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Tue 28th Sep 2021 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Exclusive – St Austell ‘well on the way’ to recovering to pre-pandemic levels: Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery is “well on the way” to recovering to pre-pandemic levels, Propel has learned. The independent brewer and pub operator reported an underlying operating loss of £2.9m in the 53-week period to 2 January 2021. Turnover for the year was £117.6m, down from £189.6m the previous year. Despite the loss incurred, the company had a “relentless focus on preserving cash” and despite the many trading challenges, the company saw its net debt fall by £4m during 2020. Non-executive chairman Will Michelmore said: “The covid-19 pandemic cast a significant shadow over the business and the sector, throughout the entirety of 2020. After the on-trade was closed for more than three months in the spring, there followed a period of strong trading in the summer and autumn as we sought to grapple with the challenges of providing great hospitality while prioritising the safety of our teams and our customers. The second lockdown and the subsequent reopening in the regional tier system brought further challenges. During such difficult times, communications are critical, and we have worked particularly hard on ensuring we have maintained an open and honest dialogue with all our stakeholders.” Chief executive Kevin Georgel added: “2020 was an extraordinary year, arguably the most challenging in our 170-year history. In response to the unprecedented challenges, our teams, tenants, customers and suppliers have shown incredible resilience and resolve to ensure we will not be beaten by the pandemic. I would like to personally thank them all for their loyalty, dedication, hard work and support in such difficult circumstances.” Georgel said 2021 had been a year of recovery but in line with the whole of the hospitality industry there have been major staffing issues exacerbated by the “pingdemic”. He added this is made more acute in St Austell’s trading region by the lack of affordable housing. Georgel said, “After beginning the year with the on-trade closed there is a sense of frustration that due to circumstances beyond our control, we have been unable to maximise the opportunity the level of demand has provided. However, through the efforts of our people and improved financial controls and disciplines we have managed to convert sales into improved profitability. We believe we have laid the foundations for a strong recovery and despite the challenges we are very optimistic for the years ahead as we look to release the full potential of the business.” St Austell owns more than 180 pubs, inns, and hotels across the West Country.

Industry News: 

Three days to go before release of updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, 73 companies being added: A total of 73 new multi-site companies, operating 417 sites, have been added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-site Companies, which will be released on Friday (1 October), at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, includes international growth concepts making their UK debut, expanding vegan brands, regional coffee operators and a number of brands growing through franchise. Premium subscribers will also receive a 6,200-word report on the new additions to the database. The comprehensive database is updated monthly and 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. Alongside this, Premium subscribers will also receive the third edition of the New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, on Wednesday, 6 October, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. Premium 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 plus 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. To subscribe, email
M&B boss fears city landscape may have changed forever for F&B operators: Susan Chappell has warned, despite the staggered return of workers to offices, city centres may never be the same again for food and beverage operators. Chappell, city divisional director for Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), sounded the warning in a speech at Casual Dining 2021 – but also sees plenty of positives for the industry. “Overall, the company is performing very well,” said Chappell, whose portfolio includes Browns, Nicholson’s and All Bar One. “We’ve seen an upturn in trade these last few weeks, but people are working probably two days in the office and three at home – so Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are very busy, but we’re missing the Fridays. I’m asking myself if it will ever recover and wondering what the future landscape of the city will look like.” However, with her company being essentially a “suburban” one, Chappell believes it to be in better shape than ever and well-placed to offer the kind of special experiences people are looking for in ever-increasing numbers post-lockdown. She said: “In my portfolio, Browns and All Bar One are performing exceptionally well, much better than they were pre-covid, and the sites we have lost are in single digits – mainly where leases have come up for renewal and the landlord has taken it back or we've decided not to renew. We’ve all missed going out and people have craved new places and experiences. They want something a bit different and are going for the premium and treat items off the menu. I don’t think this is just for the next six months either – we’ve not been able to go out for so long and missed so many occasions, I do think we will see this trend continue for some time.” Chappell admits M&B isn’t really looking at new sites at the moment, but rather looking to “strengthen our existing portfolio”, like continuing with the design and offering changes it started introducing to Browns and Nicholson’s sites pre-lockdown. She also hinted at plans to expand the company’s delivery offerings, while menu-wise, the focus is on expanding meat-free and vegan offerings, as well as introducing a broader range of low and non-alcoholic drinks “that aren’t secondary products to what their friends are drinking”. Shortages in staff, produce and drivers are affecting the business like any other, but Chappell insists any disruptions to menus should be minimal.
