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Fri 27th May 2022 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Government accused of failing to support businesses over cost-of-living crisis, calls for energy cap for SMEs: The government has been accused of failing to support businesses as the cost-of-living crisis continues to ramp costs up. Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on Thursday (26 May) a £400 energy grant for all households; a £650 payment for eight million lowest income households; £300 for eight million pensioner households and a one-off payment of £150 for six million people living with disabilities. But there was no such relief for businesses struggling to come to terms with last month’s return to 20% VAT, as well as increased energy cost and food prices. Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industry Association, said: “We welcome this gesture of support for consumers, although somewhat light touch, given the gravity of the current pressures. But we feel hugely disappointed and frustrated the chancellor and government have not taken the opportunity to fully support businesses within this announcement at such a critical time. Time is running out for businesses as costs ramp up, and we continue to call for a reduction in VAT back down to 12.5% and an energy cap for small and medium-sized enterprises.” UKHospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls, added: “Direct, focused cash payments for lower income households will hopefully shore up some consumer confidence, but now we need a commensurate focus to reduce the costs of doing businesses, to reduce further price rises. The government needs to identify and accelerate policies that will cut costs, minimise red tape and accelerate growth. A reiteration of its commitment to cut business taxes to incentivise investment in high streets, people and innovation would also help to settle nerves across many sectors, including hospitality.” Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “We need the government to act now and take measures to immediately bring down costs and alleviate the pressures on our pubs and brewers. The fortunes of our sector hang in the balance. This is why we have been calling for an energy price cap for small businesses, to ensure fair energy deals for businesses across hospitality and beyond. A further package of small business support is needed to reduce the huge burden and allow pubs and brewers to get back on their feet instead of placing more barriers in the way of their recovery.”
 

Industry News:

Sponsored message – overcoming Hospitality Rising campaign doubts: Hospitality Rising 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 – but why are some people not backing us? You told us: “My only doubt is if there’s going to be enough support. I don't want to be one of the few companies paying in while others profit at our expense. We need many voices (and funds) to be effective.” So true! At the start of our fundraising campaign, deciding whether or not to support Hospitality Rising was a tough chicken and egg scenario. But we’ve now got more than £650,000 of backing. We also have support from the UK government, as well as industry trade bodies. As the official industry response to the ongoing recruitment crisis, Hospitality Rising is now a safe investment. Your contribution of £10 plus VAT per employee will be added to an already significant pot. As Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, puts it: “The workforce challenges are stark and without dramatic action by the industry as a whole, these problems will not be fixed. Hospitality Rising has the ambition and the dynamism the sector so desperately needs.” Please step up for our industry and make your pledge here. If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com.

Paul Charity highlights US food scene trends: Automation is increasingly being seen as a solution to staff shortages in the US, while the pandemic has quickened the evolution of some business models still in their relative infancy in the UK. These are some of the US food scene trends noted by Propel managing director Paul Charity during a visit to Chicago this week. Charity was in “The Windy City” for the National Restaurant Show, during which time he visited numerous restaurants and walked every aisle of two massive pavilions at the world’s largest restaurant show. “I counted no fewer than eight companies showcasing robotics at the Restaurant Show,” said Charity, writing in Friday’s Propel Premium Opinion. “For some, robots still belong in science fiction movies. But restaurants in the US have begun to extol their virtues. The National Restaurant Association’s 2022 report found 77% of quick service operations didn’t have enough staff – and 78% of operators say they expect automation and technology to help with this.” Writing about Flynn Restaurant Group, a US franchisee with 73,000 staff and 2,355 restaurants, Charity added: “The pandemic saw it buy 937 Pizza Hut and 194 Wendy’s stores for $552.6m when a fellow franchisee went bankrupt (allowing a thorough estate cleanse). It’s the kind of company that doesn’t exist in the UK. It has placed bets on mature brands in parts of the market that have performed well for a long time. It is privy to lots of general learnings that come from being deep inside multiple systems.” Charity also made note of the “jaw-droppingly good” service still offered in US restaurants; the halo effect of premiumisation; the benefits of creating a hero menu item; and the growing influence UK companies are having on the US food scene. Charity will share more of his thoughts in this week’s Premium Opinion, which will be published on Friday (27 May) at 5pm. Also in this week’s Premium Opinion, Lavender Bank Partners Geof Collyer looks at a 20-year era coming to an end at Young’s, while Propel group editor Mark Wingett examines Tortilla’s acquisition of rival Chilango and whether similar deals are on the cards. To upgrade your subscription, email jo.charity@propelinfo.com.
 
Updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies released today at midday, 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 today (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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel group editor Mark Wingett.
 
Propel Friday Wrap video series continues with Phil Eeles, co-founder of Honest Burgers: Propel’s Friday Wrap video series continues today (Friday, 27 May) at 3pm. The series, which is sponsored by Mr Yum, the world’s most powerful ordering and payments platform, sees Mark Stretton, former sector journalist and now head of sector PR firm Fleet Street Communications, and Propel’s group editor Mark Wingett discussing this week’s key issues facing the UK’s hospitality sector, with a leading sector operator or expert. This week they are joined by Phil Eeles, co-founder of Honest Burgers, to discuss, among other things, the company’s commitment to sustainability, how that is impacting its recruitment and relationship with consumers, what comes next, and the lessons it has learnt from the pandemic.
 
UK sees dip in weekly card spending and restaurant bookings: British consumers spent less on credit and debit cards and made fewer restaurant bookings than the week before, according to new figures released by the Office for National Statistics. Spending on credit and debit cards – which is not adjusted for inflation or the time of year – fell three percentage points on the previous week to 101% of its February 2020 average, based on Bank of England CHAPS interbank payments for the week to 19 May. Restaurant bookings fell by two percentage points, according to OpenTable figures. Economists are looking closely to see the extent to which surging inflation leads to a fall in Britons' spending on non-essential goods and services.
 
Overseas visitors account for almost a third more of pub accommodation bookings than pre-pandemic: Visitors from overseas are accounting for almost a third more of pub accommodation bookings than before the pandemic. Pub accommodation booking platform Stay in a Pub, the brainchild of Paul Nunny, has said 44% of all bookings made in April and May have been from overseas. This is a large uptick on pre-pandemic figures, when only 17% of its bookings were from abroad. As well as European visitors, significant numbers are travelling long haul from the US, Canada, and Australia. And even before expenditure on food and drinks consumed during their stay, the average booking value for each property is £220. Sophie Braybrooke, the new chief executive of Stay in a Pub, said: “It is great to see the increase in bookings from international visitors. At Stay in a Pub, we are spreading the word about the charm, authenticity, and warm welcome of a quintessentially British pub beyond our shores. In our mission to support the industry, and we are helping to fill pub rooms and generate important revenue through accommodation. Before the pandemic, around 17% of our bookings were from overseas, so seeing the numbers swell proportionately and in real terms is great news for the sector.” Founded in 2013 as an online listing for a wide range of pubs with rooms, Stay in a Pub has developed into a platform for pubs to promote their bedrooms and full retail offering. It receives around 50,000 website visits per month over the summer period from people looking for stays in traditional country inns, boutique city pubs, and affordable pub accommodation in the UK.

Company News:

Wingstop UK secures multimillion-pound debt facility: Lemon Pepper Holdings, which is rolling out US chicken brand Wingstop across the UK, has secured a new multimillion-pound debt facility, to aid the further roll of the concept here. The company, which recently opened its 20th Wingstop site in the UK, in Bromley, said it has secured “significant credit facilities” from Barclays to help continue the roll-out of the brand. Paddy Bamford, chief financial officer of Wingstop UK, said: “It’s great to partner with a bank that was able to offer us a bespoke financing solution and could see the potential for the brand in the UK market.” It is believed Lemon Pepper Holdings/Wingstop UK are one of the first new clients for Barclays Corporate in the restaurant and hospitality sector since the impact of covid-19. Chris Francis, relationship director at Barclays Corporate Bank, said: “We are pleased to be able to support Lemon Pepper Holdings with the provision of a new loan facility, and look forward to seeing the continued growth of its business across the UK.” Lemon Pepper Holdings has further restaurant openings lined up in the Trafford Centre in Manchester, Nottingham, Brighton and Wood Green, plus new delivery kitchen units in Bristol and Leeds. Earlier this month, Michael Skipworth, president and chief executive of Wingstop, said the brand’s success in the UK is a “clear demonstration of the power of our international growth strategy”. The UK business has 15 openings slated for 2022. Skipworth said: “The average unit volumes in the UK are $2m, despite the market just opening in late 2018. This market provides us with a solid playbook and a blueprint for success as we accelerate our global growth as a brand.”
 
