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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 17th Feb 2020 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Former chief executive and chairman of Ed’s Easy Diner backing new pizza concept: Peter Featherman and Stephen Greene, the former chief executive and chairman of Ed’s Easy Diner, are backing a new venture called Pizza Tribe, Propel has learned. Propel understands Featherman and Greene are working with Russell Allen, the co-founder of Basilico, the wood fired pizza delivery business and director of The Wood Fired Pizza Company, on the new venture. It is thought the new business has lined up an opening in London’s Leonard Street, just off Old Street, for Pizza Tribe’s debut site. Featherman, the ex-chief executive of Ponti’s, led a management buy-in of the then three-strong Ed’s Easy Diner in May 2009. The deal was backed by Rankvale, with Greene, executive chairman of the investment firm, becoming the new chairman of Ed’s and Andrew Guy joining the business as a non-executive director. Featherman left Ed’s in 2012, with Guy becoming chief executive. Ed’s grew to a near 60-strong brand, but after a failed sales process and a significant downturn in performance, it collapsed into administration in 2016. Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG), the owner of Giraffe, acquired 33 of the brand’s 59 sites out of administration in October of the same year. Last year BRG confirmed 27 of its 70 Ed’s Easy Diner and Giraffe sites were to close as part of a company voluntary arrangement. Ed’s currently operates 13 sites.
 

Industry News:

Social Strategy In A Day open for bookings: Social Strategy In A Day, an event aimed at allowing companies to develop and hone their social media strategy, is open for bookings. The event features fresh content and insights for 2020, allowing companies to increase brand exposure, broaden their reach and ensure their digital marketing really delivers. Propel has partnered with digital marketing company Digital Blonde for the one-day advanced workshop, which will cover everything a marketing department should be thinking about when it comes to social strategy. The event takes place on Friday, 3 April at One Moorgate Place in London. Sessions will include how to keep your knowledge up to date when marketing and technology change so rapidly, driving business via social media, and being super productive while looking after your mental health. Emma Dickinson, of London pub retailer Young’s, will also talk about what has and hasn’t worked for the company when it comes to social media marketing. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium members, £345 plus VAT for operators who are non-members and £395 plus VAT for suppliers who are non-members. Places can be booked by emailing anne.steele@propelinfo.com
 
UKHospitality urges chancellor to unlock sector’s potential in Budget submission: UKHospitality has called on new chancellor Rishi Sunak to reverse the decline of the UK’s high streets and communities by targeting support for hospitality businesses in the March Budget. The trade association said failure to provide support would “jeopardise tens of thousands of jobs”, putting hospitality businesses at risk as they struggled with the rising cost of property, labour and goods. In its Budget submission to the Treasury, UKHospitality urged the government to support hospitality businesses with measures that helped unlock economic growth, boosted workforce skills and opportunities, and brought communities together. The submission includes a call for a 10% cut in the business rates multiplier for one year, funded by central government, and extension of hospitality relief to more premises with the promised review of business rates launched “at the earliest opportunity”. The organisation also called for the threshold of employer National Insurance Contributions to be raised, a reform of the Apprenticeship Levy to boost take up, and a freeze on alcohol duties in the Budget. Meanwhile, UKHospitality said the government should consider a cut in VAT for the accommodation and food and drink sectors, while it called for a thorough review of EU regulations to remove or amend unnecessary regulations that hampered business, in particular state aid rules relating to business rates relief. It also said the government needed to invest in local transport and communications. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Our message remains simple, clear and consistent – unleash hospitality’s potential and it will unleash Britain’s potential.”
 