Findlay – the government is going to be increasingly interested in a number of key areas that will have an impact on pubs: Ralph Findlay, the outgoing chief executive of Marston’s, has said the government is going to be increasingly interested in a number of key areas that will have an impact on pubs and their cost base. Speaking on Propel’s Friday Wrap series, Findlay said: “There are trends caused by how people behave and there are trends caused by what the government does. And the government is going to be increasingly interested in a number of key areas which will have an impact on pubs. Health is probably the biggest both in terms of obesity, and food and alcohol, and we haven’t hardly seen the start of what the government needs to do in those areas yet. That will come through regulation, it will come through advice to people about how they behave when they are out and about, and what they do, and those things make a difference. The environment is going to be another one. And I don’t just mean the governance box ticking aspects of it but what we are going to need to do as a consequence of lowering carbon dioxide emissions and cutting waste and all of those kinds of things. What does that mean for a pub sector reliant on a distribution network, which fundamentally is lorries trundling up and down motorways? I think we have got to understand that. The other one is employment and what the future looks like in terms of rights and pay for employees and you can see the way the wind is going on this. All of these are going to have a consequence and that is going to put pressure on margins. My concern on some of that is we end up following a sort of European model where the price of what we do becomes actually quite high because it needs to be to make the margins work. You have those continental cafes where the beer is €7 to €9 a drink. Is that where we are going and what does that mean for pub behaviour? Fundamentally it means pubs will have to continue to do what they have always done, which is concentrate on improving the experience, improving the quality of what they do, with the understanding that people want more from the occasions when they go out, than they previously used to get. In a way it was ever thus but I think it is going to be accentuated in the future.”

Study reveals the ten most important things for F&B customers in the digital age: A survey into what consumers look for in a brand’s online presence has revealed the ten most important pieces of information for companies to share. Menus, price range, opening hours, location/directions and how to make a booking are the five most crucial, according to data consultants CGA and reputation experience management group Reputation. These are swiftly followed by reviews, discounts and promotions, checking if a venue is currently open, covid-19 safety measures and both images and videos of food and drink served. According to the survey – which quizzed 2,000 people who visit a bar, restaurant, pub or hotel at least once every six months – digital reputation plays a central role for consumers eating and drinking out. “Digital channels kept consumers and businesses connected over the past 18 months,” said Anthony Gaskell, Reputation’s EMEA managing director. “Now, as businesses reopen and consumers engage in more leisure activities, we are seeing those same platforms are providing a wealth of information that enhances the customer experience.” Andy Dean, CGA client director, added: “The pandemic has dramatically accelerated the use of technology in hospitality, and consumers and businesses alike have become much more confident in using it to engage with one another.”
Operators urged to take part in third haysmacintyre’s snapshot survey of sector: Hospitality specialist haysmacintyre is inviting operators to take part in a snapshot survey of the sector following the industry’s reopening. This is the third of a series of snapshot surveys to track developments in sector sentiment during the recovery. Previous snapshot surveys have examined operators' views on the outlook for the sector, with a key focus on the return to normal trading, new innovations, government support initiatives and fresh challenges. The latest survey will deliver an update from operators on future prospects for the sector, as well as taking soundings on the issues being faced on the road to recovery. The survey consists of four key questions covering future prospects, current challenges facing operators and long-term impacts of the pandemic, and takes about 60 seconds to complete. The survey will remain open for a couple of weeks and operators can choose whether to remain anonymous or submit their details. Results will be shared with participants alongside expert commentary from haysmacintyre’s specialist team. To complete the survey, click here.

