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Wed 27th Apr 2022 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Burger King becomes first UK QSR brand to use reusable packs: Burger King UK is to trial reusable and returnable packaging, in support of its efforts to slash single-use plastic from its restaurants by 2025. The company has partnered with global re-use platform Loop to introduce a scheme in five of its sites where customers will have the option to pay a £1 deposit for a reusable cup or container instead of using throwaway packaging. The Burger Kings in Ipswich and Newmarket in Suffolk will undertake a five-month pilot that will offer customers the option to choose ten Burger King products that can be served in the Loop reusable packaging, including a range of burgers and sides, as well as drinks. When customers return the reusable cup or container, they can do so by downloading the Loop app, scanning the barcode on either the cup or container and returning it into a Loop bin. Loop bins will be placed outside selected Burger King restaurants where the trials are taking place, as well as in other locations listed on the Loop app. All returned cups or containers are then professionally cleaned, with customers refunded their deposits via the app. Nicola Pierce, director of commercial planning and environmental, social and governance at Burger King, said: “We’re delighted to unveil a trial range of reusable and returnable packaging for our restaurants. The launch of the new packaging from Burger King will include the first reusable and returnable ‘clamshell’ for burgers and sides in the UK. We’re excited to see how the trial performs over the next five months and help us reach our goal of eliminating single-use plastic within our restaurants by 2025.”

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Tom Kerridge supports Hospitality Rising, invest today: Chef and restaurateur Tom Kerridge is backing Hospitality Rising, but will you? 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. Kerridge said: “Hospitality Rising needs your help and investment today. We all need to come together to make this work. Hospitality recruitment is in crisis and it needs a bold response. Hospitality Rising is that response and it’s an opportunity to show the world the amazing benefits and opportunities the sector offers. We’ve invested because without staff there is no hospitality sector, they are your greatest asset and we need to future proof the industry we love. My whole life has been immersed in hospitality. I didn’t do it on my own, alongside my wife Beth, our team of ‘pirates’ have come on the journey with me, many for more than a decade. They are my family and I couldn’t be prouder. We have to make sure the next generation are all coming through and the industry is seen as a lifelong career that can give you amazing experiences.” 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
Two days to go before release of updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, 31 businesses being added: A total of 31 new multi-site companies, operating 90 sites, have been 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, includes growing bakery brands, regional restaurant and pub operators and a number of concepts set for UK expansion. 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 12,400-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 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 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.
UKHospitality backs calls for government support package for night-time sector and endorses co-ordinated approach to drink-spiking: UKHospitality has backed calls for a government support package to help counter shortages in night-time sector door staff, including assistance in recruitment and training of additional security staff, especially women. The trade body has also endorsed proposals for a co-ordinated approach to drink-spiking and wider vulnerability initiatives. UKHospitality was responding to a number of suggestions and recommendations in a Home Affairs committee report following a rise in drink spiking reports last year. It also welcomed a number of other proposals aimed at keeping venues safe for all customers. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The sector will continue to work together with the Home Office, police and local authorities to tackle drink spiking as part of the wider customer safety agenda, building on the good work many hospitality businesses are already doing to address the matter through both their own and joint initiatives, recognised by the committee.” The trade body also supports a recommendation by the report that a government-led national strategy is needed, including a support package for venues to boost security measures. Nicholls added: “This is a serious issue, and it needs to be tackled quickly and effectively, but through effective partnership working, rather than via restrictions imposed on operators’ licences.” Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, agreed, saying: “As an industry we work hard to make sure people feel safe in their local pub. However, venues alone can’t overcome this issue and that’s why our members work closely with local authorities and the police at a local level to prevent spiking. A national coordinated campaign that is supported by government is a welcome recommendation that will help to address the issue, support victims and target perpetrators. We welcome the committee’s recommendations on improving data collection to better understand the issue and we are ready to work with the Home Office and other partners on this. Where incidents of spiking do take place in pubs, our members are also committed to working closely with the police to bring perpetrators to justice, and we support the committee’s recommendation to make spiking a criminal offence to make this process easier.”
