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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 24th Jun 2022 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Cook – industry is resilient and will bounce back as it has before: Hostmore chief executive Robert B Cook believes the industry will bounce back from the current financial crisis in the same way it has before. Having battled through various covid lockdowns, sector businesses have been hit this year by the cost-of-living crisis, rising food costs and energy bills, a return to the 20% rate of VAT and, for city-based firms, a growing trend for hybrid working. But Cook, who earlier this week told Propel that Hostmore is focusing on live sport and alfresco dining in its next Fridays roll-out, said it’s a case of “hunkering down and watching the pennies”. He said: “It’s tough out there, there’s less volume around. I read a report that 64% of consumers are eating out less, and I also think the consumer is protecting their cash for their first summer holiday in three years. The car is more expensive to fill, so too are shopping baskets. We made a trading statement on 26 May 2022 where we stated that trading for the remainder of year, as compared to FY19, may reduce by 8%. We’ve adjusted our business accordingly, but it’s very bumpy. We had a good weekend the one just gone with Father’s Day, so some are stronger than others. It’s just a tough environment, but this industry is resilient. It’s been through recessions before, come out of it and bounced back. We’ve just got to hunker down and watch the pennies.” Cook also said the menu changes rolled out in Fridays restaurants this year – the introduction of Tex-Mex and bottomless brunches and more plant-based options through a partnership with Meatless Farm – will be permanent fixtures. “They’re 100% here to stay,” he added. “I first bumped into Fridays in 1989 and again in 1990 when I was up in Glasgow, and it was the sort of place back then where you went for Tex-Mex food. I was keen to get it back on the menu and it has done really well. Our quesadillas and tacos have flown out the door and the guests have loved it. Our plant-based dishes have done really well, it’s been a great collaboration and you can’t taste the difference to the same meat-based dishes. We’re attracting a whole new audience who wouldn’t ordinarily have come to Fridays not knowing we had a vegan or vegetarian offering. If you’ve got a table of six and got a vegan amongst the group, you’re more likely to come to Fridays now as we have a great offer. Bottomless brunch is doing great too, and as the original cocktail bar, it’s exactly what we should be doing.” Cook also told Propel earlier this week that the next opening for the company’s new Fridays and Go concept is likely to be in the autumn, and the 63rd+1st cocktail bar concept, which will open a fourth site next month, in Edinburgh, will probably not expand at the rate first hoped for. He also said the company is exploring sites in Kent and the north west for its core Fridays brand.

Industry News:

Sponsored message – join Access Group and back Hospitality Rising: Access Group is supporting Hospitality Rising. The initiative aims to unite the industry by asking it to invest in and back its plan to change the perception of hospitality for the better, in the biggest sector recruitment advertising campaign the UK has seen. Henry Seddon, Access Hospitality managing director, said: “Hospitality is facing enormous challenges to fill vacancies in a vibrant and sociable sector but too many people don’t recognise the career paths and opportunities that are available. Having faced some of the biggest disruption in the last couple of years, the hospitality skills gap is an industry problem that needs an industry response rather than individuals trying to solve it on their own. Hospitality Rising provides the ideal channel for everyone to work together for the benefit of everyone involved and was an obvious choice for our support. There’s always some uncertainty attached to a new initiative, so some people may be sceptical about what Hospitality Rising can achieve. But hospitality thrives on innovation and boasts some of the most adventurous (and successful) entrepreneurs in the country, so has a history of taking risks and doing things differently.” 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

Variety of bar operators set to join updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies: A variety of bar operators are among the 51 new multi-site companies being added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released on Friday, 1 July, at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, features Manchester-based operator Stewart Dean, who owns South African restaurant and bar Chakalaka in Oldham Street and the recently opened Blockbuster NQ bar on the same road. Also added this month is steakhouse and late-night bar brand Pasture, which is owned by Sam Elliott and made its debut in Bristol in 2018 before expanding to Cardiff. In addition, Chester-based independent wine bar Covino, which is owned by Chris Laidler and is now opening a new bar called Climat on the roof of Bruntwood Work’s Blackfriars House, will be featured. Meanwhile, Bournemouth-based sports bar concept Sharkey’s, which is owned by Rod Clarke, and has sites in Christchurch Road, Bournemouth, and in Above Bar Street, Southampton, will be included. Premium subscribers will also receive a 4,200-word report on the new additions to the database. The comprehensive database is updated monthly and provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different. It features more than 2,000 companies. Premium subscribers will also receive the next edition of the New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, on Friday, 8 July, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The next edition also includes a 17,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to another database – the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group. The Blue Book, which is also updated monthly and was sent to Premium subscribers last Friday (17 June), provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers have also been given exclusive access to a new database. The UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database 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 featured 120 companies, providing insight on the offer, locations, cost and other key details. The second edition provides almost 47,000 words of content. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Mark Wingett.

