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Fri 22nd Apr 2022 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Managed groups’ like-for-like sales up 4% in March on pre-pandemic levels but inflation holds down growth, bars strongest performers: Britain’s managed restaurant, pub and bar groups saw like-for-like sales increase 4% in March on pre-pandemic levels, according to the new Coffer CGA Business Tracker. The tracker, produced by CGA in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM, shows the gradual upturn this year has continued, after a like-for-like drop of 1% in January and 3% growth in February. But the figures show with high inflation hitting both margins and spending, hospitality’s recovery from covid-19 remains fragile.  Bars performed the strongest of the tracker’s three sectors in March, with like-for-like sales growth of 8%. Restaurants were close behind with 6% growth, thanks in large part to flourishing delivery sales, while pubs were up 2%. Trading in London continues to lag well behind other parts of the country. Managed groups’ like-for-like sales inside the M25 in March were flat, compared with 6% growth beyond the M25. Karl Chessell, director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA at CGA, said: “Two years on from the start of the pandemic and unprecedented turmoil in hospitality, these figures show managed groups are building back steadily. It’s particularly pleasing to see bars performing so well, as people return to late-night visits. However, like-for-like figures are well below inflation, and with soaring costs in energy, food and other areas hurting both operators and consumers, real-terms growth will be extremely challenging for some time.” Mark Sheehan, managing director at Coffer Corporate Leisure, added: “After a long challenging period for operators the recovery is slow, and the challenges faced by the sector are wide. These numbers are improving though and returning workers and tourists in increasing numbers should help lift London over the coming months.”
 

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Nathan Outlaw urges you to back Hospitality Rising: Chef and restaurateur Nathan Outlaw is urging you to join him and back 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. Outlaw said: “The present situation is dire for many hospitality businesses and in turn, for those who provide goods and services that supply hospitality. We are at a crucial point where we can either so something about it or let fate decide whether hospitality survives and thrives in the future. The campaign to attract more people into the industry is vital; a once-in-a -lifetime chance to change the image of hospitality and attract new recruits to an industry that we know can offer worthwhile and rewarding careers. My job has given me pride and satisfaction as well as challenges. It’s an outlet for my creativity and no two days are the same. I have now built a business that encompasses two Michelin-starred restaurants and a guesthouse. To me, hospitality is a great choice for those looking for something a bit different in a career. Please join those of us in investing in Hospitality Rising.” 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.
 
Propel Multi-Club Conference featuring all-female line-up of leaders on learning lessons and moving forward opens for bookings, three free places for operators: The second Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2022 takes place on Thursday, 30 June, at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in London’s Kensington. The all-day conference will feature an all-female line-up of sector leaders on learning lessons from the pandemic and moving forward. Operators of multi-site hospitality companies can book three free places each by emailing jo.charity@propelinfo.com. Speakers will include Lynne Franks, whose business activities include the development of the McDonald’s UK women’s leadership network, and she talks about her journey and the future of women’s leadership in business, community and society. Lucy Knowles, managing director of Holroyd Howe, talks about her journey through hospitality. Jo Clevely, co-founder of Geronimo Inns, talks to Ann Elliott about why design matters so much in hospitality venues and how women can really make their mark in this often-hidden side of the business. Wenny Armstrong, managing director of Ballie Ballerson, shares her story about starting the business, winning investment and the highs and lows of the last few years. Grace Harding, chief executive of Ocean Basket Group, now in 18 countries and recently launched in the UK, talks about her attitude to leadership, recruiting the best possible talent and creating working environments in which people have the opportunity to thrive and learn. Zoe Collins, managing director of the Jamie Oliver Group, talks about her journey from producing live shows for BBC Radio One to running a high profile, award-winning, global media and food brand with social impact at its heart. Dawn Donohoe, managing director of London Cocktail Club and Barrio Bars, talks about her 20 years of senior leadership experience in the sector and how it has helped her become a successful managing director and leader. Meanwhile, Ann Elliott talks to Karen Bates, group people director at BrewDog; Anne-Marie Sarantis, head of people at Gusto; Dawn Browne, people and talent director at Fuller’s; and Miranda Burgum, people director at Gail’s Bakery about what women need to do to reach board level. Ann Elliott talks to Lizi Hills, head of finance at Various Eateries; Danielle Davies, chief financial officer at Revolution; Koula Achillea, finance director at Oakman Group; and Julie Centracchio, chief financial officer at Boston Tea Party about how finance roles can help women reach the top. Ann Elliott talks to Anni Opong, managing director at Arc Inspirations; Lucy Worth, chief operating officer at Mowgli; Lisa Gibbons, chief operating officer (Bella Italia and concessions) at the Big Table Group; and Kate Eastwood, operations director at Fuller’s about how women can really make their mark in operations. Ann Elliott also talks to Ellen Chew, founder of Chew On This restaurant group; Naomi Heaton, founder of The Other House; Chelsea Finch, founder of the three-strong London-based coffee shop brand, District; entrepreneur Anh Pham, founder of Paeonia; and Rebecca Bishop, founder of Two Magpies Bakery about how and why they set up their own businesses.
 
