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Morning Briefing Strap Line
Thu 16th Jun 2016 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Overall pub and restaurant market like-for-likes down 1.4% on May 2015; London sales hold up better than rest of Britain: Britain’s pub and restaurant groups saw like-for-like sales slip in May, with collective like-for-like trading down 1.4% on the same month last year, according to latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker. “The later school half-term break, which this year fell in June against May last year, appears to have been a major factor – demonstrating how important the family market still is to the sector,” said Peter Martin, vice-president of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group, RSM and UBS. “Overall, casual dining chains suffered most, with collective like-for-likes down a hefty 5.6% on last May, while pub groups actually saw a 1.0% increase in same-store sales for the month, driven mainly by drink-led outlets which were up 4.5%,” added Martin. “It was definitely a tale of two markets last month.” London also had a better month than the rest of the country, with like-for-likes up 0.9%, and London pubs and bars up 3.8%, against a 2.2% drop in same-store sales outside the M25. “The distortion caused by the school holiday shift will work its way out next month, and operators will be encouraged by early indications of bumper sales in the first week of June, which also enjoyed good weather,” said Martin. “However, there will be caution too, as May’s performance follows a drop in sales in April and a generally flat start to the year overall – and the underlying annual trend shows sector like-for-likes running at just 0.9% up for the 12 months to the end of May,” he added. Total sales for the month among the 31 companies in the Tracker cohort were up 2.2% on 2015, reflecting the fact that groups are still opening new sites, if at a slower rate than previously. Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, said: “Making long-term predictions on the back of short-term statistics is always a dangerous game. However, a 1.4% like-for-like decline in sales represents the biggest one-month decrease in well over two years and is clearly a worrying sign for operators and investors in the sector. In an ever more crowded market place, our conversations with operators are now shifting in focus from estate growth and roll-out to driving gross margins and controlling cost inflation with major concerns around rent reviews, the National Living Wage and next year’s rating revaluation.” Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure, added: “The pub and restaurant sector has been dealt an undeniable blow by declining consumer confidence over the course of this year. For the most part, this has stemmed from general economic fears that have been worsened by the impending EU Referendum next week. With each of the home nations represented in Euro 2016, except Scotland, we hope to see an upturn in next month’s data but, overall, restaurant operators are undeniably struggling, while pub companies are experiencing strong like-for-like growth.”

Industry News:

NPD Group – millennials driving rise of grocery restaurant hybrid the ‘grocerant’ in US: Millennials are giving rise to a new concept in the US – the “grocerant” – a grocery store that offers fresh, restaurant-quality prepared food, according to insights firm NPD Group. It said more and more grocery stores are morphing into “grocerants” and devoting a larger part of their space to prepared foods in a bid to attract more millennials. The company cited the example of Whole Foods’ new chain of stores – 365 by Whole Foods Markets – where most of the store is devoted to fresh food buffets and a variety of in-store restaurants. In its A Generational Study: The Evolution of Eating report, NPD Group stated: “Restaurant-quality and fresh food, chef-driven menus and in-store experiences have given rise to the grocerant and inspiration to millennials to visit and spend.” In-store dining and take-out of prepared foods from grocers has grown nearly 30% since 2008, and accounted for 2.4 billion foodservice visits and $10bn of consumer spending in 2015, according to the report. “Grocerants” get higher marks from consumers in terms of variety and healthy options, compared with fast-food restaurants, NPD Group said. Grocery stores’ prepared foods are also rated higher for freshness and quality, which are particularly important to millennials, the study found. It added: “Many grocers now offer restaurant-quality food at a lower cost than full-service or some fast-casual restaurants.” Grocers are also offering a wide variety of fresh foods in speciality categories such as Asian, seafood, Italian, Mexican and barbecue, while a growing number are also offering dine-in seating for customers. David Portalatin, vice-president of industry analysis at NPD Group, said: “Millennials’ interest in the benefits and experience supermarket foodservice offers will continue to be strong over the next several years. This forecast bodes well for food manufacturers and retailers who have their fingers on the pulse of what drives this generational group. Give the millennials what they want – fresh, healthier fare and a decent price – and they will come.”

