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Mon 30th May 2022 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Bread Ahead to open first international sites after signing Saudi Arabia and UAE deals: Independent bakery and baking school Bread Ahead is set to open its first international sites, Propel has learned. The business, founded by Matthew Jones, will launch in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday (1 June). The bakery, school and cafe has a similar footprint to the company’s Borough Market site in London. The opening is a joint venture with the Bugshan family and will be the first of an initial ten sites in Saudi Arabia. The expansion in the region is being led by Andy Skowronski, who has 30 years’ experience in the industry, including with Yum! Brands and Krispy Kreme. Bread Ahead has also entered into a development agreement in the UAE, with a site in Dubai due to open in December. The deal there is also for an initial ten sites. Jones told Propel: “We built up a huge following on social media in the Middle East during the pandemic and expect this region to be a phenomenal success for Bread Ahead.” Jones said he was also looking at further expansion abroad with both the US and Asia in his sights in the next two to three years. Bread Ahead is also set for growth back home in London. The business, which recently opened in Kensington and is launching in Bromley this year, is close to securing what would be its eighth site in the capital. Jones said its Borough Market and Chelsea sites were performing “extremely well” but the West End was “yet to come back”.

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Cin Cin owners support Hospitality Rising, invest today: David Toscano and Jamie Halsall, owners of Brighton-based Cin Cin, are backing Hospitality Rising – and hope you will too. 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. Toscano said: “Cin Cin supports the Hospitality Rising campaign because hospitality is the most exciting and rewarding industry of all! It's where local legends are born and where friendships for life are forged. It's often the first 'real job' that young people take on and the one we all talk about with fond memories. We drive Cin Cin forward because we love hospitality but we need more committed people to join our industry.” Halsall added: “I support the Hospitality Rising campaign because I have seen first-hand what a rewarding industry this is to be part of. Some things do need to change but that change will only come about with new people and a diversity of perspectives. And the investment is a no-brainer. Every hospitality business, no matter what size, can play a part in making this happen.” 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
Host of pizza brands to feature in next edition of The New Openings Database, 11,989-word report included: A host of pizza brands will feature in the next edition of The New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock. The database will show the details of 257 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches for Premium subscribers when it is published on Friday (3 June), at midday. The database shows the details of which company has opened a site or its plans to open one in the future. It will have details on what type of site it is and its location. There will also be a website link to the businesses so you can find out more about them. It is published on a monthly basis. The next edition features Augusto Pizzeria, the brainchild of Chester-based operators Valentina Aviotti and Fabrizio Gobbato, which has opened a site in Northgate Street, Chester. Meanwhile, Dough&Co, the wood-fired pizza concept from former Marco Pierre White chef Chris Sharman, is set to open a new restaurant in The Hive, at The Potteries Centre in Hanley, next month. In addition, Bristol-based concept Bosco Pizzeria, which opened a new site in Cheltenham this month, is also launching a smaller, more delivery-focused pizza concept called Pizzucci, which is opening in Gloucester Road, Bristol. Premium subscribers will also receive a 11,989-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to three other databases. The latest Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, was sent to Premium subscribers last Friday (27 May). The database contained 42 new companies, bringing the total number of businesses listed up to 2,481. The 140 sites run by those 42 new additions means the entire database of sites has reached 65,402 sites. Premium subscribers also received a 3,212-word report on the new businesses added. The go-to database 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. There is also a synopsis of what the business does and significant news associated with it. Premium subscribers also receive the Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group. The Blue Book, which is also updated every month, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers also have 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 features 120 companies and almost 47,000 words of content, providing insight on the offer, locations, cost, business background, contacts and other key details. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel group editor Mark Wingett. 