Latest edition of Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book being sent to Premium subscribers today: The latest edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, will be sent to Premium subscribers today (Friday, 22 April) at midday. The latest Blue Book sees a further 13 companies added, taking the number of UK pub, restaurant, cafe and hotel operators featured to 559. The Blue Book, which is updated monthly, shows the full damage done to the sector by the pandemic, with total losses of £7.6bn being reported by 347 companies. However, a further 212 sector companies are still reporting total profits of £1bn. Total turnover of the companies stands at £25.6bn. It will also feature group editor Mark Wingett’s latest pick of the companies well-placed to grow in the post-pandemic era. The Blue Book, which is updated every month, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers also receive the New Openings Database, produced in association with StarStock, and the Multi-Site Operators Database, produced in association with Virgate, which are also updated each month. Premium subscribers have also been given exclusive access to a new database. The UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database is an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK and will be updated every two months. The first edition, which was sent last Friday (15 April), features 100 companies, providing insight on the offer, locations, cost and other key details. The first edition provides 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 Mark Wingett.

New toolkit launches to help operators calculate carbon footprint to support sector’s net zero aim: A new toolkit has been launched to help operators calculate their carbon footprint in a bid to support the industry’s plan to achieve net zero. The Hospitality & Brewing Carbon Calculator and Toolkit has been launched on World Earth Day by the Zero Carbon Forum and developed in collaboration with UKHospitality, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), and powered by Sky. The toolkit also enables hospitality operators to identify achievable key actions to reduce emissions. To support the accuracy of footprint calculations and easy-to-use actions, operators can choose from the groupings of pubs, hotels, restaurants, quick service restaurants (QSR), brewers, contract catering, nightclubs and visitor attractions. Forum chief executive and founder, Mark Chapman, told Propel the toolkit was designed to make it as easy as possible for businesses to play their part in the sector’s net zero push. He said: “We have built the question pathway to help people easily calculate their carbon footprint and then if they have further detail, we can input that as well. It’s divided into three areas – product, so that could be around offering more plant-based options; place, so that’s the design of the building and fit-out; and then people. Accurately measuring and understanding your current carbon footprint is critical to starting a meaningful plan to cut carbon and costs. Then by working with UKHospitality and the BBPA, we can use the data to inform policy and show the government how the sector is working in collaboration. We will keep evolving the toolkit so we can continue to update our initiatives.” UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls added: “As a sector, we are fully committed to decarbonisation and are delighted to have played our part in developing the calculator and toolkit. Hospitality is at the forefront of the race to net zero.” The toolkit and calculator can be accessed for brewers and pubs through the BBPA and through UKHospitality for pubs, hotels, restaurants, QSR, nightclubs, contract catering and visitor attractions. It will also be available on Sky’s customer portal, MySkySports.com
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment has partnered with a hospitality brand looking to hire a chief operating officer. This is the first senior hire for this growing business ahead of planned expansion over 2022-23. Following an injection of cash, the business is now expanding into the USA and Europe and looking for a senior director to take ownership of expansion. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “Working alongside an invested founder, the business is looking for someone with a pure love for food, who can think outside the box and bring something new to the table. They must come from a hospitality/restaurant business and understand how the sector operates – have a passion for it, be involved in it and love talking about it. The role will involve extensive travel so you must be a position to be spend extensive periods away from home. Ideally you will be a German speaker – this will help with further expansion in the European market. You will also have experience around venues – logistics, maintenance, third party, suppliers, contractors, events, and operations.” The role is London based, with travel to both Europe and the USA. The salary is up to £120,000. For more information and to apply, email Kate@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Neat Burger to launch in the US, plans 1,000 sites globally by 2030: Lewis Hamilton-backed plant-based concept Neat Burger will open its first flagship location in the US, in Manhattan, later this autumn, as part of plans to expand to 1,000 corporately owned, franchise and dark kitchens by 2030. The company said its expansion will begin in the US covering a nationwide roll-out, as well as the introduction of its proprietary alternative-protein products into the CPG (consumer packaged goods) retail market. The first Neat Burger pop-up in midtown New York, in UrbanSpace Vanderbilt, opened this week, with its flagship location opening in Manhattan in autumn 2022. Its roll-out will then span major hubs across the US. The company is also expanding its food technology division with the establishment of new innovation centres, and plans to roll out its range – including new and improved versions of its plant-based chicken patty, hot dog, nuggets and shakes – by the end of the year. Tommaso Chiabra, co-founder and chairman of parent company, Neat Food Co, said: “By 2040, we see a world where alternative proteins have replaced animal proteins completely. Neat is leading the charge in the development of these alternatives that not only satisfy the needs of conscious consumers, but also deliver on flavour. We’re here to prove that the easiest choice can also be the best choice for the planet.” Earlier this month, the company made a series of key appointments as it prepares for international expansion, starting in the key US market. Leading the US expansion will be Vincent Herbert, former chief executive of Le Pain Quotidien (LPQ), who joins as chief executive of Neat Burger USA, while former Sweetgreen chairman Jeffrey S Fried and ex-Joe & The Juice chief operating officer Henrik Fjordbak joined its advisory board. Co-founder Zack Bishti last month told Propel the brand will look to make its regional UK debut at the beginning of next year after the company, which currently operates eight sites in London, announced plans to open 30 new sites across the capital as well as expand into the UAE and Italy. This follows a $7m funding round, led by SoftBank’s Rajeev Misra, Neat completed at the end of last year.

Tim Hortons to double UK estate by end of 2023 as it plans London debut, likely to trial new concepts: Canadian quick service restaurant brand Tim Hortons is to make its London debut and revealed plans to double its 50-strong UK estate by the end of 2023. Having spent the last 18 months growing its drive-thru portfolio in key towns and cities, it will now open its first site in the capital, in Park Royal, later this year. The 4,209 square foot site will offer a dine in and drive-thru service as well as delivery options. In its next phase of growth, the brand, which is being rolled out by SK Group in the UK, will continue to be targeting drive-thru sites as well as key high street locations and is “likely to trial new concepts”. Its expanded presence in the capital will be a significant part of this plan, with several key locations in the pipeline and a continued focus to seek landlord partners and further sites across the UK and Ireland. Kevin Hydes, chief commercial officer at Tim Hortons in the UK, said: “Surpassing the 50-location milestone has been a testament to the team and the hard work injected to build sustainable success since inception into the UK in 2017. Despite challenging times for the sector, our model has continued to prove its success and we are confident now is the right time to open in the capital and announce our updated growth strategy. Our plan is to continue growing the Tim Hortons estate, both in London and nationwide, and along with this, we will likely trial new concepts to meet the needs of our ever-growing fanbase. We consider ourselves a real contender within the quick service restaurant sector and have ambitions to become the preferred brand of choice, no matter what occasion our guests are seeking to enjoy. We have a dedicated acquisition and construction team with us supporting our ambitious growth plan and we will be continuing to actively look for leasehold and freehold opportunities across the UK and Ireland. We are delighted to finally be bringing a restaurant to London, in what will be the first of many, with plenty more exciting openings in the pipeline for 2022 and beyond.”

