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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 29th Mar 2022 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Fireaway eyes 500-strong estate, makes international debut: Mario Aleppo, founder and chief executive of fast pizza brand Fireaway has told Propel he sees the potential for the business to grow to 500 sites within the next ten years. The company opened its 100th franchise site at the end of January, in Walsall, just five years after the business was launched. A further four sites have been opened in the UK over the last two months, with the most recent opening last week in Weston-super-Mare. Aleppo said the business, which posted turnover of £35m in 2021, had another 27 sites signed up for opening this year in the UK. A launch in Northern Ireland is also imminent. The company has a good mixture of “personal, family and corporate franchisees” and Aleppo said the business was attracting franchisees from other more established franchised brands. He said: “I look at some of our more established competitors and I think there is a limit of how many sites you can have before you start stepping on your franchisees toes. Realistically, I think that is around the 500-site mark. I am comfortable with that figure.” Fireaway, which is a “Subway-style” pizzeria concept, that offers true Italian pizza in just 180 seconds, made its international debut last week, with a site opening in The Netherlands, in Amsterdam, at Ferdinand Bolstraat. The site was opened by the brother of an existing franchise of the brand in the UK. Under the agreement he will initially open five sites under the Fireaway brand in The Netherlands. Fireaway recently launched a global strategy aimed at following in the footsteps of Domino’s and Pizza Hut. Master franchisees have come on board in Canada, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India. Aleppo, who opened the first Fireaway branch in Mitcham, south London, has appointed his two younger brothers to spearhead its international efforts, with one managing its German operation and the other overseeing The Netherlands. Aleppo told Propel he would not rule out launching another complimentary concept to Fireaway in the future. Aleppo said: “I think we have found a good space, which is between quick service  and fast-casual/casual dining.” Fireaway 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 to upgrade your subscription.

Industry News:

Host of bar operators set to join updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies: A host of bar operators 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 Mr Lyan bar group, which is owned by Ryan Chetiyawardana, and has recently launched a new cocktail bar, Seed Library, at east London’s newest hotel, One Hundred Shoreditch. Also added is Surrey-based cocktail bar company Komo, which has been operating a site in Millbrook, Guildford, since 2015, and has announced it is opening a second site next month, in Woking's Victoria Place. In addition, Soho Bars Group, which was founded by Siobhan McGill and Keith Todd, and operates Freedom Bar, Soho Residence and the newest site to its portfolio, theatrical bar and restaurant, The Act, will be featured. Meanwhile three-strong, Nightjar, which was founded by Edmund Weil and Roisin Stimpson, and is now opening Nightjar Kingly Court in the heart of London’s West End next month, is included. Premium subscribers will also receive a 5,156-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 17,200-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 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.

Matt Snell to feature in ‘plotting a path forward’ video series: In a new series of Propel videos in conjunction with workforce management tech firm Harri, Propel group editor Mark Wingett talks to leading operators on lessons they learnt during the pandemic, how they are using them to shape their businesses going forward, and focus on the opportunities and challenges that are ahead for them, their companies and the sector as a whole. The next video in the series features Matt Snell, chief executive of Gusto Italian. The video will be sent at 9am today (Tuesday, 29 March).

Carlsberg and Heineken to exit Russian market: Carlsberg will exit the Russian market and take a “substantial” non-cash impairment charge. Heineken has also announced it had decided to exit its Russian business at a cost of €400m ($438m). “We have taken the difficult and immediate decision to seek a full disposal of our business in Russia, which we believe is the right thing to do in the current environment,” Carlsberg said. “Upon completion we will have no presence in Russia.” Carlsberg launched a strategic review of its Russian business, which employs about 8,400 people, this month but had kept its eight breweries in the country operating. The decision to exit Russia would result in a “substantial non-cash impairment charge” this year, it said without providing further details. Carlsberg had non-current assets in Russia worth 19.2 billion Danish crowns by the end of 2021, which amounts to around 15% of total assets or 44% of its total equity, its annual report showed. Heineken stated: “We have concluded that Heineken's ownership of the business in Russia is no longer sustainable nor viable in the current environment,” adding it would not profit from any transfer of ownership. The company said it would guarantee the salaries of its 1,800 Russian employees to the end of this year.

