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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 12th Oct 2015 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

PizzaExpress to opens Reys rotisserie chicken concept this Wednesday with takeaway offer: PizzaExpress is to open its eagerly-awaited rotisserie chicken concept in Cambridge, Reys, on Wednesday (14 October) with a takeaway offer. It specialises in slow-roasted rotisserie chicken, served with an array of sauces. Diners can choose between quarter or half chicken served from a 25-bird rotisserie spit at the front of the restaurant and carved with giant cleavers. The takeaway menu offers quarter chicken (£6.50) or half chicken (£11.50) with a choice of four sauces charged at £1.50 – gravy, double mushroom gravy, Reys BBQ sauce and Reys XXX hot BBQ sauce. The takeaway menu also offers a choice of two “House Buns” priced at £6 – Reys BBQ pulled chicken with Asian slaw and a brioche bun or Reys BBQ pulled squash with ricotta, salad and a brioche bun. Sides all cost £3.50 – Reys house fries, French fries, crispy chicken wings in Reys BBQ sauce, Asian buns, Asian slaw, green salad kimchi and Asian cucumber pickle. On the sit-in menu there are eight starters, including three salads (all priced at £5.50 or £6) and a choice of four desserts (all £5 except three scoops of house ice cream at £4). There’s a choice of 11 wines and three beers – Camden Hells Lager, Camden Pale Ale and Camden Wit plus one cider, Orchard Pig. A brunch menu offering nine items, including Rey pulled chicken hash and poached egg (£6) and avocado with poached egg on toast (£6) is available from 10am at weekends. Last month, Propel reported that PizzaExpress is working with the former Waitrose innovation chef Neil Nugent to launch Reys. Nugent oversaw the launch of the Heston Blumenthal range of meals at Waitrose during his three years with the company as executive chef of innovation. The chef, who also co-owned iconic York bistro J Baker’s for a period, and launched the Gary Rhodes meal range when he worked at Asda as executive innovation chef. His most recent position has been executive chef of product development at Morrison’s. He started his own consultancy, BullDogFish in September 2014. Reys is committed to the higher welfare and treatment of chickens and only uses RSPCA-approved Freedom Foods chicken, ‘reared in the best conditions available with compassion and respect for the flock’.

Industry News:

Last eight places for Propel Multi Club Conference on 5 November: There are now only eight places remaining for the final Propel Multi Club Conference of 2015, taking place on Thursday 5 November with more than 350 booked in. Multi-site pub, restaurant and foodservice companies can book up to two free places each by emailing Adam Dickinson on See bottom of email for full details of speaker schedule

Luke Johnson – the time has come to devote more energy to giving away my money: Sector investor Luke Johnson has declared that he will now devote more energy to giving away his money. Writing in his Sunday Times column, he stated: “Conspicuous consumption has never been my style. Chauffeur-driven limos, private jets, giant yachts – in my opinion these are all forms of vulgar foolishness that reveal their owner to be superficial and debauched. At their core, these are devices invented to remove a chunk of money from those who have too much of it. All that work, all those sacrifices, compromises and risks – for a stupid boat? There has to be some higher purpose to the relentless striving than strutting around on deck in a ghastly place such as Monaco. In the years to come I shall revere my previous course and devote more energy to the wise dispersal of wealth than its accumulation.”

M&S to hand out tonnes of surplus food: Marks & Spencer is to distribute thousands of tonnes of surplus food under a scheme that will use a social networking app to link all 500 of its UK stores to local charities, such as food banks. The retailer, which has committed to cutting food waste from stores by a fifth by 2020, has been testing different ways of running the scheme at 45 outlets and opted to work in partnership with the Neighbourly app. Eighteen months on it is ready to expand the scheme nationwide and said it should be up and running by next spring. “Our priority is to reduce food waste while ensuring that, where there is a food surplus, we put it to the best possible use,” said Louise Nicholls, head of responsible sourcing at M&S. She said the retailer had already dramatically cut food waste by in-store measures, such as discounting stock close to its use-by date earlier in the day, but believed nearly half of the remaining waste was edible. At present, M&S sends food waste to anaerobic digestion energy plants. The process can be costly and means thousands of tonnes of perfectly edible food never reaches a dinner plate. In the first stage of the redistribution scheme, M&S is looking for new charity partners, such as food banks, community cafes, homelessness groups and community shops, to work with 105 more stores by December. The rest of its UK stores will join the programme by next spring. Charities that want to collect free food sign up to the Neighbourly app with their requirements. Each day M&S stores register the spare food they have on offer on the system, sparking an alert to local charities.

