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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 24th Mar 2016 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Enterprise Inns plans 100 ‘managed expert’ pubs by 2020 with ten partners, eyes sale or listing of commercial property subsidiary: Enterprise Inns has told analysts it hopes to have 100 pubs run in partnership with “managed expert” multi-site operators. By September this year, it plans ten pubs with three partners ramping up to as many as 50 pubs by September 2018 operated with ten expert partners. By September 2020, it expects 100 pubs to be operated under the joint venture “managed expert” model. The company said the agreements would run for a minimum of five years with exit options including the sale of the stand-alone operating company, a sale of Enterprise’s share to the managed expert partner and vice-versa. Meanwhile, Enterprise plans a 1,000-strong “commercial” segment of pubs by 2020 let on commercial terms, which could be sold or listed separately – it expects to have between 300 and 350 sites let on such terms by September this year. Sites could be sold directly to Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) or Enterprise itself could create a REIT, analysts heard. Providing example of progress within the commercial segment, the company revealed it is now receiving £1m of rental income from White Brasserie across seven sites let on commercial lease terms. It is also seeking to develop property opportunities within its estate. It has secured planning consent for nine apartments above The Wheatsheaf in Tooting, south London. Its income would increase from £100,000 per annum to £400,000 with £1.6m of investment. The book value of the site would increase from £1.7m to more than £5m after the investment. An abandoned pub Fosters in Torquay with sea views was sold to a retirement operator for £1.2m after planning consent was obtained for residential apartments – the sale price was a 240% increase on net asset value. Also, seven acres of land attached to a pub in Ledbury, Herefordshire, for which Enterprise received £1,000 per year rent, was sold for £2.5m after consent was obtained to build 100 homes.

Industry News:

Cameron – leaving Europe will hurt the alcohol industry: The UK alcohol industry will suffer if the UK quits the European Union, David Cameron has claimed. The prime minister said jobs and investment in the wine and spirits industry would be threatened if the UK has to renegotiate international deals on alcohol sales. His warning comes as a new opinion poll suggesting the “Leave” campaign has a two-point lead over “Remain”. The poll, by ICM, suggested support for leaving the EU is now 43% and support for remaining 41%, even though bookmakers are betting heavily on a vote to stay in the EU. Cameron claimed almost 600,000 jobs in the UK alcohol industry would be safer if the UK votes to stay in the EU, since the wine and spirits industry made £1.8bn in EU exports last year. The prime minister also said the UK’s booming alcohol industry makes hundreds of millions a year from 35 free trade deals struck by the EU with more than 50 countries. Downing Street has highlighted a survey by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association that found 90% of respondents want the UK to stay in the European Union.
BBPA to stay neutral on Europe debate: The British Beer and Pub Association has said it would remain neutral in the debate on whether to leave Europe. A spokesman said: “We are not taking a position on the referendum as a trade association, as it is now up to the public to decide. Whatever the outcome, it is vital that it does not affect the ability of our members to trade openly with the EU and other markets and meet the employment needs of pubs and brewers, which are a central part of driving growth in the UK hospitality sector.” 

Vineyard Hotel sommelier scoops UK award: Head sommelier at The Vineyard Hotel in Berkshire, Romain Bourger, has won UK Young Sommelier of the Year 2016. In its 37th year, the awards are run by the Academy of Food and Wine Service. By winning the award, Bourger goes through to the finals of the Moët UK Sommelier of the Year Competition 2016, along with 11 other sommeliers from across the UK. All 12 will attend an educational trip to Epernay, France, courtesy of Moët & Chandon for an in-depth tour and technical tasting. They will also complete a task for the final, which will be held on Monday, 16 May at The Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park, in London. The five-star Vineyard Hotel, near Newbury, is operated by The Vineyard Group, owned by Sir Peter Michael and Lady Michael. The group also owns the Barns Hotel in Bedford, The Vineyard fine dining restaurant, and Peter Michael Winery in California.
