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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 9th Mar 2016 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Las Iguanas to restructure senior management team as chief financial officer steps down: Casual Dining Group brand Las Iguanas is to restructure its senior management team as it prepares for major expansion after revealing chief financial officer Kieron Pollock is to step down. Pollock is leaving after eight years in the role to pursue new opportunities and as a result Casual Dining Group will recruit both a chief operating officer and finance director as it seeks to launch approximately 20 Las Iguanas venues a year for the next two years. Pollock, whose role also included board responsibility for marketing, training and menu development functions, will remain with the business until June to oversee the conclusion of the integration programme with Casual Dining Group and conduct a handover to his successor. Pollock was part of a senior management team that has grown the Latin American bar-restaurant concept from 16 locations to 48. Las Iguanas managing director Mos Shamel said: “Kieron has played an integral part in the success and growth of Las Iguanas. He was also instrumental in the successful acquisition by Casual Dining Group and subsequent integration. Now that this work is complete, he has decided to begin a new chapter and we wish him well.” Once appointed, both the new chief operating officer and the finance director will report to Shamel. Casual Dining Group chief executive Steve Richards said: “I would like to place on record our thanks to Kieron for his excellent service and contribution, notably the successful merging of Las Iguanas with Casual Dining Group. He leaves the business in great shape.”

Industry News:

Readers sign up to Propel Premium service: Operators, drinks companies, law firms, accountants, distributors and marketing firms are among the first companies that have signed up to receive the Propel Premium subscription service, which launched on Tuesday (1 March). The current free service to all existing readers remains the same, but readers can opt to upgrade to receive the Propel Premium service. Propel Premium subscribers will be able to receive the Morning Newsletter, which is sent at 6.30am each weekday, 12 hours earlier at 6.30pm the day before. Subscribers will also receive a copy of the Propel database of 500 multi-site companies, which will be updated every six months, and receive a digital version of Propel Quarterly magazine a week before publication. For operators, annual subscription costs £345 plus VAT per year, with an extra £50 per additional subscriber at each company. For suppliers, annual subscription costs £445 plus VAT, with an extra £50 per additional subscriber at each company. To subscribe to the Propel Premium service, email adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com

Poll reveals rise in freehold purchases and ‘a good time to buy’: A poll of Association of Valuers of Licensed Property (AVLP) members has revealed more people are seeking to buy freeholds than three years ago. A minority of respondents to the poll, in its fourth year, also thought freehold and leasehold prices would rise, leading AVLP honorary secretary Dan Mackernan to state it could be “a good time to buy”. Meanwhile, 61% thought the standard of applicants had risen. AVLP members, consisting of licensed property surveyors and valuers, were polled about the state of the market, with 78% saying more people wanted to buy freeholds than three years ago, while more than half (54%) said fewer people wanted to buy leasehold pubs. Regarding the licensed property market, more than two-thirds (72%) said it was more buoyant than a year ago. Mackernan said: “This year’s findings are particularly interesting, not least that 61% of those polled said they thought the standard of applicants taking licensed property has improved. Another stat that stood out for me was the view that prices of property are thought to be fairly flat, with only 38% of those polled thinking freehold prices will rise and only 11% thinking leasehold prices will rise. This could indicate that it’s a good time to buy.”

Welsh pub launches Sunday roast delivery service: A pub in Wales is launching a service delivering Sunday roasts. Licensees of The Harp in Abergale, Clwyd, Maria Brien and Ian Cunningham believe the novel idea called Dial-a-Roast will appeal to families and older residents. People in Abergele and surrounding villages can text, message or call in the order during the week, with the last order at 4pm on a Saturday. They can choose their meat from a couple of choices and it will be served with roast and boiled potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, seasonal vegetables, crunchy parsnips and sweet potato garnish and gravy. Brien told the Daily Post: “We have always done a good trade with our Sunday dinners at the pub but we thought there must be a lot of people who would love a Sunday dinner but can’t be bothered cooking it or coming to the pub. Often people fancy a roast but the idea of cooking it and washing up all the dishes puts them off. There are a lot of older people in the Abergele area and lots of families who we think would love this. Already people are asking if we will deliver further afield, which we will consider in the future.”