Ed Devenport to speak at Propel Multi-Club Conference and summer party, two free places each for operators: Ed Devenport, co-founder of Incipio Group, will be among the speakers at the Propel Multi-Club Conference and summer party, which takes place on Wednesday, 31 August, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Oxford Belfry, and is open for bookings. 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. Devenport discusses the concept’s USPs, how it goes about transforming different and under-utilised spaces and how it picks and continually evolves its food and drink offer. Operators can claim up to two free places each by emailing A room can also be booked for the evening for £120.

Propel Friday Wrap video series with Yishay Malkov, chief executive of Various Eateries: Propel’s Friday Wrap video series returns today (24 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 Yishay Malkov, chief executive of Various Eateries, the operator of Coppa Club, Tavolino and Noci, to discuss, amongst other things, the impact of the train strikes, expansion opportunities, why hospitality needs to get back to basics to attract customers and staff, and working with a number of sector “heavyweights”.
Johnson – I suspect the industry is about to enter a period of what might be called ‘creative destruction’: Serial sector investor Luke Johnson has said he suspects the restaurant industry is about to enter a period of “what might be called ‘creative destruction’, and that we may not see the like of the “remarkable boom” experienced by the sector in the last decade, again. Writing exclusively in this week’s Propel Premium, Johnson, former chairman of Pizza Express and founder of sector investment firm Risk Capital Partners, argues that the cycle of typical restaurants is getting shorter, and that with no government bailouts now – the “walking wounded must either find new capital or cease to trade”. He asks whether restaurateurs are more short term in their thinking than other entrepreneurs, and whether they should take pointers from the enduring appeal of pubs. Propel Premium will be sent out to Premium subscribers at 5pm today (Frida7, 24 June). Email to upgrade your subscription.

Record staff shortages causing hospitality to lose £21bn in trade: Record staff shortages in the hospitality industry are causing almost half (45%) of operators to cut trading hours or capacity in order to cope, according to new research. This is costing the industry £21bn in lost revenue and causing an estimated £5bn loss in tax for the Exchequer, the joint survey by UKHospitality, the British Institute of Innkeeping and the British Beer & Pub Association revealed. The survey also showed staff shortages are forcing one in three businesses in the sector to close one or more days a week. Recent Office for National Statistics figures show the sector currently has a record 174,000 jobs available and is experiencing 83% more vacancies compared with March to May 2019. The joint survey by the trade bodies revealed the highest shortages are for front of house roles, with 81% of those operators with vacancies looking to fill these positions. Chefs are the next most sought after, with 76% of operators with vacancies, followed by kitchen porters (67%), and assistant managers (53%). In a joint statement, the trade bodies, said: “These figures clearly show the danger to the industry and financial loss to the country via taxes posed by the current staffing crisis. In short, the recovery of both the sector and the UK economy are being threatened by this workforce shortage. Operators have been doing all they can to help solve the issue – from increasing wages to flexible working. However, this can only help so much, and the sector must be given targeted support in order to solve the crisis. A booming hospitality workforce will create fantastic opportunities, drive economic growth and aid regeneration in communities across the UK.” Last month, UKHospitality launched its nationwide hospitality workforce strategy to nurture co-operation between industry stakeholders and boost recruitment and training for a new generation of skilled hospitality staff.

