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Thu 28th Apr 2022 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Global bakery brand Paris Baguette plans ‘significant push’ into UK, eyes 250 sites: South Korean-born bakery brand Paris Baguette, which operates just under 4,000 sites worldwide, plans a “significant push” into the UK, and initially hopes to expand to 250 sites here, Propel has learned. The brand’s owner, SPC Group, has appointed Jack Moran, formerly chief executive of Le Pain Quotidien, the all-day bakery and cafe concept, to oversee its move into the UK, France and, subsequently, all of Europe. Moran has almost 30 years’ experience in the hospitality sector and has held roles including managing director of Le Pain Quotidien UK, global chief executive of Paris Baguette North America, and director of restaurant and retail operations at Hard Rock International. He told Propel: “This is a significant push. Our vision is to re-establish the neighbourhood bakery café as the heart of the local community. To that end, we will engage in significant franchising as we want the owner/operator to be from the local community. Our initial hope is to launch 250 units in the UK.” As previously revealed, the brand’s push into the UK will be led by Nicolas Gaillot, formerly of Le Pain Quotidien and the Imbiba-backed wine bar business Vagabond Wines, who was appointed chief operating officer of Paris Baguette UK earlier this year. Gaillot reports to Christophe Laroze, formerly of Le Pain Quotidien France, who is currently overseeing SPC Group’s growth in both France and the UK. Paris Baguette has already lined up an opening in the Battersea Power Station development and in Kensington High Street. SPC Group currently operates around 3,500 Paris Baguette stores in South Korea and 450 international locations across China, the US, Canada, France, Vietnam, Singapore, Cambodia, and Indonesia. Last year, it embarked on a programme of international expansion, entering the Canadian, Indonesian and Cambodian markets and announcing its intention to operate 100 US stores by the end of 2021, as part of a wider goal to reach 1,000 locations in the US by 2030. 
 

Industry News:

Sponsored message – join Pizza Pilgrims founder Thom Elliott and back Hospitality Rising: Thom Elliott, co-founder of Pizza Pilgrims, 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. Elliott said: “I genuinely believe that if everyone spent time working in hospitality, the world would be a happier place. It’s an actioned packed, people centric career – and I am certain the skills you learn while working in a restaurant are enhancing for every other part of your life. I’m totally in support of the ever present Mark McCulloch and Hospitality Rising in trying to raise the profile of hospitality as a genuine, rewarding and opportunity-filled career choice. Everyone likes being hospitable, right?” 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.
 
One day 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 tomorrow (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 13,000-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 jo.charity@propel.com to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel group editor Mark Wingett.
 
Toby Smith – ‘affordable treat’ pubs will come through cost-of-living crisis, further price rises ‘counterproductive’ at this time: Toby Smith, chief operating officer of City Pub Group, has told Propel he believes pubs will come through the cost-of-living crisis because they are an “affordable treat”, and further price increases by the business would be “counterproductive” to that at this time. The company put up drink prices by 4% earlier this month and has increased food prices by an average of 7.5% following the industry’s return to the 20% rate of VAT. But while costs are continuing to soar, Smith said any further price rises risked doing more harm than good. Speaking following the company’s preliminary results, Smith said: “National insurance is going up, fuel and energy costs are climbing so we don’t want to deter people from coming to the pub by hitting them harder in the pocket. Our drink supply prices are locked in for three years while we are looking at energy deals every day and have done some menu engineering to drive value. The pub has stood up well during periods of economic turbulence because it is an affordable treat rather than a luxury and we need to keep it that way.” Smith said sales momentum is starting to build again, especially at its station pubs. The company’s sites at Paddington and Cambridge stations have seen sales double this month from February’s levels. He added the disposal of six sites on the south coast had allowed the business to “tighten its geography” and meant it was now in a “tremendous” position to acquire new pubs as it targets a portfolio of 65-70 sites by the end of next year. The group will take its portfolio of trading pubs to 44 over the next few months with four openings, which Smith described all as “big hitters” that will generate “real meaningful numbers”. The Oyster House has opened in Mumbles in Swansea with the long-waited Tivoli in Cambridge following this month along with the company’s new all-day dining concept – Damson & Wilde – that will launch in Bury St Edmunds. In July, the group will also open The Nest in Bath, which will be a cider brewpub. Smith revealed the group had reached heads of terms on three more sites and hopes two of those will open this year with the other following in early 2023. “We’re spending a lot of time looking at new opportunities, but there’s not a lot to go at currently,” he said. “The fallout from the end of the moratorium may generate more opportunities, but we’re not seeing that as yet.” Despite the current challenges, Smith is bullish about the year ahead. “We’re excited because we are growing again, and while there’s going to be some inflationary pressure, we’re in a great place to manage that,” he added.