Hell Yeah Hospitality Group appoints MD, Pizza Punks to open sites in Liverpool and Nottingham: Hell Yeah Hospitality Group, which operates Pizza Punks, Veganizza and Mamasan, has appointed Graeme Gardiner as managing director to spearhead its UK expansion. Joining the business in July, with a wealth of experience leading international retail and hospitality organisations, Gardiner arrives from Alshaya Group, which operates 80 brands across the Middle East and North Africa. Most recently he was responsible for leading the MENA operations of more than 1,000 Starbucks stores across ten markets. The appointment comes as Hell Yeah Hospitality announces two more openings for Pizza Punks, in Liverpool and Nottingham. Hell Yeah’s unlimited-topping, sourdough pizza brand, Pizza Punks has sites in Glasgow, Belfast, Newcastle, Leeds and newly opened Leicester (March) and Durham (April). The two new openings in Liverpool and Nottingham will see Pizza Punks double its estate in the last year, from four in 2021 to eight in 2022. The Liverpool site will open mid-September in Bold Street. The seventh site for the group, it will also be the brand’s largest with 170 covers inside and a further 30 covers outside. The Liverpool outlet will also be the first site in the portfolio to launch a grab and go hatch for collections, which will be situated in Wood Street. The Nottingham restaurant is planned for November, opening at Fletcher Gate with 180 covers. Hell Yeah Hospitality aims to expand even further beyond 2022, setting its sights on further Pizza Punks locations in Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, London, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dublin. Brad Stevens, founder and chief executive of Hell Yeah Hospitality, said: “We are confident in our aspiration to roll out the Pizza Punks brand UK-wide. The Pizza Punks restaurant sites are all profitable and turnover has trebled since 2019. The Pizza Punks success so far has been way beyond our expectations, and with our new managing director joining this summer, I am sure the portfolio will go from strength to strength.”
 
Spanish Restaurant Group secures Basingstoke site for Tapas Revolution, two more sites in legals: Spanish Restaurant Group (SRG), the team behind Tapas Revolution, will open a new site under the brand later this summer, in Basingstoke. Propel has learned the James Picton-led group will replace the Pizza Hut site in the town’s Festival Place scheme, which is due to close at the end of this month. SRG is also understood to be in legals on two further sites for Tapas Revolution, including on a site in the north east. It expects both sites to come online by the start of next year, which would take the group to 14 sites, and see it double in size since its formation in 2019. Last year, the company converted the La Tasca site in Liverpool to a Tapas Revolution and the La Tasca in London’s Leadenhall to its La Vina concept. It is still thought to be exploring options for La Tasca, the tapas brand that once boasted 80 restaurants but was sold by Casual Dining Group in 2020, only five years after acquiring it. SRG managing director Picton told Propel the company had spent the past two years investing in the development of the group’s offer and people, and was seeing this investment “pay off”. He said the business had “traded robustly” throughout the period.
 
Enhanced Hospitality secures ex-Zelman Meats site: Enhanced Hospitality, the Roger Payne-led operator of the We Are Bar business and Shaka Zulu in Camden, is to open a new site in London’s Soho. Propel understands the business, formerly known as Camden Dining, is taking over the former Zelman Meats site in St Anne’s Court, for a yet unnamed new venture. Last year, Enhanced Hospitality opened a new Japanese restaurant in London called Ginza St James’s. on the former Matsuri site in Bury Street. Payne, who also owned and operated The Cuban and Chicago Rib Shack brands, was also mooted to be taking on the Mitchells & Butlers’ former Browns site in Maddox Street, Mayfair, for a yet unknown new venture. Brandon Elmon, of Genius1Group, acted for the landlord on the St Anne’s Court deal. 
 
Azzurri Group puts Pod delivery kitchens into ASK sites: Azzurri Group, the operator of the Zizzi, ASK Italian and Coco Di Mama brands, has opened delivery kitchen sites under its Pod brand in a handful of locations, Propel has learned. The Steve Holmes-led company, which acquired the rump of the Pod business out of administration in 2019, has opened delivery kitchens under the salad brand in four of its ASK sites. They are in Brighton, Lakeside, Beckenham and Winchester. In January, sector peer Azzurri Group launched a delivery kitchen site featuring all its brands with delivery kitchen operator Foodstars at its site in Bethnal Green. Coco di Mama currently operates in 145 locations nationwide, the majority out of Zizzi and ASK sites. Earlier this spring, Coco di Mama opened its first roadside services site at Roadchef’s flagship Norton Canes service area on the M6.
 