NTIA – businesses suffering up to 40% loss in trade due to rail strikes: Sector businesses are suffering up to a 40% loss in trade due to the rail strikes, the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has claimed. The trade body said the night-time economy relies heavily on the rail network to bring audiences and staff safely to and from venues, with 81% of London theatregoers using public transport, and a similar proportion of hospitality customers. NTIA chief executive Michael Kill said: “Our industry is suffering heavily from rising costs, as inflation reaches 9.1%, with most reporting an estimated loss of up to 40% in trade from the national rail strike. Our sector is at a critical point in its recovery, as we embark on one of the most important summer festival seasons. Anger and frustration is growing, as it feels for many like they are being drawn back to business levels experienced during the covid lockdowns. Long-term strike action will lead to an irreparable loss of business and jobs, after so much hard work has been put into recovery in the last 12 months.” According to data from S4labour, hospitality sales in London were hit particularly hard, down 30% on the previous week, while Manchester saw a 17% downturn. S4labour’s chief innovation officer, Richard Hartley, said: “The rail strikes have hugely affected urban areas, where consumers rely more on public transport. Sites near to rail stations have been hit very hard, with many reporting very low levels of trade. As strikes continue, we anticipate seeing further significant hits to the industry, and a week to forget for operators.” Simon Thomas, executive chairman of Leicester Squares’ Hippodrome Casino, added: “First covid, and now we’ve got the RMT variant. The West End was well on the mend, and this strike threatens to push thousands of businesses back into intensive care.” Robert B Cook, chief executive of Hostmore, told Propel: “On one hand, it could be positive as people aren’t travelling to work, so may come out for the evening as they’ve had a lousy day at home. But on the other hand, they may say I’m in and I’m not going out now. Saturday could be a concern.”

Delivery and takeaway sales dip year-on-year but remain well above pre-covid levels: Delivery and takeaway sales at Britain’s leading managed restaurant and pub groups are falling from the peaks of covid-19 lockdowns, the CGA by NielsenIQ & Slerp Hospitality at Home Tracker reveals. The latest edition of the exclusive monitor shows that combined sales in May 2022 were 29% below the level of May 2021. It is the fifth month in a row this year that sales have been below the corresponding period of 2021, when eating and drinking out was heavily restricted. However, the Tracker also shows sales remain well above pre-covid levels, with growth of 107% in May 2022 compared to May 2019. Delivery sales were 315% higher than three years ago, while takeaway and click-and-collect sales were up by 22%. Combined, they accounted for almost 25 pence in every pound spent with the managed groups participating in the Tracker in May. Karl Chessell, CGA’s business unit director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “After flourishing during the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, the delivery and takeaway sector has inevitably settled down as consumers go out to eat again. Nevertheless, our Tracker shows the market is more than twice the size it was just three years ago, and it now accounts for a quarter of managed groups’ trading. As the third-party delivery market matures, optimising sales and profits in it without compromising core eat-in business is crucial.” Slerp founder JP Then added: “We are now getting better visibility as to what a post-pandemic new normal looks like, and it’s clear that takeaway and delivery are an important aspect of the channel mix, representing a quarter of revenues. Operators are looking closely at the margins and investing into the channels that enable them to operate effectively and provide consumers with enough bang for their buck. Establishing a direct online ordering channel with a unique proposition remains key to capturing discretionary consumer spend.”

Breakfast bookings up almost 60% year-on-year on Father’s Day, brunch more popular on Mother’s Day: Breakfast bookings were up 57% on Father’s Day compared to the same day last year, research from hospitality tech provider Zonal has revealed. Overall, breakfast accounted for 12.5% of all bookings in pubs and restaurants for the day this year, with lunch at 39.5%. Brunch was popular on Mother’s Day, with five times as many more bookings, while Mother’s Day continues to be more popular than Father’s Day overall, with 24% more bookings in pubs and restaurants. Chief sales and marketing officer at Zonal, Olivia FitzGerald, said: “The rise in bookings for breakfast with dad and brunch with mum represent a real opportunity for the trade. Operators should be looking to tap into this trend next year by driving sales earlier in the day on both Father’s and Mother’s Day with advance promotions, offers and up-selling. With consumer confidence waning as the cost-of-living rises, savvy operators will be thinking creatively about budget-friendly family occasions, using different day parts to maximise the opportunity.” The stats also show people booked earlier this Father’s Day than in 2021, with 28% of people booking at least a week in advance, up from 24% in 2021. This is backed up by the fact that fewer people booked at the last minute this year – with 23% of bookings taking place on the day in 2022 versus 33% last year. This follows the trend from Mother’s Day celebrations this year, with 46% booked more than a week before and just 15% on the day. 

