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Wed 21st Sep 2022 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Managed groups’ August sales up from pre-covid levels but inflation wipes out growth: Like-for-like sales at Britain’s managed restaurant, pub and bar groups in August were 2.0% ahead of the pre-covid-19 levels of 2019, the new edition of the Coffer CGA Business Tracker has shown. The result from the tracker – produced by CGA by NielsenIQ in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM UK – means like-for-like sales have now been ahead of or level with pre-pandemic comparatives for seven months in a row. However, with compound inflation since 2019 in double digits, groups’ sales remain well below the levels of three years ago in real terms. For the fifth successive month, restaurants were the strongest performer of the tracker’s three hospitality segments in August, with like-for-like sales growth of 2.8%. Pubs’ sales were up by 2.1% on 2019, while bars’ sales were down by 3.5%. Trading in London remains well behind many other parts of the country, with like-for-like sales within the M25 down by 2.0% in August, compared with 3.2% growth beyond the M25. Venues in London continue to be affected by a dip in office workers and visitors since the start of the pandemic, and rail strikes have further reduced footfall. The tracker also highlighted the increased demand for deliveries and takeaways since the start of covid-19 restrictions. Despite their overall growth of 2.8% in August, restaurants’ dine-in only sales were 2.1% below those of August 2019 – a sign some consumers are now ordering meals in rather than eating out. Karl Chessell, director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA at CGA, said: “It’s been pleasing to see managed groups’ sales beating pre-covid-19 levels for most of 2022 – but the stark reality is after adjusting for inflation, trading is lagging significantly behind. Hospitality is feeling the effects of the cost-of-living crisis as consumers watch their spending, and is facing soaring costs of its own across fuel, food, labour and other key inputs. With a difficult autumn and winter ahead, the sector needs urgent and bold help from government on energy and taxes to help protect businesses.” Mark Sheehan, managing director at Coffer Corporate Leisure, added: “Flat sales against the backdrop of record inflation means for many that just getting through this period is all that matters for many hospitality businesses.”

Industry News:

Bob & Berts co-founders Colin McClean and David Ferguson to speak at final Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2022, three free places per company for operators: Bob & Berts co-founders Colin McClean and David Ferguson will be among the speakers at the final Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2022, which takes place on Thursday, 10 November, at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in London, and is open for bookings. The all-day conference will focus on “new ways of working”. McClean and Ferguson will discuss how the Northern Ireland coffee chain has created and evolved its all-day offer and is now readying to expand across England. Operators can book up to three free places per company by emailing

Premium subscribers to receive videos from Propel Multi-Club summer conference and fourth edition of UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database on Friday: Premium subscribers will be given exclusive access to the recording of the Propel Multi-Club summer conference on Friday (23 September), at 9am. The videos will include CGA’s managing director UK and Ireland Jonny Jones; Garrett FitzGerald, founder of Butchies; Steve Magnall, co-founder of Two Magpies Bakery; Johnnie Tate, founder of Yard Sale Pizza; Kam Dehdashti and Jamie Hazeel, co-founders of Little Door & Co; Alasdair Murdoch, chief executive of Burger King UK; Will Beckett, co-founder of Hawksmoor; Richard Colclough, managing director of Parogon Group; David McDowall, president and chief operating officer at BrewDog; and Andrew Andrea, chief executive of Marston’s. Olivia FitzGerald, chief sales and marketing officer of Zonal, hosts a panel of industry leaders who will share their lived experiences and discuss ways hospitality can overcome the current challenges, including how they are working with Hospitality Rising to grow and come back stronger. Meanwhile, Fleet Street managing director Mark Stretton hosts a panel on the future of delivery featuring Just Eat’s head of strategic accounts Kirsten Bohlke; Mario Aleppo, founder of Fireaway Pizza; Nathan Wall, chief operating officer at Tiny Cloud Kitchens; and Joe Heather, general manager at Deliverect. Meanwhile, 15 new franchisors expanding in the UK and abroad have been added to the latest UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which will also be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday, at midday. The fourth edition will feature 155 companies and almost 70,000 words of content, providing insight on the offer, locations, cost and other key details. Premium subscribers also receive access to The New Openings Database; the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; and the Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and 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. They 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.

