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Thu 3rd Mar 2022 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Mission Mars to bring Albert’s Schloss to Liverpool with concept trading ‘phenomenally’, seven Rudy’s sites in legals: Mission Mars, led by Roy Ellis, is to bring its Albert’s Schloss concept to Liverpool. The company has been granted permission by the city council to convert a former food market in Radiant House, Bold Street, into a bar/restaurant and two ground floor retail units. Mission Mars plan to invest £3m in transforming the basement, ground floor, mezzanine and part of the first-floor areas. Ellis told Propel it was planning to breathe life back into the entire six-storey site, which in its heyday was a gasfire showroom, but has been empty since 2019. He said: “It’s a stunning art-deco building on Liverpool’s busiest footfall street, and we’re delighted to be bringing it back to life as Albert’s Schloss. We’ve designed a beautiful space, restoring a 1,000 square-foot glazed atrium while installing a large stage, green room, two large bars, a fresh tank beer system and restaurant dining for more than 500 guests. The first floor will be home to Ludwig’s Tavern, offering artisan Schnapps, a vermouth bar, shuffle board and other Tavern games. Ludwig's Tavern will be available for private parties and other special events. We have plans for roof top roof terrace and a large open air Biergarten around the back. As in other cities, Schloss will recruit the best artistic talent available and offer entertainment seven days a week.” Ellis said one of the 300 square-foot retail units would be home to Haus of Schloss, which will offer bespoke furniture and homeware similar to that found in Albert’s Schloss. Plans for the second unit are still being finalised, but one idea being floated is a Deluxe Bavarian Gelato Store. Work will start shortly, and Albert’s Schloss Liverpool will open its doors this autumn. The Liverpool Albert’s Schloss will add to its venues in Manchester and Birmingham, which Ellis said were trading “phenomenally”. The Birmingham site, which opened in December, is doing net turnover of £180,000 a week, £35,000 of which is on food. Meanwhile, the Manchester site is trading 20% up on pre-covid levels. Ellis said the company was continuing to look for a site for Albert’s Schloss in London and revealed he had been in talks on the Old Brewer’s Yard site in Covent Garden that will now be home to Diageo’s new £73m Guinness microbrewery and cultural hub. Ellis said he had looked at a similar project “but on a slightly lower budget”. Ellis also revealed he has seven sites for Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza in legals, including in Preston and Sheffield. A new restaurant opening in Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester this summer will also feature a pizzaiolo training academy. He added Rudy’s sales were up 30% on pre-covid levels, 20% of which he attributed to being through delivery with Deliveroo. Mission Mars also operates the Zumhof Biergarten in Digbeth, Albert’s Schenke in Liverpool and Albert Hall in Manchester. 
 

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Harri partners with Ann Elliott: Harri recently partnered with hospitality strategist, connector and advisor, Ann Elliott, to interview 21 directors of HR, people, talent, and management. The aim was to unveil the recruitment and retention challenges that HR departments have faced and will continue to face in the coming years. A Harri spokesman said: “The results found many recruiters are still feeling the impact of Brexit as the number of EU workers in hospitality continues to fall. And as the talent pool shrinks, HR directors are under growing pressure to recruit and retain suitable candidates. Fortunately, businesses are now taking important steps to address the staffing crisis, redesigning their recruitment models and adapting to employee needs. The report showed the ongoing recruitment and retention challenges presented by Brexit and covid-19 have given employers no choice but to adapt to their employees’ needs. In 2022, if people aren’t at the forefront of your business, then you can just expect to fall behind. You can read the full findings and discover the effect of Brexit, the pandemic and changing employee expectations in our new white paper.” If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com

One day to go before seventh edition of The New Openings Database release, to show details of 279 new sites, 15,720-word report included: The seventh edition of The New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, will show the details of 279 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches for Premium subscribers when it is published on Friday (4 March), at midday. 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, and a website link to the businesses so you can find out more about them. It is published on a monthly basis. The seventh edition of the database features expanding hotel and leisure concepts, several international growth brands making their UK debut, niche cuisine and regional brands in growth. Premium subscribers will also receive a 15,720-word report on the new additions to the database. 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 last Friday (25 February). The database contained 49 new companies, bringing the total number of businesses listed up to 2,341. The 227 sites run by those 49 new additions means the entire database of sites has reached 64,253 sites. Premium subscribers also received a 3,750-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. There is also 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. 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 single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and 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 group editor Mark Wingett. 

