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Morning Briefing Strap Line
Tue 11th Aug 2020 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

G1 Group slows reopening plans and announces closures after background music ban, warns measures will have ‘drastic impact on atmosphere’: Scotland’s largest managed pub, restaurant and hotel operator G1 Group has been forced to rethink its scheduled reopening dates because of new restrictions on music and sports commentary in venues, it said. The stipulations announced by the Scottish government include a ban on background music in venues and a host of measures specific to restaurants, pubs and bars. G1 Group said it decided to go public to “highlight how precarious our situation is with regards to reopening venues and safeguarding jobs”, adding it had already gone through a tranche of redundancies and wanted to avoid a second round. It said the new stipulations would have a “drastic impact on atmosphere and ambience”, with the inevitable downturn in trade leading to further redundancies in the industry. G1, which operates more than 50 venues in Scotland, said the measures had forced it to make some “tough decisions”, including pausing the reopening of Glasgow city centre venue Committee Room No 9. Elsewhere in the city, its recently reopened Speakeasy in Merchant City has closed again. Operations director Donal Hurrell said: “With no music in such a small venue, we feared the lack of atmosphere would drive away what little footfall we were able to enjoy. It’s no longer viable until things change in relation to background music legislation.” The group refused to rule out further closures and cancelled openings in August and September. Compliance director Kristin Nicol added: “We had already taken proactive steps to limit noise levels in our venues, including the purchase of equipment to measure dB levels. This was being monitored by our operations and compliance teams on a regular basis. We feel this could have been an acceptable compromise and were disappointed the government couldn’t land on a more pragmatic solution with regards to background noise such as an agreed decibel limit, which could be measured and enforced accordingly.”

Industry News:

Like-for-likes rise year-on-year for first time since lock-down on back of Eat Out To Help Out: Like-for-like sales rose year-on-year for the first time since lock-down last week on the back of the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme. Figures from S4labour, the online labour-scheduling management system from Catton Hospitality, showed week-on-week like-for-like sales were up 20.5% and 2% on 2019 levels. There was a marked difference between food and drink sales, with week-on-week food sales up 35.8% and drink sales up a more modest 8.3%. Looking at the figures from Monday to Wednesday – when Eat Out To Help Out was valid – food sales inside and outside the capital were both up 132% on the previous week. The analysis showed there was week-on-week sales growth last week and a bringing forward of sales to the beginning of the week, albeit with a 5.2% slip during Thursday to Sunday trading on the previous week. Chief product officer Richard Hartley said the figures were the first indicator of the effectiveness of Eat Out To Help Out, with food sales being slower to recover since lock-down measures eased. Hartley branded the figures a “welcome shot in the arm for operators”. The research also identified in the first week of Eat Out To Help Out sites participating in the scheme gave an average discount of £987.38 on total food sales and £202.27 on total drinks sales, amounting to £1,189.65.
S4labour is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

UKHospitality calls for investigation into hospitality energy market: UKHospitality has written to energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng calling on the government and Ofgem to investigate unfair practices in the energy market. The trade body said it had been contacted by hospitality businesses claiming they had been unfairly targeted by energy firms. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “It appears hospitality businesses are being singled out by energy providers. Prices being quoted are significantly higher for our sector than others and we’re even seeing instances of businesses being asked to pay extortionate deposits up front. One of our members has been instructed to pay a £60,000 deposit for a single-site hotel. This behaviour would be unacceptable at the best of times. When it’s happening while so many businesses are trying to recover from the covid-19 crisis and while so many jobs are still on the line, it is beyond belief. The government and Ofgem must investigate this immediately. Our sector has already been hit the hardest of any. It can’t afford to be unfairly squeezed like this right at the moment it is expected to play a role in the economy’s recovery.”
UKHospitality is a Propel BeatThe Virus campaign member

