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Tue 21st Aug 2018 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Luke Johnson part of consortium that acquires Hereford hotel: A consortium of predominantly Herefordshire-based investors, including sector investor Luke Johnson, has acquired The Green Dragon Hotel in Hereford. Johnson, who lives near Malvern and owns Penyard House Hotel, near Ross-on Wye, is understood to be the largest shareholder in the group. The consortium intends to restore the hotel in Broad Street to its former glory with a long-term programme of extensive refurbishment and business development. The project has been led by Julian Vaughan, with support from Christian Dangerfield, acting for Blue Sky Corporate Finance. Vaughan has spent much of his life in the hotel industry and he was, until recently, commercial director of Journey, a leading hotel branding and marketing company. He has also been involved in transforming his wife’s family home at Dewsall Court into one of the county’s most popular wedding and events venues. Robin Sheppard, founder and chairman of Bespoke Hotels, the UK’s largest independent hotel group, and chairman of The Green Dragon Hotel’s new board of directors, said: “The Green Dragon Hotel is a real gem and its restoration should be a tremendous boost for Hereford and Herefordshire. Julian and Christian have some very exciting ideas about how to reclaim its position at the heart of the city with broader national appeal." The Green Dragon Hotel has 83 bedrooms, representing nearly a quarter of Hereford’s hotel bedroom inventory, and contains some of the city’s largest internal hospitality spaces. As a grade II-listed building, it retains many of its original interior and external features. Speaking in his role as the hotel’s new managing director, Vaughan said: “There has been a coaching inn on the site of The Green Dragon Hotel for hundreds of years and we feel strongly that it should be a thriving and dynamic part of Hereford’s future. We plan to celebrate its past, while creating a 21st century meeting-point for Herefordshire's leisure and business communities. Five million tourists visit our county every year but relatively few come into the city – we see that as a real opportunity. Herefordshire is home to a huge number of fantastic and innovative independent food and drink producers; we want to create a showcase for them in The Green Dragon Hotel, which will ultimately attract visitors from all over the world.” The hotel will continue to trade as normal and remain open during the phased refurbishment programme, which will begin in the winter. No job losses are anticipated.

Industry News:

Propel Multi Club Conference opens for bookings, two free places for operators: The final Propel Multi Club Conference of 2018 is open for bookings. The full-day event takes place on Thursday, 1 November at the Grange Hotel, St Paul's, London. Multi-site operators of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele at

Douglas Jack – '2018 on track to be first year of supply growth in wet-led pubs since 2004': Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has said 2018 is on track to be the first year of supply growth in wet-led pubs since 2004. He said: "As expected, summer weather and events have exaggerated established trends that are being more influenced by the supply-side (historically volatile) than demand (rising gradually, overall). We have previously shown how short-term pub trading is positively correlated to the weather versus slightly negatively for restaurants. July’s figures (from the Coffer Peach Tracker) are partially explained by the average temperature being 2.2 degrees celsius higher than July 2017. As the previous nine months averaged 0.8 degrees celsius below the prior year, the trends (we have seen) must be largely structural. To the extent weather comparables matter – they should favour pubs for the next three quarters. Structural issues (not weather) are driving supply. The number of wet-led pubs rose by 0.5% in the second quarter (+0.7% year to date); as a result, this year is on track to be the first year of supply growth in wet-led pubs since 2004. The number of food-led pubs fell by 1.7% in the second quarter, following broadly flat supply since 2006. Despite the headwinds, the number of restaurants increased by 0.1% in the second quarter, and has remained flat since the 21% jump in supply between 2011 and 2015. Pub estates are developing their event-led drink propositions, orientated around premium products. We expect changing consumer behaviour and market supply to favour the wet-led estates of Shepherd Neame ('Add', target price 1,325p), Fuller's (Add, target price 1,150p) and Ei Group ('Buy', target price 175p). The next update in the licensed retail sector will be The Restaurant Group’s ('Sell', target price 220p) interim results on 31 August."

UKHospitality welcomes prime minister’s statement on European citizens' rights to stay in UK if no-deal Brexit: UKHospitality has welcomed prime minister Theresa May's affirmation European citizens will be granted the right to stay in the UK if there is a no-deal Brexit. It is estimated about one in eight of all staff working in hospitality are from other EU nations. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The prime minister’s statement gives businesses much-needed clarity on the future of its workforce as we leave the EU, with or without a deal. It rightly acknowledges the contribution made by EU nationals to UK businesses. In hospitality, EU workers help to ease acute skills and labour gaps, while the industry works to encourage more British people to choose careers in our sector. Allowing existing EU citizens the right to stay goes some way to support the needs of our business and will allow the sector to continue to grow, invest and benefit the UK economy.”

