Story of the Day:
Feed It Back finds Google most-used for visit reviews, Facebook used for warmest AND most critical reviews: New statistics from Feed It Back’s monthly social review tracker has revealed more than half (54%) of all reviews in May were submitted on Google, significantly outstripping Facebook and TripAdvisor. The statistics, which were taken from thousands of social reviews across the restaurant, quick service restaurant and pub industries, revealed 39% of reviews came from TripAdvisor and only 7% from Facebook during the period. Looking at the sentiment analysis, the figures showed consumers were most likely to leave an outstanding review (5 out of 5) when using Facebook (64%), compared with 54% on TripAdvisor and 44% on Google. Consumers were also more likely to leave a negative review on Facebook, with 18% leaving feedback ranging from 1 to 2 out of 5. TripAdvisor followed closely behind with 17%, whereas negative reviews on Google only equated to 11%. Meanwhile, Google had the highest rate of middle-range reviews (3 to 4 out of 5) with 43%, whereas TripAdvisor had 32% and Facebook 20%. The company said the figures clearly demonstrated a great opportunity for operators to gain an advantage over their competitors by tracking, acknowledging and examining reviews placed on Google to understand trends in the feedback that could be used to turn indifferent reviews into positive ones. Feed It Back chief executive Carlo Platia said: “With an ever-increasing prevalence of consumers using the internet to research restaurants and sense-check them before visiting, it is an absolute must operators track their online reputation and stay in touch with the latest channels and trends. Our latest social tracker shows that while TripAdvisor dominates the headlines, Google reviews driven by location-prompts from mobile devices are driving mass feedback and there is a clear opportunity for operators to steal a march on the crowd by using a platform such as ours to isolate, track and respond to Google reviews. Digging into May’s sentiment analysis people were more likely to leave polarised reviews on Facebook, either sharing a very good or very bad experience with family and friends. To counteract this, operators need to deal with the negative feedback in a swift fashion to turn it into a positive. It will be interesting to see how the good weather in June and England’s surprise World Cup run has impacted sentiment across the UK.” The data is part of a regular report Feed It Back runs on social reviews. To sign up for a monthly copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Social Media for Profit masterclass opens for bookings:
The second Social Media for Profit masterclass has opened for bookings. Mark McCulloch, founder and group chief executive of WE ARE Spectacular and formerly of Pret A Manger and YO! Sushi
, will welcome you to a social media boot camp with all-new content that will provide insights into how to build your sales and brand using social media. McCulloch will be joined by Alison Battisby, founder and director of social media consultancy Avocado Social
. With almost ten years of social media experience, Battisby is a Facebook-accredited trainer and will bring the latest algorithm-busting insights to the afternoon. She will reveal the key trends you need to know – from Insta Stories stickers and IGTV to top hashtags and video hacks. Battisby will also reveal how Facebook, Instagram and Twitter algorithms work, what content is given priority and how you can get your posts seen by more people. She will also look at the best ways to use Facebook and Instagram ads to get a return for your business, including what makes a good advert and how to measure it. McCulloch will talk about designing your venue for Instagram and how to encourage user-generated content. He will also look at Instagram Stories and demonstrate the most interesting features and hacks to ensure your posts get seen. McCulloch will also talk about influencer marketing – does paying someone to post about your product really work? How are brands approaching influencer marketing and does the average customer trust a sponsored post on Instagram? There will also be a rundown of the ten key social media actions to take away. The half-day event takes place on the afternoon of Thursday, 13 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 email@example.com or call 01444 817691
Hackney approves new ‘midnight curfew’ licensing policy despite fierce opposition: Hackney Council has approved a new licensing policy that will introduce “core” midnight curfews for all new venues despite fierce opposition. The decision was unanimous and comes in the wake of widespread outrage about the plans. The council said the policy was intended to “strike a difficult balance” between enabling clubs and pubs to thrive and supporting neighbours and council tenants on estates in the area. During the consultation, the council received 680 responses – of those 73% were against the plans, which have been two years in the making. As well as the midnight weekend curfew, any new venues opening anywhere in the borough will have to argue against an 11pm closing time during the week. The “core hours” will only be extended if licensees can show it won’t cause antisocial problems. A 10pm curfew for outdoor activities will also be in place, with the same exemptions applying. The Shoreditch special policy area will also double in size. A 4,000-strong campaign group We Love Hackney, which was formed to successfully fight similar plans in 2015, had whipped up opposition. Supporters include Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of natural fast food brand Leon, and Jonathan Downey, founder of Street Feast, which has a venue in Shoreditch. Downey told the Hackney Gazette: “This is a disgraceful decision and a shameful failure of elected officials to listen to the views of residents. It is disastrous for the life and vibrancy of Hackney nightlife. This is not over, though, and we will not be ignored.” We Love Hackney has argued the policy doesn’t fit with the mayor of London’s vision of the capital as a 24-hour city. In an open letter to the council, it stated: “A borough-wide core hours policy and 10pm closing time for outdoors areas will kill innovation.”
