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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 18th Oct 2021 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Strong September for managed hospitality venues but rolling 12-month sales down 10%, still difficulties for London sites: The UK’s leading managed restaurant, pub and bar groups achieved a significant bounce in sales in September, the latest edition of the Coffer CGA Business Tracker reveals. The Tracker, produced by CGA in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM, shows total sales up 8% on the pre-pandemic levels of September 2019. They were also 42% higher than in September 2020, when businesses were operating under strict covid restrictions. It marks a second successive month of year-on-year increases, with restaurants and pubs each recording total sales growth of 8%. For pubs, it was a notable improvement on growth of 3% in August 2021, while bars were again the best performing segment of all. September trading was boosted by growing consumer confidence, good weather and staycations, but there was a clear gap in performance between London, where sales dropped 1% on September 2019, and the rest of the country, where they were up 12% – indicating the capital continues to be hit by a shortage of office workers and tourists. The Tracker also highlights the long-term impact of the covid crisis, with managed groups’ rolling 12-month sales to the end of September 2021 down by 10% on the 12 months before that. CGA director Karl Chessell said: “These figures demonstrate the resilience of managed restaurants, pubs and bars in the face of strong headwinds, and show consumers’ appetite for eating and drinking out remains high. It’s especially pleasing to see revitalised sales for bars after enduring restricted trading for so long. However, difficulties for London and a 10% shortfall in rolling 12-month sales are reminders we are not yet out of the woods.” Trevor Watson, executive director at Coffer Corporate Leisure, added: “These are encouraging figures, but it is absolutely vital the sector continues to grow revenues to combat higher utilities costs, input costs and wages costs, alongside restored VAT and business rates, which are now hard wired in for the next 12 months.”

Industry News:

Latest edition of Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book now available to Premium subscribers: The latest edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, is now available to Premium subscribers. A further 21 companies have been added, taking the number of UK pub, restaurant, cafe and hotel operators featured to 427, with a total turnover of £30bn. The Blue Book, which is updated every month – on the second Friday of the month – has begun to reflect the economic damage of the pandemic with 208 companies reporting a profit and 219 reporting losses. The Blue Book 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. To subscribe, email

Sector urged to use Hospitality Apprenticeship Week as platform to champion diverse and exciting careers on offer in industry: The sector is being urged to use Hospitality Apprenticeship Week as a platform to champion the diverse and exciting careers on offer by UKHospitality. This year’s event will seek to challenge misconceptions around roles in the industry and how working in hospitality is #MoreThanAJob. Throughout the week, UKHospitality will join the campaign and support it across three main pillars of educate, engage and employ. Operators are being urged to educate by showing what hospitality apprenticeships look like and highlight the diverse career pathways available; engage by helping showcase to younger jobseekers the exciting career opportunities open to them and employ by sharing job opportunities and encourage more people to start apprenticeships in the sector, either direct from further or higher education, or moving from a part-time role and making the decision to join full-time as an apprentice. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Hospitality Apprenticeship Week is a fantastic way for people to learn about the wide range of roles in the sector, at a time when there are many opportunities to join our post-covid renaissance. Hospitality has embraced apprenticeships as a gateway into roles as well as for upskilling its existing workforce. After the past 18 months, building and training our workforce will be key to the recovery.” Hospitality minister Paul Scully added: “Through our Hospitality Strategy, the government is working hand-in-hand with the sector to help it make the most of its creative and innovative spirit as it builds back better from the pandemic. A hospitality apprenticeship can be the golden ticket to a great career.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is looking for a food and beverage director for a five-star luxury property in Kuwait. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The hiring business is looking for an experienced, dynamic and food focused director to support the opening of this luxury property. The food and beverage director will be responsible for the management and profitability of all food and beverage operations in the hotel, including restaurants, bars and banquet operations. They will lead, develop and inspire the food and beverage team to consistently provide exceptional guest experiences and to maintain the highest standards of health, safety and hygiene. They will partner with the culinary and commercial teams to develop attractive food and beverage concepts, menus, promotions and services, in line with brand guidelines. They will prepare the food and beverage business plan and manage the food and beverage budget effectively to support achievement of the hotel’s commercial targets. The food and beverage director is a key role in the hotel leadership team. The business is looking for an accomplished leader who is passionate about food and beverage, with at least three years’ experience in a similar role and an internationally recognised degree or diploma. The base salary is 2,400 Kuwati Dinar a month tax free (circa £70,000 a year) plus family benefits, relocation and schooling.” Anyone interested can email