Company News:

St Andrews Brewing Company closes crowdfunding campaign after raising more than £645,000: Craft brewer St Andrews Brewing Company has closed its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to expand its pub estate and brewery after raising more than £645,000. The company, owned by Philip Mackey and Tim Butler, was initially aiming to raise £400,000 and was offering 5.06% equity in return for the investment. It has now closed the campaign with 754 investors pledging £646,100. St Andrews Brewing Company plans to use the funds towards the cost of its new venue in Dundee – Caird Hall – as it adds to its pubs in St Andrews and Edinburgh. It will also use the investment to expand production at its brewery. The pitch stated: “Our vision is to establish our brand worldwide as a creator of brilliant beers and the perfect places to enjoy them. Running great venues in tandem with our brewery provides a showcase for 25% of our beer. Our St Andrews and Edinburgh pubs will soon be joined by our Caird Hall venue near Dundee’s new V&A museum and £1bn waterfront redevelopment. With this raise we aim to make this a flagship destination for the best of Scottish beer, food and hospitality. Since returning brewing to St Andrews after a 100-year absence, we’ve scooped a World Beer award, plus Society of Independent Brewers and Great Taste awards. To meet growing demand, we need to expand our brewery. Investment will fund kit capable of quintupling our production to one million pints in 2019.”

Manchester franchise of Randall & Aubin goes into administration: The Manchester franchise of Soho-based seafood restaurant and oyster bar Randall & Aubin has gone into administration. The restaurant, which opened in Bridge Street in June last year, has accumulated losses of £669,000 despite having a turnover of £1.44m. Insolvency practitioners CFS Restructuring have been appointed as administrators. The brand, which is co-owned by television chef Ed Baines, started life as a butcher in Soho in 1911 and has been operating as a restaurant in the capital for the past 20 years. The Manchester lease is advertised at £80,000 a year and a sale is expected to be completed within a matter of weeks. Baines told the Manchester Evening News: “The current operator is not in a position to continue trading as he is. In year one they have built some considerable debts and have found themselves in a position that’s unsustainable to carry on. It’s a large site and as a seafood restaurant specialising in wild food it is notoriously hard to find quality suppliers so there were massive early costs with logistics.” Baines and restaurateur Jamie Poulton own the Soho business.

Soho House to continue Cecconi's roll out with Shoreditch opening next month: Soho House will continue the roll-out of its Cecconi's pizza brand by opening its latest London site next month, in Shoreditch. The company is opening the venue at its forthcoming Redchurch Townhouse in Whitby Street – a boutique hotel/restaurant in the style of Dean Street Townhouse. With 37 bedrooms upstairs, there will be a Cecconi’s restaurant and bar on the ground floor. It will have the same menu as the Soho original with a short selection of cicchetti and pasta, a range of zucchini spaghetti and a selection of pizzas, reports Hot Dinners. Soho House also operates Cecconi's in Mayfair and at its The Ned development in the City as well as six sites overseas. 

North Yorkshire restaurant launches augmented reality colouring app for children: Alexander's Bar and Kitchen, the restaurant in Skipton operated by entertainment agency Peel Entertainment Group, has developed an augmented reality colouring experience for children. Peel Entertainment Group has enlisted the help of its technology division, Peel Interactive, to develop the app. The app, which can be accessed via Alexander's in-house iPads, enables children aged three and above to colour in two fantasy characters and then "bring their drawings to life" by activating content that converts them into fully animated, interactive 3D characters. The app also features a digital game incorporating the same characters. Peel Entertainment Group managing director Susannah Daley said: "Utilising Peel Interactive's skillset to create this children's colouring app for Alexander's makes perfect sense, as it enhances our already extensive family friendly offer."

Bold Street Coffee and Graffiti Spirits brew up new venture: Graffiti Spirits, the Liverpool-based independent bar and restaurant group owned by Matt Farrell and John Ennis, has partnered with Bold Street Coffee ahead of the latter's return to its original venue. Following Bold Street Coffee's successful crowdfunding campaign in May, which raised more than £35,000 from 884 backers, it has teamed up with Graffiti Spirits as part of plans to further expand the brand. Bold Street Coffee is returning to 89 Bold Street in October with a downstairs bar to follow in 2019. Sam Tawil, who owns the business with Katy Monty, told Insider Media: "Graffiti Spirits has always been hugely supportive, allowing us to hold pop-ups in its venues during the Kickstarter campaign and now at (its restaurant) Santa Maluco, but its advice and expertise since has been incredible. We knew we wanted to do something a little bit different when we got back into 89 but obviously our experience lies in coffee shops. Partnering with Graffiti Spirits means we have access to its incredible know-how and contacts so we can take Bold Street Coffee to the next level." Farrell added: "We think independent businesses are hugely important to Liverpool's growing food and drink scene. Having been friends with Sam and Katy for many years, we obviously were devastated for them when problems arose with the venue. Being partners allows us to help Bold Street Coffee in expanding the brand and becoming the number one independent coffee shop in the north west."

