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Morning Briefing Strap Line
Thu 29th Sep 2016 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

German pizza and pasta chain L’Osteria to launch first UK site, in Bristol: German pizza and pasta chain L’Osteria, which operates 65 restaurants in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, has chosen Bristol as the location for its first UK venue. The original L’Osteria opened in Nurnberg in 1999, with openings in other German cities following soon after. Its UK franchise is now set to launch in December, with four units in the Quakers Friars area of Cabot Circus being converted to a restaurant. The 220-cover, 5,400 square foot venue will also feature an outside terrace and private dining room for 23 people. It will employ about 40 staff. The UK franchise will be owned and operated by Pru Naik in a joint venture with Maria-Klara Heinritzi, of L’Osteria Austria, each owning 50%. Naik was previously a McDonald’s franchisee, with 25 restaurants in central and west London under his operation, turning over £55m in 2013. He told Insider Media: “I see a real opportunity for authentic pizza-pasta food outlets in the UK. Italian food, when well-cooked and priced fairly, is universally popular. The 2015 Mintel Pizza & Pasta Restaurants Report predicted 20% growth in this sector by 2020, so it’s a buoyant market.” The startup cost for the Bristol restaurant is estimated at £1.2m, with projected sales of £1.7m in year one and return on investment anticipated within four to five years. A L’Osteria site is due to open in Southampton in March 2017, with plans for 30 restaurants in the UK by 2026 as part of a £32m investment.

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, takes place at Bafta Piccadilly on Monday, 21 November. Places are free for operators and £149 plus VAT for suppliers. Daniel Davies, chief executive of CPL Training, will set out best practice in sector training and his vision of how the future training landscape could look. The conference will be followed in the evening by the National Innovation in Training Awards (NITAs) at Cafe De Paris, which will recognise companies and individuals that undertake the best training in the sector. Tickets for the evening event are £150 plus VAT. To enter the awards, click here. Tickets to either or both events can be booked through Anne Steele on anne.steele@propelinfo.com

STK Group founder Jonathan Segal 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. British-born entrepreneur Jonathan Segal is founder of ONE Group, which operates the STK brand. He will discuss the challenges and opportunities that come with operating an international restaurant brand, with locations from Las Vegas to London, and Chicago to Ibiza, as well as regularly catering for the stars at the Oscars and Super Bowl. 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.

Minister unveils revised drinking law proposals in Northern Ireland: Pubs and nightclubs in Northern Ireland will be able to serve alcohol for an extra hour up to 12 times a year under revised drinking law proposals. Communities minister Paul Givan also relaxed drinking limitations on Easter Thursday in his new legislative bill, but refused to lift restrictions across the Easter weekend period. He said the revision struck a balance between the needs of the hospitality industry and societal concerns about excessive alcohol use. Givan defended his decision not to relax restrictions to the extent requested by many pub and club owners as he outlined details of the bill to the Northern Ireland Assembly. The update to the 1996 legal framework would allow licence holders to extend drinking hours from 1am to 2am on 12 occasions in the year. It would also extend drinking-up time after last orders from 30 minutes to one hour – a move designed to reduce pressure on revellers to quickly finish beverages as their night came to a close. Restrictions on sale of alcohol in licensed premises would be lifted on Easter Thursday, but no similar relaxations on Good Friday, Easter Saturday or Sunday, reports ITV News. Licensed premises would also be able to have young people on site on certain nights – for events such as teenage discos – but only if they applied for court permission and on the basis no alcohol was for sale.

ALMR – agent of change principle is vital for late-night sector: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has said the agent of change principle is vital for the late-night sector as it welcomed the mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s commitment to its introduction in the capital. In a statement on Facebook, the mayor confirmed he would introduce the principle in the next London Plan. It means when a venue is already in place, any new residential buildings nearby would be responsible for paying for their soundproofing. Likewise, if a new venue was introduced into a residential area, then it would be responsible. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The mayor’s commitment to the agent of change principle is a very welcome step towards the protection of nightclubs and venues that are both integral economically and cherished socially. The ALMR has been pushing hard for this and have long argued that nightclubs, bars and other late-night music venues are an essential element of the UK’s wider music scene as well as fantastic drivers of growth in town and city centres. The ALMR will be liaising with the mayor’s office to continue to push for protection for the capital’s late-night venues to allow late-night bars and venues to flourish.”

