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Fri 8th Apr 2016 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Top 500 US restaurant companies accelerate cumulative sales growth by 4.9%, fast-casual segment continues to lead pack: The 500 largest restaurant companies in the US accelerated their cumulative sales growth in 2015 by 4.9%, totalling an estimated $288bn, according to insights firm Technomic. The Top 500 Advanced Chain Restaurant Report found while four of the top five companies in the ranking improved their performance from the prior year, the fast-casual segment continued to lead the pack with 11.4% sales growth, almost doubling the growth rate of any other dining segment. The 4.9% sales growth seen by the top 500 in 2015 was an increase on the 4.2% reported in 2014. Limited-service chains grew their cumulative sales 5.5%, outpacing their full-service counterparts, who registered 3.4% growth. The report also found the industry’s 500 biggest brands grew their overall unit count 2.1% in 2015 to more than 223,000 sites. Technomic president Darren Tristano said: “While the performance of the top 500 chains showed moderate improvement over the prior year, consumers clearly favoured patronage of fast-casual and fast food restaurants. In full-service, family-style restaurants succeeded on affordable value, upscale casual dining chains appealed to more affluent consumers and many traditional casual dining chains appeared to be squeezed in the middle with weaker performance.” Fuelled in part by the introduction of all-day breakfast, McDonald’s returned to positive sales growth in 2015, checking in at 1.1%. Among the other top chains, Starbucks had the strongest year at 12.8% sales growth, followed by Taco Bell at 8.2% and Burger King at 4.2%. While the industry giants saw their fortunes improve modestly, the fast-casual segment was the engine that drove growth again in 2015. Big players, such as Panera Bread, Panda Express, and Jimmy John’s, achieved sales at the top of the fast-casual segment. Fast-casual pizza chains, including Blaze Pizza, MOD Pizza, and Pieology Pizzeria, also saw success over the past year. Additionally, concepts that focused on healthy and “clean” offerings, such as Freshii, Sweetgreen and Zoes Kitchen, were also among the big fast-casual winners of 2015. In the full-service segment, chains recorded a 3.5% overall increase in annual sales in 2015, about the same growth rate observed in 2014. Steak-focused concepts were winners again with casual dining steak concepts registering a 6.2% rise in sales, and fine-dining steak concepts growing sales at a rate of 5.6%. Sports bar and wing-centric casual dining concepts were high performers in 2015 as well, led by the robust growth of Buffalo Wild Wings, Miller’s Ale House and Twin Peaks.

Industry News:

Jonathan Downey sets out progress in developing a UK and international food market business: The next audio recording to be sent to Propel Premium subscribers will feature London Union co-founder Jonathan Downey. In the recording, which will be sent out today (Friday, 8 April), Downey sets out progress in developing a network of 12 London neighbourhood markets, development of the business internationally, how the model is working for traders, and projected figures for the current year. 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. 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, 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
Loungers to shut Bishop’s Stortford site, only second to close in company’s 13-year history: Cafe bar brand Loungers is to shut its site in Bishop’s Stortford in Hertfordshire just 13 months after opening – only the second to close in its 13-year history. The company will close the Cambio Lounge by the River Stort in Adderley Road on Sunday, 17 April. Managing director Nick Collins told the Herts & Essex Observer: “It did not stack up financially – at the end of the day, we could not make a profit. We have given it a good shot – it’s not through lack of trying.” He said the closure would mean the loss of up to ten jobs, although staff had been encouraged to move to other sites. Collins added: “We trade very successfully in other locations and it’s only the second time we’ve had to do this in our 13-year history.” Loungers spent £550,000 transforming the former Lussmanns and Belgique restaurant premises, opposite the JD Wetherspoon pub The Port Jackson. Collins said: “We were very excited about the property when we found it and were confident about the ability to do well there.” Loungers’ only other site to close was the Haro Lounge in Formby, Merseyside, which shut in January last year.