Eat Out To Help Out attracts more guests but harsher critics: The first week of the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme brought out more guests but harsher critics, according to this week’s Customer Sentiment Tracker from Feed It Back and KAM Media. The number of responses jumped to 13,080 for the week ending Sunday (9 August) but the increase in volume saw the net promoter score drop five points to 54. The drop was driven between Monday and Wednesday, which are the days the scheme is running. Guests have been impressed by the value for money when looking at Monday to Wednesday. However, from Thursday to Sunday the value score was driven down, meaning the overall figure remained unchanged. While Eat Out To Help Out has helped reduce concerns over pricing as a reason for poor value – dropping from 34% to 26% – there was a 7% increase in guests reporting an issue with their offer/discount. Guest expectations regarding the food quality also changed from last week, with food quality as a reason for poor value jumping from 15% to 24%. The “confidence to return” measure held firm at 94%, with concerns regarding serving staff not having masks or other personal protective equipment dropping 3%. However, concerns regarding social distancing – such as tables being too close or venues being overcrowded – rose 4%, while concerns about no track and trace taking place increased 3%. Operators can trial the Feed It Back system for free and see how they compare with industry peers. To receive the tracker directly to your inbox, email allears@feeditback.com
Feed It Back and KAM Media are Propel BeatThe Virus campaign members

Sadiq Khan – saving London’s hospitality businesses is ‘urgent priority’: London mayor Sadiq Khan has said keeping the capital’s hospitality businesses and venues open should be an “urgent priority” during the pandemic or the city risks a downturn it may never recover from. Khan was responding to calls from hospitality businesses to lobby for more support as London gets back on its feet. He told City AM: “The covid-19 crisis has changed how we operate as a city in many fundamental ways but getting businesses and venues thriving in central London once again should now be an urgent priority. If more people aren’t confident the virus is under control, our wonderful ecosystem of shops, bars, cafes and cultural venues is at risk of a damaging slump that could take years to recover from.” UKHospitality wrote to Khan last week demanding urgent improvements to the “insufficient and inadequate” support provided for struggling businesses in the city centre. It cited examples such as Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog, which is trading at 26% of last year’s sales in central London against 66% of 2019 levels in the rest of England. Khan’s comments came as City bosses launched a campaign to get staff to return to their offices. He said: “I know a huge amount of work is being done by businesses to make their offices safe, whether around office layouts, one-way systems or enhanced cleaning and hygiene.” UKHospitality called for more work to be carried out across the Transport for London network to calm fears of coronavirus being transmitted on public transport. However, Khan said more passengers could now travel without worry as a result of new safety and hygiene measures. He added: “The vibrancy of central London is about it being a clean, safe and exciting place to spend time and its appeal is something that will endure long after this covid-19 crisis.”

More than one-third of consumers intend to try Eat Out To Help Out as hospitality venues see positive signs of recovery: More than one-third (34%) of consumers intend to take advantage of the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme, according to the latest Barclaycard report. Restaurants, pubs and bars saw positive signs of recovery regarding consumer spending in July, with declines of 64.2% and 43% respectively compared with minus 86% and minus 93% in June. More than one-third (36%) of respondents are now dining at restaurants, with more than one-quarter (28%) going out for drinks. Data from Barclaycard, which sees almost half the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, revealed consumer spending declined 2.6% year-on-year in July – the smallest fall since lock-down began. Spending on non-essentials fell 4.7% year-on-year but was a significant improvement from the 22.3% decline in June. Shopping locally contributed to the recovery, with food and drink specialist stores – including off licences, greengrocers and independent convenience stores – up 43.3% and takeaway and fast food up 20.4%. Barclaycard said the figures were a reflection of 45% of Brits choosing to support nearby businesses. Spending on essential items grew 3.2% largely driven by supermarket shopping, which rose 15.0%. Almost two-fifths (37%) of respondents feel comfortable visiting shops, with shoppers over 55 least likely to be concerned and 18 to 34-year-olds most likely. Of those who are comfortable, 46% are reassured by mandatory face coverings and 45% by hand-sanitising stations at store entrances. Overall travel spend fell 60.4% as a boost in staycations failed to offset restrictions on international travel. Almost three-fifths (58%) of respondents are concerned about travelling overseas, with 50% hesitant to use public transport. Brits are, however, feeling more positive about personal finances, with confidence in household finances (72%) and ability to spend on non-essential items (58%) returning to levels not seen in the UK since January 2020. Nonetheless, trust in the UK economy remains at 23% and job security at 43%. Barclaycard director Esme Harwood said: “Consumer spending has warmed up alongside the weather.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is looking for a European operations training manager for a great business. The role is based in London with extensive European travel and is paying £50,000 to £60,000. The company is looking for a dynamic and adaptive European operations training manager from a premium branded restaurant group who will drive excellence across its European estate. The right candidate will have an operational background and extensive experience in leading and co-ordinating training initiatives to develop a culture of compliance across UK and EU operations. Ideally, the incoming training manager will be working in a similar post in a branded restaurant group, be skilled in delivering and developing training packages, and be able to speak either French or German in addition to English. Anyone interested in the role should email Nicole@corecruitment.com
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Licensing update: Licensing solicitor John Gaunt & Partners has produced a useful monthly summary of licensing news relating to the covid-19 situation. To access it, click here

