Story of the Day:
Virtual restaurant brand company secures £3m in seed funding as it looks to become ‘bigger than Domino’s’: Virtual restaurant brand company Peckwater Brands has secured £3m in seed funding. The round, led by Fuel Ventures, tees the business up for its next stage of growth after a boom in sales during the covid-19 pandemic. Peckwater has grown 20% month-on-month over the past year. In the coming year it is set to hire for additional roles across its sales, operations, and brand development functions as it “continues to disrupt the food-for-now and food delivery space”. It will also be expanding its operations into the US and plans to set up a base in Australia and New Zealand. The firm builds data-driven, delivery-only food brands for restaurants across the UK. The orders are cooked and delivered from existing kitchens alongside their day-to-day operations. Sam Martin, who co-founded the business with Leo Bradshaw, was previously UK and Ireland general manager at dark kitchen operator Karma Kitchen and before that head of innovation at UberEats for the UK and Ireland. Peckwater currently has a mix of owned and licensed brands spanning several categories including chicken (Seoul Chikin, Flip the Bird, Wham Bam Wings, Katsu), burgers (Dukes, Proper Tasty) and a shared brand with Unilever (a vegan offer called Ding Dog). Other brands are Chicken Sees A Salad and Say Queso. All are available to restaurants in the UK and the US, and are sold on delivery platforms. Fuel Ventures has invested in Peckwater Brands alongside Pembroke VCT in return for a minority stake. Martin said: “Our aim is to be bigger than Domino’s, but if we’ve done our jobs right you’ll never have heard of us. We don’t believe dark kitchens are the future of the food industry. The virtual brand model is superior in all the ways that matter: lower investment for partners, better for local high-streets and communities, and easier to scale.” Mark Pearson, managing partner at Fuel Ventures, added: “We've seen huge growth in the food delivery market, and are excited by Peckwater’s approach that brings technology and scalability to the space. We’re pleased to be backing a strong management team that shares our level of ambition.”
Third edition of The New Openings Database to be sent to Premium subscribers today:
The third edition of The New Openings Database
, which is produced in association with StarStock, will be sent to Propel Premium subscribers today (Wednesday, 6 October), at midday. It will show the details of 345 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches. The database shows the details of which company has opened a site or its plans to open one in the future. It will have details on what type of site it is and its location. There will also be a website link to the businesses so you can find out more about them. It is published on a monthly basis. The third edition of the database features regional brands in growth, niche cuisine, new and expanding experiential leisure concepts and a number of international growth brands making their UK debut. Premium subscribers also receive access to two other databases. The latest Propel Multi-Site Database
, which is produced in association with Virgate, was sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (1 October). The database contained 70 new companies, bringing the total number of businesses listed up to 2,086. The 398 sites run by those 70 new additions means the entire database of sites has reached 60,531 sites. Premium subscribers also received a 6,100-word report on the new businesses added. The go-to database provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different. In a new feature this year, there is a synopsis of what the business does and significant news associated with it. Premium subscribers also receive the Turnover & Profits Blue Book
, which is produced in association with Mapal Group. The Blue Book, which is also updated every month, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. 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. To subscribe, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Welsh government votes in favour of covid passes for nightclubs and large-scale events: Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford’s plan to make covid passes mandatory for nightclubs and mass events in Wales was last night (Tuesday, 5 October) approved following farcical scenes at the vote. Welsh Labour's policy had seemed set for a humiliating defeat with all three opposition parties pledging to vote against it, meaning the vote would have been tied, leaving the decision with the presiding officer. However, Tory MS Gareth Davies, who was joining the meeting remotely, was unable to get onto Zoom to cast his vote, allowing the plan to pass by 28 votes to 27. The scheme will come into force from Monday, 11 October, at nightclubs indoor non-seated events for more than 500 people, outdoor non-seated events for more than 4,000 people, and any setting or event with more than 10,000 people. A similar scheme got under way in Scotland this week, but England will only follow suit if data suggests action is needed to “prevent unsustainable pressure on the NHS”.