D&D London turns spotlight on role of women in hospitality industry: Restaurant operator D&D London has launched a series of YouTube videos exploring the role and experiences of women in the hospitality industry to coincide with International Women’s Day (Tuesday, 8 March). The five videos feature some of the industry’s key female figures tackling questions on the role and experience of women working in different sectors of the industry. The women shared their thoughts and experiences, ranging from the outdated perception that the hospitality industry is a boy’s club to the challenges of motherhood and maternity leave. Natalia Ribbe, founder of the Eighty Six List, led the panel, which included Pidgin head chef Elizabeth Allen, Pho head of marketing and PR Libby Andrews, Rosie Mira of Hawksmoor Group, Freddie Janssen, of Lyle’s restaurant, senior manager at Spring Grace Welch, and D&D London’s Liene Alekse-Lielpinka and Guia Sciortino. A D&D London spokeswoman said: “With the dwindling numbers of female chefs a recurrent news story and at a time in which equality for women in the workplace is a central concern, D&D’s contribution to this year’s International Women’s Day provides an insightful and thought-provoking look at the hospitality industry from the perspective of women on the inside.”

Starbucks named one of world’s most ethical companies for tenth year running: Starbucks has been named one of the world’s most ethical companies for the tenth year in a row. The Ethisphere Institute, which defines standards of ethical business practices, evaluates companies based on the following categories: reputation, leadership and innovation, ethics and compliance programme, governance, corporate citizenship and responsibility, and culture of ethics. Only 130 companies were chosen from thousands of nominations worldwide, and Starbucks is one of only 14 companies to have earned the honour all ten years Ethisphere has published its rankings. Starbucks senior vice-president, deputy general counsel and chief ethics and compliance officer Matthew Swaya said: “While our mission and values provide the guardrails by which we act, it is up to each of us to do our part to maintain a great work environment and to lead with ethics and integrity.”

Belfast retail park to undergo £2m refurbishment to give it renewed leisure focus: A retail park in Belfast is set to undergo a £2m refurbishment to give it a renewed focus on leisure. The scheme at the Cityside Retail and Leisure Park will provide additional food court and leisure space as part of a new concept known as Cityside Excite. It will add to the existing 14-screen Movie House multiplex cinema, health and leisure club, bingo club and children’s soft play area. Units will be available from 500 square feet to 25,000 square feet and work is due to be completed in June. Letting agents Savills and DTZ McCombe Pierce believe the construction of the new University of Ulster campus, which is adjacent to Cityside, will ensure strong demand for space from food and leisure operators. Savills retail associate director Claire McAnallen told Insider Media: “The new configurations will allow for a wide mix of leisure activities, such as laser tag, climbing walls, bowling, crazy golf and much more. In addition, new food court space, with kiosks available from 500 square feet, provides the opportunity for food operators to complement the entertainment mix.”

Company News:

Mezze Restaurants owner seeks investment to expand but will sell group if right suitor not found: Mezze Restaurants, the West Country operator led by Alex Tryfonos, has instructed agent Davis Coffer Lyons to approach the market looking for investment, Propel has learnt. However, Tryfonos said he would look to sell the five-strong group if the right suitor could not be found to roll-out the concept. Davis Coffer Lyons would sell the five-strong portfolio as a group or as individual units. Bristol-based Mezze’s turnover is in excess of £3m and it has an “excellent pipeline of new sites available”. Tryfonos said: “Mezze is a concept that has become a favourite on the Bristol casual dining scene since opening its first site in 2009 and has sparked solid interest from some of the industry’s finest operators ever since. We remain committed to expanding the brand throughout the south west and beyond, but selling the group is a very realistic option if the right suitor for a Mezze roll-out cannot be found soon.” Mezze’s portfolio consists of five-long term leases in the Bristol area – its flagship White Lion in Portishead, the Warwick Arms in Clutton, the Ship & Castle in Congresbury, the Green Dragon in Downend, and the Royal George in Thornbury.

