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Fri 26th Oct 2018 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Deliveroo opens 1,000th virtual restaurant, eyes 2,000-site milestone by mid-2019: Deliveroo has launched its 1,000th virtual restaurant, at a Jamie’s Pizzeria in Taiwan, and said it expects to pass the 2,000-site milestone by mid-2019. The delivery company said increasing numbers of restaurants were choosing to launch virtual offers to help drive revenue at a time of increased cost pressures. Deliveroo said virtual restaurants allowed companies to attract more customers by offering new or complementary dishes from their kitchen but under new branding. It also allowed them to offer bespoke menus without needing to invest in new supply streams or property. A virtual brand appears as a separate restaurant on Deliveroo with a new identity driven by a new cuisine or menu offer. There are now more than 400 virtual restaurants on the Deliveroo platform in the UK since the initiative launched in the country last year. The delivery company pointed to Bristol-based, dirty burger brand Oowee Diner, which trialled a vegan virtual brand in Deliveroo Editions, London. Following its success, the owners decided to turn the virtual brand into a bricks and mortar restaurant in Bristol. Deliveroo vice-president of special projects Caleb Merkl said: “Virtual restaurant brands are just one example of how we’re using technology to support our 50,000 restaurants globally.” The Taiwan opening saw Deliveroo enter its 13th global market.

Industry News:

UKHospitality warns chancellor 625,000 sector jobs could be lost without business taxation reform: UKHospitality has warned the government hundreds of thousands of vital sector jobs could be lost and investment stunted unless it takes urgent action over business taxation. The Economic Contribution of the UKHospitality Industry Report highlights best and worst-case scenarios for the hospitality sector and how, if it continues to be overtaxed without government support, a huge 625,000 jobs could be lost during the next five years. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “This is sobering news and should serve as a huge warning sign for the government. Thousands of hospitality businesses including hotels, pubs, restaurants, visitor attractions, nightclubs and cafes face a £113m business rates bombshell from next April. They are increasingly struggling from the effects of a disastrous rates revaluation last year and an archaic tax system that is shutting down the UK’s growth engine and resulting in a bloodbath on our high streets. The threat of losing more than half a million UK jobs must surely be reason enough for immediate action. We call on the chancellor to announce a freeze on business rates increases in the Budget and introduce a new digital tax to slash the rates burden on hospitality from April 2020.” Keith Knowles, chief executive of pan-European hostel operator Beds and Bars, added: “We urgently need root-and-branch reform of the business rates system. As a group our total property tax bill increased £675,000 this year – a rise of 64% – with huge double-digit hikes across UK venues compared with an average of 2% increases for our European sites. This severely restricts our ability to invest and create jobs. This government must decide whether it wants to continue to create an environment for recession or build an environment for investment, growth and job creation instead.”

Restaurant and retail district Coal Drops Yard opens in King’s Cross: New restaurant and retail district Coal Drops Yard has opened in King’s Cross. The Heatherwick Studio-designed destination features more than 50 restaurants, cafes and stores in a reimagined set of buildings and arches next to Granary Square and Regent’s Canal. The Victorian yard originally handled the eight million tonnes of coal delivered to London each year. Restaurants opening in the first phase include three ventures from the Hart Brothers – a third site for Mexican taqueria concept El Pastor, a fourth for Barrafina and new-concept wine bar and restaurant The Drop. Other operators include a debut UK site for Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse’s chocolate brand and Vermuteria, a new restaurant by another Michelin-starred chef, Anthony Demetre. The venture also features Lower Stable Street, which will host pop-ups, events and experiential stores. A second phase of units will open next month, including a second site for Hackney-based Morty and Bob’s and Bodega Rita’s, a new concept from restaurateurs Missy Flynn and Gabriel Pryce. Ducasse will also open a cafe at the site late this year or in early 2019. Heatherwick Studio founder Thomas Heatherwick said: “These amazing Victorian structures were never built to be inhabited but formed part of the sealed-off infrastructure of London. We’ve been excited by the opportunity to finally open up the site.” The King’s Cross estate is owned by the King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership, made up of Argent and pension fund AustralianSuper. 

