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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 27th May 2015 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

United Craft Brewers plan September conference: United Craft Brewers (UCB), the organisation set up earlier this month by the Scottish brewer BrewDog along with Camden Town Brewery and Beavertown Brewery of London, Magic Rock Brewing in Yorkshire and the beer distributor James Clay, has announced that it is it is organising a meeting of craft brewers in early September "where we can discuss where we see the state of craft beer in the UK, and where we see the future for it". Brewers are being asked to register their interest in coming to the meeting by adding their contact details to the UCB's newly launched website, James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog, said the meeting would discuss "what challenges are currently facing the industry, and what solutions we can create to combat them – as well as the things the industry is currently embracing, or excelling at.” He said: “If the long-term response is as good as the initial response, then together, the United Craft Brewers will really make a difference. The UK is home to one of the fastest-growing, most innovative, creative and eclectic beer scenes in the world. We’re insanely proud to be a part of it and we’re laser focused on the future of amazing craft beer. And that future is nothing without the collaborative effort and support of our thriving community of breweries and beer lovers. The United Craft Brewers will provide a hub to help propel craft beer to reach its potential. It’s an exciting time to be in beer." On the website, the bosses of the five founder-companies, Logan Plant of Beavertown, Watt, Jasper Cuppaidge of Camden Town, James Clay, and Richard Burhouse of Magic Rock, say: "Our mission statement for UCB is to promote and protect the interests of British craft brewers, their beers and the community of beer enthusiasts. We will be sharing more details about this in the future, but ask for your patience while we pull all the details together. Know that to accomplish our goals, we’ll need to do so through focusing on core values of education and quality, along with promotion and protection."

Industry News:

Industry urged to celebrate national beer day on 15 June: Breweries, pubs and drinkers are being urged to celebrate Britain’s first national beer day on Monday 15 June. Beer Day Britain, instigated by beer sommelier and author Jane Peyton with the assistance of brewers Sophie de Ronde and Sara Barton, aims to raise awareness of Britain’s national drink and is supported by all the major organisations in the beer world. The day coincides with another important date in British history – the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta – in an effort to show how important beer is in the national story, both historically and today. Ale is mentioned in clause 35 of the charter, which was sealed in 1215, hence the connection with Beer Day Britain. Breweries, pubs and drinkers can show their support by downloading the Beer Day Britain logo, beer mat artwork and information pack from the website at
CBI – retail sales ramp up a expectations hit 27-year high: Growth in retail sales volumes picked up strongly in the year to May and expectations for next month are at their highest for 27 years, according to the CBI’s latest quarterly Distributive Trades Survey. Orders placed with suppliers also rose more quickly than anticipated, at the fastest pace since December 2010, while sales were well above average for the time of year, to the greatest extent since April 2007. The survey of 134 firms, including 63 retailers, showed that growth in both the volume of retail sales and orders exceeded expectations in May. Firms remain optimistic that both sales and orders are due to rise at an even stronger pace in the year to June.
Taco Bell to remove artificial ingredients, palm oil and high-fructose corn syrup from menu: Taco Bell is to remove all artificial colours and flavours from most of its menu items, as well as added trans fats, palm oil and high-fructose corn syrup, by the end of 2015. The move to more natural ingredients comes in response to consumer demand, and is part of a larger effort to simplify and be more transparent about the menu, the company said. Brian Niccol, Taco Bell's chief executive, said consumers were “telling us less is más [more] when it comes to ingredients." He said Taco Bell had reduced sodium in food by 15% since 2008, and flavourings like monosodium glutamate and preservatives like butylated hydroxyanisole, or BHA, and butylated hydroxytoluene, or BHT, have already been eliminated "where possible”.

Ten tables left for the BII annual lunch: There are just ten tables left now for the BII’s Summer Event and Annual Lunch. The event, which takes place on Tuesday 2 June, praises all that the licensed retail sector has achieved and is an evolution of the renowned BII Annual Lunch, with the celebration this year moving venue to the Artillery Garden. On the day, the six winners of the BII awards will be revealed, announcing the Pub Aid Fundraiser of the Year, the SABMiller Scholarship Award, the Beer Sommelier of the Year, the Jeremy Allen Award, the Apprentice of the Year and the Licensee of the Year 2015. This year celebrates the 30th Licensee of the Year, and BT Sport will sponsor the award. Bruce Cuthbert, BT Sport’s director of commercial customers said: “It’s an honour to be sponsoring the industry’s most sought-after award, and we look forward to celebrating the success of professional excellence within the licensed trade.” Tickets for the BII Summer Event and Annual Lunch can be booked online at or directly from the BII on 01276 684449. Prices are £99 (+VAT) for members and £129 (+VAT) for non-members.