AB InBev and SABMiller shareholders approve £79bn takeover deal: The £79bn takeover of SABMiller by Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) has been approved by shareholders of the two brewers. SABMiller shareholders at the UK Scheme Court Meeting voted 87% to 13% in favour of the deal, while at the company’s general meeting, 97% agreed to the deal. The company’s two biggest shareholders, tobacco firm Altria and Colombia’s Santo Domingo family, which together own about 40% of SABMiller, had previously backed the deal and did not vote. AB InBev shareholders have also approved the deal, while the company revealed the combined group would retain its existing name following completion of the deal. Chief executive Carlos Brito said: “We are committed to driving long-term growth and creating value for all our stakeholders.” The takeover is expected to be completed on Monday, 10 October.

Savills – upmarket and casual dining operators behind surge of Manchester openings, increased demand pushing up rents: Upmarket and casual dining operators are behind the surge of new restaurants opening in Manchester but the increased demand is pushing up rents, according to agents Savills. Since the end of 2012, 30 new restaurant brands in the two categories have opened in the city, with 14 arriving this year. The number of restaurant units in Manchester now stands at more than 150, with El Gato Negro, Grafene and Busaba among new arrivals in the past 12 months. These new restaurants form part of a wider thriving leisure scene in Manchester, Savills said. Analysis of the city centre revealed there are now more than 540 leisure units, including restaurants, bars, cafes, cinemas and other entertainment venues. Looking beyond restaurants to consider the leisure sector as a whole, 70 new operators have arrived in Manchester since 2012, including 26 that have opened this year. Increased demand for restaurant space has pushed top rents in prime flagship locations to £40 to £50 per square foot (£430 to £538 per square metre) in the third quarter of 2016, compared with £30 to £40 per square foot (£323 to £431 per square metre) five years ago. Savills said Deansgate, the Corn Exchange, Spinningfields, Piccadilly and King Street were among the most attractive locations for major restaurant operators, while independents continued to favour the Northern Quarter. For example, Mexican brand Wahaca recently chose the Corn Exchange for its second site in Manchester, while Grafene headed for King Street and Shoryu will shortly open in Piccadilly Gardens. John Agnew, retail and leisure director at Savills, said: “Manchester continues to be a major dining and leisure destination, and the city’s offer has grown significantly in recent years. Our analysis shows aspirational brands feel at home in Manchester, with many new operators arriving to offer both casual dining and more upmarket experiences. There is truly something to suit every wallet and taste.” Tom Whittington, retail research director at Savills, added: “We noted in 2015 that Manchester’s diners were increasingly looking to try new brands and culinary experiences. The figures this year indicate numerous restaurant operators believe this trend is set to continue. While it is true some operators have found the city challenging, this is largely due to issues with their individual locations or size of units. Overall, Manchester’s dining and leisure scene is thriving.”

Bookatable partners with Flypay to help operators increase table turns and maximise covers through Flyt platform: Restaurant booking service Bookatable has partnered with mobile technology company Flypay and its new Flyt platform, enabling restaurants to get a more accurate read on how quickly diners eat in a venue, so queues can be managed better. The collaboration will unlock new opportunities for Bookatable to anticipate and meet the growing technology demands of today’s restaurant operators. Through its initial integration with Flyt, Bookatable will be able to integrate with existing restaurant EPOS systems to give the restaurant end-to-end insight into each customer’s journey, from making a booking and waiting to be seated, to being served food and paying the bill. The technology will enable front-of-house teams to monitor when tables are about to become available – increasing table turns and maximising covers. Bookatable product director Nick Brown said: “Innovation is key to our business model, and we’re delighted to offer our partner restaurants a significant upgrade to our electronic reservation book products through smart integrations such as Flyt.” Flypay chief executive Tom Weaver added: “Looking to the future, we will work together to introduce integrated booking experiences for Bookatable, collaborating with our leading Flyt partners across payments, offers, loyalty, reviews and beyond.”

