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Wed 21st Sep 2016 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Scottish doggy bag scheme expanded after trial finds food waste cut by 40%: The Scottish government’s “Good to Go” initiative is being expanded after the pilot scheme showed offering customers doggy bags cut food waste by 40% per restaurant. Further reductions were achieved by asking diners if they really wanted side dishes and giving them options to change portion sizes. Research by government-funded body Zero Waste also revealed three-quarters of customers would like to be offered a doggy bag. A spokesperson told the Independent: “Research carried out prior to the pilot showed two-fifths of people claim the main reason they hadn’t previously taken food home from a restaurant was they were too embarrassed to ask. Good to Go has helped to positively change consumer behaviour and, just as significantly, that of restaurant owners, managers and staff.” Some restaurants said offering customers a doggy bag improved sales as customers who weren’t sure they could manage bigger portions ordered them anyway and took them home. More than 100 restaurants signed up to the scheme after the successful pilot, while another 100 will now be invited to take part. Restaurants in France are legally obliged to provide doggy bags following a government initiative, launched in 2013, with the aim of halving food waste by 2025. The Good to Go scheme is part of Scottish government plans to cut food waste by one-third by 2025.

Industry News:

British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) launches People and Training Conference, free places for operators: The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) has launched the People and Training Conference, which will showcase outstanding people culture among companies within the sector. The event, organised in association with Propel Info, takes place at Bafta Piccadilly on Monday, 21 November. Places are free for operators and £149 for suppliers. The first speaker will examine “what makes young people get out of bed”. Paul Flatters, co-founder and chief executive of insights firm Trajectory, will present the highlights from a range of Trajectory studies into the behaviour of millennials. This will include hot-off-the-press data from a collaboration with Oxford University on a “time-use” study that discovers where millennials are, what they are doing, who they are with, and how much they are enjoying it by time of day and day of the week. In addition, Flatters will present insights into millennial values, motivations, aspirations, and ambitions at work and leisure. The conference will be followed in the evening by the National Innovation in Training Awarda (NITAs) at Cafe De Paris, which will recognise companies and individuals that are undertaking the best training in the sector. To enter the awards, click here. Tickets to either or both events can be booked through Anne Steele on anne.steele@propelinfo.com

James Spragg to present at Propel Multi Club Conference in November, free places for operators: The last Propel Multi Club Conference of 2016 is now open for bookings. It takes place on Thursday, 3 November at Congress Hall, London. James Spragg, chief operating officer of Casual Dining Group, will give his views on how brands can be revived, majoring on a case study of how Cafe Rouge has been revived thanks to a focus on menu authenticity, investment in facilities and environment, staff training, and head office support. Pub, restaurant and foodservice operators can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele on anne.steele@propelinfo.com or calling her on 01444 817691.

CAMRA names regional winners in National Pub of the Year competition: The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has named the regional winners as part of its nationwide search for the National Pub of the Year. The 16-strong list features a wide range of different types of pubs, from community-owned to pubs that have been in the same family for centuries and micro-pubs. The regional winners have been selected as the best pubs in their areas by CAMRA volunteers as part of the competition, which culminates in the announcement of the National Pub of the Year in early 2017. The 16 pubs are Central Southern: Cross Keys, Thame; East Anglia: Stanford Arms, Lowestoft; East Midlands: Old Oak Inn, Horsley Woodhouse; Greater London: Hope, Carshalton; Greater Manchester: Baum, Rochdale; Kent: Rifle Volunteers, Maidstone; Merseyside and Cheshire: Cricketers, St Helens; North East: Steamboat, South Shields; Scotland and Northern Ireland: Volunteer Arms (Staggs), Musselburgh; South West: Salutation, Ham; Surrey and Sussex: Brooksteed Alehouse, Worthing; Wales: Arvon Ale House, Llandrindod Wells; Wessex: The Bottle Inn, Marshwood, Dorset; West Midlands: Earl Grey, Leek; West Pennines: Swan with Two Necks, Pendleton; and Yorkshire: George and Dragon, Hudswell. Each of the regional finalists will now compete in the next round of the competition, hoping to be named one of the four “super-regional” finalists. All of the regional finalists are featured in the new edition of CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide, which was published last week.

