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Wed 24th Aug 2022 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Loungers co-founder Jake Bishop invests in Foodstuff: Jake Bishop, co-founder of cafe bar operator Loungers, has invested in delivery business Foodstuff and joined its board as a non-executive director, Propel has learned. Bishop, who co-founded the now 200-plus strong Loungers 20 years ago with Alex Reilley and Dave Reid, is also an investor in Hub Box, the south west-based burger and barbecue concept led by Richard Boon. Foodstuff, which was founded by Toby Savill and James Perry, has delivered 75,000-plus orders across four major UK cities since its launch in Cambridge in May 2020. The business, which is also backed and chaired by Draft House founder Charlie McVeigh, is currently overfunding on its £900,000 crowdfunding campaign through Crowdcube by 120%, as it looks to raise funds to help it expand into four more major UK cities, including London. It has now raised £1,088,329 with nine days left to invest. Foodstuff was offering 9.1% equity in return for the £900,000 investment, which gave the business a pre-money valuation of £9,905,441. The company said it is on “a mission to redefine the industry, focusing on quality food from indie restaurants delivering zero emissions”. Savill told Propel: “We've got ambitious plans to become the largest global community of indies and foodies, but that vision starts with raising the bar in the food delivery space. We're really excited to tap into Jake's abundant knowledge in scalability, customer experience and operations.” Earlier this year, Foodstuff raised £1.1m in new funding in a round led by Base Investments UK, to accelerate the expansion of its food delivery business, and at the same time, appointed McVeigh as its non-executive chairman. 
 

Industry News: 

Two days to go before release of updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, 47 businesses being added: A total of 47 new multi-site companies, operating 292 sites, have been added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released on Friday (26 August), at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, includes regional bar and restaurant operators, expanding bakery brands, and growing entertainment concepts. Premium subscribers will also receive a 3,200-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. The database now features 2,617 companies. Premium subscribers will also receive the next edition of the New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, on Friday, 2 September, 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 13,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group. The Blue Book, which is also updated monthly, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers have also been given exclusive access to the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which is an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK and is updated every two months. The third edition features 140 companies and almost 60,000 words of content, providing insight on the offer, locations, cost and other key details. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel group editor Mark Wingett.
 
Heineken – cost-of-living crisis ‘won’t mean the end of premiumisation’: Charlie Fryday doesn’t believe the current trend for premiumisation will end, despite the cost-of-living crisis hitting consumers hard in the pocket. Coming out of covid, the industry saw a trend for premium offerings as guests who had spent the best part of two years locked down by restrictions sought memorable moments. Higher prices and rising bills are now hitting both operators and consumers hard, but Fryday, Heineken UK’s category and commercial strategy director for the on-trade, thinks premiumisation will keep thriving. “It’s been a tough couple of years for the industry,” she said. “You look at the on-trade in 2019 and where it is now, it’s like a pack of cards have been thrown up in the air and we’re not really sure where it’s all going to land. I really feel for the industry at the moment as it’s so tough – there’s some pubs where their energy bills are more than their rent. I guess the government is working on some initiatives, but it can do a lot more to help. It’s going to be a tough couple of years ahead. We’ve got to think how we make those experiences in the pub the best we can so if people are choosing to spend their money on our products, they get excellent quality and a good experience.” She added: “Premium is growing, and we are firmly on that journey. Consumers are going to be very cost conscious, but we still think there’s the opportunity for a treat and affordable luxuries, so we think premiumisation will continue to thrive. The average income is about £31,500, and when you look at what an average person would spend on hospitality – about £2,700-£3,000 a year – and then you look at the cost of energy, fuel and groceries going up, it works out at 50% of what our average hospitality spend is. Consumers are going to have to make a choice between whether they continue to spend that on hospitality or spend it on mitigating the ongoing increase in costs, and as an industry, you need to give people a reason why they want to spend that money. It’s going to be a considered choice, and people will choose the brands they feel are worth paying more for.”
 