Steakout Meat House launches £400,000 crowdfunding campaign, secures flagship site in Stratford: London-based steak house Steakout Meat House has launched a £400,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to upgrade its meat cutting facility and support a roll-out of its sites. The eight-strong company, launched in 2008 by Kaysor Ali, is offering a 9.09% equity stake in return for the investment. Having rebranded the business in 2013, and grown from two restaurants, it wants to “take advantage of the continued growth in casual dining across the UK”. The pitch states: “Our company earns a stable cash flow from franchise royalties and meat sales to stores, and we regard our 15% net profit (Ebitda) margin as very healthy for a company of our size in the food sector. The proceeds from this fund-raising will help greatly to speed up our expansion. Aside from the upgrade to our meat cutting facility, we plan to invest into a new flagship store in Stratford that we’ve managed to secure. The construction of this store has begun already, funded out of company profits. In addition, we want to invest to build up our management team in the areas of franchising and operations to enable rapid growth.” The company forecasts sales of £1,238,292 in its current financial year, rising to £2,271,590 in 2017, £4,553,777 in 2018 and £7,813,483 the following year. 

Asset of Community Value status for pub blocks Earl’s Court redevelopment scheme: Local protesters have succeeded in bringing part of the Earl’s Court redevelopment plan to a grinding halt – because they are desperate to save two local pubs and a street of workers’ cottages from bulldozers. The Prince of Wales and Imperial Arms, in Lillie Road, are part of a block that has been bought by Capital & Counties Properties (Capco), the firm behind the huge regeneration programme in west London. Demolition was due to have begun at the start of this year but residents have stalled Capco’s plans by making a successful application to get the Prince of Wales pub – where the future King Edward VII was reputed to have once wooed Lillie Langtry – listed as an Asset of Community Value. An application to demolish all the buildings on the site was refused by Hammersmith & Fulham Council in December pending the outcome of that application. The entire block, which also included a handful of shops, as well as houses in Empress Place, has now been boarded up for several months.
Beer52 raises new round of investment from top entrepreneurs: Beer52, the world’s largest online craft beer retailer with £2.6m annual sales, has raised a new round of investment backed by some top entrepreneurs in the country. The company, founded by James Brown and Fraser Doherty in September 2013, has received investment from people including Gareth Williams, founder of Skyscanner; Alex Carlton, founder of Funkin Cocktails, which was sold to AG Barr for £60m; and Secret Escapes co-founder Andrew Bredon, who has again reinvested. The company, which has just secured the Society of Independent Brewers’ best independent online beer retailer award, is set to triple its current turnover and double its team to 16. It plans to move into craft spirits and has launched a new bottle shop. Brown told Propel: “To get backing from such a group of distinguished entrepreneurs is all we could wish for. It does far more than simply funding our ambitious expansion plans – it also provides an invaluable wealth of expertise to draw on and represents a huge vote of confidence in our business and its prospects. We have shipped more than three million bottles of beer since launching in September 2013 and worked with more than 250 microbreweries to help share their story with thousands of our members all over the UK. Beer Hawk was sold recently to AB InBev, meaning the gap is wide open for us to own independent online alcohol retail.” Beer52 came through the ranks of the business accelerator Entrepreneurial Spark and chief executive Jim Duffy said: “We are all raising a glass to Beer52 as this funding, from such an illustrious group of entrepreneurs, is an excellent result for James and his business. It’s wonderful to see businesses that joined us as little more than the seed of an idea growing into world-beating companies. That is what we are all about, and the success of so many companies that have been through our system amply illustrates the benefits of providing suitable mentoring and support for entrepreneurs.” Beer52 is hiring for a number of roles including marketing, design and development and anyone interested can email
Restaurants in China sack robot waiters: Three restaurants in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou have found “employing” robot waiters was more trouble than it was worth. Of the three venues, two have closed while the third has sent all but one of their robots back and reverted to human servers, BBC News reports. While the robot waiters were a great gimmick to attract customers, they were not quite so good at their programmed task of serving food and drink. A restaurant supervisor said: “The mobility of the catering staff was great, we initially recruited six for service but after a year we only retained one.” Another employee at one of the restaurants said the robots simply didn’t have the same capabilities as their flesh-and-blood colleagues. He said: “Their services were limited. They couldn’t pour water for customers, nor could they take orders.” Zhang Yun, an expert at Guangdong University of Technology, said while robots were good at repetitive tasks in manufacturing, they were still unable to perform autonomously in jobs such as waiting, which required interaction with unpredictable humans.
60% of UK diners prefer desserts to starters: If allowed only two courses, 60% of UK diners would prefer to pair a main dish with a dessert rather than a starter “outlining the profit potential of an innovative, well-considered dessert menu”, according to new research by foodservice supplier Coup de Pates. Head of marketing and product development Mariam French said: “The research proves that, done well, dessert is the place where profits can be made. But with so much choice on where to eat out – and an ever-growing marketplace – consumers need new experiences, new flavours and a sense of ‘theatre’ to keep them captivated, elements which an innovative dessert menu can deliver time and time again. Dessert is your calling card, the final memory of a meal. If operators can make the experience truly memorable, people will keep coming back for more.”
