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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 23rd Jul 2015 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Burger & Lobster eyes major expansion in UK and overseas: Burger & Lobster, the brand owned by Goodman Restaurant Group, is set for major expansion both in the UK and overseas before the end of 2015. The company is following its openings in New York and Stockholm with franchises in Kuwait in September, Dubai in October, and Saudi Arabia by the end of the year as well as a number of new sites in the UK. Director of operations Simon King told Propel the deals in the Middle East had been signed with a local partner rather than a master franchisee while the brand also has a second site in New York under offer. He said: “It’s been really important for us to find the right people, and if we’d gone with just one partner we’d have limited ourselves. We spent seven months getting the ‘business in a box’ right. You have to protect your brand, the contract has to be air tight. We know we’re going to have challenges in certain countries, for example no alcohol in Saudi, so we wanted to think about that before we went in.” Burger & Lobster is also planning more UK sites with three more restaurants due to open in London and one in Birmingham before the end of the year. It will also open a 3,500 sq ft restaurant in Liverpool in 2016. King added: “None of us think the UK can do much more than 20 to 25 restaurants. There are some great cities out there I’d take a lot of concepts to, but not necessarily this one. Our target for franchises is about 35, and potential restaurant numbers in the US is really ‘how long is a piece of string?’ Our marketing will come from activity around the world. I’m not comparing us, but Red Bull is no longer about the products, it’s about the brand. We see Burger & Lobster in a similar vein. I honestly believe this is a global brand.” Burger & Lobster, which is also opening in Manchester and Bath next month, launched its first venue in Mayfair in 2011.

Industry News:

Panmure Gordon – surge in supply sees 800 new brands launched in last 12 months: Leisure analysts at Panmure Gordon have reported that circa 800 new brands have been launched in the sector in the past 12 months as supply surges amid benign economic conditions. The Panmure Gordon report stated: “Rising consumer confidence, favourable macro tailwinds and access to capital has led to a surge in supply. This, combined with the low barriers to entry and entrepreneurial nature of the industry, has resulted in around 2,000 new restaurants being opened and circa 800 new brands being launched over the last 12 months. These are largely in the casual dining and coffee shop space with pub numbers slowing down the rate of closure. Our analysis suggests that annual supply growth across the major national brands is running at around 14% per annum, ahead of the market raising questions about achievability and saturation. The restaurant industry is arguably in a bull market, with robust like-for-like sales growth and access to capital (via increasing private equity interest) resulting in a surge in supply growth. Analysing the annual growth plans of major UK casual dining brands, we estimate average annual supply growth of the top 30 operators is growing by circa 14% per annum. The sector remains fragmented with only circa 27% of restaurants branded, yet aggressive expansion plans are resulting in branded operators taking market share. The top 30 restaurant operators have an average of 85 sites, yet this remains heavily skewed to the top ten operators. With expansion plans accelerating, we believe that many of the larger casual dining brands could struggle to deliver on their ambitions expansion targets as rents rise and new sites are harder to come by. While developers are looking to increase the proportion of space given over to food and beverage at the expense of retail, and councils more willing to go from A1 to A3, competition for prime sites is fierce and some of the larger more established/formulaic brands may find that they lack the operational flexibility of some of the newer, edgier emerging offers. London landlords in particular are spoilt for choice as they look to increase the proportion of space given over the food and beverage offers. Increasingly they are looking to create distinctiveness and diversity so in many cases steer away from mass market brands and towards more bespoke concepts. We believe that there is still an opportunity for some established brands to pursue expansion into the more mature and established suburbs, away from the high street and in particular, on retail and leisure schemes across the UK. This is the case for The Restaurant Group which already operates on about 240 leisure parks and has a strong and visible pipeline under development. The falling appeal of mass market brands that don’t provide a sense of mystery and adventure is potentially a worry for some of the larger pub and restaurant operators. Recent trading within the pub sector has decelerated and we believe this could be an indication that some pub operators and restaurants due to lack of capital and limited economies of scale.”