Company News:

Thomas – businesses have forgotten the true meaning of the words ‘hospitality’ and ‘experience’: Steve Thomas has told Propel his new vehicle DDE Group (standing for Dance Drink and Entertainment) has been launched in part to rallying against what he sees as businesses “failing to understand who the customer is and what they want”. Thomas, the founder of Luminar, will launch DDE, which is backed by Hugh Osmond’s Osmond Capital, with two openings in Peterborough, with Rhythm Room — a bar concept with a focus on entertainment; and Liberation, described as “a proper discotheque in the true sense of the word”. Thomas, who started Luminar in 1988 with a £22,000 bank loan and built it into a business that at its peak had more than 300 venues and a market value of more than £800m, said people have forgotten what the true meaning of the words hospitality and experience are. He told Propel: “People talk about providing hospitality and an experience, but do they really know what that means. You have to be passionate about the customer experience through every stage they are with you. They want to be entertained, but I feel due to the change in the licensing laws that has been lost. The fact people can stay in places until 3am and 4am now, I believe erodes the experience. There should be a rhythm to the night out. I think people have stuck steadfastly to how they think a nightclub should operate. It is like going to the theatre, you need to build up the evening through a number of acts, and time it so you have people leaving on a high. Too many people are doing one too many acts, and diminishing the experience.” Thomas won’t put a number on how many sites he hopes to do and is concerned about finding the right connection between his concepts and the DNA of prospective towns they might fit into. John Gripton, director of Osmond Capital, who is leading the investment, told Propel: “While we’re in a time of great uncertainty, that also means a time of opportunity for the right operators. There is no one in the industry with more experience than Steve and we’re backing him to lead the recovery of the sector.”

Neat Burger plans further 30 London sites after new funding round: Lewis Hamilton-backed plant-based concept Neat Burger is planning to open a further 30 sites across London, after raising $7m (£5.1m) in a new funding round. The latest raise will also fund international expansion, including moves into the US, UAE and Italy, and product development. It was led by Rajeev Misra, chief executive of SoftBank Investment Advisers, with a $70m valuation, an increase from a $27m valuation last year of Neat Burger. Misra joins existing founding investors including Henrik Fjordbak, former chief operating officer of Joe and Juice; David Yeung, founder of Green Monday; Wellness Holding, founders of Technogym; and Anthony Di Iorio, co-founder of cryptocurrency Ethereum. The company, which was started by Hamilton in partnership with The Cream Group and Beyond Meat investor Tommaso Chiabara, recently opened its fifth site, in London’s Victoria. New restaurant sites to sprout up over the city over the next 12 months include openings in Canary Wharf (November); Westfield Stratford (December); Bishopsgate, Ealing, Kings Road, O2 (January); with Queensway and Waterloo to follow in the spring and further sites to follow in Covent Garden, London Bridge, Clapham, Hammersmith and Shoreditch. Regional expansion is also planned for 2022. The 14 new restaurants will more than triple the brand’s existing brick and mortar portfolio, which currently include sites in Oxford Circus, Soho, Camden and Finsbury Park. The business is also set to open 16 additional delivery kitchens across the capital as of early 2022, made available through Deliveroo and virtual kitchen partner Reef, which is also backed by SoftBank. Hamilton said: “The response to Neat Burger since we opened has been incredible. I’m really proud of the boundaries we have been able to push in this space and the plans for expansion both in terms of sites and delivery are really exciting.” Misra added: “I am thrilled to be part of the Neat team as it continues to develop and expand in the UK – the vegan market is growing rapidly, and it is an exciting time for the brand.” Neat Burger co-founder Zack Bishti told Propel the business is likely to double its head office in the next six months In line with its expansion plans. Earlier this summer, it opened its first regional site, through the Deliveroo Editions in Reading. Talking to Propel in March, Stasi Nychas, co-founder of Neat Burger, said dark kitchens would be the best way for the brand to test the water when it comes to launching outside London. Marc Rogers, of MKR Property, acts for Neat Burger. 

