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Tue 10th May 2022 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Foodservice inflation hits record 13.6% as supply issues mount: Year-on-year inflation in the foodservice sector hit 13.6% in March 2022, the latest CGA Prestige Foodservice Price Index has revealed. The figure is the highest in the history of the index and continues a surge in prices since the start of the year. It is 3.4 percentage points higher than in February, when year-on-year inflation reached double digits for the first time. By comparison, inflation in March 2021 – when the UK was still under widespread covid restrictions – was just 0.1%. Seven of the ten categories measured by the index were in double-digit inflation in March 2022—and five recorded increases of more than 20%. Prices in the oils and fats category are now more than 50% higher than a year ago, while the bread and cereal segment has increased dramatically too. These and other categories including fish have been heavily impacted by the war in Ukraine, a major supplier of commodities including oil and grain. With shortages likely to continue for some time, further volatility in prices can be expected, the index warned. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated other major inflationary pressures, including the soaring costs of energy, fuel, transportation and labour. High levels of inflation are also being seen in categories of the index including fruit, dairy and soft drinks, while chicken prices are rising sharply too. Prestige Purchasing chief executive Shaun Allen said: “The war between Russia and Ukraine looks likely to push inflation even higher in the coming months. This conflict is truly multidimensional. It’s reduced production levels of food staples such as grain and oil, it’s driven up the cost of distribution by increasing oil prices, and it’s raised the cost of energy by restricting gas supplies. Inflation may calm later in the year, but prices are unlikely to fall for the foreseeable future.”
 

Industry News:

Sponsored message – join Peach Pubs and back Hospitality Rising: Gastropub operator Peach 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. Operations director Chris Stagg said: “Hospitality changed my life completely. I moved to the south west of England after a very dull life posting letters in letter boxes in Bermondsey, this wasn’t for me! Following the move I started in nightclubs, booking DJ’s and public appearances from new bands. At the age of 23, my wife and I trained with Chef & Brewer, and I was a general manager for the next ten years. While at Hall & Woodhouse, I completed a postgraduate business diploma and an MBA. After a two-year stint at The Restaurant Group, working as deputy managing director at Brunning & Price, I joined Peach Pubs as operations director and invested partner. Now we have a £35m turnover, 700 team members and ranked as the 24th best company to work for in the UK. I’m looking forward to the next stage of my career whenever that comes! Then I will be retiring in the south of France. This was made possible from hospitality, I’ve achieved my life goals.” 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.
 
Next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book shows sector losses of £5.9bn: The next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group, shows the effects of the pandemic, with total losses of £5.9bn being reported by 352 companies. However, a further 231 sector companies are still reporting total profits of £1bn. The next edition will include 583 companies, an increase of 24 companies compared with the March edition. The 583 companies produce total turnover of £28.3bn. A total of 31 companies have also updated their accounts since the March edition. The next edition of the Blue Book will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (13 May), at midday. The Blue Book, which is updated every month, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers also receive the New Openings Database, produced in association with StarStock, and the Multi-Site Operators Database, produced in association with Virgate, which are also updated each month. Premium subscribers also now have access to the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which 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@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and 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.

Spending on both nights in and nights out declines as consumers tighten belts: Spending on both nights in and nights out declined in April compared with March as cost-of-living concerns caused consumers to tighten their belts. According to the latest data from Barclaycard, spending on takeaways and nights out was reduced as growth on fast-food and takeaways (up 77.9% in April on 2019 levels) was lower than the previous month (79.6%), as was spending in bars, pubs and clubs (up 39.2% in April on 2019 levels compared with 41.7% in March). But while inflation and rising living costs are starting to impact hospitality and other sectors, 52% of consumers said they still had the finances to be able to spend on non-essential items, while 67% said they are confident in their ability to live within their means. The proportion of Brits concerned about the impact of higher household bills on their finances remained high at 90%, while optimism about the future of the UK economy fell slightly from 27% in March to 25% in April. This comes as more than a fifth (21%) of Brits said they are making social or holiday plans for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next month, with 16% opting for a UK staycation. Almost a fifth (17%) are also spending more on special occasions like weddings and holidays this summer, to make up for lost time over the last two years. Overall, consumer card spending grew 18.1% in April compared with the same period in 2019 – the highest uplift since October 2021 – with the travel sector seeing its best month since before the pandemic. Spending on hotels, resorts and accommodation rose 16.6% compared with three years ago, the category’s highest growth since September last year.
 
UKHospitality welcomes widening of ban on exclusivity clauses: The widening of the government’s ban on exclusivity clauses – which restrict staff from working for multiple employers – to contracts where the weekly income is on or below the lower earnings limit, has been welcomed by UKHospitality. The reforms aim to ensure workers earning £123 or less a week can top up their income with extra work. It will give workers more flexibility over when and where they work to best suit their personal circumstances, including the option of working multiple short-hours contracts. It will also benefit businesses by widening the talent pool of workers to those who may have been prevented from applying for roles due to an exclusivity clause with another employer – and helps fill vacancies in key sectors such as hospitality. UKHospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said: “The hospitality sector has more than160,000 vacancies, double that of pre-pandemic levels, and recruitment is a key challenge for operators looking to rebuild and recover following the last two years. We therefore see this move as positive for both businesses and workers in the sector. To fully recover and, crucially, to play an optimal role in the national economic recovery, we need to attract and retain good people at all levels, and offering flexibility is a critical part of this.” 
 
London hotel market sees highest occupancy level since start of pandemic as corporate demand returns: London’s hotel market is continuing its recovery, will occupancy in April at its highest monthly level since the start of the covid pandemic, according to data from STR. Occupancy stood at 72.0% and while this was a month-on-month increase, it was still down roughly 11% from the pre-pandemic comparable. Average daily rate was £151.42, which was slightly lower than the previous month but up more than 6% from April 2019. Revpar stood at £108.98. London’s daily occupancy stayed above 60% during April with the exception of Easter Monday, when it was 50.2%. The highest occupancy level was reported on Tuesday, 26 April (83.7%), and overall improvement in weekday levels points to a return of corporate demand, STR said.
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a contract catering business looking after national accounts within business and industry that is looking for a business director. The business director will be responsible for around 20 national accounts with a turnover of £60m-plus. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “This role is also about generating and delivering new business. 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 the candidate come from a contract catering background.” This is a national role, so candidates can be located anywhere. The salary is up to £120,000. For more information, email Dan@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Leelex founder to launch new restaurant and bar venture: Ged Feltham, founder of bar group Leelex, is to open a new restaurant and bar venture in Beaconsfield, Propel understands. Feltham is launching Angel of Mercia, which will offer “craft food, speciality coffee and exquisite cocktails”, in the Buckinghamshire town’s Gregories Road, later this summer. It is thought Feltham is launching the venture with Thomas Coates, his co-founder in drinks business Spirit Bridge. Leelex Group used to operate the Oporto, Jakes and Neon Cactus venues in Leeds, along with The Distillery in London. Feltham was also the founder of the award-winning Portobello Road Gin.

German Doner Kebab hits 100-site mark in UK with Covent Garden launch: German Doner Kebab (GDK), owned by Hero brands, will open its 100th UK site today (Tuesday, 10 May). The company will reach the landmark with the launch of its restaurant in St Martins Lane in London’s Covent Garden. It comes as German Doner Kebab forges ahead with plans to open 78 new restaurants in the UK during 2022, building significantly on the 39 opened during 2021. Now employing more than 3,500 people in the UK, the brand boasts a development pipeline of 350 franchise units over the next seven years and, as previously reported, delivered a significant rise in UK total sales in 2021, up 75% from the previous 12 months. Based in Glasgow, the brand has grown at great pace in the UK, Sweden and Middle East and is now rapidly expanding in the USA, Canada, Saudi Arabia and across other key locations in Europe. Imran Sayeed, GDK chief executive, said: “Opening our 100th UK restaurant is a landmark moment in the GDK story but we are not stopping there. Our goal for 2022 is to almost double our UK portfolio and continue our mission to bring the GDK experience to more cities and towns throughout the UK. We are now looking forward to forging ahead with our growth strategy and developing GDK as the fast-casual brand of the future, bringing a fresh and exciting alternative to the Generation Z and millennial audience.” GDK will also press ahead with international growth in 2022. Plans are in place to open 11 new restaurants in North America and the brand is also set to open its first restaurant in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The Ajlan Bin Ajlan Group has been signed-up as the master franchisee in Saudi Arabia, with a development agreement of 100 restaurants over the next five years. Further growth is also set to be announced for Ireland and Spain in Europe.
 
Watt – one of my key learnings has been to build more things in combination with the fantastic people in our business: James Watt, co-founder and chief executive of Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog, has said this two key learnings from the past 12 months have been to “build more things in combination with fantastic people in our business”, and he should have got a mentor earlier. Over the past year, BrewDog and Watt have been accused of “toxic attitudes” towards staff. Last week, Watt announced, as part of the company’s new blueprint, he was to donate a fifth of his personal stake in the business, worth £100m, to staff to mark the firm’s 15th anniversary, and the launch of a profit-sharing scheme, allowing its 1,500 hourly-paid bar staff to share half of the earnings from each bar. Watt told Propel: “I am a first-time chief executive. Before I did this, I was working on the deck of a North Atlantic fishing boat and I moved to do this with no experience at all. So, appointing a fantastic non-executive chairman (Allan Leighton), who also acts as a mentor to me, has just been so valuable. Having someone who's restored amazing companies, large companies, worked with chief executives, someone I can kind of chat to about leadership issues has been really good. I think one of the learnings is that it would have been really useful if I had someone like that sooner. I think another learning is to do more things in combination with our team. So, all the ideas in the recently launched blueprint were work shopped and focus-grouped extensively with our teams before we launched. Before we would just fall in love with an idea and just launch it without spending enough time discussing the idea and implications for the people that it impacts most. So, through those sessions, we worked on many tweaks and changes to the ideas in the blueprint, which ultimately makes it better. One of the key things Allan's been working on, with the owners and myself, is to make sure people are fully aligned with the why behind the things that we're doing. We can then kind of take people with us in that leadership journey as opposed to maybe what I've been guilty of in the past as a leader is not taking them with me through the storytelling and why it's important.”
 
Immersive social experience concept Sandbox VR set for London launch: Immersive social experience concept Sandbox VR is set to make its debut in the UK, in London, at the end of July. The site in central London, which is under construction, will be the first Sandbox VR venue in Europe and feature the first “permanent robotic bartender” in the UK. Since it was launched in Hong Kong in 2017, the concept is now live in 19 locations and five countries around the world. It aims to be an immersive social experience through a combination of full-body motion capture and VR technologies. It allows players to step into another world and go anywhere with their friends. Founded by Steve Zhao, the San Francisco and Hong Kong-headquartered company raised $37m in a Series B fundraising round last autumn to aid its further expansion. It will open in the UK under a franchise deal with the Andy Scanlon-led VR Entertainment Group, which is looking to launch Sandbox VR in the capital and then roll it out to other major UK cities. 
 
Team behind Applebee’s Fish in Borough Market to launch new seafood tapas restaurant: The team behind Applebee’s Fish in London’s Borough Market is to open a new 160-cover seafood tapas in the capital. Propel understands the Applebee family, which runs the eponymous fish restaurant in the heart of Borough Market, plans to open the new site called La Gamba this autumn. The South Bank-based site will be designed specifically for the riverside location and “sustainable, high-quality and competitively priced to be inclusive of those from all walks of life”. Applebee’s Fish is run by brothers Jack, Harry and Matt. It has been around since 1998, when their parents, Joy and Graham Applebee, started a fish stall in Borough Market.
 
Rekom UK appoints Kevin Norman as head of acquisitions: Rekom UK, the Peter Marks-led nightclub operator, has appointed Kevin Norman, formerly of Novus, Revolution Bars Group and JD Wetherspoon, as its new head of acquisitions. Over the past year, Norman has been group acquisitions manager at the Tahir Group, which operates with more than 30 stores across London, trading as KFC, Starbucks and German Doner Kebab. He was previously head of acquisitions at Novus and Revolution, and spent almost four years as senior acquisitions surveyor at Wetherspoon. Later this month, Rekom will open the first English site for its Scandinavian ski bar concept, Heidi’s Bier Bar. The first British Heidi’s Bier Bar – a concept that first launched in Copenhagen in 2004 and now boasts 20 venues across Norway, Denmark and Finland – opened in Cardiff, in March. The Birmingham venue, located in Broad Street, will be its biggest yet, with a 1,100 capacity, and will operate over two floors. Rekom has spent £1.5m transforming the former Bierkeller site into an alpine getaway, which will create an authentic après ski atmosphere through specially curated soundtracks, live music, a karaoke stage, DJ booth and themed events.
 
Five Guys adds Windsor and Sheffield sites to 2022 openings pipeline: Better burger brand Five Guys has added a further two sites to its openings pipeline in the UK for this year. The circa 140-strong brand has lined up openings in Sheffield and Windsor. The former, at the Moor scheme, will become the brand’s third site in Sheffield. The company, which recently opened in Newport Road, Cardiff, and in Manchester Piccadilly, will also open a site on the French Connection unit in Windsor’s Royal Station Shopping Centre. The company also plans to open on the former Frankie & Benny's site at Preston’s Deepdale Retail Park. It has also secured the ex-Villagio site at Festival Leisure Park, Basildon, and plans to open on the former Close & Hamblin store in Tunbridge Wells. In March, Propel revealed Five Guys had secured a further flagship site in the capital in Marylebone, with the former Pelican State site in Wigmore Street. The business also has openings lined up for this year in Cheshunt, Staines, Tamworth, and Scotch Corner Designer Village, off the A1 near Richmond. 
 
Fuller’s makes two promotions to divisional director, including first director of sustainability: London-based pub operator Fuller’s has made two promotions to divisional director, including Oliver Rosevear becoming the company’s first director of sustainability, Propel has learned. Rosevear, who was previously head of environment and sustainability lead UK & Ireland at Costa, joined Fuller’s last year as its first head of sustainability. Meanwhile, Iain Rippon has been promoted to tenanted director. Rippon joined Fuller’s in the summer of 2019 as head of operations – tenanted, after running tenanted and leased pubs at Punch, including as operations director for its south east division. Fuller’s chief executive Simon Emeny said: “These are well-deserved promotions for two of our senior team who have made great contributions since joining in 2019 and 2021 respectively. In both cases, it reinforces our commitment to these important parts of our business and I am delighted to be recognising Iain and Ollie’s success with these promotions.”
 
Taco Bell offers free tacos for a week in ‘lunchtime swap’ campaign: Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell is offering free lunchtime tacos at its 95 UK restaurants from noon-2pm until Sunday (15 May). Customers can claim a free seasoned beef or black bean crunchy taco worth £1.29. No purchase is necessary, and the offer – available for dine in or take out but excluding click and collect and delivery – will run while stocks last. The Taco Swap campaign “seeks to awaken the nation to more exciting lunchtime meals”, Taco Bell said. “Following the success of our first global marketing campaign last May, we’re excited to build on this momentum with the hope of giving consumers another reason to consider Taco Bell as their mealtime go-to,” said Gino Casciani, general manager for Taco Bell UK & Europe.“ In true Taco Bell fashion, our hope is taco swap brings our customers in for a crunchy, craveable taco when they’re looking to break free from the everyday.”
 
German bratwurst brand Extrawurst set to open second UK site: Extrawurst, the German bratwurst brand that set up a master franchise agreement in the UK in 2021, is set to double its presence with the opening of second site. Following on from its debut site, which opened in Dudley’s Merry Hill Shopping Centre restaurant at the end of last year, its next opening will be in Birmingham’s New Street on Thursday, 19 May. The restaurant, which will have a small seating area, will be supported by a delivery kitchen in the city that offers bratwurst delivered via Deliveroo and Just Eat. Sam Shutt, chief executive of Extrawurst UK, said: “We are excited to introduce Extrawurst to the hub of Birmingham city centre and hope it will become a firm favourite.” The Extrawurst menu allows customers to build a meal by choosing a main (bratwurst, schnitzel, frikadelle), side (fries, rosemary potatoes, grilled mushrooms, glazed onions), a signature sauce (curry, mushroom, sweet pepper) plus toppings and spices. Founded in 1981 by Lothar Hagebaum and now run by his son, Kim Hagebaum, Extrawurst has several overseas master franchisor agreements. Shutt was appointed chief executive of the UK business in 2021, with a view to growth through a franchise model from spring 2022 onwards.
 
Generator appoints Dan Merchant as chief people officer: Boutique accommodation provider Generator has appointed Dan Merchant as chief people officer, where he will promote the company’s core values and enhance employee engagement. Previously the company’s vice-president HR, he will oversee the company’s recruitment and hiring activities, with the aim of attracting and retaining top talent. He will also champion Generator & Freeland Hotels’ diversity, health and wellness and talent capability growth programmes, and provide leadership, mentorship and strategic direction. He said: “It is so gratifying to be in a position to architect what our future HR function looks like, in order to grow the talent capability of our employees.” Alastair Thomann, chief executive at Generator, added: “Dan brings hands-on experience working alongside Generator’s executive leadership team as the company has navigated significant growth while delivering a strong return to our investors – creating a strong company culture in addition to steering its journey through the pandemic. In his new senior-level position, Dan brings a wealth of experience combined with strong mentorship and management skills to lead our company’s people team, as we continue to invest in the growth and development of our workforce.”
 
Fridays launches bottomless brunch: Fridays, part of Hostmore, has introduced bottomless brunch. Guests can enjoy unlimited prosecco, Fridays American Pilsner, orange juice or a CleanCo G&T – less than 0.5% ABV – for £29.95 per person, alongside sharing platters such as the Queens Sharer, which features salmon tacos, mac ‘n’ cheese bites and a sharing portion of boneless hot wings. A selection of cocktails can be added for £5 extra per person. In Scotland, due to licensing laws, drinks are limited to four per person. Slots last for 90 minutes and are available all-day Monday to Thursday, and 11.30am-3:30pm Friday to Sunday. Robert B Cook, Fridays chief executive, said: “We are thrilled to bring bottomless brunch to our guests, adding another contemporary aspect to our lively restaurants. Bottomless brunches epitomise that ‘Fridays Feeling’.”
 
UberEats expands grocery offering with One Stop partnership: UberEats has partnered with convenience retailer, One Stop, in the latest step in expanding its grocery and convenience expansion on the platform. The partnership has already seen more than 100 One Stop stores launch on the app over the last month, with a further 400 stores to be added by the end of the year. Alex Troughton, head of new verticals and grocery at UberEats UK, said: “We’re excited to offer our customers an even wider variety of grocery and convenience goods seven days a week.” Jonny McQuarrie, managing director at One Stop, added: “We are committed to making it as easy as possible for our customers to shop with us. We look forward to offering the UberEats service to both our existing loyal customers and new customers across the country.”
 
Digital workforce management platform Sona appoints vice-president of customer success: Digital workforce management platform Sona has appointed Paul Watson to the newly created position of vice-president of customer success. Watson joins after 16 years at Fourth, where he was most recently global director for strategic initiatives and part of the senior leadership team. He was instrumental in Fourth’s growth and product expansion, leading the launches of its pension module, the Fourth app and Fourth Engage. The appointment is a key part of Sona’s growth plan following the completion of a $7m funding round led by Google’s Gradient Ventures. As well as building and leading the customer success team, Watson will be instrumental in growing Sona’s customer base and partner ecosystem in the hospitality sector. Sona co-founder Steffen Wulff Petersen said: “We already knew Paul could bring a wealth of experience in hospitality, technology and people operations with him, but it was immediately clear he shares our mission of providing hospitality staff with truly empowering technology.” 
 
Hertfordshire-based operator takes on second site: Hertfordshire-based operator Scott McGarvie, who owns Anchor Taverns, has doubled his portfolio with a second site. McGarvie, who already runs the Anchor Tap & Bottle taproom in Croxley Green, has taken on The Old Shepherd in Chorleywood – which he has renovated with owner Red Oak Taverns. The beer garden has benefited from a revamped patio and decking area, while a refurbished bar includes a range of cask ale alongside draught and bottled craft beer and lager. A new food menu includes bar snacks and sandwiches together with European and British small and large plates with a contemporary twist, such as cider steamed mussels, baked Cornish camembert, onglet steak and celeriac katsu. McGarvie said: “Red Oak believed the pub had great potential with the right operator and wanted to invest in the business.  We worked together to upgrade the pub, and they were open to my ideas for how to improve the business and update the look and feel. Being local to the area, I knew the Old Shepherd well and could picture what it could offer as a village pub.” Jonathan Seaton-Reid, business development manager for Red Oak Taverns, added: “Scott already operates a successful independent craft beer tap room, and his fresh ideas on creating a traditional pub with a contemporary twist were exactly what was needed for the Old Shepherd. The new-look food and drink offering will be great for locals and visitors to the area.” Founded in 2011 by Aaron Brown and Mark Grunnell, Red Oak Taverns operates more than 200 pubs across England on a tied or free of tie basis and is planning on investing across its estate in 2022.
 
Asahi aims for 20% alcohol-free portfolio by 2030: Asahi Europe & International (AEI) is strengthening its non-alcohol category in order to achieve a 20% alcohol-free portfolio by 2030. The new Peroni Nastro Azzurro 0.0% has launched as part of AEI’s Super Premium portfolio, as it looks to have one-in-five non-alcoholic products in the next eight years. The company say its innovation in the field is driven by the changing tastes and drinking habits of the UK population, particularly among the younger generations, towards reduced alcohol consumption. It will follow Peroni Nastro Azzurro with other offerings that “cater to an alcohol-free lifestyle without a compromise on taste”. Grant McKenzie, chief marketing officer AEI, said: “Our goal to have 20% share of non-alcoholic products in our portfolio by 2030 aligns with our purpose of creating meaningful connections. We are continuously innovating to offer better non-alcoholic products that both taste and look great. This is what is expected today – absolute pleasure without compromise.” AEI will also be adding responsible drinking labels on all its products by 2030 and setting up a website that helps people make more informed choices about alcohol consumption.
 
Freehold investment in Reading-based property let to Stonegate sells for more than £4.5m: The freehold investment in 7-9 Friar Street, Reading, which is let to Stonegate Group, has sold for more than £4.5m to a private investor, Propel has learned. The site, which is let to Stonegate for a further eight years, previously operated under the Simon Longbotton-led company’s Yates brand, but is set to reopen later this month as a Slug & Lettuce. The price of £4.55m reflected a net initial yield of 4.33%. Jack Silvani, director at Coffer Corporate Leisure, who acted on behalf of the vendor, a private client, said "We are continuing to observe further yield compression in the pub investment market. This pricing adjustment was observed initially in central London but has subsequently spread across the UK. We believe the robust health of the pub sector, coupled with a shortage of quality investment stock generally is driving pricing." Savills acted on behalf of the purchaser.
 
Michelin starred Richard Galli partners with London Cabaret Club for West End show-inspired menus: Chef Richard Galli, who held The Goring’s Michelin star for five years until leaving earlier this year, has partnered with the London Carabet Club for a new menu collaboration. Galli first joined The London Cabaret Club – which features West End stars along with their costumes and choreography – as a guest chef to create a quintessentially British menu for its Best of British Pop show in March 2022. He is now officially part of the team and has designed seasonal set menus that source high quality ingredients and incorporate flavours reflecting the themes of the various shows. He said: “I am honoured and thrilled to be leading the kitchen at such an established venue in the City and look forward to sharing my knowledge and passion for fine dining and entertainment at such a unique location.” Having moved to London from Brazil in 2004, Galli worked at Conran Group’s Zinc, The Wolseley and St Alban before becoming head chef at Morton’s Club in Mayfair. He was then part of the opening team for the Beluga Restaurant in Dubai before returning to Mayfair to work with Yu Sugimoto at The Square. Galli was then appointed head chef at The Goring in 2017 before being promoted to executive chef in 2019, and in 2020, he partnered with Calum Best at Poké the Bear. His offer will include Sevruga caviar, black truffle, yellow tomato gazpacho and rack of salt marsh lamb, with vegetarian and vegan menus also available.
 
Lore Group confirms May opening for One Hundred Shoreditch’s rooftop bar and terrace: Lore Group has confirmed the rooftop bar and terrace at its new One Hundred Shoreditch hotel will open on Thursday, 19 May. Offering panoramic views across East London alongside Champagne and cocktails, it will open Monday to Saturday from 4pm until late. The food menu will include cured salmon tostadas with yuzu and jalapeno avocado; grilled king prawns with mango, tomato and chilli salsa; and barbecue beef rib taco with chilli and lime yogurt. It follows the opening of two other food and beverage outlets at the venue in March. Bar entrepreneur Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan, opened cocktail bar Seed Library, while Goddards & Gibbs, a seafood-focused restaurant and wine bar which also features a takeaway hatch”, launched too.
 
West Yorkshire £3.5m project underway to create ‘one of Europe’s biggest indoor children’s play centres’: A £3.5m project is underway in West Yorkshire to create “one of Europe’s biggest indoor children's play centres”. The Playhive at Stockeld Park is set to open in July. Set in the 2,000-acre Stockeld Estate near Wetherby, the Playhive features a series of interconnected adventure zones set within a circular building, with a 33-foot tower at its centre. It will include spaces centred on themes including space, the jungle, the ocean, and the air. The Playhive is the brainchild of Peter and Susie Grant, who own and run Stockeld Park. Peter said: “We have sought to engage children in imaginative themed play in magical surroundings. Up until now, our attraction has been outside in our beautiful woodlands and fields, but we wanted to ensure that children could play even on rainy days. So, we set out to create something like our Enchanted Forest, which is outside, inside.” Stockeld Park is already home to the Enchanted Forest, which contains numerous themed play areas, including the Teepee Encampment, Tangle Tree Climb, Woodsands Cove and the Spider's Lair. It also features a yew tree maze, as well as go-karts, roller skating and ice skating in the winter.
 
Plymouth site encompassing Walkabout bar, Marston’s pub and Grosvenor Casino sells for £4.65m: A commercial building in Plymouth city centre which houses the Grosvenor Casino, Walkabout bar and a Marston’s pub has sold for £4.65m. Asset management firm Addington Capital said an unnamed private investor had purchased Drake House at Derry’s Cross for the asking price, reflecting a net initial yield of 9.36% and a capital rate of £137 per square foot. The three-storey, 33,887 square-foot venue was also formerly the home of Chinese buffet restaurant Sizz All before it shut in December 2021. Built in 2002, Drake House is situated in Plymouth’s prime leisure and retail district. Matthew Allen, principal of Addington Capital said: “We have actively asset managed Drake House since we acquired it in joint venture in February 2016, and we are now at the end of the planned investment cycle. We’ve attracted some well-known household names as tenants and are delighted to receive the full asking price for this property.” Allsop and C&W advised jointly for the vendor.
 
Merlin Entertainments gets green light for Warwick Castle hotel and restaurant plans: Merlin Entertainments has had plans to build a 60-bedroom hotel and extend the restaurant at the site of Warwick Castle approved. The hotel will be built on the site of the venue’s Stratford Road car park, but several accessible parking spaces and electric vehicle charging points will be built closer to the castle. The Knight’s Village restaurant, which will be connected to the hotel via an elevated walkway, will also be extended to provide additional covers and decked terraces for outdoor dining. Work on the hotel is expected to start this year and be completed by the end of 2023. 
 
Wimpy closes Maldon restaurant after franchisee departs but looks for new location: Wimpy has closed its restaurant in Maldon – but confirmed it's on the hunt for a new location in the Essex town. The High Street venue was run by the Tuncer family, who has been at the helm for more than two decades. A spokesman for Wimpy told Essex Live: “We were sorry to say farewell to the Tuncer family, who have been franchisees at the helm of Wimpy Maldon for in excess of 20 years, and we wish them well for the future. We know we have many Wimpy fans in Maldon and we would like to reassure them we are actively looking for a new location to make sure they don’t have too long to wait before they can enjoy their favourite burgers once again.” The Maldon restaurant opened in 1999. Wimpy, which is owned by South Africa-based Famous Brands, has 66 restaurants in the UK.
 
Bristol-based sourdough pizza brand set for third restaurant: Bristol-based sourdough pizza brand Pizzarova is set to open a third restaurant in the city. Pizzarova began life in 2013, operating out the back of a Land Rover fitted with a pizza oven, serving pizzas at festivals and in villages. Since then, founder Alex Corbett has opened permanent bases on Park Street and Gloucester Road, as well as a pop-up at Wapping Wharf. Now the company is growing its reach to the south of the city, with its third bricks-and-mortar premises opening in 237 North Street, Southville, in June. The brand prides itself on using slowly fermenting sourdough, with dishes including double chorizo and hot honey and a vegan njuda. The company posted on Instagram: “We can’t wait for our next adventure south of the river. We’ve dipped our toes in at Wapping Wharf and are ready for the plunge – not in the Avon of course. We will be opening this June supplying you with handmade sourdough pizzas made with the best locally sourced ingredients.”

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