New platform unites AA and VisitEngland-rated restaurants, hotels and pubs: The AA has launched RatedTrips.com – a hub to help people find recommended places to visit, stay, eat and drink in the UK and Ireland. RatedTrips.com features more than 12,000 AA and VisitEngland-rated and recommended hotels, restaurants, pubs, bed and breakfasts, self-catering cottages, caravan parks and campsites. With each destination assessed by AA Hotel & Hospitality Services or VisitEngland Assessment Services, rated establishments will feature the anonymous inspector’s review of the property as well as five things that make the destination unique. The platform will allow users to search by location or property name and click through to each establishment’s website, with a direct booking function to be rolled out later this year. Meanwhile, a weekly travel inspiration section will highlight recommended places to stay, dine and visit. Simon Numphud, managing director of AA Media, said: “As the originator of hotel star ratings and the first organisation to create a nationwide award for restaurants, the AA is in a unique position to offer independent recommendations across a huge variety of hotels, restaurants, pubs, experiences and beyond. RatedTrips.com is designed to be an invaluable tool to users and establishments alike, making it easier than ever for customers to discover an AA and VisitEngland-rated destination.”
 
Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin calls for more Pubwatch schemes: JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin has said if he was prime minister he would call for everywhere to have a Pubwatch scheme. Speaking to 200 delegates at the National Pubwatch Conference in Cardiff, he backed Pubwatches as crucial to support licensees and tackle disorder. “If I was prime minister I would say ‘Just get me Pubwatch everywhere’,” he said. “One of the things Pubwatch does is joined up thinking.” He highlighted the fact licensees can be vulnerable and alone, especially if there is an incident in their pub. He recalled a situation 40-years ago in his first pub which he described as a “terrible start in the licensed trade”. Martin said: “It was new year and I said to someone in the pub that they had too much to drink. He picked up an A-Board and put it through the window. I played rugby for years, am six foot six inches and 17 stone and was a tough nut so I thought. But I never felt so intimidated than standing in a pub behind the bar.” He also raised concern about “back-door” protectionism, claiming it is easier for licensees to tackle if they work together in a Pubwatch. He said: “If there is group of licensees acting together it’s better. It is a confidence builder and you have contacts with the police and local authority. What is not to like?”

Move to give Berlin's nightclub's cultural status protection: Berlin’s nightclubs are on track to be awarded the same cultural status as opera houses and theatres in order to protect them from gentrification. A group dedicated to protecting the German capital’s nightlife took its campaign to parliament last week, urging more protection as more venues are closed to make way for new-builds and as growing numbers of residents file complaints about noise. About 100 clubs have closed in the past ten years, and a further 25 are under threat. So serious has the problem become that it has its own word – clubsterben, or club death. Clubcommission, a collective of club owners and supporters who compiled the data on closed clubs, told the Bundestag’s committee for building, living and urban development that music clubs were “the pulse of the city”, playing a vital role in Berlin’s cultural life as well as bringing millions of euros to the local economy. An estimated three million tourists come to Berlin annually to visit its clubs, the Clubcommission found. The clubs contributed €1.5bn to the local economy last year. The main supporters of the initiative, which includes proposals on better insulation for existing clubs, are the Greens and Die Linke, with the tacit support of members of the Christian Democrats and the pro-business FDP. They are pushing for a federal law that would recognise clubs as cultural venues – not only in Berlin, but nationally.
 

Company News:

City Pub Group secures first new-build, puts Tell Your Friends on market: City Pub Group has secured its first new-build site while it has put west London vegan pub Tell Your Friends on the market, Propel has learned. The company is understood to have exchanged on a site at the Oyster Wharf waterside development in Mumbles, Swansea, as it strengthens its Welsh portfolio. The deal also marks City Pub Group’s first new-build site having so far grown its almost 50-strong portfolio by acquiring pubs. The Swansea site will feature a bar, restaurant and 16 bedrooms, with work expected to start towards the end of the year with an opening around Easter 2021. The pub is next to a site operated by cafe bar brand Loungers, while other operators at Oyster Wharf include Livingbridge-backed French restaurant group Bistrot Pierre, and Prezzo. The pub will add to City Pub Group’s two other sites in Wales – Chapel 1877 and The Pontcanna Inn, both in Cardiff. Propel understands City Pub Group is keen to expand its presence in and around the Welsh capital further as well as in Swansea. Meanwhile, the company has put Tell Your Friends in Parsons Green on the market but plans to transfer the majority of the menu and the venue’s executive chef to Arragon House, which is only 200 metres away. Tell Your Friends opened in May 2018 and is run by executive chairman Clive Watson’s daughters, Lucy and Tiffany. AG&G is understood to be marketing the lease. Watson said: “It has been a good experiment and we’ve learned a lot about how a fully-fledged vegan pub and restaurant works – but it probably isn’t the right thing for Parsons Green, which doesn’t quite have the demographic for the offer. Most of our trade came from outside the area so a lot of people had to drive, meaning while food sales were good, alcohol sales weren’t quite where we wanted them to be. Since opening we’ve increased the number of vegan dishes at many of our pubs and look forward to serving a lot of the Tell Your Friends menu at Arragon House, where we’ll offer a dedicated plant-based menu.” Watson said he was unsure whether the company would relaunch Tell Your Friends at some point but, if it did, it would be in a “more urban environment where there were plenty of office workers to attract passing trade”.
 
