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Thu 10th Mar 2022 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Black Sheep Coffee offers pipeline up to franchisees: London-based speciality coffee shop operator Black Sheep Coffee, which has around 50 sites including circa 30 in London, is offering up its entire pipeline to prospective franchisees, Propel has learned. The company, which is exploring a launch in the US, opened its first UK franchise site, in Birmingham earlier this year and said it had lined up a further franchisee for west London. Co-founder Gabriel Shohet told Propel the company was “getting a lot of traction from operators across the country”. Propel understands that under the terms of the franchise agreement, prospective franchisees will have the right to set up and operate a Black Sheep Coffee for an initial period of five years. This is renewable for two further five-year terms. Propel revealed last month Black Sheep Coffee had added a further eight sites to its openings pipeline, The new sites, which will open over the coming weeks, include the brand opening its first outlets in Chester, Guildford, Reading and St Andrews. It will also add a third site in Edinburgh, in Princes Street, and three more sites in London – Cowcross Street, Wembley and Fenchurch. Shohet told Propel last autumn the fast-growing business had 30 new openings planned by this spring. Last month, the company revealed it was part of the government’s Future Fund scheme, which offers financial help for often loss-making but fast-growth “innovative” businesses. Shohet said the taxpayer would see “great return” alongside its other investors. He said the company was looking to raise further funds this year at almost double the value the Future Fund converted, with 46 new shops being planned. Black Sheep Coffee features in Propel’s new UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which is being launched early next month and will be available exclusively to Premium subscribers. The database will be an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK and be updated every two months. The first edition will feature more than 100 companies, providing insight on the offer, locations, cost and other key details and provides almost 25,000 words of content. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription.
 

Industry News:

Next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book to feature 548 companies turning over £25.9bn: The next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group, will feature 548 companies that are turning over a total of £25.9bn. The Blue Book 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 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 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. Premium subscribers are also to be given exclusive access to a new database early next month. The UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database will be an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK and be updated every two months. The first edition will feature more than 100 companies, providing insight on the offer, locations, cost and other key details. The first edition provides almost 25,000 words of content. 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 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.
 
Only hospitality can deliver quick growth, jobs and investment, UKHospitality tells Downing Street: Hospitality is the only industry in a position to provide post-pandemic jobs, growth and investment at speed, UKHospitality has told a government select committee. Tuesday’s (8 March) hearing was also told that keeping VAT at 12.5% for hospitality and tourism is vital if the UK is to remain competitive against international rivals, attract visitors from abroad and encourage Brits to go out and spend. Speaking at a Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) inquiry, UKHospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said: “There is no other industry that will generate jobs, growth and investment at pace across the UK and deliver levelling up in practice.” Nicholls was addressing a DCMS select committee inquiry called Promoting Britain Abroad, looking at how the tourism industry can be supported in its post-covid recovery and how effective the government has been in its pandemic support for the sector. She said lowering VAT for hospitality and tourism during the pandemic had prompted “an immediate uptick in demand” and warned raising it again “will significantly hurt the sector”. She added: “The more it costs people to go out, the less they will do it, the less they have to spend and the slower the economic recovery.” UKHospitality is currently leading a #VATsEnough campaign, ahead of the chancellor’s spring statement on Wednesday, 23 March, to keep VAT for hospitality at 12.5%.
 
