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Mon 1st Mar 2021 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Britain’s licensed premises closing permanently at record rate of more than one an hour: Almost 12,000 licensed premises have closed permanently in Britain since December 2019 – at a record rate of more than one an hour, according to the latest Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners. While 4,170 new sites have been recorded since December 2019, the loss of 11,894 venues means there have been almost three closures for every fresh opening – leading to a net loss of 7,724 licensed premises. While the sector now has a roadmap to reopening, research for the Monitor suggested the freedom to trade outside from mid-April would be of limited benefit. Well under half (43.2%) of England’s pubs, bars and restaurants have an outdoor area of some kind, and while the number is higher among food pubs (78.4%) and community pubs (71%), it is far lower on high streets (25.6%) and among casual dining restaurants (11.4%). “These numbers set out the full, devastating impact of the pandemic on Britain’s licensed premises,” said Karl Chessell, CGA’s business unit director for hospitality operators and food, EMEA. “The wipeout of Christmas trade was clearly the final blow for many businesses and the long wait that others now face to open their doors sadly means closures will mount even higher.” The Monitor also revealed the food-led sector has been hit harder by covid-19 than the drink-led market, losing 7.6% and 5.5% of total sites respectively. The casual dining sector has contracted by 15.8% –equivalent to more than 1,000 casual dining restaurants, or almost one in six of the total, shutting their doors since December 2019. But the report also points to resilience in some areas of the market, including bars and cafes. Many city centres have also proved more durable than expected, with central Sheffield, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Nottingham all losing fewer than 3% of their licensed premises since December 2019, and the London market trimmed by a below-average 6.3%. Chessell said: “Pubs have proved more durable than restaurants in recent months and outside service will give many of them a useful kick start if the sun shines. Amid all the closures, it’s also encouraging to see a steady flow of new entrants to the market. We remain very confident about the long-term future of the sector but, unfortunately, there is more pain to come first.” AlixPartners managing director Graeme Smith added: “The rapid acceleration in site closures since the start of the year demonstrates just how brutal the situation is. The Budget is absolutely crucial to the future survival of thousands of sector businesses; a substantial package of financial support is needed to prevent greater numbers of closures across this year and beyond.”
AlixPartners is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Industry News:

Operators fear chancellor is out of touch with sector’s rent issue: Operators have expressed concern chancellor Rishi Sunak is “out of touch” with the level of rent the sector pays, after saying that “for a typical restaurant or pub, they would have rent, on an average year, of somewhere between £14,000 to £20,000”. Speaking on BBC One’s Andrew Marr show about his new £5bn fund to help the high street recover from covid, Sunak said: “For a typical restaurant or pub, they would have rent, on an average year, of somewhere between £14,000 to £20,000. So grants up to £18,000 to help you reopen over the next few weeks and months should be put alongside that and, together with furlough for example, we have taken care of the two big costs over the past year that many of these businesses have. But it is difficult out there for many of these businesses, they have been brilliant at trying to adapt, we want to support them as they reopen and I want people to be reassured we will have support in place to help them move along the prime minister’s roadmap as we move forward along that path.” Chris Soley, chief executive of north east-based brewer and pub operator Camerons Brewery, tweeted: “A government out of touch. Muddled numbers from the chancellor Rishi Sunak or a demonstration of how totally dismissive the government is of such an important sector? Average rents for our managed pubs are closer to £100,000 per year.” Loungers chairman Alex Reilley tweeted: “Did Rishi Sunak just say the annual rent for a typical restaurant or pub is ‘somewhere between £14k and £20k’?! Is the government really that out of touch? I doubt he got that information from his good mate Gordon Ramsay. If he hasn’t made a mistake then he (or those advising him) have clearly chosen to ignore the information provided. As the sector’s main trade body, UKHospitality needs to demand he corrects himself and apologises. Misinformation on this scale should not be tolerated.” UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls replied: “We went straight back today to correct this. We need to make sure that all policy is evidence-based and this is critically important.” A Twitter poll aimed at sector operators carried out by Reilley, which at the time of going to press had generated 1,176 votes, found 91% of those who answered paid more than £20,000 on rent on an average year.