Wellington Pub Company reports average rental uplift of 10% at review: Wellington Pub Company, the UK’s largest free-of-tie pub estate with 771 pubs, has reported an average uplift of 10.0% in rent at review. In a report to bondholders covering the quarter to 31 December 2015, the company stated: “At the quarter end there were 771 public houses in the estate. This is six fewer than the last quarter. The disposal strategy remains to sell bottom end and/or problem properties and those that have a higher alternative use value. 661 pubs (86% of the estate) are let on a long lease. Eight properties were re-let on a long lease during the quarter and there were three lease forfeitures. The estate is producing an annual income of £28.3m, which is a 4.4% increase from last year. The average level of rental uplift achieved at review in the year was 10.0%. The company retained circa £18m of cash on deposit. The annualised Ebitda (adjusted for property profits) for the 12 months to the end of December 2015 was £21.1m.”

PizzaExpress reports 15.9% turnover increase and like-for-likes up 0.5% in half one: PizzaExpress has reported a 15.9% increase in turnover while like-for-like sales across its UK and Ireland stores were up 0.5% for the 28 weeks ended 10 January 2016. The company saw turnover of £267.2m (half one 2014/15: £230.6m) with Ebitda 3.0% ahead of last year at £56.4m (half one 2014/15: £54.7m). It continued to grow its estate with 13 new site openings in the UK and 12 internationally. The company also reported strong growth of its PizzaExpress Delivered concept since its launch in September, paving the way for a national roll-out programme. Its first standalone site in Exeter opened on Monday (7 March). PizzaExpress said the initial performance of its new chicken restaurant Reys in Cambridge was “encouraging” and customer feedback had been “very positive”. PizzaExpress chief executive Richard Hodgson said: “Despite a more challenging market backdrop, PizzaExpress has performed well in the first half of the year and the developments in our new delivery offer and the initial success of Reys have been particularly exciting. Overall in the first half, I am pleased to report that group turnover grew to £267.2m and Ebitda to £56.4m. In the UK and Ireland, like-for-like sales increased 0.5% and we have successfully opened 13 new restaurants in the first half. Our performance outside London was broad based across the UK and continued to be driven by an increase in number of covers. Customer-led innovation is a core part of our business as we wish to inspire customers with exciting new dishes. Our seasonal autumn menu was well received, as was our introduction of Christmas specials, including the much talked-about Brussels sprout pizza. Our retail business continued to trade well, with pizzas and bread continuing to grow ahead of the market in both volume and value. PizzaExpress Delivered, which we have trialled in two London sites since September last year, has seen encouraging growth which has paved the way for a national roll-out programme. In addition, I am excited to say that we have acquired Firezza, a leading gourmet pizza delivery company with 17 sites across London. Our new chicken restaurant, Reys, successfully opened in Cambridge in October 2015 and has been performing well. Response from customers has also been extremely positive. Internationally, I am pleased to say we have opened a further 12 sites. The development of our international business remains a key part of our long-term strategy and we have invested in building a strong foundation for the future, following last year’s acquisitions of the previously franchised businesses in China and the UAE.”

BrewDog ends development fund citing corporate takeovers of craft beer breweries: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is ending its development fund, citing increasing corporate takeovers of craft beer breweries, which counter “everything craft beer stands for”. The company launched the BrewDog Development Fund in 2014 to allocate up to £100,000 of profits each year to help other craft breweries start up and become established. However, BrewDog said recent corporate takeovers and buyouts had “detracted from our good intentions”, adding it had returned its stakes at cost price to the first two official partners of the fund – Brew by Numbers and CAP – but would continue to stock their beers. The company stated: “These aggressive, lowest-common-denominator acquisitions are still very much on the radar, and we firmly believe that the idea of breweries having stakes in other breweries isn’t cool. So we have brought the BrewDog Development Fund to a close. We introduced the fund with the idea of helping those starting out or to give craft breweries wanting to reach that next level the support they needed to hopefully make it. We partnered with two fantastic producers – London’s Brew by Numbers (BBNo) and Stockholm-based CAP. But those recent corporate takeovers and buyouts have detracted from our good intentions. Despite being significantly smaller in scale – and with intentions diametrically opposite – to recent ‘investments’ made in Ballast Point, Camden Town, Meantime, Elysian and others, when one brewery has a stake in another it can’t help but compromise the smaller of the two parties. We wanted (and still want) nothing but the best for BBNo and CAP, but the principle still applies. So we have returned our stakes to the owners of these breweries, at cost price. We will continue to support them, and other outstanding craft breweries, by proudly stocking their beers and serving them in our bars, collaborating on cool brewing projects, and offering help and advice should it ever be asked of us. But we are going to do all of this by supporting their independence above all else.”

