Propel Morning Briefing Mast Head CPL Learning Link Paul's Twitter Link Greene King Banner
Morning Briefing Strap Line
Thu 19th May 2022 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Andrea – Two for One has been our worst performing format coming out the pandemic: Andrew Andrea, chief executive of Marston’s, has told Propel the company’s 76-strong Two for One value food pub format has been the company’s worst performer coming out of the pandemic. Marston’s announced on Wednesday (18 May) it was transitioning away from the value food segment – Two for One brand – by the end of September. It reiterated that it was focused on three segments – Community, Revere and Signature, and the conversion of its estate to these categories over the next four years. Andrea said: “Two for One has been our worst performing format coming out of the pandemic and continues to be so, lagging by around 10% like-for-like. Oddly, given it was our deepest value proposition we have the most complaints on price and the two for one format. What we trialled was half a dozen pubs, three where we did some capex and three where we removed the Two for One signage and put a single-price point menu in – with the same dishes. Spend per head went up and customer satisfaction went up. In one pub I went to, a customer told me ‘I came here because it is no longer called Two for One’. So, something that served us really well in the past, and required big volumes to make money, now seems to be delivering a better proposition. In essence we pulled the Two for One signage off, which is getting replaced with Great Local pubs signage, and moved to a single price point menu. On top of the positive customer feedback, team members have also been positive, the chefs like it because they don’t have to deliver as many covers to deliver the same level of profitability. So, we have got team engagement and customer engagement.” In terms of prices across the business, Andrea said they had gone up on average by 8% alongside the reintroduction of the 20% rate of VAT, but he had not seen any examples of people trading down yet. He said: “I’m seeing nothing saying people want to socialise less. You might have thought people would trade down, but people are still buying the same product.”

Industry News:

Sponsored message – join Buzzworks Holdings and support Hospitality Rising: Scottish independent restaurant and bar operator Buzzworks Holdings is supporting 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. Kenny Blair, managing director of Buzzworks Holdings, said: “At a time like no other I have experienced in three decades in hospitality, now is the time for all self-respecting hospitality businesses to come together in a moment of selfless collaboration. This is not the time to look over your shoulder to see what everyone else is doing. We must look forward as one and shine a bright and positive light on what makes this such a great industry that gives so many people a start in life and where they can literally go anywhere. For less than the cost of a recruitment fee in most businesses, we are all being given the opportunity to help make a real difference and protect the future of the industry. Put aside all the excuses why investing in Hospitality Rising is ‘not for you’ and invest £10 for every person you have in your business into the biggest recruitment campaign that hospitality has seen.” 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
Multi-brand operators among those added to second UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, released on Friday: Two multi-brand operators are among the 20 new franchisors expanding in the UK and abroad featured in the second UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (20 May), at midday. The second edition will feature 120 companies and almost 47,000 words of content, providing insight on the offer, locations, cost and other key details. Among them is Peckwater Brands, which currently has a mix of owned and licensed brands spanning several categories, including Seoul Chikin, Flip the Bird, Wham Bam Wings, Ktsu, Nom Nyam, Cluck & Run, Locked ’n Loaded, Papi Taco, Fiesta Mexico and Rebel Rito. Also featured is Black & White Hospitality, which own the franchise rights to eight Marco Pierre White brands: Wheeler’s of St James’s, Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill, Koffmann and Mr White’s, Mr White’s English Chophouse, Marco’s New York Italian, Bardolino, Wheeler’s Fish & Chips and Marconi. Premium subscribers also receive access to The New Openings Database, the Propel Multi-Site Database and the Turnover & Profits Blue Book. 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.