Collins – judging the right pitch for a site has never been more important: Nick Collins, chief executive of listed cafe bar operator Loungers, has said judging the right pitch for a site has never been more important when taking into account the longer-term impact. Speaking on Propel’s Friday Wrap series, Collins said: “High streets have been changing for a while now. For the last four or five years the number of voids has been increasing. Pitch is so important. We have always worked very hard to make sure we judge pitch correctly. I think that is more important now than ever because it could be so easy to pick a unit and think this is brilliant and then within six to 12 months find you have voids on either side. You need to think about the long-term impact.” Collins said from a property point of view “what we are seeing is better prime pitch opportunities in target locations where we have been looking for a long time”. He said: “For example, in St Neots in Cambridgeshire, where we are opening in a couple of weeks’ time, I have probably looked at properties there for the last seven or eight years, waiting for the right one to come about. The Dorothy Perkins site there came about through the Arcadia company voluntary arrangement, and for us, for a Lounge it is the best pitch in town. We are benefiting from that and I think also from our plc covenant strength. Sometimes where we struggle when we go to a town is where they have a very separate disjointed retail pitch and leisure pitch, then it is quite hard because for a Lounge in particular we want to benefit from footfall throughout the day. So, what we are looking for ideally is somewhere, which marries the two well. Where we get most excited is when we go to a location which we think is marginal or the data suggests it will be marginal but our gut feel says we think we are going to trade well here, and we open and it is successful. And when that happens, and that happens a lot, that gives us a huge amount of encouragement in terms of the potential scale of the Lounge business in particular.” Last week, Loungers hit the 150-site mark for its Lounge brand, with an opening in Ringwood, Hampshire.

Simply Hooked to expand across the UK following investment fund cash injection: London-based investment fund Pario Ventures has targeted six new Simply Hooked sites across the UK after investing in the modern seafood restaurant concept for a second time. Founded in 2017, Simply Hooked started life as a New York restaurant before expanding to Brussels and, last month, opening its first UK site, in Hackney Wick. Pario Ventures, meanwhile, has been looking to increase its hospitality portfolio and already has investments in companies such as Scottish brewer and retailer Innis & Gunn, White Rabbit Pizza and NU Unlimited. The fund plans to develop and advance in the UK market and is eyeing six Simply Hooked sites, as well as the acquisition of several bars. It has invested in Simply Hooked once before, when the company was first starting out and looking to raise £400,000. Pario Ventures co-founder Kevin Doyle said: “I have known the founders for some time after originally supporting them on the original Simply Hooked. Their breadth of experience in this sector is second-to-none, and supporting them for further growth makes perfect sense for us as a business. The experienced entrepreneurial management team behind Simply Hooked has a proven track record for exit, and I believe they are ready to scale this business.”

West Berkshire Brewery MD steps down, new operational structure in place: West Berkshire Brewery managing director Tom Lucas has stepped down with a new operational structure being put in place, Propel has learned. David Bruce has taken on a more active role as executive chairman while Davina Clifton has stepped up from head of sales to sales director and interim managing director. In addition, head of production David Sopko has joined the company's board in the role of operations director and Gordon Montgomery has joined the company as interim financial director. A spokesman told Propel: “Tom Lucas has resigned from the business to focus on his health and well-being and to take on new challenges. We wish him well for the future.” Lucas became managing director of the business in 2018 after being promoted from operations and finance director.

Giggling Squid opens 40th site, launches new delivery-only kitchens: BGF-backed Thai restaurant brand Giggling Squad has opened its 40th site, in Hornchurch, Essex. The restaurant is in the High Street in the former Azzurri Group-owned ASK Italian premises. Giggling Squid has ambitious growth plans and recently added Mere Green and West Bridgford to its Midlands portfolio, with restaurants in Chelmsford and Welwyn Garden City due to follow before the end of the year. In addition, Giggling Squid is launching two further delivery-only kitchens, in partnership with Deliveroo Editions, to add to the one it already has in Wandsworth, which launched in March 2020. The first, in Acton, started operating this week, while a second, in Brent Cross, will be open to orders from November. Co-founder Andy Laurillard said: “In what has been the most turbulent times for hospitality, we’re delighted we are in a position to open new restaurants. We take our offering to where we feel we can add real value to the food scene, and so we’re excited to reach new communities with our Giggling Squid experience.” The brand is also believed to be looking at locations in the north, with Harrogate, York, Newcastle and Durham previously mooted as possible destinations.
Giggling Squid features in Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is updated monthly for Premium subscribers. Giggling Squid has turned over an average of £25.1m in the past five years. 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.

