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Wed 31st Aug 2022 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

UKHospitality calls for urgent government support, sets out five-point action plan: UKHospitality has called on the government for urgent support if thousands of hospitality businesses are to avoid collapse this winter in the face of soaring energy costs. Chief executive Kate Nicholls yesterday warned that 10,000 sector businesses could close permanently in the next 18 months and an estimated 500,000 hospitality jobs could go. She has now written to chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng demanding a comprehensive package of measures to the end of March 2023. These include a business rates holiday for all hospitality premises with no caps applied; the deferral of all environmental levies; the reinstatement of a generous HMRC Time to Pay scheme; the reintroduction of a trade credit insurance scheme for energy; and for the April 2022 VAT rate increase for hospitality to be reversed. “Hospitality businesses are facing a crisis this winter, with soaring costs combined with a sharp drop in disposable incomes for our customers,” Nicholls wrote. “Support has rightly been committed to households, but more must be done to help businesses, particularly SMEs, that are at risk of failure due to no fault of their own. This package of five measures will ensure the survival of businesses, the continuation of employment and the flow of wages, restraining inflation and leading to investment in our communities.” Kris Gumbrell, chief executive of the 23-strong Brewhouse & Kitchen chain, told the BBC: “We need several areas of help, predominantly a business energy cap as soon as possible. We’re an energy intensive sector and it’s a big part of what we do. We provide warm environments, we cook food, and we brew on site, so it’s really important we get some kind of cap or support.” His view was backed by the British institute of Innkeeping, which warned that one in three pubs will fail in the next three months without urgent government support for crushing energy costs. A flash survey by the trade body revealed 90% of respondents quoted for new contracts are seeing their prices at least double from those they are paying now. Almost two in three of those are seeing price rises of more than 300%, with one in two of those being quoted at 400% or more. Only one in four members are currently in a fixed price contract secured before the recent price rises. In addition, one in three of those trying to secure a contract have not been able to do so, leaving them having to pay even higher variable rates. BII chief executive Steve Alton said: “The effect of these unprecedented energy price rises on our nations’ pubs has now reached a critical level. This is not just about business failure and the loss of livelihoods for our members, it is the loss of jobs in local communities, homes for families and the vital lifeline that pubs provide for those facing isolation and loneliness in villages, towns and cities across the UK. Without support, the alternative is simply unthinkable. The impact on the economy will be enormous, but the long-term damage to our unique heritage and the social fabric of our nation will be devastating.” The BII is also calling for a meaningful cap for business energy, grant support, a reduction in business rates for 2023-24, a significant cut in duty for draught beer and cider and a reduced rate of VAT.
 

Industry News: 

Number of experiential concepts to feature in next edition of The New Openings Database, 14,300-word report included: A number of experiential concepts 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 boutique bowling company Lane7, which is set to open two new venues called Level X, at the St Enoch Centre in Glasgow and Captain Cook Square in Middlesbrough. Also added this month is Steampunk-themed experiential concept Phantom Peak, founded by Nick Moran, which has opened in London’s Canada Street. In addition, Flight Club, the darts concept owned by Red Engine, which plans to open in Cardiff’s St Mary Street this autumn and Glasgow in the autumn of 2023, will be featured. Meanwhile, crazy golf brand Plonk, which was founded by Elliot Scott, and has launched a new flagship site in Borough Market, 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.
 
Restaurant Marketer & Innovator calls for ‘30 Under 30’ nominations: The Restaurant Marketer & Innovator “30 Under 30” list, which recognises 30 talented future leaders in marketing, innovation and strategy roles within the sector who are under 30 years of age, has opened its nominations for 2023. Judges will look for creativity, confidence, commercial awareness, ability to collaborate, leadership skills and perseverance. They will also look for experience in senior stakeholder management, understanding of how to develop strategy, ability to self-reflect, and clear potential to be an industry leader of the future. Nominees should have at least three years’ experience in the hospitality sector. Nominations close on Tuesday, 4 October. They can be made by anybody by clicking here. Self-nominations are accepted. Selected candidates will be invited to attend the Restaurant Marketer & Innovator conference and 30 Under 30 presentation evening in London in January. All those applying for a place will be automatically considered for the Future Marketing Leader of the Year prize at the Restaurant Marketer & Innovator Awards. Restaurant Marketer & Innovator co-founder James Hacon said: “The 30 Under 30 programme is great recognition by the industry of your achievements to date and highlights you as a leader of the future. As part of the programme you will be in a network of like-minded professionals, who you will meet and get to know. Our alumni from this programme from the past three years have created close bonds and have seen their careers propelled forward.”
 

