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Morning Briefing Strap Line
Mon 21st Mar 2022 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Tim Martin – JD Wetherspoon’s recovery slower than expected, food prices will rise if VAT returns to 20%: JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has told Propel the business’ recovery has been slower than he expected and is having to graft for every penny. Martin also said if VAT goes back to 20% as planned next month, the company will have to put up its food prices and did not rule out further increases this year. He also again called on the government to create tax equality between pubs and supermarkets. Speaking following the company’s half-year results, Martin said: “I suspect volumes are down across the pub trade overall, although restaurants, music-oriented pubs and some pubcos are producing good results. Most commentators, including us, predicted a boom after restrictions ended, but we’re having to graft hard for every penny. The supermarkets, using their massive tax advantage, are trying to keep the trade they won in lockdowns. If Rishi Sunak has any sense he’ll create tax equality between pubs and supermarkets. It’s the only way to revive high streets and town centres, especially in less well-off areas where the price differential is driving people to the off trade. If VAT increases to 20% in April, on-trade food prices, including ours, will be going up, whereas mighty supermarkets, who’ve made hay in the pandemic, won’t be getting a VAT increase – crazy, but true.” Martin said further investment in its pubs and future openings “depends on trade and a continuing absence of restrictions”. He added: “Provided trade returns to normal, we hope to open 20 to 30 new or redeveloped pubs per annum, as a rough guide.” In terms of trends, Martin said “shooters”, flavoured vodkas and cocktails are “growing like mad”, but traditional ale is “struggling”. Looking ahead, Martin believes costs will continue to increase, certainly in the immediate future, as the country pays the price of lockdown. He added: “The sword of Damocles over the industry is that western governments, including the UK, abandoned their pre-covid pandemic plans, which did not involve lockdowns and copied China, which did lock down. The lockdowns were paid for by money-printing by central banks, causing inflation.”
 

Industry News:

Latest edition of Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book sent to Premium subscribers: The latest edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, has been sent to Premium subscribers. The latest Blue Book sees a further 12 companies added, taking the number of UK pub, restaurant, cafe and hotel operators featured to 546. The Blue Book, which is updated monthly, shows the full damage done to the sector by the pandemic, with 348 companies making a combined loss of £7.6bn compared with 198 companies in profit – making a combined £828.9m. Losses now outstrip profits in the sector almost ten times over. Total turnover of the companies stands at £25.9bn. 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.
 
BII – devastating energy cost increases and soaring inflation threaten survival of UK pubs: The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) has again written to the chancellor and the secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS) making the case for critical ongoing support to safeguard the future of UK pubs. It warned that its members are facing extraordinary levels of cost inflation, with energy costs, for many, more than doubling. It said: “This comes at a time where pubs are only just starting their recovery while tackling pandemic specific debts, minimal cash reserves and ongoing resourcing issues.” Steven Alton, chief executive of the BII, added: “Our members are already facing extraordinary levels of cost inflation in their businesses, with more significant rises expected in the coming months. They are unable to simply pass all these costs through to increasingly cash strapped consumers as they fear this will only further reduce levels of trade. Many will have to trade ahead of pre-pandemic levels to simply break-even. They need ongoing support to give them the time to rebuild their businesses, provide certainty to allow them to invest in their businesses and also rebuild their teams. This support is an investment in a sector that has the capacity to be at the heart of the economic recovery and safeguard their essential role at the heart of every community.” The letter from the BII comes as Chris Jowsey, chief executive of Admiral Taverns, told The Financial Times of the struggle to find an electricity and gas supplier that may see the lights of some pubs switched off for good. The company’s £350,000-a-year energy contract ends this month and suppliers are refusing to quote. If it stays with its existing provider, which it would rather not, it will have to pay ten times the price. “No one will provide us with a long-term contract,” said Jowsey, who says most of the pubs pay for their own energy, which previously accounted for roughly 5% of turnover. “We’re going to lose a lot of pubs that we got through covid to rising energy bills.”
 