Monty’s Deli hits £150,000 crowdfunding target for expansion: Jewish soul food trader Monty’s Deli has hit its £150,000 target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to roll out sites in a number of new indoor food markets across the UK. Mark Ogus and Owen Barratt, who launched the concept as a market stall in 2012, raised £50,000 in late 2016 on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to open the first bricks and mortar site, at a former bakery in Hoxton Street, Hackney. They have since opened a second site – in the new “Kitchens” development at Old Spitalfields Market. Now Monty’s, which is named after Ogus’ grandfather, is planning further expansion and is embarking on the new fund-raise, offering 9.68% equity in return for investment. So far 185 investors have pledged £162,000 and the campaign is now "overfunding" with 17 days remaining. The company stated: “The idea was to give London something it had been lacking for a long time – a real ‘kosher-style’ Jewish deli, where the meat and mustard, bread and pastries are all made on-site. This place would hold all the secret recipes that make a great deli. We call this ‘Jewish soul food’ because, in essence, soul food is all about roots.” Ogus said: “Our experience in markets is proven and our love for the food we make unrivalled. We have spent years perfecting recipes and we now have a year under our belts as restaurateurs. The stage is set for us to roll out Monty’s Deli across London.”

Shropshire hotel that entered administration following legionnaires outbreak shuts and goes on market: A Shropshire hotel that entered administration this month after suffering trading difficulties following a legionnaires outbreak has closed. The outbreak hit The Feathers Hotel in Ludlow in 2017, leading to an investigation by Public Health England in the West Midlands and Shropshire. The hotel remained open having gone into administration on 2 August but has now shut, with the loss of 16 jobs. Ongoing trading difficulties as the result of the legionnaires outbreak meant it was no longer viable for the business to remain open. Joint administrators Raj Mittal and Steve Stokes, partners at FRP Advisory, are seeking a buyer for the hotel and have instructed property agents Lambert Smith Hampton and Christie & Co to market the property. Mittal said: “Unfortunately, due to ongoing trading difficulties it has not been possible for the Feathers Hotel in Ludlow to continue operating. We are now focused on concluding a sale of the hotel on behalf of creditors. To that end we are working closely with Lambert Smith Hampton and Christie & Co to find a buyer for the hotel. We are providing every support to all affected staff and very much hope a sale can be secured to allow this iconic building to continue to operate as a hotel.” Lambert Smith Hampton director Tim Simmons added: "The Feathers Hotel is widely regarded as one of the most attractive hotels in the country. We have received good initial interest from a range of operators and are pleased to be advising the administrators in relation to maximising the value for creditors.”

Lundenwic duo open cafe concept in Spitalfields: The duo behind the Lundenwic coffee shop in Aldwych and scotch egg company Scotchtails in Borough Market have opened an all-day cafe in Spitalfields, east London. Oliver Hiam and Dominic Hamdy have launched Crispin in Duval Row. The cafe is housed in a purpose-built "geometric pavilion" with space for 40 people and also features a "listening bar". Crispin has a seasonally changing menu as well as coffee provided by Brixton’s Assembly Coffee and a rotating wine list. The menu to start with includes the charred broccoli and romanesco sandwich; and the Merguez sausage with daal, green sauce and egg. The bar, which has a separate snack menu, features seven stools where customers can don a pair of headphones and listen to Crispin's record collection, reports Hot Dinners.
Cheltenham-based restaurateur has plans for third site refused: Cheltenham-based restaurateur Jay Rahman has had his plans for a third site in the town turned down. Rahman wanted to convert cookware shop Cheltenham Kitchener in Queen’s Circus into a restaurant. But his application for the grade II-listed building have been refused by Cheltenham Borough Council because it found proposals would have a “negative impact on the fabric of the property”. Rahman, who hopes to launch the restaurant elsewhere in the town, told Gloucestershire Live: “It was going to be small plates and tapas. The kitchen would have been on show. There would have been a long bar through the whole restaurant and everything would have been displayed.” The council is now considering plans for a cafe concept called Clementine’s at the site, which have been submitted by a new applicant and largely keeps the existing format of the building. Rahman owns Indian restaurant Prithvi while he is launching Holee Cow in Winchcombe Street in October.

