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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 26th May 2022 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Former Gordon Ramsay Holdings chief executive Gillies cuts prices by 15% despite rising costs to ‘maintain accessibility to dining out’: Stuart Gillies, former chief executive of Gordon Ramsay Holdings, has told Propel he has cut prices by 10% to 15% at his two restaurants despite rising costs in order to “maintain accessibility to dining out”. Instead, the business, which operates Bank House Wine Bar and Kitchen in Chislehurst and Number Eight in Sevenoaks, is looking to combat inflation by taking a zero-waste approach. Chefs are being challenged to get two dishes out of every ingredient and be creative with the menu, which changes daily. “Like everyone else we were putting prices up, but then you get to the point where suddenly there’s a danger of dining out no longer being an affordable treat,” said Gillies. “I’ve noticed trade has started dropping off in the south London suburbs and boroughs as people go back to central London and I realised we needed to manage things better. In my early days as a chef we made sure we used everything we’re buying – trimmings went into pies for example. So I’m challenging our chefs to be really creative with what they are putting on the menu by getting the most out of every onion, courgette or whatever the ingredient is, and they have responded magnificently. We have two meetings a week to plan exactly what we are going to buy.” And it’s not just the food menu where the zero-waste approach is being taken. Gillies said: “We have 15 wines by the glass for example and where we have stock that is open and not shifting we have a daily card where we reduce the price by 30% and encourage customers to ‘give it a try’. We’re still making decent margin and people love getting a bargain.” He added: “Even in a downturn, people will still spend money but they want to make sure they are getting the best value. From our perspective that means we have to work a bit harder and smarter. If we do it right then it’s a no brainer. It’s also great learning for our teams, and will stand them in good stead when they hopefully move on to open their own businesses.” Gillies, who stepped down as chief executive at Gordon Ramsay Holdings in 2018 after more than 15 years with the company, opened Bank House Wine Bar and Kitchen in 2019 before launching Number Eight in February this year. 

Industry News:

Sponsored message – join Wireless Social and back Hospitality Rising: Wi-Fi provider Wireless Social 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. Julian Ross, chief executive of Wireless Social, said: “Wireless Social is very proud to be supporting such a fabulous initiative, as Hospitality Rising. The best way for hospitality to bring more people into our wonderful industry is to join forces and deliver a single, unwavering message about the phenomenal opportunities it affords. What Mark [McCulloch] and the growing team of supporters has achieved to date has been absolutely incredible, and it’s time for everyone to get behind it, in whatever way they can, to help us to rid ourselves of the recruitment challenges all operators and suppliers are experiencing. We’ll be doing all we can, with our skills and network to help to solve the problem and will be calling upon all of our friends in the sector to do the same.” 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
One day to go before release of updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, 42 businesses being added: A total of 42 new multi-site companies, operating 140 sites, have been added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released tomorrow (Friday, 27 May), at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, includes growing experiential concepts, regional restaurant and bar operators and expanding hotel and leisure businesses. 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 receive 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 last 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.
UKHospitality warns national rail strike will further jeopardise sector’s recovery: A national rail strike would further jeopardise the hospitality sector’s recovery, UKHospitality has warned. Members of the RMT union have voted in favour of strike action across Network Rail and 13 train operating companies this summer. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “A national rail strike would further jeopardise hospitality businesses working hard to rebuild following the pandemic, in the face of rising costs and a fall in consumer confidence. Trains are essential across the country for the safe transport of staff and customers. A lack of commuter trains bringing people into towns and cities will further set back the recovery of our high streets and will also deter people from going out in the evening – especially women and vulnerable people who may rely on trains to get them home and feel safe late at night. Furthermore, as we come into the crucial summer months, disruption on the rail network will discourage both UK and international tourism – we are already hearing reports from Scotland of cancelled hotel bookings due to the dispute between Aslef and Scotrail there. Strikes would inevitably damage our already fragile hospitality businesses, which would have a negative knock-on effect to the wider UK economy.” Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, added: “Rail services across the UK finishing at 7pm will leave many stranded at night, compromising safety with limited transport services available. The transport infrastructure within the night-time economy is vitally important as we move in to peak summer season for festival and events, and a critical time for tourism, so reliant by the sector for recovery.”