Lord – chancellor needs to reconsider extension to current VAT rate to stave off closures across sector: Sacha Lord, the night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, has urged chancellor Rishi Sunak to reconsider an extension to the current VAT rate of 12.5% to stave off closures across the sector and the loss of thousands of jobs. Lord said: “I am concerned for the north. At a time when we are supposed to be levelling up, we are only seeing the divide between rich and poor widen. The chancellor says tax increases are needed now in order to calm future fiscal problems, but while this long-term view is commendable, it is critically short sighted when so many are suffering financially today, and having to make choices on whether to spend their wages on food or heating. The hospitality sector is well known for employing college leavers or those needing flexible careers in order to care for children or elderly parents, and it is a vital employer in some of the most deprived areas of our region. Our industry needs to stay afloat in order to keep providing these work opportunities, and I fear for the survival of many businesses. Pubs and restaurants are seeing difficulties across the board, from tax hikes, inflated price rises for produce and ingredients and surging energy costs, on top of existing covid debt. The planned VAT increase from 12.5% to 20% from April will only exacerbate the perilous financial position many businesses find themselves in. I urge the chancellor to reconsider an extension to the current rate to stave off closures across the sector and the loss of thousands of jobs.”
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with an international hospitality business within the accommodation sector looking to expand its marketing team with the addition of a PR manager. This business has many different operations across the globe. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “Reporting to the senior brand marketing manager, you will be responsible for all communications, PR, social media, community engagement and engaging with a variety of audiences.” The role is London-based, with a salary of up to £50,000 plus benefits. For more information and to apply, email lara@corecruitment.com
 

Company News: 

Borg-Neal – biggest limitation on growth is finding great people, may turn focus on London for new sites: Peter Borg-Neal, chairman of pub-restaurant operator Oakman Group, has said that the biggest limitation on the company’s growth is finding “great people”. In terms of finding new sites, it may look to London, as other groups start leaving the capital, he added. Speaking as part of Propel’s Friday Wrap video series, Borg-Neal said: “The quality of our pipeline is great, I’m super excited by it. There have been times where we just couldn’t get a site. In 2015 it was just dire, and we ended up doing the joint venture with Ei Group because we couldn’t find sites. But now we can find sites. In fact, our site finding is getting ahead of our funding. We’ve got the sites and we will get the money, what keeps me awake is making sure we can get great people. If we are going to open quickly and expand quickly, there’s no point having wonderful buildings and a great menu if you haven’t got great people to make that capital sing and dance. To my mind, that would be the biggest limitation on our growth now. It shouldn’t be funding and it shouldn’t be sites. We’re working very, very hard to make sure that we’ll be in a good place in terms of people.” Borg-Neal said in terms of building that site pipeline, the business has had to innovate. He said: “There are a couple of freehold pubs which have been sold recently to Young’s where we were the underbidders, and I was nowhere near their price. My feeling is going to be 11 and 12 times, and at that level, it is hard for me to persuade the rest of the team that we should be paying that kind of multiple. But if you’re a listed company and trading, let’s say, 18 times on the Stock Exchange, you can pay 14 times, and maybe a bit of efficiency, maybe brings that down a couple of bits, and even if you get it a bit wrong, it’s still accretive. We’re not in that space, so we haven’t been able to compete for those kinds of pubs. We’ve had to be innovative. We had the Seafood Pubs acquisition, that was quite opportunistic, but that’s worked extremely well for us. We’re very close to agreeing terms with a large building that’s been, until recently, used as a covid vaccination centre. We’ve had a lot of chats lately about do we look at London now. We’ve avoided it because I felt it was poor value and overly competitive. But we quite like being contrarian. So, people start leaving London, we might start walking other way. Chief executive, Dermot King, added: “We’re definitely seeing better returns from repurposing buildings than by buying premium-end pub restaurants or existing businesses. If you’re prepared to spend the time to develop them, the returns are healthier than already buying businesses that are up and running.”
 
