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Thu 16th Jun 2022 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Two Magpies looking to raise private investment to fund expansion, plans to triple estate: Suffolk bakery Two Magpies is looking to raise private investment to fund its expansion plans, which includes tripling its seven-strong estate. The company, founded nine years ago and run by founder Rebecca Bishop and joint owner Steve Magnall, opened its latest site, a 50-cover venue in Woodbridge, Suffolk, in January. It now has seven sites spread across East Anglia as well as two manufacturing units and a bake school. Magnall – a former chief executive at St Peter’s Brewery, managing director at Thwaites and deputy managing director with Greene King – came on board with the business in 2018. Since then, it has seen sales growth of £620,000 to £7.5m and has also launched click-and-collect services. With plans in place to update and extend some of its existing sites and move all its production to an 11,000 square-foot unit, Two Magpies also wants to expand to up to 20 sites during the next few years. “It’s surprising what can be achieved in just three years if you have a clear business plan and a brilliant team, even with a pandemic thrown in the mix,” Magnall told Insider Media. “We’ve grown quickly, cherry picking sites in areas with the right demographic, and it has paid off. We’ve always tried to locate our sites in areas that boast lots of independent businesses, where there’s already a support and demand for something different. Plus, with tourism now on the up post-covid, we’re seeing a raft of holidaymakers coming through our doors. Our aim is to increase by three to four sites a year. We’re not big enough yet to franchise out and feel that could have a negative effect on our quality and consistency, so for now, we’ll keep on growing as we have been.” Two Magpies, which last year appointed former Pizza Express regional director Carl Stock as managing director, used bank loans for previous expansions. Magnall will be speaking about developing and growing Two Magpies, and what comes next for the business dubbed “the Gail’s Bakery of East Anglia”, at the Propel Multi-Club Summer Conference and summer party, which takes place on Wednesday, 31 August, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Oxford Belfry. The all-day conference will focus on “prospering in a post-pandemic world” and will be followed in the evening by the summer party, with a barbecue, live band and more. Open for bookings, operators can claim up to two free places each by emailing jo.charity@propelinfo.com. A room can also be booked for the evening for £120.

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: “We can’t just talk to young people. We have to change mum and dad’s opinions (and career coaches’ opinions!) so our industry is seen as a progressive, viable and attractive career path (not a stop-gap job) for people from all walks of life and industry – with training and advancement opportunities. How will we know that the campaign message resonates?” You’re spot on. We need to do a lot more than show up at a few career fairs. Our “Army: Be the Best”-style media campaign, charged with the message that hospitality is a dynamic and flexible industry with long-term career prospects, will be pushed out across national print, TV and digital channels. Created and tested by a world-class team of marketers, the campaign will be the flagship of a much wider movement that will also be fed into schools, colleges and universities. If you want to help us shout about hospitality as a long-term career for great people from all walks of life, and attract fresh talent into the industry, 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.

Only ten of 589 companies in next edition of Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book generating pre-tax profit of more than £20m: Only ten of the 589 companies featured in the next edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book are generating pre-tax profit of more than £20m. Premium subscribers will receive the latest edition of the Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, on Friday, (17 June) at midday. The Blue Book shows the effects of the pandemic, with total losses of £5.8bn being reported by 348 companies. However, a further 241 sector companies are still reporting total profits of £1.1bn. The 589 UK pub, restaurant, cafe and hotel operators featured have a total turnover of £28.6bn. In the next edition, 31 companies have also reported updated accounts. 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 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.