Pedalling for Pubs raises £247,000: Pedalling for Pubs, which saw 26 hospitality professionals cycle 335km across Jordan in March, raised £274,000 for sector charities Licenced Trade Charity and Only a Pavement Away – almost doubling its initial £140,000 fundraising target. While the 26 were in Jordan, teams across the UK also took part in Pedalling for Pubs UK 2022, collectively riding more than 8,000km and fundraising as they went. Katy Moses, managing director at KAM and the brains behind the challenge, said: “The response from the industry has been truly remarkable. It has been a joy to bring together so many hospitality professionals to support two such worthwhile charities, particularly after such a trying 18 months for the industry. I want to thank everyone who donated time or money to the campaign.” Planning for Pedalling for Pubs 2023 is already well underway and set to be even bigger. In April next year, 29 people from across the sector will be cycling across Sri Lanka to raise more critical awareness and funds.

Company News:

New pub vehicle FB Taverns launches with acquisition of seven-strong Admiral Taverns package: FB Taverns, a new pub vehicle backed by high-net-worth individual Alexander Embiricos, the co-founder of the US-based virtual office provider Remotion, has launched with the acquisition of a seven-strong package of pubs from Admiral Taverns, Propel has learned. The new vehicle, which is led by James Maizels, who previously worked with former Hawthorn owner New River, has acquired six freehold pubs and one long leasehold site spread across England, in a mix of town and village locations. The portfolio, which was on the market with a guide price in excess of £2m, comprises The Swiss Bell in Braintree, Essex; The Swan Inn in Weston, Suffolk; Lady Jane in Coalville, near Leicester; The Glade, Coventry; The Rose & Crown in March, Cambridgeshire; plus The Stag Hotel and The Blue Bell Inn, both in Wigan. The pubs, which were understood to have generated significant interest both as a group and as individual sites, were sold as part of the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) requirements regarding Admiral’s £222.3m acquisition of Hawthorn. The CMA concluded its investigation into the acquisition of 674-strong community pub business by Admiral earlier this week. The sale of the seven pubs were the subject of undertakings in lieu of reference to a phase two investigation. A spokesperson from Admiral Taverns, said: “We are pleased to have resolved the CMA’s requirements for our purchase of Hawthorn Community Pub Company. Under FB Taverns, these businesses will remain as pubs and can continue to support their local communities. We wish the licensees all the best for the future and would like to thank them for their contributions whilst working with Admiral Taverns and Hawthorn.” Tom Nichols of Everard Cole, which acted on behalf of Admiral, said: “Everard Cole are delighted to have secured a sale of the portfolio of seven pubs known as Project Florida, on behalf of our retained clients, Admiral Taverns. It’s particularly exciting to see a new pub company entering the sector, and we wish every success to FB Taverns.”

Wingstop to open largest UK site to date in Manchester, in talks on five others: Lemon Pepper Holdings, which is rolling out Wingstop across the UK, is to open the largest site to date here under US chicken brand later this summer. The 3,500 square-foot, 130-cover site will open in Manchester’s Trafford Centre this August, with expectations of being the brand’s highest volume site worldwide. Propel understands that Wingstop UK, which last month secured a new multi-million-pound debt facility to aid the further roll of the concept here, is also set to shortly announce five new restaurant locations. Wingstop, currently operates 22 sites here, comprising a mixture of bricks-and-mortar sites, under which the five new sites will be, and dark kitchens. The company, which recently opened in Nottingham, also has openings lined up in Brighton and Wood Green, plus a new delivery kitchen unit in Leeds. Last month, Michael Skipworth, president and chief executive of Wingstop, said the brand’s success in the UK is a “clear demonstration of the power of our international growth strategy”. The UK business has 15 openings slated for 2022. Skipworth said: “The average unit volumes in the UK are $2m, despite the market just opening in late 2018. This market provides us with a solid playbook and a blueprint for success as we accelerate our global growth as a brand.”