Industry leaders call on government to cut VAT to help curb inflation: JD Wetherspoon founder and chairman Tim Martin and Neil Manhas, managing director at Pizza Hut UK and Ireland, are among industry leaders who have called on the government to cut VAT to help curb inflation. Inflation hit a 40-year high of 9% last month, driven by the jump in electricity and gas prices as the higher energy price cap came into effect. Martin said: “The government’s decision to return VAT to 20% in April has affected the entire hospitality industry and is a contributory factor in the rise in inflation. It does not make economic sense that food bought in pubs, restaurants and cafes attracts VAT of 20%, when food is VAT-free in supermarkets. The argument is even more valid now as the increase in VAT from 12.5% back to 20% in April has been one of the factors in the increased rate of inflation.” Greater Manchester’s night-time economy advisor Sacha Lord added: "The economic impacts of the past 24 months, from Brexit, the covid pandemic and the terrible atrocities in Ukraine, have not only exacerbated weaknesses, but have put the true instability of our economy on stark display. Businesses across the board are struggling and I know many who are making tough decisions on how and whether to survive. Some in hospitality are seeing energy bills rise to six, seven and eight thousand pounds per month, and this level of payout for businesses recovering post-pandemic, is simply unsustainable. I echo others in industry in calling on the government to implement a temporary reduction in VAT on business energy bills from 20% to 5%.” Manhas said: “These inflation figures call for more detail on how the government plans to tackle inflation and ease economic pressures on the hospitality industry, as we await a likely double-digit inflationary pressure across most aspects of our supply chain. As a global business, we can withstand the challenge ahead, however, small and independent businesses will struggle if support isn’t provided today. The key to resolving our economic difficulties is achieving nationwide growth, and hospitality is instrumental to this.”

Impossible Foods launches in UK: California-based Impossible Foods, the fastest-growing plant-based meat brand in the US, is making its UK debut. Impossible products will be available in thousands of restaurants and foodservice establishments in the UK within a year, starting with more than 300 this month. From today (Thursday, 19 May) Impossible “chicken” nuggets and sausage patties will be available at various restaurants, including more than 250 Hungry Horse pubs owned by brewer and retailer Greene King, halal fast food company Chicken Cottage, plant-based burger concept Halo Burger, modern kebab concept Le Bab, Scott Collins-led concept MeatLiquor and better burger concept Patty & Bun. “At Hungry Horse, we’re big on getting together, and our customers come to us for the generous and unique food creations in a ‘home away from home’ environment,” said Robert Calderbank, business unit director for Hungry Horse. “We’re excited to bring the Impossible ‘chicken’ nuggets to our pubs and really believe these will deliver on that promise, tantalising the taste buds of our customers across the country.” Chicken is the most commonly consumed meat per capita in the UK, with three-quarters of UK consumers reporting they eat animal-based chicken on a weekly basis, and almost 90% saying they eat it on a monthly basis, according to an Impossible Foods study. Peter McGuinness, chief executive of Impossible Foods, said: “The UK has a unique and unrivalled chicken shop culture that we’re confident our nuggets will compete in because they’re better tasting, better for you, and better for the planet. This is our fourth new market launch in nine months, and the international debut of Impossible ‘chicken’ nuggets and sausage patties.”
Watson – we are taking a lot of costs on the chin, the government has to address the crisis in consumer confidence: Clive Watson, chairman of City Pub Group, has said the company is taking a lot of cost increases “on the chin”, and called on the government to address the crisis in consumer confidence. Speaking to Radio 4’s Today Programme, Watson said: “Electricity costs have more than doubled, food is probably up about 15% and labour costs are up about 7%-8%. We’re trying not to put prices up because we’ve got to encourage customers to come back after the pandemic. We are having to take a lot of these costs on the chin, which affects our bottom line. Now you have to put calories on menus that might steer customers to lighter options, which cost less, but we're not doing any shrinkage of portions. We are seeing about 20% of people going for lighter options. Pork is cheaper than chicken at the moment, so you can put on more pork dishes but let's be honest, this is just tinkering at the edges. This doesn't disguise the fact that food costs are going up by 15%. We're in a strong position because we’ve got no debt. It just means going forward we're going to make less money than we anticipated.” Watson said the government was “very supportive” of the hospitality industry during the pandemic, but his main concern is the support to the consumer. He said: “There’s fuel poverty out there, there's food poverty, as a result of these big inflationary increases. And so, the government needs to understand it’s going to have to make changes whether it's a windfall tax or reducing VAT, increasing benefits or reducing the tax at the lower end of the scale – it has to do something. And if there's fuel and food poverty, people won't be able to afford to go out, not just to pubs and restaurants, but to go out and spend their money. There's a crisis in consumer confidence and the government has to address that.”

