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Tue 30th Aug 2022 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

UKHospitality – 10,000 sector businesses are at risk: UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has warned 10,000 sector businesses could close permanently in the next 18 months as energy costs bite. An estimated 500,000 hospitality jobs could go – 300,000 directly employed and 200,000 among suppliers. Many businesses are talking about reduced hours or temporary winter month closures to reduce costs. Nicholls said: “Without government support the hospitality industry will see a catastrophic loss of businesses. Based on our experience of covid, we can expect the closure of around 10,000.” Hotelier Freddie Hitchcock, who runs four sites, reported his energy bill is due to increase from £265,000 a year to £1.2m. An unnamed pub owner told the Sunday Times his utility bill across 20 sites is set to increase from £500,000 to £2m. He said: “Our company does not make anywhere near that amount of profit to be able to do that.” He added he would be shrinking opening hours and possibly not opening on certain days. Nicholls has written to the chancellor and the business secretary asking for a business rates holiday for all hospitality premises and the deferral of environmental levies. The industry is also calling for a return of the VAT discount that saw the rate drop from 20% to 12.5%. Nicholls added: “Without an urgent and comprehensive government support package that helps both households and businesses, many hospitality venues are contemplating reduced trading, resulting in lower wages or lost jobs for staff who need their jobs more than ever if they’re to heat their homes.” Meanwhile, hundreds of independent takeaway owners have written to the government and both Conservative leadership candidates to plead for support in the wake of skyrocketing energy bills and rising costs. In an open letter backed by the British Takeaway Campaign – the body that represents the nation’s independent takeaway industry – more than 750 restaurant and cafe owners have urged the government to take immediate action to ensure they’re able to keep their doors open. The restaurants have said the government should: cut VAT to reduce the cost of energy and keep food affordable for customers; provide grants to small businesses to cover the immediate cost of energy bills that are set to increase eightfold in some cases; introduce a moratorium on “red tape”, which is pilling costs on to the smallest restaurants; and provide business rate rebates and greater forbearance from HM Revenue & Customs in agreeing repayment plans with commercial taxpayers in arrears.

Industry News: 

Cluster of London dessert shop openings to feature in next edition of The New Openings Database, 14,300-word report included: A cluster of London dessert shop openings will feature in the next edition of The New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock. The database will show the details of 315 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches for Premium subscribers when it is published on Friday (2 September), at midday. The database shows the details of which company has opened a site or its plans to open one in the future. It will have details on what type of site it is and its location. There will also be a website link to the businesses so you can find out more about them. It is published on a monthly basis. The next edition features American-style dessert company Cookies & Cones, which has recently signed a deal to open sites in Primark stores, and has opened its first outlet under the agreement in Wood Green. Also added this month is Crème London, the dessert bar concept by chef Jeremy Coste, which was launched in Soho in September 2019, and has secured a site in Blenheim Crescent, for an opening later this year. In addition, Doughnut Time, founded by Thomas Anderson, which has opened its 15th site in the UK, in Oxford’s Westgate Shopping Centre, and is opening its next site in Windsor, will be featured. Meanwhile, Bubble waffle brand Bubblewrap, which was founded by Tony Fang, and has opened its fourth London site, in Westfield Stratford, is included. Premium subscribers will also receive a 14,300-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to three other databases. The latest Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, was sent to Premium subscribers last Friday (26 August). The database contained 47 new companies, bringing the total number of businesses listed up to 2,617. The 293 sites run by those 47 new additions means the entire database of sites has reached 66,609 sites. Premium subscribers also received a 3,200-word report on the new businesses added. The go-to database provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different. There is also a synopsis of what the business does and significant news associated with it. Premium subscribers also receive the Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, and 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. 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.