Former Vue International MD joins Jamie Oliver Group as CEO: The Jamie Oliver Group has appointed former Vue International managing director Kevin Styles as its new chief executive, starting in early July. Styles’ other previous roles included chief executive (Europe & UK) for American Golf; managing director at both Best Buy Europe and Kingfisher; and group marketing director at Thomas Cook. He will be responsible for the group’s global commercial strategy, managing partnerships with retailers, franchisees and content partners, and driving growth across all areas of the business – which includes 60-plus global outlets and a Jamie Oliver Cookery School in London. Styles will also be responsible for aligning commercial activity with the B Corp certified group’s social impact work and ethos. He said: “I have long admired how the Jamie Oliver Group marries its commercial and social ambitions. In today’s ever changing consumer landscape, brands are defined by their actions, and having clarity of purpose truly matters – especially in the world of food, which has so many touch points in people’s everyday lives. I’m honoured and excited to be joining the business and am very much looking forward to working alongside Jamie and the whole team to lead the commercial development and further build on the success the group has had to date.” Oliver added: “As a global food brand and B Corp, we know we have an important role to play in driving positive change across the wider industry, and partnering with progressive businesses who want to be part of the change and help their customers feed themselves and their loved ones well – now more so than ever. Kevin brings a wealth of experience from many industries to the role, and I really look forward to working with him to lead the business and our amazingly talented teams into our next important phase.” Oliver’s company, which operates the Jamie’s Italian and Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria concepts, opened ten new sites in 2021, ending the year with 60 restaurants with 13 partners in 21 countries. In April, it opened a Jamie’s Italian in Dubai Malls, the first of 12 international openings planned this year. The Jamie Oliver Group is included in Propel’s UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK. The second edition, featuring 120 companies and almost 47,000 words of content – providing insight on the offer, locations, cost, business background, contacts and other key details – was sent out to Premium subscribers last month. It will be updated and sent out again 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 to upgrade your subscription.

Tasty now debt free after repaying bank facility, plans up to six openings in 2022: Wildwood operator Tasty is now debt free after repaying its bank loan in full due to strong cashflow and is planning up to six openings in 2022. The company stated: “The facility was taken out in September 2020 in light of the continued economic uncertainty and the impact of covid-19 related restrictions at that time, in order to strengthen the company’s balance sheet and provide additional working capital support. The facility, not ultimately required by the company, has a capital repayment holiday of 12 months and carries interest at a rate of 4.5% per annum over the Bank of England base rate, following draw down. The Company has now repaid the amount outstanding under the facility of £1.1m in full and has subsequently cancelled the facility, leaving the group with a net cash balance of approximately £8.6m and no debt. There will be an annualised cost saving of approximately £57,000 (calculated at today's rates) through repayment, with no early repayment penalty. The board believes that, with its current net cash and future cashflow, it will have sufficient funds to weather the prevailing economic uncertainties and cost pressures, and also satisfy its measured expansion plans for a pipeline of up to five to six new units in 2022. The board is progressing this strategy and has one new site under offer and is currently negotiating on three others.” Earlier this week, Tasty announced Harald Samuelsson, the former joint managing director of Cote, had become an executive director of the business, with responsibility for food and operational support.
Le Pain Quotidien signs retail agreement: Le Pain Quotidien, the Belgian restaurant and boulangerie brand, has signed a retail agreement to take its baked goods offer to the supermarket shelves. New retail partners Taster Shakers will help prepare Le Pain Quotidien, which has 15 restaurant bakeries across the UK, prepare for the expansion by prioritising and streamlining supply for key product lines, before managing and growing its grocery business post-launch. Frederic Lluch, Le Pain Quotidien’s managing director UK, said: “We’ve already developed a loyal following in our UK bakery-restaurants. Now we feel the time is right to capitalise on this, bringing our products to a wider audience, and we’re delighted to be taking this step with Taste Shakers.” A joint venture between William Murray PR & Marketing and Category Wins, Taste Shakers was created in 2020 to help operators capitalise on the demand for restaurant quality options at home. Anita Murray, Taster Shakers co-founder, said: “We are delighted to be working with such a quality established bakery brand as Le Pain Quotidien. The brand has weathered the storm, despite an incredibly challenging couple of years for the restaurant sector. Now we’re excited about working with them to move them onto their next stage of growth, bringing their delicious products to consumers across the UK.”
Black Sheep Coffee secures Warrington site: London speciality coffee shop operator Black Sheep Coffee has secured a site in Warrington’s Hive WA1 development. The company, which has circa 50 UK sites with many more “coming soon”, has taken a 2,500 square-foot unit cornering Cairo Street and Sankey Street on a 15-year lease. Ben Rafferty, a specialist retail hospitality consultant working with the landlord, also revealed it is in legals with several local independent operators to take space within the ground floor of the 80,000 square-foot development. Ruddies Pizza, which currently operates as a delivery service and operates stalls at events, will open a takeaway, while Brighella’s Gelateria will be a traditional ice cream bar on Sankey Street, and Pendergast Steakhouse will take over the former Mojo’s Tapas Bar on Cairo Street. They will follow the Brass Monkey sports bar, which opened in May and offers ping pong and pool tables, shuffleboards and live music. Other plans include converting the original Members Hall into a 14,700 square-foot conference and banqueting suite, while planning permission is being sought for a panoramic rooftop sky garden, which will include an island bar, four street food kitchens and covers for more than 300. The Hive WA1 is planning to be open by late summer or early autumn. 