Almost a quarter of sector businesses introduce permanent flexible working and increase bonuses to combat staff shortages: Almost a quarter of hospitality and leisure businesses have introduced permanent flexible working and increased staff bonuses in an effort to combat labour shortages. Wages have also increased across the board as businesses scramble to both recruit and retain talent, according to UK Hospitality’s Next Challenge, a new study from Barclays Corporate Banking. The research shows more than nine in 10 (94%) of business surveyed are struggling to recruit personnel, with vacancies for cleaning (20%), front-of-house (18%) and delivery staff (16%) causing the most issues. Almost a fifth (16%) of bars and restaurants are finding it difficult to hire waiting staff, and nearly half of gyms and leisure centres (42%) cannot find fitness instructors. In response, new incentives have included permanent flexible working arrangements (by 23% of businesses) and increases in staff welfare budgets and bonuses (both 22%). Almost one in five employers (19%) have staff wages, with senior managers getting an average increase of 7.7%, delivery riders 7.5%, housekeeping staff 7.4%, bar staff 7.3%, finance staff 7.3% and kitchen staff 6.9%. Another concern is rising costs, with businesses reporting average transport bills spiking by more than 38% year-on-year, and utility bills by 37%. All of which looks set to stifle the growth the majority remain confident of experiencing in 2022, says the report. More than three quarters (77%) of operators surveyed are confident of growth this year and predicted an average 30.5% uplift in revenue compared with pre-pandemic levels. This equates to a £36bn rise in annual turnover over 2019, and a £54bn increase on 2021. The report went on to say that profit margins are now at 41.3% on average, compared to 39.1% pre-pandemic, with caravan parks enjoying the biggest rise in profitability, from 37.1% in 2019 to 48.0%. The report also found support for offering employment to Ukrainian refugees is particularly high in Northern Ireland, where 88% plan to hire them, as well as in the east of England (87%) and Scotland (86%).

Foodhub to integrate food delivery app in self-driving cars: Food delivery platform Foodhub has put the wheels in motion to integrate its online food delivery app in self-driving cars within the next three to five years. Chief executive Ardian Mula said the company is putting significant resources into developing the new technology following recent regulation changes to the Highway Code that open new doors for tech companies. From 2025, motorists in self-driving cars will be permitted to use built-in screens to watch movies and television, or check email, while travelling at slow speeds. Mula sees this as a golden opportunity to integrate the Foodhub app within the onboard technology of self-driving vehicles. He said the app, when used inside a car, would work through voice command by searching for nearby takeaways using GPS. A map would then appear on screen, showing the relevant choices based on location, along with key information like ratings and food type. Once the driver has made their choice, they would be able to use autopay and the app would move to a tracker. Additionally, the app would allow for an auto pause and order reload feature, so users can restart their order where they left off if they have to take control of their car at any point. Mula said: “While the innovation clearly benefits the consumer, providing them with an entirely new way of ordering, we also foresee restaurants and takeaways seeing an increase in sales, especially as self-driving vehicle ownership increases.” 

NTIA – rail strike timetable will have ‘catastrophic’ impact on trade and compromise safety: The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has warned the planned timetable of next week’s train strikes will have a “catastrophic” impact on trade and compromise safety. Tens of thousands of railway workers are set to stage three days of national strikes in what their union said will be the biggest walkout since 1989. Members of the RMT at Network Rail and across 13 train operators will take action next Tuesday (21 June), Thursday (23 June) and Saturday (25 June) – the first date coinciding with a separate 24-hour RMT strike on the London Underground. The strike timetable will see services being reduced to 20%, with the last service ending at 6.30pm. Michael Kill, chief executive of the NTIA, said: “This will have a catastrophic impact on trade. This will limit access to cities, events and festivals across the UK, with mounting concerns over staff and public safety. The timetabled strike day rail services across the UK will leave many stranded at night, compromising safety with very few alternative transport services available.”

Galvin at Windows GM Peter Avis receives Platinum Jubilee Medal for services to hospitality: Peter Avis, general manager at the Galvin brothers’ Galvin at Windows restaurant, has been awarded Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee Medal for his services to hospitality. Avis’ rise through the hospitality industry saw him start as a dishwasher at 19 before winning the UK Restaurant Manager of the Year award in 2009. He joined the Galvin at Windows team in February 2020, where he launched a student programme in May 2021 in response to the major recruitment challenges the industry faced in the wake of the pandemic. The 12-week training and mentoring programme saw students receive accommodation at the hotel, alongside full pay and all meals provided while on duty, with some students ending up staying on permanently. In 2020, Avis also joined the Institute of Hospitality supervisory board as chairman. He said: “To be recognised is one of the most poignant moments of my career and I pledge to continue to inspire younger generations, showcasing the food industry as a prosperous career path.”