Mojo Bars boss – there needs to be urgent changes in the way energy is brought to market: Martin Greenhow, managing director at Mojo Bars, has told Propel there needs to be urgent changes in the way energy is brought to market as sector businesses see up to a 600% increase in their bills, and demands for up to a six-month security deposit. It comes after the regulator OFGEM announced the consumer price cap will increase to £3,549 a year from October – there is no such measure in place for businesses. Greenhow said: “Correct me if I’m wrong but the way the energy market ‘works’ seems to me to be engineered to ensure a no-win scenario of the end user whether that be domestic or commercial, our very own Kobayashi Maru if you’ll pardon. The end user signs a contract for supply of electricity for a fixed term. Let’s say two years. At present we are being quoted rates circa 80p per kW/h. Now two things can happen: the wholesale price of energy falls. The provider makes a killing and the consumer gets royally screwed. No win here for the consumer. The wholesale price of energy rises. In this scenario the provider likely goes bust (has happened to 20-plus companies this year). The consumer is ‘in the wind’, trying to find a new supplier at a new even higher rate because the market doesn’t guarantee that contract must be honoured. No win here either. Hospitality, no society, needs an immediate intervention to protect businesses, jobs and our way of life, but it also requires a change in the way energy, which let’s face it is essential to life, is brought to market.” The Night Time Industries Association has lambasted the government for its lack of action over the price increases and again called for a price cap for businesses. Chief executive Michael Kill said: “Night time economy businesses are seeing up to 600% increase in energy bills, and up-to six months’ security deposit. Not accounting for staff, PPL/PRS, insurance product and supplier cost increases! How arrogant of the current prime minister to suggest we weather the storm when people across our sector are losing jobs and livelihoods.” 

Tampopo boss spells out threat from huge energy cost increases: David Fox, founder of the Tampopo chain that employs 140 staff across five sites, has taken to Twitter to outline the stark rise in energy bills for his business. He said two years ago his energy bills per week at one of his restaurants was £325. However, he is now facing energy costs of £3,557 per week from September. In his thread titled “electricity prices for small businesses”, he said, referencing figures for Tampopo: “At one of my restaurants two years ago my electricity bill was £16,900 per annum/£325 per week. Last year it was £62,000 per annum/£1,200 per week. Contract is up for review in September 2022. What’s on offer for two years is £185,000/£3,557 per week. That is £508 a day. This will call into question the affordability of running a restaurant and certainly on shifts where sales are below a certain level. At £508 a day for a 110-cover restaurant, I would have to have sales of £850 just to pay the electricity. That is before any costs for my team, gas, cleaning and all the other direct costs associated with being open. To cover other direct costs just from being open we would need to have sales of £2,180 for the day – by the way of which £436 would go straight to the government in VAT. For those businesses that don’t go bust, my advice is don’t increase the risk of going bust by being open and losing more money (while still generating money for the government that is not helping us). Work out your break even and be smart. That still may not be enough. Also write to your MP with real life examples like this. Hospitality is part of the fabric of our society, offers moments of happiness while also being a cash cow for government and a huge employer. Tell it when you will go bust. It will listen. If it don’t, vote it out!"

The Salad Project scoops £100,000 windfall after landing UberEats award: The Salad Project, the all-day dining concept that launched in London last year, has landed a £100,000 prize to build its business after being voted top restaurant in the inaugural UberEats UK & Ireland Restaurant of the Year Awards. Following several rounds of public voting, The Salad Project joined eight other finalists in preparing some of its signature dishes for a judging panel, and came out on top. James Dare, who co-founded the business with Florian de Chezelles, said: “We are overjoyed to be announced as the winner of the UberEats Restaurant of the Year Awards. We are due to open another branch in Bank in the near future, so this investment from UberEats will go a long way toward helping make that a success and will also help us to continue our mission to open additional restaurants.” Propel revealed in June that The Salad Project, which made its debut in 2021 with an opening in The Fruit & Wool Exchange, Brushfield Street, Spitalfields, had secured the former Hawes & Curtis site at 1 Old Broad Street for an opening at the end of the summer. Matthew Price, UberEats UK and Ireland general manager, added: “We are committed to championing independent restaurants across the UK and are excited to see how The Salad Project evolves with the £100,000 contribution toward its business.” Other winners included Spice Box (female chef of the year), Dirty Kitch (black-owned restaurant of the year), Tir Deli (sustainable restaurant of the year), Eat Clean (health-focused restaurant of the year) and The Ottoman Doner (community/social impact restaurant of the year).
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a London grab-and-go concept that is looking for an operations director to set it up for its next phase of growth. The business has 19 company owned sites with a strong franchise model. It is looking for applicants at director level and looking for their next challenge. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The ideal skill set will be passion about the hospitality industry with significant experience of both premium dining and branded restaurants, strong experience in growing profitability and customer perception through great systems and structures, experience in team training, extensive previous responsibility for a large P&L, great financial acumen, and someone who is looking for a long-term business to grow and expand with.” The salary is up to £120,000 and based in London. For more information, email sonny@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Krispy Kreme reports turnover hits record £107m as it bounces back from pandemic: Krispy Kreme has reported a 48.9% increase in turnover to £107,158,000 in the year to 2 January 2022 – the company saw turnover of £94,069,000 and pre-tax profit of £8,533,000 in 2019, the last full-year before the pandemic. Ebitda was £23,666,000 (22.09% of sales) compared with £6,887,000 (9.6% of sales) the year before. Profit before tax was £14,057,000 compared with a loss of £3,521,000 in 2020. The number of shops operated by the company rose by five to 121. Krispy Kreme stated: “The company began 2021 with the retail operations impacted by covid restrictions. The company focused on sales and investment in the grocery, service and leisure partners as well as opening new manufacturing facilities. These investments drove growth during the year. With the easing of covid restrictions during the year, the retail segment saw an uplift in sales and new stores were opened. The various segments of the retail operations have seen different levels of footfall recovery during the year with London city centre and airport locations slowest to regain footfall.” A dividend of £4,237,510 was paid. An interim dividend of £2,400,000 for this year was paid in July 2022. The company employed 1,614 people in the year. 