Industry launches £9m campaign to help save the British pub: Britain’s Beer Alliance – the pub and beer industry coalition behind There’s A Beer For That – has launched a £9m campaign to help save the British pub. The campaign – Long Live The Local – calls for people to sign a petition and write to their MP to ask for a cut in beer duty, which the government plans to increase further through Retail Price Index-linked rises for at least the next three years. Three pubs in Britain close every day and should the level of beer duty, which is already three times the EU average and 12 times higher than Germany, continue to increase year after year, beer sales will fall, pubs will continue to shut, communities will lose a vital asset and jobs will be lost, the campaign argues. The campaign, which has taken six months to develop, will be supported by a £3m investment each year for at least the next three years. It will also remind politicians of the economic – as well as cultural – importance of the pub and wider brewing industry. There will be a programme of MP-lobbying events up to the November Budget, developed and implemented in conjunction with the British Beer & Pub Association and other industry bodies. More than 15,000 free in-pub activation kits – consisting of beer mats, tent cards and posters – are available for publicans to drive support for the campaign. David Cunningham, programme director for Long Live The Local, said: “The punitive beer tax, in conjunction with other tax pressures from VAT and increasing business rates, are without doubt the biggest challenges the pub and beer industry faces. We need a cut in beer duty and, in the current political and economic climate, we recognise this is not going to be easy to achieve. It will require a step-change in approach from the whole industry but we cannot allow beer tax to increase again. This campaign is important and its success will not only help local pubs but job security, the well-being of the economy and, most importantly, local communities across the country. I encourage everyone who enjoys pubs to get involved in the campaign and join the cause to say ‘no’ to the planned increases in beer tax to help secure the future of your local.”
Jerry Brunning opens first pub since return to trade: Brunning & Price founder Jerry Brunning has opened his first pub since his return to the trade, ten years after selling the then 16-strong company to The Restaurant Group. Brunning, who has formed Pubs Limited, has reopened The Swan in the village of Marbury, near Nantwich in Cheshire. The pub dates to the 1700s with some outbuildings listed with National Heritage. The reopened pub now includes a sun terrace, large garden room, traditional bar with seating, real fires and wooden floors. The team has used reclaimed materials, wood panelling, beams and solid wooden and tiled floors in the restoration. The pub also features antique furniture, colourful rugs and a library with 2,000 books. The new menu features locally sourced pub classics alongside more “adventurous” dishes and stocks local ale with five hand-pulled beers on tap. The pub is run by Darren Snell, who managed The Dysart Arms for Brunning and his business partner at the time Graham Price. Brunning told the Nantwich News: “We have spent a lot of time, money and effort to resurrect this gem of a pub and we’re delighted with the results. The pub is a country classic that’s now brimming with character.” Brunning acquired The Swan in August last year when he announced he was making his return to the industry.