US brewer buys two UK craft brewery sites to grow craft beer business: US drinks firm Alltech has acquired Northern Irish brewer The Station Works and Cumbria’s Cumberland Breweries, both owned by parent company Cumberland Breweries, in a bid to become one of the world’s top 50 craft brewers. The company, which produces the likes of Kentucky bourbon barrel ale and Town Branch bourbon and also makes animal nutrition products, bought the breweries from the family of the late Northern Irish businessman Lord Ballyedmond. It is the first major expansion outside of the US for the firm’s brewing division. Alltech’s Dr Pearse Lyons, who earned a doctorate in brewing and distilling before setting up the firm, which has a turnover of more than £1bn, said: “These new purchases will allow us develop already established European brands while at the same time introducing our Kentucky ale range to new markets. We are dedicated to offering the consumer real choice in the beer sector. Since our first investment in the Alltech Craft Brews & Foods Fair in Dublin three years ago, the sector has mushroomed and our fair is now the largest in Ireland, attracting more than 10,000 visitors annually.” The firm also has three breweries under construction in the US and Lyons added: “We want to be one of the top 50 craft brewers in the world.”

China Live, the ‘Eataly of Chinese food’, to open in San Francisco in October: The trend towards large-scale food emporiums is to get a boost this October when China Live, described as the “Eataly of Chinese food”, opens in San Francisco’s Chinatown. “We’re trying to respect the past, but also look forward to the future,” said Richard Miyashiro, managing partner and director of operations for China Live. “China Live will offer a carefully curated selection of organic products, and focus on authentic types of Chinese cuisine, rather than Americanised Chinese food. It’ll include several concepts: a public market on the first floor, including a retail shop selling kitchenware (woks, dishes) and pantry items (spices, herbs, sauces). All items will be organic, sustainable and locally sourced whenever possible; The Market Restaurant: A 105-seat casual eatery and full bar on the first floor, with a variety of options prepared in exhibition kitchens; The Oolong Café: Chinese teas, specialty coffees, Asian pastries, small bites and counter seating; a casual cold drinks bar on the second floor with a ‘futuristic Asian dystopia’ vibe; an intimate craft-cocktail bar, Gold Mountain Lounge, which will double as a private dining and lounge space; Eight Tables by George Chen, an elegant, 38-seat restaurant with an evolving, gourmet Chinese tasting menu that hopes to garner Michelin stars; a roughly 180-seat banquet facility with audiovisual capability, for weddings, family events, corporate gatherings and other big parties.”

McDonald’s prepares for roll-out of all-day breakfast in US: McDonald’s is telling franchisees in the US to prepare for a potential nationwide launch of all-day breakfast as soon as October in an internal memo sent to US operators last week, Nation’s Restaurant News has reported. The memo, from LeAnn Richards, who is leading McDonald’s All-day Breakfast Task Force, and Central Zone president Charlie Strong, said that early results from all-day breakfast tests in San Diego and Nashville were “encouraging”. “Our customers love it – they’ve been asking for it for years – and our crew in the test markets enjoy this new platform because it makes changeover much smoother,” the memo said.

Company News:

Casual Dining Group opens fifth Belgo today: Casual Dining Group opens its fifth Belgo on Soho’s Old Compton Street, today (Thursday, 23 July). The 3,500 sq ft site spans two floors and comprises a total of 150 covers. The new restaurant includes four individually designed caves in the basement that will celebrate the history of the Belgo story, and which are available for pre-booking, while the ground floor features an open kitchen. In addition the site has two bars to accommodate over 60 Belgian beers. James Spragg, managing director of Belgo and Café Rouge, said: “The Old Compton Street site is an opportunistic first addition for many years to the collection of Belgo restaurants which as a brand are performing strongly and we expect this one to be a big hit too. We are keeping a look out for more sites for a brand that after 20 years could not be more on trend with today’s customers.” In addition to its vast range of craft beers, the Belgo collection of bar-restaurants offers customers a variety of authentic Belgian dishes, including ten mussel flavours, rotisserie chicken and fresh lobster.

