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Tue 26th Apr 2022 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

JD Wetherspoon set to invest £750m over next decade on new pubs and extensions, Lloyds performing better than rest of estate: JD Wetherspoon has said it expects to invest about £75m a year in opening new pubs and enlarging existing ones in the next decade on the basis the economy “returns to something like normal”. In a Q&A from its interim results investor roadshow, the company said this excludes maintenance capex, which it anticipates being about 3% of sales in the future. The company said it was still taking leases “for the right pub” while its Lloyds bars are performing better than the rest of the estate. Wetherspoon said: “As has been widely reported, London has been slow. In contrast some big city centres, like Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham, have been strong. There does not seem to be a pattern. Perhaps some suburbs have been slower than the market was anticipating – working from home doesn’t necessarily increase suburban trade if the suburbs are within ‘striking distance’ of the city centre. Lloyds bars, which have music and appeal to a younger clientele, have outperformed Wetherspoon pubs. Hotels, a small part of our business, have traded well.” The company said labour costs have increased by 7.7% so far this year and future pay increases will “probably depend, above all, on the performance of the UK economy – an unknown at the current time”. It added: “We have fixed interest rates at a low level to 2031. For many years, almost all the new leasehold pubs we acquired have had fixed rental increases, which are well below the current level of inflation. We’re protected, to some extent, by long-term supplier contracts, but, even so, are feeling the effects of inflation in respect of energy costs and food supplies especially. In combination, we hope our total cost increases will be about 1% or 2% below the level of inflation.” The company had liquidity of £159m at the end of the half year, which meant it was “possible to argue that we raised too much money” through share placings during the pandemic. “However, given the level of uncertainty, an element of caution was probably correct,” the company said. “Had we raised no money, sleepless nights would have been inevitable for the company, lenders and for shareholders.” 

Industry News:

Sponsored message – join Rosa’s Thai CEO Gavin Adair and back Hospitality Rising: Gavin Adair, chief executive of Rosa’s Thai, is backing 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. Adair said: “Signing up to support the Hospitality Rising initiative was one of the easiest decisions we’ve made as a business. Our sector and country face a number of challenges right now, but in the medium term we think solving the recruitment shortfall is most critical. Despite working in various summer jobs while at university, the idea of building a career in hospitality never got on the radar, and that needs to change. Having seen first-hand the opportunities and enjoyment it can bring I found myself just recently selling the merits of working in hospitality to my teenage children. Our ambition should be for those conversations to be happening around dinner tables all around the country. It can be done, but we need to work together, and we need to do so sooner rather than later. If you haven’t already done so please join Rosa’s Thai and many others in backing #HospitalityRising.” 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
Number of concepts aimed at those with a sweet tooth set to join updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies: A number of concepts aimed at those with a sweet tooth are among the 31 new multi-site companies being added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released on Friday (29 April), at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, features Newcastle-based family ice cream business Mark Toney & Co, which was established in 1892 by Giovanni Marcantonio, and operates three sites – in Grainger Street, Percy Street and Grainger Arcade. Also added this month is Midlands-based Project D, a doughnut concept founded by three friends – Max Poynton, Matthew Bond and Jacob Watts ­– that is looking at branching out into bricks-and-mortar sites, with an aim of opening several locations. Also featured is Soft Serve Society, founded by Nicky Lau and Emma Tang, which has been operating from Boxpark Shoreditch since 2016 and has also opened its first central London location, at Seven Dials Market, offering its range of ice-cream options, milkshakes and bubble tea. Premium subscribers will also receive a 2,607-word report on the new additions to the database. The comprehensive database is updated monthly and provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different. It features more than 2,000 companies. Premium subscribers will also receive the next edition of the New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, on Friday, 6 May, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The next edition also includes a 11,700-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to another database – the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group. The Blue Book, which is also updated monthly, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers 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 featured 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 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.

