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Wed 14th Dec 2016 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Tim Martin – ‘pub industry cost rises will result from UK legislation, not Brexit’: JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has argued that the cost pressures facing the pub industry will come from UK legislation and nothing to do with Brexit. Martin was responding to comments by British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmons, who said the coming year would be dominated by “Brexit and its consequences”. Martin said: “Brigid is rightly admired in the licensed trade for her excellent work but I don’t feel this is an accurate portrayal of the next 12 months, or indeed future years. By far the greatest cost increases for the licensed trade as a whole in the next year will come, rightly or wrongly, from legislation that originates in the UK and is nothing to do with Brexit. The main increase will come from labour as a result of minimum/living wage legislation, with additional large increases in business rates. This issue was illustrated in a presentation by Mitchells & Butlers. M&B pointed out labour costs would increase by about £20m in 2017 as a result of government legislation, and business rates would increase by £18m over the following five years. In contrast, M&B indicated total costs from its ‘supply chain’, including the cost of goods purchased from abroad, would be negligible. This view is in line with Wetherspoon’s experience and, indeed, the experience of most other companies in the licensed trade that have made public disclosure of their costs. The real issue for the pub trade is that pubs pay 20% VAT in respect of food sales, whereas supermarkets pay nothing, and pubs also pay business rates of about 16p or 17p per pint, compared with about 2p for supermarkets. As a result of supermarket labour costs as a percentage of sales being far lower than pubs, combined with much lower business rates, pubs will need to put up their prices in the coming year far more than supermarkets to cover their costs – that is the real challenge for the industry. Unless the pub industry can achieve approximate tax equality with supermarkets, pubs will continue to close. The issues around the excellent EU labour force are a valid anxiety for publicans but it is not being seriously suggested by politicians that EU residents living in the UK should not be allowed to stay and most politicians are sympathetic to immigration where there are labour shortages in the UK. These potential issues will not make a direct impact for over two years from now in any event. It is important to emphasise ‘Brexit’ is not the main issue for the pub trade in the coming 12 months, although it is obviously an important political and economic issue for the future of the country generally.”

Industry News:

Itinerary unveiled for third Craft Beer Retail Study Tour: The itinerary has been unveiled for the third Propel and Thinking Drinkers Craft Beer Retail Study Tour. The event, which this year focuses on east London, takes place on Thursday, 26 January and will visit six of London’s leading craft beer retailers and a cider specialist during the seven-hour tour. It starts at Urban Pubs and Bars’ ping-pong concept Bat and Ball at Westfield Stratford. The tour will then visit Tap East in Stratford, the brewpub operated by Mike Hill and Richard Dinwoodie, the duo previously behind Utobeer. The next stop will be Mason & Company, a specialist craft beer bar and deli at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The tour will then head to brewery and pizza venue Crate Brewery and fresh tank beer venue Howling Hops, both based at Queen’s Yard. It will continue to artisan pizza and cider brand The Stable, which is 76% owned by Fuller’s, in Whitechapel before finishing at Dinerama in Great Eastern Street, the street food craft beer concept run by Henry Dimbleby and Jonathan Downey. The tour will again be led by Thinking Drinkers, award-winning beer writers Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham, who will provide the latest craft beer facts and figures, market segmentation and analysis, and spot up-and-coming trends. The day includes travel between venues by coach. Tickets are £345 plus VAT for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) members and £395 plus VAT for non-ALMR members. Email anne.steele@propelinfo.com to book or for more details.

