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Fri 8th Apr 2022 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Campbell – inflation will be the next big challenge, but good teams and businesses will rise to it: Sector investor Paul Campbell believes inflation will be hospitality’s next big challenge – and one that it could take the rest of the year to get to grips with – but insists good teams and businesses will rise to it. Campbell, who is also a non-executive director at Hawksmoor, Vinoteca, Hickory’s, Blacklock, 200 Degrees and The Alchemist, was speaking at the recent Propel Multi-Club Conference, focusing on the landscape for sector investors post-pandemic. “Inflation is going to be the big thing for the next three to six months,” he said. It’s a bit like covid – teams and business will have to react quickly and get their heads around it fast. It’s a new scenario with prices moving this quickly, and I’m confident good teams and businesses will get their heads around it, but it will take time. I feel for independents because they have a lot less resource to throw at this, and I think that’s where a lot of the pain is going to be. People used to look for Ebitda to be 20% cash profit of sales, but we’re all having to get used to less margins, so 15% is probably the new 20%. The biggest challenge over the next six or nine months is how do we cope with this inflation, how much do we pass on to the consumer and what does it do profitability? It will probably take the best part of a year for that to settle.” Campbell feels some of the most exciting investment opportunities coming out of covid are those offering multi-channel and experiential concepts. He is especially enthusiastic for the multi-channel offering of coffee-roasting brand 200 Degrees, which he joined as chair in November, and has recently invested in a new experiential concept due to open this autumn. “Things that are multi-channel are more attractive now because you’ve got more avenue for growth,” he said. “200 Degrees is an interesting business because it has coffee shops, a wholesale business and a developing retail business, and it was interesting for me to see how that could develop in three ways rather than just the traditional roll out model. Competitive socialising was also clearly hot pre-covid and has come back incredibly strongly. I’m the founder of a business that will launch in Canary Wharf, created and led by GymBox founder Richard Hilton, a competitive socialising concept that will go live in 15,000 square feet in the autumn.” Campbell also said hospitality should stop directing anger at the government for returning the rate of VAT for the sector to 20%. He added: “I don’t think we can moan too much as the break was huge in terms of strengthening balance sheets and allowing companies to recover properly, but sometimes hospitality can be quite insular. I’m also involved in the fitness business, which was much more impacted and didn’t get that break at all. Getting more would have been great, but we should be grateful for what we did get.”
 

Industry News:

Next edition of The New Openings Database to be sent to Premium subscribers today, 19,100-word report included: The next edition of The New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, will be sent to Propel Premium subscribers today (Friday, 8 April) at midday. It will show the details of 384 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches. The database shows the details of which company has opened a site, or its plans to open one in the future. It will have details on what type of site it is and its location, and a website link to the businesses so you can find out more about them. It is published on a monthly basis. The next edition of the database features expanding hotel and leisure concepts, niche cuisine, regional restaurant and pub operators and growing experiential concepts. Premium subscribers will also receive a 19,100-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to two other databases. The latest Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, was sent to Premium subscribers last Friday (1 April). The database contained 69 new companies, bringing the total number of businesses listed up to 2,407. The 496 sites run by those 69 new additions means the entire database of sites has reached 64,884 sites. Premium subscribers also received a 5,000-word report on the new businesses added. The go-to database 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. There is also a synopsis of what the business does and significant news associated with it. Premium subscribers also receive the Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group. The Blue Book, which is also updated every month, 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 next Thursday (14 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.
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with an e-commerce retail company that is looking for a chief marketing officer to strengthen its senior leadership team. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The company needs a strong candidate to head up the marketing department covering digital marketing and brand/creative marketing. The ideal candidate must have experience in a fast-paced e-commerce environment and a strong combination of core digital marketing and brand marketing – the foundation of this person’s experience should be digital marketing. The ideal candidate will have at least ten years’ experience in hyper growth e-commerce, digital marketing or an analytics role, analysing data sets and synthesising insights into actionable recommendations.” The salary package is circa £150,000-£200,000 dependent upon experience. For more information and to apply, email Gemma@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Clean Kitchen Club launches £2m fundraise: Vegan concept Clean Kitchen – which was founded by former YouTube celebrity Michael Pearce, with Made in Chelsea TV star Verity Bowditch joining in 2020 – has launched a further fundraising round, with the target of raising £2m. Last November, Bowditch and Pearce closed a £1.4m seed funding round for the business, announcing plans to open 40 locations across the UK. On the latest fundraising, Pearce said he and Bowditch have signed the “lead investment for our next round - £500,000 at £12m valuation from our first raise”. He said the new fundraising campaign would allow the business to open more sites, “increase our retail range while continuing to innovate by investing in our research and development centre and strong marketing campaigns”. The London-based company will open a 2,441 square foot flagship restaurant at Battersea Power Station later this year. It will be the chain’s sixth location, following its launch just 15 months ago. The business hopes to also add sites in Fulham and Soho over the coming months. Pearce said the prospective Fulham site would be the group’s biggest project to date at 3,000 square feet and will feature an 80-cover outdoor terrace. The venture began as a plant-based meal delivery service, but began opening physical locations following the easing of covid-19 restrictions. The group’s previous funding round gave it a £7.5m valuation, with lead investors in the round including Clive Sharpe, ex-chairman of Quorn, and Grace Beverley, fitness influencer and chief executive of health and fitness app Shreddy and sustainable activewear brand Tala.