Marston’s wood-fired pizza offer extends to 35 sites: Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay has told Propel the company is now offering wood-fired pizza at 35 of its sites – and sales were proving incremental to existing food sales helped by the establishment of a takeaway dimension. The high quality pizza offer was pioneered within the company’s Revere premium sub-segment where it is now offered at five sites. Findlay said: “The quality of the product is fantastic and is selling well in our pubs and as takeaway. It is offered at about 35 sites and will continue to grow.” The introduction of pizza is part of a menu segmentation programme that also involves rotisserie and carvery. Findlay also reported early success for it Generous George, which has been trialled at four sites – and will open at two more before the end of this calendar year. Marston’s is also planning to extend its Pitcher & Piano estate but it unlikely to open further sites before the end of 2016. On the brewing side Fast Cask, the proprietary system that reduces cask ale preparation time on-site, now accounts for 40% of all barrelage. Findlay said the recent Ashes Test match at Lord’s, where Fast Cask Pedigree was served, is likely to have matched its record of 600,000 pints served. Of the National Living Wage, Findlay said: “It’s been very clear which way the wind has been blowing on the Living Wage – that the gap between the minimum wage and Living Wage is going to close. The principal has been broadly in our thinking. But the issue of business rates needs to be addressed in a way that reduced the cost of doing business – business rates don’t work.”

Bubbledogs outlines expansion plans: Bubbledogs, the concept that pairs gourmet hotdogs with champagne, is eyeing expansion. The company, owned by husband and wife restaurateurs James Knappett and Sandia Chang, launched in Charlotte Street in London in 2012. Chang told Propel it is now looking to open “one more in London and one more outside, and see where that goes”. She said the concept would be tweaked though and added: “It will be a version of it, but not exactly the same – the next one will hopefully have more of a focus on champagne.” Knappett and Chang previously worked, as chef and sommelier respectively, at Michelin-starred restaurants including Noma in Copenhagen and Per Se in New York. They also run fine-dining space Kitchen Table within their Charlotte Street venue.

Le Pain Quotidien to open 25th site with unique evening menu: Belgian restaurant and boulangerie Le Pain Quotidien will open its 25th restaurant on 7 August in Chelsea, joining its established sister restaurant on the King’s Road. Located almost opposite the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital on the Fulham Road, it will offer about 85 covers and includes a basement area that can be used for private hire, baking classes and also late night jazz gigs as a nod to the musical heritage of the area. It also has an outside area and a few seats at the bar. It comes as Le Pan Quotidien celebrates its 25th birthday this year. The menu will run as in other restaurants but the evening vibe will be different to cater for the number of young families and couples in the area. There will be more sharing boards, charcuterie and smaller plates, with a cocktail menu and draft beers – not seen at any other site.

JD Wetherspoon opens another pub with rooftop beer garden in Teignmouth, Devon: JD Wetherspoon has opened another new pub with a rooftop beer garden, this time in Teignmouth, Devon (population: 14,749) and creating 95 jobs. The company has spent £2.16m developing the outlet, called The Jolie Brise, on the site of the former Tiggs clothing store in Station Road. The pub features bars on two floors. There is a rooftop beer garden, a recessed shop-front external seating area on Station Road, as well as a small ground floor garden on Lower Brook Street, with a designated smoking area. The company has increasingly been looking to build rooftop beer gardens to create a point of difference over rivals. JD Wetherspoon recently submitted its most ambitious rooftop bar plan so far, a £1.4m scheme to add five separate rooftop outside seating areas on staggered levels, with cathedral views, at The Chevalier in Exeter.

Leon to open 12 sites this year: Leon will begin a push into the regions this year, with 12 new sites planned to open, The Daily Telegraph has reported. It will open in Birmingham’s New Street station in September in a £560,000 investment. “We’d also like to open in Bristol, Leeds, Cambridge and Oxford,” said co-founder John Vincent. Leon is targeting cities with a high density of “cultural creative”, often young professionals and students seeking an alternative to existing fast food. 

New healthy outdoor cafe and takeaway concept Rust & Stone to launch in Manchester: Rust & Stone, a new healthy outdoor cafe and takeaway concept, is to be launched in Spinningfields, Manchester, by the team behind The Lawn Club bar and restaurant. The venue is due to open in August in Hardman Square in the former Long Bar unit on the lawns close to The Lawn Club, which is a joint venture between Fluid Bars and the Spinningfields developer Allied London. Rust & Stone will offer healthy dishes and drinks to eat in or take out alongside yoga classes and open-air seating. It will also be open in the evenings for organic drinks, English garden-inspired cocktails and sharing foods. James Wrigley from Fluid Bars told the Manchester Gazette: “Rust & Stone really taps into the growing trend for eating clean, juices, yoga and a healthy lifestyle.” Michael Ingall, chief executive of Allied London, added: “At the core of Spinningfields’ ethos is quality living in exceptional surroundings. We are ever evolving, bringing new brands and ideas to life and Rust & Stone is forging the way for a healthy and wholesome all day offering on the estate.”