The Daily Mail – Costa Coffee has the most stores rated less than ‘satisfactory’: The Daily Mail has reported that, of Britain’s biggest coffee chains, Costa has the most stores rated less than ‘satisfactory’ in hygiene terms. According to the Scores on the Doors website, 23 Costa stores were rated two-star or less at their most recent inspection. The results were obtained by The Daily Mail under freedom of information laws. Most of the company’s 1,755 shops scored five stars or had ‘good’ or ‘satisfactory’ ratings of four or three. Costa’s managing director Jim Slater said hygiene failings were acted on immediately. He said: “According to EHO [environmental health office] figures, 98% of Costa stores score good to very good in inspections, but, in our opinion, anything less than a three star satisfactory rating is unacceptable and requires immediate attention. We would like to reassure all customers that these are isolated incidents and we have a robust system, supported by external auditors, to immediately address concerns raised either by the EHO or our own checks.”

Standard & Poor’s – Soho House bond withdrawal points to weakness of bond market: Indebted companies will turn to leveraged loans for their financing needs, according to Standard & Poor’s, as a volatile market environment curtails their ability to sell junk bonds, the FT has reported. “At the moment the markets are quite volatile and the high-yield bond market is essentially shut on both sides of the Atlantic,” said Taron Wade, a credit analyst with the rating agency. “Because the markets are a bit choppy at the moment, we wanted to emphasise that it’s not all bad news, there is an appetite for lending.” The report argued that the decision by private member’s club Soho House to withdraw a £200m bond offer two weeks ago can be linked to a weaker high-yield bond market in the US.

US craft brewer Dogfish sells 15% stake to private equity firm: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in the US has sold a 15% stake in the company to a New York-based private equity firm. “It’s not that big a deal to us,” founder Sam Calagione said. “There will be no change in leadership, control or the way we do business.” Dogfish Head is already planning to buy out new minority-share owner LNK Partners “after a number of years”. “What this deal will do is give us a great external resource for building our brand,” he said. “But they know our goal is to buy them out. I can say for sure that Dogfish Head will stay family-controlled and family-owned for the foreseeable future.” Dogfish Head is the 13th best-selling craft brewery in America. The company, which now employs about 235 workers, recently completed a $50 million expansion at its Milton brewery. This year, the brewery is expected to produce 250,000 barrels, well short of its 600,000-barrel capacity. Work also is slated to soon begin on a $4 million expansion of its Rehoboth Beach brew pub, while the company is rolling out vodka and gin offerings to Delaware stores this fall with distribution to other states in 2016.

Pret A Manger – more than 50% of our ‘troubled’ apprentices continue to work at Pret A Manger: Pret A Manger chief executive Clive Schlee has reported that more than 50% of its apprentices from ‘troubled’ backgrounds are still working for the company. In his blog, he wrote: “For the past seven years, Pret A Manger has been running an Apprenticeship Scheme, giving homeless people and ex-offenders, one of the things they need most: a job. We treat and pay our apprentices the same as we do our other team members while offering them additional support (a travel card, clothing allowance, counselling and a buddy). We are proud of the success of our apprentices. 80% of them graduate after three months and over half of them continue to work at Pret. Many of those that leave get other jobs, for example as bus drivers, nurses or administrators.”

Company News:

D&D London – we could make a decision on flotation “within weeks”: D&D Restaurants chief executive Des Gunewardena said the company is set to make a decision to float “within weeks”. His comments comes as the company enjoys “growth across the board”. He said: “It’s not just the new places that are doing well, but it’s also the established places that have been open 20 years. We are seeing growth across the board.” D&D London, the successor to the group of restaurants founded by Sir Terence Conran in the 1980s, saw its turnover rose 13% from £93.1 million to £104.9 million in the financial year to March 2015. Profits rose 50% from £5.5 million to £8.2 million. Gunewardena said average spend per customer was about £65, including VAT and service, and the group sold 200,000 oysters, 800,000 cups of coffee and 400,000 glasses of champagne and sparkling wine in the year. Strong growth at D&D London has encouraged the company to invest £5 million in the German Gymnasium in King’s Cross, which opens next month. It has 27 restaurants in the capital.