Company News:

Laine Pub Company converts five Enterprise Inns pubs to free-of-tie leases: The Brighton-based operator Laine Pub Company, led by Gavin George and Gary Pettet, which saw fresh backing from Luke Johnson's Risk Capital Partners last year, has converted five Enterprise Inns "legacy sites" in Brighton to free-of-tie leases. The move is consistent with Enterprise's plan to create a 1,000 strong commercial property portfolio with tenants that offer a strong covenant. Brasserie Blanc's pub sites and the new Alan Yau opening Duck & Rice in Berwick Street, Soho, Central London fall into this category. Laine Pub Company has one Enterprise site in London that is already on a free-of-tie lease plus two in Brighton. The addition of five more means that eight out of its nine Enterprise sites are now on commercial leases. Elsewhere in the estate, 43 of Laine's 45 pubs are now free of tie. George, Laine's chief executive, told Propel that the Enterprise sites in Brighton were "legacy" sites, some of which the company has operated since it was founded as Zelgrain 19 years ago and include high turnover sites such as the Mash Tun in Church Street. Pettet, the company's chairman, said: "We have been talking to Enterprise about this for a couple of years. They are always ready to listen and have proven themselves to be flexible in helping us reach our objective to operate a free-of-tie estate.”

Sir Ian Botham to launch Beefy’s: England cricketer Sir Ian Botham is launching his own steakhouse and seafood restaurant, Beefy’s, at the Hilton hotel at the Ageas Bowl. A spokesman said: “In partnership with Paul Clark and Steve Grant, both of whom have had many years experience in the hospitality industry and who have aided in the brand concept, operation and menu, Beefy’s celebrates the very best of English cuisine coupled with carefully selected fine wines from the around the world. Sir Ian is himself an advocate of great food, good old-fashioned home cooking and a connoisseur of fine wine, which is reflected in the menu. The goal of the venture is to create the best steakhouse in the UK that rivals the great restaurants of New York, such as Morton’s.” The venue opens in mid-June.

‘Best and final offers’ sought for Marco Pierre White’s four Norfolk pubs: The administrators bought in to dispose of Marco Pierre White’s four Norfolk pubs are calling for ‘best and final offers’ from would-be buyers to be submitted by 12 noon a week from today, 3 June, at Fleurets’ East Anglia office in Sudbury, Suffolk. The three freehold pubs for sale are the Lifeboat Inn, Thornham, a 16th century historic Inn with 13 en-suite letting bedrooms and a 70-cover restaurant; the Chequers Inn, Thornham, a Grade II listed 17th century property with a 70 cover restaurant, 12 en-suite letting bedrooms, and a separate cottage and studio; and the Wayford Bridge Inn at Wayford Bridge, a dining pub and hotel business with 15 en-suite letting bedrooms and a 120-cover restaurant, with nearly two acres of landscaped grounds. The fourth, leasehold pub is the Bridge Inn at Acle Bridge, Acle, a riverside pub and restaurant with 140 inside covers and room for 200-plus external covers, 12 riverside boat moorings and extensive gardens. Bob Whittle of Fleurets said: “We have received a good deal of interest in all four properties and a number of offers have been received.” The parent company that ran the pubs, Horatio Inns, which was 99.92% owned by Marco Pierre White, went into administration earlier this year.

Fish and chip chain Harry Ramsden’s launches 'vastly expanded' summer menu: Harry Ramsden’s, the fish and chip restaurant chain, has introduced a vastly expanded summer menu for the first time. The company, which saw like-for-like sales increase by 5.8% in the first quarter of 2015, will offer diners a wider selection of grilled and vegetarian options as well as a new “Healthy Harry’s” line. Chief executive Joe Teixeira said: "We remain true to the ethos, heritage and values of Harry Ramsden himself and have been delighted in recent times to breathe new life into the brand, successfully engaging with customers across a range of demographics profiles, which has translated into increases in customer numbers, repeat visits and sales. Now more than ever before, Harry’s is attracting fans of all ages and with these new menu choices. We are ensuring that the younger as well as the older generation of every family will find something new to enjoy each time they visit." As well as overseeing the ongoing menu evolution, Teixeira is heading an ambitious franchising programme that has seen Harry Ramsden’s grow to nearly 40 outlets in the UK with further openings planned in the coming months.