Scotland’s single-use plastics ban ‘another added cost’ for struggling restaurants: The British Takeaway Campaign has called Scotland’s imminent single-use plastics ban “another added cost” for struggling restaurants. From next month, single-use items such as plastic plates, straws, stirrers, cups and containers will be banned in Scotland. It will also be illegal to either manufacture or supply customers with such items in the country. Ibrahim Dogus, chair of the British Takeaway Campaign, said: “It’s right that we all make efforts to reduce our impact on the environment, and Scotland’s takeaways and restaurants will do their best to play their part. We’ve got to be mindful however, that this ban is one of many new changes being implemented and proposed by the Scottish and UK governments. Many restaurants are struggling to keep their doors open as it is, and this is yet another added cost. Future changes should be looked at in the round, and the smallest businesses should be given additional time to implement them, once the economy is back on its feet.”

Company News:

KFC to trial delivery only kitchens in London, more locations to follow: KFC UK & Ireland is trialling its first delivery only kitchens in London, with more locations set to follow later in the year. Having recently opened its 1,000th restaurant, KFC UK & Ireland say the kitchens will improve the experience of customers, team members and delivery drivers while taking the pressure off existing restaurants. Customers will be able to order through Deliveroo, JustEat, UberEats and via KFC’s website and app. Further sites have been selected through continued sales growth via a range of channels and delivery platforms, including drive-thru, front counter, kiosks and delivery. James Whitehorn, chief development officer, KFC said: “We’re excited by the potential of our delivery only kitchens; ensuring our fans get their fried chicken fix in good time whilst also creating more job and improving the experiences of KFC team members and delivery drivers. This launch presents an opportunity for us to reach more people than ever and let them enjoy KFC’s delicious fried chicken in their own homes. We can’t wait to see the results!”

Gin & Juice team set to launch Paris-style bistro in Cardiff, plans rapid roll-out: The team behind independent bar chain Gin & Juice is set to launch a Paris-inspired bistro in Cardiff’s Castle Arcade – followed by a rapid roll-out. Maison Entrecôte, which will be an all-day dining restaurant focused on speciality steak-frites, will take two units, totalling 2,000 square feet, which were formerly occupied by Madame Fromage. The new venture is the latest from husband-and-wife team Stephen and Charlotte Barker, together with their sons, Kurtis and Kane. The family has been trading in Castle Arcade since 1982, switching from fashion retail to hospitality with Coffee Barker 12 years ago. This was followed by the Barker Tea Rooms and, more recently, the Gin & Juice and Rum & Fizz bars. Charlotte said: “We have always loved Paris – it’s an enchanting city with a chic style and unparalleled class that is effortless. However, the rustic little bistros are what captured our hearts. These cosy little restaurants are like stepping back in time, often serving only one dish so they can master it and become a destination for it. They are our inspiration, and we believe Cardiff has a gap for such a cosy, charming little restaurant.” A menu offering two starters and one main course at a set price will be complemented by French cocktails, beer and wine and a selection of French desserts and cheese. The plans are subject to a licensing application and, if approved, the team hopes to open in September. Owen Cahill, partner at EJ Hales, acted on behalf of the landlord, Mansford LLP. The Gin & Juice brand has grown to four sites – with Oxford, Exeter and Bath in the pipeline for 2022 – and group general manager Edwin Abenheimer sees Maison Entrecôte following suit. He said: “This is an exciting development and adds a great deal of traction when considering potential new locations. We will perfect the first Maison Entrecôte here in Cardiff, then next year, we will begin a rapid rollout in the footsteps of Gin & Juice.”