Lyon suggested as site for new French culinary ‘centre of excellence’: French president Emmanuel Macron is to create a “centre of excellence” to preserve his country’s culinary traditions – with Lyon earmarked as the potential host city. Macron made the announcement during a visit to Lyon at the weekend, promoting the idea that chefs should train like professional athletes and “win international honours for France” – just as the nation’s footballers did at the last World Cup. The president envisages “a training centre of excellence for all the culinary industry”, telling a gathering of leading chefs it would be aimed at “training for major competitions and preparing you as athletes to win prizes on behalf of France”. The centre is the brainchild of Guillaume Gomez, the Élysée Palace’s award-winning head chef, who has worked in the presidential kitchens since the age of 16. Macron suggested Lyon, France’s third largest city and the self-declared “gastronomic capital of the world”, as being a natural home for the centre due to its 4,000 restaurants – including 17 with Michelin stars.
Ramside Estates’ Impeccable Pig become first north east pub to scoop AA hospitality award: The Impeccable Pig in Sedgefield, County Durham, has become the first north east pub to land the AA Inn of the Year award. The news comes as the upmarket restaurant and bar marks its third anniversary since being transformed in a £1.5m investment from Ramside Estates. Pierre Bertolotti, general manager at The Impeccable Pig, said: “The past year has been incredibly difficult for the entire hospitality industry, so this award is a testament to the hard work and determination of our whole team and suppliers. Everyone prides themselves on going above and beyond to provide the best possible guest experience, so it’s brilliant to have our efforts validated.” The 25th annual AA B&B Awards also saw a North Yorkshire double, with The Timble Inn in Timble named Friendliest B&B of the Year and The Hare in Scawton made Restaurant with Rooms on the Year. AA Guest Accommodation of the Year awards also went to Blairgowie’s Ivybank Lodge (Scotland), Newton Abbot’s Bulleigh Barton Manor (England) and Ruthin’s Firgrove Country House B&B (Wales). 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a new restaurant business that is looking to appoint a head chef. The position is based in west London and the business is looking to pay up to £60,000 base salary plus a “good” package. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The restaurant will offer a main restaurant with 60 covers plus private dining, Live DJ in the basement, separate wine bar, open-plan counter kitchen and a purpose-built 2.5-metre open-fire charcoal range. The business will be closed on Mondays and only open for dinner on Tuesdays and Wednesdays then open all day from Thursday to Sunday. The head chef will manage a team of eight chefs and will ideally enjoying training and developing the team. The position will ideally suit a senior sous or head chef who has experience in a live fire cooking environment and a good understanding of modern European food. They will work closely with the consultant executive chef to plan and develop opening menus and the head chef will then take the lead and have the opportunity to personally influence the culinary direction. They must be available for interviews and join within six weeks’ time to help with pre-opening and team development for opening on 3 December.” Anyone interested can email

Company News: 

West Midlands-based McDonald’s franchisee sees turnover take £10m hit from pandemic: West Midlands-based McDonald’s franchisee Wright Restaurants has reported turnover fell 16% to £53.8m for the year ending 31 December 2020, compared with £63.9m the previous year. The company, which is owned by Douglas Wright, saw operating profit increase to £2.7m from £1.0m the year before. Pre-tax profit was up to £2.4m, compared with £717,000 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Gross margin reduced to 40% from 43% the year before. Wright Restaurants operates 20 sites and only closed its sites during 2020 for eight weeks. A final dividend of £120,000 was recommended and the company paid an ordinary dividend of £459,000. The number of employees was down to 1,913 from 2,085 the previous year. Wright is a long-standing McDonald’s franchisee, launching his first outlet in Lichfield in October 2002. He started out as a cleaner with the restaurant group in 1981 when he was 16, earning 93p an hour. In 2016, he received the highest honour in the global McDonald’s empire, the Fred L Turner Golden Arch award, given every two years to recognise the best franchisees in the organisation’s entire system.
Wright Restaurants features in Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is updated monthly for Premium subscribers. Wright Restaurants has turned over an average of £47.7m in the past five years, generating an average pre-tax profit of £1.1m. The Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, provides a five-year overview of turnover and profit, ranks 410 companies according to turnover, pre-tax profit and profit conversion. It also provides details of directors’ earnings and highest paid directors. 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.