Super-sized year of sport ‘offers standout opportunity for operators’: Some 16.1 million UK adults intend to watch at least some of this year’s men’s FIFA World Cup in a pub or bar while 8.8 million want to watch a 2022 women’s Football European Championship game, according to new research. The findings by KAM and Fanzo (formerly MatchPint) also showed 64% of publicans think showing live sports is profitable to their business and see more than £11 uplift in average spend per customer while showing major sporting events. More than two-in-three publicans said they have invested in equipment or furniture to make their pub/bar more attractive to customers watching live sport. Of those that currently show live sport, the majority of publicans believe the men’s Premier League will be the most profitable sport. However, only 18% of publicans said they do anything in particular to encourage customers to watch “live” women’s sporting events in their pub/bars. Blake Gladman, strategy and insight director, KAM, said: “2022 promises to be a fantastic year for sport and these numbers speak for themselves, with tens of millions of fans looking to catch all of the action throughout the year. One of the biggest challenges for many pubs and bars is to convince customers to leave the confines of their homes and venture out to the pub. Live sport can be that catalyst.” Dom Collingwood, co-founder of Fanzo, added: “The ability of sport to bring people together is unparalleled. And in those moments, there are countless opportunities for pubs. As this new research shows, there are chances to bring fans together and create unforgettable sporting memories every single week.”

Cost efficiencies and strong investor appetite hold hotel values relatively firm: Europe’s hotels saw a recovery in values in 2021 buoyed by cost efficiencies, strong demand in the second half of the year and continued investment interest, according to the annual European Hotel Valuation Index by global hotel consultancy HVS. The report indicated a 5% average improvement on values compared with 2020. The fact investors maintained their interest in hotels during the pandemic has held values fairly steady, particularly in properties with good potential and in strong locations driving demand for deals that are realistically priced, HVS said. There was no real volume of distressed sales coming to the market and, as trading prospects improved, this was reflected in the value recovery across all markets. In valuations of 130 hotels across 33 European cities, the HVS research revealed around 60% saw a value decline of between 5% and 15% in 2020. In 2021, more than three-quarters of these properties saw values increase, with the ones that didn’t mostly being those undergoing refurbishments involving periods of closure. Report co-author Mathilde De Bona, an analyst with HVS London, said: “Strong investor appetite for the hotel sector remains, as the amount of unallocated capital is still at record levels and interest rates are relatively low.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a lifestyle operator within the hospitality industry that is looking for a director of food and beverage/head of operations to lead its UK operations. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “From cocktail bar to casual dining restaurant operations, to luxury boutique hotel, the director of operations will be a chameleon and an ambassador of the brand in all occasions. This is an operational role that will involve leading the team, ensuring maximisation of revenue and profits and developing best offers and promotional campaigns. This is also a strategic role: development of concepts; supporting openings and future acquisition across the UK. We are looking for a natural born leader who loves the industry, a passionate individual with strong marketing and commercial focus, and an ambassador that has previous experience in the London and UK hospitality industry.” The role is London based with a salary of up to £90,000. For more information and to apply, email

Company News:

Ferrier – covid taught us we can sustain a lot more pressure than we thought: Richard Ferrier, managing director of Brasserie Bar Co, believes the pandemic taught businesses they can withstand a lot more pressure than they ever felt possible. Speaking in Propel’s video series Plotting a Path Forward, which is sponsored by workforce management tech firm Harri, Ferrier said: “It taught us you can sustain a lot of pressure, and a lot more than you’d think. Resilience builds up over time, and we definitely saw this with the managers, who became very slick at opening and closing the business. They built a level of resilience which shocked themselves really.” Ferrier said going into the pandemic, the business “wasn’t exactly flush with cash” and “didn’t have a particularly good-looking balance sheet”, but three key factors helped them through the initial lockdown periods – modelling, communications and reviewing. “We modelled and said we can get to the end of August if we keep everybody, end of September with 75% and end of October with 50%,” he said. “We took the view if it buys you an extra two months, it’s not really any use. We’d rather take everyone with us, and if we go down, we go down. If we’re going to have a business on the other side of this, we’re going to need the skilled people we’ve invested in. Staff turnover has now never been better, the best retention we’ve ever had. We also sent more than 75,000 letters to our people during covid, sometimes with not a lot to say, but we wrote anyway. That was a massive thing for us as expectation of good comms has carried on post-covid, and we’re light years ahead of where we were. We also reviewed a lot of habits we had built up, things that were never going to be sustainable in a post-Brexit world. Covid forced us to make decisions we should have made five years prior and gave us a great opportunity to stop and think. It was bloody tough, but a worthwhile thing to go through as it got the business into good shape.”

