Story of the Day:
More anger directed at chancellor following failure to freeze VAT for hospitality in spring statement: Further anger has been directed at Rishi Sunak after the chancellor failed to announce any sector-specific support in his spring statement. The industry has long been campaigning for its rate of VAT to be frozen at 12.5%, highlighting both the importance of the sector to the UK’s economic recovery, and to the damage already done to it by pandemic-related lockdowns and subsequent restrictions. But hopes of avoiding a return to the rate of 20% were dashed when the chancellor failed to make any mention of such a move in his “mini-Budget”. Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of Greene King, said: “While the government has taken some important steps to address the cost-of-living crisis, including the very welcome cut to fuel duty, we feel the measures do not go far enough to support pubs. We’re disappointed the chancellor has failed to reverse the VAT rise for the hospitality sector, which is a bitter blow for UK pubs still struggling to recover following the pandemic. Coupled with rising prices across the supply chain, and disproportionately high business rates, today’s VAT hike is a missed opportunity for the industry and puts at risk the ability of UK pubs to fully recover from the pandemic, create jobs and support the wider economy.” Neil Manhas, managing director and chief financial officer at Pizza Hut UK and Ireland, added: “Several government initiatives have been critical for the survival of hospitality businesses, but the temporary VAT cut has played an out-sized role in allowing the industry to rebound following the pandemic. The government choosing not to grant an extension will be devastating for the momentum of our post-pandemic growth, recruitment and expanding the support we offer our communities.” Clive Chesser, Punch Pubs & Co chief executive, said: “The spring statement signalled a missed opportunity for the chancellor to provide the critically needed long-term strategic support to a sector that has paid a disproportionate burden of tax for decades. This is hugely disappointing but we will continue to lobby the government for the essential, targeted and meaningful financial support required to help our sector to thrive again.” JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin said: “We are naturally disappointed the chancellor has not taken the opportunity to reduce VAT in respect of food in pubs and restaurants to the same level as supermarkets. It does not make economic sense for the hospitality industry to be taxed at a higher rate.” Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, added: “The sector remains on a knife-edge as it emerges from the pandemic, and the impact of the recent energy crisis and invasion of Ukraine has ensured the turbulent times will continue. The coming months could be some of the hardest yet for our pubs and brewers, and the failure to act represents a hugely missed opportunity.” Ronan Harte, chief executive of BaxterStorey, said: “As a workplace hospitality provider, we have started to see promises of a fast recovery following the latest restrictions lifting, with more and more customers returning to the office on a more frequent basis. However, with the cost of living on the rise and consumer spending likely to suffer as a result, failure to do more to support hospitality bosses may impact this upwards trajectory and leave the industry struggling to invest and forward plan.” Sunak made his statement against a backdrop of inflation rising to a 30-year high of 6.2% in the 12 months to February, and forecast to rise further to 7.4% this year.
Host of burger-themed concepts set to join updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies:
A host of burger-themed concepts are among the 69 new multi-site companies being added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released on Friday, 1 April, at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database
, which is produced in association with Virgate, features Burger Joe
, which is owned by Lloyd Wilson, and currently operates three sites in Moreton, Marine and Hoylake. Also added this month is Cow and Cream
, a new burger and dessert concept founded by John Dunning and Robert Green, which is opening a second site, in Crystal Peaks, Sheffield. In addition, Worcester-based gourmet burger and cocktail bar concept Hanbao
, which is owned by Alex Lam, and is opening a second branch, in Floodgate Street, Birmingham, will be featured. Meanwhile, French gourmet burger concept The Patate
, which was founded by Paul-Henry De Vassoigne and Martin Le Boulc’h, and is opening its central London debut site in April, is included. Premium subscribers will also receive a 5,155-word report on the new additions to the database. The comprehensive database is updated monthly and provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different. It features more than 2,000 companies. Premium subscribers will also receive the eighth edition of the New Openings Database
, which is produced in association with StarStock, on Friday, 8 April, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The eighth edition also includes a 16,440-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to another database – the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book
