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Tue 24th May 2022 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Chilango sale delivers a three-times return for RDCP: RDCP Group (RDCP) has said that the sale of Chilango to Tortilla for £2.75m delivered a three-times return for the London-based investment firm. RDCP Group acquired Chilango out of administration for circa £1m in August 2020, with the deal led by Sameer Rizvi and Iryna Dubylovska working with Richard Franks leading the business as managing director. Over the course of RDCP’s ownership, Chilango reopened eight bricks-and-mortar restaurants, including relocation in Boxpark Croydon, as well as opening four delivery kitchens in partnership with Deliveroo Editions across London and Brighton. The company said: “While being a big part of Chilango’s business pre-pandemic, the delivery arm of the business grew from strength to strength in 2020, and Chilango burritos were the UK’s fourth best-selling dish on Deliveroo. The brand’s focus on delivery kitchens has been a significant driver of Chilango’s growth, responding to the change in customer behaviour and highlighting the continuing need for convenience. The transaction with Tortilla delivers a three-times return for RDCP in under two years, equating to a 75% internal rate of return.” Franks said: “Under RDCP’s ownership, we have been able to grow the brand as well as steady the business against an ever-changing climate. Over the last two years, delivery and online orders have made a huge difference to our business and have been a key driver of our recovery and future growth strategy. I am very proud of what myself and my team have been able to achieve, especially given the extraordinary challenges we have all gone through in recent times. As Chilango enters this new exciting chapter, after six fantastic years, I will be moving onto new opportunities. I wish Chilango and the new owners, Tortilla, the best of luck and look forward to seeing the exciting plans they have for the future.” Tortilla said the acquisition of the eight Chilango sites strengthens its position as the “UK’s leading fast-casual Mexican chain” and accelerates its national expansion plans, a “key pillar of its long-term growth strategy”. The acquisition further bolsters Tortilla’s presence in central London, with six of the eight units positioned in Zone 1. The group said it “wishes to take advantage of the high-quality locations operated by Chilango and the trend of workers returning to offices”. Tortilla, which will next month open its 50th restaurant, in Portsmouth’s Gunwharf Quays, plans to open 45 sites over the next five years. The acquired Chilango sites are additional to this target.

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Star Pubs & Bars to host open day for operators interested in running Staffordshire pub: Thinking of running your own pub? Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars is hosting an open day for the Spot Gate in Stone, Staffordshire. A Star Pubs & Bars spokesman said: “The Spot Gate is a ‘one of a kind’. It is a destination dining venue with two 1920’s pullman railway carriages, offering a unique experience for customers. In total, there are 90 covers throughout the recently refurbished pub. You’ll get the chance to speak directly with the business development manager, Andrew Myatt, to find out more about this great pub business opportunity. You’ll also have the opportunity to view the pub’s amazing variety of different spaces. We’re happy for anyone to attend on the day – whether this is your first pub and want to know how it all works, or you’re an experienced operator looking to expand your portfolio.” The open day will be held on Monday, 13 June, from 10am-4pm at the pub. The address is: The Spot Gate, Hilderstone Road, Stone, ST15 8RP. To register your interest, click here and someone from the Star Pubs & Bars team will be in touch. If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email
Number of Italian concepts set to join updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies: A number of Italian concepts are among the 42 new multi-site companies being added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released on Friday (27 May), at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, features London-based pizza company Made of Dough, which was founded in 2014 by Ed Sandeman, Henry Amodio and Harry Gibson, and has recently opened its third site, an Italian bar and all-day diner called Palazzo in London. Also added this month is Altrincham-based Italian restaurant concept Sugo Pasta Kitchen, which is co-owned by Alex De Martiis, Michael De Martiis and Jonny Marcogliese, and operates sites in Altrincham, Ancoats in Manchester, and its latest site in Sale. Meanwhile, Leicestershire-based operators Roberto Isella and Liberato Mazza, whose portfolio includes Timo restaurant and wine bar in Stoneygate, Leicester and Ferarri – an Italian trattoria in Quorn, which the duo recently purchased, will be featured. Premium subscribers will also receive a 3,212-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, 3 June at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The next edition also includes a 12,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to 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 also get exclusive 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 second edition, which was sent on Friday (20 May), features 120 companies, providing insight on the offer, locations, cost and other key details. The second edition provides almost 47,000 words of content. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Mark Wingett.