Former Just Eat marketing director joins Dishoom as Sara Stark steps down: Indian restaurant group Dishoom has appointed former Just Eat marketing director Lucy Milne as its new marketing and creative director. It comes after Sara Stark stepped down from her role following more than 11 years with the business. Shamil Thakrar, co-founder of Dishoom, said: “Sara has been an integral part of our team growing Dishoom almost since we began and has brought so much of herself and her talents to Dishoom. We’re going to miss her creativity and hard work and we wish her the very best. Sara has been a member of Dishoom’s leadership team almost from the founding of the business and built the marketing team from the ground up. Her creativity, drive and love for the brand have helped Dishoom grow from a single restaurant in Covent Garden to the much-loved multi-channel business it is today. Her work has also included conceptualising and launching the best-selling Dishoom cookbook, an LP and an immersive theatre production.” Since launching in 2010, Dishoom has grown to eight cafes in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh, and a dozen delivery kitchens. It is set to open a ninth restaurant later this year, in Canary Wharf, five years on from its last opening.
London-based cashless and checkout-free wraps, salad and pots concept to launch next month: A new cashless and checkout-free wraps, salad and pots concept will launch in London next month. Love Food will open at Leadenhall Market in Lime Street, offering a menu of nutritionally balanced foods low in sodium, sugar and saturated fats. It will also use entirely recyclable or compostable packaging and source from local suppliers wherever possible. “Love Food is focused on providing health-conscious Londoners with the most innovative food experience.” Said co-founder Dylan Amlot. “As the city comes back to life, we want to provide the latest in nutritionally balanced food from our technologically advanced fridges. After the recent difficult times, we believe our customers have a right to healthy and fresh food that is excellent value for money, in a clean and relaxing setting.”
Five Points Brewing Company co-founder acquires second Leeds pub: The team behind Whitelock’s Ale House, the oldest pub in Leeds, has acquired the lease of East Of Arcadia from Market Town Taverns – and is looking to expand further. Whitlock’s, which was first licensed in 1715 as The Turk’s Head, is now owned by Ed Mason, who is also a co-founder of The Five Points Brewing Company in London. East Of Arcadia, which is in the Leeds suburb of Meanwood, will reopen on Friday (27 May) and will trade before closing for a refurbishment in August and a relaunch in September under a new name. The existing East Of Arcadia team has been maintained. Mason said: “We are excited about our expansion to Meanwood and the acquisition of this high-profile pub. We want to bring our Whitelock’s values of a warm friendly welcome, convivial atmosphere, excellent quality beer and a commitment to local and independent food and drink suppliers. We want to serve a diverse local community where everyone feels welcome. The past two years have been very difficult for all hospitality businesses, but we are seeing demand at both Whitelock’s and Five Points Brewing bounce back strongly. Despite the challenges around cost of living at the moment, we believe people see and value a trip to the pub and a good quality pint as an affordable treat.” He added: “We have a fantastic team at Whitelock’s and have built a great reputation in Leeds and are keen to continue to grow the business through acquisition of additional sites.” Fleurets acted for Market Town Taverns on the deal.
Gail’s secures Kensington site: Gail’s Bakery, the fast-growing business, has secured a site in Kensington Arcade, London, for an opening this autumn. The bakery, which Propel revealed in January had seven new openings lined up this spring, has taken a 460 square-foot unit on a ten-year lease at the venue from landlords, AshbyCapital. Over the past few months, the circa 80-strong Gail’s has opened new sites in Harpenden, Woking, Marlow and Henley, and also has an opening lined up in Brentwood. Brett Parker, property director at Gail’s, said: “As a neighbourhood craft bakery, we offer our customers freshly baked food and hand roasted speciality grade coffee. We believe the versatility and location of the space will suit our customers on the go.” Gail’s will join brands such as Pret A Manger, Leon, Bill’s and Little Farm at Kensington Arcade, which was acquired by AshbyCapital in 2019. Tom Smithers, property director at AshbyCapital, added: “Gail’s will complement the existing food and beverage offering at the arcade, providing a unique artisan bakery experience that is well suited to the local area.” Savills and Nash Bond acted for Kensington Arcade while Forty Group represented Gail’s.
