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Tue 8th Dec 2020 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Wasabi founder to launch Kineya Mugimaru brand in the UK: Dong Hyun Kim, founder of Wasabi Sushi & Bento, is to launch Kineya Mugimaru, the Japanese udon noodle brand, in the UK, Propel has learned. The first site under the venture is set to open on Monday (14 December) in London’s St Pancras International. Founded in Osaka in 1967, Kineya Mugimaru operates circa 500 stores in Japan and Hong Kong, as well as having a foothold in the US. The restaurant at St Pancras International, which will also be the brand’s first in Europe, is expected to be the first of many across the UK, with a second site in Cambridge anticipated for early spring 2021. The St Pancras restaurant, which is opening as part of a franchise agreement, will have 43 covers when fully open to dine-in customers and is considered “outdoor” allowing groups of six to meet under the current rules. The brand is known for its “fresh, authentic, quick and affordable menu of udon noodles in broths with side orders of tempura”. Customers can adapt dishes to their own needs and with 30% of the menu suitable for vegans. Noodles are freshly made daily and all meals will be available for takeaway or dine-in within the current government social distancing regulations. Kim said: “Kineya has a huge following in Japan as the original udon restaurant concept and I believe the time is right to bring the concept to the UK. Over almost 20 years developing and nurturing Wasabi, I have learned food should always be at the heart of opening restaurants. If the food is delicious and the price is right, the customers will return again and again, and as we move out of 2020 and the challenges it has brought, this feels like a great time to bring something new.” Kim opened the first Wasabi store in Embankment in 2003, growing it to 55 sites in the UK and a further five sites in the US. Last May, London-based private equity firm Capdesia acquired a minority stake in Wasabi while Sushiro Global Holdings, Japan’s largest publicly listed sushi chain operator, also invested in the business. In September, Wasabi had a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) approved.

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Kingstone Press launches low-alcohol cider: Growth of the no and low-alcoholic beverage category is 45% – the fastest growing category. Responding to this growth in popularity of low-alcohol options among teepartial and younger consumers, Kingstone Press has launched a low alcohol (0.5% ABV) variant of its original apple cider. Kingstone Press Low Alcohol Cider uses the same blend of apples harvested from orchards across Worcestershire and Herefordshire as used in the 4.7% ABV apple cider. Available in 500ml glass bottles, Kingstone Press Low Alcohol Cider is created from a variety of apples including Michelin bittersweet, Angela and Dabinett. The craftmanship of its cider makers finds the perfect blend of apples and juices to give the cider a fresh, crisp apple aroma and bright golden colour. On the palate, this medium dry low-alcohol cider has a clean, refreshing taste that leaves a subtle tannic finish. Katie Walker, brand manager for Kingstone Press, said: “There’s growing popularity among customers for low-alcohol options of favourite drinks. For customers looking to upgrade from a soft drink or simply reducing their alcohol intake, we’ve developed the low-alcohol version of Kingstone Press to ensure the taste matches perfectly to the alcoholic cider.” To find out more click here. If you have information you would like to feature in a sponsored message, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com

Legal challenge to tier three restrictions put on hold by Birmingham restaurateur: A legal challenge to tier three restrictions backed by more than 250 hospitality businesses in the Birmingham area has been put on hold while local leaders push for more government support for the industry. Restaurateur Sam Morgan, who is leading the call for a judicial review though the Birmingham Hospitality Group, said he did not want any action to “delay or hinder” discussions. West Midlands mayor Andy Street and the city council have asked the government to provide extra support for the local hospitality sector. Morgan, owner of the Craft and 8 restaurants in Birmingham, said he welcomed the “open and constructive” discussion with the mayor, who was “proactively” seeking help for the industry. Morgan said: “We accept it is important the sector allows its elected representatives to see such discussions through. The basis of [the judicial review] is primarily to understand more about why we are closed and how we can move forward as a sector and bring this matter to a close with our businesses remaining strong to support the economy. As such, I have opted to delay issuing the letter before action to allow the mayor and leader of the council to continue constructive dialogue with the UK government in the hope this can be resolved. We understand that this may not turn out as we hope and, as such, our case remains in place should such a suitable resolution not be achieved.” The Birmingham Hospitality Group’s action is based around demands for more scientific data to support its decision to close pubs and restaurants in tier three areas. If it cannot do so, the legal action calls for greater financial support. Other legal cases against government restrictions are ongoing, including one brought by hospitality leaders in Greater Manchester. 