Honest Burgers appoints Matt Brandon as new CFO, plans three openings in 2022: Honest Burgers, the Active Partners-backed business, has appointed Matt Brandon, formerly of Snowfox Group and Restaurant Brands International (RBI), as its new chief financial officer, Propel has learned. Brandon joins the circa 45-strong Honest after more than a year as group financial controller at the Snowfox Group, the owner of YO! Sushi. Previous to that, he spent eight years at RBI, including a stint as vice president and head of global finance for Popeyes. Brandon’s appointment follows the departure of Gary Mann as its chief commercial officer and Meg Ellis as the group’s commercial director. Mann joined in 2017, initially as finance director, before stepping up into the role of managing director for three years. He has held the role of chief commercial officer for the past 15 months. Ellis, who was Honest’s commercial director for the past three years, and prior to that its marketing director, has left the business to pursue new opportunities. Hayes told Propel that the company had appointed a new chief marketing officer and an operations director, both of whom are working through their notice periods, as the brand focuses on its next stage of growth. As part of that growth, the company, which was founded by Phil Eeles and Tom Barton in 2010, is set to open three new sites this year, including two outside London. Its first new opening of 2022 will be on the former ASK Italian site in Watford. It will follow this up with openings on the ex-YO! Sushi in St Paul’s and in Cloth Hall Street, Leeds. The company had also secured a further site in Bath for a future opening.  

Redcat acquires Wherry Hotel from Anglia Restaurants: RedCat Pub Company, the investment vehicle from ex-Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand, has acquired the Wherry Hotel and Pub in Suffolk, from Anglia Restaurants, Propel has learned. Overlooking the Oulton Broad, the business features 32 en-suite bedrooms, ten boat moorings, event space for up to 160 guests, plus the Castle Carvery restaurant and bar. It will be operated under the group's Redcat Inns division. The sale leaves Anglia Restaurants with three sites under its Castle Carvery concept across East Anglia (The Racecourse, The Clocktower and The Castle Freehouse) and two restaurants operating under its US diner concept Fatso’s. Last month, Redcat added the Broad Leys pub in Buckinghamshire to its estate. RedCat is understood to have acquired the pub, which is situated near Aylesbury town centre in a building dating 300 years, in an off-market deal. It comprises a pub and restaurant with seven letting rooms that had been operated by the previous owners for 22 years. Redcat currently operates more than 100 sites across the country.
 
Greene King pledges to be carbon net zero by 2040: Brewer and retailer Greene King has pledged to become carbon net zero by 2040. The company has committed to set near-term emissions targets in line with climate science with Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), reducing absolute Scope 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 from its 2019 base year. Chief executive Nick Mackenzie said: “The climate crisis is the responsibility of every one of us and the greatest challenge of our time. I’m proud of the commitment we’re undertaking, helping customers to make more environmentally friendly choices and reducing our own carbon footprint. By submitting our near-term target to SBTi for validation we are making the public commitment to take action. It matters to our customers, our communities and our employees. We are under no illusions this will be a monumental challenge. With full support from all of our stakeholders and in close cross-sector collaboration, we will rise to the challenge.”
 
Chickpea Group co-founder secures second site for Great Boozers vehicle: Ethan Davids, the co-founder of the Chickpea Group, has secured a second site for his wet-led Great Boozers vehicle, with plans to add three to four pubs a year to the fledgling business. Davids launched the business last year with Max Halley when they opened The Five Bells in Salisbury. The pair have now secured the Sam Weller’s pub in Upper Borough Walls, Bath, with a reopening planned for later this month. Davids told Propel that with costs rising across the sector, in terms of food and wages, he had decided to focus on growing an estate of city and town centre-based, wet-led “boozers”, providing “great beer, within great locations, and with a great atmosphere”. He said: “People want somewhere different to say more traditional, and long-established wet-led operators, and that’s what we hope to provide.” Davids currently operates four pubs with rooms and two sites under pizza concept Nole, across the south of England. The group’s pubs include the Bell & Crown in the village of Zeals, The Dog & Gun in Netheravon and the Pembroke Arms in Wilton. He said Chickpea was currently in talks to add a further pub to its portfolio this year. 
 
