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Tue 12th Apr 2022 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Portobello Starboard secures £40m to help expand portfolio: Portobello Starboard, the new acquisition platform backed by private equity firm Zetland Capital and operated by Portobello Brewery, has secured a £40m loan from OakNorth Bank to help expand its portfolio. The funds are being used to support the acquisition of high-quality freehold pubs across London and the south of England. This includes last month’s acquisition of five pubs from City Pub Group for a total consideration of £16.2m. The Mark Crowther-chaired Portobello business exchanged contracts with City Pub Group to acquire three pubs in Brighton – the Lion & Lobster, the Walrus and the Brighton Beach Club – plus the Inn On the Beach on Hayling Island and the Travellers Friend in Woodford Green, Essex. Separately, Portobello has completed the acquisition of the Grand Victorian pub in Worthing from Dominion Hospitality, an affiliate of Stellex Capital Management. The 18-bedroom freehold pub with rooms dates to 1898 and is located opposite Worthing’s central station. Portobello’s portfolio also includes the flagship Westow House in Crystal Palace, which has recently added 22 en‐suite bedrooms, along with other locations including Effra Social in Brixton and Pratts & Payne in Streatham. Crowther said: “Given the challenges pubs have faced over the last two years, there aren’t many lenders who would consider supporting the sector at the moment. However, through looking at the portfolio’s past performance, as well as taking a forward-look view of its future potential, OakNorth Bank was able to put together a facility which will keep these pubs thriving and enable us to further expand the portfolio.” Portobello Starboard operates circa 20 pubs and plans to build a business with more than 80 sites. Westfort Advisors advised Zetland Capital on the transaction.
 

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Pret CEO is backing Hospitality Rising and hopes you will too: Pano Christou, chief executive of Pret A Manger, is calling on his fellow bosses across the hospitality industry – and especially his peers in the coffee, breakfast and lunchtime sector – to join together to support Hospitality Rising. The initiative aims to unite the industry by asking it to invest in and back its plan to change the perception of hospitality for the better in the biggest sector recruitment advertising campaign the UK has seen. Christou said: “I’ve always said Pret is nothing without our people, and the same goes for every business in the hospitality industry. Hospitality Rising is a fantastic initiative and will help promote the benefits of a job or career across the whole of our industry. Hospitality has been a life-changing career path for me and I’m passionate about giving more people the chance to learn, develop and access new opportunities in the way that Pret created opportunities for me. With a career in hospitality, no matter where you start from, you can go anywhere, and that’s why it’s such a special industry. This campaign will showcase these benefits to more people across the UK, so please join us by backing Hospitality Rising today.” Invest in Hospitality Rising now from just £10 per employee here. If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com.

Host of coffee shop concepts among franchisors in first UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, released on Friday: A host of coffee shop concepts expanding in the UK and abroad are among the franchisors featured in the first UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (15 April), at midday. The first edition will feature 100 companies and 27,000 words of content, providing insight on the offer, locations, cost and other key details. Among them is Northampton-based cafe operator Bewiched Coffee, which signed its first franchise partnership in March 2022 as it plans to expand its estate to up to 40 sites by the end of 2026. Also featured is Black Sheep Coffee, which received a £13m cash injection from a group of investors, including Spotify investor Tellef Thorleifsson, in 2019. Coffee-Bike, a mobile bike-based coffee shop concept from Germany which has developed into an internationally successful franchise and started to expand in the UK, is also featured. So too is EasyCoffee, which currently has 14 cafes and is rolling out vending machines offering premium coffee from £1 a cup. In addition, Soho Coffee Co, which since 1999 has since grown to circa 40 sites both in the UK and abroad, mainly in travel hubs, will be featured. Meanwhile, Sweden-based Wayne’s Coffee, which through its franchising model has more than 150 coffee houses in multiple countries in Europe and Asia, will also feature. Premium subscribers also receive access to The New Openings Database, the Propel Multi-Site Database and the Turnover & Profits Blue Book. 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. 