Eleven English pubs listed: Eleven pubs across England have been recognised for their historic or unusual interiors. The pubs have been listed, upgraded or relisted by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the advice of Historic England. The Whitelock’s Ale House in Leeds and The Prince Alfred in Maida Vale, London, have both been upgraded to grade II*, while newly listed at grade II are London pubs the Blythe Hill Tavern in Catford, and the Admiral Vernon in Dagenham. The remaining seven have been relisted at grade II – the Red Lion in Westminster, London; the Harrow Inn near Petersfield, Hampshire; the North Star near Steventon, Oxfordshire; the Kings Head in Laxfield, Suffolk; The Victoria in Great Harwood, Lancashire; the Black Horse in Preston, Lancashire; and The Bridge Inn in Topsham, Devon. Heritage Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “Our historic pubs are national institutions that have sat at the heart of local communities for generations, bringing people together and shining a light on our shared past. These listings recognise and celebrate the importance of the local pub to people across the country and will make sure their legacy endures for many years to come.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a high-volume business in Brighton that is on the lookout for a general manager. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “For this role, you will currently be at an experienced general management level, with strong experience in sales growth and preferably within a fast-paced, food and drinks environment. You will be a market leader in terms of marketing, staff retention and development, company growth and vision.” The salary is up to £55,000. For more information, email david@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Whitbread suffers shareholder revolt over pay row: Whitbread, the owner of the Premier Inns hotel chain, suffered a shareholder revolt for a second successive year as almost 40% of investors voted against the company’s pay plans. The group revealed 38.44% of investor votes at its annual general meeting on Wednesday (15 June) were made against its remuneration policy. While the policy was approved, with 61.56% of investor votes cast in favour, the backlash centred on the group’s decision to award bonuses to executives despite receiving government support during the pandemic. Sky News reported earlier this month that Whitbread was engaged in discussions with leading investors aimed at heading off a revolt after shareholders were told to vote against its remuneration report by Glass Lewis, a proxy adviser. The robust stance came despite Alison Brittain, Whitbread’s chief executive, voluntarily giving up a £729,000 deferred payout after deciding it would be inappropriate it in the context of furlough payments and other government support received by the company. The hotel operator also reduced bonuses for the year by 25% to reflect the fact that furlough funding was received only in one quarter of its financial year. The company said: “The board notes the results of the advisory resolution on the 2021-22 remuneration report, which has been supported by the majority of shareholders. We have engaged with a number of shareholders regarding the remuneration report and will continue to engage constructively with shareholders over the coming months. We will report on any actions resulting from those discussions in due course.” Last year’s revolt, which saw 35.75% of investors vote against the remuneration policy, centred on the company’s rewards for Brittain and other executives.

RedCat adds Breckland Lodge Hotel to inns estate: RedCat Pub Company, the investment vehicle founded and chaired by Rooney Anand to invest in the UK pub sector, has added a further Norfolk-based site to its Inns estate. Propel has learned that the circa 100-strong company has acquired the Breckland Lodge hotel, restaurant, pub and coffee lounge at Attleborough. It is the 17th Redcat Inns site and third in Norfolk for the business. 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 over 1,000 rooms. RedCat’s strategy is to acquire quality inns, managed and tenanted pubs across the UK. At the start of this month, it acquired two venues on the highly sought-after north Norfolk coast – The Pheasant Hotel and Blakeney Manor Hotel. They were the ninth and tenth acquisitions by The Coaching Inn Group under RedCat ownership and brought the number of pub hotels owned by The Coaching Inn Group to 28.

D&D London to open French restaurant Orelle in Birmingham: Restaurant operator D&D London will open a new French restaurant in Birmingham later this year, Propel understands. The company, which announced it would launch a rooftop restaurant with panoramic views at the 103 Colmore Row development in Birmingham at the start of 2020, will open modern, French fine-dining restaurant Orelle at the rooftop site, with an opening scheduled for October. Located on the 24th floor of the city’s tallest office building, the new venue will offer “panoramic views across the city and beyond”. The company will also run a cocktail bar and café on the ground floor. In April, D&D London confirmed the appointment of Baton Berisha, former chief executive of the Ivy Collection, Bill’s and Caprice Holdings, as its new managing director. Berisha’s appointment came as D&D London was placed back on the market after talks with UK-based investment firm Montecito Equity Partners, over a deal that would have reportedly valued the business at £100m, failed. Interpath Advisory was again instructed to kick off talks with potential buyers for the LDC-backed business. D&D owns and operates some 40 restaurants in major cities in the UK (London, Manchester, Leeds) and overseas (New York, Paris).