UK economy slows as factories report output slump: Britain’s private sector slowed to a crawl in August as factory output fell and the larger services sector eked out only a modest expansion, adding to signs that recession may be looming. The S&P Global/CIPS Purchasing Managers' Index composite flash estimate dropped to 50.9 in August from 52.1 in July, its lowest since February 2021 and close to the 50 level that separates growth from contraction. However, inflation pressure remained high and the approaching downturn was unlikely to keep the Bank of England from raising interest rates again next month, economists said. They had forecast the index would fall less sharply to 51.1. While activity in the services sector almost held at July's pace, the manufacturing component tumbled to 46.0 in August from 52.1 in July, its lowest since May 2020 in the depths of the covid-19 pandemic and below all forecasts. Separate figures from the Confederation of British Industry showed the first fall in factory output since February 2021 and the weakest order book since April that year. The Bank of England has warned Britain is likely to slip into a recession at the end of 2022, which will last until 2024 as energy bills are expected to push consumer price inflation above 13% in October. Economists at Citi have forecast inflation will exceed 18% in January, when regulated household energy tariffs are due to rise again. There were some signs of easing inflation pressures in other parts of the economy, reflecting a fall in prices of some raw materials such as metals. Manufacturers' input costs rose at the slowest pace since November 2020, although a continued tight labour market pushed up services companies' costs slightly. Overall, businesses raised prices for consumers by the least in seven months.
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with an events and catering business that is rapidly growing. Following success in the London events market, the business is expanding across the UK. It is seeking a hands-on chief operating officer to lead across private, public and corporate events as well as taking on existing and future partnership projects all over the country. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “Events experience is essential for this role. We are looking for someone with excellent understanding of the logistics that goes into working with and across multiple locations and teams. This would be perfect for an operations director looking to take their next step.” The salary is up to £95,000 and based in London, with UK travel. For more information, email Marlene@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Trust Inns returns to profit as turnover approaches pre-pandemic levels: North west pub company Trust Inns, which is owned by the family interests of the late Trevor Hemmings, has reported turnover increased to £37,928,000 for the year ending 31 March 2022, compared with £15,381,000 the year before. The business saw a pre-tax profit of £5,606,000 compared with a loss of £9,101,000 the previous year. No dividend was paid. For the year ending 31 March 2020, the company reported turnover of £39,636,000 and a pre-tax profit of £5,584,000. As previously reported, Trust Inns carried out a refinancing during the year ending 31 March 2022 that saw it enter into a £30m revolving credit facility with Barclays that expires in 2026. Bank loans were £20m at 31 March 2022 (£24.6m at 31 March 2021). In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “Trading performance in the early months of the year was impacted by the covid-19 pandemic and resultant UK government interventions, but has bounced back strongly since restrictions have been lifted. The company has a sound financial base and sufficient financial resources to meet the requirements of the business.” Founded in 1995, Trust Inns owns about 350 pubs across the UK.
 
Pastan lines up trio of openings: Vegan pasta concept Pastan is lining up a trio of openings before the end of the year, Propel has learned. The business, which is the brainchild of Jerome Ibanez-Fawcett, formerly head of operations at Friska, is planning openings in Brighton, Bristol and Manchester. The venues in Brighton and Bristol are in the final stages of negotiation while Pastan is set to open in the former Vertigo restaurant premises in Manchester’s Cross Street in September. Ibanez-Fawcett has submitted a licensing application to the city council ahead of the opening. Ibanez-Fawcett launched Pastan in 2020 as a delivery-only venture before opening its debut bricks and mortar site, in London’s Barbican, at the end of last year. It has previously run pop-ups in Covent Garden and Notting Hill in London as well as Gloucester Road in Bristol. Vertigo ceased trading in March and shut all three of its sites, with founder Michael Jebelli citing the impact of the pandemic, reduced footfall in the city centre and lack of office trade as the reasons for closure.