Year-on-year inflation in foodservice sector hit 10.2% in February, further increases ‘inevitable’ that ‘could create conditions worse than covid’: Year-on-year inflation in the foodservice sector hit 10.2% in February 2022, with further increases on the horizon that could create conditions “worse than covid”. The double-digit increase was fuelled by a surge in demand, the lingering impacts of covid, additional costs of trade post-Brexit and increases in energy and packing prices, according to the latest edition of the Foodservice Price Index from CGA and Prestige Purchasing. Inflation has been further heightened by the comparisons with February 2021, when Britain’s lockdown temporarily eased the pressure on prices. The report also highlights the volatility of pricing, with a wide range of highs and lows across its ten categories. The sugar category recorded a drop of 10.9%, while oils and fats were up by 56% year-on-year. Five categories have inflation of more than 20%, with fish, fruit, dairy and soft drinks also affected. Inflation will become even more acute following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the report predicted, with stress on energy markets generating new challenges in key commodities like wheat, oil and fats and fish and fertilisers. This is likely to drive up prices for months to come, and further increases in inflation are inevitable. Shaun Allen, Prestige Purchasing chief executive, said: “Inflation now constitutes an existential threat to many businesses in the hospitality sector. The Ukraine war has the potential to drive an extended period of increasing food and drink costs, which if coupled with recent changes to VAT, rising labour costs and potentially falling volumes, could well generate conditions worse than during the pandemic.” James Ashurst, client director at CGA, added: “Two years of covid turmoil have weakened many businesses across the foodservice sector, so the huge upward pressure on prices comes at the worst possible time. The long-term future of the foodservice sector remains good, but there are undoubtedly some turbulent times ahead.”

Tipjar launches system to get tips to workers faster: Cashless tipping platform Tipjar has launched a new system designed to get tips to staff faster. It claims Supertronc, which will launch across Active Partners-backed business Honest Burgers this week, will distribute tips and service charges through a standard credit card machine both transparently and fairly. HM Revenue & Customs rules, called tronc, require tips to be held in a fund that is distributed to staff about a month later, “in what can be a complicated and burdensome process”, Tipjar said. It added that even for businesses acting fairly, it can be hard to give staff visibility on what they are owed, and customers visibility on what they have paid. Supertronc collects tips directly from customers via QR codes “to address all these issues while being fully compliant with tronc rules”. James Brown, TipJar co-founder, said: “We believe the traditional system is outdated and doesn’t give the customer or staff member transparency or certainty over tips. While we respect restaurants that choose to use the old method, we have another view on the path the industry should take. One that is fair, transparent and gives staff control of their tips as fast as possible.” Honest Burgers co-founder, Philip Eeles, added: “As the cost of living increases and the recruitment crisis continues, giving staff ownership over their earnings is going to have a huge impact. Once Supertronc catches on, I think it will become a benchmark for operators in the UK. Honest isn’t the perfect business, we’ve made a lot of mistakes, but we’re always trying to be better and do right by our people.” Founded in 2019, Tipjar is live in more than 2,000 venues and has more than 20,000 users.

Strong growth for hospitality spending in March and takeaway still soaring, but cost of living causing consumer concern: Spending in hospitality settings saw “strong growth” of 18.3% in March compared with the same period in 2019, according to data from Barclaycard. This was boosted by a 41.7% surge in spending at bars, pubs and clubs following the lifting of all remaining social distancing restrictions at the end of February, Barclaycard’s report said. Entertainment also enjoyed an uplift of 20.3%, driven by cinema goers watching major releases such as The Batman, while takeaways and fast food soared 79.6% compared with three years ago, reflecting a lockdown trend that has become a mainstay for many households. And in a sign that the staycation boom is set to continue, hotels, resorts and accommodation enjoyed a 15.3% boost compared with the same period in 2019. However, nine in ten consumers are concerned about the negative impact of rising household bills on their personal finances – a 2% increase on February and 5% higher than in December. But while optimism about the future of the UK economy has fallen to 27%, its lowest level since January last year, Brits’ confidence in their own household finances remains steady at 62%. José Carvalho, head of consumer products at Barclaycard, said: “Rising fuel prices and household bills are clearly starting to influence consumer behaviour. While this may dampen growth in the months ahead, we shouldn’t overlook the expected heatwave later in April, and the fast-approaching Easter holidays, both of which are likely to boost non-essential spending.”