Big Easy to head outside London with Bluewater launch: Big Easy, the London-based barbecue concept, is to open its first site outside the capital, with a launch at the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent. As revealed by Propel last month, Big Easy has agreed a deal with Landsec for a 6,100 square foot site, which is due to open in November. Situated on the upper level of Bluewater’s Plaza, which is focused on entertainment dining and anchored by Showcase Cinema De Lux, Big Easy will include 236 covers over two levels, with a live music stage on the mezzanine. The venue will feature a bar serving more than 500 different bourbons, tequillas and whiskeys, a separate rum bar, and a theatre kitchen. Big Easy founder Paul Corrett said: “Bluewater is a great destination with a significant following among Big Easy fans, so making the commitment to open our first restaurant outside London there was an easy decision.” Last month Big Easy opened its fourth site, at Westfield Stratford. It is thought the company is also exploring a possible opening in Cambridge Circus in the capital. Shelley Sandzer represented Landsec on the Bluewaer deal.

Whitbread finance director to depart: Whitbread group finance director Nicholas Cadbury is to leave the business after nine years in the post. He will take up the role of chief financial officer at International Airlines Group and will leave Whitbread in the spring. A process to determine a successor is now underway and Cadbury will work with chief executive Alison Brittain and the board to ensure an orderly transition. Brittain said: “Nicholas has been instrumental in ensuring Whitbread emerges from the covid pandemic in a very strong financial position, which will enable us to continue to grow and to deliver our strategy. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Nicholas and would like to take this opportunity to express my personal thanks to him for all his hard work and dedication over many years and to wish him all the very best for the future.”

Gazette Brasserie opens fourth London site: Gazette Brasserie, the London-based French restaurant concept, has opened its fourth site in the capital, at the former Vanilla Black site in Holborn. The group, set up by Walter Lecopq and Pascal Even in 2007, already operates sites in Tooting, Putney and Battersea – but this is the pair’s first restaurant outside south London. Before partnering with Even, Lecoq worked with Alain Ducasse and Gordon Ramsay and was general manager at Richard Corrigan's Lindsay House. Vanilla Black, one of the capital’s long-standing vegetarian restaurants, closed last year after 16 years in operation.

EG Group launches first drive thru Cinnabon: EG Group, the forecourt and roadside operator, which earlier this year acquired natural fast food brand Leon, has opened the first drive-thru site for Cinnabon, the US bakery brand. The site opened in Snowhill, Wakefield. It is the 17th outlet to open under the brand in the UK since EG Group signed a deal late last year to roll out 150 sites under the US bakery brand across the country over the next five years. Earlier this summer EG Group launched the Cinnabon brand into Asda, in the retailer’s George Street superstore in Walsall. Cinnabon has since opened a further two sites with Asda, in Bedminster and Leicester. The rest of the UK-based Cinnabon sites operate in petrol stations or roadside services. EG Group and Asda are both backed by the Issa brothers and TDR Capital. Propel revealed last October that EG Group was in talks to relaunch the bakery brand in the UK. Cinnabon previously operated a handful of sites in the UK, including one at the Trocadero in Piccadilly at the start of the previous decade, before retreating from the country.

BrewDog-backed coffee shop concept raises more than £160,000 for roastery project: Coffee shop concept The Coffee Apothecary, which is backed by Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog, has raised more than £160,000 as it looks to add a roastery. The company, founded by Ali and Jonny Aspden, is raising the funds on crowdfunding platform Seedrs. The Coffee Apothecary was aiming to raise £100,000 and was offering 9.75% equity, giving a pre-money valuation of £1.5m. It has so far raised £164,000 from almost 200 investors. The pitch states: “We are ready to move our business forward by turning a building we already own, just behind our flagship cafe, into a speciality coffee roastery. The roastery will add a new revenue stream to the existing two cafes, and will be financially viable from day one, owing to supplying the coffee requirements for both cafes, roasted and packaged on-site; and retail sales of take-home coffee in both cafes. There is also the potential to wholesale to other like-minded speciality cafes in Scotland, the UK, and potentially worldwide.” The Coffee Apothecary opened its debut site in 2014 in the village of Udney Green before adding a second site in Ellon with the funding from BrewDog, which has its headquarters close by. The Coffee Apothecary has generated revenue of more than £2m since launch.