Job of the day: COREcruitment is supporting a cafe business as it looks to appoint a managing director as part of plans to expand from ten to 40 sites. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The business has had recent private equity funding and has great ambitious for both store growth and e-commerce subscription growth. The founder has built a business that is focused around quality product and service without compromising sustainability, ethics and inclusion. The business has an extremely collaborative way of working with all team members playing a major part in the development of the brand and the founder is keen to find a managing director who shares this vision. The managing director will be coming into the business to lead the scale-up – working with the investment team to map out and deliver the next four to five years of growth, leading to an exit. The managing director will need to have strong brand experience in either a restaurant or cafe business as well as good proven experience scaling a business and leading both structural changes and extensive openings. A salary of between £100,000 and £150,000 base will be considered as well as a strong equity stake and bonus on top.” Anyone interested in this London-based opportunity can email Hollie@corecruitment.com
Incipio Group founder set to launch creche and family hub venture: The founder of Incipio Group, the Edition Capital-backed operator of venues including The Prince and Lost In Brixton, has taken his first steps in the nursery and soft play market. Charlie Gardiner, who founded Incipio in 2016, will launch Jaego’s House in Kensal Rise early next year. It will be the first venue for his new vehicle The Little Houses Group and is being branded as a club for all the family. It will feature a jungle gym, crèche, child-minding service and kids’ cinema for children, plus a co-working office, gym, treatment room and library for adults, while a restaurant and waterside cafe will provide food and drink options. Included in the plans is the adjoining Kensal House Nursery, where the curriculum will be led by a nursery manager with more than 30 years’ experience. With both buildings together spanning more than 20,000 square feet, it is hoped the venue will be a community hub accessible to all, with affordable “pay and play” options available alongside longer-term memberships. “The dream for most parents is to find somewhere they love visiting just as much as their kids do,” said Gardiner. “That is exactly how we want our guests to feel about Jaego’s House. I lived in Kensal Rise for six years and walked past this building daily, thinking it could be transformed into an amazing space. My son, Jaego, was born just 500 metres away, and so it felt like the perfect fit. After 18 months of research and being lucky enough to get the building, it feels like now is the right time to launch this concept.” Last month, Incipio relaunched its Kensington High Street nightclub Percy’s, having the previous month launched its second in-house food concept, Nonna Madonna, in West Brompton.
Popeyes UK appoints Aaron Kelly as finance director: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, the US fried chicken quick-service restaurant brand, has appointed Aaron Kelly, formerly of Livelyhood Pub Group, Aspall and Greene King, as its UK finance director, Propel has learned. Kelly joins the brand, which is led in the UK by Tom Crowley and will make its UK debut next month, after previous stints in the sector as interim finance director at Livelyhood, group finance director at Aspall, and finance director for Greene King’s destination pubs, hotels and restaurants division. Propel revealed last month that Popeyes had secured the former KFC site in Westfield Stratford’s food court for an opening in November. The brand, which currently operates circa 3,400 restaurants over 25 countries, announced plans in April to enter the UK this year, with the goal of opening 350 new restaurants in Britain over the next ten years. It is believed to be eyeing an opening in Croydon, opposite fellow US brand Wendy’s, in the town’s George Street.