Honest Burgers becomes first UK foodservice company to develop regeneratively farmed beef supply chain: Honest Burgers, the Active Partners-backed business, has become the first UK foodservice company to develop a regeneratively farmed beef supply chain in response to the British farming and carbon crisis dominating the industry. Six of the group’s 40-plus restaurants now serve beef from regenerative farms, in a move that transforms the group’s supply chain with the explicit aim to reduce its carbon footprint and the environmental impact of eating beef. By the start of 2024, all restaurants will serve this beef and Honest Burgers said it will absorb the costs of the switch. The move has required a substantial financial investment from the group and has taken three years to bring to market. It has been spearheaded by co-founder Tom Barton, who has worked with British farming collective Grassroots Farming. Regenerative farming is the process of farming with as little impact on the soil and environment as possible – mimicking what would occur in the wild, and restoring the land to full health and productivity. Around 70% of the cow is used to make Honest’s burger patties at its butchery, and the cuts reserved for premium steaks – that constitute approximately 20% of the cow – are then sold to partners Turner and George and The Ethical Butcher. Barton said: “We wanted to tackle our impact on the planet head on. For us that meant the elephant in the room, which is our beef. We’re buying the whole cow direct from our farmers, which means we can influence how they farm and pay them a fair price. Farmers are now an integral part of our team – as they always should have been.” Honest Burgers’ regenerative beef is now available in its Brixton, Peckham, Clapham, Oxford Circus, Soho and Tooting restaurants. 

Company News:

Song Capital acquires 95-strong SA Brain pub portfolio: Investment firm Song Capital has acquired a 95-strong pub portfolio from Welsh brewer and retailer SA Brain. Propel revealed last week that Song, which is understood to have been working with Cerberus Capital Management, the former owner of Admiral Taverns, was close to agreeing a deal for the portfolio of pubs that was placed on the market last summer. This after Propel revealed in March that real estate investment company Aprirose had entered the race – and is thought to have been at one point granted a period of exclusivity – before Song, which was established by real estate executives Daniel MacKinnon and Tom Pritchard, again moved ahead in the race. It is thought the deal is valued at £85m-£90m. SA Brain said: “To provide a foundation for growth for the future of the Brains brand, in 2021, SA Brain put the freehold and leasehold investment of 99 pubs on the market for a price reflecting a NIY of 5.75%. For some time, following the marketing of this portfolio by real estate advisor Avison Young, there has been speculation on the potential buyers. The directors are pleased to announce that on 20 May 2022, it has concluded negotiations and exchanged contracts on a significant property deal to sell 95 of those assets in one property portfolio to Song Capital and partners.” Jon Bridge, chief executive of SA Brain, said: “I am extremely pleased to announce that we have exchanged contracts with Song Capital and (partners) for the sale of 95 of our freehold and leasehold pubs. The executive team at Brains and the Song Capital team have worked diligently together for a period of time to ensure a jointly successful outcome. I would like to thank everyone involved for their dedication and hard work. The proceeds of this deal will go towards paying down our remaining bank debt and significantly deleveraging the Brains business. This provides a foundation for our modern state of the art facility, Dragon Brewery, to brew our famous beers in the heart of Cardiff and continue to supply Brains beers to our loyal and new customers for generations to come.” Propel revealed last July the portfolio, consisting of 93 freehold and six long leasehold properties let to Marston’s on 25-year leases, was being put on the market through Avison Young. At the end of 2020, SA Brain announced contracts had been exchanged with Marston’s to operate its portfolio of 145 pubs in Wales on a combination of leased and management contract arrangements. Marston’s has been operating 135 freehold pubs on a leasehold basis since last February and is operating the remaining ten short-leasehold sites on a management contract basis for a period of two years. Sapient Corporate Finance advised Song Capital and Cerberus on the acquisition.

