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Fri 10th Jun 2022 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Popeyes set to announce swathe of new sites, drive-thrus to be key focus: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, the US fried chicken quick-service brand, which made its debut in the UK last November, is set to announce a swathe of new sites as its looks to build a national presence here. Propel understands the business is set to confirm it has secured sites in Metrocentre (Gateshead), Reading (Broad Street) and Nottingham (Burger King, opposite the Victoria Centre). It is also set to reveal it has secured sites in Brighton (Tui unit in North Street), Ealing Broadway (Next store), and Oxford (Queen Street). All of the above sites are set to open this year. The company is also understood to be in talks on sites in Glasgow and Cambridge. The brand, which launched its first UK restaurant at Westfield Stratford, will open its second this weekend in Chelmsford, with a third set to follow in Romford. Popeyes currently operates 3,600 sites worldwide, and the site in Stratford is the company’s highest-taking restaurant globally. It also operates four delivery kitchens in London, three with Deliveroo Editions and one with Growth Kitchen. Popeyes also hopes to have its first drive-thru open by the end of the year or at the start of 2023. Popeyes UK chief executive Tom Crowley told Propel: “Our mix of sites going forward will be drive-thrus, in-lines and delivery kitchens, and probably in that order. Drive-thrus will be big for us. The lead time on these sites is very long, but landlords and developers are now coming to us with opportunities. We wanted to get Chelmsford and then Romford open, so we could make a loud splash in Essex. Chelmsford will be a good test for the brand, it will be different to Stratford and for us to scale, like we want to scale, these have to be good places to go. We want to pick the right locations on high streets and then build drive-thrus around those city centres on good retail park locations. We needed to understand Stratford and the delivery kitchens, and get the operation right, before we did some more, but now the speed will go up. We could be doing one or two a month. We could do five, maybe ten drive-thrus next year.” Crowley said the brand’s delivery kitchens are “going well” and have “helped us keep momentum for the brand and the operations teams, while we move from Stratford to the next restaurant opening”. Simon Carson and Ben Freeman, of Harper Dennis Hobbs, act on behalf of Popeyes. 
 

Industry News:

Sponsored message – company culture ranked as top factor in hospitality staff retention: A survey conducted by Mapal Group, the company behind Flow Learning, found 58% of respondents placed company culture as a top three factor in staff retention, followed by career progression (53%) and work-life balance (49%). Salary ranked in only fourth place (46%), highlighting a shift in priorities among hospitality employees. To meet these changing staff expectations, hospitality leaders are looking towards more innovative ways to onboard and upskill their staff. Flow Learning by Mapal has been the sector’s leading learning management solution for more than a decade. Flow is continuously evolving and hosts an extensive hospitality resource library, covering food safety, compliance, service, management and technical skills, built for restaurants, pubs, bars, hotels, coffee shops and other hospitality outlets. Click here to find out more about Flow Learning by Mapal or contact Elly Johnston at ejohnston@mapal-os.com. If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com.
 
Next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book to feature 589 companies turning over £28.6bn: The next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group, will feature 589 companies that are turning over a total of £28.6bn. The Blue Book shows the effects of the pandemic, with total losses of £5.9bn being reported by 348 companies. However, a further 241 sector companies are still reporting total profits of £1.1bn. The next edition will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday, 17 June, at midday. The Blue Book, which is updated every month, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers also receive the New Openings Database, produced in association with StarStock, and the Multi-Site Operators Database, produced in association with Virgate, which are also updated each month. Premium subscribers also now have 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. 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 are also to be given exclusive access to seven videos where sector leaders and entrepreneurs offer their insights as they develop their businesses in a post-covid world. The videos, which will be sent to subscribers today (Friday, 10 June), at 9am will include Paul Campbell, sector investor and non-executive director at Hawksmoor, Vinoteca, Hickory’s, Blacklock, Tortilla and The Alchemist; Colin Hill, chief executive of Nando’s UK; James Shapland, co-founder of Coffee#1, the Caffe Nero-owned brand, and new venture Coffi Lab; Jyotin Sethi, co-founder of JKS Restaurants; Jonny Boud, founder of Kitchen Ventures and Tom Snellock, founder of Clays. The videos will also include a panel session on solving the staffing, recruitment and retention crisis hosted by Mark Stretton with James Hacon, global chief marketing officer at Mapal Group; Sol Schlagman, co-founder of Stint; Roland Horne, founder of WatchHouse; Kate Daines, chief people officer at PizzaExpress; and Brian Trollop, managing director at Dishoom. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and 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 Rob Pitcher, chief executive of Revolution Bars Group: Propel’s Friday Wrap video series continues today (Friday, 10 June) 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 Rob Pitcher, chief executive of Revolution Bars Group, to discuss, among other things, the company’s return to the acquisition trail, its approach to staff training and recruitment, the importance of sustainability, the role technology is playing and where the bar sector goes from here.
 