Hospitality can ‘lead the way’ in helping disabled people flourish: The hospitality industry can lead the way in helping disabled people to flourish, according to UKHospitality. The trade body said their qualities and skills are valued in the sector, but warned against the implementation of inappropriate practices. It was responding to a consultation – part of the National Disability Strategy – looking at how government and employers can make workplaces more inclusive for disabled people. UKHospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said: “We want to see more hospitality businesses implementing practices to allow disabled people to flourish in our sector, drawing on their personal qualities and skills. In order to recruit inclusively, with confidence, and to engage with monitoring, hospitality businesses are going to need clear, robust guidance. However, disability continues to be a delicate matter, and we’re concerned that mandatory reporting could prompt the implementation of inappropriate practices. For example, data collection performed in a way that fails to capture the nuance and complexity of the workforce’s demographics and the business’ inclusivity could lead to misrepresentation of how inclusive businesses are, which would be to the detriment of consumers, employees and competition within the sector.”

Stella Artois campaign will donate cash for customer politeness to hospitality charity: Stella Artois, part of Budweiser Brewing Group, has launched a “Stella Please” campaign which will see it donate cash for customer politeness to a hospitality charity. Over the coming months, every time someone says “please” when ordering a pint of Stella, the company will donate 10p, up to the value of £150,000, to Hospitality Action. The campaign is designed to help rebuild the on-trade business and encourage kindness and respect towards hospitality staff. “Stella Please is our way to support our on-trade partners and spread some kindness,” said Jean-David Thumelaire, the group’s on-trade sales director. It follows the group’s ‘Save Pub Life’ initiative, which encouraged communities to buy gift cards to support their local pubs during lockdown, raising a total of £1.5m, and Stella Tips, a campaign to support bar staff financially, which donated £500,000. Both initiatives were in partnership with Hospitality Action.

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a new cocktail bar opening in west London to hire an experienced bar manager. A COREcruitment spokesman said, “The business has a brilliant partner and mentor to help build the operation. The service will be high-end but casual, with an affluent demographic. This is an exhilarating opportunity for a bar manager with high-volume experience who is looking to really stimulate and satisfy their creative juices as they have an incredible lab with lots to play with.” The bar manager will focus on delivering excellent customer experiences and consistently high-quality drinks. They must always remain visible, so a confident, charismatic, “face of the business” management style is needed. The role is paying circa £33,000 plus service charge. For more information and to apply, email max@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Morris – Tortilla planning to explore European expansion by Q4, property market still in our favour: Richard Morris, chief executive of Mexican restaurant brand Tortilla, has said the business plans to begin exploring opportunities to expand into Europe by the end of this year – which may start with a delivery kitchen launch. Morris told Propel it will probably start pursuing opportunities on the continent in the final quarter of this year, and that dipping the brand’s toe in the water with a delivery kitchen launch to test the market was “a very sensible way of doing it”. The company’s business plan was to open nine bricks-and-mortar sites this year, plus three delivery kitchens and up to three sites with SSP, and Morris said the opportunities to secure new sites “kind of peaked during covid, when property prices were fantastic”. He said: “We picked up some great sites, including a location in Bath we had been looking for years. We ended up picking that up for probably half of what it was when we first looked at it, and that site is trading really well. So that was probably the peak of recent market. Obviously we’ve just come out of the rent moratorium, and although nothing’s specific yet, talking to my property director, he feels that over the next few weeks, there will be more properties becoming available. The market is still very much in our favour, but possibly not quite as soft as it was 12 months ago.” The company’s estimated capital expenditure per site (excluding delivery-only kitchens) ranges from £250,000 to £425,000 depending on the size of the unit, site condition and storefront requirements. The group aims for a 35% minimum target investment hurdle for its return on capital employed.