Ziz Hospitality founder to aid Slim Chickens UK roll out as franchise partner: Karim Kassam, the founder of hotel operator Ziz Hospitality, is one of the directors behind JRK Restaurants, which is understood to be one the first companies to sign up to be a partner franchisee for the Slim Chickens brand in the UK. Earlier this year, Propel revealed Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG), the UK master franchisee for the US brand, was entering talks with potential partners in a bid to accelerate the growth of its Slim Chickens across the UK and Ireland. Propel understands Kassam has set up JRK Restaurants, with Ali Rupani and Faisal Jamal, both experienced franchise operators, to become an authorised franchisee of Slim Chickens UK. Both Rupani and Jamal have been franchisees of the Warrens Bakery brand. It is thought JRK has lined up an opening in Southampton for its first Slim Chickens franchise site. In January, BRG said its Slim Chickens stores in London, Cardiff, Bristol and Birmingham were trading “above expectations”, while a seventh site recently launched in Bluewater, Kent. BRG brought Slim Chickens to the UK two years ago in London’s James Street under a franchise agreement. The menu includes chicken tenders, wings, sandwiches, salads and US-style sides such as mac ‘n’ cheese, fried pickles and shakes. Chairman Laurie Mcilwee said last month: “Since signing the master franchise for the UK and Ireland we have launched six stores and all are trading beyond our expectations. Based on this success and how the UK has embraced Slim’s as a brand, we are ambitious about its growth potential.” Last September, Ziz Hospitality acquired its debut site – the Horwood Estate, a grade II-listed manor house and conference centre in Milton Keynes. The company bought the freehold from De Vere Hotels off a guide price of £15.5m in a deal brokered by agent Christie & Co. Company founder Kassam has operated hotels in the UK and Middle East but Horwood Estate marked his first solo purchase. 
 
Cokey Sulkin – potential to expand Dirty Vegan alongside Dirty Bones: Cokey Sulkin, chief executive of US comfort food and cocktails brand Dirty Bones, has told Propel there’s potential to expand its new concept, Dirty Vegan, alongside the core business. Sulkin said he had received good feedback since launching the first permanent Dirty Vegan site, at Westfield London in Shepherd’s Bush in December, while he is keen to explore delivery options for Dirty Vegan to take the concept to a wider audience. Meanwhile, Sulkin said the introduction of a weekly pop-up at Dirty Bones Soho, in which the site becomes Dirty Vegan every Monday, would further assess the concept’s potential. He added: “There’s potential to grow both Dirty Bones and Dirty Vegan. We want to keep them as separate venues, though, so there won’t be hybrid sites. There’s scope to expand inside and out of London. We’re looking at delivery with Dirty Vegan as we think that channel could have a lot of growth.” Sulkin revealed he first started looking at the idea of Dirty Vegan in 2017. “We wanted to challenge ourselves and felt the plant-based trend was beginning to really take off and we wanted to be part of it,” he said. “We did 12 pop-ups and they all sold out. Then we took it on the road, which was so successful we knew there was a market. Since opening at Westfield it has been really positive. We had a great start and we’re getting good feedback from vegans and people just wanting to cut down on their meat intake.” In terms of potential of a permanent conversion of the Denman Street site in Soho if the weekly pop-up takes off, Sulkin said: “It’s unlikely because it does so well as a Dirty Bones. We will use the weekly pop-up to further assess the potential of Dirty Vegan and take it from there. However, there could be another opening for us this year.” The group operates five Dirty Bones sites – four in London and one in Oxford – along with The Black Dog pub in Vauxhall. Sulkin said: “We had a very good 2019 – we saw double-digit like-for-like growth – and that has been followed by a solid January. With Dirty Bones there are various opportunities for us to grow because it’s an established brand, while with Dirty Vegan it’s more a case of assessing its potential. But it’s clear the plant-based concept is not a fad – it’s here to stay.”
 
