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Morning Briefing Strap Line
Thu 23rd Jun 2016 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Casual Dining Group signs franchise deal to open Bella Italia restaurants in Saudi Arabia, paves way for push into Middle East and Asia: Casual Dining Group has signed a franchise deal to open restaurants for its core Bella Italia brand in Saudi Arabia. The agreement with Riyadh-based retail and leisure conglomerate Fawaz Alhokair Group comes as Casual Dining Group looks to accelerate its expansion in the Middle East and Asia. The deal will see the company open an initial 18 Bella Italia restaurants in the country during the next four years. The deal, allied to other Casual Dining Group activity in the Middle East and Asia, is a statement of intent, with the company recently establishing a Dubai office led by Paul Smith, who was responsible for structuring the franchise deals that took Costa Coffee to China and then Dubai. Smith reports to Mark Nelson, managing director of Casual Dining Group’s international franchising and concessions arm. Casual Dining Group chief executive Steve Richards said: “We are pleased to announce this strategically important agreement with such a significant and respected partner. As a business we are building real momentum overseas. In addition, we are in meaningful discussions over similar partnerships across the Middle East and Asia regions, with further agreements in train.” Fawaz Alhokair licences and operates international retail and leisure brands such as Marks & Spencer in the Middle East, and is understood to be opening an outlet a day in the region. Initial operations will be led by Karim Hajjali, chief business development officer, under the leadership of Kamal Abusara, chief executive of Alhokar’s food and entertainment division. Fawaz Alhokair, which is listed on the KSA stock exchange, is described as “one of the leading groups of companies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia focusing on retail and real estate business sectors”. Founded in 1989 by three brothers, it invests in those sectors across six Middle East countries, North Africa, the US, and central Asia, representing more than 80 international brands. Last year Casual Dining Group, which also operates Las Iguanas and Belgo, opened a Café Rouge in Dubai and earlier this year launched a Bella Italia in India, with both restaurants operated via franchise.

Industry News:

Bar and Nightclub Conference open for bookings, Philip Kolvin QC to present: This year’s Bar and Nightclub Conference, organised by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and Propel, is now open for bookings. It takes place on Tuesday, 11 October at Bafta, Piccadilly, and follows the successful launch of the event last year. It will be followed by the Dusk ’til Dawn Awards for bar and nightclub operators at Cafe de Paris in the evening. Leading licensing barrister Philip Kolvin QC will provide a personal perspective on the key legal issues and developments that bar and nightclub operators face in the current climate. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The conference will highlight the success being achieved by many of our best operators in the late-night segment alongside the challenges the sector faces.” Paul Charity, managing director of Propel, added: “Last year’s event was a big hit, highlighting the importance of bar and nightclub culture in creating a vibrant evening environment in the UK’s town and cities. This year’s event will also feature a host of the UK’s best operators – and offer strategic insights into the key drivers affecting the market.” Tickets are priced £95 for operators who are ALMR members and £145 for non-ALMR members – there is a £20 early-bird discount for operators booking in June. Supplier tickets are £145 for ALMR supplier members and £195 for suppliers who are not ALMR members. Tickets can be booked by emailing Jo Charity at

Next premium recording to feature Chris Gerard: The next audio recording sent to Propel Premium subscribers next week will feature gastro-pub operator Chris Gerard, who presented at the recent Brands Masterclass. Gerard sets out how he moved his burger offer upmarket by improving quality and how his d’Arry’s brand has evolved in the competitive Cambridge market. Propel Premium subscribers also receive the Propel Blue Book guide to sector turnover and profitability. The Blue Book lists and ranks 200 sector companies by turnover, profitability and profit conversion. It also provides a five-year overview of profitability and directors’ salaries. 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 Anne Steele on

Keith Knowles walk will build bridges for armed forces veterans: The ninth London Bridge Walk, organised by Beds and Bars managing director Keith Knowles, takes place today (Thursday, 23 June), raising money for the Hire a Hero charity, which supports armed forces veterans. The walk, which takes place every other year, will see a wide spectrum of people in the hospitality sector walk the capital’s bridges, starting at Albert Bridge and finishing at Tower Bridge. Each walker commits to raising at least £1,000, with London pub retailer Youngs sponsoring every lunch this year. In 2014, the walk raised a six-figure sum for Team Margot, which campaigns for people to register as potential bone marrow/stem cell donors. Knowles told Propel: “There is no other industry or sector that does so much to support so many different charities, which is why I co-founded Pub Aid to raise awareness of the fact our industry raises more than £100m a year for charity. This will be my first walk without my dear wife Franca in my life. She once told me ‘the rockier the road, the greater the beauty once we have travelled through it’. All too often we forget what armed forces personnel do for us. I am privileged more than most to see the RN Fleet Arm up close in my role as an RNHF Ambassador. We can never underestimate that these people lay their lives on the line for us and, when they come to the end of their service, it’s so hard for them to find a job. Our industry can be an obvious choice. The discipline they learn in the service can be transferred to the licensed trade and give them purpose in a commercial environment. I urge all of you to consider becoming a mentor for Hire a Hero and help fill some of the great opportunities we have in our sector.” To donate to the London Bridge Walk, visit or for more about Hire a Hero, go to