Lack of bouncers forcing night-time venues to open fewer evenings: Night-time venues are opening on fewer weekday evenings due to a lack of staff – particularly bouncers. The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) said three-quarters of clubs, pubs and bars have reported being short of security staff, with some closing earlier or shutting entirely on Tuesdays or Wednesdays as well as Mondays. NTIA chief executive Michael Kill said people were “reluctant to return to a role that is somewhat fragile to further closures” and fears the shortages would worsen over the summer as experienced security staff are diverted to festivals. Job postings for security staff have surged by 59% since February 2020, according to The Guardian, but interest in such positions has fallen by 8%, despite a 5.1% year-on-year increase in pay. Aaron Mellor, founder of Tokyo Industries, which runs 47 bars and clubs in the north of England, said a number of his venues were now operating one or two fewer nights a week and moving the time of last entry earlier. “We’ve reduced midweek nights to compress trade,” he said. “It’s not just about staff, it’s about utilities and everything else. We get relatively few walk-ups.” Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said about 25% of its members had been forced to reduce their trading hours as the situation with security staff reflected recruitment problems across the industry. Philip Turner, founder of the Chestnut group of pubs in East Anglia, said three or four of its 15 outlets had now shifted to five days a week instead of seven, closing on Mondays and Tuesdays. “It has never been easy hiring, but Brexit and covid have not made it any easier,” he said. The group has moved to four-day working and begun offering other perks such as a mini-festival for staff, flexible hours and bonuses for more junior kitchen staff as well as the top chefs. “We are trying to create an environment where people want to work for us as a brand,” he added.
Price increases force removal of menu items: A Cornish celebrity chef, who owns a Michelin star restaurant in London, has removed a number of seafood dishes from his menu because of rising costs. Tom Brown, originally from Redruth, has dropped one of his signature starters at his Cornerstone restaurant in Hackney – a £19 single extra-large scallop with peanut, chilli and lime – because a sharp rise in costs meant he would have had to increase its price to £30. Brown, who is a protégé of chef Nathan Outlaw, has removed scallops, monkfish, John Dory and cod from Cornerstone's menu. The chef, who regularly appears on BBC’s Great British Menu, has also swapped a £18 mackerel pâté, cider and treacle bread for mussel pâté because he said mackerel prices had reached a level where guests were unwilling to pay more for what is perceived as a cheap fish. Brown said the price for hake, which is used for a £25 fish Kiev dish, had risen from £8.95-£9.95 a kilo last year to £12.95 and would likely be replaced with pollock. The price of diesel, used by fishing vessels, hit record highs last week and the war in Ukraine has impacted seafood supplies because up to 45% of global whitefish is sourced from Russia. Brown said: “I never begrudge the prices going up because I think the fishermen in this country are underpaid for doing an incredibly hard, dangerous job, but the knock-on effect of energy prices going up and the conflict in Ukraine is that prices are going through the roof.”
Deliveroo and Just Eat shares hit by downbeat investment note on Friday: Shares in Deliveroo and Just Eat were notable fallers after JP Morgan downgraded both stocks. The bank highlighted the cost-of-living crisis, which will probably hit consumers' pockets and lead to fewer takeaways being ordered as people spend more on energy bills instead. Both stocks performed strongly during the pandemic as consumers ordered food to their doors. It was part of a wider note in which JP Morgan assessed the outlook for Europe's leading internet stocks, warning they face an uncertain future as economic dark clouds gather. Deliveroo was down by 1.4% or 1.24p, to 85.92p and Just Eat by 0.8%, or 14.2p, to 1,706p. Meanwhile, the Sunday Times has predicted Just Eat may have to slash £5bn from the value of the Grubhub business in the US. 
Hugh Osmond predicts 10% cost inflation: Entrepreneur Hugh Osmond has warned the price of dining out could soar in the coming months as families stomach rising inflation. The cost of food and ingredients is already squeezing the restaurant trade, the former PizzaExpress chief executive said. Some food products are up 30%, he said. Osmond, who founded Punch Taverns and now runs Various Eateries, told The Mail on Sunday he expects higher prices to last for months. He predicts overall food and drink inflation to reach 10% in his restaurants. “It's a big problem and it's going to hit food [across all categories],” he said. The cost of buying chicken and fish from suppliers has gone “bonkers”, he added. The war in Ukraine has contributed to rising prices. Supply chain disruption has continued after the pandemic, adding further pressure. So far, Osmond has tried to protect customers but he accepted prices will rise if product inflation remains high. 