NPD Group to host free webinar on outlook for the UK out-of-home market: Insights firm NPD Group is to host a free webinar on the current outlook for the UK out-of-home market. Peter Linden, senior manager at the NPD Group, will give a detailed analysis of the market, how it recovered ahead of European markets, which dayparts are seeing the strongest recovery and what top trends to watch in the year ahead. The webinar will be sent out at 3pm today (Thursday, 10 March).
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a bar and restaurant group to hire a facilities manager in London. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “Ideally you will have previously worked within a hospitality group to lead the facilities management and maintenance function and have excellent working knowledge of health and safety. You will be a people person who is happy to be out on-site visits, collaborating with general managers and operations teams.” The salary is between £45,000 to £55,000 per annum. For more information and to apply, email Paris@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Handa among interested parties for Corbin & King business: Naveen Handa, of leisure company The Cairn Group, is one of the interested parties bidding to acquire London-based restaurant operator Corbin & King, Propel has learned. Handa is part of the family that owns The Cairn Group, which has grown to a portfolio of 32 hotels and more than 30 bars and restaurants across the UK. He is also the backer of East Coast Concepts, a partner in the joint venture behind Vapiano UK, and recently backed the relaunch of the Richoux brand in London’s Piccadilly, under the leadership of chefs Jamie Butler and Lewis Spencer. It is unclear as yet whether Handa would work with Corbin & King co-founder, Jeremy King, if his bid was successful or bring in his own operational team. Propel revealed earlier this month that bids for Corbin & King are due this Friday (11 March). Corbin & King fell into administration in January, with FRP Advisory appointed as administrators. Its collapse was sparked by a row between its management, led by King, and its majority shareholder, the Thai hotel giant Minor International. King wants to buy back his company with finance from American investment fund, Knighthead Capital. The US investment fund has been working closely with King on trying to buy the restaurant business from Minor for well over a year. At the end of January, FRP Advisory was said to have received 35 to 40 expressions of interest in Corbin & King. In 2017, Minor, one of the largest hotel operators in the Asia Pacific, acquired Corbin & King, in a deal valued at circa £58m. Last month, Corbin & King fought off a High Court challenge to a proposed £38m rescue package. 
 
Caffe Nero to resume expansion programme with two new airport stores, six more in pipeline: Caffe Nero will open new stores in Stansted and Belfast airports in June, with a further six openings scheduled in the following months. The company – which already operates circa 1,000 stories in ten countries, including 620 in the UK – is also “actively considering more new sites to restart its new store openings programme”. The Stansted airport store, which was won via a tender process and replaces Starbucks, will be located in the international departure lounge. Following an investment of more than £750,000, it will have a new premium bespoke design across its 1,800 square feet. The 2,100 square-foot Belfast City airport site will be a flagship store, replacing Costa in the main concourse for landside arrivals. Also featuring a bespoke design across, it will be Caffè Nero’s first store in an airport in Northern Ireland. These will be followed by a further six stores openings across the UK, located in “urban centres and market town locations”. Additional new sites are also being “scoped and screened for further openings later in the year”. Gerry Ford, founder and group chief executive, said: “Both airports are predicting passenger numbers will exceed pre-pandemic numbers in the coming years, so these are important sites for us to win. As the UK emerges from pandemic restrictions, we are looking to return to growth by resuming our store openings programme. Customers are talking with their feet, and we are already seeing customer numbers increase week by week. We will be looking at other new sites moving forward as there seem to be a lot of very good opportunities out there.”
 
Pret’s sales in London suburbs and airports rose last week: Pret A Manger’s sales in stores in London’s suburbs rose sharply last week, as the public transport strike compelled more residents to work from home. According to Bloomberg’s latest Pret Index, sales in the group’s sites outside London’s Zones 1 and 2 climbed 13 percentage points to 129%. Sales also climbed in London’s entertainment and shopping district despite a public transport strike, to reach 98% of their pre-covid level. Pret’s sales are now more than three-quarters (77%) of what they were before the pandemic in London’s City and Canary Wharf financial districts. However, the industrial action is likely to have affected demand for coffee and sandwiches in these districts, where Pret’s transactions fell slightly from a week earlier. Pret’s business in London’s airport terminals rose for the sixth consecutive week as international travel continues to recover. Despite flight routes being affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, sales climbed to 85% of their pre-covid base. Sales in London train stations also rose sharply as the industrial action forced commuters to use different routes than the city’s underground railway system, reaching 95% – up ten percentage points on the previous week. Sales across Pret stores in the New York cluster that includes Wall Street and Tribeca are now past the halfway mark (53%) and are expected to keep climbing if cases remain low. However, transactions in Hong Kong have crashed to their lowest level in at least a year (10%) as covid cases soar exponentially and the government enforces strict restrictions in the territory. 