JW Bassett pubs introduces the Living Wage early to reward “superb staff”: JW Bassett, the operator of four freehold pubs and one Mitchells & Butlers franchise led by Jon Bassett, has begun paying staff the Living Wage of £7.20. The estate has a combined turnover of £100,000 a week. Bassett told Propel: “(Our staff) are really pleased that we’ve done it early. They will get paid next week for the first week, so I suppose we will have more feedback then. We’ve introduced the Living Wage, irrespective of age as well – 45% of the overall team are above that rate. Sales have been superb across the pubs and a massive reason for that has been the people we’ve got working in them.”

BrewDog asks for help to find flagship bar site in Columbus, Ohio: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has appealed for help in finding a flagship bar site in Columbus, Ohio, 15 miles away from its proposed brewery site in Canal Winchester. The company stated: “We’re set on building a cutting-edge brewery with taproom and craft beer restaurant on our site at Gender Road, Canal Winchester. But we are also now looking for the perfect site 15 miles up the road to open our very first US BrewDog bar, in Columbus itself. We are looking at four potential neighbourhoods for the location of BrewDog Columbus – The Short North, Italian Village, Franklinton and the Victorian Village. We need a site that is 2,000 to 5,000 square feet, with the majority of that space at street level. External areas are definitely a bonus. Corner units are even better – we love corner units – but by no means a requirement. In terms of zoning, ideally the site would have retail/restaurant use and the ability for liquor license approval. Existing municipally approved sites definitely make getting the bar open easier, which means we can be in and serving amazing beer in downtown Columbus in as little time as possible.”

Wagamama opens biggest ever restaurant today: Wagamama is opening its biggest ever restaurant today (Monday,12 October), offering 300 covers, at the Into Trafford Centre in Manchester. The opening coincides with a new menu launch. Fresh items include beef short rib ramen, fried gyoza dumplings, seafood ramen, spicy firecracker curry and edamame beans. The new opening is split over two floors and every table will be able to see into the restaurant’s open kitchen. There are a number of seats at the counter, overlooking the restaurant’s team of chefs.

Cereal Killer Cafe owners look to franchise: The owners of the Cereal Killer Cafe plan to franchise the business. Belfast-born twin brothers Alan and Gary Keery have been in talks with “someone from Vancouver” about opening a Canadian branch. Gary Keery told The Times: “We’re looking at a franchise model for the cafe – we’re meeting someone from Vancouver today.” Following the success of their Shoreditch outlet, the pair recently opened a second branch in Camden, and have released a cookbook featuring unusual recipes including sausage-stuffed shredded wheat, honeynut popcorn shrimp, and cornflake chicken. Their flagship Brick Lane cafe came under attack last month from anti-gentrification protesters, who daubed the shop with grafitti and hurled missiles at the windows.

Veeno opens fifth site, eyes 80: Veeno has opened its fifth site, this time located in Nottingham’s Middle Pavement – the business launched in Manchester in 2013. As well as wine, cocktails and Italian beers, there is a food menu with platters of Italian meats, cheeses and breads and desserts. The company plans to expand to 80 sites in the next four years. Led by Nino Caruso and Andrea Zecchino, it has venues in Manchester, Leeds, York and Liverpool. Veeno wants to roll-out the concept to at least ten major cities in 2016 – including Bristol, Birmingham and Edinburgh – and expand to a total of 80 by 2019. Zecchino told the Manchester Evening News last month: “We have worked hard in the past months to create an organisation that can support the growth into the future.”

Bill’s eyes Sevenoaks opening: Bill’s is set to move into the site of a former sports bar in Sevenoaks, Kent. The brand was rumoured to be replacing Border Tex Mex earlier this year, but in July the company told the Kent Messenger that plans had been pulled. However, the company has now submitted a licensing application to Sevenoaks District Council. Border Tex Mex announced it was due to shut earlier this year, with owners citing lack of business as one of the main reasons. 