Molson Coors launches Cobra Smooth Pour Glass for the ‘perfect head’: Molson Coors has launched a Cobra Smooth Pour Glass, which features a unique funnel that allows liquid to flow smoothly around the glass to the base to create the “perfect head”. The Smooth Pour Glass is available in select on-trade UK venues and will be supported by an advertising campaign from July to November. Molson Coors brand director portfolio Ali Pickering said: “Cobra Smooth Pour Glass is a breakthrough in glassware technology created following 18 months of development alongside structural engineers and fluid specialists. Our preliminary research revealed 75% of consumers state quality and service as the most important factors relating to going out and that propriety glassware is seen as an enhancement of the brand experience. Our aim was to deliver a glass that delivers on this need, and create something that would give Cobra a real point of difference on the bar.”

Company News:

Alex Proud to create restaurant and boutique hotel at Brighton country house, takes over lease from Whiting and Hammond:Brighton-born entrepreneur Alex Proud has unveiled plans to transform historic Stanmer House in the city into a near Michelin-level restaurant and boutique hotel. Proud has signed a long lease for a “significant” sum on the country house previously run by Whiting and Hammond. The pub operator ended its four-year involvement with the grade I-listed venue on Sunday. Proud, whose group operates galleries, restaurants and clubs, including Brighton Ballroom, said it was a “friendly takeover” of the 18th century manor house set in the middle of Stanmer Park. He said he wanted to upgrade the food offer to silver service with formal dining and jazz nights on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, starting later this month. He told The Argus: “We probably won’t aim for a Michelin star, because that’s a hiding to lose money, but a rosette-level restaurant. We might be moving away from the current pub offering but we still want to be welcoming to all, to children and to dogs. I’m hoping to convert the top-floor bedrooms for staff into about 24 five-star hotel rooms. I think Brighton lacks really upmarket hotel rooms.” Whiting & Hammond founder Brian Whiting told Propel: “We’d had the lease for four years and changed it into a seven-day-a-week venue. However, the history of the place meant people in Brighton still weren’t aware you could walk into the place (the house was closed to the public until June 2006). Even after four years of trying to turn the building into a pub-style operation, people didn’t quite get it was open. Stanmer House needs that next injection level of cash. Alex has great plans for the future, and we massively wish him well.”

Star Pubs & Bars launches new operator agreement: Star Pubs & Bars is introducing a new “low-risk, low-cost” operator arrangement called “Just Add Talent”. The company said it is designed to attract a new breed of operator looking to strike out on their own while receiving a high level of direction and support. As part of the agreement, operators will run the business and fund their own as well as staff costs. Star will pay all other expenses, including electricity, heating, rates, food and beer, and maintenance costs, allowing operators to concentrate on front-of-house and business development. Revenue and profit will be shared between both parties, with no limit on what operators can earn. The agreement complements Star’s existing suite of leases and suits medium-sized pubs in strong high street or busy suburban locations. The pubs will have received substantial investment and have a strong pizza and beer consumer offer in place. Revamped to attract trade throughout the day, the pubs will serve quality coffee and premium branded drinks such as Heineken Served Extra Cold. They will be fitted with the latest Heineken technology, including SmartDispense. Managing director Lawson Mountstevens said: “Development of new talent is critical for the future of the pub industry. The aim is to attract a new breed of operators who have the retail experience, drive and ambition to run an exceptional pub business but are looking for direction and support to help make it happen. The agreement reduces operator risk which, together with Star funding, training and business development support and Heineken products, provides a real opportunity to create long-term viable businesses for this next generation of licensees.”

Roseberry Leisure takes on second leased site with Star Pubs & Bars, plans to invest in further venues: North east multi-site operator Roseberry Leisure has taken on its second leased pub – The Fellsider in Whickham, Gateshead. It is the company’s second site with Star Pubs & Bars and Roseberry said it planned to invest in more leased pubs and bars in the future. The Fellsider has closed for a £275,000 refurbishment that will see it transformed into a family-friendly neighbourhood pub restaurant offering traditional home-cooked food and authentic Italian coffee. The 1970s-style pub will be given a complete makeover and will reopen in the third week of July, creating 30 jobs as a result of its new food focus. It will have an additional 120 covers and, as well as a new modern country-style decor incorporating wooden floors and panelling, there will be an open kitchen and French doors opening out on to an al fresco dining area. As part of the refurbishment, Heineken is installing its SmartDispense draught cooling system. Heineken Served Extra Cold, Amstel and Bier Moretti will be available on tap for the first time and a new wine list available as well as a range of premium spirits and cask ales. Roseberry Leisure managing director Michael Roseberry said: “We’ve been a Heineken free trade customer for 48 years and now have two Star pubs, both of which they’ve invested in. The sites are well located and Star is very professional – great to work with, particularly with a capex project. Historically we have had free trade pubs but, as a result of our experience, plan to invest in more leased pub/bar restaurants going forward.” Star Pubs & Bars managing director Lawson Mountstevens added: “We’re delighted Michael has decided to take on a second pub with Star and, through investment and support, look forward to helping his experienced team at Roseberry Leisure create a top-quality village pub.”