A nation of young foodies – young Britons shun alcohol for eating out, according to new report: Young people aged 19 to 24 are increasingly shunning alcohol in favour of food. That’s the message of the new Future Shock report, produced by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) in partnership with CGA. According to the report, in the past six months fewer than 10% of young people have been out drinking at least three times per week, with 40% only going out once. The report also found one in seven young people did not go out at all. According to the report, 60% of young people, including students, drink out less than once per week. In contrast, 50% of young people eat out at least once per week, suggesting a fundamental shift in eating and drinking out patterns away from pubs and bars to branded dining outlets. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The publication of the ALMR’s report shows the changing nature of consumer habits as well as the evolving nature of the sector itself. This research also puts paid to the myth that young people in Britain are drinking dangerously. We have seen alcohol consumption fall by 17% since the licensing act and rates of binge drinking fall from 29 to 18%. Young people are increasingly planning their social lives around eating-out, turning away from drink and towards food. On average, under-25s are eating out between five and six times per month. This is being driven by the accessibility and affordability of great eating-out options, but it’s also the case that young people are just becoming more sophisticated and demanding consumers of food. Celebrity chefs from Jamie Oliver to Deliciously Ella have helped to create a foodie generation that is more conscious of the health aspect of eating out and the provenance and freshness of the ingredients. The boom in eating out, particularly in casual dining outlets, has seen a renaissance of our high streets driven by younger consumers. This is not only helping to drive growth in our local economies, but help contribute to healthier consumption and changing attitudes towards alcohol.”
New menu lands Las Iguanas MIDAS award: Casual Dining Group brand Las Iguanas has won the South American Casual Dining category at the Menu Innovation & Development Awards (MIDAS) for its spring/summer menu 2016. The menu consists of a selection of new and authentic South American dishes, such as ceviche cured in “tiger’s milk” with a lime, ginger and Amarillo chilli dressing, Havana Club and Jerk BBQ Glazed Ribs, and Moqueca De Peixe (peeled prawns and white fish cooked in a coconut, tomato and lime sauce). Las Iguanas also added seven cocktails and a Mojito Jelly dessert, set in a cocktail glass served with lemon and lime sorbet, to its menu. Las Iguanas head of food development Glenn Evans said: “A considerable amount of work has gone into enhancing our food offering and making fresh and authentic Latin American dishes more accessible to the ever demanding and more adventurous consumer.” Las Iguanas, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, has more than 40 sites across the UK.

Company News:

Starbucks to launch capsules compatible with Nespresso machines in the UK: Starbucks has unveiled the company’s strategic plan at the annual meeting of shareholders, with espresso capsules compatible with Nespresso machines to be launched in the UK this summer. Kevin Johnson, president and chief operating officer, unveiled the company’s plans to extend the Teavana brand into Starbucks retail stores across Europe, the Middle East  and China/Asia Pacific by the end of the fiscal year. Tea has grown by 17% over the prior year with all tea categories posting strong growth, led by iced tea at 29%. Starbucks Ready-to-Drink Cold Brew Coffee is to be launched in the US through the North American Coffee Partnership with PepsiCo. The product delivers craft cold brew on the go and will be introduced this summer. Starbucks wants to strengthen its position in the near-$8bn premium single cup coffee category. This will come to life through an updated agreement with Keurig Green Mountain to continue to be the supplier of Starbucks K-cup pods. Additionally, this summer in the US, Starbucks will launch an entirely new beverage line for the Keurig hot system – the Starbucks Latte, which will include caramel, mocha and vanilla latte. This summer in Europe, Starbucks will launch espresso capsules that are compatible with Nespresso machines, which will be sold first in UK and France through sales in Starbucks retail stores, grocery and online. In February, Starbucks unveiled changes to its loyalty scheme that created a level playing field for Starbucks customers to earn two stars for every dollar spent. Since that announcement, more than 500,000 customers signed up for Starbucks Rewards. In addition, total active members of Starbucks Rewards are now reaching more than 12 million members in the US, up one million over the past quarter. The new programme will come into effect on Tuesday, 12 April.

Peyton & Byrne reduces losses, passes £25m turnover, set for new business in 2016: Contract caterer and cafe operator Peyton & Byrne has reduced its losses by more than 50% and has revealed it is set for new business in 2016. The company has reported it made a pre-tax loss of £1,239,561 in the year ended 29 March 2015, compared with a loss of £2,562,809 the year before, according to accounts filed with Companies House. Turnover increased 9.6% to £25,029,078, compared with £22,830,040 the previous year. Ebitda was £441,494, compared with -£124,286 the previous year when it had exceptional costs of more than £1m in relation to its “mutually agreed contract termination” in Brighton. The company stated: “The directors are pleased with the progress made in the business after an exceptional prior year. The year to March 2015 included a contract extension agreed with the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, and the opening of a bakery and restaurant at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith. The directors are confident that both venues will be significant contributors to the business. Further, the company is the preferred bidder for two additional public catering contracts and an additional bakery (subject to contract), which are due to open in 2016 and will further enhance the business. The directors have ensured that the company has invested significantly in the executive team in order that it is positioned to take full advantage of the new openings and new contracts to retain current public contracts as they are retendered.”