Hospitality report into racism in their workplace finds ‘worryingly high levels of concern’: The second edition of the Inside Hospitality report finds worryingly high levels of concern about the impact of racism in the workplace. It says 28% of Asian, 37% of black and 39% of mixed ethnicity respondents had experienced or witnessed racism in their current place of work. Of these, 23% of Asian, 16% of black and 12% of mixed respondents have been offered wellbeing support. The report found only one in five of all respondents have accessed workshops about anti-racism, race or language, while Asian senior leaders (38%) and black senior leaders (39%) felt they are “very well” or “well” supported compared to two-thirds (65%) of white senior leaders. Furthermore, black respondents, at 43%, are most likely to report that ethnicity has hindered career progression, while Asian (37%) and mixed (28%) respondents reported the same. In contrast, just 7% of white respondents believe this. The report saw Be Inclusive Hospitality collect more than 1,000 responses from across the industry, shared covering topics including careers in hospitality, racism, diversity and inclusion and education. Founder Lorraine Copes said: “The time is now for the hospitality industry to stop and consider if it wants to be a sector where all employees and businesses can develop and build successful futures. Sadly, the findings confirm what I have observed over the past 20 years, which is there are barriers for progression for black, Asian and ethnic minorities to move upwards, and sector leaders should act now to remove them.”

Opening hours for pubs and bars extended for Queen’s Platinum Jubilee: Opening hours for pubs and bars will be extended across England and Wales over the four-day bank holiday to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. The extension will cover Thursday, 2 June, to Saturday, 4 June, with hours lengthened from 11pm to 1am. Under Section 172 of the Licensing Act 2003, the home secretary can make an order relaxing licensing hours to mark occasions of “exceptional national significance”. Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association Emma McClarkin, said: “This is fantastic news for the pub industry. After a difficult two years, pubs everywhere already had plans to make the most of the Platinum Jubilee by hosting special events and parties, and this announcement of extended opening hours will be a further boost to an already joyous occasion. It is sure to be a time for community and celebration and the great British pub is at the heart of both, so I would encourage everyone to head down to their local and raise a toast to Her Majesty at some point across the Jubilee weekend.”

Delivery and takeaway sales slip year-on-year as consumers return to eating out: Britain’s managed restaurant and pub groups’ delivery and takeaway sales remain more than double pre-covid levels—but trading has dipped year-on-year after consumers resumed their out-of-home eating habits. The latest edition of the CGA & Slerp Hospitality at Home Tracker shows that groups’ combined delivery and takeaway sales in March 2022 were 119% higher than in March 2019. Three-year sales growth for deliveries stands at 382%—19 times the increase of 20% in the takeaway and click-and-collect sector. However, growth has stalled in the last 12 months as covid restrictions eased and consumers returned to restaurants and pubs, with many tightening their belts as the cost-of-living rises. March delivery and takeaway sales were 24% below the levels of March 2021, when Britain was under strict covid restrictions and venues were closed. Deliveries were 19% down year-on-year, and takeaways down 31%. Karl Chessell, CGA’s director hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “Given the comparatives, the year-on-year dip in deliveries and takeaways was inevitable. It’s also a welcome sign that many consumers still prefer eating out to ordering in, and that their behaviour is settling back to pre-pandemic norms. However, the at-home market still represents around a quarter of managed groups’ sales, and it is very clear that the convenience of deliveries will continue to appeal. Optimising deliveries and partnerships with third-party platforms, without disrupting eat-in trading, is going to be crucial as we head towards the summer.” Slerp founder JP Then added: “The focus for operators is turning repeat customers into loyal advocates. This applies online as much as it does for on premise. We know that up to 70% of revenue is generated from 30% of customers – it’s now about engaging with this customer base when they purchase online and rewarding them to drive repeat purchases directly. Successful operators are using their own apps and web-ordering with loyalty and customers are responding with repeat spend.”
