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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 18th Aug 2016 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Crowdcube completes crowdfunding campaign having raised more than £7.3m, largest raise in UK via crowdfunding: Crowdcube has completed its fund-raise on its own crowdfunding platform having raised more than £7.3m – the largest raise in the UK via a crowdfunding platform. The company, co-founded by Darren Westlake and Luke Lang, was aiming to raise £5m and offered a 7.14% equity stake in return for the investment. It has now completed the campaign having raised £7,330,350 from 3,718 investors – £5m of which came within three hours of the fund-raise being launched. Separately, venture capital firm Balderton Capital has also invested £1m in the round. The fund-raise was the company’s first with a prospectus to allow shares to be issued above the limit set by EU rules. The pitch stated: “Our use of proceeds from the minimum net raise of £4.8m is as follows: £3.65m in working capital to fund our existing operations based on average monthly expenditure of £740,000 in 2017; £0.75m to increase our technology team; £0.4m increase in our 2017 marketing budget. We believe the proceeds of the raise will enable us to deliver on our three key growth strategies – provide unrivalled investment opportunities, fund businesses through the world’s largest investor community and deliver investor returns – which we believe will drive continued revenue growth and ultimately shareholder returns. Its last crowdfunding round in 2014 saw Crowdcube raise £1.2m from crowd investors, alongside £3.8m from Balderton Capital, in just 16 minutes. It had previously raised a total of £12.8m to fund its growth after attracting investment from more than 500 crowd investors, as well as venture capital firms Balderton Capital and Draper Esprit and city stockbroker Numis Securities. Since Crowdcube pioneered equity crowdfunding in 2011, more than £160m has been invested in more than 400 raises, with £110m being raised since the start of 2015 alone. River Cottage as well as Camden Town Brewery, which has been acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev, are among the companies to have successfully raised funding through the platform.

Industry News:

New speaker added for Chris Muller Multi-site Management Masterclass: A new speaker has been added for Professor Chris Muller’s Multi-site Management Masterclass. Former Rosinter chief executive Kevin Todd will give his insights on “talent management”. The event takes place on Friday, 30 September at One Moorgate Place in London and is now open for bookings. Leading UK businesses such as Mitchells & Butlers and TGI Friday’s have sent staff to be taught by Professor Muller at Boston University’s School of Hospitality – now Professor Muller is returning to the UK to lead this bespoke day. His interactive seminar will include contributions from Sticks ‘n’ Sushi UK managing director Andreas Karlsson and Eric Partaker, co-founder and brand evangelist at Chilango. The event will provide valuable insights for founders and area managers of small and medium-sized multi-site companies and area managers of large companies. The sessions will include developing multi-unit leaders, leading a team through a strategic growth plan, and a discussion on the importance transition plays in the practice of management and leadership. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) members and £345 plus VAT for non-ALMR members. To book tickets, email Anne Steele at

Propel and ALMR Las Vegas study tour bookings more than half-full: Propel and the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) are heading to Las Vegas for their next study tour, and bookings are already more than half-full. The visit takes place between Saturday, 25 March and Tuesday, 28 March 2017. After five hugely successful trips to Chicago, Propel and the ALMR have decided to check out Las Vegas. The trip provides two food study tours, where delegates can explore the hottest concepts in Vegas, as well as two early-evening bar tours led by James Hacon. The trip also includes three nights’ stay at the MGM Grand Hotel, two hosted dinners, and the chance for delegates to explore Vegas at their own leisure. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to gain valuable insight into the trends and concepts that are shaping Vegas and leading the way in the US market, which will no doubt provide fresh ideas and inspiration for delegates.” For more information or to book, email Jo Charity at or call 01444 810304.