Recapitalisation gives AMT Coffee platform to ‘grow and prosper’ after turnover drops by almost two-thirds and losses more than triple, like-for-likes improving: AMT Coffee, which operates a circa 55-strong estate of sites in transport hubs and in hospitals across the UK, says it’s in a good position to grow and prosper following recapitalisation, despite turnover dropping by almost two-thirds and losses more than tripling. The company’s accounts for the year ending 3 January 2021 shows turnover of £7.6m, down from £20.8m in 2020, and a pre-tax loss of £3.2m, compared to £1m in 2020. A report accompanying the results said the company continues to be affected by covid, but before Omicron, sales had reached more than 70% of pre-pandemic levels. It said: “While the UK hospitality sector will no doubt be affected again…and the outlook for the business remains challenging, arrangements have been made and significant work undertaken to cut costs and prepare for a recapitalisation of the company, and to move into a new phase of growth built on a strong foundation. In April 2021, a new investor exchanged contracts to acquire an 85% stake in the company, and this transaction completed on 29 June 2021. Since then, the new majority owner and finance director have reviewed the business with a focus on preparing the business for recapitalisation such that the future growth of the business can progress from a solid foundation. Although the working habits of the general public have undoubtedly changed, and while the emergence of new variants of coronavirus are no doubt inevitable, we feel that the company has a positive platform from which to grow and prosper. The Omicron variant caused further short-term lockdown restrictions, however this time the board and senior management team were able to make adjustments to help the business through this difficult trading period and manage the company’s liquidity effectively. Since the beginning of February 2022, the company’s activities have once again begun to improve, with like-for-like sales moving back towards 70% of pre-pandemic levels and improving.” The company also received £1.7m in government support, including £350,000 through the CBIL scheme, and made use of furlough.
 
Greene King launches sixth Hive pub as it aims to grow franchise estate to 170 sites in next five years: Brewer and retailer Greene King has launched the sixth site for its new pub franchise concept, Hive, and plans to grow its franchised estate from its current 18 sites to around 170 in the next five years. The Peacock in Boughton, Chester has been transformed into a Hive pub following a £260,000 makeover and will be run by new franchisee Peter Boardman. The branded community pub model is run by Greene King through its tenanted and leased arm, Pub Partners, The Peacock has been transformed, including a significant upgrade of the outside with “beach huts” and a large, covered pergola area. The pub offers an extensive range of food and drink, including a menu of pub classics curated by the food team at Greene King. Aimed at those with experience of running a pub, the Hive franchise agreement gives licensees “a ready to trade pub within a proven branded concept” for £5,000 ingoing cost, and a minimum guaranteed income of £20,000 plus additional income based on performance such as share of turnover. Andy Wearn, business development manager at Greene King Pub Partners, said: “We look forward to rolling out more Hive pubs in the coming months and year ahead.”
 
Foresight takes minority stake in Crosstown: Foresight, the backer of Mowgli and Roxy Leisure, has invested £3m in Crosstown for a minority stake in the artisan doughnut and speciality coffee concept. The Sunday Times reports that the deal saw co-founder Adam Wills and JP Then retaining a 35% stake in the business, which saw revenues increase 35% to £7.5m in the 12 months to January this year. “We work towards a 10 to 12% Ebitda [profit] margin,” said Wills. “Online is a massive part of what we do — about 40% of our revenue.” The company sold 2.7 million doughnuts last year from its 13 Crosstown cafes and the firm’s online shop. Crosstown, which began as a market stall on Leather Lane market on the edge of the City in 2014, now has those 13 shops, three food trucks, a 7,000 square-foot “scratch” bakery in Vauxhall, south London, and 150 staff. It opened its first site outside the capital in Cambridge last November, and Wills said it plans to open “in Brighton, Oxford and Bath this year”. In January, Propel revealed that the company had appointed Beatrice Lafon, formerly of Claire’s Accessories, TJ Hughes and The Business Intelligence Network, as its new chair. 
 
200 Degrees to open third Nottingham site: Nottingham based coffee roaster, 200 Degrees, is set to open a third outlet in its home city. The company will launch its 17th site near the Victoria Centre in Milton Street. The new 60-seat outlet, which will create 15 jobs, is due to open on Monday, 9 May. Rob Darby, chief executive at 200 Degrees, said: “I am constantly blown away by the support we’ve had from the people of Nottingham. Having studied in Nottingham, going on to build a life and start a family here, the city has so many memories. It’s a privilege to build a thriving business and work with countless incredible people in a place that means so much to me. There seems no better way to celebrate ten years of 200 Degrees than to open a third shop in the city where it all began.” Darby and his business partner, Tom Vincent, founded the company in 2012 and have expanded the 200 Degrees footprint, with shops in several other major cities including Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, York and Birmingham. Last week, the company revealed it will open a site at The Glass Works development in Barnsley in April.
 