Benugo to provide F&B offering at London’s new ABBA Voyage experience: Benugo, the operator of deli cafes and catering in high-profile venues such as the Natural History Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum, will provide the food and beverage offering at London’s new ABBA Voyage experience. The Voyage, which will launch on Friday (27 May) at the ABBA Arena – a state-of-the-art purpose built 3,000 capacity venue at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – will see the band members perform digitally with a live ten-piece band. The offering will include a premium 150 capacity “Departure Lounge” area, a concourse eatery, four public bars and a prosecco bar. There will also be eight dance pods seating up to 14 people, which will include a private dance space, waiter service and access to their own bar. The Departure Lounge menu will include smoked chicken with celeriac remoulade, pomegranate and watercress, while the afternoon tea served for matinée performances will include blackcurrant éclairs and Battenburg cake. Prosecco, wine, beer, soft drinks and cocktails will also be served, along with a food station of charcuterie and pickles, cheese and antipasti. The concourse eatery will serve items including a “London Dog” in an artisan baguette, and a vegan burrito with roasted Quorn, black beans sauce and tomato salsa. Matthew Thompson, Benugo managing director, said: “We can’t wait to welcome a new audience and provide the complete hospitality experience to complement the concert from one of the biggest pop acts of all time.” Michael Bolingbroke, ABBA Voyage executive producer, added: “We are delighted Benugo's world-class food and drink will be a part of this experience.”
Greene King launches ninth Hive pub: Brewer and retailer Greene King has launched its ninth Hive Pub, transforming The Globe in Chelmsford, Essex, with a £320,000 investment. Previously a Greene King managed pub, it will be run by new franchisees Melissa and Steve Field. The pub will offer an extensive range of food and drink in line with the Hive Pubs branded concept, including a menu of pub classics curated by the food team at Greene King. All major sporting events will be shown on Sky Sports and BT Sport, and the pub also has a pool table and dartboards and will host regular karaoke nights and live music. The Hive Pub franchise agreement gives licensees a ready to trade pub for just £5,000 ingoing cost, with a minimum guaranteed income of £20,000 plus additional income based on performance such as share of turnover. Wayne Shurvinton, managing director for Greene King Pub Partners, said: “I’m excited to see how The Globe prospers in the coming months following our transformation. It is our ninth Hive Pub, and we have even more set to open very soon.”
PureGym reports £25m Ebitda on £116m revenue in first quarter of 2022, opens eight new sites: PureGym, Britain’s biggest health and fitness club operator, has reported strong trading in the first quarter of its financial year. The group, which operates more than 500 venues across the UK and Europe, reported adjusted Ebitda of £25m on total revenue of £116m for the quarter ending 31 March 2022. This compared to an Ebitda loss of £25m in the equivalent period of 2021, when its venues were closed due to covid-19 lockdowns. Revenue in the first quarter of 2022 was up 7% on the same period of 2019, while £11.3m was spent on expansion, including eight new corporate-owned sites, growing its estate to 514. Last month, the business announced plans to more than double the size of its estate to in excess of 1,000 sites in the medium term. This follows a £300m investment from private equity firm KKR it secured in December 2001 to support its expansion.

Chef Steve Groves opens ‘plant-forward’ restaurant at Glyndebourne: Steve Groves, the 2019 National Chef of the Year, has launched a new “plant-forward” casual dining concept at Glyndebourne opera house in East Sussex. The revamped Nether Wallop restaurant has opened in partnership with Restaurant Associates. The redesigned space delivers farm to fork, plant-forward menus “bursting with fresh flavours”. Dishes include chalk steam trout with dill and lemon crème fraiche as well as slow-cooked Sussex lamb shoulder with mint dressing with sides of Bulls heart tomato, lovage pesto and graceburn cheese. Groves said: “I am excited by the fact most of the shared plates and side dishes will be plant-based as I can see it encouraging a more convivial way of sharing food, meeting the tastes of many, instead of a few. With the banquet style of service that’s never been seen before at Glyndebourne, we really want to create a fun, lively atmosphere that feels like a real occasion. Also, by having no pre-orders, we have the flexibility to change the menu based on what ingredients are of the best quality at that moment and offer the best opportunity to reduce waste.”