Rochelle Canteen co-founder Margot Henderson to open first pub: Margot Henderson, co-founder of Rochelle Canteen, is to open her first pub. Henderson will relaunch The Three Horseshoes in the Somerset village of Batcombe in November. The 17th century inn, which has five guest bedrooms, is being restored, and the food will be “heartfelt, wholesome and celebrate the very best produce from local farmers”. Dishes will include chicken and tarragon pie, and grilled brill, fennel, chard and green sauce. There will also be a succinct wine list. Originally from New Zealand, Henderson trained in her home country, before moving to London and started working at The French House in Soho, where she met her husband, Fergus Henderson, founder of St John. She opened Rochelle Canteen in Arnold Circus, with Melanie Arnold, in 2006 and published her first book, “You’re All Invited”, six years later. 
 
Matt Sworder to close Corner House restaurant in Minster: Kent-based chef Matt Sworder is to close his Corner House restaurant in Minster at the end of May, following almost nine years in business. The lease of the building has just been brought to market through agent Fleurets. Sworder opened The Corner House in Minster in 2013, following several years working in top London restaurants. Like many hospitality businesses, the restaurant was hit hard by the length and severity of the covid-19 lockdowns. In recent months Sworder tried to sustain the Minster restaurant through the launch of The Corner House at Home and shorter opening hours but the lasting impact of the pandemic and staff shortages have forced him to take the difficult decision. The team has been offered positions at its sister restaurant in Canterbury, which will be opening a new dining area in June, overlooking the garden with an extra 26 seats. The Canterbury restaurant will be open daily for lunch and dinner with a new menu also available throughout the afternoon. Sworder said: “Minster was my first restaurant and without it there would not have been a Corner House in Canterbury. However, the last two years have severely tested the restaurant’s viability, with the staff shortages and the expansion of Canterbury, I felt it was the most responsible thing to do.”
 
Sethi – it takes three to six months to decide whether a new concept will work: Jyotin Sethi, co-founder of JKS Restaurants, has said it takes three to six months for the business, which backs the likes of Bao, Berenjak and Hoopers, to decide whether a new concept will work. Sethi was talking to Sky News on the back of the group’s relaunch of the Arcade Food Hall in London’s Centre Point, which features nine new food brands. When asked by presenter Ian King how quickly will JKS decide on whether a concept is a “winner or otherwise”, Sethi said: “I think realistically, it's three to six months in terms of that development, or testing phase, but we've got a bank of ideas that we're working on a constant basis. We pride ourselves as a group on providing innovation and pushing boundaries and creating new ideas. The nine brands we've created for Arcade are unique for this location. So, if some work, great, if some don't work, that's also fine. We have other ideas we can swap out some and replace them with.” Sethi said the biggest challenge for the business was staffing. He said: “We as a group employ more than 1,000 people and I'd say today we have almost 150 vacancies. It’s an ongoing challenge. I think as a sector we've got to do better at attracting people into the industry and show them that it's a great place to work, learn and develop.” He said the business hasn’t yet seen the impact of the “cost of living crunch”. He added: “The reassurance I have is for people in the UK, eating out and drinking out is very much part of the social fabric. I'm a real optimist about the long-term prospects of the sector. I think there's a structural change and a structural shift that will happen. But you know, we'll be okay on the other side.”
 
Mnky Hse concept plans Manchester opening: Mnky Hse, the international restaurant, cocktail bar and event concept, is planning to open a second site in the UK, in Manchester. The business, which made its debut in the UK, in Mayfair, in 2016, has applied to open at 18-22 Lloyd Street in Manchester. The concept, which was founded by Boris Kofman, also operates sites in Riyadh and Doha. Its debut UK site opened in Dover Street. The 220-cover site “blends London style with Latin American spirit” offering contemporary Latin American food and drink alongside live music and DJ performances. Housed over two floors, it features a restaurant and bar area upstairs and an additional restaurant area downstairs. 
 