AA reveals 2022 Rosette Award winners: The AA has announced its 2022 Rosette Award winners, recognising the restaurants achieving the highest culinary standards in the UK. Two restaurants have been awarded four rosettes, while a further 15 have been awarded three rosettes. Allium at Askham Hall in Cumbria and Ácléaf at Borringdon Hall in Plymouth received four rosettes. Three rosettes were awarded to Blas Restaurant in St Davids, Pembrokeshire; Bohemia Restaurant in Jersey; Dean Banks at The Pompadour in Edinburgh; Gem 42 in Newport, Wales; Goldsborough Hall, Goldsborough, North Yorkshire;  Henrock, Windermere, Cumbria; Prévost @ Haycock, Wansford, Cambridgeshire; Tamburrini & Wishart, Balloch, West Dunbartonshire; The Auldgirth Inn in Dumfries; The Camellia Restaurant at South Lodge, Lower Beeding, West Sussex; The Dial House, Reepham, Norfolk; The Glenturret Lalique Restaurant, Crieff, Perth & Kinross; The Horn of Plenty in Tavistock, Devon; The Ingham Swan, Stalham, Norfolk; and The Nut Tree Inn, Murcott, Oxfordshire. Simon Numphud, managing director at AA Media, said: “We are delighted to recognise those restaurants that are achieving the highest levels of gastronomic excellence in our country. Congratulations to all those working at these establishments, who continue to show the breadth and quality of the British culinary landscape.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a client in the foodservice sector hiring an account director. The company is looking for an energetic, financially astute and driven account director for this complex, national business and industry contract. The role is to develop and lead the team, overseeing 20-plus sites across catering, welcome services and retail. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The ideal candidate will have a sound understanding of the foodservice sector, but will also understand this role is about more than a catering offering. A hotel background with a broad skillset may suit well.” This is a national role and the company is looking to pay up to £75,000. For more information and to apply, email dan@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Aprirose in race for circa 100-strong SA Brain pub portfolio: Real estate investment company Aprirose is in the race to acquire the freeholds of circa 100 pubs from Welsh brewer and retailer SA Brain, Propel has learned. Earlier this year, it was reported that Song Capital and Cerberus Capital Management, the former owner of Admiral Taverns, were close to agreeing a deal. Sky News reported on 14 January that pub industry sources said a transaction could be signed in the coming days. However, Propel understands that this time line changed after Aprirose also expressed an interest. It is understood that Song Capital, established by real estate executives Daniel MacKinnon and Tom Pritchard, and Cerberus retain an interest too. MacKinnon previously worked with Alan McIntosh, the founder of Punch Taverns, while Song Capital’s other partners include Neil Hyman, a former Slaughter & May partner, and Glyn Barker, chairman of Berkeley Group, the FTSE-100 housebuilder. A successful transaction, which is thought to be valued in the region of £100m, will generate substantial proceeds for Brains’ family shareholders, with the funds expected to be used to pay down debt. The pub freeholds being acquired by Song Capital and Cerberus are understood to represent the core of the Brain’s pub estate, leaving the company as a family-owned brewer with a small residual pub portfolio. SA Brain put the freehold investment of 99 pubs on the market for in excess of £87.3m last year, and a purchase at this level would reflect a net initial yield of 5.75% in return. The portfolio provides an annual gross rent roll of £5,420,000 (£5,410,518 net) and has a weighted average unexpired lease term of 24.35 years to expiries, and 14.35 years to tenant break options. Propel revealed in July the portfolio, consisting of 93 freehold and six long leasehold properties let to Marston’s on 25-year leases, was being put on the market. Aprirose also backs pub company Blackrose, which currently operates circa 40 pubs.
 