Brighton pizza concept makes London bricks and mortar debut, set to launch pizza training school: Brighton pizza concept Fatto a Mano has made it bricks and mortar debut in London with the opening of Fatto Pizza & Beer in Kings Cross. Fatto a Mano started out in Brighton in 2015 before expanding to a second site in the city, and then opening one in nearby Hove. It already operates pop-up sites in London, at BoxPark Croydon and Shoreditch, but now had a permanent presence in the capital. The restaurant is split across two levels, with the pizza oven on the ground floor and seating on the mezzanine and 30-cover terrace alongside Pancras Square. Its range of classic and modern pizzas include pesto, buffalo and courgette; fried aubergine and smoked ricotta; and mortadella, pistachio and burrata. There are also several vegan options, plus craft beers from Cornwall’s Harbour Brewing Co, Brighton’s UnBarred and Tottenham’s ORA Brewing Co. The opening will be followed next month by the launch of Fatto a Mano’s Pizzaiolo Training School at its original Pizzeria in London Road, Brighton – to train and develop the next generation of pizza chefs as well as its existing team.

Barons Pub Company reports pre-tax profit quadruples as it benefits from government support schemes: Barons Pub Company, which was named Greene King’s Multiple Operator of the Year for 2022, has reported turnover was up slightly to £11.6m for the year ending 30 September 2021, compared with £11.2m the previous year. The business, which operates ten sites across Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire, saw pre-tax profit rise to £1m from £250,000 the year before as the business benefited from the various government support schemes. It received £1.8m from the Coronavirus Job Support Scheme (2021: £1.5m) and £475,000 in government grants (2021: £41,000). Since the year end, it has agreed terms for a new leasehold cafe operation in the Southwood suburb of Farnborough with Rushmore Borough Council. The company said the operation will be similar to its Heather Farm Cafe in Woking “and we have great confidence this site will trade well”. 

South London operators to open third site next week: Julian Porter and Lauren Johns, who operate Tooting-based brunch spot Juliets Quality Food and Milk Cafe in Balham, will open their third site next Wednesday (29 June). Juliets Cafe & Bar will take over the cafe space at Clapham’s Studio Voltaire, which last year hosted a residency by the Italian Supper Club, in Nelsons Row. The menu will include lamb braised with mogette de vendee beans and black garlic miso bagna cauda; and English broad bean and haloumi fritters with pickled green tomato and coconut sambal. Drinks will include wine, beer and cider and home–brewed kombucha. Porter and Johns launched Milk Cafe together in 2012, then opened Milk Teeth at 110 Mitcham Road in 2017, which went on to become Juliets Quality Food. Former drama student Johns, who had a minor part in the 2014 hit film Pride, has also worked on renovating the basement bar at The Old Vic, which was transformed into the Penny Bar & Cafe. 