Casual Dining 2019 unveils first raft of speakers: Casual Dining 2019 has unveiled its first raft of speakers. The event will take place at a new venue this year – ExCeL London – on 27 and 28 February. The line-up will include a record 220 exhibitors plus 50 speakers appearing in 25 free seminars across two dedicated theatres, both sponsored by Yumpingo. Among names announced are five chief executives including Casual Dining Group’s Steve Richards, who oversees brands such as Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Las Iguanas, BrewDog’s chief of retail David MacDowell, and UKHospitality’s Kate Nicholls. Jon Knight, head of Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, whose opening-day keynote speech last year was widely covered in the national and trade press, will return to the show to discuss the brand’s refresh 12 months on. Meanwhile Mark Jones, who joined Carluccio’s as chief executive earlier this year, will make his Casual Dining speaking debut.  

Company News:

C&C Group boss – Matthew Clark only lost 3% of its distribution amid disruption: C&C Group boss Stephen Glancey has told Propel that the Matthew Clark wholesale business it acquired after the collapse of Conviviality earlier this year has proven resilient – and has only lost 3% of its distribution points despite supply shortages during its final days under Conviviality. He said: “The business was in a bit of a mess but it’s getting there now. It’s an ongoing challenge but we are pretty happy with where we are, having brought back experienced management. It has had great support from a lot of suppliers and the Matthew Clark business has an inherent strength.” Glancey stressed how critical the Christmas trading period would be for the wholesaler since the period delivered a “lot of profit”. “It is well positioned for a good Christmas,” he added. Meanwhile, Glancey said Bibendum was “back on the front foot” after an even more challenging period than the one Matthew Clark had gone through. The company had even picked up new accounts, Glancey said, although he didn’t expect any financial growth until next year. Of the company’s Admiral Taverns investment, Glancey said it was a “good platform” that had a “war-chest” to allow expansion when the “right opportunity arises”.  

HMSHost International to launch 11 sites at Istanbul airport following tender win: HMSHost International, which operates food and beverage concessions in airports, has won a tender from Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen International airport to create seven food and beverage sites in its new domestic boarding hall, one landside restaurant and three staff locations. The 11 venues will add to the 16 sites HMSHost International has been operating at the airport since 2012, with all new venues to be fully operational by mid-2019. The seven-year contract will generate an estimated total turnover of €146m, including incremental sales of €105m. Operators to open in the boarding hall will include international brands such as KFC and Starbucks, while quick service offering Qfta and 40 Degrees Bar & Brewery will “appeal to local customers”. Other HMSHost concepts such as Puro Gusto, Kiosco and Kiosk will provide a more “tailored and personal menu in smaller footprint locations”. The new landside restaurant, Happy Moons, will be an Istanbul-style dining concept. HMSHost International chief executive Walter Seib said: “We are proud of the co-operation, trust and performance of our partnership and look forward to an even longer and more successful friendship for many years to come. Together, we make our guests feel good on the move.” Ersel Göral, chief executive of Sabiha Gökçen terminal operator ISG, added: “HMSHost is an important business partner. This will become even more meaningful in the newly opened domestic boarding hall.”

Amber Taverns eyes first Wiltshire pub: Wet-led community operator Amber Taverns has applied to Swindon Borough Council for planning permission to turn an empty shop in Bridge Street into its latest pub. It will be a first site for the company in Swindon and Wiltshire – its nearest pub is The Doctors in Gloucester’s Eastgate Street. Operations director Gary Roberts said Amber Taverns had been looking to find a site in Swindon for a while. He said: “Swindon and Swindon Old Town have been on our radar for a few years as part of our general expansion. As we only purchase freeholds, sometimes it takes a while to identify an opportunity.” The planning application states the ground floor of the building would be given over to the main body of the pub, while upstairs the company hopes to install a second bar in the future serving a rooftop terrace. Roberts added: “It will be a modern community pub in the town centre. We don’t do food, we show all sorts of sports on BT and Sky Sports and we don’t allow minors on the premises.”