JD Wetherspoon has paid £454m in free shares and bonuses to employees since 2006: JD Wetherspoon has paid £454m to its employees in bonuses and free shares since 2006, according to an article in the company’s latest quarterly magazine. The piece, in the spring edition of Wetherspoon News, states: “Since the early 1980s, Wetherspoon has awarded bonuses, free shares and share options to pub employees. The current scheme of paying monthly bonuses to all pub employees, subject to certain criteria, started in 1998, with a government-approved free share scheme introduced in 2003. Bonuses and share schemes provide an extra incentive for people to stay with the company. There are 11 employees who have worked for the company for more than 30 years, 326 for more than 20 years, 3,049 for more than ten years and 8,827 for more than five years. Since 2006, the company has paid £454m to its employees in respect of bonuses and free shares. Of the recipients, approximately 96% were employees below board level, with around 83% paid to employees working in pubs. Employees are eligible for bonuses from the commencement of their employment and are eligible for free shares after 18 months. In the financial year ended July 2021, when pubs were closed for a substantial period and the company made a loss of £136m, bonuses and free shares of £22.8m were awarded, with 79% of employees receiving a bonus and/or shares in that period. At the current time, 15,171 of our 40,670 employees have been awarded free shares in the company. It’s probably true to say that no one earns a vast fortune from these schemes. However, as far as the company is aware, Wetherspoon consistently pays a bigger percentage of its profits to its employees, by way of bonuses and free shares, than any other large pub/restaurant company or retailer. Since the share scheme was introduced, Wetherspoon has awarded 20.6 million shares to employees – approximately 16% of all shares in existence today.”
 
Selby – we are looking at new sites, effort put into innovation and restaurant experience paying off: Mark Selby, co-founder of Mexican restaurant group Wahaca, has said that the company is looking at new sites for both its eponymous brand and DF Tacos concept, and that the effort the business put into innovation and restaurant experience over the past two year is “paying off”. Selby said he was in active talks on a couple of sites for Wahaca, and that the business wasn’t interested in growth for the sake of it but “finding restaurants we can be deeply proud of”. On trading, Selby said: “By October and November last year, we were around 5% to 10% down volume wise, so from that point of view, we were getting back to a good place. And then obviously everything kicked off again, and it was a pretty miserable end of the year. But then, it did recover, and trade shot back up pretty quicklu in February. It was sort of getting back on track almost to our initial trajectory. For half-term up to Thursday night we were trading really well, with really good volumes. The two days of storms were obviously pretty painful, but we still managed to have a pretty good week all things considered. Last week was a better week than we anticipated, then this week we have the tube strikes. So, generally, we are feeling pretty positive, but it would be good to have a straightforward week or two. We put a hell of a lot of effort into innovation and the restaurant experience, and that is really paying off.” As part of that innovation, the business added a delivery offer for the first time during the pandemic. Selby said: “We felt delivery was going to be hard to do with our offer, but obviously covid forced a rethink, and one of the few good things was we had all the time in the world to get it right. We spent a lot of time on the packaging, taco holders and heat retention. We were voted Best Mexican Restaurant at the Deliveroo Restaurant Awards, which highlighted how far we had come, and delivery will probably end up being about 15% of our business going forward. We would have pulled it if we weren’t getting the right metrics, but thankfully we are.” Selby was speaking as the business, which went through a restructure in 2020, posted turnover of £17.7m in the year to 27 June 2021 (2020: £34.7m). Adjusted operating profit was £2.2m (2020: loss of £1.3m), while net profit before tax was £25.7m (2020 loss of £17m).

German Doner Kebab promotes Bunce to global COO to spearhead growth plans: German Doner Kebab, owned by Hero Brands, has appointed Daniel Bunce as its new global chief operating officer to spearhead the brand’s global expansion plans. Bunce, who joined the busines in 2018, is promoted to the role from his current position as managing director for German Doner Kebab UK and Europe. A replacement for Bunce will be announced in due course. His promotion follows a busy 2021 where the brand opened 39 new restaurants throughout the UK, with plans to open a further 78 restaurants this year. The past year also saw the brand deliver a significant rise in UK total sales, up 75% from the previous 12 months, with like-for-like sales for 2021 up 27% on 2020. Now employing more than 3,500 people in its restaurants throughout the country, the brand boasts a development pipeline of 350 franchise units over the next seven years. Bunce said: “2021 was a monumental year for German Doner Kebab, particularly with our UK restaurants, but I am looking forward to our exciting expansion plans as we look to grow across key regions in America, Canada and the Middle East.” Bunce takes up the global role as plans are put in place to open 11 new restaurants in North America and bring German Doner Kebab to Riyadh. The Ajlan Bin Ajlan Group has been signed up as the master-franchisee in Saudi Arabia, with a development agreement of 100 restaurants over the next five years. Further growth is also set to be announced for Ireland and Spain in Europe. Imran Sayeed, group chief executive, said: “Daniel has been a key figure in establishing German Doner Kebab as one the fastest growing fast-casual brands in the UK. His experience has been invaluable and has helped us develop strong franchise relationships in strategic global locations.”