Shapland – future bright for coffee shop brands that can survive ‘brutal period of hyperinflation’: Coffi Lab founder James Shapland believes the future is bright for coffee shop brands that can survive this “brutal period of hyperinflation”. Shapland this week opened a sixth site – and third in Cardiff – for the dog-friendly coffee shop brand he founded last year. Speaking at the Propel Multi-Club Conference about the sector in a post-covid world, Shapland said: “The sector has obviously been battered, but I think the appetite for premium coffee and aspirational brands has never been stronger. For those able to navigate this next brutal period of hyperinflation, I do think the future looks really bright, and the demand will only continue to grow as it forms part of our cultural fabric now. For challenger brands who are dynamic and lead with purpose, there’s a real opportunity to take a multi-channel approach to their business. Drive-thrus are here to stay, I’m really excited by the subscription model and home delivery looks interesting. Suburban locations are doing very well but I don’t think high streets and city centres are dead, just in a sense of transition.” Shapland returned to the coffee sector last year having previously founded Coffee#1 in 2000 and sold it 11 years later, having grown it to 15 sites in Wales and the south west. In between, due to the pandemic, he pulled out of plans to launch a sourdough pizza concept in Bristol he’d spent two years developing. “I didn’t intend to return to coffee sector,” he said. “But I realised there was no other sector where I had the same level of conviction, passion and understanding. Coffi Lab started as an introspection piece of what really mattered to me. Coffee#1 was all about profits and coffee, while Coffi Lab comes from a place of real meaning to me, and the levels of engagement we’re seeing from customers shows the emotional context is really resonating.” Shapland told Propel last year that he plans to open 50 Coffi Lab sites over the next five years but insists growth won’t be at the expense of the original concept. “We have a couple more under offer and have seen proof of concept that this model is scalable,” he said. “I had no idea if it would work, but we’ve been astounded, and all sites have performed beyond expectation. We have ambitious plans, but we’re not going to grow for the sake of it. We innovate and improve with each new shop, but not so much that we destroy what the ingredients in the recipe. We’re initially focused on neighbourhoods and towns I have traded in before with Coffee#1, and who knows where it will go from there. I think there’s a place for Coffee Lab in every leafy neighbourhood in the UK.”
Consumers call for better information on wine served in pubs and restaurants: Most consumers want to see better information on the wine served in pubs and restaurants, according to new data from KAM. Some 70% think pubs and bars don’t provide enough information to help them make an informed decision when ordering wine (43% for restaurants), according to the research, in partnership with Hallgarten & Novum Wines. Almost three quarters (74%) said they would like it to be clearer which wine on menus are organic, vegan, natural, sustainable and/or biodynamic, with 53% saying having natural wine is important to them, and 48% saying the same for sustainable wine. Furthermore, a third of customers polled said they don’t feel confident ordering wine in pubs, bars and restaurants, with the same number finding the words used to describe wine on menus too confusing and ambiguous. This is particularly true of younger drinkers, with the figure rising to 50% for Generation Z, who are also a lot less likely to ask staff for help or advice. The research also found in the last 12 months, a third of wine drinkers had found a wine they wanted from the menu wasn’t available, while 15% said their wine hadn’t been served at the ideal temperature. Blake Gladman, strategy and insights director at KAM, said: “While the layout and copy on menus is critical in helping give greater clarity and confidence for customers, there is also obviously a key role for staff to play when it comes to breaking down this confidence barrier.” 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a business in the hospitality tech world that is looking to hire an integration specialist on a remote working basis. The company has a suite of products used within the service industry. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “You will be managing integration projects and be able to work closely with third party project managers and vendors. The ideal person will have great communication skills with internal and external stakeholders, be able to analyse data and work cross functionally on integrations, testing and data quality assurance. The right candidate will ideally have more than three years’ experience in managing integration projects with experience in various data analytic tools including Tableau and SQL. They should also have experience with the HRIS ecosystem and familiarity with the use and design of application programme interfaces.” The salary is £60,000. For more information and to apply, email