OpenTable – diners and restaurants embracing ‘menu hacking’: Diners and restaurants are embracing “menu hacking”, with new research by restaurant booking service OpenTable uncovering an interesting change in ordering habits in Britain. Inspired by their American counterparts, almost a third (28%) revealed they like to order completely off-menu at a restaurant. Known as “menu hacking”, a growing demand for a bespoke experience has seen a rise in menu customisation, with more than half (56%) adapting a dish on a restaurant menu to suit their taste. A total of 38% of diners also admitted when craving a specific dish, they would rather visit a restaurant they love and order off-menu than try somewhere new. With more than half (57%) of diners believing it is their right to order food off-menu, UK restaurants are going out of their way to oblige diners, said OpenTable. A recent survey of UK restaurateurs revealed 94% of restaurants would accommodate a guest’s requirements and requests, to encourage loyalty to their restaurant. A further 80% backed this growing trend by admitting to seeing an increase in diners ordering dishes that were not on the restaurant menu, or changing a dish that was on the menu. The most frequently removed items on menus include sauce (11%), mushrooms (10%) and meat (8%) while the principle motivation is a dislike for certain ingredients (56%), followed by enjoying adding extras (22%) and a lack of menu choice (15%). The research also showed women are less abashed when making requests to change their order, with 59% of women proud to do so in comparison with 52% of men. As many as 4.8 million women (15%) admitted to altering menu dishes to make them healthier while 30% of men adapt their dish as they enjoy adding extras. OpenTable managing director Mike Xenakis said: “It is refreshing to see British restaurants accommodating the expansive tastes of diners in the UK. At OpenTable we celebrate the growing trend of menu hacking and encourage diners to experiment and try new ways of eating their favourite foods, at the restaurants they love.”
Subway posts calorie counts on US menu boards: Subway is posting calorie counts on its menu boards across the US despite the recent delay in a federal rule requiring the information. Subway said its new menu boards with calorie counts would be displayed in all 27,000 of its US sites by Monday (11 April). Restaurant chains have awaited the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) final guidance and enforcement of a rule requiring food sellers with 20 or more locations to post the information. As part of the federal health care overhaul, a rule was passed in 2010 requiring major chains to post calorie counts on menus. After weighing up retailers’ concerns, the FDA came out with its final rules in 2014 and gave companies until the end of 2015 to comply. Last summer, the agency pushed back the deadline to the end of 2016 then last month it delayed enforcement again to a year after it publishes its final guidance for companies. That guidance has been delayed as companies have lobbied for exemption. Since calorie counts for its sandwiches vary depending on the toppings, Subway said its menu boards would list information for basic sandwiches. Lanette Kovachi, of Subway, told Associated Press: “I think consumers are looking for this and, with all the delays, they’re confused as to why it’s not out there.”
UKIP unveils Scottish manifesto vowing to end pub smoking ban and raise drink-drive limit: UKIP has launched its Scottish manifesto by pledging to once again allow smoking in pubs and raise the drink-drive limit. Leader Nigel Farage has unveiled UKIP’s “Shake Up Holyrood” manifesto – becoming the first party to set out its offer for May’s Scottish parliament election, reports the Guardian. The 32-page manifesto promised to return the drink-drive limit in Scotland to 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, putting it back in line with the rest of the UK; and end the smoking ban in pubs. Other pledges include “pushing every local authority in Scotland” to offer at least 30 minutes of free parking in city and town centres and supporting research into GM foods. The drink-drive limit was lowered in Scotland to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood at the start of 2015, which the Scottish Licensed Trade Association said had been “catastrophic” for pubs, with people who might have stopped off for a pint on the way home from work now deciding not to do so.

