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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 6th Aug 2020 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Bill’s to permanently close parts of estate: Bill’s, the Richard Caring-backed restaurant group, is set to close parts of its 78-strong estate, Propel has learned. It’s thought the business has earmarked a number of sites for closure. One industry source suggested the number of closures could be more than 20 including Glasgow, the group’s only site in Scotland, Worcester and some in central London. It’s thought the business has also restructured its head office team and made cuts to its regional teams and marketing, learning and development functions. The company has so far reopened about 50 of its restaurants during the past month. A Bill’s spokeswoman told Propel: “The restaurants are going to open gradually, some sooner than others. There’s no update in regard to any closures.” The company has been streamlining its management team during the past year, with a number of positions now shared with its sister business, The Ivy Collection, which is also backed by Caring. In January the business announced Baton Berisha, managing director of The Ivy Collection, would take on management of Bill’s after executive chairman David Campbell and managing director Sarah Hills left the company. The Ivy Collection chief financial officer Jonathan Peters took over finance duties at Bill’s in February. Caring has invested significant funds in refurbishing the Bill’s estate during the past two years, repositioned the concept as a bar and kitchen, and moved away from the all-day grocer positioning on which the brand was founded. The move led to an uplift in sales. Bill Collison founded Bill’s in 2001, opening its first site in Lewes, East Sussex. Caring acquired a controlling stake in Bill’s Restaurants in 2008 and turned it into a national chain with the help of Andy Bassadone, Nick Fiddler and Chris Benians, who also worked with him on growing the Cote brand. Benians remains involved with Bill’s.

Industry News:

Pubs and restaurants enjoy ‘busiest Monday of the year’ as Eat Out To Help Out scheme begins: Britain’s pubs and restaurants had the “busiest Monday of the year” as more than 73,000 outlets took up the government’s half-price Eat Out To Help Out scheme. Spending at eateries was up by one-sixth on the same day the week before as people went out to enjoy the discount of £10 per person on food and soft drinks. The scheme is running from Monday to Wednesday throughout August. Some restaurants in London have said they will extend the 50% discount offer into September without the government subsidy in the hope of catching workers returning to their offices. Among the pubs enjoying a boost was The Owl in Loughton, Essex, which tweeted: “Busiest Monday this year so far, excellent scheme and really works. Thanks for the support Rishi Sunak and team.” Andrew Macleod, founder of Emilia’s Crafted Pasta in London, told the Daily Mail guest numbers had doubled on the previous week, while John Molnar, owner of The Cod’s Scallops in Nottingham, said eat-in sales had exceeded takeaway for the first time since March. Graphite Capital-backed steakhouse concept Hawksmoor is offering an extra £10 off on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August on top of the government subsidy. When the brand announced its Eat Out To Help Out offer online, all 5,500 seats were booked within six hours. “So far the reopenings have gone better than we hoped,” said co-founder Huw Gott, “but who knows what September and October will bring?” Data from OpenTable showed a 10% jump in the number of diners at reopened restaurants in Britain on Monday compared with the same day in 2019 – the first rise since March. At the start of last week, the number of diners had been down more than 40%. Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the scheme last month as part of the latest wave of government measures to shore up the economy, which contracted by one-quarter in the March to April period.

BBPA – careless talk and groundless speculation surrounding schools and pubs will cost jobs: The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has said “careless talk” and “groundless speculation” about pubs closing so schools can reopen will cost jobs. The government has said it doesn’t need to nationally close pubs to reopen schools but may limit social contact in some parts of the country. The BBPA said there was “no evidence of the efficacy of a trade-off between pubs and schools” and reiterated the measures pubs have put in place to keep staff and customers safe before they were allowed to reopen. BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “It is important to remember pubs have been open in England for a month now after investing significant work, time and money to ensure they are a safe environment. Pubs have been commended by Matt Hancock and Public Health England for their diligence and proactivity in working with NHS Test and Trace. We’re all working hard to restrict transmission of the virus but careless talk and groundless speculation costs pubs and pub jobs. Our sector is desperately trying to recover and provide a much-needed hub for communities across the UK during these challenging times.” 