Company News:

JKS Restaurants set to launch new venture in Mayfair: JKS Restaurants, led by Karam, Jyotin and Sunaina Sethi, is planning to open a new venture in Mayfair, on the former Momo restaurant site, Propel understands. JKS, which recently confirmed plans to open a second Arcade Food Hall, at Battersea Power Station, is understood to have applied to open on the site in Heddon Street under a new company heading – Riad Restaurants, which suggests it may keep to the Moroccan-inspired theme of the former Momo restaurant. JKS has also set up another company, Ladoo Restaurants, and applied to take over the neighbouring Mo Diner. The new food hall, which will open next year, follows the opening of the first Arcade site in Tottenham Court Road’s Centrepoint. The 24,000 square-foot space in Battersea will feature three standalone restaurants, including award-winning Taiwanese restaurant Bao, as revealed by Propel earlier this summer, and a yet to be announced Thai restaurant. The original Arcade Food Hall at Centrepoint, which opened in April, features nine brands created by JKS in a 12,500 square-foot grade-II listed space. Next month, JKS will partner with chef Luke Farrell for their second Thai concept together. Launching in September in Soho’s Rupert Street, Speedboat Bar will offer “fast and furious wok cookery with roasted meats and zingy seafood salads”. 
 
Boparan Restaurant Group appoints David Sayer as new CFO: Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) – the owner and operator of brands including Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Carluccio’s, Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner – has appointed David Sayer as its new chief financial officer, Propel has learned. Sayer joins BRG after more than a year as chief financial officer at Magnum Brands Group. Previous to that he spent a year and a half as finance director of Zoopla. BRG is also understood to have appointed Martin Owen, formerly of Next, as its new HR director. Owen joins the business after 21 years with Next, including the last eight years as its head of HR. Earlier this month, BRG began a new partnership with Tesco with the opening of a Slim Chickens site, in one of the retailer’s Extra stores. Tesco, which previously owned Giraffe, opened a Slim Chickens site, the 27th opening under the brand in the UK in total, in its Extra store in Redditch, Worcestershire. Propel understands the Redditch Extra site will be the first Slim Chickens opening as part of a wider partnership between Tesco and BRG, which already operates a number of brands with rival supermarket chain Sainsbury’s. Last month, BRG opened four new restaurants under the Slim Chickens brand and said it planned to be operating 350 restaurants in Britain under the US brand in the next few years. Under BRG’s partnership with Sainsbury’s, it is developing food courts at 150 of the retailer's stores that will feature a clutch of BRG’s brands, including Slim Chickens. The first opened at the Sainsbury’s store in Selly Oak, Birmingham, with a target of all 150 operating within three years. 
 
Coppa Club set for Exeter opening: Various Eateries, the Hugh Osmond-backed business, is set to open a site under its Coppa Club brand in Exeter, Propel has learned. Various Eateries, which recently opened a Coppa Club in Bath – The Bath Townhouse in the city’s Old Bond Street, is set to take on the former No5 restaurant in the Devon city. Linda and Charles Horner, the founders of No3 in Topsham and popular Exeter gin bar, Crocketts, took over the former ASK site in the grade I-listed building dating to the 16th century in the city’s Cathedral Green at the end of 2020. However, they closed the site last week. The couple posted on Facebook: “It is with a heavy heart that we have closed No5. We love No5 with a passion and have put our hearts and souls into creating a beautiful venue, but the last two years have been extremely stressful, and the situation has already had an impact on health and it’s not worth that. We would like to thank our amazing staff who have worked so hard through such a difficult time and also thank our loyal customers who have made it all worthwhile. On a positive note, our beautiful iconic building will have new custodians in the Coppa Club, which is well known for creating venues in beautiful locations.” The opening in Bath was Coppa Club's 11th location and second property in the West Country, after an opening in Bristol. Various Eateries has been granted permission to open a Coppa Club in Cardiff while it is also believed to be lining up a site in Guildford.
 