Daisy Green Collection passes £1.5m mark in first equity fund-raise to accelerate growth: Australia-inspired restaurant group Daisy Green Collection has passed the £1.5m mark in its first equity raise as it looks to accelerate growth. The company, founded in 2012 by former City bankers Prue Freeman and husband Tom Onions, is raising the funds on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. It was seeking £500,000 while offering 4.70% equity in return for the investment – but smashed that target having raised almost £900,000 within hours of its public launch. So far, 443 investors have pledged 1,542,570 and the campaign continues to “overfund” with 20 days remaining. The business has grown from humble street food beginnings in 2012 to a collection of nine sites across central London. The independent business has grown revenues at circa 85% per annum over the past four years with the fund-raise set to enable them to open in areas such as Canary Wharf, Liverpool Street, London Bridge and Tower Bridge. The company has a run-rate site Ebitda of £2m. The group is currently achieving run-rate revenues of circa £10m, with site Ebitda margins at about 20%. The company’s business plan forecasts growing to more than 17 sites with revenues of £25m-plus within four years. The business, currently 100% owned by the founders, raised a £775,000 bond through Crowdcube in 2015, which was oversubscribed within 24 hours. In 2017, its “Bondi Bond” became the first to be repaid as part of a £3.25m refinancing by OakNorth.
Starbucks to open first US signing store: Starbucks will open its first signing store in the US, in Washington DC in early October. The store will provide employment opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing people as a part of the company’s commitment to inclusion, accessibility and diversity. Starbucks said it would hire 20 to 25 deaf, hard of hearing and hearing partners from across the country to work at the signing store, with a requirement all are proficient in American Sign Language (ASL). Starbucks said it drew inspiration from its first signing store, which opened in Malaysia in 2016, with nine deaf staff. The first US signing store will feature exclusive artwork, a custom mug designed by a deaf artist, and a variety of enhancements to support the deaf and hard of hearing staff and customer experience. Deaf baristas will wear ASL aprons embroidered by a deaf supplier, while hearing partners who sign will wear an “I Sign” apron. Rossann Williams, Starbucks executive vice-president of US retail, said: “This is a historic moment in Starbucks’ ongoing journey to connect with the deaf and hard of hearing community, hire and engage deaf and hard of hearing partners, and continue to find ways to be more inclusive, accessible and welcoming to all.”
Steamin’ Billy boss gets go-ahead for bowling alley and crazy golf venue in Leicester: Billy Allingham, managing director of Leicestershire-based Steamin’ Billy Brewing, has had his plans to create a bowling alley and crazy golf venue in Leicester city centre approved. Allingham sought permission from the city council to transform a former Dunelm Store in East Street into what would be the first bowling alley in Leicester city centre for decades. The vacant, 33,475 square foot unit, which is close to the train station and the landmark St George’s Tower, is below a multi-storey car park. The opening will create 20 jobs. The application for the bowling alley was submitted by East Street Lanes, which was incorporated in March and lists Allingham as its only director. According to documents filed to the authority, the new alley will include crazy golf and a bar, Insider Media reports. Founded in 1998 by Allingham and Barry Lount, Steamin’ Billy has established a presence in Leicestershire, Rutland and Derbyshire and recently expanded into Warwickshire. In May, the company secured £1.5m from HSBC to support its expansion plans.
Ministry of Sound diversifies with social space and co-working venture: Nightclub and music label Ministry of Sound has made a move into the social space and co-working offices sector. The company has opened a £10m, 50,000 square foot venue at a former factory in Borough Road, Southwark, close to where Ministry of Sound opened the UK’s first club dedicated to house music at a former bus garage in Elephant and Castle in 1991. The property is the first in a series of planned sites for its new business venture, The Ministry. It features offices, a restaurant, a bar, a 36-seater cinema, studios, private dining rooms, events space and meeting suites. The venture is aimed at workers and businesses in creative industries, including music companies, startups, television and film producers, PR groups and fashion designers. Chairman Lohan Presencer told Personnel Today: “What we are is a place that creates a community. Other providers claim they are – but they’re not. We are an entrepreneurial and creative business and what we’ve done is design a place where other entrepreneurial and creative businesses can base themselves.” Other London areas the company said it was eyeing for new sites include Camden and King’s Cross.