Second phase of coastal and lakeside tourism inquiry launches: The second phase of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Hospitality and Tourism’s coasts and waters inquiry has opened. Following a series of oral evidence sessions, the APPG has now opened its consultation. The group is encouraging hospitality and tourism businesses, along with other stakeholders that operate in coastal or lakeside areas, to take part. The inquiry aims to take a holistic look at tourism and hospitality in the UK’s coastal and lakeside regions. Many local businesses in these sectors are seasonal, with a high dependence on domestic and inbound tourism. With the hospitality and tourism sectors particularly badly hit by coronavirus, the APPG said there was extra urgency to ensure the right support was identified and available. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Coastal and lakeside tourism and hospitality businesses are an incredibly important part of our sector. It’s key we understand how they can be supported to ensure they can continue to contribute to vibrant, thriving communities and as many jobs as possible are kept secure.”
UKHospitality is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Aberdeen pubs and restaurants forced to close as lock-down restrictions reimposed: Pubs and restaurants have been forced to shut in Aberdeen after lock-down restrictions were reimposed because of a coronavirus cluster in the city. Takeaways can continue to operate while hotel restaurants can remain open to guests only. Businesses can refurlough staff who have previously been furloughed as part of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. First minister Nicola Sturgeon said there had been 54 cases in the “significant outbreak” while almost 200 close contacts had already been traced. A total of 28 licensed venues had been linked to the outbreak, Sturgeon said, and people who had visited those places recently should be “extra vigilant” about symptoms. Reimposed lock-down measures include people being told not to travel to the city, while those living in the area shouldn’t travel more than five miles for leisure purposes or enter each others’ houses. Travelling for work or education is allowed but other travel isn’t advised. The restrictions will be reviewed in seven days and may be extended if necessary. Meanwhile, the two-hour extended opening hours given to pubs during Edinburgh Festival have been cancelled this summer. The late licences usually come into operation in August, allowing pubs to stay open until 3am and nightclubs until 5am. Disappointed pub owners said the licences would have helped recoup some of their lock-down losses but Edinburgh City Council said it had made the move because there was no festival this year. Iain Ponton, owner of Oz Bar in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket, told the BBC: “The Edinburgh Festival might be off but Edinburgh isn’t shutting down. There are plenty of tourists walking about and this would have helped us recoup some of the money we have lost during lock-down.” Norman Work, chairman of City of Edinburgh Council’s licensing board, said: “As the festivals aren’t going ahead due to coronavirus this year, the board has made a decision not to go ahead with agreeing dates for licence extensions normally applicable.”

No West End recovery in sight as overseas tourists stay away: Hopes of an autumn bounce back for West End hotels and restaurants have been dealt a blow as figures show flight bookings from abroad are down almost 90% in September. Figures from analyst ForwardKeys reveal travel agent sales of tickets to UK airports for next month are 89% lower than last year. About half of all foreign tourist visits are to the capital. Although the figures mark a slight improvement from the 95% shortfall in August, such a modest recovery in September will be seen as a setback for central London’s hospitality and retail sectors, which depend heavily on spending by foreign tourists, ForwardKeys stated. Tom Jenkins, chief executive of European tourism body ETOA, told the Evening Standard: “A lot of people are now saying they will tear your arm off to get 50% to 60% of 2019 levels in 2021. They aren’t expecting a return to some kind of normal until 2022.” There was better news for the national economy, with the services and car manufacturing sectors both showing signs of robust growth last month as lock-down measures eased. The IHS Markit/CIPS services index showed a reading of 56.5 in July, up from 47.1, and signalling the fastest rise in activity for five years in a sector that accounts for almost 80% of GDP.

PCA to restart Pubs Code communications research project: Pubs Code adjudicator (PCA) Fiona Dickie has announced the research project into communication about the Pubs Code will restart on Monday, 24 August. The research, which will run until Friday, 2 October, is being carried out by agency Hive IT. It will talk to tied tenants, tenant representative groups and relevant trade bodies to gather facts and opinions about Pubs Code and PCA communications. The research will inform an evidence-based plan and recommendations report that will be made public, with all information anonymised. Dickie said: “It is crucial the industry, and tied tenants in particular, are able to access clear and consistent information about their Pubs Code rights and how to exercise them. This project will play a large part in supporting that by connecting directly with tenants and other stakeholders and getting their views about the most effective ways we can communicate and engage in the future.”