MJMK eyes Charlotte Street site for Nuno Mendes project: London-based bar and restaurant operator MJMK – the team behind piri piri brand Casa do Frango – is eyeing an opening in London’s Fitzrovia, for its new venture with chef Nuno Mendes, Propel has learned. It was reported earlier this summer that Mendes, executive chef at the Chiltern Firehouse in Marylebone, will open a new Portuguese restaurant in the city in 2022 with the backing of MJMK. Propel understands MJMK and Mendes are in talks to take 30 Charlotte Street for a Lisbon-style restaurant and cocktail bar spread across multiple floors. It is thought the project has the working title Lisboeta. Earlier this year, MJMK opened Cuban-influenced bar La Rampa on the former Sweet Chick site off London’s Oxford Street. It is also set to launch a permanent site for AngloThai, the concept from husband-and-wife team John and Desiree Chantarasak, in London, next year. Propel also understands MJMK is close to securing the former Ice Bar site in Heddon Street for a third site for its Casa do Frango concept. Davis Coffer Lyons and Hanover Green have been marketing 30 Charlotte Street, while Distrkt is believed to be marketing the Heddon Street site.
Greggs looking at international launch potential, ‘firefighting like crazy’ on supply chain issues: Food-to-go operator Greggs has begun conducting early analysis on a possible international launch. Chief executive Roger Whiteside said the business, which on Tuesday (5 October) announced it was planning to accelerate rate of net shop number growth to circa 150 per year from 2022 with potential for at least 3,000 shops, was conducting “some very early analysis to help better understand the possible opportunity” and hired “a small team to research international opportunities”. When asked about potential territories the business was looking at, Whiteside said it was too early to say. Whiteside also admitted Greggs had not been immune to supply chain issues, which had affected both ingredients and labour. He said: “We're all firefighting like crazy because everywhere we turn there's another problem that needs immediate workarounds put in place to overcome the fact those supplies aren't coming through consistently.” Whiteside said the pandemic recovery had “exposed the just-in-time mode of supply chains” and Greggs was looking at renegotiating its long-term supply contracts in order to keep costs down. It told shareholders on Tuesday it has “seen some disruption to the availability of labour and supply of ingredients and products in recent months”. Greggs also cautioned it expects costs to climb at the end of 2021 and into next year. Whiteside said: “Food input inflation pressures are also increasing – while we have short-term protection as a result of our forward buying positions we expect costs to increase towards the end of 2021 and into 2022.” He also said the current business rates system was “out of date” and “isn't responsive enough to market conditions”. He said he hoped the “latest crisis will accelerate the government's appetite to do something about it” but if the system is restored fully, then that would affect the viability of individual units. He said: “It will make some units not profitable when they really should be.”
German Doner Kebab strengthens leadership team with double appointment: German Doner Kebab (GDK), the Hero Brands-backed business, has appointed two new additions to its leadership team to support its international growth ambitions. Mike Brouwers and Georgina Cavendish join German Doner Kebab as the brand gets set to embark on a period of rapid growth across the globe. Brouwers is the new senior director of marketing for GDK’s UK and Europe division. He has more than 25 years of global, regional, and local commercial experience, working with companies including Subway, where he worked as the regional marketing director for Europe, and for Diageo as a global brand director. Cavendish joins as chief financial officer for GDK International from Island Poké, where she worked as the finance director. She has also worked for Hilton Hotels and Benito’s Hat. Imran Sayeed, chief executive of GDK International, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Mike and Georgina to the GDK family. Mike is a strategic thinker and has the knowledge and wisdom to drive our business forward. Likewise, Georgina has a wealth of fast-casual dining and start-up experience. They both will be instrumental in driving marketing initiatives across our network and will further reinforce GDK as a brand of the future.” German Doner Kebab now has more than 90 restaurants worldwide.
Molson Coors UK sees full-year turnover drop 35.2% as on-trade closures result in ‘significant’ reduction in profitability: Molson Coors’ UK business saw turnover drop 35.2% in 2020 as the pandemic “severely constrained” the on-trade business of the company. The company, whose brands include Carling, Coors Light, Cobra and Doom Bar, reported turnover of £937.5m for the year ending 31 December 2020, compared with £1.45bn the previous year. Molson Coors reported a pre-tax loss of £72.6m, compared with a profit of £42.1m the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Molson Coors said the decline was a result of “the pandemic and closure of the on-trade that resulted in a significant reduction in profitability to the business, which has been partly mitigated by performance in the off-trade sales channel, which has benefited from increased volumes as a result of pub closures”. During the year the company incurred exceptional costs of £5.3m, up from £2.4m the year before, relating to the restructuring of its operations. This was primarily down to the company’s previous decision to close its Burton South brewery. No dividends were paid in the year and the payment of a final dividend was not recommended. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The company's core strategy is aligned to plans to return to pre-pandemic trading levels, and the company is progressing successfully against these plans following the easing of lockdown measures in the UK in summer 2021.”