Fridays owner targeted by activist investor: Fridays owner Hostmore is being targeted by an activist investor, the Sunday Times has reported. Hostmore has reported like-for-like sales at Fridays are down 6% amid rising costs and weaker consumer demand. Now Oryx International Growth Fund, managed by Harwood Capital Management, has taken a 4% stake in Hostmore, whose share price is down more than 64% since it listed on the London Stock Exchange last November. 

Company News:

Pret A Manger signs up Iceking as new franchisee: Pret A Manger has secured a further franchisee in the UK for Kent and Sussex. Propel has learned that Iceking, which was founded in 2000 by the Mouralidarane family and currently is a KFC franchisee, has already taken on five Pret sites in the region. The sites comprise the Pret stores in Brighton’s East Street and North Street, Brighton station, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells. Last week, Propel revealed K&Z Holdings, a family-run, multi-unit franchise business, had taken on its first four Pret A Manger sites as part its franchise agreement with the JAB Holdings-led brand. The Pret sites in Basingstoke, Bournemouth, Guildford and Woking have now transferred across to K&Z, which is also a KFC franchisee. Last November, Pret announced four shops in Oxford would be transferred to another new franchisee in Dallas Holdings. Speaking at the time, Pret chief executive Pano Christou said: “Demand for our freshly prepared food and organic coffee is growing, with some shops busier than they’ve ever been. To meet that demand, we’re establishing new partnerships with franchisees to bring Pret to more people. Our agreements with Dallas Holdings and K&Z Group are a vital part of that ambition and will help kickstart our growth in different parts of the country.” Pret has also signed up The Chesterford Group, which operates circa 40 sites under brands including Churchill’s and Bankers Fish & Chips, as a franchisee. 

Hush begins works on second international site, carries out investment across UK estate: Hush Collection, the Jamie Barber and Ed Standring-led group, has begun construction on its second site in the Middle East for Cabana, its Brazilian barbecue concept, Propel has learned. Last year, the brand made its international debut in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Propel revealed in February 2019 the company, which currently operates four restaurants in the UK, had signed a franchise deal with Saudi Arabian hospitality company Al Hokair to launch the brand in the Middle East. The first site under the agreement launched in IHG’s Voco Hotel in Riyadh. Barber told Propel at the time that no figure had been put on how many sites the two companies might open together but both felt there could be more opportunities for the brand in Saudi Arabia. Last week, construction started on a second Cabana site in Riyadh, in the Sikkah district. The new 3,000 square-foot site, which also has a 1,500 square-foot barbecue terrace, will open in September. Barber told Propel: “This is part of a growing international strategy for Cabana’s ‘espirito amazonico’ in the Middle East. It follows a large capital investment in the London restaurants post covid coupled with a complete rebasing of menus, graphic design, tableware, music and uniforms contributing to double-digit growth.” Propel understands Hush is also set to meet potential partners in Dubai for a possible launch of Cabana there.

Freedom Brewery to launch crowdfunding campaign to expand operations: Staffordshire-based Freedom Brewery is launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise £500,000, as its looks to expand its brewing, production and marketing capabilities, Propel has learned. The craft lager specialist, which is chaired by James Coyle, the former managing director of Scottish brewer and retailer Innis & Gunn, is forecast to generate turnover of £6m this year, brewing circa 46 million pints per annum. With the help of the new funding it is forecasting turnover of £10m by 2025, brewing circa 85 million pints per annum. The company, which currently has customers including Nando’s, The Alchemist, Aldi and Lidl, projects sales growth of 30% per annum over the next three years. The business said if it overfunds it would use the extra investment to roll out its Freedom Sessions platform nationally, and invest in national festival partnerships and increase its sales team. Coyle said: “Over the last five years, we’ve sourced finance for growth from our existing private-equity investor base, including Oakfield Capital, investing in production infrastructure of the brewery in order to grow the business to £5m turnover in 2021. This investment has enabled us to brew 35 million pints a year through expanding production infrastructure. As the beer category continues to evolve, consumers are looking for accessible, high quality, authentic, British craft brands with a point of difference. Freedom delivers on all of these drivers in one product. We’re making inroads with new clients, pub groups and supermarkets, but we've just not had the capacity to do it. For us. building a brand over 27 years, in a way we feel we've reached that maturity when we can now come out. The consumer is with us, the market is with us, our customers are with us this. There are so many macro and micro trends now that point to the opportunity for Freedom, which is why we need to really ramp up our capacity and brand awareness. If we won a big supermarket or big pub company listing now, we wouldn’t be able to cope, so we want to invest ahead of the curve.”