Innventure trading ahead of pre-pandemic levels but escalating costs ‘terrifying’: Chris Gerard, owner of gastro-pub operator Innventure, has told Propel the business is trading ahead of pre-pandemic levels but considers the escalating cost base it faces “terrifying”. Gerard said the seven-strong group had been forced to change energy supplier after its previous provider went bust and said the current level of prices was “crazy”. “We’re trading very well currently – we’re up on 2019 and 2020 – but trying to forecast costs going forward is going to be difficult to say the least”, said Gerard. “There’s significant demand for events and functions and the top-line is very good. But those costs are very much weighing on the bottom line – it’s terrifying. Thankfully, we do have a strong balance sheet.” The company’s sister business – Innventure Vacation Services – has two sites, which Gerard said were trading “very well”, helped by the demand for staycations. Gerard spoke after Innventure reported turnover of £4.4m for the year ending 27 June 2021 versus 5.4m the year before. The business had a pre-tax profit of £582,000 versus a loss of £207,000 the previous year. The company received government support totalling £1.1m during the period.
 
Young’s – gender pay gap figures distorted by furlough: London pub retailer Young’s has said reports of its gender pay gap figures are “misleading” because they have been distorted by the furlough scheme. According to the report, its mean gender pay gap and median gender pay gaps were 60.8% and 73.2% respectively. But chief executive Patrick Dardis and people director Tracy Dodd said the figures were down to a mandatory change in reporting due to furlough and were no way a true reflection of the business or its people. They said: “Covid-19 forced us to close all of our pubs and in order to protect our business, we had to furlough the vast majority of our staff. These staff received 80% of their salaries under the furlough scheme. Given these staff were on furlough, they were considered not to be working and were therefore not included in our gender pay gap report. This meant our gender pay gap figures were significantly distorted as the sample size taken for the report was only circa 40 people compared with circa 4,600 staff we employ. Our figures adjusted for furlough are a more accurate reflection of our business, which shows our median gender pay gap is 5.6% and our mean is 10.9%, substantially better than the national median of 14.9%. This is more in line with the figures we achieved in 2018 and 2019. People will always remain the heart of Young’s and we are proud of our work in promoting and developing staff, regardless of gender or other factors. We are fully transparent about our gender pay gap and remain committed to reducing it.”
 
Bob & Berts aims to open eight to ten more sites this year: Northern Ireland-based coffee company Bob & Berts aims to open eight to ten more sites this year. The 22-strong company, founded in Portstewart in 2013 by Colin McClean, is set to invest up to £500,000 opening a fourth site in England, at The Rock scheme in Bury. The business, which is backed by BGF and chaired by former Tragus Group chief financial officer Mohan Mansigani, has retained ex-Barburrito and Hickory’s property director Jim Bishop to help with its opening pipeline. It is understood to have made offers on a further five sites, and is seeking sites of 2,500 square foot-plus in retail parades, shopping centres and on high streets. 
 
Blackpool Pleasure Beach operator sees turnover almost halve as result of pandemic: The parent company of Blackpool Pleasure Beach has reported turnover almost halved to £18.7m for the year ending 21 March 2021, compared with £33.1m the year before as a result of the pandemic. Pre-tax losses at Blackpool Pleasure Beach (Holdings), which includes the amusement park, Big Blue Hotel and South Shore Mutual Insurance Company, increased slightly to £1.9m from £1.4m the previous year. Revenue for Blackpool Pleasure Beach was down 44% to £18.7m from £33.1m the year before, with visitor numbers falling 56% as a result of the attraction being only able to trade for four months of the period. Turnover at the hotel fell 49% to £2.1m, compared with £4m the year before. Rooms sold dropped by 61%, resulting in an overall occupancy of 23%. Despite the drop in occupancy, total yield per room increased to £186 from £116 the year before. The group received £4.4m through the various government support schemes. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The arrival and the subsequent impact of the global pandemic in 2020 represents both a challenge and a risk to the business. The high levels of uncertainty during 2020 and leading into 2021 have to a degree fallen away although we remain wary of future events and the risk still remains. Government assistance in the form of the furlough scheme, suspension of business rates and the reduction in the rate of VAT have allowed us to weather the storm and when we were allowed to trade begin a recovery. We have had to adapt our business model and make major changes to the way that we operate, these have been successful and give us confidence going forwards.”
 