UKHospitality opposes Welsh tourist levy proposal: The hospitality industry in Wales can do without the extra worry of a visitor levy hanging over cash-strapped businesses, UKHospitality Cymru has warned. Visitors to Wales may be forced to pay a tourism levy to stay in the country in the future if a planned consultation launched by the Welsh government is approved. If it is introduced, local authorities will be able to decide whether or not to implement it in their areas. “This industry needs more TLC and less taxes,” said David Chapman, UKHospitality Cymru executive director, speaking in advance of this week’s scheduled Senedd Welsh Conservative motion that calls for an end to the plans. “After two long years of commercial instability, with enforced closures and restrictions, we are now facing a costs and viability crisis, and the last thing we need is even more taxation. Giving our customers, who are feeling the pinch badly themselves, even more to pay can only drive them into the arms of competitors. Tourist taxes may operate in other parts of Europe, but they don’t have 20%VAT to deal with – in fact, some have half of our VAT rates. It’s the wrong tax at the wrong time.” UKHospitality Cymru has also joined with other trades bodies to oppose the extension of qualifying letting days to curtail self-catering businesses from claiming business rates. Another proposal opposed by the Welsh Conservatives, the motion is up for debate tomorrow (Wednesday, 27 April). “The new 182 letting threshold, up from 70, is too much and will damage many family concerns and farm diversifications if it comes in from next April as planned,” Chapman added. “It will also cause collateral damage for pubs, bars and restaurants in areas affected.”
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with an entrepreneurial hospitality brand based in the Midlands that is looking for a head of recruitment. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “This role will lead the talent attraction strategy, influencing senior stakeholders and ensuring purpose, vision, values and goals are at the forefront when attracting and appointing new staff in UK and Europe. The head of recruitment will be accountable for reporting on key recruitment metrics and analytics, drive and champion the diversity and inclusion agenda, coaching and influencing stakeholders to raise the profile of talent diversity, partnering with inclusive platforms and measuring the success of such approaches. They will provide hands-on recruitment advice and support to senior leaders in their role of ‘hiring manager’ to recruit specialists and leaders into their teams.” The salary is up to £70,000. For more information and to arrange a confidential chat, email

Company News:

Burger King – started year well, launches urban-box format, trialling loyalty app: Alasdair Murdoch, chief executive of Burger King UK, has told Propel the circa 520-strong company has started this year well, but consumers are “definitely getting more nervous” and “costs are piling into the industry”. Burger King, which is eyeing an additional 200 restaurants in the UK over the next four years, saw its adjusted Ebitda almost triple to £49.5m in 2021. Murdoch told Propel: “We've had a fantastic run over the last couple of years. We will still stay resilient and we are looking to grow pretty hard. It’s going to be challenging, but it’s challenging for everyone, and we would just hope we can manage it as well as, or hopefully better, than others. We started this year well, we're ahead of budget. Hopefully that will continue. But we're not by any means resting on our laurels.” The company recently launched the trial of a new smaller “urban box-style” format in Norwich, and Murdoch said it has “started in line with what we wanted”. He said: “It will be really interesting to see what it is doing in six months’ time. It is a trial concept, but long-term we are pretty excited by it. Most of the 200 sites we have spoken about will be made up of drive-thrus and high street openings. We are more likely to open small high street sites than dark kitchens, that’s not to say we won’t do more of the latter. But if you could have a branded presence out on the high street, that's great for our brand, and that will be my preference. But you know, there are a number of areas where it's impossible to find sites. You go to somewhere like Cambridge, and we opened a dark kitchen there and it has worked very well indeed. Ultimately as we go forward, we've got to learn about this new model, to refine it, and get it to work better.” The company, which is understood to have put plans to explore an initial public offering on hold, has recently begun a trial of a loyalty app in Scotland, and a separate white-label delivery trial. On the loyalty app, Murdoch told Propel: “We currently have an app that is effectively an online voucher system. But now we are looking to tailor the offer specifically to the individual. We haven’t gone above the line with it in Scotland yet. We are just feeling our way and I expect we will advertise it and push it much harder in Scotland this summer, to really try and drive it and see how it goes.” He also said the Bridgepoint-backed business remains in ongoing conversations around acquiring more of its franchisees. He said: “Last year we bought two or three businesses and they have all integrated and worked well for us. It is something we like doing, as it also helps clear up the business geographically.”