Drop founders look to expand concept across London: Restaurateurs Ian Campbell and Will Palmer are seeking further sites for their Drop bottle shop and wine bar as they look to expand the concept across London. Propel understands Campbell and Palmer are working with David Rawlinson and Gabriella Sether, of Restaurant Property, and are seeking sites of between 1,000 and 2,000 square foot. The duo are believed to be targeting Brockley, Bermondsey, Dulwich, Ealing and Peckham as part of their plans to add to their existing Drop venue in Drury Lane. The site is also the centre of operations for its Drop one-hour wine delivery service. Drop has raised £1.25m to support its London expansion plans. In May, Campbell and Palmer revealed they were planning to launch a franchising model for Drop. as it aims to expand across the UK. Under the plan, franchises will be encouraged to open their own bar and store, which will function as a delivery hub. Drop is aiming to operate 85 sites nationally within the next three years, with plans to open 15 new franchise sites over the next 12 months across the south east. The first local hub has opened in Guildford, Surrey. The national franchise expansion follows a crowdfunding campaign that saw Drop raise more than £500,000. Campbell and Palmer, who are also behind 10 Cases wine bar and bistro and Parsons seafood restaurant in Covent Garden, launched Drop in 2016.
Caravan looking to open its London roastery to the public, launch Canary Wharf site and expand outside capital: The team behind London-based restaurant, bar and coffee-roasting concept Caravan is planning to open its Islington roastery to the public, launch a new Canary Wharf site and expand beyond the capital. As well as five “Caravan” restaurants across London, the group also runs Vardo in Chelsea and a roastery headquarters in Islington, both of which opened in 2019. Next up, according to co-founder Laura Harper-Hinton, is a Canary Wharf restaurant. Propel understands the business has secured the ex-Carluccio’s site in Canada Square, underneath The Alchemist. Also on the to-do list is a public opening for the roastery, followed by expansion outside London. Speaking at Casual Dining 2021, Harper-Hinton said: “We open in Canary Wharf in January, which is a site we signed pre-pandemic, and we’re looking outside London and internationally too. Expanding outside London is something we definitely want to do, but we’d be looking to create a hub with retail, a roastery, a coffee shop and a coffee school. In 2019 we moved into a 9,000 square foot warehouse, which became the home of coffee roasting for us, and we want to open it to the public, which we will do in the next couple of months – with a coffee school, bakery and drinks lab.” To support its growth, the business is looking to appoint its first marketing director. Harper-Hinton said: “We didn’t know a lot about e-commerce before the pandemic, but we’re using social media and marketing a lot more. We’ve built the brand up over the last ten years and now it’s about taking it to the next level. We were able to pick up a lot of coffee subscription sales during the pandemic, but small plates aren’t something that transfer easily into a delivery model, so we chose not to go down that road. Instead, we took the time we couldn’t open the restaurants to re-evaluate and look at parts of our business we knew needed some work, like training programmes. In essence, we’re doing exactly what we were before the pandemic and intentionally so, as it’s still very much a bricks and mortar concept.” Harper-Hinton proudly states the business did not make anyone redundant during the pandemic – and only scaled back from 450 to 260 team members due to people leaving the country. Since April it has created 262 jobs and is basing its “massive recruitment drive” on personality rather than experience. “It’s been a huge challenge from a training perspective,” she added. “A lot of people didn’t know how to open a bottle of wine, but we employed people with a good smile and good energy. We always put personality over skill – we don’t have uniforms and we encourage people to bring their personalities to work – then teach the skills as best we can. We take people on board who have the right attitude and are looking for a new challenge.”
Franzos opens tenth site, eight in pipeline: Flame-grilled chicken concept Franzos has opened its tenth site, on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, with a further eight sites set to follow, Propel has learned. The latest restaurant has opened at Neatscourt Retail Park. A spokesman told Propel: “We started our first place in 2012 in Ilford, east London, and that is our main store. It used to be a 30-seater place in 2012 but now it’s a 250-seater restaurant. We are opening four more stores in the following locations – Whitechapel, Romford, Canterbury and Luton – and a further four are getting finalised.” As well as piri piri chicken, Franzos specialises in burgers, wraps and pittas.