Liberation Group acquires two sites from OHH Pub Company: Channel Islands and West Country-based brewer and retailer Liberation Group has acquired two sites from OHH Pub Company, the Mark Warburton-led business, for an undisclosed sum. Liberation has added The Northey Arms in Box, Wiltshire, and The Rising Sun in Backwell, north Somerset, with both joining its Butcombe estate of pubs and inns. Jonathan Lawson, chief executive of Liberation Group, said: “We are delighted to welcome these fantastic pubs to the Butcombe side of the family. These two new sites are a great fit for us, both geographically and operationally and they offer an exciting opportunity for us to deliver our award-winning food, drink and hospitality experience to locals and visitors alike.” Liberation said the acquisition is in line with Butcombe Pubs & Inns’ longer-term strategy to expand its presence throughout the West Country via the acquisition of “high quality, predominantly freehold pubs capable of supporting a premium, food-led offering with accommodation”. Butcombe Pubs & Inns will incorporate the acquired sites, and associated employees, into its existing portfolio and intends to invest substantial capital into both of the businesses to support future growth. Lawson said: “We look forward to welcoming the teams on board and working closely with them to implement our ambitious plans. Thanks to OHH Company, they’re both well established and popular local pubs with excellent reputations.” The disposal of the two pubs leaves OHH operating The Old House At Home in Burton and The Bear & Swan in Chew Magna. Earlier this year, Warburton launched the Cow & Sow in Bristol – a steak restaurant “with a twist”, which opened on the former Graze restaurant site in Queens Square. Propel understands Warburton hopes to open a second site under the concept this year.
 
RedCat continues The Coaching Inn Group expansion with Brecon Beacons National Park site: RedCat Pub Company, the investment vehicle from ex-Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand, has acquired the Castle of Brecon hotel within Brecon Beacons National Park. The property will be operated by RedCat’s subsidiary, The Coaching Inn Group, taking its portfolio to 26 sites. The Coaching Inn Group, acquired by RedCat last August, operates historic coaching inns in market towns across the UK. Since acquiring the group, RedCat has supported its rapid expansion through the acquisition of eight additional sites. The Castle of Brecon hotel is formed around the historic Castle of Brecon, which dates to 1089 and was built by the brother of William the Conqueror. The hotel has 43 guest bedrooms, along with bars, restaurants and function spaces that can cater for more than 300 guests. RedCat has grown strongly since inception in February 2021, having acquired more than 100 pubs and pub hotels, amounting to a hotel room estate of in excess of 1,000 rooms. Kevin Charity, chief executive of The Coaching Inn Group, said: “We’re working hard to continue to expand our estate at pace and bring The Coaching Inn’s expertise to bear on new properties.” Anand added: “Brecon Beacons National Park is an area of great natural beauty and I look forward to further building our portfolio in popular tourism destinations.”
 
Coast & Country Hotel Collection takes a million bookings in first year of operation: A hotel group of more than 30 properties formed during the pandemic has taken a million bookings in its first year of operating. The Coast & Country Hotel Collection, which has venues across the UK, has also served a million meals across its portfolio in the same time. Founded in May 2021, the company’s busiest hotels were the Royal Hotel in Whitby and the Burlington Hotel in Eastbourne, while there were also high occupancy rates at The Golden Lion in Hunstanton, the Grand Atlantic in Weston-super-Mare and the Pitlochry Hydro in Pitlochry. Portfolio managing director Paul FitzGerald said: “We have gone from strength to strength in a short and very difficult time for the hospitality industry. We’re delighted to have reached our one-year anniversary and look forward to many more to come.” The collection recently launched its Explore & Stay packages, which looks to promote the hotels’ localities, following feedback from guests. Fitzgerald added: “These offer tailored breaks with helpful itineraries, as we seek to encourage guests to appreciate the many wonderful locations where our hotels are found. We’re opening up some excellent areas of the country and are hopeful of delivering a million more room nights across this package in the year to come.”
 
Island Poké makes move into breakfast: Island Poké, the London-based White Rabbit Projects and Hero Brands-backed business, has launched a breakfast menu. It will start off being served at Island Poké Shoreditch and Battersea before rolling out at its other sites across the capital. The menu will include a range of breakfast pots along with a variety of tea and coffee options – including Change Please Coffee, whose entire profits go towards ending homelessness. There will also be a variety of scrambled egg combinations such as pineapple baked beans, salmon and wakame cream cheese, turkey and spring onion and teriyaki mushroom. Island Poké founder, James Gould-Porter, said: “At Island Poké, we are committed to creating products that excite our customers and bring our brand to the next level. Creating a new breakfast menu that incorporates our fresh Pacific flavours felt like a logical step in expanding our offering. We want to provide consumers with a healthy and tasty alternative to the typical morning grab-and-go options, and all while contributing to worthwhile causes.” Island Poké, which operates 18 sites in London, including four delivery kitchens, and nine sites in France, plans to open 100 locations across the UK in the next five years, including four new restaurants in Edinburgh. Last month, the business began a search for a new managing director to work alongside Gould-Porter to help with its growth journey. This followed the appointment of Mark Comer, formerly of Loungers, as new finance director in February.
 
