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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 8th Mar 2022 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Christou – we could have done things faster, coffee subscription set to be a long-term staple of our brand: Pano Christou, chief executive of Pret A Manger, has said the brand could have evolved faster and going forward a key part of the company’s success will be spending more time on “keeping an eye on the horizon”. Speaking on Propel’s Friday Wrap series, Christou said: “Competitors with a broad portfolio have weathered this much better and there's definitely a lot Pret can learn from that as we move forward. People want to come back out and people want to reconnect so for a period of time I think there will still be pent-up demand. Clearly there will be inflation as well, so how companies navigate through that will be key. Brands have learnt a lot from covid. One of my learnings is you can't be complacent. The Pret brand was very successful over a number of years, but maybe we could have done things a bit faster, we could have invested in technology faster, we could have looked at evolving our suburban estate footprint a little bit quicker and taken a few more chances. So, I think the key for me going forward is to spend more time on what I would call keeping an eye on the horizon, on the future. I think it can be quite easy to be kind of sucked into day-to-day issues, which are important, but equally you need to keep an eye on future trends because they come by a lot faster than ever before.” He said uptake on the group’s coffee subscription offer, which launched last year, has been “phenomenal”. He said: “It has given us some customer pain points in the first year or so, as it was busier than we expected. So, we had to put in new and better equipment as the business ramped back up, as staff were on the backfoot a little but I think we it as being a long-term staple of our brand. We launched it late last year in the US and we've launched it in France as well now and it’s doing very well over there. We had zero interaction with our customers digitally before covid and now we do through the coffee subscription. But we are only at the start of learning about our customers and how we can cater to them better, understand their behaviours, understand how they make purchases. That gives us the impetus to innovate around those kind of themes as we get to understand them much more. Pret’s business was built for the first 30 years or so on gut feel and intuition. I still believe that's a very important part of Pret and its future, but I think starting to throw data into the equation as well, and the combination of both, I think, can be a very strong recipe for Pret.”

Industry News:

Next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book shows sector losses of £7.6bn: The next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group, shows the effects of the pandemic, with total losses of £7.6bn being reported by 350 companies. However, a further 198 sector companies are still reporting total profits of £828.9m. The next edition will include 548 companies, an increase of 12 companies compared with the February edition. The 548 companies produce total turnover of £25.9bn. The next edition of the Blue Book will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday, 18 March, at midday. The Blue Book, which is updated every month, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers also receive two other databases – the New Openings Database, produced in association with StarStock, and the Multi-Site Operators Database, produced in association with Virgate, which are also updated each month. 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 to upgrade your subscription. 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 group editor Mark Wingett.

Ann Elliott interviews ten female sector leaders for video to mark International Women’s Day: To mark International Women’s Day today (Tuesday, 8 March), Ann Elliott has interviewed ten female sector leaders about who has inspired them in the industry and how they inspire others. The video features Nisha Katona, founder and owner of Mowgli Street Food; Jane O’ Riordan, chairman at Turtle Bay, Flight Club and Caravan; Penny Manuel, managing director at Soho Coffee Co; Emma Woods, non-executive director, senior independent director and chair at The Gym Group; Helen Jones, non-executive director at Premier Foods; Marta Pogroszewska, managing director of Gail’s Bakery; Zoe Bowley, managing director of PizzaExpress; Susan Martindale, group HR director, Mitchells & Butlers; Karen Jones, executive chair of Prezzo; and Grace Harding, chief executive of Ocean Basket. The video will be sent to subscribers at 2pm today.