Company News:

JD Wetherspoon to close Greyhound pub in Maidenhead as Golden Lion in Ipswich shuts, gets go-ahead in Thanet: JD Wetherspoon will close The Greyhound pub in Maidenhead, Berkshire, on Sunday (10 April). The venue in Queen Street opened in 2002. The closure is not part of any disposal package. The Greyhound site is within a larger space included in a regeneration project that would include cafes and restaurants. The Greyhound’s 40 staff have been offered posts at JD Wetherspoon’s other Maidenhead pub, The Bear in High Street, which opened in 2010, or in venues nearby. Meanwhile, JD Wetherspoon closed its Golden Lion pub in Ipswich town centre on Sunday. JD Wetherspoon, which has owned the grade II-listed pub in Cornhill since 1998, announced it was putting the ale house up for sale in June 2015, part of a package disposal of 20 sites. The pub’s 40 staff have been retained at JD Wetherspoon’s two other Ipswich venues – The Cricketers and The Robert Ransome – or in the surrounding area. The Golden Lion has a rich history, with a pub and hotel known as the White Lion occupying the site in at least the early 1570s. JD Wetherspoon acquired the site in 1998. Two weeks ago, £3.3m plans to revamp the Cornhill town centre space were approved in a bid to create an attractive centrepoint, including street cafes and a piazza-style space. Meanwhile, JD Wetherspoon has had its application for a premises licence at the Royal Victoria Pavilion granted by Thanet District Council. The application was due to be heard by the council’s licensing sub-committee last week but the meeting was cancelled because Kent Police and JD Wetherspoon resolved outstanding issues.

Benugo pulls out of Hampstead Heath cafes deal following public backlash: Cafe-deli and restaurant operator Benugo has pulled out of a deal to take over the leases of two venues on Hampstead Heath following a public backlash. Last month, Benugo was awarded three-year contracts by the City of London to take over Parliament Hill Cafe, run by Savoy-trained chef Alberto D’Auria and his family for more than 30 years. It was also to move into another family-run venue, The Golders Hill Park cafe, plus a third site in Highgate Wood. However, at a public meeting on Wednesday (6 April) more than 250 Heath users gathered at Brookfield School to protest about the decision, which also sparked a 24,000-name petition, the Camden New Journal reports. Following the protest, Benugo founder Ben Warner stated on the company’s website on Thursday (7 April): “We were delighted to have been chosen to run this prestigious venue – as a user of the park and someone who lives nearby, it was a proud moment for me, personally. However, having listened to the opinions of local residents and people who use the Heath, many of whom are existing customers of ours, we have paused to reconsider our position. Having given this a lot of thought I, and my colleagues at Benugo, now firmly believe the right thing to do is to step aside. We will also be withdrawing from the opportunity to operate the two other nearby venues within the North London Parks, Golders Hill and Highgate Wood. We’ve listened, and are responding in the way we think is best for all. I would like to thank everyone who has engaged with us on this issue and also to wish all users of the Heath, and the future operators of these venues, the very best.” Benugo operates 50 sites across London.

Admiral Taverns executive to join LT Management Services: Chris Williams is to join the sector’s largest outsourced management company LT Management Services as its director of operations (tenanted). Williams was previously regional operations director for the east and south east at tenanted pub company Admiral Taverns. In his new role, Williams will be responsible for the 158 Punch Taverns pubs bought by NewRiver Retail last year, for which LT Management Services oversees both site operations and back office processes. He will take charge of the operational team, delivery of the capital investment programme – and also oversee the transition of any new pubs to NewRiver management. LT Management Services chief executive Billy Buchanan said: “We are delighted to welcome Chris to LT Management  Services – he has a tremendous amount of experience in the sector and strengthens our operational capability going forward.”

Bath Pub Company confirms fourth city bar in deal with Enterprise: The Bath Pub Company has confirmed it has acquired the lease for its fourth bar in the city – The Dolphin Inn in Locksbrook Road. The company took on the lease for the Lower Weston pub in March and will reopen it as the Locksbrook Inn in May following a £250,000 joint refurbishment with landlord Enterprise Inns. Joe Cussens, director of The Bath Pub Company, told the Bath Chronicle: “Our pubs each have their own character – a chain approach to things doesn’t quite work for us. Rest assured, we’re planning something a little different for this one. The building is undergoing a transformation and the change of name feels right for the pub’s heritage, its position on the canal and its next chapter. A good pub should make everyone feel welcome – we’re aiming to build a special place that we hope people will feel proud to call their local.” The Locksbrook Inn will open for drinks, breakfast, lunch and evening meals seven days a week. The Bath Pub Company also owns Chequers Bar, the Marlborough Tavern and the Hare and Hounds in the city.
