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Fri 21st Jul 2017 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

CAMRA calls for ‘change of approach’ on Pubs Code: Ministers must act to deliver a change of approach from the Pubs Code Adjudicator following 12 months of confusion and delay, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has argued, exactly one year on from the introduction of the Pubs Code. CAMRA said that while the Pubs Code was introduced to end unfair practices in the sector, progress so far had been disappointing – while requests for key information had been rejected by the Pubs Code Adjudicator. CAMRA has published a three-point plan calling on the Pubs Code Adjudicator to provide guidance on unclear aspects of the Pubs Code such as Market Rent Only lease terms, stocking requirements and dilapidations; publish a breakdown of arbitration cases by pub company and issue; and publish general principles being identified in cases that will help with interpretation of the Pubs Code. In addition, CAMRA is calling on pub-owning companies and tenants to abide by the spirit of the code and avoid unnecessary delays in the resolution of disputes. CAMRA said that while it recognised the legislation and procedures put in place were not perfect, it believed the arbitration process could be improved with greater co-operation between all parties. CAMRA national chairman Colin Valentine said: “A healthy pub sector that delivers for consumers is dependent on ensuring pub tenants are able to secure a fair deal from their landlords. Too many great pubs have been lost because of sky-high rents and inflated wholesale beer prices. The government demonstrated its understanding of the problem by bringing in the Pubs Code. Now it must act to ensure its will is carried through before we see another year go by with many more pubs lost to their communities forever. We welcomed the introduction of the Pubs Code and have always wanted to give Paul Newby a chance to succeed in his role as adjudicator. The chaotic circumstances surrounding the introduction of the Pubs Code a year ago meant the code’s introduction was always going to be challenging, but we are disappointed more progress has not been made. The need for an effective Pubs Code has been clearly demonstrated in the first year, with more than 150 tenants bringing forward arbitration cases, but it is evident the arbitration process is taking too long and costing too much. If the office charged with upholding that new law isn’t able to deliver clarity, speed of action and affordable dispute resolution, the Pubs Code is meaningless. It is vital ministers take action now to ensure the Pubs Code Adjudicator provides detailed guidance, acts transparently, and publishes details of the principles being identified in individual cases.” Data obtained by CAMRA via the Freedom of Information Act showed that in the first ten months following the introduction of the Pubs Code, more than 500 enquires were made to the adjudicator, with more than 150 arbitration cases registered. However, CAMRA’s request for other crucial information, such as the number of arbitration cases per pub company and a breakdown of cases by issue, was refused. An appeal against that ruling is being submitted to Newby.

Industry News:

Operators and Investors Dinner open for bookings: Propel’s fourth annual Operators and Investors Dinner is to be held on Monday, 11 September at the Banking Hall in the City of London and is open for bookings. The event is a chance for expanding operators of multi-site foodservice companies to mix with attendees from the banking, private equity and investment community to expand their network of contacts. Tickets are £120 plus VAT and can be booked by emailing anne.steele@propelinfo.com or calling 01444 817691

New Propel and Mark McCulloch masterclass to unlock secrets of social media: The schedule for the first Social Media for Profit masterclass has been revealed. Propel is launching the social media “boot camp” with Mark McCulloch, founder and group chief executive of brand, marketing and digital agency WE ARE Spectacular. Attendees will learn how to go toe-to-toe with their marketing department, team and social media agency, while adding value to their social media strategy. McCulloch will give insights into how delegates can build their sales and brand by using social media. He will also explain the ways in which social media is evolving and provide an in-depth explanation of the latest social media landscape, its various channels, and how to use them to your advantage. McCulloch will also provide sessions on all major social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and reveal how you can target potential customers with the right messages to drive sales. Looking back on his vast experience in the industry, McCulloch will also explain the best methods to use in the event of a social media disaster, from a mere blip to a national crisis. The half-day event takes place on Thursday, 14 September at One Moorgate Place in London. Tickets are £345 plus VAT for operators, £445 plus VAT for suppliers, and £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium subscribers. To book a place, email anne.steele@propelinfo.com or call 01444 817691.