NTIA – three out of four night-time economy businesses on a financial cliff edge: Three out of four night-time economy businesses are on a financial cliff edge, new data from the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) reveals. The NTIA has spent the last few days generating a flash poll of more than 300 businesses, which gives a clear indication of the impact cost inflation has had on the industry. It found businesses remain resilient but cannot hide their frustration and anger as they face uncertainty once more. Three quarters of businesses surveyed are barely breaking even (47.7%) or losing money (24.8%), while 23% said they would not last more than a few months under the current operating cost levels. Meanwhile, 80.6% had seen footfall decrease and 82% had seen revenue decrease in the last three months of trading. Asked what would have the greatest impact on their business survival, 84.3% said a VAT reduction; 66.8% an energy freeze/cap; 59.4% a business rates relief extension; and 31.8% a national insurance reduction. Michael Kill, chief executive of the NTIA, said: “As the number of failing businesses we engage with escalates on a day to day basis, with many business owners and operators emotionally and mentally drained from more than three years of uncertainty, questions are quite rightly being asked of the government and its plans for the sector. Time is quickly running out, with hundreds of businesses already unable to hold on, making irreversible decisions about their future, with thousands of jobs lost or at risk. We have now reached such a crisis point that only immediate and large-scale interventions can save huge parts of the sector, with substantial cuts to VAT, an extension of business rates relief and a meaningful energy price freeze for small and medium enterprise businesses. On Friday (23 September), we need a concise and detailed plan from the government on how it will support businesses through this crisis, nothing less than this is acceptable.”

Chesser – it is imperative we receive urgent and complete clarity on business price cap for energy: Clive Chesser, chief executive of Punch Pubs & Co, has said it is imperative the sector receives “urgent and complete clarity this week” from the government on a business price cap for energy as many business owners currently “cannot see a way through this winter”. Chesser said: “The energy price guarantee for all businesses announced by Liz Truss was a welcome first step at a time of existential crisis for the hospitality sector. We applaud this quick and bold intervention by the new government. The prime minister stated the ‘hospitality industry is absolutely vital to the UK’, and she is absolutely right. However, we are still lacking any details on the specifics of the business price cap. It is imperative we receive urgent and complete clarity this week. Many business owners cannot see a way through this winter. We must also remember while an energy price cap will help to ease some of the specific challenges over the next six months, this crisis is combined with other extreme cost increases and dramatically reduced consumer confidence and spending power, meaning further support is needed if it is to be truly effective in preventing closures and unimaginable job losses. The pressure on businesses, both large and small, remains unrelenting. We remain keen to continue to work closely with the government, and in playing our role in helping to deliver the levelling-up agenda across Great Britain. We urge the prime minister to use the forthcoming three-month review period to deliver a wider package of investment in the form of an immediate cut in VAT of at least 10% (for all products) as well as a business rates holiday for all hospitality premises. A strong and sustainable economic recovery rests on the foundations of a robust and reinvigorated hospitality sector.”

Tourism and recreation sector sees fastest fall in demand as consumers rein in spending: The tourism and recreation sector, which includes pubs and restaurants, saw the fastest fall in demand in August, as consumers continued to rein in discretionary spending. The industry posted a reading of 38.0 on the Lloyds Bank UK Sector Tracker input cost index versus 42.3 in July. A reading above 50 on the tracker indicates expansion on an index, while a reading below 50 indicates contraction. Of the 14 sectors monitored by the tracker, 11 saw demand, as represented by new orders, fall – one more than in July and the highest number since June 2020. Elsewhere, the tracker showed slower rises in material and logistics costs helped bring overall input cost inflation down to its slowest pace since September 2021 (76.6 versus 78.4 in July). However, reports of energy and salary cost inflation remained close to record highs. In addition, supply constraints continued to ease in August with companies reporting supplier shipping delays falling to their lowest level since October 2020. Scott Barton, managing director of Lloyds Bank corporate and institutional banking, said: “The cost of doing business remains extremely high, and firms continue to face into a significant period of uncertainty.”