Pret A Manger arrival in Wood Green sparks gentrification debate: Pret A Manger has opened a site in Wood Green, north London, but its arrival has divided shoppers and residents and sparked a debate about gentrification. The company has opened the outlet in High Road, near The Mall shopping centre. But while some residents are delighted with its arrival, others have blasted it as a “loss of culture” and hit out at the price of food. Some suggested it indicated the area could become too expensive for local people. Meg Hanking told the Evening Standard: “Most people who are working there are on minimum wage. This is for the middle classes. I have eaten in Pret before and I quite like their food – and it’s good because it’s going to bring jobs – but it’s going to lead to more loss of culture. It’s just weird because I have gone down the high street almost every week my whole life and you see more coffee shops popping up. It’s quite a big statement. I think it’s massive.” Others on social media agreed it could mean the start of a new gentrified Wood Green.

Sunderland-based Italian restaurant brand Angelo’s scoops triple award success: Sunderland-based Italian restaurant Angelo’s has scooped a triple success at this year’s English Italian Awards. Co-owner Nello Russo won English Italian Chef of the Year for the second year running. Russo, who oversees the kitchens at the company’s two sites in the city, impressed judges, including celebrity chef and restaurateur Aldo Zilli, with a dish of lamb with pistachio and home-made ravioli with aubergine. Meanwhile, the original Angelo’s in Sunniside won Best Restaurant in the North East with more than 50 seats, while its new sister venue, Angelo’s Trattoria in East Rainton, scooped Best Restaurant in the North East with less than 50 seats. Nello and business partner Federico Trulli competed against Italian restaurants from across the country at the awards final held in Manchester. More than 2,000 venues entered the awards, which launched last year in a bid to celebrate the wealth of Italian restaurants in England. Trulli told the Sunderland Echo: “It was a great night for us and for Sunderland. Nello had some great feedback on his dish. The judges said it was outstanding and we’ll be serving it in the other two restaurants now.”

M&B chooses teenager as face of apprenticeship campaign: Mitchells and Butlers has chosen a teenager to be the face of its campaign to offer 1,700 apprenticeship roles this year. Chad Beesley, from Bromsgrove, who is training at one of Mitchells and Butlers’ pubs in the Worcestershire village of Rubery, will star in a mini-series documenting a day in the life of an apprentice. The 19-year-old said: “I’ve split my time between kitchen and front of house to get a full understanding of the business. My future is in my own hands. If I keep striving for the best, next year I could be a team coach, after a few years I could be running a multimillion-pound business – that’s my drive.” Jan Smallbone, director of learning and talent development at Mitchells and Butlers, added: “Starting as an apprentice gives young people a genuine alternative to academic study and a real path to a career. We are dedicated to working with our teams to nurture this raw talent and develop them into future managers across our business.”

Company News:

Intertain prepares for its next phase of growth: Walkabout operator Intertain is restructuring its operations team in order to support its next phase of development, allowing the company to capitalise on a strong period of growth involving acquisitions, refurbishments and brand innovation. The move has seen current Intertain operations managers John Creighton and Chris Lambert promoted to head of operations, and business development and acquisitions manager respectively. As head of operations, John Creighton will be responsible for operational delivery, standards and results in Intertain’s core estate, a role that reflects Creighton’s ‘ability and depth of experience’. Having gained a track record for delivering a number of innovations across the company and recently successfully launching ‘Felson’s Sports Lounge and Stick Hall’ in Bournemouth, Chris Lambert will henceforth be responsible for major investments, acquisitions, innovation and brand evolution in his new role as business development and acquisitions manager. Ben McLaughlin has also been promoted to area manager, reporting to the head of operations, following his success in the role as cluster manager of Intertain’s unbranded venues, where he successfully launched The Comedy Loft in four venues and Chicago Rib Shack in the Camden Lock venue. John Leslie, chief executive of Intertain, said: “The move not only rewards the excellent work by these individuals, which has played a vital part in Intertain’s growth story so far, but also puts the company in a strong strategic position to build on what we have achieved. We have been on a very exciting journey so far, and these promotions mark the start of the next chapter.”