Pubs and brewers gear up for bumper bank holiday weekend with £105m trade boost expected: Pubs and brewers are gearing up for the extra-long Platinum Jubilee bank holiday weekend, with an estimated 90 million pints expected to be sold resulting in a £105m boost for the trade. With opening hours extended until 1am across the Jubilee weekend and an extra day off on top of the regular end of May bank holiday, pubs are hoping for record bank holiday sales, which will see a £29m pay back into the economy in duty and VAT, according to the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA). In addition to extended opening hours, several other initiatives are expected to boost sales and get people to their local to celebrate, with many brewers creating special celebratory beers to mark the occasion. To extend the jubilation even further, the BBPA has joined with other trade organisations, and the Together Coalition, to call for the extended bank holiday to be made permanent and turned into a “Thank Holiday”, to recognise the queen’s extraordinary service year on year. BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “The Platinum Jubilee weekend is set to be a joyous occasion for the whole country, and pubs are looking forward to leading celebrations in their communities across the country. Pubs have always been a place for people to come together and it’s at special times like this that really shines through.”
Sunak vows to cut business taxes: Chancellor Rishi Sunak has vowed to cut taxes for businesses later this year as surging inflation threatens to plunge the UK into recession. Speaking at the annual dinner for the Confederation of British Industry on Wednesday night (18 May), Sunak reassured firms that “we are on your side” and called on them to help increase productivity and enterprise. He said: “We need you to invest more, train more, and innovate more. In the autumn Budget we will cut your taxes to encourage you to do all those things. That is the path to higher productivity, higher living standards, and a more prosperous and secure future.” The chancellor said the government will act to tackle inflation as well as support people into better paid jobs, setting out a three-point plan on the cost of living, boosting growth and investment. Options under consideration include a 1p income tax cut from the autumn or a potential VAT cut. 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a growing premium casual restaurant group that is seeking an operations director. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The business has a great support function team that need challenging and help to think outside the box while protecting the excellent culture it has built. Your experience will include new openings, the ability to understand the business from a commercial sense and to direct the business, offering a strategic approach but also be comfortable with reporting to the board. A hands-on senior level restaurant operations manager would be ideal. You will understand how restaurants work from the ground up, be able to implement procedures and processes and also enjoy working in a fast-paced lifestyle.” The salary is up to £120,000. For more information, email
Licensing update: Licensing solicitor John Gaunt & Partners has published its latest licensing update providing a useful monthly summary of licensing news, which can be accessed here.

Company News:

Phil Urban – M&B focusing on the things it can control such as building volume and market share, sector customer base still has a way to go before it recovers: Phil Urban, chief executive of Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), has told Propel the business is focusing on the things it can control – such as building volume and market share – and believes the sector’s customer base still has a way to go to get back to pre-pandemic levels. Despite rising costs, which M&B forecasts this year will be up about 11.5% on 2019 levels, Urban said the business would not be raising prices “above what it normally does when launching new menus” as he believed such short-term decisions would have a long-term impact. Speaking following the company’s interim results, Urban said: “There’s still a lot of our previous customer base to come back, particularly among the older generation. It’s gradually coming back – day by day it appears to be getting better and city centres are getting stronger. But we’re not blind and there’s going to be some impact from the cost-of-living crisis. But I do believe that a lot of these rising costs are temporary. I’m not saying gas and electric prices for example are going to return to exactly their previous levels, but costs will start to come down. Therefore, we want to avoid making any short-term decisions that could have a major impact. We put up prices last month by 3% when we launched new menus – and that’s something we would do anyway. Discounting is an option to drive footfall, but we won’t use them for the sake of it. All the promotions we now do generate a profit so we’re very careful about how we use that lever. If you do it all the time, then it becomes like wallpaper – and we don’t want that happening. We can’t control the macro-economic factors so we’re focusing on the things we can control and that’s building volume and market share. The work we have done with Ignite over the past couple of years has really helped when it comes to controlling costs, but we will need to work a bit harder in the current climate.” Urban also believes there is further room for growth in delivery and takeaway, where sales are estimated to rise to about £45m this year. “If you look at our highest-performing sites in that area and the lowest-performing ones, there is quite a gulf,” he said. “A lot of that seems to be down to whether the staff are on board with the idea, so we’re doing work around that, which we believe in turn will have a positive impact on the performance of those sites at the lower end. We’re also looking at doing our own delivery.” Urban said the business was continuing to invest in its Premium estate, including “Project Mandarin” at its Premium Country Dining sites. He said the refurbishments were “raising the bar that little bit higher” and were leading to customers spending longer and more in the venues. Part of the project includes introducing Browns into more suburban areas, which, as previously reported by Propel, will start this summer, with the conversion of the Vintage Inns site in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. Urban said staffing continues to remain a challenge, especially on the south coast and cities such as Oxford, but the business currently has a full complement of staff. Looking ahead, Urban said: “I’m optimistic. Our balance sheet and estate has never been stronger and while inflation will be a big challenge, we’re in great shape to deal with that.”