SA Brain reports turnover and profit growth: Brewer and retailer SA Brain has reported a rise in profits and sales with its Coffee#1 chain the stand-out performer. The company, based in Cardiff, has reported underlying operating profit growth of 7% to £5.6m and sales growth of 3% to £127m, for the year ended 26 September 2015. Like-for-like sales were up 8.5%. Ebitda grew by 3% to £13.4m. During the financial year there were 12 new coffee shop openings, which saw the 50th opened in Fareham in Hampshire in April and the total increasing to 56 by year end. The company also regained the title of “Coffee Chain of the Year” at the Café Life Awards 2015 for the sixth time in seven years. SA Brain also refinanced its bank loan facilities through to September 2020 with Lloyds and HSBC each providing £42.5m, part of which will be available to facilitate further expansion of the business. Despite muted trading conditions during last summer, its managed houses saw sales growth of 1.4%. Chairman John Rhys said: “I am pleased to report another year of both sales and profit growth for the Brains business. The last financial year has seen significant investment in our brands, people and properties that have already begun to deliver results. We are fortunate to have a highly dedicated team that remain fully focused on creating outstanding guest experiences, who I would like to take the opportunity to thank for all their hard work.” Chief executive Scott Waddington said: “The prospects for the Brains business remain very healthy. We have a portfolio of offers and brands that are enjoyed by our guests and a clear strategy that will see investment in the outstanding portfolio of freehold property that we own, and from which we are confident of generating strong returns on our investment. In the current financial year, Coffee#1 will remain an expansion vehicle for the business, with the necessary infrastructure now in place to accelerate our rate of new openings.”

Lake District multi-siter opens new pork-led restaurant and bar concept: Lake District-based multi-site operator Ian Dutton has opened a new pork-led restaurant and bar concept in Windermere – his third venue. Dutton has launched The Pig in Crescent Road with more than 70% of its menu in honour of pork. The menu at the 40-seat restaurant features homemade pork scratchings; smoked pig, sweetcorn and potato chowder; a hunk of pig pie with homemade piccalilli; potted pig with an appetiser jelly, homemade crisp bread and sage butter; a pig platter; and slow roasted suckling pig. The Pig also features a range of vegetarian dishes, fish, and seafood, such as mussels and scallops and an eight-ounce goat burger. There is also a wide selection of wines, beers, spirits and cocktails as well as “skinny champagne” – champagne with fewer calories. Dutton said: “Pork is such a feel-good meat and I don’t believe we see enough of it on restaurant menus. The Pig is all about good food, well cooked and where possible, locally sourced. It’s a very unique offering. We’ll be featuring a hog roast every day and some really unusual dishes. If you’re not a pork lover, we still have a wide variety of choice, so hopefully, there’s something for everyone.” Dutton also owns the Village Inn Bar and Grill in Bowness and the Miller Howe Cafe in Grasmere. 
Russian street food bar Zima to open in Soho next week: Russian street food bar Zima will open in Soho, London, on Thursday, 31 March in the basement of a townhouse next to legendary jazz club Ronnie Scott’s. Zima is the creation of chef, restaurateur and television presenter Alexei Zimin, who trained at Le Cordon Bleu before working in the kitchens of Michel Guérard, Raymond Blanc and Gordon Ramsay, The Upcoming reports. Zima is Zimin’s first restaurant outside of Russia. The street food bar and kitchen will open in Frith Street underneath French restaurant Jean Jacques and is owned by the same Russian hospitality group, Table Talk. The bar is designed to be reminiscent of a Soviet-era “ryumochnaya” (vodka bar) and will offer vodka infusions flavoured with basil and strawberry, fennel and tarragon, and lingonberry and apple with curry leaves. The venue will also offer Russian beer Siberian Crown. Taking its name from the Russian word for winter and Zimin’s nickname, Zima will also serve dishes such as crab claw with bread crisps and red caviar, black caviar with traditional side dishes from Yaroslavl, and “Medovik” honey and sour cream cake.
