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Mon 6th Sep 2021 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

UKHospitality – introducing covid passports for certain venues and events ‘unworkable’ and will cost ‘thousands’ of jobs: Introducing covid passports for certain venues and events will be “unworkable” and cost “thousands” of jobs, UKHospitality has warned. Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has confirmed vaccine passports in nightclubs and other venues in England will be required at the end of this month. Zahawi said it was the right time to start the scheme for sites with large crowds as all over-18s will have been offered two jabs by then. He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show: “The best way we can keep those industries open, in our view, is to work with the industry. One thing we have learned is in large gatherings of people, especially indoors, the virus tends to spike and spread. When the evidence that you are presented is so clear cut and we want to make sure the industry doesn't have to go through [an] open-shut, open-shut sort of strategy, then the right thing to do is to introduce that by the end of September when all over-18s have had their two jabs.” But UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “A scheme introducing mandatory covid passports for certain venues and events will be unworkable, cause conflict between staff and customers and will force business to deal with complex equality rules. Operators may even be forced into a position where they have to let unvaccinated staff go, at a time when there are record levels of staff shortages across the industry. The hospitality sector has invested heavily to ensure customers are safe and we have proved venues are covid secure. Introducing a scheme such as this will be a hammer blow to businesses such as nightclubs that were closed by the government for almost 18 months, and have only recently been able to trade viably and make progress toward rebuilding and paying off accrued debts. Over the past year our sector has been devastated and businesses have only known forced closure or the most severe restrictions. This policy will be devastating for businesses that remain fragile and will certainly derail recovery and cost thousands of jobs.” Meanwhile, Scottish Labour has refused to support plans to require vaccine passports for entry to nightclubs and many large events in Scotland from later this month. Opposition is building to the Scottish government's proposal, which first minister Nicola Sturgeon has said would be the least restrictive way to keep people safe. Wales has said it has no plans to introduce covid passports for venues, while ministers in Northern Ireland have not yet announced their position.

Industry News: 

Strong performance of regional restaurant groups highlighted in updated Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book: The strong performance of regional restaurant groups is highlighted in the updated Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book. A total of 62 companies are being added to the updated Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, taking the combined number to 408 companies, which produce total turnover of £30.6bn. Of those companies 200 are reporting a profit and 204 are making a loss. Among the new additions is independent restaurant group Tattu, which is set to make its London debut with the opening of its fifth site. Established in 2015, Tattu opened its first restaurant in Manchester’s Spinningfields district, followed by sites in Leeds, Birmingham and most recently Edinburgh, offering contemporary cuisine inspired by traditional Chinese flavours and ingredients, curated by executive chef Andrew Lassetter. The Blue Book shows those four sites were turning over a combined £13.9m and generating a pre-tax profit of £1.7m pre-pandemic. 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, produced 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.

Write-offs of loans to restaurants and hotels increase 65% during covid: There has been a 65% rise in write-offs of loans to restaurants and hotels during the pandemic, with £99m written off by banks and other lenders in the year to March 2021, up from £60m the previous year, according to new research by audit, tax, and advisory firm Mazars. The company said write-offs in lending to the leisure sector are starting to rise again as covid pressure begins to bite for industries hit hard by the financial strain of successive lockdowns. Banks that had been attempting to collect unpaid loan repayments from struggling businesses in the sector are now increasingly writing them off as bad debts. Mazars partner Rebecca Dacre said: “As support from the government starts to wind down, we’re now beginning to see the true impact of the pandemic on the leisure and hospitality industry.” Mazars said the costs associated with ramping up for reopening – such as restocking, equipment maintenance, deep cleaning and new recruitment – have been an added burden for struggling hospitality companies, already paying rent for sites despite the repeated shutdowns of venues. The furlough scheme, which paid 80% of employee wages, winds down entirely at the end of September. On top of this, difficulties recruiting staff to work in the leisure sector and requirements for social distancing has impacted businesses’ ability to operate at pre-pandemic levels, Mazars said. The end of the moratorium on winding up petitions on 30 September and the end of the suspension on landlord action for rent arrears next March will cause even further difficulties, and likely trigger a sharply increased number of insolvencies in the sector, Mazars added.