Wingstop UK eyes Scotland debut site: Lemon Pepper Holdings, which is rolling out US chicken brand Wingstop across the UK, is eyeing a debut in Scotland, in Edinburgh. Propel understands the brand has applied to open a site in the Edinburgh St James Quarter scheme, in the unit previously earmarked for @Pizza. Earlier this month, Propel revealed Wingstop is to open a site in Wood Green, north London, in Capital & Regional’s The Mall scheme. Wingstop also has openings lined up in the Cabot Circus scheme in Bristol, and at the former Bella Italia site in Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens. Wingstop opened its 13th UK site last month, in the Bullring, Birmingham. It currently operates seven dine-in sites in the UK, plus six delivery kitchen units. In May, Wingstop, which has more than 1,500 locations worldwide, announced a minority investment in its UK franchisee Lemon Pepper Holdings. The company said the investment followed strong performance in the UK and underscored the brand’s confidence in the market as a key growth lever for global expansion.
Coffi Lab to open third site, lines up fourth: James Shapland, the co-founder of Coffee#1, the Caffe Nero-owned brand, will open a third site for his fledgling coffee concept Coffi Lab next month, and has secured a fourth. The business, which is led by Hannah Gillard, will open its third site in Frogmore Street, Abergavenny, on Saturday, 9 October. Propel understands Coffi Lab is also on-site on the former NatWest site in Llandaff High Street, for another opening before the end of the year. Earlier this month, Shapland told Propel that Coffi Lab was planning to open 50 sites over the next five years. Sites in Llanishen, Malvern and Whitchurch are also thought to be under offer. Shapland co-founded Coffee#1 in 2000 and went on to grow it to 15 sites across Wales and the south west, with an annual turnover of £5m a year, before selling it for an undisclosed sum to Welsh brewer and retailer SA Brain in 2011. He launched Coffi Lab earlier this year in Monmouth, with a second site following in the summer in Marlborough, Wiltshire. 
London-based pasta restaurant Al Dente to open second dine-in site: London-based pasta restaurant Al Dente is to add a second dine-in restaurant to its portfolio. Owner Filippo Gallenzi will launch the outlet in Monument Square in mid-October. The new dine-in location will join the already open Goodge Street eatery, as well as three dark kitchens across London. At just 50 square metres, Al Dente Monument will offer 12 covers as well as alfresco terraced seating for a further 12 diners. Al Dente makes its pasta fresh daily and the Monument location will offer staple dishes including the Fusilli al Pesto, and the Gnocchi ai Quattro Formaggi. Gallenzi said: “We are excited to bring our traditional handcrafted pasta to Monument, and expand our family. We are especially looking forward to the flexibility that this new location offers.”
Trio of F&B and leisure operators secure sites at Solihull shopping centre: A trio of foodservice and leisure operators have secured sites at the Touchwood Shopping Centre in Solihull. Dirty Wild Wings, the rapidly growing concept from FB Holdings, has agreed a deal with landlord Ardent for a 272 square foot site in the Mill Lane section of the centre. It will be joined by Alioli, an independent tapas bar concept, which has taken a 3,790 square foot unit. Meanwhile, gym operator Xcelerate will open its second site in the UK, at Touchwood, taking a 7,819 square foot unit located off Solihull High Street. Andrew Hilston, managing director of Ardent, said: “Touchwood is positioned to play a key role within Solihull Council's bold ambition for growth in the coming years, particularly in the run up to the 2022 Commonwealth Games, which will be a major driver of footfall and retail spend in the town centre.” Joint agents representing Ardent and Touchwood are Cushman & Wakefield and Knight Frank.
Manchester-based bakery Pollen to double up: Manchester-based bakery Pollen is to open a new pastry kitchen and cafe at the city’s Kampus garden neighbourhood. The independent sourdough and viennoiserie bakery is relocating its pastry team to Kampus and launching an expanded brunch menu, as it expands on its Ancoats offer. It will be taking over a 2,600 square foot unit on the ground floor of Kampus. Customers will be able to see the patisserie masters at work within an open kitchen. The new location, which will look out over the Kampus garden, will feature a cafe with indoor and outdoor seating and room for workshops and supper clubs. Pollen co-owner Hannah Calvert said: "We'd been looking for a place in the city to grow for a while and Kampus really appealed to us. The support we've received from the Manchester community over the years has been incredible, so it’s great to start the next chapter with a new cafe, even more cakes and pastries in a pretty incredible setting.” Fit out of the store is set to begin next month, with opening planned in early 2022.