Sales in tier one, two and three venues down 30%, 39.2% and 77.8% respectively: Sales in tiers one, two and three venues are down 30%, 39.2% and 77.8% respectively year-on-year, according to analysis by S4labour, the online labour-scheduling management system from Catton Hospitality. S4labour said, as expected, the tougher lockdown restrictions have been “disastrous” for the sector. However, there is also proof in tier two that despite greater restrictions on average than before lockdown (most areas in tier two came from either tier one or two in October/November), some consumer confidence is there. It added a lower post-lockdown effect can be seen than previously expected, as pent-up demand for hospitality drives sales, yet restrictions preventing households from mixing indoors curbs sales as the cold December kicks in. The new rules concerning eating are also affecting overall sales, as going out for a drink no longer becomes an option, and a trip out becomes more expensive. As expected, food sales are down by less year-on-year, at 18.9%, while drink is down 49.6%. While these figures compare sites that are open, 25% of tier two sites are still closed, and 91.7% of tier three sites are closed. S4labour said the figures are much worse if taking these closed sites into account, particularly in tier three. S4labour chief product officer Richard Hartley said: “We fear that with these levels of sales, a lot of venues will struggle to be profitable. The number of sites not open shows just how catastrophic the current restrictions are for the industry. This is a time when hospitality normally thrives and many organisations rely on December revenues to get through January and February.”
S4labour is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Horler – as an industry I think we got off to the wrong start with landlords: James Horler, chief executive of Ego Restaurants and non-executive chairman of Ping Pong and Notes Music & Coffee, believes as an industry “we got off to the wrong start” with landlords and it was “too aggressive”. Speaking on Propel’s latest Friday Wrap video, Horler said: “The thing with landlords is it’s a partnership. We quickly did a deal with all of our landlords. We were flexible, they were flexible. For some of them it is their only method of income. Others are institutionally backed. We were able to get an agreement – whether it be a reversionary lease, a deferred rent period, rent free, over five years, eight years, and just work with them. We got that secured very quickly. Our industry should not be too aggressive because if your approach is one of conciliatory, working with landlords, in a partnership, and they are a supplier, as well as our other suppliers, then I think you will get the right outcome. If the approach is incorrect, wrong and aggressive, then I think you end up in a situation in which it is very difficult to get an agreement, and you rely on things like the debt moratorium to get your way through. The fact we are in the regions is a big help, and the fact these are relatively new leases is a help. The fact most of the balance of the leases is away from institutional landlords is a help – certainly the experience in London is somewhat different. In my non-executive roles, I see some of the institutional landlords digging their heels in, but it does come down to approach, and as an industry I think we got off to the wrong start and it was too aggressive a start to find a way through this that was positive for all parties.”

Vaccinated people will receive card to ‘unlock’ their lives and allow them to visit hospitality sites: Foreign Office minister James Cleverly has said millions of people in the UK will have their lives “unlocked” after receiving the covid-19 vaccine and will also be given a card to prove they had received the necessary jabs. Despite Michael Gove insisting last week there would not be a “vaccine passport” to prove to businesses, such as hospitality sites, a person had been vaccinated and therefore allowed entry to restaurants, pubs and bars, Cleverly told Sky News vaccinated people will receive a card. The card would allow them to go to places that they would not be able to without one. He said: “Ultimately, it’s about making sure there is a wide rollout and confidence in that rollout. It’s about unlocking people’s lives, it’s about unlocking the economy, it’s about making sure we protect lives and protect livelihoods,” but he would not admit the cards are, effectively, a “vaccine passport”.
 