Nigerian restaurant concept Tasty African Food to open 11th site in Dartford, secures 12th venue in Abbey Wood: Nigerian restaurant and takeaway concept Tasty African Food will open its 11th site in Dartford, Kent, on Sunday (10 April) and is planning further expansion. The company will open the venue at the Priory Centre in Lowfield Street. It is planning further growth and has secured a site in Abbey Wood, south east London, for its 12th venue. The company stated: “Our new Dartford branch opens this Sunday. We are so excited to be a part of the community and look forward to serving you all. We are also happy to announce our new upcoming branch in Abbey Wood – a spanking shiny new destination for the very best of African food.” Tasty African Food was founded in Woolwich in 2000 and its restaurants and takeaways span the London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Bexley, Croydon, Greenwich, and Newham as well as parts of Kent.
Prezzo opens first Isle of Wight site: Prezzo has opened its first site on the Isle of Wight. The company has launched its inaugural restaurant on the island in Newport on the site of the former post office in the High Street. The building had been empty for several years after the post office moved into the Co-op supermarket in South Street. The company stated: “We are delighted to announce we have arrived on the Isle of Wight. After a string of successful launches recently, Prezzo continues to expand as we have opened our doors in Newport. Our fantastic interior design with a roaring, stylish, wood-burning pizza oven is the perfect place to relax, unwind and enjoy fantastic Italian cuisine.” Prezzo operates more than 200 restaurants across the UK and is due to open a site in Darlington next Saturday (16 April).
BrewDog to release recipes of all its 2016 brews, including those yet to launch: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog will release the recipes of all its 2016 brews, including those it has yet to launch. The company had already launched DIY Dog, a document containing detailed recipes and back stories behind every BrewDog beer made. DIY Dog v2.0 will reveal the recipes of all its 2016 brews via digital download in what the company calls an “open-source home-brewing bible”. The company is also offering a limited edition, signed copy of the printed “DIY Dog book” to investors in its TopUp Dog, which has been extended to Sunday (10 April), and Equity for Punks IV fund-raising platforms. BrewDog said the result of DIY Dog v2.0 was home-brewers could “drink our beer before we do”. BrewDog stated: “DIY Dog is a repository of information – but it is much more than a still snapshot of a point in history. Instead, it is a vault to which we will spin the large wheel and access, adding more. We want it to be something we will supplement as time goes on. This is no one-shot deal, as brewing is a science and an art form continually updated – this will hold true for DIY Dog as well.”
Cote gets go-ahead for site in Welwyn Garden City: French brasserie Cote has been given the go-ahead to open a site in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire. The company has been granted permission by Welwyn Hatfield Council to convert the vacant Pig and Truffle site in Howardsgate, reports the Welwyn & Hatfield Times. The Pig and Truffle only took over the premises in the spring of 2014 after Real China closed suddenly, but shut its doors last summer. Cote has 74 sites in the UK, including two others in Hertfordshire in St Albans and Bishop’s Stortford. 
Manchester-based Violet Hospitality eyes expansion, searching for three more sites: Manchester-based Violet Hospitality is eyeing expansion as it prepares to celebrate the first anniversary of its bar and restaurant concept Urban Cookhouse. The company, owned by Tim Coulston, opened the 250-cover venue in Princess Street in a converted shipping warehouse last April. Now Coulston, who was previously director of operations at the Alehouse Collection, has revealed he is searching for three more sites. He aims to take the brand to other cities, as well as developing some different bar concepts for Manchester. He is especially keen to open in Sheffield and Nottingham but has yet to find the right site. Coulston told the Manchester Evening News: “It’s hugely competitive in Manchester’s food and drinks industry right now, but it goes to show that if you have the right concept, the right venue and the right offer, you can be successful, which is one of the beauties of being able to develop as an independent.” The restaurant has moved away from the fusion menu it had when it opened to focus on American classics such as burgers, hot dogs, ribs and wings. Coulston added: “We’ve made some huge changes to the concept since opening to ensure we appeal to more people. We simplified the menu making the dining experience casual and on trend, and it’s gone down a storm.”
