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Fri 1st Apr 2022 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Red Engine boss – we could easily do 100 Flight Clubs and Electric Shuffles, trading getting back to pre-pandemic levels: Red Engine chief executive Steve Moore has told Propel he believes the company can take both its concepts – Flight Club and Electric Shuffle – to at least 100 sites in the UK. Interactive darts concept Flight Club recently opened its ninth UK site, in Cheltenham, with plans to open in Cardiff this autumn and Glasgow in the autumn of 2023. Shuffleboard concept Electric Shuffle, meanwhile, has two UK sites, both in London, with plans to open its first venue outside the capital, in Leeds, this autumn. “Both concepts are ones we believe we can take into every town in the UK,” said Moore, who co-founded Red Engine with Paul Barham. “We would do it in a considered way though – not just rolling out or copying and pasting, but with each venue having a unique twist local to the community (Electric Shuffle London Bridge, built under old railway arches, features train-related décor). Flight Club is making its Welsh debut in a phenomenal building in Cardiff, and there’s no reason we can’t expand across Wales. We’ve also signed for a Scottish debut in Glasgow, and then we want to expand through Scotland too. Cheltenham was our first town rather than city site, and it has done really well since opening. We see Electric Shuffle the same way, why not one in every town? The run rate is as big as Flight Club, we could easily do 100 if we have the capital. The Leeds Electric Shuffle will be in the same building as – but separate to – the Leeds Flight Club, which has done exceptionally well since opening. We’re finalising our 2023 pipeline but see perhaps three or four openings a year for Electric Shuffle, and 12-14 a year for the brand as a whole.” As far as overseas expansion goes – Flight Club has separate franchises operating sites in each of its foreign markets – Moore sees four openings a year in the US, two a year in Australia and one a year in Ireland. Any overseas expansion of Electric Shuffle, however, will be kept in-house. Moore added: “Omicron didn’t affect our numbers much as, being a city centre brand, we didn’t expect much footfall over Christmas. What we’ve seen is the corporate bookings coming through in February and March instead, and both months have been fantastic – we’re getting back to pre-pandemic levels. People are returning to the office and still want to go out but are being choosier, and we’re well placed for those memorable experiences.”
 

Industry News:

Updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies released today at midday, 69 businesses being added: A total of 69 new multi-site companies, operating 496 sites, have been added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released today (Friday, 1 April), at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, includes a number of expanding hotel companies, regional pub and restaurant operators and growing entertainment and gaming concepts. 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 19,000-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 in early April. 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 more than 27,000 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.
 
Jonathan Lawson 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 learned 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 last video in the series features Jonathan Lawson, chief executive of Liberation Group. The video will be sent at 9am today (Friday, 1 April).
 
VAT increase to result in double-digit price rises for customers as operators struggle to survive, warns UKHospitality: The rise in VAT from today (Friday, 1 April) along with the sector forecasting cost inflation running at 18% will result in double-digit price increases for consumers as operators struggle to survive, UKHospitality has warned. Recent business surveys show the industry is facing a 95% hike in energy bills, 19% in labour costs, and a 17% and 14% rise in food and drink prices, respectively. It is thought these pressures have worsened considerably in the last two weeks. Raising prices at this time will wreak havoc on consumer demand, further damage an already fragile industry and have a detrimental impact on the wider UK recovery, as the sector will be unable to play its full role in generating jobs, investment and tourism, the trade body said. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Given the unfolding cost-of-living crisis for consumers and soaring operating costs for businesses the return to 20% VAT for the sector will prove nothing less than catastrophic. The now inevitable price rises for consumers will dampen demand and many hospitality businesses – one in three having less than a month of cash reserves and most are carrying heavy debt burdens – will fail as a result. This can only cause the UK’s wider economic recovery to falter. We will continue to work closely with government to achieve the best possible trading conditions for the industry, keep pushing for reform of fundamentally unfair and crippling business rates, play our role in solving our workforce crisis and persist in making a case for the clear benefits a permanently lower rate of VAT will have.” Sector investor Paul Campbell, of Hill Capital Partners, added: “Hospitality businesses are fighting an unprecedented wave of cost increases and doing all they can to keep prices down for their customers. But the removal of VAT relief makes this impossible and will lead to more inflation and menu pricing will inevitably rise.” Clive Watson, executive chairman of City Pub Group, told the BBC cost pressures meant his company has already increased drink prices by 4% earlier this month and from today it plans to increase food prices by an average of 7.5% to reflect the increase in VAT. Even these increases will not cover the chain's increased costs, he said, but the business doesn't want to discourage customers from returning to pubs after the pandemic. Bakery chain Heidi, which has six stores in south east England, is also planning to increase prices as a result of the VAT rise and has recently put up signs in its shops explaining the move to customers.
 