Scottish operators brand financial support ‘shameful’, lags behind rest of UK and way down on European countries: The financial support offered to hospitality businesses by the government in Scotland is “shameful”, according to the Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG). The trade body claimed the help given in Scotland is more than 75% behind the financial assistance available in Wales – which is also way behind leading European countries. SHG said Scottish hospitality businesses are being expected to survive on an average of £64 of government support per day during the peak festive period, when the industry would typically make 25% of its year’s profits. It added the average daily support rates for businesses elsewhere in the UK are £269 in Wales, £147 in Northern Ireland and £80 in England. Meanwhile, its analysis of grant schemes on the continent shows businesses can claim £1,785 per day in Germany, £1,071 per day in the Netherlands and up to 20% of turnover in France. Additionally, larger employers in Scotland with multiple premises also face a cap on the help they can claim, despite having higher costs for property, staff and overheads – and some businesses are still waiting on the £1,650 grant payments promised by first minister Nicola Sturgeon for those forced to close in the central belt from 9 October for the “short sharp shock”. The body also said even if some areas move down a level from Friday (11 December), the tier system and other government measures mean many businesses will be unable to trade viably, and not enough to recoup significant losses, nor will they be able to create a financial safety net to see them through the quietest time of year. SHG spokesman Stephen Montgomery said: “It’s yet another blow in an already catastrophic year. Not only have we faced tougher restrictions, we’re eligible for less support. This is a shameful way to treat the thousands of hard-working, dedicated staff whose jobs rely on the hospitality sector, especially when you consider that they have to the face the public about the government’s confusing measures. We want fair support compared to other UK nations. We also want the easing of restrictions to come into effect at 6am on Friday (11 December) not 6pm, otherwise that’s another day of trading lost. Finally, we reiterate our call to the government to tweak the tiers and let us trade viably.” 

Spend in hospitality sector suffers during November while online festive sales soar: Consumers took advantage of seasonal online sales during November despite an overall spending dip of 1.9% but hospitality was put to sword again as England was put into lockdown for most of the month. According to research by Barclaycard, “restrictions continued to hamper the long-suffering hospitality sector,” as restaurants saw steep year-on-year sales decline by 56.7% while spending at pubs and bars dropped by 56.3% versus 2019. The contractions against October were minus 32.7% and 13.5% respectively. However, food and drink specialist stores – which include greengrocers, butchers and bakeries – grew 54.3% against last year, which included a 3.6 percentage point rise from October, as shoppers continued to support local businesses. In fact, a third (32%) said they would make an extra effort to support their community this Christmas, with almost half (48%) of those planning to buy Christmas gifts and food specifically from small and local shops. Meanwhile, spending on essentials grew 4.9%, with a 17.9% rise in supermarket shopping offsetting a 23.8% decrease in fuel. Online grocery shopping saw a steep 97.4% rise as Brits went online to start stocking up on Christmas supplies. Department stores and clothing saw declines of 18% and 13% respectively – the largest drops in both categories since June, when the first lockdown measures were still in place. In a month of much-anticipated new console and video game releases, electronic sales saw a 28.9% uplift year-on-year. A third of Brits (33%) say they are feeling more upbeat about their finances and job security due to news about the covid-19 vaccines. Barclaycard head of consumer products Raheel Ahmed said: “Despite the restrictions in November, Brits are feeling more positive about their household finances as they start to prepare for the festive season. Christmas trees are going up just that bit earlier, and many are planning to spend more treating their loved ones after such a testing year. Unfortunately, the hospitality and entertainment sectors have continued to suffer. The big question now is whether Brits will flock to the high street for Christmas shopping after the November lockdown, providing a much-needed boost in December.”
 