MPs write to chancellor to demand more support at the Budget: MPs have demanded additional government support for the hospitality and tourism sectors at the Budget. The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Hospitality and Tourism sent a letter to the chancellor asking for the VAT cut to be extended by 12 months and include alcoholic drinks sold on-premises, the business rates holiday be extended for another year and extend the furlough scheme, reinstate the Job Retention Bonus and provide improved loan repayment terms and tax deferrals. The letter has been signed by 83 MPs and stated both sectors have been “devastated by the covid crisis”. It also cited industry figures that show hospitality sales plummeted 54% in 2020, equivalent to £72bn, while 40% of accommodation and foodservice businesses have no or low confidence of surviving the next three months. APPG co-vice chair Sally-Ann Hart MP said: “Ongoing government support to the end of the pandemic and through the recovery phase is critical.” UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls added: “The support of so many MPs from all parties and from the four nations of the UK emphasises just how important the hospitality and tourism sectors are.”

Sunak hints at extension to covid-19 support schemes in line with roadmap: Chancellor Rishi Sunak has hinted support schemes that have helped businesses and workers, such as furlough, during the pandemic will be extended in Wednesday’s Budget (3 March). The news follows the unveiling of a £5bn grant scheme to help high street businesses, which includes grants for hospitality sites ranging between £8,000 and £18,000, depending on their rateable value. On Sunday (28 February), Sunak told Sky News he would “protect people, families and businesses through this crisis”. Although he would not be drawn on specific support schemes, he said: “The PM, in the roadmap, set out a path for us to recover and reopen, and I want to support people and businesses along that path.” Asked if support packages would be wound up as restrictions were eased, Mr Sunak said: “I think it’s right the support aligns with the roadmap, so the PM’s roadmap has a path on which we will slowly reopen our economy and we want to make sure that our support, supports people along that path and that’s what you will see on Wednesday… protecting and supporting and creating jobs is my number one economic priority.” He also stated there was no chance of an earlier release from lockdown and added the last thing businesses needed was a “stop, start” return to normal life. The grants scheme will see hospitality properties with a rateable value of £15,000 or under given an £8,000 grant; properties with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 will receive £12,000; while properties with a rateable value of £51,000 or over will get £18,000.

UKHospitality reiterates calls for further government action on rent debt as MPs’ report recognises business indebtness as barrier to recovery: UKHospitality has reiterated its call for further government action on rent debt after a report from MPs recognised business indebtness as a barrier to recovery. The interim pre-Budget report from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) committee into the impact of coronavirus on business and workers highlighted landlords and businesses will not “be able to identify a solution on their own in every case”. It argued the government should be looking at longer-term “active measures to address the issue of growing commercial rent arrears”. This must involve businesses, landlords, banks and other stakeholders. The report also proposed the government should look into converting loans into grants to facilitate future growth. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The report of the BEIS committee is hugely important and extremely timely. It is right to highlight the Budget should focus further support on those sectors that need it most. As businesses begin to look to reopening, they are encumbered with a millstone of debt around their necks, holding back their revival, investment and job creation potential. We have worked proactively with government on finding long-term solutions to the rent debt situation but it is clear that more radical action is needed. This needs all stakeholders to appreciate they will need to take their share of the pain. Hospitality businesses cannot be expected to pay full rent in a year in which they have been either shut or heavily restricted. The first step is an urgent extension of the rent moratoria to allow time to find solutions. The proposal to look into converting loans into grants to facilitate future growth is an interesting one and could be a major boost to small and medium-sized businesses that are struggling under huge amounts of debt.”
 
Sunak again defends Eat Out To Help Out scheme but non-committal on possible return: The chancellor Rishi Sunak has again defended last summer’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme from suggestions it led to an increase in coronavirus infection rates. Talking on Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme, Sunak said: “Areas where Eat Out To Help Out was used the most, for example in the south west, were the slowest to see any rise and, in fact, had very low infection rates. And almost all other major countries have had rises over the autumn and winter, and they didn’t have Eat Out To Help Out. So I think it is a bit odd to ascribe causality in that way.” Asked in a separate interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show ahead of Wednesday’s Budget (3 March) if the scheme would be reintroduced, Sunak said: “I’m not going to talk about future policy.”