Mitchells & Butlers launches new competitive socialising concept Arrowsmiths: Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) has launched a new competitive socialising concept called Arrowsmiths, in one of its sites in the West Midlands. The new interactive darts experience has been launched in the O’Neill’s in Solihull, and features six individual booths for groups of up to 12 people. Guests can book 90-minute sessions for £7 per person for the Arrowsmiths experience, which includes electronic scoreboards and table service. It is thought that if this initial site trial goes well, M&B will look to add it to further sites, and it won’t be limited to just O’Neill’s going forward. Last month, M&B reported like-for-like sales in its third quarter were up 0.9%, excluding the VAT benefit, but total sales have declined by 1.6% in the year-to-date driven mainly by temporary covid-related closures in the first part of the year and site disposals since FY 2019. The company said like-for-like sales started the third quarter strongly, up 2.2% for the first five weeks, before falling back slightly across a period including the Jubilee weekend, industrial action and the recent very hot weather, to end up 0.9% across the full quarter, with food continuing to be the main driver.
 
Bistrot Pierre appoints Jessica Wight as new marketing director: Bistrot Pierre, the Nick White-led business, has appointed Jessica Wight, formerly of Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) and Novus Leisure, as its new marketing director. Wight spent two and half years at BRG, including a year and a half as head of campaign and new proposition marketing. She also spent a year as group marketing manager at Maxwell’s Restaurants Group and almost five years at Novus. In July 2020, the bulk of the Bistrot Pierre business was acquired by a new company through a pre-pack administration. Named after the year the company was founded, Bistrot Pierre 1994 is backed by the brand’s chairman, John Derkach, and chief executive White together with existing backers Livingbridge and NatWest. The new company acquired 19 of the 25 Bistrot Pierre sites – located in the north, Midlands, Wales and the south coast. Livingbridge invested £9.8m in Bistrot Pierre in 2015.
 
Costa extends M&S Food partnership as it unveils new autumn menu: Costa Coffee will launch its new autumn menu on Thursday (1 September). Among the new items will be a limited-edition maple hazel range, which comes in latte, iced latte and hot chocolate formats – all available from Costa Express machines as well as in store. Alongside the drinks, new savoury additions will include a BLT and prawn mayonnaise sandwich, and an egg, cress and roast chicken salad sandwich, both created using a new recipe, and a steak and Mexicana cheese toastie. New vegan-friendly options include a Quorn smoky ham and cheese toast a vegan barbecue chicken panini and a vegan sausage bap. Other new breakfast offerings are the all-day breakfast box and ultimate breakfast wrap. As part of Costa’s partnership with M&S, it had also added mac and cheese, minestrone and bacon soup, roast beef and horseradish and crunchy carrot with houmous to its lunch options. Among the new sweet treats, meanwhile, will be maple and hazelnut muffins and blondies, St Clement’s chocolate drizzle loaf cakes and milk choc chunk shortbreads. Naomi Matthews, food and beverage commercial director UK & Ireland at Costa, said: “Whatever weather autumn might throw at us, we have created something that warms you up, fills you up and excites taste buds, with new items we have never launched before.”
 
Thai Leisure Group bolsters senior team: Thai Leisure Group, operator of Thaikhun and Chaophraya, has bolstered its senior management team with the appointment of new roles and internal promotions. Charlotte Kennedy has joined as head of sales. She brings more than eight years of managerial experience to the company, having previously held a role as business development manager at Splendid Hospitality Group, as well as senior management roles for Advancis Medical, Sainsbury’s and Bannatyne Health Club. Thai Leisure Group has also promoted Monica Modena, who has become head of marketing from marketing manager. During her three years at Thai Leisure Group, Modena has progressed through the sales and marketing team now to build and lead it. Richard Simpson, previously of Drake and Morgan, has been promoted from business manager at Chaophraya Edinburgh to Chaophraya’s director of operations. The role is a new position within Chaophraya and will see Simpson oversee operations for all Chaophraya sites, working closely with the rest of the senior management team. Managing director at Thai Leisure Group, Ian Leigh, said: “We’re excited to welcome Charlotte to our team, as we continue our rapid growth plan. We’re always eager to provide top-quality training to ensure all divisions of our team are given progression opportunities. We were delighted to offer promotions to Monica and Richard, who have given so much to the business during their time and have thrived in their roles.” As well as investing internally in the team, Thai Leisure Group has also committed to investing £1m on upgrading and refurbishing many of its restaurants. Every Chaophraya site will be refurbished over the next three years, with renovations set to start at the Glasgow restaurant in the coming weeks.
 