Flat Cap Hotels secures private investment to fund growth: Flat Cap Hotels, which is currently fund-raising on the Seedrs crowdfunding platform, has reported obtaining private investment to support the growth of the company. The family-run hotel group was founded by brothers Oliver & Dominic Heywood in 2015, launching The Vicarage Freehouse & Rooms in Cranage, Cheshire. Earlier this year, the company secured the former Crown Court in nearby Knutsford. The derelict site is undergoing a complete refurbishment, with phase one due to open before Christmas. A spokesman said: “Having seen the potential in the Heywood family and the efforts that brothers Dominic and Oliver have undergone to make The Vicarage such a huge success, the private investor came on board to offer their support. Timing couldn’t be better for the group as they close in on their strategy objectives – to have five properties in operation by 2019, all of unique style, history and character. Founder Oliver Heywood added: “Dominic and I are overwhelmed by the support we’ve received in our first year at The Vicarage, and thrilled by the opportunities this investment opens up to Flat Cap Hotels.” Flat Cap Hotels is in the process of converting The Courthouse into a 150-cover restaurant and bar, as well as a court room with a 550-guest capacity for conferences, weddings, exhibitions and events. Phase two will see the construction of up to 60 bedrooms in 2017. The company is currently raising £250,000 on Seedrs, offering an 8% equity stake in return for the investment. So far, 52 investors have pledged £166,980 with three days remaining.

Spirit executive joins Rank Group as Mecca Bingo managing director: Alan Morgan has left Spirit Pub Company to join The Rank Group as managing director of its Mecca Bingo brand. Morgan, who has served as chief operating officer and chief commercial officer at Spirit since 2013 and was the last remaining senior member following the company’s takeover by Greene King, has taken up his new role with immediate effect. He has also previously worked for Whitbread and David Lloyd Leisure. Meanwhile, Martin Pugh, previously Mecca Bingo managing director, has been moved over to take charge of Grosvenor Casinos. Pugh has been with Rank since January 2015 after working as managing director for retail brands such as fitness chain Virgin Active and Camelot UK Lotteries, as well as chief executive of digital advertising business Adpoints. He replaces Mark Jones, who departed after seven years with the operator last month. Rank chief executive Henry Birch told Gaming Intelligence: “With his extensive experience in multi-site management, I am confident Alan will be a valuable addition to the Rank executive team and will lead the Mecca team to deliver the ambitious plans we have for the business.” Greene King confirmed at the start of 2016 that Morgan would leave the business this year after working on integration of the estate.

Hotel Chocolat set to open cafe in Bury St Edmunds, first Suffolk site: Hotel Chocolat is set to open a cafe in Bury St Edmunds next month as the brand makes its first foray into Suffolk. The company is looking to open the venue at The Arc shopping centre in the complex’s only empty unit and has submitted plans to St Edmundsbury Borough Council. The Arc manager Colin Roberts told the Ipswich Star: “We’re delighted Hotel Chocolat is coming to Bury St Edmunds in the last remaining unit we’ve got at the Arc, between Smiggle and Vodafone. It will bring its fabulous brand of chocolate with a small cafe selling hot chocolate and even more. The quality and brand is superb. It’s the perfect finishing touch for The Arc.” Hotel Chocolat began trading on AIM in May and for the year ending 28 June 2015 reported sales were up 12% to £92.6m.