Ei Group research underscores importance of pub in consumers’ lives: Ei Group’s leased and tenanted division Ei Publican Partnerships has reinforced the ongoing importance of pubs to consumers and their value to local communities. The in-depth study has been released ahead of the inaugural National Pub Fortnight, a two-week celebration of the Great British pub from Saturday (22 July) to Sunday, 6 August. The initiative, designed to highlight and encourage consumer interest in British pubs, will see 15,000 free pints given away across the UK. Pubs taking part in National Pub Fortnight will be further supported with point-of sale materials such as banners, window vinyls, entertainment ideas and digital assets. Key findings from Ei Publican Partnerships’ research showed more than half of all pub-goers champion their local pub as the place for food and drink, with one-in-five visiting one to three times a week. The pub’s role as a vital community hub was also highlighted, with 18.2 million rating their local pub as a “great place to socialise and meet people”. In total, 12 million people said their local pub was an important aspect of community life. The study highlighted pubs as the venue of choice to host many memorable life events. Top of the list was birthdays but 10.4 million pub-goers have also started a new relationship in a pub, 4.1 million have broken up with a partner, and 2.6 million have been proposed to. The study also reveals generational differences, with more than one-third (35%) of 16 to 24-year-olds saying they include pubs on their “must-visit” list when on holiday or a short break, compared with one-in-five aged 55 or above. More than one-quarter (28%) knew the name of their landlord/landlady at their local pub, 18% visited their pub to watch sport, almost one-third of pub-goers preferred to stay local when choosing a pub, and one-in-ten would travel up to 20 miles to visit a “celebrated” pub.

Only 54% of UK independent fast food and takeaway outlets have ‘good’ hygiene rating, new research reveals: Only 54% of independent fast food and takeaway outlets in the UK have a “good” hygiene rating, according to a new report. Research by Clouder.co.uk has revealed the hygiene ratings of 742 independent fast food and takeaway outlets within a one-mile radius of 25 town and city centres across the UK. Clouder.co.uk identified pizza, kebab, chicken, Chinese, Indian, and fish and chips as the most popular options for fast food and takeaway. The hygiene rating for each outlet was verified using the Food Standards Agency’s ratings system. The findings revealed eight of the towns and cities reviewed had at least one independent fast food and takeaway outlet with a hygiene rating of zero (where urgent improvement is required) within a one-mile radius of the city centre. Major cities such as Birmingham, Leicester and Manchester had a high proportion of independent outlets with a hygiene rating of one (where major improvement is necessary) within a one-mile radius of their city centre. Leeds, Northampton and Norwich were only marginally better, with most of the outlets achieving a hygiene rating of three (generally satisfactory). Bristol, Lincoln and Plymouth were the locations where outlets truly excelled in high hygiene standards, with the majority attaining the best possible rating of five (very good). Clouder.co.uk chief executive Tomas Zalatoris said: “While the majority of independent fast food and takeaway outlets are excelling at maintaining hygiene at the heart of their business, there are many others that are failing to do so. With consumers trusting these outlets and hoping they will continue to thrive, hygiene should certainly be a high priority. Independent outlets should repay the faith by ensuring all aspects of their establishment are carefully monitored and thoroughly looked after to constantly achieve high standards. Consumers obviously expect the quality of food and condition of the outlets they eat from to be satisfactory at the very least. The fact some outlets are failing to even meet this basic level should push them to work hard to drastically improve their standards.”