Nearly half of all social media users search Instagram and Facebook for restaurants: Nealy half of all social media users use Instagram and Facebook to search for restaurants, new research has revealed. The latest GO Tech report from Zonal and CGA, in partnership with Mozrest, shows 48% use the channels to search for hospitality venues, although 79% still use Google. It went on to say that 80% of consumers use at least one social media platform, and a third use them to book tables or order food to go. This number increases to 53% amongst 18 to 24-year-olds. Furthermore, 38% of those who don’t would consider using social media to book a table, while 33% of those that don’t use social media to seek venues would consider ordering takeaway via social media. Olivia Fitzgerald, chief marketing and sales officer at Zonal, said: “With more people using the likes of Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Google for recommendations, having a booking system that can be linked to these online platforms is key.” Karl Chessell, CGA director for hospitality operators and food EMEA, added: “This research confirms the huge importance of social media and web searches to pubs, bars and restaurants – not just in promoting venues, but in generating bookings and sales.”
 
The Good Food Guide changes scoring system, ushers in more ‘democratic and egalitarian’ approach: Dining resource The Good Food Guide has changed its scoring system and introduced a more “democratic and egalitarian” approach. Instead of being given scores between one and ten, restaurants will now be ranked, using a “simplified and modernised scoring system”, as good, very good, exceptional or world class. To determine the rating, inspectors will judge against four metrics – namely uniqueness, deliciousness, warmth, and strength of recommendation. Publisher Adam Hyman, of Code Hospitality, which acquired the Guide from Waitrose & Partners in October 2021, said he changed the system after discussing its scoring with editor Elizabeth Carter. He said: “As a numerically challenged youngster, the idea of getting one out of ten reminds me of my maths scores and implies a fail. Yet getting such a score in the old version of the guide qualified as a pass and was a positive thing. This structure didn’t sit right with me. Our aim is to keep the guide going for another 70 years, so looking at how restaurants are judged is of the utmost importance. Earlier this year, we met with our expert inspectors and agreed it was time for an overhaul. The result was a simplified and modernised scoring system. Our changes mark a departure from heralding fine dining as the pinnacle of achievement and promote a more democratic and egalitarian assessment of good food in Great Britain. There’s no reason a beach hut, fish and chip shop or a local cafe can’t qualify, so long as they meet the criteria.”
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a client in the foodservice sector to hire a business director to look after national accounts within business and industry. The business director will be responsible for around 20 national accounts with a turnover of £60 million-plus. The role is also about generating and delivering new business. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The business director will be involved in the tender process and delivery of new contracts into the portfolio. The company is developing and growing all the time, and this role will grow and develop too, It is imperative you come from a contract catering background. This is a national role, so you can be located anywhere.” The salary is up to £120,000. For more information, email Dan@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Pret launches Pret Express into first three locations: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-backed brand, has launched Pret Express, its “24/7 self-service coffee-to-go solution” into its first three locations, Propel has learned. The new vending solution is now available in the RaceTrack Pitstop garage in Bearsden, near Glasgow; the RaceTrack Pitstop store in St James’ Road, Glasgow; and the Garip’s Superstore (Costcutter) in Barking, Essex, with more sites understood to be in the pipeline. Propel revealed in July last year that Pret, which has been seeking new routes to market as its core business in central London was impacted by the crisis, had trademarked the Pret Express name and was set to follow Costa, which operates circa 10,000 Express machines around the world, and introduce a vending format into offices, convenience stores, hospitals and petrol forecourts. Last October, Pret confirmed it had entered into a partnership with JDE Peet’s, the world's leading pure-play coffee and tea company and owner of brands including Peet’s Coffee, Douwe Egberts and Jacob, to launch the trial of Pret Express. JDE Peet’s will provide the self-service technology and capabilities, with bespoke furniture designed exclusively for Pret. The company said Pret Express will be introduced in convenience stores, forecourts, universities, healthcare facilities and workplaces, offering the same “organic coffee and tea customers enjoy in Pret shops in places where Pret baristas aren’t able to operate”. 
 