Lifeboat Pub Company takes on third site: Lifeboat Pub Company, led by Tim Joudrey, has take on its third site – the Enterprise Inns-owned The Wash & Tope in Hunstanton, Norfolk. The pub in Le Strange Terrace has officially reopened following a £340,000 refurbishment. It features nautical-themed decor, including maritime-style seating and lighting. The revamp has created eight additional jobs with up to ten more staff being taken on from Easter. Joudrey said: “I want The Wash & Tope to replicate what we’ve done at our other Norfolk pub, The Two Lifeboats, at Sheringham, and offer a very accessible, mid-range drinking and dining experience for couples and families. The local authority and people in Hunstanton are delighted with what we’re doing in partnership with Enterprise. They’re really pleased to see this sort of investment, saying it’s just what the town needs, and a real breath of fresh air.” The Lifeboat Pub Company’s other venue is The Shroppie Fly in Audlem, Cheshire, which is owned by Punch. Enterprise Inns invested £2.4m in key pubs across its East Anglia region in its last financial year (FY15) and early FY16.

Michelin-starred Lima launches Peruvian delicatessen in Harrods Food Hall: The owners of Michelin-starred restaurants Lima Fitzrovia and Lima Floral have launched a Peruvian delicatessen in Harrods Food Hall. The menu, curated exclusively for Harrods, offers a variety of Peruvian dishes, including salmon and seabream ceviche, potatoes huancaina, beef or chicken empanadas, and anticuchos, a street-food dish. The range incorporates traditional and contemporary Peruvian cooking. Gabriel Gonzalez, co-founder and managing director of Lima Fitzrovia and Lima Floral, said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Harrods and honoured to be present in such an iconic institution. It is a great opportunity for us to showcase our food and passion for gastronomy, adapted to a retail format.” Bruce Langlands, Harrods director of food and restaurants, said: “We are extremely excited to be welcoming Lima to the Harrods Food Hall, a fantastic addition to the diverse food scene within the store. As a market leader in food trends, offering our loyal customers the best and latest in food is at the forefront of our brand values and Lima brings something extremely innovative to the current offering; the cuisine is unique and exceptionally well executed.” 

George’s Tradition eyes central Leeds for first Yorkshire venture: Family-owned premium fish and chip chain George’s Tradition, which currently operates ten takeaways, three restaurants and a pub, is eyeing central Leeds for its first venture in Yorkshire. The company, which sources its food from sustainable British suppliers, was established in 1967 and is headquartered in Derby. Now it is planning to open in The Light shopping centre in the Headrow, reports Insider Media. A 5,900 square foot property, currently occupied by clothing shop Ark and located between Red Hot World Buffet and Mitchell & Butlers’ Miller & Carter steakhouse restaurant, has been earmarked for the restaurant, which would create up to 20 jobs and feature external seating. Acting on behalf of George’s Tradition, Watts Planning has submitted plans to Leeds City Council seeking permission to fit out the double-fronted ground-floor unit with the company’s branding. A change of use application has already been granted on the basis the proposed use as a restaurant would add vitality to The Light and enhance its day and evening activities. Legal & General Property acquired The Light in 2013 and features 221,275 square foot of covered space arranged over four floors, together with streetscape areas. Other restaurant brands include Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi, Barburrito, Nando’s and Prezzo.

Patisserie Valerie opens tenth Scottish site at Glasgow Fort: Patisserie Valerie, the company that has sector investor Luke Johnson as executive chairman, has opened a new site at the Glasgow Fort shopping centre. The new outlet is based in the central area of the complex, near the Game computer store, and is its tenth venue in Scotland. Chief executive Paul May said: “We’re excited to announce the opening of a new Patisserie Valerie store within Glasgow Fort, a great location for the brand. This new store now brings us to ten stores within Scotland, and we hope this can continue to grow in the future. We hope our customers like the new store as much as we do.” Glasgow Fort centre manager Phil Goodman added: “We are delighted to welcome Patisserie Valerie to Glasgow Fort. It will be a fantastic addition to our offering and we are confident it will be popular with our customers.” Patisserie Valerie, launched in 1926 in Soho, London, by Belgian-born Madame Valerie, has 110 sites throughout the UK. 