Carlsberg axes 180 jobs: Carlsberg has axed 180 office jobs at its headquarters in Denmark and regional offices to cut costs as it looks to offset losses from shrinking sales in key Eastern European markets. About 75 positions are to go in Denmark, while a further 105 redundancies will be made worldwide. The company said in its quarterly report last week that the operating loss from its eastern European business has widened further. However, Carlsberg said: "This will not affect our financial targets for 2015. It will only be visible in our objectives for 2016." Carlsberg is the world's fourth-largest brewer. It had about 46,800 employees in 2014, of which 31% were in western Europe.
Carluccio's to make US debut next week: Carluccio’s is expected to make its debut in the United States next week with an opening in Alexandria, just outside Washington. A second opening is expected in the autumn at Montrose Parkway, just outside Washington. Other international openings have included an eighth store in Dubai in mid-April at a shopping mall in the Arabian Ranches community, bringing the total to 12 sites across the Middle East. Carluccio’s has also launched a second site in Ireland in Glasthule, a suburb of Dublin.
Restaurant group Las Iguanas receives TripAdvisor recognition for 22 branches: The Latin American restaurant group Las Iguanas has received TripAdvisor certificates of excellence for 22 of its branches in the latest round of awards by the travel website. The accolade, which honours hospitality excellence, is given only to establishments that constantly achieve outstanding reviews and maintain a higher rating of four out of five stars. Branches must have been open for 12 months or more to be eligible. All 22 of Las Iguanas restaurants that received certificates are now in the top 10% of businesses listed on TripAdvisor with Milton Keynes, Portsmouth, Glasgow, Bristol Cribbs Causeway, Kingston, Plymouth, Cheshire Oaks and Exeter all newly rewarded. Las Iguanas has 41 branches across the UK, having recently opened restaurants in Swansea and Torquay, while outlets in Chester and Coventry are due to open this summer.
Pan-Asian restaurant last to be named for Intu Potteries: The Intu Potteries shopping centre in Hanley, Stoke on Trent has announced the seventh and final restaurant to sign up for its 60,000 sq ft extension, Bon Pan Asian Restaurant. It will be joining Frankie & Benny's, PizzaExpress, Chiquito, Coast to Coast, Nando's and Gourmet Burger Kitchen. The outlet is the first for Bon Pan Asian, which has been founded by Aiden Kang, who said: "The restaurant and leisure development at Intu Potteries is such a thrilling development and the perfect place for the first Bon Pan Asian Restaurant." It will be serving "cuisine from across the Far East", has taken a 13,750 sq ft unit on the first floor level above five other new restaurants on a 25-year lease. The Hanley development is now fully pre-let, six months ahead of the opening date. Martin Breeden, regional director of Intu, said: "The restaurant & leisure development at Intu Potteries will please all members of the family. With a sizeable student population in the Stoke-on-Trent area, and almost a quarter of our customers in the 16 to 24 age range, we expect the area to do tremendously well, and Bon Pan Asian Restaurant is a great addition to the line-up." The extension will also house a 1,100-seat, nine-screen Cineworld.
Nick Batram – Cineworld has had marvellous start to the year: Peel Hunt's leisure analyst Nick Batram has issued a "buy" note on Cineworld after yesterday first quarter trading update, with a 501p price target for the shares. He said: "The group is benefiting from the stronger film slate in 2015, with the integrated group growing circa 27% (circa 11% pro forma basis), driven both by price mix and volume growth. The recovery is extending from the box office into the retail and advertising propositions and yielding better returns from Starbucks and CRM. Cinema City is performing well and continues to benefit from the growing cinema culture in CEE and Israel. We expect the group to continue to trade well, with an even stronger 2015 film line-up to come through into the rest of the year. Group revenues are up circa 11% on a pro forma basis with positive mix effect from admission numbers and prices coming through. UK (up 8.8%) benefited from the film mix, raising the average spend per head and increased retail spend, to which Starbucks continues to contribute (UK retail up 8.5%). Other income grew 18.4%, with advertising benefiting from the film slate and yield management from digital advertising and CRM."