British Institute of Innkeeping launches the #notjustapub campaign ahead of mini-Budget: The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) has launched its #notjustapub campaign ahead of Friday’s (23 September) mini-Budget. It is calling on pubs and customers across the UK to write to their MP, asking them to raise the urgent need for wide ranging support for pubs with the chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng. Prime minister Liz Truss announced emergency support for businesses with the six-month energy price guarantee on 8 September, but the passing of Queen Elizabeth II has delayed further communication on the full detail of the support measures to be put in place. The BII said pubs need urgent clarity around the impact these measures will have on their businesses, as they face an uncertain winter of huge inflationary pressures and escalating energy costs, alongside chronic staff shortages and reduced spend in their venues. Chief executive Steve Alton said: “Our members, running vital social hubs at the heart of their communities, have weathered nearly two and a half years of closures and disruption through the pandemic and beyond. They are essential businesses, providing safe spaces for people to come together to celebrate, commiserate and connect with friends and family. In 2022, they are now facing an even bigger threat to their survival, with unprecedented energy costs and inflationary pressures crippling their businesses. Without the support and investment needed from government, we stand to lose something incredibly special and unique – our great British pubs.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a leisure hospitality group that is looking for a managing director. The company has a number of businesses and will be rapidly expanding across the UK. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “As managing director, you will oversee all of the properties within the group; launch all the new sites across the country; help in the overall business strategy for the group; work on financial, marketing and all business-related aspects; and ensure the management teams are properly supported to fulfil their roles.” The salary is up to £150,000 and the position is based in the north west. For more information, email 

Licensing update: John Gaunt & Partners licensing solicitors has published its latest licensing update providing a useful monthly summary of licensing news. Much of this month's recent news items have been dominated by arrangements for the royal funeral, but there are also articles relating to the appointment of a new chair for the Food and Drink Sector Council, an article about investigation and enforcement action taken by the Security Industry Authority, along with an article reporting on a government consultation around the creation of a criminal offence of public sexual harassment. The full update can be accessed here.

Company News:

Big Table Group restructures to ensure greater focus on brand performance: Big Table Group, the Epiris-backed operator of Café Rouge, Bella Italia and Las Iguanas, has restructured its business to ensure greater focus on brand performance, Propel has learned. As a result, Alan Morgan, who will continue as chief executive, has also taken the role of managing director of Las Iguanas, with Lisa Gibbons appointed as managing director of a portfolio of brands including Café Rouge, Amalfi, Center Parcs concessions and Big Table Group’s franchised business. The group is currently recruiting for a managing director for Bella Italia. Morgan said: “Our priority to date has been to develop best practice in the back end of the business, and we now have the necessary systems and processes in place across the group. This change allows us to focus on being more brand-centric, and work in a way that better addresses the needs of our restaurants and guests, allowing our teams to dedicate all of their time, energy and resource to a specific brand and take the guest experience at each site to the next level. When I became chief executive in 2021, we identified three main avenues for growth: Improving our core business by doing the basics better, investing in and opening new sites in our existing estate, and adding additional brands to our portfolio through new creation and acquisition. Building on the solid foundations that we have put in place over the last 15 months, we’re confident this restructure will maximise our opportunities for continued growth in all three areas.” As part of the restructure, the business has created new chief operating officer and HR director roles within Las Iguanas and Bella Italia. Matt Stansbury has been promoted to chief operating officer, Las Iguanas, while Angela Da Silva has been promoted to HR director, Las Iguanas. At Bella Italia, Lloyd Bloom becomes chief operating officer, and Hayley Moosa, formerly of Prezzo, has been appointed as HR director. Earlier this month, Propel revealed Steve Worrall had stepped down as chief operating officer for Café Rouge and Las Iguanas to join Punch Pubs & Co, the Fortress Investment Group business, as its new business development director.