Italian street food market Mercato Metropolitano opens in London, first site outside Italy: Turin-based Mercato Metropolitano has opened its first street food market outside Italy – in a vast, disused paper factory in Southwark. The free to enter, 45,000 square foot market houses a huge collection of Italian artisanal produce, including bakers, fishmongers, butchers, cheesemongers, charcuterie specialists, gelato slingers, pasta makers, brewers, coffee roasters, and pizza cooks. The venue also features a 4,000 square foot, family-run Italian supermarket and plans to host regular live music, as well as dance and cookery lessons, The Nudge reports. Mercato Metropolitano is open from 11am to 11pm, Tuesday to Sunday, although an official opening will not take place until Thursday, 15 September, by which time a boxing gym, pop-up cinema, and co-working space will be open.

Plans revealed for second South Tyneside Restaurant Week: Plans have been revealed for the second South Tyneside Restaurant Week after the huge success of the first. The event, which is organised by South Tyneside Council, will run from 1 to 8 October. A broad range of South Tyneside restaurants and eateries will take part, with those attending urged to “try something new or discover a few hidden gems”. The mayor and mayoress of South Tyneside, Cllr Alan Smith and Cllr Moira Smith, joined staff at Mambos Wine and Dine to officially launch South Tyneside Restaurant Week 2016. Mambos has three Italian restaurants in the borough, all of which are taking part in the event. More than 20 venues, including The Boardwalk Cafe and Crème da le Crème, have signed up so far. Smith told Insider Media: “Our first restaurant week in South Tyneside was a huge success, featuring 28 pubs, restaurants and cafes across the borough offering one-off menus. It is a wonderful opportunity for foodies and general diners to try the vibrant restaurant scene in South Tyneside, featuring everything from seaside retreats and independent eateries to popular chain restaurant and rustic village pubs. It is a showcase of the borough’s wide range of cuisine to entice visitors from around the region to try something new or discover a few hidden gems. We would encourage as many restaurants as possible to sign up and take part in this year’s event.”

Company News:

Pod secures 24th site, first to open seven days a week: London-based healthy eating brand Pod has secured its second site in three months, which will be its first to open seven days a week. The company will open its 24th outlet in Meridian Place, Seven Dials, next month, and is eyeing venues in west London for further expansion. The 1,097 square foot site will focus on speed of service and will “flaunt ability to switch from daytime energy to evening ambiance”. The menu will be a condensed version of its existing offer. The company is also looking at multiple sites in west London. In July, Pod opened its first site in nearly four years, in Kingsway. Executive chairman John Postlethwaite said: “We are thrilled to be well and truly on the move again. Our new Seven Dials site takes us west into the heart of London’s tourist scene. We are looking forward to the new challenges this site poses such as seven-day trading and pre-theatre dining, both new to Pod.” Pod was founded in 2005 by Tim Hall, with recipes hand-prepared daily in the company’s in-store kitchens.

Drake & Morgan opens first airport site with new Heathrow concept: Drake & Morgan has opened its first airport restaurant and bar, at Heathrow’s Terminal 4. In a joint venture with global hospitality and food service provider Delaware North, “The Commission” is a casual, all-day dining concept created exclusively for the airport. Located airside in the terminal, The Commission occupies 4,800 square feet and offers 170 covers. The restaurant is open every day from first to last flight. The new all-day format has been created with passengers in mind. With a focus on seasonality, provenance and sustainability, the menu offers the brand’s signature all-day menu, from breakfast and brunch through to lunch and supper, coffees, and cocktails. In addition, the airport site also offers a grab-and-go format for passengers who like to have an “on-board picnic” when they fly. Jillian MacLean, Drake & Morgan managing director, said: “Our all-day bar and dining format is ideal for transport hubs and we are working closely with Delaware North to deliver a fresh new concept designed specifically to appeal to travellers, from business passengers through to families.” Last month, Drake & Morgan acquired Corney & Barrow’s wine bar business in London. It is set to add four more sites in the next year, with openings planned at Edinburgh, London’s West India Quay, and Spinningfields and One St Peters Square, both in Manchester.

Sir John Fitzgerald reports pre-tax profit fall of more than 50%: North east real ale pub and restaurant operator Sir John Fitzgerald has reported a fall in pre-tax profit of more than 50%. The company saw pre-tax profit drop to £226,502 for the year ending 31 January 2016, compared with £603,698 the year before, according to accounts filed with Companies House. Turnover fell slightly to £18,211,907, compared with £18,379,266 the previous year. Gross profit increased by 0.3% to 64.6% (2015: 64.3%).