Domino’s sees like-for-like US sales dip for the first time in ten years, introduces higher wages to attract staff: Domino’s has blamed ongoing challenges from the pandemic and growing labour struggles for its first like-for-like US sales dip in ten years. Having reported a third-quarter decrease of 1.9%, Domino’s has introduced wage increases to attract employees, with some of its franchisees following suit. It has also introduced car-side delivery, which saves the time it takes for customers to get their food and employees to get the food out to them. Chief executive Ritch Allison said: “We certainly saw staffing levels were lower than in the first half of the year. The staffing challenges impact our ability to be more aggressive. We’re working on a number of operational improvements inside of our stores to operate more efficiently, with less labour for every order that goes out.” Domino’s reported a 3.1% increase in company-wide revenues for the quarter ending 12 September, to $30.3m, driven by higher retail sales. The company’s net income increased 21.5% to $21.3m, or $3.24 earnings per share, up from $2.49 earnings per share in the same quarter the previous year. The international business reported its 111th consecutive quarter of growth with like-for-like sales up 8.8%. Domino’s also added 323 net new units in the third quarter, bringing its portfolio to a total of 18,380 company-owned and franchised stores globally. Allison added: “We remain optimistic about our ability to have long-term growth. We expect covid to remain a challenge for quarters to come.”

Liz Cottam to upsize and relocate Home, plans new ‘oyster bar’ venture: Home, the flagship Leeds restaurant run by former MasterChef semi-finalist Liz Cottam, is moving from Kirkfield Market to a bigger site, the former Oracle Bar in the city’s Brewery Wharf. Cottam originally opened Home at the site of a former dance hall, billiard club, cinema and Indian restaurant with business partner Mark Owens, former head chef at Michelin-starred restaurant The Box Tree in Ilkley, in 2017. The new venue will feature an outdoor terrace overlooking the River Aire, a wine room and a kitchen situated right in the centre. Cottam said: “We’ve had some amazing times in Kirkgate, but now we’ve outgrown the restaurant and think it’s time to continue our new journey in a space that really suits who we are now and what we do. We want to be at the heart of new developments in Leeds, and this is the perfect space to expand our offer. Brewery Wharf is just the start of an incredible new chapter for Home.” Cottam also owns gastropub The Owl, which opened in Kirkgate Market in 2019, and bake house, dining room and wine cellar concept Cora, which opened in Boston Spa this summer. Before the pandemic, Cottam and Owens were working on plans for a fourth venture, an experimental “Oyster Loft”, which would be based in the space above The Owl. With the restrictions now lifted, they are now revisiting those plans.

Cuban-born chef Luis Pous opens debut UK site: Cuban-born chef Luis Pous has opened the debut UK site of his tiki-inspired restaurant and bar El Ta’Koy. Pous has opened the venue as part of the line-up at 3 Henrietta Street in London’s Covent Garden. Having opened in Miami and The Dominick Hotel in New York, El Ta’Koy takes inspiration from the tiki bars of Hawaii with a menu spanning Asia to Latin America. El Ta’Koy is housed in the cellar of the five-storey 3 Henrietta Street, seating 30 in the bar and dining room. El Ta’Koy serves a sharing menu that is as driven by its tiki-inspired cocktail list. Dishes include Mexican-inspired tacos, tostadas and empanadas alongside bao buns stuffed with pork chicharron. El Ta’Koy’s drinks menu of tiki-inspired cocktails includes a selection of house signatures, such as the Hawaiian-inspired “POG Zombie”, with the island’s staple mix of passion fruit, orange and guava shaken with El Ta’Koy’s four-rum grog, house-made passion fruit sherbets and finished with a dash of absinthe. Pous said: “I have always wanted to open here in London, and to bring a true sense of Cuban flair and the vibrant Hawaiian-inspired tiki flavours to the city.” Scottish chef Mark Greenaway and coffee company Gentlemen Baristas are also among the operators opening at 3 Henrietta Street.