Landlady decides to give up pub as lack of energy price cap for businesses sees bill hit almost £30,000 a quarter: A village pub landlady has decided to give up her business after her energy bills hit almost £30,000 a quarter. Miranda Richardson said she would leave the Live and Let Live pub in Harpole, Northampton, after her gas bill hit more than £7,700, and her electricity bill was “just shy of £20,000”. She is one of many grappling with the rising costs of running businesses at a time when people are watching budgets. Unlike households, firms are not protected by an energy price cap. The cap, which limits how much suppliers can raise prices, went up in April by £700 to £1,971 a year for a typical household. The lack of a cap for firms means “they can't predict from one month to the next what that bill is going to look like”, said Hannah Essex, co-executive director of the British Chambers of Commerce. Richardson told the BBC's Wake Up To Money programme she loved running her pub, but that it was no longer sustainable due to her energy bills and so she will end her tenancy in August. Her gas bill for the February, March and April in 2021, totalled just over £1,500 for the three months – £6,200 less than her current bill. To break even following her most recent gas bill and other costs, Richardson said on Twitter she would have to sell “roughly 1,400 pints of lager”. “If I am honest at the moment I'm just about functioning,” she said. “I love doing what I do… but I can't sustain it.”
 
Justification for MUP ‘has failed’, argues licensing expert: Licensing expert Philip Kolvin QC has argued the justification for minimum unit pricing (MUP) has failed. MUP, which sets a baseline price at which a unit of alcohol can be sold, was introduced in Scotland in 2018 and in Wales in 2020, attempting to reduce the potential harm from cheap alcohol consumption by increasing the price. In Scotland and Wales, the MUP is set at 50p, while the Northern Ireland executive recently held a consultation on proposals to introduce MUP. However, Kolvin, patron of the Institute of Licensing, has warned a new report, titled Evaluating the impact of Minimum Unit Pricing in Scotland on people who are drinking at harmful levels, points to evidence the policy should be scrapped. “When it comes to harmful drinkers, at whom MUP policy is, after all, directed, the findings are unequivocal,” said Kolvin, writing exclusively in Propel’s Friday Opinion. “They have not reduced their intake but have maintained it by switching from cider to spirits, cutting back on food and energy consumption and borrowing. Furthermore, the study uncovered no evidence of changes in the general health of harmful drinkers. For balance, it is right to point out the report confirms that those other than harmful drinkers have reduced their consumption, and there is yet hope MUP may prevent future cases of alcohol dependence in younger generations. However, that is small beer when judged against the avowed purpose of the MUP legislation. In short, the justification for the legislation has failed. Technically, the conclusion is there is low price elasticity in relation to alcohol among harmful drinkers. More colloquially, addicts are addicted. Help may lie elsewhere: it does not lie in artificial price-hikes, particularly when these unnecessarily deplete the disposable income of the non-addicted majority in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis.” Colvin will share more of his thoughts in this week’s Friday Opinion, which will be published today (Friday, 10 June) at 11am.