, which is produced in association with Mapal Group. The Blue Book, which is also updated monthly, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Pubs code changes to kick in on 1 April, including updated MRO procedure: Changes to the pubs code, including a new market rent only (MRO) procedure, will take affect from Friday, 1 April. The code allows tied tenant to request the option of a MRO tenancy at renewal or rent review, and from next month, there will be a longer period of negotiation before any dispute is referred for arbitration. The 21-day period in which the tied tenant must send their MRO notice to the pub company will start the day after instead of the day of the event, and the pub company must send an offer for the amount of rent payable as part of its MRO proposal, or the tied tenant has 14 days to make an arbitration referral. If the pub company disagrees there has been an MRO event, the tied tenant has 14 days to make an arbitration referral, and if the pub company fails to send a response, the tied tenant has 14 days from the end of the 28-day period of response to make an arbitration referral. A tied tenant receiving an MRO proposal will have three months to consider and negotiate it, and within seven days of the resolution period ending, the pub company can send an updated MRO proposal. The tied tenant can end the resolution period earlier by giving seven days’ notice, but it must last for at least 21 days, and a tied tenant has 21 days after the end of the updated response period to refer the proposal for arbitration or refer any dispute to an independent assessor. The comparison period for annual price increases that trigger the right to request an MRO and rent assessment will also change from 13 to 12 months, and pub companies will be required to give the pubs code adjudicator details of who they have sold any tied pub to so it can ensure the rights of tied tenants continue. In addition, the period for which pub companies come under the code’s regulation will be reduced to having 500 pubs or more for three months rather than six months.
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a business that owns a number of leisure and entertainment venues across the UK and is seeking a head of entertainment. The individual will be responsible for creating and implementing the business strategy across the sites in order to drive brand awareness, guest experience and achieve pre-determined revenue targets. The ideal candidate will have a background in promoting products and entertainment programmes for multiple sites. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “We are seeking someone ambitious and creative who can think outside the box and is excited to be part of this fantastic brand.” This role is London based with hybrid working available and the salary starts at £55,000. For more information and to apply, email David@Corecruitment.com
Young’s adds award-winning Surrey Hills pub to estate: London pub operator Young’s has made a further addition to its premium managed pub portfolio, with the acquisition of the White Horse in the Surrey Hills, Propel has learned. The company has acquired the freehold of the multiple award-winning 16th century pub in the village of Hascombe. The company called it a “quintessential English country pub with charming interior and a capacious garden”. The pub was previously owned by Paul Morganti and his wife Sorrel. The acquisition of the White Horse follows Young’s purchase of seven pubs in total from the Cotswolds-based Lucky Onion Group; The Pheasant near Hungerford, Berkshire, from Jack Greenall, a scion of the Greenall Whitley brewing family; and The Bull at Ditchling, East Sussex, for an undisclosed sum.
Hopback Brewery forecasts challenging year ahead as trade polarises, fears lost customer base may prove permanent, turnover down but losses narrow: Salisbury-based brewer and retailer Hopback Brewery, which also operates nine pubs – mainly in the south and south west of England – has forecast a challenging year ahead as trade polarises. It has also reduced its losses, despite less turnover, by selling a pub and received £330,000 in government grants. In its accounts for the year ending 30 September 2021, Hopback reported turnover of £1.4m (down from £2.2m in 2020), but saw its pre-tax losses narrow from £182,000 in 2020 to £129,000. A statement accompanying the accounts said: “The directors consider this coming year could be a most challenging one for the sector. In common with many businesses, the main points of concern are inflation, leading to a squeeze in household incomes, and we are in a sector relying on discretionary spending. At the same time, the resultant increases in input prices for energy, raw materials and labour will make it all the more difficult to keep prices at the level which would attract the consumer. The way that pubs are assessed for business rates, relying on historical income that is unlikely to be reflected in present day trading, is another threat to the profitability of the hospitality sector. It also seems clear that not all of those who were prevented, during lockdown, from going to the pub, are coming back at present, and this trend may well prove permanent. This has resulted in a very polarised trade, with less demand for wet-led pubs, and some in city areas suffering from the increase in working from home, another trend which may persist.” As well as selling a pub and receiving rent support from landlords, the company took out a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan, which meant it didn’t have to increase its borrowing. The company has also acquired a canning line to help extend its take-home offer and allow access to other outlets.