Father’s Day meal bookings rise 20% on last year, brunch reservations up 30%: Treating dad to a meal out on Father’s Day is on the rise, according to online bookings service liveRES, whose data revealed online reservations on Sunday (19 June) were up 20% on last year. Lunchtime was still the most popular time for families to celebrate Father’s Day this year but there is a growing trend for a breakfast gathering, with Sunday brunch bookings up 30% on 2015. The company also pointed out the importance for operators in investing in the right technology when dealing with bookings, as more consumers made last-minute reservations. Olivia FitzGerald, liveRES managing director, said: “Pubs and restaurants need to meet customer demand by investing in the right technology through their websites and mobile apps. We’re seeing a trend towards making plans on the fly, with diners browsing online for availability on the day, so showing real-time availability is all important to securing those last-minute reservations. It’s also worth considering running a special offer for brunch, filling tables at the traditionally quieter times on key calendar dates such as Father’s Day. The beauty of online bookings is you can capture so much data about your customers, deliver effective table management and ultimately maximise profits from each and every table, time slot and diner.”

London-based Japanese restaurant offers bottomless alcohol: London-based Japanese restaurant Yumi Izakaya is marking the long-awaited arrival of the 24-hour Tube by serving bottomless alcohol “all day, every day”. Customers at the restaurant in Shaftesbury Avenue can have unlimited prosecco or draught beer for two hours, for £20, reports the Evening Standard. Alongside the alcohol, Londoners will be able to snack on small plates, which include sweetcorn tempura, pork and ginger gyoza, and aubergine braised in sake. The restaurant is open every day from midday until 1am.

Deliveroo’s top ten dishes in Guildford highlights changing face of food deliveries: Restaurant food delivery service Deliveroo has revealed the top ten favourite dishes with customers in Guildford, Surrey, in the year since it launched in the town, highlighting consumers’ changing tastes in delivered food. The list reveals that when having food delivered to their door, consumers’ tastes have become more adventurous, with takeaways no longer limited to pizza, Indian or Chinese cuisine. Instead, the list is dominated by popular high street chains such as Wagamama, Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi, and Gourmet Burger Kitchen. The top three dishes ordered in Guildford via Deliveroo were The Firefly burger box (Firefly Chargrill), cheese and bacon burger (Gourmet Burger Kitchen), and chicken quesadilla (Burrito Loco). They were followed by chicken katsu curry (Wagamama), chicken tikka masala (Bombay Spice), spaghetti alla bolognese (Olivio), pita yeeros chicken (Meat the Greek), pita chicken souvlaki (Meat the Greek), salmon and avocado urmaki (The Real Sushi Co), and pepperoni campagna (Zizzi). Since its launch in Guildford in May 2015, more than 30 restaurants have signed up to the Deliveroo service. Last month, the company announced it aimed to roll-out in 30 to 40 new UK towns and cities by the end of 2016. It is already available in almost 40 places in the UK.

Yorkshire-based restaurant discount club acquires north west counterpart: Yorkshire-based restaurant discount club The Dining Club Group, which is backed by Bridgepoint Development Capital, has acquired a north west counterpart. The Dining Club Group has bought Blackpool-based Hi-Life Diners Club, a subscription-based dining membership club, from Hi-Life Group through its subsidiary company State Bidco. Matt Turner, chief executive of The Dining Club Group, said: “Discounted dining is part of a growing benefits sector. With our support, we are confident Hi-Life can continue to broaden its geographical footprint and grow its membership and restaurant numbers.” James Tolland, managing director of Hi-Life, who will continue in his current role, added: “We are delighted to join with The Dining Club Group to help us further promote and grow the Hi-Life brand.” Hi-Life provides two-for-one dining offers at more than 4,000 restaurants across the UK and Ireland to consumers and business customers in return for an annual membership fee. Affiliated restaurants include those owned by chefs such as Marco Pierre White and Cyrus Todiwala, as well as high street chains and local independent restaurants. The Dining Club Group, which is part owned by its management, was incorporated in 2015 to acquire Tastecard and the Gourmet Society, dining clubs which collectively offer discounts to members at more than 10,000 restaurants in the UK in return for an annual membership fee.