Luke Johnson – alcohol plays many positive roles in society: Sector investor Luke Johnson has argued alcohol plays many positive roles in society and it is “right and proper” well-run pubs should be “celebrated as vital communal centres of happiness and good cheer”. Writing in the latest Premium Opinion, Johnson said: “A wonderful new book called ‘Drunk’ provides serious intellectual ammunition for anyone who wants to defend alcohol from those who would prohibit or curtail its sale and consumption. It was written by Edward Slingerland, an American professor of philosophy who teaches in Canada. Across 350 pages, it mixes history, science, psychology, literature and sociology to explain why humans love alcohol and its effects. It is a well-written and persuasive read, which argues that alcohol has played many positive roles in human societies. It can enhance creativity, alleviate stress, build trust, and help groups to collaborate and cooperate. Alcohol is a wildly successful and popular intoxicant – at least 2.4 billion people worldwide consume it, and humans have been doing so since 7000 BC. It is believed brewing and beer existed before baking and bread. Since ancient times, almost all over the world, societies have been fermenting fruits and grains to produce alcoholic beverages. Alcohol suits so many because it is easy to make, tasty to consume, storable and quickly eliminated from the body. Of course some of alcohol’s ancient purposes have fallen away in the modern world. Yet as a social catalyst it has no equal. In fostering humour, friendships, intimacy and bonding it helps people work and fall in love together. The book quotes research that shows social drinkers enjoy better psychological, social and physical well-being than those who abstain or drink to excess. It is right and proper that well-run pubs should be celebrated as vital communal centres of happiness and good cheer.”

Britain’s economic recovery loses momentum: Britain's economic recovery from the covid-19 pandemic lost more momentum last month than originally estimated as staff shortages and supply chain issues weighed on companies in the country's huge services sector. The IHS Markit/CIPS UK Services Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 55.0 in August, revised lower from a preliminary “flash” reading of 55.5 and down sharply from 59.6 in July. Overall, the survey added to signs that British economic growth has slowed somewhat in the past month or so. The PMI marked a fifth month above the 50 threshold for growth and a record share of services companies said they were hiring staff – but they also struggled against rising costs. IHS Markit economics director Tim Moore said: “Many survey respondents commented on long wait times to fill vacancies and an unexpectedly high staff turnover as the UK economy reopened.” A separate survey by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation also showed employers were still hunting for more staff than they were just before the pandemic, added to signs of a tight labour market after covid-19 lockdowns and Brexit. IHS Markit said consumer demand slowed last month after an initial post-lockdown surge. The composite PMI, which combines the services and manufacturing sectors, fell to 54.8 in August from 59.2 in July.

Job of the day: COREcruitment is supporting a funding house that is taking on new portfolio businesses as well as supporting existing portfolio brands take on international expansion. To support several of the portfolio brands, the investor is keen to appoint a non-executive director to work with the founders and mentor executive teams on their growth journey. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The ideal background would be an executive/chief financial officer level finance expert who has great knowledge and passion for the retail, food and beverage and hospitality sector. Knowledge of franchise and partnership style expansion as well as international expansion would be ideal. Commitment will be between one and three days a month and the funding house will look to agree an annual, day rate-based fee.” Anyone interested can email 
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Company News:

Revolution Bars Group to launch new competitive socialising concept Playhouse this autumn: Revolution Bars Group, the operator of 65 premium bars, is set to launch its new competitive socialising concept, which will be called Playhouse, in Northampton later this year, Propel has learned. In April, the Rob Pitcher-led business said it planned to launch an experiential seaside fairground-inspired bar with pizza offer and a “community hub for entrepreneurs” with plans to grow the concepts alongside its two core brands – Revolution and Revolución de Cuba. Pitcher told Propel at the time they would be opened within existing sites. Propel understands a November opening is planned for the competitive socialising concept, in the group’s existing site in Northampton’s Bridge Street. The new bar concept will be based on retro games from the seaside fairground such as whack-a-mole and the 2p slots alongside retro arcade games. This would sit alongside a bar and pizza food offering. Propel understands the new food offer will be called Sliceshop and will be a stand-alone New York-style pizza concept. The second concept is described as a community market for young entrepreneurs to operate their business with mentorship from the Revolution Bars Group team. The concept will offer co-working spaces and street food.