Alistair Darby – Miller & Carter Cardiff is good example of benefits of moving to premium offer: Mitchells & Butlers' chief executive, Alistair Darby, has pointed to a new Miller & Carter steakhouse opening in Cardiff as an example of the possible market out-performance for a quality premium offer. He told City analysts: "Our new Miller & Carter in Cardiff [is] next to the new St David’s shopping centre. It used to be an old Habitat store. It is a very big Miller & Carter. We have really invested heavily in this site and this site is taking on average £70,000 a week. It has been absolutely fantastic for us, and a real example of how with this kind of move towards premium, and when you do it well, as we do in Miller & Carter, you can be extremely successful. At this end of Cardiff we have now been joined by Burger & Lobster, and that has built a real hub of premium eating, which is fantastic. This has been an enormous success for us, a real example of how we are investing to grow in those attractive spaces."
'Meat and burger experience' restaurant opening on Southport's Lord Street: A new restaurant serving wild boar, Iberico pork and venison as well as standard steaks and burgers is opening on Lord Street in Southport in June. Wilson's Kitchen, an "industrial style" 60-cover outlet that describes itself as "a new and exciting meat and burger experience", is taking over the premises formerly occupied by the Swiss Chalet restaurant. Opening hours will be 11am to 11pm Wednesday to Saturday and 10am to 5pm Sundays. Owner Andrew Faux told the Southport Visiter: “We chose Southport due to its population of diverse diners and the town’s success in sustaining a wide range of independently owned restaurants." The restaurant, which will also serve speciality cheeses and meat-free dishes for vegetarians, is aimed at both residents and tourists "looking for dining experiences to complete their visit to Southport", Faux said.
Cafe thrives with new 'click and collect' food ordering web system: A cafe in Manchester has installed what its designers are calling a "revolutionary" new click and collect system that enables people to customise their breakfast or lunch online at the cafe's website and select the time they would like to come and collect it. Food On Third in the Village at Trafford Park, Manchester, is one of the first food outlets to implement the system, created by a nearby web design studio, Food On Third owner Paul Ingrouille told the Messenger newspaper: “Our location on Third Avenue among the many offices and factories nearby meant that we were taking a large number of telephone orders. I wanted to find a way of putting our entire product range online to allow customers to browse, build their ultimate sandwiches, pimp their jacket spuds and then reserve a collection slot. There were no off-the-shelf services to do this so I approached Nettl whose Manchester office is just across the street from ours." worked with Epos Now, the UK’s largest till vendor, to build a custom integration system for Food On Third. Ingrouille said: “Customers love the new service. It enables them to beat the queues in their valuable lunch break, not have to mess about with cash, and they know their order will be ready to go exactly when they want it. The system is also helping us enormously as our team can now spend more time baking and making delicious food, instead of on the phone taking orders.” Ingrouille now plans to use the new Nettl web shop to launch an online buffet and catering option for meetings, allowing businesses to build a bespoke buffet, pay online and choose a delivery date.
Douglas Jack – key company points from Numis Securities leisure conference: Numis Securities' leisure analyst Douglas Jack has published his key points after five quoted companies presented at a leisure conference he organised last week. Domino’s Pizza ('Buy'; target price 985p) is “very confident” it can increase UK store numbers by 50%. After all, new stores are “doing better year by year” (average spend per address for new stores rose by 8.4% in 2014). With rising brand awareness and penetration levels, it can open in much smaller towns (at £250,000 capex/store), which are uneconomic for McDonald’s (£1.2m) or KFC (£750,000), leaving Domino’s as the only global QSR operation in town; Domino's franchisee profits per store rose 26% last year. Franchisees are spending this on marketing (LFL volumes rose 12% last year) and opening new stores. Over 70% of sales are ordered through digital channels, mostly through mobile devices (via over 8m downloaded apps). Here, the list of opportunities and objectives (including increasing app conversion rates, local digital marketing and more online interaction/up-selling) is greater this year than last; Enterprise Inns’ ('Add'; target price 150p) Ebitda is falling more slowly than net debt, aided by rising rental income. The company intends to boost Ebitda through converting almost 800 pubs to managed over the next five years, with "mainstream" managed having the greatest execution risk. To date, the commercial lease portfolio has been valued externally at 12x EV/Ebitda; Fuller Smith & Turner (add; target price 1150p) is continuously improving its range to cater for increasing demand for premium and differentiated products. It only sells fresh food and is trading longer hours. Its in-house coffee brand (Brewer Street) should soon sell 2m cups per annum and the roll out of Stable Pizza is accelerating; Marston’s ('Add'; target price 180p) franchised estate (excluded from the "market rent only" legislation) is generating 6% LFL profit growth. The franchised model will soon be rolled out into the bottom end of the Destination estate. Expansion returns should now benefit from a slightly higher ratio of leaseholds and a higher number of adjoining accommodation lodges. In brewing, 75% of output is premium beer, weighted to bottled beer, a market that should double over the next five years; Revolution Bars Group ('Buy'; target price 265p) now has only one un-invested bar in an estate of 58 branded outlets. Recent improvements to the food range should help the company to maintain LFL food sales momentum (up 13.9% in H1). Targeting larger space than casual dining operators, the company typically pays lower rents per square foot, helping returns to average 43%.