Black Sheep Coffee plans 15 US sites in initial launch phase: London-based speciality coffee shop operator Black Sheep Coffee plans to open 15 sites in the US in its initial launch phase in the country, Propel understands. Earlier this week, Propel revealed the business is to make its debut in the US before the end of the year, and has selected Texas as its entry point. In a shareholder letter seen by Propel, the company said it had visited Dallas and Austin to view a series of shortlisted sites, set up a new corporate structure of US entities, meet prospective franchisees and start building its teams. Last October, Propel revealed the business had received funding from basketball player Kristaps Porzingi. The seven-foot-three Latvian, who plays in the NBA for the Dallas Mavericks, is one of the world’s highest-paid athletes. Propel now understands Black Sheep Coffee, which operates circa 50 sites in the UK, plus one in Paris, plans to have 15 sites open in the US by the end of next year. The company currently has 51 shops in its UK pipeline that were agreed during the pandemic on “attractive pandemic-adjusted rent terms”. It plans to open all of them in the next 12 months, and expects franchisees to take up at least 25 of those openings.
Kokoro passes the 50-site mark with triple opening, lines up Manchester site: Sushi and bento brand Kokoro has passed the 50-site mark, with three new openings, Propel has learned. The company, which was founded in 2010 by Ray-Kyu Park, has opened new sites in Farnborough, Richmond, and Sevenoaks. The business also has further openings lined up in Manchester, Tunbridge Wells, Portsmouth and Hastings. It will make its debut in Manchester, with an opening at Halle Place in the city’s Arndale shopping scheme. The company is planning to open in the former Tech Experts phone repair shop in Calverley Road, Tunbridge Wells; in the O2 store in Commercial Road, Portsmouth; and in an empty unit in York Buildings, Wellington Place, Hastings. 
Megan’s lines up Earlsfield opening: Megan’s, the fast-growing, cafe and deli concept, has lined up a further opening in London, in Earlsfield, Propel has learned. The Sarah Hills-led company plans to open in the ex-Barclays Bank site in Garratt Lane. The business currently operates 16 sites, after recently opening in Marlow. It is set to open in Lordship Lane, East Dulwich, this spring. It has further openings lined up in Guildford, Welwyn Garden City, Chelsea, Richmond and Weybridge. Last autumn, the company said it plans to expand to 22 sites by the end of this year. The business plans to open a further 14 sites in 2023. Megan’s reported like-for-like sales growth of 31% in the 52 weeks to 31 March 2021. The company said revenue for the period stood at £8m, from trading ten sites across the year including three new store openings.
Flour Pot Bakery secures tenth site, plans cooking school: Brighton and Hove-based artisan bakehouse Flour Pot Bakery will open its tenth site this summer, and continue to “seek out new opportunities” for expansion. The Oli Hyde-led business will open its next site, its second in Worthing, in the West Sussex town’s Brighton Road, this June. Hyde told Propel: “We are keen to continue expanding into areas we feel our ‘hub’ bakery can realistically service without prohibitive costs. As you can imagine, serving hand crafted and freshly made baked goods has a geographic and economic radius when the majority of your sites require two deliveries a day to keep the counters topped up. As we begin to ‘breach’ the city limits with new Flour Pot sites, we are constantly looking for clever ways to maintain that high standard of product and service we have always set ourselves, without compromising on quality. Coffee is a big part of the Flour Pot story, having built a new coffee roasting division called The Milk Shed Coffee Roasters during the lockdowns, we are now very proud to say we are one step closer to being fully vertically integrated.” Hyde said having invested heavily in its operations and production teams in the last year, the business is now seeing the “huge value those key individuals bring to the table”. He said: “Our next project is a cooking school. We are very lucky to have an executive chef, Michael Harwood, to oversee it. Michael is a rare talent and has 30 years of being a private chef for the world’s richest people behind him.”