Clark to swap D&D London for TGI Fridays, Coveney named as replacement: TGI Friday’s UK, the Robert Cook-led chain, has completed the make-up of its new management team, with the appointment of Alan Clark as its new chief financial officer, Propel has learned. Clark, who formerly worked with Cook at Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, has been chief financial officer at D&D London since the end of 2018. He was previously finance director for Malmaison and Hotel du Vin and Rocco Forte Hotels in the UK. In his most recent roles, Clark was chief financial officer for The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels and latterly group chief financial officer for Sandals Resorts International. He will leave D&D London at the end of February, having managed the company’s finances through an important period of expansion both in the UK and the US. At the same time, Propel has learned the Des Gunewardena-led D&D London has appointed Ben Coveney as its new finance director. Coveney joins D&D from The Walt Disney Company where he worked for more than 18 years, most recently as finance director of its stores in Europe. A D&D spokeswoman told Propel: “Ben brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to D&D, joining the company at an exciting time with new restaurant launches planned in the UK and overseas.” In October, four TGI Friday’s UK senior directors, including chief executive Karen Forrester, decided to step down. Chief financial officer Stuart Greener, HR director Jacqui McManus and operations director Cain Savazzi also decided to leave. Forrester left TGI Friday’s UK in December and was replaced by former Virgin Active chief executive Cook. At the start of the year, Propel revealed TGI Friday’s had appointed Tom Sycamore, formerly of PizzaExpress, as it new chief operating officer. Sycamore’s appointment followed that of Dan Staples as chief marketing officer and Suzanne Peacock as people and culture director.
 
Former Bourne & Hollingsworth executives relaunch Edinburgh bar: Jamie Forbes and Andria Stirling, former executives at London bar operator Bourne & Hollingsworth, have relaunched an Edinburgh bar. Forbes, who was managing director, and Stirling, who was head of marketing, have returned to the Scottish capital to reopen Henricks Bar. A fixture in Bruntsfield for 20 years, the venue has been transformed from a brasserie into a neighbourhood bar offering cocktails, spirits and wine alongside a food menu that combines classic brasserie dishes with traditional Scottish favourites and bar snacks. Both originally from Edinburgh, Forbes and Stirling have spent the past 15 years plying their trade in London. Forbes helped to launch Albannach in Trafalgar Square in 2004 as whisky sommelier and bar manager before moving to Ignite Group. Forbes reignited his whisky roots, joining William Grant & Sons as global brand ambassador for Monkey Shoulder before heading the team at Bourne & Hollingsworth, overseeing the group’s bars and restaurants, where he met Stirling.

Storm Ciara closes host of restaurants at Rushden Lakes: Rushden Lakes has announced the leisure terrace and adjoining restaurants will remain closed until further notice due to damage caused by Storm Ciara. The businesses currently closed are Cineworld, Starbucks, 360 Play, Brighton Pier Group-owned Paradise Island Adventure Golf, trampoline park operator Flip Out, indoor climbing operator Rock Up, artisan dessert restaurant Heavenly Desserts, TGI Fridays, Hopmaster, Nando's, Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi, better burger brand Five Guys, Blue Mountain Yard, and Greggs. Rushden Lakes stated: “We apologise for the impact this may have on your visit to Rushden Lakes, but the safety of our visitors and staff is of paramount importance. We will keep you updated on when the leisure area is likely to reopen.” Rushden Lakes said all shops and other cafes and restaurants are open as normal. The open eateries are Tasty-owned Wildwood, PizzaExpress, The Restaurant Group-owned Wagamama, Bill's, Jamaica Blue, Patisserie Valerie, coffee operator Bewitched, and Coca-Cola-owned Costa. The leisure terrace, which has been open for less than a year, suffered external cladding damage. 