Wendy’s confirms opening of first UK dark kitchen sites: Wendy’s, the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in the US, has confirmed it has launched its first dark kitchen sites in the UK. As revealed by Propel earlier this week, Wendy’s, in partnership with Reef Kitchens, has opened a dark kitchen unit at Regis Road in Kentish Town, north London. It has also now opened a unit in Blackwall in the Docklands area of east London. In August, the brand signed up Reef Kitchens as its first franchisee in the UK. The company 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 said it would build on its successful test of eight delivery kitchens that have already opened in Canada. The company expects Reef to open about 50 delivery kitchens in 2021 in those three regions, with the remainder being opened between 2022 and 2025. Abigail Pringle, Wendy’s president, international and chief development officer, said: “Our collaboration with Reef aligns perfectly with our growth ambitions for the UK and the ever-growing consumer demand for convenient, high quality food experiences. We look forward to providing more access to the Wendy’s brand and serving more customers across London and beyond.” Michael Beacham, president of Kitchens at Reef, added: “This is an important moment for Reef in the UK as we proudly partner with Wendy’s to demonstrate how a restaurant brand can successfully and conveniently scale with Reef’s delivery restaurant platform to reach more customers more quickly. Reef’s first kitchen was launched in the UK in 2016 and we are delighted to support Wendy’s acclaimed return to this country.”
Butchies to open in London’s Borough Yards development: London-based chicken sandwich concept Butchies, which is chaired by Draft House founder Charlie McVeigh, is to open a site in the Borough Yards development, in the next few months, Propel has learned. The new restaurant will feature 45 covers, including 25 in an expansive covered terrace space. It will also offer delivery and click and collect services from the site. An all-day menu of Butchies’ fried chicken burgers and wings will sit among a selection of new specials for the winter season. Butchies has expanded rapidly over the last 24 months, driven in part by the strong presence in the delivery and takeaway market. New launches this year include Earls Court, Camden and Market Halls Victoria. Other committed sites in the pipeline for launch by the end of the first quarter of 2022 include Market Halls Fulham, Market Halls West End, Ealing Filmworks and Borough Yards. Butchies founder Garrett Fitzgerald said: “It’s been a challenging period trading through lockdowns and all manner of crises but I am proud to say we have never closed for a single day. All of this is thanks to the brilliant team that we’ve built gradually since launching as a street food stall in Broadway Market all those years ago.” McVeigh said: “It seems amazing that going into the first lockdown we had only one bricks and mortar site and two years later we expect to be trading from nine or even ten locations in London if a few things go right. This is a huge testament to the hard work and commitment from Garrett and the team, with a special mention for operations manager Ilker Sahinturk, who has been instrumental in creating the strong culture that drives the business forward.” Butchies will join Mediterranean wine bar and restaurant concept Vinoteca at the Borough Yards scheme. It is thought concepts including Indian restaurant Dishoom and the Hart Group’s Barrafina and Parrillan have also been linked to the development. Distrkt are advising on the food and beverage and leisure lettings at the 197,800 square foot mixed use regeneration project.