Unsecured creditors of Jamie’s Italian receive first and final dividend of 2.47p in the pound, Oliver recoups total of £2.4m from collapse: Unsecured creditors of Jamie Oliver’s UK restaurant business have received a first and final dividend of 2.47p in the pound, Propel has learned. A progress report by administrators William Wright and Christopher Pole, of Interpath, revealed as of 13 May 2022, the amount distributed to unsecured creditors of Jamie’s Italian, by way of the prescribed part, was £520,000. Unsecured creditors’ claims were agreed at £21m. The report showed Oliver’s holding company, as secured creditor, was paid a further £578,651 during the period, meaning Oliver has recouped about £2.4m from the collapse of the business. Preferential claims were agreed at £377,776 and these have been paid in full. It comes as the administrators filed a notice of intention to move the business from administration to dissolution. Oliver closed 22 of his 25 Jamie’s Italian UK restaurants with the loss of 1,000 jobs in May 2019 after investment could not be secured to keep them trading. The business owed around £83m when it collapsed.

Hydes – by the end of the year we should be able to say that Tim Hortons has got nationwide coverage here: Kevin Hydes, chief commercial officer for Tim Hortons UK & Ireland, has told Propel that by the end of this year, the brand “should be able to say that it has got nationwide distribution in the UK”. The Canadian quick service restaurant brand, which will make its London debut later this year, currently operates 51 sites in the UK, including 35 drive-thrus, with plans to add another circa 30 locations by the end of 2022. Speaking as part of Propel’s Friday Wrap video series, Hydes said: “Of the 51 sites, we’re very proud to say that we’ve got 35 drive thrus, which are operating very successfully, and we have 10 more drive thru sites, which are going to be opening later this year through the course in the summer. We’re looking at 30-plus sites for the year, which will take us somewhere in the region of about 75 to 80 locations across the UK. I think most significantly with that, we will be able to say at the end of the year that the brand has got nationwide distribution, and we’ve got a very fast-growing pipeline for 2023, 2024 and beyond.” In terms of penetration levels for drive-thrus in the UK, Hydes said he believes we are “halfway through” here, and despite competition for this type of site being “fierce”, the brand is in the best position that “we’ve ever been in in terms of our ability to secure sites”. He said: “I think when you're a new operator, firstly, it’s quite difficult to get an opportunity because, why would British Land, for example, give an opportunity to a brand like Tim Hortons with its lack of exposure here? Through the incredible hard work of our acquisitions team, we’ve managed to build confidence in our business, and getting to 35 drive-thrus in four-and-a-half years is one hell of achievement. I know it doesn’t sound like a huge number, but the timeline from the moment we sign a site is typically 18 months to two years before that site opens. The bigger landlords, but also the sort of smaller community landlords, are also now more interested in Tim Hortons. What they love about what we’re doing is that it’s all-day dining. We’re not a place where it’s one or two dayparts, we’re trading from very early in the morning to very late at night. Landlords want that, and they want a business that can provide them value for money and value experiences for their guests.”

Foodco UK planning 15 openings over next 12 months, Jamaica Blue makes Northern Ireland debut: Foodco UK is planning to open another 15 sites across its Muffin Break and Jamaica Blue brands over the next 12 months. It comes as coffee shop brand Jamaica Blue opens its first Northern Ireland site, at the Forestside shopping centre in Belfast. There are plans to open five more across Northern Ireland in the coming year, expanding into the Republic of Ireland in 2023. Jamaica Blue opened its latest site in England, in Warrington, this month and three more are launching in June, in Kingston, Ealing Broadway and Watford. Jamaica Blue, which has 170 locations across seven countries, is currently undergoing a UK-wide expansion, currently engaging with landlords to secure prime locations. The Belfast store has opened following a £350,000 investment. Josh Nixon, head of estates for Jamaica Blue UK, said: “Jamaica Blue’s foundations are built on two simple beliefs that guide us in everything we do. Firstly, a belief in sourcing the very best coffee, and secondly, only using fresh, premium ingredients to deliver contemporary cafe dishes with a fresh edge. We’re thrilled to be opening at Forestside.” Savills represented Forestside on the deal. Foodco opened the first Jamaica Blue cafe in the UK in Cambridge in December 2014, which has since closed.