Company News:

Boparan to invest more than £10m to add ten Cinnamon sites over three years: Boparan Restaurant Holdings is to invest in excess of £10m to fund expansion of the Cinnamon Collection by at least ten new restaurants over the next three years. The funding will enable the group, spearheaded by executive chef and chief executive Vivek Singh, to accelerate rolling out two of its brands – Cinnamon Kitchen (currently City based) and the most casual and modern of the Collection’s restaurants, all-day dining concept Cinnamon Soho. The fine dining Cinnamon Club based in the grade II-listed Old Westminster Library will continue to be the Collection’s flagship brand. Central London sites are being sought for Cinnamon Kitchen, with plans to expand to other major cities in 2017, alongside regional locations for Cinnamon Soho. Vivek Singh said: “We are delighted that Boparan Restaurant Holdings is supporting the growth of our business in London and nationally, taking The Cinnamon Collection to the next level. Opening ten-plus sites is a very exciting prospect and I look forward to sharing our modern Indian approach with the rest of the UK.” Ranjit Singh Boparan, chief executive of Boparan Restaurant Holdings, added: “We acquired Cinnamon Collection because we believe the business has significant potential for growth and with a strong pipeline in place the team led by Vivek Singh and Tina English are ready to start scaling the business.” Vivek Singh, who has authored five successful cookbooks and is a regular on television cookery shows, will personally oversee the roll-out programme alongside commercial director English, who will ensure the brand retains its luxury positioning, premium product range and innovative reputation.

Nearly 30% of Whitbread shareholders vote against re-election of Sir Ian Cheshire as non-executive director: Nearly 30% of Whitbread shareholders voted against the re-election of Sir Ian Cheshire as a non-executive director at the company’s annual general meeting on Tuesday (21 June). The company said 35,033,549 out of the total 123,494,792 (28.2%) votes received were against the decision, which it understands was down to Sir Ian having missed meetings. It stated: “Whitbread has received a vote of more than 20% against resolution nine to re-elect Sir Ian Cheshire as a non-executive director. The board has discussed the reasons for this vote with a number of shareholders and understands it is a result of Sir Ian only attending eight out of the ten scheduled annual board meetings and missing an unscheduled meeting that was called at short notice. We can confirm that Sir Ian Cheshire has attended every board meeting in the current year and has no planned absences. Sir Ian is a strong contributor to the Whitbread board with a good attendance record over his five-year tenure.” All other resolutions at the meeting were passed with at least 90% of shareholders voting in favour. Earlier this week, Whitbread reported like-for-likes were up 1.8% in the 13 weeks to 2 June. Premier Inn like-for-likes rose 2.1% (total sales up 8%), restaurant like-for-likes climbed 0.2% (total sales up 1.4%) and Costa like-for-likes grew by 2.6% (total sales up 11.5%). Chief executive Alison Brittain said: “Whitbread delivered total sales growth of 8.0% in the first quarter as we continue with a relentless focus on our customers, innovation and investing in our strong brands. Costa has started the year well and Premier Inn continues to win share, albeit in a weaker than expected hotel market.”

Butcombe Brewery buys two freehold sites as part of plans to add 20 pubs annually over next five years: Brewer and operator Butcombe Brewery, owned by Liberation Group, has bought two freehold sites in Somerset as part of plans to add 20 pubs annually over the next five years. The company has acquired The Pelican Inn in Chew Magna and The Charlton in Shepton Mallet, which will add to Butcombe’s portfolio of 19 pubs across Somerset and the Mendips. Butcombe also revealed it has seen year-on-year growth in sales of 32%. The Pelican, or Pelly as it is known locally, is named after Sir Francis Drake’s ship in which he set sail from Plymouth to circumnavigate the globe. The pub is set in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is in a strategically important location for Butcombe, close to Bristol and Bath. The pub will remain open with all existing staff and there are plans to grow the existing business through renovation and the creation of additional bedrooms. The Charlton in Shepton Mallet is a traditional ale house with a large garden and will be added to Butcombe’s Partner Pubs group and highlights the brewery’s aim of building a portfolio that comprises traditional local pubs and premium-led food outlets. Butcombe has already invested £400,000 in the renovation of The Mill in Rode as it continues to increase, modernise and improve its pub with the site catering for up to 300 diners inside and out. Managing director Geraint Williams said: “We have been brewing some of the best beer in the UK since the 1970s and have built a new team to drive the business forward. It is very important for us not to lose the character for which we are known and loved across our heartland. Our beer is what makes us who we are and is at the core of everything we do. Having a modern, well-invested pub portfolio is obviously important because we want our customers to enjoy our products in the best surroundings.” Liberation Group chief executive Mark Crowther added: “We acquired Butcombe in early 2015 and it has always been our intention to grow the business both organically and through acquisition. Liberation Group is delighted to welcome The Pelican and Charlton Inn into our business as part of our ambition to become the leading brewer and pub operator in the West Country.”