Faecal bacteria traces found in drinks at UK McDonald’s, KFC and Burger King sites: Traces of faecal bacteria have been found in drinks at three of the world’s largest fast food companies in the UK. An investigation by BBC consumer show Watchdog found McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC all served ice contaminated by faecal matter in drinks. Investigators visited ten random outlets operated by each of the companies and tested for traces of “faecal coliform”, a bacterium that carries a number of diseases. Coliforms were found in three samples of McDonald’s drinks, six in Burger King’s and in seven taken at KFC sites. Four of the samples taken at Burger King and five at KFC were described as having “significant” levels. A KFC spokesman said: “We are shocked and extremely disappointed by these results. We have strict procedures for the management and handling of ice, including daily and weekly inspections and cleaning of the ice machine and storage holds, as well as the routine testing of ice quality across our business.” Burger King stated: “Cleanliness and hygiene are a top priority for the Burger King brand. The strict procedures we have in place are designed to ensure all guests have a positive experience each time they visit our restaurants.” A McDonald’s spokesman said: “We have robust procedures in place with regard to the production, storage and handling of ice in our UK restaurants. Nothing is more important than the safety of our customers and people, and we will continue to review our procedures and training, working closely with our restaurant teams to ensure those procedures are adhered to at all times.”

Intu to add new dining quarter to Milton Keynes shopping centre after government approves redevelopment plans: Intu is to add a new dining quarter over two levels at its Milton Keynes shopping centre after its redevelopment plans were given the go-ahead by the government. The scheme, which also includes a new five-screen boutique cinema, was called-in in late 2015 but communities secretary Sajid Javid has approved the plans. The redevelopment will add a further 100,000 square feet to the 430,000 square foot shopping centre. Intu’s plans encompass the space in and around Oak Court and Midsummer Boulevard, which will be remodelled. Outside, new landscaped areas and public space will also be added, with The Boulevard used for community events and entertainment. Intu development director Martin Breeden said: “This will allow us to move forward with our plans to provide an outstanding city centre public space for Milton Keynes. The scheme will build on the success of the existing centre, which already attracts 16 million visitors a year. Our plans will make sure it punches its weight in terms of attracting the best brands and maximising its potential for people to spend their free time.” The proposed work at Intu Milton Keynes is part of the company’s £1.5bn development pipeline in the UK over the next ten years.

Company News:

Founder of fast-casual Caribbean restaurant Jerkmaica targets ten-strong estate in next two years: The founder of London-based fast-casual Caribbean restaurant concept Jerkmaica has told Propel he is targeting a ten-strong estate in the capital in the next two years. Gary Bailey, who is opening his third site, in Finsbury Park next month, is now looking to east London as he looks to build his portfolio. Bailey launched Jerkmaica in Crouch End in 2004 as a fine dining restaurant but changed the format at the start of this year following customer feedback. He opened a second site, in Chapel Market, in May with Finsbury Park the next to launch. Bailey, who is a second-generation West Indian, wants to open four restaurants a year, building small clusters of sites, and while the focus will remain on London for now, he would like to eventually expand into the regions. He said: “We’ve focused on doing jerk chicken – and doing it well – with sides such as rice or chips along with nice cocktails. Some people might find it slightly one or two-dimensional but I found trying to do fine dining with Caribbean food and lots of options just didn’t work. So following feedback we decided to change the concept this year to a fast-casual format. Now we’ve got that the way we want it, I’m keen to open more sites, focusing on two or three areas of London. I want to head east next – places such as Dalston and Stoke Newington would certainly work. We don’t need big sites – 1,000 square foot maximum – so that helps. I want to get to ten in the next two years and then go from there. I want to create a market just like fish and chips have where people come and eat jerk chicken more frequently.” The new Finsbury Park site in Stroud Green Road is Bailey’s largest to date, with 50 covers. This consists of 20 seats at the bar, seating around the counter and another 20 at tables. Bailey added: “The idea is to eventually establish a concept that is on people’s doorsteps and a familiar face on the high street.”