Red Lion Holdings completes buyout of Red Mist Leisure: Red Lion Holdings (RLH), the pub investment group led by sector entrepreneurs Jason Myers and David Ramsey, has acquired the remaining shares in Red Mist Holdings (RMH) the parent company of Red Mist Leisure, Propel has learned. Propel revealed in January last year that RLH had acquired a majority stake in RMH from the original founders led by Mark Robson and Mark Williams, who started the business in 2004. RLH has recently acquired the remaining shares held by the four founders (Robson, Williams, Julian Clarke and Julie Phipps) facilitating their exit from the business. Red Mist was founded in 2004 by long-time friends Robson, Williams and Clarke, and grew to operate ten pubs across Surrey and Hampshire, before its acquisition by RLH. It added a further site – The Parrot, near Shalford, Surrey – last spring. Last May, Robson was appointed group chief operating officer of RLH, with responsibility for the day-to-day running of RLH operations and to oversee the senior teams in both Red Mist Leisure and the company’s other acquisition Grosvenor Pubs. The business will now be overseen by Drew Brown, who has been promoted from managing director of Grosvenor Pubs to group managing director, and Simon Herbert, group finance director, who report into the RLH board. Myers said: “We are pleased to purchase the remaining shares of RML from the outgoing Red Mist board, and take full control of the portfolio, it has allowed us to complete phase one of our strategy, and RLH has very much benefited from this acquisition in 2021, and will continue to as we execute phase two of the plan. We look forward to investing in the excellent potential of these assets over the coming months as RLH continues to acquire and develop excellent premium freehold pubs and inns in the south of England. With a growing pipeline and more acquisitions coming on board, it is an exciting time.” Robson said: “We are pleased RLH continues to see the potential growth and development of this fabulous portfolio of pubs. We look forward to seeing them continue to develop and flourish.”
Young’s promotes Mark Loughborough to new retail director role: London pub retailer Young’s has promoted Mark Loughborough to the newly created role of retail director. Loughborough will join the board on Friday, 30 September, reporting to Simon Dodd, who will take over as chief executive from Patrick Dardis at the company’s annual general meeting in July. Loughborough has a wealth of experience, having spent 11 years with Young’s in a number of senior roles, and is currently the company’s senior director of operations. Prior to joining Young’s, he held various operational roles within PizzaExpress and Tragus. Dardis said: “I am delighted we have continued to deliver on the development of our current workforce and this promotion underlines our commitment to our ongoing succession plan that looks to develop and promote from within. I am confident the extensive experience, knowledge and relevant skills that Mark has built up over his career will make a significant and positive contribution to Young’s future success.”
Bannatyne Group in ‘strong position’ to recover as losses narrow: Losses have narrowed at the Bannatyne Group, led by Duncan Bannatyne, with plans for memberships to return to pre-covid levels by summer. The company operates 71 health clubs and four hotels across the UK and employs more than 2,000 staff. In its accounts for the year ending 31 December 2021, turnover increased to £75.5m from £59.9m in the year before. Losses before tax also narrowed to £12.9m from £23m. The results were impacted by a full lockdown that was imposed by the government on 6 January 2021, meaning all English health clubs were closed until 12 April 2021. Scottish, Northern Ireland and Welsh health clubs reopened between 26 April and 3 May 2021. Since its reopening, the company said it has been “rebuilding the membership base each month” and the directors are “pleased” with the growth so far. It added: “The company remains in a strong position to recover from the effects of the pandemic and return to a profitable position.” In March, operations director Karen Wilkinson told Insider Media the group is now focused on recovery following a challenging two years, and hailed the group's “phenomenal” start to 2022. In February, the company also opened an express spa at Teesside International airport following a £100,000 investment.