Revolution plans £1.4m Revolución de Cuba site with retractable roof in Newcastle city centre: Revolution Bars Group plans to open a £1.4m Revolución de Cuba site with a retractable roof in Newcastle city centre. The company wants to transform a 1970s building in Cathedral Square that houses Destiny nightclub into a bar and restaurant with rooftop terrace creating 75 jobs. The ground and basement levels would be refurbished to incorporate a bar and stage, while the ground floor would accommodate additional customer space, including an outdoor seating area, Chronicle Live reports. Revolution is also proposing the creation of a linked bar on the building’s flat roof. Planning consultants Firstplan and Mark Mason Design have submitted documents to Newcastle City Council on behalf of Revolution. Firstplan said in its design statement: “This will create a high-quality additional bar area, providing an al fresco drinking and dining space for customers enclosed by an aluminium-framed glazed surround with a retractable roof above. This will create a bright and airy space with views across the city centre, but with protection from the elements enabling use throughout the year.” Earlier this week, Revolution opened its ninth Revolución de Cuba site in Liverpool following a £1.7m investment. A tenth site is due to open in Reading in October.

D&D London partners with online what’s on guide for monthly supper club series: Restaurant group D&D London is partnering with The Nudge, an online guide to what’s on in the capital, for a series of monthly supper clubs. Starting on Monday, 25 July, they will host a sequence of exclusive experiences in collaboration with some of the UK’s most talented and creative chefs. The supper clubs, which will be exclusively for D&D London’s loyalty club and The Nudge members, will take place within various D&D London restaurants. Each supper club in the series has been designed to highlight the range of restaurants and cuisines within D&D London restaurant group, with unique offerings created for each event. The first event takes place at Kensington Palace in Notting Hill with the Naked Fish Supper Club, featuring a demonstration by Frederic Lindfors, world champion oyster shucker and manager of The Fish Shop. The menu will include mackerel tartar with avocado and lime puree and grilled sourdough; Kashmiri seafood curry with fragrant basmati rice; and vanilla panna cotta with English strawberries and basil. Details about the other monthly supper clubs will be revealed in due course.

London-based contemporary Japanese restaurant Sumosan to relocate to Knightsbridge in partnership with Flavio Briatore: London-based contemporary Japanese restaurant Sumosan is relocating to Knightsbridge where it will reopen in partnership with Italian businessman and former Formula One boss Flavio Briatore. The restaurant has closed its site in Albermarle Street, Mayfair, after 14 years of trading. Sumosan will reopen in October in partnership with Briatore following the success of the recent collaborations at summer restaurant Twiga Sumosan – a sister concept that opened in Monaco last summer and the more recent opening of Sumosan at Billionaire’s Mansion – the restaurant, bar and nightclub that launched in Dubai this year. Opening this October within a multi-storey at 165 Sloane Street, Knightsbridge, the new restaurant will comprise a lounge for up to 150 guests on one floor, and restaurant and bar accommodating about 180 covers across two levels. In line with the sister concepts, the new restaurant will bring together Sumosan’s globally renowned Japanese food alongside a menu of classic yet sophisticated Italian dishes. The collaboration is aimed at solidifying Briatore’s vision of offering the ultimate dining experience with “everything under one roof”.

Soho House to open 252-bedroom London hotel with nine restaurants and bars: Soho House has unveiled plans to open a 252-bedroom hotel with nine restaurants and bars in the City of London. The Ned hotel, a joint venture between Soho House and US hotel owner and developer Sydell group, is set to launch in spring 2017 at 27 Poultry, a grade I-listed building close to the Bank of England. Niels Kristensen has been appointed director of food and beverage, joining from D&D London, the Caterer reports. Seven restaurants will be in the Ned’s former banking hall, including American cafe Penny, Millie’s Lounge serving British and American classics, Parisian outlet Café Sou, the Grill Room offering traditional trolley service, Soho House Italian brand Cecconi’s, Japanese grill Penny Yen, and New York-style deli Zobler’s. Total capacity for the restaurants will be 1,400 covers. Rooftop venue Ned’s Club will feature a swimming pool, while Canopy Bar & Restaurant and Vault Room lounge bar will be housed in the basement. While Soho House operates 17 members’ clubs worldwide, alongside 37 restaurants, the Ned will not include a members-only venue.