Hospitality spend sees strong uplift following lifting of ‘Plan B’ restrictions: Spending in bars, pubs and clubs grew 28.7% – more than double last month’s growth (14.9%) – compared with last year following the lifting of “Plan B” restrictions, according to the latest research from Barclaycard. The data showed the decline in restaurant spending (minus 10.6%) saw a noticeable improvement compared with January (minus 17.5%). The entertainment sector enjoyed a 3.2% uplift, as families kept their children occupied during the half-term break, enjoying days out and trips to the cinema. Meanwhile, spending on hotels, resorts and accommodation grew 7.4%. Staycations continue to be a popular choice for holidaymakers, with more than two fifths of consumers (42%) who are spending more on social or holiday plans prioritising spending on holidays in the UK. Spending on takeaways continued to increase – rising 61% year-on-year. Overall, consumer card spending grew 13.7% in February compared with the same period in 2020. Spending on non-essential items saw strong growth (14.5%) – the sharpest increase since November 2021 (18%) – as Brits spent more on discretionary items, holidays and experiences following the easing of restrictions. Spending on essential items rose 12.0% in February. This increase was largely driven by an 11.2% rise in spend on fuel as well as the easing of work-from-home guidance encouraging more Brits to commute. Consumers are feeling slightly less optimistic about their household finances (63%) compared with January (68%), as rising living costs continue to hamper confidence. Almost half (46%) also expect that inflation will affect their household budgeting in 2022. However, almost one in four (23%) consumers said they will spend more on experiences to create great memories and less money on physical items – a figure that rises to almost four in ten (37%) for 18 to 34-year-olds.

Heineken to launch new lighter lager as Generation Z turns to lower ABV options: Heineken is launching a new lighter lager brand targeting the Generation Z market after finding many 18 to 24-year-olds prefer lower ABV options. Heineken Silver, which is 4% ABV compared with 5% in a regular Heineken and brewed at -1°C, will be rolled out across the on-trade from Tuesday, 5 April. It is being launched in 15 European countries, backed by a £100m marketing push, in what Heineken UK beer brand unit director, Matt Saltzstein called “our biggest launch ever” and “the biggest drink innovation launch in a decade”. He said: “Our clear consumer target is Generation Z – 18 to 24-year-olds – and introducing lager to a generation who, our research has shown, are all about moderating their drinking and want easy, refreshing drinks. It’s a light but premium option. A lot of this generation find traditional lager too bitter and not refreshing enough, and have also grown up with health and awareness big on their agenda. Heineken Silver is about moderating ABV but still providing that familiar lager flavour with extra refreshment.” Heineken expects to see the product rolled out across “thousands” of UK pubs by the end of the year, with a big initial push this month and next. Stephen Watt, on-trade director at Heineken UK, added: “Although showing 40% market share growth in the last five years, light lager has not premiumised at the same rate as other beer categories. Had light lager premiumised at the same rate as continental lager, the market would be worth an additional £40m. Heineken Silver taps into the growing demand for light lager, driven by next generation beer drinkers, as well as the premiumisation trend, allowing operators to trade customers up into a new price point worth more than £100m to the market.”

Avoidable food waste costing hospitality businesses thousands each year: Avoidable food waste is costing hospitality businesses thousands each year, a new study has found. The survey, representing more than 2,300 sites, also revealed only one fifth of sector businesses are currently tracking whether their food waste comes from preparation, spoilage or plate waste. It was conducted by software provider Fourth and the Sustainable Restaurant Association to assess how the industry is coping with food waste, which costs the sector £3.2bn per year. The survey found of the £20,000 that food waste costs each hospitality venue on average every year, up to 75% is avoidable. It also found while 90% of operators have food waste monitoring practises in place, only half are conducting regular food waste audits on site, and only 10% are using technology to monitor their food waste output. It added while 60% of businesses provide staff with some form of training on food waste reduction, 80% can’t say precisely what proportion of their waste is from preparation, spoilage or plate waste, while only 20% are currently separating their waste into these more detailed streams. 