Horatio Group outlines plans to return to profitability following increase in pre-tax losses: Northern Ireland hospitality company The Horatio Group has outlined plans to return to profitability this year after slipping further into the red. The company operates four restaurants – Horatio Todd’s and The Northern Whig in Belfast, Molly Browns Kitchen & Bar in Newtownards, and Denvir’s in Downpatrick. For the year to 31 May 2015, Horatio Taverns, which trades as the group, reported turnover of £7.1m, compared with £8.22m the previous 12 months, according to accounts filed with Companies House. The company also fell to a further pre-tax loss of £397,023 from £44,361 in 2014. The company said the figures were “mainly as a result of the excessive rent” it incurred under a lease with the Irish “bad bank” Nama. However, it added subsequent renegotiations had taken place and therefore the company expected its performance to improve. It added: “Following the year-end, management intend to streamline the process within the company and as a result has projected that it will return to profitability in the 12 months from the date of signing the financial statements and to a positive cash position.”

Starbucks opens first store to feature dedicated training space: Starbucks has opened a store in the Jamaica neighbourhood of Queens, New York, which features a dedicated job training space. The move is the first in an initiative Starbucks announced last year to open stores in at least 15 diverse urban communities across the US by 2018. The aim is to create jobs, engage local women and minority-owned vendors and suppliers, and collaborate with non-profit organisations to support training opportunities for local youths. Each venue will have a training space where young people can learn customer service and retail skills based on Starbucks’ staff training methods. The company will also leverage existing programmes aimed at helping connect young people with internships, apprenticeships and jobs in the community. Rodney Hines, Starbucks director of community investments, said: “By making a long-term investment in the form of new stores, we hope to play a meaningful role in supporting ongoing efforts to transform these vibrant communities – starting here in Jamaica – from one with a legacy of systemic barriers to opportunity, to one where young people see a pathway to lifelong success.” Jamaica Starbucks will help guide the design and development of other stores in the initiative. The next site to open will be in Missouri.

TGI Friday’s launches new menu featuring 30oz Tomahawk steak: TGI Friday’s has launched a new menu, which includes its largest-ever steak – a 30oz Tomahawk rib eye. The menu, devised by company head chef Terry McDowell, has seen the Friday’s ribs given a shake-up. In addition to tender, slow-marinated baby back ribs, Friday’s has, for the first time, introduced cola-glazed beef short ribs. The Jack Daniel’s glaze range has been expanded with the introduction of Jack Daniel’s crispy duck fajitas and Friday’s first Jack Daniel’s vegetarian dish – sesame mushroom strips. The pulled pork sundae is an appetiser with a difference – served in a glass usually reserved for desserts, it features barbecue pulled pork, bacon and melted cheese between layers of mashed potato. There is also the scorpion chicken sandwich, which features grilled chicken coated in spicy scorpion hot sauce and topped with chili, bacon, cheese, tomato and red onion, served in a glazed brioche bun with crispy fries or house salad on the side. The new burgers are The Chief featuring a 7oz burger, chargrilled chicken breast coated in scorpion hot sauce, bacon, jalapenos, cheese and chili mayo. There’s also the green chilli cheeseburger with chargrilled hot chilies, jalapenos and chilli mayo. McDowell said: “I took inspiration from food from right across the globe, as well as exploring sweet, hot and smoky trends, bringing the best flavour sensations I could find back to Friday’s to include on the new menu to really wow guests that come through our doors.”