Comptoir Libanais to launch flagship London site next month: Comptoir Libanais, the Lebanese canteen owned by Comptoir Group and specialising in fresh Middle Eastern dishes, is to launch its flagship site in London next month. The 100-cover restaurant will open in Tooley Street, London Bridge, in late November with a dedicated cocktail bar offering drinks inspired by flavours of the Middle East, such as vodka with pomegranate and rose water. The decor will feature Comptoir Libanais’ signature mix of colourful tiles, brass tables, oil-cloth chairs, harrisa tins, vintage silver trays, family pictures and fez hats to create a “souk” feel. The venue will also sell Middle Eastern ingredients, sweet treats, homeware and the brand’s cookbooks. Comptoir Libanais founder Tony Kitous said: “We can’t wait to share our love of Lebanese food and culture with the locals of London Bridge. It is a perfect location for us.” Comptoir Group owns and operates 26 restaurants (19 Comptoir Libanais, two Yalla Yalla, three Shawa, one Levant and one Kenza) and three franchise Comptoir Libanais sites – in Heathrow, Gatwick and Utrecht. Another franchise operation will launch with HMSHost in Cheshire Oaks next month, while the group has agreed terms on additional franchised sites with HMSHost to open in Dubai and the UK next year. 

Brindisa to open sixth site, in Battersea next week: Spanish restaurant group Brindisa is to open its sixth site next week, in London’s Battersea Power Station development. Focusing on home cooking and recipes collected by founder Monika Linton during her 30 years of bringing Spanish produce to the UK, the menu will include new dishes such as cured smoked cecina beef with dark chocolate and manchego, and salt cold with anchovy and romesco salad. The restaurant will also feature a cheese and charcuterie bar, while natural and reclaimed materials will be used throughout the venue, with muted tones of wood and terracotta tiling. Seating will comprise heavy steel and wooden tables, banquettes, glass drop pendant lighting and glass doors opening on to a terrace. There will also be a central bar for counter dining and a revolving bar snacks menu alongside Spanish craft beer on tap and Spanish wine. Alongside an open kitchen, the venue will also feature Brindisa’s first “home kitchen”, which will host supper clubs for up to 12 diners, monthly tastings and cook-offs. Linton said: “Tapas Brindisa Battersea unites all we love about the Brindisa family and our food.” Co-founder Ratnesh Bagdai added: “Our new home is a really exciting step for Brindisa. It’s not often such a fantastic location presents itself.” Brindisa’s other restaurants are in London Bridge, Shoreditch, Soho (two sites) and South Kensington, with a food store and stall in Borough Market. 

McDonald’s giving £500,000 in grants to dairy farmers: McDonald’s is giving £500,000 in “Farm Forward” grants to dairy farmers who supply Arla. The grant scheme has paid out more than £156,000 so far to 19 farmers around the UK. The initiative was set up to support the future of the British dairy industry and fund applications that raise animal welfare standards, provide economic benefit to the farmer’s business or make environmental improvements. Dairy co-operative Arla supplies organic milk to the UK supply chain for McDonald’s and the two companies have a partnership that has lasted more than 30 years and led to a number of collaborations on agriculture initiatives. Lancashire dairy farmer Ian Pye was one of the 19 Arla farmers to benefit from the grant scheme. Pye was awarded £5,000 to improve the welfare of his herd via a range of new equipment. Derbyshire-based farmer David Dilks replaced a 1km section of cow track linking two sections of his land and in Shropshire, organic dairy farmer Chris Jerman used his £10,000 grant to improve the welfare of his cattle with a new cowshed.