Company News:

Princi London rescued via pre-pack administration, Starbucks sells stake in holding company: The business behind the UK operation of boutique bakery and cafe concept Princi has been saved via a pre-pack administration, Propel has learned. The deal for its sites in London’s Wardour Street and Shaftesbury Avenue saw its holding company, Princi UK, acquire both sites for a total consideration of £185,000. Meanwhile, a separate transaction saw Angel Capital Management and Pekepan Investments, which each hold a 12.5% shareholding in Princi UK, acquire the 25% shareholding in the business previously held by Starbucks EMEA. Rocco Princi founded the concept, renowned for its bread made using family recipes, in 1986. Four years ago Starbucks became global licensee and investor in Princi, which had five locations in Milan and London at the time, stating it would expand the number of standalone Princi locations worldwide. Alan Yau brought the concept to London by opening a site in Wardour Street before adding a second site at his former Babaji restaurant in Shaftesbury Avenue. Joint administrators KPMG said several parties were interested in the sites but not the business, with one party making a minimal offer of £1,000. Of the other interested parties, only one expressed a genuine interest in the business and the assets before withdrawing. Before the company started to trade from the Shaftesbury Avenue site it had accrued losses of £5.8m in the year to 30 September. As at May 2020, the company had estimated accrued losses of circa £8.4m.

German Doner Kebab signs up experienced multi-franchise partners as it adds 30 sites to pipeline: German Doner Kebab (GDK), the flagship brand of Hero Brands, has signed up a number of franchise partners that will add about 30 sites to the company’s development pipeline. The company said it had received more than 300 enquiries in recent months. Jon Cullen, group franchise director global, revealed the recent agreements include partnerships with experienced multi-unit franchise partners who boast experience with brands such as KFC, McDonald’s and Starbucks. GDK operates franchised stores in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dubai, Oman, Sweden and the UK. Cullen said: “We will now work closely with our new partners to explore development opportunities across the globe as we take the German Doner Kebab experience to new regions and embark on an exciting period of growth.” In the UK the brand has opened 35 restaurants in the past three years and has a development pipeline of 350 franchise units in the next seven years. The brand is also participating in the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme during August. The Ajlan Bin Ajlan Group has been signed up as master franchisee in Saudi Arabia, with a development agreement of 100 stores during the next ten years. Further growth has also been announced in North America, with franchises signed in Canada’s Ontario and British Columbia provinces, while negotiations are under way to open outlets in New York’s Manhattan and New Jersey and in Houston, Texas.

Nando’s reopens almost half its UK estate for dine-in: Nando’s has now reopened almost half its 422-strong UK estate for dine-in after reopening 90 sites at the weekend. The group’s total number of sites available for dine-in is now about 200. The company is taking part in the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme but only at its dine-in restaurants. Consumers can pick up a quarter of peri-peri chicken for £1.85 as part of the offer. Regarding the early impact of the scheme, Nando’s UK & Ireland chief executive Colin Hill said: “We have been busy so far this week. It’s too early to tell the long-term success of the initiative because of the many challenges we still have to navigate in the weeks and months ahead but so far it has proved popular.”