Titanic Brewery to open sixth site for Bod concept: Titanic Brewery is to open a sixth site for its cafe bar concept Bod. The company is opening the site in Stone, Staffordshire, adding to the concept’s venues in Stafford, Stoke, Trentham, Newport and Matlock. The new site will open in High Street in April in the premises previously occupied by cocktail bar The Lounge. It will be Titanic Brewery’s second site in Stone, as it already runs The Royal Exchange pub in Radford Street, which it opened in 2008. Niamh Durkin, marketing assistant at Titanic Brewery, said: “This concept has allowed us to trade differently, opening in the morning for coffee and breakfast and staying open into the evening to operate as a bar. We wanted to be able to offer something to all age groups and keep the community at the centre of our operation.” Titanic Brewery was launched by brothers Keith and Dave Bott in Stoke in 1985. Alongside the brewery, which produces more than four million pints a year, and its Bod concept, the company also operates eight pubs.
 
Thornbridge profits and revenue up despite pub closures, driven by online sales and ‘pent-up demand’: Derbyshire-based Thornbridge Brewery has reported turnover of £13m, up from £12m in 2020, and a pre-tax profit of £523,000, up from £142,000 in 2020, in its accounts for the year ending 30 June 2021. This despite the closure of the six Sheffield-based community pubs it operates under its the Taps subsidiary, and the taproom that opened at its Bakewell-based brewery in July 2020. A statement accompanying the accounts put this down to online sales, plus increased trade driven by “pent-up” demand when its on-trade was able to operate. It stated: “Despite the significant challenges encountered due to the closing down of the on-trade during the first national lockdown, the brewery performed well and took advantage of the opportunity to increase direct sales to the consumer. The Taps was more significantly affected and unable to trade at all…and all of our venues were closed from late October 2020 until April [2021]. We experienced a significant level of pent-up demand, and trading in April and May, in particular, was stronger than we’d ever imagined. The brewery continued to be well placed to take advantage of the desire of customers to shop online during the periods of lockdown, although sales in subsequent lockdowns didn’t match the first lockdown period. We opened our new, larger taproom in July 2020, and trading has gone from strength to strength over the period and since the year end, generating a material revenue stream.” The business also received £444,000 in government grants during the period and furloughed all but one employee in it’s The Taps subsidiary, while support from commercial landlords was also “essential and gratefully received”.
 
The Athenian to open Canary Wharf delivery kitchen: Greek street food restaurant group The Athenian will open its latest delivery kitchen, in London’s Canary Wharf, on Tuesday (22 March). It will mark a 14th UK delivery kitchen for the brand, which also operates restaurants in Shoreditch, White City and Victoria in London, as well as Bristol. The Canary Wharf kitchen will offer The Athenian’s traditional menu, including gyros and souvlakis alongside plant-based alternatives and sides, such as halloumi fries. At the end of last year, The Athenian opened its debut overseas site with a delivery kitchen in Madrid – and more are set to follow this year. Founder Tim Vasilakis said: “When I started The Athenian, I wanted to bring Greek food as it’s made back home in Athens to the UK. Living in London and going to street food markets, Greek food, especially gyros, were nowhere to be seen, so I thought I’d give it a go. And here we are seven years later, expanding across the globe, with no plans of slowing down.”
 
Korean street food concept Bunsik to open second site this week: Korean street food concept Bunsik is to open a second site in central London, near Embankment tube station, this week. The concept, which made its debut last summer in Charing Cross Road, is  opening in the former Herman ze German site in Villiers Street on Saturday (26 March). The concept offers corn dogs, cupbap (rice in a pot with toppings) and ddukbokki (fried rice cakes). There are six hotdog/corndog options – original, octo legs, potato, potato mozzarella, cheese and beef. For the cupbap, customers can choose between bulgogi, spicy pork, chicken mayo, and sweet and spicy chicken.
 