Giggling Squid secures fourth Surrey site, this time in Farnham: Within a week on announcing an opening date for its third Surrey opening, Giggling Squid has exchanged contracts on a fourth, this time in Farnham. The brand is already in Reigate and Guildford and will open its doors in Esher in mid November. The latest acquisition is made on the same day as Giggling Squid was revealed to have been short listed as Best Thai Restaurant, in this year’s Asian Curry Awards. The winners will be declared at a ceremony at the London Hilton on 17 November. A new 140-cover Farnham restaurant will be created on the sites of the former Colony Chinese restaurant and the neighbouring clothes shop. Located in a prime site in the heart of Farnham’s restaurant quarter on Castle Street, Giggling Squid will count Zizzi, Bill’s, Brasserie Blanc, and PizzaExpress among its neighbours, with Waitrose nearby. Extensive building works and a complete refit, costing around £200,000, means the restaurant opening is probably six months away, by then the group expects to be 18 strong. Before then Giggling Squid expects to open in Bury St Edmunds, Berkhamsted and Warwick.

Jones Bar Group to open Roxy Ball Room in Liverpool One: Grosvenor Fund Management has announced that Jones Bar Group is to open its second Roxy Ball Room, the ping pong and pool concept, on Liverpool One’s Hanover Street. Launched in 2013, The Roxy Ball Room offers a mix of gaming, cocktails, beer and bar snacks, including fresh dough pizza and homemade hamburgers. Set across 6,929 square foot on the top floor of 26 College Lane, bordering with Hanover Street, Liverpool ONE’s Roxy Ball Room will feature a number of pool and ping pong tables. In addition, the bar includes Top Seed, a VIP room available for private hire that can accommodate groups of up to 60 people. Roxy Ball Room is opening above the recently announced Wahaca and Reds True BBQ on Hanover Street, with Turtle Bay adjacent. Jones Bar Group begins fitting out Roxy Ball Room later this month and is due to open in time for Christmas. Miles Dunnett, director of portfolio management at Grosvenor Fund Management, said: “Roxy Ball Room is a great complement to the Liverpool ONE leisure offer, aligning perfectly with our ambition to continually provide something new for visitors. As an independent operator, Roxy Ball Room also adds to the eclectic nature of Liverpool ONE. The brand is about having fun; it creates an additional reason to visit, or to extend a trip, and highlights the breadth of Liverpool ONE’s appeal. We are very excited with Jones Bar Group’s plans for how they will use this standout space to deliver an engaging, social, experience.”

Financial Times throws spotlight on new Alan Yau restaurant: The Financial Times has reported that Wagamama founder Alan Yau’s new restaurant, Park Chois, will occupy 15,200 square foot of space and will seat 300 for dinner with room for 50 at the restaurant’s two bars. The newspaper reported: “With each dining room structured around an “elevated U”, or raised platform, theatre and spectacle are the intended heart of Park Chinois. As the “proposition brief” explains, this will place “the diners on a stage where they become a player in the experimental drama”. As nightclub culture wanes, it’s Yau’s bet (and he has decent betting form) that nostalgic romance is going to be the next big thing. Park Chinois is “not really a restaurant project”, Yau explains, “it’s more like an entertainment lifestyle project. Imagine a 1920s dance hall”. For two years Yau and his team have been trying to find the right music for such a space. “We started with an idea called electric swing but that would’ve limited [us] to the 1930s with modern instruments, so we’ve developed the haiku swing, a mixture of the Cotton Club meets Japanese haiku.” In the evenings, the first-floor dining room will feature music from a singer and pianist and downstairs in “Club Chinois” there will be the Eight Clouds of Joy, a seven-piece band plus vocalist.” Yau added: “The most important thing is that it’s an old-school idea. Grace, charm, elegance. Not ostentation, fashion, sexiness. Old-school values deserve a renaissance.” Park Chinois is due to open at the end of this month at 17 Berkeley Street, London.

Prezzo lines up Warrington site: Prezzo has submitted a planning application to open a restaurant in a vacant unit in Golden Square in the Old Fish Market, Warrington. It will be close to existing venues operated by Ask, Nando’s, Bap and Rhode Island Coffee. The nearest Prezzo sites are in Manchester city centre, Salford Quays and Cheshire Oaks.