Bourne Leisure owners buy back Butlin’s for £300m: Holiday park chain Butlin’s has been sold for £300m to the family that co-founded one of Britain's largest leisure resort companies. Private equity firm Blackstone has agreed the deal with the Harris family, which jointly established Bourne Leisure, the parent company of Butlin’s, Haven Holidays and Warner Leisure Hotels, in 1964. Blackstone acquired Butlin’s from the founding Harris, Cook and Allen families for £3bn in January 2021. The families co-invested alongside Blackstone and together hold a minority stake in the business, but the Harris family has now taken back control of Butlin’s under a newly formed company. Bourne Leisure will continue to operate its two heritage brands, Haven and Warner Leisure Hotels. Lionel Assant, European head of private equity at Blackstone, said: “Staying true to our high-conviction investment approach, we believe we are well positioned to drive the continued success of both the Haven and Warner businesses. Proceeds from the Butlin’s sale will enable us to continue delivering our ambitious investment programmes across both brands, supporting upgrades to the existing estates and adding new sites to the portfolio, to the benefit of millions of customers. Butlin’s is in a strong position to take advantage of the continued growth in the staycation market, and I have no doubt it will continue to flourish.” Paul Harris, on behalf of the Harris Family Trusts, said: “We are delighted to reaffirm our love for Butlin’s and once again be the new owners of this great brand. We look forward to working alongside the Butlin’s leadership team as it strives to deliver its strategic plan for the business and help it accelerate its investment plans to give our Butlin’s guests an even better holiday experience.” 

Immersive social experience concept Sandbox VR plans Birmingham opening: Immersive social experience concept Sandbox VR, which made its debut in the UK earlier this summer, is planning a new opening in Birmingham. Propel understands the concept, which launched in London in July, in The Post Building in Museum Street, Holborn, is planning to open a site in the Grand Central shopping centre in Birmingham. Since it was launched in Hong Kong in 2017, the concept is now live in 20 locations and five countries around the world. It aims to be an immersive social experience through a combination of full-body motion capture and VR technologies. It allows players to step into another world and go anywhere with their friends. Founded by Steve Zhao, the San Francisco and Hong Kong-headquartered company raised $37m in a Series B fundraising round last autumn to aid its further expansion. It is opening in the UK under a franchise deal with the Andy Scanlon-led VR Entertainment Group, which is looking to roll the concept out to other major UK cities following its London launch. It is thought openings in Manchester and Dublin are currently under consideration. The site in central London became the first Sandbox VR venue in Europe and features the first “permanent robotic bartender” in the UK.

Simmons secures former Mayfair pub for 25th site: Simmons Bars, the London cocktail bar operator, is set to grow its estate in the capital to 25 sites, after securing a site in Mayfair, Propel has learned. Simmons Bars, which is backed by Lonsdale Capital Partners, has secured the ex-The Woodstock pub near Bond Street station, with an opening planned for the end of next month. It will also open on the ex-Parkers site in Kingsway, Holborn, on Thursday, 17 November, and also has a few more sites in the pipeline for later this year and early 2023. In July, founder Nick Campbell told Propel the past couple of years has been transformational for the business, with sales now more than double those seen in 2019. The company has opened eight sites in London since the end of lockdown, the latest two being on the former Pillars of Hercules pub in Soho, and the ex-@Bar site in Clapham High Street and plans on opening another ten-15 in the capital over the next couple of years. Campbell said the company was “still very much on the expansion trail”. He said: “We are continuing to focus on London as we see plenty more opportunities there, but with one eye on regional expansion in key cities such as Manchester and Birmingham in the not-too-distant future. We not only made it through one of the most challenging environments the hospitality industry will ever see, but we came out the other side so much stronger. We are now looking to go from strength to strength and build on the huge momentum we’ve created.” 