Former MasterChef: The Professionals champion slams plans to put calories on menus: Oxeye owner Sven-Hanson Britt, who won the 2019 series of MasterChef: The Professionals, has led a backlash against government plans to introduce calories on menus. From today (Friday, 1 April), restaurants, takeaways and cafes with more than 250 employees will have to put calories on their menus in a bid to help consumers make healthier decisions and encourage businesses to offer lower calorie option. But Britt, who opened debut restaurant Oxeye in London last summer, labelled calorie-counting an unhealthy obsession, which would lead to “boring” cooking. In a series of tweets, he said: “What a terrible, terrible thing to happen to the hospitality industry and a waste of time, money and a potential danger. This could end creativity, spontaneity and lead to boring tick-box cooking. Our national obsession with calories isn’t healthy. The obsession with calories and calorie counting has proven to be dangerous, potentially leading to eating disorders like bulimia. To combat obesity, you have to use a series of tools, including a focus on healthy eating and exercise. Education is key. As a country, we don’t even know where our food comes from, let alone what’s healthy. Kids will grow up in restaurants, hotels and cafes only looking at that little number below a dish. The love of flavour, ingredients, history, cooking craft or nutrition will be lost and masked by a newly perceived focus.” Britt also questioned how businesses can be trusted to accurately display calorie information and said he fears restaurants will end up ditching high calorie dishes. He was backed by other top chefs, with Paul Foster, who owns the Michelin-starred Salt in Stratford-Upon-Avon, replying: “It’s a bloody awful idea, mainly because the worry is it will trickle down to smaller restaurants”. Simon Wood, who runs Wood in Manchester, added: “It’s a ridiculous notion.”
 
Gilkes – we’ve got this once in a generation opportunity to reset our business: Charlie Gilkes, co-founder of Inception Group, has said the pandemic has given the company a “once in a generation opportunity to reset our business”. Speaking in Propel’s “Plotting a Path Forward” video series in conjunction with workforce management tech firm Harri, Gilkes said: “Before we had our recent staff party, we got everyone in a room and talked about relaunching Inception 2.0. That’s not to say a lot of what we did wasn't good with Inception 1.0, but I think the crisis gave us an opportunity to question everything we do, and just because we did it before isn't a good enough reason. It's made us simplify things. Our office is smaller, there's much more hybrid working, our bonus system with our managers is much simpler – not pegged to budget, just a straight percentage of gross margin. It made us really think about our culture, our values, and what matters to staff. It made us listen and re-evaluate, and we're really excited about where we go from here.” Gilkes said the business, which operates the Mr Fogg’s concept, had a couple of “really exciting sites” lined up for towards the end of this year. He said: “We signed at the end of last year on the London Gin Club, and that really excites us. We’ve opened the ground floor for now and we’ll be developing the upstairs in time. Then we will be opening a new Mr Fogg’s in Mayfair this summer, and there will be a couple of really exciting other sites towards the end of the year. I don't think we'll see one outside of London this year, but I'd like to think we would next year and we’ve been looking at areas in Manchester and Birmingham. It's something we're really going to take our time with. We have to get that move right. Cahoots is a brand we'd also like to do more with.”
 