Stint to introduce unlimited holidays and hybrid working: Stint, the student work platform, has announced a new flexible approach for its employees – including unlimited holidays and a hybrid working model. The brand has also adapted its official HR policy to establish flexible working hours, with meetings and team-focused activities to be scheduled between 10am-5pm Monday to Friday. The new policies are intended to reflect Stint’s business model, in which students can be flexible and fit work at hospitality venues around their university timetable. It is looking to implement this model across the business, giving its entire workforce the freedom to work in a way that best suits them. Grace Redmayne, head of people at Stint, said: “The Stint team is full of dedicated, passionate individuals who work hard to make the lives of students and hospitality operators easier. It’s important we value our employees and take into consideration the ways in which each person works best, and we’ve found that by providing our team with these benefits, we can still get the most out of our teams while enabling them to focus on their well-being, both in and outside the office.” 
Itsu strengthens retail range with chicken big’bao launch: Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain, has added to its retail range with the launch of a chicken big’bao sandwich. The Asian-inspired (hot) sandwich steams in the microwave in 90 seconds. The two-handed soft steamed bun is stuffed with a signature blend of finely diced chicken, spring onion, soy sauce and shitake and wood ear mushrooms and has a RRP of £3. Founder Julian Metcalfe said: “Successful innovation in the food business is rare, but here we have a breakthrough product.” Metcalfe and the Itsu [grocery] team spent years perfecting the big’bao, which can be found in selected supermarkets nationwide and online via Amazon Fresh. Metcalfe is also opening 25 more Itsu restaurants across the UK this year. The company’s restaurants and grocery business generate £150m annually.
Rare Restaurants confirms July opening date for M Canary Wharf: Rare Restaurants, the owner of Gaucho and M Restaurants, has confirmed its new M Canary Wharf restaurant will open on Wednesday, 6 July. Propel reported in October the Martin Williams-led business would be opening a third restaurant for its M brand at a site it secured in 2016, before embarking on a “five-year passion project” to develop the 10,000 square-foot venue. Based in the 220-metre high Newfoundland building, it will extend over both the ground and first floors – offering a bar serving sensory cocktails, a 180-cover restaurant, two private dining rooms, a wine tasting room, the Taste of La Petite M Café and an exclusive private members’ lounge. All this will be surrounded by a Provence-inspired terrace offering rosé wine and gin in partnership with Maison Mirabeau. It will also feature live DJs and film screenings. Founded by Williams and Mike Reid in 2014, M also operates restaurants in London’s Threadneedle Street and Victoria Street. For Canary Wharf, Reid, a protégé of Michel Roux and Gordon Ramsay has created a menu that “showcases M signature dishes and premium beef, while also transporting diners to Provence”. It will offer 100% carbon neutral beef as part of the group’s pledge to reach carbon zero by 2030. The M Den members’ lounge will include exclusive access to the lounges in M Canary Wharf, Threadneedle Street and Victoria Street, while La Petite M Café will offer healthy breakfasts, plant-based sandwiches at lunch and charcuterie boards and fine wine in the evenings.
MasterChef semi-finalist and former Michelin-starred restaurant head chef to launch new home for Leeds gastropub: MasterChef semi-finalist Liz Cottam and Mark Owens, former head chef at Michelin-starred restaurant The Box Tree in Ilkley, will on Friday (27 May) launch the new home for their Leeds gastropub, Owl. Having first opened in November 2019 at Leeds’ Kirkgate market, Owl has now relocated to Lockside, in the city’s Mustard Wharf development. The new venue will include a canalside terrace for undercover outdoor dining, which the owners said is “just the start of exciting changes purposely fit for the team’s ambitious visions for the restaurant”. Without the “restrictions and confines of the market”, the restaurant will now offer more flexible opening times and is able to accommodate almost twice the number of diners. The restaurant will continue to offer “a quintessential, yet distinctly modern British dining experience”, with dishes being switched up once a fortnight, and a full menu change every four to six weeks. Owens said: “We have worked so hard behind the scenes to create the Owl we’ve always envisioned. We are excited to start this new chapter in the life of Owl and are looking forward to welcoming all of our guests, old and new. As well as being a new chapter for Owl, we’re excited to be a part of a brilliant new area for Leeds alongside some fantastic local businesses.” In October 2021, Owens and Cottam also relocated their flagship Leeds restaurant, Home, from the Kirkfield Market to a bigger site in the city’s Brewery Wharf. They also operate bake house, dining room and wine cellar concept Cora in Boston Spa.