Various Eateries gears up to launch new concept Noci: Various Eateries, the Hugh Osmond-backed business, will launch its new pasta concept, Noci, in London’s Islington, next week (Friday, 11 March). The new concept will launch on the ex-Cote site in Islington Green. As with the company’s Tavolino concept, Noci will again be overseen by former Bancone head chef Louis Korovilas, who has also worked at Locanda Locatelli and Pied à Terre. Noci will be a smaller version of Tavolino, which launched at More London in summer 2020. The company said that Noci – which translates to walnut in Italian – will “draw inspiration from Louis travels across Italy and the rich, regional specialities of the country with a short, seasonal menu of pasta dishes and Sicilian-street food snacks”. Korovilas said: “I can’t wait to open the doors of Noci and showcase some of the dishes I’ve been working on. Noci will have great food at its heart, with an electric atmosphere and spritz list to go alongside.” At the start of the year, Various Eateries secured a site in Bath, for its Coppa Club brand. As revealed by Propel, the business will replace the former GAP store in the city’s Old Bond Street. It is understood that the nine-strong brand hopes to open the new site in May. It has also signed terms for Coppa Club Haslemere, which is expected to open later this year. Propel understands that the business is also exploring opportunities in Windsor, Farnham and Guildford.
 
Tick Tock Unlock secures site for new immersive gaming concept: Leeds-based escape game business Tick Tock Unlock has secured a site in the city for a new immersive gaming concept. The company has agreed to lease 9,500 square feet on the lower basement of the Bank Vaults in Park Row. Tick Tock Unlock has revealed plans to launch The Library of Broken Books, a new theatrical gaming experience located within a historic setting in the city centre, creating up to 30 jobs. The experience is due to launch in May and combines elements of escape games, immersive theatre and gameshows, with “librarians” guiding groups around themed zones including horror, magic, adventure and fantasy, with immersive art experiences and surprises along the way. Tick Tock Unlock directors, Samrien Hussain and Ali Khan, have secured the venue and will collaborate with local colleges, artists, engineers and makers for the project. Hussain said: “Unlike a traditional escape game, where being in a room choosing a single game to play can become boring, visiting multiple stories, with a variety of tasks ranging from physical and skill-based to logical and multi-person puzzles, offers something for everyone. We’re really excited for this next phase for Tick Tock Unlock and hope others will be too.” Khan added: “We are constantly looking to evolve and improve our offering, and this new concept reflects our ethos of pushing boundaries and sparking people’s interest and imaginations.” Tick Tock Unlock previously operated six escape game venues and GPS treasure hunts across four cities, including in Leeds, where the company is headquartered.

Positive first few months of trade for former Great British Menu champion’s debut restaurant: Niall Keating, the 2020 Great British Menu champion and subsequent judge on the programme, has reported a positive first few months of trade for his debut restaurant. Keating left his role as executive chef at Wiltshire hotel Whatley Manor, where he became the youngest chef to win two Michelin stars, after five years in November to launch Lunar in his native Stoke-on-Trent. Keating said he was unsure what reception the 120-cover restaurant, where he is chef director, would get in his hometown, but has been pleasantly surprised. “The first months since launching Lunar have been incredibly exciting, if not challenging at times,” he told Propel. “Opening a restaurant of this calibre in Staffordshire was a bit of a risk as there really isn’t anything like it around, and we weren’t quite sure how customers would react – but so far, it’s been overwhelmingly positive. Bookings have been solid, and tables continue to fill up fast. Everyone seems keen to get out and have a good time after such a turbulent few years. Their energy and enthusiasm to support our industry is exactly what we need.” Open four days a week – for dinner on Thursday and Friday and lunch and dinner on Saturday and Sunday – Lunar is based at the World of Wedgwood visitor attraction and takes its name and concept from the 18th century Lunar Society, which sought to advance science, manufacturing and social reform. Collaborating with Keating on the concept are Ed Myhill and Craig Wilkinson of The Great British Experience Company, whose portfolio includes London-based theatrical dining concept The Murder Express and Staffordshire drive-in cinema, music, comedy and street food experience The Great British Drive In. The duo have also taken on the tender at Stafford’s Victoria Park and opened a cafe, bar and bistro there.

