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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 15th Sep 2017 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Sector sales growth slows in August with like-for-likes up only 0.2%, London sees 1.6% decline: Britain’s managed pubs and restaurants saw sales growth slow in August with collective like-for-likes up only 0.2% compared with last year, the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker has revealed. The flat trading highlighted by the tracker is down on the 0.6% increase in like-for-like sales recorded in both June and July. “The wet weather can take some of the blame with restaurant chains, which tend to do better when it’s raining, seeing a collective 1.1% increase for the month against a 0.3% decline among pub and bar groups,” said Peter Martin, vice-president of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the tracker in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM. Regionally, London had a particularly poor month with like-for-likes across the capital down 1.6%, while the rest of the country saw a 0.8% increase on August 2016. Martin added: “What will worry operators is this performance is lagging inflation, now edging up towards 3%, by some distance. The underlying like-for-like trend for the 12 months up to the end of August is better, up 1.3% on the previous 12-month period, but that too is behind the inflationary curve. The sector has had to absorb significant cost pressures already this year, particularly around property costs and food inflation – and most operators have passed at least some of that on to consumers through price rises. While those menu increases don’t appear to have hit sales, neither have they provided any noticeable revenue boost. The one positive point is consumers are still going out to eat and drink and, although sales are sluggish and hard-fought for, at least they are not suffering the way other parts of the economy are such as car sales.” Total sales growth in August among the 37 companies in the tracker cohort was 3.5%, reflecting the continuing if more subdued effect of new openings over the year, but down on the 3.7% seen in July. Coffer Corporate Leisure managing director Mark Sheehan said: “These numbers reflect the tough summer many pubs and restaurant businesses have suffered. There is no hiding. These like-for-like figures are well below inflation. For restaurants in particular, they reflect the new openings over an extended period that have taken some trade from established operators. Pubs suffered from poorer weather in August compared with last year.” Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, added: “Promotional activity has increased significantly in 2017 and yet sales continue to stagnate, putting further pressure on margins. Despite this the appetite of new entrants joining the market remains markedly resilient, with London set for a record 44 restaurant launches this month as reported by Hot Dinners. As consumer spending tightens and cost pressures increase, competition from new independents will simply add to the challenges existing operators face.”

Industry News:

Propel Multi Club Conference open for bookings, Lucky Voice founder to present, two free places for operators: The final Propel Multi Club Conference of 2017 is open for bookings. The full-day event takes place on Wednesday, 1 November at the Millennium Gloucester hotel in London. Nick Thistleton, founder and executive chairman of karaoke bar business Lucky Voice, will talk about the brand, its development, his learnings about leadership and people development, and his subsequent transition into executive coaching. Multi-site operators of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele on

Entries for industry-wide training awards to close next week: The deadline for entries to the National Innovation in Training Awards (NITAs), held by the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) in partnership with Propel and CPL Training Group, will close on Friday, 22 September. The ceremony for the premier awards night for training achievements in the pub and restaurant sector will take place on Tuesday, 21 November at Café de Paris in central London. The NITAs recognise those companies and individuals that really care about their employees, helping them to achieve improvements in training and standards. The categories are best training programme (leased and tenanted companies under 200 outlets), best training programme (leased and tenanted companies more than 200 outlets), best managed training programme (companies under 50 outlets), best managed training programme (companies more than 50 outlets), trainer of the year, best apprenticeship training programme, and best casual dining training programme. To enter, candidates should visit and select NITAs, register their details, and pick their category or categories. Candidates can enter more than one category. Each category will have a judging panel consisting of industry experts to decide who has shown the best knowledge, understanding and enthusiasm for their respective category. Finalists will be announced before the end of September and will need to be available on Thursday, 19 October to attend the NITAs finals judging day. In addition, The Franca Knowles Lifetime Achievement will be chosen by a panel led by Keith Knowles, chief executive and founder of Beds and Bars. This award will identify and recognise an individual who leads by example and demonstrates training and people are at the core of what they do. This is an industry recognition award rather than a category open for entries and is in memory of the late Franca Knowles, Keith Knowles’ wife, who herself was a multiple winner of NITAs awards and was passionate about people and training.