Neil Rankin to launch whole animal barbecue restaurant and wine bar concept Temper on bonfire night: Chef Neil Rankin will launch his whole animal barbecue restaurant and wine bar concept Temper in Soho on Saturday, 5 November. The venue in Broadwick Street has been created in partnership with managing director Sam Lee, who has a wealth of experience in the restaurant and wine industries. The aim of Temper is to offer expertly cooked cuts of meat from the whole animal, tempered for optimal flavour and offset by a range of vegetable-focused plates – with sustainability and minimal waste playing a crucial role in the process. The wine will also take centre stage, with a new and old world list created to match the menu. There will also be a selection of mescal, whisky, gin, cocktails and beer. Taking inspiration from Rankin’s travels and experience, the menu will focus on specialist breeds from small, hand-picked UK producers, with lamb, goat and mutton also featuring heavily. Almost all the meat will be offered in 100g-plus cuts, available with a range of plates designed around seasonal vegetables – allowing the diner to fully customise their menu. There will be an open kitchen and 4.5-metre open fire pit at the heart of the 42-cover main dining room, allowing diners to see their meal being prepared. Further seating will be available in the form of four top tables and more intimate banquettes – with the addition of a private dining room for 30 guests. Upstairs, tacos will be hand-made using heritage corn imported from Masienda. By night, the space will be transformed into a bar. Rankin said: “I wanted to move away from small plates and tasting menus, and really strip things back to a more basic approach. It’s really just meat – cooked well and served with bread, salad, condiments and a nice glass of wine. I wanted to create a restaurant that offered choice, not only in terms of portion size but also in animal breeds, sides and sauces – giving back control to the customer and allowing them to decide what they eat. I want Temper to cater for those big meaty celebration dinners, but also for super-fast lunches and lighter, more vegetable-focused meals.”

Cityglen Pub Co to open Deptford gastro-pub, sister site to Nick Willoughby’s Great North Wood: Cityglen Pub Co will open a gastro-pub in Deptford, south London, this month – a sister site to The Great North Wood, the venue the company opened with Creme de la Crepe founder Nick Willoughby in West Norwood in 2014. The kitchen at The Brookmill, which will open on Tuesday, 30 August, will be headed by Olly Marlowe, who was previously sous chef at Michelin-starred The Glasshouse and Chez Bruce. Marlowe’s menu will include ham hock and gruyere pie with onion purée and roasting juices; and roast cornish cod with nduja risotto, salted almonds, aioli and pecorino. The drinks menu will include craft beer from Brockley Brewery, The Kernel Brewery and Brick Brewery, with natural and organic wines from Davenport Vineyards in East Sussex. Coffee will come courtesy of local roastery Volcano Coffee, Hot Dinners reports. Brookmill assistant manager Chloë Brown told Propel: “The Great North Wood has been doing really well over the past two years, so we’re super excited to open The Brookmill.”

Jones Bar Group to reopen Leeds site as new cocktail club concept: Leeds-based Jones Bar Group is set to reopen one of its first forays into the city bar scene as a new cocktail club concept. The company, set up by brothers Matthew and Ben Jones, is revamping Brooklyn Bar in Call Lane into the Epic Cocktail Club. Due to open on Thursday, 25 August, the ground-floor bar will have a staple menu of 50 cocktails to choose from, while the first-floor lounge will be a bespoke sit-down cocktail experience “unlike any other cocktail bar in Leeds”. Matthew Jones told The Business Desk: “Brooklyn was one of the first bars we opened in the city centre. We are excited to be reinvigorating the space in this iconic location and can’t wait for the opening of Epic Cocktail Club.” Jones Bar Group has ten sites, including its three-strong Roxy Ball Room brand, which is set for further expansion with a site lined up in Manchester.