BAME In Hospitality to launch elevated mentorship scheme: BAME In Hospitality, the not-for-profit organisation founded by Corbin & King head of procurement Lorraine Copes, is set to launch an elevated mentorship scheme this autumn. The programme has been created to elevate career development for BAME employees within the hospitality sector. The scheme will include James Cochran, Rukmini Iyer, Jimi Famurewa and Nokx Majozi as mentors. The UK BAME population is 14% and hospitality representation has remained ahead of that for many years. In 2011-12 it was 16.78%, while in 2018-19 it had risen to 17.83%. Despite those figures, Copes said there was a “glaring lack of diversity in positions of influence”, including head chef, managerial and leadership positions. Copes, who founded the group last year, said: “I felt compelled to take action as throughout my 18 years within the sector I have always been the only person of colour around any decision-making table. There is a very visible barrier for career progression for people of Black, Asian and other minorities within the hospitality sector, which needs to be confronted and addressed.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is supporting an investment-led restaurant group as it looks to appoint a group operations director. The position, paying up to £120,000, is flexible on location but requires two days a week in London as well as national and European travel. The group operations director will take sole responsibility for the food and beverage strategy, development and operational processes for the portfolio. This role is to scale a food and beverage operation within a premium progressive environment while dealing with the partnership presented by working with hoteliers. The ideal person will be working within multifaceted, premium operations and be able to demonstrate clear career progression as well as excellent brand growth experience, financial responsibility and high-volume leadership skills. Anyone interested can email their CV or profile to
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Company News:

Roseacre aims to double estate after opening ninth site, business model boosted by work from home trend: Midlands-based Roseacre Pub Company is aiming to double its estate after opening its ninth site – and fourth with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars. The company said its business model had been boosted by the trend of commuters working from home more regularly. The Beacon Hotel in Burton-on-Trent has launched following a joint £500,000 investment, creating 40 jobs. The interior has been opened up to create a bar and open-plan restaurant, with the reconfiguration allowing covers to increase from 86 to 110 inside and from 52 to 200 outside. Because of its size and the function room being incorporated in the restaurant, capacity has only had to be cut by 25% to enable social distancing. The Beacon offers a carvery alongside a new menu of traditional pub food. Michael Thomas, who founded Roseacre Pub Company in 2014, formerly held senior operations roles at Chef & Brewer, Premier Inn, Vintage Inns and Fayre & Square. He said: “I am optimistic about the future as our pubs are all located in suburbs and doing well. The covid effect – people spending more time at home rather than travelling to work – benefits our business model. We’re still looking to expand our business and always looking for great sites such as The Beacon.” Helen Fingland, Star Pubs & Bars regional operations director, added: “The Beacon’s refurbishment has made it ideal for the socially distanced world we’re living in. It’s a fantastic family friendly pub and, being based in the suburbs and food focused, is likely to be very popular in the coming months.” Roseacre Pub Company’s other Star Pubs & Bars sites are The Beeches in Ashby de la Zouch, The Dovecote in Narborough in Leicestershire and The Heathcote Inn in Leamington Spa.

Loungers’ share price jumps 22% on back of ‘encouraging’ trading: Cafe bar operator Loungers saw its shares surge after the company said it was “encouraged” by trading levels since reopening venues last month. Loungers’ share price jumped almost 22% to 131p after the company said it was “confident” of its future despite the coronavirus pandemic. The group, which operates the Lounges and Cosy Club brands, reported like-for-like sales have dipped only 1.7% in the period from 4 July to 2 August, compared with the same time last year. Loungers has reopened 164 sites across the UK since restrictions on the hospitality industry were lifted. The Cosy Club in Leicester is the only venue to remain closed because of the local lock-down restrictions in the city. Loungers plans to reopen the site on Friday (7 August) when extended lock-down restrictions come to an end in the city.

Country Pub Group goes into administration: Somerset-based The Country Pub Group, owned by young hospitality entrepreneur Matthew Lowe, has been placed into administration, Propel has learned. Steven Parker and Trevor Binyon, of Opus Restructuring, have been appointed joint administrators for the group, which operates The Temple Inn in Temple Cloud, The Battleaxes in Wraxall, The Castle Inn in Bradford-on-Avon and The Mendip Inn in Shepton Mallet. The company acquired The Battleaxes and The Castle Inn from Flatcappers in August 2019, a move that provided an exit from the Flatcappers business for Loungers founders Alex Reilley, Jake Bishop and David Reid. In February this year Lowe was accepted on the Virgin Startup Crowdboost programme, an accelerator for entrepreneurs who want to raise funds through an equity crowdfunding campaign. At the time, Lowe told Propel he planned to raise funds to expand the group and refurbish downstairs at The Mendip Inn and The Castle Inn’s four bedrooms.