Metcalfe – St Albans has been the ‘best opening in our history’: Julian Metcalfe, founder of Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain, has said the brand’s recent new opening in St Albans was the best in the circa 70-strong group’s history. The company opened the site last month in the town’s St Peter’s Street. Propel revealed last month Itsu had again begun building its equity store pipeline. Propel understands Itsu has secured a further site in Bath’s Stall Street for an opening later this year. It is thought it is also close to securing a further site for its equity estate in a town in the south east. The business, in which Bridgepoint invested in June, opened its first franchise restaurant, in Reading this summer. This restaurant is located at the Reading Gate Retail Park and is in partnership with Heart with Smarts, which is operated by the team behind Pizza Hut Restaurants. Metcalfe told Propel: “I think Reading looks good and is going gangbusters. Our new St Albans is doing even better. The best opening in our history. There are plenty more on the way as the UK searches for slightly more nutritious good, affordable food.”

High-class cafe brand EL&N secures Paris site, lines up Heathrow opening: High-class cafe brand EL&N, which earlier this summer made its international debut in the Middle East, has secured its first site in France, in Paris. The company, which earlier this summer opened its ninth site in London, will open a site later this month in upmarket French department store chain Galeries Lafayette’s flagship store in Boulevard Haussman in the French capital. Propel also understands EL&N plans to open a site in Heathrow airport. Last week, Propel revealed EL&N, which was founded by Alexandra Miller, had appointed Michael Logos as its new group managing director. Logos is formerly chief executive of Presman & Colard, the UK and UAE-based franchise and licensing consultancy. His appointment came as the business plans to expand across the Middle East. The company opened its first international site in the Galleria Mall, in Qatar, earlier this summer. The business recently launched a site in The Avenues Mall, Kuwait, and has an opening lined up in Dubai’s DIFC. In a video on YouTube announcing plans for expansion, Miller said the company is looking to take EL&N to “all corners of the globe”. 

East Coast Concepts to make London debut this winter: Manchester-based restaurant and bar group East Coast Concepts, which was acquired last year through a pre-pack administration deal by an investment group, led by Naveen Handa of leisure company The Cairn Group, will make its London debut this winter. As revealed by Propel earlier this year, East Coast Concepts is bringing its Neighbourhood bar and restaurant to Wardour Street in Soho. The company is set to transform the 5,000 square foot space, which is set over ground and basement floors, ahead of the opening. East Coast Concepts stated: “Soho is a place with a creative, independent soul. A place with a curious, intriguing dark side yet utterly cool. A rich history of playing home to all walks of life all in search of feeding their adventurous spirit. A village that has impressively moved with the times and rebuilding itself time and time again. A place we will soon call home. Our elevated offer will showcase new inspirations by way of an all-day destination like no other; A globally inspired sharing menu accompanied by trendsetting cocktails before effortlessly morphing into one of the hottest parties by night both above and below.” In April, East Coast Concepts, which operates sites in Hale, Alderley Edge, Liverpool, Leeds and Oxford, appointed Vernon Lord, formerly of Individual Restaurants, as its new chief executive. In the long term, the group believes the appointment of Lord can help it grow to a similar size of operation that Individual Restaurants grew to, of about 30 to 40 sites.