Chilango to make Scottish debut in Glasgow: Mexican brand Chilango will open its debut Scotland restaurant in Glasgow at the Sauchiehall Building next year. The building, which was formerly known as the Sauchiehall Centre, was acquired by KKR and Quadrant Estates in March 2015 and is the subject of major refurbishment plans. Chilango has taken a 15-year lease on a ground-floor unit at the scheme, which will extend to approximately 1,500 square feet. Redevelopment of the unit featuring custom graffiti murals and neon artwork will start this month and is due for completion by the end of March next year. Chilango head of property Andy Ross told Property Week: “We are very excited to be a part of this new scheme that is sure to bring a new dimension to this part of Sauchiehall Street. We are looking forward to opening in 2017 and this acquisition continues our UK roll-out, with further openings planned this year.” Vanessa Buchan, associate partner at Quadrant Estates, added: “We’re delighted to welcome Chilango to the Sauchiehall Building. It is yet another fantastic brand that complements the existing line-up of leading leisure and retail brands and further reinforces the growing appeal of the location. We will shortly be launching the marketing of our last restaurant, which comprises 4,500 square feet on the first floor of the western corner of the building, which will also be delivered in March 2017.” Paradigm Property Consultants and Montagu Evans advised KKR and Quadrant Estates. Chilango was represented by CML Property.

Shaun Rankin opens Ormer Mayfair as part of hotel’s £15m refurbishment: Michelin-starred chef Shaun Rankin has opened his restaurant at luxury boutique hotel Flemings Mayfair. As with Rankin’s St Helier restaurant Ormer, which earned him his Michelin star, the new restaurant focuses on sustainably-sourced, locally foraged and seasonal produce. The 85-cover Ormer Mayfair is part of a £15m refurbishment of the hotel and offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a range of menu options including set lunches, seasonal à la carte (including a dedicated vegetarian and vegan section), and an eight-course tasting menu. Starters include sweet Jersey lobster ravioli in crab and tomato bisque with shallot salad, while mains include Dover sole with smoked salmon, potato and leek risotto, served with crisp quail’s eggs. Desserts include dark chocolate brownie with sticky popcorn, salted caramel sauce and milk ice cream. Award-winning sommelier Andreas Rosendal has curated the wine list, which includes the world’s last remaining 80 bottles of 2013 Pinot Noir from English estate Gusbourne. Ormer Mayfair also offers two private dining rooms seating 12 and 20. Part of Small Luxury Hotels Of The World, Flemings was originally converted from 13 Georgian townhouses.

Antic to open South Norwood site next week: Antic, the Downing-backed London pub operator led by Antony Thomas, will open a site in South Norwood next week. The company is launching The Shelverdine Goathouse on Thursday, 29 September having acquired the site, which was formerly called The William Stanley, from JD Wetherspoon in March. The venue, named in a nod to South Norwood's history, will be a cafe and bar venue offering hot drinks and food as well as alcohol. Antic chief executive Antony Thomas previously told the Croydon Advertiser: “South Norwood has got a nice defined high street, it’s got good communication links and good housing stock. It was only a matter of time before we decided to be there.” Antic, which operates more than 40 pubs in London, is also due to open the Norbonne and Stable in nearby Norbury in the middle of next year.

Taco Bell opens restaurant in Colchester, fourth with franchisee Dart Taco: Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell has opened a site in Colchester, Essex. The company has opened the 54-cover venue in Head Street on the site of the former Fabric 8 shop, creating 40 jobs. It is Taco Bell’s 11th restaurant in the UK and the fourth with franchisee Dart Taco. General manager for Taco Bell Europe Nick Dawson told the Harwich & Manningtree Standard: “This is the fourth Taco Bell restaurant our franchisee Dart Taco has opened in the UK. We are proud to have such a great local partner who is driven to continue to bring Taco Bell to the people of Essex.” Dart Taco spokesman Andrew Molloy added: “Having opened the first Taco Bell in the UK, we have worked with it for six years and have seen first-hand the passion and excitement from fans build year on year. We have had our eyes on Colchester for quite some time now and it is really exciting to be able to finally give the people what they have been asking for.”