Acai Berry set to open sixth London site, UK debut for US health food cafe concept: Brazilian superfood brand Acai Berry is set to open its sixth London site, while US health food cafe concept Chocolate Dip is being lined up for a UK debut. Acai Berry, which currently operates in Oxford Circus, Carnaby Street, Chelsea, Shoreditch and Notting Hill, has secured a site at 130 Wardour Street. Opening later this year, it will offer smoothie bowls and drinks with an assortment of toppings. Opening in the unit next door, 132 Wardour Street, in June will be Cocomelt London, which currently trades as Chocolate Dip in two New York locations. It will serve Belgian chocolate themed desserts including crépes, waffles, chocolate covered strawberries, fettuccine and sushi crépes. Sarah Jarrah, co-founder of Cocomelt London, said: “We are delighted to have signed for our debut UK location, giving us the opportunity to deliver the very best of our Belgian chocolate desserts to a new, European audience. Our position on Wardour Street puts us at the very centre of Soho alongside many other emerging and established culinary brands, and we look forward to making a splash within London’s dessert scene in the coming months.” Shelley Sandzer acted for the landlord, while Cocomelt London dealt direct and Taylor Gershon represented Acai Berry.
Tom Kerridge Group makes two key promotions: The Tom Kerridge Group, the six-strong restaurant group from Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge, has made two key promotions. Matthew O’Connor has been made business development and guest relations director, while Blaine Whiteside has become restaurant director at Kerridge’s Bar & Grill. O’Connor will be responsible for the co-ordination and delivery of services for all guests within the business, including coaching and training staff on guest relations. He has been with the business since 2018, having joined as part of the openings team for Kerridge’s Bar & Grill before rising to restaurant director. He has previously worked at Dinner by Heston, the Savoy Grill and The Modern in New York with Danny Meyer. Whiteside, who has been promoted from deputy restaurant director, was also part of the opening team at Kerridge’s Bar & Grill and will now oversee the operation of Corinthia London. Kerridge said: “Matthew and Blaine are both key team members within the business and their hospitality insight is invaluable. I will be working more closely with Matthew across all the businesses so we can build a stronger guest experience for the future.” Kerridge last summer launched plant-based concept Bad Vegan in Camden and Kerridge’s Fish & Chips in Harrods.
Luke Johnson acquires Hove-based British Engineerium property: Serial sector investor Luke Johnson has acquired The British Engineerium, a heritage museum site, in Hove. Johnson, who is chairman of the Brighton Pier Group, has acquired the 2.5-acre, 33,000 square foot site – which was a 19th century water pumping station, with Brighton-based professor Paul Dolan, with plans to turn the site into “a cutting-edge centre designed to promote health, happiness and well-being in the community”. It was previously owned by local businessman Mike Holland. The Engineerium has been restored over the last ten years by the British Engineerium Trust. Holland reportedly paid £2m for the High Victorian buildings, and £1m for the historic collection of steam engines in 2006. He’s also estimated to have spent around £10m upgrading and restoring the complex. The freehold of the site has been on the market since 2018, through Oakley Commercial. The new owners said the “multi-use development will comprise co-working spaces, recreation and leisure facilities and a centre for research into what makes us happy”. Johnson told Brighton & Hove News: “Our aim with the Engineerium is to bring the public, private and third sectors together to establish a centre that puts well-being at the heart of its operations, and will seek to foster opportunities to improve happiness in the local community and beyond.” Johnson also previously backed the Brighton-based Laine Pub Company and Small Batch Coffee. Last year, his investment vehicle acquired Brighton-based musical instruments retailer GAK. 
Birmingham-based street food concept set to open third site next month: Birmingham-based street food concept Baked in Bricks is set to open its third site in May, in Sutton Coldfield. Baked in Bricks was founded by Lee DeSanges in 2015, selling chicken tikka wraps and wood-fired pizzas out of a modified Mini Cooper, before opening his first restaurant, in the Custard Factory complex in Digbeth, in 2019. A bakery outlet in Erdington followed, and next month, a third Baked in Bricks site will open in a former ironmongers shop in DeSanges’ home town. The three-floor cafe will offer a variety of freshly baked goods including bread, cake and pastries, with the main focus being on the bakery and cafe. The ground floor will be the main bakery with a seating area, while the second floor will offer a more relaxed setting, and the top floor will be an exclusive, private-hire space. It will open in evenings in the latter half of the week to serve food, wine and beer, as well as cheese and charcuteries, while DeSanges has longer-term ideas for the evening offer including tapas nights. He said: “Having grown up in Wylde Green, I am excited to return to such a familiar area to open our first Bakehouse by Baked in Brick.”