Young’s acquires leasehold interest of The Royal Oak in Bethnal Green: Pub operator Young’s has acquired the leasehold interest of The Royal Oak in Bethnal Green, Propel has learned. The property in Columbia Road was sold to the landlord, Young’s, by incumbent tenant Goldcove, which continues to operate The Spurstow in Hackney. The Royal Oak is a grade II-listed pub built for Truman’s Brewery in 1923. The pub appeared in the 1998 film Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, the TV series Goodnight Sweetheart, and the Kemp brothers’ 1990 film The Krays. Paul Tallentyre, executive director at Davis Coffer Lyons, acted for Goldcove on the deal. 

Pret A Manger appoints president for US operations: JAB Holdings-backed Pret A Manger has promoted Greg Thorp, who has been with the business for more than 14 years, to president of its US business. Thorp, who for the past two and a half years has been Pret’s vice-president – US finance, takes over from Sarah Lee, who has been running the group’s US operations since early 2019. Lee was previously managing director of the brand’s operations in Asia for more than four years. She has now left Pret after joining the company as group manager in 1997. Last week Pret announced the closure of 17 of its US sites, all in Boston and Chicago. Apart from a University of Chicago site, the move sees the chain exit both markets. It’s thought sales at Pret’s US estate have fallen 87% year-on-year during the pandemic. The company has so far reopened 51 stores – in New York, Washington DC and Philadelphia – in recent weeks and expanded delivery options with Grubhub and Seamless. In the UK, the company is undertaking a restructuring process and has already closed 30 sites.

Morrisons subsidises Eat Out To Help Out to stretch offer at its cafes across the week: Supermarket Morrisons is subsidising the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme so it can run the 50% discount in its cafes throughout the week. The discount normally operates from Monday to Wednesday only during August. The prices at its cafe also include the government’s 15% VAT cut, which means a full English breakfast will cost £1.62, freshly battered fish and chips £2.25 and bangers and mash £1.75. Morrisons is also letting children eat free all day during August. Ali Lyons, head of cafes at Morrisons, said: “We want as many customers as possible to take advantage of Eat Out To Help Out. Many customers visit our stores later in the week so we’re extending this offer so they can enjoy half-price meals too.” Morrisons reopened its cafes in July following a multimillion-pound investment in safety measures. These include Perspex screens so customers can eat in neighbouring booths and hosts in each cafe to guide customers to tables. Hand sanitiser is also available at all times.

By Chloe teams up with Club Cultured for new vegan offering: Plant-based brand By Chloe, which is part of Qoot Restaurant Group, has teamed up with east London-based tempeh producer Club Cultured to launch a vegan venture. Club Tropicana will launch in Abbeville Road, Clapham, on Friday (7 August) and will run throughout the month. The venture has taken over the space formerly occupied by Kerbisher & Malt and The Mayfair Chippy. All dishes on the plant-based menu will be new and include kimchini balls stuffed with vegan cheese, gochujang, spring onions and homemade kimchi; fried tempeh wings glazed in buffalo sauce with maple-butter glazed cornbread; tempeh pizza and a grilled quinoa burger. The venture will also participate in the Eat Out To Help Out scheme, Hot Dinners reports. Outside the US and Canada, By Chloe operates four London restaurants, in Covent Garden, One Tower Bridge and Oxford Circus, which have all reopened, and a site at The O2 that is temporarily closed. The company also operates a delivery service across London. Club Cultured focuses on fermentation and tempeh – a traditional Indonesian plant-based protein made from fermented soybeans – from its “tempeh factory” in Hackney Wick. 