Scottish ice cream manufacturer launches gelateria franchise across the UK: Crolla’s Gelato, the gelateria arm of The Crolla Ice Cream Company, one of Scotland’s oldest ice cream manufacturers, is launching into the franchise market across the UK. Crolla’s owner Peter Crolla Jnr has been testing out gelateria franchises in Preston, Lancashire, and Wishaw, North Lanarkshire, as well as its company-owned store in Byres Road, Glasgow. The company will open a full parlour franchise in Aberdeen’s Rosemount area in about six weeks’ time, with other gelateria franchises due to open in Edinburgh and Perth in the next three months. The company is seeking other franchisees to expand the concept. Serafino Crolla opened the first Crolla’s ice cream store in Glasgow in 1895. By 1950, the family had founded an ice cream factory, with 30 vans operating across the city. Today, the company has expanded to supply more than 60 flavours of ice cream as well as desserts and other products to shops, cafes, wholesalers, restaurants and hotels.

M&B’s All Bar One brand launches loyalty app: Mitchells & Butlers’ All Bar One brand has launched a new loyalty app, offering guests rewards, exclusive offers and an opportunity to build their wine and cocktail knowledge. The city bar brand has developed a digital loyalty platform aimed at driving footfall and encouraging greater brand loyalty. Focusing on the female-friendly ethos behind All Bar One, the multi-faced app provides users with a digital ‘stamp card’ that rewards consumers with exclusive tailored treats and offers. It will also give consumers added value through engaging and shareable content, such as access to the exclusive Cocktail Society cocktail of the month, the latest cocktail recipes and tips, and a wine library to help guests find the perfect match. Developed alongside SaaS technology provider Eagle Eye, the app assigns each user a unique code that enables All Bar One to track their preferences and reward them with personalised offers on drinks and food. The partnership reflects a growing trend within the hospitality sector of adopting digital consumer engagement technology to interact with and reward customers in new and innovative ways. The app also allows users to reserve tables at their chosen location at the touch of a button, as well as linking directly to the “e-gift” website, where consumers can quickly and easily purchase digital vouchers for a last-minute gift. It will also notify users about stored offers that have yet to be redeemed as they head for the bar. Eagle Eye chief executive Phillip Blundell said: “The need to understand consumers and their behaviour is vital for those wanting to reward customers and drive loyalty and footfall. This partnership will enable All Bar One to do exactly that. The real-time data provision of the Eagle Eye software allows M&B to analyse the purchasing habits of consumers and better appreciate their preferences. This, in turn, means they can target them with timely and relevant offers and promotions to drive footfall back into the bars and increase revenue.”

Bar Sport gets go-ahead to open first Scottish site: Bar Sport, the business founded in 1998 by entrepreneur and former boxer Scott Murray, has been given the go-ahead to open a site in Irvine – its first in Scotland. The company has been granted permission by North Ayrshire Council to open the American-themed venue in High Street on the former Co-op site, creating 30 jobs. The venue, which will be run by franchisee Rosemary Reid, will have 40 to 50 HD screens showing sport from across the world and serve an American-style menu. It will open between 8am and midnight, Sunday to Wednesday, and 8am to 1am from Thursday to Saturday, with alcohol served from 11am every day. National franchise manager Keith Fox told the Irvine Times: “This will be our first foray north of the border. We’ll be on site for as long as they require to help them establish their business and their recruitment, we don’t just hand them the keys and leave them to it. The experience is different to anything out there in the high street in Scotland.” He added that the audio visual experience on offer “was second to none” and one of the most expensive aspects of the investment.