JD Wetherspoon, Pret A Manger, Leon and Zizzi scoop Peta vegan food awards: JD Wetherspoon, Pret A Manger, natural fast food brand Leon, and Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi have won awards for their vegan food from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta). JD Wetherspoon’s sweet potato, chickpea and spinach curry with pilau rice – one of only two vegan-friendly main courses on the pubco’s menu – was crowned the UK’s best vegan curry. Zizzi won the award for best vegan pizza, while Pret A Manger, which is eyeing expansion of its Veggie Pret concept, scooped the title of best vegan sandwich for its Indian-style chana chaat flat bread. Last year, Pret posted double-digit growth in its vegetarian food items. Leon was crowned as maker of the best vegan salad, for its vegan super clean quinoa salad, while Belgian restaurant and boulangerie brand Le Pain Quotidien’s cocoa and pear cake was dubbed best vegan cake. The rise in popularity of avocado and other vegetarian offerings is partly linked to millennials, who are spurning meat and unhealthy foods. Peta UK special projects manager Dawn Carr told City AM: “From the corner shop to luxury restaurants, businesses are jumping to feed the public’s hunger for healthy, plant-based food.”

CPL Online wins award for use of big data in learning technologies: CPL Online, the provider of e-learning courses and online business system solutions for the licensed retail hospitality sector, has won an award for its use of big data in learning technologies. The company was named an honouree at the US-based Computerworld Data+ Editors’ Choice Awards, which recognise the top 20 organisations that have harnessed big data to deliver significant business value. As a joint submission with HPCC Systems, the award recognised within CPL Online’s e-learning courses how big data is utilised to track user trends, flag suspicious activity and identify the best performers. Since going live with the HPCC platform in 2012, big data has transformed CPL Online’s business operations – assisting in the delivery of more than 4.5 million e-learning sessions. David Dasher, managing director of CPL Online, said: “Computerworld is one of the most influential voices in the business technology sector, so it’s a great privilege to be announced as an award honouree. Over the past four years, we have developed a close working relationship with HPCC Systems, which has enabled us to flourish and exceed clients’ expectations. We’re doing things they never thought were possible. As we continue to develop with HPCC, we’re almost reforming ourselves as a data engineering company.”

Ravinder Bhogal opens debut restaurant Jikoni in Marylebone: Food writer and chef Ravinder Bhogal has launched her debut restaurant – Jikoni – in Blandford Street, Marylebone, after partnering with restaurateur Ratnesh Bagdai. Jikoni, meaning “kitchen” in Swahili, features flavours from the UK, East Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. The site comprises 1,733 square feet spread over two floors, with the menu split into snacks, small plates, big plates and desserts. Scotch eggs, a signature at Bhogal’s pop-ups, take pride of place, including quail scotch egg with banana ketchup and pickled cucumber. Small plates include an Indian take on the American “sloppy Joe”, made with Herdwick mutton keema, pickled onions and mint chutney, while big plates feature comfort food such as shepherd’s pie. There is also a daily changing rice plate celebrating curries from around the world. Bhogal said: “I am so excited to welcome guests to Jikoni and what I hope will be an extension of my home and kitchen.”

Five Guys lodges plans to open in Exeter: Better burger brand Five Guys has lodged plans to open a site in Exeter. The company has applied to the city council to open the restaurant in Queen Street on the site of the former Ruby’s Modern Diner. The venue is expected to open from 11am to 11pm daily, reports the Exeter Express & Echo. Five Guys has 46 restaurants in the UK, having opened its first in Covent Garden in 2013. Earlier this week, the company said it expected to expand its international footprint from eight countries to more than 30 during the next five years as results “outpace” its most “optimistic projections”.

Smashburger gets go-ahead for third UK restaurant, in Bath: Better burger brand Smashburger has been given the go-ahead for its third UK site, in Bath. The company has been granted permission by Bath and North East Somerset Council to move into the SouthGate shopping centre and take up space occupied by doughnut company Krispy Kreme and photographic shop Jessops. The existing tenants are due to relocate elsewhere in the complex, reports the Bath Chronicle. Smashburger, which has 335 restaurants in 35 US states and seven countries, was founded by former McDonald’s executive Tom Ryan. It signed a partnership with AL Ventures, part of the MSG Group, last year to launch in the UK. The company plans 35 restaurants in the UK in the next few years, with the first in Milton Keynes having launched in May and its second in Brighton due to open next month. It also has sites lined up in Glasgow, Newcastle and Wednesbury.