Prospect Pubs & Bars opens debut London site: Prospect Pubs & Bars, owned by Dan Shotton and Mark Draper, who sold Redcomb Pubs to Young’s in 2019, will open its debut London site today (Thursday, 24 March). The company is launching The Cambria in Camberwell, adding to the group’s five already trading sites. The lease of the Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars site was acquired by Shotton and Draper in November, and has since undergone a major £600,000-plus upgrade. The main bar has been enlarged, plus The Cambria now also benefits from a new, 70-cover garden room with retractable roof and sides. Outside, there’s a 40-cover enclosed garden, plus upstairs the private dining room has also been upgraded, with space for 40 seated diners, a private bar and bespoke menus. The food menu features a range of pub classics with the drinks offering including beer, cider, wine, spirits and cocktails, plus a selection of no and low-alcohol options. Draper said: “We’re delighted to bring this landmark south east London pub back into operation after being closed for more than two years, and to also be adding our first London pub to the Prospect portfolio.” Star Pubs & Bars business development manager, Colin Coogan, added: “We’re delighted to have co-invested with Prospect Pubs & Bars to create a fantastic neighbourhood pub. The Cambria has retained its character and individuality while improving its look and feel, broadening its appeal.” As previously reported, Prospect Pubs & Bars plans to increase its rate of openings to between five and seven sites annually from this year.
Gordon Ramsay Restaurants to open Street Burger site in Farringdon: Gordon Ramsay Restaurants is to add to its fast-growing Street Burger estate, with an opening in London’s Farringdon. Propel understands Street Burger is to take over the ex-Byron site in Cowcross Street for an opening later this spring. Ramsay is also understood to have also applied to take the ex-By Chloe site at One Tower Bridge for his fast-growing burger concept. Earlier this month, the company confirmed it is to open a site under its Street Burger concept in Edinburgh, as part of the St James Quarter scheme. It has secured a 5,600 square foot site across two floors of the development. The new site, the ninth under the brand, will feature a games lounge and DJ booth alongside a dining area.
Pret to open new sites in Luxembourg and Germany: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-owned chain, is to further increase its presence in Europe with new openings in Luxembourg and Germany. The company will open its first Luxembourg outlet in the Royal-Hamilius complex in the summer. Before that it will open its first site in Frankfurt this spring, in the German city’s financial district. It has partnered with local business Shaffi Group to launch in Frankfurt. The Shaffi Group is one of the largest franchisees of Burger King in Germany with circa 40 sites in the south west of the country. The openings mark another step in Pret’s ambitious growth plans to double the size of its business through expansion into new regions and countries across the globe. Stéphane Klein, managing director at Pret A Manger Europe, said: “We are proud to open this first Pret shop in Frankfurt in partnership with Shaffi Group. The Shaffi family has a remarkable track record in our industry over the last 25 years and we share the same sense of people focus and quality customer experience, which is very important to us. Bringing Pret A Manger to more German customers is also exciting as we know their appetite for fresh and healthy food. I can promise that, together with Shaffi Group, we will give them the best of Pret.” Pret made its debut in Germany in 2018, when it opened a site in Berlin’s main station, under franchise with SSP.
Itsu appoints Greg Thorp as new chief financial officer: Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain, has appointed Greg Thorp, formerly of Pret A Manger, as its new chief financial officer. Thorp joins the Julian Metcalfe-founded business after more than 15 years with Pret where he was most recently group business partnering and development director. He also had stints as Pret’s US president, head of finance and financial controller. He joins as Itsu gears up to make its debut in Scotland on Friday (25 March) in Edinburgh’s St James Quarter. The opening in Edinburgh will be the second franchise site for the brand with Heart with Smarts. It will open a company-owned site in Woking at the start of April. Talking to Propel earlier this month, Metcalfe said the company’s sales were at last back to 2019 levels and he believes by June “the City will be rocking”. Metcalfe said the success of the group’s recent regional openings and the backing of Bridgepoint, which acquired 30% of the business from Ambrosia SPV last year, had given the company the confidence to commit to 25 new store openings this year and “also next year and the year after”. The company also has sites lined up in Hampstead and Bromley.