Sukho Group looking to open two or three new Zaap Thai sites a year, plans to move south after further northern expansion: Sukho Group is looking to open two or three new sites a year for its Thai casual brand, Zaap Thai, and plans to move south after further northern expansion. The group, which also operates the three-strong Thai fine dining brand Sukhothai, will next month open its sixth Zaap site in seven years, in Sheffield’s Eccleshall Road. Founder and executive chef, Ban Kaewkraikhot, told Propel: “As with most other operators, the pandemic put our expansion plans on hold, but now we’re fully focused on opening more sites over the coming months and years. We’ll comfortably be able to open two or three Zaap sites per year, providing the right sites present themselves. We’re looking at all university towns and cities, including Manchester, Liverpool, Leicester and Birmingham, as well as busy suburbs. The long-term plan is to move south once we have a few of our more northern target cities ticked off. We don’t have any immediate expansion plans for Sukhothai. However, if the right opportunity was to present itself to us, never say never. We see more growth potential with Zaap and want to continue our expansion within the casual dining market.” The group this year celebrates its 20th anniversary, and to celebrate, Kaewkraikhot has brought back some of its most popular dishes from the last two decades at Sukhothai’s original Chapel Allerton site. She said: “Our industry is constantly evolving, and constantly being able to experience new foods and trends is what I love most. In 2002, there were hardly any Thai restaurants in the UK, and I saw an opportunity to introduce Thai food to the people of Leeds. Fast forward 20 years and there are now hundreds in the UK, and more than 50 in Leeds alone.” The pandemic presented the group’s biggest challenge during that time, but it responded by creating a ready meal range, which is still selling well today, as well as a cook-at-home recipe kits. Kaewkraikhot added: “We had to act quickly to look for new revenue streams as we had eight restaurants and more than 200 staff to support. Within weeks we created a range of 22 ready meals, which proved to be really successful and helped massively towards getting through the tough times.”
 
Gusto Italian appoints Scott Grimbleby as new COO: Gusto Italian, the premium casual dining restaurant group, has appointed Scott Grimbleby, formerly of Living Ventures and La Tasca, as its new chief operating officer, Propel has learned. The Matt Snell-led, Palatine Private Equity-backed business said Grimbleby’s appointment would help to drive the company’s expansion and growth as it seeks to open in more locations across the UK. Grimbleby was previously managing director of the Living Ventures-owned Blackhouse Restaurants brand. In 2020, he became operations director for the wider Living Ventures business, which includes the Manchester-based sites, Australasia and Grand Pacific. Previous to joining Living Ventures, he was operations director at La Tasca. He replaces Tim Selby, who is leaving Gusto after just over two years with the business, to pursue opportunities outside of the group. Snell said: “Scott is a brilliant operator with fantastic experience of operating in the premium hospitality space. He brings a track record of delivering sales growth at established restaurant businesses as well as successfully launching and building new businesses, and we are delighted to welcome him to the Gusto Italian family. We would like to sincerely thank Tim for his hard work and dedication to Gusto Italian. We wish him well in the new ventures that lie ahead.” Grimbleby said: “I’m thrilled to be joining a thriving business which is outperforming the market, growing its estate and delivering outstanding service, and can’t wait to get stuck into this exciting new role.” Grimbleby’s appointment comes as Gusto seeks to expand its footprint of 13 restaurants, which are located in the north and Midlands. The company, which was founded in 2005 by Jeremy Roberts and the late Tim Bacon, from Living Ventures, opened its most recent site at the end of last year, in Nottingham. The restaurant is the brand’s “hero site”, and the template for all its future openings and refurbishments.
 
Wellfound confirms plans for new Lino site: Wellfound, the Imbiba-backed restaurant and bar company formerly known as Wright & Bell, has confirmed it plans to open a new site under the Lino name in north London. As revealed by Propel last month, the company, which last year placed its Kitty Hawk and Lino businesses into administration, will open a new Lino site in Lonsdale Road, Queen’s Park. It plans to reopen the new two-floor restaurant and bar in September. Earlier this year, the Sarah Clark-led business converted its Whyte & Brown site in Carnaby Street, to its Marsha format, which focuses on free-range chicken dishes such as crispy chicken skins in seasoning, chicken hearts in blankets, sauteed chicken livers and buttermilk gochujang wings. It is the second Marsha site for Wellfound, having opened the first in Gabriel’s Wharf, near Waterloo on the South Bank, last April. Wellfound also operates the bar and restaurant Green Room on the South Bank.
 
Chester-based operators open second site: Chester-based operators Valentina Aviotti and Fabrizio Gobbato have opened their second site in the city. The husband-and-wife team, who own Italian restaurant Da Noi in Bridge Street, have launched pizza concept Augusto Pizzeria, in Northgate Street. Authentic Italian recipes are cooked by trained pizza chefs including head pizza chef, Giovanni Recchia, who originates from Turin and they are showcasing Neapolitan and Turin favourites alongside more contemporary gourmet pizzas. Gobbato said: “Chester is our home and we are excited to add to its amazing restaurant scene with our authentic Italian pizzeria.”
 
Hollywood Bowl opens first Northern Ireland venue: Hollywood Bowl has opened its first Northern Ireland venue, a £2.4m, 20-lane, centre in Belfast’s Odyssey complex. The site, located in the city’s Titanic Quarter, is the group’s second family bowling and entertainment centre to open in the last five months following December’s launch at Birmingham Resorts World. The Belfast site also features four VIP lanes, high-tech scoring systems and an arcade area. American-style food and drinks are served to lanes and in the Hollywood Diner, offering hot dogs, burgers and shakes. Stephen Burns, chief executive of Hollywood Bowl Group, said: “The opening of our Belfast centre marks a significant milestone for our business, as we continue to grow into new and exciting markets. The Titanic Quarter provides us with an opportunity to be part of the city’s hospitality and leisure recovery after a challenging couple of years, and we can’t wait to welcome friends and family to experience great value entertainment. Our cutting-edge technology, advanced lighting and American diner make our Belfast centre a great example of a latest-generation Hollywood Bowl.”
 
The Sea, The Sea to launch seafood school: The Sea, The Sea – the fish shop, deli and seafood bar concept launched by Bonnie Gull co-founder Alex Hunter – is launching a seafood school at its Hackney site. Aimed at giving an insight into more adventurous seafood cooking, it requires no previous skills or experience. Launching on Saturday, 14 May, the school will be led by The Sea, The Sea’s executive chef Leandro Carreira, alongside its fishmonger team. Running from 11am-2pm on Saturdays with a different focus each week, the themes will include zero-waste cooking focused around West Country day-boat fish; curing, pickling and preserving raw fish; preparing and cooking British shellfish; and preparing and cooking lesser-known gems from UK waters. Meanwhile, Rick Stein’s Cookery School, which has operated at Padstow Harbour since 2000, has reopened after a state-of-the-art kitchen refurbishment. 
 
Coal Shed and Burnt Orange team set to launch new Italian restaurant in Brighton for fifth site: Black Rock Restaurant Group, which owns The Salt Room and Burnt Orange in Brighton, as well as two Coal Shed restaurants in London and Brighton, is set to launch a new Italian restaurant in the south coast city. Founder Razak Helalat will open the doors to Tutto, which promises an “informal atmosphere in traditional Italian style”, in June. The head chef will be Mirella Pau, formerly of Covent Garden’s Café Murano, where she was mentored by Angela Harnett, and Shoreditch’s Padella. Tutto will be based in a restored 1930s former bank in Marlborough Place, opposite Victoria Gardens, offering 80 covers inside and a further 34 outside. A spokesman said: “Tutto is inspired by traditional Italian dining culture and aims to bring together all of its best elements, focusing on simple quality and the Italian experience in equal measure. The all-day restaurant will be the perfect place for guests to come together and enjoy long evenings of great food and drink among Brighton’s vibrant restaurant scene. Sardinian-born Mirella will introduce her extensive knowledge of Italian cuisine to the Brighton food scene, informed by memories growing up in a family of Italian restaurateurs as she takes the reins at her first kitchen outside London.”
 
Newcastle department store set to launch ‘immersive’ restaurant and music club: The Newcastle branch of department store Fenwick is set to launch a new restaurant and music club offering themed nights and immersive experiences. Arthur’s Restaurant & Music Club, which will launch over the weekend of 6-7 May, is being introduced as part of the brand’s 140th anniversary celebrations and is named after founder Arthur Price. It will host monthly themed nights and immersive experiences, kicking off with a Prohibition-era style event, as well as afternoon tea on selected dates throughout the year. Kieran McBride, director of Fenwick in Newcastle, said: “We’re excited to introduce our next venture in the form of Arthur’s – our new immersive experiences destination. Our vision is to bring unexpected immersive experiences to the store with a variety of events, including monthly themed music and dining evenings, decadent afternoon teas and much more.” The new venue will occupy the first-floor space of former restaurant Tivoli, and its opening will follow that of the adjacent new-look Cafe 140 and exhibition space, which opened last month.
 
Edyn begins expansion of serviced apartment brand Cove into Europe with two Netherlands sites: Aparthotel operator Edyn Group has begun the expansion of its serviced apartment brand Cove, which launched in June 2021, into Europe with two Netherlands sites. It has opened Cove – Centrum in The Hague and converted Amsterdam-based serviced apartments The Wittenberg to Wittenberg by Cove. The Hague venue offers 121 apartments and the Amsterdam one 115, all of which include private Wi-Fi, fully fitted kitchens and living rooms. Cove’s portfolio of properties in the UK includes sites in Liverpool, Nottingham, Manchester and Cardiff, and the openings in the Netherlands follow its November launch in Canary Wharf. Stephen McCall, chief executive of Edyn, said: “We are thrilled to announce Cove’s expansion into mainland Europe so soon after its launch. It is a great milestone in our journey that signals both our intent on the continent as well as further investment in our belief that guests are increasingly looking for flexible, thoughtfully designed accommodation – regardless of whether they’re travelling for work or leisure.” In December, Edyn expanded its Locke brand into Germany by securing sites for Wunderlocke in Munich and Locke at Eastside Gallery Berlin, both set to open this year. This came five months after the opening of its first Locke site in mainland Europe, Schwan Locke, also in Munich. 
 
The Secret Hospitality Group offers chefs £1,000 welcome bonus to boost recruitment during ‘nightmare’ period: Swansea-based The Secret Hospitality Group, which earlier this month acquired Castellamare Restaurant in Mumbles and earlier this year opened The Green Room Bar and Kitchen, is offering chefs a £1,000 welcome bonus in a bid to attract staff in what it says is “an absolute nightmare” of a recruitment climate. The family business, which also runs the Secret Beach Bar on Swansea seafront and is due to open a restaurant at the town’s new Copr Bay development, said it had taken the “unprecedented step” after traditional avenues of recruitment had fallen short. Owners and siblings Ryan and Lucy Hole said they had not yet been able to offer meals in The Green Room, and only half food services in Castellamare. They hope the offer will attract new faces into the industry and old faces back into it, and even includes those without chef experience, through their traineeship schemes. “We’ve expanded at possibly the worst time,” Ryan told Wales Online. “The industry is in a bit of a crisis staffing-wise, and a lot of chefs have moved on with all the uncertainties and haven’t returned. That seems to be across the board, every business I have spoken to has found themselves in a similar situation. It’s an unprecedented step, but we’ve taken this decision to sort of put our money where our mouth is and encourage more people into the industry. It’s all supply and demand, we have put our wages up across the board.” 
 
Dough&Co set to open in Stoke-on-Trent for 14th site: Dough&Co, the wood-fired pizza concept from former Marco Pierre White chef Chris Sharman, is set to open a new restaurant in Stoke-on-Trent. It will join brands such as Bon Pan Asian, The Restaurant Group brand Chiquito and The Burger Priest when it moves into the former PizzaExpress unit in The Hive, at The Potteries Centre in Hanley, in June. Founded by Sharman in 2018, Dough&Co currently operates 13 sites across the UK, mainly in the south east and south west. Sharman said: “We are excited to open in Hanley and to offer fresh wood-fired pizza like people haven't experienced before. We’ve just opened in Milton Keynes and in Sheffield with great success and are looking forward to doing the same in Hanley.” Amy Whittaker, general manager of The Potteries Centre, added: “Dough&Co is a tried and tested brand with a fantastic reputation for serving up authentic cuisine. We’re looking forward to seeing the team thrive as it joins our vibrant food community at The Hive.”
 
Essex-based sushi restaurant brand opens fourth site: Essex-based sushi restaurant brand Sushi and Bento House has opened its fourth site in the county. The company, which also offers delivery, has opened at 19 South Walk in Basildon’s Eastgate Shopping Centre. It also operates restaurants in Rayleigh, Dagenham and its original Chadwell Heath site, which opened in 2018. Syed Ahmed, business development manager, told the Basildon Echo: “We are excited to open a new site as it always is. We are a fast-growing Japanese restaurant, and we are really passionate about fresh, quality and mouth-watering food. This is achieved by us making our food every time after receiving an order, so customers have all orders fresh throughout the day, which isn’t like every brand of restaurants and sushi places.” 

Surrey-based cocktail bar opens second site, more to follow: Surrey-based independent cocktail bar Komo has opened a second venue, in Woking’s Victoria Place, with more set to follow. The 4,754 square-foot unit is located at 21-25 Commercial Way and adds to the operator’s first site, which opened in Guildford in 2015. Komo, which will have a resident DJ on Saturdays, also has an extensive food offer and runs regular cocktail masterclasses. Joe Pennefather, general manager, said: “The opening of Komo in Victoria Place is the first step in the expansion of our brand. Following our success in Guildford, we are proud to be putting down more roots in the Surrey stronghold that is Victoria Place. We feel excited to enter this new chapter in Woking’s rejuvenated centre and are thrilled to provide our signature Komo experience to locals and visitors alike.” It follows the recent openings of leading artisanal bakery Gail’s and East Asian inspired fast-food chain Itsu at Victoria Place. JLL and Nash Bond acted for Victoria Place, while Komo dealt direct.
 
Hill-backed Bosco Pizzeria to open in Cheltenham next month: Bosco Pizzeria, the Bristol-based concept that includes Steve Hill, former chief executive of Wagamama and current chairman of Pho, as a backer, will open its new site in Cheltenham next month. The venue will open at the Quadrangle on Thursday, 19 May and is the first restaurant to take residency at the complex following a multimillion-pound renovation. Inspired by Naples, New York and San Francisco, the restaurant will have an open kitchen with a wood-fired pizza oven, reports So Glos. The Miles Johnson-led company operates sites in Milson Place in Bath and Whiteladies Road in Bristol. Its remaining Bristol site, in Regent Street, remains closed. The company is also launching a smaller, more delivery-focused pizza concept called Pizzucci, which is opening in Gloucester Road, Bristol.
 
German Doner Kebab eyes Chelmsford opening: German Doner Kebab (GDK), owned by Hero Brands, is eyeing an opening in Chelmsford, Essex. The company has applied to the city council to open in the former Pizza Hut premises in Moulsham Street, creating about 30 jobs, reports Essex Live. Last month, GDK appointed Sofia Dimen as its new UK managing director to help realise its ambitious growth plans. She replaced Daniel Bunce, who was earlier this month promoted to GDK international global chief operating officer. GDK is planning to open 78 UK restaurants this year, adding to the circa 90 it currently has in Britain.
 
Milk & Sugar closes Central Square site in Cardiff as venue ‘unviable’: Independent cafe operator Milk & Sugar has closed its Central Square site in the centre of Cardiff. Milk & Sugar took ground floor space at the 1 Central Square office building in October 2016. However, despite having struck a reduced rental agreement with landlord Aerium during the pandemic, the business said the venue couldn’t be made viable. In a notice on the closed shutters of the space it said the move to vacate was not “our decision”, but that of the building’s landlord having exercised a right to take back the space under the lease. Milk & Sugar said: “We have listed back to the landlord’s new agents the many reasons we believe this building should have a fantastic facility on the ground floor as part of the main building, more so now, during this constant ongoing unease in the workplace. But as a commercial entity, in a generally empty building, the financial, albeit reduced amounts, are still too much for us to make it work – 12 months from now may have been a different story.” Property advisory firm Knight Frank have been appointed by the landlord to find a new tenant for the space. Milk & Sugar’s other venues include those at Eastern Business Park in Cardiff, the bus station in Merthyr and Cardiff University’s new social sciences campus. It also has a cafe in the Pontcanna area of the capital, as well as providing workplace catering for other companies, including law firms Geldards and Hugh James at their Cardiff offices.
 
Harrogate-based property let to Odeon goes on the market for in excess of £7m: The grade II-listed Picture Palace cinema in Harrogate has been brought to market, with offers of more than £7m being sought. The building is leased on a 25-year term to Odeon Cinemas, and CBRE is handling the sale of the property’s freehold interest. Situated in East Parade, the five-screen, 23,871 square-foot venue has seating for 892 people. Built in 1936, the cinema was comprehensively refurbished in 2008. Alfie Stephenson, of CBRE’s operational real estate team, said: “This iconic building has prospered under the operation of Odeon since it opened and is a firm fixture on the Harrogate leisure scene. The long-income investment opportunity enables a keen investor to acquire the freehold interest on a cinema leased to the UK’s largest operator on a term that benefits from annual Retail Price Index-linked rent reviews. Our research shows the cinema sector is set to have a strong 2022, with attendances anticipated to return to 100% of 2019 levels, which makes this a timely opportunity.”
 
Electric Group confirms October opening for £1.75m Newcastle music venue: Independent music venue operator Electric Group has confirmed its new music venue in Newcastle will open in October. The group secured the site, the former O2 Academy in Westgate Road, in September last year with the aim of building a “state-of-the-art 21st century independent music venue”. Work has already begun on the £1.75m venture, which will be called NX Newcastle, to refurbish a site that originally opened as a cinema in 1927. Electric Group co-founder and chief executive Dominic Madden said: “We’re excited to provide a 21st century venue for the city that nurtures emerging creative talent as well as forming a major stop on the international tours of today’s biggest music acts and DJs.” Electric Group head of music Mike Weller added: “We’ll be programming a series of daytime events to complement gigs, and on club nights, we’ll be open until 4am. There will be incredible music experiences for everyone to enjoy.” Once complete, the venue will accommodate 2,095 people on club nights and 1,600 during live music gigs. All staff will take part in Shout Up! training, the Newcastle City Council-backed scheme to eliminate sexual harassment from its night-time economy. Electric Group has already re-imagined the Brixton Fridge as Electric Brixton and transformed Bristol’s SWX music venue. The group is also on the hunt for further properties, with target locations including London, Brighton, Cardiff, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Southampton, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

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