Edyn Group secures £195m debt facility to aid European expansion: Aparthotel operator Edyn Group has secured a £195m multi-asset debt facility with Blackstone Real Estate Debt Strategies in partnership with an affiliate of KSL Capital Partners through its European Capital Solutions platform. The agreement will help secure Edyn’s continued expansion of its portfolio into Europe, which includes lifestyle aparthotel brand Locke, and newly launched serviced apartment brand, Cove. The facility contributes to the funding arrangements on five projects comprising 859 units across The Hague in the Netherlands, London and Cambridge. Edyn is rapidly expanding its presence across Europe, which includes seven new Locke openings this year in the UK, Ireland, and Germany; plus, two new Cove openings in Canary Wharf and the Liverpool ONE development. Edyn has also acquired an existing hotel in The Hague, which will be the first scheme to operate under the Cove brand in mainland Europe. The 118-bedroom hotel will be converted to 121 serviced apartments, and is expected to open in March 2022. Edyn’s recent signing with Grosvenor to operate 162 Cove serviced apartments in the Landmark Pinnacle development in Canary Wharf, London, also forms part of the deal with Blackstone and KSL. Cove – Landmark Pinnacle will open in November and occupy the first ten floors of the 75-storey residential building. Turing Locke/Hyatt Centric, built in the Eddington district of Cambridge, is due to open next month. It will become the 11th Locke aparthotel in Europe, comprising 180 rooms, a restaurant, cocktail bar, coffee shop, retail space, co-working facilities, meeting rooms and an event space. Buckle Street Studios by Locke in London will open next month, comprising 103 rooms over a 12-storey new development adjacent to the first Locke, Leman Locke, which opened in 2016. Edyn investment director Merzak Kaddour said: “The pandemic reaffirmed Edyn’s products and strategy are meeting the growing demand for high-quality aparthotels and extended stay facilities. We are excited to push forward with our European growth.”

Tipjar closes crowdfunding campaign after raising more than £1.3m: Tipjar, the peer-to-peer tipping and tip-sharing concept, has closed its campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube after raising more than £1.3m. Tipjar, which was founded by James Brown, of Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog, is backed by Alex Moore of Rosa’s Thai Cafe, Gary Dolman of Monzo and Simon Bocca, formerly of Fourth. Tipjar smashed its original funding target of £400,000 within hours of the campaign launching where it was offering 3.89% equity, giving a company pre-money valuation of £11m. It has now closed the campaign with £1,346,659 raised from 1,180 investors. Backers include Honest Burger co-founders Phil Eeles and Tom Barton, plus a host of other industry experts. Tipjar chief executive Ben Thomas said: “These funds will really give us more growth capital and enable us to invest more into our US team as well as turbocharge our trajectory for expansion across the globe.” Tipjar has now launched in more than 1,650 venues across four countries, and plans to use the funds raised to further expand into the US market where it has recently partnered with Visa to help workers who are earning less as cash payments decline.

Kanada-Ya confirmed for Soho opening: London-based ramen concept Kanada-Ya will open its fourth restaurant in the capital, in Soho. As previously revealed by Propel, Kanada-Ya, which is led in the UK by Tony Lam and Aaron Burgess-Smith, will open a site at 28 Foubert’s Place, with hoardings on the site saying the restaurant is “coming soon”. Earlier this summer, Propel revealed Kanada-Ya was also planning to open a site in the Filmworks Walk scheme in Ealing, with Neat Burger, Butchies and Boom: Battle Bar all rumoured to also be taking sites there. Earlier this year, Kanada-Ya announced it planned to open three new sites in London this year, including two new restaurants. The brand launched a delivery kitchen site in Greenwich in March. The group currently operates restaurants in Covent Garden, Haymarket and Angel. Founded in Japan, Kanada-Ya opened its first site in the UK in 2014. It also has locations in Spain and Hong Kong. Lam and Burgess-Smith also operate the Machiya restaurant in Soho. Hanover Green, onepoint2, and Stonebrook London acted on the Foubert’s Place deal.

North east-based Indian and Bangladeshi restaurant Babul’s to double up: North east-based Indian and Bangladeshi restaurant Babul’s is to double up. The company, which has a restaurant in Barnard Castle, has secured the former PizzaExpress site in Skinnergate in Darlington. Babul’s website states: “Babul’s is a homage to the vibrant dishes across the regions of the Indian subcontinent and a tribute to one of the best Indian chefs, our father – Rafique Uddin Babul – to ever step foot in the United Kingdom. Babul’s opened, what was known previously Spice Island, in Barnard Castle in 1995 with a mission to revolutionise the way the public perceived Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine; using recipes and techniques that were brought straight from our home. This mission still runs within our blood today, one bite at a time.” Babul’s offers curry, Buddah bowls and Bangla burgers alongside coffee and cocktails. 