WatchHouse to make US debut next year in New York: Edition Capital-backed coffee concept WatchHouse is to make its international debut next year, with an opening in New York, Propel has learned. The business, which was founded in 2014 by Roland Horne, will open a company-owned store at the Brookfield Properties development at 660 5th Avenue, in New York. The opening is scheduled for the second quarter of 2023. The international move comes as the business recently launched its tenth site, with the opening of WatchHouse Hanover in Mayfair. Horne said: “We started out in 2014 out of frustration about the generally low standard of quality in both experience and product within the grab and go coffee space in central London. That's not to say there weren't good operators then, there were of course (nor that we're now the entire panacea to that original friction) but for me, there needed to a holistic take on the specialty experience. It was too myopic and it needed to broaden out to have a lasting impact. Our vision at that time was to really just have a dabble with the opening of our original site in Bermondsey, with no significant plan for scale given it was an auxiliary business at the time to my first start-up, Aquarium Architecture. Fast-forward three years to 2017 when we, now a full management team in place, took the decision following the opening of houses two and three, to scale the brand fully and bring our vision of specialty coffee – now referred to now as modern coffee – to various areas in the UK, and beyond. This past week we opened our tenth house. We've grown from a team of five people to more than 230 partners during the last six years since opening our second house in Tower Bridge in 2016. As our estate hits double-digits, we look forward to big further milestones ahead including the opening of a further six UK houses in Notting Hill, Marylebone, Marble Arch, Covent Garden, Fenchurch Street and our first national house in Bath. Further to this, WatchHouse will be going trans-Atlantic with our first New York City house. Thanks to my teams throughout the years and we look forward to seeing how far we can really take this small side-line dabble into something with lasting significance as a UK hospitality brand.”

Daisy Green to open St John’s Wood site: Australian restaurant group Daisy Green Collection is set to further add to its estate in London with a new opening in St John’s Wood. Propel understands that Daisy Green, which launched its latest site and 12th in total in Richmond last month, has secured the former The Gate restaurant in Allitsen Road for an opening later this year. Daisy Green is also understood to have lined up an opening at 100 Bishopsgate, alongside Fazenda and WatchHouse. It is understood this new site will open under the name Paradise Green. Last month, Daisy Green launched floating barge restaurant Peggy Jean, which is moored on the Thames at Richmond Bridge. Founded in 2012 by Prue Freeman and Tom Onions, Daisy Green Collection started life as two vintage ice cream vans serving coffee across London, and at festivals throughout the country through street food collective Kerb. Over the last decade, the independent business has expanded to include a mix of restaurants and cafes across London, including two other floating barge restaurants on the Grand Union Canal. Last November, the company closed its latest crowdfunding campaign after raising almost £2.7m and said it was hoping to open a further four sites in the capital this year. The disposal of its site in St John’s Wood, leaves The Gate with three restaurants in London – in Hammersmith, Islington and Marylebone. CDG Leisure acted on the Allitsen Road deal.