BrewDog passes £15m mark in crowdfunding push, offer closes in four weeks: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has passed the £15m mark in its Equity for Punks IV crowdfunding campaign, which will close in four weeks. The company has raised the money from more than 35,000 investors since launching the offer 11 months ago. Last week, the company launched new benefits for people investing more than £5,000, £10,000, £20,000 and £50,000 with current investors able to top up to hit the new reward levels. The benefits stack, so if someone invests £20,000, they can choose a reward from each of the £5,000, £10,000 and £20,000 tiers. The company stated: “In the last 11 months, Equity for Punks IV has broken record after record and seen massive coverage for our anti-propaganda outreach! We have recruited an army of over 35,000 Equity Punks and raised over £15m, helping us on our mission to make other people as passionate about great craft beer as we are! We would not be where we are today without our awesome Equity Punks, and that is why we launched some amazing new benefits last week for our shareholders to enjoy! From free beer for life, to early access to the Lone Wolf distillery, there are loads of new ways in which life as an Equity Punk rocks. 2016 is going to be a massive year for us – wanna join us for the ride?”
Ribble Valley Inns to open sixth site: Ribble Valley Inns, the food-led pub brand owned by Northcote Leisure Group, is to open its sixth site. The company is reopening The Stag’s Head in Great Warford, Cheshire, this summer, having acquired the pub in 2014, reports It will be Ribble Valley Inns’ second site in the county having opened The Nag’s Head pub in Haughton in 2014. Northcote Leisure Group was co-founded by celebrity chef Nigel Haworth and wine expert Craig Bancroft. It also operates the Northcote Hotel, a 26-bedroom luxury hotel and Michelin star-winning restaurant in Langho, Lancashire, and Northcote at the Rovers, a hospitality, conferencing and banqueting business at Championship outfit Blackburn Rovers’ home Ewood Park. Earlier this week, the company also revealed it will open a cafe-restaurant in Blackburn’s new £34m Cathedral Quarter in mid-May. Ribble Valley Inns also has sites in Lancashire, Cumbria, and North Yorkshire.
Benugo extends John Lewis partnership with Norwich opening: Cafe-deli and restaurant operator Benugo has extended its partnership with John Lewis by opening a cafe in its department store in Norwich. Benugo has launched the site on the mezzanine floor of the store in All Saints Green. It offers breakfast, lunch, and a range of daily specials, including salads and oven baked dishes as well as toasted sandwiches. There is also a wide range of cakes and scones along with speciality teas and coffee. It is the company’s second site inside a John Lewis store following its opening in Oxford Street in London in October. Benugo is part of WSH, a holding company made up of six trading brands in the food and hospitality sector.
Hummus Bros opens sixth London site: London-based restaurant company Hummus Bros has opened its sixth site in the capital – in Eastcheap, close to the Walkie Talkie building. The Levantine-inspired menu at the 24-cover venue features hummus bowls – a layer of hummus with toppings such as beef stew, falafel salad, guacamole or tabouleh – plus quinoa boxes and wraps, with weekly meat and vegetarian specials to eat in or take away. The venue is open from 11am to 7pm, Monday to Friday, and also offers a delivery service. The menu also features Hummus Bros’ own lemonade and spiced apple drinks. Hummus Bros co-founder Christian Mouysset said: “Last year was a great turnaround for us and the start of 2016 has been even better.” In February 2016, Hummus Bros saw overall sales grow 31% on the same month last year with a like-for-like increase in sales of 24% in all its stores as well as its corporate pop-ups. Hummus Bros, founded in 2005 by Mouysset and Ronen Givon, operates almost 100 pop-ups in locations across the capital. Its five other permanent sites are in Soho, Holborn, Cheapside, Exmouth Market, and Gray’s Inn Road. Hummus Bros said it serves more than 12,000 customers a week.
New Filipino cafe concept launches in Kensington: Romulo Café, which has three sites in Manila, has opened a venue in Kensington, west London. The site in Kensington High Street has four dining areas. The General’s Bar offers traditional and bespoke cocktails alongside Philippine beers, while the Ambassador’s Lounge serves barako coffee and Filipino bar food and snacks. The Diplomat’s Dining Room seats 40, while CPR Library is a private dining space, reports The Upcoming. The owners describe Filipino food as a combination of Spanish, American, Malay and Chinese cuisine. Main dishes include roasted chicken stuffed with ground pork, raisins, chorizo and peas, and salmon cooked in tamarind broth served with aubergine, green beans and daikon. Desserts include Sans Rival – dulce de leche buttercream with cashews, meringue and ice cream. Romulo Café is the brainchild of Sandie Romulo Squillantini and husband Enzo, and celebrates the legacy of her famous grandfather, General Carlos P Romulo, a former president of the United Nations General Assembly and the only Filipino to win a Pulitzer Prize. Romulo Café will open from midday to midnight, Monday to Saturday, and midday to 11.30pm on Sundays.