US restaurant industry sees covid-19 recovery stall: The US restaurant industry’s recovery from the spring depth of the covid-19 pandemic appeared to stall in November, according to the latest statistics. Although overall unemployment edged down to 6.7% in November, foodservice businesses lost a net 17,400 jobs. The restaurant industry is about 2.1 million jobs below its pre-coronavirus level. Data from Black Box Intelligence also showed November restaurant like-for-like sales were down 10.3% and like-for-like visits were down 16.3% as most of the nation saw a surge in covid-19 cases and deaths, leading to more local restrictions. “Restaurant sales saw another decline during November, posting the worst results since August,” Black Box reported, noting that was a 3.8 percentage-point decline from October’s results. That was the first month since April restaurant sales performance had worsened month-on-month. A National Restaurant Association survey found half of restaurant operators expect their staffing levels to decline during the next three months with only 5% of operators anticipating an increase. By segment, full-service operators (58%) were more likely than limited-service restaurateurs (40%) to say they expect to reduce staffing levels during the next three months.
 
Harri and Boyes Turner to host Brexit webinar with Springboard and EXP101: Harri, the hospitality technology platform, has teamed up with Boyes Turner to discuss the legalities of Brexit and what this actually means for hospitality and tourism in the UK. The webinar, which takes place on Wednesday (9 December) at noon, will also discuss future talent solutions with Chris Gamm, chief executive of Springboard, along with Chris Fletcher, operations director of Pieminister and founder of EXP101. They will be covering the residency application process along with new immigration regulations. There will be the opportunity to ask questions and to learn the ideal timeline for business activities to prepare and execute in preparation for January 2021. The panel will discuss operational opportunities and solutions, and talk about the new culture around the workforce make-up after Brexit. Gamm from Springboard, which has partnered with Harri for the Kickstart scheme, will discuss the wider challenges and opportunities around young people and the state of the current workforce in hospitality, leisure and tourism. Fletcher will approach the discussion with practical insights around the immediate operational impacts. Boyes Turner will outline the legal implications of Brexit and what operators need to do now. To register for the webinar click here.
 
Christmas market in tier three area labelled ‘bonkers’ by hospitality bosses is forced to close after one day: A Christmas market, which opened in a tier three area while hospitality venues have been forced to operate takeaway and delivery services only, has been shut after one day over a lack of social distancing. Nottingham’s Christmas Market – organised by Nottingham City Council and Mellors Group – saw hundreds of people pack the area in Old Market Square and Long Row on Saturday (5 December) with little evidence of social distancing measures in place. Coffee chain 200 Degrees co-founder Rob Darby told The Business Desk: “We are literally a few days out of lockdown. Most of hospitality is closed. Those that are open are restricted to takeaway with no outside seating. To allow the Christmas market to go ahead and to pack Market Square full of people seems completely bonkers. We need to get the covid-19 numbers down in Nottingham to keep people safe and to get out of tier three. If it is not safe to sit outside the front of a covid-secure coffee shop with furniture sanitised between uses and with safe distancing, it is certainly not safe to put many hundreds of people shoulder to shoulder together in Market Square. It is very aggravating to comply with such tight restrictions ourselves and to watch them be made a mockery of by our own city council. The management and regulation of numbers in Market Square was zero – in venues we are very strict.” A joint statement from the city council and Mellors Group read: “Following ongoing meetings, including observing strong city centre footfall again, we have made a joint decision not to reopen Nottingham Christmas Market this year. A wide range of measures had been put in place to ensure the market followed the tier three guidance in relation to outdoor markets and fairgrounds. Plans were in place to control access to help manage the number of people entering the site at any one time and to continually monitor this throughout Saturday. However, numbers were too large to implement these effectively.”
 

Company News:

Cooplands bakery secures £7.7m BGF funding to open 30 new stores per year: South Yorkshire-based bakery and cafe chain Cooplands has secured £7.7m funding from the Business Growth Fund (BGF) to roll out 30 more stores per year. The bakery has grown to more than 165 stores, 12 cafes and 36 sandwich vans thanks to an £8.5m injection three years ago from the BGF. Cooplands, the 135-year-old business, has opened seven new stores since March 2020. Cooplands chief executive Belinda Youngs said: “This year we’ve continued to open stores, create jobs and develop new products. This month, we’ve opened a new shop in Lincoln which created eight new jobs for the city and launched a new cheese bake to meet consumer demand.” In 2019, Cooplands was one of the first high street bakery chains to sell 100% vegan bread and rolls. Barry Jackson, BGF investor added: “BGF is committed to backing the growth economy businesses that will help to drive economic recovery in every corner of the UK.” Earlier this year, Julie Turnbull was hired as chief financial officer for Cooplands, following financial director roles at Omega and Finsbury Food Group. David Salkeld was introduced as non-executive chair in 2018. The Coopland family is a minority shareholder of the business, with Paul Coopland continuing to support the business in a non-executive capacity. Cooplands is one of a group of companies that has been collectively dubbed as the UK’s growth economy. This comprises more than 21,000 businesses based across every region in the UK with a turnover between £2.5m and £100m and year-on-year sales growth outpacing GDP. Cooplands was advised on the transaction by KPMG & Freeths LLP and BGF was advised by Ward Hadaway (James Nightingale).
 
Flight Club to launch in Australia in 2021: Flight Club, the darts concept owned by Red Engine, is to make its debut in Australia next year, in Perth. Red Engine has signed an agreement with Capitol Corp, which owns six venues across Perth, to debut the concept in the Australian city next year. Capitol has applied to open a site in Perth’s Murray Street, next to two of its other venues, Capitol Club and The Edison in the city’s Central Business District. David Heaton, chairman of Capitol Corp, said: “As a joint venture partner of Flight Club Darts in the UK, we’re incredibly proud to be bringing this brand to life in Australia, having seen the incredible success in England, we saw the perfect opportunity to launch a truly unique social experience.” It is thought Red Engine is also exploring launching Flight Club in Ireland and France under similar agreements. It operates six Flight Club sites in the UK, including four in London, with a further opening also secured in Leeds. Social Entertainment Ventures operates two Flight Club sites in the US, in Boston and Chicago, under a licensing agreement.
 
Gordon Ramsay builds openings pipeline, new venture mooted: Gordon Ramsay, who last week opened his first Street Burger site last week in the One New Change development in London’s St Paul’s, has lined up three more openings in the capital. Speaking to the Evening Standard, Ramsay said he planned to open sites under the new burger concept in Charing Cross Road and Kensington High Street. Propel understands the chef is in talks on the ex-Byron site in the former location. Ramsay, who currently has 35 restaurants around the world, also plans to open a fourth site under his Street Pizza concept at the Battersea Power Station development on 28 December. He said: “I have never been prouder of the hospitality industry than I am right now. The challenges we are facing are very real and yet we are united in keeping our kitchens open, our teams working, and our guests looked after. Despite these challenges I have to believe in supporting growth, to create jobs and opportunities and, more importantly, opening really great places for people to eat out and have fun.” In August, accounts for Ramsay’s restaurant business showed it made a profit of more than £15m last year and he was still planning to open 50 venues across the UK. At the same time, Propel has learned that Ramsay has set up a new company called Humble Noodle with Ben Orpwood, who is executive head chef, at his Lucky Cat by Gordon Ramsay restaurant in Grosvenor Square, Mayfair. Earlier this year, Ramsay trademarked the name Noodle Lounge, by Gordon Ramsay.
 
BrewDog appoints Sarah Warman as new managing director of Hawkes: Scottish brewer and bar operator BrewDog has appointed Sarah Warman as the new managing director of cider producer Hawkes. Warman, who has been with BrewDog since 2013, moves into her new role after spending more than two years as vice-president of brand strategy at BrewDog. Previous to that, she was its global head of marketing. Alongside her role at Hawkes, she has also been made vice-president of alternative growth at BrewDog. BrewDog invested in Hawkes, which was founded by Simon Wright in 2013, in April 2018. Wright stepped down from the business in October this year. He said: “There was always going to be a time when we felt that the baton needed to be fully passed over to BrewDog, and that moment is now. I would like to think I was committed totally to pushing the company and the craft cider category forward, I look forward to continuing to help cider in any way I can in the future – I owe it, and the friends I’ve made on the way, everything. Working with the whole BrewDog team alongside James [Watt] and Martin [Dickie] has been a real pleasure. I’m leaving the business in great shape with an exciting range of innovation, a real focus on liquid quality and increased production capacity in London. I have no doubt BrewDog will go on to make Hawkes, and the cider category, even more awesome in the future.” Writing about his ten biggest mistakes last month, BrewDog co-founder Watt said that, on the acquisition of cider brewer Hawkes, he had “ripped the soul out the brand” by taking production to Ellon and was now in the process of expanding the London cidery so within four weeks, all Hawkes ciders will once again be made in the capital from freshly pressed apples.