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a contract catering client that is looking to add a retention director to the team. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “It is imperative you come from an operational or business development background within the contract catering industry. Ideally you will also have a base understanding of bids and tenders. This is a client facing role, so the confidence to engage with clients at a senior level is called for along with working with peers across multiple departments at all levels. The responsibility of contract retention will be yours, working with the operators and the business development team to offer the best solutions for the client.” This is a national role, with a salary of up to £75,000. For more information and to apply, email

Company News:

Prezzo to open first dark kitchen site: Prezzo, the Cain International-backed restaurant chain, is set to open a debut dark kitchen site, in London. Propel understands the Karen Jones-chaired business is set to launch a delivery kitchen unit in Brent Cross later this spring. In January, sector peer Azzurri Group launched a delivery kitchen site featuring all its brands – ASK Italian, Coco Di Mama, Pod and Zizzi, with delivery kitchen operator Foodstars at its site in Bethnal Green. Earlier this year, Prezzo appointed Olly Smith as chief culinary officer, who is responsible for overseeing menu development, food and drink standards and kitchen skills. He recently returned to the UK after almost a decade in the US, having moved to New York in 2013 to act as vice-president of Pret A Manger’s US estate, where he was accountable for food, coffee and brand development. 

BloomsYard secures third site, first transport hub opening: BloomsYard, the cafe wine bar concept from Bharti Radix, ex-finance director of Draft House, Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group and Petersham Nurseries, is to open its third site and first one in a transport location. Propel understands BloomsYard is to take a site at Watford tube station, which will see the brand open its first site with Transport for London. Radix launched BloomsYard in the Upper Mall at Watford’s Intu shopping centre in 2020. Last year, the business made its London debut, in Broadgate, after securing a site at 100 Liverpool Street. It operates the cafe in the reception area of the development and offers an espresso bar serving drinks to-go in the main entrance on the south side of the building, connecting Broadgate to the Crossrail entrance. 

Boparan Restaurant Group trials service robots: Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) is trialling the use of service robots. Two robots are being used at BRG’s latest restaurant – Slim Chickens in Guildford. Using artificial intelligence, the KettyBot robots can deliver hot chicken up to 4mph via laser guided accuracy, providing the restaurant team with more time to focus on engaging with and serving customers. Programmed to be fully automated, the robots can engage with guests through spoken conversation, take orders and deliver dishes, both to tables and for collection. Infrared cameras, laser radars and sensors ensure smooth transitions, navigation and obstacle avoidance. Marking the latest step in BRG’s wider investment strategy focusing on innovation and optimisation, the robots will be rolled out across BRG’s estate of more than 100 restaurants nationwide if the trial proves successful. Nick Smith, commercial director of BRG, said: “We are committed to evolving the guest experience while supporting our teams in delivering the quality food and hospitality that Slim Chickens and BRG are famous for. The robots, along with our kiosks, app and table ordering, are the next stage in our digital journey. We don’t plan to replace our team with robots, they are here to support them and make their jobs easier.”

Revolution Bars Group appoints new head of growth and digital, executive team now majority women: Revolution Bars Group, the operator of Revolution, Revolución de Cuba, Playhouse and Founders & Co, has appointed Maria Hamilton as head of growth and digital. Hamilton’s appointment along with that of Alex McMillan as brand operations director for Revolución de Cuba, as reported by Propel this week, sees the group’s executive team move to a female majority for the first time. Hamilton, who joins the business from Fuller’s where she led the digital marketing and customer insight strategy, will be transforming Revolution Bars Group’s digital landscape, “leveraging and optimising the potential of existing and new technologies, as well as developing effective growth strategies to help take digital marketing to the next level”. The executive team is currently 63% female and 37% male – a significant shift from just three years ago when it was 75% male and just 25% female. Rob Pitcher, chief executive of Revolution Bars Group, said: “As a business we know that diversity is key to our future and that we are at our best when we bring together our different life experiences, perspectives and individuality. I’m incredibly proud we’re in a female majority position on our executive team, and excited about the wealth of experience our latest hires will bring to the Revolution Bars Group family.” Last week, the business reported it had returned to profitability as it posted year-on-year sales up to 1 January 2022 of £74.1m, close to pre-pandemic levels (£81.2m). 