KFC further strengthens UK & Ireland management team with new CFO and CDO appointments: KFC UK & Ireland has further strengthened its management team with the appointment of Matthew McCormick as its new chief finance officer, and James Whitehorn, as its new chief development officer. McCormick, who has been the brand’s chief development officer for the past three years, replaces Chris Drew as chief financial officer. Drew recently left KFC UK & Ireland, to take up a global role with parent company Yum! Brands. McCormick previously spent more than seven years with Boston Consulting Group. Whitehorn has been with KFC since February 2018, and has been its commercial director for the past two years. Neil Piper, interim managing director of KFC UK & Ireland, said: “Matt moves into the chief financial officer role, having led record breaking new restaurant development results with his team and our franchisees as our chief development officer since 2019. James joins our leadership team having rapidly progressed through our commercial finance organisation, most recently stewarding strategy and performance as commercial director. Working closely with both Matt and with James is a privilege for us all; our entire organisation benefits from their partnership and impact for the continued growth of KFC.”
Albion & East to open Teatro Hall in Ealing next month: Albion & East, the Imbiba-backed, London-based bar business, is to open its sixth site next month at The Filmworks scheme in Ealing. The new 5,000 square foot site, which will open on Monday, 11 April, features the company’s signature “all-day and late-night offer”. Teatro Hall will have a coal-fired pizza oven, in-house baking and a new urban distillery and tasting room, where customers can create their own gin, bottle it and wax-seal with personalised labels. The tasting room will also host gin blending masterclasses, gin tastings and a bottle shop. Teatro Hall will serve coffee, brunch and hot-desking by day, and cocktails, events and DJs by night. Albion & East also operates Martello Hall in Hackney, Canova Hall & Cattivo in Brixton, Serata Hall in Old Street and Allora Hall in Crouch End. Sarah Weir, founder and managing director, said: “We are very proud to have created our new ‘Hall’ in such an iconic building in Ealing, the site of an old theatre and cinema, which has been empty for many years. With floor to ceiling windows, high ceilings, a large island bar and open kitchen with coal-fired pizza oven, it has a scale that is evocative of art deco buildings of old. To bring this building back to its former glory and provide an all-day hub for the local neighbourhood is exciting and we are looking forward to opening in Ealing.”
Chef Thomas Straker to launch debut restaurant this summer, former Acre project scrapped due to pandemic: Chef Thomas Straker, previously of Elystan Street and Casa Cruz, will open his debut restaurant, Strakers, in London’s Goldborne Road in June. A 40-cover restaurant with an open kitchen, Straker’s will see the chef “draw on more than a decade of experience in some of London’s best restaurants such as The Dorchester, Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner and Phil Howard’s Michelin-starred Elystan Street, to create a menu driven by quality produce”. Straker’s is a replacement project for the chef’s proposed Acre restaurant, which was due to open in Queen’s Park last year, but never got off the ground due to the pandemic, leading him to find a new site and tweak the concept. At Straker’s, the menu will be constantly evolving, with a mix of snacks, small and larger plates, with guests encouraged to “muck in and order for the table”. There will also be wine from France, Italy and Spain alongside contemporary classic cocktails on the drinks list. Straker said: “Straker’s has been a long time coming, and I couldn’t be more excited to finally open after years in the planning. For me, it’s all about using the best produce, so while the menu will be uncomplicated and unfussy, the techniques used in the kitchen have been carefully considered to really ensure each ingredient has its moment in the spotlight.” Having left the commercial kitchen scene to work as a private chef during the pandemic, Straker also used the lockdowns to create food and recipe content for his YouTube, Instagram and Tiktok platforms. Last year, he returned to the London restaurant scene for a sell-out residency at Marylebone pop-up Carousel, and in January, he opened content studio Bunka in West London to assist his social media showcasing.