Former TCG site The Philharmonic in Cardiff sells for more than £650,000: The Philharmonic, a late-night venue in Cardiff city centre of more than 17,000 square feet, has been sold by Christie & Co for an undisclosed figure in excess of the £650,000 asking price. The prominent grade-II listed period property in St Mary Street has been closed for a number of years and was sold by the joint administrators of Tattershall Castle Group. It has been acquired by property investment company Curzon Real Estate. John Coggins, of the Cardiff office of Christie & Co, who handled the sale, said: “The Philharmonic offered an increasingly rare opportunity to acquire a prime city centre freehold. We initiated a short open marketing period, which was instrumental in attracting strong levels of interest from a range of possible buyers including leisure operators looking to develop a profitable licensed business in an iconic venue and property investors looking to gain a freehold asset in a prime city centre location. The scale of the property and the opportunities that the property presents struck a chord with Curzon Real Estate, and we congratulate them on their acquisition of what is sure to be a fantastic investment and look forward to watching their success in developing the property and returning it to use.”
Krispy Kreme to open drive-thru doughnut store and production hub in Peterborough: Krispy Kreme is to open a drive-thru doughnut store and production hub in Peterborough. The company has signed a deal with Sladen Estates for a 4,577 square foot site at Cygnet Green in Hampton, which is expected to open this summer. The venue will have about 40 seats, a drive-thru lane and a production hub supplying doughnuts to all Krispy Kreme in-store cabinets within a one-hour radius. Sladen Estates development director Nigel Jones told Property Mall: “We’re delighted to have let this unit to such a well-known and well-loved global firm. Cygnet Green has proved to be an extremely popular development. Phases one and two of the project have seen restaurants built for Toby Carvery and KFC alongside a 30,000 square foot health and fitness centre operated by Peterborough City Council. The Krispy Kreme unit will complete the final plot on the site.” The site was secured by Krispy Kreme’s property agent Morgan Williams. 
Nottingham-based seafood restaurant to open second site in Beeston, eyes further growth: Nottingham-based seafood restaurant The Lobster Pot is to start expanding by opening a second site in Beeston and is planning further growth. Chatchai Pongsawang is launching the new venue in Villa Street next month on the site of the former Yod Siam Thai restaurant, creating six jobs. It will share the same name as its Nottingham counterpart, which opened in Mansfield Road in 2001, but will be almost double the size with 55 seats. Dishes on the menu include grilled lobster with Thai chilli basil sauce, pad Thai noodles and king prawns along with a rotating specials menu filled with fresh fish. Pongsawang told the Nottingham Post: “It’s going to become a franchise, hopefully give it another five years and we will definitely have one or two more restaurants.”
Molson Coors partners with Football Manager for Carling iPint loyalty app: Brewer Molson Coors has partnered its Carling iPint loyalty app with management simulation game Football Manager. The smartphone app, which the company claimed is on track to reach one million downloads by 2017, will now include an exclusive Football Manager quiz, which rewards players with cashback prizes. Players compete for a spot on the weekly leaderboard by answering five football-related questions in ten seconds. The top ten highest scorers win £10. Molson Coors customer marketing director Alpesh Mistry said: “Our new partnership with Football Manager is the perfect example of how we are leveraging fantastic relationships with like-minded brands to generate consumer excitement and increased loyalty in the beer category.” Football Manager director Miles Jacobson said: “The Carling Weekly Quiz promotion is a perfect example of both teams bringing something to the party and we’re looking forward to working together on a number of similar projects with the Carling team.”

