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Tue 25th May 2021 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Krispy Kreme UK reports turnover falls almost a quarter amid pandemic, receives £2.5m business interruption insurance pay-out: Krispy Kreme UK has reported turnover fell 23.5% to £71.9m for the year ending 3 January 2021, compared with £94.1m the previous year. Adjusted Ebitda dropped to £6.9m, compared with £14.9m the year before. At the end of the period, the company operated 116 retail locations across the UK having closed nine sites and opened two new ones. During the year, the company continued to develop its off-premises business with new and long-standing partners and said the pandemic meant the importance of these channels was “more evident than ever”. The company also revealed it had received a £2.5m pay-out from a business interruption insurance claim. Krispy Kreme UK reported a pre-tax loss of £3.5m compared with a profit of £8.5m the year before. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The company began 2020 from a sound base of growing revenues, consistently strong profitability ratios and, as a highly cash-generative debt-free business, with ambitious plans for future growth. During the course of 2020, the global covid-19 pandemic temporarily restricted these plans but a combination of strategic decisions and participation in government support schemes means the company exited 2020 strongly and has begun 2021 with the implementation of investment and growth plans. Throughout the course of 2020, the unprecedented global conditions and, in particular, the various lockdown measures and tiered restrictions imposed by the UK government impacted the business in the short term. In March 2020, the company temporarily closed all of its manufacturing and retail locations and stopped delivery to its grocery, services and leisure partners. Krispy Kreme was able to reinstate manufacturing and supply to its partners in late April, followed by the gradual reopening of retail in line with government guidance. The company also took extensive action to reduce its cost base and minimise operating cash outflow, including participation in the government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (income of £4.4m) and negotiations with suppliers and landlords. Gross margin (excluding grant income) was 66.9% (2019: 67.5%) with the company able to flex its cost base to the varying levels of demand throughout the period. An exceptional charge of £2,372,000 has been made in the year (2019: £327,000) to write down the net book value of stores where the leases have been identified as onerous, reflect the disposal of assets in closed stores and the cost of a number of redundancies made. In 2021, the company will continue to expand its presence with plans to open shops in quality, high-profile locations, expand with its DFD partners, invest in digitally enhanced cabinets and further expand reach and sales via digital channels.” No dividend was paid in the period, compared with a £40.9m pay-out in the previous year. Krispy Kreme was launched in the late 1930s in Winston-Salem in North Carolina when Vernon Rudolph bought a secret yeast-raised doughnut recipe from a New Orleans chef and began selling to local stores. The UK business, which now employs almost 1,600 people, was bought by its US parent, Krispy Kreme Group, from private equity group Alcuin Capital in 2016.

Industry News:

Just four days until Premium subscribers receive the updated database of multi-site businesses: The updated database of multi-site companies for May, which is available exclusively to Propel Premium subscribers, will be sent out in four days on Friday (28 May) at midday. It will include 108 new companies since its previous update in April – making a total of 1,823 listed businesses. Subscribers will not only receive the database as a PDF and an Excel spreadsheet, they will also be sent a 14,000-word report on the businesses added during May. The key themes covered in the latest update include companies with big growth potential entering the UK market such as US bakery Cinnabon and interactive football and entertainment concept Toca Social. Meanwhile, operators offering Italian cuisine are enjoying a strong showing, including Milan-based vegan burger brand Flower Burger and sandwich and bakery business Spianata. The UK’s love for coffee also continues with companies such as London-based Hermanos Colombian Coffee Roasters and coffee and brunch specialist Mule entering the database. The go-to database provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different. In a new feature this year, there is a synopsis of what the business does and significant news associated with it. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The regular single subscription rate of £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers remains the same. Premium subscribers are also to receive access to a second exclusive monthly database, The Propel Blue Book. This database will provide an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. It will be available on Friday, 4 June, at midday. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel insights editor Mark Wingett. Email to sign up.