Coyote Ugly coming to London this summer, eyes more openings over next year: Coyote Ugly will open its first UK bar in three years when it makes its London debut this summer. The US bar brand, which inspired the 2000 film of the same name, currently operates five sites in the UK – the most recent opening in Birmingham in 2019 – among 20 worldwide. The 5,000 square-foot, two-storey bar, which will be located in Camden Market, will be the first of several central London locations it plans to open. The deal was headed by Steve Lewis, chairman of the Breaking Brands group, which owns the UK franchise rights to Coyote Ugly. He said: “The history of rock and roll in Camden is a perfect fit for Coyote Ugly. With the success of our other bars in the UK, we know Camden is an ideal location, and it’s exciting to have signed the deal. The dynamic of Coyote Ugly fits well with this location and is what London needs, and once open, will become the place to party in the capital. We also have plans to open more sites both in the UK and abroad, and dovetails with the brand’s ambitious plans to open a lot more venues across the world over the next 12 months.” Maggie Milosavljevic, commercial director at LabTech, owners of Camden Market, said: “We are constantly looking to diversify our portfolio and provide unique experiences for our visitors, particularly those that match the vibrancy of Camden Market. Securing the London debut flagship site for Coyote Ugly Saloon showcases the renowned character of Camden Market, and only strengthens our position as an iconic destination with genuine local and international appeal.” Breaking Brands specialises in bringing emerging, established and its own brands to new territories around the world and currently has operations in Asia, Europe, Germany, America, the UAE and the UK, with a new site in Dubai opening soon. 
Former McDonald’s franchisee opens first Papa John’s site, eyes further openings: Former McDonald’s franchisee Renato Raho has started a Papa John’s franchise in Newton Abbot, Devon. Raho and partner Liza Kitching have opened the company’s latest store in the town’s Queen’s Street. He said: “After a career in the city and then building a couple of businesses including my McDonald’s franchised restaurants, which I ran successfully for seven years, Papa John’s offers a new, exciting challenge. Myself and my partner, who is also highly experienced in the quick-service restaurant (QSR) sector, are now looking forward to developing our portfolio of Papa John’s stores in the south west region. We are actively recruiting for more new staff to help us run the additional stores we have planned over the coming months in this exciting phase of expansion.” Amit Pancholi, business development director at Papa John’s UK, added: “Renato’s financial knowledge and business acumen combined with his energy, interest and experience in staff development in a QSR setting means he is particularly well placed to deliver the success of multiple new stores planned for the south west. His focus on ‘right people, right place’ aligns closely with our values and we will support him and his team in their planned programme of store openings over the next few years.” The opening follows the recent launch of a Papa John’s store in the Blaby suburb of Leicester, by franchisees Sukhy and Kam Bains. Sukhy, who joined Papa John’s in 2011, said: “We run multiple stores across the Midlands, and being able to bring to Papa John’s to even more customers to enjoy is all part of the fun. To be able to do it our home town of Leicester is a dream come true.” 

Eataly makes airport debut: Italian food market and restaurant chain Eataly has launched its first airport site. It has opened an outlet in the newly opened €400m Boarding Area A at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci airport, better known as Fiumicino. The 2,000 square-metre site, which has seating for 300 people, will be run in collaboration with Autogrill, the Italy-based, multinational catering company. Eataly chief executive Nicola Farinetti said: “The new Eataly, with the motto ‘eat better, fly better’, will bring the best of our ‘Made in Italy’ to a place of huge traffic of Italians and foreigners, to whom we will offer the experience of Italian food and wine culture.” As well as offering freshly made pizza, pasta, fried foods, salads, soups, paninis, gelato, wine, craft beer and cocktails, there is also a retail section. Last month, Eataly revealed its debut UK emporium, near London’s Liverpool Street, had welcomed three million visitors during its first year of operation. Founded in 2007, it has grown to more than 40 stories in 16 countries worldwide.