Company News:

Joseph Holt reports profit and turnover boost: North west brewer and retailer Joseph Holt has reported a 19% increase in pre-tax profit to £3m in the 2015 calendar year but warned the business “remains under pressure from cost increases and the general unease in the economy”. The company saw operating profit from continuing operations rise 23% to £3m during the same period, according to accounts filed with Companies House. Turnover from continuing operations increased by 14% to £54.3m, while the company’s average headcount was 766 in 2015, down from 772 in the prior year. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors said: “The brewing industry continues to experience tough trading conditions. The company has made significant efforts in developing its managed estate, tenanted opportunities and free-trade business, with operating profits up £0.56m to £2.99m having seen the benefits of the strategic initiatives the company has pursued over the past two years. The business remains under pressure from cost increases and the general unease in the economy and 2016 will prove no less challenging.” Joseph Holt makes a variety of cask and keg beers, as well as lagers and bottled drinks. Its products include Two Hoots golden ale, Joseph Holt IPA, Joseph Holt Smooth, Diamond Extra Cold lager, Humdinger bottled ale, and Manchester Brown Ale bottled beer. It also has more than 120 pubs in its estate.

The Stable opens Exeter site featuring rooftop cider and cocktail bar: Artisan pizza and cider brand The Stable, 76% owned by Fuller’s, has opened its restaurant in Exeter, which features a rooftop cocktail and cider bar. The new venue is the latest addition to the £12m Queen Street dining quarter at the redeveloped Guildhall Shopping Centre, joining Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay, Gourmet Burger Kitchen (its first site in Devon), barbecue restaurant Grillstock, and Faucet Inn’s Scandinavian-inspired restaurant and cafe concept Kupp. Each Stables menu is different and Exeter’s features pizzas such as The Ten Tor Tingler and The Cathedral Clucker, named after local landmarks. Co-founder Nikki Cooper told the Express & Echo: “We are so delighted to finally have found the perfect site for The Stable in Exeter, a city we have been keen to open in since our first restaurant in Bridport seven years ago. The Guildhall is an impressive building and we are really excited to have a rooftop cider and cocktail bar, complete with funky renovated caravans, lounge beds and loads of colourful planting.” Exeter is the company’s 17th site, joining its other venues in Bath, Bristol, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Cheltenham, Cardiff, Falmouth, Fistral, Kew Bridge, Northampton, Whitechapel, Winchester, Weymouth, Plymouth, Southampton and Poole.

Nathan Outlaw opens first overseas venture with restaurant in Dubai: Chef entrepreneur Nathan Outlaw has opened his first overseas venture with a restaurant in Dubai. Outlaw has launched Nathan Outlaw at Al Mahara at the seven-star Burj Al Arab hotel. The restaurant celebrates British cuisine, with each dish created specifically for Burj Al Arab. The menu features lobster risotto, crispy cooked oysters with caviar, raw scallops and citrus cured brill. Desserts include sticky toffee pudding, with a recipe by Outlaw’s 11-year-old daughter, reports Travel Daily Media. The venue’s centrepiece is a floor-to-ceiling aquarium, with more than 30 different species of exotic fish. Outlaw operates four sites in the UK, including his self-titled two-Michelin star restaurant in Port Isaac, Cornwall.

Smoking Goat founder to open Kiln concept in Soho on Saturday: Smoking Goat founder Ben Chapman will open his new restaurant concept, Kiln, in Soho on Saturday (1 October). Chapman describes Kiln as a side-of-the-road restaurant, with a short grill menu and a daily speciality noodle dish. His menu has been inspired by the rural simplicity of the Thai borderlands and dishes will combine British produce with Burmese and Yunanese spices – grilled or cooked using a wood-burning kiln. The restaurant in Brewer Street will feature high stools at a long, stainless-steel counter curving around the room and in front of the open kitchen, which will work with whole animals bred specifically for the restaurant. Chapman said: “Many of Kiln’s recipes have been developed while travelling with the team in the northern Thai regions, particularly villages near the Myanmar border, where the Chinese influence is most prevalent. As with Smoking Goat, our aim with Kiln isn’t to replicate these dishes in London but to base what we do around the most flavourful, well-sourced ingredients we can get here rather than import.”