White Rabbit Projects to open latest Scottish bar and restaurant venture next week: Chris Miller’s White Rabbit Projects will open its latest venture, The Rabbit restaurant and its sister bar, The Seal, in Scotland’s Marine Troon next week. The venues will open next Wednesday (1 June) as part of the Marine & Lawn Hotels & Resorts collection at the South Ayrshire destination, owned by Adventurous Journeys Capital Partners. White Rabbit Projects’ portfolio includes 18 St Andrews, The Lawn, Garden House, The Alice, Lina Stores, Kricket, Island Poké, Rusacks St Andrews and Marine North Berwick – the latter opening in September. The Rabbit’s menu has been led by Marine & Lawn Rusacks St Andrews’ executive chef, Derek Johnstone, who will champion hyper-seasonal local ingredients together with Scottish seafood and game. Dishes will include Ayrshire mussels with nduja, fennel, cider and lovage; and chicken liver parfait with pickled chicory and toast. The 78-cover restaurant, which will open daily for lunch and dinner, will also have a separate Sunday roast menu. The Seal bar, meanwhile, will offer all-day dining, cocktails and light bites. Afternoon tea will also be served from noon-4pm Friday to Sunday. Marine Troon overlooks Royal Troon Golf Club’s Old Course, which is set to host The Open Championship in 2024.
Kaspa’s to open restaurant at Chatham Waterside: Dessert parlour brand Kaspa’s, which has more than 100 UK locations, has signed for a 1,650 square-foot unit at Chatham Waterside in Kent. It is set to open next month, alongside a new Costa, which will occupy a 1,450 square-foot space – both on ten-year leases. This follows the recent openings of KFC, Gymfinity Kids and Ninja Warrior UK at Chatham Waterside.

Mandarin Oriental set to open second London hotel, Michelin-starred chef to head up F&B offering: Mandarin Oriental, which operates a worldwide portfolio of circa 36 luxury hotels, is set to open a second site in London – and have lined up a Michelin-starred chef to head up the food and beverage offering. The Mandarin Oriental Mayfair is set to launch this winter at 22 Hanover Square, including a spa, cocktail lounge and possible rooftop bar. The food offering will be led by chef Akira Back, whose restaurant Dosa in Seoul, South Koera, was awarded a Michelin star in 2018. It will be a second London venue for Mandarin Oriental following the opening of its Hyde Park hotel in 2000. Having undergone extensive renovation works in 2019, the Hyde Park venue earlier this year launched The Aubrey izakaya bar and restaurant, a UK debut for Asian restaurant group Maximal Concepts.
Slim Chickens secures second Bristol site: Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) has secured a second site for its Slim Chickens brand in Bristol. The new venue will open in the Cribbs Causeway retail destination next month, adding to its restaurant at Cabot Circus. Last month, Propel revealed that BRG was planning a site in the Liverpool ONE scheme for its 18th opening of the US brand, which started rolling out in the UK in 2018. In March, Slim Chickens opened a new flagship site in London’s Cambridge Circus, and also has openings lined up in Brighton, Leicester and Milton Keynes. It is also understood to be in talks to take on a unit in London’s Bishopsgate.
Sunderland-based brewery set to open second site: Independent Sunderland brewery Vaux is set to open a second site after agreeing a lease on an historic shelter overlooking Roker beach. Michael Thompson and Steve Smith, who acquired the rights to the city's former Vaux Brewery brand in 2019, have agreed a deal with estate agent Bradley Hall for the letting of a new brewery and beachfront bar in the Victorian shelter on Marine Walk – which will have a capacity of 100. The pair also operate a brewery and taproom in the city. Smith said: “We’ve walked past this shelter for ages and have always felt it would be the perfect space for us. When the council put it out to tender, we thought it was an opportunity that was too good to pass up. The new space won’t be just a Vaux bar; it will be more of a beachfront bar and kitchen. It will be a space to relax in after a long week with good craft beer, good food and good wine. We really see the Roker Shelter as the final piece of the Marine Walk puzzle as it’s been crying out for development for years – we are just thrilled to be the ones to take on the challenge.” Construction work is due to begin later this year, with plans to open in the summer of 2023.