Incipio Group appoints legal expert David Roberts as a non-executive director: Incipio Group, operator of venues including Pergola Paddington, The Prince and Lost in Brixton, has appointed lawyer David Roberts as a non-executive director. He currently leads the hotels and leisure section at international law firm CMS and is chairman of the leisure sector charity, A Good Dinner. Roberts brings extensive hospitality and leisure sector experience having acted for many of the sector’s giants during a 25-year career. In 2015, Roberts helped to found restaurant group Blacklock where he backed founder Gordon Ker to set up the steakhouse and has backed other companies, including Daisy Green, Smith & Wollensky, Bubala and Slerp. Incipio Group chief executive Ed Devenport said: “As well as his exemplary sector credentials and his strategic and commercial insight, David brings a wealth of experience that will, undoubtedly, help support Incipio through its next ambitious chapter. I look forward to working with him.” 
 
Roux at Parliament Square announces permanent closure: Roux at Parliament Square restaurant in London’s Westminster has announced its permanent closure. The restaurant was run in partnership with the Roux family, and was part of RA Group’s fine dining and public restaurants arm. For the past seven years, the 60-cover restaurant has been overseen by head chef and 2019 National Chef of the Year Steve Groves. A post on the restaurant’s website said: "Dear guests, our restaurant has regrettably suffered during this incredibly difficult year. That, combined with the ongoing uncertainty ahead, has resulted in the permanent closure of Roux at Parliament Square. We thank our guests for their patronage and support and extend a special thank you to Michel Roux Jr, head chef Steve Groves and every single member of the team for their endless dedication over the past decade.”
 
Haute Dolci announces new site in Bradford to open when tier three restrictions end, reveals Wembley Park opening date: Premium dessert concept Haute Dolci is ready to start serving the public in Bradford’s Broadway Shopping Centre when tier three restrictions are lifted in the area. Haute Dolci offers a range of desserts including Belgian waffles, American pancakes and French crepes. Haute Dolci said: “From the moment Bradford is out of tier three until 31 January 2021, we are offering a 50% discounts across all menus to customers in possession of a key.” A “key” can be bought or won and is part of the business’ loyalty scheme. Meanwhile, Haute Dolci is to make its London debut on Friday, 16 December, after announcing it had secured a site at Wembley Park in September. The company agreed the deal with developer Quintain to open a 3,350 square foot restaurant, including a mezzanine, at the new neighbourhood scheme, in Wembley Park Boulevard. Founder Nizam Mohamed said: “To open our first London location at Wembley Park, in line with the launch of the festive season, is a significant milestone for us. We believe fine art desserts have the power of bringing joy to people and bringing people together – something that is very apt and needed in today’s climate. Opening Haute Dolci in Wembley Park felt like a natural fit, with our shared values of creating special moments and unforgettable experiences for all our guests. We’re incredibly excited to launch our unique offer to the residents, workers and visitors of Wembley Park and wider London.” Haute Dolci operates eight sites across the north of England and Midlands.
 
The Real Greek launches meal kit: Fulham Shore-owned The Real Greek has launched a meal kit for nationwide delivery. Consumers are now able to order two DIY souvlaki kits – the chicken souvlaki and a savoury halloumi souvlaki, which both serve two people. Nabil Mankarious, managing director at The Real Greek, said: “The business has enjoyed sustained demand throughout 2020 and we are now partnering with Great Food 2U so more consumers can enjoy our authentic Greek food. Our DIY souvlaki kits mean Brits will be able to make this iconic Greek dish in the comfort of their own kitchens.”