Breweries and pubs sign up to diversity charter: Representatives from the brewing and pub industry have launched the first sector-wide diversity and inclusion charter. Developed by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), with the hashtag #OpenToAll, the charter encourages businesses from the sector to put diversity and inclusion at the heart of their operations. The 13-point pledge puts forward commitments for breweries and pubs to aim for, including placing diversity and inclusion on board-level agendas, creating inclusive venues and spaces and taking a zero-tolerance approach to harassment or discrimination. It follows the start of a diversity and inclusion benchmarking survey for the sector, which will gather data and staff sentiment to help organisations develop their own action plans. A bespoke toolkit released later this summer will include further practical guidance and resources for businesses. Some sector businesses have already started initiatives such as representation targets, mentoring schemes and anti-discrimination and anti-bias training. BBPA chief executive, Emma McClarkin, said: “The brewing and pub industry is vibrant and diverse in so many ways, and we must proactively ensure that is also reflected in our workforces and our offer to customers. This is a social mission as much as it is an economic one, because diverse, inclusive workplaces are productive and innovative workplaces. Many of our members are already making brilliant progress in this area, and this charter seeks to make sure all brewing and pub business are supporting and celebrating diversity of all kinds.” The launch was hosted by Blackpool LGBTQ+ venue The Flying Handbag, part of north west brewer and retailer Daniel Thwaites portfolio. Rick Bailey, Daniel Thwaites chief executive, said: “It is easy and natural for us to support the BBPA’s diversity and inclusion charter. We are first and foremost a family business, and you cannot truly be that unless you accept and embrace everyone in the family, as we do across every part of our company.”
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a company that is looking for a senior infrastructure engineer. Responsibilities will include overseeing monitoring systems, piloting new systems/services and working with a team of engineers from junior up to senior level. The position is hybrid with the opportunity to work out of a number of London offices. The salary is up to £85,000 plus company benefits. For more information, email hayley@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Big Table Group launches robot servicing technology pilot: Big Table Group, the operator of Las Iguanas, Bella Italia and Café Rouge, is trialling robot servicing technology through one of its Bella Italia sites, Propel has learned. Working in partnership with Pudu Robotics, Big Table Group said it had launched the trial in an effort to “boost innovation and elevate the dining experience, becoming the largest restaurant chain in the UK to introduce robot technology”. The retrieving robots, named “BellaBot”, are currently being trialled at the Bella Italia in Center Parcs Whinfell Forest, specifically chosen due to its large footprint, with longer distances between kitchen and tables. Designed to support team members with everyday tasks, the BellaBot features four shelves in the centre of its “body” structure to carry plates. Once loaded by its human colleagues, the robotic waiter interacts with guests when delivering food to diners to encourage customers to take their ordered dishes from the BellaBot. Additionally, the BellaBot can be programmed to conduct certain movements around the restaurant to allow customers to take their desired dish in a buffet-like environment. For special occasions and festivities, the robot can perform and entertain, such as sing “Happy Birthday”. Lisa Gibbons, chief operating officer at Bella Italia, said: “We’re always open to innovative solutions that benefit our teams, improve service and improve our guests’ experience, so we’re delighted to pilot the BellaBot. By having intelligent robots conduct simple tasks, such as retrieving dirty dishes, our teams are able to focus on doing what they love and delivering an amazing experience. It’s still early days in the trial, but we’re looking forward to seeing the impact that having an extra pair of ‘paws’ has on dining satisfaction.” 
 
US coffee chain Blank Street secures Fitzrovia site: Blank Street Coffee, the fast-growing, New York chain that is looking to quickly build a presence in London, has secured a site in Fitzrovia, Propel has learned. Blank Street Coffee, which earlier this year said it plans to make London its “second-biggest city”, has secured the former EAT/Cubitts site on the corner of Goodge Street and Charlotte Street, for an opening later this summer. It could be the group’s debut site in the UK, although as previously revealed it has also secured an opening at 3 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch. Last month, Propel revealed Blank Street Coffee had hired Ignacio Llado, formerly of the Singapore-based Flash Coffee, as managing director to oversee its UK expansion. Llado was previously managing director of “tech-enabled coffee chain” Flash Coffee, overseeing its growth from launch to its expansion to circa 250 stores across seven markets in less than two years. Blank Street Coffee was started in Williamsburg in summer 2020 by Vinay Menda and Issam Freiha and now has 29 sites around New York. The brand plans to have 100 locations in the US city by the end of this year, and also plans to open two-dozen shops in the UK in 2022. Simon Carson, of Harper Dennis Hobbs, represents Blank Street Coffee.