German Doner Kebab makes two new appointments to help support growth ambitions: German Doner Kebab (GDK), owned by Hero brands, has made two new appointments to its operations team to support the brand’s ambitious growth plans. Nick Scovell has been appointed director of operations, taking over from Michael Biggins, who begins a new role as director of strategic initiatives. Scovell joins from natural fast food brand Leon, where he was head of franchise, leading growth strategy and scale planning for UK and International openings. This followed spells working with Giraffe Restaurants and Pizza Hut. Biggins’ new role will see him develop UK business and brand support, working closely with UK managing director Sofia Dimen on strategic initiatives. He has also previously worked for McDonald’s, Metromedia Restaurant Group (Bennigan’s and Ponderosa) and International House of Pancakes. Imran Sayeed, chief executive of GDK International, said: “Nick is a strategic thinker and has an abundance of experience that will help him excel as director of operations. Likewise, Michael has a wealth of wisdom and knowledge that he can bring to his new role and aid our growth ambitions. They both will be instrumental in scaling our offering and will further reinforce GDK as a game-changing brand of the future.” The appointments follow those of Mark Treptow as franchise director for the US and Canada in April, plus Daniel Bunce as global chief operating officer and Dimen as UK managing director in March. The brand, which now has more than 130 restaurants worldwide, said in February it plans to open 78 new restaurants this year to take its UK estate alone to 170, and has a worldwide development pipeline of 350 franchise units over the next seven years. Earlier this month, GDK opened its 100th UK restaurant, in London’s Covent Garden.
US-based seafood concept Saltie Girl to make UK debut: US-based seafood restaurant concept Saltie Girl is to make its UK debut, with an opening in London’s Mayfair. Saltie Girl, which specialises in lobsters, oysters, caviar, and premium tinned seafood, will open on the former Prezzo site at 15 North Audley Street. The concept is part of the Met Restaurant Group, which is led by Kathy Sidell and owns and operates five restaurants in and around Boston, including the original Saltie Girl site. Propel understands the UK launch will be a joint venture with the Waney family, which is behind Greek restaurant Meraki in Great Titchfield Street, Fitzrovia. David Rawlinson, of Restaurant Property, is believed to have acted for Saltie Girl on the deal. 

Caffe Nero signs partnership with Just Eat to expand delivery offer: Caffe Nero, the Gerry Ford-led coffee chain, has signed a partnership with Just Eat, which will see its menu become available for delivery on the platform from more than 400 UK stores by the end of May. Caffe Nero first launched a delivery option to customers in April 2020 and its popularity has grown significantly since. Sales from delivery for the first half of the financial year (June-December 2021) were up 81% year compared with the same period the previous year. The new partnership is another step in expanding Caffe Nero’s “new channels strategy”, launched to create revenue outside its stores, which include coffee at home via its website and wider retail partnerships with Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Amazon. Will Stratton-Morris, chief executive at Caffe Nero UK, said: “We have seen high demand from customers for our products away from our stores, and this partnership allows us to continue to expand those channels. Alongside our resumed new store opening programme, our new channels are a hugely important part of our growth strategy post pandemic. This partnership will allow us to meet the demands of our customers and reach a significant number of people in their own home.” Andrew Kenny, managing director at Just Eat UK, added: “As people continue to work from home, we have seen increased demand for breakfast and lunch deliveries. The reach and delivery capabilities from Just Eat, and the premium quality menu from Caffe Nero, means the partnership will provide customers with an excellent choice during these growing meal delivery occasions.” Caffe Nero, which has circa 650 UK stores among its worldwide estate of more than 1,000 venues, opened its first UK store in two years in March, in Knutsford. At the time, the company said it would be opening new stores in Stansted and Belfast airports in June, followed by a further six openings in the months after.
Ascot Brewing Co launches £150,000 fundraise to open series of new taphouses: Ascot Brewing Co has launched a £150,000 fundraise on crowdfunding platform Seedrs to help fund the opening of a series of new taphouses in Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey. The brewer, which was founded in 2007 and acquired by local businessmen Chris Davies and Mike Neame in 2018, is based in Camberley, Surrey, where it has an 8,500 square-foot brewery and taphouse. It said: “With your support, we will explore opening several similar units to the TapHouse – same appearance, décor and vibe – within a 20-mile radius of our Camberley headquarters.” It is offering 6.95% equity, which gives the company a pre-money valuation of £2m. The company said its quarterly revenue increased 230% post-lockdown versus pre-covid. It has launched three campaigns on Crowdcube in the past – the most recent a £150,000 bid to expand its brewing capacity, address export enquiries and add a small canning line in 2020.