Brother Marcus set to open fourth site next month, adds deli offering: Brunch brand Brother Marcus will open its fourth site on Monday, 19 September, in South Kensington, which will feature its first deli offering. The brand, which offers eastern Mediterranean all-day dining, will open in the former Muriel’s Kitchen site at 1-3 Pelham Street. As well as its first deli, the site will also feature Brother Marcus’ largest bakery counter yet, selling baked goods including pistachio and cinnamon swirls, almond croissants, tahini blondies, chocolate babka and baklava to eat in or take away. New dishes on the restaurant menu include feta and ricotta borek with grilled spring onions and Greek yogurt; crispy calamari with garlic and saffron aioli; and half chicken with lemon dressing and nigella seeds. The drinks offer will include cocktails made using eastern Mediterranean herbs, spices and liquors and a Greek-focused wine list. Founded by Tasos Gaitanos, Alex Large and Arthur Campbell in 2016, Brother Marcus opened its third site, in London’s Borough Yards, in March. Large told Propel at the time the business was planning to more than double the size of its estate and expand outside of London. He said seven sites would be a “sweet spot” for the capital, and the trio would consider expanding to cities like Bristol, Brighton, Cambridge and Oxford. Its other sites are in Spitalfields Market and Camden Passage in Angel. Adam Bowers, of onepoint2, acted on the South Kensington deal. 
 
Pub Culture to open fourth site next month: North east operator Pub Culture will open its fourth site next month, in Newcastle’s Quayside. The company will launch sea and spice-inspired bar and restaurant Chart House. Previously home of “Charts” and prior to that “Flynn’s bar”, the venue will offer a modern culinary journey through the Maritime Spice Route, featuring bespoke cocktails and a menu evoking taste of the Mediterranean, Arabian and South China seas, complete with picturesque views overlooking the River Tyne. Rhys McKinnell, chief executive of Pub Culture, said: “When I joined the company in September last year, I was excited about the huge protentional for Chart House and its location – delving deep into what customers are looking for and where the opportunities lay, we knew we could bring our expertise to introduce a distinctive concept to Newcastle.” The Chart House menu, anchored in maritime history, will offer both large and small plates, using carefully sourced and high-quality ingredients. Dishes will include whole Thai spiced seabass, and lamb tagine or grilled lemongrass chicken skewers. The wine list also draws from the same inspiration, featuring classics from Portugal and Spain to the south of France and Italy, as well as a range of cocktails. Pub Culture currently operates the Dun Cow pub, The Engine Room Bar and Restaurant and The Fire Station Auditorium, all in Sunderland.
 
92 Degrees secures third Manchester site: North west coffee company 92 Degrees has agreed a deal to launch its third Manchester site, in Spinningfields. The team, led by chief executive and co-founder Jack Brewitt, is set to officially open its No 1 Spinningfields store in a matter of weeks. For the past 18 months, 92 Degrees has been operating in the city's John Dalton Street and Middlewood Locks. The opening marks part of the next stage of the brand's nationwide growth, which will see it open another eight sites having secured £1.4m of private investment earlier this summer. The business, founded in 2014, currently has 11 sites. Brewitt said: "Spinningfields is the perfect location for our third site in Manchester and it's an area we have been paying close attention to for some time. We've enjoyed great success at our two other Manchester outlets and the reception we have received over the last 18 months there has been awesome. Opening in Spinningfields is another major step in the right direction for us and what we have planned further down the line.” The group aims to have a 15-strong portfolio by the end of the year and to grow to 30 sites by the end of 2023.
 