Pod launches new juice range using ‘wonky’ fruit and vegetables: The 22-strong London-based healthy eating brand Pod has launched its new range of juices, which uses “wonky” fruit and vegetables. The company said that it hoped using the misshaped items would contribute to the reduction of food waste across its estate. The 250ml range includes Carrot, Orange and Ginger Beetroot, Apple and Ginger and The Master Cleanse consisting of cayenne pepper, agave, lemon and water. In the 500ml range there is the Lemon Quencher and the Ice Green Tea. As usual, the juices are made with 100% natural ingredients, free from additives, preservatives, concentrates and added sugar.

Elif Turkish BBQ to open third Liverpool restaurant: Elif Turkish BBQ is set to open a restaurant in the centre of Liverpool, its third site in the city. The company, which has restaurants in Lark Lane and Queens Drive, is renowned for its large charcoal grills and offers a selection of hot and cold mezze-style dishes as well as kebabs. An opening date has yet to be confirmed but a large poster has appeared in the window of the former Looks Luggage store in Bold Street that states the restaurant will be “opening soon”, the Liverpool Echo reports. Elif Turkish BBQ is the latest in a long line of independent restaurants to open a venue in the city centre street – joining the likes of Mowgli and KO Grill.

East London Liquor Company to open restaurant at Bow Wharf home: Independent distillery East London Liquor Company is expanding its offering by opening a restaurant at its Bow Wharf home. The site, which was launched in July 2014, already hosts a distillery, bar and bottle shop. The company said it was looking to create a more “well‐rounded experience” for visitors, “restoring Mile End to its former glory as a celebrated destination for spirits production and enjoyment”. The restaurant, inspired by the history of the surrounding area, will open on Tuesday (21 June). It will feature exposed ceilings, stripped-back brick walls and elements of copper that reflect the distillery’s stills, as well as Carrara marble bar and table tops from Italy, custom lighting from Rubn in Sweden, and custom‐made encaustic tiles from Turkey. Headed by William Dennard, former chef at White Rabbit and Rebel Dining Society, the menu will have an emphasis on Italian food, with a pizza oven and array of seasonal sharing plates. Complementing the offering, the menu comprises several drinks sections, including amaro, fernet, vermouth, wine, cocktails and beer. A cocktail list of five signature serves will also be available, showcasing East London Liquor Company’s award-winning range of spirits. As part of its expansion, the company is also adding a third whisky still and increasing its warehouse space. Originally a glue factory in Bow Wharf, East London Liquor Company founded its home in the disused industrial space and repurposed the venue to create a custom-built distillery that produces and imports a range of small-batch spirits.

Five Guys to open at new £250m Brighton Marina development: Five Guys is the latest restaurant brand to secure a site at the new £250m Boardwalk development at Brighton Marina. The company is currently advertising for staff ahead of the opening. Recruitment manager Oliver Cavaliero said: “Brighton we are on our way! I am in search of a management team to open Five Guys at Brighton Marina. A fantastic opportunity not to be missed!” Five Guys will join TGI Friday’s, Casa Brasil and Casual Dining Group brands Las Iguanas and Bella Italia at the Boardwalk scheme by Brighton Brunswick Developments. Part of the largest marina complex in Europe, extending to 127 acres (51 hectares), the new restaurants will join existing national brands such as The Restaurant Group-owned Coast to Coast and Frankie & Benny’s, as well as Nando’s, Prezzo, JD Wetherspoon and PizzaExpress. The West Quay development, once complete, will include seven new restaurants and more than 850 high-end apartments. The first phase of the scheme is due to open next month.

New Italian concept operating as deli and patisserie by day and wine bar at night to open in Cardiff: A new Italian concept that operates as a deli and patisserie by day and wine bar at night will open in Cardiff next month. Italian pastry chef Piero Cutrupi and Jonathan White, who has more than a decade’s experience in the food industry, are launching Nine Yards in St Mary’s Street below the Bunk House hostel. By day it will be an Italian deli and patisserie serving goodies baked on the premises, including sharing platters with bruschetta and crostini. The savoury offerings will be simple and seasonal and there will also be traditional Italian coffees, reports Wales Online. In the evenings, it will exclusively stock an Italian wine list with a selection of proseccos topped with Italian sorbet. Beer will also be on offer.