JKS Restaurants teams up with chef Luke Farrell for first Arcade Food Hall sites: JKS Restaurants, led by Karam, Jyotin and Sunaina Sethi, is to launch two new sites with chef Luke Farrell at the upcoming Arcade Food Hall in London’s West End. Farrell, who teamed up with JKS for the Vietnamese pop-up, VIỆTPopulaire in Soho last October, will open Plaza Khao Gaeng, his debut restaurant at the food hall in Centrepoint next month. Farrell said the restaurant will be “a celebration of southern Thai cuisine” with khao gaeng broadly meaning “curry over rice”. Plaza Khao Gaeng will fill the mezzanine space overlooking the main food hall at Arcade. Farrell’s second site at Arcade will be called Bebek! Bebek! - an Indonesian street food kitchen, which will join a roster of other new concepts in the main food hall. Karam Sethi said: “I first met Luke in 2009 when he was a stagier at Trishna and have since followed what he’s been up to from a distance. He’s an encyclopaedia on all things Thai and south east Asian and the first person I called to work with on the Thai restaurant at Arcade. I can see similarities between the Indian food market in London in 2008 and the Thai food market currently. There is a genuine love for the cuisine and the opportunity to showcase pure, regional Thai food using the ingredients of Thailand is exciting.” It comes as the team behind Arcade Food Hall is being linked with operating the upcoming food hall at the Battersea Power Station development.
 
The Patate signs for third London site as part of flurry of F&B openings in Covent Garden: French gourmet burger concept The Patate is to open its third London site, in Covent Garden. The Patate, which is the brainchild of Paul-Henry De Vassoigne and Martin Le Boulc’h, has agreed a deal with Shaftesbury to make its central London debut in April, at 55 Neal Street, Seven Dials. The 1,000 square foot site sits on two floors and is part of the concept’s expansion within the capital, joining its restaurants in Kentish Town and Battersea. The deal forms part of more than 8,500 square foot of new signings and openings by Shaftesbury. Slim Chickens, which is operated in the UK by Boparan Restaurant Group, has confirmed it is opening a flagship West End restaurant in Covent Garden. As revealed by Propel last month, Slim Chickens is taking the former Shake Shack site at 1 Cambridge Circus. The 3,874 square foot space is set over two floors (ground floor and basement) and will offer more than 120 covers and an outside area too. South London-based bar operator Tequila Mockingbird has also confirmed it is set to unveil its flagship bar in an expansive basement at 42 William IV Street. As revealed by Propel in December, Tequila Mockingbird will launch underneath Curious Restaurants’ The Jones Family Affair, which launched late last year. Due to open later this spring, the 3,500 square foot venue will build on Tequila Mockingbird’s sites in Wimbledon, Brixton, Clapham and Shoreditch. Plant-based restaurant group Mildreds has also opened its sixth site, in St Martin’s Lane in the premises previously occupied by Steak & Co. Shelley Sandzer, Hanover Green Retail, and Distrkt represented Shaftesbury. Slim Chickens, Tequila Mockingbird and Mildreds all dealt direct, while CDG Leisure represented The Patate.

Open House reopens its debut bar and restaurant site with new botany concept: Open House, the London-based restaurant and bar operator, has reopened its debut site in Fitzrovia with a new botany-inspired concept. The Arber Garden, inspired by the botanist and philosopher Agnes Arber, has opened at the 1 Pearson Square site of the group’s former Percy & Flounders bar and restaurant. Launched in 2015, Percy & Flounders was the first site for Open House, but it closed during the pandemic and never reopened. Under its new name and concept, the venue offers a vast gin selection and seasonal food, which can also be enjoyed on a spacious terrace or in a gin garden. Head chef Luke Rayment-Blakey leads a menu of traditional pub favourites and plant-based dishes, with a seasonal change of flavours and botanicals. As well as its gin specialities, the bar will also serve craft beers from independent British breweries, including Braybrooke, Crate and Five Points. Open House also operates The Lighterman in Kings Cross, which opened in 2016, and The Broadcaster in White City, which opened in 2021. Separate from its Open House projects, the company owns Nordic and Japanese destination Pantechnicon, in Belgravia. The team behind Open House also founded Cubitt House, which operates a portfolio of pubs and rooms in Belgravia, Knightsbridge, Pimlico and Marylebone, including The Grazing Goat and The Orange.
 