Hollywood Bowl eyes Puttstars site in Colchester as part of new leisure complex: Hollywood Bowl Group, the UK’s largest ten-pin bowling operator, is eyeing a bowling alley and a site for its Puttstars mini-golf concept as part of a new development in Colchester in Essex. Turnstone Estates has lodged a revised application for the Northern Gateway scheme with Colchester Borough Council and is aiming to complete the project by 2022-23. The complex would also comprise a 12-screen Cineworld, a Jump Street run and climbing centre, seven restaurants, two drive-thrus and a 90-bedroom hotel. Turnstone managing director Chris Goldsmith said: “Despite current uncertainty around the leisure sector we’ve been buoyed by the continued level of occupational demand for Northern Gateway. Our revised plans will help to deliver an exciting leisure development for Colchester in a post-covid environment.” Colchester Amphora Trading, the council’s commercial trading company, is project managing the development, which also includes 350 homes, healthcare provision and commercial floor space. Subject to approval, work would start early in 2021. Hollywood Bowl Group will open its second Puttstars site, in Rochdale, Greater Manchester on Friday (7 August). It launched the concept in Leeds earlier this year.

Farm Girl heads to east London: West London-based healthy eating cafe Farm Girl is heading east for a pop-up. The Australian-inspired all-day venue is hosting the residency in Hoxton, where it will take over the Hoxton Street premises previously occupied by The Bach, reports London On The Inside. Farm Girl was founded in Australia and launched its first UK venue in London’s Portobello Road in 2015. Owner Rose Mann took inspiration for the concept from her childhood on a farm near Melbourne. Farm Girl has gone on to open sites in Chelsea, Fitzrovia, Knightsbridge and Soho. The Chelsea and Soho sites have yet to reopen following lock-down.

Brew Monster lines up fourth bar: South Wales-based micro-brewer Brew Monster is lining up its fourth bar, in Caerphilly. The company has submitted a licensing application for a site in Lon y Twyn. The application would allow alcohol sales and music between midday and 11pm daily, with Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve having extended hours until 2am, reports the Caerphilly Observer. Brew Monster opened its debut bar, in the centre of Cardiff, in late 2019 before taking over The Atig micro-pub in Llantwit Major early this year. Alongside expansion plans for Caerphilly, the company’s managing director Glenn White is also focusing on the Mermaid Quay Taphouse in Cardiff Bay, which will open for the first time this week.

Blumenthal to reopen The Fat Duck this month on 25th anniversary, launching year of special menus: Heston Blumenthal’s three Michelin-starred restaurant The Fat Duck in Bray will reopen on Saturday, 15 August following a five-month closure. The reopening will be almost 25 years ago to the day the restaurant launched. The event will be the start of a year-long celebration to mark the venue’s silver anniversary, which will see some of its most iconic dishes return to the menu. The first menu, Volume I, will embody Blumenthal’s ethos to “question everything by harnessing the power of perception and memory”. It will include nitro-poached green tea, crab ice cream and snail porridge, last seen on the menu in 2015. The year-long celebration will feature four volumes to reflect the seasons as well as the Fable Tree Christmas menu. Blumenthal said: “The Fat Duck is my pride and joy and has made me who I am today. It has allowed me to explore my curiosity, develop new techniques and concepts, and understand more about the role of our senses, imagination and ultimately relationship with food.”

Framptons reopens two sites with six-figure loan support: Cafe concept Framptons Cafe Bar & Kitchen has reopened two of its locations using a six-figure Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) through HSBC UK. Framptons, which is owned by former Parachute Regiment officers Tom Walker, Ed McAdam and Sam Westlake, has venues in Bath, Ringwood and Tunbridge Wells. Its outlets in Ringwood and Tunbridge Wells have reopened, safeguarding almost 50 jobs, while the company plans to reopen its Bath venue in time for the city’s first Premiership Rugby match. Walker said: “Framptons has faced unprecedented challenges in recent months but the CBILS loan has helped us protect our sites and ensure they were in a stronger position to reopen once the time was right. We’re seeing more of our regular customers return and feeling more confident about our business’ future. We look forward to reopening in Bath soon.”