Mystery takes hospitality approach to rebrand English language school sites: Restaurant and brand design agency Mystery has applied its approach to hospitality design by transforming branding and interiors for English language school operator Stafford House International (SHI). Following its purchase of international sites, SHI asked Mystery to redefine branding for the business as it transitioned from a UK operation to an international group. Mystery said SHI recognised an opportunity in the market to differentiate itself through a hospitality-led design scheme rather than a corporate educational space. Mystery created a new brand identity, marketing material and messaging, as well as designing interiors for sites in San Francisco, San Diego, Calgary and Toronto. Talking about interior design at the San Francisco site, a Mystery spokesperson said: “The result is a warm, welcoming and fun space that both excites and inspires students to socialise in English and celebrates the possibilities the future holds.”

Pint Shop opens second site, in Oxford: Pint Shop, the award-winning Cambridge beer house, has opened its second site, in Oxford. The concept, co-owned by Rich Holmes and Benny Peverelli, has opened in a building in George Street that dates to the 1930s and was formerly a building society. The decor has been designed with this in mind, anchoring it in the 1930s but with modern touches and lots of wood and tiling throughout. The food at the Oxford site is an extension of the Pint Shop offer – simple, seasonal British dishes with an emphasis on meat and local ingredients. The bar snack offering has been enhanced, with dishes including a slicing pie, trays of roasted vegetables, and hot chipped potatoes with curry sauce poured over them from a flask. Pint Shop has also developed a stout-based beer bread to be sold at the bar. In addition, Pint Shop has brewed a beer – “Hoog and Doog” (High and Dry) – with Netherlands-based De Molen brewery to celebrate the opening. It is a pale ale, “dry hopped” with grapefruit. Holmes told the Oxford Mail: “We’re so excited about opening in Oxford. It’s a beautiful, vibrant city we can’t wait to be part of, and the site we have chosen is perfect.”

New Mexican taqueria concept Corazón to launch in Soho: New Mexican taqueria concept Corazón is set to launch in Soho in November. The new restaurant will open at the former Posini’s site in Poland Street and feature tortillas made in front of customers. The brainchild behind the concept is Laura Sheffield, who hails from Texas but has spent the past ten years working in London restaurants such as Fischer’s and The Riding House Cafe. Chef Paul Daniel’s menu will feature ten signature tacos alongside a variety of daily specials. Fillings will include chorizo verde (house-made green chorizo with confit onions, coriander and salsa verde), and barbacoa (12-hour slow-roasted lamb rib, neck and shoulder with pasilla rub, new potatoes, mint and tomatillo salsa). The menu will also feature ceviche, tostadas and salads, Hot Dinners reports. The drinks list will revolve around margaritas, agave and rum-based cocktails, alongside Mexican and American beers and house-made tepache (lightly alcoholic, fermented pineapple juice) and hibiscus iced tea. Corazón will also offer a dedicated brunch menu, which at the weekends will include a selection of breakfast tacos.

Cabana launches new loyalty scheme: Brazilian barbecue restaurant Cabana has launched a new loyalty scheme. The company has partnered with European loyalty programme provider Coniq on the initiative. The new data-driven loyalty programme delivered by Coniq further rewards Cabana’s most loyal customers, enabling it to incentivise existing customers and recruit new members to the Cabana Club Card. This will enable Cabana to better understand its customers by tracking their journey from online and mobile channels using unique tracking codes. Via a built-in automated communication programme, the Cabana Club loyalty scheme will offer a monthly changing reward reflecting seasonal and cultural events. Cabana head of marketing Lizzy Barber told BDaily: “We have spent a great deal of time assessing a solution that was appealing to our customers and yet easy to understand and use from a customer and staff perspective. At Cabana, we promote an ethos of surprising and delighting our customers and so a loyalty scheme that rewarded regular customers seemed a natural fit. The Cabana Club Card will give us a greater level of insight into our customers, enabling us to make their brand encounter at each touchpoint much more personal so we can continue to meet and exceed their expectations each time they visit.” The roll-out of the Coniq loyalty scheme will be implemented across all of Cabana’s estate this month. Cabana, which was launched in 2011, has ten sites with its 11th due to open in Southampton before the end of the year.