Loungers to open in Falmouth this week: Loungers, the cafe bar concept led by Alex Reilley and Jake Bishop, will open in one of Falmouth's best-known buildings later this week. Loungers has converted the former Remedies nightclub on The Moor into Palacio Lounge in a £600,000 refurbishment. Jeremy Burton Dickie, Loungers' operations manager, said the town was the perfect place to expand the business. He said: "There's already a thriving and vibrant community and we're really looking forward to playing our part in the foodie scene here."
Burton Bridge Brewery wins consent to expand: Burton Bridge Brewery has been granted permission to go ahead with expansion plans. The company, based in Bridge Street, Burton, applied to East Staffordshire Council for permission to build a store warehouse at the back of the premises. Part of the old building will also be demolished and a new roof structure built. Co-owner Geoff Mumford said: "It's got to the stage where we needed to expand. We sell to pubs all over the country – north, south, east and west. You can get our beer from Dover to Northumberland, and from Cardiff to Great Yarmouth. A lot of it is down to the Draught Burton Ale." Part of the land the brewery will expand onto is owned by the council. Planning chiefs approved the proposals and work is due to begin on the expansion, which will allow ales brewed on the site to be stored there. Mumford took over the building and opened the commercial brewery in 1982, along with Bruce Wilkinson.
Starbucks hacker criticises company's response: A hacker who reported a security hole in Starbucks' website has criticised the company's handling of the matter. Egor Homakov found a flaw that let him duplicate funds on a gift card, which he spent in a store to test his theory. He told Starbucks so that it could fix the flaw, but said that the company had then called his actions "malicious". "The unpleasant part is a guy from Starbucks calling me with nothing like ‘thanks’ but mentioning ‘fraud’ and ‘malicious actions’ instead," he wrote. A spokeswoman for Starbucks told BBC News: "After this individual reported he was able to commit fraudulent activity against Starbucks, we put safeguards in place to prevent replication."
Shepherd Neame rolls out e-learning training system: The Kentish brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame is rolling out a new custom-built e-learning induction programme for staff across its 52 managed houses. The company has teamed up with Upskill People, which offers online learning for retail and hospitality firms, to create the bespoke package. Shepherd Neame's field trainer Angela Barlow said: “We wanted to reinforce our values and standards during the induction process, and thought that e-learning would be an efficient way of doing that, particularly because it is easily accessible for staff.” Barlow worked with Upskill People to create a bespoke induction package, with each new employee asked to complete a suite of modules relevant to their role. They are given a presentation with information on the module topic, then asked to complete multiple-choice questions to confirm their knowledge. To pass, they have to get 100% of the questions right within three attempts. The online training works on all devices, and each module only takes about 15 to 30 minutes to complete.
Newcastle reality television stars sell Sunderland bar: A Sunderland bar bought by two stars of the reality show Geordie Shore has been sold after just seven weeks, with the programme's connection to rival city Newcastle upon Tyne being blamed for the venture failing to take off. Ricci Guarnaccio and Jay Gardner, who starred in the MTV show, which was set in and around Newcastle’s pubs and clubs, snapped up Attico and Verve and spent £200,000 on the venue. But despite a high-profile opening, the duo have sold it to Kelly Hudson. Hudson, who is from Sunderland, said that because of Geordie Shore’s connections with Newcastle, the bar never got going. Hudson told the Western Daily Press: "They were great and very keen to promote the business but they are so linked with the show and Newcastle, and that link just didn't work in Sunderland.” Guarnaccio, 28, and Gardner, 29, were in about 30 episodes of the show but do not appear in the current series.