Burnley set to get first ‘Michelin star quality’ restaurant: Burnley is set to get its first “Michelin star quality” restaurant after plans to turn a former pub into a fine dining restaurant were given the green light. Real estate company Spacious Place Life, based in the Lancashire town, has been granted permission by Burnley Council to transform the disused Waterloo pub, on the corner of Trafalgar Street and Sandygate, into a restaurant run by chef Joe McLeod. Having worked at the Michelin-rated The Manor House and Northcote Manor, McLeod is now running his own luxury private dining business, McLeod 9. In the daytime, the ground floor will act as an eatery, with a simple healthy food menu and coffee bar, while in the evening, the premises will operate as a fine dining restaurant with a bar area. It will have 30 covers, an open kitchen and an option for a private dining area. The plans stated: “Spacious Place Life has the aspiration to bring to Burnley the first Michelin star-rated restaurant. Spacious Place Life has collaborated with a local chef to refurbish the existing Waterloo pub and hotel to create a 30-seat fine dining restaurant and private dining room bringing Michelin star quality food to the area.”
Seven Bro7hers Brewery to open beer house in Liverpool: Manchester-based SevenBro7hers Brewery will open its new site in Liverpool on Friday (27 May). The beer house, the fourth in the company’s growing portfolio, will finally open in Wolstenholme Square following more than six months of delays due to the covid-19 pandemic. Founded in 2014 by McAvoy brothers Guy, Keith, Luke, Daniel, Nathan, Kit, and Greg, it currently operates beer houses in Manchester’s Middlewood Locks, MediaCity UK and Ancoats. It also operates a taproom bar in the brewery and the Ambler Alehouse partnership bar at Manchester airport’s new Terminal 2 departure lounge, while further sites are planned for Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham and Birmingham by the end of 2023. Keith said: “The Liverpool site has been a long time in the making, but we believe it will be worth the wait. We have worked through a series of setbacks following the covid-19 pandemic, so it feels like a huge achievement for the whole family to open our doors this month. We are very proud to show the people of this great city our new space and can’t wait to kick off and be part of the Liverpool buzz.”

FB Holdings opens first physical restaurant for ‘virtual’ Dirty Wild Wings concept: FB Holdings has opened the first physical restaurant for its Dirty Wild Wings concept. The venue has opened at the Touchwood shopping centre in Solihull. Dirty Wild Wings started as a virtual restaurant concept during lockdown and offers gourmet chicken wings, burgers and loaded fries. Tony Elvin, general manager at Touchwood, said: “We just love the Dirty Wild Wings concept and I’m sure it’s going to be hugely popular. We pride ourselves on offering the best of independent brands and boutiques at Touchwood as we continue to deliver an award-winning destination for retail, leisure, and hospitality.” Other brands within the FB Holdings portfolio include the five-strong fried chicken and chips concept Jaqks; Indian street food establishment Indico, which currently operates in The Mailbox in Birmingham and Shirley; and the most recent, Bulls Street Burgers, serving-up classic burgers and sides.
Australian fitness franchise F45 secures Nottingham site: Australian fitness franchise F45 is set to open a new site in Nottingham. Jorja and Harry Calver will oversee the new site in Pavilion Road near Trent Bridge after agreeing a lease agreement with landlord Harmony Bridge Properties. Jorja said: “When Harry and I made the decision to join the F45 Training franchise, we immediately knew we wanted to set up in Nottingham. Not only is it a city we know well, it’s also a fun and vibrant place with a community that we know will love F45’s offering as much as we do.” F45 launched in 2013 and now has more than 3,000 studios in 65 countries. F45 was advised by Nelsons on the Nottingham deal.

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