Richoux Group to open eighth Villagio site – in Canterbury: Richoux Group-owned Italian restaurant brand Villagio is set to open its eighth venue – in Canterbury, Kent. The site comprises more than 2,000 square feet and is located in St Peter’s Street, replacing Istanbul Authentic Turkish Restaurant. The new restaurant will have 110 covers and is due to open in June. London-based agents Restaurant Property advised Richoux Group on the deal. The rent is £62,500 per year on a lease of 20 years. Restaurant Property founder and agency director David Rawlinson said: “This is a modern, forward-thinking brand which complements the vibrant food and beverage scene in Canterbury. The city has been on Villagio’s requirements list for a long time and we are thrilled to have secured such a great spot for our clients.” Villagio has seven sites in the south east – Andover, Basildon, Chatham, Chislehurst, Hammersmith, High Wycombe, and Port Solent. Richoux Group’s other restaurant brands are Dean’s Diner, Zippers, and its “crown jewel” Richoux.
Rosemount Taverns eyes Dundee city centre site for restaurant bistro: Glasgow-based independent pub company Rosemount Taverns is planning to launch a restaurant bistro in Dundee city centre. An application lodged with Dundee City Council is for a venue at a site currently occupied by Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee in Reform Street, which is relocating. The restaurant would be open for teas, coffees and breakfasts outside of its core licensing hours. Under-18s would be admitted, provided they were accompanied by an adult, reports the Evening Telegraph. Rosemount operates 49 pubs and restaurants in Scotland, including six venues in Dundee – the 4Js, the Bayhorse, the Cask, the Pageant, Broadway Bar, and Victoria Bar.
JD Wetherspoon submits licence application for Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate: JD Wetherspoon has submitted a licence application to convert the Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate, Kent, (population: 38,624) into one of its largest pubs. The company has applied to Thanet District Council to sell alcohol from 9am to midnight seven days a week, with an extension to 1am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. JD Wetherspoon quashed rumours last month it was poised to pull out of its £1.5m plans for the Royal Victoria Pavilion. The company signed a deal to take on the grade II-listed former casino and dance hall in November 2014, before submitting a planning application last September. The pavilion in Harbour Parade has been derelict since 2008 and was seriously damaged by a blaze in 2011. It was listed on The Victorian Society’s “at-risk register” in 2013. JD Wetherspoon’s plans including refitting some original features and creating a community space capable of staging food markets and other events. The pub itself would be set over two floors and include a sun deck with sea views.
Papa John’s franchisee to open third site in Ilkeston, plans two more within next year: Papa John’s franchisee Abdul Kasana is opening his third site and is planning another two venues within the next year. Kasana, who already runs the Nottingham Arnold and Nottingham Bulwell outlets, is launching his latest venture in Ilkeston, Derbyshire. He said: “Papa John’s incentive scheme, which offers deals on equipment, fees and marketing, has been a great help when it comes to opening new stores. The new store location is right in the centre of Ilkeston, between McDonald’s and KFC. To get off to a great start, we are giving away free pizzas for the opening and 25 new staff have all been trained and are ready to deliver. This is where having other stores is helpful as new staff have already been given hands-on experience at Arnold and Bulwell and so can hit the ground running. I am looking forward to bringing more quality pizza to the market by opening more Papa John’s in the very near future.” Papa John’s, which was founded in the US in 1984, had more than 300 sites in the UK and opened a record 44 new venues in 2015. 
Middlesbrough footballer set to open Greek restaurant in town: Middlesbrough FC’s Greek goalkeeper Dimi Konstantopolous is set to open a restaurant inspired by his homeland. Konstantopolous is listed as a director of Great Greek Restaurants, which plans to open in the town centre, reports Gazette Live. The restaurant is earmarked for an empty unit underneath the Linthorpe Hall student accommodation in Linthorpe Road. A licensing application has been submitted to Middlesbrough Council requesting permission to serve alcohol from 11am to 1am. The application also said live music – a pianist – might play during meals from time to time.
Burger Meats Bun puts Edinburgh site on market: Burger Meats Bun, which shut its original base in Glasgow’s West Regent Street last summer, has put its Edinburgh site up for sale less than two years after opening. The company, founded by Ben Dantzic and James Forrest, who met while working at the Michelin-starred Peat Inn in Fife, is marketing the Forth Street site. Known for its twists on burger-bar classics such as Thai chilli cheese fries, the company said it wanted to focus on the Glasgow market and pop-ups and events catering. Dantzic told the Edinburgh Evening News: “Our core business is in Glasgow and we have got more opportunities there that we are looking to pursue. We are looking at doing more events and outside catering as well. We would still like to have a strong presence here in Edinburgh, but more on the events side of things. We have an opportunity we’re looking at for during the Edinburgh Festival, but it’s at a very early stage.”