Truman’s brand to be renamed Big Penny, flagship venue to relaunch as community-focused pub, group looks to add fourth site: The Truman’s brand will be renamed Big Penny from Thursday, 15 September. This follows the brand’s acquisition, in April, by the management team at its brewery. As part of the rebrand, the company’s flagship venue, the 1,400 capacity Truman’s Social Club in Walthamstow, will become Big Penny Social and relaunch as a community-focused pub and arts centre. Featuring the UK’s biggest beer hall, a versatile events space and one of London’s largest beer gardens, its three bars have been upgraded to include 82 beer taps, while a rotating menu focusing on seasonal and local producers will offer sourdough pizzas and Sunday roasts. There will also be a programme of entertainment and events. Brick Lane Brews, a café bar in the departures lounge at London City airport, will become Big Penny Brews and is now back to 2019 trading levels. The third venue in the group, The Newman Arms in Fitzrovia, London, will not be renamed, “given its rich history and iconic status as a beautiful traditional London pub”. The group will also be looking to add a fourth venue over the next two years. Its brewery in Hackney Wick was closed in June 2022, but the beer is now brewed under contract for the three venues and online sales. Michael-George Hemus, Big Penny founder, said: “This enormous building was meant to become our new brewery, but the effect of the pandemic meant we had to sell the Truman’s name to survive and keep everyone employed. While we couldn’t build the brewery, we could see a growing desire among people for places to come together, enjoy a great time and connect with their loved ones and the local community. So, we changed plans and created a special venue that is a modern version of a pub, arts centre and town square wrapped into one. Now the rebrand is complete, we will continue in our aim to further improve and develop our retail estate. We will look at adding another venue in the next 12-24 months.”
 
Pizza Pilgrims to open 19th site next month: Pizza Pilgrims, the London pizzeria brand, will open its 19th site next month. The company will reopen its former Slice site at 266 Seven Sisters Road in Finsbury Park as a Pizza Pilgrims on Tuesday, 20 September. It first opened the venue as a Slice, its New York-themed pop-up concept that also operates a site at Swingers Crazy Golf West End, last summer. Among the pizzas on offer will be the Puttanesca (tomatoes with anchovies, olives, capers and chilli, topped with mozzarella and basil), Salsiccia e Friarielli (roasted Italian sausage and wild broccoletti on an olive oil base with smoked mozzarella and fresh chilli) and Mushroom & Truffle (truffle ricotta base, chestnut mushrooms, fior di latte mozzarella, Grana Padano and white truffle oil). Vegan cheese alternatives are also available using Pizza Pilgrims’ in-house “notzarella”. The drinks offering will feature iced tea, soda, cocktails, beer and wine, while guests can also play classic 1980s arcade games like Pac-Man and Street Fighter. Thom and James Elliot, founders of Pizza Pilgrims, said: “As a company, we always want to try new things. When we saw this space in Finsbury Park, we instantly fell in love with it – it had that great New York slice joint feel. Sadly, that idea wasn’t quite right for this location, but we still loved the space and the vibe of the area. We are excited to be bringing a more classic Pilgrims Neapolitan pizzeria to Finsbury Park, along with a few twists.” The company operates 16 Pizza Pilgrims in London, plus one each in Brighton and Oxford, and one Slice site. Propel understand the business is also in talks to secure sites in Cambridge, Nottingham, and London’s Queen’s Park and Paddington.
 
Greene King to donate £1m in funding to grassroots sports clubs: Brewer and retailer Greene King will donate £1m in funding to grassroots sports club by the end of 2023 as part of its Proud To Pitch In scheme. The project, which is available throughout the UK, sees the company donate 10p from every pint of Greene King IPA sold, and 50p from every 4x500ml can pack, to support it. Clubs are awarded grants of up to £3,000, with more than 8,000 beneficiaries and in excess of 80 projects sharing £208,000 to date. Nominations and applications can be made via the Greene King website. The company has also signed up more than 400 of its pubs to the scheme, as it encourages grassroots clubs without a clubhouse to use their local “pubhouse” as a communal space. Will Hemmings, marketing director for brewing and brands at Greene King, said: “We see our pubs as community hubs, so it makes sense to invite local teams and clubs inside. This isn’t a one-off campaign, it’s a continuous pledge from us at Greene King to ensure grassroots sports can flourish not just in local communities, but right across the UK.”
 