South west operator TQ2 takes on sixth site, seventh on way as it plans 12-strong estate in next two years: South West pub operator TQ2 has taken on its sixth site since forming during the pandemic, with a seventh on the way. TQ2, run by Claire Brierley and Anne Tallon, has taken on the lease for The Fountain in Okehampton with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars, with a joint £220,000 refurbishment under way. Brierley and Tallon, who named the business after the postcode of their first site, The Old Conservative Club in Torquay, are also currently in the process of buying a freehold pub in Bideford. Three of their current estate of six pubs are on substantive leases. Brierley said: “Anne and I have complementary skills. She has a background in accountancy and HR, and I have more than 20 years’ experience working in the pub trade. In spite of lockdowns and restrictions, our business has got off to a flying start. Our plan is to have a portfolio of 12 freehold and leasehold pubs in the south west in the next two years.” The Fountain has now closed for four weeks for a refurbishment, which will include a new covered seating area for alfresco eating in the riverside beer garden, creating 12 new covers, and a new restaurant area inside. Cocktails are being introduced in the front bar, while the pub’s six letting rooms are also all being upgraded. Andy Spry, Star Pubs & Bars business development manager, said: “We’re delighted Claire and Anne have added The Fountain to their portfolio. They’ve got a great track record of adding value to pubs and that’s all with the backdrop of the pandemic.”

Pizza Pilgrims appoints Ruth Carpenter as head of marketing: Pizza Pilgrims, the London-based sourdough pizzeria brand founded by brothers James and Thom Elliott, has appointed Ruth Carpenter, formerly of Kerb and Dishoom, as its new head of marketing, Propel has learned. Carpenter has been overseeing marketing at Kerb since last May. Previous to that she was creative campaigns manager at D&D London for more than a year. Prior to that she was with Dishoom for more than two years, including a stint as marketing manager. Last month, Pizza Pilgrims announced it was converting its sole Slice by Pizza Pilgrims site to its core brand. The Imbiba-backed business opened its first permanent site for its New York City-influenced concept Slice by Pizza Pilgrims, in Finsbury Park last summer. The new venue was the first permanent site for the concept following a successful pop-up on London’s Southbank and it also runs the food offer at the London West End site of crazy golf concept Swingers. The company is currently in talks on a second regional site for its eponymous brand in Brighton. 

Bird and Koh Thai sign up for Port Solent scheme: Koh Thai, the tapas chain, and fried chicken and waffle brand Bird, have signed up to open sites at the Broadwalk scheme in Port Solent. The opening will mark a fifth site for Koh Thai, which is owned by High Road Restaurants Group BidCo, the backer of Buenos Aires Restaurants. Koh Thai managing director, Jeremy Sykes, said: “We are excited to announce the opening of the Port Solent restaurant. It will be situated on the waterside and offer the fabulous authentic Thai cuisine that our restaurants in Bournemouth, Poole, Lymington and Southsea are renowned for. We can’t wait to open this Easter and welcome people in to enjoy the Thai dining experience.” The Port Solent opening will also mark a fifth site for Bird, which is owned by the Crown Partnership. Last year, the business secured more than half of the sites operated by Dining Street, the company behind the Richoux, Friendly Phil’s, Villagio and The Broadwick restaurant brands, which was placed into administration. It is thought to be replacing Friendly Phil’s in Port Solent. Bird’s new managing director, Daniella Kay, who was previously at Big Easy Restaurants, said: “We’re delighted to be opening in Port Solent in such a great location and we’re looking forward to welcoming lots of guests through our doors when we open in April.”

Faye Hance joins Drake & Morgan as head of people: Drake & Morgan, the London-based bar and restaurant group, has appointed Faye Hance, previously of Wagamama and Five Guys, as its new head of people. Hance joins the Bowmark Capital-backed Drake & Morgan after a brief spell as head of people at Urban Pubs & Bars. Before joining Urban, she spent more than a year and a half as head of people at Le Pain Quotidien, and prior to that more than five years in the same role at Five Guys Europe. Last June, Bowmark announced it was to inject £2m of working capital funding into Drake & Morgan after it secured approval to enter a company voluntary arrangement (CVA). The CVA saw the circa 20-strong business close three of its 22 bars and restaurants – the Allegory and The Listing, both in London, and The Refinery in Spinningfields in Manchester.