Bear finds new home for London concession as Jack Wills Soho prepares to close: Midlands-based cafe bar concept Bear has moved its London concession to a new home in the capital, Propel has learned. Bear made its London debut in April last year by launching inside Jack Wills’ flagship store in Soho. However the brand, which was bought out of administration by Frasers Group in August, has announced the outlet in Foubert’s Place is one of six outlets that will shut in the next few weeks. Bear has now agreed a deal with stationery company Paperchase and has opened below its headquarters in Tottenham Court Road. Bear stated: “We had a ball with the guys at Jack Wills and, although we’re really sad to say goodbye, we couldn’t be more excited about our new partnership with Paperchase and all the amazing things we’ve started planning together.” Craig Bunting and Michael Thorley founded Bear five years ago inspired by Australia’s coffee shop culture to create a speciality coffee, casual dining and craft cocktail offer for the UK market. Bear is set to open its sixth site, in Northwich in Cheshire, and plans to take its portfolio to 30 outlets in the next five years. It currently operates two venues in Derby and one each in Stone and Uttoxeter.

Wright Brothers confirms City site: Wright Brothers, the oyster specialist and seafood wholesaler, has confirmed it is to further expand in central London, with an opening in the City. As revealed by Propel last month, the five-strong group, which was founded by Ben Wright and Robin Hancock, is taking space at the 1 Frederick’s Place development, for a restaurant with shellfish display, bar and private dining room. Wright Brothers has agreed a deal with the Mercers’ Company to take 6,000 square foot of space on the ground and basement levels of the grade II-listed building, with the restaurant due to open this summer. Hancock said: “With iconic landmarks including St Paul’s Cathedral and the Bank of England on our doorstep, Frederick’s Place is an ideal location for expanding our restaurant offer within the City.” Simon Taylor, property director at the Mercers’ Company, added: “Known for its refreshing take on seafood and its growing customer base, Wright Brothers is the ideal occupier for the prime restaurant space at Frederick’s Place.” Since founding their seafood wholesale business in 2002 and launching their debut restaurant at Borough Market in 2005, Wright and Hancock have opened further venues in Soho, Spitalfields, South Kensington and most recently, the Battersea Power Station development. The wholesale side of the business subsequently moved from Borough Market to Billingsgate to aid expansion. Distrkt acted on behalf of the Mercers’ Company while Theo Fordham represented Wright Brothers on the Frederick’s Place deal.
 
Blue Lagoon acquires Livingston site as it eyes Edinburgh: Fish and chip shop chain Blue Lagoon has continued its rapid expansion by acquiring a site in Livingston. The company, which has been owned by the Varese family for more than 40 years, will invest £250,000 to refurbish the former Aulds bakery in The Centre. The group aims to open the 60-seater restaurant and takeaway, which will be the 13th in its portfolio of directly-run and franchised sites, on Friday, 20 March. The company said it was also keen to expand further, with a first venture in Edinburgh in its sights. Angelo Varese, whose father Erisilo established the business in 1975, told Herald Scotland: “This is the second unit we’ve opened in a shopping centre following the launch of our St Enoch centre branch in June 2019, which has traded well so far. This opening will represent a step closer to Edinburgh, a city in which we are keen to find a spot for Blue Lagoon.” The Livingston move comes shortly after the company spent £500,000 to double the capacity of its restaurant in Glasgow’s Argyle Street. That followed an investment of almost £1m to acquire and fit out an outlet in Perth, where there’s also an 80-cover restaurant.
 