UK cider sales top £1bn for first time in three years but sector needs to ‘expand season’: The warm weather at the beginning of the summer helped propel annual cider sales above the £1bn mark for the first time since 2014, according to Nielsen, which analysed EPOS data in 20,000 UK stores. Cider sales rose 5.5% year-on-year during the 12 months ending 15 July 2017, with sales between the middle of May and middle of July alone increasing 16%. May was the second-warmest since records began in 1910 and June the best for years. However, Nielsen analyst Helen Stares said the key to long-term and sustainable growth in the cider sector was to “make itself more attractive to people outside the barbecue season”. Cider brands that experienced particularly strong growth included Thatchers (44%), Kopparberg (21%) and Rekorderlig (17%). Strongbow remained the largest brand in the sector with 28% market share. Beer sales also benefited from the warm weather, with British households spending 9% more on beer between mid-May and mid-July than the same period last year – helping the category grow 5% annually to £3.9bn. Beer brands with particularly strong growth included Corona and Coors Light (25%), Budweiser (18%) and Peroni (15%). Stella Artois remained the biggest in the sector, with 12.5% market share. Stares said: “This is extremely welcome news for cider manufacturers after what has been a sustained period of struggle. However, it also highlights how highly dependent the cider industry is on good weather – essentially it’s been brought back into growth off the back of some near record-breaking temperatures. Cider is arguably the alcoholic drink that most relies on good weather in terms of consumer behaviour. Its key to long-term and sustainable growth is making itself more attractive to people outside the barbecue season, as indicated by our preliminary data showing sales dropped off notably once the weather worsened from late July. Beer’s improved performance is particularly impressive considering the comparison against a summer that included football’s second-largest international tournament, the European Championships.”

NPD Group – coffee shop market closer to saturation point than analysts suggest: The coffee market is closer to saturation point than analysts suggest, insights firm NPD Group has argued. Researchers at investment bank Citigroup have predicted only “four to five years of structural growth remains in the UK coffee market”. However, NPD Group foodservice director UK Cyril Lavenant said he believes the market is even closer to maximum capacity. He said: “Whether it will be in two, three, four or five years, we agree the market will be saturated. There won’t be much more space for shop expansion. Already there’s huge competition in the coffee market. It’s not only the big coffee shops, it’s everyone from fast food to bakeries – everyone is offering coffee. You need to be different. You need to stand out from the crowd, make consumers feel like yours is the place to go, as frequently as possible.” However, Allegra founder Jeffrey Young said that, overall, there would be many more coffee shops in about five years. He added: “There is one fundamental driver – urban densities. This is happening all over the world. People are moving back to cities. Cities are becoming more vertical. Every office block of a certain size can support a coffee shop.” Allegra has previously forecast there will be 32,000 coffee shops in the UK by 2025, outnumbering pubs by 2030.

Plans approved for £20m Birmingham leisure quarter featuring restaurants: Plans for a new £20m leisure complex in Birmingham have been given the go-ahead. Developer St Modwen has been granted permission by the city council for the scheme in the Longbridge area. The leisure development will span 0.66 hectares and form part of the £1bn regeneration of central Longbridge, which will feature six restaurants as well as a nine-screen Light cinema. St Modwen told The Business Desk it intends to create a “leisure quarter” to help sustain the town centre concept. This is the third phase of the major regeneration of 468 acres of land following the collapse of MG Rover in 2005. Previous phases have included a Whitbread-owned Premier Inn, a Sainsbury’s store, a technology park, and the largest Marks & Spencer store in the Midlands.