Michelin-starred Leroy and East London Liquor Co expand lock-down offering into distillery residency: Michelin-starred Shoreditch restaurant Leroy is expanding its lock-down partnership with East London Liquor Co (ELLCo) to launch a residency at its distillery. While Leroy was closed the teams launched Royale, a simple menu of rotisserie chicken, salad and potatoes alongside a selection of wine and spirits. The service delivered to residents in east London and Islington. Now Royale will relaunch at ELLCo’s Bow Wharf distillery on Friday (7 August). Ingredients will include corn-fed Anjou chickens from HG Walter, Carroll’s Heritage potatoes and wine on tap from Uncharted Wines. Cocktails from the bar team at ELLCo will focus on the distillery’s spirits. Royale will open from Friday to Sunday with customers able to dine in, take away or at home through the Big Night In, the delivery service for independent restaurants. ELLCo founder Alex Wolpert said: “I have always admired the amazing offering from Leroy. It was a no-brainer for us to partner for this residency. Who doesn’t love to sit down with some rotisserie chicken and a negroni in hand?” Leroy owner Ed Thaw added: “We couldn’t be happier this little brand that saved us in a tough time gets to live on at East London Liquor Co’s beautiful site south of Victoria Park. There’ll be space to dine in and also chances to have Royale in the park and at home.” Leroy has reopened and is operating at a reduced capacity because of social distancing. It is offering a three-course set menu and is also taking part in Eat Out To Help Out.

Longboys to launch King’s Cross ‘to-go’ site: Gourmet finger doughnut concept Longboys is to open a site at the Coal Drops Yard development in King’s Cross. The 55 square foot ‘to-go’ site will launch at the Lower Stable Street complex this month. It will offer a range of Longboys’ brioche finger doughnuts filled with home-made compotes plus glazes and toppings. Varieties will change with the seasons. There will also be Assembly Roast coffee, Karma soda and Moju cold-pressed juice. Longboys was launched last year by Graham Hornigold, ex-group pastry chef at Hakkasan Group, and Heather Kaniuk, former executive pastry chef at the Mandarin Oriental. Longboys operates an outlet at Boxpark Wembley while its doughnuts are stocked in luxury department stores Harrods and Selfridges in London.  Hornigold said: “We are excited and can’t wait for King’s Cross to open. It has been a long time coming as lock-down put our plans back slightly. We’ve always loved the area and we’re looking forward to working with the team at King’s Cross while surrounded by a fantastic group of peers.” James Rayner, retail lead for King’s Cross, added: “Longboys is a fantastic addition to our foodie line-up. We have worked hard to create a distinctive food and beverage offer at King’s Cross, one that delivers something for all our audiences.”

Fred Siriex and Andi Oliver team up for Caribbean and French crossover: Fred Siriex, former Galvin At Windows general manager, who is renowned for television show First Dates, is teaming up with chef Andi Oliver for a venture in east London. The pair previously co-presented BBC show Remarkable Places To Eat. Now they will launch a one-month pop-up entitled One Love that will combine “Caribbean family cooking and French influences”. The venture will launch on Thursday, 20 August at Clapton Country Club and feature a separate bar – The Department of Life. Dishes will include Oliver’s chocolate curry goat and barbecued tofu alongside classic French desserts. Siriex has curated a list of French wines that pair with each dish plus rum cocktails and a collaboration beer with Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog on draught. The venue will also feature two private, bookable spaces on a mezzanine level. 

45 Park Lane appoints first executive chef since 2011, Shears to develop menu at Wolfgang Puck’s CUT: Jamie Shears has been appointed 45 Park Lane’s first new executive chef since the boutique hotel opened in London in 2011. Shears will start his new role in September, joining from Fortnum & Mason’s 45 Jermyn Street, where he was head chef. Shears began his career as a chef in the British Army aged 16, before moving to London and working with Jason Atherton, Gordon Ramsay and Chris Galvin. Shears said he plans to develop the menu at Wolfgang Puck’s renowned restaurant CUT by focusing on locally sourced, sustainable ingredients. He will also incorporate fish from his home town in Devon and an elevated vegetarian and vegan offering. CUT’s famed steaks will remain centre stage, with Shears planning to introduce wagyu beef sourced in the UK. CUT was Wolfgang Puck’s first venture in Europe. 45 Park Lane is part of the Dorchester Collection.