Camino to open year-long pop-up bar as it strengthens presence at King’s Cross development: Camino, the London operator led by Richard Bigg and backed by the BGF, is to add a year-long pop-up bar alongside its two venues in King’s Cross. The Varnishers Yard development is already home to two of its Spanish bars – Bar Pepito and Camino. They will be joined by Bar El Rincón when it opens on Wednesday, 4 March as a 35-seater wine and tapas bar that focuses on sustainability. It will also offer sangria on tap, cocktails and beer. There will be additional seating in the courtyard in the summer months and a 50-cover space available for private hire. Bigg told Hot Dinners: “It is a great opportunity to create a real Spanish Quarter and we’re hoping to hold festivals and special events in the summer.” Camino also has sites in Bankside, Monument and Shoreditch.
 
Just Eat-backed fine dining app closes crowdfunding campaign after raising more than £275,000: Lux Rewards, an app that connects fine diners with hand-picked local restaurants, has closed its campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube after raising more than £275,000 to expand across the UK. The company, backed by Just Eat and founded by James Courtney, initially aimed to raise £100,000 and was offering 6.25% equity in return for the investment, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £1.5m. In the end, 336 investors pledged £277,940 and the campaign has closed. To date, more than 50 restaurants have joined Lux Rewards, including Browns, JKS Restaurants and Mews of Mayfair. Lux Rewards raised more than £80,000 on Crowdcube in 2016 to develop its card-linking technology. The pitch stated: “Lux helps high-quality restaurants and bars ditch the discounts – a premium alternative that rewards high-spending customers without devaluing restaurant brands. In exchange, restaurants pay up to 15% in commission. In 2016 we raised our first Crowdcube round to capitalise on this market opportunity. Since then, we have built an experienced and energised team with the goal to make dining more rewarding. We now have the team and technology to scale across the UK.”
 
London-based Nigerian tapas concept Chuku’s goes from pop-up to permanent: Nigerian tapas concept Chuku’s, which has operated a number of pop-ups around east London, has opened its debut bricks and mortar site in the north of the capital. Siblings Emeka and Ifeyinwa Frederick have launched a site in Tottenham High Road featuring colours, artwork and music that reflect Nigerian culture and interiors inspired by adobe West African buildings. The 35-cover site offers dishes such as plantain waffles, suya meatballs and moi moi – a savoury vegan tart made from puréed black-eyed beans with spinach, cabbage, and honey and chilli vinaigrette. The new Chuku’s venue offers a full drinks menu for the first time, focusing on Nigerian beer and cocktails.
 
Edyn Group to open £27m aparthotel in Aldgate: Aparthotel operator Edyn Group is to open a £27m site in Aldgate, London. OakNorth Bank has provided a structured finance facility to US asset manager Oaktree Capital Management to develop the 12-storey Locke hotel. The 103-bedroom venue in Buckle Street will incorporate office space and a ground-floor restaurant. The development, which is due to open in summer 2021, is Edyn Group’s second Aldgate site and is across the road from another larger Locke venue. Deepesh Thakrar, senior director of debt finance at OakNorth Bank, said: “We’re delighted to work with the Edyn team with the strong backing of Oaktree Capital.” Edyn, which was previously known as Saco, operates Locke aparthotels in London, Edinburgh and Manchester. It also has nine properties in development in cities such as Dublin, Berlin and Lisbon.
 
Daniel Thwaites reopens historic York hotel following £500,000 refurbishment: Brewer and retailer Daniel Thwaites has reopened The Judge’s Lodging in York following a £500,000 refurbishment. The five-star hotel in Lendal had been shut for five weeks while the grade I-listed building, which dates to 1710, was revamped. Its bedrooms, bars and dining rooms have all been spruced up with a fresh new look. Part of the House of Daniel Thwaites division, which also includes York’s four-star Middletons Hotel, The Judge’s Lodging offers a new restaurant menu to reflect a high-end, more formal dining environment. Downstairs, the cellar bar offers a gastro-pub experience with classic dishes and drinks. Daniel Thwaites acquired the property in 2012 and reopened the hotel in 2014 following a huge refurbishment. The most recent work brings the total investment in The Judge’s Lodging to more than £4m. Daniel Thwaites executive chairman Rick Bailey said: “Since 2012 we’ve invested millions of pounds into major upgrades to protect and conserve this historic property. It has been a huge success and this latest work will allow people to continue to enjoy it for years to come with a really high-quality, rich customer experience.”
 