Host of companies sign up for Advanced Marketing and Insights Masterclass: A host of companies have signed up for the Advanced Marketing and Insights Masterclass. They include Dirty Martini, FrogPubs, Eclectic Bars, Enterprise inns, Star Pubs and Bars, Le Bistrot Pierre, Thai Leisure Group, My Lahore, Living Ventures, Beds and Bars, Black and White Hospitality, City Pub Company, The New World Trading Company, Greene King, Marston’s, Be At One, PizzaExpress, Mitchells & Butlers, Oakman Inns, Young’s, Coaching Inn Group, TRG Concessions, Cambscuisine, Electric Star Pubs, Coal Grill & Bar, Signature Pub Company, Epic Pub Company, Parkdean Resorts, Namco UK and True North Brew Company. The line-up for the Advanced Marketing and Insights Masterclass, in which Propel is partnering with leading sector public relations and marketing expert James Hacon, has been previously revealed. Hacon will share industry-leading marketing campaigns and activity from some of the biggest and best brands across the globe and share tips on how to capture ideas and apply this innovation to a brand. He will also share his strategy and direction for marketing at Thai Leisure Group and will reveal how the company has refined and defined the Chaophraya and Thaikhun brands, developed the proposition, and delivered a research-based, award-winning marketing campaign. Charles Banks, of The Food People, will dive into the hot new concepts, foods and products in the international market to see what eating trends are shaping the industry, how the traditional business model is evolving, and how millennials are changing the models and concepts of the future. There will be a guided group session sharing best practice, seeking advice and sharing stories. Oliver Taylor, senior insight manager at Elliotts, will share the latest insight on how consumers are making decisions on where to go to drink or dine out, what inspires them, how they plan their evening and how they prefer to book. Cote marketing director Andrew Gallagher will reveal what’s at the top of his marketing agenda and what he thinks will have an impact on this during 2017. Helen Baptist, senior vice-president of Fishbowl USA, will show how data can be leveraged to understand and better target customers to drive revenue, and share top tips on data-driven wins. She will also share real-life case studies from leading-edge, fast-growing US concepts, including Blaze Pizza, Average Joe’s and Jamba Juice. There will be also be a panel discussion led by Hacon with Maxwell’s marketing manager Anthony Knight, G1 Group marketing director Lyn MacDonald, and Drake & Morgan marketing and sales director Pooja Sharma Jones about where they see success, their plans for the future, and other topics discussed throughout the day. The event takes place on Thursday, 12 January at One Moorgate Place in London. Tickets are priced at £295 plus VAT for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) members and £345 plus VAT for non-ALMR members and are available by emailing Anne Steele on anne.steele@propelinfo.com

Investment on Crowdcube reaches more than £200m: Investment on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube has now reached more than £200m since its launch in 2011. The milestone was achieved after lingerie and nightwear brand Bluebella raised more than £1m from over 600 investors. The biggest raise on the platform in 2016 so far is Crowdcube’s own £6.7m funding round, ahead of the £4m secured by GoHenry, the company behind a prepaid Visa card for six to 18-year-olds. Crowdcube co-founder Luke Lang told Insider Media: “We predicted last year that investment rounds would get bigger in 2016, with the average amount raised going up. In our experience, this prediction definitely rang true with the largest crowdfunding rounds to date having been completed on Crowdcube this year. As 2016 draws to a close, 116 raises have been done on Crowdcube, raising a total of £69m for ambitious businesses in the past 12 months alone.” Lang added he expected more companies to return to the platform for series B and C rounds during 2017, and more returns for investors. Crowdcube’s £200m milestone comes just days after the Financial Conduct Authority proposed new rules for crowdfunding. Following its review of the loan-based and investment-based crowdfunding market, the regulator suggested a number of measures, including the extension of mortgage-lending standards to loan-based platforms. It has also proposed strengthening rules on wind-down plans and additional requirements or restrictions on cross-platform investment.

ALMR and BBPA launch free event covering key employment issues: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and the British Beer & Pub Association are launching a free event for members to clarify key employment issues. The event will take place on Monday, 2 February at The Forge in Cornhill, London, and is in association with the British Institute of Innkeepers and People 1st, the sector skills organisation for the hospitality industry. Policymakers, industry professionals and training providers will give insights on the Apprenticeship Levy, new apprenticeships, the National Living Wage, and potential migration restrictions resulting from Brexit. For more information and to register, click here

Company News:

Crieff Hydro adds four sites to portfolio: Scottish independent hospitality company Crieff Hydro has added four sites to its portfolio. The company has secured management contracts for the Green Hotel and Windlestrae Hotel in Kinross, the Kings House Hotel in Glencoe, and the lease of the Peel Cafe in Glentress. The Green Hotel and the adjacent Windlestrae Hotel have been owned by the Montgomery family since 1926. The Green Hotel is a former 18th century coaching inn that features 46 rooms, Jock’s Bar, Basil’s restaurant, a variety of meeting rooms and music venue Backstage. The Windlestrae Hotel has a further 47 rooms, Monty's restaurant, Rushes Bar, and a meeting and event space for up to 120 people as well as a spa and leisure centre. Both sites will benefit from a six-figure refurbishment. Crieff Hydro also recently added the Kings House Hotel, originally a 17th century inn, in Glencoe to its now ten-strong group of hotels. The Kings House was acquired by the neighbouring Black Corries Estate two years ago. The Peel Cafe forms part of the Glentress forest and is owned by Forest Enterprise Scotland, an agency of Forestry Commission Scotland. It offers meals and snacks, ice cream, tea, coffee and soft drinks. Crieff Hydro chief executive Stephen Leckie said: “We are excited about these latest additions to our family of hotels. The continued growth of our business strengthens our position as one of Scotland’s foremost hospitality companies. Crieff Hydro is one of Scotland’s oldest trading companies and, through these new additions, we can continue to share five generations of knowledge and experience.”