BrewDog opens Hull site with 27 bars planned for 2022, extends Red’s True Barbecue partnership: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog will open its latest site, in Hull today (Friday, 8 April) – one of 27 bars planned by the business in 2022, according to co-founder James Watt. The company is opening the venue in Princes Dock Street. The bar will have 28 taps of craft beer from BrewDog and curated guest breweries, with a takeaway service available. The site will also serve Hawkes cider, spirits and wine, and coffee from London-based Grind. BrewDog Hull also sees the fifth tie-up with Red’s True Barbecue, which is taking over the kitchen, offering its selection of barbecue dishes alongside BrewDog’s veggie and vegan classics. The site will also be running ‘”beer school” sessions and guided tastings. BrewDog is set for further expansion in the UK, with openings in London’s Waterloo and Basingstoke among those planned. Overseas, the group is opening in Atlanta, Berlin, Brisbane, Cork, Las Vegas, Paris and three sites in India. Meanwhile, work will start shortly on bars in Durham, Ipswich and Lincoln. Tweeting a photo of the Basingstoke site, Watt said: “We are scheduled to open 27 new locations in 2022.”
 
Aubaine exploring franchise opportunities to lead international expansion: Aubaine, the all-day French restaurant and bakery business, is exploring franchise opportunities to lead its planned international expansion. The group, which operates seven restaurants and a deli in London, revealed its future development plans in a statement accompanying its latest accounts, for the year ending 28 March 2021. The accounts showed a £2m pre-tax loss compared with a £3.5m profit in 2020, following a reduction in turnover from £9.4m to £1.2m in the same period. The company said: “We have started building on our brand core strengths to grow internationally, exploring franchise opportunities in the Middle East, Europe, hotel environment and transport hubs. Furthermore, we will be looking at rationalising our estate and grab any opportunity.” During lockdown, the company launched a cake club and cook-at-home range. It also received £1.8m in government grants and benefited from rent deferrals and the temporary VAT reduction. The company will continue pushing the digital and social strategy it embraced during lockdown to attract larger London football and awareness amongst millennials – including online booking and sponsored ads – and is looking to attract more customers through offering specific dietary options. The company also intends to expand its menu offerings “beyond traditional dayparts” to “take advantage of new habits and trends”. It added: “Aubaine continues to trade positively despite the sector challenges and uncertainties. Although challenging market conditions look likely to continue, the group remains committed to profitable growth. Performance for this year has been satisfactory considering covid-19 restrictions and uncertainties.”
 
Plant-based fast-food concept Bvrger undergoes funding round to support aggressive expansion strategy, opens in Spitalfields Market for second site: Plant-based fast-food concept Bvrger is going through its first funding round as it looks to quickly expand across the UK and internationally. It comes as Bvrger, founded by friends Jeremy Ford-Young and Paul Brothers in 2020, opens its second site, in Spitalfields Market. Bvrger launched its debut site in Kensington in 2021, after six months spent developing and refining its plant-based products. The varied menu includes flame-grilled plant-based burgers and dairy free “soft serve” ice cream. Customers have the choice to customise their burgers with the option of brioche or charcoal based black buns, and from a variety of add-ons such as jalapenos, avocado slices, in-house seasonings and signature sauces. Ford-Young said: “Old Spitalfields Market is the perfect location to begin the expansion of the concept. We are delighted to be opening a new Bvrger store in such an iconic location, within a community that we believe shares our passion for high quality, sustainable convenience food.” Brothers added: “We have always been focused on quality – across every part of our business. We have an aggressive but realistic growth strategy to expand the brand across London, the UK and internationally, taking our premium plant-based food to the masses.”
 