Pub Invest Group launches recruitment drive after ‘very busy’ summer: Liverpool operator Pub Invest Group has launched a recruitment drive for hundreds of new staff after experiencing a “very busy” summer. The company has roles ranging from general managers and chefs to office staff. A spokesperson for Pub Invest Group said: “After several years of the pandemic it has been great to be open with no restrictions this year and the summer weather has been fantastic for our outdoor and rooftop venues. The company will now be looking to recruit across a range of roles.” The company has more than 35 brands under its belt including Liverpool sites LA’Go, Soho, Moloko and the latest venue to open in Bold Street – Cheers Big Ears. 
 
Bespoke Hotels appoints new COO: Bespoke Hotels, the UK’s largest independent hotel group, has appointed Richard Grove as its new chief operating officer. Grove was previously general manager of The Chester Grosvenor, a luxury five-star hotel that is part of Bespoke. Grove has been with Bespoke since 2015. Prior to this, he was a senior general manager for Principal Hayley at Cranage Hall and the 275-bedroom Palace Hotel in Manchester. Recently, he has been combining his position at The Chester Grosvenor with a regional role at Mill Hotel & Spa, Oddfellows Chester and Oddfellows Cheadle. Within his new role, Grove will be responsible for driving the financial performance of the existing hotel portfolio, as well as seeking to secure new management opportunities for the group. Beyond this, he will also provide leadership to the regional operations, sales and marketing, revenue and distribution, and HR teams. Thomas Greenall, chief executive of Bespoke, said: “We are delighted to welcome Richard into his new role and with his impressive knowledge of the industry and proven ability to lead, we have no doubt his new placement will be a real success. This is a very promising time for Bespoke, with the portfolio continuing to grow across the UK and overseas, as well as our existing properties continuing to thrive following the hardships of the pandemic.” Steve Ogden will take over as general manager of The Chester Grosvenor. Founded in 2000 by Haydn Fentum and Robin Sheppard, Bespoke operates more than 120 properties with in excess of 5,000 hotel rooms, 6,000 employees and £525m of assets. 
 
First Restaurant Group expands portfolio with Hampstead opening: London operator First Restaurant Group (FGR), a growing collection of pubs with boutique rooms and restaurants, has expanded its portfolio with an opening in Hampstead. The group has reopened the former Rosslyn Arms at 48 Rosslyn Hill, near Hampstead Heath, as the Oak & Poppy. The venue sits alongside The Hayden in Notting Hill, The Grafton Arms in Fitzrovia and The One Tun in Farringdon in the group’s Pubs & Rooms estate. FRG also operates canal-side restaurants The Waterway and The Summerhouse in Maida Vale. Dishes on the all-day menu at Oak & Poppy include soy and lime glazed salmon with egg noodles, and pak choy with shiitake mushrooms and sesame seeds, alongside “creative” cocktails and a select wine list. FRG owner Mitch Tillman said. “We are thrilled to open our new venture in Hampstead, an area we feel would benefit enormously from an excellent all-day offering. The site continues FRG’s commitment to offering high-quality dishes where there is something for everyone, delivered with excellent service in an inviting setting in which all are welcome.” 
 
Miso Group confirms September opening for Operation:Falafel’s UK debut: Miso Group, from chef Adria Wu and Dubai-based investor Tamer Bazzari, has confirmed the UK debut of its Dubai-founded Operation:Falafel concept will open next month. Propel revealed in July the concept, which was founded by Manhal Naser, had secured a site at 59 Chalk Farm Road in London’s Camden. It will now launch on Wednesday, 14 September, reports Hot Dinners. Operation:Falafel currently operates sites in the Middle East and the US, balancing “traditional old-street Arabic flavours with fresh tastes” through an offering including shawarma pitas, kofta bowls, salads and flavoured hummus. Its UK debut site will embrace new technology, with orders collected in contactless lockers opened by a QR code. Miso Group is targeting ten Operation:Falafel UK franchises by 2024, which will include a second flagship store in central London. Wu launched grab-and-go natural food concept Maple&Co in London in 2015, which has grown to six sites across the capital. Last year, Miso Group launched Maple Street Eats, with the aim of building on Maple&Co’s foundation of “natural, healthier feel-good food delivered direct to your door”.

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