Boundaries between leisure and business ‘becoming increasingly blurred’ following emergence of service apartment sector: The boundaries between leisure and business are “becoming increasingly blurred” following the emergence of the service apartment sector, according to a new report. The findings by global hotel consultancy HVS highlighted the service apartment sector is still very much in a period of expansion, with more than 13,000 units expected to open in Europe over the next four years. The versatility of serviced apartments and the willingness of operators to embrace new concepts are two of the key factors driving the sector’s ongoing success, with new brands emerging that focus on co-living and the combination of work and home, HVS said. In addition, operators have been quick to respond to changes in the way people travel and the blending of home and work life demonstrated in the development of innovative concepts that provide a shared living and kitchen space among a number of en-suite bedrooms. Report co-author Maria Coll, senior associate with HVS London, said: “The boundaries between leisure and business are becoming increasingly blurred. The new breed of serviced apartment brands tend to put connection at its forefront, providing like-minded guests the opportunity to feel part of a tribe, despite being away from home. Many of the newly announced apartment brands are tapping into the co-living element by creating a sense of community through events and local networking opportunities, as well as offering ample shared public spaces in their apartment buildings such as leisure facilities, screening rooms and co-working areas. In addition to new brands, some of the traditional aparthotel operators are also introducing co-living spin-offs too.”
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a leisure and hospitality business in Liverpool to recruit a finance director. They will be part of the executive team (working closely with the managing director) and will manage the entire finance function and develop first-class processes and procedures to support and enable business growth. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The individual should have had exposure to M&A and experience in investor pitch and liaison, strong financial modelling experience, change management experience and be able to help lead a young business in a growing marketplace. The finance director will be happy to roll their sleeves up and get involved – experience of working in a growing fast-paced small and medium-sized enterprise culture/environment is key. They must be comfortable driving a £30m-plus organisation.” The salary is circa £100,000 plus equity. For more information and to apply, email Oliwia@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Warrens Bakery set to exit CVA as it reports return to profit, sales up 36% in current financial year: Cornwall-based Warrens Bakery is set to exit its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) as it reported a return to profit. The company entered into the CVA in July 2020 and requested creditor approval to make payments of £5,000 per month for a period of 12 months rather than the £24,000 originally proposed. It also sought approval that total contributions be reduced by the value in reduction of payments by £228,000. Following this, the company’s accounts for the year ending 30 June 2021 showed a profit of £348,000, compared with a £3m loss in 2020 – despite turnover being down to £10m from £13m. A statement accompanying the accounts said: “The success of the CVA can be clearly seen with a return to profit for the year. Turnover fell due to the closure of 18 loss-making shops, as well as the closure of loss-making production facilities with their related wholesale sales. Sales at our hospital sites continued to be lower due to the impact of the covid-19 pandemic.” The company also benefited from £1m in government grants (2020: £1.2m), including £171,000 business rates relief and furlough payments of £885,000. The company also sold its redundant Truthwall site for £164,000 in December 2020, and its St Just site for £400,000 in April 2021, reducing bank borrowings. In the current financial year, Warrens Bakery has seen sales growth of 36%, despite sales at hospital sites remaining low due to ongoing visitor restrictions. Financial performance continues to significantly improve, with an Ebitda forecast of £1.2m for the year ending 30 June 2022. The statement added: “Given the improved performance, the company requested further variations of the CVA, which were approved by creditors in February 2022. The company requested creditor approval to make a final payment of £500,000 in March 2022. The supervisors of the CVA expect to make a final dividend payment to creditors in April 2022, after which the CVA will be discharged. This will result in a write back to profit of around £1.8m being the discount on the liability shown in the accounts as at June 2021.” Warrens Bakery features in Propel’s new UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which is being launched in early April 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 more than 27,000 words of content. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription.
 
Battle for Corbin & King nears conclusion, Axa to not appeal insurance decision: The battle for control of some of Corbin & King is expected to be settled by the weekend after administrators set a deadline for binding offers. Sky News reported FRP Advisory, which has been working on the insolvency of Corbin & King since January, told interested parties that final bids must be tabled on Thursday (31 March), with an announcement likely before the weekend. City sources said Minor International, which forced the company into administration amid a row with its management, and Knighthead Capital Management, a US-based fund, were the two principal bidders to rescue the business. It was unclear whether other parties had also registered offers, although the London restaurateur Richard Caring said recently he had withdrawn from the process. Meanwhile, insurer Axa has said it has decided not to appeal the findings of a court case in which Corbin & King was awarded coverage for shutdowns during the pandemic. In February, Corbin & King won its £4.36m High Court battle with Axa. Corbin & King entered the High Court to sue Axa’s UK arm for refusing to cover its business interruption claim incurred for pandemic-linked losses.
 