Caravan to open new brew bar at its north London roastery: London-based restaurant, bar and coffee-roasting concept Caravan will today (Monday, 21 March) open a new brew bar at its roastery in Caledonian Road, north London. The Active Partners-backed opened the roastery in 2019, which it uses it to supply its own restaurants, and others, across the capital. The new brew bar will add a new dimension to the site, with guests able to enjoy coffee all day alongside fresh pastries and sandwiches baked on site, all while watching the roasters in action. There are also plans to open a future coffee school on the site. Caravan recently opened its latest eponymous site, in Canada Square, Canary Wharf. The business currently operates a further five eponymous restaurants across London, Vardo in Chelsea and a roastery headquarters in Islington, both of which opened in 2019. Earlier this month, Propel revealed that Caravan had appointed Jo Fleet, formerly of Wahaca, Flat Iron and Hawksmoor, as its new managing director, to be responsible for growth of the company through “measured expansion”.
 
Newcastle-based US-inspired restaurant to open second restaurant in May: Newcastle-based US-inspired restaurant Meat:Stack will open its second site, in Leeds, in May. The concept, founded as a pop-up in 2016 by Allan Hyslop, Tom Westman and Charlie Mair, is taking the final 1,681 square foot of retail and leisure space at 34 Boar Lane. Seating up to 60 guests, it will offer a selection of burgers, fries, ice cream, shakes and sides, alongside local craft beers and a refillable soda fountain. Hyslop said: “Since we announced that we will be coming to Leeds, we cannot get over the incredible support we have had in the city. There is such a great food scene here, and we cannot wait to be a part of that. Community is everything to us, and we hope to be getting involved with as many businesses, creatives and foodie folk as we possibly can once we are open.” The existing Meat:Stack restaurant is in Newcastle’s Bigg Market. Hyslop, Westman and Mair are also behind fried chicken concept Fed’s, which operates two sites in the city. 
 
Salford regeneration development to house new coffee, brunch and cocktail bar: Salford’s Atelier development, part of the regeneration of the city’s Chapel Street area, will house a new coffee, brunch and cocktail bar. Opening in the coming weeks, Procaffeinated will serve speciality coffee, brunch, sourghdough bread, natural wine, craft beers and cocktails from a 870 square-foot unit. Owners Daniel Haralmbous, and Ilaria Criscuolo were inspired by the Amsterdam coffee culture, having travelled there together. “We know that the demographic of the development is perfect for us,” Haralmbous said. “There’s a couple of coffee shops around, but none of them really have any indoor seating. I think it’s crying out for this kind of business in the area. I went travelling and met my partner, who is now also my business partner, and as part of our experience we went to Amsterdam together. The specialty coffee scene is really good in Amsterdam, and we thought there was something to it, so when we both eventually decided to come back to Manchester, we thought we’d try and work in the industry here.”
 
M&B closes Harrow branch of O’Neill’s: Mitchells & Butlers’ Irish pub brand O’Neill’s has closed its branch in Harrow. A spokesman told Harrow Online: “We can confirm O’Neill’s Harrow ceased trading on 20 March and has been handed back to the landlord. This decision has been taken after careful consideration and as part of the continual review of our estate. We are in consultation with the team at the pub and hope to redeploy as many employees as possible at our other nearby businesses.” Launched in Aberdeen in 1994, the O’Neill’s estate had grown to 250 UK pubs within three years, but now stands at circa 40.
 
Manchester cocktail bar owner to double up with restaurant and live music venue in city: One Eight Six, which operates as a cocktail bar and barbershop concept in Manchester’s Deansgate, is set to double up with a restaurant in the city. The original One Eight Six, which also features a live music offering curated by owner Dean Mac, is currently closed following a fire on New Year’s Eve. It is currently undergoing a refurbishment, with plans to also reopen later this year. The new venue, which is set to open in Didsbury later this year, will primarily be a restaurant but also offer live entertainment. The plan went before a licensing panel after neighbours objected to an application for a late-night live music and alcohol licence until 2.30am on weekends. However, some of the objections were withdrawn after the company reduced its request to 12.30am for music and 1am for alcohol, and the new licence was granted, reports the Manchester Evening News. Operations manager, Michael Hutchinson, told the licensing panel the restaurant wants to become part of the local community. He said: “The venue in Didsbury is very much tailored to that local community and the surrounding suburbs. We signed a ten-year lease on the property, so we’re there for the long-term.” The venue, in Wilmslow Road, was formerly both a CAU steakhouse and a Zizzi Italian restaurant.
 