Rekom UK secures third site in Swansea: Rekom UK, the Peter Marks-led nightclub operator, is set to open a third site in Swansea, Propel has learned. The company has secured the former Bierkeller site close to its existing Fiction nightclub in the Welsh city. The new site is just down the road from its currently under construction Proud Mary venue, and is thought could reopen under the company’s Scandinavian ski bar concept, Heidi’s Bier Bar. The first British Heidi’s Bier Bar – a concept that first launched in Copenhagen in 2004 and now boasts 20 venues across Norway, Denmark and Finland – opened in Cardiff this spring. A second site for the concept in the UK opened earlier this summer in Birmingham. The UK’s first Proud Mary pub will open in Cardiff, 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. Rekom operates circa 200 late-night venues internationally and 48 in the UK. It first moved into the UK in December 2020 when it acquired 44 of The Deltic Group’s 55 sites out of administration.

Scoffs Group lines up first Miss Millie’s opening: Scoffs Group – the largest Costa Coffee franchisee in the UK – will open its first site under its franchise agreement with Miss Millie’s Fried Chicken, next month, in Southampton, Propel has learned. The site, which will feature a new store format for Miss Millie’s, will open on Wednesday, 7 September, on the former Fusion Grill House in the city’s Above Bar Street. Earlier this year, Propel revealed south west operator Miss Millie’s, which is led by Carl Traill and backed by HBM Investments, had signed a new ten-site franchise deal with Scoffs Group, encompassing the south east region. It said the deal cemented its “vision and growth plan” for the brand. Propel understands Miss Millie’s, which currently operates 11 sites, has a further ten new stores planned in the next 12 months. Last November, the brand made its London debut with an opening in Walthamstow. Earlier this month, Scoffs Group acquired ten additional Costa Coffee stores, expanding its business in Cornwall. The ten sites were previously owned and operated by Costa as “equity” stores. Scoffs Group said: “In addition to the nine stores we purchased in February and our new ‘Costa van Cornwall’, we now operate 20 stores in the region. Across the UK, we own and operate a grand total of 111.”
 
Leckie – ‘we will be hard pressed to even get even close to 2019 levels of profitability in the forthcoming year’: Stephen Leckie, chief executive of the eight-strong Crieff Hydro family of hotels in Scotland, has said the group will “be hard pressed to even get even close to 2019 levels of profitability in the forthcoming year”. Leckie, who is also chairman of the Scottish Tourism Alliance and president of the Scottish Chamber of Commerce, warned of a difficult FY23, despite recording a return to profit in the group’s accounts for the year ending 28 February 2022. Turnover more than doubled from £12,101,867 in 2021 to £28,653,594 and is almost back to the pre-pandemic level of £32,944,315 (year ending 29 February 2020). A pre-tax loss of £3,246,089 in 2020 turned into a £3,122,956 profit, which was also up on the last pre-covid year (profit of £1,189,981). Leckie said the business is in “remarkably good shape,” and “traded well whenever we could”. But he added: “The final result may look like a remarkable year, with Ebitda of nearly £6m against nearly £4m in 2019. But taken together, we have declared £5.3m total Ebitda over two years – less than half of what I would have anticipated in 2019. For now, FY22 is a high point as I believe we are at the middle of a ‘W’ shaped recovery. With a number of external factors making for a difficult FY23, we will be hard pressed to even get close to 2019 levels of profitability in the forthcoming year. However, enhanced cash reserves mean investment in new facilities and efficiency improvements will continue apace in FY23, with £3m earmarked for investment. This despite what will undoubtedly be an extremely challenging trading year ahead, where there is continued lag from covid, significant labour shortages, rising energy costs and widespread disruption and economic uncertainty. A £5m reversal of profits during covid and a difficult year underway has undoubtedly slowed us down, but not blown us off course. While managing myriad risks, we continue to push forward with the investment that is essential for recovery and a sustainable future. Although there is a period of arduous trading conditions ahead, continued investment puts us in an even better condition for building future value.” The group received £645,373 in Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme payments (2021: £3,943,061) and £677,081 in sector-related grants (2021: £205,134). No dividend was paid for the second consecutive year (2020: £384,333). During the period, the group’s borrowings through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme in the form of a £5m 12-month overdraft was extended to 36 months and expires in April 2023. In June this year, Crieff Hydro acquired Perthshire safari experience, Highland Safaris. 
 