Skye Gyngell launches summer desserts site at Somerset House: Chef Skye Gyngell has launched Spring In Summer, a specially fitted, pale pink shipping container in the courtyard of Somerset House. The venue will serve ice cream and other sweet treats during the summer. Spring In Summer will offer ice cream flavours such as peach or lemon with josterberry ripple in cones, tubs or freshly baked brioche buns. There is also granitas, featuring softly whipped Heckfield Home Farm cream, and ice lollies in flavours such as fior di latte or elderflower. The venture also offers toasted sandwiches using sourdough made at Gyngell’s Somerset House restaurant, Spring. They include prosciutto cotto with Montgomery cheddar and wholegrain mustard, and Neals Yard Dairy Three cheeses with sage butter. Drinks include iced chocolate, negronis, beer and fruit cordial. The container is open from Thursday to Sunday, midday to 6pm, until the end of September. Gyngell is best known for her role as Vogue food editor and for winning a Michelin star at the Petersham Nurseries Cafe.

Objections lodged against scheme near historic Shrewsbury battlefield featuring Premier Inn and Miller & Carter steakhouse: Objections have been lodged against plans for a development on the outskirts of Shrewsbury that feature an 80-bedroom Whitbread-owned Premier Inn and a Miller & Carter steakhouse, which is owned by Mitchells & Butlers. The proposals earmarked for land near the Battlefield roundabout were submitted to Shropshire Council last month but have sparked anger among some residents who fear wildlife habitats would be destroyed and traffic problems made worse. Cllr Dean Carroll, who represents the Battlefield area, has also criticised the scheme. He told the Shropshire Star it didn’t conform to the council’s development plans for the area and claimed the hotel would generate “much more traffic than the type of business intended for the site”. The application also includes a Coca-Cola-owned Costa Coffee drive-thru. A heritage impact assessment in respect of a nearby site that was the scene of the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403 concluded the scheme would have a “negligible” impact.

Essex-based vegan barbecue brand Stoked goes from pop-up to permanent: Essex-based vegan barbecue brand Stoked is to open its debut bricks-and-mortar site following a series of popular pop-ups. The restaurant will open in London Road in Westcliff-on-Sea on Saturday (1 August). Stoked claims it will be the first vegan barbecue restaurant outside the US. Its menu will feature vegan versions of cheeseburgers and the Reuben sandwich, while the brand has partnered with Southend-based Dough Yo’s to offer “delicious sweet treats”. The venue will feature a bar offering craft beer, wine and cocktails. With limited space inside, customers will be encouraged to use Stoked’s takeaway service and eat their food in Chalkwell Park opposite until restrictions ease, Essex Live reports.

Prince Akatoki hotel reopens with new picnic hamper offering, adds restaurant and bar delivery services: The Prince Akatoki London hotel in Marylebone has reopened its Japanese fusion restaurant TOKii and The Malt Lounge & Bar offering new delivery and takeaway services alongside a new summer menu and bottled cocktails. The TOKii kitchen has also created a Japanese-inspired picnic hamper, while The Malt Lounge & Bar is offering a new take on afternoon tea to take away. The picnic hampers include snacks such as spiced roasted almonds, scotch quail eggs, sandwiches, salads and desserts and are also available for delivery. TOKii’s new summer menu includes yellowtail carpaccio with ginger, samphire and citrus soy dressing, alongside nigiri, sashimi and sushi rolls. The restaurant’s delivery and takeaway menu includes tuna tartar with cucumber, avocado, sesame and puffed rice crackers, while champagne, beer and wine is on offer in half and full bottles.

American Football club owner opens Leicester restaurant: Guy Kersey, owner of Leicester Falcons American Football Club, has opened a restaurant in the former Queen Victoria Arts Club in the city. Orton’s Brasserie, named after famous city playwright Joe Orton, has launched in Leicester’s Cultural Quarter. The brasserie can seat 70 people inside and 50 outdoors. Dishes include pan-fried free-range chicken breast with tarragon-infused mashed potato, wild mushroom fricassee and charred corn; and Orton’s fish and chips. There’s also a range of British tapas, including courgette tempura, chorizo sausage roll, Orton’s scotch egg, Parmesan and truffle arancini and baked Camembert, reports Leicestershire Live.