Soho House knocked back in bid to open three restaurants at Stoke Newington site: Soho House has been knocked back in its bid to open three of its restaurants together in Stoke Newington, north London. The company has been refused permission by Hackney Council to convert three derelict units in Wilmer Place to its Chicken Shop, Pizza East and Dirty Burger brands. Planning officers said the loss of retail space in favour of restaurants would have an “adverse effect on the vitality and viability” of the area and employment opportunities would be lost. They added: “The proposed development, by way of the insensitive appearance of the shopfronts and materiality of the design, would result in harm to the character and appearance of the Stoke Newington Conservation Area and the wider streetscape.” The site has remained empty for more than a year after campaign group Stokey Local won a long-running battle to stop a Sainsbury’s store and 53 luxury flats being built on the land adjoining Abney Park. Agent CBRE was brought in by landlord Reichmann Properties to find a tenant able to pay for the required investment, said to be more than £2m, reports the Hackney Gazette. Soho House sold a 50% stake in Pizza East, Dirty Burger and Chicken Shop to a private investor last year for £13.8m.

Paris-based Maison Kayser to open its first bakery in UK next month – in Baker Street: Paris-based French baker Maison Kayser, which operates more than 100 sites globally, will open its first venue in the UK next month, aptly in London’s Baker Street. Founded by French baker and entrepreneur Eric Kayser, the concept offers sandwiches on artisan bread with fillings such as smoked salmon, speck and Comté cheese, Hot Dinners reports. The boulangerie offers quiche, pastries, and plenty of bread, including the brand’s renowned sourdough, which is made with a natural liquid starter rather than commercial yeast. Maison Kayser in Baker Street will seat 60 people in its cafe and sit-down restaurant and will be open from 7am to 11pm daily, with eat-in and takeaway options.

Subway appoints new director for UK and Ireland: Subway has appointed Peter Dowding as director for UK and Ireland, responsible for driving the franchised brand’s ongoing growth and expansion. Dowding has worked for major international brands including Carlsberg, Britvic Soft Drinks and Coffee Nation (now part of Costa). In his previous role as managing director of frozen yogurt brand Yoomoo, he developed a franchise business across the UAE, Thailand and several European countries. He said: “The brand is one of the largest and best-known franchise brands, with more than 2,300 stores across the UK and Ireland. I see my role as facilitating further sustainable growth, with individual and multi-unit owners, as well as our corporate partners.” Justin Goes, Subway regional director – Europe, added: “Peter brings a wealth of valuable experience across the retail and drinks industries as well as relevant franchising expertise, which will be invaluable as we continue to grow the business.” Subway has more than 44,000 stores in over 110 countries.

Zip wire attraction operator looks to develop ‘adventure hotel’ in Snowdonia as part of investment plans: Zip wire attraction operator Zip World is planning to develop an “adventure hotel” in Snowdonia to build on its accelerated investment in the area. Commercial director Sean Taylor said the business was considering building a hotel with caverns, slides, virtual reality technology and saunas close to its Zip World Forest site near Betwys-y-Coed. He added the hotel would help ease an accommodation shortage that meant some Zip World customers have had to stay as far away as Liverpool. Taylor told Wales Business Insider: “We have 120 acres of the Conwy Valley we could develop, without displacing anyone else’s business.” Zip World plans to invest £6m to develop and upgrade attractions in 2017. These include Zip Coaster, which will run on elevated tracks through trees at Zip World Forest; and a visitor centre and more zip wires at Zip World Velocity, the fastest zip wire in the world, near Bethesda. And for its first South Wales venture, it aims to create “something a bit different” on four zip wires at the Celtic Manor Resort, near Newport. Taylor said: “It could be the first ever paintballing on zip lines.” The company recently recruited David Stacey, former UK operations director of Virgin Active, to be its managing director. Taylor said Zip World would make sales of between £10.5m and £11m in the year to December, and predicted growth of 22% for 2017.