Jamie Oliver Restaurants opens Jamie’s Italian in Dubai Mall, 12 more international sites planned this year: Jamie Oliver Restaurants has opened a Jamie's Italian in Dubai Mall, with the company planning 12 more international sites this year. The restaurant, which seats 180 covers inside and out, features a “pasta theatre” at the front of the restaurant, creating daily handcrafted specials that “celebrate the fresh pasta made each day by the restaurant's chefs”. The restaurant also offers hand-tossed pizzas, grills, healthy salads and desserts. Dubai Mall is the second restaurant opening for the group in partnership with Apparel, with a third Jamie's Italian to launch in Dubai Hills this summer. Oliver’s company, which operates the Jamie’s Italian and Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria concepts, opened ten new sites in 2021, ending the year with 60 restaurants, with 13 partners in 21 countries. Oliver has continued to grow his international business, which is overseen by Ed Loftus, since the collapse of his UK restaurant arm in 2019.
 
Platform raises £1.5m as it plans four new sites by 2025: Gaming restaurant/bar concept Platform has closed a £1.5m equity round led by Actium AG, an investment firm from Zurich, Switzerland. Co-founder Nicolo Portunato told Propel the funds would be used to acquire more sites across the UK with four more planned by 2025 as well as to enhance partnerships and grow the team. Platform opened its debut site in 2019 in Worship Street, Shoreditch. Co-founder Tomaso Portunato said: “You can expect to hear a lot more from us as we continue to expand social gaming across the UK and beyond. The days of stereotypes are coming to an end, and we cannot be prouder to be part of the fresh voices and places that will continue to bring more inclusivity to this industry. As we grow our team, partners and network, reach out to us if you want to be part of our journey. Thank you so much to everyone who has been a part of it to this day.”
  
Pret to further increase its presence in London ‘villages’ and commuter belt: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-backed business, is to further increase its presence in London “villages” and commuter belt, with four new openings over the coming months. The company, which late last month opened a site in Twickenham, has lined up openings in Hounslow, Hackney, East Dulwich and Surbiton. An opening in Brentwood, Essex, is also in the pipeline for the business, which last year announced an ambitious plan to expand, where it would no longer be “following the skyscraper”, but instead setting up shop in towns across the country. In February, it opened its first sites in Wetherby and York. Guy Meakin, interim managing director UK & Ireland, told Propel: “We know how much London loves a Pret. That’s why as part of our plan to bring the joy of our freshly made food and organic coffee to even more people, we’re expanding our footprint in the capital. Crucial also to our plan is to open more shops outside the M25, which is why we’ve recently opened shops in York station and Moto Donington and are also set to open a shop in Brentwood, with many more in the pipeline. Each new shop will donate food to a local charity through The Pret Foundation, as part of our ongoing work to help alleviate homelessness and poverty.”
 
Ole & Steen to open at More London: Danish baker Ole & Steen is to further increase its presence in London, with an opening at More London. The 16-strong business is taking over the former Caffe Nero site at the scheme near London Bridge. The new bakery, which will have seating for around 60 people inside and out, will open its doors on Easter Saturday (16 April). To introduce Ole & Steen to the area, the company will be giving its first 50 customers through the door on 19 April a chance to select an envelope at random. Inside the envelopes will be a mixture of vouchers for a free hot drink or a free cinnamon social slice (with any purchase), but one lucky envelope will contain a "Guld Kort" (Danish for 'gold card') which is a voucher for Ole & Steen for a whole year, worth £600. Last month, the business announced it will open a two-floor, 2,411 square-foot corner site later this month at 39-43 Neal Street, Seven Dials, which will be its largest in the capital so far and sit alongside more than 100 global locations. The openings will be part of the operators’ ambitious 2022 expansion plans as it gears up for several new sites throughout this year. RAB Retail acts for Ole & Steen.
 