Boojum back up to 18 sites with first ‘suburban location’ in Dublin, MD reveals new phase of growth: Belfast-based burrito chain Boojum will take its total number of restaurants back up to 18 when it opens in its first “suburban” location – in the Blanchardstown area of Dublin. Founded in Belfast in 2007, the Mexican-inspired restaurant chain originally grew to 18 sites with the opening of a Derry restaurant late in 2018, but that location had closed by February 2020. However, the Blanchardstown restaurant brings Boojum back to 18 sites, most of which have opened since the company’s 2015 acquisition by Modern Restaurant Concepts. It will be the company’s tenth Dublin site, with five in Belfast and one each in Limerick, Galway and Cork. The new restaurant will also see the creation of up to 25 jobs and will cater for both dining in and delivery. Boojum managing director David Maxwell said: “For the last three years we’ve found ourselves inundated with requests to consider opening a Boojum in Blanchardstown. I would go as far to say it was the number one requested area in Ireland for us to open up, and the opening of our new Blanchardstown store is the beginning of a new phase of growth for Boojum. We parked the food truck in Blanchardstown Shopping Centre in 2018 and experienced some of the busiest weeks the truck ever had, which we saw as a big sign a Boojum store would one day work there, and we waited for the perfect opportunity.”
Frankie & Benny’s to offer free breakfast to diners in pyjamas as part of new menu launch: Italian-American restaurant brand Frankie & Benny’s, owned by The Restaurant Group, is to give away free breakfasts to anyone who dines in one of its restaurant in their pyjamas as part of its new menu launch. For one week only from Monday (12 October), guests can try the new menu items – which include the breakfast wrap with cheese, sausage, bacon, potato tots and fried egg in a flour tortilla – for free until midday each day, so long as they enjoy the meal in their pyjamas. No voucher or code is needed to get a free breakfast worth up to £10. The new menu features five other dishes besides the breakfast wrap – French toast served with strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, banana, passion fruit and yoghurt; the mushroom and cherry tomato hash; beef brisket hash; mixed berry pancakes; and the kids yoghurt and fruit sundae.
Mark Jarvis rebuilds his London portfolio with new Belgravia restaurant: Chef Mark Jarvis, who until recently owned three restaurants in the capital, has continued to rebuild his London portfolio. Jarvis, who worked with Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and The Thatch, is preparing to open 1771 in Belgravia on Thursday, 14 October. Jarvis, who has also worked as head chef at Bingham, Blueprint Cafe, Zuma and Texture, will launch his new venture at the Holbein Place site of Liv, where he had been chef director following its reopening in September 2020. Jarvis opened his first solo venue, Anglo, in Farringdon in 2016, followed by Neo Bistro in 2017 and Stem in 2018, both in Mayfair. Anglo remains open but Stem and Neo Bistro both closed in 2019, the latter after Jarvis stepped away from the project. Also in 2019, Jarvis partnered with master sommelier and restaurateur Xavier Rousset – who he worked with at Texture – to reopen the historic 18th century Gunmakers pub in Marylebone. Much like at Anglo, a single tasting menu will be available at 1771 featuring cured trout and potato souffle in a parsley emulsion, oak-grilled langoustine in a shell emulsion and poached halibut with mustard greens and charcoal. There will also be also a sharing menu, with dishes including scallops barbecued in their shell served with seaweed butter or a whole truffle-roasted chicken and jacket potato with cultured cream and caviar.
New immersive Mediterranean bar to open in London’s West End: A new immersive Mediterranean bar is set to open in London’s West End next month. Figaro’s will bring “a vision of the south of France to the heart of London”, inspired by a convivial local bar in the small fishing port of Cassis, Marseille. Hidden away on the first floor inside the old London Trocadero in Shaftesbury Avenue, Figaro’s will have an extensive drinks list with a focus on specially selected wine, with beer, cocktails, spirits and mixers also featuring on the menu. Alongside the drinks there will be a concise menu of bar snacks such as duck rillette, with toast and onion marmalade; and portobello mushroom croquettes. Figaro’s will have space for up to 100 guests.