The Coconut Tree to open second Bristol site only month after city debut, fourth in total: Sri Lankan street food operator The Coconut Tree is to open its second site in Bristol next month and its fourth in total. The 70-cover restaurant will open at The Triangle in Clifton on Thursday, 22 November only a month after the brand launched a site in the city’s Cheltenham Road. The Coconut Tree offers tapas-style plates such as battered spicy cuttlefish and family-style sharing dishes including hoppers – a bowl-shaped coconut milk pancake served with sambal and Sri Lankan salsa. The menu also includes “devilled dishes” (meat or fish cooked in spices and stir-fried with sweet peppers and crushed chillies), Sri Lankan street food dish kotthu (finely chopped rotti cooked with egg, vegetables and/or meat), and “cocotails”. Brand manager Anna Garrod said: “We are so thrilled Bristol has been this welcoming, it’s more than we could have hoped for. It has been a full house since the launch in Cheltenham Road.” The Coconut Tree’s other sites are in Cheltenham and Oxford. 

Orange Brands Management to open Sushisamba’s second Covent Garden site, next week: Orange Brands Management is to open a second site in Covent Garden for its Sushisamba brand. Following two years of planning, the venue will finally launch at Opera Terrace in The Piazza on Thursday, 1 November to join its sister site at the top of Heron Tower in Bishopsgate. Sushisamba offers a fusion of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine. The new venue will take over a site formerly occupied by Brasserie Blanc. The decor will feature a new glazed design to replace the conservatory, while the bar will have a living ceiling. A terrace will offer views of the piazza while the private dining room will have its own balcony. Orange Brands Management also operates Sushisamba sites in Las Vegas, Miami Beach and Amsterdam, plus restaurant Duck & Waffle in the City of London and offshoot Duck & Waffle Local in St James’s.

Fernandez & Wells departs Soho site: Coffee shop chain Fernandez & Wells has left its Soho site blaming dramatic rent increases. Designer eyewear company Oliver Peoples has taken over the site and is reported to have paid the highest ever premium in Soho for a shop of its size. The unit offers 331 square feet on the ground floor and 249 square feet in the basement. Fernandez & Wells was the first business to open a specialist barista coffee shop in Soho but following dramatic increases in rents during the past ten years, the company has decided to concentrate on the larger, all-day concept it runs at Somerset House and its other central London sites – in Denmark Street, Duke Street and Exhibition Road. Twentyretail advised Fernandez & Wells, while Oliver Peoples was represented by Stephen Kane & Company. In March, Fernandez & Wells founder Jorge Fernandez launched artisan bakery Fortitude Bakehouse in Bloomsbury. 

Michelin-starred brothers add cabins to Kent gastro-pub: Brothers Stephen and Phil Harris have added accommodation to their Michelin-starred gastro-pub The Sportsman in Seasalter, Kent. The venue, owned by brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame, now offers bed and breakfast in five luxury cabins. The purpose-built cabins have been designed for two adults and comprise a lounge and dining room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. They also offer free Wi-Fi, a double shower, digital radio and a selection of books and board games. Paths have been created to each cabin lit by lamps, with a bridge over the brook running through the site. Phil Harris said: “We received a lot of enquiries from customers who wanted to stay over but the pub didn’t have any accommodation, although it had a large plot of surrounding land. With support from Shepherd Neame, we were able to build these cabins. Gastronomic tourism is on the rise, with people choosing to stay in an area and eating at three or four restaurants.” Shepherd Neame’s director of retail and tenanted operations Nigel Bunting added: “We have been working with the team at The Sportsman for almost two decades now and we’re very proud of our relationship. When they came to us with this idea to utilise the pub’s location by introducing accommodation, we were delighted to offer our support.”

