks starting from £19. So far 12 operators, including Wahaca, Pho, Cabana, Cosy Club, Byron Burger, Tampopo, PizzaExpress and Zizzi Ristorante, have been confirmed in the Corn Exchange's £30m refurbishment, with only a handful of empty units left. However, according to the website Manchester Confidential, although Alan Yau's Busaba Eathai was looking at one of the units, the chain is now more likely to plump for a site in The Printworks in Manchester. Marston’s wins four awards at brewing Oscars:
Marston’s has been award four prestigious awards at the International Brewing Awards 2015 held in Burton upon Trent at the weekend. The company was awarded three gold medals for Hobgoblin Ruby, Rye Pale Ale and Mann’s Brown Ale with a silver medal for New World Pale Ale, as outstanding commercial examples of their style. The International Brewing Awards, subbed the brewing industry’s Oscars, were first run 129 years ago in 1886 and have been constantly developed to reflect the global market for beer. All judges were practising brewers and the stewards were all from within the industry, ensuring integrity of pour and dispense to the judges. Hobgoblin Ruby in keg, brewed in Witney, picked up its gold medal in the 4.5-6.9% abv keg beer category; Rye Pale Ale brewed in Wolverhampton from the Revisionist range won gold in the 2.9-4.4% abv keg beer category and Mann’s Brown Ale, brewed in Burton Upon Trent, won gold in the low alcohol 1.2-2.8% abv beer category. New World Pale Ale, which won silver in the biggest and most hotly contested class, cask ale from 2.9 to 3.8% abv, is also brewed in Burton upon Trent and was launched a year ago as a 3.8% abv golden ale in the Marston’s Pedigree "family". Richard Westwood, managing director of Marston’s Beer Company said: “I am thrilled that our beers have performed so well at these very prestigious brewing awards. It reaffirms our brewing expertise across our business and demonstrates that we are able to brew beers that are not only commercially successful but eminently drinkable too. It’s great to see our new beers performing alongside our other, more established brands.”