Really Local Group to build new cinema, cafe, bar and workspace hub as part of £11.35m regeneration project in Sutton: A new cinema, cafe, bar and workspace hub will be built in a former nightclub in Sutton as part of £11.35m regeneration project for the town. Named Throwley Yard, the venue will bring back to life the former Chicago’s nightclub in Throwley Road that has stood empty since 2013. The project will be delivered in partnership with Sutton Council, which has secured the cash from the government’s Future High Streets Fund to deliver the renovation and three other projects. Due for completion in 2023, the new development will feature an auditorium for cinema or live performance, a cafe, a bar and an accessible workspace. The work will be undertaken by cultural infrastructure developer Really Local Group, which was behind the 2019 opening of Catford Mews, featuring a cinema, pop-up food market and bar. It has since launched a similar project in the former Reading Biscuit Factory, and will this spring launch another in Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre. The group has also struck a deal with Southwark Council to restore the iconic central marketplace in Bermondsey, and has projects in Sidcup, Hayes and Canning Town in the pipeline too. Preston Benson, founder of Really Local Group, said: “Really Local Group creates multi-use social and entertainment hubs by retrofitting existing high street venues, and we’re excited to be working with Sutton Council on this project. The repurposing of the site of this former nightclub aims to bring local businesses, jobs, and lifestyle opportunities to the area, offering a place for the community to enjoy.”
 
RedCat takes The Coaching Inn Group estate to 25 with Oswestry site: RedCat Pub Company, the investment vehicle from ex-Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand, has acquired the Wynnstay Hotel & Spa in Oswestry, building on its existing estate of more than 1,000 hotel rooms. The hotel will be operated by RedCat’s subsidiary, The Coaching Inn Group, which was acquired last August. The Coaching Inn Group will now operate 25 historic coaching inns in market towns across the UK. Since acquiring the group, RedCat, which was launched in February last year, has supported The Coaching Inn Group’s rapid expansion through the acquisition of seven additional sites. Owned by the Woodward family for the last 30 years, the hotel now has 31 bedrooms, a large function suite, a modern gym, full spa and pool, a fine dining restaurant and two bars serving traditional British and continental dishes. The old coaching house has been converted into a modern gym and spa, while a former grocers has been transformed into the contemporary Wilsons Bar & Restaurant. Kevin Charity, chief executive of The Coaching Inn Group, said: “I’m pleased our expansion is continuing at pace, following the latest addition of the Wynnstay Hotel & Spa to our estate. RedCat’s support is bearing fruit and we’re working hard to keep our momentum going and expand our estate of historic coaching inns further in the coming months.” Monique Royle, divisional director of Fleurets, acted on behalf of The Coaching Inn Group.
 
Mr Ji plans Camden opening: Taiwanese-inspired chicken concept Mr Ji is set to open a second site, in Camden. Propel understands the concept, which launched in London’s Soho at the end of 2019, is to open in The Parkway in Camden. The business previously operated a pop-up in Camden. Mr Ji is the brainchild of restaurateur Samuel Haim, who also founded Camden-based fish and chip restaurant Hook, and was inspired by his visits to the Taiwanese capital Taipei. It is thought Mr Ji will replace the closed Hook site in Camden. Haim teamed up with Ta Ta Eatery and Tou duo Ana Goncalves and Zijun Meng to launch Mr Ji’s Soho site. The restaurant’s offering features “crispy fried chicken dusted with flavourful powders and served alongside booze-spiked Taiwanese teas”.
 
Halo Burger appoints Nicola Pegues as ops director: Plant-based burger concept Halo Burger has appointed Nicola Pegues, formerly of Bababoom, Fridays and Nando’s, as its operations director. Pegues most recently had a brief stint as managing director of fledgling kebab restaurant concept BabaBoom. She was also previously a regional director at Fridays and a regional managing director at Nando’s. She also had a stint as operations director at Bleecker Burger. Halo Burger launched its first bricks and mortar site, in Shoreditch, east London, in 2020. The Ross Forder-led concept opened at the former Selekt Chicken site in Great Eastern Street. Halo Burger, which claims to be the UK’s first brand to offer the Beyond Burger, also operates out of Pop Brixton and the Fountain Head pub in Brighton’s North Road. 