Brunning & Price to open new Bath pub next month: Brunning & Price, the pub operator owned by The Restaurant Group (TRG), is set to open its new Bath pub, The Architect, next month. The company continued its expansion plans by securing the ground floor space of the old Empire Hotel in Bath’s Orange Grove Close, which used to be a Garfunkel’s restaurant, in January. With renovation works on the grade II-listed building now almost complete, an opening of Thursday, 23 June has been slated for the pub – the 84th in the Brunning & Price estate. Hannah Liquorish, having previously run the nearby Huntsman and Hare and Hounds pubs, has been appointed manager. She will be joined in the management team by Ben McDow, who has previously worked at another Brunning & Price pub, the Rowbarge in Woolhampton, and Ollie Tueuten. Chef Szabi Szabo, who has also previously worked for Brunning & Price at Arrow Mill and The Bell, both near Stratford-upon-Avon, will lead a menu of classic British dishes “complemented by exotic influences from other parts of the world”. The pub will have an outdoor terrace and private dining room, and dogs will be welcome in the bar area. Propel revealed in September 2021 that Brunning & Price had begun a push for new sites following TRG’s £175m recapitalisation. This followed an announcement by TRG six months earlier that it planned to eventually double the size of the brand’s then 70-strong estate.
 
Premium tonic and mixer brand secures £1.1m investment following 160% growth: Premium tonic and mixer brand Lixir has secured a £1.1m investment following growth of 160% in the past year. The cash injection comes from a mixture of new strategic investors and existing backers, including PureGym founder Peter Roberts and former Pernod commercial director Chris Ellis. Launched in 2018 by Matt Mahatme and Jordan Palmer, Lixir has been stocked across the Boxpark, City Pub Co and Mosaic Pub & Dining estates, while its recent growth was promoted by a distribution deal with Molson Coors Beverage Co in April 2021. Palmer said: “After making it through a challenging couple of years for the trade, we’re thrilled this new investment will allow us to really scale the brand. For us, that looks like investing in new team members and activating the brand to reach as many new consumers as possible.” Lixir was also certified as carbon neutral last year and is now working towards achieving B Corp status by the end of 2022.
 
Leeds opera company set to open new restaurant: Opera North, an opera company based in Leeds, is set to open a new restaurant in its grade II-listed premises at New Briggate. Called Kino, it will seat up to 100 covers across three floors, initially offering cheese and charcuterie, wine, craft beer and cocktails ahead of an evolving food offering featuring guest chefs and kitchen residencies. Launching on Friday, 6 July – initially open on Wednesday and Thursday evenings and all day on Fridays and Saturdays – the restaurant will provide a full food offer and a residency from a Leeds pop-up brand from September. Richard Mantle, general director at Opera North, said: “Opening Kino is the final piece in the puzzle following our transformative £18m redevelopment programme, Music Works. Located next to Leeds Grand Theatre, where Opera North is a resident company, Kino will be the perfect spot to enjoy drinks and a bite to eat before a performance, or as a destination in its own right.”
 
Leonardo Hotels opens first Manchester site: Leonardo Hotels, which operates 47 hotels in the UK and circa 140 more across Europe and the Middle East, has launched its first site in Manchester. The Leonardo Hotel Manchester Piccadilly features 275 en-suite bedrooms and a wellness suite, where guests can take part in personalised guided meditation session. It also has an on-site bar and restaurant, Leo’s, serving food and drinks throughout the day for dine-in, takeaway and room service. “We are delighted to have opened our first Leonardo Hotel in Manchester,” said Jason Carruthers, managing director for Jurys Inn and Leonardo Hotels UK. “The unique ‘Jenga’ design of the hotel has seen a lot of interest in it before its doors even opened, and we’re excited to now welcome people inside and continue the conversation.”
 