Perthshire loch-side hotel on market for £900,000: A Perthshire hotel that once welcomed the Beatles has been placed on the market for £900,000. The Loch Earn-side Four Seasons Hotel in St Fillans is being offered for sale on the open market. Owner Andrew Low is looking to retire from the trade after operating the hotel since 1999. Alistair Letham, a director of Colliers International, which is marketing the hotel, told the Daily Record: “The business has been maintained very well over the years, sustaining quality gradings for both accommodation and food.” The hotel has a lochside kerb and is set in private grounds of more than two acres, including part of the foreshore. It has an 82% AA three-star grading and has been awarded two Red Rosettes for cuisine. The hotel features 12 letting bedrooms alongside restaurant, bar and lounge facilities. It also comes with six detached chalet lodges plus a five-room flat for resident owners, a self-catering flat for letting purposes, and extensive staff accommodation. The Beatles stayed at the Four Seasons in October 1964 while on a UK tour.
Secret Garden Party to feature fine dining restaurant: Annual independent arts and music festival The Secret Garden Party will feature a fine dining restaurant this year. Chris Gillard, former head chef at Michelin-starred St John restaurant in Smithfield, London, will be responsible for operating the 80-cover restaurant, which will run a full lunch and dinner service. The menu will focus on Italian cuisine and feature a wood-fired oven. Fitting in with the science fiction theme of the festival, the restaurant will be named Milliways, a reference to the restaurant at the end of the universe in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Gillard told Access All Areas: “Quite often at a festival you’re walking around drinking warm beer out of wobbly plastic containers. It’s a chance to have a break from that. We’ve got plates, knives, forks, tables, waiters. It’s a restaurant in a field, a little oasis of civilisation.” The Secret Garden Party takes place from 21 to 24 July, with the theme Gardener’s Guide To The Galaxy, in Abbots Ripton, near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.
Mitchells & Butlers' Ember Inns invests in cask ale by launching exclusive pale ale – collaboration with Black Sheep Brewery: Mitchells & Butlers’ Ember Inns has partnered with Yorkshire brewer Black Sheep to create an exclusive new beer, which will be served across its 147 UK pubs. The recent resurgence of the cask ale category has seen sales volume in Ember Inns increase by 6% over the past two years, outperforming the market year-on-year. Cask Marque-accredited Ember Inns has invested in its ale credentials and a focus in making cask ale a key strength within its proposition. Up to ten cask ales, carefully chosen from a selection of familiar national and regional favourites and a changing seasonal range, are served in each site and delivered by a trained team of cask ambassadors and masters. These are members of the team with an in-depth knowledge of cask ale, who are responsible for selecting and serving top quality ale in every pub. Ember Inns Pale Ale will be available from Friday (25 March) and is the first beer Black Sheep has brewed exclusively for another brand. The 4.0% ABV has been crafted in collaboration with Ember Inns cask ambassadors, involved in every step of the process from the first meeting to approving the final tasting. David Briggs, operations director for Ember Inns, said: “We’re always looking for innovative ways to develop our offer, and with our reputation for serving quality ale, the partnership with Black Sheep was a natural next step. The brew has been shaped by the Black Sheep and Ember team, using in-depth knowledge of our guests and their tastes. Black Sheep really impressed us with its modern approach and commitment to quality and embraced the collaboration, working side by side with us to create a consistent final product.”
Chinese restaurant administration pushes wholesaler into the red: The administration of a chain of Chinese restaurants has pushed a linked £40m-turnover food wholesale and distribution group into the red. In the year to 31 May 2015, Chi Yip Holdings made an operating profit of £579,534, but a one-off bad debt provision of £892,758 pushed it into the red with a pre-tax loss of £316,528, down from a pre-tax profit of £790,815 in 2014. However, turnover increased from £31.2m to £40.4m. The bad debt stemmed from the insolvency of Red Chilli Restaurant, which fell into administration last year after it was hit by a combination of significant factors, including the financial fall-out of a “hugely damaging” food poisoning outbreak at its Leeds site in 2011 that left 19 diners unwell. Red Chilli was also the subject of a major claim for damages of between £200,000 and £500,000 as well as “significant” legal costs that the company was liable for after the insolvency of its insurer. The restaurant group, which had established a strong reputation for the quality of its food, was subsequently acquired by linked company Happy Taste in a £40,000 deal, saving 69 jobs. Red Chilli Restaurant formed part of the business empire of the Yip family, led by Manchester entrepreneur Stewart Yip, who is also behind Japanese restaurant Sakana, Ocean Treasure Seafood Restaurant in Middleton and Chi Yip Holdings. The sons of the directors of Chi Yip Group are directors and shareholders of Red Chilli Restaurant.