Emeny – we’ve got to double up on making sure the customer experience is brilliant, ready to explore acquisitions: Simon Emeny, chief executive of Fuller’s, has said the company’s philosophy in what are probably going to be tougher times is doubling up on making sure the customer experience is brilliant. He told Propel: “So what does that mean? Fresh product coming in, making sure we continually refurbish the estate, making sure we invest in staff training and development more so than we’ve done previously. These are all things that worked really well for us during the last recession. The natural inclination when you’re in a difficult environment is to cut, cut, cut, but the customer notices that. We’ve been through a very difficult two and a half years, and we now go into an environment we feel better placed to deal with.” The company is currently in talks on four new sites, and Emeny said that the business was in a position to explore acquisitions and would like to increase its proportion of suburban pubs. He said: “We’ve always had a good geographical balance. What became clear during covid was that while we’ve got a good split between rural, suburban and urban, from a turnover perspective, we were very heavily weighted on urban and not on suburban. That’s one of the contrasts maybe between us and other pub companies. We would like to increase the proportion of suburban pubs we’ve got in the business. What we’ve tried to do in the last year was make sure we re-stabilised the business, get the estate trading profitably again. Now we can move forward in a weakening market to do more acquisitions. I think that's a very staged, measured process. Companies that did a lot of acquisitions a year ago may well have done so in a slightly frothier, more expensive market. It'll be interesting to see where that market goes.” Emeny said although the business returned to profitability in its last financial year, the big achievement is re-establishing its foundations. He said: “Everywhere you look in business, we’ve completely realigned everything we do. The new debt facility is fantastic. We’ve launched the central finance system, which is perfect for a hospitality business. We launch a brand-new identity for the company, which takes us away from the brewery. Our digital investment launched last month, our ESG agenda has moved forward considerably, and we’ve invested £42m over two years in our existing estate. It leaves us in a very strong position to build for the next period of growth, so I’m probably prouder of that than anything else that we’ve achieved over the last 12 months. Because that investment in the platform is going to pay back really well.”
 
Parkdean Resorts halts £1.6bn sale amid torrid economic outlook: Parkdean Resorts, Britain's biggest holiday park operator, has slammed the brakes on a £1.6bn sale amid growing concerns about the near-term prospects for the UK economy. Sky News reported Parkdean has called off talks with prospective buyers after an auction lasting more than six months. The decision by Parkdean and Onex Corporation, its Canadian owner, provides one of the first signals that anxiety about a UK recession and its implications for consumer spending is feeding through into corporate transactions. The postponement of Parkdean's sale comes despite a record financial performance in 2021, as staycation-focused leisure groups enjoyed a pandemic sales bonanza. Last month, it was revealed PAI Partners and TPG, two of the remaining bidders for Parkdean, had joined forces with a view to paying in the region of £1.6bn for the company. The auction had previously drawn interest from other financial investors, including Apollo Global Management. In a statement issued to Sky News, a Parkdean spokesman said: “The staycation market remains very buoyant, the business is trading strongly and is well positioned for growth, having invested £110m into the business over the past six months, expanding the trading footprint, acquiring new land to develop, upgrading accommodation, and enhancing park facilities. Given the current broader macro-economic uncertainty, the board has decided to pause the process and will revisit when the macro-economic backdrop has improved.” 
 
BrewDog extends Indian franchise agreement with further 25 sites set to open: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has extended its agreement with its Indian franchise partner. The deal will see a further 25 bars open across India, where it already operates two venues, with four more set to follow. “Delighted to have signed a further development agreement with our awesome Indian franchise partner, Ace Hospitality, to open a further 25 BrewDog Bars across India,” BrewDog co-founder James Brown said. “With two bars already open in Mumbai, as well as Gurugram and Hyderabad opening next month, and Amritsar and Chandigarh opening in October, we are excited to bring our bar experiences to more Indian customers.” Earlier this week, BrewDog signed a new bar franchise deal for Australia with Australian Venue Co, which will see “multiple sites” opened across cities including Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The first of these, opening later this year, will be over three floors within the Pentridge Prison in Melbourne. BrewDog is also expanding in the US, with a Las Vegas bar next in the pipeline there, while back home, a flagship bar in London’s Waterloo is set to open later this year.
 