Ukai team to launch Italian restaurant with Asian flavours in Notting Hill: The team behind Japanese sushi venue Ukai in Notting Hill is to launch a modern Italian restaurant that will incorporate Asian flavours. Artisan will open near Ukai in Portobello Road in early November offering variations on classic Italian dishes. The kitchen will be led by Roberto Vezzani, who also owns a pasta store in Italy. Dishes on his menu will include grilled octopus with artichoke salad, squid-ink houmous and tarragon chimichurri, and sous vide veal with tart mayonnaise dressing and tuna tartar. Artisan will also offer pizza with unusual options such as tiger prawns with pesto and sun-dried tomato. Japanese influences will appear in dishes such as yuzu mustard baby chicken, Hot Dinners reports. The drinks list will include cocktails such as the Italian Fizz, an olive oil-washed gin with homemade bay leaf syrup, elderflower and prosecco. 

Bryn Williams launches Wales’ first food academy: Chef Bryn Williams has launched a food academy, the first in Wales. Williams is giving Coleg Cambria students an opportunity to work and train in his restaurants. Launched at Cambria’s Y Celstryn restaurant in Deeside, the Bryn Williams Academy aims to help plug the skills gap in hospitality and catering. A passionate advocate for education and training, Williams has already welcomed work experience students from the college to his Porth Eirias restaurant in Colwyn Bay – recently awarded a Bib Gourmand – and Odette’s in Primrose Hill, London. Attendees will also have a chance to spend time at Williams’ other London restaurant at Somerset House. “The idea was first discussed about 18 months ago when I spent some time at Coleg Cambria and did a cooking demonstration with the students,” Williams said. “We explored the possibility of doing something more formal together and not long afterwards the Bryn Williams Academy was born. It’s so important we inspire the children of today to become chefs in the future because the industry has grown beyond all comprehension, certainly since I started out more than 20 years ago.”

Sethi family launches Iranian concept in Soho: Karam, Jyo and Sunaina Sethi, the family behind JKS Restaurants and London venues such as Bubbledogs, Gymkhana and Brigadiers, have launched Iranian concept Berenjak in Soho. The venture has opened in Romilly Street and reinterprets hole-in-the-wall kebab houses that line the streets of Tehran. Berenjak, which takes its name from brightly coloured, toasted rice eaten at funfairs, is the brainchild of chef Kian Samyani, who has worked at Gymkhana and Brigadiers. Samyani has drawn on his heritage to create signature dishes using seasonal British produce, while interiors feature stained-glass windows, Persian carpets and reclaimed marble tables. The menu includes small plates, kebabs, freshly baked bread and khoresht, a Persian-style stew. The bar offers Persian drink sharbat, with a living wall allowing drinkers to choose fresh herbs to pair with their drink. 

BrewDog launches ‘craft beer airline’: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is to offer the “ultimate immersive experience 35,000 feet in the air” by launching the world’s first “craft beer airline”. BrewDog Airlines will take flight in February with a round-trip between London and Columbus, Ohio. Passengers on board the chartered Boeing 767 will sample a limited edition BrewDog beer “specifically brewed for high altitudes”. The trip will include a four-night stay in Columbus, where guests will tour BrewDog’s brewery, The DogHouse Hotel and beer museum. There will also be tours of the city’s breweries, bars and restaurants and a day trip to Cincinnati. In-flight care packages will include BrewDog eye masks and blankets, alongside a food and beer-pairing menu. Tickets are exclusively for Equity Punks and cost £1,250 per person, including all flights, excursions and accommodation. BrewDog co-founder James Watt said: “We have redesigned the flight experience for optimum beer enjoyment.”