The Cheese Bar returns to Crowdcube as it bids to raise £200,000 for second site, in Covent Garden: The Cheese Bar has launched a £200,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to open a restaurant in Covent Garden for its second London site. Mathew Carver, who traded at music festivals as The Cheese Truck, opened the first Cheese Bar in Camden Market in March 2017 after raising £126,000 on Crowdcube. Now he has returned to the platform in a bid to open a site in Covent Garden and is offering 5.41% equity in return for the investment. The ground-floor Covent Garden space will be lined with display fridges showcasing maturing cheese. Cheese will be British only including varieties from La Latteria and Gringa Dairy in Peckham, while small plates will include smoked mozzarella sticks with chilli jam alongside larger dishes such as blue cheese raclette with salt beef and crispy leeks. In a nod to The Cheese Truck, the restaurant will also offer cheese toasties. The candlelit basement wine bar will offer cheese boards and charcuterie alongside a 70-bottle wine list to complement the cheese. Carver said: “There is nowhere else in the world with a cheese scene as exciting as the UK’s so we’re looking forward to bringing even more incredible cheese to central London. The response to our first crowdfunding campaign was unbelievable so we’re hoping London’s cheese fans have an appetite for more!”

Bristol-based The Burger Joint down to two sites after closing Fishponds outlet: Bristol-based burger restaurant The Burger Joint is down to two sites in the city after closing its venue in Fishponds. The company has shut the venue in Fishponds Road, which opened in February 2016, following a review of the Bristol food market and the site's performance. Owner Dan Bekhradnia took the decision to close the restaurant after the food delivery company that serves Fishponds made the decision to stop delivering food via a third-party company. It meant restaurants using the platform would have to deliver food themselves – something The Burger Joint was unable to do. Bekhradnia told the Bristol Post: "It has been a very tough decision to take, but it was sealed following the decision of the delivery company that serves Fishponds to stop doing so, which at a stroke has had a significant impact on sales. Our core market remains young professionals and the under-30s and we are seeing strong sales in our Clifton and Bedminster restaurants, which continue to be as busy as ever."
Blackpool-based operators open second site: Blackpool-based operators Gareth and Pauline Lai-Thomas have opened their second site. The husband-and-wife team has launched Michael Wans Wok Inn on the Promenade – the first noodle bar on the Fylde coast. It serves a variety of dishes including Chinese, Indonesian, Malaysian and Thai noodles as well as curry. The inspiration for the decor comes from the couple’s travels. Gareth Lai-Thomas told the Blackpool Gazette: “Two of our favourite destinations are Penang in Malaysia and Budapest in Hungary.” The Lai-Thomas’ also own Michael Wan’s Mandarin restaurant in Clifton Street.
Cheshire-based Mobberley Brewhouse opens first bar: Cheshire-based brewery Mobberley Brewhouse has opened its first bar. The company, owned by James Roberts, has launched Project 53 in Market Place, Stockport. The bars offers Mobberley’s own beer as well as a rotating range of guest ales across 11 keg lines and three cask hand pulls. The bar also specialises in gin, serving 30 varieties mainly from British small-batch producers, along with cider, other spirits and wine. The food menu comprises a selection of handcrafted pizzas. The décor has a stripped-back, industrial feel featuring concrete floors, bare brickwork, wood cladding, beer barrel tables and pot plants with trailing foliage. Roberts, who founded the brewery in 2011, told the Manchester Evening News: “I've followed closely what's happening with American breweries and in the US they've had their own taprooms for years. I've always really liked the idea and it's something I've been working up to, up until now." As previously reported, the company is also opening Project 53 in Knutsford on the site of The Tap And Bottle in Minshull Street. It will have the same offering as the Stockport site.
Ten Entertainment Group opens Chichester site following £500,000 investment: Ten Entertainment Group, the UK operator of 44 bowling and family entertainment centres, has opened a site in Chichester, West Sussex, following a £500,000 investment. The company has revamped the former Lakeside Superbowl at Chichester Gate Leisure Park. The venue comprises a bar, 16 bowling lanes, a restaurant and a range of amusement machines. General manager Danny Bean told Insider Media: “We are very proud to have been able to open a fresh and modern site in Chichester. Before Ten Entertainment Group took over it was rundown and long overdue a complete refit. Fortunately, we were in a strong position to be able to give this multiplex the love it required with a major cash injection.”

Llandudno-based operator submits plans for second micro-pub: Llandudno-based operator Dave Guinn has submitted plans to open his second micro-pub. Guinn opened his first venue in the Welsh town in October with the launch of Tapps in Madoc Street. Now he has applied to Conwy Council to convert a former osteopathy in the Craig-y-Don suburb into The Ascot Taproom. The name is a nod towards Ascot House, the first building in Craig-y-Don. Guinn told the Daily Post: “We have been overwhelmed by the success of Tapps and the positive response from customers. As a result, we would like to open this second, smaller premises in Craig-y-Don. We want The Ascot Taproom to provide an intimate hub for people to enjoy an array of local ale, beer and cider, primarily concentrating on local micro-breweries and their products.”

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