Vegan kitchen concept launches in Liverpool, for each meal sold, another given to charity: Give Kitchen, a registered charity that pledges to “eradicate hunger, poverty and disease by 2040”, has opened its inaugural Inspiration Centre, Eatery and Organic Shop in Liverpool. For every meal sold, one is given to a homeless person in the UK or a starving child abroad. The Inspiration Centre offers vegan wholefood breakfasts, large and small plates, and desserts. Co-founders Paul Hampson and Dario Curcillo’s own-branded, organic, fairtrade-certificated coffee is also on offer, alongside a selection of vegan drinks. The venue in Harrington Road at Brunswick Dock also has an on-site shop. Hampson told the Liverpool Echo: “We’re so happy to have opened our first of many vegan Inspiration Centres, Eateries and Organic Shops in Liverpool. We look forward to welcoming even more locals and visitors and to giving back to help those who need it.”
Kaspa’s set to become latest dessert restaurant concept to open in Peterborough: US-style dessert parlour brand Kaspa’s Desserts is set to open a site in Peterborough. The company is launching the venue in Bridge Street, reports the Peterborough Telegraph. Kaspa’s offers waffles, speciality ice-creams, sorbet, frozen yogurt, sundaes, milkshakes, smoothies and crepes. The company operates 18 sites, with more than 20 to “open soon”, according to its website as part of expansion plans into the Midlands, the north of England and Scotland. Peterborough is already home to dessert restaurant concept Tamu while Creations Dessert Lounge is set to open in the city next week and Creams Cafe is planning a site in Lincoln Road.
Wing’s International set to open first buffet-style restaurant outside England at Dublin cinema complex: Hull-based Wing’s International Cuisine plans to open its first buffet-style restaurant outside England in the basement of a Cineworld complex in Dublin. Wing’s International, owned by James Wing, operates all-you-can-eat global buffet restaurants in Hull and the south west. The venues feature more than 150 dishes from countries such as China, Japan, India, Thailand and Italy. Cineworld told Dublin City Council the basement of the cinema complex in Parnell Street had been vacant for years, with a previous plan for a London Dungeon-style experience – Nightmare Realm – never materialising. The cinema has 17 screens and an Imax. The 1,300 square metre basement is accessible from Parnell Street as well as the cinema. Cineworld confirmed it was in negotiations with a restaurant operator to lease the unit. The Irish Independent confirmed the restaurant operator as Wing’s International, which will open the 250-cover site.
Cork restaurateur launches barbecue concept Holy Smoke with Jamie Oliver protégé as head chef: Restaurateur Eddie Nicholson has launched barbecue smokehouse concept Holy Smoke in The Mardyke Entertainment Complex in Cork city centre. Nicholson, who owns the complex, has recruited Jamie Oliver protégé John Relihan as head chef and invested €400,000 in the 86-cover Holy Smoke, creating 14 jobs. Relihan, former head chef at Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa restaurant in London, sources his meat from local farmers, with wood and charcoal from 100% sustainable woodland. He uses combinations of hazel, ash, maple and cherry woods to create different flavour profiles for his dishes. Hand-made rubs and sauces also partner meats that have been smoked for up to 16 hours. The Mardyke Complex incorporates Nicholson’s other businesses – Porterhouse Brewing Company’s craft beer bar, Australian sports bar concept Woodshed Baa & Grill, and The Mardyke Bar & Bowl, a boutique bowling alley and pool hall.
Jascots Wine Merchants undergoes management buy-out: Jascots Wine Merchants has undergone a management buy-out with managing director John Charnock and sales and marketing director Miles MacInnes acquiring a controlling stake in the business – they become joint managing partners in the wake of the deal. MacInnes said: “The plan is to keep going in the direction we have set over the last four years, focusing on delivering amazing wines to the restaurants, hotels and caterers of London and the UK with the best customer service in the industry. We have enjoyed our most successful year yet in 2015-16 and we predict 15% growth in 2016-17.” Charnock has served as managing director for five years and MacInnes has been sales and marketing director for five years, having been at the company for ten years. The duo have set out plans for steady, organic growth over the coming years telling customers they can expect consistent improvements in all areas. The portfolio is set to grow by 5% for the second consecutive year with the focus on wines of outstanding quality under £30 excluding VAT.