JKS plans Shoreditch launch for Hoppers: JKS Restaurants, led by Karam, Jyotin and Sunaina Sethi, is planning a launch in London’s Shoreditch for its Sri Lankan brand Hoppers, Propel has learned. JKS, which currently operates three sites in the capital under Hoppers – in Soho, King’s Cross and Marylebone – is believed to have lined up a new opening at Montacute Yards, in Shoreditch High Street. Earlier this year, Jyotin Sethi told Propel the company hoped to open a fourth Hoppers before the end of 2022 or at the start of 2023. Propel revealed last month that JKS was planning to open a new venture in Mayfair, on the former Momo restaurant site. 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.

Ole & Steen lines up Greenwich and Kingston openings: Danish baker Ole & Steen is set to further add to its openings pipeline, with sites in Greenwich and Kingston. Propel understands the 21-strong business has lined up the ex-Accessorize site in Church Street, Kingston upon Thames, for an opening. The company is also thought to be planning to open in Crescent Arcade, Greenwich. Earlier this month, Propel revealed Ole & Steen, which earlier this summer opened its second regional site, in Windsor, is set to take on the former Barclays bank at 10 High Street, Marlow. The business, which is believed to be eyeing openings in Guildford (ex-Ted Baker unit) and in Henley-on-Thames (ex-Superdrug unit), is also thought to be in talks on sites in London’s Blackheath and St Paul’s.

Boparan Restaurant Group secures first Slim Chickens franchise partner in Ireland, brand to make debut in country next month: Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) has secured its first Slim Chickens franchise partner in Ireland. An established hospitality franchisee and one of Starbucks' longest licensed partners, OCO West End, will open Slim Chickens’ 30th site, and first in Ireland, in Belfast’s Boucher Square on Tuesday, 11 October. The new 2,800 square-foot, 74-cover restaurant will offer Slim Chickens’ signature buttermilk-marinated, hand-breaded tenders and 14 house-made sauces alongside freshly prepared salads, sandwiches, buffalo wings, wraps, waffles and various sides. As well as in-restaurant dining, it will offer click-and-collect, takeaway and delivery, with diners able to take advantage of various weekly-changing offers on the Slim Chickens app. Satnam Leihal, chief executive at BRG, said: “Slim Chickens is a highly scalable brand and we are delighted to have secured an experienced operator that gives us a foothold in Ireland. We have ambitious plans to open more sites in Belfast and look forward to working with OCO West End to bring Slim Chickens’ unique Southern hospitality to Ireland.” BRG plans to be operating 350 restaurants in Britain under the US brand in the next few years. 

Former Marston’s MD joins SA Brain as non-executive director: Former Marston’s managing director Richard Westwood has joined Welsh brewer and retailer SA Brain in a newly created non-executive director role. Westwood recently retired from the Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company after 47 years with the business, moving to an advisory role on its board. He joins chairman Andrew Winning, chief executive Jon Bridge and fellow non-executive director Tim Cooke as they bid to deliver the brand’s growth plans. Winning said: “I am delighted to announce Richard Westwood’s appointment strengthens our board team even further, with his unparalleled 47 years of brewing knowledge and his understanding of the industry.” Westwood added: “I am proud to be associated with the heritage of the Brains brewery and look forward to supporting it on its growth journey. The quality of its beer, the passion of its team and the vision of its future is incredibly exciting.” 

Celebrity chef Glyn Purnell to open new tapas concept in Birmingham: Celebrity chef Glyn Purnell is set to open a new tapas concept called Plates by Purnell's in Birmingham city centre. The new site will open in Edmund Street, round the corner from the chef’s Michelin star-winning Purnell’s restaurant. Purnell said on Instagram: “We have just signed the lease for 121 Edmund Street, just around the corner from Purnell's. It will become a small tapas style bar serving small plates, great wine and cocktails. And as the old saying goes...good things come in small packages!” In March, the chef opened The Mount by Glynn Purnell in Henley-in-Arden. Purnell is also set to open a fine dining restaurant in the historic Coventry Charterhouse, off London Road in Coventry.