Manchester-based Seven Brothers Brewery secures site for first bar, plans further expansion: Manchester-based Seven Brothers Brewery, which raised £200,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube earlier this year, is opening its first bar. The company, based at the Enterprise Centre in Daniel Adamson Road, was founded two-and-a-half years ago by brothers Keith, Kit, Guy, Luke, Daniel, Nathan and Greg McAvoy. Now producing seven different varieties of craft beer, the brothers have decided to take the next step in their business plan by opening a bar. It has secured the lease to a two-storey property within the Ice Plant, Blossom Street, in Ancoats. At more than 1,800 square foot, the venue, called the Seven Brothers Craft Beer Bar and Kitchen, will feature a large bar on the ground floor, with a small bar and kitchen on a lower, basement level. The plan is to serve Italian food, with about 80 covers, following a significant refurbishment made possible thanks to funds raised via the crowdfunding project. Greg McAvoy revealed if the new venture is successful, the business hopes to open a second venue in Manchester before looking further afield at locations in the north west and beyond. He said: “We tried going to banks for funding but it was quite difficult, and saw the way other companies had gone the crowdfunding route. We were more than happy to let people who actually drink beer and are interested in the business to buy part of the company. It’s allowed us to fund the new bar, equipment and extra staff, so we’ve not looked back.” Martin Long, from Napthens solicitors, which helped secure the lease, added: “Seven Brothers Brewery has done extremely well in a relatively short space of time, becoming an interesting and viable business, with a solid plan for further growth.”

Italian restaurant chain Uno Momento to open third Teesside venue, at Purple Pig site in Middlesbrough: Italian restaurant chain Uno Momento is set to open its third site in Teesside, this time in Middlesbrough. Work is under way at the site in Linthorpe Road, which formerly housed gourmet burger restaurant The Purple Pig. An opening date has yet to be confirmed, Gazette Live reports. Uno Momento operates restaurants in Darlington and Stokesley in North Yorkshire. Uno Momento offers a wide range of Italian fare, including pizza, pasta, antipasti and seafood. The Purple Pig closed in July. Its other site, in Hull, closed a year ago, with Camerons Brewery acquiring the site and turning it into its ninth Head of Steam pub. A Facebook post announcing the closure of The Purple Pig in Middlesbrough read: “Well that’s all folks, The Purple Pig is officially closed. We gave it our best shot and that’s what counts. I wish all the best to the new business that is going to be opening. I hope your new business enjoys as many great evenings as we did!”

JD Wetherspoon to sell Ipswich pub – in due course: JD Wetherspoon is to sell a pub in Ipswich, The Robert Ransome. The company spent £615,000 redeveloping the two-storey pub during a six-week building project when it took over the former Yates’s Wine Lodge in May 2009. There will be no job losses and the nearby The Cricketers pub, also owned by J D Wetherspoon, will not be affected. JD Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon told a local newspaper: “We can confirm staff at The Robert Ransome in Ipswich have been told Wetherspoon is to put that pub on the market. Wetherspoon will put the pub on the market in due course and the pub will remain open and trading as normal with no effect on the staff whatsoever until – or if – the pub is sold in the future. Wetherspoon looks at its estate of pubs on a regular basis and makes commercial decisions for the benefit of the company and, occasionally, some of its pubs are put up for sale.”

Whitbread gets go-ahead for Premier Inn in Hayes to expand London portfolio: Whitbread has added another 150 bedrooms to its expanding Premier Inn portfolio in London after getting the go-ahead for a hotel in Hayes. The company has been given permission by Hillingdon Borough Council on the Hyde Park Hayes business park. It will invest about £13m in the hotel, which is due to open in summer 2018, creating 50 jobs. Whitbread’s investment in Hayes closely follows similar investment into a new Premier Inn in nearby Uxbridge, where the company opened an 80-bedroom hotel earlier this year as part of the Segro business park at Riverside Way. Owen Ellender, development manager for Premier Inn in London, said: “We’re growing Premier Inn across London by focusing on a great proposition for business and leisure guests alike. At Hayes and in west London, we’re seeing some excellent results where we are bringing our investment into business-growth locations and supporting local economies. We will now build another excellently-connected and great value Premier Inn in a location where we can make a wider and important contribution to jobs and the economy.” The new Hayes site is expected to complement a growing cluster of west London sites connected to Crossrail, central London and the wider Thames Valley, and to Heathrow Airport. Further into London, Premier Inn completed its first deal for a Zone 2 hub by Premier Inn format hotel in Fulham in April. Whitbread has a strong pipeline of Zone 1 hub by Premier Inn hotels in development as well as three open across London – in Covent Garden, Tower Bridge and Brick Lane. Premier Inn is looking to grow to about 20,000 bedrooms in London across its two formats by 2020, while it aims to have 85,000 bedrooms in its estate by that date. 