Bosi brothers buy historic Ludlow pub: Double Michelin-starred chef Claude Bosi and his brother Cedric have bought The Church Inn in Ludlow, Shropshire. The brothers have created a new menu and completely refurbished the 14th century pub after forging a partnership with Ludlow Brewery to create a beer cellar. Claude Bosi told the Shropshire Star: “There won’t be any Michelin stars here. We’re a pub that does food, not a restaurant or gastro-pub. We’ve got a good menu, with great soup, scotch eggs, chilli dogs, steak and chips, fish and chips, and faggots with mash. There are pies, loaded potato skins and delicious puddings.” Claude Bosi left Ludlow in 2007 when he relocated his double Michelin-starred Hibiscus restaurant to London. In 2014, the brothers returned to buy The Townhouse hotel, while Cedric and wife Amy also own The Charlton Arms pub. The brothers also bought The Swan Inn in Esher, Surrey, earlier this year, which includes a 55-cover restaurant and six bedrooms, while Claude Bosi at Bibendum will launch at the iconic restaurant in Fulham Road, London, this spring in partnership with Sir Terence Conran. Bosi closed Hibiscus in October.

Scottish brewer Alechemy signs expansion deal: Scottish brewer Alechemy Brewing Co has signed a share deal with investment company Catalyst Drinks to aid expansion plans. The six-figure deal will see Alechemy move to premises in Livingston that are twice the size of its current space in the West Lothian town, allowing the company to can and bottle its own beers on-site, expand production of keg and cask beers, and create jobs. Alechemy was founded by James Davies, a doctor of microbiology, who set up the company five years ago. He has grown the business to an annual turnover of £500,000, with award-winning craft beers such as Bad Day At The Office IPA. Glasgow-based Catalyst Drinks is led by Jim Young, who has been in the drinks industry for more than 30 years as director of Scottish & Newcastle, Belhaven, Tennent’s and Magners. He moved into the craft beer sector in 2010 as co-director of Due North Group. Davies said: “I felt that, although we’d grown our turnover quite quickly, I wanted to get to the next stage. I felt Jim got what we are about and the partnership would help us achieve the growth and presence in the market we both believe Alechemy beers deserve.”

Deltic appoints new head of property: Deltic Group, the UK’s largest operator of premium late-night bars and clubs, has appointed Richard Whitehouse as its new head of property. Whitehouse replaces James Doran, with responsibility of managing the group’s property estate and overseeing new acquisitions while working closely with Deltic’s legal, accounting and operations teams. Whitehouse has more than 25 years’ experience in the property sector, having spent the bulk of his early career at CBRE. He has also held senior roles at Miller Developments and Shepherd Developments. He said: “Deltic has some fantastic properties in its portfolio with great potential and I look forward to working with the team to build on that.” Deltic chief executive Peter Marks added: “The locations of our bars and clubs are paramount to their success so it was important for us to welcome the right person into our team. Richard’s vast experience and expertise in the property sector will be a real asset to us as we continue to develop our portfolio.” 

Five restaurant brands agree deals to open sites in rooftop terrace at new Oxford development: Five restaurant brands have agreed deals to open sites in the rooftop terrace at the new Westgate Oxford development. Cinnamon Kitchen, which is part of Cinnamon Collection and owned by Boparan Restaurants; The Breakfast Club; Living Ventures brand The Alchemist; Pizza Pilgrims; and London-based restaurant company Polpo will join the line-up at The Roof Garden, the scheme’s “kitchen-garden” eating and drinking destination that will accommodate 12 brands in total. They will join already confirmed Japanese restaurant brand Sticks n Sushi; Comptoir Libanais, owned by Levant Restaurants Group; Belgian restaurant and boulangerie brand Le Pain Quotidien; and Shoryu Ramen, which specialises in Kyushu cuisine from the southernmost of Japan’s main islands. Westgate Oxford, which is due to open in October 2017, is being developed by the Westgate Oxford Alliance, a joint venture between Land Securities and The Crown Estate, and will sit alongside a boutique Curzon cinema. The restaurants, which have been secured through agent Davis Coffer Lyons, are all between 3,000 and 5,000 square feet. The 140,000 square foot John Lewis, which will anchor the development, is due to open a rooftop restaurant of its own. The 800,000 square foot complex will house more than 100 retailers and 25 restaurants and cafes. The centre is now 65% let or in solicitors’ hands. Land Securities leasing director Naomi Howard said: “Our rooftop terrace is one of the most special elements to our new scheme, offering customers unseen before views across the dreaming spires and the countryside of Oxford, and we are so excited to have such a fantastic line-up of restaurants sharing our vision.”