Guardian columnist – Wetherspoon is the UK’s best-value restaurant chain: Guardian columnist Trevor Baker has argued that JD Wetherspoon is the UK’s best value restaurant chain. He wrote: “Half way through the process of moving back to the UK, I’ve joined Manchester United’s teen prodigy Anthony Martial, the Sleaford Mods, the Beckhams (allegedly) and a sizeable chunk of the rest of the country, in making a Wetherspoons my unofficial canteen. Having largely been derided (with some notable exceptions) as the “Tesco of pubs”, developing an unfortunate reputation as the last resting place of elderly alcoholics and young binge drinkers, could it be that they’re actually Britain’s best-value restaurant chain? Wetherspoons are proof that it is possible to sell decent food and beer at a reasonable price. But isn’t their growing ubiquity a rebuke to the idea that Britain’s dining scene has been revolutionised? While we may have more Michelin stars at top-end restaurants, down here in the bargain basement, where most of us actually eat, there are fewer options. Until somebody can match Wetherspoons for quality and value for money, the much-hyped improvement in British cooking will still be a work in progress.”

Bella Italia launches bespoke online training course: Casual Dining Group’s Bella Italia brand has unveiled its latest employee training development, ‘Being Bella Hearted’, a programme focused on service culture and engagement. It places Bella Italia’s brand personality, proud history, Italian heritage, quality food and passion for customer service at the heart of all of its front line and support team employees. Developed for Bella Italia by CPL Online, the UK’s leading provider of e-learning courses for the licensed retail hospitality sector, ‘Being Bella Hearted’ enthuses employees with an introductory video followed by a series of five bespoke mini online courses to develop employee brand knowledge and engagement. Housed on parent company, Casual Dining Group’s learner management system, also developed by CPL Online this summer, the courses comprise of a combination of text and interactive graphics modules, followed by short quizzes. The courses reflect the Bella Italia brand by using its own unique imagery and phrasing throughout and have been designed to be bite-size, fun and engaging for users. The first of the five courses is Ciao Bella, a three module course which emphasises the importance of a great first impression and how to achieve this from the moment a customer walks in. The second, Making Friends, covers the best techniques for building customer relationships; from discussing Bella Italia’s top products to encouraging them to stay for dessert. Blessed by the Chef is the third course and builds team knowledge in the quality Italian ingredients and their heritage. It demonstrates how Bella Italia’s fantastic range of dishes can be even more appealing to the customer, through great presentation and personal recommendations. Treat Time follows as the fourth course, has four modules reinforcing not only the importance of appropriate upselling, but of helping the customer to have the full Bella experience and live the generous fun culture of the brand with one of the many available treats. Finally, Ciao for Now is a two module course which focusses on the importance of a genuine and cheerful goodbye and thank you; outlining the impact it can have on a customer’s overall experience and advocacy of the brand. To create the courses, CPL Online and CPL Animate used 2D animation to bring the brand’s messages to life in a modern and engaging way. Developed on a HTML5 platform, the interactive courses are viewable on mobile devices. Catherine McGuckin, human resources director at Casual Dining Group said: “Being Bella Hearted is a wonderful addition to our stable of bespoke training for Bella Italia employees with over a thousand mini courses completed on launch day alone. CPL Online have truly understood our business and created a package of courses that not only delivers the content required, but does so in a way that truly represents our brand and culture. Our teams are hugely engaged in the programme and the content and that’s evidence by the record completion rates.”

Greene King wins apprenticeship employer plaudit: Greene King has been named by the Top Apprenticeship Careers List as one of the top 50 apprenticeship employers in the UK. The Apprenticeship Careers List, which is produced in association with The Daily Telegraph, aims to raise awareness of apprenticeships and celebrate the country’s leading companies who are investing in young people. Greene King was recognised as one of the top ten organisations within the retail and services sector in terms of employee retention rate, recruitment strategy and the number of apprenticeships offered per year. Through a combination of workplace learning and additional industry masterclasses, apprentices develop the capabilities and technical skills that enable them to reach their potential and support Greene King in delivering exceptional customer service. In just four years, 4,000 Greene King apprentices have achieved a qualification and 3,400 learners are currently working towards Level 2-4 qualifications. Greene King, which manages 1,900 pubs, hotels and restaurants across the UK, announced earlier this year that it had reached a key milestone by recruiting its 1,000th apprentice. This put the company ahead of schedule in its pledge to recruit 2,000 apprentices in the year to March 2016. Rooney Anand, chief executive officer of Greene King, said: “We are very proud to be named as one of the UK’s top 50 apprenticeship employers. As a leader in hospitality, employing over 40,000 people across the UK, it is important to us that we attract, train and retain the very best people. This is why we strongly believe in the value of apprenticeships, and remain committed to growing, developing and investing in young people. It is important to raise awareness of apprenticeships as a credible alternative to further education, which allows young people to get that all-important step on the career ladder.”