Damson Restaurant Group closes MediaCity outpost of eponymous fine dining venue: Manchester-based Damson Restaurant Group has closed the MediaCity outpost of its eponymous fine dining venue. The company, owned by Steve Pilling and chef Simon Stanley, launched the first-floor venue in 2013. However, it has struggled with the influx of pop-ups, mid-market chains and more casual dining outlets, with Pilling blaming the “malaise and lack of demand for finer dining or, as we like to call it, ‘affordable luxury’.” Damson’s menu focused on modern British cooking with Mediterranean influences. Management is currently contacting customers with bookings and directing them towards the original Heaton Moor restaurant, which is open for business as usual. Pilling told Manchester Confidential: “We are simply downsizing,” while hinting at future plans for the business, which includes The Red Lion, High Lane and The Dockyard pubs in MediaCity and Spinningfields. Earlier this year, the company revealed plans to open a new bar concept featuring an in-house micro-brewery at the former Gaythorn Gas Works site.

Where The Pancakes Are pop-up opens permanent London Bridge site: Popular pop-up and street food trader Where The Pancakes Are has opened its first permanent restaurant – at Flat Iron Square, London Bridge. The brainchild of Patricia Trijbits, the restaurant offers sweet and savoury pancakes, from breakfast buttermilk stacks to buckwheat blinis, served alongside a selection of craft ciders and prosecco. Along with simple pancake stacks served with chocolate sauce, maple-agave syrup and butter, or lemon and sugar, the menu also includes the “American” (smoked streaky bacon and blueberries), the “Australian” (roast corn, grilled tomatoes, creme fraiche, preserved lemon, avocado and spinach), and the “Hummingbird” (caramelised pineapple, toasted almonds, coconut, lime syrup and mint), Hot Dinners reports. There is also a menu section dedicated to blinis, including buckwheat with salmon and creme fraiche or mackerel and salsa verde toppings.

Chapel Down Group reports sales and Ebitda increase in first half: Chapel Down Group has reported sales up 26% to £4.09m in the six months ended 30 June 2016. Wine sales volumes were up 14% to £2.59m, with beer and cider sales up 55% to £1.51m. Gross profit increased 28% to £1.45m. Ebitda was up to £93,000, compared with £84,000 the year before as the company continued to invest in its brands, infrastructure and supply. Its associate brand Curious Drinks raised £1.74m on crowdfunding platform Seedrs to expand the business and build a brewery. A further 95 acres of vines have been planted – 40 acres on its own new leased sites and 55 acres with contract partners. Chief executive Frazer Thompson said: “We continue to deliver good growth, with sales and gross profits both growing strongly. Consumer interest in English wines and specialist or craft beer shows no sign of abating and Chapel Down has worked hard to be well positioned to benefit. We are planting more vines in the finest sites, improving our production facilities, winemaking equipment and systems and developing our people and brands. The successful fundraising of £1.736m for Curious Drinks will enable us to build an exciting new brewery and develop our business for the long term. We are encouraged by the prospect of another good harvest in 2016 with excellent quality, which will enable us to continue to improve the quality of our wines and help our goal to have supply in place to meet future demand.”

Michelin-starred chef Phil Howard opens Chelsea restaurant Elystan Street: Phil Howard, who left two Michelin-starred The Square in Mayfair in March, has opened his new restaurant in Chelsea. Claiming he has “unfinished business with food”, he has opened Elystan Street, teaming up once more with Rebecca Mascarenhas, with whom he operated Kitchen W8 in Kensington and Sonny’s Kitchen in Barnes. Elystan Street offers modern British cuisine, with “delicious, clean, ingredient-led dishes, full of natural vitality”. He told Hot Dinners the aim of the restaurant would 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. The decor has been created by Clare Nelson Design, the team behind The Ledbury and Chez Bruce.