US virtual brand MrBeast Burger launches across UK with Village Hotels link up: MrBeast Burger, the US virtual brand, has expanded to more than 30 sites across the UK, after linking up with Village Hotels, Propel has learned. The virtual brand, which was founded in December 2020 by YouTube star Jimmy Donaldson, launched in the UK last year, when it became available from five sites in London. The business has now teamed up with the KSL Capital Partners-owned Village Hotels chain to offer its menu from its hotel kitchens. Locations the brand is now available from include Aberdeen, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Edinburgh, Maidstone, Swindon and Walsall. MrBeast Burger currently has more than 1,000 locations across North America and Europe, with plans to expand the business ongoing. Donaldson is one of YouTube's most successful creators thanks to his expensive and philanthropic videos shared online to more than 62 million followers. The company said on Twitter: “You asked, we answered, we’ve been working hard behind the scenes to open more UK locations outside of London and it finally happened.” The menu includes burgers, sandwiches, sides and desserts as well as a selection of drinks. 

Aspirational Brands lines up new openings for Handmade Burger Co, plans pizza concept launch: Aspirational Brands plans to open a new site for Handmade Burger Co in Eastbourne, alongside the launch of a new pizza concept, Propel has learned. The company currently operates four Handmade Burger Co sites, after resurrecting the brand in 2020. It plans to reopen further sites, which previously traded under the brand in Southampton, Leicester, Reading and Peterborough, later this year. Propel also understands the company plans to open a new Handmade Burger Co site in The Beacon shopping scheme in Eastbourne. It is also eyeing future openings in Leeds and Glasgow under the concept. Propel also understands Aspirational is looking to launch a new pizza concept – Pizza Social – in the neighbouring unit to the proposed Handmade Burger Co site in The Beacon scheme. It is thought sites in Worcester, Oxford and Leicester are also under consideration for the new concept. The company will officially open its new flagship Covent Garden restaurant in April. The 5,000 square-foot venue in Upper St Martin’s Lane named St Martin’s House will house a bar and dedicated alfresco dining area. Last year, the business also took on the London-based Japanese Canteen business, which currently has six sites in the capital. Aspirational is also behind Thai brand Lemongrass.

Inception takes the lead with a new concept for man’s best friend: Inception Group, the hospitality group behind Mr Fogg’s, Cahoots and Bunga, has opened a dog-friendly cocktail bar in Mayfair, called Mr Dogg’s. The company said after six successful Mr Fogg’s venues in the capital, it was “excited to have opened up our customer base to those with a little more fur, but the same taste for adventurous, quality libations”. It said Mr Dogg’s has been designed with the vision of being the “most dog-friendly bar in the UK” while maintaining the concept-led “quirks and characteristics Inception Group has become known for”. In the new site, it said hounds can relax on comfortable yet chew-resistant furniture, while indulging on the finest drinks and delectable nibbles. Bringing together top-dog nutritionists and leading mixologists, Mr Dogg’s boasts the ultimate “Dog-Tail” menu, including house favourites such as a Paw-Star Martini, Woofsky Sour and Barkardi Mojitos, each served in Mr Dogg’s branded bowls and garnished with a meaty treat. A selection of bar sticks are available for pooches to “chews” from. Mr Dogg’s also offers an indulgent afternoon tea at weekends. A selection of hand-crafted, gourmet doggie delicacies made in-house are served on a traditional cake stand, with an ice-cold Paw-secco or Mutt & Chandog to wash it down. Charlie Gilkes, co-founder and director of Inception Group, said: “I am excited to finally be able to combine my love of hospitality with a love of animals, and open Mr Dogg’s. Our pets got so bored during the lockdowns, and it’s great to be able to open up a space for them to socialise and enjoy some delicious drinks.”
 