Pub Solutions takes on fifth and sixth Beacon sites taking Enterprise total to 12: Plymouth-based Pub Solutions has taken on its fifth and sixth sites under Enterprise Inn’s Beacon managed tenancy concept, taking its total number of pubs with the company to 12. Pub Solutions directors Richard Ing and Ian Brierley have added The Duke of York in Exeter and The White Heather in Ferndown, near Bournemouth, to their growing portfolio of more than 40 pubs. Five of Pub Solutions’ Beacon sites are on long-term tenancy agreements, with the intention to convert a further three in its portfolio to long-term tenancies in the coming months. Pub Solutions was founded nine years ago by Ing, a former operations director at Ushers of Trowbridge, and Brierley, a business development manager at Ushers and Innspired. Ing said: “We incorporate our well-trained managers into the right premises, working closely with leading pubcos such as Enterprise. We like its Beacon model because it gives us the freedom to run a pub business our way, with the dedicated support of a large company behind us, and we find it fits perfectly with what we specialise in, which is wet-led pubs.”

Vegetable-focused restaurant concept Spinach to launch in London next month: New vegetable-focused restaurant concept Spinach is set to launch in London early next month. The all-day venue in Lordship Lane, East Dulwich, promises an ever-changing seasonal menu, with ingredients sourced as locally as possible and dishes ranging from lunchtime salads to sharing plates in the evening. Meat and seafood will, however, still feature strongly on the menu, with dishes including tempura courgette flowers with goat’s cheese and orange blossom honey; smoked bacon quiche with sautéed leeks, parmesan and thyme; and Cromer crab with peas and coriander. Spinach is the first solo project from Melissa Harwood, reports Hot Dinners, with the venue split into two with a bar at the front and restaurant at the rear.

More than 900 pubs sign up for Punch free pint promotion to support Cask Ale Week: More than 900 Punch pubs will take part in the company’s free pint promotion this year in support of Cask Ale Week. Each pub will give away 70 pints of any cask ale they stock, with the promotion starting on Thursday (22 September) and running until Sunday, 2 October. Consumers can redeem their free pint by registering on Punch’s website – www.freedrinkspubs.co.uk – after which they will receive an email and be able to redeem their free pint using a smartphone or tablet. Punch is also encouraging pubs to support Cask Ale Week by sending more than 1,000 of its venues a point-of-sale (POS) kit containing bunting, posters, a cask ale quiz and a “how to” guide on promoting the event. Punch category manager Stephen Martin said: “This will be our third free pint promotion, following our huge success last year, where more than 12,000 pints were redeemed across 850 pubs that took part. The event, free pint offer and supporting POS should attract customers to participating pubs, where additional events such as ‘Meet the Brewer’ nights, beer festivals and cellar tours are taking place.”