Company News:

Liberation Group spends £4.3m to acquire four pubs for Butcombe estate: Channel Islands brewer and retailer Liberation Group has acquired four pubs in the West Country for its Butcombe brand. The new acquisitions – The Quarryman’s Arms in Box; The Royal Oak in Prestbury, near Cheltenham; The Horse and Groom in Malmesbury; and The Tavern in Melksham – take the Butcombe estate to 34 pubs. A total of £4.3m was paid for the four pubs, with a combined Ebitda multiple of 6.9 times. The Liberation Group has acquired ten pubs for its Butcombe estate so far in 2017 – a 42% increase in the size of the portfolio in nine months – as the company looks to become the leading brewery and pub estate in the south west. Liberation Group said the new acquisitions meant the Butcombe estate would take on a greater role within its entire 106-strong portfolio of pubs and inns. The Royal Oak is a 16th century free house in the village of Prestbury. The pub, which features in the Michelin Guide and National Geographic’s Top Ten English Pubs, offers log fires, a snug bar and dining room. The Quarryman’s Arms is a 300-year-old former miner’s pub in the village of Box on the outskirts of Bath. The pub offers a beer garden with views over the valley towards Colerne. Inside, the pub features mining memorabilia dating to when Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s navvies were building the Great Western Railway. On the edge of the Cotswolds, The Horse and Groom is a 16th century inn known for its food, real ale and accommodation. It features a restaurant, pub garden and five bedrooms. The Tavern is close to the centre of Melksham in Wiltshire and is known for its cider, live music and barbecue food. Liberation Group chief executive Mark Crowther said: “These quality freehold pubs will fit perfectly into our growing estate. The West Country is the heartland for Butcombe (and) we’re continuing to expand our presence. We’re thrilled to welcome the teams at the Quarryman’s Arms, the Tavern, the Royal Oak, and the Horse and Groom to the Butcombe family. These four fantastic additions bring us another step closer to achieving the wider Liberation Group’s long-term goal of doubling the size of its estate to 200 pubs across southern England and the Channel Islands.” 

Joe & The Juice expands London presence as it signs for Fulham Road site: Denmark-based smoothie and juice chain Joe & The Juice has signed for a site in Fulham Road, west London. The company has agreed a deal with landlord Sloane Stanley Estate and is due to open the venue in December. Joe & The Juice will take a 2,130 square foot unit with space for 50 covers. Founded in Copenhagen in 2002, Joe & The Juice has more than 200 sites across Europe and the US, including 24 in and around London. Joe & The Juice offers freshly prepared juices, shakes, coffee and sandwiches. Kasper Garnell, head of branding and communication and partner at Joe & The Juice, said: “Following the success of our store in the Kings Road, we wanted to expand within this vibrant and exceptionally popular part of London.” Sloane Stanley commercial property manager Hannah Grievson added: “We are thrilled to announce the arrival of Joe & The Juice to Fulham Road, where it will further enhance the dining offer, joining leading operators such as Orée and Lievito. The brand’s nutritious but exciting approach to dining will be a welcome addition to an ever-expanding healthy offer.” Savills and Miles Commercial represented Sloane Stanley, while HDH represented Joe & The Juice.

Wagamama’s UK outperformance widens in first quarter: Wagamama has argued its outperformance versus the general UK market widened in its first quarter. It posted UK like-for-like sales growth of 6.6%, which is a 7.1% differential with the UK market as reported by the Coffer Peach Tracker. The differential to the UK market in the previous quarter was 4.1%. Wagamama has now recorded 172 consecutive weeks of UK outperformance. Its US business reported even stronger like-for-like sales growth of 7.1%, up from 3% in the previous quarter. It reported its franchised business, currently 47 sites, was building a pipeline in key western European markets, with further sites in Spain and Italy and its first French restaurants under construction.

ASK Italian to open site at £30m Stratford-upon-Avon development next month: Azzurri Group-owned ASK Italian will open a site at the £30m Bell Court development in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, next month. The company will open the 120-cover restaurant on Wednesday, 11 October featuring additional outdoor seating overlooking the main square. The venue will feature an “indoor courtyard-style” pergola, a hand-painted mural, and disco ball. ASK Italian will join other restaurant brands including Nando’s, better burger brand Byron, Italian wine cafe Veeno, and Mitchells & Butlers brands Miller & Carter and All Bar One. ASK Italian operations manager Adam Lindop said: “We’re looking forward to joining the other retailers in Bell Court and being part of this new destination at the heart of Stratford-upon-Avon.” Bell Court comprises more than 70,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and leisure space.