Sector like-for-like sales up 9% in reopening week versus 2019 levels, footfall also rises: Sector sales were up 9% in the first week of hospitality reopening for indoor trading compared with 2019 levels, according to S4labour, the online labour-scheduling management system from Catton Hospitality. However, the figures paint a picture of mixed fortunes for the industry, with a significant bounce in food sales and the continued collapse in drink revenue. Food sales were up almost 30% on the same week in 2019, but with remaining restrictions prohibiting vertical and late-night drinking, drink sales were down 7% on 2019 levels. While there was an overall bounce in like-for-like performance in the UK, sites in London were level with the same week in 2019, with all the growth driven by sites outside the capital. For the first time since hospitality reopened in April, the majority of sites in the UK are trading at above 2019 levels, even if many are only marginally so. Last week, only 19% of sites traded at 90% or less than their 2019 equivalent period. This is in contrast with two weeks ago, when two thirds of operators were trading at below 90% of 2019. The significance of being able to trade indoors also showed in the figures. Sales were up 83% last week compared with the last week before operators could serve guest inside and 95% up when only looking at sites outside of London. Meanwhile, UK footfall rose by a further 4% following the opening of indoor hospitality, according to the latest data from Wi-Fi solutions provider Wireless Social. During the past week, nationwide hospitality footfall has recovered but has only reached 39% of levels seen in February 2020, pre-pandemic. Meanwhile, London has recovered most overall compared with other major cities, with footfall at 44% of pre-covid levels for the period from 17 to 23 May. Contrastingly, Glasgow, with its hospitality venues still closed, experienced a drop of 5% compared with the week prior and its footfall is currently at 25% of pre-covid levels. Wireless Social chief executive Julian Ross said: “The fact nationwide footfall in the sector is still below 40% of our pre-covid average shows, despite images of full restaurants and pubs in the papers, there is still a long road to recovery. It’s vitally important all restrictions are dropped on 21 June, so we can see the sector flourish and operate freely and in viable conditions.”
S4labour and Wireless Social are Propel BeatTheVirus campaign members

Only two in five business leaders say they’re trading at profit but confidence on rise: Only two in five sector leaders have said their businesses are trading at profit or expect to do so by the end of June – but confidence is on the rise. Four in five bosses in the managed restaurant, pub and bar sector feel optimistic about the next 12 months – the highest number for more than six years. The latest Business Confidence Survey from CGA and Fourth showed 79% are optimistic about prospects for the eating and drinking-out market in general. Confidence levels have not reached that level since February 2015, and have risen very sharply from the quarterly survey’s results in October (18%) and February (50%). Slightly more leaders (83%) said they feel optimistic about prospects for their own business over the next 12 months. The survey indicated a solid start to trading since outside service was permitted from mid-April, with 58% of leaders rating their performance since then as ahead of their expectations, and just 8% below. Karl Chessell, CGA director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “After the immense challenges of 2020 and early 2021, it is very encouraging to see confidence levels riding so high across the managed sector. The figures are testament to the resilience of operators and the enduring appeal of restaurants, pubs and bars to consumers, and we can be optimistic sales will follow confidence in bouncing back strongly this summer. [But] the road to recovery could be long and uneven, and the sector is going to need sustained support on challenges like rent, rates and recruitment.” Sebastien Sepierre, managing director – EMEA, Fourth, added: “This positivity is tempered somewhat by the challenging labour market, with many operators struggling to recruit in the current climate as the demand for workers accelerates with the easing of restrictions. As the industry slowly returns to full capacity, the recruitment challenge will be further exacerbated.”
Sirieix – staff and skills shortage in hospitality is as acute as can be right now: Fred Sirieix, former general manager of Galvin at Windows and presenter of BBC show My Million Pound Menu, has said the staff and skills shortage in hospitality is as acute as can be right now and could get worse. Sirieix said: “Right now, working in the industry is seen as precarious as can be. Without decisive and urgent action, we are in for a very tough time. It seems everyone has their head in the sand about the situation. It was bad before but never like this ever. We are far from touching the bottom.” Will Beckett, co-founder of Hawksmoor, tweeted: “Hospitality is struggling with recruitment at the moment, even a company like Hawksmoor (which was listed as one of the best companies to work for in the UK this week for the tenth year in a row) doesn’t find it easy. It’s hard to tell whether this is because there aren’t enough people (reverse migration, people leaving cities/industry) or just hard because everyone is recruiting at the same time but, whatever the reasons, we decided we wanted to work harder on it. Part of that was a decision to aim the budget at our own staff members, who have had financial problems while on furlough. So instead of huge amounts spent on recruitment websites or agencies, we started the following policy: for recommending someone (who is hired and passes their one-month trial) you will get £200 for your first friend, £300 for the next one, £400 for the next one and £500 for each one after. So, if you recommend five people you could make just under £2,000.” Serial sector investor Hugh Osmond said: “Furlough was a life-saver for the hospitality industry but now it is completely screwing up the jobs market and needs to end Rishi Sunak. Replace it with a national insurance subsidy for new young employees or other funding to encourage employment.” Peter Davies, client service partner and managing director of WMT Troncmaster Services, said something the government could do now to help is to confirm furlough will be paid to all new starters if the current roadmap gets delayed or businesses have to lockdown again. He said: “The current cut off is 3 March and many are reluctant to move back to hospitality due to this because they are worried that if there are further lockdowns they will be denied any furlough as a new starter.”

April’s delivery and takeaway sales up fourfold on pre-covid levels: Restaurant and pub groups recorded a fourfold increase in delivery and takeaway sales in April from pre-covid-19 levels, CGA’s latest Hospitality at Home Tracker has revealed. Combined delivery and takeaway sales were 345% higher than in April 2019, when the sector was fully open for eating out. Sales grew by 11% from March 2021, despite the reopening of restaurants, pubs and bars for outside service in England from mid-April. Month-on-month growth in takeaway sales was notably higher than in deliveries. CGA said the figures suggested deliveries, takeaways and at-home meal kits, which have all soared in popularity during the lockdowns of the past 14 months, are likely to remain a major part of consumers’ habits well beyond the full reopening of hospitality. “Surging delivery and takeaway sales have been a major side-effect of covid-19 lockdowns and a lifeline for many operators in the first few months of 2021,” said Karl Chessell, CGA’s business unit director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA. “As restaurants, pubs and bars reopen, the way consumers balance ordering in and eating out will be a major dynamic in sales and marketing strategies and a significant factor in profit margins.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is looking to speak to senior finance directors for a position based in London, paying up to £250,000. It is working with a large retail group with a variety of brands that is looking to recruit a key individual to lead its finance function. There is a large element of stakeholder management, reporting and funding management with this role. The individual will lead a team of more than 50 people across multiple divisions, so a strong people leader who enjoys training and development would be ideal. In addition, the group is looking at international expansion opportunities currently, especially in America so any experience in this area would be an added bonus. Anyone interested can email
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Company News:

Former MOD Pizza UK chief executive Nelson takes the helm at Chik’n: John Nelson, formerly of MOD Pizza UK and Nando’s, has joined Chik’n, the fried chicken concept from the team behind Chick ’n’ Sours, as its new chief executive, Propel has learned. Nelson joined MOD Pizza UK, the joint venture backed by Sir Charles Dunstone, at the end of 2015, before leaving the then nine-strong business last year, after its parent company was placed into liquidation. Prior to joining MOD, Nelson was operations director at Nando’s and accountable for more than 350 restaurants. Prior to Nando’s, Nelson held several leadership positions for one of Europe’s largest consumer electronics retailers, Dixons Stores Group (formerly Curry’s), including central operations director, divisional director and customer operations manager. He replaces Jon Green at Chik’n. Green, who was previously at Prezzo, joined the David Wolanski and Carl Clarke-led concept, which is backed by Dunstone and Active Partners, at the end of 2019. Chik’n currently operates sites in Angel, Soho and Marylebone, plus operates out of dark kitchens in Battersea, Park Royal and Wandsworth.

L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele to make regional debut in Manchester: L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele, the oldest pizzeria in Italy, is to open its first site outside London, with an opening in Manchester, Propel has learned. The brand is understood to have secured the former Zizzi site in the city’s King Street for an opening later this summer. The renowned family business opened its first pizzeria restaurant in Naples in 1906 and now has sites all over the world, in locations such as Barcelona, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Dubai and Berlin. It currently operates two sites in London, in Marylebone and Soho. Last year, the business launched at the former Patisserie Valerie cafe in Old Compton Street. The concept focuses on Neapolitan pizza including its Gold Pizza, which features shellfish bisque, caviar and lobster medallions covered with 24-carat gold leaf. The brand also offers pasta, salads, sides and desserts alongside seafood dishes.
Adventure Leisure operator plans rollout of Ninja Warrior UK sites after becoming licensing partner: Burhill Group, owner and operator of 22 golf courses across ten UK golf clubs, as well as ten Adventure Leisure facilities, has become an officially licensed operator of two of ITV’s Ninja Warrior UK adventure parks in England. The appointment sees Burhill Group and Adventure Leisure take over operations at the Ninja Warrior UK venue in Sheffield, as well as the new facility in Southampton, with an agreement in principle already in place to develop three new sites per year over the initial five-year partnership period. As part of the deal, Burhill Group will also explore opportunities to license other ITV Studios programme brands. Ninja Warrior UK sites feature an assault course with obstacles such as ring sliders, carriage wheels, quad steps, spider walls, cliff hanger and ending with the “beat the wall” challenge. The venues also include a merchandise store, party rooms and a food and drink area. Andy Scholey, operations and development director of Adventure Leisure, at Burhill Group, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for us to expand the leisure facility operation side of our business and we look forward to playing an integral part in the rollout of additional Ninja Warrior UK venues in the coming years.” Fergus Campbell, head of commercial development at ITV Studios, added: “In common with our wider network of Ninja Warrior UK licensed operators, the team at Burgill Group will bring ambition, scale and first-class customer experience to the brand so that even more visitors can enjoy their own ninja journeys.” Burhill Group is also looking to build on portfolio of Adventure Leisure sites in the UK.

YO! announces new Food-to-Go trial at 390 Tesco stores: YO!, the multi-brand, multi-channel Japanese and Asian food group, has announced a new trial agreement to supply pre-packaged YO! Food-to-Go products to 390 Tesco stores. The new agreement will see YO! Food-to-Go products available in Tesco front-of-store fridges from late May. As well as YO! favourites such as Crispy Salmon Rolls, Chicken Katsu Bites, the range will include a bespoke product- Crispy California rolls specially made for Tesco. David Hampton, managing director of retail at YO!, said: “We’re really excited to be expanding our partnership with Tesco as part of our multi-channel strategy aimed at introducing more people to Japanese food and sushi. With all of us starting to go out and about more, now is the perfect time to test our ready-to-eat front-of-store range in Tesco, and we are excited to see the response from consumers.” YO! already operates 52 YO! kiosks in Tesco under the YO! brand and 37 kiosks in Asda, under the Panko brand. Meanwhile, YO! Food-to-Go pre-packaged sushi is already available in 600 Sainsbury’s stores, 160 Co-op stores, 100 David Lloyd Leisure Clubs, and a trial partnership is also under way with WHSmith. The group’s Taiko brand is also available in Waitrose. 
White Rabbit to operate three new dining concepts at new-look St Andrews hotel: Three dining concepts are to be launched by White Rabbit Projects, whose hospitality portfolio includes Lina Stores, Kricket and Island Poké, at Rusacks St Andrews – the new luxury hotel as part of Marine & Lawn Hotels & Resorts. The concepts – 18, The Bridge and One Under Bar – will open in July and be led by Derek Johnstone, who was the inaugural BBC MasterChef: The Professionals winner, in 2008. The 120-bedroom hotel, which overlooks the 18th green at the Old Course, is undergoing a major renovation, including the transformation of its food and beverage offer. Destination rooftop and Scottish restaurant, 18, will specialise “in the very best seasonal local produce”. Using the restaurant’s robata grill, Johnstone’s menu will focus on open flame-cooked dishes as well as game and seafood. 18 will sit on the fourth floor of the new extension to the previous footprint. The ground floor will house The Bridge, a more casual all-day dining option that continues the theme of championing Scottish produce. Completing the new offering is One Under Bar, an underground bar serving pub favourites, beer, whisky and cocktails. Johnstone joins Rusacks St Andrews from Borthwick Castle, where he was twice runner-up in National Chef of the Year and has been shortlisted for Scottish Chef of the Year at the 2021 CIS Excellence Awards. Part of the Marine & Lawn collection, which is owned by Adventurous Journeys Capital Partners, Rusacks St Andrews will be joined by two additional Scottish golf properties – Marine North Berwick in July and Marine Troon when it relaunches and joins the collection in spring 2022.

Gordon Ramsay opens debut regional Street Burger site as part of quartet of F&B lettings in Woking: Gordon Ramsay has opened the first regional site for his Street Burger concept, in Woking. The 3,700 square foot restaurant has launched in Commercial Way, below the Gordon Ramsay Academy, which offers those looking to enter the hospitality industry a place to hone their skills and gain work experience within Ramsay’s restaurant portfolio. Street Burger is one of four new operators that have joined Woking Shopping, which compromises the Peacocks Centre and Wolsey Place. Also taking space is a second site for Island House, the bar and restaurant concept that was launched in Reigate. The company is currently fitting out the 3,514 square foot premises in Jubilee Square for an opening in July. Meanwhile, Carl Whiting-Gorley, who owns the Black and White Coffee Co in Middle Walk in Woking Shopping, has launched Black & Irons Bar & Grill in Commercial Way. The restaurant consists of a 1,307 square foot ground floor and 3,386 square foot first floor. Black & Irons specialises in chargrill fine steaks, but also serves an all-day menu. Duke’s Bar & Deli will occupy a 1,100 square foot unit on the ground floor of Dukes Court, a 224,000 square foot office development. Owned by Roberto Gardetto, Duke’s Bar & Deli will serve a deli-style menu and is due to open in June. JLL and Nash Bond acted for Woking Shopping. AG&G represented Island House while Black & Irons Grill and Duke’s Bar & Deli dealt direct.

Beer + Burger Store opens fifth London site: Beer + Burger Store has opened its fifth venue in the capital, this time located in Walthamstow. Founded by Jonathan and Andy Perritt in Willesden Green in 2016, Beer + Burger Store is a “next generation beer bar with a flavour packed food menu”. It has opened its latest site at 368 Hoe Street. The business said it has one of London’s biggest craft beer ranges available across its five sites. The Perritts launched their debut Beer + Burger Store in Willesden Green in 2016 before opening further sites in Dalston, King’s Cross and at The O2. They also operate The Stag in Hampstead and The Mall Tavern in Notting Hill under their London Pubs umbrella.
Red & Blue Restaurants invests six-figure sum to launch French bistro in July: Liverpool-based Red & Blue Restaurants has announced it has invested a six-figure sum into developing a French bistro that will open in mid July. Group owners Jonathan Poole and Paddy Smith will launch Bouchon at the site that was home to the group’s Rocket & Ruby site in Liverpool city centre’s Castle Street. Poole opened Chez Jules Chester in 1997, which he said is “the original Bouchon.” He said: “I guess I’m best known in trade circles for the Ego brand, which was born out of Chez Jules. Twelve restaurants later and it’s back to my roots. Bouchon is our latest creation and we’re both very proud of the concept and quietly confident that our existing customers across Bacaro, Salt House Tapas and Hanover Street Social will become fans, too.” Smith added: “Bouchon is a French bistro in its truest form, serving comfort food, open continuously morning to night, at moderate prices, housing an active bar where people gather for food, drink and lively conversation.” Bouchon’s menu include oysters, French onion soup, charcuterie, rotisserie chicken, sole meuniere, tarte tatin and chocolate fondant. The restaurant will create 30 jobs, which will bring the total number in the group to 140.
Qoot opens Chestnut Bakery in London: Qoot Restaurant Group, which operates a number of fast-growing brands in London, has opened Chestnut Bakery in Belgravia. The Elizabeth Street site opened at the space that was formerly the Dominique Ansel bakery that Qoot ran. The Chestnut Bakery team includes senior baker Mauro Gizick who has worked for Princi and Paul Rhodes; chief laminator Charles Leroy trained in France and has worked at Pavilion Bakery, and Rollers Bakehouse in Sydney; and also on board is Yorkshire-born Kevan Roberts who has worked as a senior teacher for Bread Ahead for the past three years, according to Hot Dinners. Menu items include breads and patisserie goods with highlights being tomato, olive and rosemary fougasse and lemon pie croissants to charcoal and olive sourdough. The site is also strong on helping the community and, in the run-up to opening, it has donated loaves to a local school, raised money for the Chelsea pensioners and, for everyone who signs up to its mailing list, it will donate a loaf to a London food bank. The inside area is open and a retractable roof has been added to the terrace area.
Robinsons makes multimillion-pound investment in pub estate during pandemic: North west brewer and retailer Robinsons has continued to invest in its pubs throughout the pandemic, with a multimillion-pound investment programme including 20 significant refurbishments. These investments have been made alongside general repairs and redecorations to the estate, which consists of more than 240 tenanted and 20 managed pubs in north Wales and the north west of England. The work includes introducing safe outdoor areas across the portfolio, revamping original patio areas and introducing outdoor heaters, and creating snug seating and sheltered spaces. Many beer gardens have been transformed with marquees, pods and outdoor dining areas, increasing the number of covers. William Robinson, managing director (Pub Division), said: “Investment, licensee support and training have been key drivers over the past year in particular. As a result, our pubs have traded well when the weather has permitted, with infection rates at very low levels and on the back of the success of the vaccination programme, the government must permit a full relaxation of restrictions from 21 June.”
Haute Dolci to open tenth site in June, first in London: Premium dessert concept Haute Dolci is set to open its tenth site, at Wembley Park, having been originally slated to open in December last year. Having recently opened in Bradford, the dessert bar will open its first London branch – at Wembley Park Boulevard – on 1 June. As reported by Propel this week, Haute Dolci is planning four openings in 2021, including two in the capital. Haute Dolci offers a range of desserts including Belgian waffles, American pancakes and French crepes along with gourmet burgers. It operates sites in Cheshire Oaks, Trafford centre, Birmingham Star City, Leicester, Leeds – The Light, Bolton, Blackburn and Coventry.
Star Pubs & Bars invests £150,000 in its pubs to boost trade during Euros: Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars is to invest £150,000 to upgrade facilities at its pubs in time for the UEFA European Football Championships (Euros). The move includes installing 30 large weather-proof TVs and marquees at its selected Just Add Talent pubs, geo-targeted marketing to drive business to 1,120 sites through the MatchPint app and 14 pubs will receive £2,500 to become “hot spots” during the Euros. Star Pubs & bars central operations director Neil Convery said: “We have invested heavily in rent concessions and supported our pubs throughout the pandemic. With restrictions lifting, we want them to be in the best possible place to maximise key trading opportunities such as sport. We trialled geo-targeted marketing during previous international sporting tournaments to drive traffic to our pubs and that was a success.” The tournament runs from 11 June to 11 July.
Taco Bell targets former Frankie & Benny’s site in Gloucester: Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell has revealed proposals for its debut site in Gloucestershire. The company has lodged plans with Gloucester City Council to open a drive-thru restaurant at St Oswalds Retail Park in the premises previously occupied by The Restaurant Group-owned brand Frankie & Benny’s. The outlet, which would create 60 jobs, would join other food and beverage brands at the retail park, including McDonald’s, Coca-Cola-owned Costa Coffee and Subway, reports So Glos. 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.
Roxy Leisure reveals super-sized gaming venue: Roxy Leisure has transformed its Roxy Ball Room site in Merrion Street, Leeds, into a super-sized gaming venue. The basement level of the three-floor site features all-new bank shot shuffleboard, duckpin bowling, crazy pool, karaoke, arcade machines and a new bar. Beer pong, shuffleboard, ping pong and pool have also all returned, alongside Roxy’s signature beer, food and cocktail menus. Former sister venue Roxy Arcade has been completely ripped out and refitted as Roxy Ball Room. Roxy brand development manager Joel Mitchell said: “We are excited about taking our Merrion Street venue to another level. Roxy Ball Room is coming back in a big way to help create memories that can make up for all those special occasions that we’ve all missed out on.”