Bruce Group reports ‘encouraging’ trading and drop in losses, eyeing new acquisition opportunities: Scottish pub group Bruce Group, which operates 15 managed and two tenanted sites around Edinburgh and Fife, has reported “encouraging” trading since restrictions lifted. It also reported a fall in pre-tax losses and posted a positive Ebitda in its accounts for the year ending 30 June 2021. Despite turnover decreasing from £9m in 2020 to £1.4m, the group’s £1m pre-tax loss in 2020 was reduced to £72,000. It received £2.6m in government grants compared with £630,000 in 2020. The group posted Ebitda of £593,904, down on 2020’s £1.3m, which included two full quarters of normal trading. A statement accompanying the accounts said: “Post year-end trading after lockdown restrictions were lifted has been encouraging. The centre of Edinburgh has seen a much-reduced footfall due to many offices remaining closed, restrictions on opening of other retail businesses and the travel restrictions, which have meant there has been little or no tourist trade. As at the date of signing these accounts (March 2022), city centre footfall has been increasing and tourists are returning, although not in the same numbers as pre-pandemic. The extended lockdown period meant all major development and acquisition projects were put on hold, although the directors continued to research suitable acquisition opportunities in the belief that well-funded businesses may be able to acquire assets at attractive earnings multiples once restrictions are lifted.”
 
Caravan appoints Zoe Wulfsohn-Dunkley as brand and marketing director: London-based restaurant, bar and coffee-roasting concept Caravan has appointed Zoe Wulfsohn-Dunkley as its new brand and marketing director, Propel has learned. Wulfsohn-Dunkley joins the Active Partners-backed brand after more than nine years at Camden Town Brewery, including recent stints as head of brand marketing and head of marketing. Caravan currently operates a further five eponymous restaurants across London, Vardo in Chelsea and a roastery headquarters in Islington. At the start of March, Propel revealed 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”. Earlier this week, Propel revealed Graham Hollinshead had stepped down as Caravan’s operations director to become managing director of the Rockwater Group. 
 
The Ivy Collection plans Bournemouth opening: The Ivy Collection, the Richard Caring-backed business, is planning to open a new site in Bournemouth. The company has applied to open on the former New Look store in the town’s The Square, which closed at the start of this year. The 38-strong Ivy Collection is gearing up to open The Ivy Brasserie in Chichester’s East Street later this spring. The company has also lined up an opening in Windsor for this summer, on the former Tower Brasserie tearooms site, in the town’s High Street. The group also wants to open a restaurant at units 3 and 4 of 56 Cleaver House – the site previously occupied by Burger King, in Belfast. Caring recently confirmed he will open a site under his Ivy Asia brand in London’s Mayfair this spring. The new restaurant and bar will open on the former Princess Garden site in North Audley Street, which Caring secured pre-pandemic and previously mooted opening a Caprice Café concept on. 
 
Bournemouth-based cocktail bar to double up with London opening, eyes further expansion: Bournemouth-based cocktail bar Peachy Queen is set to open its second site later this month, at 12 Putney High Street, London. Founded by former Scotland international cricketer Matt Machan and his brother George, the original Peachy Queen opened in 2020 at 219 Old Christchurch Road in Bournemouth. The new site, split over three floors, is due to open over the weekend of 29-30 April. Like its sister site, it will be inspired by Victorian society girl Lillie Langtry, and will focus on iconic cocktails and bottomless brunches. George said: “This location is the perfect second location for Peachy Queen and our first site in the capital. The leisure offering in the area has changed over the last year, and we want to be at the forefront of the new trend of nightlife within Putney. We believe the next three to five years of nightlife are going to be incredible, with operators bringing new and exciting concepts to London and the rest of the UK, and we can’t wait to be part of it and open up more sites around London and beyond.” Matt added: “It’s such an exciting time to be working in hospitality – we feel at the start of a new wave of operators who are bringing something really different and fun to the market.”
 
Everyman appoints new CFO: Cinema operator Everyman has appointed Jeremy Summerfield as its new chief financial officer. Summerfield replaces Elizabeth Lake, who announced in December she would be stepping down from the business. Summerfield joins from data platform company Dynata, where he was chief financial officer for the Americas and EMEA. Prior to that, he was finance director of Ogilvy and Mather. He has also worked for PwC and Bristol Myers Squibb in New York. Everyman executive chairman Paul Wise said: “Jeremy's strong credentials in financial leadership roles internationally and his experience of operating at scale will undoubtedly help us take the business forward as we look to accelerate our openings strategy in the short and medium term. This is an exciting time for Everyman – we have a much-loved consumer brand with a unique offering and an exceptional team, which Jeremy will complement well.”
 