Suffolk hotel is first private company to open restaurant at US air base: A family-owned hotel in Suffolk has become the first private UK company to secure a contract to run a restaurant at a US air base. The award-winning Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf & Spa in Leavenheath has opened the Medana Mediterranean Kitchen restaurant at nearby RAF Lakenheath. The hotel’s Lakes Restaurant at Stoke by Nayland has two AA Rosettes. Susanna Rendall, managing director of Stoke by Nayland Hotel, told Bury Free Press: “We are looking forward to working with the team at RAF Lakenheath. We are pleased the excellent menu, which has been created and prepared by our executive head chef Alan Paton, and enthusiastic and professional team have been so well received on the base. We really appreciated the initial introduction to this opportunity by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and were delighted to win the contract in the face of some very tough competition.” The new restaurant will be accessible for up to 16,000 staff and residents at the RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall bases.

Sunderland-based Italian restaurant starts expansion with second site in city: Sunderland-based Italian restaurant Angelo’s Ristorante has begun expansion by opening its second site in the city. Nello Russo and Federico Trulli, who launched the concept in the city centre, have opened the new site in the suburb of East Rainton. They have invested almost £40,000 to convert the former The Olde Ships Inn pub in Durham Road into Angelo’s Trattoria, creating ten jobs. The menu is similar to that at the original Angelo’s and also serves Russo’s traditional pasta and sausage dish. Trulli told the Sunderland Echo: “We’ve kept a couple of things, like the ships’ ropes and lamps, but we’ve changed the flooring and decor and decorated the shelves with Italian oils and pastas. Nello added: “The pub was in a good condition, but we didn’t want to replicate what went before. We wanted to make our own mark on the restaurant. It has a more rustic feel than the city centre restaurant and also has free parking.”

Cafe and 300-metre zip wire planned for Brighton seafront: A cafe and 300-metre zip wire attraction is set to replace the Brighton Wheel on the seafront under plans submitted to the city council. Delso Da Silva, of the Brighton Zip, said: “Local businesses and many residents were saddened by the loss of the Brighton Wheel. Visually it has been very noticeable on this stretch of seafront, which is not without its problems. The Brighton Zip and cafe offers a replacement family seafront attraction that is fresh to the city and never been done before. We hope the application is supported and planning consent granted with the minimum of delay as the overall loss of visitor attractions along the beach of late does not assist the tourism economy of Brighton.” If approved, the ride could open before the end of this summer.

Vaulkhard to expand coffee shop brand into South Yorkshire: Newcastle-based Vaulkhard Group is to open its Central Bean coffee brand in Stocksbridge’s new retail park, Fox Valley, in South Yorkshire tomorrow (16 June). The expansion, which comes eight years since the first Central Bean opened in Gallowgate, will create 20 jobs. A £300,000 investment will be made in establishing a coffee shop capable of catering for 120 indoor customers, as well as an outdoor area to accommodate an additional 32. Central Bean brand manager Kieran Holliday said: “It is challenging to expand outside of the north east but it also opens doors to be able to develop and drive the brand further. It is important to us to have a presence in quality market towns rather than just larger cities. Central Bean is a name that is enjoyed by many across the north east, and we envisage a significant growth programme to other parts of the UK during the coming years.”

New York City-inspired restaurant concept to open in Cardiff next month: A new restaurant concept based on the famous street diner culture of New York City is set to open in Cardiff next month. The New York Diner, which is launching in City Road, will have a stripped-back interior with an industrial feel, much like that of an inner-city loft apartment. Influences of the New York subway will be evident through hand-designed signs, while bespoke booths will capture the theatricality of the Big Apple with cinema-style seats and Broadway lighting. There will even be an authentic working traffic light brought in from the streets of New York, reports Wales Online. The menu will include flame-grilled handcrafted beef burgers topped with chunky tomato relish, a Brooklyn brunch and a Madison Square Garden vegetarian grazing platter. There will also be a variety of thick shakes, with flavours including vanilla bean and Oreo cookies and cream.

Leeds freehold tenanted by Gaucho sold for £1.77m: A freehold in Leeds city centre occupied by Argentinian eatery Gaucho has been bought for £1.77m in a deal brokered by adviser Bilfinger GVA. Aberdeen Asset Management has sold 21/22 Park Row to a private London-based investor, with the price reflecting a net initial yield of 5.85%. James Yates, principal surveyor for investment at Bilfinger GVA in Leeds, said: “Private investors around this size are increasingly focusing on northern towns and cities as they offer quality stock and value that is more difficult to find in London.” The deal will have no impact on the Leeds operation of Gaucho, which also has restaurants in Dubai and Hong Kong.