Kokoro lines up Cheltenham and Nottingham sites: Sushi and bento brand Kokoro is lining up openings in Cheltenham and Nottingham. Kokoro has applied for planning permission to open a 30-cover restaurant in a former clothes shop in Cheltenham High Street. It would be a first site in Gloucestershire for the Korean and Japanese influenced brand, which last month passed the 50-site mark with openings in Farnborough, Richmond and Sevenoaks. Kokoro is also set to open at 7-8 Exchange Walk in Nottingham for its second site in the East Midlands after Leicester. The business also has further openings lined up in Manchester, Tunbridge Wells, Portsmouth and Hastings.
 
Stack & Still to double up in Edinburgh for seventh site overall: Scottish pancake house concept Stack & Still will next week open its second site in Edinburgh and seventh overall. The company, which already has a 140-cover space in the premises previously occupied by Jamie’s Italian in George Street’s Assembly Rooms, will open at Bonnie & Wild ­– the food hall concept from the founders of Scottish restaurant brand Mac & Wild – at St James Quarter next Wednesday (1 June). Stack & Still also has four branches in Glasgow, and one in Livingston, serving up buttermilk, buckwheat, protein-packed, low-fat or gluten-free vegan pancakes with a selection of toppings and sauces. Chief executive Paul Reynolds said: “All of us at Stack & Still are over the moon to be joining the Bonnie & Wild community. The venue’s fantastic, with some superb chefs who I’m really excited to be working alongside. The ethos at Bonnie & Wild really chimes with us – we focus on fresh food cooked to order, using local, sustainably sourced ingredients as much as possible. We proudly use Scottish ingredients as much as possible and make the most of the fantastic food and drink products available.” Reynolds, co-founder of parent company TDQ Group, last year put four of its businesses – Gin71, Cup Team Rooms, The Gin Spa and Ambr – up for sale to focus on Stack & Still.

Dylan’s lines up fourth restaurant and second bakery shop: Anglesey-based restaurant group Dylan’s has taken on the former antiques shop in Conwy owned by Drew Pritchard, star of TV’s Salvage Hunter programme, for its fourth restaurant and second bakery shop. Pritchard revealed last week that he is seeking new pastures for his business, and it has now been confirmed that Dylan’s has snapped up the site. David Evans and Robin Hodgson launched Dylan’s in Menai Bridge ten years ago and have since opened restaurants in Criccieth and Llandudno, as well as a bakery shop at Menai Bridge. It plans to open another bakery store – selling baked goods made for their restaurants and a wide range of local products – this summer, and later apply to open a restaurant on the first and second floors. Dylan’s had previously tried to open on the quayside in Conwy, but the county council later decided not to develop the historic quay. Dave Retallick, communications manager at Dylan’s, said: “When we first announced that we were moving our lockdown project to a permanent shopfront in Menai Bridge, it was fantastic to see how many people also wanted us to open one in the Conwy/Llandudno area. The thought never left our minds, and it’s so exciting to be able to say ‘yes!’ a year later.” Director David Evans added: “This new shop is very much ‘phase one’, as in the future, we hope to develop the building’s first and second floors and open our fourth restaurant. After a decade of Dylan’s, we’re as committed as ever to our local suppliers, many of whom have worked with us since 2012, and a fourth restaurant also means we increase our spend with the same suppliers.”

London-based burger restaurant Chuck joins Gloucester Food Dock line-up: London-based burger restaurant Chuck is the latest operator to join the line-up at Gloucester Food Dock. Chuck has outlets in King’s Cross and Brick Lane. Cheltenham-based chef, Lewis Spencer, will head up the team at the new Chuck, reports So Glos. “Chuck’s food is incredible – It is going to be a wonderful addition,” said a spokeswoman for Ladybellegate Developments, which is behind the £3.5m Gloucester Food Dock scheme. “Chuck also does a range of cocktails and slushies as well and is really going to target the brunch market, which is great as the food dock is going to be an all-day offer.” The Chuck menu includes a range of burgers as well as sourdough with avocado and poached eggs. Chuck joins Gloucestershire’s Sibling Distillery, Strip Steak Bar, Wholly Gelato and artisan pizza business, Bella Mia, which have already committed to the destination. The complex will eventually be home to up to 15 food and drink operators.

Midlands-based artisan bakery launches fourth site: Midlands-based artisan bakery, Medicine Bakery + Kitchen, has launched its fourth site – at The Lighthouse Cinema and Cafe in Wolverhampton. The kitchen, cafe and gallery concept already has two branches in Birmingham and one in Codsall, offering hand crafted cakes and bread alongside coffee and an extensive brunch menu to dine in, take away or collect. The bakery, which makes use of abandoned and unoccupied spaces, is based within the main atrium at the Lighthouse and opens daily from 7am-4pm.

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