Pret to expand into Ireland and Northern Ireland: Pret A Manger is to expand into the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in partnership with existing franchisee, Carebrook Partnership. Through the agreement, 20 Pret shops will be established across the island over the next decade, creating about 500 jobs. The first shop is set to open in Dawson Street, Dublin, this summer, creating 25 jobs. Carebrook Partnership is one of Pret’s longest serving franchise partners, having worked with the business for 30 years, overseeing many shops in London including Camden, Belsize Park and Finchley. Gerard Loughran, the majority co-owner and former Itsu chief executive, grew up in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, and has more than 30 years’ experience in the UK and US food sector. Minority co-owner Ray McNamara, from Dublin, has 25 years’ experience in the Irish food industry, including ownership of Ann’s Bakery. The franchise agreement follows Pret’s announcement last year that it would aim to double the size of the business within five years, including launching into five new markets by the end of 2023. Pano Christou, chief executive of Pret, said: “Setting up shop in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland has been our plan for a long time. There has long been demand from our neighbours on the island of Ireland to bring Pret’s freshly prepared food and organic coffee, and now with the backing of Carebrook Partnership, we’re able to do so.” Loughran added: “I’ve always wanted to bring Pret to Ireland and Northern Ireland, so I’m delighted this will soon become a reality alongside my co-owner, Ray, who has great connections and links to the food sector in Dublin.” Pret is planning to roll out full ingredient labelling to shops in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland as part of Pret’s allergy plan. As part of Pret’s expansion, it is rolling out a recruitment programme aiming to hire at least 3,000 staff globally. Earlier this year, Pret confirmed it would invest more than £9.2m in staff pay, its biggest pay and benefits increase in its 36-year history.

Stonegate restructures marketing team with two new appointments: Stonegate Group has restructured its marketing team with two senior appointments after the departure of marketing director Nicola Pryce, Propel has learned. Melissa Wisdom has been internally promoted from operations director, where she oversaw the development of the premium division, to sales and marketing director, with responsibility for leading the marketing, digital, and sales teams. Wisdom joined Stonegate from Diageo, where she held the position of commercial director for the On Trade and Diageo Reserve. Prior to Diageo, she held a number of senior positions in retail and manufacturing with both national and global brands. Wisdom said: “I am excited to join the Stonegate board at such a pivotal point in the company’s history. There is huge opportunity and scope for Stonegate as the biggest pub company in the UK, and its sales and marketing strategy sits at the heart of this.” James Metcalfe joins the marketing team as director of marketing – insight and innovation. Metcalfe, who will be leading on consumer insight and business development, joins Stonegate after ten years at Diageo working in a number of commercial and customer insight roles. He said: “I am thrilled to be joining Stonegate, having worked with them as a customer of Diageo, it is great to be on the other side of the bar. I have always admired Stonegate’s entrepreneurial spirit and agility as an industry leader.” Stonegate chief executive Simon Longbottom said: “Melissa and James bring a wealth of experience and expertise which will further strengthen our marketing team as we fulfil our vision of raising the bar on the British pub by being the best for our guests, our people and our communities.” Pryce will leave Stonegate following six years with the business to take time out of the work place indefinitely to be closer to her family.
 
Umbrella Project founder eyes Soho for fourth site, plans further expansion with new concepts: Umbrella Project founder Andy Kerr is eyeing a first move out of east London for his company’s fourth site and has at least three more concepts he plans further expansion with. Founded in 2014, Umbrella Project opened two sites within its first year – Discount Suit Company and Sun Tavern – before opening independent drinks shop and tasting room The Umbrella Workshop last month. During the eight years in between, the company launched its own brewery and Kerr spent some time investing in a friend’s hotel in Mexico, and he is now ready to return to the expansion trail. He told Propel: “We have what I call a golden triangle of three sites within ten minutes of each other in Shoreditch, but I’ve always really wanted somewhere in Soho. We had offers on places in Soho and Borough Market before the pandemic, but I’m glad they didn’t come through – the best thing is knowing when to walk away. But I feel our concept would work really well in Soho. We’re an interactive experience – you can take advice on premium spirits and whiskeys from our bartenders – plus the live music and DJ element. When the time is right, we will go there, perhaps towards the end of the year for a Christmas opening. We’re always looking for venues, and I have another two of three concepts in my head waiting to come out, plus another big thing that would require investment – everything else we have done is self-funded.” Kerr admits that without the pandemic, Umbrella Workshop may never have happened. “When it hit, we didn’t know what to do,” he said. “I started making bottled cocktails, and people would pass by asking if they could buy them. We launched our online shop, and then this latest site, on the back of that really, it’s not something we’d have otherwise done. We now use this site as a workshop for our cocktails as well, developing them with different liquors and syrups before putting them on the menus in our bars.” Kerr said he is proud to have made no staff redundant during the pandemic, and that trade has been exceptional since Omicron restrictions were lifted. “Since January it has been amazing,” he added. “People have come back in force, and we’ve had record sales. We find people are concentrating on bars they really like – they want to do cool things and support independents.”