Chipotle confirms Canary Wharf opening: Chipotle will open its third bricks and mortar site in the UK this year, later this week, after confirming it will open in Canary Wharf. As revealed by Propel in June, Chipotle will open on the former Caffe Nero site in Jubilee Place. It will become the brand’s 12th UK site and its easternmost restaurant location in London when it opens on Wednesday (29 September). Earlier this summer, Chipotle opened sites in Chiswick and Clapham, as it looked to expand into London “villages”. The Clapham location is the smallest free-standing Chipotle restaurant in the world at 712 square foot. The business also launched its second delivery kitchen in London in conjunction with Foodstars, in Bermondsey, earlier this year. In June, Brian Niccol, chairman and chief executive of Chipotle, said he was optimistic about what the brand was going to learn in the UK after its Clapham and Chiswick restaurants had got off to “really good starts”. Thomas Rose, of P-Three, acted on the Canary Wharf deal.
Reef signs deal with national car park operator APCOA to lease space for dark kitchens: Reef, the SoftBank-backed tech firm, which earlier this summer agreed to become Wendy’s first UK franchisee, has entered a partnership with car park operator APCOA, which will allow the parties to jointly turn existing locations into distribution and logistics centres, including dark kitchens. The companies said the deal supports APCOA’s vast network of 1,500 locations across the UK and Ireland. They said the type of new applications Reef will deploy includes its Reef Kitchens, on-demand food and retail services, vertical farms, and micro fulfilment centres. A statement said: “By working together, APCOA and Reef will positively shape the future of UK towns and cities, turning them into more sustainable and inclusive centres of community and opportunity.” Serdar Erden, EU chief operating officer for Reef Technology, said: “We’re thrilled to be partnering with APCOA to expand our customer reach and rethink the way urban space like car parks are used.” Earlier this year, Reef Technology, which was founded in Miami, signed a deal with Capital & Regional, the London-listed landlord that owns seven shopping centres. Finding alternative uses for parts of Capital & Regional’s malls in Luton, Bedfordshire, and Wood Green, north London, heads the to-do list. Discussions are also under way to utilise space at the landlord’s centres in Walthamstow and Ilford. Last month, Wendy’s, the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in the US, said it had signed up Reef Kitchens as its first franchisee in the UK. Wendy’s said it had signed a development commitment with Reef to open and operate 700 delivery kitchens over the next five years across the US, Canada and the UK. Wendy’s expects Reef to open about 50 delivery kitchens in 2021 in those three regions, with the remainder being opened between 2022 and 2025.
Twins behind Zuaya and Como Garden set to open third London site in November, eye further expansion: Twin brothers Alberto and Arian Zandi, who run Latin American bar and restaurant Zuaya and Italian eatery Como Garden in Kensington, are poised to open their third site in the capital – and plan further openings next year. The Spanish siblings will launch El Norte, their first restaurant specialising in their home country’s cuisine, in Mayfair’s Dover Street in November. El Norte will focus on Spain’s northern regions, offering a “sharing style menu of traditional Spanish dishes” with a “modern and luxury twist”. The Madrid-born brothers are also believed to have their eye on several other central London locations, as well as some international sites, and are hoping for further expansion over the next 12 months. Their first London restaurant, Zuaya, opened in Kensington High Street in 2018, followed by Como Garden in the building next door in April this year – the opening having been delayed by the covid pandemic.