Rekom to open UK’s first Proud Mary pub in October following £1.2m investment: Rekom UK, the Peter Marks-led nightclub operator, is set to open the UK’s first Proud Mary pub in October following a £1.2m investment. Work is underway to convert the former Yard Bar in St Mary’s Street into a Proud Mary’s operating over two floors and with a 950 capacity, creating more than 50 jobs. Rekom has initially hoped to debut its Proud Mary concept in the UK in Swansea, in the former Idols nightclub in Wind Street, but this will now open early in 2023. It will now instead launch in Cardiff, where Rekom – which operates circa 200 late-night venues internationally and 48 in the UK – also opened its first UK Heidi’s Bier Bar earlier this year. Rekom’s regional director, Graeme Da Silva, said: “We are delighted to continue investing in Cardiff, which is such a vibrant and exciting city. Heidi’s has exceeded all expectations and Pryzm continues to be one of our most successful clubs, so we are confident Proud Mary Pub will prove to be a similar hit. Whether you want to meet friends for a beer, watch sport, take part in a pub quiz or enjoy a late-night party, Proud Mary Pub delivers.” Among the drinks will be two draught ales from Cardiff brewery Tiny Rebel, while food will include traditional bar snacks and a range of pizzas and burgers. Live sporting action will be shown on a dozen TV screens and front row seats can be secured through table bookings and table service. There will also be live music, bingo and quiz nights. Rekom first moved into the UK in December 2020 when it acquired 44 of The Deltic Group’s 55 sites out of administration.
 
Gong Cha to launch in Belgium following master franchise agreement: Gong Cha, one of the world’s fastest-growing bubble tea brands that is headquartered in the UK, is launching in Belgium. The company has signed a master franchise agreement with Mad Vision Group, the multi-brand franchise company that operates more than 16 food and beverage sites across the Benelux region. Mad Vision Group – which operates brands O’Tacos, Chick & Cheez and Go Fish – initially plans to open ten sites across Belgium by the end of 2022, creating 50 jobs. Across its brands, Mad Vision employs more than 150 full-time employees and serves in excess of 11,500 meals per week. Paul Reynish, global chief executive of Gong Cha, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Mad Vision Group to the Gong Cha family. [Founder] Adlane [Draou] and the team have an impressive track record of operational excellence and are well positioned for high traffic development in the Benelux region. As part of our global vision to open a new store every day, the Belgium opening is an important strategic step towards further European expansion.” Draou added: “Gong Cha is a fantastic brand and a welcome addition to our portfolio of quick service restaurant brands. We are impressed with the brand’s growth trajectory and believe it is well placed to capture the imagination of consumers in Belgium.” Founded in Taiwan in 1996, Gong Cha expanded overseas for the first time in 2009 and has grown significantly and now, through master franchise agreements, has almost 1,800 locations across 20 countries, including the UK, USA, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Korea and Japan.
 
Former Corbin & King GM set to open new Notting Hill neighbourhood bistro: Ben Whitfield, former general manager of Corbin & King’s Brasserie Zedel in Soho, is set to launch a new Notting Hill neighbourhood bistro in October. Whitfield, who now runs Whitfield Wines and is a food and beverage consultant for Soho Theatre, has partnered with Chris D’Sylva, Max Coen and Ale Villa for Dorian, which will be located at the former Raoul’s and Coins Coffee Store site at 105-107 Talbot Road. D’Sylva is behind Notting Hill Fish + Meat Shop and Supermarket of Dreams, while head chef Coen has worked at two-Michelin starred Kitchen Table and Ikoyi and three-starred Stockholm restaurant Frantzén, and Villa most recently led the drinks offering at Core by Clare Smyth. Coen’s kitchen team will include Kai Menneken, formerly sous chef at Phil Howard’s Church Road restaurant in Barnes, and George Williams, an alumnus of The River Café. Their menu will include potato rösti with crab or girolles and Cornish yarg; mussels with cucumber and shiso; grilled beetroots and autumn squash; and wild sea bass with sauce vierge. The cocktail menu, which features drinks made using foraged and seasonal ingredients, will include Villa’s Fig Leaf Negroni, which infuses foraged leaves with gin. Villa is also curating a predominantly French and Italian wine list. “We want Dorian to be an anti-Notting Hill restaurant for people that live in and love the area,” said D’Sylva. “It will be the place to eat at every day – as well as celebrating your most special occasion. I want it to feel like it’s been there forever. The team we’ve put together is phenomenal – they’re all embedded in the local community and are some of the most talented people I’ve ever worked with. They’re rockstars.”
 