Team behind Sessions Arts Club to launch venture on north Scottish coast: The team behind Sessions Arts Club in London’s Farringdon is to launch a new venture on Scotland’s northern coast. Artist and restaurateur Jonny Gent, architect Russell Potter and chef Florence Knight will open Boath House in Auldearn in June. Boath House will feature bedrooms, two restaurants, a walled garden and cabins within extensive grounds. Boath House will be a “remote sanctuary built on the pillars of art, food, music and supplies – mirroring the practice and ethos of Gent’s studio retreat”. The Grade A listed Georgian mansion is being transformed by Gent and Potter with menus curated by Knight. They said: “Art and expression will be integral to Boath, with a handpicked selection of multi-disciplinary artists, writers, chefs and musicians invited to take up residence in the house and grounds.”
 
Golf club concept Pitch opens Soho flagship site: Golf club concept Pitch has further expanded in the capital after opening a flagship site in Soho. As previously revealed by Propel, Pitch, which is the brainchild of friends and golf professionals Elliot Godfrey and Chris Ingham, secured a site at 8-14 Meard Street for its second venue. Pitch was launched in London’s Bishopsgate more than four years ago, complete with state-of-the-art golf technology. Last year, the business told Propel the opening of its second site would form the first phase of a rapid expansion across London, with a view to opening multiple sites over the next two years across the capital. The original Pitch at 60-64 Bishopsgate is set over two floors with a split-level clubhouse on the ground floor. It features eight private golf bays, a clubhouse with a bar, changing rooms and a food menu from several local partners. Players have the choice of playing more than 60 of the world’s most popular golf courses, including classic venues such as Wentworth and Royal Troon. Adam Bowers, of onepoint2, and Piers Finley, of CWM, acted on the Soho deal.
 
SSP UK launches new ‘fresh-to-go’ concept Soul & Grain: UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist SSP Group has launched a new ‘fresh-to-go’ concept called Soul & Grain, in London. Launched earlier this week at Victoria station, the company said the new concept offers a “delicious range of baked goods, salads and sandwiches, including many vegan and vegetarian menu items, alongside fantastic artisan coffee”. The company said: “It focuses on a nutritionally balanced menu.” It is yet unknown whether SSP will look to expand the concept into other transport hubs. 
 
D&D London to launch new dining experience at Le Pont de la Tour: Restaurant operator D&D London will launch a new dining experience at its riverside French restaurant, Le Pont de la Tour, next month. Le Pont de la Tour Bistrot will open on Thursday, 12 May and be housed in the restaurant’s former bar. The new venue has been inspired by classic French bistros and brasseries, with a menu designed by executive chef Tony Fleming. Le Pont de la Tour Bistrot will seat 32 inside, with a further 24 covers on the terrace. The dining experience will be enhanced by live music on Wednesday and Friday evenings, with a variety of sets inspired by French jazz. Fleming’s menu will include duck confit, peas à la française, honey and Madeira; and saddleback pork belly, boudin noir and white asparagus. Head sommelier Michele Orbolato has created a concise, wine list to complement the menu. The bistrot will also serve a selection of signature cocktails. Le Pont de la Tour opened in 1991 in a 19th-century former tea warehouse in Shad Thames.
 
Popeyes opens third delivery kitchen site: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, the US fried chicken quick-service restaurant brand, has opened a third delivery kitchen site in London. Earlier this year, Propel revealed the company had launched delivery kitchens with Deliveroo Editions in Battersea and Whitechapel. It has now added a third site with Deliveroo Editions in Maida Vale. Earlier this week, Propel revealed Popeyes was planning to open a site in Romford, east London. The business, which is led by Tom Crowley in the UK, has applied to open on the ex-Superdrug site in the town’s South Street, a couple of doors down from rival US brand Wendy’s. Earlier this month, Popeyes confirmed it will open a site in Chelmsford’s High Street. Popeyes UK, the master franchisee for the UK, launched its debut site in Britain in November at Westfield Stratford, which is already ranked in the top ten globally for sales out of 3,600 Popeyes restaurants. It is aiming to open hundreds of sites across the next decade in the UK. Popeyes has also been linked to further openings in the MetroCentre in Gateshead, and Oxford’s Queen Street.