McDonald’s swaps Happy Meal toys for fitness trackers: McDonald’s has been giving away toys with its Happy Meals for more than three decades but, with the Olympics in Rio dominating headlines during the past few weeks, the company has decided to replace the toy with a “Step-it” fitness tracker. Every McDonald’s Happy Meal sold in the US and Canada will include one of six different-coloured, wrist-worn pedometers that blink slowly or quickly depending on how vigorously the child exercises. The company said the “toy” would be available for four weeks only, during which time it would advertise the tracker on TV and include it in pre-roll ads on YouTube. McDonald’s is one of the main sponsors of the 2016 Olympics and its official restaurant. McDonald’s Canada senior marketing manager Michelle McIlmoyle told CityNews: “Step-it is in line with McDonald’s general philosophy for Happy Meal toys, which is to make toys that encourage either physical or imagination-based play.” During the past few years, the company has run a number of promotions offering books instead of toys with its Happy Meals at UK and US stores.

Smokehouse & Cellar barbecue concept launches in Manchester offering Pilsner Urquell tank beer: New barbecue concept Smokehouse & Cellar has launched in Manchester featuring a kitchen fuelled only by fire and offering Pilsner Urquell tank beer. The 170-cover restaurant has a wood-fired pizza oven, open-flame fire pit, and a huge char-griller barbecue, as well as five Pilsner Urquell tanks. Pitmaster Jason Latham’s dishes are made in small batches to control the meat, and smoked with a blend of hickory, oak and apple wood. The restaurant also offers smoked seafood, skewers and wood-fired pizzas. The venue, next to Manchester Town Hall, is licensed until 4am and will host free live entertainment at weekends, with bands and DJs helping the space move seamlessly from restaurant to late-night bar from 10pm. Smokehouse & Cellar owner John Rennie said: “The flavours of our Smokehouse-style food are very important to us and, following that same attention to the beverage offering, it was clear Pilsner Urquell tank beer was the only choice for us.” Smokehouse & Cellar is only the second bar in the city to stock Pilsner Urquell tank beer, following Albert’s Schloss, the £3.5m bar and restaurant concept by Mission Mars. In June, the owners said Albert’s Schloss was serving more tank beer than in all other “tankovnas” (tank beer bars) outside the Czech Republic by a considerable margin.

Benugo extends John Lewis partnership with Cardiff opening: Cafe-deli and restaurant operator Benugo has extended its partnership with John Lewis by opening a cafe in its department store in Cardiff. Benugo has launched the site on the first floor of the store in The Hayes. It offers breakfast, lunch and a range of daily specials, including salads and oven-baked dishes, as well as toasted sandwiches. There is also a wide range of cakes and scones alongside speciality tea and coffee. It is the company’s third site inside a John Lewis store following openings in Oxford Street in London, and Norwich. Benugo is part of WSH, a holding company made up of six trading brands in the food and hospitality sector.

Gloucester building housing Prezzo restaurant on market for almost £1.2m: A building in Gloucester that houses a Prezzo restaurant has been put on the market with a guide price of £1.18m. The property in Southgate Street is being marketed by estate agent Smith Price Retail and Leisure, although the restaurant will continue to operate. Prezzo has a lease until 2024 and is paying rent of £65,000 a year, reports Gloucestershire Live. There is currently planning permission for two separate applications to turn offices on the other two floors of the building into 13 flats and 18 flats respectively. The owner has also investigated the idea of adding another storey, allowing a total number of 24 flats.