Soho House submits planning application for Glasgow site: Membership Collective Group (MCG), the New York-listed vehicle behind the Soho House chain of members’ clubs, is set to make its debut in Scotland after submitting a planning application for a site in Glasgow. Propel understands that the Nick Jones-led business has applied to open on George Street, in the A-listed building which was formerly home to the city’s Parish Council Offices. Soho House, which recently opened Brighton Beach House, is also set to open in Manchester – in the former Granada TV studios, and is also looking for sites in Leeds and Birmingham. The company, which operates 35 Soho House members clubs, plans to open eight to ten new sites going forward. Jones said: “I am incredibly confident that our pipeline of between eight to ten Soho Houses per year is achievable, and this gets us to 85 houses by 2027. We’ve got four types of houses – large, medium, little and resort-style houses – and we plan to expand all four types equally over the coming years.” 

Property management firm Kicking Horse places five-strong pub package on the market: Kicking Horse 3 Limited, a property management firm, has placed a package of five pubs located in highly affluent and busy locations across central London and the south of England, on the market, Propel has learnt. The company is understood to have instructed Paul Tallentyre, from Davis Coffer Lyons, to market the properties, which are to be sold with vacant possession, either individually, in small portfolios, or as a group. Propel understands that pubs include The Warrington in Maida Vale, The Sir Richard Steele in Haverstock Hill and The Dog & Badger near Henley. At the same time, Coffer Corporate Leisure is understood to be marketing an investment opportunity in The Dartmouth Arms in Dartmouth Park NW5, which is also of the five pubs in question. The properties have come onto the market following changes to Kicking Horse’s management team. The company said they “present a fantastic opportunity for potential buyers”, with the portfolio “offering exciting potential”, and an opportunity to buy into “a sector experiencing a strong resurgence in demand”. Andy Merricks and Steve Billot, directors of Kicking Horse 3 Ltd, said: “We are delighted to bring this unique portfolio to the market, just as this exciting sector returns to growth following the pandemic. Changes to our management team over the past 12 months have helped us to prepare these properties for the market.”

Bobo Social plans Ealing opening: London high-end burger and small plates concept Bobo Social is planning to open a site in Ealing. Propel understands that the Mike Benson-led business is eyeing an opening at the Filmworks scheme, where it would join the likes of Butchies and Albion & East. Bobo Social, which offers burgers, steak, small plates, cocktails, craft beer and wine, currently operates sites in Elephant Park, the £2.3bn regeneration project being delivered by Lendlease and Southwark Council, and Fitzrovia.

Wedding backlog keeps Costley & Costley profitable, restaurants continue to generate steady revenue stream: A backlog of weddings after the various lockdowns has kept Ayrshire-based restaurant and hotel operator Costley & Costley profitable, while the business said its restaurants continue to generate a steady revenue stream. The company, which was founded in 1988 and operates six hotels and restaurants, reported turnover of £5.4m for the year ending 30 September 2021 (2020: £5.3m), and a pre-tax profit of £1.1m (2020: loss of £557,000). It received £1.5m in government support (2020: £1.3m) and benefited from a business rates holiday plus cost savings in payroll, utilities and other overheads. It said: “The group began to ease out of the second national lockdown in early May 2021 but still had to operate within government guidelines where wedding guest numbers were capped until mid-July. The group started reporting profits every month from May 2021 onwards, and after all restrictions were lifted, profitability significantly improved. The group has robust restaurant sales, and this contributed to maintaining revenues reported for the year, while waiting for restrictions to be lifted on wedding numbers. The group continued to be profitable in the immediate months post year-end as the business dealt with the backlog of weddings, which was just ahead of further restrictions imposed as a result of the rise in Omicron cases. Trading throughout January and February 2022 was slow, but that is always the case, and business has now picked up as we enter the busy wedding season. The restaurants across the sites are well established and will continue to generate a steady revenue stream for the group.” Despite concerns about current rising energy costs and inflationary price increases, the company added: “As business is now brisk, the directors are optimistic the business will perform well during the rest of this financial year.” The company also closed its patisserie shop in Prestwick in October 2021.