Brighton Pier Group focusing expansion on family leisure portfolio, forecasts good summer of trade: Brighton Pier Group will focus future acquisition on its family leisure portfolio, with chief executive Anne Ackford predicting a “good summer” for the sector. The group reported a “robust” outlook in its interim report for the 26 weeks ending 26 December 2021, saying trading was ahead of expectations and revenue up 33% on pre-covid levels. It currently operates eight bars and eight indoor mini-golf businesses, as well as Brighton Pier and the Lightwater Valley theme park. Ackford told Propel: “The bars are not part of our list for expansion. We’ve got lots of ideas about enhancing our current bars, but unless something comes along of real interest, our focus is on the family leisure sphere, and that’s where our next acquisition will be. We’ve had some excellent results and managed the business very carefully, which the results reflect. We’ve benefited from pent-up demand, and I can see that continuing. The sector is in for a good summer, and family and leisure is where we want to be. The weather was good this weekend, and the pier and Lightwater were both very busy. I get a sense from talking to customers that family and spending time together are important, and people are looking for additional things, so we need to make it the best experience for them. If you create something people really want, they will pay for it, so we need to make sure we’re worth their expenditure. It’s simple, but more and more important.” Ackford added there is nothing currently in the pipeline for its mini-golf concept, but the group is “looking for opportunities all the time”, adding: “We’re not time-bound, it’s if the right one comes along. We don’t want to rush it and buy the wrong one. If you look at the three acquisition we’ve made since the pier, they’ve all made very good returns, and we want the next acquisition to be equally as good.” Of the operational improvements the group said will help mitigate inflationary cost pressures, Ackford added: “There’s cost pressures from all angles. We didn’t win the VAT war, but I sincerely hope the industry campaign continues. We have to look at the business like a household budget and find cleverer way of buying. We have to be disciplined and prudent and find the best price possible. Training of staff is also something we need to do better as an industry – use technology and whatever we can to support it, but train, train, train.”

Oakman to put name a bit more ‘front and centre’, opens second Seafood Pub Co site: Peter Borg-Neal, chairman of Oakman Group, has told Propel he feels it is time the business puts its name a bit more “front and centre now”. He said: “We've gained so much affection among our customers and probably should be a little bit louder and prouder. So, you'll see a clearer definition, it'll still be the Red Lion or it'll still be the King's Arms, but you'll notice a bit more about Oakman. It is a long-term, proven concept.” It comes as the company opens its second site under the Seafood Pub Company umbrella, since it acquired the six-strong business out of administration last March. The business has reopened The Grand Junction Arms in Bulbourne, near Tring, after a six-month renovation project, which is being run by Borg-Neal’s son. He said: “And then Dermot (King, Oakman chief executive) has got the ninth lined up that he needs to give the nod on and we're looking for number ten. So, I think we are really looking forward to evolving two very exciting brands with their own clear positioning. The Seafood Pubs can go into smaller buildings and openings that might help us to grow a tiny bit quicker. And of course, it allows us to spread ourselves a bit more geographically. The acquisition and the addition of Joycelyn [Neve] to our management team has provided us with the confidence we can enlarge our geographical reach.”