Brixton venue Market House reopens under new ownership with Wingmans taking over kitchen: Brixton venue Market House has reopened under new ownership with chicken concept Wingmans taking over the kitchen. The property in Coldharbour Lane – which had been shut since the autumn and has seen various incarnations over the years, most notably as the Coach & Horses pub dating to 1881 – has undergone a full refurbishment. Jonathan Allen, co-owner of Market House, said: “We’re proud to be reintroducing a venue that has been a Brixton staple for many years. We’re excited about the new food and drink offering and our music programme will support local promoters and artists as well as international talent.” Key to that is the newly renovated kitchen that has been taken over by Wingmans, which has sites in Soho and Kilburn. Founded by David Turofsky and Ben Ford in 2015, the concept focuses on homemade comfort food such as gourmet chicken wings in signature sauces and American-style sides. Complementing the food is a selection of craft beer and cocktails.
 
Rick Stein Restaurants and 21 Hospitality Group launch chef apprenticeship schemes: Rick Stein Restaurants and north east-based restaurant company 21 Hospitality Group has launched chef apprenticeship schemes, helping to bridge the skills shortage in the sector. Based in one of Stein’s Cornwall kitchens, apprentices will learn on the job from the group’s senior chefs learning skills such as filleting fish, the art of classic sauces and professional vegetable preparation. They will also benefit from weekly sessions with expert chef tutors from Truro & Penwith College. Apprentices will have the opportunity to gain paid work experience – earning at least £9.30 per hour (under-18s) and £9.60 (over-18s). They will work 40 hours per week with eight of those at Truro & Penwith College from September 2022 and will receive the same benefits as Rick Stein employees. After successfully completing the apprenticeship, students will be offered a permanent contract as a Rick Stein chef in one of the group’s kitchens and the scheme will continue to invest in their development, offering future promotional opportunities. Successful apprentices will receive a Level 2 in professional cookery qualification. Rick Stein Restaurants operate flexible working, with full-time employees able to request to work a four-day week. Meanwhile, 21 Hospitality Group has teamed up with Gateshead College to launch the Culinary Traineeship Programme. Trainees develop their theoretical knowledge and skills at Gateshead College, while also working in one of owner Terry Laybourne’s restaurants, gaining practical experience while earning a wage. Following the year-long programme, trainees are guaranteed a full-time permanent commis chef position.
 
London-based cheese and wine shop Provisions doubles up with Hackney launch: London-based cheese and wine shop Provisions has doubled up. Founder Hugo Meyer Esquerré has added to the existing site in Islington with an opening in Hackney. The new 650 square foot site “retains many elements of our original concept while also showcasing new products that we have been sourcing in recent years”. Like its sister site, the shop in Hackney Road focuses on organic wine and farmhouse cheese but there is a different selection to Islington. For wine, there is a focus on the regions of the Languedoc, Roussillon and Southern Rhone and the cheese, of which there is more than 100 to choose from, is from different producers. A monthly themed specialty cheese subscription service has also been introduced. In addition there is a weekly changing selection of sandwiches made using the ingredients in the shop alongside spices, coffee, and more deli goods. The store plays host to a programme of chef dinners, wine tastings and events, which take place downstairs, which is also used for Provisions’ growing wholesale preparation. Provisions opened its debut site in Holloway Road in 2015.
 
Catering company Bennett Hay appoints director of operations: Catering company Bennett Hay has appointed Leo Coates as director of operations as the company innovates and adapts to a new era for workplace hospitality. Coates will oversee Bennett Hay’s 35 workplace contracts, at which 180 staff provide catering. He has significant experience in the workplace sector having previously worked for Restaurant Associates, Vacherin and CH&Co. He joins Bennett Hay at a time when the company is recruiting new team members to support a return in confidence and maturation of hybrid working. Anthony Bennett, one of Bennett Hay’s founders, said: “Leo is a huge asset who brings significant experience, a mindset for innovation and genuine care for his team.” Coates added: “The workplace is back, it’s different and it’s time to address an exciting new era.”
 
Nottingham restaurant and leisure offering appoints head of events: Nottingham restaurant and leisure offering Canal Turn has appointed Ben Hicklin to lead its events programme. Hicklin will oversee the top-floor events space, Upstairs at Cleaver and Wake, and the outside plaza and bandstand, as well as the venue’s two restaurant offerings, Cleaver and Wake and Binks Yard. Canal Turn will open this summer in the first phase of the £1.5bn 36-acre development, The Island Quarter. Hicklin will work alongside Bistro Pierre co-founder John Whitehead, the project’s food and beverage director, and Gary Rudkin, the newly appointed head of operations. Hicklin has worked as a performer, manager, and facilitator in various locations across the UK. He has also worked for Mellors Group, where he managed and facilitated music artists and famous performers. Whitehead said: “We are building an industry-leading hospitality team, always seeking continuous improvement in our aim to create the premier food, drink and events destination.” Canal Turn is currently recruiting for more than 80 positions across the business.
 