Salvi’s to open third site in Manchester: Manchester-based Italian restaurant group Salvi’s is to open its third site in the city, with a new food hub in Deansgate Square. The 3,000 square foot site will include a restaurant, bar, deli and exhibition space. It will join Atomeca and Deansgate General Stores at the development. The new Salvi’s site, which is set to open in November, will serve “high-quality, authentic Italian cuisine from pizza via cicchetti (traditional side dishes), to gelato, accompanied with Italian wine, beer, and spritz, as well as a deli offering takeaway treats, altogether bringing an authentic slice of southern Italy to Deansgate Square”. The dining area will feature an outdoor private dining room, the first of its kind in the city, available for private dining and pasta-making classes. The business already operates eponymous restaurants in the city’s Corn Exchange and Northern Quarter. Maurizio Cecco, managing director of Salvi’s, said: “Manchester is our home and we’re always looking for new potential sites so this seemed too good to miss. Deansgate Square gives us the opportunity to bring together all the best aspects of Salvi’s, plus we can now roll out some new ideas that we’re really excited about.”
MasterChef winner Kenny Tutt opens third restaurant: MasterChef winner Kenny Tutt has opened his third restaurant. Inspired by modern beach clubs and the art deco scene on Miami’s South Beach, Bayside Social in Worthing has 180-degree beach views from its glass-fronted building and terrace, as well as offering indoor seating for 40 diners. Dishes include goats’ cheese croquettes with South Downs honey and thyme; chicken taco, cucumber and chilli salsa, feta and chicken crackling; and Sussex coast mackerel, turmeric butter and fennel. Tutt, who won MasterChef in 2018, also runs Pitch restaurant in Worthing, which opened in 2019, and recently opened his first Brighton venture, Ox Block, as part of the recently refurbished Shelter Hall – the debut venture by Sessions Market, the ethically driven and immersive food hall concept backed by Imbiba and led by former Deliveroo managing director Dan Warne.
Bon Vivant opens seventh Edinburgh site: Bon Vivant, the Edinburgh-based group that owns and operates bars and restaurants across the city, has opened a new venue. Luckenbooths, which has 140 covers, has opened in High Street and offers a “twist” on much-loved classic dishes with a menu designed to celebrate the best of Scotland’s local larder. Taking its name from the locked booths that used to exist on the ground floor of the tenement buildings that formerly stood at the north of the Royal Mile, Luckenbooths brings a “contemporary, family friendly offering” to the city centre with an outdoor terrace. The all-day menu includes Campbell’s haggis and beef shin bon bons; a vegan burger; and a crispy duck bowl with Asian ‘slaw, watermelon and toasted sesame. Bon Vivant director Anthony Hester told the Edinburgh Evening News: “We have taken all of the classic elements of casual dining fused with the high quality, excellent customer service of our other venues and created a space that is central, contemporary and most importantly, family friendly.” The company, which is headed by Stuart McCluskey, operates six venues across the city including Lady Libertine, The Bon Vivant and The Devil’s Advocate.
YO! introduces East London Liquor Co canned cocktails to restaurants: YO!, the global multi-channel, multi-brand Japanese and Asian food group, has partnered with East London Liquor Co to offer its canned cocktails in its restaurants. The cocktails come in a variety of flavours including Grapefruit Gin & Tonic and East London Vodka & Rhubarb. Victoria Mathers, head of restaurant marketing at YO!, said: “Our food might be authentically Japanese, but we’ve discovered these cocktails hailing from east London offer the perfect complement.” Andy Ahmad-Walsh, national off-trade manager at East London Liquor Co, added: “We all know how well some food and drink pairings go together, but at East London Liquor Co we believe you should enjoy our drinks however you want to.”
Ji The Chicken Shop opens in Bristol: A Taiwanese fried chicken business that started in London’s Chinatown has opened a branch in Bristol’s Queens Road. Ji The Chicken Shop was started in 2018 by Roger Jen, who was missing the traditional fried chicken of his Taiwan home. The company now has eight sites in London, Cardiff, Leeds, York and Cambridge, the majority run under franchise. The company’s website said it is ‘”shaking up the fast food fried chicken industry to bring customers the best fried chicken in the market”. The first Bristol branch, which is next to Woky Ko, has taken over the Queens Road site previously occupied by the Coco bubble tea cafe opposite Bristol University Wills Memorial building. Although it’s essentially a takeaway, there are also a couple of tables for people to dine in. Using traditional frying methods from Taiwan, Ji Chickens specialises in fresh chicken with a crisp coating made using “secret” spices and marinades. The Bristol menu includes chicken legs, breast, thigh, wings and even crispy chicken skin and garlic chicken gizzard.

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