Social Pantry set to open third London site and first full restaurant: Social Pantry, the London-based operator and events caterer backed by Edition Capital, is set to open a third London site later this month. The social enterprise, founded in 2011 by Alex Head, will make its full restaurant debut at Chelsea Harbour, opening at the former Dome Cafe site on Monday, 14 March. Social Pantry already operates two cafes in the capital, at Lavender Hill in Clapham and Cran’s Kitchen in Peckham. As with its other sites, Social Pantry will source from a small group of farmers, suppliers and producers with a focus on sustainable farming and zero waste. Founder Head is also a supporter of Key4Life, a charity which aims to help rehabilitate ex-offenders by giving them mentoring, hospitality training and job opportunities. In 2019, Social Pantry revealed plans to open more sites, expand its events business and further its social reform campaigns after securing £1.1m investment from Edition Capital, which also backs Incipio Group and Whistle Punks.
 
Husband-and-wife team take on second pub, begin search for third as portfolio takes shape: Husband-and-wife team Tom and Ruth Carroll have taken on their second pub, The Fountain in Tuddenham St Martin, just north of Ipswich. The Carrolls, who last year acquired The Catherine Wheel in Albury, Hertfordshire, say they are now searching for their third site. Having secured the freehold of the grade II-listed The Fountain at a guide price of £650,000, they hope to eventually build a “small portfolio of traditional country pubs, with the emphasis on locally sourced produce, excellent home cooked food and great service”. Tom said: “We are absolutely delighted to be the new owners of The Fountain and are looking forward to building on its existing reputation for good food and great service. Similar to what we have done at The Catherine Wheel, high quality locally sourced produce will be at the heart of what we do” Previous owners Scott Davidson and Charles Lewis had run the pub since 2005. Fleurets acted on the deal.

Star Pubs & Bars launches virtual wine tastings to help licensees capitalise on premiumisation trend: Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars is offering leased and tenanted pub operators virtual wine tastings for those wanting to upgrade their ranges and educate themselves on premium wine. The move follows on from a successful pilot run throughout the summer once pubs had fully reopened. They were held at pubs that had seen increased demand for premium wine and were looking to gain a better understanding of the key varieties. The service will deliver sample boxes of 12 wines – a mix of still and sparkling plus new and old – to participating pubs. These will be accompanied by a guide on wine tasting, taster notes, food matching tips and information on the wines and their country of origin. Licensees have the option of booking a free virtual wine tasting with Star Pubs & Bars wine category buyer Roberta Neave. She said: “Licensees are noticing more wine focused customers coming into their pubs and want to be able to talk knowledgably to them about their wine selection and offer them opportunities to trade up. While some people love wine tastings at roadshows, many find them intimidating. They don’t want to look uneducated or feel patronised. Our virtual tastings put licensees in the driving seat and at their ease. They give them the tools they need to upskill their own and their staff’s wine knowledge, and a choice of how they do so.”

Tim Hortons set to open at Manchester Arndale: Canadian quick service restaurant brand Tim Hortons is opening a site at Manchester Arndale in April. SK Group, which is leading the rollout of the brand in the UK, is taking on a 1,921 square-foot unit in the centre. Kevin Hydes, chief commercial officer of Tim Hortons in the UK, said: “Having first opened our Manchester restaurants more than four years ago, we’ve been very keen to bring our brand in to the heart of the city, and we can’t wait to welcome our fans and new guests alike.” Colin Flinn, spokesman for Manchester Arndale, added: “Our goal is to create a diverse tenant line-up, and this letting to Tim Hortons has helped us increase the mix of food and beverage outlets.” Tim Hortons has rapidly expanded across the UK in recent years and now has 49 sites over here. A further eight are “opening soon” – in Dunstable, Milton Keynes, Plymouth, Oldbury, Teesside, Mansfield, Stirling and Portadown, alongside the Arndale site. It has also submitted plans for a drive-thru in Bolton and a debut Kent site, in Broadstairs, but plans for a further drive-thru in Derby are under threat after council planners last month recommended their refusal.