Drop to open Clapham site: Bottle shop and wine bar concept, Drop, is to open a new site, in Clapham. Drop on the Common will be operated under a franchise agreement by Victor Guyonnet, who has managed the flagship site in Drury Lane for the past five years. The new venue will open in The Polygon on Saturday, 19 March. Alongside the standard range of 200 wines, the outlet will also have wine on tap and a list of wines by the glass and carafe that will change weekly. This will be accompanied by a selection of British and French cheese and meat that will also change regularly. Guyonnet said: “Opening my own bar is a dream come true and I’m excited to bring a French-style, modern wine bar and retail space to Clapham. I’ve always loved this neighbourhood for its friendly feel and great vibes.” Drop was launched by restaurateurs Ian Campbell and Will Palmer in 2016. Last year, Campbell and Palmer revealed they were planning to launch a franchising model for Drop. as it aims to expand across the UK. Under the plan, franchises will be encouraged to open their own bar and store, which will function as a delivery hub. Drop is aiming to operate 85 sites nationally within the next three years, with plans to open 15 new franchise sites over the next 12 months across the south east. The first local hub opened last year, in Guildford, Surrey. The national franchise expansion follows a crowdfunding campaign that saw Drop raise more than £500,000. Campbell and Palmer are also behind 10 Cases wine bar and bistro and Parsons seafood restaurant in Covent Garden. Restaurant Property acted on the Clapham deal. 

Ocean Basket makes UK debut: Ocean Basket, the South African casual dining brand focused on seafood, has opened its UK debut restaurant. As revealed by Propel in November, Ocean Basket, which was founded in Pretoria in 1995 by Fats Lazarides, has launched in the former Cafe Rouge site in Bromley’s Market Square. The brand, which is led by chief executive Grace Harding, currently operates 200 restaurants in 19 countries including Cyprus, South Africa, Mauritius, Kazakhstan, Dubai and Malta, under a franchise/licence model. Ocean Basket said it is “committed to offering quality seafood at a great price in a relaxed, modern Mediterranean home”. As previously reported, the business is working with CDG Leisure to find prime spaces, first within the M25, then nationwide in the next two years. Richard Negus, of AG&G, acted for the vendor on the Bromley deal, while Sammy Weinbaum, of CDG Leisure, acted for Ocean Basket.

First-of-its-kind bowling alley to open in Manchester with more sites to follow: A 20,000 square foot bowling alley is to open in Trafford Palazzo, part of Trafford City, which will be the model for more UK openings to follow next year. Peel L&P has secured a deal with bowling alley operator King Pins to open the flagship leisure attraction, which will feature 15 lanes of tenpin bowling, six lanes of duckpin bowling, and a bar serving 20 different beers. And, in what is believed to be a UK-first, it will feature a 26-metre digital screen across the bowling lanes. King Pins founder and chief executive, Matt Jones, said: “We are excited to be launching our flagship venue in Manchester. The venue will be family-friendly during the day. When the evening comes the lights will go down, the music will go up, and the atmosphere will become electric, appealing to evening entertainment seekers.” King Pins at Trafford Palazzo will be the original flagship venue for the brand, with plans to open several more next year across the UK.

Umbrella Project launches debut drinks shop with tasting room: Umbrella Project, the team behind east London bars The Sun Tavern and Discount Suit Company, has launched Umbrella Workshops, its first bricks-and-mortar retail site, in Shoreditch’s Boundary Street. Originally launched as an online store during lockdown, the intimate 12-seat Umbrella Workshops will stock Umbrella Project’s bottled cocktails, natural wine and small producer spirits. An interactive tasting room will allow customers to try before they buy and will also help forge the development of future bottled cocktails, as well as those for sale in the pubs. The tasting room will also be available to hire for private events, with scope for an external bar to be added. It will be daily from midday to 10pm. Founded in 2014, The Umbrella Project is a collective committed to creating new and innovative concepts in London and beyond.