Mission Mars lines up 12th site for Rudy’s: Mission Mars, the Albert’s Schloss operator led by Roy Ellis, has lined up a 12th site for its fast-growing Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza brand. Rudy’s Chapel Allerton will open at the former Casa Mia Site at 10-12 Stainbeck Lane, north Leeds, in July. Having launched in Ancoats, Manchester, in 2015, the brand has since spread to Leeds, Soho, Liverpool, Birmingham and Sheffield. A Rudy’s spokesman said: “We’re excited to bring Rudy’s to the neighbourhood. It won’t be long before we are able to fire up the oven and serve delicious Neapolitan pizza. As a team, we can’t wait to become part of the community.” Ellis told Propel in March that he has seven new sites for Rudy’s in legals, with further openings in Manchester and Sheffield expected this summer. The company is also looking to bring Rudy’s to Preston and Chorlton, and open further sites in Birmingham, Manchester and London. It also has plans to bring its Albert’s Schloss beer hall concept, which has sites in Birmingham and Manchester, to Liverpool.
 
Coffee#1 to open first store of 2022 with Wallingford launch: Coffee#1, the caffe Nero-owned brand, is opening its first site of 2022, in Wallingford, Oxfordshire. The company is opening in the former Lloyds Chemist premises in Market Place on Thursday, 23 June. Coffee#1 operates more than 100 sites. In February, Caffe Nero agreed to acquire Welsh brewer and retailer SA Brain’s remaining 33% stake in Coffee#1. Caffe Nero and one of its shareholders originally bought 67% of Coffee#1 in 2019 from SA Brain. Coffee#1 operates across Wales, the Midlands and southern England, and opened its first store in 2011.
 
Samyukta Nair lines up fifth Mayfair restaurant: Samyukta Nair – the restaurateur behind Mayfair’s Jamavar, Bombay Bustle, Mimi Mei Fair and Socca Bistro – has lined up a fifth restaurant in the area. Koyn, a Japanese restaurant “inspired by the nature-spirited roots and duality of Mount Fuji”, will open in Mayfair’s Grosvenor Square on Friday, 9 September, in a building that used to house both the US Embassy and Canadian High Commission. The two-storey venue is also a fifth restaurant for LSL Capital, co-founded by Samyukta and her father, Dinesh Nair. The kitchen, led by executive chef Rhys Cattermoul, will “showcase the broad spectrum of Japanese cuisine through rich umami flavours and locally sourced produce”. Having worked at the Michelin-starred The Greenhouse, Cattermoul’s passion for Japanese cuisine saw him join Nobu London, where he grew to become head chef, before moving to Nobu Hong Kong. Alongside specialist dishes for the sushi bar and robata grill, he will create trademark plates such as steamed clams with cordycep mushroom, yuzu sake soy and a mix of spinach and samphire, and a red mullet tempura with yuzu kosho tosazu and kombu salt. There will also be a sommelier station, a private dining room and space for a DJ. Nair said: “I am thrilled to be carving our own perspective on Japanese cuisine with Koyn. I have long admired Japan for its understated elegance, expertly made craft and philosophy that balances modernity with tradition. While working with Rhys on this project, I’ve been able to get a deeper understanding of Japanese culture through our food journey, and this is something we want to pass onto our patrons at LSL Capital’s fifth Mayfair venture.” David Rawlinson, of Restaurant Property, acted for the landlord.
 
AG Hotels expands estate with south Manchester-based purchase: AG Hotels, which operates a growing chain of mainly northern premium and economy hotels, has continued its expansion with the acquisition of the Pinewood on Wilmslow Hotel, Manchester. The 89-bedroom hotel close to Wilmslow has been sold by the Alexander family. The hotel had been on the market at a guide price of in the region of £5.5m. Colliers acted for the vendors who owned and operated the business for approaching 11 years. The hotel also comprises the 70-cover One Eighty Restaurant Bar and Lounge, and an extensive range of conference and function facilities – the largest of which is the Cheshire Suite for up to 140 people – all standing in a site extending to more than 2.5 acres. Girish Grover, chief executive of AG Hotels, said: “We are delighted with our acquisition of the Pinewood on Wilmslow Hotel and have exciting plans to invest in the future growth of its business.”
 