J&S Pub Company opens seventh site: North Yorkshire multiple operator, J&S Pub Company, has taken on its seventh site – and fifth with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars. The £205,000 joint refurbishment of the former Mist pub in Scarborough has seen it converted into Irish pub McGinty’s. J&S Pub Company said if it does well then the concept will be rolled out across more locations in Yorkshire and the north east. James Durham, who runs the business with wife Stacey, said: “There is a real gap in the market for pubs that appeal to an older demographic who want to dress up and make an occasion of going out. It’s harking back to days gone by. McGinty’s is far from the gimmicky Irish bars that were around 20-30 years ago. Our eldest, my stepson, is called Connor McGinty. We called the bar after him and the mural on the side elevation is of him.” McGinty’s, which has 46 covers, is J&S Pub Company’s second Irish bar following The Golden Lion in Whitby. The business’ other sites are Scarborough pubs The Commercial, The Ramshill Hotel, The New Lancaster and The Plough Inn & Fun Farm along with The Nag’s Head in Scalby.

Chef Andrew Sheridan set to launch Worcestershire restaurant for fourth site: Chef Andrew Sheridan is set to launch a restaurant in his home town of Barnt Green, Worcestershire, next month. Black & Green, a 16-seater neighbourhood restaurant, will open on Thursday, 9 June. It is the latest addition to the Birmingham-based About Dining restaurant group, independently owned by Sheridan alongside husband-and-wife team Sam and Emma Morgan, who live in the neighbouring village of Blackwell. Sheridan himself will head up the weekly-changing seasonal tasting menu, which will offer “a modern interpretation of British flavours, centred around local ingredients of the highest quality from micro suppliers and neighbours”. Dishes will include beef and root tartar, jumbo plaice with buttermilk sauce and chocolate and cherry pie. The drinks menu will feature locally distilled spirits, premium beer and cider, while the wine list will support British brands as well as fortified, low-intervention, organic and bio-dynamic wine. The menu is priced at £55 for five courses or £65 for six, with an optional drinks pairing for £55, while an open kitchen and a chef’s bench will allow guests can watch Sheridan and his team in action. About Dining also operates three Birmingham-based restaurants – Divide, Craft and 8 – while Sheridan last year launched a French-style street food van to serve the city.

San Carlo opens 25th site with Cicchetti launch in Knightsbridge: San Carlo Restaurant Group, the north west-based operator, has opened the latest site under its Cicchetti brand. The 286 square-metre, two-storey Italian restaurant has launched at 6 Hans Road in Knightsbridge, adjacent to Harrods. It follows on from the Distefano family-owned Cicchetti restaurants at Piccadilly and Covent Garden in London, in Manchester and overseas in Doha, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Open daily and offering contemporary Italian dining, the Knightsbridge Cicchetti serves authentic Italian plates typically served in informal bars in Venice, designed to be shared. The dishes showcase the “freshest seasonal ingredients”, mostly sourced straight from Italy, and several new plates are unique to the Knightsbridge site. A wide selection of Italian wine, beer, prosecco, spirits and cocktails is available. There is also a private dining room, seating up to 18. The latest opening is the 25th restaurant for the group, with further international openings in Saudi Arabia and Qatar planned. 