Karali Group opens fifth Sticky Sisters site: Burger King UK franchisee Karali Group has opened up a fifth site, and its first in the Midlands, for its chicken wings concept Sticky Sisters. The company, which operates circa 80 Burger King sites across the country, has opened the site in The Crescent, in Hinckley. Launched in May 2017, Sticky Sisters currently operates restaurant sites in Harlow, Leeds and Farnborough, plus a delivery kitchen unit in Liverpool’s Queens Square. Sticky Sisters specialises in chicken served with sauces ranging from mild to “ferocious”. There is also a gameshow-style wheel customers can spin if they can’t decide which sauce to choose. The concept also offers dipping chicken wings or tenders, platters of chicken and chips, and items in a bun including beef brisket, fish fingers, chickpea and spinach, and spicy bean. There are also rustic-style wraps, salads, sides and desserts alongside beer, wine, soft drinks and milkshakes. Karali Group, which is led by Salim Janmohamed, also operates sister concepts El Taco Loco, Dirty Dog Shack, Roosters, Telepizza and Caffe Italiano.
Russian restaurateurs to make UK debut next month: Madina Kazhimova and Anna Dolgushina – who operate Asian restaurant and bars Wong Kar Wine and Made in China in St Petersburg, Russia – will next month open their UK debut restaurant. Firebird will open on Tuesday, 7 June at 29 Poland Street in Soho, which used to house Mexican restaurant Corazon before it closed last year. Serving a menu of Mediterranean-inspired grill-based dishes alongside draught cocktails and wine from small producers across the continent, the 46-cover Firebird restaurant will feature a long bar and chef’s counter. Head chef Nikos Kontongiannatos, who formerly held the same role at Caravan, has created dishes inspired by his Greek heritage such as pork belly with a piquant plum ketchup and crisp green salad; day boat monkfish with sauce vierge; and hand-dived scallops with truffle mash. Dolgushina and Kazhimova, who moved to London in 2020, started out selling apple cider at St Petersburg’s Restaurant Day events. Dolgushina said: “Much like the folk tale of the firebird itself, we can’t wait for the restaurant to be filled with the spirit of glowing fire. I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved and am especially eager to show off the small producers I have been working with when it comes to our wine list. There’s something very inspiring about the winemakers, and their stories deserve to be told.”
Fenn and Nest team set to launch experiential Smithfield restaurant with 15-course tasting menu: The team behind Fenn in Fulham and Nest in Hackney is set to open a new experiential restaurant in London’s Smithfields – featuring a £120 15-course tasting menu. Restaurant St Barts is due to open at 63 Bartholemew Close in September, with a £60 six-course lunch also on offer during the week. Guests will start in the bar with canapés and snacks before moving on to the main dining room. Johnnie Crowe, Luke Wasserman and Toby Neill are the team behind the restaurant, while Kate Austen, as head chef, will join executive head chef Crowe in the kitchen. Their hyper-seasonal British menu is set to include native blue lobster with fermented red peppers and British XO sauce, and poached cod with preserved Wiltshire truffle. An optional wine pairing will be available. Crowe said: “Restaurant St Barts represents a new chapter for myself, Luke and Toby – it’s the restaurant we’ve always dreamed of opening. Over the last seven years we’ve met and worked with some of the most incredible suppliers from across the UK, and Restaurant St Barts will be our opportunity to showcase them under the one roof. We want to create an experience that focuses on respect – towards the natural environment, the incredible produce that comes from it, and everyone involved in the process.” 
SSP expands overseas footprint in Spanish airports: UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist SSP Group has extended two existing contracts, and secured a new one, to operate eight units in Spanish airports. Its renewed contract with Seville airport has extended the partnership for seven years and will see a variety of brands introduced across five new units – including Starbucks, espresso bar Ritazza and American sports bar O’Learys. SSP has also retained its business at Granada airport, where it will be operating two new units and extended the partnership for a further five years. Among them will be Spain’s first Point convenience store, an SSP brand that will offer a coffee menu as well as sandwiches, baguettes and pastries. In addition, SSP has also secured a new landside unit in Alicante airport on a five-year contract, which will feature a new Starbucks with a terrace. Jeremy Fennell, chief executive Nordics and continental Europe at SSP Group, said: “It is our aim to create a perfectly tailored brand mix to meet the needs of our passengers and enhance their experience. We’ve done this by introducing well-known international brands along with an array of authentic local options.”
‘World’s smallest gin bar’ concept confirms July opening for third site: The Davis family, owner of “the world’s smallest gin bar” concept Tin of Sardines, have confirmed its third site, on Sunderland’s sea front, will open in July. Propel reported in January 2021 that the business, established in 2017 by father-and-son team Lord Trevor and Ben Davis, planned to open in the former Roker toilet block in Pier View after agreeing a ten-year lease with Sunderland City Council. The original Tin of Sardines was opened in Durham, holding just 16 people but stocking hundreds of varieties of gin, before a second bar was added in Poole, on the south coast. The new Sunderland venue will stock more than 200 varieties of gin and 50 mixers, as well as locally produced snacks and meals. Davis said: “Since being handed the keys last week we’ve been delighted with how work is progressing on the site and we are confident of opening within the next six to eight weeks. The Tin of Sardines concept has been a real success since we first opened our doors in Durham five years ago, and we had been mulling over a third venue for some time before we saw the former Roker toilet block hit the market. As someone born and bred in Sunderland, and as a family embedded in the region's hospitality industry for decades, we knew this was an opportunity we couldn't miss out on.” The local authority, assisted by a grant from The Coastal Communities Fund, have invested £250,000 into the project. In return, income from the lease will help support the Sunderland Seafront Trust organise a range of seafront events and activities. Lofthouse and Partners secured the lease on behalf of Sunderland City Council.
Itsu opens Hampstead site: Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain, has opened its Hampstead site, at 58-62 Heath Street. Founder Julian Metcalfe told Propel in March that Hampstead was in the brand’s pipeline of openings, along with sites in Edinburgh, Woking and Bromley, as it commits to circa 25 new openings a year. The Edinburgh and Woking restaurants have since opened, as franchise and company-owned sites respectively. It also recently opened a franchise site in Chelmsford, with others in Manchester and Aberdeen also in the pipeline. The 2,310 square-foot Hampstead unit is the last one to be filled in a four-storey 12,600 square-foot mixed-use property acquired by Leeds-based Town Centre Securities for £7m in January. Itsu has more than 70 restaurants UK-wide, serving sushi, salads, dumplings, bao, hot noodles and rice bowls. Dereck De Albuquerque, head of estates at Itsu, said: “This is a fantastic new neighbourhood spot for Itsu just seconds from the station. We’ve taken a larger than average square footage for restaurants in Hampstead in order to offer spacious dine-in options on the high street. We’re looking forward to offering quick, healthy and affordable meal options to the residents of NW3.”

Welsh luxury lodge operator acquires holiday park: Welsh luxury lodge operator Boutique Resorts has acquired Cenarth Falls Holiday Park, located on the border of Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire. The holiday park is set on a site in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty of approximately 11.5 acres, including almost two acres of woodland. It has planning permission for 89 static caravan pitches and 30 mixed touring caravan pitches. Facilities at the formerly family-owned site include a games room, indoor swimming pool, gym, bar and function room for 290 guests. Richard Prestwich, director in the leisure and trade team at Savills, said: “The new owner is no strangers to high quality holiday businesses and will look to improve the quality of the business further to complement its other holiday parks.” Boutique also operates resorts at Fishguard Bay and Maesmawr Farm.

Return to Archive Click Here to Return to the Archive Listing
Punch Taverns Link
Return to Archive Click Here to Return to the Archive Listing
Propel Premium
Quickpad by Pepper Banner
Growth Partners - Find out More Banner
Santa Maria MEXI-GO Banner
Quickpad by Pepper Banner
Contract Furniture Group Banner
Bizimply Banner
BrewDog Black Heart Banner
Heineken Silver Banner
Peppadew Banner
Propel Banner
Quickpad by Pepper Banner
Access Banner
Christie & Co Banner
The Licensees Association Banner
Airship – Toggle Banner
Libeo Banner
COREcruitment Banner
Hospitality Rising Banner
Cynergy Bank Banner
John Gaunt Banner
Zonal Banner
HGEM Banner
Bums on Seats Banner
BrewDog Black Heart Banner