JD Wetherspoon upgrades track and trace system to feature QR codes: JD Wetherspoon has upgraded its coronavirus track and trace system to include quick response (QR) codes. The move was revealed as the company defended its track and trace position in Scotland after a Sunday Mail probe accused staff at the pub chain of “failing to ask” for customers’ details. Wetherspoon staff were accused of asking for details in only two out of seven branches the newspaper visited in Scotland. The Sunday Mail said while the pubs had slips of paper for customers to fill in their contact details and signs on tables instructing customers how to do it online, the team said they weren’t “directly asked” for their details. However Wetherspoon, which operates 61 pubs in Scotland and almost 900 throughout the UK, defended its compliance with track and trace. Spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “When we reopened our pubs on 4 July we introduced a paper-based system asking customers to give their contact details, which are put in a ‘ballot box’ at each pub and kept for 21 days. Alongside this paper-based system, Wetherspoon has implemented a QR system that allows information to be recorded and stored digitally. As a further upgrade on 4 August, there’s a notice on every table in every Wetherspoon pub that enables customers to scan a code for the pub they are in, which records their location, contact details, date, time and number of people for the visit.”

Cote launches click and collect, continues gradual reopening programme: Cote, the 96-strong French brasserie chain, has launched its first click and collect option, Propel has learned. The Alex Scrimgeour-led brand is understood to be working with OrderSwift on the new offer, which is available at 23 of the 28 sites the company has so far reopened. On Wednesday (12 August), the business will reopen a further two sites, in Gloucester and Shrewsbury, followed by six on Monday, 17 August – in Amersham, Bristol – Clifton, Cobham, Harrogate, Lewes and Worcester. Two days later, venues in Farnham, Godalming, Leamington Spa and Teddington will reopen. The business said it had taken steps to keep staff and customers safe including social distancing, hand-sanitiser stations and cashless payments. All staff will wear visors and be subject to daily wellness checks, which will include a temperature check. The brasseries will initially open from midday to 9pm and accommodate groups up to a maximum of six. They will also offer a “simplified menu of Cote classics” and take part in the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme. 

Goodbody retains cautious stance on Domino’s Pizza Group ahead of first-half results, some key questions to answer: Goodbody leisure analyst Paul Ruddy is retaining his cautious stance on Domino’s Pizza Group ahead of its first-half results on Tuesday (11 August), while he said there would be some “key questions to answer”. Domino’s previously reported UK like-for-likes were up 4.8% excluding split stores and up 3.7% including splits for the period of 23 March to 14 June. It reported Ireland saw like-for-likes to mid-June down 5.9%. Ruddy said: “For the first half, more detail on the elements driving like-for-likes will be important. The company attributed the like-for-like growth prior to lock-down to increased order count. However, this reversed in the second quarter with total order count down owing to lack of collection sales. The group highlighted an increasing proportion of sales of sides and desserts, which are lower margin. We would look for more detail on whether this is a more medium-term trend.” Other questions, Ruddy said, included what level of additional operating cost incurred was owed to covid-19 and to what extent would this continue to have an impact in the second quarter. Ruddy said he forecast about 13 stores would open in the financial year, which would represent a further year of lower new store openings that has a small negative impact on top-line growth. He said therefore more information on the expected level of store openings in a more normalised year “would be helpful”. Ruddy said it would be interesting to see how franchisees’ profit and loss and balance sheets were looking and, given this was chief executive Dominic Paul’s “first outing”, any change of rhetoric around franchisee negotiations and performance “would be closely monitored”. Ruddy said the level of losses in international before and after the Norway exit and any progress on exiting other markets would also be interesting to hear. He added: “Domino’s trades on 14.8 times FY21 EV/Ebitda, which is too high in our view given a slowing underlying like-for-like, which will be difficult to rectify as the delivery aggregators continue to invest; new store numbers slowing; a lack of other market growth opportunities; healthy eating trends; the franchisee negotiations that could lead to a reduced plc margin; and potential macro weakness. We acknowledge a number of the potential positive catalysts have come through in recent months including a new strong management team and the start of the exit of international but we believe valuation more than captures this and we retain our ‘Sell’ recommendation.”