BrewDog secures Jamie’s Italian site in Canary Wharf for tenth London bar: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has acquired a Jamie’s Italian site in Canary Wharf for its tenth London bar. The company plans to open the venue in Churchill Place in October. It stated: “BrewDog Canary Wharf is on the radar. We have secured a location for our latest hop-filled outpost, sporting a curved frontage of darkened glass that looks very much like BrewDog Brussels. The bar comes with an outdoor area with its own alfresco bar. We will be pouring 20 taps of craft beer from ourselves, cutting-edge UK breweries and breweries we love from overseas. The bar overlooks a canal linking the old north and south docks, from which thousands of ships headed to all corners of the globe for nearly 200 years. As well as the range of craft beer, spirits and wine, we will be offering our all-day food options. We are psyched to be able to open a BrewDog bar in this part of London, particularly with its history. We want our tenth London bar, and our 37th bar in the UK, to be as much of a hub for the people as the docks were all those years ago.” The building’s landlord decided to re-tenant the premises following Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group’s company voluntary arrangement earlier this year. The Jamie’s Italian site is due to close next month.
Domino’s Pizza reports global sales up 12.6%: Domino’s Pizza has reported global sales increased 12.6% in its second quarter. Like-for-like sales were up 6.9% in the US and 4.0% in the international division. The quarter marked the 98th consecutive quarter of international like-for-like sales growth and the 29th consecutive quarter in the US. Total revenue increased to £779,396,000, compared with £628,611,000 the previous year. The company added 156 stores during the period – 113 internationally and 43 in the US. Diluted earnings per share was up 34.8% to $1.78. Chief executive Ritch Allison said: “Global retail sales remain strong as we see our franchisees building stores, growing like-for-like sales and bringing customers back again and again. Our second quarter was highlighted by yet another innovation in food delivery with the launch of Domino’s HotSpots, of which there are now more than 200,000 across the US.”
Coach House Inns acquires Wiltshire pub for fourth site: Gastro-pub company Coach House Inns has acquired the Longs Arms in Steeple Ashton, Wiltshire, for its fourth site. The pub, which has been owned and managed by Caroline Quartley for the past 13 years, was bought by the Abergavenny-headquartered company following a six-figure finance package from HSBC. The Longs Arms, which dates to the 17th century and includes a restaurant and adjoining residential cottage, is Coach House Inns’ first acquisition this year. The company said it hoped to enhance the pub’s accommodation offer and add an extension to increase restaurant capacity and house a new kitchen. Coach House Inns founder Harry Lewis told Insider Media: “The Longs Arms is an integral part of the community. I’m delighted to have acquired the business with the support of HSBC, which continues to back our growing portfolio of gastro-pubs. I look forward to working with Caroline, who will continue to manage this outstanding local pub. We’re committed to bottling up and maintaining the pub’s charm and atmosphere for those who know it best.” Warren Lewis, HSBC head of corporate banking in South Wales, added: “We have been supporting Harry over the past two years with his strategic acquisition plans, which have seen his portfolio of brilliant pubs grow to four in only a few years.” Coach House Inns’ other sites are The Riverside in Aymestrey, Herefordshire, The Manor Arms Inn in Abberley in Worcestershire, and The Fox & Hounds in Llancarfan, South Wales.
Judge rejects proposed McDonald’s labour relations settlement: A US judge has rejected a proposed settlement between McDonald’s and the National Labour Relations Board (NLRB) over the accusation of unfair labour practices. Campaign group Fight for $15 maintains McDonald’s should take responsibility for firing employees who fought for higher wages during organised protests, which began in 2012. The NLRB issued complaints against McDonald’s in 2015, consolidating other complaints made against franchisees in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Sacramento, New York, Chicago and Indianapolis. The board alleged McDonald’s was a “joint employer” of its franchisees’ employees and was therefore liable for their treatment. In March, McDonald’s and the NLRB reached a settlement in the joint-employer case but the judge has now rejected this. Administrative law judge Lauren Esposito wrote: “General counsel and McDonald’s have made so many conflicting statements regarding McDonald’s obligations under the proposed settlements there is significant doubt as to whether they have actually reached agreement.” McDonald’s said it was disappointed by the judge’s decision, which would prolong an “already lengthy and expensive litigation” and further delay a resolution for franchise workers. A company spokesman told Nation’s Restaurant News: “McDonald’s and its franchisees are evaluating options including appealing this decision. As we have maintained throughout this process, McDonald’s USA is not, and never has been, a joint employer with its franchisees. Mary Joyce Carlson, counsel for Fight for $15, said: “This proposed settlement was nothing more than a sham hammered out between McDonald’s and the Trump administration.” If no-one appeals, additional hearings will begin in October.