Korean street food concept Bunsik to open third site next month: Korean street food concept Bunsik, which operates two sites in London, will open its third outlet, and first north of the Thames, next month. The concept, which made its debut last summer in Charing Cross Road, doubled up by opening in the former Herman ze German site in Villiers Street in March. It has now secured a site in Camden High Street, which will open in early October, serving Bunsik’s range of corn dogs alongside exclusive additions, including bubble tea. 

North American comfort food concept Brewski plans Sheffield opening: North American comfort food outlet Brewski plans to open a first site in Yorkshire under its eponymous brand. The business, which is led by James Daly and Steven Stockton-King, is understood to have applied to open on the former OHM Food Yard site in West One Plaza. Earlier this year, the company announced it was to replace The Edinburgh Woollen Mill site in Chester's Eastgate Street, which has been closed since 2020. Last year, Brewski opened Chicago-style pizza restaurant American Pies MCR in Manchester’s Mosley Street. The company opened its debut Brewski, in Chorlton, in 2016.

Livelyhood, Cheeky Chicos and Kokoro open sites at Elephant Park scheme: Independent south London pub group Livelyhood, owned by Sarah Wall, is among a trio of operators to have opened sites at the Elephant Park development. The company has launched The Rosy Hue in the destination’s lifestyle hub, Ash Avenue. Taking its name from the rosy-cheeked patrons of “Penny Gaffs”, a type of theatre Elephant & Castle was once famous for, the 3,100 square-foot space has a heated covered terrace for external drinking and dining, with space for up to 150 seated pub-goers. It has been joined by a fourth site for Mexican fusion restaurant and bar, Cheeky Chicos. The 1,900 square-foot restaurant caters to 75 diners internally, with outdoor space for up to 20 guests. Its menu blends Mexican-inspired food including tacos, quesadillas, and nachos, with a signature selection of cocktails such as margaritas and frozen pina coladas. Sushi and bento brand Kokoro has also opened in Ash Avenue within a 1,000 square-foot space for its first central London location. The business operates almost 60 sites. The £2.5bn Elephant Park regeneration project is being spearheaded by Lendlease and Southwark Council.

Suffolk hotel group returns to profit: Suffolk hotel group Review Hotels, which operates the Bedford Lodge and Rutland Arms in Newmarket, returned to profit in 2022. The group reported a £261,515 profit for the year ending 31 March 2022, compared with a £268,013 loss in 2021. In 2019 – the last year before the pandemic – it made a loss of £351,859. Turnover was £5,507,692, up from £1,242,259 in 2021, but down on £7,214,627 in the last year pre-pandemic. However, The Rutland Arms has been shut since December 2019, with an £8m renovation project having been put on hold for two years. While The Rutland Arms has been closed for the entire trading period, The Bedford Lodge has “traded positively” since reopening, with 54.6% room occupancy (2021: 10%). The company said: “Prior to the pandemic, a ‘normal’ trading year would usually see turnover in excess of £7m. Following a difficult couple of trading years, the directors feel they have done everything possible to mitigate the impact on the business and are pleased to be able to report a profit for the current period.” The company received £141,394 in government grants, compared with £1,149,323 in 2021, while a loan due to the parent company of £20m is repayable on demand. The company added: “Fairacres Group, the group holding company, considers the business as a long-term part of its future strategy and will not seek repayment of its loan in the foreseeable future. The directors are confident there remains consumer demand that will result in continued positive trading. While occupancy is not at its pre-pandemic levels, the directors are pleased with the levels recorded at Bedford Lodge in the current year.”