Founders step down from Cotswolds-based gastro-pub chain: The founders of Cotswolds-based gastro-pub chain Turf To Table have stepped down. Sebastian Snow, an executive chef who trained with Antony Worrall Thompson, founded Turf To Table with wife Lana in 2008. Cardiff-headquartered Barkby Group, previously known as Sovereign Mines of Africa, conditionally agreed to buy Turf To Table in June, with the deal comprising three gastro-pubs offering 38 letting rooms in total. Snow has now decided to resign as creative director of the company with immediate effect, with Lana also stepping down. They told Insider Media: “We are no longer involved in the day-to-day running of the business, which includes The Five Alls in Lechlade, The Plough in Kelmscott and The Bull in Fairford. We wish the group every success.” Barkby chief executive Rupert Fraser added: “I would like to thank Sebastian and Lana for all their efforts during the transition from Turf To Table to the Barkby Group and wish them all the best for the future. Group sales remain strong, with good occupancy rates in September across all sites and significant demand and visibility on bookings for the Christmas period.” Snow acquired the lease of The Five Alls in 2012 before buying the freehold of The Plough three years later. The tenancy lease for The Bull was entered into in 2016.

Shutov announces opening date for Bob Bob Ricard sister site: Bob Bob Ricard owner Leonid Shutov is to open its much-delayed sister site – but not until March. Located on level eight of the Leadenhall building – also known as the Cheesegrater – Bob Bob Cité will “break new ground” in design and menu, with the latter overseen by Eric Chavot. The 190-cover restaurant will open on 25 March set across two rooms. Bob Bob Ricard’s “press for Champagne” buttons will also be an integral part of the new site. Shutov told Harden’s: “Good things come to those who wait. I am delighted we will be opening Bob Bob Cité a mere 14 months later than we intended. Bob Bob Ricard was two years late when we built it so I feel this is already a big improvement! One concierge service told us they’ve had more than 5,000 reservation requests for Bob Bob Cité since it has been delayed. I am thrilled that, come March, we will be able to welcome everyone to enjoy Eric’s outstanding food in a restaurant I hope will become as much a City of London landmark as the Cheesegrater itself.”

Former Noma chef to launch Iranian concept Nutshell in Covent Garden: Former Noma chef Leonardo Pereira is to launch Iranian concept Nutshell in Covent Garden. The restaurant will open in St Martin’s Lane in January offering Pereira’s own take on Iranian cuisine and cocktails but using British produce. Pereira has teamed up with husband-and-wife team Mohammad Paknejad and Marwa Alkhalaf for the venture, which will offer snacks such as hay-infused yogurt, freshly baked flatbread and torshi (pickled vegetables). Dishes will include raw scallop with Iranian caviar, and goat leg with grilled onions, buttermilk and coriander, Hot Dinners reports. The restaurant will be set across two floors with table seating upstairs and counter dining on the ground floor. Nutshell will pop-up at Hopscotch in Brick Lane from Saturday (27 October) until the end of the year, where customers will be able to preview dishes. 

Gin brand Gincident starts expansion with second site: Nottingham-based specialist gin concept Gincident, which sells 150 types of gin, has opened a sister site in Derby’s Cathedral Quarter. The brand is co-owned by John Noble and Max Harman, who have opened the venue in Strand Arcade, off Sadler Gate. Instead of a menu, a “ginventory” lists drinks that are each paired with a tonic and garnish by experts at Fentimans. The choice of fruity gins includes pink elderflower, black plum and wild blueberry. Broken down into different strengths, gins range from Ginnocent to Gindulgent and the most alcoholic of all, Ginsanity. The first Gincident opened in Nottingham last summer. As well as craft gin from the UK the Nottingham bar sells varieties from around the world including Belgium, Canada, New Zealand, Slovenia, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Tamarind to relaunch next month: The world’s first Michelin-starred Indian restaurant, Tamarind, will reopen in Mayfair next month following an eight-month refurbishment. The relaunch will see two new executive chefs take charge – Karunesh Khanna and Manav Tuli. Khanna told Harden’s: “We are delighted to be at the helm of the rebirth of one of London’s most iconic and best-loved Indian restaurants.” Dishes will be cooked in a new open kitchen, with a grill and tandoor centre stage. Two floors of glass-fronted dining rooms will be able to cater for 152 diners.