Greene King adds to Hive Pubs team: Brewer and retailer Greene King has added to its Hive Pubs team with five new learning and development roles. The new positions have been created to support the roll out of the concept over the coming years and help embed new franchisees and their teams into running a pub with training and support. The new team will be led by learning and development manager James Corbett, who was previously a retail systems trainer for Greene King’s managed divisions, as well as a general manager of a Greene King Locals managed pub. Four learning and development partners will work alongside him, while the whole team will work alongside and report into Greene King Pub Partners’ training team for leased and tenanted partners. Wayne Shurvinton, managing director for Greene King Pub Partners, said: “As the rollout of our Hive Pubs concept goes from strength to strength, we have expanded the team behind it. This has seen us develop a dedicated Hive Pubs learning and development team that will help our franchisees and their own teams to grow their businesses and provide an excellent level of service to customers.” So far, nine Hive Pubs have opened since October 2020 – the latest being The Globe in Chelmsford last month – with several more in the pipeline for this year.
 
Greggs lands equality award: Food-to-go retailer Greggs has been awarded the National Equality Standard (NES) in recognition of its efforts to improve diversity and inclusion across the business. The NES was launched in 2013 and has become the accepted standard for inclusiveness in business across the UK. To achieve NES certification, organisations are independently reviewed against a set of criteria and best practice standards. The final review noted Greggs scored above the industry average. Some of the work undertaken by Greggs highlighted in the assessment includes establishing a diversity and inclusion steering group, developing and enhancing training in the field at all levels and commissioning research into the barriers faced by potential ethnic minority applicants. Greggs chief executive, Roisin Currie, said: “I am extremely proud of our collective efforts from colleagues across the whole business to achieve this fantastic recognition. However, the work does not stop here. While the accreditation is a significant milestone for us, we need to keep this momentum and continue to work hard together to embrace diversity and inclusion across all areas of our business.” Simon Feeke, lead NES assessor, added: “Greggs has demonstrated tremendous progress in embedding diversity and inclusion throughout its business and HR processes, with mechanisms for continuous review and measurement of progress. We were particularly impressed by its strong culture of learning and development, proactive approach to accessibility focus and the newly formed colleague network groups.”
 
Italian steak brand Macellaio RC appoints new executive head chef and head of operations: Italian restaurant group Macellaio RC – which recently opened its sixth site, in London’s Shaftesbury Avenue – has appointed a new executive head chef and head of operations. Lello Favuzzi, formerly of The Wolseley, Alan Yau’s Anda, Franco’s on Jermyn Street, Cervo in Sardinia, l’Anima and l’Anima café and Mortimer House, has joined as executive chef. He also took part in Celebrity MasterChef, where he hosted Amar Latif in his kitchen at Mortimer House, in 2020, and more recently featured on the Channel 4’s Taste of Italy, with Nisha Katona, founder of Indian restaurant group Mowgli. Meanwhile, Jessica Monetti, who has worked as general manager and operations manager at Goodman Mayfair and area manager at Flat Iron, joins as head of operations. The group called their new arrivals “a superstar duo with a wealth of experience”, whose roles will be to “further grow and cement Macellaio as one of London’s most loved family of restaurants”. Founder Robert Costa opened the first Macellaio RC in South Kensington in 2012, followed by Exmouth Market, Union Street, Clapham, Fitzrovia and Soho. Each site will be offering corkage-free lunches until the end of August.
 
Former Staycity and RHB GM acquires Bridport hotel off £1.25m guide price: Syed Hossain, who has most recently worked as a general manager for Staycity Group and RHB, has acquired The Eype’s Mouth Country Hotel in Bridport, Dorset. Hossain, whose 15-year career in hospitality also includes spells as interim operations manager with Accor and deputy general manager at London’s Hotel Indigo, has bought the freehold of the three-floor, 17-bedroom hotel with Arifa Kalam. The property also has a coastal lounge, sea view restaurant and two bars. Previous owners Kevin and Glenis French, who bought the hotel in 2004, have retired, and the property was subject to 11 offers after it went on the market. They said: “While we look forward to retirement, the hotel, its guests and fantastic team of staff will be much missed. We are delighted that all our achievements over the past 18 years in offering a high standard of hospitality will be retained and enhanced by the experience and commitment of Syed and Arifa.” Hossain added: “We are excited with our purchase, and will be working tirelessly to enhance the guest experience at this beautiful coastal property. Further details will be announced later in the year.” The sale was handled by Christie & Co, and the hotel sold off a guide price of £1.25m.
 