Junkyard to open new site in Newcastle in November: Crazy golf brand Junkyard Golf Club is to open a new site in Newcastle in November. The company, which currently has five sites, is opening the venue in Newgate Street. The site will feature three bars as well as its golf courses and is currently recruiting for staff. Sophie-Larissa Houghton, national PR and events manager at Junkyard, said: “Newcastle is a mega city. It has such a bold personality; it has such a buzz. We are honored and so excited to become a part of it.” Junkyard has sites in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, London and Oxford.

D&D London to open Haugen this month: Restaurant operator D&D London is to launch Haugen in Stratford, east London, this month. Featuring an all-day dining brasserie, restaurant, deli, outdoor terraces and rooftop bar, Haugen will serve food taking inspiration from Alpine dining in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and France. The menu will feature modern versions of classic Alpine dishes. Occupying The Pavilion at International Quarter London, the venue – which opens on Wednesday, 15 September – will have 544 covers. This includes a ground-floor deli with grab-and-go counter, a casual ground-floor restaurant featuring an indoor winter garden and large terrace, a first-floor dining room and cocktail bar with outdoor terrace and two private dining rooms. The second floor will house a rooftop bar. Haugen will have 100 covers outdoors split over a large ground-floor terrace and first-floor wraparound outdoor dining space. Des Gunewardena, chairman and chief executive of D&D London, said: “I hope Haugen will be something unique and special in the London restaurant scene. Our restaurant and food concepts have been inspired by its architecture and location.” Haugen is named after Anders Haugen, who was a ski jumper and American’s first Olympic skiing medallist in 1924. However, he only received his medal in 1974 as there had been a scoring calculation error that incorrectly awarded his bronze medal to another competitor, Thorleif Haug. The injustice was finally reversed when the error was discovered and the bronze medal was given to Haugen by Haug’s daughter.

Thunderbird opens at Westfield Stratford: TriSpan backed Thunderbird Fried Chicken has opened at Westfield Stratford. The menu at Westfield Stratford features new additions including the fully loaded chicken and bacon ranch burger (a chicken breast, bacon, harissa ranch and American cheese); vegan barbecue burger (a jackfruit patty with sweet, sticky barbecue sauce and vegan ranch); and the Thunderwrap (strips, sauce, American cheese and bacon in a wrap). Thunderbird chief executive Paul Gilchrist said: “It’s great to be opening at Westfield Stratford within one of the largest shopping centres in Europe, and to be working with the Westfield team. As an east London born brand, this is a big step for us.” Thunderbird Fried Chicken Westfield Stratford is located in the World Food Hall on the first floor in the premises previously occupied by the Crown Partnership-owned concept Bird. Thunderbird also operates restaurants at Charing Cross, The O2 and Earls Court, as well as delivery kitchens in Battersea and Shoreditch. The business also has two franchise site with holiday park operator Parkdean Resorts.

Chef Tom Shepherd to open debut restaurant next month: Chef Tom Shepherd will open his debut restaurant next month. Upstairs by Tom Shepherd will be a permanent home for the chef’s contemporary cooking, from a first-floor restaurant above his father’s jewellery shop in Lichfield, Staffordshire. Opening on Friday, 8 October, the Bore Street restaurant will offer modern British menus, based around seasonal ingredients and with subtle influences from Japan and east Asia. The 28-cover restaurant will feature a bar area that will showcase local beer, wine and spirits, and have a central chef’s table. A roof terrace is also planned for early 2022. Shepherd was most recently at Adam’s restaurant in Birmingham, where he successfully retained the restaurant’s Michelin star and three AA rosettes during his time as head chef. His previous experience includes time spent as a development chef at the two-Michelin-starred Restaurant Sat Bains, as well as two-Michelin-starred The Latymer, under Michael Wigmore, and The Samling. After departing Adam’s in 2019, Shepherd ran a dine at home service, which featured a weekly-changing, seasonal three-course menu delivered direct to peoples’ doors.