Fever Bars lines up Southend site: Fever Bars, led by Mark Shorting and Nigel Blair, is lining up a site in Southend, Essex. The company, which operates under the Fever, Boutique, Beach, Kukui and Moomoo brand names, has applied for a licence at the former Mayhem nightclub. Estate agent Dedman Gray has listed the unit on property site Rightmove for £150,000 per year, describing it as a “restaurant to let”. The unit in Maitland House, Warrior Square, has been empty since the start of 2017, when Mayhem closed after 11 years of trading. Mike Gray, from Dedman Gray, told the Southend Standard: “It is such good news to see the popular Mayhem club will once again provide an entertainment venue for Southend after being one of the town’s most popular and busiest clubs for many years.” Fever Bars, which operates 30 sites, previously said it was aiming to have 36 venues by the end of 2018.
Papa John’s founder held merger talks with Wendy’s before ‘racial incident’: John Schnatter, the embattled founder of Papa John’s International, was reportedly in talks with rival Wendy’s about merging the burger and pizza brands, according to sources cited by the Wall Street Journal. “The talks, which Papa John’s board was aware of, have cooled since the incident,” one of the sources said. The purported merger comes following Schnatter’s resignation as chairman after he admitted using a racial slur during media training with a marketing agency. Schnatter, however, still sits on the board of the company he founded in 1984 and owns 29% of Papa John’s shares. Earlier this week he branded his resignation a “mistake” after the board terminated its 2007 Founder Agreement, which called for him to attend corporate events, participate in management and investor meetings, and act as brand spokesman. The company also removed Schnatter from its advertising. In December, Schnatter stepped down as Papa John’s president and chief executive after he blamed the company’s flagging sales on the National Football League for not quelling players’ “take a knee” protests.
London-based bakery South East Cakery to open first permanent site: London-based bakery South East Cakery is to open its first permanent site, in East Dulwich. Owners Alex Ridley and Maria Mannoukas will open the outlet in Upland Road – just minutes from the company’s headquarters by Peckham Rye Park. Familiar to London’s street food markets including Street Feast and Kerb, Ridley and Mannoukas met as DJs, hosting club nights in London’s bars and clubs. They started South East Cakery in 2014 driven by a passion for baking, parties and hip hop. The store will feature wooden tables and vintage dining chairs with the day’s freshly baked goods filling a large counter top. There will also be a terrace, while the venue will offer the bakery’s own brownie bars in a variety of flavours including salted caramel, honeycomb and peanut butter. Cakes on rotation will include banoffee and carrot cake. In addition, there will be a savoury menu of sandwiches, salads and quiche.
Clove Club team to launch American concept in Shoreditch for third London restaurant: The team behind The Clove Club and Luca is to launch a third London restaurant, in Shoreditch. American concept Two Lights will open in Kingsland Road in September at a site formerly occupied by Italian restaurant Amici Mei. Chase Lovecky, who was head chef at The Clove Club for three years, will head the venture. Isaac McHale, Daniel Willis and Johnny Smith opened The Clove Club in Shoreditch town hall in 2013. The team went on to launch “Britalian” concept Luca in November 2016. McHale posted on Instagram Two Lights would be a “neighbourhood spot serving modern American food”. Talking about Lovecky, he told Hot Dinners: “Chase is a rare talent – a grafter, a lifer, an all-day all-nighter dedicated to the cause of making people have amazing meals – and he is going to make a lot of people very happy.”