Bannatyne Group reports ‘phenomenal’ start to 2022: The Bannatyne Group, led by Duncan Bannatyne, has reported a “phenomenal” start to 2022, and said it is focused on recovery following a challenging two years as a result of the covid-19 pandemic. Operations director Karen Wilkinson said the group ended 2021 with results that were “much more positive than we had originally thought”. She told Insider Media: “Every month that we traded from April 2021 through to December 2021 we had positive member movement growth. We saw gains of around 12,000 people returning back from when we opened. It has never been seen before in previous years. Trying to manage the complexities with the lockdowns and getting people back through the doors was always going to be a challenge, but fortunately we came through that very well. So I was very happy, we had a benchmark that we wanted to achieve and we surpassed that.” Wilkinson said the company's key objective is about recovery, and it has already surpassed expectations. She said: “We had record sales in January. It was unbelievable in terms of what the expectation originally was to what we achieved.” She added “incredibly robust” covid measures and focus on an “all encompassing” approach at the health clubs through its gym, spa and classes have helped improve customer confidence and drive members back in to the business. Wilkinson said it is also focusing on digitising and automating processes at the clubs to streamline the experience for its customers. Last month, the company opened an express spa at Teesside International airport following a £100,000 investment. Wilkinson said: “We have created a great customer model and, if it does work, we will be moving it into different airports.”

Whitbread opens largest central London Premier Inn, plans further expansion: Whitbread has opened its biggest central London Premier Inn, a 393-bedroom hotel at Paddington Basin. The site, the first of three significant openings for the group in the Paddington and Marylebone area in the next three years, also brings together the latest Premier Inn, Premier Plus and Bar + Block Steakhouse formats. Alex Flach, UK development director at Whitbread, said: “We opened more than 30 new Premier Inn and hub by Premier Inn hotels across the UK and Ireland during our 2021-22 financial year, and we are continuing this impressive rate of growth this financial year with exciting new openings in city centre locations like Paddington, but also in popular regional cities and leisure-led locations across the country. We see real opportunity for our brands over the next few years as the economy continues to recover from the pandemic and as the trend for domestic travel continues. We have refreshed our development targets in London and across the country and are predicting a very busy few years of expansion ahead.” Whitbread said it sees the potential for up to 110,000 Premier Inn and hub by Premier Inn bedrooms across the UK and Ireland as it continues to expand. The Paddington opening follows others across the capital in 2021-22 at Hammersmith, Canning Town, Uxbridge, Tooting, Soho (Berwick Street) and Shoreditch. Outside of the capital, new Premier Inn hotels opened in Oxford, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Blackpool, Milton Keynes and St Peter Port in Guernsey.  

Aparthotel operator strengthens portfolio with Ilfracombe site: Aparthotel operator Monroe Apartments has acquired a site in Ilfracombe, Devon. The company, which operates aparthotels in London and Eastbourne, has bought The Osborne Hotel off a guide price of £975,000 in a deal brokered by Christie & Co. Under the ownership of the Cox family since the 1970s, The Osborne Hotel has 53 en-suite bedrooms, a bar, dining room and 200 capacity ball room. In addition, the hotel includes a two-bedroom owner’s house and disused four-bedroom apartment. Brothers, Stuart and Nick Cox, decided to sell the hotel to pursue new business ventures. Monroe Apartments has already been granted a lawful development certificate by North Devon County Council for internal changes and usage, in order to convert the hotel into an aparthotel.

Brook Hotels expects to return to profitability this year: Brook Hotels has said it expects to return to profitability this year as the business continues its recovery from the pandemic. The company, which operates sites in Chester, Colchester, Oakham and Sutton Coldfield, said the current economic climate “continues to be challenging” and it has taken “extensive steps” to protect the group. Brook Hotels provided the update as it reported turnover of £1.3m for the year ending 26 March 2021 versus £6m the year before. Pre-tax losses increased to £643,000 from £211,000 the previous year. 