Sandbox VR confirms venue for UK launch: Immersive social experience concept Sandbox VR has confirmed the venue for its UK debut at the end of July. Propel reported earlier this month that the company, which was founded in Hong Kong in 2017 and is now live in 19 locations and five countries around the world, was constructing a central London venue for its UK launch, which will also be the first Sandbox VR venue in Europe. It has now confirmed the site, which feature the first “permanent robotic bartender” in the UK, will be The Post Building in Museum Street. The concept offers guests “a fully immersive environment”, with experiences including a zombie apocalypse, a space elevator and a futuristic combat arena. Players are able to see their teammates through VR goggles and free-roam together, while 3D precision full-body trackers, custom hardware and haptic feedback suits create an experience of touch, vibration and motion for the user. There will also be a pizza and cocktail menu available, with the robotic bartender able to serve up to 80 drinks, themed around the VR experiences, per hour. Premium beers, wines and soft drinks will be available too, alongside popcorn, ice cream and sweets.

Berkshire-based brewer raises £100,000 to help open second pub: Berkshire-based brewer A Hoppy Place has raised £100,000 on crowdfunding platform Seedrs to fund the opening a second pub. Founded in 2019 by husband-and-wife team Naomi and Dave Hayward, the company currently operates as a craft beer micropub and bottleshop in Windsor – offering drink in, take away, click-and-collect and delivery. It now plans to open a second site and has agreed a lease on a 1,511 square-foot unit in Maidenhead – offering space for 42 seated and 40 standing inside and 24 seated outside – and potential for a food truck in a private outdoor area. The cash will go towards building and designing costs, with the fit out approved in principle, and any overfunding “will be held to provide liquidity to the overall business”. It managed to pass its £100,000 fundraising target with 30 days left, with more than 80 investors committing over £103,000. They have been offered equity of 8.51%, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £1.1m. During the pandemic, the company launched an online shop and hosted virtual pub events and beer festivals. It said: “We believe craft beer is for everyone, and the key to our success is our community first approach. Revenue in Windsor, a very small (20 seated covers internally, 12 externally) premises, has remained stable through 2020 and 2021. This was primary due to our web channel – our reaction to the pandemic, pivoting to off-sales nationwide delivery, maintained our liquidity through the pandemic. It is now an extra sales channel to take forward, meaning we make money in four ways: on-trade draught sales in Windsor (and soon Maidenhead) as a micropub; off-trade draught sales via growler and can; on and off-trade sales of bottle and can as a bottleshop; and online e-commerce.”

Arc Cinema signs for £40m Preston leisure complex: Arc Cinema has signed as the second anchor tenant for the £40m Animate leisure complex in Preston. The company has taken 29,500 square feet to build an eight-screen cinema and joins fellow anchor tenant Hollywood Bowl, which committed to a 16-lane, 20,300 square-foot site at Animate in November 2021. Located on the city’s former indoor market, Animate will also include a food hall, restaurants and bars. Developer Maple Grove expects to start construction work in October and complete the site by next summer. Brian Gilligan, director at The Arc Cinema, added: “Animate will be an amazing leisure destination when we and our neighbours in the scheme open in 2024, and its location in the heart of Preston’s vibrant city centre fits perfectly with The Arc Cinema’s ambitious expansion plans. The Arc Cinema is passionate about delivering a hugely enjoyable and luxurious experience at everyday prices, and we think that this unique combination is perfect for Preston.” Andrew Dewhurst, development director at Maple Grove Developments, added: “With planning secured, we now have the confidence to press on with the detailed design in readiness for a construction start. In addition to The Arc Cinema, four of the restaurant units are now under offer, and we expect to be able to announce more names throughout the spring.” 

26 Grains and Stoney Street founder appoints new group head chef: Alex Hely-Hutchinson, founder of 26 Grains and Stoney Street, has appointed Lucy Timm as group head chef. Working across both sites from Wednesday (25 May), Timm will be working on a new menu of “comforting and seasonal plates”. Starting her career as chef de commis at Sager + Wilde, Timm then went on to restaurant and wine bar Fare, where she mastered her skills in butchery. Following this, Timm joined the team at Michelin-starred Leroy as senior chef de partie. During lockdown, Timm began her own venture, Plates & Playlists, where she offered three-course finish at home set menus with a playlist to match. Timm previously worked as head chef at Royale, specialising in Provençal cooking and rotisserie chicken.