Caravan opens fifth London site, in Fitzrovia: Caravan, the London-based restaurant, bar and coffee-roasting concept, has launched its fifth site, in Fitzrovia. The venue has opened in the former BBC Radio 1 recording headquarters in Great Portland Street. Founders Miles Kirby, Laura Harper-Hinton and Chris Ammermann said the move marked the group’s shift towards more central locations. In a nod to the building’s history, the basement houses a “record room” hosting private dining, while upstairs a large bar weaves through three dining rooms. The venue also sees the launch of Caravan-To-Go, an expansion of the brand’s take-out offer. The company’s sourdough bakery and croissanterie, based at its new flagship roastery near King’s Cross, is creating a weekly changing patisserie range, while there are breakfast and lunch dishes alongside healthy drinks and craft coffee. All Caravan-To-Go transactions are cashless, while the team has launched a reusable lunchbox and coffee cup scheme.
JD Wetherspoon submits fresh plans for Welwyn Garden City hotel and bar: JD Wetherspoon has submitted a fresh planning application to develop a hotel and bar in Welwyn Garden City (population 43,252) in a long-running saga that dates to the company’s acquisition of a site in the Hertfordshire town in April 2015. The company wants to build a 13-bedroom hotel in Parkway, a move that has seen two applications turned down. Wetherspoon would invest more than £1.5m in the project, creating up to 50 jobs. A hotel bar has also been included in plans that have seen proposals for a beer garden removed. Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin told Welwyn Hatfield Times: “We are well aware there has been localised opposition to Wetherspoon opening in Parkway. However, it should also be noted we have received a lot of positive support too.” The building is a three-storey 1920s house that once housed the Maynard Gallery and a clinic for mental health services. The building has been empty since late 2014.
The Athenian opens seventh site, in Tooting: Greek street food restaurant The Athenian has opened its seventh site, in south London’s Tooting Market. Founders Efthymios Vasilakis and Neofytos Christodoulou have continued their tradition of naming each venue after an Athens neighbourhood, with the Tooting outlet called Petroupoli. Its design takes inspiration from a traditional Greek urban market, while the restaurant offers Greek street food dishes alongside Hellenic craft beer, wine and speciality soft drinks. Vasilakis and Christodoulou launched The Athenian in 2014 as a small street food venture offering freshly made souvlaki. Since then they have opened venues in White City, Victoria, Shoreditch, Elephant and Castle, Southbank Market and Bristol, with plans to expand further throughout 2018 and 2019.
Vale of Glamorgan Brewery gets go-ahead for first micro-pub: Barry-based Vale of Glamorgan Brewery has been given the go-ahead to open its first micro-pub, in Cardiff. The company has been granted permission by the city council to launch the Radyr Tap in an empty building in Station Road. It will be the first pub in the area for 15 years following the closure of the Radyr Arms in 2003. In a planning statement, Vale of Glamorgan Brewery said it wanted to “provide a much-needed venue to serve as a local watering hole and social space as well as somewhere to celebrate the beer trade in Radyr”. The Radyr Tap, which is expected to open in time for August bank holiday, will stock the brewery’s own beer as well as local ale, wine and spirits. There will be 36 seats in the pub with up to eight outside, reports Wales Online.
Epic Hospitality Group to operate two new-build Liverpool hotels: Epic Hospitality Group, led by Simon Beer, has been appointed to operate two hotels in Liverpool that are currently under development. The company has assumed management control of a £20m property in Seel Street. The 128-bedroom venue is nearing completion and will comprise rooftop suites, terraces with unobstructed views of the city, a bar and gym. An outline deal for a second hotel in the Baltic neighbourhood has been agreed, allowing work to start on-site next month. The £70m, 306-bedroom property will have views across Liverpool’s south docks. Both sites are being developed by Elliot Group and will incorporate a food and beverage offer. Beer told Insider Media: “We have been at the cutting edge of the aparthotel movement for a number of years and this deal allows us to expand our portfolio further to encompass the luxury four-star hotel experience. The Seel Street and Baltic properties are both in distinctive neighbourhoods with a dynamic vibe and we’ll seek to reflect that character in our service offer and decor.” Elliot Lawless, of Elliot Group, added: “Simon and his team have a shelf-full of awards for their outstanding hospitality and their TripAdvisor reviews say it all. They are a great partner that understands the Liverpool market intimately.”