Resident secures £22m for development of Edinburgh hotel: Boutique hotel brand Resident Hotels has secured a £22m loan with NatWest for the development of its first Edinburgh location. Owners Mactaggart Family & Partners announced last year it was developing Meldrum House in Drumsheugh Gardens, converting the former HM Revenue & Customs office into a 166-bedroom Resident Hotel, just off Charlotte Square. The NatWest deal will enable Resident Hotels to complete the delivery of its new £50m The Resident Edinburgh venue, taking the group’s portfolio to six hotels – four in London and one in Liverpool. Renovation works are underway in Edinburgh, with the hotel expected to open in the first quarter of 2024. The financial backing from NatWest facilitates the extension and refurbishment of the building’s original structure to include additional floors, offering views of Edinburgh Castle and the rest of the city. William Laxton, UK chief executive at Mactaggart Family & Partners, said: “We are excited to bring The Resident brand to Edinburgh, a fantastic and bustling city that is the perfect location for our business model. This development represents a significant move for our business as we continue to implement our ambitions for modern luxury and sustainable builds as we grow Resident Hotels across the UK.”

Ministry Of Sound Group to open live event space at Westfield London: The Ministry of Sound Group (MOS) is to open a new workspace and live event venue in west London. The company, which first launched a members’ club with flexible workspace and a gym in 2018 near its original south London-based, late-night venue, is expected to open its second site at Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush in 2024. MOS said the building will offer a flexible working environment for the music and wider creative industries and will feature fitness studios and a rooftop bar and restaurant. The Ministry Shepherd’s Bush site is to be created in partnership with Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW), which will reconfigure the 10,683 square-metre space that was until recently occupied by a House of Fraser department store. MOS chairman Lohan Presencer said the company’s The Ministry Borough Road, which launched in 2018, reached full occupancy within its first year, and the Shepherd’s Bush project would be “bigger and bolder.” As well as hosting live music shows, networking events and conferences, the venue’s office space will host up to 1,200 people. Its event space and meeting room suite will be available to hire for events and gatherings of up to 300. URW UK chief operating officer Scott Parsons said: “As we constantly transform Westfield centre and create new and innovative offerings, we are very excited to add our partnership with Ministry of Sound Group, launching this truly unique work, life and social venue.”

KFC makes return to Isle of Man after almost six-year hiatus: KFC has made its return to the Isle of Man after an almost six-year hiatus. The company has opened a restaurant and drive-thru in Douglas, in the city’s Peel Road. The island has been without a KFC after its former branch in Douglas closed in November 2016, reports Energy FM.

Levy UK & Ireland secures Rangers FC partnership: Levy UK & Ireland, the sports and entertainment division of Compass Group UK and Ireland, has secured a partnership with Rangers FC. The partnership will be based on an innovative joint profit share arrangement, with the majority of profits being retained by Rangers. The agreement marks Levy’s first sporting partnership in Scotland and will see it provide matchday food and beverage experiences at Ibrox Stadium. The food offering will focus on sustainable, local Scottish produce in line with the company’s journey to net zero by 2027. In addition, Levy will introduce digital screens and other technology “to maximise the fan experience, engagement, and to evolve the gameday experience across all levels”. In close partnership with Rangers, Levy will also be managing non-match day meetings, conferences and events.

Kent pulled pork concept set to close two sites as it ‘exits the high street’: Kent pulled pork concept Pork & Co is set to close two of it sites as it “exits the high street” to focus on its “satellite sites”. The company’s bar and kitchen in Canterbury will be closing its doors permanently after a final day of trading in Sun Street on Sunday (26 June). Owner Sam Deeson recently announced he is also closing the company’s Broadstairs shop, which only opened in May last year, according to Kent Live. This, it said, was in line with the company's “strategy to come off the high street and focus on our satellite sites”. However, it’s outlets in Whitstable and Margate will remain open. The business began in Canterbury 13 years ago, baking its own bread as well as smoking, curing and pulling its pork and serving craft beers from the Time & Tide Brewery. It said: “Sadly, our current journey in Canterbury must come to an end. After 13 years in various guises, we must move on. We would like to thank all our loyal followers for their love and support over the years. Everything is not lost though as you will still be able to visit us in Whitstable and Margate. We will also be attending many more events, festivals and shows, and you never know, you may even see us pop up on a high street near to you in the future.”