Neighbourhood wine bar, restaurant and music venue to open in Notting Hill next month: A new neighbourhood wine bar, restaurant and music venue will open in London’s Notting Hill next month. Founded by locals Rishabh Vir and Tim Lang, Caia – named after the Roman goddess of fire – will offer an extensive list of wine alongside a seasonally changing menu of wine-friendly food cooked on a custom-made, open fire grill. The 60-cover space in Golborne Road, which will open on Thursday, 14 July, will feature a bar and open kitchen along with a ten-seater wine room, complete with a floor to ceiling wine display. The basement will be home to a music venue that will also host guest DJ’s and live acoustic sessions. Vir said: “Caia has been a long time in the planning and it’s an exciting time to be in west London. There is a beautiful sense of nostalgia and old-world charm being coupled with an injection of new energy that is palpable and we’re looking forward to being part of that story.”

Russian banks blamed for Cheltenham hotel falling into administration, property ‘trading profitably’ and will continue to operate while buyer sought: The owner of a luxury hotel in Cheltenham that has fallen into administration has blamed the collapse on Russian banks, including state-owned Otkritie. Lethendy Cheltenham Ltd, which trades as the DoubleTree by Hilton Cheltenham, went into administration on May 19. It is one of four hotels owned by Lethendy Estates, a UK-based holding company that owns and operates hotels around the country under different brand names. The company’s portfolio also includes Double Tree by Hilton Elstree, Double Tree by Hilton Stoke on Trent, and Holiday Inn Bolton. Lethendy Estates is also part of the MF Trust, the settlor of which is Russian former billionaire Dr Boris Mints. The company said it was forced to appoint administrators after Russian banks sought to impose land registry restrictions on Hilton Cheltenham’s property, which it claims had “no connection” to Lethendy Estates. The hotel operator also said the banks had been “unwilling” to remove the “unreasonably imposed” restrictions out of court. “We are saddened that the actions of the sanctioned Russian Bank Otkritie and Russian Bank Trust have resulted in the DoubleTree by Hilton Cheltenham hotel being placed into administration,” a spokesman for Lethendy Estates told Business Live. “These actions of the Russian banks led to our lender demanding early repayment of previously issued loans and the placement of a profitable and successful Cheltenham hotel into temporary administration.” Lethendy Estates claims the “aggressive actions” of the Russian banks are due to the political views of Dr Mints, who is a critic of Vladimir Putin. Lethendy Estates is currently hosting Ukrainian war refugees free of charge in its properties in Elstree and Bolton, and the Cheltenham hotel was set to host a further tranche of refugees. The spokesman added: “This latest action amounts to yet another avenue of oppression from the Russian state levied against Ukrainians – in Ukraine and now abroad – as well as putting a profitable hotel into administration. We are carefully considering the situation and further steps. Meanwhile, Lethendy Estates is committed to ensuring all refugees currently residing in properties in Elstree and Bolton continue to receive the utmost level of support.” According to administrators Quantuma, the hotel is currently trading profitably and will continue to be run by them while they look for a buyer.
 
New pan-African concept opens in London next month: Ghanaian-British restaurateur Akwasi Brenya-Mensa will open his debut London restaurant and bar, Tatale, on 14 July. Celebrating African flavours and “chop bar” cooking traditions, the venue is based at The Africa Centre, a charity that has recently moved to Gunpowder House in Southwark. The concept aims to “tell stories through food, art and culture” and takes its name from a Ghanaian plantain pancake. Brenya-Mensa has spent the first half of 2022 gathering cultural knowledge of the cuisines, with his travels taking him to Puerto Rico, Ghana, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland and Portugal. The opening follows more than a year of experimenting with dishes at pop-ups and festivals. Brenya-Mensa said: “I view myself as an African futurist, as I am really excited by the prospect of having a healthy, thriving and varied African culinary scene, and what this will look like in 20 or 30 years’ time. There’s a lot of positive change, innovation and excellence ahead.” Dishes will include chichinga buttermilk fried chicken wings and dill emulsion from Ghana; ackee Croquettes and curry emulsion from the Caribbean; and red snapper moqueca with onion and tarragon from Brazil. The 33-cover restaurant and 100-cover bar will be situated on the ground and first floors, with an outside street-level terrace and balcony.