MasterChef winner Kenny Tutt to launch two new Brighton-based projects this summer: Kenny Tutt, the MasterChef 2018 winner, will this summer launch two new projects in Brighton. His first Brighton venture, smoking robata grill kitchen concept Ox Block, which launched last summer in the refurbished Shelter Hall, has come to the end of its year-long residency and will take over the kitchen at the Lord Nelson Inn in Trafalgar Square. There, in partnership with Sussex brewer Harvey’s, it will serve lunch and dinner, including its 40-day aged sirloin steak with Harvey’s beer braised onions and mustard mayo, daily. Ox Block’s last day at Shelter Hall – the debut venture by Sessions Market, the immersive food hall concept backed by Imbiba and led by former Deliveroo managing director Dan Warne – is next Monday (2 May), and it will launch at the Lord Nelson in June. Tutt will also launch smashed burger brand Patty Guy at Shelter Hall on Thursday, 5 May, where alongside the burgers, the offer will include bacon chilli cheese fries and milkshakes in the flavours of peanut butter and cherry Bakewell. Tutt said: “Ox Block has been so popular with locals and tourists across Brighton, so I’m thrilled to be able to build on this with a wonderful new partnership with Harvey’s. Working with Shelter Hall over the last couple of years, and being a founder trader there with Ox Block, has been amazing, so it made sense for us to team up on Patty Guy when we saw the success of the burgers we were putting on the menu.” Tutt also operates restaurants Pitch and Bayside Social in Worthing.
Concept Taverns transforming former Roxy Lanes site in Leeds into beer and gin hall: West Yorkshire-based Concept Taverns, the sister company of Roxy Leisure, is transforming the former Roxy Lanes site in Bond Street, Leeds, into a beer and gin hall. The Pinnacle Beer & Gin Hall will offer a selection of more than 100 gins, in excess of 20 draught lines including world and craft beer, cocktails, seven pool tables and a shuffleboard. A new food menu will feature fresh pizza and small plates including beetroot falafel, nachos and charcuterie selections. Work is currently underway refurbishing the 7,000 square-foot venue in a £250,000 investment, with a view to opening on Thursday, 19 May. Ben Warren, Concept Taverns’ managing director, said: “After opening five new venues in the past year, we feel Pinnacle Beer & Gin Hall is the tip of the iceberg for Concept Taverns. Combining all the best things we have learned in the city and surrounding areas, we feel our newest venue offers something special to Leeds.” The Pinnacle will bring Concept Taverns’ portfolio of independent Yorkshire sites to 11, with Ripponden pub The Riverside Fox to follow in the summer. Concept Taverns, which was known as Jones Bar Group before separating from Roxy Leisure and relaunching in 2018, acquired the Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds in February. It followed this with the acquisition of Saltaire pub, The Rosse, last month.
Hampshire-based operator set to launch Berkshire wine and tapas bar: Patrick Vaughan-Fowler, of Eat Meets Wets, which owns The George & Dragon pub in Andover, is set to open a wine and tapas bar in Newbury, Berkshire. Vaughan-Fowler has partnered with Sam May, former head chef at Cirrus Inns, for Goat on the Roof, a restaurant and bar with a focus on seasonal and sustainable British tapas. With a focus on small plates and sharing dishes, the menu includes Isle of Wight tomatoes on toast, Somerset brie with Wiltshire truffle and Berkshire bavette steak with red chimichurri, starting at £3.50 each. Desserts, starting at £4 each, include forced Yorkshire rhubarb with granola and elderflower, and salted caramel tart with malted milk ice cream. Vaughan-Fowler said: “We’re thrilled to bring this concept to the historic market town of Newbury. We always wanted to produce a menu that truly celebrates the farmers and producers of the UK and heralds an identity of what British cuisine has now become. From fisherman to cheese mongers, local vintners to farmers, Goat on the Roof offers a fresh new take on the bounty of ingredients that we’ve always been lucky to have in the UK.” 