Tomahawk Steakhouse owner ‘inundated’ with site opportunities across UK as he unveils plans to have 25 venues by end of year: North east multi-site operator Howard Eggleston, owner of the Tomahawk and Rio Brazilian Steakhouse brands, has said he has been inundated with potential sites across the UK as he unveiled plans to have 25 venues around the UK before the end of the year. Eggleston launched Tomahawk five years ago in Potto, North Yorkshire. Its popularity has led to openings across the north east and further afield under three brands – Rio Brazilian Steakhouse, Tomahawk Steakhouse and Pollo – including bases in Yarm, Newcastle, Jesmond and Ponteland. The group, which currently has turnover in excess of £35m, is now putting rapid expansion plans into action, starting with the opening of its site in Walkergate, Durham, on the site of the former Chiquito restaurant. Around £300,000 has been invested into the site, creating 30 jobs at the 110-cover restaurant. Meanwhile, Tomahawk is also set to take a prime location in Morpeth, Northumberland, after snapping up 4 Market Place. Its Rio brand is also set to continue to grow, with planned openings in Sunderland, Warrington, Knutsford and Altrincham before the end of the year. Eggleston said the current end of year expansion strategy will take the full estate to 25 venues, with the Morpeth restaurant and Nottingham site set to open next month, and Sunderland following in November. Eggleston said: “2022 has opened out to be a really exciting time for the expansion of the Tomahawk group and we have been inundated with potential sites all over the UK. We are busy daily touring the country meeting with landlords and agents, securing sites, but that doesn’t mean we are anywhere near capacity.” Earlier this year, Eggleston told Propel he has long-term ambitions to grow to 50 sites. 
 
Team behind Swift venues in London set to launch third site for cocktail bar concept: The team behind two Swift venues in London are set to launch a third site for the cocktail bar concept. Bobby Hiddleston, who previously worked at New York’s Dead Rabbit, and Mia Johansson, who used to tend the bar at Milk and Honey, have again partnered with husband-and-wife team Edmund Weil and Rosie Stimpson, who operate Nightjar and Oriole, for Swift Borough. The team, which launched the concept in 2016, also own Swift bars in Soho and Shoreditch. Opening in October, the latest Swift will also partner with Borough Market’s community of stallholders to spotlight seasonal produce on a monthly basis. Set over a two-story space at 66 Borough High Street, it will feature a classic-inspired menu upstairs and a more high-concept menu downstairs, which will be a more intimate, seated-only area. Hiddleston said: “Borough is such a quintessential part of London, known the world over for its amazing produce, restaurants and nightlife. We are delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate with such a vibrant community to bring our vision of Swift Borough to life.” Jake Bernstone, of Stonebrook London, acted on the deal.

PureGym reports Ebitda up to £25.9m as revenue increases 40% in second quarter, opens nine new sites: PureGym, Britain’s biggest health and fitness club operator, has reported adjusted Ebitda was up 58% to £25.9m for the three months to 30 June 2022, compared with £16.4m the previous year. Revenue was up 40% to £119m compared with the second quarter of 2021, when it was £83m, and slightly up on the first quarter of 2022, when it was £116m. The group, which operates more than 500 venues across the UK and Europe, opened nine new gyms during the quarter, and a further five following the end of the period. It expects to open more than 50 sites this year across the group, including both corporate owned and franchised. PureGym said in April that it plans to double its estate size to more than 1,000 sites in the medium term, and that membership had reached pre-covid levels. The group, which is also behind Denmark-based Fitness World and Basefit in Switzerland, announced a £300m investment from private equity firm KKR to support expansion at the end of last year. PureGym said its recovery from the pandemic was continuing, “but consumer confidence, hot weather and strike disruption are not making it easy”. The company added it was “deploying increased effort, resources and focus on cost management to complement continued strong focus on revenue management”, and was “cautiously positive about the future, despite obvious economic challenges that lie ahead”.