Shepherd Neame stops exporting beer to Russia as it kickstarts Ukraine fundraising appeal: Kent-based brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame has stopped exporting beer to Russia, and is not stocking any Russian products across its estate. The company has also pledged £20,000 to kickstart a fundraising effort to support the people of Ukraine. Shepherd Neame will be donating the money to the British Red Cross’s DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, and has also launched a Just Giving campaign for the appeal, which it is promoting across its pub and hotel estate to raise awareness and encourage customer donations. A number of Shepherd Neame’s pubs are also undertaking individual efforts to support the people of Ukraine, collecting supplies and raising funds. Team members at the brewery are also being offered the opportunity to take paid time off work to volunteer to help Faversham-based company Ideaworks which is co-ordinating the collection and delivery of emergency supplies. Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame said: “We are deeply saddened by the terrible events in Ukraine, and our thoughts are with everyone affected. It is important we all do something to support the people of Ukraine at this difficult time, which is why we decided to kickstart this fundraising campaign across our business. We are proud to see the individual efforts being undertaken by our pub teams, and would like to thank our customers for their generous support.”
 
Newmark’s new £1m Shoreditch street food market reveals trader line-up ahead of launch later this month: Robert Newmark, the owner of bar and restaurant concept Beach Blanket Babylon, will open his new street market venture, Lalaland, later this month. The new £1m development, which will offer 11 street food stalls, four bars, lounges and live music on the former Dinerama site in Great Eastern Street, will have a soft launch on Monday, 21 March. Propel revealed last year that Newmark and his Soho Restaurant Group had applied to launch the venture on the 25,000 square-foot site. Confirmed vendors so far include duck-based wraps, salads and burgers concept The Duck Shed; Indian-style burger brand RockIT; Fireyard BBQ; steamed buns brand GuaBao; chicken wings concept Wangz; Little Pasta Co; rotisserie chicken outlet Hot Chixx; Etna Coffee; Trinibago food brand Saga Boy; Tucka Burgers and Bangkok Wok. A Lalaland spokesman said: “We are delighted to soon be opening our newest experiential concept, right in the heart of Shoreditch. We have a brilliant list of traders confirmed, with only a few remaining spots left. For this new project, it has been important for Soho Restaurant Group that it supports independent business. Therefore, the majority of traders are new to the scene.” The Soho Restaurant Group also operates London-based restaurants and bars Joan and Ruby’s Soho.
 
Honest Burgers to donate all proceeds from estate-wide ‘Honesty Box’ initiative to Ukraine relief, The Piano Works sets up voluntary donation appeal: Honest Burgers, the Active Partners-backed business, will donate the proceeds from all its restaurants on one evening next week to a Ukraine war relief charity. Next Tuesday (15 March), from 4pm to close, instead of paying their bill as normal, guests at all of Honest's restaurants in London, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Liverpool, Manchester, Cardiff, Reading and St Albans will be asked to donate what they can for their meal and drinks, with all proceeds going to #CookForUkraine. Honest’s entire food and drink menu will be available during the fundraising period, available for eat-in only. It will be the company’s first nationwide Honesty Box Day, following on from previous events held at individual Honest restaurants to fundraise for local charities, selected by guests and local restaurant teams. Meanwhile, Alan Lorrimer, founder of live music venue group The Piano Works, and operations director, Tristan Moffat, are calling on their fellow operators to join the UK’s Hospitality Ukraine Appeal. They are proposing that operators offer guests the option to donate a discretionary £1 per person, while The Piano Works will match donations ai its sites with an equal £1 per cover. Operators can sign up and get a welcome pack by contacting katied@pianoworks.bar.
 
Black Goo cafe concept lines up fourth site: Independent cafe company Black Goo is to open a fourth site, and its first in Buckinghamshire. The business, which is run by Sacha and Chris Leake, is set to take on the former The Garage site, in Well Street in Buckingham, for an opening later this spring. The company opened its latest site, and the first outside its heartland of Hertfordshire, in Thame, Oxfordshire, at the end of 2020. The business, which was founded in 2017, also operates sites in Tring and Berkhamsted.

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