Papa John’s franchisee takes portfolio to ten with Droitwich Spa opening, plans further West Midlands site: Papa John’s franchisee Atif Maroof Zar has taken his estate to ten sites with an opening in Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire. Zar, who runs the business with brothers Umair Ramay and Amir Maroof, is also planning a further West Midlands store “very soon”. Zar who previously worked at two rival pizza firms and also managed a Papa John’s before becoming a franchisee in 2017, said: “Building a cluster of stores adds efficiencies and is helpful for recruitment. We are always looking to add more talented team members.” The Droitwich Spa site, which has opened in Victoria Square, has also benefitted from the new Papa John’s branding, which was unveiled in Potters bar last month and is being rolled out across the UK estate, which now consists of more than 500 sites.

Trio of operators sign for sites at Circle Square scheme in Manchester: A trio of operators have signed for sites at the Circle Square scheme in Manchester. The development, a joint venture between Vita Group and Bruntwood Sci-Tech, has seen the former BBC site transformed in to a mixed-use community which is now starting to welcome its first retail and leisure providers. Japanese tea house Tsujiri will open its sixth UK site and second in Manchester. The business, which was founded in Kyoto in 1860, has taken a 1,302 square-foot space underneath the Vita Living North tower, offering its Japanese sake, whisky and matcha beer. Tsujiri, which will have seating for 28, will be joined by the debut site of chicken restaurant, Bird of Prey, and bubble tea concept ,Uncle T. Bird of Prey, which is taking a 1,270 square-foot space underneath the Vita Living North tower, is a new concept created by The Restaurant Guys which will offer a range of chicken-based dishes made with special dredging and frying process, as well as specialty shakes and homemade sauces. Uncle T will reside under the Vita Living East tower in a 322 square-foot unit. Acting agent for Vita Group’s retail and leisure offering is Lyons Thompson Letts Property Consultants.

Greedy Gordons Pub Group opens third site, plans further expansion: Northamptonshire-based Greedy Gordons Pub Group has opened its third site in the county, with plans for further expansion. The Snooty Fox in Lowick, near Thrapston, is a private leasehold that has been opened by owners Richard Gordon and Sonya Harvey following a £500,000 refurbishment. The pub was due to open in April 2020 but was delayed due to the challenges of the pandemic. It features a 50-cover restaurant and 60-seat bar area. Gordon and Harvey also run The Red Lion in Cranford, a Punch lease which opened five years ago, and private leasehold The Pig & Waffle in Grafton Underwood, which opened last June. The Snooty Fox’s food offer focuses on dry-aged steaks and fresh seafood, with the pub having a lobster tank in its kitchen. Gordon, who has worked in the hospitality industry for 36 years, including in food development for McManus Pub Company and as an area manager for Northamptonshire Inns, said: “We are delighted to finally open The Snooty Fox. It has been a big challenge – we didn’t qualify for any covid-19 grants and the industry recruitment crisis has also had a huge impact on getting enough team members to open. It feels a massive achievement to be trading at last.” The Pig & Waffle is opening a farm shop this Easter in the pub’s rear garden, while The Red Lion is introducing a new food and cocktails offer to its covered outside bar/restaurant this summer.