Giraudi Group to bring Le Petit Beefbar concept to UK next month: Monaco-based hospitality group Giraudi will make its debut in the UK next month with its fledgling Le Petit Beefbar concept. Propel revealed in July that Giraudi, which was founded by Ricardo Giraudi, had secured the former Tom’s Kitchen site in Cale Street, for its UK debut. It was originally believed the group would open a restaurant under its core Beefbar brand on the site but it has now confirmed it will open a Le Petit Beefbar restaurant there. The menu will include Filet Frites; XL Wagyu Ribeye as well as certified Japanese Kobe beef. Le Petit Beefbar will also offer “street food to share” such as jasmine tea smoked bao bun and vegan gyozas. Giraudi said: “In these tumultuous times for restaurateurs, I wanted to give some warmth, charm and cosiness to my favourite brand. This spin-off is all about family and friends enjoying my comforting classics.” Launched in 2005, Beefbar currently operates circa 15 sites, which includes venues in Paris, Rome, Hong Kong, Mexico City and Sao Paulo. The concept, which says its street food sharing style has been breaking “the classic and stiff codes of steakhouses since 2005”, had previously been linked to the Mirabelle site in Mayfair’s Curzon Street. The company launched a variation of its Beefbar concept in partnership with Relais De Paris earlier this year in Paris. At its peak, Tom’s Kitchen, the concept from chef Tom Aikens, operated five restaurants across the UK – four in London and one in Birmingham – as well as one in Istanbul. However, the group was subsequently reduced to just its original site in Cale Street in Chelsea, which closed earlier this year.
Former Silo head chef to lead new sustainable restaurant at The Conduit, venue sees 3,000 visitors in first three weeks: London-based social enterprise The Conduit, which opened last month at a Mercer’s Company site in Covent Garden, will launch its first public restaurant, Warehouse, on its ground floor in November. Housed in a 2,000-square-foot ground floor space, Warehouse will be run by Brendan Eades, previously head chef at the zero-waste restaurant Silo. In keeping with The Conduit’s principles, Warehouse will source its ingredients from carefully selected suppliers with a deep commitment to sustainability. It will have 80 covers and focus its menu on both seasonality and sustainability, sourcing produce from grain producers, day-boat fish suppliers and organic dairy farmers. The restaurant draws its name from the building’s history, a warehouse that served the original Covent Garden fruit and vegetable market. This follows a successful first three weeks for The Conduit, branded as “a home for people who are passionate about driving positive social change”, as it welcomed 3,000 people through its doors in its first three weeks. The six-floor grade-II listed building already has a private restaurant on the fifth floor, whereas Warehouse will be open to everyone.
Atul Kochhar to finally open much-delayed Westminster restaurant later this month, other new sites to follow: The long-awaited launch of Mathura, the latest restaurant from Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar and restaurateur Tina English, has been scheduled for Wednesday, 20 October, with other new sites set to follow. The venue, based in the historic grade-II listed Westminster Fire Station in Greycoat Place, was originally slated to open in the autumn of 2019. However, a double whammy of delays – first due to issues with the building and then the pandemic – set the project back until now. Through Kochhar and his executive chef, Shishir Sinha, the 200-cover restaurant will serve food from India, China, Nepal, Sri Lanka and other countries in the region. Kochhar said: “We are not just creating a menu that pays homage to all the fantastic culinary traditions throughout Asia, we are taking a fresh look at the very best that each country has to offer and coming up with a new take on Indian cuisine. It’s my love story to all the wonderful food I have eaten on my travels, re-interpreted by me and my team to create an innovative dining experience in one of the most gorgeous settings you’ll find in London.” Mathura is the second collaborative project between Kochhar and English, managing director at Kanishka Holdings, after the pair partnered to open Kanishka in Mayfair in 2019. While waiting for his Westminster project to come to fruition, Kochhar opened a second Marlow restaurant, Vaasu in Chapel Street. He is now preparing to open four new sites over the winter and spring months – at Heathrow airport, Wembley Park, Beaconsfield and Tunbridge Wells.