Strada operator plans to convert estate to new Coppa Club brand as shareholders’ deficit deepens to £19m: The parent company behind Strada plans to convert the estate to its new Coppa Club brand as shareholders’ deficit deepened to £19m. Accounts for Various Eateries filed at Companies House showed the shareholders’ deficit of the group totalled £19,060,000 (2015: £5,051,000). The company saw pre-tax losses jump to £14,761,000 for the year ending 2 October 2016, compared with £5,463,000 the year before. Turnover fell 15.5% to £33,841,000, compared with £40,039,000 the previous year. Ebitda plummeted 309% to minus £4,801,000, compared with £2,297,000 the year before. Since the year-end, Various Eateries has raised additional finance to support new openings, raising £4.4m by issuing new ordinary and preference shares and increasing debt finance under the existing facility of £4.5m. It had 36 restaurants at the end of the period, compared with 41 the year before. The company stated: “During the period the group has continued to operate Strada restaurants and has launched restaurant brand Coppa Club. Coppa Club restaurants are relaxed all-day dining restaurants with bars, offering an Italian-inspired menu with quality dishes at great value for money. During the period the group opened two new restaurants under the Coppa Club brand, disposed of six Strada restaurants, and converted two Strada restaurants to Coppa Club. The new brand is performing well, and the group has invested in the capability of our teams to ensure we can successfully grow this brand. The group plans to convert some or all of its Strada restaurants to Coppa Club over the coming years. The company plans to expand by organic growth by opening new restaurants. The results this year reflect the investment made in both brands including costs of opening four restaurants and improvement in food quality and service in the Strada brand. With the launch of the Coppa Club brand, the group has a new and vibrant brand to drive growth in existing sites and acquire new locations. Most restaurants are based in London and the south east, which is likely to benefit from increased tourist trade in the coming year, and we are well positioned to take advantage of increased visitor numbers.”

YO! Sushi makes changes to senior team: YO! Sushi has announced new business development director Alison Vickers and property director Kieran Sherlock will leave the company at the end of July. Vickers, who during the past 17 years at YO! has held roles that include head of international, marketing, business development and intellectual property, will continue to support the business as a consultant. Sherlock, who during his 12 years at YO! has helped acquire and develop about 70 new restaurants in both the UK and US, is leaving to pursue other interests in property. Chief executive Robin Rowland said: “Since 2003, YO! has grown into a leading UK casual dining and lifestyle brand. Alison and Kieran have been instrumental in helping to navigate this journey. Their experience and creativity has been indispensable in getting the company to our goal of 100 restaurants by year-end. On a personal note, I’ve loved working with both of them. We’re sad to see them go but both have lots to offer the wider hospitality and business world and are keen to explore new ways to express their phenomenal talents and skills. We wish them well.” Meanwhile, YO! Sushi has opened a restaurant in Worcester at the £20m Cathedral Square redevelopment in High Street. The venue seats almost 100 customers with all plates freshly prepared and served from the brand’s iconic “kaiten” conveyor belt. YO! Sushi, which is backed by Mayfair Private Equity, currently has 76 restaurants in the UK, four in the US and 17 franchised operations in the Middle East and in other international airports around the globe. In the year to 29 November 2015, the company had turnover of £84m with Ebitda of £11m.

Peel Hotels reports fall in turnover and profit: Peel Hotels has reported turnover decreased 1.3% to £16,790,320 (2016: £17,011,472) in the year ended 29 January 2027. Ebitda before exceptional expense decreased 12.5% to £2,250,328 (2016: £2,570,818). Operating Profit before exceptional expense was down 18.7% to £1,268,734 (2016: £1,559,614). Profit before tax was £575,387 (2016: £993,607). Chairman Robert Peel said: “It is very difficult to forecast the current year’s outcome as so much depends on staycation and increased tourist activity stimulated by the weak pound. However, our refinancing with Allied Irish Bank and repayment of the directors’ loan and loan notes will provide significant savings in the costs of finance and the subsequent benefits of improved cash flow and lessening net debt.”