MPs and business leaders urge banks to take hospitality out of ‘high-risk’ category and start lending money: MPs and business leaders have urged banks to remove pubs and restaurants from “high-risk” categories and start lending them money before it’s too late. As crippled hospitality companies continue to suffer during the final weeks before reopening, small and medium-sized businesses are being categorised as “high risk” by lenders and are being denied loans and overdrafts, according to the Evening Standard. Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake, co-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Fair Business Banking, said: “In their time of need, hard-working businesses in the hospitality industry are struggling to get the support they need from banks that are closing the door to them. Downgrading any industry at this point is unhelpful at best.” Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh, who sits on the Commons treasury committee, said: “Great latitude was given to the banks in the last financial crash and we all paid to keep them afloat. Now is the time for them to reciprocate.” Alex Proud, owner of cabaret venue Proud Embankment, said: “The bank had been very supportive of us getting a £750,000 Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan (CBIL) in April but, in November, they suddenly said ‘we are going to put you on business support’ even though we were nowhere near breaking our covenants. They dressed it up as ‘we’re here to help you’ but my financial adviser screamed ‘this is the death knell’.” Proud said it was costing him £20,000 a month to keep his venue closed with the only income a £3,000 a month grant. Asif Mahammad, founder and chief executive of specialist consultancy Main Course Associates, which advises about 70 mainly West End restaurants, said: “In most cases, the banks have been hopeless. They are putting hospitality businesses in the high-risk category – that is what we have been told. The banks are not playing ball.” Des Gunewardena, chief executive of restaurant group D&D London, said: “Losses have got to be funded either by shareholders or banks. For our business, it is costing us £1.5m a month just to be closed.”
 
Marcos Fernandez – invest in safety not another Eat Out To Help Out scheme: Marcos Fernandez, managing director of Iberica Restaurants and Arros QD, has said the government must help restaurants invest in health and safety measures and not another Eat Out To Help Out scheme. Fernandez explained when the doors of a restaurant shut, everything that costs money needs to be frozen too. He said although furlough pays staff wages, other fixed costs continue, “especially those that involve the landlord or the bank” and such costs are why “many businesses won’t survive for much longer”. Fernandez told the Evening Standard: “Fixed costs, such as huge rental costs in city centres, created an urgency to produce revenues. Everywhere was the same but the government hadn’t yet addressed the problem, and so Eat Out To Help Out (EOTHO) was born. This was a subsidy and a short-term solution to what was clearly a mid-to-long term problem. This has been a long year, with long term existential changes to the business that particularly affect day-to-day operations. With the EOTHO scheme, the money and resources that should have been allocated to providing a long-term solution to the industry were used up, only benefited some and only in the very short term. That cash is long gone. Another EOTHO scheme is not what’s needed now. The best way to ensure restaurants can remain open permanently is to invest in their health and safety practices, and in the ventilation of the restaurants so that they remain as safe as possible, and minimise any risks from this disease. You will find many already comply. This is very much the case at Iberica and Arros QD. Our sites are well spaced with high ceilings, we already have more than a metre between tables. Our ventilation systems do not only heat or cool the air, they replace all the air in our restaurants between 10 to 21 times an hour. If the government encourages the industry to do the same, and provides it with the resources to do so, this is the solution to getting customers back in the habit of dining out, which will help businesses recoup some of their horrific losses this year. A second EOTHO might be well-intentioned, but would only be another all-to-brief quick fix, a plaster on a broken leg.”

Pubs Matter campaign pleas for emergency support so sector can make it through to reopening date: The Pubs Matter campaign has launched its next phase by calling on chancellor Rishi Sunak to save the sector with an emergency package of support until venues can reopen on 17 May. The campaign has also called on pub-loving Brits to use the hashtag #PubsMatter to show “how integral the local pub is to their communities” as pubs are “left adrift for a further three months”. In December, the #PubsMatter campaign was launched by a coalition of industry partners including the British Institute of Innkeeping, the Campaign for Real Ale, the British Beer & Pub Association, the Society of Independent Brewers, the Independent Family Brewers of Britain and UKHospitality. The announcement of the roadmap for reopening “sees small businesses across the country teetering on the edge of collapse”. A #PubsMatter spokesman said: “While the roadmap gives us all hope for a return to more normal life in the summer, our pubs and the supply chain of businesses that support them cannot hold on until then without a further urgent package of support. Our sector will be one of the first to bounce back, making it a key part of the economic recovery of our nation and will support employment for the thousands of people who have lost their jobs over the course of the past 12 months. We have also proven we can keep the public safe with huge amounts of time and money invested in making our pubs covid-secure. The chancellor holds the fate of the nation’s pubs in his hands as we face a critical turning point. The package of measures must support all businesses, including our traditional wet-led pubs, otherwise a large part of the UK’s heritage will be lost forever.”
 