Company News:

Buzzworks seeing double-digit like-for-like growth against pre-pandemic levels, acquires three-strong Herringbone business: Kenny Blair, managing director of Scottish independent restaurant and bar operator Buzzworks Holdings, has told Propel the business is seeing underlying double-digit like-for-like growth against pre-pandemic levels. The company has acquired the three-strong Herringbone business in what is Buzzworks’ first deal for a going concern and Blair said it was looking to grow the brand further. Herringbone operates venues in Edinburgh’s Goldenacre and by the coast in North Berwick, with a third on the way at 3 Royal Terrance Gardens in Edinburgh. The acquisition will also see the Herringbone team, led by managing director Ash Bairstow, remain, while a further 20 jobs will be brought to the capital with its new venue, due to open in the summer. The deal brings Buzzworks’ current portfolio up to 17, with five venues now on the east coast. The group is already set to open sites in Greenock and South Queensferry this year and Blair revealed another site is in the pipeline for a 2023 launch. He told Propel: “We think Herringbone really complements the business. We like the locations and the deal fits in with our strategy of organic growth and some acquisitions. We think there is plenty of white space in Scotland to grow our business and while there are no plans to cross the border currently I wouldn’t rule it out.” Blair said the business was trading “very well” with profits for the current financial year, which is about to come to an end, ahead of forecasts. He added the group was in great shape despite the challenges of the pandemic and now the cost-of-living crisis. It comes as Buzzworks reported revenue of £8.1m for the year ending 2 May 2021 (2020: £18.5m) with turnover heavily impacted by enforced trading restrictions due to the pandemic. Underlying Ebitda – before site opening costs of £166,000 and non-recurring items of £987,000 – was £1.88m (2020: £1.37m). It reported a pre-tax profit of £159,000 versus a pre-tax loss of £590,000 the previous year. Blair added: “We have strong cost headwinds hitting us but we have plenty of levers we can pull to drive the business forward in what is going to be a very challenging six months.” 
Slim Chickens plans Liverpool ONE opening, Brighton site launches next month: Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) is planning to open a site in Liverpool under its Slim Chickens brand. Propel understands BRG is set to replace the ex-Chaophraya site in the Liverpool ONE scheme. The brand was previously linked with an opening on the ex-Ed’s Easy Diner site in the city’s Lord Street. Earlier this month, Slim Chickens opened a new flagship site in London’s Cambridge Circus. The opening, the 18th in the UK for the US brand, forms part of Slim Chickens’ ambitious UK roll-out plans this year. The site is the brand’s second location to offer fully operational service robots following on from Guildford, supporting the on-site team with table service and click and collect orders. Slim Chickens has openings lined up in Leicester and Milton Keynes while it is understood to be in talks to take on a unit at 224 Bishopsgate in the capital. It will open its next site in May, in Brighton’s Queens Road, which will be the third site for franchisee JRK Restaurants. On the back of the Cambridge Circus opening, Slim Chickens is understood to have placed its site in nearby Moor Street on the market through Shelley Sandzer.
The Life Goddess founder to open new restaurant in Fitzrovia: Nikolaos Nyfoudis, the founder of Greek concept The Life Goddess, is to open a new restaurant in London’s Fitzrovia, Propel has learned. Nyfoudis is to open 1905, a Greek restaurant on the corner of Mortimer Street and Great Titchfield Street. Nyfoudis currently operates two sites under The Life Goddess concept in Kingly Court, Soho, and Store Street in Bloomsbury. Adam Bowers, of onepoint2, acted on the Fitzrovia deal.
Ocean Basket to begin expansion in UK: Ocean Basket, the South African casual dining brand focused on seafood, which opened its UK debut restaurant earlier this year, has lined up a second opening here. Propel understands Ocean Basket is set to take on the ex-Preto site in Kingston for an opening at the end of the summer/early autumn. The brand, which was founded in Pretoria in 1995 by Fats Lazarides, launched in the former Cafe Rouge site in Bromley’s Market Square. Ocean Basket, which is led by chief executive Grace Harding, currently operates 200 restaurants in 19 countries including Cyprus, South Africa, Mauritius, Kazakhstan, Dubai and Malta, under a franchise/licence model. Ocean Basket said it is “committed to offering quality seafood at a great price in a relaxed, modern Mediterranean home”. As reported at the time, the business is working with CDG Leisure to find prime spaces, first within the M25, then nationwide in the next two years.