JD Wetherspoon to replace PwC as auditors after nearly 35 years: JD Wetherspoon is set to replace PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) with Grant Thornton as its auditor following a competitive tender process. PwC has been Wetherspoon’s auditor for nearly 35 years having been appointed in 1983. Wetherspoon stated: “Wetherspoon intends to recommend to shareholders, for approval at the 2017 annual general meeting, the appointment of Grant Thornton as its auditor. A competitive tender process, overseen by the company’s audit committee, has been undertaken and has resulted in a recommendation that has been approved by the board. The board looks forward to working with Grant Thornton in the future. PwC, Wetherspoon’s current auditor, will continue in its role and undertake the audit of Wetherspoon for the year ended 30 July 2017, having been reappointed at the 2016 annual general meeting. PwC has been Wetherspoon’s auditor since 1983 and we thank it for its contribution.”

The Alchemist to open MediaCityUK site in September: The Alchemist, which is backed by Palatine Private Equity, will open a site at MediaCityUK in Salford at the beginning of September. The company has invested £1.2m in the waterside venue, which is based between The Lowry Theatre and MediaCityUK. The venue will have 96 covers in a 4,900 square foot space, and will create up to 60 jobs. The restaurant will feature bold and modernist features such as an angular blackened steel-and-bronze bar, and gold-clad roof and walls. The bar will wrap around from the interior to the enclosed outdoor terrace, offering sweeping views of the water and surrounding area. Managing director Simon Potts said: “This will be our 11th Alchemist in the UK and a significant one for the brand. This particular building has a unique and visionary design aesthetic as befitting our location, and the team are really looking forward to welcoming everyone who works and lives in this vibrant waterside community.” The Alchemist’s other sites are in UK city centres including London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Newcastle. Palatine Private Equity supported the buyout of The Alchemist from Living Ventures in 2015.

Hippo inns opens tenth site, in Twickenham: Hippo Inns, the joint venture between Enterprise Inns and Geronimo Inns founder Rupert Clevely, has opened its tenth site, in Twickenham, south west London. The pub has reopened following a £400,000 refurbishment under its original name, The Royal Oak, having formerly been called Stokes & Moncrieff. The 2,927 square foot pub features an open plan bar and dining room with a glass kitchen pass allowing diners to see their food being prepared. There are two rooms upstairs – The Roundhead, with a bar and 40-cover dining space, and 12-cover private dining room The Cavalier, which offers a “press for beer” button. Two 500-litre copper beer tanks stand at the centre of the pub dispensing east London-based brewer Truman’s debut tank beer Raw Lager, alongside regularly rotating craft beer, cask ale, draught lager, cocktails and wine. The menu, developed by Hippo Inns executive chef Stan Perry and The Royal Oak’s new head chef Marty West, features gastro-pub dishes such as ale-battered cod with chips, tartar sauce and peas; and steak with bone marrow, herb crumb and fries. Pizza is also served by the foot on paddles. Furniture includes upcycled benches made from gym equipment, a teak-topped bar, antiques, hand-painted ceramics and second-hand books. Hippo Inns was formed in 2015. Its other sites include The Duke of Sussex in Waterloo and The Black Horse in Kingston.

Cider subscription service hits £100,000 crowdfunding target 24 hours after launch: Cider subscription service Crafty Nectar, which supplies cider from independent producers to bars and restaurants, has hit its £100,000 target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to expand its trade division little more than 24 hours after launch. The company, founded by Ed Calvert, is offering a 14.29% equity stake in return for the investment. So far, 111 investors have pledged £106,080 and the camapign is now “overfunding” with 28 days remaining. The pitch states: “Crafty Nectar Trade offers UK-wide distribution and products will be delivered directly from the cider-makers. We aim to provide the UK’s largest list of craft ciders to our trade customers at a cheaper price than buying from national distributors, with no minimum order. Crafty Nectar’s revenue is generated from the sale of monthly subscriptions, encouraging new customers to sign up with a welcome offer. On renewal, we aim to make roughly 30% margin on each box sold. Crafty Nectar Trade charges a commission on all sales. By delivering straight from producers we don’t need a warehouse and the stock doesn’t go out of date, which allows for a large product inventory. Therefore, we aim to provide cheaper prices than other wholesalers. We forecast £85,777 total revenue for year-ending November 2017, and £376,984 for year-ending November 2018. With investment, we aim to develop our trade portal, increase marketing spend, and hire additional staff to accelerate growth on the trade side. With the growth of craft cider in the UK and throughout the world, we envisage another international distributor seeking to purchase us to leverage our position in the market.”