Enterprise puts leasehold on sale for iconic pub where It’s A Long Way To Tipperary was written: Enterprise Inns has put the leasehold of the Tipperary Inn in Warwickshire on the market for about £40,000. The pub in Meer End Road, Honiley, is noted for being the place where First World War marching song It’s A Long Way To Tipperary was penned. The pub has a 13-year lease remaining with a rent of £23,000 a year. Agent Guy Simmonds, which is marketing the pub, estimated the pub’s turnover at about £300,000 per year, including VAT. The pub has an open plan lounge bar and restaurant, a commercial catering kitchen and owner’s accommodation with a kitchen, lounge, bathroom and three bedrooms on the first floor. The pub also has a large garden, a paddock, and a car park for 30 to 40 vehicles. Sales particulars state business rates are about £11,000 per year. The pub, previously known as the Plough Inn, was the home of Harry Williams, who co-wrote It’s A Long Way To Tipperary in 1912 with music hall entertainer Jack Judge. The pub is said to have been renamed the Tipperary Inn after Williams purchased it from his parents with money made from the song. The pub has been run by Mike Malhan since February 2014 but he has decided to end his time at the pub because of family commitments.

Nottingham-based restaurateur launches all-day Moroccan and Lebanese eatery, plans chain: Nottingham-based restaurateur Abdou Ali El Bahtini has started expanding his portfolio by opening an all-day Moroccan and Lebanese eatery and is planning a chain of sites. El Bahtini, who owns Arabic restaurant Marrakesh in Chapel Bar, has launched Marrakesh Express in nearby Long Row. He has signed a 15-year lease for the 35-seater cafe and takeaway on the site of former noodle bar Yo Yo. The asking rent was £24,000 per year. El Bahtini told the Nottingham Post: “It’s a very good area of the city. We’ve done well here with the restaurant so wanted to open another premises close by so I can work in both of them. We would like to create a chain. This new takeaway will have a different style with more Lebanese wraps and salads, whereas the restaurant is pure Moroccan.” Agent Bruton Knowles handled the lease and senior surveyor at its Nottingham office Geoff Solman said: “We received a lot of inquiries about the restaurant premises. The landlord was very pleased at the level of interest this property attracted. Marrakesh Express is a great addition to the proliferation of new restaurants in the city centre at the moment – it is offering something different and exciting to the mix.”

Cotswolds hotel and pub sold for £2m to newly formed hospitality company: The Rectory Hotel in Crudwell, Wiltshire, and its sister business the Potting Shed pub have been bought for £2m by a newly formed hospitality company. The Cotswolds country house hotel and the pub, which is based just across the road, were sold in an off-market deal brokered by Colliers International. Both properties, situated in three acres of grounds between Tetbury, Malmesbury and Cirencester, have been taken over by Roman Road Hospitality, a newly established business that specialises in offering the very best of English hospitality, food, drink and accommodation in historic buildings set in beautiful places. Music industry executive Alex Payne, who grew up in the area, will return to the Cotswolds to run the businesses. Payne said: “This is Roman Road’s first site and sole focus but there are plans for more locations. Bramley Bars helped us on the transfer, operations, rebranding and refurbishment of the Rectory and Potting Shed. With a background building up Soho House, Bramley is the team behind the nearby Beckford Arms and Talbot Inn.” The Rectory Hotel offers 12 bedrooms with scope to add further rooms while The Potting Shed was voted Wiltshire Dining Pub of the Year in 2014, National Pub of the Year in 2012 and National Dining Pub of the Year in 2011.

New craft beer bar 1,000 Trades to launch in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter: A new independent craft beer bar – 1,000 Trades – will open in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter later this year. The venue joins a growing list of bars set to launch in the city’s historic manufacturing quarter. The bar will open in a grade II-listed building in Frederick Street that used to house Caribbean bar and restaurant Diamonds and Pearls. Jonathan Todd, 1,000 Trades co-owner, told the Birmingham Mail: “We want to be at the heart of a neighbourhood with a rich history and a vibrant presence. 1,000 Trades speaks to Birmingham as a place where you could get anything made. What we’re planning to do here complements what is already happening in the Jewellery Quarter and the area’s ethos and culture.” Todd said the 200-capacity bar would be on the ground floor, with the possibility of bringing the site’s first floor into future use. Two other craft beer bars are also due to open this year in the Jewellery Quarter. Birmingham brewer Davenports unveiled plans in January to open a venue in the quarter’s former police station, while husband-and-wife team Mark and Chrissy Rafferty will launch The Pig & Tail in the former George and Dragon pub in Albion Street.