Leon reveals mayonnaise range is now carbon neutral: Natural fast food brand Leon, which is owned by EG Group, has announced its full range of five mayonnaise products, available exclusively from Sainsbury’s, is now carbon neutral. Products become carbon neutral by calculating and reducing the carbon footprint and offsetting carbon dioxide emissions by supporting internationally recognised carbon offset projects. Leon has invested in and supported a number of carbon offset projects. Current global projects include afforestation in Rio Kama, Nicaragua and wind energy in north east Brazil. Closer to home, Leon has supported a project on afforestation in Durham. To date, Leon’s restaurants and grocery divisions have offset 3,488.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide; this is the equivalent of driving 10,832,982 kilometres by car. Leon produces five mayonnaises, all of which are naturally plant-based and now carbon neutral. Meanwhile, Rare Restaurants, which owns the Gaucho and M brands, will exclusively serve carbon-neutral beef across all venues from today (Friday, 22 April) – more than two years ahead of its original 2025 target for reaching the milestone. Following an extensive two-year project, Rare Restaurants has calculated the carbon footprint of all beef for its restaurants from farm to table. The results of this project show an average carbon footprint of 15.80kg carbon dioxide equivalent per kilogram of beef purchased. To date, Rare Restaurants has funded the planting of more than 4,000 trees across six projects in Peru and Brazil, with a total offsetting potential of 1,464 tonnes of carbon. It has now invested in further projects to offset the carbon footprint of its beef for the whole of 2022 and every year thereafter.
 
Venue Group confirms May opening for new sustainable all-day cafe bar in south London: The Venue Group (TVG) Hospitality, which is headed by Ben Lovett of folk-rock band Mumford & Sons, has confirmed an opening day of Thursday 5 May for its all-day cafe bar focused on organic and sustainably sourced produce in south London. Situated in a 1,300 square-foot former team shelter on a pedestrian square in Flat Iron Square, Union Street, Audrey’s will offer an all-day and takeaway menu alongside a cocktail and modern wine menu. Open from Wednesday to Saturday, it will also offer takeaways on Tuesdays. Coffee will come from Allpress Coffee and wine from Liberty Wines.
 
Handa’s new Notting Hill restaurant and bar concept to open next month: Naveen Handa, of leisure company The Cairn Group, will launch his new restaurant and bar concept, The Residency, in London’s Notting Hill, on Friday, 6 May. Propel revealed in February that Handa – who also backs East Coast Concepts and Richoux and is a partner in the joint venture behind Vapiano UK – had secured the former Gourmet Burger Kitchen site in Westbourne Grove for the venture. A plant-based menu of European and Caribbean cuisines will be led by head chef Carniel Francis, previously of Bentley’s and Berners Tavern. There will also be live DJ sets from 7pm Thursday to Saturday. It is thought Handa is looking to roll out the concept into other former restaurant sites based on high street locations.
 
Adamo’s brasserie concept with rotating guest chef programme to launch next month: Adamo, the new hospitality company from Andrew Fishwick, executive chair of sector consultancy firm Salt, and Tristram Hillier, former managing director of Corney & Barrow Wine Bars, will launch modern brasserie Revolve next month. As reported by Propel in March, Revolve, located in 100 Liverpool Street, will take its inspiration from the brasseries of Paris and New York. It has now confirmed a launch date of Tuesday, 3 May, kicking off a unique monthly guest chef programme which will include Lee Westcott, John Javier, Anna Hansen, Josh Eggleton and Gareth Ward. For their monthly run, each chef will introduce four unique guest dishes alongside one-off lunches, dinners and private dining experiences.
 
Bennett Hay wins The National Gallery contract: Catering company Bennett Hay has won a four-year contract with The National Gallery in London to provide workplace catering for its 650 employees and contractors. The contract win follows the recent completion of a purpose-built accommodation hub for employees at the Trafalgar Square gallery designed to provide modern, flexible workspaces. The new workplace covers six floors and encompasses recreation facilities. The cafe will offer hot drinks, grab and go selections, main meals and a range of sandwiches and salads. Zoë Watts, business development director at Bennett Hay, said: “The National Gallery partnership is an exciting new win for us, and we are delighted to be working with such a high-profile institution in its iconic building.”
 