Tapas bar Andanza opens in London Bridge from team that runs The Rose pub: The team behind The Rose pub in London Bridge has opened a tapas bar called Andanza. Andanza opened as lockdown ended in the capital and offers Basque-style pintxos with tapas and larger plates alongside a selection of Spanish wines. The restaurant has taken over an old William Hill shop, which is opposite The Rose on the junction of Weston Street and Snowfields. According to Hot Dinners, an expert team has been drafted in with the head chef previously working at Lurra and its master carver at Brindisa. The menu includes pork tenderloin, manchego cheese and chipotle aioli; foie gras with a sweet sherry reduction; aubergine, sweet pepper, onion and smoked tomato; aged Basque steak tartare, quail’s egg and foie gras shavings; and Galician octopus with confit potatoes. There is also a daily changing option of croquetas, padron peppers, hams and chorizo and Basque-style cheesecake. Drinks include Spanish wine, beer, vermouth and sherry.
 
Breddos Tacos launches delivery-only restaurant: Mexican brand Breddos Tacos, the joint venture between Nud Dudhia and Chris Whitney and Gleneagles owner Ennismore, has launched a delivery-only restaurant. It has teamed up with Kitchen Venture for Tacos El Rey, which serves east and west London from Bethnal Green and Hammersmith, with Shoreditch on the way. The menu features a mix of tacos, bigger plates and burritos with dishes such as beef rib barbecoa taco – slow-cooked beef rib and brisket marinated in house adobo; and a Mexican-style squash and potato chorizo burrito. There are also “supreme” nachos topped with beef barbacoa or pork or chicken or cauliflower or squash as well as crushed fried potatoes with parmesan and corn chips with guacamole. 
 
Maureen Heffernan launches private members’ club in Richmond: The Richmond Club, the first private members’ club in the south London borough, has been launched by sector PR expert Maureen Heffernan. A Richmond local for 20 years, Heffernan, founder of Leisure PR & Communications, has transformed the former Hope pub, following a six-figure investment. The venue features booth seating, chic sofas and crystal lighting and bedecked with art. To the first floor, the adaptable space will accommodate daytime creative and diners, as well as being available for private hire. There is also a heated outside area. The menu celebrates “the very best of classics with a twist”, offering an array of small plates. Lunch and dinner will be served daily with brunch available at the weekend. Heffernan said: “We are excited to open the doors and welcome the first members to The Richmond Club. At a time when hospitality is facing huge challenges, it is refreshing to bring something different that enables business to continue away from home without the commute.” Applications are still open for membership, which includes a daytime-only option (10am to 6pm); full, couple and corporate options; as well as a discount for those aged under 27.
 
Black Sheep Brewery reports 543% year-on-year online sales boost: Yorkshire-based Black Sheep Brewery has reported a 543% year-on-year boost in online orders during the second national lockdown. The Masham brewer said Black Friday and Cyber Monday helped digital orders reach 3,176 in November, up from 494 orders a year before. Demand ranged from bottled beers, mini-kegs, gift packs, hampers to its beer advent calendar. Black Sheep Brewery chief executive Charlene Lyons said: “The combination of the second national lockdown and the run-up to Christmas has again revealed people’s passion for Black Sheep and their determination to enjoy our taste of Yorkshire. Our team has really pulled together to handle this huge influx of orders as we have pivoted the brewery’s operations towards our online business while pubs, bars and restaurants have been forced to close. The hospitality sector has been disproportionately affected by the government’s coronavirus restrictions, and we have shown true Yorkshire grit to react to the situation by being agile and reacting quickly. We are really grateful the public has continued to support us with high levels of online orders, which are continuing in the last couple of weeks before Christmas.”
 