Prison-themed immersive experience opens fourth site: Prison-themed immersive experience Alcotraz has opened its fourth site, in Liverpool. Combining premium cocktails with a theatrical storyline, Alcotraz sees guests become part of the story as they team up with a cast of actors to try to smuggle contraband liquor past the warden to the inmates, who then transform it into cocktails. Based in Liverpool’s Seel Street, the new experience is called Alcotraz: Cell Block Three-Six and comprises ten individual cells, accommodating 50 “inmates” for each experience. Created by Inventive Productions, Alcotraz first opened in London in 2017 and has since expanded to Manchester and Brighton. Sam Shearman, creator of Alcotraz and founder of Inventive Productions, said: “This new Liverpool site will see us experiment with really ambitious expansions to our unique storyline.”
KityCow founder Aaron Thomas to host long-term residency at Hackney Church Brew Co: Chef Aaron Thomas, who is behind Indo-Nepalese concept KityCow that featured on BBC show My Million Pound Menu, is to host a long-term residency at Hackney Church Brew Co in east London. Thomas, who was a semi-finalist on MasterChef: The Professionals in 2020, will be cooking up dishes at the brewpub in Bohemia Place from next month. Thomas began his career at Claridge’s in London before heading to Australia. On his return to the UK he went to work at London restaurants Picture and Perilla before appearing on My Million Pound Menu with business partner Joe Allen to showcase KityCow. Although the duo did not receive investment, they impressed judges Jamie Baber and Atul Kochhar, which led to a four-month residency at Barber’s Hush restaurant in Mayfair. When the residency ended, Thomas went to work for Kochhar at his Hawkyns restaurant in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. Hackney Church Brew Co managing director, Hamish Glenn said: “Aaron will be serving the best of British produce, locally sourced and sustainable where possible, using Indian flavours and inspiration alongside non-traditional ingredients and modern European cooking techniques, elevating dishes to fine dining standard. Aaron will be cooking his own food his own way for the first time and we’re excited for him to join us.”
Leeds Premier Inn sells for £16m in off-market deal, reports strong trading: London-based investment fund Mayfair Capital has acquired a Premier Inn hotel in Leeds for £16.08m, reflecting a net initial yield of 4% in an off-market deal. Mayfair made the purchase through its flagship fund, Property Income Trust for Charities (Pitch), from property investment company Town Centre Securities. The hotel was built in 2017 and is let to Premier Inn with a guarantee from its owner, Whitbread, until 2042, with indexed rent reviews. The asset includes 136 bedrooms over eight floors with a bar and restaurant on the ground floor. Since opening, the hotel has delivered strong trading results and has remained open throughout the pandemic. Hector Ahern, investment associate at Mayfair Capital, said: “After muted activity in the hotel sector during 2021, the outlook for long let hotels appears to be improving rapidly. As the largest operator with a strong balance sheet, Premier Inn has remained largely stable, with well-located assets and strong fundamentals. It remains the operator of choice for most institutional real estate investors.” Simon Martindale, Pitch fund director, added: “This asset is an excellent addition to the portfolio that increases the fund’s weighting to alternatives and provides secure and long income that will rise ahead of inflation. We expect the strong hotel fundamentals and thematic credentials of the asset to underpin performance during the hold period.”
Former MasterChef: The Professionals contestant makes restaurant debut: Chef Gavin Barnes, who made it into the last ten of the 2015 series of MasterChef: The Professionals, has made his restaurant debut. Barnes, who was most recently executive head chef at Brooklands Hotel in Weybridge and was also head chef at Gerard and Nina Basset's Hotel Terravina and Spot in the Woods, has taken on a former PizzaExpress unit at 68 High Street in Lymington, Hampshire. His restaurant, The High Street Kitchen is set over 2,660 square feet, with basement and ground floor restaurant areas offering seating for about 68 covers, plus a small rear courtyard terrace. Barnes said: “It has long been my dream to open a restaurant, and I am delighted to now have the opportunity to do so in my adopted home town of Lymington. The High Street Kitchen is built around the vision of a relaxed fine dining experience that champions the incredible seasonal produce available locally, supplemented by the finest ingredients from around the world. My dining style is based on simple food well cooked, so you can expect an honest and uncomplicated but perfectly crafted meal.” Savills advised landlord, the Whitelock Group, on the letting.