Bannatyne Group promotes Karen Wilkinson to operations director: Bannatyne Group, led by Duncan Bannatyne, has promoted Karen Wilkinson to operations director. Wilkinson, who has been with the business for almost 15 years, has been group customer experience and spa director for the past two years. She will now take responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the group, including hotels, health clubs and spas, as well as head office. Bannatyne said: “Karen has been a loyal and extremely competent colleague who brought experience, skills and a new perspective when she was originally appointed to the board. Her knowledge of the business is second to none and she is the ideal person to oversee its operations. I look forward to working closely with her as the company recovers from the effects of the pandemic and three lockdowns and we look to a bright and successful future.”

Mnky Hse co-founder to launch croissant-only cafe: Boris Kofman co-founder of London restaurant Mnky Hse, is opening a croissant-only cafe in the capital. Kofman has teamed up with Roberto Guzzi who also heads up the patisserie section at Mayfair's Novikov, to launch Criss Cross. The venue will open in Old Compton Street in Soho later this month. Croissant options will include strawberry gel and vanilla cream; pecan frangipane with vanilla cream; and whisky and soy curred salmon with cashew cream and seaweed, reports Hot Dinners.

Collection of Sidmouth seafront businesses on market for in excess of £3m: A collection of seafront businesses in Sidmouth in Devon has been put on the market for in excess of £3m. Christie & Co has been instructed to sell Sidmouth Properties, a collection of five freehold businesses. The investment opportunity comprises a cafe-restaurant, ice cream parlour, fish and chip restaurant, beauty salon, retail unit, two holiday apartments and an owner’s flat. The businesses are located on the corner of The Esplanade and Prosect Place. The current owners, brothers Nigel and Graham Stout, have owned the businesses for the past 35 years and have made the decision to bring the portfolio to market to semi-retire. They said: “The collection is recession-proof and has thrived post-pandemic, supported largely by the prime seafront trading position and multiple income streams.”
Christie & Co is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Supper launches Battersea logistics and training centre following 700% revenue growth in past 18 months: London-based premium food delivery service Supper has opened a new logistics and training centre in Battersea as the company reported revenue growth of 700% since February 2020. The Battersea location accommodates Supper’s operational functions and is a social space for its team of more than 100 fully-employed drivers. The centre is equipped with showers, a communal kitchen and a common room with entertainment facilities. The centre also comprises a training room, where Supper said small group sessions will enhance drivers’ skills on an ongoing basis. Chief executive and founder Peter Georgiou said: “Our drivers are essential to the success of our business, so for me it’s been important right from day one to look after and support them with an ethical approach to employment.” Supper has seen a 400% increase in staffing levels within the head office and operations teams since February 2020 and is recruiting for senior roles at its Camden head office and Battersea centre. Founded by Georgiou in 2015, Supper uses a fleet of specially adapted scooters and directly employed drivers to cater for the premium end of the market.

Top Cuvée team take bottle shop concept to Bethnal Green and add underground wine bar: Brodie Meah and Max Venning, who are behind north London wine bar and bistro Top Cuvée, have opened a second site in the capital for their bottle shop concept, Shop Cuvée. As well as stocking an extensive wine list, the site in Bethnal Green also features Cave Cuvée, an intimate limited-cover underground wine bar inspired by the lively drinking spots of Paris and beyond. Cave Cuvée also offers a selection of cocktails and small ingredient-led plates. The shop in Bethnal Green Road will also play host to tastings, takeovers and events to be announced later this year. Meah said: “Bethnal Green is where I’ve lived since arriving in London so I know it’s just what the area needs. We have poured our heart and soul into the space and think it shows. Cave Cuvée is the sort of bar all wine people dream of opening.” Meah and Venning operate Top Cuvée and Shop Cuvée in Blackstock Road, Highbury.