Former Soho House director raises almost £400,000 for at-home entertainment experience platform: Former Soho House director Antoine Melon has raised almost £400,000 for his at-home entertainment platform in a crowdfunding round. Run via Crowdcube, the funding round exceeded its minimum target of £350,000, with 200 investors, and was overfunded by 11%, raising a total of £390,309. The platform had a pre-money valuation of £3m. The company provides exclusive access to a select group of entertainers and service people from £250, from Michelin star private chefs and international mixologists to Café del Mar DJs, children’s entertainers and expert tarot card readers. With more than 2,300 guests served since June 2021 and major partnerships signed, Hometainment will use the funding to scale in both London and abroad, as well as expand its offering of experiences. It has recently secured agreements with VIP concierge companies such as Quintessentially and Velocity Black, as well as high-end serviced apartment groups including Cheval Collection, Living Rooms and Greystar. Melon said: “We are very proud to have completed and overfunded our Crowdcube campaign. To complete our crowdfunding after just a year of operation is a great achievement. It sanctions a year of hard work from all the people who have supported us and believed in us.” Melon has more than 25 years of hospitality experience behind him, working for lifestyle and luxury brands such as Soho House, Six Senses, Mandarin Oriental and Conran Restaurants.

Foodstuff appoints former Just Eat global strategy lead as non-executive director: Fledgling delivery business Foodstuff has appointed former Just Eat global strategy lead Nicci Setchell to its board as a non-executive director. Setchell – who is currently chief financial officer at wills, probate and funerals company Farewill – spent six years with Just Eat, also working as international commercial controller, head of international finance and head of finance and integration. At Foodstuff, she will focus on operations, finance, profitability and a path for exit. She joins as Foodstuff nears the end of its £900,000 crowdfunding campaign, launched earlier this month, which has already overfunded. The campaign, on Crowdcube, comes to an end this week and has raised almost £1.1m from more than 500 investors. Among them is Loungers co-founder Jake Bishop, who Propel revealed last week had also joined the board as a non-executive director. Investors have been offered 9.96% equity, giving the business a pre-money valuation of £9,905,441. 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 raising funds to help it expand into four more major UK cities, including London. 

Former Primeur and Padella chef to leave Garden Café role to set up own restaurant: Former Primeur and Padella chef George Ryle will leave his role as head chef at Garden Cafe, based at the Garden Museum in Lambeth, next month to set up his own restaurant. Ryle, who has been in the role for the past five years, plans to move back to his native Yorkshire to pursue his dream of opening his own venue. Having launched the new-look cafe/restaurant with friend and fellow chef Harry Kaufman in 2017, Ryle took the lead on the menu when Kaufman left in 2020. He said: “I feel incredibly proud of what has been achieved, I believe we have created something very special, but myself and my family are excited to be making a move back up to Yorkshire. It’s been a tough decision, and there will certainly be a hint of sadness at leaving the cafe, but after five years as head chef, it feels like the right time to make a move and pursue my ambition to open my own restaurant in my home town. I feel confident I am leaving the cafe in the best shape possible for someone else to continue its evolution as one of London's best restaurants.” The cafe is overseen by museum director Christopher Woodward, who added: “From humble beginnings back in 2017, George has firmly put the cafe on the London restaurant map with his simple, delicious dishes, and for that we will always be grateful. We wish him all the best for his new venture in Yorkshire, where I am sure he will make a very positive mark.”

BaxterStorey partners with new London restaurant for menu collaboration: Contract catering company BaxterStorey has partnered with recently opened London venue, Compton Restaurant, for a menu collaboration. Compton Restaurant launched at 47-48 St John’s Square in Clerkenwell in June, described as an “easy-dining bistro” linked to the Compton property agency. Among the team behind it, which also opened a new deli next to the restaurant called Compton Deli, is WM Group founder Alex Kaye, who is Compton’s creative designer. Behind the menu is a team of three BaxterStorey chefs, led by executive chef Mike Shaw, formerly of Adam Byatt’s Michelin-starred Trinity. He is joined by head chef, Sam Monastyrskyj, who has previously worked at Le Manoir and The Hand and Flowers, and sous/pastry chef Ben Stanley. Dishes are frequently changed to allow the team to try new ideas and ingredient combinations. Shaw said: “A dish will tell me when it’s ready to come off the menu, often once it’s run its course and been delicious.” Monastyrskyj added: “We’ve already changed up quite a few dishes to keep it seasonal, and it’s good to keep things fresh.” Some classic dishes will remain on the menu, including beef tartar and ceviche, while croquettes are also proving popular. The team has been experimenting with offering plant-based options, including a new take on strawberry jelly with British strawberries, champagne jelly, granita, basil and honeycomb. “We’re already looking at changing the fruit for the next season,” Stanley added. 

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