East London-based cocktail bar operator to open casual dining concept at Hackney Walk: East London-based cocktail bar operator Alistair Maddox is to open a casual dining concept at Hackney Walk. Maddox, who owns Every Cloud in Hackney, is launching Silver Lining at the development in Morning Lane. Silver Lining will have seating options including at the bar, window benches and a communal dining table for group bookings. A seasonal menu of rotating small plates will be complemented by a focused drink offering of classic and natural wines, beers and pre-batched or draft aperitifs by Every Cloud. Evening dining will be the focus but Silver Lining will expand to offer brunch at the weekends and coffee in the mornings. Maddox said: “Having grown up in Hackney, it is amazing to have the opportunity to open a bar and restaurant we are really proud of. We are sure it is going to add positively to the growing food and drink offer at Hackney Walk.” Silver Lining adds to the food and drinks offer at Hackney Walk by joining Magnus Reid’s restaurant Legs and brunch spot Farley Macallan.

Langham Hotel launches London tavern featuring Michel Roux Jnr menu: The Langham Hotel in Regent Street has launched a London tavern next door that features a menu by celebrity chef Michel Roux Jnr. The Wigmore features a daily changing menu focusing on British cuisine, with dishes such as Balvenie whisky-smoked salmon with honey-pickled onions, and paprika-glazed shortrib with bone marrow and thyme crumb. Bar snacks include masala-spiced scotch egg and a stovetop cheese toastie presented with a cast-iron bacon press to ensure cheese remains molten. The former banking hall has been transformed, enhancing original features such as listed panelling. Two separate, bookable semi-private areas have also been incorporated into the space. The drinks menu, created by the team behind The Langham’s Artesian Bar, features the venue’s own beer, Saison, made in partnership with Bermondsey-based craft brewer Brew by Numbers, alongside punch, “hoptails”, and classic cocktails. A spokesman said: “The Wigmore is set to become a new social institution, with a touch of London polish and a place where everyone is welcome.”

Camerons Brewery reveals further details of plans to expand Head of Steam brand to Liverpool: Camerons Brewery has revealed further details of plans to expand its Head of Steam brand into Liverpool. The company submitted an application earlier this year to open its 11th Head of Steam site at a pub currently trading as The Abbey in Hanover Street. Camerons Brewery has now confirmed work will begin in August ahead of a September opening. The Head of Steam will comprise 34 keg lines with a selection of rotating craft beers from UK and world brewers, as well as ten cask ale lines and a selection of premium cocktails, spirits and soft drinks. These will be served from an island bar in the centre of the pub. Food will include a brunch menu as well as a range of British pub classics with a focus on local ingredients. A Head of Steam venue once stood in the former North Western Hotel in Lime Street but the venue is now operated by JD Wetherspoon. Camerons brewery chief executive Chris Soley told Insider Media: “As part of expansion plans to increase our retail pub division, we have been looking at a number of potential opportunities across the UK for our Head of Steam brand. We have specifically been looking at venues in the north west, and Liverpool was a city we were really keen to open a site in. This venue will be a very different proposition to the Head of Steam pub that previously traded in Liverpool and will be modelled on the success we have had at our site in Sheffield.”