Illusion performance venue planned for Nottingham: An illusion performance venue attracting the “best magicians in the country” could open in Hockley – becoming the first of its scale in the UK. Plans to open the concept in George Street state: "The venue has two key elements – it is intended to constitute a high-quality bar as well as a performance theatre, which intends to host one of the most traditional forms of art and entertainment – magic and illusion. There are currently no other venues of this scale, not only in Nottingham but anywhere in the UK, and it is intended The Illusionist will become the ‘go-to’ venue for this form of art and entertainment in the country. Being situated in the heart of England, the venue will have access to all of the best illusionists and magicians in the country.” The business is planned for an empty building next to Peggy’s Skylight bar and opposite the Nottingham Arts Theatre. The project, designed to create a “magic room” with capacity for up to 40 people, is set to provide theatre space with up to 100 seats. The plans added: “After four months of trading, it is proposed two close-up magic performances will be added to the entertainment schedule, to be run on Thursday evenings. These will be held in the close-up magic room, which has a capacity of 40 people per-event.”
 
Manchester events venue to relocate with well-being resort and £2m football facility in its place: Plans to relocate Manchester venue EventCity have been given the go-ahead, as have proposals to build a new well-being resort and £2m football facility as part of a wider masterplan. EventCity has been granted permission by the city council to move from its home in Barton Dock Road to TraffordCity as it looks to bring the venue closer to several leisure arenas and hotels. The new EventCity will be a flexible conference, exhibition and gala dinner space and include updated features such as a foyer with breakout space and an entrance hall. EventCity will open its new site in spring 2021 following a conversion of the Soccerdome. Until then it will remain operational at its original venue, which has a combined capacity of 300,000 square feet spanning four halls. The site will be replaced by well-being resort Therme Manchester and a new facility that will compensate for the loss of Soccerdome’s football pitches. It will comprise eight FA-approved, all-weather pitches as well as changing rooms.
 
Wildes Hotel Group lodges Chester plans: The Wildes Hotel Group has lodged plans for a boutique hotel and spa with rooftop pool in Chester. The company has applied to the city council to convert vacant offices after acquiring a long lease on the property in Bridge Street from owner Grosvenor Estate. Due to open in spring 2021 the hotel would feature 16 bedrooms, while the ground floor would house Benedict’s, a contemporary restaurant and bar serving all-day food, drinks and cocktails. The first floor would house a spa featuring a relaxation area, nail bar and multiple treatment rooms. The roof would feature a pool and terrace. Chief executive Paul Wildes said: “There’s an opportunity in the city to create a go-to destination that offers exceptional accommodation for business and leisure travellers, the ultimate dining spot or somewhere to enjoy evening cocktails.” The Wildes Hotel Group operates three sites – in Chesterfield, Crewe and Hoylake.
 
Freedom of Information request reveals Pizza Hut hygiene failings in Corby: Food hygiene inspectors found dirty conditions when they visited Corby's Pizza Hut – and staff falsified documents to show cleaning checks for the next day had already been done. The major chain's Charter Court takeaway, just off Butland Road, has been highly criticised by Corby Council in a report released to the Northamptonshire Telegraph under Freedom of Information laws. When inspectors visited on 12 November last year they noted poor cleaning, dirty cloths being used without disinfection and three bags of chicken past their use-by date kept in the chiller. Staff did not know how to properly deal with allergen controls, no soap was in the toilets and a mop was found covered in black and white mould despite being signed off as clean by a manager. The outlet was later given a rating of two out of five with “improvement necessary”. It had previously been given a perfect score of five out of five. The council noted the level of cleaning had improved when they later returned.

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