Tim Hortons to open its first UK drive-thru: Tim Hortons, the Canadian cafe and bake shop owned by Restaurant Brands, is to open its first UK drive-thru. The company, which made its UK debut this summer, will open the site in Stenhousemuir, east Scotland. SK Group, which is leading the UK roll-out of Tim Hortons, has been granted permission by Falkirk Council for the venue on land in Tryst Road. The restaurant plans had planning permission approved in principle in November. However, the change means the premises will now be a drive-thru that will open from 7am to 11pm daily, reports the Falkirk Herald. The first UK Tim Hortons restaurant opened in Argyle Street, Glasgow, in early June with a second due to open at the city’s Silverburn shopping centre. The company has also secured a site at a retail park on the outskirts of Ayr. Earlier this month, Tim Hortons revealed the second phase of its UK roll-out plans as it prepares to open sites in England, Wales and Northern Ireland this year. The company will be opening in Manchester, Cardiff and Belfast during the coming months, with plans for a minimum of 100 sites in total. Tim Hortons was founded in 1964 by its namesake, a professional ice hockey player who wanted to create a space where “everyone would feel at home”.

Specialist lasagne restaurant Mister Lasagna to open fourth London site, in Westminster next week: Mister Lasagna, a specialist restaurant dedicated to the humble pasta dish, will open its fourth London site, this time in Westminster, on Thursday, 21 September. The venue in Vauxhall Bridge Road will offer 24 freshly prepared lasagne, including truffle, chicken and chorizo, pumpkin and blue cheese, asparagus, and Nutella versions, The Handbook reports. The concept is the brainchild of Alessandro Limone, who opened his third Mister Lasagna site in Belgravia in March. The venues offer rotating specials with a choice of four sauces to accompany each lasagne, plus desserts, coffee, savoury tarts, sweet pastries, pasta and a selection of Italian liqueurs. Limone states on the company’s website: “The demand for Italian food in London is huge and lasagne is one of the most popular dishes. Mister Lasagna offers traditional Italian cooking just like my grandmother would serve to me when I was a little boy. When you mention lasagne, many people think of the well-known Bolognese recipe, but we hope to change London’s perception on this classic dish.” The other Mister Lasagna sites are in Rupert Street, Soho, and Air Street, Piccadilly.

Gorgeous Group founder to launch Mediterranean mezze and cocktails concept in Edinburgh city centre: Robbie Bargh, founder of London-based hospitality agency Gorgeous Group, is to launch eastern Mediterranean mezze restaurant and cocktail bar concept Baba in Edinburgh. Bargh has teamed up with Gorgeous Group commercial director Katherine Arnold, and Jonathan MacDonald and Daniel Spurr, who operate Glasgow restaurant Ox and Finch. They will open the standalone venue next month as part of Principal’s multimillion-pound rebrand of the Roxburghe Hotel in George Street. Baba will feature a bespoke charcoal grill as the centrepiece of its open kitchen, with Scottish lamb, beef and seafood spiced and grilled Levantine-style over coals side by side with whole cauliflowers and harissa pumpkin. Traditional mezze, such as hummus with zhug and baba ganoush and muhammara, will be served alongside kibbeh pastry with haggis replacing traditional lamb. The bar will offer cocktails using unusual ingredients such as apricot, mint, cumin and honey. MacDonald said: “Eastern Mediterranean cuisine is extremely versatile and developing this menu with the team has been a journey for us all. We have been overwhelmed by the success of Ox and Finch and are excited about bringing a new offering and dining experience to Edinburgh.”

Tiny Rebel starts expansion of £2.6m brewery only two months after launch: South Wales-based brewer Tiny Rebel has started expansion of its new £2.6m brewery and headquarters only two months after its opening. Tiny Rebel managing director and co-founder Bradley Cummings said the speed of the company’s expansion, fuelled by demand for its beers, meant its ten-year plan could be achieved in half the time. The company has acquired a building on a 1.3-acre site opposite its brewery on Wern Industrial Estate, although Cummings has yet to decide what to use the site for. He told the South Wales Argus: “Since moving to our new HQ we’ve grown a lot quicker than we thought. The ten-year plan for this place might be achieved in less than five years – or maybe even faster the way things are going. This is purely due to the huge demand for our beer worldwide. Already, space is a bit of a constraint and we know the time will come when we need lots more. We don’t have firm plans for the site yet. It’s all about ensuring we have space to grow into. It’s a perfect location and a perfect size.” Cummings and Gazz Williams founded Tiny Rebel in a garage in 2008. The company also operates two bars – in Cardiff and Newport.

