Spuntino partners with TRG Concessions to open restaurants in UK airports: Restaurant entrepreneurs Russell Norman and Richard Beatty, the pair behind Polpo, have signed an exclusive franchise agreement with The Restaurant Group (TRG) Concessions to bring their Spuntino brand to UK airports. Opportunities will now be explored with a view to securing a first site in 2018. Spuntino, which means “snack” in Italian, will develop a bespoke airport breakfast and takeaway menu to deliver an “all day dining” and “on board” experience for customers. The new menu will follow the same “small plates” theme as existing sites, such as the 27-cover Soho restaurant. Norman said: “When I fly and I’m killing time in airport terminals, I often think, ‘why isn’t there somewhere more like Spuntino – tasty small plates, comfort cooking, lots of doughnuts, real cocktails and friendly service?’ Our partnership with TRG Concessions has given us a unique opportunity to achieve that.” TRG Concessions managing director Nick Ayerst added: “We have been in talks with Russell and his team for a number of years and are pleased to have secured a top London restaurateur as our franchise partner. We are looking forward to announcing future openings in the not too distant future.”
Vue signs joint venture deal as Saudia Arabia lifts 35-year cinema ban: Vue Cinema has entered into a joint venture to open a host of sites across Saudi Arabia, as the country ends its 35-year cinema ban. Founder Tim Richards has signed an exclusive deal with Abdulmohsin Al Hokair Holding Group, which constructs and operates shopping centres and hotels. The joint venture is planning to open 30 multiplex cinemas in existing Al Hokair developments as well as in new sites planned in the next three years. Exact details of the joint venture are still being finalised but the first cinema could be open this year. Richards, who still runs the company he founded in 1999, said this was a “huge moment” in the history of global cinema. He told The Daily Telegraph: “Cinema has been an exciting form of out of home entertainment for more than 100 years and the opening up of the Kingdom is testament to the industry’s continuing growth and resilience.” Cinemas were banned in the early 1980s as Saudi Arabia moved towards a more conservative form of religion that discouraged entertainment and promoted the separation of men and women in public. But the current Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is working on broadening the economy in a bid to reduce its dependence on oil. While there are no permanent cinemas open yet, the Vue deal means sites will start opening soon. Temporary sites are already up and running though, with some of the first films to be shown after the decades-long ban including The Emoji Movie and Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie.