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Thu 2nd Sep 2021 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Edition Capital looks to raise up to £3m through new hospitality expansion fund: Edition Capital, the backers of sector businesses including Club Mexicana, WatchHouse and Incipio Group, has launched a new EIS fundraising tranche, as its looks to raise £2m to aid a number of its investments expand, Propel has learned. The Edition EIS Hospitality Expansion Tranche will see its first close on Friday, 29 October, with anticipated deployment of the funds raised by the fourth quarter of 2021. The company said the fund will give investors the opportunity to gain exposure to a number of existing Edition EIS portfolio companies that are “already well capitalised and are seeking further funding to take advantage of the unique market conditions”. This includes WatchHouse, Little Door & Co, Morty & Bob’s, Pizza Luxe and Whistle Punks. An Edition spokesman told Propel: “Many of our investee companies have reopened to great demand, and in an environment with less competition, which has resulted in commercial landlords offering very generous and unprecedented terms to anchor tenants. This has presented some of our businesses with a unique opportunity to be able to expand operations, in line with their original business plans, but at significantly reduced cost and risk.” The funding will be used on a number of projects, with Propel understanding that will include a Soho site for Little Door & Co, a further site in the capital for Morty & Bob’s, and a site in Leeds for Whistle Punks.

Industry News: 

62 new companies to be added to Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book: The next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group, will include 408 companies, an increase of 62 companies compared with the August edition. The 408 companies produce total turnover of £30.6bn – 200 are in profit and 208 are reporting a loss. The next edition of the Blue Book will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday, 10 September at midday. The Blue Book, which is updated every month, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers also receive two other databases – the New Openings Database, produce in association with StarStock, and the Multi-site Operators Database, produced in association with Virgate, which are also updated each month. 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. 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. Email to sign up.

UKHospitality urges Scottish government to talk to industry leaders following vaccine passport plan: UKHospitality has urged the Scottish government to speak with hospitality leaders after announcing vaccine passports will be required for entry to nightclubs and many large events in the country from later this month. The plans will apply to indoor and outdoor events, and will need to be signed off by Holyrood next week. First minister Nicola Sturgeon said the move was needed to help stem the recent surge in the number of covid cases. The new vaccine certification rules mean people over the age of 18 will need to show they have had both doses of the vaccine before they are allowed entry to nightclubs and adult entertainment venues; unseated indoor live events, with more than 500 people in the audience; unseated outdoor live events, with more than 4,000 people in the audience; and any event, of any nature, which has more than 10,000 people in attendance. Sturgeon said the hospitality industry as a whole would not be included in the certification scheme – although that decision would be kept under review. In response, UKHospitality Scotland executive director Leon Thompson said: “This is a move that will cause dismay among businesses that have only recently been able to reopen. The fact there has been no attempt to engage with the sector ahead of this announcement is extremely concerning. Nightclubs and event organisers will be on the front line of implementing this policy and representatives need an opportunity to ask questions of the Scottish government’s plans before they are put to the Scottish parliament for approval. While the introduction of certification is envisaged as limited for now, if extended, the impact on wider hospitality could be immense. This cannot be the thin end of the wedge, especially when no evidence has been produced to indicate nightclubs, events or indeed any other hospitality settings are responsible for the rising number of covid-19 cases.”

Sector like-for-likes up 1.6% in August compared with 2019 levels: Sector like-for-like sales were up 1.6% in August compared with 2019 levels, according to the latest data from S4labour, the online labour-scheduling management system from Catton Hospitality. Notably, food like-for-likes were up 16% but drink like-for-likes fell 12.5%. Food sales outperforming drink sales occurred within both dry-led and wet-led sites for August. The trading pattern for sites inside and outside of London continued. Sites outside the capital experienced significantly more growth than London. Even though month-on-month hospitality sales rose by 9.5%, London sites saw a decrease of 24.5% while those outside the capital saw sales increase by 16.5%. S4labour chief innovation officer Richard Hartley said: “Although the increase in like-for-likes is small, given the recent months hospitality has experienced it is reassuring to see August 2021 has bettered August 2019 in regards to overall sales. The easing of restrictions has certainly helped consumer confidence. These figures offer some sense of reassurance for the hospitality industry, and hopefully this revival continues as we approach the autumn months; especially the London commute making a comeback.”
S4labour is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Trade body condemns plan to pursue covid passports in England: The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has condemned the government’s confirmation it will press on with its covid passport strategy for nightclubs and indoor gatherings in England. NTIA chief executive Michael Kill said: “Confirmation the government will continue to press on with the covid passport strategy for nightclubs and indoor gatherings, even against a furious backlash from MPs across the House of Commons and industry leaders, is disappointing as it will cripple the industry. Surely the government can see this is not workable. The challenges are endless, and the sector will be hit extremely hard by this decision, embroiled in discrimination cases, staffing and supply chain shortages, and so on.”

Company News: 

Oakman to seek plc status to widen investor pool: Oakman Group is to re-register as a plc to widen its investor group. The funding round for the Oakman Group is closing on Friday, 10 September. In an email to investors, Oakman chief investment officer Steve Kennee said: “The reason for the closure is, while the last two rounds have been a great success with more than 500 new investors having been welcomed to the Oakman family and applications for £6m of equity having been received, the current offer is limited to applicants that meet the eligibility criteria on the investor portal. This restriction has meant some of our customers have been excluded from becoming investors and, given we want to give all of our customers the opportunity to own part of their local, the Oakman Group is re-registering as a plc and launching a new prospectus later in the year – something which will allow these restrictions to be removed. While you will of course be more than welcome to invest in the new round, it is important to note given the strong performance of the company, the share price will be higher than the current offer of £3 per share.”

Tossed opens Cannon Street store and closes growth funding round: Tossed has opened its new store at 105-109 Cannon Street in London. The location is the 11th the company has opened since Neil Sebba and Angelina Harrisson rescued the brand from administration a year ago. The Cannon Street store is the first to open for breakfast, offering a range of fresh-made eggs bowls, vegan porridge, juices, smoothies and hot drinks under its mantra of “food to make you feel good”. Sebba said: “We are delighted to have opened this great new location directly opposite the station. With terms agreed in March and the site build finishing in July, it has been a long time coming, but if covid has taught us central London operators anything, it is to be immensely patient. It’s been a big last seven days as we also closed our growth financing round last week, which really was a testament to the hard work of our wonderful team over the past year and the strength of our brand in the face of the difficult current trading environment. We are all excited about Londoners returning to their offices in greater numbers in the coming weeks, and hope very much to see our great city returning to some sort of normality at last.” The details of the funding round have not been disclosed, but both Sebba and non-executive director Ann Elliott have invested alongside the incoming private investors.

Ego to open 24th site with Lymm launch, trading up 35% on 2019 levels and repays £2m CBILS: 3Sixty Restaurants, led by James Horler, is to open its latest Ego site, in the Cheshire village of Lymm, as part of its joint venture with Mitchells & Butlers (M&B). Horler told Propel that Ego was trading 35% up on 2019 levels while last month the company repaid the £2m it borrowed through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme last year. The new site will launch in Mill Lane following conversion of the Green Dragon pub, which is run under M&B’s Vintage Inns brand. The restaurant is expected to open in late October with the Green Dragon having shut on Tuesday (31 August). The Lymm venue will be the 24th Ego site. Horler said: “We are looking to get back to building the pipeline and opening more sites. We won’t do anything else in 2021 but are looking to push on in 2022. We’ve managed to trade our way out of the pandemic in the past five months or so, which has been helped by the fact our sites are in the regions and the suburbs. We’re in a good place – our balance sheet is slightly ahead of pre-covid.” Horler said the number of Ego Club members had now grown to 380,000. M&B formed the partnership in August 2018 when it bought sector investor Luke Johnson’s minority share in 3Sixty.

Three Joes team acquires Fistral Beach Bar in Newquay: Sourdough South, operators of the Three Joes sourdough pizza concept, has acquired the Fistral Beach Bar in Newquay, Propel has learned. The acquisition represents the next step in Sourdough South’s growth plans and is the second significant acquisition for the company following that of The Stable from Fuller’s. Sourdough South co-owner Tim Hall said: “Fistral Beach Bar will overnight become our highest turnover site by some margin. Once we have completed a refurbishment the restaurant will offer 350 external covers directly accessible from the sand and a further 150 internally.” Co-owner Peter Bruton added: “Having operated The Stable at Fistral for more than a year now we are developing a true understanding of the unbelievable potential that some of these Cornish sites hold. The trade is almost all year round now and not nearly as lumpy seasonally as it used to be. We have been enviously admiring Fistral Beach Bar’s amazing position for a while so I’m delighted it now forms a key part of our restaurant group.” Co-owner Emma Blackmore said: “The scale of the hospitality opportunity at Fistral Beach is vast and once we have refurbished the beach bar and installed a new kitchen we will be in a position to truly maximise the opportunity this beautiful location offers. We now operate 700 covers in total on Cornwall’s busiest beach and we have a busy autumn ahead.” The deal brings the Sourdough South group to a total of 14 trading sites with further announcements expected over the autumn.

Just Eat plans national hub network: Just Eat is planning to acquire a series of inner-city hubs across the UK and Europe. The company has appointed property advisor JLL to seek leaseholds of between 500 square feet and 20,000 square feet for inner-city “Scoober” hubs. Scoober is the company’s delivery model that features employed couriers. The hubs provide a location for couriers to begin and end their shifts, and to house Scoober’s fleet of e-bikes and materials. The company said the growth of Scoober would support and enable its plans for continued expansion. Scoober is already active in more than 200 cities in 14 markets. Ashley Smart, EMEA logistics business development director at JLL, said: “There is an increasing demand for last mile urban logistics space, which this mandate underpins. Our aim is to identify inner city industrial units for Just Eat, as well as identifying obsolete space that may have come around as a result of the accelerated shift towards e-commerce.” Last month, Just Eat announced it will invest more than £100m in the next five years to create in excess of 1,500 customer service jobs in the north east. The new roles will be based in Houghton-le-Spring, near Sunderland, at a 20,000 square metre state-of-the-art building that is equipped with a gym, catering area and a lounge across four floors. 
Just Eat is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Butchies lines up opening in Ealing: London-based chicken sandwich concept Butchies is set to further add to its presence in the capital with an opening in Ealing. Propel has learned the five-strong concept has lined up an opening as part of the Filmworks scheme in the London borough for later this year. It is thought Boom: Battle Bar, Neat Burgers and Kanada-Ya are also in talks to take space at the scheme. Earlier this summer, Butchies opened its fifth site, in west London, in Kenway Road, just off Earl’s Court Road. The company, which was founded by Garrett Fitzgerald in 2013, is chaired by Draft House founder Charlie McVeigh. Butchies also has sites in Camden, Shoreditch, Fulham (Market Halls) and Clapham. Marc Rogers, of MKR Property, acted on the Ealing deal.

Flight Club to make Scottish debut with Glasgow opening: Flight Club, the darts concept owned by Red Engine, is set to make its debut in Scotland next year, after securing a site in Glasgow, Propel has learned. Flight Club has secured a site at 280 George Street in the city. Meanwhile, the company has confirmed it plans to open its first town-based site, in Cheltenham, next year. The concept has applied to open a site in The Brewery Quarter. Last month, Flight Club opened a site in Bristol for its eighth UK venue. Located in Corn Street, the venue is home to seven oches, a total capacity of 200 and a bar with bookable tables for drinks. Flight Club said it “blends the nostalgia and warmth of a British pub with the energy and excitement of a fairground in its atmosphere and decor”. The brand is also set to open sites in Dublin, and Perth in Australia. Flight Club is also opening a third US site, in Las Vegas, with its licensed partner State of Play Hospitality.

Marston's to move 19 Brains pubs to franchise deal: Landlords of 19 Brains pubs are being asked to become self-employed after the Marston's takeover earlier this year. Marston’s is asking managers at 19 pubs to sign up to its retail agreement franchise deal, effectively becoming self-employed. Marston’s said the changes were only at underperforming pubs and were needed to keep the venues open. A spokesman added managers are usually given six weeks to make the decision, and denied claims of only offering a week. A spokesman for Marston’s said: “This relates to 19 of the 107 pubs we took over in February 2021, less than 20% of the pubs and conversely impacting less than 20% of the employees. Of those impacted, any job losses could be up to 10% to 20% of that number, in real terms this will amount to approximately 20 to 30 bar staff jobs across the affected pubs. These are pubs that were underperforming under the previous operation and we have identified a better, longer term, proven model to maintain a sustainable business for the pub.”

JD Wetherspoon hit by beer delivery issues: JD Wetherspoon has confirmed supplies of Carling and Coors beer have become the latest casualty of the UK’s major supply chain issues, with some pubs not receiving planned deliveries. Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “Wetherspoon usually sells 23 different ‘brands’ on draught in each of its pubs. Some pubs sell a small number more and some pubs sell a small number less. Last week, we understand, there was industrial action by delivery drivers acting on behalf of Heineken, our biggest supplier. Heineken supplies six of the 23 draught lines we normally offer. As a result of a shortage of deliveries of Heineken, some other products ran out in some locations – for example Carling and Coors lager. We understand the industrial action we refer to has now been called off, which, we hope, means the supply issues will be resolved in early course. As of now, the majority of pubs, we believe, are now fully stocked, but some pubs may be short of a few brands, pending deliveries in the next few days. We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused.” It comes amid a mounting supply chain crisis in the UK, caused by a lorry driver shortage, the pandemic and Brexit. Bosses at the Road Haulage Association warned last week there was a shortfall of about 100,000 drivers. The shortages have hit several retailers and restaurant companies. Nando’s saw a shortage of chickens due to a combination of not enough drivers and fewer staff working in meat factories. Other delays have also impacted McDonald’s, which said last week it had run out of milkshakes and bottled drinks as it prioritised deliveries of other products in the interim.

Island Poké lines up a quartet of London openings: Island Poké, the London-based, White Rabbit Projects and Hero Brands-backed business, is to further add to its presence in the capital, with four new openings. The concept will open in Upper Street in Islington in September followed by a site in Richmond in October. Further plans include sites in Clapham and Notting Hill, which are set to open in early 2022. The company said its development plans will initially focus on London. However, discussions are also underway with further partners, which have the potential for a further 50 sites throughout the UK. Founded by James Gould-Porter in 2015, Island Poké initially operated as a street food stall. It secured the backing of White Rabbit Fund in 2016 and went on to open its first bricks and mortar restaurant in Kingly Street, Soho, that year. It operates 13 sites in London, including four delivery kitchen units, plus seven sites in France. In May, the company announced it had signed up its first two UK franchise partners. The new partnerships will bring a development pipeline of 23 sites over the next five years, trebling its current ten-strong UK footprint, alongside the 42 already planned in France and Benelux over the same period. Gould-Porter said: “We’re very pleased to be expanding our brand across London and beyond. We are just beginning to ease out the pandemic, which has been a hugely challenging period for the hospitality sector and these new restaurants show the growing demand for our brand offering. We are looking forward to bringing people a great and fresh alternative to the traditional lunch and dine-out offering, while exploring new opportunities to expand our growing footprint.” 

Gunpowder to open third site, in Soho: Harneet and Devina Baweja are to open a third site for their home-style Indian kitchen concept Gunpowder. The restaurant will launch in Greek Street, Soho, on Friday, 15 October in the site previously occupied by PizzaExpress. The venue will have 54 covers including high seating around the bar. Towards the back of the restaurant, a velvet curtain can be drawn across to make a semi-private dining room, which overlooks the open kitchen. With an emphasis on sharing, Gunpowder Soho will draw inspiration from generations of family recipes collected by the Bawejas. The concise menu will champion sustainability and seasonality with new dishes including whole mackerel with raw mango chutney; and a half lobster, broken down and served with rice pancakes. Gunpowder classics such as its Kashmiri lamb chops will also feature. The wine list will focus on Portuguese and Spanish natural wine while there will also be a new martini menu. Harneet Baweja said: “Gunpowder is built around our heritage and love of food inherited from our families. It feels right to bring these core values to an area of London that is so steeped in history, where cultures and traditions have developed closely over time and continue to overlap. Soho has sustained London's hospitality industry since the Victorian era, and we are very much looking forward to joining the energy of the West End.” The Bawejas opened the debut Gunpowder restaurant in White’s Row in Spitalfields in 2015, with a second site that overlooks Tower Bridge launching in 2018.

Gordon Ramsay lines up Washington DC site: Chef Gordon Ramsay is set to open a restaurant in Washington DC. Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips is expected to open in 2,100 square feet at 501 Seventh Street in Penn Quarter, according to plans submitted to the city’s historic preservation review board. The building is owned by an affiliate of Douglas Development, and the space was last occupied by Vivi, which rebranded two years ago from Bakers and Baristas. Ramsay's Fish & Chips has two other locations – in Orlando, Florida, and Las Vegas – with a third in the works in Chicago. An affiliate of Ramsay's restaurant group recently submitted plans, which are being reviewed by the board. A representative for Ramsay described the restaurant as a fast-casual eatery in the application, reports the Washington Business Journal. 

Cyrus Todiwala finds new home for Café Spice Namasté: Chef Cyrus Todiwala has found a new home for his Café Spice Namasté concept. The restaurant, which was the longest-running Bib Gourmand restaurant in the Michelin Guide, shut in Prescot Street in Spitalfields at the end of January after 25 years in business. Now Todiwala is preparing to open a site in Docklands later this month. He has been serving up dosas on the docks at the Royal Albert Wharf since the end of lockdown in April. Now the restaurant itself will reopen, aided by a crowdfunding push of almost £50,000 by customers. Todiwala said: “As part of the Royal Docks, the wharf we’ll soon be calling home symbolises not just the great mercantile history of a global city, but its capacity for regeneration and renewal – two things we can closely identify with. Café Spice Namasté will be part of an exciting space that in time will include an academy and yes, a reimagined version of your favourite Indian restaurant.” Todiwala’s Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen sites at Lincoln Plaza London in Canary Wharf and the Hilton London Heathrow Airport remain temporarily closed.

Tian Tian Market to open third site, in Bloomsbury: Asian food grocery store Tian Tian Market is to open its third site offering food from China, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. The new site, which will open this month, will be located in the Brunswick Centre in Bloomsbury in the former New Look premises. Customers will be able to collect pre-ordered goods from companies such as Wa Café, Kova Patisserie, Mille Patisserie and Tsujiri UK Matcha House, and also go in store for grocery shopping. Tian Tian opened its first site in South Quay, London, in 2016 before adding an outlet in Aldgate earlier this year. A site in Canary Wharf is also understood to be in the pipeline.

Incipio Group to launch late-night destination Percy’s in Kensington this month: Incipio Group, operator of venues including The Prince and Lost in Brixton, will reopen its High Street Kensington nightclub this month after transforming it into a “stripped back, no-fluff late-night destination”. The company acquired the former Mahiki site in 2019 and opened Bloom later that year in November before closing in March 2020 due to the covid-19 pandemic. Now, as revealed by Propel earlier this year, the building has been revamped ahead of its launch as Percy’s on Thursday, 30 September. The 350-capacity venue will house the first Casamigos bar of its kind outside of America, serving the award-winning George Clooney and Rande Gerber founded tequila and mezcal in cocktails, alongside Percy’s own bar and lounge. A menu created by former Mac & Wild executive chef, Nick Wyborn, will serve seasonally focused dishes and will constantly evolve while DJs and live music will provide entertainment into the night.

Roasting Plant Coffee opens in London’s Selfridges for third UK site: US coffee shop concept Roasting Plant Coffee has opened its third UK site, in London’s Selfridge’s. The outlet has opened in the food hall at the Oxford Street department store. Selfridge’s London head of food Andrew Bird said: “Visitors will have an immersive experience from roasting to their custom-made cup, be able to try unique and interesting beans that aren’t available anywhere else and have their perfect brew created on the spot.” Roasting Plant’s concept revolves around its patented Javabot technology, a largely automated roasting and brewing system that integrates every stage of coffee craft from green bean to beverage. Earlier this month, Propel revealed Roasting Plant Coffee had secured £1m of growth capital, including investment from former Marks & Spencer chairman Lord Stuart Rose, to aid its further expansion. Roasting Plant Coffee is planning an opening opposite the Rosewood Hotel in High Holborn and is also in advanced talks on a site in the West End. The business made its UK debut in London, in Borough High Street under the stewardship of chief executive Jamie Robertson in January 2019. It launched a second site in London last year in The Strand.
Taco Bell gets go-ahead for second Nottingham restaurant, submits plans for Exeter drive-thru: Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell has been given the go-ahead to open a second Nottingham city centre restaurant. The company will launch the venue in the city’s Victoria Centre shopping complex, in the unit previously occupied by Clean Cut Kitchen. Taco Bell already has an outlet in Angel Row in Nottingham. Meanwhile, proposals for a Taco Bell drive-thru outlet in Exeter have been submitted. The company has applied to the city council to open in the former Pizza Hut unit at the Rydon Lane Retail Park, reports Devon Live. If permission is granted, it will become the second Taco Bell in Devon after the Plymouth branch opened in 2019. Taco Bell will also open its first drive-thru site in Wales this month. Propel revealed in June franchisee Campana wanted to open the site at the Dragon Retail Park in Cardiff. Now the drive-thru will launch at the complex in Newport Road on Thursday, 23 September. It will be Taco Bell’s fifth restaurant in Swansea with Campana currently operates three of the sites – two in Cardiff and one in Swansea. Taco Bell currently has 67 restaurants in the UK having opened its latest site last week, in Kirkby, Merseyside. The company has more than 7,500 restaurants across the globe with Glen Bell having opened the first in Downey, California, in 1962.
Palatine exits holiday park business with 3.7 times return: Manchester-based Palatine Private Equity is exiting its investment in Verdant Leisure, the north west holiday park operator. Palatine has exchanged contracts for the sale of its stake in Verdant Leisure to the management team backed by Pears Partnership Capital. The deal is subject to Financial Conduct Authority approval. Lancaster-headquartered Verdant Leisure is a bespoke holiday park operator offering lodge and caravan holidays and holiday home ownership at sites across Scotland and northern England. The sale will see Palatine exit the business with a return multiple of 3.7 times, following a highly successful strategy of acquisitions and value creation, which has grown Verdant’s annual turnover by 150% since 2016. Revenues for the year to February 2020 grew to £14.7m from £13.9m in 2019. Since investing in the business in April 2016, Palatine has supported Verdant to acquire six additional sites, increasing its footprint to ten locations and 3,500 pitches. It also saw an increase in both holiday home sales and the profitability of Verdant’s holiday let operations by enhancing on-site leisure facilities and investing in central management functions including a new head office and customer service contact centre.

JKS Restaurants to launch high-end Mayfair venue BiBi next week: JKS Restaurants, led by Karam, Jyotin and Sunaina Sethi, will open its high-end restaurant BiBi in London’s Mayfair next week. The venture, which will be led by chef Chet Sharma, will launch on the former Truc Vert site in North Audley Street on Thursday, 9 September. Named after the Urdu word meaning “lady of the house”, BiBi will be “rooted in south Asian traditions and flavour profiles but will apply the principles of modern Indian cuisine so well established in the wealthy and upmarket Mayfair environs”. BiBi will seat 33 guests – 13 at the kitchen counter, and an additional 20 on the terrace. There will be a “chef’s selection” offer along with a wider à la carte menu. The cocktail list will feature classics with an Indian twist such as the Monsoon Martini, with vodka, multani mitti and ambrette seed. A 55-bin wine list will offer a range of European and new world wine. In May, landlord Grosvenor Britain & Ireland made its first investment in a new tenant, with a loan to support the launch of BiBi. JKS Restaurants also owns Michelin-starred Trishna in Marylebone, Indian restaurant and bar Brigadiers in the City, and backs Michelin-starred Kitchen Table, Lyles and Sabor. Its portfolio also includes delivery brand Motu and Iranian-influenced restaurant Berenjak. It also backs the Bao and Hopper concepts.

Pizza Punks to open fourth site, in Leeds this month: Pizza, music and cocktails concept Pizza Punks will open its fourth site, in Leeds this month. The company is opening the restaurant in Bond Street on Saturday, 11 September having previously secured the former MOD Pizza premises. Pizza Punks gives customers the option to create their own pizza by putting as many toppings as they want on a sourdough base for the same price, while also offering wine on tap, tank beer, cocktails, freak shakes and locally brewed coffee. Along with pizza, the menu also features fresh pasta. Owner Brad Stevens said: “We offer customers the freedom to make the experience their own because pizza is the new punk and there are no hard and fast rules with it. Our attitude is all geared towards helping our customers have the best time when they visit our restaurants. Leeds will be no different and we are looking forward to having a new customer base that will join the Pizza Punks movement.” Pizza Punks currently has sites in Belfast, Glasgow and Newcastle. Stevens also operates Mamasan, the south east Asian bar and brasserie concept, which has sites in Glasgow and Liverpool.

Busaba to open new Cardiff restaurant next month: Busaba, the Thai chain founded by Alan Yau, will open its new restaurant in Cardiff next month. The Terry Harrison-led group has agreed a lease to operate at the city’s Brewery Quarter. As revealed by Propel in June, it is the first agreement for a new site the Tnui Capital-backed business has entered into in more than six years. The restaurant, which will launch on Thursday, 21 October, will be Busaba’s debut venue in Wales. Busaba has agreed to take 4,000 square foot at the scheme, which is managed by Orchard Street Investment Management on behalf of institutional investors. Busaba has entering into a 15-year lease across the ground and terrace floors and will join other tenants at the scheme including Starbucks, Nando’s and better burger brand Five Guys. The latest letting takes the Brewery Quarter to 90% occupancy. Busaba currently operates nine sites across London, but previously had sites in Liverpool, Manchester and St Albans.

Kerb to bring its line-up of street food traders to ExCeL London events: Street food collective Kerb is bringing its line-up of traders to ExCeL London. Kerb has partnered with ExCeL London and Levy, the sports, and hospitality sector of Compass Group UK and Ireland, to introduce its food and drink offering to ExCeL’s central boulevard during events. The food line-up includes Pakistani concept Baba Dhaba, wood-fire pizza concept Fundi, Mediterranean-inspired Nazari and hot dog and burger concept Oh My Dog! There is also beer by Gipsy Hill, spirits by East London Liquor Co, soda from Square Root and coffee by Redemption Roasters. Kerb chief executive Simon Mitchell said: “Our new partnership at ExCeL London perfectly demonstrates how our community of independent food and drinks businesses can reinvent a space and help build a memorable experience for guests.” Simon Mills, executive director at ExCeL London, added: “Our partnership with Kerb alongside our catering and hospitality venue partner Levy UK will cement a step-change in enhancing the experience of everyone visiting ExCeL. We are particularly excited to be able to transition the offer from permanent retail units on the Boulevard, to vibrant in-event pop-ups, as well as hospitality offers tailored to the demographic of the event.”

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