Brunning & Price to open gastro-pub on outskirts of Preston in August: Brunning & Price, the gastro-pub brand owned by The Restaurant Group, will open a site on the outskirts of Preston in August. The company is converting former wedding venue Haighton Manor into its latest site, creating 40 jobs. The building in Haighton Green Lane will feature a private dining area able to seat 14 and a new garden room overlooking the countryside. There will be seven cask beers, 30 gins and 50 different malts behind the bar. There will also be an extensive food menu. Brunning & Price managing director Mary Willcock told Blog Preston: “We are very excited and fortunate to have landed such a historic building in this beautiful part of the world. We plan to sensitively transform the building into a welcoming pub restaurant, which we plan to open in late August and hope will play an important role at the heart of the community, as well as a destination for visitors to the area.” Haighton Manor, which dates to the 17 century, opened as a wedding venue in the 1970s. Brunning & Price has 55 sites, split between the north west and south east. It will open a further four pubs this year – the Prae Wood Arms, St Albans; the Physician, Edgbaston; the Dinorben Arms, Bodfari; and the Fox Revived, Norwood Hill – with further expansion planned in 2017.

West Midlands-based health food cafe concept Frais passes 50% mark in £200,000 crowdfunding campaign: West Midlands-based health food cafe concept Frais has passed the 50% mark in its £200,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube as it looks to expand the business through franchising opportunities. The company, founded by Nitin Trehan in 2011, is offering an 11.11% equity stake in return for the investment. So far, 28 investors have pledged £110,100 with seven days remaining. Frais has two sites – in Shirley and Solihull – and is aiming to open in Dubai through its proposed franchising model. The pitch states: “Frais, which means ‘fresh’ in French, was born in 2011 with a desire to provide healthy and nutritious food and drink to the public, an alternative to junk food. We started with a small personal loan and what we believed was a great idea. Since then, we have never looked back. Year-on-year we have been committed to growing the business. We have grown from our early days of being a fresh food supplier to a high street healthy eating store. Soon we aim to open our first store in Dubai through our proposed franchising model. Each franchisee should contribute to the licensing, set-up fee and royalty. We aim to develop future income streams from our franchises, online sales and distribution to franchises from our wholesale business. We’re a young, growing business and to continue to enhance this growth we are raising funds for marketing and promoting our future franchises, building an online e-commerce website covering all of the UK and building a home and office delivery service to grow sales for our business and improve our franchise model.”

Village London to open the Rail House Cafe in Victoria Nova development in September: Village London founder and managing director Adam White will open a restaurant and bar in the Nova development in Victoria in September. The 330-cover Rail House Cafe will feature an extensive ground-floor eating and drinking area, as well as an upstairs bar and raised private dining room. It will also have an outdoor area for 90, complete with seating and an al fresco bar. White will once again spearhead the design project, working with manufacturing partners to create bespoke furniture and interior touches to soften the contemporary glass and concrete space. The Rail House Cafe will join Japanese ramen bar concept Bone Daddies, Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa, D&D London, Shake Shack, Jason Atherton, and Franco Manca in the newly established restaurant quarter. Village London’s other sites are its eponymous site in Mortimer Street, The Riding House Cafe in Fitzrovia, and Village East in Bermondsey.

Tim Martin – ‘we’d be lucky to expand overseas but I wouldn’t mind giving it a go’: JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin said he believes the company would be “lucky” to expand overseas because the pub “is a UK thing”. However, in an interview with The Guardian he admitted he “wouldn’t mind giving it a go”. Asked about what was next for the company, Martin said: “I worked out that if we opened one pub per 30,000 of the population in China, we’d be as big as Microsoft. Then I woke up. I think we’d probably be lucky to expand overseas. It’s taken us this long to open up throughout the UK, and I think a pub is more of a UK thing. I’m not sure France or Italy would be our stomping ground, but I wouldn’t mind giving it a go.” He added he had continued to keep JD Wetherspoon competitive by making constant small adjustments to the business. He said: “Don’t try and change the world. You’ll be lucky if you [come up with the next multimillion-pound idea], but if you can just make tiny tweaks every day to make it that bit better, that’s a very powerful force over time. At Wetherspoons that’s exactly what we’ve tried to do. We’ve almost never had a reorganisation of any description – we’ve just tried to evolve through small weekly improvements. As an overall company you can increase profit by opening more pubs, adding beer gardens, increasing the size of a pub. But once you’ve been running a pub for five to ten years, you’ve got to work very hard just to maintain profits; to keep it where it is if it’s doing well.”