Japanese tea bar concept Katsute 100 opens in Islington: Traditional Japanese tea bar concept Katsute 100 has launched in London. The new venue has opened in Camden Passage, Islington, and offers a huge drinks menu, including tea served by the pot and flavoured tea by the cup, plus non-leaf teas and takeaway options. Teas on the menu include sencha, hojicha and sakuracha, which is made with pickled cherry blossom and comes with a side of sakura mochi dessert, Hot Dinners reports. The more adventurous can opt for black bean tea or Japanese vegetable tea, which is made with onion peel, corn, carrot and kabocha (a type of Japanese squash). Light snacks are also on offer, with a range of traditional home-baked cakes and sweets, including matcha cakes. Katsute 100 also sells Japanese spirits to take away, including whiskeys, shochu and sake.

Hart brothers launch Mexican taqueira concept El Pastór in Southwark: Sam and Eddie Hart, who operate Michelin-starred tapas bar Barrafina and Soho restaurant and members’ club Quo Vadis, have launched Mexican taqueira concept El Pastór in Southwark. The new venue is in Stoney Street, just off Borough Market, with the concept named after the “al pastor”, a Mexico City staple with origins in the Arab shawarma. The name roughly translates to “shepherd style”. The El Pastór team has created an in-house pastor marinade, with the entire mezzanine floor dedicated to a tortilla factory, The Handbook reports. The restaurant also offers a large range of Mexican dishes. The Harts operate three Barrafina sites in London, two in Covent Garden and one at the same site as Quo Vadis. Barrafina Soho was awarded a Michelin star in 2014.

Stonegate to open latest Common Rooms pub following £200,000 overhaul of Bath site: Stonegate Pub Company will open the latest site under its Common Room format in Bath on Saturday (17 December). The company is launching The Canon after investing £200,000 in an overhaul of its Molloys site in Barton Street. Originally a church, the transformed site will feature free superfast Wi-Fi, a printing station and charging points for mobile phones and tablets. Pool tables and a selection of retro games will also be available as well as a boosted sports offering. General manager Steve Kenward said: “We’re really excited to open the doors of the new bar and hear what everyone thinks of the new-look site. With a special focus on our food and drink menu, we hope our customers will enjoy everything from the vegetarian options on our Greenhouse section to our eight taps of craft beer and ciders that will be on rotation regularly.” Stonegate has more than 660 pubs split into seven formats – Classic Inns; Common Room; Proper Pubs; Slug and Lettuce; Town, Pub & Kitchen; Venues; and Yates’s.

Paul UK extends The Felix Project partnership to help less fortunate this Christmas: French artisan bakery and patisserie Paul has expanded its partnership with The Felix Project to help people less fortunate this Christmas. Paul UK will donate 50p for each loaf of bread sold (400g or larger) until 15 January to the charity. The Felix Project distributes London’s surplus fresh food that would otherwise go to waste to the homeless, those living in poverty and families struggling to get by. Paul UK currently donates unsold products to the charity on a daily basis and has expanded the partnership by inviting customers to support its Sharing Our Daily Bread initiative. Paul UK chief executive Jean-Michel Orieux said: “Our ongoing partnership with The Felix Project ensures fresh food left at the end of each day is put to good use by feeding those who will enjoy it and really need it. With this new initiative, we will also donate 50p from every 400g or larger loaf of bread purchased in our shops and online until 15 January in the hope of helping even more people benefit from being warm and fed this winter.”

Sheffield nightclub bought out of liquidation in bid to revive ‘bassline’: Sheffield nightclub Niche, which spawned dance music sub-genre “bassline”, will relaunch next month after a local businessman bought another club out of liquidation. The Arch 9 nightclub in Wicker Arch closed after less than a year despite undergoing an extensive refurbishment. Steve Baxendale, who ran the original Niche in Sidney Street, will now revive his club after buying the business from liquidators Wilson Field. Niche was forced to close by police in 2005 but the new venue will have a stringent door policy targeting older club-goers, especially fans of bassline, which originated at the club in about 2002. Baxendale told the Yorkshire Post: “We are aiming this squarely at the music and the hardcore followers of bassline – our door policy is strictly for older Niche aficionados. We are not going down the route of discounted shots and cheap drinks. It is for people who miss the essence of the original club – and they won’t be disappointed.” Wilson Field associate director Andy Wood added: “The sale of Arch 9 will see a part of Sheffield’s music heritage revived. We were called in as liquidators for the venue after it failed to become established on the nightclub circuit. Running a nightclub is difficult without an established brand and the return of Niche will be of interest to the large client base for this type of offering.”