Wetherspoon set for St Ives approval: JD Wetherspoon is set to get the go-ahead for its new pub in St Ives, Cambridgeshire – despite objections from local councillors and residents. Huntingdonshire District Council’s development management panel is being recommended to approve the plan to convert the former Warehouse Clearance shop in Market Hill. St Ives Town Council has come out against the scheme and 56 out of 67 representations received by the district council opposed the pub. There were concerns that the conversion would lead to the loss of a major retail unit, that a large pub chain was not needed in the town and that there were already too many pubs.

Kiki Nightclub building sold in off-market deal: The building housing Kiki Nightclub in Manchester’s Gay Village has changed hands in an off-market cash purchase. Urban Splash’s joint venture partnership with the Pears Group has acquired 4 Canal Street from private vendors. The 19,000 square foot building is fully let to Kiki Nightclub and the LGBT Foundation. Urban Splash director of asset management Claire Thomas said: “This is a quality Edwardian building, one of the finest on Canal Street. It is fully let and has great long-term potential in one of the city’s growing areas, with both the Kampus development and the Urban & Civic Origin scheme close by.”

Hawthorne Leisure partners multi-siter Braehead Bar to re-open Lithgows: Hawthorne Leisure has partnered multi-site operator Braehed Bars, which operates three other sites and is led by John Cairns, to re-open Lithgows in Greenock following a £140,000 investment. Hawthorn managing director Mark McGinty said: “We are really proud to be finally opening the doors of this popular local venue after a long period of closure. We are delighted to work with a local businessman to bring the pub back into the heart of the community and to aid the creation of jobs in the area.” Lithgows was previously known as the Waterline pub and had remained closed since March 2015.

Olive Tree owners give site to son to expand Georgio’s: The Olive Tree, in Rodley, Yorkshire has closed its doors after 29 years – as part of a ‘restaurant swap’ with another family enterprise. Husband and wife restaurateurs George and Vasoulla Psarias have given the keys to their Victorian stone-built venue to son Solos, to expand his Italian restaurant chain Georgio’s. Solos was on the hunt for a second venue after the success of his Headingley branch, which opened in 2010, and his parents stepped into help – although, they admit, with mixed emotions. George Pasarias told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “It’s a bit sad, but also exciting. We’ve been here for so long, it has sentimental value. But we have a balance – we still have two Olive Trees (in Headingley and Chapel Allerton) and now two Georgio’s.” When the Olive Tree first opened its doors in Rodley in 1986, there was only a handful of other restaurants in Leeds. That same year it won the Yorkshire Evening Post’s ‘Restaurant of the Year’ award – in what was the first of many accolades.

TGI Friday’s opens second site in Reading: TGI Friday’s opened its second branch in Reading on Friday (9 October), debuting at the Oracle shopping centre. TGI Friday’s second restaurant in the town can seat up to 170 guests and created 70 new jobs. It has two levels, decorated with memorabilia focusing on local culture, including mementos from Reading Festival. In addition to the classic Friday’s favourites, the restaurant will be serving up dishes from its new ‘Meet Your Match menu’, including the warrior burger and the sweet and savoury chicken waffle BLT.

Nottingham shop owner opens Japanese street food cafe: Nottingham shop owner Yan Liu ha opened a Japanese street food cafe called All Things Sweet next to his supermarket in Hockley. The venue sits side by side with Yan’s other business, the Oriental Mart supermarket in Heathcoat Street. Part of the shop has been converted to create a mini kitchen where customers can order from a menu of a dozen dishes, without a sushi roll in sight. It’s fast, tasty and cheap with prices ranging from £1.25 to £3.25. Liu said: “Japanese food is very meticulous but the ingredients are very simple. I’ve always had an interest for cooking and wanted to express my ideas through a small pop-up cafe. All this menu is homemade. I want to let people know that Japanese food isn’t just about sushi. There are so many different types of food in Japan using simple, healthy ingredients.”