Pizza Pilgrims to open dedicated Pizza In The Post facility: Pizza Pilgrims, the London-based sourdough pizzeria concept founded by Thom and James Elliot, is to open a permanent facility for its Pizza In The Post operation. Having sold more than 25,000 units nationwide during lock-down, the company has secured a site in Herne Hill for the purpose-built facility. It will cater for all prepping, packing and distribution of Pizza In The Post as the brand expands the business beyond its restaurant portfolio. The space will allow the team to create more than 2,000 kits a day and hire ten members of staff to help with the development of this new arm of the business. Pivoting its business model during lock-down, Pizza Pilgrims created a product that focused on allowing people to have restaurant-quality pizza in their own homes. The first release of the DIY pizza kit sold out in 37 seconds. Since then the offer has been extended, with limited edition flavours and, more recently, family kits and “Picnic Pilgrims” added to the list of new products. Thom Elliot said: “In an ever changing landscape it was essential we expanded the business outside bricks and mortar and diversified our offering to cement not only our future but to protect the years of hard work to get here. This new facility showcases our dedication and commitment to growing Pizza Pilgrims and continuing to meet the ever evolving demands of the UK population.”

Murger Han heads to City for third London site: Murger Han, the first restaurant to bring Xi’an food to London, is to open its third site. Founder Bin Li will launch the venue in Philpot Lane in the City in the autumn. The 1,000 square foot site will offer 54 covers in a main dining room and ten on a heated terrace. It will also feature an open kitchen. The City branch will be the first in the estate to offer a daily Xi’an breakfast menu, which will be available all day during the weekend. It will also offer Xi’an cocktails served from a dedicated bar and a “Muslim street market” menu of traditional street dishes. Li launched Murger Han in Euston in 2014 and added a site in Mayfair two years later. Li said: “I started Murger Han to educate and provide Londoners with authentic Xi’an cuisine. The third location allows us to develop our menu and continue my dream. The new breakfast dishes, opening earlier and expanding into a new neighbourhood in London gives us more opportunity to serve proper eastern food to a western global market. The pandemic has hit my restaurant hard but we must keep fighting and move forward and this new opening is significant for me to demonstrate the strength of Murger Han for the future and for our customers.”

London-based operators take on Star Pubs & Bars site on Isle of Dogs for second venue, plan five sites by 2030: Laura Lythall and Sam Hawkes, who operate The Ship Inn in Canary Wharf, have taken on their first Star Pubs & Bars lease, on London’s the Isle of Dogs. The pub in Glenaffric Avenue has reopened as The Waterman’s Arms following a £587,000 joint refurbishment. The wet-led, grade II-listed community pub and hostel has been turned into a neighbourhood bar. Decor includes parquet wooden tables, benches and stools and upholstered armchairs. The pub opens at 10am for pastries and Ozone coffee, while the new menu focuses on pub classics, small plates and bar snacks.  The drinks list includes craft beer, premium draught lager, gin, rum, wine, whiskey and cocktails. The pub’s seven boutique bedrooms are scheduled to open in the autumn. Owned in the 1960s by writer and broadcaster Dan Farson, who ran it as an old-style music hall, the pub went on to become a popular film and television location. Lythall and Hawkes plan to open five sites in the south east by 2030. Hawkes is former head chef of The Botanist in Broadgate Circle, while ex-sommelier Lythall has worked at high-profile restaurants such as The Palomar and Michelin-starred Carters Of Moseley. Lythall said: “I know The Waterman’s Arms of old, having grown up in the area. When we heard it was available to lease, we leapt at the opportunity as it has so much character, history and potential.” Star Pubs & Bars regional operations director Will Rice added: “Heralded as the best place to live in London by The Sunday Times this year, the Isle of Dogs now has a top-end pub to match.” 