Biff’s launches debut retail range: Plant-based fast food brand Biff’s has launched its debut retail range. Consumers can now replicate the Biff’s experience at home with the dishes, which are available from 280 Waitrose stores. The range features Crispy Fried Jackfruit Wingz, Crispy Fried Jackfruit Burgers, Smoky Chilli Cheeze Waffle Fries, Banging Bhaji Loaded Fries and two plant-based sauces – burger sauce and maple-lime Chipotle barbecue sauce. Andrew Allen, chief executive of Biff’s, said: “After significant brand growth in delivery kitchens and foodservice through the pandemic, launching the Biff’s Plant Shack range in retail is an exciting next step in our mission to make more incredible-tasting plant-based food accessible to all. At a time when shoppers are craving more vibrant flavours, authentic brands and restaurant style experiences at home, our genuine street food heritage and innovative products, including the UK’s first proper vegan wing with a ‘bone’, means we’re uniquely positioned to bring a vegan street food range to the shelf that’s bold, authentic and commercially proven.” Biff’s operates the kitchen at BrewDog’s site in Dalston having started out as a food truck at markets in London and Brighton in 2016.
 
Leonardo Hotels to make Manchester debut: Leonardo Hotels is to make its debut in Manchester this month. The hotel, on the corner of Great Ancoats Street and Adair Street, will feature 275 en-suite bedrooms along with its on-site all-day bar and restaurant, Leo’s. A wellness suite will offer a space for yoga and meditation. Jason Carruthers, managing director for Jurys Inn and Leonardo Hotels UK, said: “Manchester is such a vibrant city and we’re delighted to be in such close proximity to Ancoats and the Northern Quarter. We’re in the middle of an area that is undergoing a real transformation and we’re excited to be a part of it.” The hotel, which will be the 16th under the Leonardo brand, will open on Sunday, 24 April.
 
JD Wetherspoon plans new £3m site in Basildon with existing pub in town set to close due to redevelopment work: JD Wetherspoon is set to open a new £3m pub in Basildon with its existing site in the Essex town set to be close due to redevelopment plans. The pub, Moon on the Square in Market Square, will close in September with the building set to be demolished as part of the regeneration plans. Now Wetherspoon has completed the purchase of the former Poundland site in East Walk, which it plans to convert into a pub. Should planning permission be approved, the new venue will cover two floors and will have a roof garden overlooking the main town square. A spokesman told Essex Live: “The company requires planning and licensing permission. There are no dates yet. Wetherspoon aims to invest between £2.5m and £3m on the project.” Wetherspoon said staff at the Moon on the Square would be transferred to its other pubs in the area.
 
Brick Lane Bagel Co to open in Harlow for 11th site: London-based bagel concept Brick Lane Bagel Co is to open its 11th site, in Harlow. The company, founded by father-and-son-team Stuart and Elliott Hearne in 2018, is opening the outlet at the Harvey Centre. It will mark a seventh Essex site for the concept, which is inspired by the bakers along Brick Lane and aims to bring the beloved tradition to local communities. Posting on its Facebook page, the company said: “Harlow you are next on the agenda! We have the keys and work has begun! Sorry we have no official date when it will be completed.” Bagels on the menu will include salt beef; black oak forest smoked salmon; and its New York Lox with smoked salmon, cream cheese, beef tomatoes, red onions and capers.
 
Former owner of Moleface Pub Company to open sixth fish and chips shop: John Molnar, former owner of Moleface Pub Company, is to open his sixth The Cod’s Scallops fish and chips shop. Molface will open the outlet in West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire, on Monday (11 April). The restaurant will be based at the Wilford Lane retail park, reports West Bridgford Wire. The Cod’s Scallops has sites in Wollaton, Sherwood and Long Eaton in Nottinghamshire, Market Harborough in Leicestershire and Harborne in Birmingham. Customers can choose from more than 20 species of fish daily – all cooked fresh to order – baked, battered or “naked”. Oysters can be battered as well. The brand was founded in 2011 by Molnar, who used his 30 years’ experience as a chef to “set sail a fish and chips concept like no other”. As well as seafood, the company serves pies, with fillings including steak and scale ale, chicken, ham and leek or vegan balti.
 