Hospitality trio launch chicken restaurant and bar concept in Brixton: A trio of hospitality industry insiders have opened a new chicken restaurant and bar concept in Brixton, south London. Pix co-founder Nathan Pattie has teamed up with Rollo Weeks, formerly of Sketch, and Lars Larson, previously of Cuckoo, to launch Fancy Funkin Chicken in Coldharbour Lane, on the site of the former Phoenix cafe. The 50-cover dining room’s interior evokes an “urban, raw and residential warmth”, featuring hand-crafted antiques and neon lighting, quirky furnishings, stencil art and a herb garden suspended overhead. The menu features traditional herbed and spiced, free-range, fried chicken dishes. Wings and boneless bites feature alongside a selection of fried or flame-grilled chicken breast or thigh burgers such as the Totally Tropical Burger, served with charred pineapple and smoked chilli mayo. There is also a selection of craft beer, wine and cocktails available from the bar. Fancy Funkin Chicken will also host an eclectic and upbeat music programme of jazz and funk, with DJs performing from Thursday to Sunday.

Hampshire-based multi-site operator acquires pub restaurant near Gosport: Hampshire-based multi-site operator Ali Ozdemir has added to his portfolio after acquiring The Coach House pub restaurant near Gosport off a guide price of £425,000. Ozdemir, who runs a pub and two fish and chip businesses, has bought the two-storey property, located on the A32, in a deal brokered by agent Christie & Co. The Coach House features an open plan bar for up to 120 covers, commercial kitchen and three-bedroom owners’ accommodation. Ozdemir said: “I am really looking forward to moving my family into the pub and building a successful business, opening up following a refurbishment programme.” Richard Wood, business agent at Christie & Co’s Winchester office, added: “Due to its high-profile roadside location, this property represented a great opportunity for an existing operator to acquire what was once a successful public house. The site attracted interest from developers and operators in the local area, and multiple bids were received before a deal was agreed for an undisclosed sum. We have no doubt Ozdemir, given his experience in the industry, will make the business a tremendous success.”

New nightclub concept to open in Paignton on Friday: A new nightclub concept is to open in Paignton, Devon, on Friday (30 September). TQ4 is being launched in Station Square on the site of the former Crazy Horse Bar. The nightclub’s bosses said they had “brightened up the old dirty building that has become an eyesore in the town centre”. Spokesman Mark Cannon told the Torquay Herald Express: “Called TQ4, it intends to bring in some of the best DJs from around the country.

Nottingham-based micro-brewery lodges plans to open first micro-pub: Nottingham-based micro-brewery Totally Brewed has lodged plans to open its first micro-pub, in Beeston. Owner Robert Witt has applied to Broxtowe Borough Council to convert the former Sweets ‘N’ Treats shop in Chilwell Road into the new venue. If approved, Witt said he would invest about £10,000 to transform the site. He told the Nottingham Post: “We’re just at the application stage at the moment but it is definitely going to be a micro-pub. It is very small – we will only get about 30 people in there. The whole climate of micro-breweries has been getting bigger. They are very popular. A lot of bigger chain pubs are closing down because they are being forced to buy expensive beer. Because we are completely independent we can offer good beer at a good price. We are looking to promote some of our own beers and want to put on good-quality real ale and craft lager.” Totally Brewed was launched in 2014 and is based in Meadow Lane, Nottingham.

Plans lodged for two Gloucestershire brewery and gin distillery businesses to relocate: Plans have been lodged for two Gloucestershire brewery and gin distillery businesses to relocate to new premises. SF Planning has submitted plans on behalf of the site’s owner, Dowdeswell Estates, covering the change of use of a building on the Barlands industrial estate in Cheltenham. The new use is to enable the relocation of Siblings Distillery and Battledown Brewery, which share premises in Keynsham Street in the town. Beers produced by Battledown Brewery, founded in 2005 by Roland and Stephanie Elliott-Berry, include Cheltenham SPA Blonde, Sunbeam and Four Kings. Siblings Distillery was set up in 2014 by the Elliott-Berry’s four children. The site is said to be more appropriate for the two companies’ operations than the existing premises, which are in a predominantly residential area. Part of the property would be used for retail, which the distillery is currently unable to provide, with the potential to run small tours and tasting sessions, reports Insider Media. It would also provide space for future expansion of the businesses. The building currently has consent for warehouse use, while an adjacent unit has previously been granted planning consent for cider production. It is also hoped the move would encourage other food and drink producers to relocate to the site without the need to secure planning consent.