Gourmet pizza company Voodoo Ray’s launches fourth London site, in Peckham: Gourmet pizza company Voodoo Ray’s has opened its fourth London site, this time in Peckham. The 80-cover restaurant, the brand’s largest so far, has opened in Rye Lane and features a new cocktail menu, including house negronis. Voodoo Ray’s offers New York-style pizza by the slice taken from 22-inch pies, while its brunch menu features a range of breakfast pizzas alongside more traditional offerings such as baked eggs cooked in the deck oven. The site will launch a delivery service in the next couple of weeks, Hot Dinners reports. Voodoo Ray’s opened its third London site in Camden Market in September 2016, joining its restaurants in Dalston and Shoreditch. Speciality pizzas include the Giorgio Moroder (goat’s cheese, sunblushed tomatoes, courgette and basil), and The Meat Is On (minced steak, pepperoni, ham and pancetta). The venues also offer craft beer and frozen margaritas made in slushie machines. On its website, Voodoo Ray’s states: “Our innovative pies combine high-quality ingredients with unique flavour combinations for an exceptional slice.”

Patisserie Valerie to open Guildford town centre site next week: Patisserie Valerie, the company that has sector investor Luke Johnson as executive chairman, is to open a venue in Guildford town centre next week. The cafe will open in North Street on Tuesday (19 September) at a site formerly occupied by another patisserie brand, Maison Blanc. Patisserie Valerie’s parent company, Patisserie Holdings, acquired four of the 13-strong Maison Blanc estate – in Guildford, Chiswick, Oxford and Winchester – from Kout Food Group in July. The majority of the Maison Blanc estate was closed in March, although the Guildford site closed in December as part of a national “extended consultation process”. Patisserie Holdings chief executive Paul May told Get Surrey: “We can’t wait to open our new cafe in Guildford, which will serve our delicious range of handcrafted cakes and patisserie. We hope the people of Guildford enjoy the scrumptious treats our new cafe has to offer.” Patisserie Valerie, launched in 1926 in Soho by Belgian-born Madame Valerie, has more than 140 sites across the UK.

Tony Macaroni to open third Mozza site, in Aberdeen in November: Scottish restaurant company Tony Macaroni will open the third site for its artisan pizza and Italian craft beer concept Mozza in Aberdeen in November. The company will open the 1,694 square foot venue at the Union Square shopping centre in a former Sony store on the upper floor. Union Square general manager Ryan Manson told the Evening Express: “Mozza is a great addition to our already strong food offering, which includes Byron, Las Iguanas and Thaikhun.” Tony Macaroni operates ten eponymous restaurants in Scotland as well as two Mozza sites – in Glasgow and St Andrews.

Peter Andre launches McDonald’s Roald Dahl Happy Meals campaign: Singer Peter Andre has launched McDonald’s latest Happy Meals campaign in the UK, which offers an exclusive series of books by Roald Dahl. The campaign was launched to coincide with Roald Dahl Day (13 September), with eight books specially developed for the promotion focusing on a number of Dahl’s characters including Matilda, the BFG and Willy Wonka. Father-of-four Andre launched the campaign at a McDonald’s restaurant in Epsom, Surrey. He said: “There are few writers more magical than Roald Dahl. (His) stories stand the test of time so it’s no wonder my kids love the BFG as much as I did.” Emily Somers, vice-president of marketing at McDonald’s UK, added: “I grew up on the magic of Roald Dahl and his extraordinary characters so I’m delighted one of the most iconic children’s authors is back at McDonald’s.”