Enhanced Hospitality to open British brasserie in Mayfair: Enhanced Hospitality, the Roger Payne-led operator of the We Are Bar business and Shaka Zulu in Camden, is to open a new British brasserie in London’s Mayfair next month. Propel has learned that the business will open Maddox Tavern, on the former Browns site in Maddox Street. Described as “an elegant British Brasserie”, the new venture will serve “British classics, elevated, alongside an unrivalled wine list”. Last month, Propel revealed that Enhanced Hospitality is to open a new site in London’s Soho. The business, formerly known as Camden Dining, is taking over the former Zelman Meats site in St Anne’s Court for what is thought will become the steak-led Soho Meatery & Neet Bar. Last year, Enhanced Hospitality opened a new Japanese restaurant in London called Ginza St James’s, on the former Matsuri site in Bury Street. Taylor Gershon of CBA Leisure represented Enhanced Hospitality on the Mayfair deal, while Simon Carson at Harper Dennis Hobbs acted for the landlord.

EL&N to make debut in Italy: High-class cafe brand EL&N, which last summer made its international debut in the Middle East, is to open its first site in Italy later this month, Propel has learned. The company, which operates ten sites in London, will open next week in the Liberty Tower, Piazza Del Liberty, in Milan. The business recently opened its fourth site in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh and operates a further four sites in the Middle East. In the UK, it most recently opened its first airport-based site, at Heathrow. It is also planning to make its debut in Scotland, in Edinburgh. Propel understands EL&N, which was founded in 2017 by Alexander Miller, has lined up an opening in the St James Square development in the Scottish capital. It has also been linked with an opening in Manchester.

Shoryu Ramen confirms debut franchise site: Shoryu Ramen Restaurant Group, which specialises in kyushu cuisine from the southernmost of Japan’s main islands, has confirmed it will open its first franchise site later this summer, in London’s Kensington. As revealed by Propel in March, the group is to launch a new site under its eponymous brand at 190 Kensington High Street. The site, which will open in August, is the first in partnership with Bowl Life Ltd – a subsidiary of Restaurants Inc, a development vehicle founded by sector investors Krishan Katyal and Dominic Ford to launch new restaurant businesses in London. Bowl Life Ltd plans to open at least three new Shoryu Ramen restaurants over the next few years and has ambitions to look beyond London for future development. Last October, Shoryu Ramen, which operates sites in London, Manchester and Oxford and the Ichiba food hall concept at Westfield London, unveiled plans for a series of franchise openings across the UK. It partnered with Ford Consultancy Group, which provides specialist services to the hospitality sector, on the initiative and said it was ready to expand across London and further afield. Shoryu Ramen originally sought to launch a franchising programme in 2019, but it was halted as the pandemic forced the group to focus on its own restaurants, delivery kitchens and online DIY ramen kits. Tak Tokumine, Shoryu Restaurant Group chief executive, said: “We are excited to be welcoming our first Shoryu franchise partner Bowl Life Ltd this year. What is especially unique about this opportunity is the chance to work in conjunction with Ford Consultancy to help us realise our vision in bringing our authentic Hakata tonkotsu ramen and famed Japanese hospitality across London and beyond.”
 
Where The Pancakes Are hits £550,000 crowdfunding target as it aims to open 16 restaurants by 2026: Where The Pancakes Are, the buttermilk pancakes and cafe concept, has hit its £550,000 target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube as it aims to open 16 restaurants by 2026. Founded by Patricia Trijbits in 2015, inspired by the pancake restaurants in her native Holland and across the USA, Where The Pancakes Are began life as a series of pop-ups and cooking classes. This was followed by the opening of restaurants in Flat Iron Square in 2016 and Fitzrovia in 2021, with a third, in Battersea Power Station, set to open this autumn. As well as launching her second site during the pandemic, Trijbits also introduced an online shop selling her signature pancake mix, brunch boxes and gift boxes. The crowdfunding campaign is offering investors 15.87% equity, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £2.9m. The fundraise has so far raised more than £556,000 from in excess of 260 investors. The company said it serves 10,000 customers a month and has served some 300,000 since launching, with a 62% return rate within three months. Trijbits said: “Our pancakes are so well loved by our customers, we are excited to continue our expansion across the UK to bring our pancakes to as many people as possible – I like to think of it as spreading the pancake love! We have cemented our business model with a casual dining experience and all-day menu. We are now ready to fast-track our growth to open more locations.”