Soren Jessen looks to launch outdoor seating area outside City restaurant, trading at 10% of normal level: City restaurateur Soren Jessen is preparing to launch an outdoor seating area at his Bank venue in a bid to encourage consumers to visit the Square Mile restaurant, which is trading at just 10% of normal August levels. The outdoor seating plans at 1 Lombard Street, which Jessen is preparing to submit to the City of London Corporation, could use the space created by a sharp drop in commuter and tourist numbers. “We are really depending on a little bit of outdoor space,” Jessen told City AM. “Just one table would give us an immense boost.” Streets have been pedestrianised in the city’s West End, with outdoor seating taking over road space in key Soho streets including Greek Street, Old Compton Street and Dean Street. Jessen said he hoped a similar situation could be negotiated in the Square Mile. The City of London Corporation has said it will prioritise transport needs over hospitality but would explore reallocating some street space to alfresco dining on a case-by-case basis.

Starbucks reintroduces reusable cups: Starbucks has reintroduced reusable cups as it reopens stores in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The company held extensive trials on new and safe ways to reintroduce reusable cups and has introduced a contactless method that involves using a ceramic mug to transport the reusable cup to the customer to eliminate shared touch points. Starbucks said it would continue to offer a reusable cup discount to “encourage the use of reusables and cut paper cup waste”. Last month, Starbucks reported it had seen steady like-for-like sales improvement from minus 65% in April to minus 16% by the end of June as it reopened its US stores.

Sale completes for leasehold of Fitzrovia pub previously operated by Faucet Inn: A sale has been completed for the leasehold of The Northumberland Arms in London, which was operated by Faucet Inn before the company went into administration earlier this year. The property in Tottenham Court Road was sold for £341,000 – under the guide price of offers in excess of £385,000. Acting on behalf of administrators FRP Advisory, agent Fleurets had been instructed to market the site. As a result of the sale, joint administrators Geoffrey Rowley and Jason Baker said in their progress report that Faucet Inn secured creditor RoundShield, which was owed £200,000, had received a payment of £164,943. Unsecured creditors are expected to receive a payment under the “prescribed part”. As previously reported, the Faucet Inn business and assets were sold in a pre-pack agreement to Golden Brick Pubs and Freshwater Pub Co, which both list Faucet Inn founder Steve Cox as sole director. As well as The Northumberland Arms, Faucet Inn also operated Neighbourhood in Stratford, the lease of which was previously sold. Faucet Inn also operated other leasehold sites, which had become unprofitable and subsequently closed. Those losses, together with contingent liabilities crystallising from the closed sites, meant continued trading was untenable and the directors sought professional advice, resulting in the appointment of administrators.

Suffolk-based all-day cafe Gastronome reports EOTHO effect leads to 189% like-for-like rise, no sales drop off at end of week: Suffolk-based all day cafe Gastronome has reported a 189% year-on-year rise in like-for-like sales during the first week of the government’s Eat Out To Help Out (EOTHO) scheme. Gemma Simmonite, co-owner of the site in Bury St Edmunds, said trade also continued to be strong at the end of the week despite no discount being available. She added: “We are operating only at 77% of seating capacity in the restaurant compared with last year. Clearly EOTHO is having an incredible effect from Monday to Wednesday as, against the same period last year, we are 189% up.” Simmonite said the venue had seen positive turnover figures since lock-down restrictions were eased last month. She said: “Overall, since 4 July total turnover is 47% up on last year and we’re delighted the anticipated drop-off of sales from Thursday to Sunday hasn’t happened. We had a really busy weekend of sales in spite of the phenomenally hot weather. Regardless of there being no tempting discounts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, customers will inherently want to celebrate the end of the week. It’s in our DNA and even a super-saving August can’t change that. Forward bookings for next week appear similarly encouraging and we anticipate further growth in sales. We’ve got one customer who has been in four times in the past week!”