New Korean barbecue restaurant concept Gooi Nara to launch in Reading: New Korean barbecue restaurant concept Gooi Nara is set to launch in Reading. The new venue will open in Whitley Street at a site formerly occupied by Miah’s Saffron restaurant – between Peri Peri Chicken and Just Pizza. Dishes will include soy-glazed steaks and marinated ribs. Gooi Nara is advertising for floor staff and an assistant chef ahead of its opening, Get Reading reports. The actual opening date has yet to be revealed. The advertisement states that staff “must be enthusiastic about Korean culture, sociable and at ease in delivering outstanding customer service”.

Bristol-based Middle Eastern and Caribbean restaurant concept Biblos set to open fourth site in city: Bristol-based Middle Eastern and Caribbean restaurant concept Biblos is set to open its fourth site in the city. The company, owned by William Clarke and Ariel Czackers, has secured a site at the Wapping Wharf development. The 915 square foot restaurant in Gaol Ferry Steps is expected to open in the winter. Biblos will join a host of independent brands, including bakery and coffee house Mokoko, sourdough concept Bertha’s Pizza, and Wild Beer Co. Clarke told the Bristol Post: “Our new eatery will serve fresh homemade wraps for which Biblos is renowned, as well as our new Kitchen Calypso menu, which is exclusive to Wapping Wharf. There will be a bigger emphasis on Caribbean-inspired dishes such as jerk chicken, prawn gumbo, oxtail stew and, my favourite, roasted jerk belly pork. All this will be accompanied by coconut rice ‘n’ peas, slaw and plantain.” Clarke and Czackers launched Biblos in Stokes Croft in 2010. It has since opened sites in St Werburghs and Gloucester Road.

Coventry nightclub closes due to rising costs: Coventry nightclub Carters has closed after rising costs meant the owner struggled to justify keeping it open. Owner Kevin McCloskey said in a Facebook post that keeping the bar and club in the Skydome open wasn’t financially viable at the moment. However, McCloskey added he wouldn’t be leaving the city’s nightlife scene – teasing he would be opening a new venue next week, reports the Coventry Telegraph. Carters hit the headlines last year when it was temporarily stripped of its licence following an incident outside the venue. It subsequently reopened – with McCloskey blasting police over the initial decision to close the club. He said in the Facebook post: “Last Friday I made a conscious business decision to pull out of the Skydome. I would like to thank the whole team from top to bottom who have been involved over the last two-and-a-half years in making Carters special.” 

Birmingham-based independent coffee shop secures second site in city: Birmingham-based independent coffee shop Damascena has secured its second site in the city. The concept, which launched in Moseley two years ago, has agreed a ten-year lease on a unit in Temple Row overlooking St Philip’s Cathedral. The cafe comprises 1,752 square foot of space and a 1,000 square foot basement and is expected to open in January. Ed Purcell, of Cushman & Wakefield, which secured the deal, told Insider Media: “Damascena has established itself as one of Birmingham’s leading independent coffee operators. Its attractive fit-out, selection of period properties, and food and beverage menu, sets it apart from your typical bland coffee chain. This has made it a huge success.” Damascena’s debut site in Alcester Road also has a delicatessen specialising in Middle Eastern food.

Coffee Republic hosts its first national barista contest: Coffee Republic has hosted its first national barista competition, open to staff at its company and franchised stores across the UK. The event, sponsored by coffee machine supplier San Remo, was held at Coffee Republic’s head office in Rochester Row, London, with 16 baristas taking part representing stores from as far away as the Isle of Man. Each competitor had 30 minutes to prepare two espressos, two flat whites and two cappuccinos, with the results assessed by a panel of judges. The winner was Mahfuza, a barista from a Coffee Republic site in Bedford, who received a trophy and a San Remo coffee machine plus a servicing budget for her store. She also won a trip to the San Remo factory in Treviso, Italy. In August, Coffee Republic opened its 34th UK franchise site – in Muswell Hill Broadway, north London.

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 plus VAT for operators who are ALMR members and £145 plus VAT for non-ALMR members. Supplier tickets are £145 plus VAT for ALMR supplier members and £195 plus VAT for suppliers who are not ALMR members. Tickets can be booked by emailing Jo Charity at jo.charity@propelinfo.com

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