London Village Inns secures eighth site: London Village Inns, the Martin Harley-led pub business, has secured its eighth site in the capital, in Kilburn, Propel has learned. The family-run company has secured the Black Lion, a grade II-listed public house at 274 Kilburn High Road, with a reopening planned for next month. The business, which also operates the likes of the Crown & Anchor and the Rose & Crown in Stoke Newington, said: “On reopening we will be offering real ale, cider, an eclectic wine list and some of the finest beer from around the world on tap. Our food offer will not be your standard pub fare, and among vegetarian and vegan dishes we will serve meat, fish and bread from our charcoal oven with plates influenced by the subcontinent.” Harley told Propel: “The Black Lion in Kilburn is a fantastic looking pub and has a real wow factor. It certainly made an impression on me on first walking through her doors ten years ago. It also has a 14-bedroom hotel above that we feel we can add real value. We can't wait to get started and hope to do justice to this local iconic north London pub.” Andrew Robinson, of A3A4 Licensed Property, acted on the Black Lion deal. 

Hawksmoor appoints Gemma Eley as new people director: Graphite Capital-backed steakhouse concept Hawksmoor has appointed Gemma Eley as its new people director, Propel has learned. Eley joins the ten-strong group after over two years at Hotel Chocolat, where she was head of people. Previous to that she spent more than a decade at Sainsbury’s, including almost two years as its senior talent partner. Last month, Will Beckett, co-founder of Hawksmoor, told Propel the success of its at-home offer had shown there “is more white space for the brand” to go after. He said: “It is an interesting business that we are still learning a lot about. We have learned Hawksmoor has more white space to go after than we really thought. It is limited as we are a big city centre restaurant brand, but suddenly if you live in Harrogate or Dartmouth, you can have Hawksmoor.” In January, Propel revealed Hawksmoor had secured a new bank facility, believed to be £12m to £13m, which will provide longer-term funding for a pipeline of new sites in the UK and the US. 

Gladwin brothers confirm Wimbledon opening for sixth site: The Gladwin brothers – Richard, Oliver and Gregory – have confirmed they will open their sixth site, in Wimbledon. As revealed by Propel in February, the brothers will launch the venue in Wimbledon village, in May. The new restaurant and bar – The Black Sheep – will again be an extension of the company’s “Local & Wild” concept with “a distinct countryside-luxe style serving modern farm-to-fork food in an atmospheric, sprawling space just by the common”. The Black Sheep will take residence in the former White Onion restaurant premises in High Street. The 65-seat venue will be open for lunch and dinner and feature a private dining room. The wine list will champion English wine from the family’s vineyard in West Sussex alongside wine from across the globe housed in the basement wine cellar. The brothers also operate the Notting Hill-based The Shed, Nutborne in Battersea, Rabbit in Chelsea and Sussex in Soho. Last November, the business opened The Fat Badger, its latest lounge bar and dining venture, just off Richmond High Street in the former Gourmet Burger Kitchen site in Hill Rise. Richard Gladwin said: “With the momentum from our recent opening in Richmond behind us, we’re excited to expand our neighbourhood offering in Wimbledon. It’s great to be fighting back post-pandemic and giving people an excuse to dine out again and enjoy the season’s harvest over a glass of wine.” Marc Rogers, of MKR Property, acted on the Wimbledon deal.

Buns from Home secures fourth site, Japanese ‘minimalist’ concept lines up restaurant debut: Independent bakery business Buns from Home has secured its fourth site, at Covent Garden’s The Yards, while Japanese temaki and sashimi concept Ukiyo will make its restaurant debut in the development. Buns from Home, which started out as a pandemic project for west Londoner Barney Goff, will next month move into a 220 square foot site at 140 Long Acre, offering the brand’s signature cinnamon and cardamom croissant buns alongside dessert buns and savoury options. Goff said: “Starting out in my mum’s kitchen, Buns from Home really is the epitome of humble beginnings, and although we now have a little help and work on a slightly larger scale, our methods and ethos are as artisanal as ever. Signing for our debut central London location in The Yards is a major milestone for us.” Ukiyo, meanwhile, will this summer open its first restaurant in a 1,636 square foot unit at 8 Slingsby Place. Its minimalist menu will focus solely on Japanese hand rolls and a rich east Asian-inspired mixology offering. CBRE acted for landlords Longmartin Properties, while Colliers and DCL acted for The Yards. Buns From Home and Ukiyo represented themselves.