Charles Wells’ French sites report 175% sales increase during Euro 2016: Bedford-based brewer and retailer Charles Wells has reported a 175% increase in sales compared with the previous year at its sites in France during Euro 2016. For the four-week period between 10 June and 10 July, the company’s 13 pubs across the country took a total of €1,545,574. A total of 225,595 pints were sold during the tournament, with 136,800 plastic cups used. The Charles Dickens in Bordeaux became an unofficial base for Welsh fans after BBC Wales decided to broadcast from there every time Chris Coleman’s side played nearby. Craig Mayes, director of Charles Wells France, said: “BBC Wales set up their broadcast base at the Charles Dickens during nearby matches, attracting thousands of Welsh fans who brought an infectious party atmosphere with them. As their national side got further into the tournament the Charles Dickens became the place to be, with many fans becoming honorary regulars and getting to know the bar staff by name. We’ve a brilliant team running our Charles Wells France pubs and they met the challenge of serving thousands of thirsty and hungry visiting football fans head on. From making sure we had enough stock to covering extra shifts when needed, the chefs, servers, bar staff and managers all worked brilliantly.” Charles Wells France has 13 pubs across five cities and is currently recruiting for a French-speaking promotion and communications manager to be based in the country. Anyone interested should email

Carling and Sky Sports partner for new football show: Molson Coors’ Carling brand and Sky Sports are launching a football show designed to offer fans an alternative view of the week’s action, while supporting customers to maximise trading during the new Friday night Premier League fixtures. “Carling In Off The Bar” will run alongside Sky’s new Friday Night Football programme, helping to “create a new Friday night occasion for consumers and, in turn, drive added value for customers in both the on and off-trade”. It is Carling’s first major activation following the announcement of its partnership with the Premier League. Broadcast live from Molson Coors-supplied premises across the UK, it offers customers the chance to get their pub or bar in front of millions of viewers. The latest milestone in the long-term partnership between Molson Coors and Sky, the show will be split into three distinct parts. The first two will be available to watch online via Sky’s web, digital and social channels, while the third will be broadcast live on television after Sky’s main Friday Night Football fixtures on Sky Sports 1. Hosted by Soccer AM’s Adam Smith and Laura Woods, the show will provide an entertaining look back on the past week in football and alternative analysis on that evening’s game, alongside football challenges and celebrity guests. The first “Carling In Off The Bar” show will be broadcast live from Dive Bar in Manchester’s Northern Quarter on Friday (19 August), for Manchester United’s first home league fixture of the season against Southampton. The second show will coincide with Chelsea’s showdown with Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Friday, 16 September.

Sukho Group opens Zaap restaurant in Newcastle, third UK site: Sukho Group has opened a Zaap restaurant in Newcastle city centre at the redeveloped Co-op building. Yorkshire-based Sukho operates Zaap venues in Leeds and Nottingham as well as four restaurants under the Sukhothai name – three in the Leeds area and one in Harrogate. Zaap is known for its Thai street food dishes served in venues akin to a bustling Bangkok market scene. Sukho Group director Ban Kaewkraikhot previously said the company has the potential to have ten Zaap restaurants open across the UK by the end of this year, and papers filed at Companies House suggest a restaurant in Liverpool could follow the Newcastle opening. A company spokesman told Chronicle Live: “As well as offering Thai food, which will be cooked and served by Thai people, we are bringing bits of the Bangkok street to Newcastle. We’ve got a bus and tuk tuks people can sit in to have their meals. If people have been to Thailand on a gap year, holiday or honeymoon, we want to bring back some memories – and for anyone who’s never been, we want to give them an education.”

Manchester multi-site operator MAD to begin expansion of Africa-inspired Tusk concept: Multi-site operator Mark Andrew Developments (MAD) is set to start expansion of its Africa-inspired Tusk concept by opening a second site in Greater Manchester, this time in Heaton Moor. The new Tusk cocktail bar and restaurant in Shaw Road joins its sister site in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, as well as MAD’s other venues in the city – late-night bars Walrus, Hula and The Fitzgerald, restaurant Rosylee, and 1950s-themed Infamous Diner. In March, the company bought its eighth site, the Chalk Bar and Grill in Didsbury, where it also operates a second Hula venue. Andrew, who has lived in Stockport suburb Heaton Moor for 23 years, told Manchester Evening News: “To be able to bring our latest food and drink concept here is very exciting for me and for the rest of the team, who have a lot of love for the area. We promise residents a good dose of our MAD flair, with inventive cocktails, quality food and a range of events.” Building work is already under way, with the bar set to open in time for August bank holiday. In June, MAD submitted a licensing application for a basement bar – “Selfless” – in Stevenson Square, Manchester.