Mary-Ellen McTague forced to pull out of Manchester city centre restaurant move: Acclaimed chef Mary-Ellen McTague has had to pull out of plans to turn the Roadhouse music venue in Manchester city centre into a restaurant. McTague, who co-owned and ran Aumbry in Prestwich for five years after working in Michelin-starred kitchens, including Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck, said she found out the scheme to transform the basement venue into a restaurant would not be happening after the landlord put the lease back on the market. It is believed the lease for 8 Newton Street is now available for about £46,000 a year via commercial property agency Lambert Smith Hampton. McTague’s restaurant, a joint venture with former Roadhouse owner and friend Kate Mountain, had been eight months in the planning but McTague said the setback would not stop the venture. She told Manchester Evening News: “We’re talking to landlords in various areas of the city. There are so many possibilities now; even in the last six months the city has changed and grown.” Last month, McTague announced she would head up the not-for-profit Real Junk Food Project at The Wonder Inn, Shudehill, where dishes are made from salvaged materials from wholesalers, supermarkets and restaurants, with customers settling the bill on a “pay-as-you-feel” basis.

Cote opens new restaurant in Cirencester: French brasserie Cote has opened its new restaurant in Cirencester. The company has launched the venue on the site of the former Hares Antiques site in Black Jack Street – its second outlet in Gloucestershire. General manger Trisha Doughty told the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: “There’s nothing like Cote around here, where people can come in for a casual drink or for a special occasion. There are a lot of big developments here like St James’s where there are people who are looking for places to eat out.” The site is Cote’s 74th across the UK, which includes its other Gloucestershire outlet in Cheltenham.

Crewe-based independent bar to start expanding with second site in Nantwich: Crewe-based independent bar The Beerdock is set to start expanding by opening a second site, this time in Nantwich. The company has applied to Cheshire East Council for a premises licence for the new outlet in the former Job Centre in Swinemarket. The Beerdock wants to sell alcohol between 10am and midnight Monday to Sunday, and stage live and recorded music between the same hours, reports the Nantwich News. It also includes the exhibition of films, between 10am and 11pm every day. The company said: “The original concept was to offer a huge choice of beers set in the charm of a micro-pub – but with the ease and convenience of an off-licence. Beerdock went further. You can drink here as well. We’re a pub, a bar, an oasis of ales. We installed fashionably old and creaky tables, added some draught beers, the essential fridges to offer chilled-to-perfection lagers and cider and voila! It really is a relaxing social environment.” The Beerdock opened its first site in Nantwich Road, Crewe, in 2013.

New Uzbecki restaurant concept to open on former Hart Brothers site in Fitzrovia: A new Uzbecki restaurant concept is set to open in Fitzrovia, London. Samarkand, named after a city in Uzbekistan located on the Silk Road, the ancient trade route linking China to the Mediterranean, is launching in Charlotte Street at the former Fino site – the Spanish restaurant run by Sam and Eddie Hart for 12 years. The Harts have assigned the leasehold interest on the remainder of an existing 20-year lease due to expire in September 2027 at a passing rent of £170,000 per annum exclusive in a deal brokered by agent Davis Coffer Lyons. A substantial premium was paid for the lease. The new concept will offer traditional and contemporary Uzbecki fare in a premium setting. The team behind Samarkand includes David Moore, owner of Michelin-starred restaurants Pied à Terre in Fitzrovia and L’Autre Pied in Marylebone. The business will be run by Sanjar Nabiev, an international restaurateur originally from Samarkand, and hospitality consultant Charles Oak, whose project list includes The Mayfair Hotel, Pied à Terre, Ethos, Skibo Castle, Angela Maliks, The Savoy, Gleneagles, and Mahiki. Davis Coffer Lyons director Rob Meadows said: “Fino was a successful operation over many years established in an unusual basement site. This deal goes to show that the market is strong for well located but unusual and discreet spaces. Fitzrovia has proven to be a major growth area for bars and restaurants and we are finding demand is now at unprecedented levels.”