JW Bassett acquires third Cardiff site: JW Bassett, led by Jon Bassett and the operator of four freehold pubs and one Mitchells & Butlers franchise, has acquired its third site in Cardiff. The company is refurbishing The North Star, which closed in February and was previously run by Cardiff multi-site operator The Chameleon Group, ahead of reopening it as The College Tavern on Friday, 15 July. It will have a grill-based menu featuring steaks, burgers and home-cooked specials served from an open kitchen. The pub will still offer pool, table tennis and darts. Bassett told Wales Online: “I’m really pleased to be opening up another pub in Cardiff and I can’t wait to see how it goes as it’s in a great spot coming into Cardiff town centre for locals, students and passers-by. It’s a prime site and works perfectly with our other two sites in Cardiff. All you see is pubs closing, with the reasons given that the business isn’t there, but I’m not sure about that. Some of these big brewers don’t give local people the opportunity to run these sites, whether that’s because of high rents or the high prices tenants have to pay.” JW Bassett’s other sites include The Four Elms and Queens Vaults in Cardiff.

Star Pubs & Bars to invest £250,000 in food support: Star Pubs & Bars is to invest more than £250,000 in food support for its licensees in the next 12 months, leading the way in food support in the leased sector. The commitment was made at the launch of the second year of its Star Food programme, a two-day food event designed to upskill the company’s business development managers and management team in food development. The announcement builds on the success of Star Food, which saw the dry sales mix of food sold in Star pubs increase by 6% in the programme’s first year. 74% of Star pubs now sell food, the highest percentage of any national leased pub operator. As well as promising to continue with existing food training for pub staff and chefs, Star said further initiatives in that area, such as kitchen staff recruitment support, would be introduced during the next year, helping to tackle the industry shortage. The Star Food event also saw the launch of special pricing agreements for Star licensees, with four national food suppliers and a modern back bar food support guide for pubs without kitchens or with kitchens that closed at quiet times of day. The supplier agreements were created in response to licensee requests for help on pricing and are designed to enable licensees to sell food at a competitive recommended selling price while retaining healthy profits. Negotiated using Heineken’s buying power, all of the savings go direct to licensees. National suppliers have been appointed in four areas to ensure quality as well as keen prices. These include Russell Hume butchers, Direct Seafood, Nisbets for consumables, and Brakes for frozen and ambient groceries. The new back bar food support guide addresses the premiumisation of the eating out sector. It encourages licensees to move away from lower quality microwaved pizzas, burgers and pies to more gourmet snacks and dishes using fresh ingredients from olive and crisp boards to cheese boards and ploughmans with a contemporary twist. The guide includes all angles of selling food without a kitchen from equipment to presentation as well as 60 new menu ideas. Lawson Mountstevens, managing director of Star Pubs & Bars, said: “We’re focused on long-term sustainable leased pub businesses and having multiple income streams such as food is key. We want to give our licensees the very best support in this area. Our package now spans fully funded residential cookery courses for licensees and staff workshops to financing kitchen fixtures and fittings. We’re continuing to upskill our business development managers so they can provide expertise in this specialist area and using outside chef consultants to give licensees the very best advice.”

Michelin-starred chef Phil Howard to open Chelsea restaurant: Phil Howard, who left two Michelin-starred The Square in Mayfair in March, will open a new restaurant in Chelsea. Claiming he has “unfinished business with food”, he will open Elystan Street in September, again teaming up with Rebecca Mascarenhas (they operate Kitchen W8 in Kensington and Sonny’s Kitchen in Barnes). Elystan Street will offer modern British cuisine, with Howard telling Hot Dinners diners should expect “delicious, clean, ingredient-led dishes, full of natural vitality. The aim will be, as it always has been, to give great pleasure.” The 64-cover venue in Elystan Street, at the former site of Tom Aikens Restaurant, will seat a further 12 diners in a private room. Décor will be by Clare Nelson Design, the team behind The Ledbury and Chez Bruce. 

200 Degrees lines up fourth site, in Manchester: Nottingham-based specialist coffee roaster and retailer 200 Degrees has revealed it is lining up its fourth site, in Manchester. Managing director Rob Darby told the Nottingham Post the company was in legal talks over a site in the city, amid plans to branch out across the UK. He confirmed the move at the opening of 200 Degrees’ second coffee shop in Nottingham – a 45-seat venue in Carrington Street close to the railway station. Building work has also started on its third site in Birmingham, with the venue in Colmore Row due to open on Wednesday, 27 July. Darby said: “We chose Birmingham as it’s got quite a coffee culture already. It’s very busy, geographically accessible for us as a small company and we found a perfect building for 200 Degrees. We seem to have struck on something that really does work. People do love our coffee.” 200 Degrees serves coffee from its own roastery in Meadow Lane. Since opening its first coffee shop in Flying Horse Walk in October 2014, more than 300,000 cups of coffee have been sold.