West Sussex fine-dining restaurant to shut after 23 years of trading: Fine-dining restaurant Jeremy's, near Haywards Heath in West Sussex, is shutting next month after 23 years of trading. Owners Jeremy and Vera Ashpool are seeking to retire after 40 years in the hospitality industry. Head chef Jimmy Gray is also moving on and the Ashpools said in a post on the restaurant’s website they had decided against recruiting a new kitchen team after being unable to agree terms for the succession with their landlords. Jeremy's, which has been based at its Borde Hill site since 1998, has a Michelin plate recommendation in the 2021 Great Britain and Ireland guide and holds two-AA-rosettes. It will run its last dinner service on Friday, 1 October. However, the couple's next door Cafe Elvira will reopen following a two-week break – on Wednesday, 20 October. The plan is to use the restaurant space for pop-up suppers, nutritional courses and cookery classes. The Ashpools said: “Our sincerest thanks to all our friends and customers – some still remember our first fledgling bistro, Elvira's, in Cuckfield, followed by the first Jeremy's at the King's Head and then Jeremy's at the Crabtree, Lower Beeding. The journey has been rich and rewarding but the time has now come to start dreaming about grilling sardines on an open fire at sunset on a sandy far away shore! Thanks for sharing good times with us.”

Doner Summer lines up sixth site: Doner Summer, which describes itself as selling vegan junk food, is to open in Sheffield, opening in Kelham Island on Friday, 17 September. The brand already has sites in Leeds, York, Huddersfield, Hull and Manchester and announced the official opening date of the 92 Burton Road venue on Instagram. It said: “We’ve had a few setbacks but it’s almost ready. We’ve fully gone to town on this store with the interior, it might just be the most beautiful shop we’ve ever put together.”

Wagamama launches partnership with UK Youth: Wagamama, The Restaurant Group-owned business, has launched a partnership with UK Youth, a charity with a vision that all young people are equipped to “thrive and be empowered to contribute at every stage of their lives”. Founded in 1911, UK Youth has a network of more than 8,000 organisations and nation partners in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Wagamama said it will be supporting North Tyneside Young Carers Centre by providing restaurant space for workshops and one-to-one mentoring sessions. The company will also support the centre’s young carers by facilitating cooking events and food discovery sessions and focus on the benefits of healthy eating and how to cook up simple and nutritionally beneficial meals. It said these cooking events will not only teach valuable kitchen skills but also provide insight into potential career paths. The chain will also be supporting the London-based Mosaic Trust by providing restaurant space for workshops, networking and mentoring events and food education sessions for its young members with a focus on vegan and vegetarian eating. The company said the key objectives of the new partnership is to bring the “purpose of UK Youth to life by providing platforms and spaces to youth organisations across the UK”. 

Devonshire Hotels & Restaurants Group launches training academy to help fill vacancies: Devonshire Hotels & Restaurants Group has launched a training academy to help it fill roles in its estate across Derbyshire and Yorkshire. The academy will welcome its first students this autumn for its in-house training programme, which will lead to a recognised industry qualification at level 2 apprenticeship. On successful completion of the course, permanent full-time jobs will automatically be offered. Managing director Richard Palmer said: “The loss of the labour force from Europe and the impact of the pandemic on the hospitality sector being one of the last to reopen has created a ‘perfect storm’ impacting on our ability to recruit and find people with the right skills. We want to get across the message that they are lots of fantastic careers in hospitality and we can help support people to realise those aspirations.” The company operates The Devonshire Arms Hotel in the Yorkshire Dales, the Cavendish Hotel in Baslow, The Devonshire Fell in Burnsall, The Devonshire Arms in Beeley and the Devonshire Arms in Pilsley.

Sam Moss to reopen historic Hampstead pub: Entrepreneur Sam Moss is set to reopen an historic pub in Hampstead, north London – The Old White Bear in White Road, which has been shut for seven years. The pub has been at the centre of a community campaign to have pints pouring there again. Moss, who operates the Albert pub in Primrose Hill and the Haverstock Arms, is aiming to be serving customers from late November if building work runs to schedule. A pub has been on the site since 1704. Moss told local media: “We’re excited to be able to bring this pub back to life. We’ve had our eye on it for a little while and when we were talking to the campaigners about the Albert, they kept on mentioning the Bear as well.” Its reopening would mark the end of a saga that has run since 2014. It saw the pub almost turned into flats, a school move into its former function room upstairs and it was twice granted asset of community value status. Moss said the offering would be similar to that of the Albert, with a focus on good quality beer, wine and food. “Hampstead has some great pubs and The Old White Bear should be up there with them,” he said.

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