Absurd Bird opens second London site: Absurd Bird, the Southern US-inspired chicken restaurant brand from Splendid Restaurants, part of the Splendid Hospitality Group, has opened its second London site. Following the launch of its first site in the capital in Spitalfields in March, the second venue has opened in Peter Street in Soho, opposite Berwick Street market. The 40-cover, two-storey restaurant has an open kitchen as well as an intimate basement bar and serves a range of Southern-inspired chicken dishes, using only ethically sourced, additive and hormone-free chickens from Fosse Meadows Farm. The interior is a retro mix of yellow velvet banquettes, modern blue leather seats, dark-wood panelled walls, zinc-topped tables and empty moonshine bottles for lighting. The menu features Southern classics given an Absurd twist, such as sweet potato bake and jalapeño mac and cheese, while new additions include waffle cones with popcorn chicken and a selection of wraps packed with Southern punch. Drinks feature Absurd Moonshine, Absurd Lager, served direct from the Signature Brewery in Leyton, and a cocktail list by mixologists Soulshakers. Splendid Restaurants’ portfolio also features premium casual Hong Kong cafe-inspired restaurant concept Cha Chaan Teng and Jack & Alice wine bar and pantry, both in Holborn.

Epic Group to open new nightclub concept in place of Aberdeen bar: Aberdeen-based operator Epic Group is to open a new nightclub concept in the city. The company has closed its late-night bar The Priory in Belmont Street and is replacing it with Redemption. The nightclub will have a dedicated Purple Rain bar – a drink The Priory, which opened in the historic St Nicholas Congregational Church in 2000, was well known for. The new venue will open on Friday, 26 August, creating 50 jobs. Grant Wiseman, of the Epic Group, told the Evening Express: “Aberdeen once had a great reputation for clubbing and Redemption will bring it back again. People will be blown away by the venue. The venue will entertain and impress. Belmont Street is the heartland of nightlife in Aberdeen. The Priory was really a late-night bar but this will be a nightclub. We have nightclubs and venues closing across the city so this is much needed.”

Robert De Niro gets go-ahead for boutique hotel in London: Hollywood actor Robert De Niro has been given the go-ahead to open an 83-bedroom boutique hotel in London. The Oscar-winning star has teamed up with BD Hotels and UK property firm Capco for the venture in Covent Garden, which has been granted permission by Westminster Council. He will be joint operator of the Wellington, a “luxury boutique” hotel near the Royal Opera House, with a spa, members’ club and two restaurants, reports the Evening Standard. It will be in six buildings – three of them grade II-listed – in Wellington Street, Tavistock Street, Burleigh Street and Exeter Street. De Niro and BD Hotels – founded by Ira Drukier and Richard Born – run the Greenwich Hotel in Manhattan’s fashionable Tribeca district. It is a huge hit with A-listers such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Katy Perry and Beyoncé. Work on the London hotel will start next year and finish in 2019.

Tasty to open first Wildwood site in Lincolnshire next week: Tasty will launch its first Wildwood venue in Lincolnshire next Friday (26 August). The restaurant and 70-seater cinema will open at the former Mall Shopping Centre in High Street, Lincoln. The prime city centre spot will offer pizza, pasta and grilled burgers and steaks, with a three-course set menu and a cinema ticket costing less than £20. The ground floor of the venue will house a bar and restaurant, with the cinema on the first floor. Tim Bradford, managing director of Banks Long & Co, which oversaw the let to Tasty, said: “We turned down a number of wet-led, late-night bar operations in favour of Wildwood, which offers a top-quality dining experience. This new name for Lincoln signals new jobs and continues the revitalisation process being seen throughout the city centre.” Tasty joint chief executive Samuel Kaye added: “The city has been on our radar for some time. We recognise how Lincoln has improved, with an expanding economy and a surge in tourist and student numbers.” The Lincoln site will be Wildwood’s 34th restaurant in the UK.