Caffe Nero launches ‘super leader’ apprenticeship programme: Caffe Nero has launched a “super leader” apprenticeship programme. The programme, in partnership with people development company Well Training, will use high impact training to help Caffe Nero store managers work towards the operational manager apprenticeship standard. It is part of the drive to enhance their skills as Caffe Nero recovers from the pandemic and returns to growth, with sessions focused on operational management, organisational strategy and authentic leadership. Caffe Nero Group HR director, Andrea Cooper, said: “People are at the heart of our business, and we have always put particular focus on developing people from within and providing a clear pathway for growth. More than 70% of our above-store team originated in-store, and this programme further strengthens that investment in our people.” The programme will also be rolled out across Caffe Nero Group’s other brands, including Coffee #1 and Harris + Hoole.

Salcombe Distilling Co aims to raise £5m over next year to continue global growth: Devon-based Salcombe Distilling Co is aiming to raise £5m over the next 12 months as it looks to continue growing globally. The first part of this will be a crowdfunding campaign via Seedrs, which is open to selected investors and will go public next Tuesday (19 April). A similar process took place in 2019, when Salcombe Distilling Co reached its crowdfunding target in under 24 hours. This funding has helped the company achieve 100% growth in the last two years, make waves in the 0% spirits category, launch both its Salcombe Gin and New London Light brands in the US and create the world’s first distillery at sea. Chairman Nick Blazquez said: “This new round of investment is all about the ongoing positioning and growth at a time when the international appetite for both gin and non-alcoholic spirits continues to show a fast-moving curve upwards.” Angus Lugsdin and Howard Davies started the business in 2016.

Former Ottolenghi and Hawksmoor bakers open debut bakery after crowdfunding £15,000: A pair of bakers who have previously worked for the likes of Ottolenghi, Hawksmoor, Oklahoma, Bread by Bike, Brick House, Fortitude Bakehouse and the Snapery have decided to go it alone and open their own bakery. Oliver Costello and Rebecca Spavins have opened Frog Bakery at 44 Peckham Road, Camberwell, after raising £15,000 through a crowdfund, having signed a lease in December. The concept started out as a pandemic pop-up on a platform at Loughborough station before using the cash injection, which was donated in 28 days by more than 300 supporters, to transform a site which had stood empty for ten years. They said: “We’ll be baking properly delicious sourdough bread made with carefully sourced flours and full of healthy whole grains. If you like rye bread, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll have a weekly selection of beautiful and exciting cakes and pastries made with seasonal ingredients and savouries and sandwiches at lunch time. We’ll also be serving filter coffee and tea.”

Former Le Cordon Bleu graduate to open cafe and fitness space in Kensington: A new cafe and fitness space is opening in Kensington, west London. Volonté will launch on Tuesday, 19 April, in Brompton Road. Founded by Vidushi Binani and Haylene Ryan, Volonté will draw on their expert knowledge of food and well-being. Binani, a former graduate from Le Cordon Bleu, will lead the cafe, which will offer dishes such as the chipotle bowl – a combination of Mexican flavours and ethically sourced ingredients including quinoa, broccoli, black beans, chipotle chicken, spiced tomato salsa, and crispy onions. Binani said: “Volonté is a lockdown passion project turned reality. Haylene and I have been friends for more than a decade and together we have a unified approach to food and fitness. We can’t wait to share our lifestyle ethos with hungry and energetic Londoners.”

Andrew Clarke oversees new restaurant at Hammersmith private members’ club: Andrew Clarke, who is behind new live fire concept, Acme Fire Cult, is overseeing the new restaurant at Hammersmith private members’ club, Kindred. Located on the ground floor, 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 has 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.”

Glasgow city centre hotel operator goes into administration: The operator of a Glasgow city centre hotel has fallen into administration, with trading now halted and all staff made redundant. Derek Forsyth and Nicola Banham, partners of Azets, have been appointed joint administrators of Bracknell Property and Bracknell Property Subco. Bracknell Property has an interest in the lease to 139-141 West George Street Glasgow, a building that was operating as a hotel business branded as the Pocotel Glasgow City Centre. Bracknell Property Subco traded the hotel, which has 91 rooms, two conference suites, a restaurant and lobby bar. Azets said: “The administration of both businesses was caused by unsustainable cash flow problems stemming from poor trading and low occupancy levels caused by the covid pandemic. The hotel has now closed, trading has been halted and all 14 remaining staff made redundant. The joint administrators will now market the lease for sale, which has more than 100 years left to run, through the Glasgow office of Savills.”
 