Loughborough-based Halal restaurant concept opens second site in Leicester, targets Nottingham: Loughborough-based Halal restaurant concept Fernandez Grillhouse has opened its second site, this time in Leicester. The company, founded by Kawsar Miah, Rayhan Miah and Joe Marson, has launched the 122-cover venue in Friar Lane on the site of the former Banker’s Club bar, creating more than 50 jobs. It specialises in selling flame-grilled chicken, steak, fresh fish, burgers, salads and vegetarian options, which are Halal Monitoring Committee certified. Miah told the Leicester Mercury: “We were born and raised in Loughborough and whenever we went out to eat, we would always come to Leicester. So we thought we should open up a restaurant in Loughborough. But, as soon as we did, everyone from Leicester started to come to our Loughborough restaurant, so we thought we should open one here, too.” The trio, which opened the Loughborough restaurant in 2013, is planning further expansion and hopes to open two sites in Nottingham in the “next couple of years”. Marson added: “We’re family orientated. We’ve tried to create an atmosphere where everyone is welcome, but we are very family friendly.”
St Ives Brewery opens new premises: St Ives Brewery has opened new premises after securing funding to acquire council-owned land. The company bought a plot of land adjacent to the Trenwith Burrows lavatories, which in turn is also next to St Ives’ busiest tourist coach station and car park. The micro-brewery has now opened a two-storey headquarters on the site complete with a ten-barrel microbrewery that will produce 8,000 pints a week, a visitors shop and cafe. It also features an upstairs bar that seats 70 people and affords views of St Ives Harbour from its private terrace. The brewery, which employs eight staff, has also taken on the running of the previously closed public toilets next door, which it has also refurbished and will reopen free of charge to the public in time for the holiday season. The investment in new premises was supported by a £180,000 loan from NatWest and a £60,000 grant from the Plymouth University and Western Morning News Growth Fund. Founded in 2010, the St Ives Brewery produces a range of ales including its flagship Boilers Golden Cornish Ale; the hop-packed Knill By Mouth Ale; Harbourside Light Ale; and Cornish Golden Lager. 
Pint Shop chooses site that is 60% bigger than original for second opening: Pint Shop, the award-winning Cambridge beer house, is to open its second site in George Street in Oxford. The venue will open in late summer. Pint Shop has chosen a building that was not previously a pub or restaurant. The large 5,600 square foot site is spread over two floors, with a 110-cover bar area, 110-cover restaurant space and two private dining rooms. The Oxford Pint Shop will be 60% bigger than the current Cambridge site, and like the original is in the “cultural hub” of the city, located directly opposite the New Theatre and just two minutes’ walk from the cinema and shops. Formerly a building society, the site dates from the 1930s and will undergo a considerable refurbishment before opening. The move to Oxford will see an evolution of Pint Shop, with plans for an expanded drinks range with 24 keg lines, alongside draught cider. While the food offering will remain largely the same, the design of the new site will be heavily influenced by the features of the early 20th century building, taking on a more art-deco feel. Richard Holmes, co-owner of Pint Shop, said: “We’re incredibly excited about Oxford and just can’t wait to get in and get it open. The location is perfect and we’re confident we can make it a real success – there’s a massive gap in the Oxford market for us. Being in the thick of the action in the cultural hub yet again is really exciting, it means we can pack the place out all day long. Whist it will be more evolution than revolution, there will be plenty of surprises and cool new things to get excited about in Oxford.”
Host of companies sign up for Advanced Social Media Masterclass: A host of sector companies have signed up for the Advanced Social Media Masterclass being held next month. They include Thai Leisure Group, Enterprise Inns, Be At One, FrogPubs, The Deltic Group, The Big Chill, Camino, MyLahore, ETM Group, Coaching Inn Group, Maxwell’s, Ignite Group, JW Lees, Pebble Hotels, Everards, Novus, Snug Bars, Anglian Country Inns, McMullen, Gaucho, Wright Brothers, Star Pubs & Bars, Burning Night Group and Signature Pub Group. 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. To book email

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