Atis to open in Notting Hill for third site: Atis, the healthy salad bar and bowl concept, is to open its third site, in Notting Hill. Husband-and-wife team Eleanor Warder and Phil Horner are launching the venue in Pembridge Road on Thursday, 28 April. The site will have 37 spaces for dine-in as well as offering takeaway and delivery. The build-your-own bowls options will include “The Earth Bowl” – made up of freshly chopped romaine, garden herb quinoa, red raw slaw, cherry tomatoes, zero waste spring greens, pickled red onion, dukkah and tahini yoghurt dressing. Warder said: “Notting Hill is a real humdrum of activity and we’re very much looking forward to being part of the community. We feel the area will welcome our offering, and very much hope Atis will soon become a go-to for a refreshing, nourishing and energetic experience.” Atis opened its debut site in Shoreditch in 2019 before adding an outlet in Eccleston Yards last year.

Lucky Club Mayfair team agrees deal to open in Camden for second site: The team behind The Lucky Club in Mayfair, which serves cocktails and bao, is to double up in the capital. Hartshorn Hook Enterprises has agreed a deal with LabTech to take on a roof terrace space across the Chalk Farm entrance to Camden Market, in the former Fest premises. The Lucky Club Camden will span 5,600 square foot and seat 130 covers. It will feature a Mexican-inspired menu, specialising in margaritas and mezcal cocktails. They will be served alongside contemporary takes on classic dishes, such as lobster tacos, pulled lamb birria tacos, and coconut ceviche tostadas. The site is set to open in May and is part of Camden Market’s £1.2m refurbishment of The North Yard. Louis Hartshorn, co-founder of The Lucky Club, said: “The Lucky Club name was born from an appreciation for being able to do what we love, day in, day out. Camden Market provides us with the perfect location to continue our brand ethos and be part of an energetic, exciting, and vibrant area.” Hartshorn Hook Enterprises is also behind the upcoming Peaky Blinders: The Rise immersive theatre experience, which is set to launch in Camden Market’s newly created Vanguard Theatre later this year.
Fridays expands plant-based range with Meatless Farm partnership: Fridays, part of Hostmore, is expanding its range of plant-based dishes, as it partners with Meatless Farm. Available nationwide, the new items include plant-based versions of iconic Fridays dishes, including Fridays Sesame Strips, alongside new options – vegan loaded fries, meatless chicken tacos and meatless chicken fri-jitas. Recent research carried out by Meatless Farm found almost half (43%) of Brits want to eat more plant-based food in 2022 – a massive increase from one in ten (9%) in 2019. When asked why, the top reason cited by more than half (55%) of respondents was flavour. Robert B Cook, Fridays chief executive, said: “We want our iconic Fridays service, spirit of generosity, and delicious, freshly-prepared food, to be available to everyone, which is why we’re delighted to be launching our best range of plant-based options.”

Benugo to operate trio of venues at Glasgow museum: Benugo, the operator of deli cafes and catering in high-profile venues such as the Natural History Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum, is to open three locations at The Burrell Collection museum in Glasgow. The Burrell Restaurant, The Burrell Coffee Shop and an espresso bar will all sit on-site at the A-listed home of The Burrell Collection in Pollok Country Park, which reopens today (Tuesday, 29 March) after a major refurbishment. The Burrell Restaurant will offer breakfast and lunch menus including dishes such as Burrell beef burger with Ayrshire streaky bacon, melted cheese, red onion, iceberg lettuce, spiced burger sauce, and gherkins. All three venues will serve Benugo’s 100% carbon neutral coffee. Phil Cass, Benugo operations director in Scotland, said: “The Burrell Collection is such a landmark opening for Scotland and we are excited to be part of it.”