Bingo operator Buzz receives CVA approval: Bingo operator Buzz has received approval for its company voluntary arrangement (CVA), which will see it close 26 sites, leading to about 600 job losses. Buzz, which was formerly known as Gala, said the move, first announced last month, would secure its long-term future and see backer Caledonia Investments inject £22m in the business. Buzz said 91 of its clubs would continue to trade as those sites had gradually been reopened. Chief executive Chris Matthews said: “Buzz was doing well – then we had to face the shock and reality of covid-19 and all its impact. It’s hard to not reflect on the consequences of this. As a result of the CVA successfully passing, 26 clubs will permanently close, with 600 colleagues affected and a big impact on the communities they are part of. It was not an easy decision and one I wish wasn’t necessary.”

Kebab specialist E Mono takes former Greggs site near Arsenal’s stadium for third London outlet: Kebab specialist E Mono is set to open its third London site. The brand opened its debut bricks and mortar site in Kentish Town in 2011 before expanding to Finsbury Park four years later. The company has now taken on a former Greggs site on the corner of Holloway Road and Drayton Park, Hot Dinners reports. Its location will make it handy for Arsenal fans when the club’s Emirates Stadium reopens to fans. E Mono offers Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine including kebabs, wraps, burgers, grilled fish, lamb chops and ribs, and chicken nuggets. 

JKS Restaurants extends Eat Out To Help Out offer at Gymkhana: JKS Restaurants, led by Karam, Jyotin and Sunaina Sethi, has extended the government’s Eat Out To Help Out discount at Michelin-starred Indian restaurant Gymkhana at its own expense to cover the rest of the week. It means diners will receive the 50% discount on food and soft drinks, up to the value of £10 per person, for lunch and early dinner (5.30pm to 6.30pm). The venue in Albemarle Street, Mayfair, which is inspired by the elite clubs of India, reopened at the end of last month following lock-down.

Whitbread submits revised plans for proposed Premier Inn in Keswick: Whitbread has submitted revised plans for its proposed 71-bedroom Premier Inn in Keswick. The application to the Lake District National Park Authority comes after feedback from the community about the height and look of the proposed hotel on the site of the former Ravensfield residential care home in High Hill. Development company Premcor, which owns the site and is bringing forward the development with Premier Inn, is proposing to invest more than £6m in the hotel if planning permission is granted. The changes include reducing the height to three storeys throughout, a new roof design and use of a greater variety of materials including sections of Lakeland stone. Premier Inn has five hotels in towns around the Lake District National Park – at Cockermouth, Kendal, Penrith, Ulverston and Whitehaven – and has been searching for an appropriate site in Keswick “for many years as it responds to high demand for rooms from family guests and leisure/active travellers”. It predicts 44,000 overnight stays annually at the new Premier Inn, with hotel guests expected to generate close to £2m per year of total tourism expenditure in the local economy. Kevin Murray, head of acquisitions at Premier Inn for the north of England and Ireland, said: “Bringing a Premier Inn to High Hill will provide a new type of accommodation offer in Keswick. Our style of accommodation serves a different market compared with the well-run guest houses and B&Bs in the town.”

Restaurant inspired by ‘trapbox’ trend to open second site, in Manchester: A restaurant inspired by the “trapbox” trend is to open its second site, in Manchester. 202 Kitchen is the brainchild of Leon Beckford, who launched the concept in Birmingham based on serving comforting soul food piled up in a metal box. Trapbox began life with amateur cooks creating cultural dishes that were packed into a box and showcased on social media, with some selling it to their followers. Inspired by the trend, Beckford wanted to bring it to life with professional chefs while creating a “social media-friendly atmosphere”. Now Beckford will open a site in Bridge Street, Manchester, on Friday, 21 August. The restaurant will serve dishes such as mac ‘n’ cheese, fried chicken, waffles and burgers all piled up in the boxes. There will also be  a range of cocktails, wine and beer, reports Secret Manchester.