City of Manchester Distillery makes £900,000 investment as it expands range: The City of Manchester Distillery has created a new company and invested £900,000 in a drinks development and packing centre as it expands its range. The creator of Three Rivers Gin has established Alcohol Solutions, which will launch in Carrington in September. The 13,000 square foot facility will house a laboratory for developing alcohol-based drinks, a canning line, bottling line and bonded facility. Founder Dave Rigby said: “We have been expanding our services over the past few years, creating drinks for everyone from micro-distilleries to multinationals. Setting up Alcohol Solutions was a natural next step and further develops our services. The investment, combined with our experience, means we have the wisdom, knowledge and capabilities to meet any opportunity to create an alcohol-based drink and bring it to market.”

Investor sells north east water park for £3.2m: A water park in north east England has been sold by a listed property investor for £3.2m. Alternative Income REIT has sold Wet ‘n’ Wild Water Park in North Shields to Serco Leisure Operating, the tenant and a wholly owned subsidiary of Serco Group. The sale represents a 9.7% uplift on the purchase price and a 12.4% premium on book value, as at 30 June 2020. Alternative Income REIT intends to use the proceeds of the sale to grow its pipeline of investment assets. Alternative Income REIT chairman Steve Smith said: “We are pleased to have completed the disposal of Wet ‘n’ Wild Water Park at a significant premium to acquisition cost and book value, enabling the group to recycle the proceeds into an accretive investment in short order.”

Birmingham-based burger restaurant to open within city pub: Birmingham-based burger restaurant Original Patty Men is to open a site within a pub in the suburb of Stirchley. The concept announced on Facebook it would launch in The British Oak in Pershore Road “once the final details have been ironed out”. Originally street food vendors at Digbeth Dining Club, Original Patty Men founders Tom Maher and Scott O’Byrne set up a 33-seater eatery underneath a railway arch in Digbeth in 2015. During the lock-down, Original Patty Men returned to its roots by operating from a truck outside its Digbeth venue catering for takeaway orders. The Digbeth restaurant reopened on Wednesday (5 August), reports Birmingham Live.

Former TOWIE star opens Muswell Hill restaurant: Magazine editor Vas J Morgan, who is a former cast member of reality television show The Only Way Is Essex (TOWIE), has opened a restaurant in Muswell Hill, north London. Morgan co-owns The Broadway while his sister, Bianca, is in charge of the day-to-day operations. The restaurant offers small plates, coffee, cocktails and music with dishes such as sliders, lobster tail with fries, and crispy halloumi with scotch bonnet jam. Cocktails include rum punch and classics such as mai tais and espresso martinis, Hot Dinners reports. Morgan began his career as a blogger. In 2010 he launched a celebrity gossip website that ran for seven years until he closed it to focus on his fashion magazine, Tings London. The first issue came out in 2017.

Irish cinema operator Arc to start fit-out of Beeston site before end of year after building work delay: Irish cinema operator Arc is to start fitting out its new site in Beeston, Nottinghamshire, before the end of the year after building work slowed during the pandemic. The eight-screen cinema forms part of the wider Beeston Square redevelopment, which includes food and drink outlets and 132 homes. Progress on the cinema had been slowed by the pandemic, which caused delays in building work and delivery of materials. The cinema is expected to open in June 2021. Steve Carr, deputy leader of Broxtowe Borough Council, said: “There isn’t a single cinema in Broxtowe – they are all in Nottingham. With our student population, the night-time economy in Beeston should be a lot better than it is and the council sees this development as an opportunity to boost business in the town and regenerate the wider area.”

Former Vagabond manager relaunches Camden bar: Former Vagabond manager Monica Miedeksza has taken over Ladies & Gentleman Bar in Camden, north London, and relaunched it as Crossroads. The bar still belongs to William Borrell, who launched the original Ladies and Gentlemen at former public toilets in Kentish Town before opening the Camden sister site in January 2019 with the quip: “Yes, it’s our number two.” Miedeksza and husband Bart will operate the new-look bar in Royal College Street, which will focus on cocktails and wine. Borrell is also founder of Vestal Vodka and Bart Miedeksza was previously the drink’s international brand ambassador. He has also managed High Water cocktail and wine bar in Dalston, east London. Cocktails will be homemade and use locally sourced ingredients such as black pepper shrub, cherry-infused whisky and bay leaf cordial. Monica Miedeksza is also a former assistant sommelier at The Typing Room fine-dining restaurant in Bethnal Green and will run the wine list. She told Hot Dinners: “Our list will support small and independent producers of wine and spirits with a focus on terroir.”

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