Escape Leamington Spa to double up with new site: Escape Leamington Spa is set to expand in the new year with three new games at a new site. Escape Leamington Spa, which is based on Park Street, is opening a second venue at Empire House, in Dormer Place, after agreeing a five-year lease on the 2,000 square foot, three-storey building, which is currently being refurbished. The new site will create up to 10 part-time jobs in addition to the 14 part-time staff currently at Park Street. Empire House will host three new games with different themes, including the Demon Barber based on Sweeney Todd, a pirate-inspired challenge called Escape the Seven Seas, with the third still to be confirmed. Escape Leamington Spa director Laura Sylvester said: “Our Park Street premises is regularly fully booked and a lot of people have completed the three games that we offer, and they are asking us if we have any others up our sleeves. It’s proven popular because it’s an experience that enables people to escape everyday reality and bond with whoever they’re playing with, whether that’s family, close friends or workmates. The first lockdown afforded us some time to take a step back and look at how we could expand our offering and if there were any ideal locations – we needed a property with multiple spacious rooms and Empire House was the ideal fit.” According to The Business Desk, Empire House will be able to host 24 people while the current site caters for 18 players. 

Middle Eastern plant-based restaurant Bubala launches delivery arm Bubie: Middle Eastern vegetarian concept Bubala, which opened its first permanent site in London’s Spitalfields last year, is launching a delivery service called Bubie. Bubie in Kentish Town launches on Thursday (10 December) with more kitchens planned to open across London in the new year. The plant-focused arm will be sending out dishes such as Iraqi laffa sandwiches containing Yemeni falafel with crispy aubergine and pickled red cabbage, and mushroom shawarma, which is marinated and roasted oyster mushrooms with salad and tahini. A “hold the laffa” option gives customers more of a salad bowl with caramelised onion rice. According to Hot Dinners, sides will include mini latkes, smashed potatoes and shallots with pomegranate molasses.
 
Kerb to launch online course on food start-ups: Street food collective Kerb is to launch a new online course to “distill the invaluable lessons of eight years spent working with food start-ups, from the kerb up”. Called Kerb Classroom – Food Business 2021, the new initiative will launch in January and run for eight weeks and will feature weekly lessons, insider case studies, expert-led videos, recorded Kerb commentary, and live Monday night classes. The company said: “Got a great idea for a food business brewing in your head that can’t wait any longer? Are you thinking ‘screw it, if not now then when?’ Or are you just beginning to come round to the idea of doing something new and you love food so...? Enrol in Kerb Classroom to step into the new year educated and energised to move your idea forward. We will share business nuggets with you in the best way we know how: honest, insightful and, most importantly, accessible. What makes some use the kerb as a springboard into multi-site success while leaving others unable to move beyond a single gazebo? What makes one dish attract accolades and crowds week after week while others kick their heels from behind the stall, wondering what they’re doing wrong? We have worked with more than 300 independent food businesses, observing the likes of Bleecker, Bao, Pizza Pilgrims and Club Mexicana soar and transform the food landscape of London from just one compelling idea in their heads, just like you may have right now. Making a commitment to starting is the first step towards making your idea real – Kerb Classroom will show you the way.” Last month, Kerb launched its latest street food market in the capital in South Molton Street, Mayfair. The company currently operates six other street food markets across the capital, including its flagship indoor site in Seven Dials Market.
 
Trio of south Wales breweries join forces for festive pop-up at Cardiff shopping centre: A trio of south Wales breweries have come together for a festive pop-up at the St David’s shopping centre in Cardiff. Black Label, Brecon Brewing and Lithic Brewing have joined forces to offer their range of beer from a single kiosk outside The White Company and Kurt Geiger. Meanwhile, Cymru Confectionery and Shelly’s Shorties have also partnered on a seasonal pop-up. Sheffs sees freshly made shortbread, flavoured fudge, and confectionery including chocolates and Turkish delight, with vegan options available, being offered from a 714 square foot store on the Lower Grand Arcade opposite Pandora. Both pop-ups have agreed deals with the St David’s Partnership, the owner of the complex. Speaking on behalf of the St David’s Partnership, John Bloomer, national kiosk leasing manager at Landsec, said: “South Wales is home to many independent brands that are loved by the community, so we take great pleasure in supporting these businesses and providing retail space within St David’s, alongside the biggest names in global retail.” Landsec acted for the St David’s Partnership while all brands dealt direct.

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