Cote opens £1m restaurant in Edinburgh, second site in Scotland: French brasserie Cote has opened its first restaurant in Edinburgh and second in Scotland following a £1m investment. The new venue in Frederick Street is Cote’s 76th UK restaurant, with the next openings due in Woking and Welwyn Garden City later this month and Harrogate in early July. The restaurant will open between 8am and 11pm from Monday to Friday, 9am to 11pm on Saturdays, and 9am to 10.30pm on Sundays. In May, Cote reported turnover grew by 27.3% to £108,052,072 in the 53 weeks to 2 August 2015. Gross profit margin rose 1.1% to 75.3%. Adjusted Ebitda rose 24.7% to £20,314,496. Adjusted Ebitda margin was 18.8%, compared with 19.2% the year before. Pre-tax profit was £14,122,648, compared with £11,566,629 the year before.

Strut & Cluck turkey restaurant concept launches in Shoreditch: New turkey-focused restaurant concept Strut & Cluck has opened in Shoreditch. The 75-cover restaurant in Commercial Street has been founded by husband and wife Amir and Limor Chen and offers dishes inspired by eastern Mediterranean home cooking, with free-range turkey meat served alongside seasonal ingredients. The restaurant is divided into several spaces, including a central bar for 12 diners and a private dining room seating eight. Marinated for 24 hours in a special blend of herbs and spices, the turkeys are slow-cooked, avoiding deep frying and saturated fats. Dishes include charcoal-grilled drumstick with roasted white cabbage, tahini, pomegranate molasses and zhoug, and slow-roast thigh on a bed of caramelised red onions and sweet potatoes. Vegetarian options include roasted halloumi with orange, beetroot, lambs lettuce and roasted walnuts. Desserts also have an eastern Mediterranean twist, including Levant milk pudding and baked haroset and almond cake. Drinks include a selection of cocktails and craft beers.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen to celebrate release of new emojis with burger giveaway: Gourmet Burger Kitchen is celebrating the release of new emojis on Tuesday, 21 June with a burger giveaway. The company is welcoming the introduction of the bacon and avocado emojis and is giving away its bacon and avocado burgers as a result. Those wanting to get hold of a free burger will first need to follow Gourmet Burger Kitchen on Instagram @gbkburgers. Then, after “regramming” its picture of the bacon and avocado burger, they will need to use the hashtag #FreeAvoBacon along with the new bacon and avocado emojis, and show it to a member of staff. The burger is free as long as the customer eats it at the restaurant. All sites across the country will be included in the giveaway, apart from London’s O2.

Sheffield-based Mexican restaurant Street Food Chef set to open fourth site in city: Sheffield-based Mexican restaurant Street Food Chef is set to open its fourth site in the city. The company, owned by Abi and Richard Golland, is opening in Sharrow Vale Road on the site of a former burger restaurant. Street Food Chef specialises in burritos, nachos, tacos, quesadillas and dips. Abi Golland told The Business Desk: “We always had the vision to create a string of outlets in Sheffield and the concept works really well here. Our locations are well positioned for the business community, students and people who are out shopping. Mexican food is really taking off in most cities and we identified the premises in Sharrow Vale Road as somewhere we really wanted to launch another Street Food Chef. Sharrow Vale Road is a really vibrant, boutique shopping district and always seemed to be a natural location for us with its proximity to Ecclesall Road.” Street Food Chef is in its sixth year, having started life as an events catering service and operating from a mobile catering van before moving into permanent premises. Its other outlets are in Pinstone Street, Arundel Street and Glossop Road.

Palomar founders open The Barbary restaurant in London’s Seven Dials: The Barbary, a second restaurant concept from the founders of The Palomar in Soho, has opened at Seven Dials, London. The venue is in a 1,276 square foot site in Neal’s Yard. The restaurant takes inspiration from the Barbary Coast, with a focus on grilling and baking from “Moorish Spain, to the tip of Morocco and along the Barbary Coast to Jerusalem”, Hot Dinners reports. Layo Paskin, co-owner of The Barbary, said: “We wanted a central London location with a strong history but also an intimate atmosphere to launch our new restaurant. Seven Dials provided all of this and Neal’s Yard especially, as it is a magical part of London.”