Costa supports search for the UK’s best high street: Whitbread’s Costa Coffee brand is supporting the search for the country’s best high street. The Great British High Street Competition is now open to local teams of people in England, Wales and Scotland to help champion people in communities and local high streets, with the chance for a community to share a £50,000 prize. Jim Slater, managing director of Costa UK, said: “Community is at the heart of Costa’s values, that’s why we are calling on our customers and staff to support their local community and the wonderful work they do by getting involved with The Great British High Street Awards. The new ‘rising star’ category is a great way to reward a town that has transformed its fortune, giving it a boost for an even brighter future.” Costa joins Boots and Argos in the search, with Google on board to provide digital workshops to the top 100 retailers in each of the seven winning locations of the Great British High Street Competition. The seven categories are: best city centre high street, best town centre high street, best market town high street, best coastal community high street, best village high street, best parade of shops and best London high street.

Salvi’s to open site at Manchester Corn Exchange development: Family-run Italian restaurant company Salvi’s is to open its fourth and biggest restaurant as part of the Corn Exchange redevelopment in September. The Salvi’s Mozzarella Bar will see husband and wife team Maurizio and Claire Cecco return to the centre where they first launched in Manchester four years ago. Since then they have opened three further ventures, the acclaimed Salvi’s Cucina restaurant on John Dalton Street, a Rosticceria next door as well as a cafe bar at Air Kix next to the Trafford Centre. Their new Corn Exchange restaurant will be a 100-seater restaurant on the lower floor, with an upper floor deli, offering a whole range of authentic Italian foods including joints of cured ham, their own artisan mozarella cheese, antipasti and Italian wines. The outdoor dining and drinking area will remain in its popular spot overlooking Exchange Square, but with space increased to accommodate 40 covers.

Brunning & Price looks to upgrade new Jolly Farmers acquisition: The Restaurant Group’s Brunning & Price gastro-pub brand has moved quickly to upgrade the Jolly Farmers, near Reigate in Surrey, the freehold of which it acquired alongside The Fox Revived from Jon and Paula Briscoe’s 3D Pub Company this week. Brunning & Price has applied to Mole Valley District Council for planning permission to extend the kitchen on the ground floor of The Jolly Farmers and to build a first floor manager’s flat. It also wants to relay the rear patio, replace the rear car park with a grassed area, providing a herb garden, and remodel the existing car park. A planning statement by agents Frost Planning said: “Brunning & Price needs to improve its food and drink offer for it to remain competitive and viable in the long-term. To create this sort of offer the pub needs to be able to recruit good quality chefs and staff and provide a kitchen big enough and up to modern standards of hygiene to deliver the right standard and quantity of food.”

Loungers opens in Wilmslow:
Loungers, the Bristol-based cafe bar brand, has opened a new site in Wilmslow, Cheshire. The company has opened the Unico Lounge in Grove Street at the former Magnet kitchen showroom, creating 25 jobs. Loungers has invested £600,000 transforming the two-storey building, which also boasts a roof terrace at the rear. The company is also supporting three-and-a half-year-old Charlotte Taylor, who has cerebral palsy, for the first month of opening. Her parents are fund-raising for an operation in the US and the company will donate 50p from every burger and 10p from every coffee sold at Unico Lounge.

Greenclose Hotels reports profit jump: Three-string Greenclose Hotels has reported sales circa £13.3m for the year ended 31 October 2014, an increase from £12.6m the year before. Pre-tax profits grew to £1.4m from £613,876. The group owns The Montagu Arms Hotel and Careys Manor & SenSpa, both located in the New Forest, as well as the Imperial Hotel in Llandudno, north Wales. In the directors’ report, the business said: “We continue to invest in the facilities of the hotels in order to maintain and enhance the product with the aim of exceeding our customer expectations. We remain well positioned within our market sectors and are confident in the continuing profitability of the hotels.”