Former Aqua Kyoto and Novikov executive chef heads up new London Japanese restaurant: Paul Greening, former executive chef at Aqua Kyoto and Novikov, is heading up the offering at a new Japanese restaurant in London. Greening, who also last year joined Burger & Lobster as executive development chef, is in charge of the kitchen at Rika Moon, which has opened at 120 Kensington Park Road in Notting Hill. The family-run fusion restaurant has been founded by Mahsa Salehnazhad, with Greening as executive chef and Camille Lemmery as general manager. The menu pairs sophisticated Japanese cuisine with fresh, locally sourced ingredients and “creative cocktails”. Dishes include wagyu tataki with crispy shallots, beer mustard daikon, Japanese chive and brown butter yuzu truffle sauce; and Chilean seabass with garlic, ginger dashi and sea vegetables. Guests can also choose the omakase, with a variety of plates selected by the chef. Built across two floors, the restaurant features a private dining room for two, a sushi counter, a bar and a “disco loo”, with pumping music and flashing lights at the push of a button. Salehnazhad said: “Opening my first hospitality venture, particularly in such a vibrant and creative area, is a dream come true. Rika Moon is the physical expression of my passion for design and food, a vision brought to life through partnerships with some of the best in the business. At its core Rika Moon is a welcoming space serving premium cuisine utilising the highest quality ingredients.”

Award-winning bartending duo Joe and Daniel Schofield open new concept at Manchester’s Stock Exchange hotel: Award-winning bartending duo Joe and Daniel Schofield and wine expert James Brandwood have open a new cocktail bar at Manchester’s Stock Exchange hotel. The new venture, called Sterling, has taken over the lower ground floor, previously known as The Vault, at the Gary Neville-owned hotel. As reported by Propel in May, Sterling is spread over a 2,400 square-foot space and has a capacity of just over 100 covers. It is a third bar in Manchester for the Schofields, who already operate Schofield’s Bar and Atomeca in the city. They will be joined by Paola Mariotti as general manager, who has worked in five-star hotels including The Beaufort Bar at the Savoy and The Blue Bar at The Berkeley in London. Joe Schofield said: “We have been planning this new bar for a long time. Stock Exchange is a particularly meaningful venue for us as our mother used to work here. As we continue to evolve our operations in Manchester, it’s warming to have a connection to the past, as that very much reflects our approach to our offering.” Brandwood’s cocktail offering will include “an elegant and discerning list of classics”, as well as some of the Schofield brothers’ own creations. The bar snack menu will be developed by Lush by Tom Kerridge, the two-Michelin starred chef responsible for the Bull & Bear restaurant in the former trading floor of The Stock Exchange. His menu will include truffle cheese cougeres, whipped taramasalata and squid ink tapioca cracker.

LPM Restaurant & Bar appoints group executive chef: LPM Restaurant & Bar – which opened its first site in London in 2007 before adding restaurants in Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi, Miami, Riyadh and Dubai – has appointed Adriano Cattaneo as group executive chef. Based in Dubai and responsible for the entire culinary program of the group, Cattaneo said he does not plan to make drastic changes to the core menu, but will add new dishes that will seasonally change throughout the year. Cattaneo has 18 years of experience as a chef, including stints at multiple Michelin-starred restaurants such as Epicure, Le Meurice, L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, and Nomicos. Nicolas Budzynski, group operations director of LPM, said: “We can’t wait to see Adriano consistently evolve the menu while ensuring we stay true to the LPM concept – simple, and tasty food, freshly made to order, and unique to us.”

Lollipop opens new duck and champagne concept in Chelsea: Immersive hospitality group Lollipop has opened a new duck and champagne concept in Chelsea. The group, founded by Sebastian Lyall, has opened Duck + Champagne, a restaurant serving a menu of duck dishes from around the world accompanied by a list of champagne from small independent growers. It has opened in the Chelsea Funhouse, formerly the landmark World’s End pub in the King’s Road, reports Hardens. The menu runs from duck charcuterie and bao buns to confit duck cassoulet, pulled duck burgers, Vietnamese duck salad and duck shawarma, plus vegan options and sides. Steve Huggett and Claire Hodgson have been bought in from The Duck Shed to deliver the concept. Lollipop took over the three-storey former pub four years ago and converted it into the Chelsea Funhouse, which also features Second World War-themed cocktail bar The Bletchley and first-floor bar Chelsea Black. It also has venues in Shoreditch and Hackney.

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