BBPA launches dedicated Welsh branch: The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has launched a dedicated Welsh branch to coincide with St David’s Day. The Welsh Beer & Pub Association (WPBA) will represent beer and pub businesses in Wales and will be chaired by Mark Davies, chief executive of Hawthorn, the community pub arm of NewRiver. The WBPA will work alongside the BBPA, Welsh government, the Senedd and UK government to campaign for policy outcomes that help protect and grow the sector. There are more than 3,000 pubs in Wales and about 120 breweries, with the overall Welsh beer and pub sector supporting 42,000 jobs and contributing almost £1bn in gross value added to the economy. WBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “Given today is St David’s Day, it could not be a better day to launch this important new trade association. I urge pubs and brewers who feel they need a voice to get in touch to find out how we can help them.” Davies added: “Pubs and the brewing industry have been at the heart of Welsh communities for centuries. As a Welshman, born and bred, I’m proud to stand alongside my industry colleagues as part of the WBPA to promote the beer and pub sector in Wales. The people of Wales are proud of their heritage and pubs are part of the social fabric that makes Wales such a great place to live and work.” 

City’s street traders to take council to court over new rules on what to sell: Birmingham street traders have been granted permission to take the city council to court over its controversial new street trading policy that would require stalls to sell goods not already available from shops. The legal case is being brought by Allan and Samantha Poole, chair and secretary respectively of the Birmingham Street Traders Association, who said the new rules pose an “existential threat” to the livelihoods of stallholders, which include street food traders. At the hearing, which is expected to take place at the High Court this spring, public law experts at Simpson Millar will challenge the council’s policy that requires street stalls to sell “innovative products”, which it defines as “goods that are not regularly available within the high street marketplace”. Lawyers will also argue many existing stall holders who have been in place for decades offering popular, traditional market products, may lose their pitch as part of the newly introduced annual application process. Dan Rosenberg, a public law solicitor at Simpson Millar, who is representing the independent traders, said: “Despite all of these businesses proving viable before the pandemic, there is a risk that they will be caught by the new criteria of requiring innovative products, and many are now gravely concerned about the continual uncertainty as to whether they will lose their pitches as part of the newly introduced annual review.” A Birmingham City Council spokesman said: “We will robustly defend our position against any challenge but given the start of this legal process, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”
 
Government advisers suggest using fast food restaurant car parks as covid vaccination centres: Government advisers have suggested using fast food restaurant car parks as sites to administer covid vaccination jabs. The move would involve setting up jab tents at restaurant premises to make the vaccine “easily accessible” for groups that are more likely to be admitted to hospital with covid-19. The Sun reported health chiefs are being told to go to extra lengths to ensure people who fall into poor, obese and ethnic minority categories, as well as men, are among the first to get the jab when their age group becomes eligible for it. Professor Robert Dingwall, of the Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation, said these groups would particularly benefit from the vaccine. He said: “The NHS and local public health teams should adopt measures – tailored to their area – to ensure a high uptake among these groups and that they do not get left behind. It’s about making the vaccine easily accessible. Having a vaccination marquee in a business park with fast food outlets may be one way to do it.” The number of Brits who have received at least one vaccine jab stands at 28% of the population – the third highest in the world only behind Israel and the UAE.

Job of the day: COREcruitment is supporting a food and beverage/leisure real estate business as it looks for a new operations director. Its portfolio contains diverse properties and covers commercial, office, co-working and food and beverage premises. Due to continued expansion and additional assets and developments being acquired, it is looking to appoint an operations director who will work directly with the chief executive across the redevelopment of a key asset. The incoming operations director will needed to be a seasoned professional with an exceptional record in real estate operations. They will need to be a natural leader and communicator with exceptional financial acumen and the ability to drive smooth business operations across a wide area. The position is based in the north east and will pay upwards of £100,000 plus a great package. Anyone interested can email Sheila@corecruitment.com
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
 

Company News:

Wingstop secures five new UK sites, ups regional expansion play: Lemon Pepper Holdings, which is rolling out US chicken brand Wingstop across the UK, has secured five further sites, including three in prominent shopping schemes across the country, Propel has learned. The company has agreed a “trilogy” deal with landlord Hammerson to open three new regional locations at its Bullring (Birmingham), the Oracle (Reading) and Cabot Circus (Bristol) schemes. Following the opening of its tenth UK location in Gloucester Road, South Kensington, late last year, Wingstop UK is now set to open sites in the former EAT at the Bullring, the former Chick-Fil-A at the Oracle, and the former Dorothy Perkins in Bristol’s Cabot Circus. With plans to reach 20 locations in the UK by the end of 2021, Wingstop is also set to open this year in Canary Wharf and Kingston-upon-Thames, where the brand will be occupying the former Pizza Hut located in Kingston town centre. The brand, which operates more than 1,500 locations worldwide, is expected to announce further regional openings in the coming month. Tom Grogan, director of Lemon Pepper Holdings, said: “We are delighted to have agreed this significant three site deal with an institutional partner such as Hammerson, this trilogy provides us with accelerated regional presence in high-profile locations over the next two quarters. Since covid-19 hit early last year, our business has evidently faced challenges yet our team and model has been able to quickly adapt for accelerated growth in off-premises transactions. We are now well capitalised to take advantage of an adjusted real estate market and we are on track to open ten locations this year.” In 2020, Wingstop’s system-wide sales increased to $2bn, marking its 17th consecutive year of same-store sales growth. Lemon Pepper Holdings opened Wingstop’s debut UK site in Shaftesbury Avenue in London’s West End in 2018. Sammy Weinbaum at CDG Leisure acted for Lemon Pepper Holdings.

Cricket-based concept Sixes secures second London site: Sixes, a cricket-based competitive socialising concept from the founders of Mac & Wild, has secured its second London site, in Fitzrovia, and is eyeing a regional launch, Propel has learned. The concept is the brainchild of Mac & Wild founders Andy Waugh and Calum Mackinnon, but run as a separate business from their restaurant operation. Launched briefly last December in Fulham, the business is backed by a number of former professional cricket players, including ex-England captain Sir Andrew Strauss. Propel understands the company has secured the former Villandry site in Great Portland Street for an opening in May, which is when it will also reopen its debut site in Farm Lane, Fulham. It is thought the company is in advanced talks for the concept, which features a cricket simulator, restaurant and bar, to make its regional debut later this year. Will Biggart, of Torridon, acted for Sixes.

Honi Poké secures Fulham site: Hawaiian poké specialist Honi Poké has secured its eighth site in London by acquiring a unit in Fulham. The company, which is led by founder Vladimir Martynov and Richard De La Cruz, formerly of two Michelin-starred Sergi Arola and three Michelin-starred Quique Dacosta, has secured a site in Jerdan Place, with an opening scheduled for April. The acquisition complements Honi Poké’s sites in Soho (Dean Street), Fenchurch (New London Street), Marylebone (Margaret Street), Battersea Park Road, Chancery Lane, Hammersmith (Lillie Road) and in the Oxford Street Selfridges. Davis Coffer Lyons advised on the Fulham deal.

Mercato Metropolitano secures first site in Germany: London-community food market Mercato Metropolitano, which earlier this year unveiled plans for a £35m expansion into Europe and the US, with ten more markets creating 2,000 jobs, has secured its first site in Germany. The company, which is currently looking to raise about £5m towards its expansion push, is to become an anchor tenant in the Potsdamer Platz Arkaden in Berlin. The company plans to deliver ten more markets around the world, focused on some of the biggest cities, with three more London sites plus ones in Atlanta, Boston, Miami and New York in the US and Berlin, Lisbon and Milan in Europe, creating about 2,000 jobs by 2025. Longer term, further markets are planned for secondary cities in the UK and globally. The company will open a Canary Wharf site and a second market in Elephant and Castle this summer, followed by a new site in Ilford in the autumn. The business ratcheted up sales of almost £10m last year despite its two sites being closed for four months with limited opening for a further six months due to the pandemic – it puts its success down to its unique business model. Managing director Amedeo Claris said the secret lies in creating a business that is truly inclusive, sustainable in every aspect and firmly rooted in the communities it serves. The company is understood to have lined up institutional investors, landlords and high-net-worth individuals to take part in the funding round. P-Three acted on the Berlin deal.