Pivovar receives police objection to York smokehouse and bar plan: Bar operator Pivovar has received a police objection to its plan to transform a derelict city centre hotel, the White Sawn on York’s Pavement, into a smokehouse and bar called Pavement Vaults. Pivovar want permission to run a bar on the ground floor and basement restaurant below, but city centre police have objected because the venue is in the “Cumulative Impact Zone”. Jamie Hawksworth, owner of Pivova, which also owns York Tap at the station, Pivni in Patrick Pool and the Harrogate Tap, Sheffield Tap and Euston Tap, said he understood why police had to lobby the council, given the policy they were committed too, but he said none of his venues had been the scene of trouble in the past, and said the hearing risked delaying the opening and regeneration of a building that had been empty for many years. The city council’s licensing board is due to meet to decide the Pavement Vaults’ application on Monday, 27 July.

New Yard and Coop buttermilk-fried chicken concept opens in Manchester: Yard and Coop, a US-style buttermilk-fried chicken concept, has opened in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Owners Carl Morris and Laura Morris came up with the concept after spotting the fried chicken trend moving from America to London. They spent a year trialling more than 800 different flavour combinations. Customers choose their style of chicken for £6, and then add in their sides. The hope is if the Yard and Coop concept is successful, it can be rolled out to cities across the UK.

Beer consumption decline hits malt manufacturer: The “continuing downward trend in beer consumption” in the UK and Europe has contributed to a fall in revenues at malt manufacturer Bairds Malt. The company has a total annual production capacity of 255,000 tonnes and reported an increase in earnings and operating profits in its latest financial year. The manufacturer posted revenues of £245.4m for the year ended 30 September 2014, down from £256.3m the year before, according to recently filed accounts. But Ebitda before exceptional items, which reflects the operational ability to generate cash flow, grew from £11.4m to about £14.9m. Meanwhile, operating and pre-tax profits increased from £6.7m to £9.5m and from £4.6m to £7.5m respectively.

Douglas Jack – Marston’s adopting a sensible approach to National Living Wage: Numis Securities leisure analyst Douglas Jack has issued an ‘Add’ note on Marston’s shares, with a price target of 180p, praising its “sensible approach” to the National Living Wage. He said: “Like-for-like trading has increased slightly in quarter three (in half one, underlying profit before tax rose 15%), with much easier comparables to look forward to in quarter four. We are holding our forecasts, which anticipate 30% earnings growth over the next three years, during which net debt/Ebitda is forecast to fall by 0.4x despite strong expansion and an attractive dividend, yielding circa 4.5%. Destination & Premium (D&P) like-for-like sales grew by 2% in quarter three. This represents a slight pick-up from half one’s 1.5% even though the pubs’ constituent of the Coffer Peach Business Tracker remained at 1%. After 41 weeks, like-for-like sales are up 1.7% (drink 1.6%; food 1.6%; accommodation higher), with easier comparables ahead (quarter four -0.3%; quarter one to three +4.1%). Margins continue to be in growth. We believe 17 new builds have opened during the first 41 weeks, with the full year target of 25 retained. Recently added new builds have been revalued up by 40% relative to their build cost. Three new accommodation lodges have opened on a leasehold basis year-to-date, with lodge expansion stepping up to five per annum from 2016E. In taverns, managed and franchised pubs grew like-for-like sales by 2% in quarter three and are up 1.7% after 41 weeks, driven by strong trading in franchise pubs, which now account for 550 out of circa 900 pubs. Comparables now ease to -1.3% in quarter four, versus +3.0% for quarter one to three. In the leased estate, average profits per pub remain up 4% (versus 3% comparable). In brewing, own-brewed beer volumes continue to be up 4% on a like-for-like basis, and are up 10% after including the Thwaites’ acquisition. Like D&P and taverns, comparables should be easy (-3% for brewing) in quarter four. We are holding our 2015E forecasts (profit before tax £90.9m; consensus £91.8m). Marston’s has been clear that the £9+/hour National Living Wage target for 2020 is only modestly higher than its own previous plans, and can be largely mitigated. This implies minimal need for consensus forecasts to change. We estimate that Ebitda growth/dividends should drive a 26% equity return over the next two years if the EV/Ebitda rating holds.”