Circo owner to open new restaurant and bar concept in Liverpool city centre: Jason McNeill, who owns Circo, the circus-themed bar and restaurant in Albert Docks, is set to open a new venue – Castle St Townhouse – in Liverpool city centre. The “chic” multi-storey restaurant and bar will open in Castle Street in the summer, in a grade II-listed building formerly occupied by GT Law and in the heart of the city’s business district. McNeill described Castle St Townhouse as a “grand opulent bar”, which will feature raised seating areas. Designers DV8 Designs said the renovation would “pay homage to the bar’s historic surroundings while adding character and charm”. McNeill told the Liverpool Echo: “Over the past decade the city’s landscape has changed dramatically, whereby areas such as the business district have evolved to become more than just a corporate workplace, which is why we decided to open in the heart of Castle Street. We hope the new venue will receive a great response from Liverpool locals and those travelling from further afield due to our novel brunch and lunch offerings, extensive drinks list and chic design.”

Revised plans submitted for £50m Didcot shopping centre scheme to include more restaurants: The owner of the Orchard Centre in Didcot has submitted revised plans for its £50m expansion of the complex to include more restaurants. Hammerson has scrapped plans for a proposed 1,509 square metre gym to make room for the additional units in response to “tenant demand”. A spokesman told the Bicester Advertiser: “In response to tenant demand and current market requirements, it is now proposed this floor space will come forward as restaurants. It is proposed to amend the layout of the restaurant quarter to improve the function and attractiveness of the space and to enhance the appearance of the building and exterior space. It is too soon to comment on the names of any new restaurants but we will be looking to attract a vibrant mix of dining options.” The final development will include 24 new shops, a Marks & Spencer food hall and 105 extra parking spaces.

Fine-dining Manchester restaurant closes less than a year after opening: A fine dining restaurant in Manchester city centre has been shuttered after less than a year in business. Quill opened in October 2015 following a £1m investment and was known for its multi-course taster menus priced at £85 or £150 with matching wines. The launch of the restaurant was seen as indicative of the revival of King Street after a host of major brands left the upmarket shopping street in recent years. A sign on the door of the restaurant stated: “As at Tuesday, 14 June, Quill will be closed to the public. We would like to thank all our customers who have shown support to our business and we are now closing our final chapter. We have always prided ourselves on doing things the right way and we are currently in the process of doing a full housekeep, closing all accounts and making sure all staff and suppliers are fully paid.” Head chef Curtis Stewart tweeted: “So the dream came to an abrupt end today. I want to thank everyone for the massive support. It’s far from over. We’ll be back.”

Roca brothers to launch exclusive pop-up at Hotel Cafe Royal: The Roca brothers, owners of three Michelin-starred restaurant El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain, will launch an exclusive pop-up at the Hotel Café Royal in Regent Street in August. As well as the four-night pop-up, the Rocas will visit Hong Kong, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Santiago in Chile as part of the BBVA World Tour. The tour, organised by global bank BBVA, is in its third year. At each event on the tour, the brothers will look to work with local ingredients and put a twist on national dishes. Joan Roca, eldest brother and El Celler head chef, said: “Wherever we go on the BBVA World Tour we look to work with venues that are emblematic of their cities – and Hotel Café Royal is a London landmark.” The pop-up will take place in the hotel’s The Domino restaurant. A Hotel Café Royal spokesperson said: “The Roca brothers are renowned for their creativity and we look forward to seeing their take on the UK’s regional dishes in the beautiful surroundings of The Domino restaurant.”

French restaurant concept Petit Pois Bistro launches in Hoxton: New French restaurant Petit Pois Bistro has opened in Hoxton, north London. The concept is the brainchild of Alastair Burgess and Chris Smith, the team behind London bars Happiness Forgets and Original Sin. Petit Pois Bistro aims to bring the feel of an all-day “cosy French bistro”, with the menu by Smith, who has had a career covering Michelin-starred restaurants and street food. Dishes will include moules mariniere, steak frites, and duck confit with onion puree and gratin dauphinoise. Desserts will include chocolate mousse served tableside from a huge bowl. The breakfast menu will feature pastries alongside croque madame, scrambled eggs on toast with gravadlax, and eggs benedict. Wines will be chosen by sommelier Chris Madden, formerly of Social Eating House, who will also put together a short cocktail list. The bistro in Hoxton Square will seat just 25 but with a small outdoor terrace.