Elysium Group to launch new pan-Pacific restaurant concept with double opening: Elysium Group, the Essex-based boutique restaurant, club and bar operator, is to open two pan-Pacific restaurants in the county. Launching in Southend and Chelmsford, the restaurants will be named Zinnia and will be the sister venues of the Pavilion restaurant in Colchester. The pan-Pacific inspired menu will be designed around the geographic and culinary fusions of the western shores of north and South America, the Polynesian Islands, and eastern Asia. The venues will include lounge bars offering wine and cocktails and dining terraces, reports Essex Live. Zinnia in Chelmsford will be in Kings Head Walk, overlooking the River Chelmer at the former Faces Bar & Kitchen site. Meanwhile, the Southend site will be within the new Clifftown Shore seafront development. Elysium, founded by Ash Afzainia in 2002, also operates the Mimosa and Hudson House restaurants in Colchester.
 
Harrogate-based independent bakery set for £250,000 expansion: Harrogate-based independent bakery Bakeri Baltzersen will invest £250,000 in an expansion project at its main bakery site in Kettlesing. Launched in 2019 as a sister brand to Scandi-cafe Baltzersen’s, Bakeri Baltzersen followed the opening of its Kettlesing bakery with that of bakery shops in Harrogate town centre and Wetherby. The main bakery supplies the cafe and both bakery shops alongside several wholesale partners across Yorkshire, and the plan is to expand its reach into new areas including Halifax, Huddersfield, Wakefield and York. The expansion will be part financed by a £20,000 grant from the Product and Process Innovation Fund and a £27,000 grant from Harrogate Borough Council.

Galgorm Collection reopens second Belfast restaurant following ‘growing demand from diners’: Belfast-based hospitality group Galgorm Collection has reopened the second of its Belfast restaurants following “growing demand from diners” and the return of city workers. Fratelli, based in Great Victoria Street, has welcomed customers back following a £250,000 renovation, having originally closed at the start of the pandemic. The Galgorm Collection – which also operates The Rabbit Hotel and Spa in Templepatrick, Castle Bar & Kitchen at Galgorm Golf Club, Galgarm Spa & Golf Resort and The Old Inn at Crawfordsburn – reopened its other Belfast restaurant, Parisien, in October. Colin Johnston, Galgorm Collection managing director, said: “The gradual return of city workers and, most notably, a growing demand from diners, have been major drivers in our decision to reinvest and reopen Fratelli. The city is more confident and future-focused, and the time is right to invest in our Belfast estate.” To mark the reopening, Fratelli has launched a new spring menu. Galgorm Collection has also unveiled a detailed plan of action to achieve carbon neutral status by 2030. Its new policy covers areas from waste management to water use, energy and transport.
 
York Gin unveils visitor attraction plans: York Gin has lodged plans for a new distillery, bar and visitor attraction at the city’s Coppergate Centre. The venue will house an interactive visitor attraction and cocktail bar and will produce gin in a copper and steel still. It will also offer gin tasting, gin making and cocktail making classes. A shop will sell the full York Gin range. The attraction will be created across three floors of a former Boots store, with the shop, gin experience and distillery on the first floor, the 200-cover bar on the second floor and space for classes and experiences on the third floor. York Gin marketing director, Emma Godivala, said: “We want the distillery to be so brilliant that it attracts people to come to York – like the Minster, the Jorvik Viking Centre and the walls. The Gin Lane experience will take visitors through the incredible story of gin with the sights, sounds and smells of its history from the last 300 years. It will be a go-to experience.”
 
Bristol-based cafe concept begins expansion with second city site: Bristol-based cafe concept Burra has begun expansion with a second site in the city. The company, which opened its inaugural site in Lower Redland Road, has launched in the former Jackalope premises in Gloucester Road, reports Bristol 24/7. Burra is co-owned by Luke Morahan, Jake Heenan and Tom Tainton, who is also head of operations of the Bristol Bears rugby union club.

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