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Sat 1st May 2021 - Exclusive – Byron owner et cetera
Exclusive – Byron owner acquires fried chicken brand Mother Clucker, plans nationwide expansion: Famously Proper, the Calveton UK-backed owner of better burger brand Byron, has acquired Mother Clucker, the London-based, buttermilk-fried chicken concept. The Simon Wilkinson-led business will retain key members of the Mother Clucker team, brand identity and will now look to expand the brand nationwide. Founded in 2012 by Ross Curnow and Brittney Bean, Mother Clucker operates sites in Flat Iron Square in London Bridge, Truman’s Brewery in Brick Lane, BackYard Cinema in Wandsworth and at Stansted airport in partnership with transport hub food service specialist SSP. Last year, it secured a site in White City, at the White City Place development, which is yet to open. It also operates delivery-only units in partnership with Deliveroo in Whitechapel, Kentish Town and Elephant & Castle in the capital. Famously Proper said “the unique identity and secret recipe of Mother Clucker will stay the same as it expands under the guidance and direction of the Famously Proper team” and that Curnow and Bean had, along with head chef Alex Carr (otherwise known as Papa Cluck), “tirelessly built a brand and community, which is the envy of many and a favourite of thousands”. Bean said: “After eight years frying chicken in food markets, parking lots, pubs, bars, airports, shopping malls and a permanent shop or two, we’re really excited to hand over the reins of Mother Clucker to the team at Famously Proper.” Curnow added: “The most important thing to us was that the community we created, both of regular fans and internal team, was valued and Famously Proper is committed to doing just that. It’s a perfect partnership in our eyes and we’re excited for the next chapter.” Wilkinson, chief executive of Famously Proper, said: “We have been looking for a premium, market-leading chicken brand since we formed the new company back in August 2020. We admire the work the Mother Clucker team has done over the years as an innovative and pioneering brand, just like Byron, and will sit perfectly within our company. We can’t wait to get to know the team and continue the journey of bringing Mother Clucker to more locations.” Propel understands that, at this time, no current Byron sites will be converted to Mother Clucker, as part of the planned expansion of the fried chicken concept. Last year, Byron was sold via pre-pack administration to investment vehicle Calveton UK under the newly formed company Famously Proper for £4m. Propel revealed last month that Byron, which currently operates 19 restaurants and five dark kitchen units, is set to open its first new site for five years as part of its expansion plans. It is understood the new site, which is believed to be located in north west London, is currently in the hands of lawyers but Byron hopes to open it by the end of May. The company has also lined up a series of reopenings and recently added to its growing dark kitchens estate. The business reopened in Manchester on 12 April, and has also agreed a deal to reopen its site in London’s Covent Garden. The group is also understood to have three further former sites in central London under negotiation with landlords. The business opened its fifth dark kitchen site at the end of March, at the Deliveroo Editions unit in Nottingham.

SAGE admits risk of catching covid in a pub or restaurant is ‘relatively low’: The risk of catching coronavirus in a pub or restaurant is “relatively low”, the government’s scientific advisers have admitted. According to the Daily Mail, analysis by SAGE found the chance of contracting the virus in hospitality settings appeared slightly higher than in gyms or shops, but concluded the risk was still small. The admission came in a review of studies and data from the UK and around the world into the threat of the virus in the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors. SAGE found there had been just 226 outbreaks in pubs and restaurants in England since the pandemic began, despite the sector being heavily penalised throughout the government’s covid response. But the number of clusters rose to 343 when fast food outlets, cafes, bars and other eateries were included, according to the data up to February. Writing in the paper, submitted to ministers at some point in the last two months, SAGE said: “Overall, data suggest the hospitality sector, compared with leisure and retail sectors seems to be associated with greater risk of transmission. But, overall, population attributable fractions (fraction of all cases in a population that is attributable to the setting) associated with transmission in hospitality, retail and leisure are relatively low.” The finding will raise questions about why the hospitality sector faces another three weeks of closure, despite covid infection numbers being at record lows. In its report published on Friday (30 April), SAGE warned it was “extremely difficult” to accurately work out how much transmission takes place within a specific sector. The group said it was hard to disentangle cases in which a person caught the virus in a restaurant compared with those who contracted it while travelling there and back. But the review suggested restaurants were more risky than shops and gyms because there were more clusters detected and people spent longer dining in them. It added that sitting down to eat in close proximity to strangers, often with little fresh airflow, posed a greater risk than in gyms or shops where people move around more. But SAGE noted the findings on clusters should be “interpreted with caution” because some sectors were forced to have test and trace procedures in place while others were not. For example, pubs and restaurants during the tiered restriction phase last year were legally required to report it if a customer tested positive in the days before or after visiting. Some gyms did too, but most shops did not keep records of its customers.

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