Manchester hotel to launch standalone craft beer bar: The Doubletree by Hilton hotel in Manchester has revealed plans for a standalone craft beer bar. Store Street Craft Bar will open on the ground floor of the hotel in September, taking inspiration from its location near Piccadilly Station. The station was originally named Store Street when it opened in 1842, before it became London Road Station and finally Manchester Piccadilly. Store Street Craft Bar will be a standalone drinking den with its own entrance and a separate outdoor seating area. It will focus on craft beer as well as cocktails, with a “warm, welcoming, fuss-free” service style. The hotel is also launching a new restaurant – Store Street Exchange. The menu will revolve around the rotisserie and grill, specialising in locally sourced chicken and steak, as well as simple salads, fresh bread, quick bites and puddings. Accessed via its own entrance, it will feature a variety of seating areas including an outdoor terrace, semi-private dining options and mini-meeting spaces. DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Manchester general manager Robert Ford told the Manchester Evening News: “Our concept is about bringing something special but uncomplicated to the city – fabulous food and a cracking collection of drinks in a relaxed space.”

Chipotle reopens Virginia restaurant at centre of suspected norovirus outbreak: Chipotle has reopened the Virginia restaurant that was the source of a suspected norovirus outbreak. The company said the venue in Sterling had been deep cleaned during the two days it was closed. A number of customers reported symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, severe stomach pain, dehydration, and nausea after eating at the Sterling restaurant on Friday and Saturday. At least two people had to go to hospital as a result. Chipotle, which saw its share price drop 4% following the news of the restaurant closure, said the customers’ symptoms were consistent with norovirus. Chief executive Steve Ells told Business Insider: “It is unfortunate anyone became ill after visiting our restaurant and, when we learned of this issue, we took aggressive action to correct the problem and protect our customers. We quickly and proactively notified local health officials, deployed our safety support teams, and voluntarily closed the restaurant.” Norovirus is different from E. coli, the bacteria that led to a widespread outbreak at Chipotle restaurants in 14 states two years ago. The virus is highly contagious and is the most common cause of food-borne illnesses in the US, with more than 21 million cases annually. Chipotle has dealt with norovirus cases in the past. In December 2015, nearly 120 Boston College students fell sick after a norovirus outbreak at a restaurant close to the campus.

McMullen to convert Baroosh bar in Chelmsford to family-friendly venue: Hertford-based brewer and retailer McMullen has shut its Baroosh bar in Chelmsford and is converting it into a family-friendly venue. The site in Moulsham Street is undergoing a £450,000 refurbishment ahead of reopening as The Bootmaker at the end of August. Baroosh had an over-21s policy but The Bootmaker will welcome children. McMullen joint managing director Heydon Mizon told Essex Live: “After a fantastic 11 years we have closed the doors of Baroosh for the final time. The Bootmaker will no longer be for over-21s only, kids and dogs will be welcome. The food offering will be fresh and updated regularly, with brunch served until the afternoon. The decor will be relaxed and contemporary and bursting with character, fitting any occasion with hand-crafted cocktails being shaken until late using the freshest ingredients. A wide selection of premium wines and freshly ground coffee will be served.”

Manchester multi-site operator MAD gets go-ahead for new bar in Northern Quarter: Manchester-based multi-site operator Mark Andrew Developments (MAD) has been given the go-ahead to transform the basement of an office building in the Northern Quarter into a new bar. The company has had its proposals to convert part of Habib House in Stevenson Square approved by the city council. MAD occupies office space on the ground floor of the same premises, reports Insider Media. A statement prepared by Indigo Planning on behalf of MAD said: “In this location, the number of bars and other evening economy uses contribute positively to the Northern Quarter’s character and its vitality and viability.” Last year, MAD revealed it planned to redevelop the space into a “huge food, drink and events space” called Selfless. MAD’s other Manchester venues include Fitzgerald, Hula, Rosylee and Tusk.