Inn Collection Group reopens historic Lake District pub following major revamp, eyes further expansion across northern England: The Alchemy-backed Inn Collection Group has reopened the 17th century Pheasant Inn in Bassenthwaite following the completion of its first phase of refurbishment. One of the Lake District’s oldest pubs, The Pheasant, which was acquired by Inn Collection Group at the start of last year, has seen its dining area and 20 bedrooms fully revamped, while the second phase will see a cottage within the grounds repurposed to provide a further seven bedrooms. The Inn Collection’s Lake District portfolio also includes seven further sites in Ambleside, Grasmere, Coniston and Bowness-on-Windermere, while outside Cumbria, the 25-site group owns pubs with rooms in Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, County Durham and Lancashire. Further acquisitions are on the horizon too as the group looks to widen its customer base and presence across the north of England. Managing director Sean Donkin said: “The reopening of The Pheasant marks the completion of our first phase to renovate this unique site to enhance its offering for customers while ensuring its provenance and heritage are preserved for future generations. The Pheasant is a shining example of what we love to do as a company, which is investing in exceptional sites like this and unlocking their full potential.” The pub is run by husband-and-wife team Chris and Debra Adamson.

New wine bar opens in Islington: Red Cole British Larder founder Chris Cassells has opened a new wine bar in Islington, which will also house a tasting room and wine school. Must & Lees has opened at 239 Liverpool Road, where customers are able to sample wine and take part in tasting sessions and Wine & Spirit Education Trust courses. Cassells, a former cocktail bar manager, has worked in the drinks industry for some 15 years but decided during lockdown to open a place of his own.
Mikos Gyros opens first north London site, launches new delivery-only kitchen: Greek farm-to-table grill brand Mikos Gyros has opened its first north London outlet, in Camden’s new Hawley Wharf development, which has been swiftly followed by its new delivery-only kitchen, in Greenwich. The Hawley Wharf site takes the company’s restaurant portfolio to seven across London since launching in 2017. The 20-cover venue, specialising in gyros from the Greek Islands, offers dishes including pork, halloumi and vegan options as well as chicken gyros. The fillings can be ordered either in a grilled Greek pita or a hotbox, and each comes served with signature sauces, salads and double-fried oregano chips. Mikos Gyros’ other London outlets are in Brixton, Chiswick, Peckham, Croydon, Shoreditch and Wandsworth.

Bombay Sapphire distillery revamp includes cinema room and interactive cocktail bar: Bacardi has announced an upgrade to its Bombay Sapphire distillery in Hampshire, with a series of new experiences for visitors. These include a cinema room documenting the history of the gin brand and an interactive cocktail bar, where guests can create their own cocktails and take a gin masterclass. The venue has reported a 35% increase in footfall compared with last year. Bacardi home brand UK manager Jay Basson said: “We’re delighted to unveil the updates we’ve made to the distillery to ensure visitors have a truly immersive experience. We cannot wait to showcase the story of our iconic gin in this idyllic Hampshire setting, right where we make every drop of Bombay Sapphire gin.” 

New restaurant fusing burgers with Italian street food opens in Leeds: New Italian fusion burger concept Burgamoré has opened at Trinity Leeds in Albion Street. The restaurant combines traditional Italian flavours with a range of different patties and buns, including the calzone burger and even an ice cream burger, where the bun is topped with gelato, walnuts, sauce and sprinkles. There is also classic Italian street food on offer such as the caponata – a sweet and tangy Sicilian dish of aubergine, carrots, celery, white onion, tomatoes, olives, raisins, pine nuts and red wine vinegar. 
Staycity Group set to open three new Wilde aparthotels, two more in the pipeline: Aparthotel operator Staycity will open a new Wilde venue in London’s Aldgate at the end of next month – followed by another in the capital, in Paddington, and in Manchester early next year. The Dublin-based company has recently signed the lease on a property in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, expected to open in 2023, and is also planning a Cambridge opening in 2025. The Aldgate and Paddington hotels offer 156 and 249 studios and one and two-bed apartments respectively, while the Manchester venue, which will be based in St Peter’s Square, is a 256-room new-build. “These properties are in great locations in both London and Manchester and are perfect for our Wilde brand,” said Jason Delany, Staycity’s director of brand, product and marketing. “We currently operate Wilde aparthotels in Covent Garden, Edinburgh and Berlin and all have quickly become popular destinations.” The Portuguese property, meanwhile, will boast 95 rooms, while the Cambridge site will house 229 apartments. Established in 2004 by Tom Walsh and his brother Ger, specialising in quality short and long-term aparthotel lettings in prime city locations, Staycity will, by the end of the year, be operating more than 5,000 apartments across Europe.

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