Vegan burger concept Biff’s Jack Shack opens permanent site, in Shoreditch: Vegan burger concept Biff’s Jack Shack has opened its debut permanent site, in Shoreditch, east London. The concept, which has appeared at a number of Kerb markets and pop-ups during the past couple of years, offers deep-fried jackfruit burgers, wings and sides. Taking over a space vacated by another vegan brand, Cook Daily, Biff’s burgers include a new addition, the Jack Bauer Tower Of Power, a double jackfruit patty with deep-fried vegan cheese, potato rosti and vegan aioli in a toasted brioche bun. The venue also offers vegan poutine (fries topped with vegan cheese curds, porcini mushroom, seitan bacon and gravy) alongside a jackfruit chilli bowl and desserts, Hot Dinners reports. All packaging is fully compostable and recyclable, while customers who bring in their own suitable food container receive a 50p discount.

Rotherham-based operator looks to turn post office into bar restaurant for third site: Rotherham-based operator Mark Mcgrail, owner of SME Environmental Holdings, has submitted plans to turn a town centre post office into a bar restaurant for his third site in the South Yorkshire town. Mcgrail, who turned the grade II-listed George Wright Building into a boutique hotel, bar and restaurant earlier this year, wants to turn a building on the corner of Main Street and Market Street into a restaurant, bar and kitchen on the ground floor and basement, with residential apartments on the first and second floors. The plans show space could be created for 84 covers in the restaurant areas with a kitchen in the cellar. The plans state: “The site is in a key location within the town centre with potential to be a key component in the rejuvenation of Rotherham.” All architectural features are to be retained as part of the planned conversion, with the outward appearance of the building expected to change little. Mcgrail also operates 1915 Bar & Bistro in Domine Lane.

South Wales-based operators reopen Cardiff pub for second site: Tom and Sarah Watts-Jones, who operate the award-winning Hare & Hounds in the Vale of Glamorgan, have reopened The Heathcock in Cardiff for their second site. The couple have recreated their successful formula at the pub in Bridge Street using seasonal ingredients and local produce, wine, ale and craft beer. A skittles alley has been converted into extra dining space. The Hare & Hounds was one of only two Welsh venues to receive a Bib Gourmand in the 2018 Michelin Guide. Tom Watts-Jones will remain as head chef at the Hare & Hounds while sous chef Dave Killick will run the kitchen at The Heathcock. Sarah Watts-Jones told Wales Online: “We thought the location was brilliant – you can’t miss the place. There is a lovely village feel about it, which is something we have taken great pride in creating at the Hare & Hounds. The only difference is The Heathcock has a slightly larger menu with more sharing dishes.” The couple intend to convert upstairs space into bed and breakfast rooms.

Leicestershire-based operator secures Derby restaurant for second site: Leicestershire-based operator Sam Wallis has secured his second site. Wallis, who owns The Lamb Inn in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, has acquired The Forge restaurant in Derby city centre. Wallis plans to reopen the venue in Blacksmith’s Yard as a bar and steakhouse before Christmas. He told the Derby Telegraph: “It will be an upmarket bar serving craft beer, real ale and 100 types of gin.” The Forge ceased trading in April after four years in business.

Hospitality entrepreneur launches fine dining restaurant in West Sussex: Hospitality entrepreneur Penny Streeter has launched a fine dining restaurant in West Sussex. Interlude is housed in the Italianate mansion at the heart of the 200-acre Leonardslee estate in Lower Beeding, near Horsham. Streeter, who acquired the estate last year, told the Chichester Observer: “Interlude connects lovers of fine dining with the spirit of Leonardslee. Every dish in each seasonal, multi-course tasting menu is designed to a hunter-gatherer/farmer concept of food that’s foraged, cultivated and raised on the estate or close by.” Streeter, who owns vineyards in the UK and South Africa, has restored the grade II-listed mansion house, while the gardens will open early next year.

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