Five Guys to open York site in November: Better burger brand Five Guys is to open a restaurant in York. The company is opening the 122-seat venue in Petergate on the site of a former Christmas Angels shop on Monday, 27 November, reports York Press. Five Guys, which was founded in Virginia in the US in 1986 by the Murrell family, has 72 sites in the UK. It opened its first in Covent Garden in 2013, while earlier this month it signed a deal to open a restaurant at the Intu shopping centre in Derby.

Oxfordshire-based operators take on second Hook Norton Brewery pub: Oxfordshire-based operators Jeremy Morey and Anthony Murray have taken on their second Hook Norton Brewery pub. Morey and Murray, who operate Ye Olde Reindeer in Banbury, will reopen The Castle in Oxford next Friday (22 September). The pub, which is Hook Norton Brewery’s first in the city centre, has undergone a major refurbishment. The site is set over two floors and will serve a range of cask, keg, bottles and cans with a focus on local and regional ale. There will be ten keg and six cask ale pumps as well as wine and spirits alongside a food menu in the form of homemade pizza and small plates. The main bar has been remodelled to reveal original features and incorporate new touches, with Hook Norton Brewery wooden beer crates used for the bar. The lower-level bar has been opened up and will be the main space for entertainment. It will also be available for private hire. Morey said: “We’re excited to have been given this great opportunity to add a second ‘Hooky’ pub to our portfolio. Our aim for The Castle is for it to become a lively, buzzing city centre venue with live music, comedy nights and beer evenings while serving a great and wide range of beer, wine and spirits.”

Heeton Holdings to begin Luma expansion after acquiring site housing Manchester’s Dry Bar for £4m: Hospitality and property developer Heeton Holdings is to start expansion of its Luma boutique hotel concept after buying a building that houses Factory Records’ Dry Bar in Manchester off a guide price of £4m. The Singapore-based company has acquired the Northern Quarter property, which trades as Dry Bar across the ground floor and basement, with planning permission obtained by previous owners for a 69-bedroom boutique hotel to be developed across the four floors. Heeton plans to create a Luma hotel after recently test-launching its first boutique hotel, Luma Concept Hotel, in London. The proposed design involves adding a “modest” extension above roof level. Factory Records opened Dry Bar in 1989, sparking regeneration of the Northern Quarter. The sale was brokered by agents Christie & Co. Edwin Liu, country head of UK and Europe at Heeton Holdings, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to bring a new lease of life to a building synonymous with the growth of the Northern Quarter. Dry Bar is an iconic venue that has played an important role in Manchester’s 20th century music history. We are committed to honouring that legacy. Our design team will be ambitious but also sensitive to the history of the building.”

Dublin-based chef launches ‘pasta with a twist’ concept in Fitzrovia: Dublin-based chef Grainne O’Keefe has launched “pasta with a twist” concept Saucy Pasta in Fitzrovia. O’Keefe and business partner George Wells have opened the 30-cover venue in Tottenham Court Road offering a healthy range of options to eat in or take away. Pasta will be made on-site daily with options such as squid ink linguine, while pasta in any dish can be swapped for spiralised vegetables. Breakfast offerings include protein balls, muesli, granola and natural yogurt, alongside in-house smoothies and fresh juice. Coffee comes from speciality roasters Mission Coffee Works. O’Keefe told Hot Dinners: “I’ve always been drawn to London’s amazing food scene, and we feel Saucy belongs here. Our lunch menu is a blend of classic Italian pasta dishes with more modern elements thrown in using less conventional ingredients. The menu consists of a three-step process, in which the customer will choose which pasta to match with their sauce and finally pick from a range of optional extras. To accompany our lunch menu we have artisan cheese and charcuterie boards.”

Leeds-based operator gets go-ahead for mixed-use venue featuring sky bar: Leeds-based operator Mahmood Mazhar has been given the go-ahead to open a new mixed-use venue in the city that will feature a sky bar. Mazhar has been granted permission by the city council to convert an empty restaurant in Merrion Street. His plans include 3,358 square feet of contemporary bar and restaurant space on the ground floor and a 2,830 square foot sky bar and terrace on the new penthouse floor. In between will be two floors containing 6,028 square feet of offices specifically designed to provide flexible serviced starter unit space for fledgling businesses to grow. Mazhar, who owns Norman Bar in the city centre as well as Core Telecom in Horsforth, told Insider Media: “This is a significant investment in an underestimated building that will extend the emerging leisure offer in this part of Leeds. The sky bar and terrace will provide quality dining with stunning views over Leeds, and the dynamic ground-floor restaurant and bar will add to the area’s leisure attractions.”