Italian restaurant brand Al Forno to continue expansion with third north east site: North east-based Italian restaurant brand Al Forno, which has branches in Middlesbrough and Darlington, is set to open its third site in the region, this time at Ingleby Barwick in North Yorkshire. The 130-cover venue will be part of a new “shopping parade” development in Myton Way and is expected to open before Christmas. Liam Percy, who runs Al Forno with business partner Erdal Kuzgun, told Gazette Live: “This will be our first ‘out of town centre’ restaurant but we think Ingleby lacks a quality food outlet. There are pubs in the area but nothing like this, so we see this as a great opportunity. The building will be more about steel and glass – more modern than our other, more traditional, brick-built restaurants. The menu will be the same as our other restaurants. We will also be offering high teas, alongside the coffees and cocktails we are known for.”

Norfolk-based American restaurant concept Arbuckles set to start expansion with second site, in Ely: Norfolk-based American restaurant concept Arbuckles is set to start expansion by opening a second site, this time in Ely, Cambridgeshire. The company, owned by John and Maxine Murphy, is opening the restaurant at the Ely Cineworld leisure complex being built in Downham Road, reports the Ely News. The restaurant is expected to open in February. A post on its Facebook page said: “The new Arbuckles will be about 175 seats and will look amazing.” Arbuckles opened its first site in 2008 on the A10 at Downham Market.

Punch freezes spirit prices for second year in a row: Punch is freezing the prices on its spirits until June/July 2017 – the second year in a row the company has done so. It comes after Punch’s decision in March to absorb the duty increases on wine and high-strength sparkling cider following the Budget. The hold on prices for another year includes many leading brands, which Punch said allowed publicans to “provide customers with the most popular drinks choices”. Furthermore, the prices of Jagermeister, Jack Daniels, Bacardi Carta Blanca and Smirnoff Red Vodka have now remained the same for three years running. Punch commercial director John Healy said: “We’re always looking for ways to support our publicans and provide them with that little bit extra, which is why we have decided to freeze spirits prices for a second year. This will help our publicans maximise the profit opportunities available to them on these products. We look forward to welcoming our publicans to this year’s road shows, where many of our major spirits suppliers will be in attendance and have some fantastic offers exclusively available to attendees on the day.”

Salmon Bars granted licence for new Durham restaurant: North east operator Salmon Bars has been granted a licence for a new restaurant in Durham. The company is set to open The Kiosk this month at the Freemans Reach development after the application was approved by Durham County Council. The 1,540 square foot venue will have space for 34 covers and will also feature an outdoor terrace. Freemans Reach is a regeneration project in the heart of Durham that has already secured more than 1,000 jobs in the city centre by providing offices for National Savings and Investments and Her Majesty’s Passport Office. The next stage of the project will be the transformation of the Milburngate site into a premium development that will include restaurants and a boutique cinema. Neil Foster, the council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration and culture, told the Northern Echo: “With even more improvements to come on the other side of the river, we’re delighted to welcome Salmon Bars to what we’re sure will be a hugely successful and totally transformed area of the city.” Salmon Bars also runs the City Hotel in Durham and the Castle Eden Inn, near Peterlee.

Vietnamese restaurant concept Pho Bowl opens in Manchester: New Vietnamese restaurant concept Pho Bowl has opened in Manchester, offering traditional south east Asian dishes and street food. The new restaurant in Wilbraham Road, Chorlton, on the site of a former off-licence, offers bowls of pho – healthy, tangy noodle soup – including pho bo tai with thinly sliced raw beef cooked in its own broth, pho tom with tiger prawns, and pho chay with tofu and Chinese mushrooms, the Manchester Evening News reports. Starters and small dishes on the menu range from Vietnamese-style crispy chicken wings to summer rolls with tofu, king prawn or chicken and avocado, alongside bun bo hue with vermicelli rice noodles served with spicy soup garnished with spring onions and coriander.