Custodian REIT acquires Starbucks drive-thru in Nottingham: A newly developed Starbucks drive-thru in Queens Drive, Nottingham, which was granted planning consent earlier this year, has been sold in a forward funding investment transaction to Custodian REIT. The site, which extends to 0.6 acres, is on the main road into Nottingham city centre. The unit extends to 2,163 square feet and features a terrace and free parking. It has been let on a 20-year unbroken lease at a commencing rent of £115,000 per annum. Alan Pearson, director of FHP Property Consultants, who secured the deal, said: “We took this site to market early last year and received three offers from drive-thru operators, with Starbucks proving successful. We agreed terms in an off-market investment transaction with Custodian REIT via a forward funding route, which represents a net initial yield of 6.25%. Despite the pandemic the drive-thru asset class is continuing to fare well.” Will Torr, of chartered surveyor HEB, added: “The demand for drive-thrus continues to grow and the 20-year unbroken lease provides our client with long-term income in a resilient and expanding sector.”

Vegan curry house concept SpiceBox to reopen for dine-in: SpiceBox, the London-based vegan curry house concept, will reopen for dine-in from Tuesday (11 August). The restaurant in Walthamstow will offer two evening sittings, from Tuesday to Sunday, and is only accepting reservations in advance. SpiceBox will take part in the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme and will continue to offer delivery and takeaway. Grace Regan launched the restaurant in January 2019 having opened a kiosk at Kerb’s former street market in Camden in October 2017 and a test kitchen at The Hornbeam pub in Walthamstow in September 2018.

Two Magpies opens bake school: Suffolk-based Two Magpies has opened a bake school. It is adjacent to the company’s main production bakery in Darsham and will provide a range of classes for making products such as sourdough bread and doughnuts as well as programmes on Scandinavian and gluten-free baking. Rebecca Bishop, co-owner of Two Magpies, said: “We are excited to launch our purpose-built bake school, which will allow us to expand the number of courses we offer and teach more people how to bake wonderful real bread and pastries.” The school will offer full and half-day classes, along with evening sessions. Two Magpies operates four bakeries – in Aldeburgh, Darsham, Norwich and Southwold.

Boutique fitness brand Trib3 secures flagship site and new global headquarters, in Manchester: Boutique fitness brand Trib3 is to open a flagship site and new global headquarters, in Manchester. The company is set to launch at Circle Square – a joint venture between Bruntwood SciTech and Vita Group. The new studio, located in the North Pavilion ground-floor space in Symphony Park, will be Trib3’s largest to date – with 60 spots available per session. In total, Trib3 will occupy more than 7,000 square feet. The new headquarters will also include the Trib3 University, a dedicated space for the brand to deliver training for its teams, coaches and franchise partners worldwide. There will also be the Trib3 Live recording studio for its new virtual service along with a shake bar. Trib3 operates two UK sites, in Leeds and Sheffield, with a third opening in Bristol at the end of the month. Trib3 chief executive Kevin Yates said: “Circle Square is the perfect destination for our new, global headquarters. It gives us the perfect base to develop our franchise model and continue on our ambitious international expansion strategy.” Tom Renn, Bruntwood SciTech – Manchester managing director, said: “Trib3 is creating a global movement in fitness and bringing people together to lead healthier lifestyles and exercise in a unique environment – one more akin to a nightclub than a gym.” Trib3 will join live music, events and entertainment centre Canvas Manchester, which will be launched by BeSixth, the events company known for the Pickle Factory and Oval Space in east London.

Edyn Group to launch third Locke site in London: Aparthotel operator Edyn Group is to launch a third site for its home-meets-hotel brand Locke, in Bermondsey, south east London, next month. Bermonds Locke will comprise 143 apartments, a restaurant, co-working areas, bar and workout studio. Each studio apartment will feature fully fitted kitchens and laundry facilities while allowing guests the benefits of a hotel. Edyn Group chief executive Stephen McCall said: “The type of guest we’re accommodating wants to explore life as a local so the Bermondsey neighbourhood has played a significant role in defining the aesthetic, partners and programming.” As with all Locke properties, Bermonds Locke will come fully staffed by a team of “house hosts” offering local knowledge. Edyn Group said it would continue to expand the Locke brand, with further openings planned in Berlin, Copenhagen, Dublin, Lisbon, Munich and a fourth London outpost – in Dalston in late 2020.

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