Costa rolls out Chop’d partnership across 12 more London stores: Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee will expand its offering with premium salad operator Chop’d to a further 12 London stores following a trial launched in six sites last summer. The roll-out will lead to the fresh food company’s jerk chicken, tuna niçoise, feta and lentil, Parma ham and mozzarella, and falafel and hummus salads going on sale at selected stores this week. The partnership is the first time Costa has collaborated with another food and drink brand. Caroline Harris, Costa UK and Ireland marketing director, said: “Customers responded positively to the partnership and love the new variety of salads on offer. Costa is committed to serving healthy food options and the Chop’d partnership demonstrates how our customers are at the heart of every decision we make.” Eddie Holmes, Chop’d managing director, added: “We are delighted to have been hand-picked by Costa to be their salad partner. It really is a great fit due to our joint passion for using the best ingredients, delighting our customers and, of course, both being born and bred in London.” Following the roll-out, Chop’d salads will be available at Costa sites in Argyll Street, Baker Street, Brixton Road, Cabot Place, Conley Fields Shopping Park, Cowcross Street, Culver Square, Curzon Street, Darent Valley Hospital, Eastcastle Street, Eldon Street, Great Marlborough Street, Great Portland Street, Lower Regent Street, Moorfields Eye Hospital, Piccadilly, St Pancras Station, and Westfield (Stratford).

SSP America awarded two food and beverage packages at Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport: SSP America, a division of UK transport hub foodservice specialist SSP, has been awarded two food and beverage packages at Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport by the Metropolitan Airports Commission. SSP will develop and operate four units with contracts spanning eight years for its quick-service restaurant wins and nine years for full-service. Its winning packages include three locally owned brands – the Republic pub serving locally crafted beer and food grown by regional farmers, LoLo America Kitchen, a bar concept focusing on craft cocktails and craft beer, and Black Sheep Pizza. It will also operate an SSP brand tailored for the Twin Cities location – healthy eating concept Camden Food Co. The new outlets will open throughout 2016. SSP America president and chief executive Michael Svagdis said: “The experience reflects the uniqueness of the Twin Cities, their renowned Midwestern hospitality, and diverse local food culture that celebrates the region’s bountiful farmland.” Minneapolis-St Paul International handles more than 36 million passengers per year.

Tennent’s launches new glassware for first time in eight years: Scottish beer brand Tennent’s Lager has launched new glassware for the first time in eight years. Tennents, which is owned by C&C Group, is rolling out the new design from this month, which is the result of research in collaboration with customers and consumers Scotland-wide. The new pint glass is 20 millimetres taller with a nucleated glass base. The iconic red T logo is outlined in gold on the front with the brand name and the Hugh Tennent signature embossed below. On the back, the message “Brewed with Passion in Scotland Since 1885” completes the design. Tennent’s marketing director Paul Condron said: “Aside from our hugely successful limited edition glasses, this is the first major change to our glassware in eight years and we’re really pleased to unveil the results to our customers and consumers across Scotland. It’s a simple, modern, and premium glass that helps make that consistent great tasting pint of Tennent’s Lager a little bit more special.”

Tribunal blocks Diageo’s £53m Indian settlement: An Indian tribunal has blocked a £53m settlement between Diageo and Dr Vijay Mallya for his resignation as chairman and non-executive director of United Spirits and from the boards of other United Spirits group companies. Creditors of Mallya’s collapsed airline Kingfisher argued they should receive the Diageo cash, reports the Daily Telegraph. A hearing is scheduled for later this month.

Propel partners with Digital Blonde for Advanced Social Media Masterclass: Propel is partnering with digital marketing company Digital Blonde for the Advanced Social Media Masterclass, building on last year’s Social Media Masterclass with all-new content. The event takes place on Wednesday, 20 April at One Moorgate Place in London and will provide a comprehensive overview of how to make the best use of social media. Digital Blonde founder Karen Fewell will share research into the importance of social media in customers’ lives as well as insight into the psychology of food and drink marketing in order to produce persuasive social media activity. The day will also include advice on using storytelling techniques to achieve stronger results in marketing and social media campaigns as well as how to use analytics to develop a social media strategy. There will also be a first-look at Digital Blonde’s “Love, Lust and Trust” research, which will unveil the best loved pub and bar brands and what can be learned from their social strategies. Tickets are £295 for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers members and £345 for non-members and to book email adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com

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