Hilton London Bankside restaurant reopens with new evening menu: Oxbo Bankside, the neighbourhood eatery at the Hilton London Bankside, has reopened with a new evening menu. Created by executive head chef Ollie Couillaud and featuring produce from The Hilton London Bankside’s own roof garden, the new menu showcases sustainably sourced British ingredients. Dishes are layered with European, Middle Eastern and British influences, paying homage to the restaurant’s multi-cultural neighbourhood. Couillaud said: “Taking this opportunity to make the menu offering lighter, we wanted to showcase the best of British produce with colourful dishes that marry flavours from France to Morocco. We also threw in a bit of luxury, to encourage people to treat themselves after a tough two years.” Alongside the new menu is a selection of seasonal cocktails.

Taco Bell set to open in Stafford: Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell is set to open a branch in Stafford next month. Guests will be able to use the new store, which opens at Hough Retail Park on Wednesday, June 29, to dine in or take away, using digital kiosks, or for delivery. “We’re delighted to be able to bring Taco Bell to Stafford,” said Lucy Dee, head of UK marketing at Taco Bell UK. “We are very pleased to bring not only fresh, new flavours to the residents of Stafford, but also create new opportunities in the area. We look forward to feeding residents from Wednesday onwards in store, for take away, and for delivery.” Taco Bell operates circa 108 restaurants in the UK, its latest opening being in Gloucester at the end of April. It also last month got the go-ahead to open a site in Hornchurch, Essex.

Leasehold for York pub goes on the market: The Jubilee, a vacant pub in York, has been put on the market on a ten-year leasehold basis. The freehold for the site was recently purchased by West Yorkshire property developer Dominic Woodward, of Tri-Core Developments, who has planning permission for residential apartments on the first floor and is looking to lease out the ground floor as a pub-restaurant. The property, on Balfour Street, has a substantial beer garden. Sam Ashton, senior business agent at Christie & Co, who is handling the sale, said: “This is fairly rare that a pub becomes available on a ‘nil premium’ offering near York centre. The incoming tenants have the opportunity to invest internally, treating it as their own blank canvas and starting a new ten-year lease.”

Ivy Asia to open in Brighton next month: Serial sector investor Richard Caring will open his new Ivy Asia site in Brighton next month. The venue will launch in Ship Street, next door to the existing Ivy in the Lanes site, on Tuesday, 12 July. The restaurant will be set over two floors offering lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and weekend brunch. It will also serve theatrical drinks and cocktails alongside a “delicious menu of tantalising dishes”. Lorne Hendry-Martin, general manager at The Ivy Asia, Brighton, told The Argus: “The city is known for its colourful and vibrant atmosphere, full of culture and history, making it the perfect place for this new, Asian-inspired concept.” The brand, which is overseen by Jean-Baptiste Requien, is also set to open on the former French Connection site in Leeds’ Vicar Lane, close to the company’s existing The Ivy Victoria Quarter venue, later this summer. Caring has also lined up an opening in Cardiff, close to its existing The Ivy site in the city at the St Davids scheme. Caring is also exploring an opening in Glasgow.

Fletchergate Industries to open eighth site this weekend, in Beeston: Fletchergate Industries, which is behind Nottingham venues including The Hockley Arts Club and Das Kino, will open its eighth site, In Beeston on Saturday (25 June). The Beeston Social – a bar, kitchen and arcade – will launch beneath the Arc cinema at the Square development. The 8,000 square-foot Beeston Social will be “somewhere to eat, drink and play, with something for all the family”. Martyn Cooling, head of brand and marketing for the bar group, told West Bridgford Wire: “Beeston is one of Nottingham’s most exciting suburbs, with an already thriving social scene, so it was an obvious choice for our new venture outside of NG1. We’ve seen a real surge in people wanting to stay local and enjoy socialising close to home, so we’re pleased to be offering that for Beeston and its surrounding areas.” The menu will offer brunch classics and small plates as well as pop-up pizza and burger menus. The venue’s arcade area will be home to popular vintage games including a dance mat. Upstairs will be additional seating and a second bar, with the mezzanine level also available for private hire.

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