Newcastle multi-siter consults on artisan bakery cafe opening: Fenwick department store in Newcastle is to open an artisan bakery cafe this month with consultancy support from local multi-site operator Terry Laybourne. Work is being carried out on creating Mason + Rye, a cafe focussing on fine patisserie and artisan baking. The cafe will offer an extensive selection of breakfast and lunch options to either eat in or take away – and the centrepiece will be a theatre bakery, where diners will be able to watch through the glass walls as a team of dedicated patissiers craft patisserie, continental viennoiserie cakes, scones and biscuits. Rhys McKinnell, head of food and catering at Fenwick Newcastle, said: “Our kitchen team have created a tempting breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea menu, focussing on healthy salads, continental style sandwiches, high quality patisseries, Fenwick classic cream cakes and our signature savoury tarts. Fresh juices, tea and coffee will also be available as well as a choice of alcoholic beverages including wine, champagne and prosecco.” The design work has been carried out by London-based agency CADA Design and features a contemporary layout with seating for 80 people, with timber-clad walls, chalkboard menus. Fenwick executive chef Kelly Richardson said: “At Fenwick, we have a strong ethos of fresh and premium produce so it’s really important to us that Mason + Rye offers exactly that – a wide variety of top quality goods with a home-baked feel. It’s another exciting venture that we think our customers will love.”

Speaker programme for Propel Multi Club Conference: The full speaker programme for the Propel Multi Club Conference on Thursday 5 November at the Lancaster, London, the best-attended conference series in the sector, has been unveiled. Ian King presenter of the Sky News show, Ian King Live, and former Business and City Editor of The Times, looks at the key economic trends over the past 12 months and the 12 months ahead and gives his views on their impact on the hospitality sector. Peter Hansen, founder of leading mergers and acquisitions advisory Sapient Corporate Finance, which has advised on sector transactions worth more than £2bn in the past five years, looks at the key sector trends in 2015 for those buying and selling businesses. Andrew Ball, of accountancy firm haysmacintyre, offers his top tips on tax minimisation for multi-site operators. Paul Harbottle, commercial director of Enterprise Inns, talks about building a 800-strong managed pub estate and investment and progress in the leased and tenanted part of the business. Toby Smith, chief executive of Novus Leisure, explains how the company is evolving its food, drink and entertainment offer, along with digital capability, to stay at the forefront of the late-night market in London and the regions. Martin Wolstencroft, founder of Arc Inspirations, arguably Yorkshire’s most successful independent bar and restaurant operator, talks about running multiple concepts, overcoming challenges, best-in-class profit conversion, innovation and expanding over the Pennines in the company’s 15th year. Scott Shaw, founder and chairman of marketing and information analysis business Fishbowl, explains how US restaurant businesses are using guest information to drive marketing and sales. He is joined by data expert Mike Lukianoff, founder of Czar Metrics, now owned by Fishbowl, who will talk about the ground-breaking work his company is doing in the US with a host of well-known restaurant brands, using data to shape menu and price engineering, media efficiency and trade area analytics. Nick Collins, managing director of Loungers, talks about evolving the brand, maintaining company culture, fulfilling growth ambitions, new trading locations and stepping into the shoes of founder Alex Reilley. Kris Gumbrell and Simon Bunn, co-founders of Brewhouse & Kitchen, talk about how they have developed the UK’s largest brewpub chain, food quality, recruiting brewers, brewing experiences, EIS funding and the market potential for the company. Ann Elliott, chief executive of Elliotts, presents the findings of a survey of senior industry executives on the subject of ‘outstanding leadership’. Elliotts strategy director James Hacon talks to former Spirit chief executive Mike Tye, Thorley Taverns operations director Phil Thorley, Ego Restaurants chief executive James Horler and Ann Elliott about the principles of high quality leadership. Operators on multi-site pub, restaurant and foodservice companies can claim up to two free places by emailing Adam Dickinson on

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