Creative Dining Group to open second site for gin and cocktail bar concept, in Cardiff: Creative Dining Group is to open a second site for its Welsh bar concept, Gin Ne Sais Quoi. The company has agreed a deal with Landsec, part of The St David’s Partnership, to open a site at the St David’s shopping centre in Cardiff. The gin and cocktail venue will take a 6,800 square-foot space, split over two floors, in Mill Lane, adjacent to The Restaurant Group-owned Wagamama. Set to open in August, the new Gin Ne Sais Quoi bar will offer the choice of more than 80 gin brands along with live music performances. Chris Grove, partner at Creative Dining Group, said: “Gin Ne Sais Quoi has experienced a great success at Swansea, and the expansion of our brand into Cardiff marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter. The site in St David’s is perfectly situated as the continuation of our growth in Wales.” Mark Warne, brand account director – food and beverage and leisure at Landsec, added: “We’re always keen to work with local businesses, and Gin Ne Sais Quoi fits the bill both for its Welsh roots and because it’s bringing something new and exciting to the destination.”

Activist fails to win seats on board of McDonald’s: Carl Icahn, the billionaire activist investor, has lost in his attempt to win two seats on the board of McDonald’s in order to highlight his campaign over animal welfare. Tallies showed shareholders backed all 12 of McDonald’s directors and that Icahn’s two nominees received about 1% of the vote, the company said. “McDonald’s shareholders value a board of directors with a breadth of experiences to advise the brand on the multitude of issues that can impact the business on a daily basis,” Enrique Hernandez, chairman of McDonald’s said. Icahn, who has made a career out of pushing poor-performing companies to improve, owns roughly $50,000 worth of McDonald’s shares, and nominated two candidates to force the company to honour a decade-old promise to stop buying pork by the end of this year from suppliers that house the animals in crates. He has said confining the pigs in crates during their pregnancy is inhumane and sought to shine a spotlight on the practice more broadly. By the end of this year, McDonald’s now expects that between 85% to 90% of its American pork supply to come from pigs that are not kept in gestation crates when they are pregnant. McDonald’s said it was committed to remaining a leader on environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives, including animal welfare. Icahn had appealed to large index funds that often pay more attention to ESG issues to back him in his efforts to win the board seats, but voting tallies showed that BlackRock, which has a 4.6% stake in the company, supported McDonald’s. The company said in a filing in April it expected to spend roughly $16m in the proxy fight with Icahn. 
Fever-Tree’s airport bar takes off: Fever-Tree, the upmarket tonic maker, has opened an airport bar and cafe serving spirits mixed with a wide range of the company’s mixers. The Times reported the bar at Edinburgh airport, which is forecast to serve more than 40,000 mixed drinks in its first year, is expected to be followed by further venues in other airports across the UK and beyond. Until now, Fever-Tree has run only pop-ups at sites including Covent Garden in central London, Broadgate Circle in the City of London and at festivals and sporting venues such as the Oval. The company ran several bars at Queen’s Club when it sponsored the Wimbledon curtain-raiser and has a pop-up at Bryant Park, in New York. In addition to serving mixed spirits-based drinks such as gin and tonic and Mules (no longer Moscow Mules), the Edinburgh airport bar sells beer and wine as well as breakfast and small plates including gin and whisky-cured smoked salmon and chorizo cooked in Fever-Tree ginger ale. Fever-Tree was established in 2004 by Tim Warrillow, its chief executive, and Charles Rolls to make high-quality tonic for the premium gin market. It sells mixers in more than 75 countries.