New Australian-inspired cafe concept set to open in Birmingham: A new Australian-inspired cafe concept is set to open in the Kings Heath suburb of Birmingham. Madcup has secured an empty unit in the main shopping parade with the help of agent Bond Wolfe. Madcup has taken a seven-year lease on 1,475 square feet of space in Alcester Road South at £25,000 per annum, meaning the parade is fully let. Madcup owner Kelly Kuok told The Business Desk: “Madcup will be known for its abundance of fresh and adventurous recipes. Inspired by the Australian cafe culture, we provide a wholesome and fun menu that’s fresh and innovative. One of our specials is Acai Bowl, which is made from the healthy and mighty superfood acai berries with various toppings, something that has yet to be widely introduced in Birmingham. We also offer menu items as varied as gluten-free hotcakes to dairy free chia pudding. Our mission is to grow our business in an adventurous yet sustainable way that respects the values of people and our planet. We source ethically and sustainably whenever possible.”

Suds and Soda gets Derby go-ahead: A new speciality craft beer shop and bar has received planning consent to open in Friar Gate, Derby. Called Suds and Soda, the venue will comprise a craft beer shop and tasting bar stocked with products sourced from microbreweries. It will also have a presence online. The venture is led by Joshua Mellor and Thomas Ainsley, who will also fund the project. The application was granted approval by planners earlier this week subject to a number of conditions. Suds and Soda will be next door to tapas restaurant Lorentes. Friar Gate is also home to Pitcher & Piano, Prezzo, Zizzi and the Bishop Blaise pub.

Speaker schedule for Propel summer conference confirmed: The speaker schedule for the Propel multi-club conference on Thursday, 7 July has been confirmed. The event also involves the Propel summer party in the evening and multi-site operators can claim two free places by emailing Jo Charity on Cyril Lavenant, of NPD Group, will provide insights on the current state of the UK foodservice market, how the UK compares with the US and Europe, and predict future progress. Paul Chantler, founder of leading French brewpub company FrogPubs, will talk about selling cask ale in France, entering the better burger market, the French labour market, the importance of food in the French market, and breaking into the French off-trade. Jonathan Simon, of the Business Growth Fund, which has investments in Boost Juice Bars, Camino, Giggling Squid, Peyton & Byrne, Barburrito, Coaching Inn Group and Wear Inns, will explain the fund’s rationale for investment and appetite for further investment in the sector. Thom and James Elliot, co-founders of Pizza Pilgrims, will tell the story of their decision to embark on launching into the pizza category without a foodservice background, moving from pop-ups to permanent sites, lessons learnt, their mobile van, and plans for the future. Simon Brigg, co-founder of five-strong Porky’s BBQ, will talk about how the company was founded, its Memphis-focused differentiation in the barbecue market, its BBQ lab, London expansion, and plans to go portable and develop sauce and clothing ranges, and tips on crowdfunding in the wake of its £650,000 Crowdcube campaign. Lawson Mountstevens, managing director of Star Pubs & Bars, which invested £30m in its pub estate last year and let more than 50% of pubs to multiple operators, will set out how the company is co-investing with record numbers of multi-site operators across its 1,200-pub estate, improving support for tenants and looking to develop them. Luke Bishop, managing director of award-winning Polpo, will talk about the brand’s USPs, people culture, menu development, expansion in the regions and at Harvey Nichols, plus working with the founder – Restaurant Man Russell Norman. Clive Watson, founder of City Pub Company, will talk about building a pub company from scratch, raising money, finding great sites, market differentiation, incentivising managers, creating USPs at each site, and possible flotation. David Fitzgerald, director of business development at Venners, and Malcolm Muir, director of consultancy, will set out common types of fraud and theft the company comes across and the simple steps operators can take to prevent losses and avoid compliance mistakes. Hamish Stoddart, co-founder of Peach Pub Company, will set out progress at the 17-strong pub company, its USPs, unique “partnership” business model, team and site development, and plans for the future.

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