Burger King franchisees add to their US estates: Two large Burger King franchisees have increased the rate of franchisee consolidation by buying more than 150 locations in the Midwest and Texas. Atlanta-based GPS Hospitality bought 60 Burger King locations in Michigan from Team Schostak Family Restaurants, the company said on Tuesday. Texas-based operator Sun Holdings, meanwhile, has completed a trio of transactions for a total of 84 Burger King restaurants throughout Texas, and owner Guillermo Perales said he has 20 more units under contract. “We’re having a good year, no question about it,” Perales said. “We’ve had very good [same-store sales]. I think 3G Capital [Burger King’s controlling shareholder], they’re doing a good job.”

Caledonian Brewery unveils pilot brewery to drive innovation: Caledonian Brewery has unveiled a state-of-the-art pilot brewery to further drive beer innovation at the site in Edinburgh. The pioneering pilot brewery has a 400HL capacity and will produce two to three brew cycles a week. This development will allow Caledonian to grow its presence in modern craft, bringing a variety of new beers to its customers and consumers alike. The smaller brew runs will enable the pilot brewers to test and develop both new and existing recipes without the usual constraints of minimum brew length, with the most successful experimental brews being scaled up for wider production in the main Caledonian brewery.

Manchester leisure property sold for £7.1m: A Manchester city centre block that is home to Barburrito, Caffe Nero and Subway has been sold for £7.1m. CBRE Manchester’s capital markets team has sold the retail parade, at Lancaster Buildings, on Deansgate, to Aviva Investors, on behalf of Lancaster Buildings Nominees. Peter Rowe, of KLW Property, advised Aviva. The six self-contained ground floor retail units, totalling 12,199 sq ft, are also occupied by, Cancer Research, Regis and Castle Galleries. They generate a total annual income of £510,000, representing a 6.825 initial yield. Colin Thomasson, executive director of Capital Markets at CBRE’s Manchester office, said: “We were delighted to have arranged the sale of Lancaster Buildings to Aviva Investors. The property is in an excellent location close to a number of top retail destinations and high-end leisure operators in the heart of Manchester city centre. The deal is indicative of the investor appetite for retail investment opportunities within central Manchester.”

Cask Marque trains its 1,000th Ale Ambassador: Cask Marque, the industry watchdog for quality beer, has trained its 1,000th Ale Ambassador registered on its Caskfinder Ale Trail. Helen Casey, from Salford near Manchester, attended the Ale Ambassador course at Marston’s in Burton. Ale Ambassadors are consumers who are passionate about quality of beer and actively seek out Cask Marque-accredited pubs. Their prize included a day at the brewery, a brewery tour, beer styles knowledge, a tasting session, technical handling of beer, and how to identify faults and off flavours in beer. Casey said: “The Ale Ambassadors course was fantastic. The day was packed with learning fun beer facts, going on an informative brewery tour, and gaining useful information on the brewing and beer industry. My favourite part of the day was highlighting the potential off flavours in beer. This interested me the most as it ties in with my day job. I am currently studying for a PhD in physical chemistry.”

Star Pubs & Bars’ business development managers first in industry to have mobile access to machines data analysis: Star Pubs & Bars’ business development managers are the first in the industry to have mobile phone access to up-to-date machines data analysis enabling them to help lessees identify issues and opportunities to grow machine income when visiting their pubs. Using a mobile friendly web platform and a geo-locator to facilitate quick access to machines specific data, business development managers will be able to view current machine income trends and machine performance for each machine to share with lessees during meetings. Unique in the industry, the technology will also enable business development managers to give Star lessees a snap shot of their share of income, the Machine Gaming Duty owed and what VAT is reclaimable, providing them with a complete picture of each machine’s revenue and performance. The data will flag up trends, highlighting when income is up or down and enabling it to be compared against wet sales. Where machines’ income is down but drink sales are up it will alert business development managers and lessees to an issue and allow them to identify and remedy it. Where sales are up it will highlight the potential to grow machines income through the installation of a second machine and facilitate immediate discussion and, where appropriate, planning of machine type and positioning whilst business development managers are on site with lessees. Chris Jowsey, Star Pubs & Bars trading director, said: “Machines are a vital income stream for many lessees. We are committed to being at the forefront of innovations in the sector so we are as strategic as possible in the advice we provide and can maximise machines take for our lessees.” Star Pubs & Bars has also completed a retendering exercise for machine suppliers in order to obtain the best value and performance for lessees resulting in a 2% reduction in rental charges without any loss of quality of service.