Davenports open new Birmingham city centre pub: West Midlands brewer and retailer Davenports has opened a new Birmingham city centre pub. The company has launched The Queens Head in Steelhouse Lane having acquired the premises, which operated as the Jekyll & Hyde pub, at the start of the year. The Queens Head has two bar areas and an orangery and has created 20 jobs. Marketing director Katie McPhilimey said: “The board was delighted to find a venue that beats in the very heart of the city, which serves both a dynamic district, and a diverse community of professionals, and students. In 1904, Davenports fought, and won an important ‘Beer Hawking’ case in the Victoria Law Courts, right around the corner from The Queens Head, so it felt a little like coming home with this location. In this important Jubilee year, and in honour of the queen, the company decided to rename the pub The Queens Head.” Formed in 1829, Davenports previously operated the Bulls Head in Birmingham’s Bishopgate Street, but sold it in February. The company now operates the Coach House in Stratford-upon-Avon, The Elms in Shareshill, Dares Bar in Tamworth and Port House in Stourport-on-Severn. Other recent acquisitions include yet-to-be announced locations in Hednesford, Worcester, Tamworth and Stourbridge.

Compass appoints chief climate and sustainability advisor: Catering company Compass Group UK & Ireland has appointed University of Oxford expert, professor Sir Charles Godfray, as chief climate and sustainability advisor to its executive team. He will support the clients of Compass by primarily shaping and delivering the organisation’s commitment of reaching climate net zero by 2030. Sir Charles is a population biologist with broad interests in the environmental sciences and has published in fundamental and applied areas of ecology, evolution and epidemiology. He has spent his career at Oxford and Imperial College and is currently director of the Oxford Martin School and professor of population biology at Oxford. In 2017, he was knighted for services to scientific research and for scientific advice to government. Carolyn Ball, director for delivery of net zero, said: “Specialist guidance will play an increasingly integral role in the business decisions needed to deliver our climate commitments, so this level of direction and thought leadership within our executive team is a real privilege for everyone at Compass and all those working with us.”

New restaurant set to open in former Modern Pantry site in London’s Clerkenwell: A new restaurant is set to open in the former Modern Pantry site at 47-48 St John’s Square, London. Called Compton Restaurant, it will be attached to the Compton property agency but open to all, reports Hot Dinners. The “easy-dining bistro” will have a soft launch this week, as part of Clerkenwell Design Week, ahead of opening fully on Thursday, 16 June. The Modern Pantry was founded in 2008 by chef Anna Hansen, who stepped down in the summer 2019 to “explore other opportunities”, leaving the restaurant in the hands of executive chef Robert Mcleary. It closed for good in December 2020, but looks set to make a return, in the nearby The Zetter Hotel, under D&D Restaurants.

Bournemouth-based sports bar concept to open long-awaited second site, in Southampton: Bournemouth-based sports bar concept, Sharkey’s, is to open its long-awaited second site, in Southampton next month. Owner Rod Cake first secured the premises at 136 Above Bar Street in 2017. Now the bar, which will be spread over three floors, will open on Friday, 24 June. The venue will have more than 20 American pool, English snooker and table tennis tables alongside a number of 75-inch screens and “huge” projectors, reports the Daily Echo. There will also be dedicated dart lanes, and VIP rooms featuring the latest XBox series X and PlayStation 5 games. The sports bar’s debut venue is in Old Christchurch Road, Bournemouth, which reopened in 2016 after a fire.

Glasgow doctor branches out into seafood restaurant and takeaway: Dr Usman Qureshi, who practices aesthetic medicine in the Bearsden area of Glasgow, has opened a seafood restaurant and takeaway. Qureshi has invested more than £350,000 in The Scallop’s Tale at Bearsden Cross, which is set over two floors and has covers for 28 people. It offers an extensive menu of locally sourced seafood dishes, including vegetarian and vegan options, while the scallops high tea for two includes two “posh fish and chips”, sourdough bread and tea with cakes and scones. Executive chef Stephen Pohler, who has worked at the Lisini Dalziel Park Hotel, Hilton Garden Inn, Crowne Plaza and Radisson Red in Glasgow, has devised the restaurant and takeaway menus.

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