Bel & The Dragon launches ‘Root To Table’ scheme: Bel & The Dragon, the seven-strong gastro-pub chain owned by Longshot Country Inns, has launched a “Root To Table” scheme. The initiative champions partnerships with local producers as well as continuing to support sustainable practices and expanding its home-grown offering. Root To Table is about knowing where food comes from, how it has been grown and raised, and reducing the chain from root to table. Bel & The Dragon said it was committed to supporting “local, small-scale and artisan producers to bring the very best local ingredients to its menus”. It meets with farmers, visits animals and establishes relationships with producers that support sustainable agriculture practices. Bel & The Dragon has seasonally inspired menus that draw inspiration direct from its own home-grown harvests and change frequently depending on what it discovers in its own kitchen gardens. It makes as much as it can on-site – it now has three pubs with its own kitchen gardens. The company said: “Bel & The Dragon can now officially stand by an ethical, ecological and sustainable ethos. This messaging communicates a new and important company brand value that will form an integral part of our marketing communications going forward.”

Thai Leisure Group signs deal with CPL Online: Thai Leisure Group (TLG) has signed a deal with CPL Online as its training and employee engagement provider for all four of its brands. The partnership will see the development of a branded online platform, employee app, bespoke training modules and face-to-face video training resources, all under a new employer brand. The deal comes at a time when TLG is continuing to grow its Thai street food brand Thaikhun and contemporary Thai dining and bar brand Chaophraya. The company will launch six more sites this year, including Aberdeen, Glasgow Fort, Bath, Southampton and  Newcastle, with a considerable pipeline for 2017. TLG managing director Ian Leigh said: “We’ve built a business based on great people who care from the heart, as we like to say ‘Ow Jai Sai’. One question I am asked a lot is how we will retain and enhance our culture as we continue to grow. We have a robust people and training strategy, which the CPL partnership is central in delivering. I am particularly excited about the ‘Thai-ness’ modules we will be building and those around instilling our organisational values.” CPL Online managing director David Dasher added: “Ian and his team have always instilled a great culture of training and development at TLG. As a forward-thinking and diverse company, it’s fantastic to create a partnership with a company with which we share so many of the same values. TLG is in the process of growing its current brands over the next year, and we are delighted to be creating a multitude of learning and development products to join them on their journey.”

All Our Bars reopens East Grinstead pub following major refurbishment: All Our Bars has relaunched East Grinstead pub Bar Kuba as The Crown following an extensive refurbishment. The interior and exterior have both undergone a complete overhaul, with a particular use of industrial lighting and old images of the West Sussex town. The pub in High Street has extended its cask ale range and introduced new craft beers and ciders, as well as a wide selection of rare premium spirits and fine wines. Food is served daily with an emphasis on quality, locally sourced and seasonal dishes. The pub is also open early for breakfast and cake and coffee mornings and serves traditional Sunday roasts. The dining area is also available for private functions and meetings. All Our Bars chief executive Paul Wigham said: “We have a new name and a gorgeous new look – the entire pub has been refloored and redecorated.” Colin Elliman, co-owner and manager, added: “We look forward to providing East Grinstead with the highest quality suburban venue in the area, offering great service and great food.”

Open brewery Ubrew to start expansion with Manchester opening: Ubrew, the “open brewery” founded by Matt Denham and Wilf Horsfall, will start expansion of the concept by opening a second site, this time in Manchester in September. Ubrew raised more than £110,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube in 2015, and has since launched its first brewery in Bermondsey, south London, filling its 150 membership slots within the first three months with a waiting list of about 800 more. Members use Ubrew’s equipment to brew their own beer. Denham told Mancunian Matters: “In Manchester, about 30% of those who have signed up are women. Primarily we have young professionals and millennials so it’s not the old guy in the shed any more.” Ubrew said it had sold about 75% of its membership spaces and trained more than 1,000 people. Membership costs about £50 a month for a 50 litre kit and gives access for up to five people. This includes space, equipment and expert advice but ingredients must be bought separately. Denham said 25 members in London had gone on to become professional commercial brewers. He said: “Some of our members in London have a key to the joint and let themselves in!” He added that Ubrew planned to set up further breweries across the UK in major cities such as Edinburgh, Liverpool, Bristol, Brighton and Cardiff.

New Jerusalem street food restaurant concept to open in Soho next month: A new Jerusalem street food restaurant concept is opening in Soho, London, next month. Hanan Kattan, an award-winning film producer who grew up in a Palestinian household in Jordan, is launching Tabun Kitchen in Berwick Street. Breakfast dishes will include the Shakshuka, featuring eggs and a rich tomato sauce, and Greek-style yogurt drizzled with aromatic honey and crushed pistachios. The lunch menu will lead with freshly baked and prepared wraps made from high-protein flour with fillings such as lean chicken and falafel. Another speciality will be Mussakan, a traditional Palestinian filling for Tabun bread that uses marinated chicken, softened onions, roasted pine nuts and sumac. The dinner menu will be ever-changing, with the Mini Mezze offering diners the chance to taste many flavours of the Middle East on one plate. A selection of desserts and fresh coffee and juices will also be available.