Former The Savoy alumni set for restaurant debut, in Scotland: Chef Kevin Dalgleish, who trained under Anton Edelman at The Savoy in London, is set to make his restaurant debut this spring. Dalgleish, who has worked as head chef at Ackergill Tower, near Wick, and executive chef at The Chester Hotel, in Aberdeen, will open Amuse, in Aberdeen’s Queen’s Terrace, in May. While at Ackergill Tower, Dalgleish started The Food of Love weekend, which saw him joined by chefs including Angela Hartnett and Anton Mosimann to co-host private dining weekends. At The Chester Hotel, his concept evolved into The Signature Food Festival, which attracted the likes of Marco Pierre White, Phil Howard, Daniel Clifford, Glynn Purnell and Richard Corrigan to cook for charity. Amuse will feature a 70-cover restaurant, bar, private dining space and intimate outdoor area, celebrating the best regional Scottish produce with a touch of classic French flavours. The launch menu is set to include ravioli of west coast langoustine and rump of Aberdeenshire lamb, as well as a lighter lunchtime menu and a bar menu of seasonal cocktails. Dalgleish said: “It’s important to me to bring something new to Aberdeen. It’s my home – I’ve seen it change so much over the last few years and recognised a huge opportunity to breathe new life into the hospitality industry in the north east. After years of running some of the best kitchens in the city and cooking alongside the best chefs in the UK, it’s the perfect time for me to take the jump and open my own place.”
NQ64 confirms May opening for Soho site: NQ64, the immersive retro arcade bar concept backed by Imbiba, has confirmed it will open its eighth site, in Soho’s Berwick Street, next month. The company has invested £1.4m in the 6,000 square-foot former Ballie Ballerson site it secured in February, offering a mix of retro gaming and bespoke cocktails. The games include Time Crisis, Guitar Hero, Dancing Stage and Pac-Man, plus classic consoles, which are free to use for guests buying drinks. The drinks offer will include several gamer-themed cocktails alongside a selection of craft beer, wine, soda and spirits. The venue will also have a private room for hire by groups of up to 60. NQ64 co-founder, Matthew Robson, said: “We are excited to be bringing NQ64 to London as this has been a huge ambition of ours for some years. We think NQ64 will bring a whole new dimension to the entertainment landscape of the capital by transporting visitors back in time, all while being the latest hotspot for those who just want to have a drink up and good night out in the town.” NQ64 first launched in Manchester in 2019 and has since launched sites in Birmingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Liverpool. Robson told Propel at the end of last year that the brand is targeting growing to 20-25 sites, at a rate of four a year.
Youth Hostels Association places four sites on market: Youth Hostels Association (England & Wales) has placed four of its sites on the market, with a combined value of just under £17m. The YHA has appointed Savills to sell the four hostels. The assets are to be sold in isolation, however bids are due on the same day (Thursday 5 May), meaning all four hostels can be acquired simultaneously. The portfolio comprises the YHA St Paul’s – with offers in excess of £500,000 sought; YHA St Pancras - offers in excess of £10m sought; YHA Liverpool Central - offers in excess of £3.2m sought; and YHA Newcastle Central - offers in excess of £3.1m. 
Non-alcoholic natural spirit brand extends fundraise after passing £400,000 target in 48 hours: Non-alcoholic natural spirit brand Crossip has extended its fundraise after passing its £400,000 target in just 48 hours. Crossip has raised almost £543,000 from around 70 investors to scale the brand in the UK and launch further export markets. It is now looking to raise up to £1m, with the extra cash enabling it to grow its sales team and support marketing investment. It is offering equity of 12.64% and has a pre-money valuation of £3.8m, while sales have grown 1,327% over the past year. Since launching commercially in January 2021, Crossip has secured more than 200 on-trade listings in bars and restaurants across the UK, including Dishoom, Sticks ‘n’ Sushi and Sushisamba. Crossip has also secured a major overseas listing in Spinneys and The Atlantis Hotel in Dubai and is expanding into multiple other overseas locations. Founder Carl Brown said: “Through a short, sharp burst of crowdfunding, we hope to bring consumers on our journey of expansion – both existing Crossip loyalists and potential new brand fans. The market shows significant room for growth, so now is a great time to get on board and support a non-alcoholic brand standing out from the crowd.”

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