JD Wetherspoon corrects slew of Businessweek false statements: JD Wetherspoon has corrected a slew of false statements that appeared in a Businessweek article about the company. The article said Wetherspoon plays “host to drunken students”. The company stated: “This is a serious allegation to make about a pub company. ‘Playing host’ in this way would be unlawful, since pubs have a legal obligation, enforced by the licensing authorities, to prevent drunkenness. Pub liquor licences can be lost if legislation is not adhered to. Wetherspoon has never, in its history, lost a licence on these grounds.” The article says Wetherspoon is “sacrificing worker pay for affordable prices”. The company stated: “However, average Wetherspoon pay, excluding management grades, is 12% over the minimum wage. In addition, Wetherspoon paid bonuses and free shares to employees equivalent to 55% of its profits after tax in the past 15 years – 15,032 employees own shares in the company. Since the share scheme was introduced, Wetherspoon has awarded 20.6 million free shares to employees, approximately 16% of the shares in issue today.” The article said Wetherspoon “took advantage of a beer supply surplus to secure cheap contracts”. The company stated: “This is untrue. The company has never been made aware of a ‘beer surplus’ and believes ‘taking advantage’ would be impossible since beer is produced in short cycles in line with current demand.” The article said Wetherspoon “unlike traditional pubs, divides its pubs into grid-like seating plans, reducing the frequency of chance interactions”. The company stated: “This claim is completely untrue. There is no observable difference between Wetherspoon seating layouts and those of many competitors. The reference to reducing interactions is entirely fictional.” The article said Wetherspoon “leverag(ed) its scale to beat out smaller competitors”. The company stated: “This is misleading. There are far more competitors now in the hospitality industry than there were in the past – coffee shops, restaurants and cafes, which sell many of the same products as Wetherspoon, have grown exponentially. Many smaller pub competitors, trading in close proximity to Wetherspoon, like Loungers, Fuller’s, Young’s and St Austell have grown substantially.” The article referred to Wetherspoon as the “most-hated” pub company. The company stated: “This is untrue. An independent market research survey by CGA BrandTrack of 5,000 consumers in 2018, for example, reported that Wetherspoon is ‘the preferred brand to eat out at’. A similar survey in 2019 also by CGA BrandTrack, found Wetherspoon was the ‘stand-out choice for branded drinking occasions’.”

Fuller’s finance director to step down: Fuller’s has announced Adam Councell has informed the board of his intention to step down from his current position as the company’s finance director. The company stated: “Adam has decided to return to the services sector to take up a role with Marlowe in due course, where he has been given the opportunity to rejoin a former colleague from Restore. The search for his replacement is under way and shareholders will be kept updated, as appropriate. In the meantime, Adam will remain with the company in the role of finance director, and on the board, until such time as his successor has been identified and in order to ensure an orderly handover. While the board is naturally disappointed with Adam’s decision, it would like to take this opportunity to express its appreciation for the contribution that he has made during his tenure with the company.”

Taco Bell to open drive-thru restaurant on former Pizza Hut site in Lincoln: Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell is to open a site in Lincoln. Taylor Lindsey has been granted permission from the city council to convert the former Pizza Hut restaurant on land to the south east of Nettleham Road into a Taco Bell, along with a new drive-thru lane. The restaurant is expected to create almost 60 jobs, reports Insider Media. A statement submitted on behalf of the applicant said: “As well as bringing a well-known national operator to Lincoln, the proposals will lead to direct and indirect employment opportunities.” A council document said: “The design of the development is acceptable, complementing the architectural style of the local surroundings.” Taco Bell operates more than 50 sites in the UK. The company has more than 7,500 restaurants across the globe with Glen Bell having opened the first in Downey, California, in 1962.
 
Butcher & Brew opens second London site: Craft beer and butchery Butcher & Brew has opened a site in Islington, north London. The business has been established in Streatham for a few years and has now opened on Islington’s Upper Street. The site was open very briefly before the current lockdown but has returned to serve craft beer and meat. When restrictions ease, it will also offer in-store drinking and dining. Its current lunch menu offers customers the likes of aged beef steak sandwiches and pork belly sandwiches, plus roasted cauliflower and truffle soup, beef chilli bowls and bacon rolls. Hot Dinners reports the menu is likely to change regularly during the coming weeks. Butcher & Brew is also selling steaks from its ageing cabinet at the front of the shop. When it opens fully, beer, wine and small plates will be the central dining-in offer, using the space it has outside at the rear of the store. 
 
Pizza specialist Mozza signs for debut England site at White Rose Shopping Centre: Pizza specialist Mozza will open its debut England site at White Rose Shopping Centre in Leeds. Mozza, which has sites in Aberdeen, Dundee, St Andrews, Silverburn and two in Glasgow, has agreed to take a 2,273 square foot space at the West Yorkshire destination venue from commercial property landlord Landsec, which owns White Rose. It will join the likes of burger brand Frankster’s and international restaurant brands such as Five Guys and Wagamama. Mozza serves Neapolitan pizzas cooked in wood-fired ovens. Mozza owner Giuseppe Marini said: “It’s extremely exciting to be opening up our first site in England, highlighting the strength of Mozza as a brand.” Mozza will open to the public when restrictions are eased. Pudney Shuttleworth and JLL acted as joint agents for Landsec at White Rose. Reis Short & Co acted for Mozza.

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