Revolution Bars Group to reopen Wilmslow site next week following £200,000 makeover: Revolution Bars Group, which operates 67 bars trading mainly under the Revolution and Revolución de Cuba brands, will reopen its Wilmslow site next Friday (17 June) following a £200,000 makeover. The Alderley Road site will have a new DJ booth, dance floor, luxury VIP seating, décor and special effect lighting. General manager Matthew Hodges said: “Revolution Wilmslow has been central to the nightlife action in town since opening, but we felt the time had come to up the ante, and the new design will allow us to remain at the top of our game.” The company last week reopened its Cheltenham site following a similar £250,000 overhaul. The group is also set to open its first site in four years with the launch of a Revolution in the former Las Iguanas premises in Exeter this month, and has also secured a former Greene King site in Preston for the brand.

Roxy Leisure opens Bristol site: Roxy Leisure, the operator of the Roxy Lanes and Roxy Ballroom concepts, has opened a site in Bristol. The company has brought its Roxy Lanes concept to the city with the launch in the former Fitness4Less gym premises in Union Street. The site has capacity for 350 people, and includes eight bowling lanes, as well as batting cages, shuffleboards, karaoke booths, full size pool tables, beer pong, arcade games and ice-free curling. It is Roxy Leisure’s 11th venue, adding to sites in Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Liverpool and Leeds. In March, Roxy Leisure said it planned to open six sites in 2022 and has venues lined up in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Nottingham. Sheffield and York.

Arkell’s opens first new-build pub in almost 20 years: Swindon brewer and retailer Arkell’s has opened its first new-build pub in almost 20 years. The company has launched The Strawberry Thief at the Tadpole Garden Village development in the Wiltshire town, reports the Swindon Advertiser. The pub has been in the pipeline since 2018 but has been delayed due to the pandemic. Arkell’s operates more than 90 pubs including The Tawny Owl in Swindon, which was its last new-build site to open in 2003. 
 
Manchester Italian restaurant and deli owners open new food hub in the city: Husband-and-wife team Maurizio and Claire Cecco, who opened Salvi’s Italian restaurant in Manchester’s Northern Quarter and a deli in the Corn Exchange a decade ago, have added a new food hub in the city. Housed in a 3,000 square-foot unit in the Deansgate Square development, it offers a restaurant with private dining room, a Sorrento-style bar with a heated terrace and a deli selling Italian produce. New menu additions include pasta pesto melanzane, grilled tuna steak with Sorrento lemons and sea bass with cherry tomatoes in white wine sauce, served alongside a selection of Italian beer and wine. Maurizio will also be hosting pasta classes later in the year. “We worked so hard to bring Salvi’s Deansgate to life, and we’re ecstatic to finally be able to share the simply stunning venue that we have created,” Maurizio told I Love Manchester. “Like many other businesses, we faced a lot of challenges during the pandemic, but we are proud to say we are still standing strong and growing. We took the best features of each of our venues and crafted the new Salvi’s brand for everyone as passionate about real Italian food as us.”

Newcastle-based Indian street food concept doubles up with Sunderland opening: Newcastle-based Indian street food concept My Delhi has opened a second restaurant, in Sunderland. Owners Shah and Elahi Amin, Gaurav Dayal and Garry and Neha Goyal have expanded their concept by taking on the former Funky Indian and Café 420 site adjacent to the Winter Gardens. Having signed the lease in January, the restaurateurs, who recently tasted success on BBC Two’s “Britain’s Top Takeaway”, had been operating a takeaway service at the venue. They opened their first outlet in Newcastle’s Clayton Street in May 2019, serving authentic Indian street food inspired by the streets and markets of Delhi. “We had a vision to create a new kind of Indian dining experience, bringing the true flavours and atmosphere of dining in Delhi to central Newcastle,” Elahi told Bdaily. “We knew we had to create an experience that people really bought into as there are so many fantastic Indian restaurants in the north east. We hired a chef who hails from Delhi and invested heavily in creating an experience where, when people visit, they aren’t just eating food, they’re also getting an immersive experience through the décor and atmosphere. We had to battle during the two years of the pandemic, but we’re still here. Before covid, we were doing really well and built a great reputation very quickly. People understood what we were about. It’s not just the taste, it’s what you see and what you hear. Diners hear the sounds of the street and feel the ambience. It’s a real experience.”

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