Whitbread agrees deal for Premier Inn in Hastings as it eyes further south coast expansion: Whitbread has agreed a deal for a new Premier Inn hotel in Hastings as it eyes further expansion across the south coast. Planning permission has been granted for the 84-bedroom hotel, located on the current Cornwallis Street car park site in the town centre. The hotel, which will feature a restaurant, will be built by Hastings Borough Council and operated by Premier Inn. “Regeneration is going to be a crucial part of our recovery from the covid-19 pandemic, and this development is a good example of how we are working with partners to achieve this,” said Cllr Paul Barnett, lead councillor for regeneration at Hastings Borough Council “As a coastal town, Hastings has a shortage of hotel rooms, with fewer than 1,000 serviced bed spaces, compared with 7,000 in Eastbourne and 13,000 in Brighton, so this is a welcome additional to our tourism industry.” Louise Woodruff, property acquisitions manager for Premier Inn, added: “With planning consent now granted, we will continue to work closely with the council to move the development forward and look forward to opening the doors.” Premier Inn is also looking for new hotel locations across Sussex, Hampshire and Dorset, with target locations being Bognor Regis, Chichester, Hove, Lewes, Littlehampton, Swanage and Weymouth.

Cosmo opens 20th site, more in the pipeline: Buffet brand Cosmo Authentic World Kitchen has opened its 20th site, in Glasgow’s St Enoch Centre. The self-service multi-cuisine restaurant group’s new site caters for up to 280 diners, with 150 dishes from around the world to choose from. Diners can also watch the dishes being cooked at eight live cooking stations around the venue. Suzanne Wink, operations director at Cosmo, said: “We’re excited to share our global concept with Glasgow. We take so much pride in delivering an exceptional yet affordable dining experience for our guests, and our St Enoch location is well and truly set to tempt your tastebuds.” Cosmo also has sites in Bournemouth, Cardiff, Liverpool, Newcastle, Northampton and Preston in the pipeline, according to its website, while its Leeds and Oxford sites remain temporarily closed.

Kokoro set to open site in Tunbridge Wells: Sushi and bento brand Kokoro is to open a site in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. The company is launching in the former Tech Experts phone repair shop in Calverley Road. Kokoro has already started work on the property and hopes to open in the coming months, reports Kent Live. Kokoro was founded in 2010 by Ray-Kyu Park and now has 47 restaurants nationwide.

Black Country Inns lodges plans for pub in Tenbury Wells: Black Country Inns, the pub division of Dudley-based brewer Black Country Ales, is looking to open a site in Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire. The company has applied to Malvern Hills District Council to carry out internal alterations to the Market Tavern, in Market Square. The building is grade-II listed and had most recently been used as a cafe, reports the Shropshire Star. Black Country Inns operates 42 pubs across the Midlands.

Shetland-based cafe-bar set to double up: A cafe-bar based in the Shetlands is set to double up by opening in the Shetland Museum in May. Stuart Fox, managing director of The Dowry in Lerwick, said he was “delighted” to be expanding and opening a second restaurant. “This has been in the pipeline for a while now and we’re really pleased to see it all going ahead,” he told the Shetland Times. “We very much see the two sites complementing each other, while offering something slightly different.” Museum owners, Shetland Amenity Trust, said the cafe-bar will initially be open during museum hours before expanding to evening meals in the near future. Trust chairwoman, Alison Moncrieff, said: “The Dowry has an excellent reputation for serving wonderful food and drink with an eye on local produce with a Scandi twist, which very much in keeping with Shetland’s heritage. We are confident the new cafe will be a fantastic boost to the museum’s offering.”

Yorkshire-based Layton Hill Hotels reopens second site as luxury wedding and events venue: Yorkshire-based Layton Hill Hotels, which acquired The Old Deanery Hotel in Ripon, North Yorkshire, last summer, has reopened the site as a luxury weddings and events venue. It was shut early in 2021 following months of closure during lockdown but was bought by Hill and Layton with a view to reinvigorating it. The venue features ten individually styled bedrooms, a garden, function room and a red-carpeted reception area. Steph Moon, consultant chef of Galtres Lodge’s Forest restaurant in York, has led the menu offerings, including a “home-made Yorkshire feast” comprising posh prawn and crayfish cocktail, a roast sirloin of local beef and a trio of “back-to-school” style taster puddings. Hill said: “We are very much on track to achieving our initial goal of The Old Deanery being the place to celebrate important life events in Ripon and the wider region. We’ve been overwhelmed with enquiries and bookings.”

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