Chopstix enhances digital offer with launch of new app: Fast-growing quick service restaurant brand Chopstix has increased its digital offering with the launch of a new app which rewards users with a “competitive loyalty scheme”. Created with app development company Pepper, the Chopstix app is available for download on the Google Play store and Apple App store. It rewards users with every purchase at Chopstix locations, earning 10% back in Chopstix Points to use on future visits, and keeps consumers up-to-date on new menu items, store openings and the latest offers. To celebrate the launch, new users will also be able to grab five free vegetable spring rolls. Jon Lake, managing director of Chopstix, said: “We’re pleased to offer our customers a new channel to engage with the brand. The Chopstix app is really user-friendly, it will no doubt be a hit with consumers and help continue a trend of significant growth in brand loyalty and customer satisfaction we’ve observed over the last 12 months.” The company recently announced Aaron Moore-Saxton as its first franchise director and a new partnership with leading UK holiday operator Haven. Chopstix plans to open at least 12 new stores this year, through a mix of directly owned and operated stores (equity stores) and franchise sites. 

Emerald Hospitality Group set to open fourth restaurant, plans to open two sites annually as it eyes overseas expansion: Emerald Hospitality Group, owned by twin brothers Alberto and Arian Zandi, is set to open its fourth site, with further expansion planned, including internationally. The company launched its first restaurant, Zuaya, in Kensington in 2018, offering a range of Latin American flavours with a prominent focus on Peru. During the pandemic, they opened a further two restaurants: Como Garden, an Italian restaurant in Kensington, which launched in winter 2020, and El Norte, a Spanish tapas restaurant in Mayfair that opened in December 2021. This autumn, the twins are set to open their fourth restaurant, a French concept inspired by the south of France. The restaurant will take over an “iconic” London venue, but the details and location are yet to be disclosed. Coming out of the pandemic, the brothers plan to open two restaurants every year, including plans for international expansion in markets with similar synergies to London, such as Dubai, New York and Miami. There are currently plans to launch the first El Norte overseas in Dubai. The twins arrived in London as teenagers with a strong desire to make their mark in hospitality, and founded the Emerald Hospitality Group in 2018. The group, which has been financially backed by some prestigious investors in Europe, turns over eight figures and employs more than 200 people.

Ellen Chew to open third Mrs Chew’s Chinese Kitchen at Westfield Stratford next month: Singaporean restaurateur Ellen Chew will open the third location of her Mrs Chew’s Chinese Kitchen (MCCK) concept in London’s Westfield Stratford City next month. It follows the success of the authentic halal Chinese concept in Birmingham Grand Central and Westfield Shepherds Bush. MCCK is described as “a contemporary street food concept that creates speedy and affordable Chinese favourites that are freshly prepared from scratch each day”. Chew, who launched Singaporean restaurant Rasa Sayang in London’s Chinatown in 2008, oversees the Chew On This restaurant group, which has a growing portfolio of contemporary halal Singaporean and Chinese eateries that also includes Shan Shui at Heathrow Airport T2 and Bicester Village. Chew said she has “grand plans to continue to share her knowledge of accessible and contemporary halal east and south east Asian cuisine to new UK audiences”. She said: “It is clear that the UK has a deep fondness for Asian dishes. Just last year, we successfully saw the opening of three new locations for our contemporary Chinese concepts, one in the UK’s busiest airport and two in key out-of-London shopping destinations. The support that the local community has given us, and our brand of halal Chinese and south east Asian cuisine has been tremendous and encouraging. It gives us great motivation to further expand our footprint to introduce new and exciting food concepts in the UK.”