Hawkes to open ‘first ever’ pop-up cider bar this weekend:
Craft drinks brand Hawkes has announced the opening of the Hawkes Ciderhouse this weekend in east London as the “first ever” pop up bar dedicated purely to cider. Throwing opening its arch doors every Saturday from 25 July in Forest Gate, Hawkes will showcase it’s Urban Orchard cider, alongside a range of other craft ciders from across the UK and the world. The ciders will served alongside food from Wanstead-based artisan pizza makers Luppolo. Simon Wright, founder of Hawkes, said: “Since becoming a cider producer, I’ve been amazed at how few places in London are dedicated to this amazing drink. Given the popularity and growth in cider over recent years, I see it as our duty at Hawkes to inspire Londoners to come and learn about cider in a cool environment with other like-minded people.”

Chester lap-dancing club side-steps licence loss by converting to burlesque club: A Chester city centre lap-dancing club has been told to close tomorrow (Friday, 24 July), but the venue will side-step the closure order by becoming a burlesque show bar. Platinum Lounge, on Bridge Street Row, has said it will continue to host a fully nude lap-dancing event once a month for 11 months of the year, something it is entitled to do without a licence. After Cheshire West and Chester Council’s licensing committee rejected an application to renew its licence sexual entertainment venue, Platinum Lounge must shut at 2.30am following nine years in business. A statement issued by the venue said: “We are disappointed, we believe Cheshire West and Chester Council have made the wrong decision. They have listened to the vocal minority instead of the silent majority. We would like to thank everyone who did support us. We will remain open with lap-dancing until Friday, 24 July when we will become a burlesque show bar, open Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. We are in talks with some great touring burlesque shows, we would like to invite everybody to come and have a look. Not forgetting that once every month we will be hosting a fully nude lap-dancing event.”

McDonald’s seeks to boost image in Japan with deconstructed food at Restaurant M pop-up: As part of efforts to boost its image in Japan, McDonald’s is dropping its hallmark fast food and disposable cups for fine dining, posh silverware and real crockery. Luxury pop-up, Restaurant M, will open in Roppongi Hills in Tokyo on Monday, 27 July for just one night, offering diners a multi-course meal that includes a vichyssoise soup made from French fries and a gelée made with McDonald’s vegetables. Instead of the usual paper cups and cartons, diners will be treated to ceramic plates, silver cutlery, ice tea in wine glasses and coffee served in a cup and saucer. Restaurant M will provide smartly dressed tables to leisurely dine at, complete with real napkins rather than paper serviettes. For the main course, customers will be served a full-size Fresh Mac burger – which is the restaurant’s latest offering, involving classic McDonald’s burgers being given a “fresh” upgrade with the addition of vegetables such as tomato, lettuce, red cabbage and yellow pepper. This will be served with a knife and fork. Dessert is a McFlurry, served in a deconstructed form and served with summer berries in a glass bowl with a spoon.

Technomic and Propel partner for UK and US foodservice trends and direction conference: Insights and research firm Technomic is partnering Propel for a full-day conference looking at UK and US foodservice trends and perspectives. The event is on Friday, 18 September at One Moorgate Place in London and attendees will also get a free copy of Technomic’s Top 500 US Chain Restaurant Report and the UK’s leading 100 foodservice brands worth a combined £800. Technomic’s vice-president Dave Henkes will give an industry update on UK foodservice and compare it with the US as well as providing forecasts and beverage trends in both markets. Fellow vice-president Darren Tristano will examine best practice in menu, concept and service among growth concepts as well as looking at consumer demands. Technomic’s Patrick Noone will provide insights on current UK trending menu flavours and preparations and consumer priorities and attitudes. Paul Damico, group president of Focus Brands – which operates several fast-food concepts in the US including Schlotzsky’s Bakery & Café and Moe’s Southwest Grill – will share best practices around creating a unique positioning, culture and growth strategy. Propel managing director Paul Charity will also lead a discussion of senior executives about current consumer trends, menu and beverage trends. Those taking part are: Jon Yantin, commercial director of the ONE Group, Chris Gerard, founder of Innventure, James Nye, managing director of Anglian Country Inns and Ben Levick, director of operations, TCG Group. Tickets are priced at the two-week early-bird rate of £295 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers and are available by emailing

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