Darjeeling Express to return as pop-up while permanent site is secured: Darjeeling Express, Asma Khan’s Indian restaurant in Covent Garden that closed its doors earlier this year, is set to today (Wednesday, 24 August) return as a pop-up while a new permanent site is secured. Khan, star of Netflix’s Chef’s Table, closed the restaurant earlier this year when the building that housed it, at 2a Garrick Street, was sold. She is confident of reopening the restaurant in a new home this winter, and has said it could feature an open kitchen. In the meantime, the pop-up will run at Kensington gastropub The Pembroke until November, serving Calcuttan snack platters; toasties, made with chilli cheese or kaju aloo; and rice dishes including methi chicken and tamatar gosht. Darjeeling Express started life as a pop-up in another pub – The Sun and 13 Cantons in Soho – which has also acted as a springboard for the likes of Budgie Montaya’s Sarap and Mandy Yin’s Sambal Shiok. Khan said: “Before opening the doors of our new location this winter, we are launching a pop-up in partnership with The Pembroke, a beautiful gastropub located in the heart of Kensington and Chelsea. It’s a temporary home in Old Brompton Road, ironically very close to my home. This is history repeating itself, and it’s only 30-something covers, so you really need to book!”
 
Licensees take on second pub with Greene King, freehold site also lined up: Licensees Steve and Maria Harris, alongside daughter-in-law Nathalie, are set to take on their second pub with brewer and retailer Greene King – The Old Mill in Salisbury. The couple opened their first pub, The Stag in Lyndhurst, with Greene King in February 2021. They are now due to take on The Old Mill at the end of September, which they plan to turn into a premium hotel with a restaurant and bar serving “quality British food”. In the new year, the couple plan to temporarily close the pub for a full refurbishment. They said: “When taking on The Stag at Lyndhurst, it was our first pub, and so we had a lot to learn, but the full suite of support from Greene King was fundamental to making the business a success. In growing our pub business, we knew we wanted to continue our strong partnership with Greene King, so when The Old Mill became available, we knew we had to take it.” The couple are also taking on The Boathouse in Salisbury, a freehold site, which is due to reopen on Wednesday, 31 August.
 
Chester coffee business plans further expansion with more stores and roastery: Chester coffee retailer and wholesaler Jaunty Goat is aiming for further expansion, including more stores and a roastery. Jaunty Goat, in Bridge Street, was launched seven years ago by Patrick White. Since then, he has launched two more outlets – an animal-free vegan cafe of the same name in Northgate Street, and an independent bakery. Jaunty Goat will now add its own roastery to the business mix in the coming months. Focused on providing customers with “sustainable, quality coffee and outstanding service”, White is also intent on lowering the business’ carbon footprint by bringing the wholesale side of the business in-house. He said: “Opening the bakery 12 months ago and now the roastery will enable us to produce everything ourselves and capitalise on opportunities that arose during the pandemic. An example is how we now operate a more restaurant-style table service, which has been a breath of fresh air and allowed us to increase our takeaway offering. We basically want to bring everything together and showcase the progress made in past years to a wider audience.” The new roastery will be based out of the Arches industrial units in Kitchen Street. White added: “The plan is to open more shops when the time and location are right – probably in Shropshire and the north west – to reach the next level and spread the word even further.”
 
Black & White Hospitality opens Marco’s New York Italian restaurant in Gloucestershire: Black & White Hospitality, which own the franchise rights to eight Marco Pierre White brands, has opened a new restaurant in Gloucestershire. The company said: “Delighted to announce our latest restaurant has just opened its doors. Located at The Gables Hotel in Falfield, south Gloucestershire, this 104-cover Marco's New York Italian is perfect for the location and hotel, and we’re thrilled for the team it is now open.” Black & White Hospitality own the franchise rights to Wheeler’s of St James’s, Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill, Koffmann and Mr White’s, Mr White’s English Chophouse, Marco’s New York Italian, Bardolino, Wheeler’s Fish & Chips and Marconi.
 