Essex pub group opens third site following £1m investment: Essex pub group Baker Hospitality, owned by Piers Baker, has opened it third site – The White Hart Inn on Mersea Island – following a £1m investment. The company, which also operates Dedham’s The Sun Inn and Colchester bar and restaurant Church Street Tavern, has relaunched The White Hart, which had been closed since 2013, as a pub with restaurant and rooms. Baker said: “It is great to have a pub that has been shut for over ten years open again filled with people, food smells and real ale flowing. Our opening week went fantastically, with lots of excellent feedback about the way the pub now looks, the food and our team. It was great hearing people's stories from when the pub used to be open and their excitement at what lay ahead, given their familiarity with The Sun Inn and Church Street Tavern, which has made things a bit daunting as we have a reputation to live up to.” A regularly changing menu will be a mix of casual bar food and a restaurant menu using local ingredients. Highlights of the summer menu include steamed mussels with white wine, garlic, parsley and shallot, and smoked eel with kombu custard, leek, radish and caviar. It will be led by head chef Eliot Craven, who was formerly sous chef at Church Street Tavern. The pub also offers outdoor seating in a sheltered terraced garden with heated benches, and six individually designed ensuite double bedrooms, some with sea views.

Peel Hotels puts three more properties on the market: Peel Hotels has put three more properties on the market as the business looks to enter 2023 debt-free. Chairman Robert Peel said, when putting the Norfolk Royale Hotel in Bournemouth up for sale in April, that he wanted to clear the company’s £5m debts before the end of the year. It has now added The Caledonian Hotel in Newcastle, The Midlands Hotel in Bradford and The George Hotel in Wallingford to that list. The company also operates The Bull Hotel in Peterborough and The Crown & Mitre Hotel in Carlisle. The 89-bedroom Caledonian, a newly refurbished freehold property, features a bar and restaurant with an alfresco terrace, seven meeting rooms and conference facilities. The Midland, a freehold 90-bedroom grade-II listed property, has extensive function and banqueting suites including two ballrooms for weddings and events. The George, a freehold grade-II listed coaching inn, has 39 en-suite rooms, a bar and restaurant and two function rooms. Christie & Co is managing the sales.

South London brewery passes £500,000 crowdfunding target with two weeks left: South London brewery Gipsy Hill has passed its £500,000 crowdfunding target with two weeks still to run. One of London’s largest independent and employee-owned brewery’s, Gipsy Hill was founded nine years ago and is crowdfunding for the first time to further increase its efficiency and capacity and invest in sustainability initiatives. It launched a £500,000 campaign on Crowdcube earlier this month and has now raised almost £630,000 from 303 investors – offering 2.93% equity. With a pre-money valuation of £20.9m, it reported FY2021 sales growth of 23%, with revenue totalling £3.89m and adjusted Ebitda of £407,000. It currently has brand partnerships with Kerb Street Food, Pizza Pilgrims, Gousto and DJ BBQ, and is working on a project to produce a zero offset, carbon negative beer. The company, which delivered 2 million pints in 2021, is aiming to more than double is production to 5 million pints per year. It also wants to invest in new equipment to improve efficiency and quality and double the size of its on-site taproom over the next 18 months. The company is led by co-founder and chief executive Sam McMeekin, while among the investors on board in the funding round are Meantime Brewery founder Alistair Hook.

Owner of The Gallivant buys Kent hotel off £1.9m guide price: Harry Cragoe, the owner of award-winning East Sussex pub-hotel The Gallivant, has acquired the Romney Bay House Hotel in the Kent village of Littlestone-on-Sea. The hotel was sold on a freehold basis, off a guide price of £1,895,000. The property has ten en-suite double bedrooms and a restaurant offering a five-course dining experience using local produce. While the business transfers over, the hotel will be closed for some general improvements and reopen in late summer. Christie & Co acted on the deal.