Shakeaholic opens in Glasgow for fifth site: Milkshake bar concept Shakeaholic has opened its fifth site, at the Braehead shopping centre in Glasgow. The company has opened a kiosk in the lower mall, reports the Glasgow Evening Times. Shakeaholic offers more than 200 different flavours of shakes and more than 30 toppings. The business also operates sites in Durham, Gateshead, Livingston and Newcastle.

Liverpool-based aparthotel operator acquires fourth site: Liverpool-based aparthotel operator U-Stay has acquired its fourth site. Bling Aparthotel has launched in Hanover Street after being bought from pub, bar and nightclub operator, JSM Group. The venue was previously operated as Bling Prestige Stay after JSM Group acquired it from aparthotel developer and operator Signature Living towards the end of 2020. U-Stay already operates aparthotels at 27 Stanley Street, 42 Stanley Street and 44 Castle Street. The new Bling Aparthotel features nine “party pads” themed on landmark cities such as Paris, Tokyo and New York. Rachel Dickman, associate director of U-Stay, told Business Live: “We are excited to launch the Bling Aparthotel as part of our growing portfolio of well-placed and popular locations. Bling brings much-needed and sought-after accommodation for the larger and special occasion groups that come together to sample our city’s amazing nightlife and party-based events.”

Team behind Glasgow-based concept Halloumi to launch new Greek-inspired restaurant: The team behind Glasgow-based concept Halloumi is to launch a new Greek-inspired restaurant in the city. Gyros will open on Wednesday (13 April) in Byres Road, in the former Martha’s Deli premises. As well as gyros, the new venture will offer a menu of Mediterranean food including chargrilled lamb kofta and loaded halloumi fries. General manager Andrew Kangulu told the Glasgow Times: “Our sister concept, Halloumi has proven to be a huge success, with three locations, and has established a demand for Greek cuisine in Glasgow. Customers at Gyros can expect a casual dining experience full of traditional Greek flavours cooked lovingly while they wait using time-honoured methods and long-established recipes.”

Greenock cafe owner set to open takeaway in nearby Gourock: The operator of Greenock’s Esplanade Cafe, which has been based in the Scottish town for more than 75 years, has applied to open a hot food takeaway in nearby Gourock. Marco Medinelli, who has made the application under the name of Good Food Co Gourock, has applied with Inverclyde Council to take a vacant unit at 55 Kempock Street. Medinelli has run The Esplanade Cafe, which is based in Campbell Street, for more than 30 years. Famed for its gelato ice cream, it operated ice cream delivery services during lockdown. In 2020, Medinelli applied, under the name M&R Properties, to turn the former Overdraft Bar/Melrose Lounge, at the corner of Inverkip Road and Old Inverkip Road, Greenock, into coffee shop and takeaway Melrose Pizza and Pasta.

Glasgow-based seafood restaurant to begin expansion with second site in city: Glasgow-based seafood restaurant Crabshakk is to begin expansion with a second site in the city. Owner John Macleod is opening a sister location to its Finnieston eatery in Vincombe Street, in the West End. In a post on Instagram, Crabshakk said the new site will open on Friday, April 22. It added: “All of this could not be possible without your continued love and support, so for that we thank you! Catch you reeeeely soon.”

Plans lodged for waterside food and drink offer at Salford Quays: Plans for a new waterside food, drink and retail offer that will transform parts of Quayside MediaCity – formerly known as The Lowry – have been submitted. Peel L&P wants to transform the Salford Quays complex’s southern canal side walkway, which will also include a food hall to champion local and regional vendors. The proposed plans will feature six new pop-up units created from shipping containers, new terraces for outdoor dining, enhanced landscaping as well as a community space. Investment has already started on Quayside MediaCity with a revamp of its food court planned, marking the start of a £5m investment plan and revitalised five-year vision for the complex. Stephen Wild, Peel L&P director for strategic investment and growth, said: “Planning permission was granted in 2019 for a remodelled southern waterfront for a scheme known as the Watergardens. However, since then we have lived through a pandemic which has refocused our minds on what our local community needs.”

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