Soho House opens Brighton members’ club: Soho House, operator of members clubs, restaurants, spas, workspaces and cinemas across the globe, has opened Little Beach House in Brighton. Its third UK Soho House outside of London and first coastal site, Little Beach House is a long-time ambition for founder and chief executive Nick Jones, as a place for Brighton’s creative community to “come together to eat, drink and collaborate”. Situated in Madeira Drive, the grade II-listed building overlooks the beach and includes event spaces, a terrace pool, a club space with a bar, and a Club Cecconi’s restaurant serving northern Italian dishes. It is also connected by a courtyard to the Soho Works building, which will launch later in 2022. Jones said: “So many of our existing members live in Brighton, so it seemed like a natural step to open a local House in the city. It is a brilliant place, full of progressive spirit that our members love.” Little Beach House Brighton is accessible to members and their guests only. Jones said last week the company is not worried about the prospect of a recession as past experience showed its members “ended up using the Houses more”. The business is also targeting an estate of 85 Houses by 2027.
Freemans Event Partners strikes F&B deal with Lord’s: Freemans Event Partners has agreed a long-term food and beverage partnership with Lord’s cricket ground owners, Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). The agreement follows a successful trial period in 2021 and will see Freemans manage a major part of the public catering offering and all food and beverage payment solutions at the venue. It has designed bespoke menus and new outlets exclusively for Lord’s, and will introduce payment technology solutions across the venue. Andy Muggleton, assistant secretary (commercial) MCC, said: “Having worked with Freemans Event Partners in 2021, we are delighted to have agreed this long-term partnership that will ensure our food and beverage offering continues to be of the finest standard our visitors expect. We’re looking forward to welcoming spectators to Lord’s this season and providing them with a memorable experience, both on and off the field.” Freemans, a family-owned business which began life in 1975 as a single fish and chips outlet at Silverstone, now has partnerships with more than 400 of the UK and Europe’s biggest events and venues, including Silverstone, Twickenham, The DP World Tour, the Boomtown Fair and Victorious festival. Chief executive Stephen Freeman said: “The opportunity to develop a premium offering alongside one of the most esteemed and historic sporting venues in the world is a momentous and exciting project for us. We appreciate Lord’s Cricket Ground’s trust in our ability to deliver an enhanced customer experience, and we look forward to a being part of the international cricket calendar.”
Yakinori set to return to four sites with another Birmingham opening, plans 40-strong estate over next decade: Japanese restaurant Yakinori is set to return to a four-site footprint with plans to open another venue in Birmingham – ahead of a planned nationwide expansion. The noodle and sushi brand, which also has branches in Bristol, Solihull and the Selly Oak district of Birmingham, closed its restaurant in Grand Central, also in Birmingham, last summer. But it is now lining up another opening in the city, at 67 New Street, which founder Ali Karakaya hopes will kickstart a nationwide expansion plan in the years ahead. The new site, a former West Bromwich Building Society, is set to open late summer or early autumn. “By end of our time in Grand Central, there were so many empty units around us that people would only really come past us if they wanted to use the nearby toilets,” Ali told Birmingham Live. “So, what I want everyone to know is that we are coming to New Street and back to our rightful home in the centre of Birmingham. Beyond that, the dream is to have 40 restaurants around the country within ten years, including around ten franchised ones, and the rest grown organically.” Ali admits it’s a tough time to be expanding, with the twin headaches of rising prices and a cost-of-living crisis, but is determined to plough on regardless. “You have to carry on, you can’t stop,” he added. “It’s like when you are riding a bike, if you don’t keep pedalling, you fall off. We will find a way, you have to find a way through such things. The cost of cooking oil has recently gone up from £25 to £38 for the same amount and same brand, but you can’t keep putting your prices up – ours have been the same for six months. You have to learn to live with inflation. People will still be going out to work and they will still want and need to eat. Even after covid, we are still here, still standing, and we are ready to serve.”