McDonald’s UK & Ireland joins the Zero Carbon Forum: McDonald’s UK & Ireland has joined the Zero Carbon Forum as its latest member in the race to achieve net zero. The news follows the launch in October 2021 of McDonalds UK & Ireland’s Plan for Change, a business and sustainability strategy focusing on the Planet, People, Restaurants and Food. The strategy outlines ambitious goals and actions to help achieve positive change across the business. Two of its aims include achieving net zero emissions for all restaurants and offices in the UK & Ireland by 2030, and net zero emissions across the entire business and value chain by 2040. Mark Chapman, Zero Carbon Forum founder and chief executive, said: “With more than 1,400 sites across the UK and Ireland, serving over four million customers each day, we are delighted to welcome McDonald’s UK & Ireland to the forum. It’s expansive knowledge and learnings as a socially responsible multinational organisation will be invaluable to all our members as we continue to march onwards to reach net zero.” Beth Hart, vice president supply chain and brand trust, McDonald’s UK & Ireland, added: “We are committed to achieving net zero emissions across our entire business and value chain by 2040 as part of our new sustainability framework Plan for Change. However, we know that this is a challenge the entire industry faces and that sharing best practice is paramount to ensure we all get there.” McDonald’s UK opened its first restaurant built to a UK industry net zero emissions standard at the end of 2021, and its learnings will be used across the company to create a blueprint for freehold new builds. Features include kerb stones made from recycled plastic bottles, building cladding made from recycled IT equipment and household goods, 92 square metres of solar panels and two wind turbines to produce renewable energy.

Steampunk-themed experiential concept to open in London this summer, signs F&B partnerships with Pieminister and Munchies: Steampunk-themed experiential concept Phantom Peak is set to open in London this summer. The four to five-hour immersive exploration, which will include a full Wild Western town, will open in a 30,000 square-foot space at Canada Street, off Surrey Quays Road, on 3 August. Among its food partners will be Cuban cuisine concept Munchies, which will be offering tacos, burritos and nachos with original handmade sauces, and Pieminister, which offers sustainably made pies include portobello and chestnut mushrooms with asparagus and white wine, and jackfruit steak with craft ale and black pepper. Draught beers and cocktails will be available at Phantom Peak’s hidden speakeasy saloon, complete with an in-house robot band, while ice cream from Hackney Gelato and coffee from Notes Coffee will also be on offer. Phantom Peak is aiming to be 100% reusable, with food served on renewable trays and drinks in refillable cups. Founder Nick Moran said: “We want to take the opportunity to be serious about sustainability. We’re not vegan or vegetarians, but we know that it’s better for the planet to make steps to reduce meat consumption. Vegan and vegetarian food is so good these days: when I tasted the food that our partners were offering, it blew my mind. There’s just no reason not to make the choice to make our venue healthier, happier and more sustainable for us and everyone.”

British-Sri Lankan chef to open debut restaurant: Coventry-born Sri Lankan chef Cynthia Shanmugalingam is to open her debut restaurant, Rambutan in London’s Borough Market, in October. The restaurant, located in the former Konditor cake store premises in Stoney Street, will be inspired by Shanmugalingam’s Tamil roots and her many summers spent exploring markets, milling spices and cooking over fire in her families’ Sri Lankan village. Daily changing menus will feature street food snacks as well as larger plates such as Jaffna crab fried rice with bitter greens and grilled mackerel with turmeric and tamarind. The 60-cover restaurant, which will span two floors, will also offer a seasonal selection of authentic curries. Downstairs, an eight-seater bar will offer a menu of island-inspired cocktails along with a selection of beer from south London brewers, and a weekly changing line up of natural and biodynamic wine. Ahead of the opening, Rambutan will launch “Rambutan Ice” on Friday (17 June), a soft serve pop-up in collaboration with Soft and Swirly. Teaming up with founders Farah Kezouh and chef Sam Lowry, who will be responsible for desserts at Rambutan, the pop-up will serve a rotating line up of Sri Lankan flavoured ice creams. Shanmugalingam said: “Rambutan has been a long time in the making. London’s Sri Lankan diaspora is doing amazing things in music, fashion and art right now, and I hope with Rambutan, I can add food to that list. I believe I’m the first British-Sri Lankan female chef to open a restaurant in central London, and I’m just thrilled to be able to represent the extraordinary creativity and warm hospitality of all the Sri Lankan women who taught me how to cook.”