The Coffee House opens 12th site: North west independent coffee shop The Coffee House has continued its expansion in the region with the opening of a 12th site, in Bolton. The company, which was established by Chris and Stephen Shelmerdine in July 2011, has opened in a former Game store on the corner of Victoria Square and Newport Street. The 80-cover cafe has opened following a three-month renovation and offers a “snug” and “VIP area”. The Coffee House also has sites in Sale, Partington, Widnes, Huyton, Northwich, Bootle, Runcorn, Warrington, Lymm, St Helens and Winsford.
 
Papa John’s multi-unit franchisees open seventh site: Papa John’s multi-unit franchisees Mandy Kaur and Chan Singh have opened their seventh site, in Timperley, Manchester. The husband-and-wife-team have launched the outlet in Shaftesbury Avenue. Kaur and Singh joined Papa John’s in 2008. Kaur said: “Now our children are settled in their own careers, the time is right for us to develop our own business further.” Before joining Papa John’s as franchisees, Kaur ran children’s day nurseries and Singh managed a small department at a local cotton mill. Amit Pancholi, UK director of business development, Papa John’s, added: “As well as our continued high-street growth plans, we are increasingly working with existing businesses such as holiday parks, leisure venues and sports stadiums so more people can enjoy the treat of Papa John’s pizza wherever they are.” Papa John’s operates more than 500 UK sites.
 
AMT Coffee opens new kiosk, at Cambridge railway station: AMT Coffee, which operates a circa 55-strong estate of sites in transport hubs and in hospitals across the UK, has opened a new kiosk, at Cambridge railway station. It is located at platforms seven, for London King’s Cross, and platform eight, for London Liverpool Street and Stansted airport. Simone Bailey, Greater Anglia’s asset management director, said: “I’m delighted to see the new coffee shop up and running. We are committed to investing in upgrades that provide excellent facilities and service to our customers, improve their journeys and maintain rail as an attractive travel option.”
 
Chester independent wine bar to open Manchester site this winter: Chester independent wine bar Covino will open its second site, a bar based on the roof of Bruntwood Work’s Blackfriars House in Manchester, this winter. Climat, a 100-cover restaurant with an outdoor terrace, will feature a “contemporary Parisian-style” and more than 250 wines from across the world. This will be complimented by an ever-changing daily menu developed from Covino’s small plates offer, plus a small selection of snacks and larger plates developed by executive chef Luke Richardson and head chef Simon Ulph. Owner of Climat, Christopher Laidler, said: “Ultimately, our aim is to offer wine and food that people want, and keep coming back for. I want to be as inclusive as possible, providing the world’s most sought after wine alongside a menu that can stand-up to any occasion, while offering great choice for those on more of a budget. Manchester is already thriving, but its future is looking so bright, and I’m very excited to be involved in it.”
 
Oowee Vegan gets go-ahead for first Welsh site: Bristol’s Oowee Vegan is set to open its first Welsh restaurant after having plans for a site in Cardiff approved. The plant-based concept, founded in 2016 by Verity Foss and Charlie Watson, has been given the green light by the city council to open in a vacant unit, which used to be a bookmakers, in John Street. The brand had previously applied to open in the Roath district of the Welsh capital, but the plans were scrapped amid objections from residents. Before expanding to Cardiff, Oowee Vegan will this Saturday (27 August) open a flagship restaurant in Brighton. The 40-seater restaurant, located in The Lanes, will be its seventh site overall. 
 
XP Factory eyes Southend Boom Battle Bar opening: XP Factory has applied to build a new Boom Battle Bar, the adventure bar concept from the team behind Flip Out and Putt Putt Noddle, in Southend. It wants to build a two-storey venue in the Essex city’s Victoria Shopping Centre, featuring axe-throwing, shuffle-boarding, beer pong, pool and arcade games. If the licence is granted, it would take over the unit formerly occupied by Tangs Buffet. Paul Collins, the Southend councillor responsible for asset management and inward investment, told the Basildon, Canvey & Southend Echo: “It is very good news, and very exciting. I am aware of the one in Norwich, and I know it is very, very popular, so I am hoping if it goes through, it will be very popular here. I think it is a very good thing for Southend and is positive to hear these big firms want to invest here.” XP Factory said in April it expects to have 27 Boom Battle Bar sites open by the end of 2022, making an enlarged estate of six owner-operated and 15 franchise venues.
 