Eataly’s UK debut site attracts three million visitors in first year: Italian food market and restaurant chain Eataly, which celebrates the first anniversary of the launch of its debut UK site on Friday (29 April), has attracted three million visitors to the venue during that time. Eataly, which was founded in 2007 and grown to more than 40 stories in 16 countries worldwide, opened the doors of its two-floor emporium, near Liverpool Street station, in April last year. Since then, the company said more than three million visitors have bought 100,000 bottles of wine, 95,000 pieces of focaccia and 30,000 units of its creamy in-house burrata, plus more than 21,000 kilogrammes of panettone at Christmas. The marketplace houses several restaurants, a cooking school and a food market offering more than 6,000 products from artisanal and local producers. To celebrate its first 12 months of operation, the venue will be hosting a three-day wine festival (29 April-1 May), followed by a two-week restaurant fest (2-15 May), with an array of exclusive two-course set menus starting at £19.50. These will include limited-edition food and drink offerings such as ravioli with aubergine, fresh spaghetti with mussels and clams, classic caprese salad and spatchcock barbecue chicken. Eataly’s cookery school, La Scuola, will also be offering two limited edition birthday classes in May, including how to make fresh pasta and bruschetta.
Black and White Hospitality secures deal for new Gloucestershire restaurant, working on strong pipeline of potential new venues: Black and White Hospitality, which operates and manages the Marco Pierre White group of eight franchised restaurant concepts, has signed a deal to open a new restaurant in south Gloucestershire. Located at The Gables Hotel in Falfield, the 104-cover restaurant – 60 in the restaurant, 44 in the bar – will open towards the end of June as a Marco’s New York Italian, utilising the hotel’s current bar and breakfast area. Nick Taplin, chairman and chief executive of Black and White Hospitality, said: “On the back of a two-year pandemic, to announce a new venue is fantastic news. The New York Italian fits perfectly with the environment of The Gables Hotel’s customer base. We have a strong pipeline of potential new venues and we’re working hard to get those over the line in the next few months. It also demonstrates that owners and investors are now looking ahead to what will hopefully be a more fruitful time for the hospitality sector.” Anthony Greenidge, general manager at The Gables, added: “We’re delighted to have someone of Marco’s calibre open one of his restaurants here. It’s an exciting addition that will, we believe, offer a wonderful dining experience and is perfect for the stunning location of the hotel.” The opening follows the launch of the group’s newest concept, Mr White’s, which made its debut in London’s Leicester Square in November.
Sales across Pret sites in London’s entertainment and shopping district lowest since January: Sales across Pret A Manger’s sites in London’s entertainment and shopping district were the lowest last week since January, according to the latest Bloomberg Pret Index. Pret’s sales there were down 12 percentage points to 86%, as the number of tourists coming into the capital for the long weekend wasn’t enough to offset residents leaving town. In other clusters tracked by the index, such as the financial districts of London and New York, sales slowed over the holiday season. Pret sales in London’s suburbs retreated, down 13 percentage points to 103%, but may bounce back this week as holiday travellers return home, Sales in London train stations also fell. Previously, they had been broadly back to normal, but were down eight percentage points to 85%. Flight cancellations over the Easter holidays ended a three-month streak of gains in coffee and sandwich sales at Pret’s outlets in London’s airports. The index shows that transactions in the cluster that includes Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton airports fell by about a tenth last week. Pret’s sales there are still higher than they were before the pandemic – a milestone the chain reached in late March for the first time since the start of the crisis.
SimpsInns ‘well prepared’ for challenges ahead as it reports £1m profit, with government support: Scottish hospitality group SimpsInns, which operates an independent portfolio of restaurants, bars, hotels and leisure facilities across Ayrshire, has said it has “performed exceptionally well” and is “well prepared” for the challenges ahead. The company reported turnover of £5.1m for the year ending 31 July 2021 (2020: £4.6m) and a £1m pre-tax profit (2020: £138,000 loss). It also benefited from £1.2m in government grants during the period (2020: £657,000). The company said: “SimpsInns has successfully weathered the many challenges faced in the most turbulent of years while continuing to invest in our product and services. We will continue to reinvest in our properties to strengthen for the future growth and profitability of the business. Despite sales not being as forecasted in last year’s accounts, SimpsInns has, in our opinion, performed exceptionally well in a troubled and often impossible climate, capitalising on sales when available and sourcing support and implementing cost controls when not. During the various periods of lockdown and restricted trading we have been very proactive to move swiftly and adapt to maximise the opportunities. This, coupled with government support has enabled us to offset the losses of the past year and allow us to continuously drive business, secure employment and well position the business with a positive cash flow going forward.” It added: “With the ongoing pandemic and significant rise in costs across the board, another challenging year looms. However, we are confident in our strategy and proposed direction of travel going forward. We are well prepared for different contingency planning scenarios depending on the year ahead. Simpslnns’ policy of controlling costs is being well managed despite the current rising costs and all the KPIs are in line with current management expectations.”