Salford hotel put on market for £8.5m by administrators: Boutique four-star Ainscow Hotel in Salford has been put on the market for £8.5m after its owners called in administrators. The hotel, which was founded by late property developer Carol Ainscow, is set in the former Brown Brothers brewery in Trinity Way. Artisan, the developer and operator of the Ainscow Hotel, appointed joint administrators Jimmy Saunders and Andrew Knowles, of Kroll Advisory, to Artisan H1, The Ainscow Hotel, Greyday, and Artisan Group Facilities Management in September 2021. They have now instructed Knight Frank as the sole selling agent for the sale of the hotel. The property was originally the home of The Watson & Woodhead Brewery in 1878, before it became a Mackie & Sons Fruit Preserves jam factory in 1972. The Artisan Property Group then purchased the property in 2003 and later converted the building into a hotel, which opened in 2014 following a major capital expenditure programme. The building comprises 87 rooms that are arranged over two floors and there are plans in place to create extra rooms including 99 apartments on the site. Matthew Smith, partner in Knight Frank’s hotels team, said the team expects to find a buyer soon given “the lack of hotels available for sale in the current market”.
Woking’s £700m regeneration scheme, including F&B concepts, officially opens, with new Superbowl and hotel to follow: Woking’s £700m town centre regeneration scheme Victoria Place, which includes food and beverage concepts such as Itsu, Gail’s and Komo, has officially opened. Anchoring the scheme is a new flagship 50,000 square-foot M&S store, which will include a bespoke bakery and cafe offering Fairtrade coffee. East Asian-inspired fast-food chain Itsu, artisan bakery Gail’s and independent cocktail bar Komo are all set to open next month. A new branch of Gym Group will also open in the scheme next month, followed this summer by a new 16-lane Superbowl in a 26,500 square-foot space that will also include a licensed food and beverage offer. The series of launches will culminate in November with the opening of a 22-storey, 189-bed four-star Hilton Hotel, which will house three independent dining concepts totalling almost 9,500 square feet. These will include a contemporary sky bar on the 22nd floor called Loft, providing views across London and Surrey. Hilton Woking will also house a 7,600 square feet of function areas and corporate meeting space.
Tipjar appoints Julian Ross as non-executive director: Cashless tipping platform Tipjar has appointed Julian Ross, chief executive of Wireless Social, as a non-executive director to help guide their team into the next stage of growth. Tipjar, co-founded by Brewdog Bars managing director James Brown, is on a global mission to bring “transparent, fair, and staff-controlled digital tipping to the hospitality industry”. Ross joins board members including Gary Dolman, co-founder of Monzo, and Simon Bocca, former chief operating officer of Fourth. Tipjar, which launched in 2019 and is now cleared by HM Revenue & Customs, is live in more than 2,000 venues across four countries, and has in excess of 20,000 users interacting with the platform. “Julian brings decades of diverse experiences both in the hospitality sector and otherwise, having already spent almost ten years as chief executive of Wireless Social,” said Brown. “We are already looking to Julian to support our sales effort, and to strengthen the personal growth of our teams, as well as the financial growth of our young business.” During his time at Wireless Social, which focuses on guest-driven Wi-Fi connectivity experiences for hospitality, Ross has helped the business expand into more than 600 brands, with in excess of 28 million guests interacting with the platform.
Ayrshire-based burger restaurant concept Meat in the Middle to open sixth site, five more planned this year: Ayrshire-based burger restaurant concept Meat in the Middle is to open its sixth site, in Ardrossan – with more to follow. The company will launch the restaurant in Princes Street in the next few weeks in the former Garfield’s Tapas and Wine Bar premises, which closed in April 2019. Meat in the Middle co-owner, Ross Gilmour, said he is keen to keep growing the business with plans for five new venues by the end of this year. He told the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald: “It’s exciting times and it’s full steam ahead.” Meat in the Middle also has sites in Ayr, Falkirk, Irvine, Kilmarnock and Paisley, with a new site in Greenock due to follow soon.