Be At One to launch Liverpool city centre cocktail bar next month: Be At One will open its latest cocktail bar next month, this time in Liverpool city centre creating 20 jobs. The new venue in Seel Street will offer a menu of more than 160 cocktails when it opens on Friday, 15 July, and will be the brand’s 31st site. Be At One co-founder Steve Locke told BDaily: “The site has an outdoor red-brick courtyard that will add a whole new dimension to our cocktail bar offering, bringing a real cocktail bar experience in space filled with character. Liverpool has been on our radar for some years and we have been waiting for the perfect venue. We are very focused on providing a world-class guest experience, which we deliver through our bartenders, in-house training and an extensive range of cocktails.” Be At One was founded by Locke, Rhys Oldfield and Leigh Miller in 1998. The 32nd Be At One bar is due to open in Nottingham in the Hockley area of the city.

New Papa John’s franchisee opens first Grantham site: New franchisee Peter Gill has opened Papa John’s first site in Grantham, Lincolnshire, after recruiting and training 20 local staff. Gill, a former insurance loss adjuster, said: “I’ve always wanted to be my own boss and franchising represented a good way to achieve my goal. I looked at a number of franchise options but settled for the food industry as it seems to be less affected by the economic climate than other sectors.” Until the opening, customers had to travel to Lincoln or Nottingham to taste Papa John’s pizzas. Papa John’s was founded in the US in 1984 and has more than 4,800 stores in 40 international markets and territories, including 300-plus stores in the UK.

Cote to open Welwyn Garden City restaurant on Monday: French brasserie Cote will open its latest site on Monday (27 June), in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire. The town centre venue is at 1-3 Howardsgate on the former site of the Pig and Truffle restaurant, which closed last summer. Cote was given planning permission for the site in April and it will become the brand’s 78th restaurant, including two others in Hertfordshire – in St Albans and Bishop’s Stortford. Earlier this week, Cote launched a 3,300 square foot site in Woking, Surrey. Last month, Cote reported that 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.

Five Guys lodges plans to take over Pizza Hut site in Norwich: Better burger brand Five Guys has lodged plans to open a site in Norwich. The company has applied to the city council to open the venue in Orford Place on the site of Pizza Hut, which shut this week. The restaurant would seat 120 people over two floors with an outside seating area. It also proposes to fly British and American flags outside the restaurant. Founded in Arlington, Virginia, in 1986 by the Murrell family, and named after the five brothers who worked together to make the chain an international success, the brand has 46 restaurants in the UK, having opened its first in Covent Garden in 2013.

StreetDots to expand street food pitches across London, plans to have 50 UK sites by end of year: Tech start-up StreetDots has confirmed deals with three major land partners to expand its network of smart street food pitches across London. The company, which aims to “bring the outmoded street-trading sector into the tech-age”, will open 12 more pitches across the capital in partnerships with British Land, Land Securities, and TH Real Estate. The contracts mark the next phase of expansion for StreetDots, which aims to have 50 locations across the UK by the end of the year. The pitches or “dots” host a rotating offer of street food vendors managed by StreetDots’ technology, which handles rent, documentation, marketing and sales tracking. Once traders are vetted, they can book dates on the StreetDots app. The trading spaces are flagged by actual vinyl dots on the ground bearing the StreetDots logo, so street trucks can drive on, trade and drive off. StreetDots co-founder Atholl Milton said: “Our technology liberates landlords and traders from an outdated and laborious manual booking process so they can concentrate on enlivening space with great food. The choice to trade in a variety of locations on different dates gives small traders a chance to build a reputation, and bigger brands the opportunity to reach the street-food audience.” StreetDots’ three dots in British Land’s Broadgate Circle have showcased more than 60 independent food brands since 2015. This month it will host a further five dots across the wider Broadgate campus. Separately, StreetDots will open four dots in Land Securities’ One New Change development and three in TH Real Estate’s Bermondsey Square.

Caffe Nero to open fourth Cornwall site, in Newquay: Caffe Nero is opening an outlet in Newquay – its fourth in Cornwall. The company has agreed a deal with landlord Marley Pension Fund to take over the former Dorothy Perkins unit in Bank Street. It has taken a ten-year lease without a break on the three-storey property at a rent of £57,500 per annum. The unit is in Bank Street, close to the town’s nightclubs and beaches, and comprises an 1,800 square foot ground-floor retail area, with the two upper floors providing storage, staff areas and toilets. Caffe Nero was advised by Calan Retail and Alder King represented the landlord, reports Insider Media. Caffe Nero operates more than 700 cafes globally, including two in Truro and one in Falmouth.

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