Loci Pubs opens third site: North west London-based Loci Pubs has opened its third site. The company, founded by brothers Ben and Ed Robson, and their childhood friend Adam Gostyn, has relaunched The Alliance in West Hampstead. It joins The Clifton in St John’s Wood, and The Duke of Hamilton in Hampstead. Located in Mill Lane in West Hampstead, The Alliance has undergone a slight refurbishment. A revamped menu is also on the cards, developed by part-owner, and executive chef, Scott Soteriou. The regularly changing, seasonal menu will include dishes such as chicken schnitzel with capers, anchovies, gravy and a fried Kentish brown egg; and miso-glazed aubergine with katsu sauce. The bar offers a selection of draught and craft beer, wine, spirits and house cocktails.
Made of Dough team to launch bar and all-day diner in Crystal Palace: The team behind London-based pizza company Made of Dough is to open a bar and all-day diner. Palazzo will launch in Crystal Palace, south London, on Wednesday, 18 May. The Italian bar and diner will have its own record library, a late-night licence on weekends and a line-up of DJ nights. Spanning three shop fronts from 3-6 Church Road, the 2,000 square foot site will have 80 covers across the ground floor with an open kitchen and bar. Outside, an alfresco terrace will be opening in July. Drinks will take centre stage at Palazzo with an Italian wine list alongside classic cocktails and draught beer. The food menu will be a variety of small and large plates with dishes including chicken Milanese with lemon and aioli and pizza. Co-founder Ed Sandeman said: “Palazzo is everything we’d want in a local hangout – good honest food, great drinks, extensive record collection driven by valve amps and Klipsch speakers, open early and late with DJs playing vinyl on the weekends. Heaven.” Made of Dough started out at Pop Brixton, street food markets and festivals before opening its first bricks and mortar site, in Peckham in June 2017. It also operates a site in Shoreditch.
Light Bar team double UK portfolio with second Shoreditch site and third altogether: Morten Jensen and Darren Collins, who relaunched Shoreditch’s Light Bar last April after the original closed in 2014, have doubled their UK portfolio with a second bar in the district. The pair, who are also behind Bali-based beach club Kudeta, have opened The Backyard, a “chic, hidden terrace and secret garden oasis” at 233 Shoreditch High Street. It is based a short walk down an alley from the Light Bar, which first opened on the site of a former Victorian power station in 2000 before being relaunched in April 2021. Alongside a selection of wine and spirits, The Backyard specialises in sustainable bottled cocktails by Strongman’s Tipple, with exclusive cocktails created by bar manager Ilija Kniasev, formerly of Annabel’s. A food menu from chef Tristan Downs will offer light snacks and sharing plates such as flat bread, cheese boards and charcuterie. The venue is also available for private hire for groups of up to 120.
Yeotown to open second London restaurant: Devon-based health retreat operator Yeotown is opening a second London restaurant. The company is launching the venue at the Inhabit Queen’s Gardens hotel in Paddington this weekend. It will feature a 70-cover restaurant and bar. Serving a Californian-inspired menu, dishes will include the signature Yeotown bounce back vegan burger; and grilled salmon on edamame and mung bean fettucine. There will be a selection of low-alcohol cocktails, mocktails and organic, biodynamic and natural wine. Yeotown co-founder Mercedes Sieff said: “We’re happy to see more and more people shifting towards a healthy and conscious lifestyle. Wellness is at the core of our brand, and we are proud to open another restaurant in London.” Yeotown’s other London restaurant is at the nearby Inhabit hotel in Sussex Gardens.