‘England’s oldest pub’ to reopen under new management: Ye Old Fighting Cocks in Hertfordshire, reputedly England's oldest pub, will reopen next Monday (4 April) under new management as former staff step up to save it from permanent closure. Former manager Martin Robinson is now landlord of the St Albans pub, which is said to date as far as the eighth century, and he has teamed up with head chef Ian Baulsh and Sam Walker to take over the lease and give the pub a new life. The new strategy will include a rejuvenated food offering, including regularly changing specials and an extensive barbecue area in the pub’s garden. The pub, which is owned by Mitchells & Butlers, closed in February, with the then landlord Christo Tofalli saying the past two years had been “unprecedented for the hospitality industry”. Robinson said: “I have worked here for 12 years as the manager, so I have a clear vision of how to ensure the future success of this pub. Ian has been head chef for the past eight years and is excited to share the pub’s new menus and his food strategy going forward. Sam brings a talent for aesthetics and design that will help us to enhance our customer experience, while retaining all the wonderful features of its rich history.”

Brixton restaurateur heads to London Bridge: Brixton-based restaurateur Michael Lythgoe has headed out of the district and into London Bridge for his next project, which opens on Thursday (31 March). Brix will be a restaurant and late-night bar at the former Hixter Bankside Restaurant & Bar site in 16 Guildford Street. The 8,500 square foot venue aims to bring a “classic taste” of New York’s Brooklyn to the capital. Lythgoe has teamed up with chef Radek Nitkowski, previously of Soho House Group, to create a concept “where the dining scene collides with exhibitions, DJ sets, film screenings and revolving street art”. Nitkowski’s menu of “gourmet street food” will include lobster and chips and a hemp and cauliflower burger with mango chutney and house pickles. Drinks will include craft beer, bespoke cocktails and an extensive wine list. Lythgoe said: “There’s a real appetite for merging the arts with a culinary experience. And while we’ve drawn our inspiration from New York, we want Brix to feel like an amalgamation of two of the world’s most trend-setting urban hubs.” Lythgoe teamed up with Cidalia Rodrigues in 2008 to open the Brixton Village Grill, which has now permanently closed, before adding restaurant-nightspot Chip Shop, which features burgers and wings alongside street art and hip-hop DJs, in 2015.

Andrew Clarke to oversee new restaurant at Hammersmith private members’ club: Andrew Clarke, who is behind new live fire concept, Acme Fire Cult, will oversee the new restaurant at Hammersmith private members’ club, Kindred. Located on the ground floor, the restaurant will launch on Monday, 11 April. Clarke has designed an ingredient-led and micro seasonal all-day menu, with dishes including mutton merquez flatbread with pink onion, herb labneh and salsa verde; and celeriac schnitzel with cavolo nero, wild mushrooms and wild garlic butter. The food is accompanied by wine and cocktail lists. Situated within the grade II-listed Bradmore House, Cellar will have 50 covers internally and an outdoor terrace, seating up to 60 people. Kindred founder Anna Anderson said: “For me, a city lifestyle appeals most when you find those special, local spots that really seem to get under your skin. Cellar is designed to be just that; a gathering place that restores and delights.”

North Wales operator submits plans for £6.5m hotel redevelopment, sets up hospitality training academy: Welsh hospitality and leisure operator One Hundred Knights has submitted plans for the £6.5m redevelopment of the historic Royal Hotel in Llangollen. One Hundred Knights – which already operates Three Eagles Bar & Grill and wedding venue Tyn Dwr Hall in the Denbighshire town, as well as the Blk Sheep Baa & Grill in Wrexham – is now waiting on the green light from Denbighshire County Council. It plans to extensively refurbish the hotel’s interior, with the addition of 45 bedroom suites, an upscale bar and bistro and a new luxury spa wing with plunge pools on a cantilevered super-structure, offering elevated views over the River Dee. The grade II-listed building, which dates back to 1752, has lay empty since 2019, when it was purchased by business partners Tom Bellis and Matt Jones, and could be open again by the summer of 2023 if the plans are approved. “The Royal is a gem of a building and location and has drawn visitors to Llangollen for more than 250 years,” said Jones. “Our redevelopment plans would help to ensure that it is still bringing visitors to our town for many more generations to come. For a long time, The Royal was considered one of the most prestigious hotels in Wales, but now it needs significant investment and development to help it shine again. We believe our plans can deliver a landmark hotel for the region, drawing new visitors to Denbighshire and creating sustainable year-round jobs.” Jones added that his company is in the process of setting up the One Hundred Knights hospitality training academy, in partnership with Coleg Cambria, and the hotel would take on six hospitality apprentices per year.

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