Administrators appointed at award-winning Hampshire brewery: The administrators of an award-winning family brewery based in Hampshire said they had already received “significant interest” from prospective buyers following their appointment earlier this month. Michael Fortune and Carl Faulds, of business recovery firm Portland Business & Financial Solutions, were appointed joint administrators of The Oakleaf Brewing Company on 2 August. The Gosport-based brewery was founded in March 2000 and produces six regular ales including Hole Hearted, which has won Hampshire Beer of the Year five times. The product line is supplemented by seasonal specials released at various times through the year, reports Insider Media. The business also owns two pubs, The Florist in Portsmouth and The Brewpot in Gosport, which were taken on under the Oakleaf brand to showcase the brewery's ales. Since their appointment, the administrators have continued to trade the brewery with assistance and support from directors and management. A spokesman said: “Steps have been taken to market the brewery for sale nationally as a going concern with the assistance of specialist agents. Significant interest in the brewery has already been received within the first week of the administration and this is expected to develop over the coming days.”

Hakkasan head sommelier wins £5,000 challenge: Olivier Gasselin, senior head sommelier at UK-based restaurant and nightclub operator Hakkasan, has been announced as the winner of this year’s Imbibe £5,000 Sommelier Challenge. The on-trade competition at drinks trade show Imbibe Live featured contestants from restaurants and bars around the world. Gasselin said: “I took part in the Imbibe £5,000 Sommelier Challenge to test myself after a few years spent in the Middle East. It was also a good opportunity to meet people from the trade and compete against some of the best sommeliers in the UK. I really wasn’t expecting to win so I was overwhelmed with such an unexpected success. This victory has brought me a lot of respect within the Hakkasan group and among my peers in the trade. I couldn’t have wished for a better return to the UK!”

Full speaker schedule for Bar and Nightclub Conference revealed: The full speaker schedule for this year’s Bar and Nightclub Conference, organised by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and Propel, has been revealed. It takes place on Tuesday, 11 October at Bafta, Piccadilly, and follows the successful launch of the event last year. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls will provide an update on political and regulatory developments. Phil Tate, chief executive of CGA Strategy, which has retailer specialist CGA Peach as a division, will reveal details of new research of usage, areas of growth, food and drink trends, and evolution within the UK bar and nightclub market. Toby Smith, chief executive of bar, nightclub and restaurant operator Novus Leisure, will talk about how the company is meeting the needs of customers in London’s evolving bar and nightclub scene, including offer evolution and social media developments. Luke Johnson, sector investor and executive chairman of Brighton Pier Company and investor in Grand Union Group, will speak about his career in the late-night sector starting at Oxford University, set out his reasons for investing in the sector, evolving the offer at the company, and his perspective on the future for the bar and nightclub sector. Serial sector entrepreneur Roy Ellis will talk about the launch of the ground-breaking Albert’s Schloss concept in Manchester a year ago, its USPs, versatility, first-year performance and roll-out potential – and set out the scope of the involvement of his Mission Mars business in Manchester’s late-night scene. Jimmy Bernstein will talk about his 14-strong US bar and live music concept Howl at the Moon. Bernstein was the keynote speaker at this year’s Bar and Nightclub Convention in Las Vegas. Howl at the Moon has sites in key US cities, including Chicago, New York and Orlando, Florida – the company has also licensed the concept to Norwegian Cruise Line, which operates it on four ships. John Leslie, chief executive of Intertain, will talk about evolving the Walkabout brand and opening new sites, working with new comedy partner Comedy Loft, the regulatory regime, its new Birmingham concept 6 on Broad Street, and the company’s relationship with backer Better Capital. Leading licensing barrister Philip Kolvin QC will provide a personal perspective on the key legal issues and developments bar and nightclub operators face in the current climate. There will also be a panel hosted by Nicholls with Alan Miller, chairman of the Night Time Industries Association, Mick McDonnell, national co-ordinator of Best Bar None, Paddy Whur, of Woods Whur, Peter Marks, chief executive of Deltic Group, and Richard Stringer, chief executive of Kornicis, about the challenges, opportunities and threats to the bar and nightclub sector. Tickets are priced at £95 for operators who are ALMR members and £145 for non-ALMR members. 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

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