Tasty set to open first Wildwood site in Cheshire: Tasty will continue expansion of its Wildwood brand later this month by opening its first site in Cheshire. The restaurant will launch in Barons Quay shopping centre in Northwich on Tuesday, 20 December. Wildwood chief executive Jonny Plant told the Northwich Guardian: “We know there is nothing like our restaurants available in Northwich at the moment and we look forward to showing Barons Quay customers some homely hospitality.” Stephen Cliff, of Barons Quay owner Vision Developments, added: “We are delighted Wildwood has selected Barons Quay to open its latest restaurant. Barons Quay is going from strength to strength and is going to make a huge difference for people living in Northwich and further afield, creating lots more jobs in the process.” Wildwood operates 51 sites across the UK with further openings due in York and Edinburgh, which will be the first site for the brand in Scotland. Last month, Tasty raised £9m to fund Wildwood expansion after making a conditional placing of 6,210,000 new ordinary shares at a price of 145 pence per share.

Sussex-based Half Man! Half Burger! begins expansion with second site: Sussex-based burger restaurant concept Half Man! Half Burger! has started expansion by opening a second site, this time in Eastbourne. Founders Rory Myers and Matt Woodhouse operated the concept as a pop-up in Brighton and at festivals before opening a permanent site in St Leonards last year. The new restaurant in Grove Road offers burgers made from 100% grass-fed Sussex beef, as well as vegan and vegetarian options and a Half Kid! Half Burger! children’s menu. Drinks include cocktails and craft beer, while the wine list features one red, one white and one prosecco. The company’s website states: “Our beef cuts are freshly ground every day and hand-pattied on site for maximum taste. We griddle in hot butter, not oil, so the juices flow. Our smoky bacon relish, bourbon whiskey BBQ sauce and chipotle mayo are all hand-made on site. We have sought perfection with our fries after feeling let down by many gourmet burger outlets on our tasting travels. Hand-cut Maris Piper potatoes (never frozen) are twice-fried with skins on and then lightly dusted with rosemary salt.”

New barbecue concept TJ’s Meatshed opens in Corby: New barbecue concept TJ’s Meatshed has launched in Corby, Northamptonshire. The concept is described as a “meat-lovers’ paradise”, with platters of smoked and barbecue dishes alongside 16 craft beers and ciders. The town centre restaurant features table service and a digital ordering and payment system. There is also an unlimited soft drinks fountain, super-fast Wi-Fi and recycled and upcycled furniture. A TJ’s Meatshed spokesman told the Northants Telegraph: “We only use locally sourced produce from local butchers so we can ensure we know where the meat is coming from and it is sustainably sourced. The ethos of the ‘Shed’ is to re-use and upcycle whenever possible by using reclaimed products but, to ensure comfort where and when required, we use new furnishings and coverings such as the three large comfy booths for groups of eight to ten diners.”

New gelato cafe concept opens in Tunbridge Wells: A new gelato cafe concept has opened in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Ian Parker has launched Swirls in Camden Road. The cafe spans three floors with room for more than 50 covers. The downstairs area will used for children’s themed parties and other functions. It offers a range of different flavours of gelato, waffles, thick milkshakes, pastries and crepes. Parker told Kent Live: “The market we are targeting is people who just want to come out and have a great dessert.”

Mas Q Menos opens fourth London site, further expansion planned in 2017: Spanish jamón and tapas bar Mas Q Menos has opened its fourth London site – with further expansion planned in both London and Paris in 2017. The company has opened the 1,600 square foot site in Holborn Viaduct following a deal secured through agent Restaurant Property. The 50-cover restaurant has a rent of £80,000 per annum and a lease on assignment that runs until 2024. Mas Q Menos, which translates as “more for less”, currently has sites in Soho, Farringdon and Fenchurch. Igor Matrosov, of Mas Q Menos, said: “In addition to the Holborn Viaduct site, we are planning a number of new openings in London very soon – and in the first quarter of 2017 we will open two Mas Q Menos restaurants in Paris. As a brand, we don’t like to stand still and are keen to constantly evolve and improve our offering for customers. We believe Spanish food and drink resonates well with the public.” There are more than 30 Mas Q Menos jamón and tapas bars in Spain. It serves a range of food and tapas, including platters of cold cut Iberian jamón, salads and artisan bread, accompanied by Spanish wine, cocktails, draught beer, juices, smoothies and coffee.

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