Better burger brand Moo opens fourth site, plans four more: Better burger brand Moo Burger has opened its fourth site – with four more planned this year. The business, which has two branches in Leicester and one in Loughborough, has opened in Nottingham’s Trinity Square, with Manchester and Derby among those in the pipeline. The Nottingham site, a former Gourmet Burger kitchen, was due to open last year but delayed by the pandemic. It has covers for 40 and bi-folding doors which open out on to extra seating on the square. As well as its speciality handmade smash burgers, Boo offers sides such as wings, boneless bites and fries, while drinks include refill fizzy pop, coffee, tea, milkshakes and hot and iced specialities. It also has a breakfast offering, including egg and sausage brioche rolls. The company formerly operated a dark kitchen in the city, which marketing manager Nakhedi Shomai said has helped attract footfall. “A lot of new people are trying it – people who’ve not tried smash burgers before – and we’ve had a lot of return customers from the dark kitchen,” he told Nottingham Live. “Now they’re coming into the store and taking in the atmosphere, the anticipation was high. This is such a good spot with natural footfall, and all the bars work well in our favour. The self-service check-outs have imagery, so if you’ve not tried Boo before, you can see what you're ordering. We wanted to provide good smash burgers, nothing too crazy. We take the time to find suppliers and create such a good relationship and a good bond, so that helps with the price. We also make sauces in-house, so that helps.”

Gary Usher admits nerves as he lines up first pub: Chef Gary Usher has admitted he’s “nervous” about opening his first pub later this year. The chef behind restaurants such as Kala and Hispi is in the process of buying The White Horse pub in Churton near Chester. The pub has been empty for two years, after its previous owners said they wouldn’t be reopening after lockdown. But Usher plans to have the pub reopened by around October – if all goes to plan and contracts are exchanged next month. Speaking to Cheshire Live, he said: “It's how I started, and who doesn't love a pub. I'm nervous, though, because for the last ten years we have been running restaurants. That's definitely our area of expertise at the moment in terms of the food and the service and we hope we can translate that to a pub. We need to make sure we are great at the other stuff needed to run a pub as well. It's going to be a learning curve for us." He plans to make some changes to the pub, including building out a covered outdoor dining area in the garden, and also converting the upstairs rooms into accommodation, which will be dog-friendly.
Bird opens in Port Solent for fifth site: London-based chicken and waffles concept Bird has opened its fifth site, in Port Solent. The site seats 60 inside and 40 outside, allowing guests views over the marina. The new opening forms part of Bird’s long-term expansion and development plan, with the restaurant group already making improvements to its three London locations – in Camden, Islington and Canary Wharf – as well as opening its first restaurant outside the capital, in Gillingham, last November. Charles Beer, Bird senior partner, told The News: “We’re thrilled to be opening our doors at Port Solent – it’s a great location with a great team in place that are ready to go. Everyone has been so welcoming and excited for us to open – as are we. Bird Port Solent will also be leading the way as the first of our five restaurants to be dog friendly.” The brand is owned by the Crown Partnership.

Staffordshire restaurant owner takes on historic Marston’s pub for second site: William Guy, who operates The Cowshed restaurant in Pattingham, Staffordshire, has taken on a historic Marston’s pub in the nearby village of Albrighton for his second site. Following renovation works, he will next month reopen The Horns of Boningale, which dates more than 300 years, as The Cowshed at Boningale. Guy, who has run The Cowshed on a working farm since 2005, made his move after Marston’s made the building available in March. “I’m thrilled to be taking on The Horns,” he told the Shropshire Star. “As a building, it holds so much promise, and together with our partners at Marston’s, we have bold plans to bring it into the 21st century. We bring with us a full team of hospitality professionals, including two chefs with a combined 30 years’ experience. When we open The Cowshed at Boningale’s doors on Sunday, 19 June, diners can expect a new light bites menu in addition to our à la carte menu, as well as a choice of premium Cowshed cocktails.” Sarah Jackson, business development manager at Marston’s, added: “The Horns of Boningale holds a special place in the hearts of local people, and we were determined to partner with a business we knew would modernise the pub’s offer, while not compromising its charm which has stood the test of time. The Cowshed’s plans for the future align with our vision of providing quality hospitality establishments that can form the heart of communities and cater to the needs and expectations of local people.”

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