Drinking and dining experience ‘offering modern take on traditional British pub’ to open in Kensington: A drinking and dining experience offering a “modern take on the traditional British pub” is to open in Kensington this summer. Publiq is being launched in Palace Gate by a team whose experience includes Tayēr + Elementary, Pollen Street Social and Duck & Waffle. The 38-cover restaurant will offer seasonal cocktails and sharing plates alongside natural wine and local beer. It will feature a lounge and bar area alongside a covered and heated terrace, chef’s table and a private dining room for up to 18 guests. The food menu designed by head chef, Emilian Craciun – previously of George Mayfair and Ham Yard Hotel – will feature a variety of regularly changing seasonal plates such as beef brisket croquettes as well as cull yaw mutton skewers. The “big piece” on the menu will rotate regularly and include one cut of meat and a sustainably caught fish, both of which can be cooked in Publiq’s Japanese-inspired Hibachi grill. The nine-strong cocktail menu is also seasonally driven, with each cocktail focusing on two to three flavours.
Former City Social executive chef goes from pop-up to permanent with vegetable-centric dining experience at Borough Market: Tomas Lidakevicius, former executive chef at Jason Atherton’s City Social, is launching a permanent site for his vegetable-centric dining experience at London’s Borough Market. Lidakevicius teamed up with Turnips, a family-run stall at Borough Market for the past 30 years, to launch the concept as a pop-up. Now, having operated in the space where Turnips normally trades, it is setting up home there permanently. The menu is driven by Turnips’ daily delivery of fruit and vegetables. An informal sharing plates menu will run throughout the day, along with a six-course fine dining option in the evening. The wine list will initially have a UK-focused nucleus that evolves outward to encompass bottles from further afield. Cocktails, such as a Pea Negroni or Fermented Blueberry Old Fashioned, “will mirror the ethos of the food by focusing on the raw product first and foremost, before building the drink”.
LondonMetric acquires two warehouses for £13.5m to become dark kitchens: LondonMetric, the FTSE 250-listed REIT, has acquired two London warehouses for £13.5m, which will be converted into dark kitchens. The company said it had agreed a new 20-year lease with Jacuna Kitchens across 75% of the combined space. Jacuna will operate 100 kitchens across both locations in Brent Cross and Streatham. LondonMetric will refurbish and upgrade the warehouses to provide enhanced power, ventilation and drainage to the buildings. LondonMetric said the letting of the remaining space was under negotiation with a new delivery start-up. The company’s chief executive Andrew Jones said: “We are excited by the dark kitchen sector and are pleased to be able to work with Jacuna on acquiring these warehouses and upgrading the facilities to their requirements. We are working with them on the rollout of further dark kitchen facilities across London.”

Zip World to take over deep mine tour at its Llechwedd quarry site: LDC-backed leisure company Zip World will take over a deep mine tour site to create an adventure village. Zip World, which operates four adventure parks across Wales, has agreed a deal to take over the Llechwedd quarry in Blaenau Ffestiniog, north Wales – where one of its sites is based. The move would see Zip World take over the deep mine tour and use both underground and over-ground space while ensuring it respects the heritage side of the historic site. It would also include the existing food and beverage outlets, with potential to bring other buildings into play as part of the experience. Zip World commercial director Andrew Hudson told Business Live: “The vision is to create a unique adventure village, potentially bringing in other businesses to further enhance the experience. We will continue to invest in Bounce Below and Caverns but we are also looking at new innovative products not done anywhere.” Michael Bewick, managing director of JW Greaves & Sons, which owns the Llechwedd site said: “We have been working with Zip World for eight years. When I first got involved ten years ago, we had about 46,000 visitors annually, with Zip World, on a normal year, that is now up to more than 200,000.”

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