Tel Aviv-inspired street food concept to open at Seven Dials Market for second site: Tel Aviv-inspired street food concept Shuk is preparing to open its second London site. Shuk is joining the line-up at street food collective Kerb’s Seven Dials Market on Friday (17 July). where it will be the only Middle Eastern trader at the Covent Garden venue. The menu will include chicken shnitzel sando on toasted challah and a spiced lamb hummus tray. Shuk founders Mark Jankel and Richard Littman currently operate a site in Borough Market. 

Team behind Park Chinois to open new Ibiza nightspot on Friday: Island Hospitality, which is behind Chinese restaurant Park Chinois in London’s Mayfair, will launch a new nightspot in Ibiza on Friday (17 June). Club Chinois will be housed in the former Heart Ibiza site and inspired by the “decadent yet iniquitous jazz clubs of 1930s Shanghai”. The 3,000 square-metre venue will be host “acclaimed resident DJ’s, superstar headline performers and artists, providing an immersive experience for revellers of the highest quality”. Restaurant Zuma Ibiza will sit alongside the club and open-air terrace of the Ibiza Gran Hotel, offering its contemporary Japanese cuisine. Founded in London, Island Hospitality has established itself on Ibiza with a seven-strong collection of restaurants, beach club cafes and nightclubs including Finca La Plaza, Massa Coffee and its exclusive 16-room boutique hotel, Mikasa.

Really Local Group to open Ealing site this month: Cultural infrastructure developer Really Local Group will open a site in Ealing, west London, this month. The company has invested £2m transforming the 15,000 square-foot Karma Club into a new independent three-screen cinema and mixed-use community arts venue. Opening on Thursday, 30 June, The Ealing Project is situated on the ground floor and basement of The Broadway and will mark the first cinema in Ealing for 14 years. In response to changes in working patterns as a result of the pandemic, the community space will be flexible to accommodate activities ranging from co-working during the day to community events and performances in the evening. Preston Benson, founder of Really Local Group, said: “We can’t wait to breathe new life into a disused venue and bring an exciting range of film and culture to the local community.” Last month, Really Local Group revealed plans to raise £4m to support its expansion plans. It aims to open a total of ten sites by early 2024 and has ambitions for a further 30 by 2027. The group operates venues in Canning Town, Catford, Hayes, Reading and Sidcup, with plans in progress for a site in Bermondsey.

Island Poké introduces new bao range: Island Poké, the London-based White Rabbit Projects and Hero Brands-backed business, has launched a new bao range. Fillings for the new Poké Bao include yuzu salmon (with yuzu dressing, wakame, wasabi mayo, spring onion and sesame seeds), spicy tuna (with shiitake teriyaki dressing, sriracha, ginger pickled carrot, crispy shallots and togarashi), Korean BBQ chicken (with Korean BBQ dressing, kimchi, sriracha mayo, chilli, spring onion and crispy shallots) and miso aubergine (with shiitake teriyaki dressing, pickled red cabbage and spring onion). 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 item that incorporates our fresh Pacific flavours with a soft, light and bespoke bao bun felt like a great way to expand our offering, giving customers a fun and new handheld way to eat their poké at great prices. The portability of the product allows us to offer consumers a healthy and tasty alternative to other grab-and-go options.” Island Poké only last month introduced its first ever breakfast menu, including a variety of scrambled egg combinations. The brand, which currently has 18 sites in London and nine in France, earlier this month made its regional debut with an opening in Bicester.

Jurys Inn and Leonardo Hotels launch rooftop bar at London venue: Jurys Inn and Leonardo Hotels UK has launched a new rooftop bar at the NYX Hotel London Holborn. Called Glasshouse on the Roof, the bar is based ten storeys up and 125 feet high – offering panoramic views across the capital. With covers for 100 standing and 46 seated, the bar, which has a retracting roof, offers specially crafted cocktails, beer, wine and spirits from 4pm Wednesday to Friday, and from noon at weekends. NYX Hotel London Holborn has 213 luxury bedrooms and suites, with a spa and pool available for guests. It is owned and operated by Jurys Inn and Leonardo Hotels UK & Ireland hotel group, which operates 35 hotels under the Jurys Inn brand, one under the NYX brand and 15 hotels under the Leonardo brand – 47 in the UK and four in Ireland. In April, the group revealed it would rebrand its Jurys Inn hotels to its Leonardo brand.

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