Former Gordon Ramsay chef to launch brewery within new Manchester fine-dining restaurant: Fine-dining restaurant Goose Fat & Wild Garlic, led by former Gordon Ramsay chef Adam Regan and business partner Scott Martin, will house its own craft beer brewery when it opens in Ancoats, Manchester, later this year. Fundamentum brewery will operate out of the 4,000 square foot Blossom Street unit. Using a five-barrel system, beer brewed on site will be used at the owners’ other ventures – the nearby Cutting Room and also Stage and Radio, which is based in the former Cuba Cafe. Large glass walls will allow people to see every part of the brewing process at street level. Regan told the Manchester Evening News: “Me and Scott both love craft beer and real ale. I’ve been working as a chef for 15 years and I’ve worked all over Europe and London. I’ve always been around craft beer and it’s a huge passion of mine.” Fundamentum’s first beer is set to be an APA – Ancoats Pale Ale – playing on the traditional IPA. Regan and Scott are passionate about running the brewery as sustainably as possible. Yeast by-product will be used to make a Marmite-style spread, sourdough bread, and even vinegar. All these products will be used in Goose Fat & Wild Garlic, which director Sophie Jarvis explained would be a “high-end restaurant with a cosy atmosphere”. 
Fuller’s cider brand sponsors Boardmasters: Cornish Orchards, the Duloe-based cider producer owned by Fuller’s, has signed an exclusive deal with Boardmasters, the UK’s biggest surf and music festival, for sole cider pouring rights over the five-day event held in Cornwall. Held between 10 and 14 August, Boardmasters sees the world’s top surfers compete off Fistral Bay, Cornwall. In addition, there will be a music festival running alongside the event, at nearby Watergate Bay. Cornish Orchards will have two bespoke bars and presence on 12 other bars around the two sites. More than 160,000 people are expected to attend the event, which also attracts a global viewing audience. Danielle Jones, trade marketing manager at Cornish Orchards, said: “This is a game changer for Cornish Orchards. It’s the biggest event we have been involved with and will give us access to a large number of new potential customers. We are absolutely delighted and I know that our great range of ciders will be well-received.”
Four Winters liquid nitrogen ice-cream parlour opens first UK site: Jordan-based liquid nitrogen ice-cream parlour Four Winters has opened its first UK venue in Kensington, west London. The parlour in Gloucester Road harnesses the power of liquid nitrogen, with ice cream flash frozen on-site for customers. The menu covers a broad spectrum, from classics such as vanilla, chocolate, and coconut to seasonally inspired flavours such as Strawberry Lavender, The Bee’s Knees – made with honey and homemade spicy honey brittle – and Afternoon Tea, which is inspired by London and features bite-size chunks of scone and strawberry jam. Four Winters has two sites in Jordan – in Abdoun and The Boulevard in Abdali.
Smoke BBQ to expand into Scotland with Glasgow opening, plans 15-strong estate by 2020: Smokehouse barbecue restaurant Smoke BBQ is to expand into Scotland by opening its third site in Glasgow and is planning to have a 15-strong estate by 2020. The company, which was launched in Sheffield and brought to Leeds last year, is opening in West Regent Street on Monday (11 April). The 4,462 square foot venue will have 152 covers. Sean Gregory, who launched Smoke BBQ in 2013 with business partner Duka Nagy, told The Business Desk: “After hugely successful launches in both Sheffield and Leeds, I spotted a real opportunity for expansion into the Glasgow market. The city has one of the most vibrant foodie scenes in the UK so for me it was a no brainer to look at opening a restaurant there. We decided to open the Smoke BBQ chain because we felt that barbecue dining in the UK was missing that real American authenticity that can only be created by using real fire and smoke. We are really excited about showing our Glasgow customers that they can experience the legendary barbecue taste and fantastic American-style service without crossing the Atlantic. Above all else, we want to urge our diners to put down their forks and get dirty as that’s what our style of food is all about.”

£90m Bristol Arena scheme gets planning consents: Two applications relating to the £90m Bristol Arena have been granted planning consent, paving the way for the 12,000-seat venue and redevelopment of the wider site. Two sets of plans were discussed by Bristol City Council – a full application for the venue itself and outline proposals for the wider Arena Island site. Councillors unanimously voted in favour of both applications, subject to a series of conditions. The arena would be built on land of the former diesel depot site in Bath Road and is scheduled to open in 2018. This site is now known as Arena Island and forms part of the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone. The 100,000 square foot building will be split over four floors with the main entrance from a plaza to the north, accessed from a new bridge over the River Avon. It has been suggested the venue could hold up to 116 events each year of which about 20 would make use of the full capacity (10,000 seated and a further 2,000 standing). Up to 400 staff would be working at major events. Proposals for the Arena Island site include 205,000 square foot of retail, office and leisure space as well as a hotel, student accommodation and affordable housing.
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 this 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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