Highland Coast Hotels acquires fifth site: Highland Coast Hotels has acquired the 14-room Plockton Inn, which has been in the ownership of the same family for 25 years. The acquisition follows the purchase of four hotels by Highland Coast Hotels last year. The group was founded in 2019 to invest in and develop hotels in the region and last year received investment from Kings Park Capital to support its growth. Highland Coast Hotels chairman David Whiteford said: “We are delighted to be acquiring The Plockton Inn, one of the west coast’s best-loved hotels. It’s a daunting prospect to be picking up the baton from Kenny and Mary Gollan and Susan Trowbridge, who have nurtured and developed the hotel into such a landmark in this beautiful part of the world.” Kenny Gollan said: “After 25 years of ownership of the Plockton Inn, Mary, Susan and I are very sad to be handing over our wonderful hotel. It has been a source of huge satisfaction and pride to us, and we will be forever grateful for the unstinting support we have received.” Since its launch, Highland Coast Hotels has acquired the Kylesku Hotel, as well as the Newton Lodge in Ullapool, on the west coast. It has also bought the Royal Golf Hotel in Dornoch and the Royal Marine Hotel in Brora, on the east coast. All of these hotels are situated on or around the North Coast 500 route. The taxpayer-funded Scottish National Investment Bank announced in January it would providing £4.45m of funding to Highland Coast Hotels to support the upgrade of these four properties. The loan will be repaid from income generated by the hotels.
Hero Brands appoints new non-executive director to help support growth of brand portfolio: Hero Brands, which operates German Doner Kebab, Island Poké, Choppaluna and Virtual Hero, has appointed Andrew Brattesani as a non-executive director to support the growth and development of its brand portfolio. A former head of franchising at HSBC, Brattesani will work alongside the Hero Brands leadership team to assist and advise on the food and beverage division across its growing portfolio. His arrival follows the recent appointment of Salman Siddiqui as group corporate development director. Brattesani said: “I am looking forward to showcasing this extensive portfolio of game-changing brands and working to develop the food and beverage division and bring Hero Brands’ exciting offering to the Generation Z and millennial audience.” Athif Sarwar, chairman of Hero Brands, added: “Andrew is an extremely accomplished and respected figure within the franchise community and his expertise will be invaluable as we look to build on our tremendous growth and bring our compelling offering of disruptive brands to our franchise partners.”
Sheffield-based jazz bar saved by £110,000 Arts Council grant: Sheffield-based jazz venue, Trippets Lounge Bar, has been saved by a £110,000 grant from the Arts Council's Cultural Recovery Fund. The bar, in Trippet Lane, was opened in 2015 by husband-and-wife team Carl and Debbie Shaw, who previously operated the Bull’s Head in Ashford-In-the-Water, Derbyshire, for 15 years. In order to survive two years of covid-forced lockdowns, customers contributed to a crowdfunding campaign and the musicians took a 50% pay cut. But a successful bid to the Arts Council, coupled with an upturn in business since the full lifting of restrictions, has allowed it to become a going concern once again. The Shaws had ploughed their life savings into Trippets, and the loss of business had left them near to bankruptcy. Debbie said: “There’s no doubt this grant has saved our business, and we’re proud our contribution to the cultural life of Sheffield and the wider region has been recognised by the Arts Council. But I also have to say a big thank you to our loyal customers and musicians that helped raise money to keep us afloat and took pay cuts to help us survive.” The venue hosts jazz musicians of local, national and international repute and has one of the biggest gin menus in the city.
Kibou launches in Solihull for fourth site: Kibou Restaurants, the Japanese concept led by Regent Inns founder David Franks, has opened its fourth venue, in Solihull. It joins the casual dining operator’s other sites in Bristol, which opened in October, and in Cheltenham and London’s Battersea. The 70-cover restaurant and bar is located in the former Cafe Rouge premises at 134 High Street, which has undergone a full refurbishment. It features a range of dining areas and a standalone bar and open sushi kitchen with high top seating, plus a 25-cover Japanese-inspired terrace outside. The menu centres on the group’s signature sushi rolls alongside hand-pressed nigiri and gyoza, fresh sashimi, ramen and bao buns. There is also an extended vegan offering, a range of “moriawase” sharing platters and Japanese-inspired desserts. The bar serves signature Japanese-inspired cocktails, Japanese beer and a selection of Japanese whisky, sake and umeshu, plus no-and-low options. Justin Davies, general manager at Kibou Solihull, said: “There’s a real feeling of excitement about the town at the moment, with some amazing new businesses moving here, and it’s great to be part of this development. We can’t wait to bring our vibrant and contemporary slice of Japan to this bustling, foodie hot-spot of Solihull.” Franks, who founded Kibou in 2019, was that same year instrumental in the sale of Redcomb Pubs’ 15-strong pub estate to Young’s.

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