Cheltenham-based restaurateur lodges plans for second site: Cheltenham-based restaurateur Jay Rahman has lodged plans to open his second site. Rahman, who owns Indian restaurant Prithvi, wants to convert cookware shop Cheltenham Kitchener in Queen’s Circus into a restaurant and bar. He has yet to decide which cuisine the restaurant will offer, although he said it might be “ethnic”. Rahman hinted he might take inspiration from the high-end fine dining at Prithvi. He aims to start work at the beginning of 2018, with the restaurant opening by the end of summer. Rahman told Gloucestershire Live: “We are looking to do an open kitchen plan. People can sit at the bar and watch the chefs cooking. The restaurant will be both on the ground floor and downstairs.” He stressed his desire to protect the Kitchener’s key features, including kiosk and clock. Rahman said he did not believe Cheltenham was reaching saturation point for restaurants, adding: “Variety is good. Choices are always good.”

Plant-based pop-up Essential Vegan to open permanent Shoreditch site this month: Essential Vegan, which has been operating a plant-based pop-up, is to open a permanent site in Shoreditch this month. The concept is the brainchild of Brazilian chef Vanessa Almeida and Essential Vegan Café will offer a wide range of dishes inspired by the country of her birth. The menu will focus on Northern Brazilian food using ingredients such as tapioca and acai. The permanent space will offer an updated menu with new plant-based cakes alongside artisan cheese. Essential Vegan is about to launch a crowdfunding campaign to help fund the expansion. Almeida also offers free vegan cookery classes to help people understand the benefits of nutrition and healthy eating. She told PBN: “I teach people different ways to use vegetables and how not to waste food. I also teach children how to cook – it’s good to start early. I’m trying to get families to engage with cooking and sometimes people cannot afford to pay for classes.” Essential Vegan Café will open on Tuesday, 26 September.

Chinese restaurant Dynasty becomes latest high-profile closure in Bristol city centre: Chinese restaurant Dynasty has become the latest high-profile eatery in Bristol city centre to announce its closure. The restaurant in St Thomas Street was once hailed as one of the best Chinese restaurants in the UK by Wagamama owner Alan Yau. After almost 20 years, the venue will close down on Sunday, 24 September continuing a worrying trend of closures in the city centre, including cafe Roll For The Soul, award-winning Japanese ramen bar Sticks ‘n’ Broth and Mr Miller’s Hanoi Coffee Company. The Ho family, which owns Dynasty, has sold the building to developers behind a multimillion-pound plan to regenerate Bristol’s Redcliffe area that will include new restaurants and hotels to create a new link between the city centre and Bristol Temple Meads station. However, the Ho family said it hoped to be part of the new quarter, which is expected to launch in 2019.

Principal Hotel Company opens Australasian-themed restaurant at Cardiff hotel: The Principal Hotel Company has opened a new Australasian-themed restaurant at its five-star St David’s Hotel in Cardiff. The company has launched The Admiral St David, which takes its name from the hotel’s nautical roots. Its menu has been devised by the venue’s executive chef Martyn Watkins and includes a range of dishes influenced by countries within the Australasian and Asia-Pacific region, including Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan and Sri Lanka. The new restaurant and bar has opened in the former Tempus At Tides eatery. General manager Russell Durnell told Insider Media: “Diners at The Admiral St David will experience a melting pot of flavours and cultures in a mouthful. We have taken the very best dishes from Asia-Pacific and Australasia and added the best Welsh produce to offer something exciting and different.” The Principal Hotel Company manages hotels in London, Edinburgh and Manchester. It aims to expand its reach further this year with new ventures that include developments at the St David’s Hotel as well as in Blythswood Square and The Grand Central Hotel, both in Glasgow.

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