Tim Hortons eyes further Midlands growth with Nuneaton site: Canadian quick service restaurant brand Tim Hortons is eyeing further growth in the Midlands with a site in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. SK Group, which is leading the rollout of the brand in the UK, wants to open a drive-thru in Bermuda Park in the premises previously occupied by The Restaurant Group brand Frankie & Benny's. SK Group has submitted a planning application for the change of use of the building to Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council, reports Coventry Live. Tim Hortons has rapidly expanded across the UK in recent years and now has 50 sites over here. A further seven are “opening soon” – in Dunstable, Milton Keynes, Plymouth, Oldbury, Teesside, Mansfield and Portadown. It has also submitted plans for sites in Coventry and Burton as it plans further expansion in the Midlands while a drive-thru in Bolton and a debut Kent site, in Broadstairs, are also in the pipeline. 
 
Second opening for Pepe’s Piri franchisees: Pepe’s Piri Piri is set to open its first restaurant in Stafford this weekend. The flame-grilled chicken brand currently operates circa 150 UK sites, as well as five in Pakistan and one in the UAE. The new opening, in Stone Road, will be a second opening for franchisees Omar and Abu Javed, who also operate a store in Shropshire. The 2,000 square-foot site will seat up to 28 diners and offer both a casual dining and delivery or takeaway service, and has been made possible by a six-figure funding package from HSBC UK. Omar Javed said: “We’re delighted to be bringing Pepe’s Piri to Stafford with the support of HSBC UK and to be investing in this fantastic town.” Molly Jahans, franchise relationship manager at HSBC UK, added: “After the success of Omar and Abu’s recent opening in Shropshire, it’s great to help the business grow across the West Midlands and beyond.”
 
Wiltshire gallery and arts centre to launch own restaurant and delicatessen: Messums Wiltshire, a multi-purpose gallery and arts centre in the Nadder Valley on the edge of the village of Tisbury, is launching its own restaurant and delicatessen. The Mess – which will open on Friday, 15 April – has a female led kitchen run by Ana Ortiz, previously of Pythouse Kitchen Garden and The Newt, who is originally from the Galapagos Islands and brings a South American flavour to the menu. The Mess will open Thursday to Saturday, offering an all-day menu. Dishes will include Somerset hanger steak with wild garlic chimichurri; and free range chicken with tarragon mayonnaise all served with coal roasted crushed new potatoes, crispy shallots and capers. There will also be a selection of cakes and pastries available. Drinks will range from freshly squeezed juice and coffee in the day to wine, cocktails and beer to accompany sharing boards in the evenings. The restaurant is housed in the former dairy building and next to the monastic buildings once connected to the tithe barn. Inside will be 25-cover restaurant with a grab and go deli area. An outside courtyard will offer a 60-cover tented area, which will play host to a number of evening events with live music throughout the summer. The deli will offer goods including freshly baked bread, seasonally fruited cakes and biscuits and home-made jam, chutney, and preserves. 
 
BaxterStorey wins catering contract with scientific research campus: Contract catering company BaxterStorey has been awarded a four-year contract with the Wellcome Genome Campus, a scientific research campus in Hinxton, near Cambridge. BaxterStorey will focus its catering offer on staff and visitors’ well-being, while supporting the campus’ commitment to sustainability. The contract will see a transformation to the campus’ on-site restaurant, Murray’s, with plans for the BaxterStorey team to refurbish the catering facilities. Amenities will include a co-working lounge, build-your-own breakfast station and all-day grazing style menus. The team will also be introducing “Wonky Wednesdays”, creating dishes from surplus ingredients. BaxterStorey will also be providing catering for the Campus’ three cafes, Pebbles, Link Cafe and DiNA. All three cafes will host artisan coffee bars and grab and go range, including clean eating boxes and energiser pots. Inspired by BaxterStorey’s Modern Baker recipe book, the team is also enhancing the food offer with pastries and sweet treats. The contract also incorporates BaxterStorey’s street food concept, Fuel Experiences, hosting a range of interactive and authentic pop-ups across the campus. This includes BeyRoots and Curry on Naan Stop. 

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