Ayrshire restaurant to open second takeaway and third site in total: Ayrshire restaurant Tempura is set to open its second separate takeaway and third site in total. Tempura, located in Beresford Terrace, made its first expansion last year when it opened a separate takeaway on the same street. It is now set to open a second takeaway, called Tempura 2go, in the former Killer Griller site in John Finnie Street, Kilmarnock. It is hoped the new venue will open in the coming weeks.
 
Nightcap confirms September opening for largest Tonight Josephine to date: Bar operator Nightcap has confirmed its biggest Tonight Josephine bar to date will open next month. The venue, at 28 Baldwin Street in Bristol, will open on Friday, 30 September. The site measures approximately 7,824 square feet in total, with a capacity of 450 split across a ground floor, basement and outside terraced area. Tonight Josephine Bristol will be the third confirmed new opening for the brand this year following its successful opening in Cardiff and recent lease signing in Liverpool. It will be the fourth Tonight Josephine venue outside of London and seventh in total. It will also be a fourth site for the group in Bristol following recent openings for The Cocktail Club and Blame Gloria. It will take the total number of Adventure Bar Group sites to 13. Nightcap now has 34 sites within its estate and a further 22 premises under offer or in legal negotiations for all of its brands.
 
Chester Indian food truck owner set to expand with three permanent restaurants: The owner of Chester food truck Indian Goat is set to expand with the opening of three permanent restaurants. The outlet, launched by Sunitha Southern during the pandemic, has seen its profile rocket since appearing on TV cooking show The Hairy Bikers. Southern, who will pass the running of her truck on to her sister for now, will soon be launching a restaurant in Chester, another in Manchester and a third in the north east. However, she admits she may have to eventually let the truck, which sits in the Recreation Ground in Bollington, pass out of family hands. “Indian Goat is my brand, it’s me,” she told Chester Live. “It’s me and also my sister at the moment because I’m focusing on private dining, as we do a lot of private dining and catering services for very high-end clients. It’s my name associated with the truck and my recipes, and I can’t trust anybody else apart from her. Obviously the next step will be to move into a restaurant space, but it will be really sad to let the truck go, and I don’t know who I'm going to pass the lease down to.”
 
Yorkshire brothers set to open third coffee house: Yorkshire brothers Ryan and Wayne Joy are set to open their third coffee house in under two years. Joys Coffee House Wakefield will open its doors on Friday (26 August), in a former TK Maxx unit on the upper mall of The Ridings. The siblings also operate Joys Coffee Houses in Kirkburton and Otley. Ryan said: “We will be offering brunch food – French toast, eggs benedict, pancakes and traditional breakfasts. We will also be serving a range of cakes, afternoon tea, grazing boards and homemade soup. Basically, the concept is a good quality brunch in a nice, relaxed atmosphere for all the family.” There will also be vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free offerings.

Leeds baker set to open second site, eyes further expansion: Leeds baker Savannah Roqaa, who built online brownie “care package” delivery business Savvy Baker during lockdown, will open her second Savvy Café on Friday (26 August), which she intends to follow with further openings. The new cafe, which will be located at Redbrick Mill in Bradford Road, Batley, will sit alongside her online shop, commercial bakery and first cafe, which opened last year in Lidgett Lane, in the Roundhay district of Leeds. Having started out producing 30-40 boxes of brownies per week from her kitchen, Roqaa’s recipes soon earned her a large social media following, including 50,000 followers on Instagram. She then moved on to hosting pop-ups and small business events before opening her first cafe. “I think the business has grown so much because I adapted to every single change that the world went through,” Roqaa told Leeds Live. “I was worried about opening my first cafe, but as soon as everything settled down and everything was running smoothly, I was like right, what's next? Redbrick Mill came up and they had an empty cafe, so it was a really good opportunity. I am excited for the future, there are a few collaborations in the pipeline with some exciting brands. There’s potential for a few more residencies within Leeds, and then maybe we will shimmy on down to Manchester or Birmingham as well.”

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