Lucky Voice strikes wrong chord with neighbours over plans for third London site: Karaoke company Lucky Voice has struck the wrong chord with neighbours in its bid to open its third venue in London. The company, which has bars in Soho and Islington, has applied to City of London Corporation for a licence to serve alcohol and provide live music at new premises in Fleet Street until 3am daily. However, neighbours fear this would cause an “enormous amount of disturbance” and diminish the “ceremonial grandeur” of the area, reports the Evening Standard. Responding, Lucky Voice managing director Nick Thistleton said: “Our comprehensive management procedures, dispersal policy and licence conditions will ensure you are not disturbed by our operating hours.” He added that the Soho venue had not had a complaint in 12 years of trade and the company was committed to operating sympathetically with residents. The application is due to be heard on Monday (24 July).

Independent craft brewer Silverstone Real Ale buys first pub: Independent craft brewer Silverstone Real Ale has bought its first pub. The company has acquired the Fox & Hounds in Whittlebury, on the border of Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire, through agent Christie & Co. The recently refurbished pub and restaurant, close to Silverstone Circuit, sold for above the asking price following several offers from a range of buyers during a short marketing period. It features a bar and dining area with a beer garden and large car park. It was sold with accommodation that has the potential to be developed into letting rooms. Christie & Co business agent Josh Sullivan said: “We are excited to see what Silverstone Real Ale can bring to the local community ahead of its plans for expansion.”

Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten to launch Mayfair restaurant next week: Michelin-starred chef, restaurateur and author Jean Georges Vongerichten is returning to London next week to launch his latest restaurant. The new venue will open at The Connaught hotel in Mayfair at the space previously occupied by Espelette. The venue is described as a “relaxed neighbourhood restaurant”, which will open from breakfast to dinner. Vongerichten’s classic dishes will include black truffle and tuna, and wasabi pizza, alongside dishes from his ABC V vegetarian restaurant in New York. The French chef will also pay homage to British food with his own take on fish and chips and beans on toast, while the restaurant will offer a takeaway service – a first in The Connaught’s history. Vongerichten told Hot Dinners: “I hope to create a restaurant that reflects my signature farm-to-table cooking style but with a few surprises. The Connaught was the first London hotel I stayed in and continues to hold a special place in my heart.” Vongerichten operates almost 40 restaurants worldwide, including the three Michelin-starred Jean Georges in New York. He previously ran Vong restaurant at The Connaught’s sister hotel The Berkeley, which closed in 2002.

Historic Taunton cider to be revived under new ownership: A historic Taunton cider is set to be revived under the new ownership of a team of fast-moving consumer goods and retail specialists. The Taunton Cider Company can trace its roots to 1911, when a churchman began making cider from locally grown apples at the Heathfield Rectory. The Reverend Cornish joined forces with the Co-Operative to incorporate The Taunton Cider Company to produce their cider commercially. The company was most recently the manufacturer behind Dry Blackthorn and, at the time of its sale in 1995, was the second-largest cider manufacturer in the UK. Its new owners decided to concentrate on the Dry Blackthorn brand but the Taunton Cider Company brand will now be reignited. Amicus Finance has provided a confidential invoice discounting facility to the company. The Taunton Cider Company business manager Amanda Baker said: “Using confidential invoice discounting is a key component of our financing because it allows us to take orders of increasing size, secure in the knowledge we have the cash to fulfil customer requirements. This is vital for a business in the startup phase like ourselves, especially when serving the needs of large retailers.”

Northumberland hotel launches street food ventures: Northumberland hotel the Angel Inn has launched three ventures after quadrupling the size of its fleet of street food vans. Kevin Laing, managing director of the hotel, whose turnover has almost doubled to £2.5m since he and his team took over in 2011, operates the Angelfish van, which serves the same fish and chips served at the hotel’s Angelfish restaurant. Now it has launched three new ventures – 72 Angels & Burgers, Posh Box (coffee, crepes and cakes), and Moroni Pizza Shack. The vans will operate at corporate events and private functions across the north east. Laing told Insider Media: “The Angel’s reputation for high-quality food is well established and it makes sense to maximise the use of it by widening the range we offer. It makes logistical sense to focus this new venture primarily in the north east as we know the market very well.”

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