Moth Bar team open new north London pizza and spritz bar: The team behind Moth Bar, the Hackney-based former ex-servicemen’s club-turned music venue and bar, has opened a new pizza and spritz bar in Finsbury Park. Based at 2 North Place, Someday serves up tacos and pizzas from Hackney’s Ace Pizza alongside a range of spritzes and margaritas. The live music programme is being led by LNZRT, which is also behind the Wide Awake Festival, and there is late opening at weekends.
 
Taco Bell to open in Maidstone later this month: Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell will open in Maidstone on Thursday, 31 March for what will be its 94th UK site. The new restaurant will be located at 51 Week Street and will be open from 11am to 11pm daily. Lucy Dee, head of marketing at Taco Bell UK, said: “Kent has been crying out for more Taco Bells, and we’re pleased to be able to deliver, creating jobs despite challenging circumstances.” Taco Bell has also submitted plans to open a drive-thru on the site of a former sewage works in Sturrey Road, Canterbury, and is understood to be keen on taking a former clothes shop in the city’s centre too. Earlier this month, it opened its second Nottingham branch, in the city’s Victoria Centre, which followed February’s launches in Leatherhead and London’s Holloway Road. Taco Bell is also planning a new branch in Chesterfield’s Alma Leisure Park and a drive-thru in Teesside’s South Bank area.
 
Buenasado coming soon to Bristol for third site: Argentine steakhouse Buenasado is set to open its third site, in Bristol, in the coming months. Buenasado first opened in 2011, in Wimbledon, which is one of five sites – including those in Richmond, Horsham, Reigate and Chiswick – now operating under its sister brand, Buenos Aires Argentine Steakhouse. Buenasado itself still has sites in Reading and Walton-on-Thames. In 2018, Buenasado’s parent company, Buenos Aires Restaurant Holdings, announced a share merger with High Road Restaurants Group BidCo, owner of the Koh Thai Tapas chain of Thai restaurants, to form a multi-branded restaurant group.
 
North London-based lockdown pop-up to open first bricks-and-mortar site: The Roost, which started as a pop-up in a local pub delivering rotisserie chickens to Highbury and Finsbury Park residents during lockdown, will next month launch its first bricks-and-mortar site. Opening on the site of former steak and cocktail bar Exquisite at 167 Blackstock Road, it will be serving up chickens to eat in or take away, alongside a selection of seasonally changing salads and sides and homemade sauces. There will also be wine and draught beer from Tottenham’s Signature Brewery. Owner Anna Mylam told Hot Dinners she had originally planned to do takeaway only with a bit of counter seating, but when the Blackstock Road site became available, it allowed for a small dining room at the rear. She came up with the idea after travelling in Australia, where chicken shops are big business, and after six months was bringing in more than £1,000 a week and overseeing a team of delivery cyclists and kitchen staff. “I returned to London at the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic,” Mylam wrote on LinkedIn. “It gave me an opportunity to reassess my goals and passions, which culminated in the set-up of my own catering business. I spotted a gap in the market for a rotisserie chicken hot food take away business, and so with the increased demand for take away, I developed a brand and ‘popped-up’ in a local non-operational pub kitchen.”

Birmingham-based hotel to launch its own Indian restaurant concept: Park Regis Birmingham – part of the 17-strong upscale accommodation brand which has locations in the UK, Middle East, India, Asia and Australia – will this spring launch its own Indian restaurant. The hotel, based on Five Ways island, has revealed its plans for the new Indus restaurant, replacing its current 1565 restaurant but retaining its bar and terrace. Named after the Indus River that ran through the Asian sub-continent, the restaurant will see head chef Manish Patel brings his experience of working in five-star hotels to create a menu offering both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Levi Bailey, hotel manager, said: “Our restaurant celebrates the traditions, life and culture of India and its bounty of beautiful flavours, aromas and spices through our specially curated menus of magnificent dishes.” Birmingham is Park Regis’ only UK site. It has an 18th venue, in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, opening later this year.

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