Former MasterChef: The Professionals semi-finalist and Cordon Blue alumni to open Brazilian-Japanese restaurant in Mayfair next week: Brazilian chef Luciana Berry, who reached the semi-finals of MasterChef: The Professionals in 2014, will launch her debut restaurant next week. Mano Mayfair will open on Friday, 18 March in the Heddon Street site of former brunch restaurant Rumours, bringing Brazilian-Japanese (Nikkei) cuisine to the heart of London. Dishes will include dried beef in a home-made Brazilian bun, hickory-smoked steak cooked with a traditional Japanese sauce and a Brazilian seafood stew with coconut milk and grilled seabass. DJs are also planned for late-week and weekend slots. Berry came to the UK from Brazil in 2004, and soon after set up catering firm Catering on the Hill in Harrow, specialising in cuisine from her native country. She completed the grand diploma at Le Cordon Bleu in 2013 and now acts as a mentor at the London venue.

Bagel shop concept The Steamhouse to open fifth site, in Cheltenham: Bagel shop concept The Steamhouse is to open its fifth site, in Cheltenham. The company is launching the outlet in unit three of Crescent Bakery in St George’s Place. It marks the debut Gloucestershire site for the concept adding to its venues in Worcester, Leamington Spa and Redditch. Hand-rolling, boiling and baking its bagels fresh every day, The Steamhouse operates from its bakery in Redditch and ships its bagels out to its stores. The menu includes The Reuben – packed with hot pastrami, melted Swiss cheese, pickles and sauerkraut; and The Vegan Roast, stuffed with “fake” bacon, sage and onion stuffing, cranberry sauce and crispy onions. The Cheltenham site is expected to open at the end of April, reports So Glos.

Hooters gets green light to double up in the UK with Liverpool opening: US sports bar and grill chain Hooters has had permission granted to open a second UK venue, in Liverpool, despite objections. Hooters announced plans for 36 new UK locations in 2008 but only Cardiff and Bristol opened, and both have since closed, leaving a single UK branch in Nottingham. But the American chain now has the go-ahead to open in New Zealand House in Liverpool’s Water Street, having been granted a licence to operate to 1am Sunday to Thursday and 2am at weekends. Liverpool city mayor, Joanne Anderson, was among the objectors, calling Hooters a “misogynistic environment” in referring to its iconic hot pants-wearing waitresses. But Karl Barry, a licensing consultant speaking on behalf of applicant Rachael Moss of Beauvoir, told the licensing committee meeting: “This will be a high-level, top-class venue to the city, it’s a well-known brand. We believe we will be good neighbours, and approachable at all times. This is not a US company coming in, this is my client who has spent a lot of money on this as an independent business, wanting to set up for her and her family’s future.”

Manchester-based distillery hails strong start to year, forecasts 58% turnover growth: The Spirit of Manchester Distillery, known for its Manchester Gin, has hailed a strong start to 2022, forecasting 58% growth in turnover to £4.5m for the financial year ahead. Occupying six railway arches under the city’s former train station, the state-of-the-art £1m distillery is capable of producing a million bottles a year. Despite a difficult economic environment, the company attributes its growth to a reinvigorated on-trade market, a strong performance in its export and retail sales and the continued successful execution of its strategic growth strategy. The distillery also owns Three Little Words, a cocktail bar and distillery experience. Jen Heeley-Wiggins, who co-founded the company in 2015, said: “After a turbulent 24 months, we’re definitely seeing signs of recovery in our sectors, both across our retail and distribution channels and in our hospitality offering. We have navigated the environment well, and our business strategy has remained resilient, enabling us to enter 2022 in a stable position.” Forecasting further growth for 2022, Heeley-Wiggins confirmed the company will build on its successful product line and double down on diversification and innovation over the next 12 months. She added: “We are beginning discussions with investors regarding our growth and we’re looking forward to the distillery’s continued success.”

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