Plans revealed for waterside restaurant terrace as part of Lowery Outlet redevelopment at Salford Quays: Plans have been revealed for a waterside restaurant terrace as part of a £13m redevelopment of the Lowry Outlet at Salford Quays. Owner Peel has launched its new Lifestyle Outlets brand, which reflects a move to offer a greater proportion of food and beverage within outlets as a destination rather than just food-on-the-go for shoppers, and a greater emphasis on entertainment to lure more premium brands to the malls. Peel said it wanted the Lowry Outlet to reflect the “where brilliance happens” slogan of nearby Media City. Reconfiguration of the 300,000 square foot outlet centre has already started, with Marks & Spencer’s relocated 15,000 square foot store opening last month as part of a strategy to vacate retailers from waterfront units facing the quays. These units will make way for half a dozen restaurants in an aim to boost footfall along the ship canal waterfront, while more entrances to the cinema will be created. The group’s outlet centre in Gloucester is two years ahead of Salford and has attracted All Saints, Jaegar and restaurant chain Bill’s. Jason Pullen, managing director of Lifestyle Outlets, told Place North West: “Shopping has become a major leisure activity and people expect more from a centre than just background music – they want an experience. That’s why great brands and entertainment are an integral part of our appeal. Our innovative approach means our retail schemes are twice the size of traditional outlets, with leisure and food and beverage added to the outlet core.”

Caffe Nero set to open third Hull site next month: Caffe Nero is set to open its third site in Hull next month. The company is opening the outlet on the former site of the Hull City FC ticket office outside St Stephen’s shopping centre. The 1,200 square foot, 50-seat cafe is due to open on Monday, 31 October. The area around the new building will be landscaped with granite planters and outdoor seating, along with better lighting. Cycle parking will also be provided. A Caffe Nero spokeswoman told the Hull Daily Mail: “We are delighted to be opening in Hull in the near future.” Caffe Nero’s other sites in Hull are within the House of Fraser department store in Paragon Square and in Savile Street.

Police deny Fabric closure was part of vendetta: Police have denied closing iconic London nightclub Fabric as part of a vendetta to “get the club back” for a previous incident. The Farringdon superclub was permanently shut earlier this month after a review sparked by the drug-related deaths of two teenagers. The club had maintained police carried out a vindictive campaign to see it closed down. Fabric co-founder Cameron Leslie said the club had “put some noses out of joint” when it won a previous decision over licensing restrictions in 2015. But the Metropolitan Police, which argued that keeping Fabric open would cause more drug-related deaths, denied there was any vendetta against the club. Ryan Browne and Jack Crossley, both 18, died after taking drugs at the club on 26 June and 6 August. Commander Nick Davies, of Islington Police, told a BBC Radio 1 documentary: “I have only been working in Islington since May, so for me to say it’s a vendetta, I don’t think so. I had no knowledge of Cameron [the co-founder of Fabric] before this period. But there have been two deaths on my watch, which makes me have to do something.” Last year, a judge ruled in the club’s favour over restrictions related to the use of sniffer dogs and ID scanners. Leslie told the documentary: “If I am honest, I think we came out of that and put some noses out of joint and that is why we are here today. It is my very firm belief it was a feeling that ‘nobody does that to us’ and they got us back.” But Islington Council leader Richard Watts said: “Nobody at Islington Council takes any pleasure about what happened to Fabric. We completely understand Fabric’s cultural importance. The decision our licensing committee took was based on evidence Fabric wasn’t meeting the conditions of its licence.”

Nottingham-based operator to open new bar and restaurant concept in city on Friday: Brown and Brown Industries, the family-run company behind Nottingham restaurants and cafes such as Curious Manor, The Parlour, Cured, and Brown’s Cafe and Bistro, will open a new bar and restaurant concept in the city centre on Friday (23 September). Curious Townhouse, a sister outlet to Curious Manor in Trinity Square, is moving into the former Loom bar and restaurant in High Pavement in the Lace Market area of the city. A statement on the company’s website said: “We are proud to create unique and unusual establishments in the Nottinghamshire area. We also aim to showcase locally sourced fresh products and jolly good food ideas. Our ambition is to be daring and to be that little bit different, occasionally throwing caution to the wind and pushing ourselves to the brink of madness!” The Loom closed in June after its owners ran out of cash. It was opened last October by Vesper TPG, headed by Poseidon Kumar and his father Pradip Kumar. It doubled as an entertainment venue, with live shows on a purpose-built stage so guests could listen to music or watch a show.

Full speaker schedule for Bar and Nightclub Conference: 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 facing bar and nightclub operators 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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com

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