Birmingham-based Indian gastropub operator to open sixth site: Birmingham-based Indian gastropub operator Soho Tavern Group is set to open its sixth site. The company has been given the green light to transform Walsall pub The New Fullbrook, in West Bromwich Road, into the Soho Tavern. The project will see the ground floor extended, along with a further double-storey side extension, while the first floor will be converted to create five apartments. Soho Tavern Group director Mikey Singh told the Birmingham Mail: “Customers can expect to see an Indian gastropub that is family-friendly. Our look will be one of that a pub in Walsall is yet to deliver. We will have a state-of-the-art open kitchen that will cook vegan/vegetarian food separate to meat, with a 150-seater dining area. In addition, we are set to have a private dining area that will be available to book for up to 40 people. In doing this, we will also be keeping a small modern pub area separate to our dining side.” The group, which opened its first site in 2014, is also currently refurbishing the former Beeches Indian restaurant site near Solihull as a Soho Tavern, with an April or May opening planned.
 
Bristol-based operator acquires Butcombe pub for second site: Bristol-based pub operator Sam Gregory has acquired his second site in the city. Gregory, who runs the Bank Tavern in the Old City, has added The Bell in Kingsdown after acquiring the property from Butcombe Brewing Co, part of Liberation Group. “For us it was about preserving the independent vibe that’s here”, Gregory told Bristol 24/7. “All too often, pubs have the heart ripped out of them in communities like this. Property developers see them as ripe for development. But for us, that would be like having children to harvest their organs. What we want is a general evolution not a revolution. It’s not about a sudden knee-jerk change. It’s about us moving with the change, not being the change.”
 
Taco Bell to open restaurant in Dover: Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell is to open a restaurant in Dover. The company is opening the outlet at the St James retail and leisure park, reports Kent Live. Last month, Taco Bell opened in nearby Maidstone for its 94th UK site. Taco Bell has also submitted plans to open a drive-thru on the site of a former sewage works in Sturrey Road, Canterbury, and is understood to be keen on taking a former clothes shop in the Kent city. Last month, it opened its second Nottingham branch, in the city’s Victoria Centre, which followed February’s launches in Leatherhead and London’s Holloway Road. Taco Bell is also planning a new branch in Chesterfield’s Alma Leisure Park and a drive-thru in Teesside’s South Bank area.
 
Founders of London-based supper club set to open restaurant: The founders of London-based supper club Pasero are to open a restaurant. Genevieve and Tim Sparrow are launching the venue in Tottenham in the former William Hill premises in West Green Road. The duo have been running a series of supper clubs around the area having worked in restaurants for a number of years. The all-day cafe and restaurant will offer coffee and pastries in the morning, switching to sandwiches at lunchtime before “transforming into an intimate bar and restaurant in the evenings”. The Sparrows told Hot Dinners: “The restaurant will be an evolution of our supper clubs so we'll continue to work with seasonal ingredients and European flavours, with a focus on colourful vegetarian and vegan dishes, alongside select high welfare meat and fish. The drinks focus will be on quality wine and aperitifs. We'll have a good mix of classic and natural wine to choose from as well as a selection of simple cocktails and of course a range of craft beer.” The venue will also operate a bottle shop.
 
London-based pastry chef opens debut bakery and cafe: London-based pastry chef, Laura Almond, has opened her debut bakery and cafe, Beaten by a Whisker, in Walthamstow’s Hop House. The venue is named after a business Almond set up eight years ago to supply cakes and brownies to other local cafes, having started out operating as an honesty box in her driveway. It offers sourdough bread, cakes (specialising in vegan bakes), brownie boxes and wedding cakes, plus coffee from local roasters, Curious Roo, made with plant-based milk.

Shay Cooper to head up new restaurant at Belgravia hotel: Chef Shay Cooper is to head up the new restaurant at The Lanesborough hotel in London’s Belgravia. Cooper, who won a Michelin star while at The Goring, will lead The Lanesborough Grill, which launches on Monday, 25 April. The “flagship modern British restaurant” replaces previous restaurant Celeste, which had a Michelin star but lost it in this year's guide. Dishes at The Lanesborough Grill will include beef wellington, royale chestnut mushroom, oxtail, and bone marrow potatoes; and poached native lobster cooked with spring radishes, broad beans, peas and lemon verbena butter. Cooper told Hot Dinners: “Our vision is to use the very best of British produce in one of London’s most beautiful and atmospheric Regency dining rooms with warm, table service. I want for our guests to enjoy experiences that are more than just great food and drink and add in an element of elevated fun and of course a sense of high glamour.”

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