Costa Coffee hires Singapore agency as part of South East Asia push: Costa Coffee has appointed AKA Asia as its creative agency in Singapore as part of its expansion plan for South East Asia. The remit covers Singapore and includes brand strategy development, influencer management and social media. Sarah Barron, South East Asia marketing lead for Costa Coffee said: “AKA demonstrated strong insights and understanding of our brand and the local landscape. The team has a great track record and we love their refreshing approach to engaging our target consumers.” Amy Wright, a partner at AKA Asia, said: “Costa is an incredible brand and we are thrilled to be their partner as they expand into South East Asia. We look forward to growing a whole new audience to experience and connect with the Costa brand.” AKA’s client portfolio includes Jetstar Asia, Fitness First, LinkedIn, Diageo, Unilever, EDB Singapore and Tourism Northern Territory.
McDonald's start process of recovery in Japan with menu and pricing tweaks: McDonald's Japan has unveiled a limited revamp to its menu and pricing. The company, which has been performing particularly badly in Japan, with a number of food scares adding to it woes, said it was adding a new chicken burger containing vegetables, as well as a salad and a low-calorie onion dressing. New combinations for its set meals would also be offered, it said. McDonald's Japan president, Sarah Casanova, said" "Our customers have spoken and we have listened." McDonald's will also round its prices up or down to avoid awkward figures that result in customers getting handfuls of change, something identified as a bugbear. Seiichiro Samejima, a fast food sector analyst at Ichiyoshi Research Institute, said: "It's difficult to launch a plan that can revive a company all at once.  McDonald's needs to continue implementing new measures to restore public trust."
Chef plans beekeeping venture in 'agricultural' Surrey: The new chef at a hotel restaurant in Surrey is planning to start a beekeeping venture alongside growing vegetables and herbs of the restaurant's tables. Nick Sinclair wants the Emlyn Restaurant at the Accor-owned Burford Bridge Hotel in Box Hill, just outside Dorking, to feature food inspired by the Surrey and Dorking countryside. Sinclair told the Dorking Advertiser: "There is unlimited potential here. Surrey is in effect an agriculture economy and we want to work with the best of the local producers, showcase their products and grow their visibility together. We have taken the first step in establishing our kitchen garden and will have four beds [for planting produce] over around a quarter-acre of land here at the hotel. Eventually, we will grow some of our own vegetables and herbs and will become beekeepers with Emlyn honey. There's no limit to what we can achieve here." Sinclair worked at the restaurant from 2007 to 2011 before moving to work at the Brooklands Hotel in Weybridge. The 60-seater restaurant, which has a 28-cover terrace, will be open Tuesday to Saturday from noon to 2.30pm and 7pm to 9.30pm, and on Sundays from 12.30pm to 4pm.
Inception Group's Bunga Bunga site to launch Superfood Pizza menu: The bar and pizzeria Bunga Bunga, owned by Inception Group, is serving a new Superfood Pizza menu from Monday, 1 June. The range, created by head chef Alexis de Naray, will be offered at the venue in Battersea Bridge Road in South London until the end of August. The limited edition pizzas, made with both gluten-free and six-seed crusts, are available with a range of toppings and bases that Bunga Bunga says will have guests “feeling like champions”. These include a savoury option of a San Marzano base, topped with king prawns, fresh chilli, fresh ginger and fresh coriander and a beetroot, goat cheese, pumpkin seed and fresh spinach Superfood pizza made with a creamy Greek yogurt base. Bunga Bunga, which was launched in 2011 by Duncan Stirling and Charlie Gilkes, derives its name from the nickname given to partiers thrown by the former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Former newspaper office to become cocktail bar: The former offices of the Whitby Gazette in North Yorkshire are to be turned into a harbourside cocktail bar. Planning permission was granted in February, and work has now started on renovating the building. The cocktail bar will be on the lower and ground floor, and the remainder of the building will be converted into apartments. A report by a planning officer, which recommended its approval, said: “The restoration and bringing back into use of these vacant premises should enhance the appearance of the area and add to vitality in this town centre location.” Johnston Press put the Grade II listed building on the market in 2013 for £395,000, later reducing it to £325,000. It is not yet known who will run the venue.

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