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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 5th Oct 2022 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Restaurant Marketer & Innovator Awards open for entries: The Restaurant Marketer & Innovator Awards are open for entries. The awards, in their fifth year, recognise outstanding marketing and innovation in the sector and the closing date to enter is 11.59pm on Tuesday, 1 November. Awards are open to restaurant, bar and foodservice outlets. There are 12 categories – Best Communications; Best New Product Development; Best New Website; Best New/Improved Visual Identity; Best Digital Engagement; Best Use of Technology; Best Community or Charitable Initiative; Innovation of the Year; Campaign of the Year; Marketer of the Year; Innovator of the Year; and Future Marketing Leader of the Year. To recognise the important relationship between agencies and their food service clients, the awards will recognise both the operator and all agencies involved in the delivery of campaigns and projects. Past winners have recognised more than 50 brands and agencies including Wagamama, Gail’s Bakery, YO!, Grind, Rick Stein, Searcys, Boxpark, Greggs and The Breakfast Club. Finalists will be invited to an awards ceremony on Wednesday, 25 January, in London. The awards will be delivered alongside the Restaurant Marketer & Innovator Summit. Awards co-founder James Hacon said: “As the sector faces unprecedented trading challenges, we are seeing leaders having to adapt in new and very different ways, whether that be making fundamental changes to operating models, adopting an omni-channel approach or repositioning brands. Marketing, strategy and innovation roles are becoming increasingly important to the leadership mix. These awards continue recognising the success of brilliant brands, talented teams and individuals.” Propel managing director Paul Charity added: “We launched this event five years ago and have had thousands of people from across Europe attend the various segments. The awards recognise the very best within the spheres of foodservice marketing and innovation.” More details will be announced soon. Categories, entry information and judges can be found by clicking here

Industry News:

Big Fang Collective founders to speak at final Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2022, three free places per company for operators: Big Fang Collective founders Kip Piper and Daniel Bolger 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”. Piper and Bolger talk about taking their Golf Fang brand national, and how they continue to make sure the Imbiba-backed business remains cutting edge. Operators can book up to three free places per company by emailing

Two days to go before next edition of The New Openings Database released, shows details on 268 new sites, 14,500-word report included: The next edition of The New Openings Database will show the details of 268 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches for Premium subscribers when it is published on Friday (7 October), at midday, including 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, and there will also be a website link to the businesses. The database is published on a monthly basis, and the next edition features expanding restaurant and café operators, niche cuisine, and new experiential concepts. Premium subscribers will also receive a 14,500-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to three other databases: the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate, the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group, and the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel group editor Mark Wingett.

Video series launches to help operators harness technology to drive their business forwards, Wireless Social to feature: In a new series of Propel videos, leading suppliers explain how operators can harness their technology to drive their businesses forward. In the third video, Julian Ross, chief executive of Wi-Fi solutions provider Wireless Social, speaks to Libby Andrews, marketing director of Caribbean restaurant brand Turtle Bay; Joel Robinson, digital and technology director at Azzurri Group; and David Campbell, formerly of Wagamama, The Ivy Collection, Bill’s and PizzaExpress, about their experience with technology. They look at how technology has changed hospitality and how it can be improved, what makes a good technology partner and their favourite technology in hospitality at the minute. The video will be sent at 9am today (Wednesday, 5 October).

Starbucks settles first legal complaint with union: Starbucks has settled its first National Labor Relations Board complaint with unionised workers – the first of 20-plus legal complaints currently being considered – concluding with an agreement between the company and the New York City Roastery. The initial complaint cited unfair labour practices – including retaliatory actions against union leaders – and according to SBWorkers United, the legal settlement requires Starbucks to remove “certain unwarranted disciplinary actions from employee records” and post the notice of the settlement in the roastery’s staff room for at least 60 days. However, the settlement does stipulate it “does not constitute an admission [by Starbucks] of wrongdoing, liability or violation of law”. The roastery, which has been unionised since April, is one of 245 Starbucks stores nationally that have voted to unionise. The settlement came on the same day Starbucks released an update to its family benefits for non-unionised employees. The Family Expansion Reimbursement Programme helps employees looking to expand their families through surrogacy or adoption, and reimbursement of related expenses have now increased from $30,000 to $40,000 maximum, among other updates. Meanwhile, SBWorkers United has published its requests for unionised workers’ rotas and dress codes, which will be addressed in negotiations that have only recently begun. It requests Starbucks requires no dress code other than the green apron and clothing that follows “local, state and federal health and safety standards”, and will provide or reimburse employees for “two pairs of non-slip shoes per year.” The second proposal requires a written explanation from Starbucks if a request to pick up or switch a shift is denied and allows for the temporary transfers of staff between stores.

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a venue group seeking an experienced head of sales. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “This will be a multi-site role with a focus on large group bookings and private events. The business is looking for a real self-starter confident working independently and with a huge passion for hospitality. Some key responsibilities will be to develop innovative, effective and creative sales strategies, drive large group bookings and private hire sales, proactively identify sales opportunities and build and maintain client and customer relationships.” The salary is up to £60,000 and the position is based in London. For more information, email

Company News:

Currie – London has been really good for Greggs, walk-in transactions growing as customer behaviour normalises: Greggs chief executive Roisin Currie has said London had been “really good” for the business, with the group able to open key sites in areas where rents had previously been unaffordable. Greggs, which earlier this summer opened a flagship site in Leicester Square, this week opened a new travel hub location, in Tottenham Hale, and is soon set to open a second Canary Wharf site as the first has “traded so well”. Speaking following the company’s third-quarter trading update, Currie said: “We’re making good progress in London. We have been taking advantage where rents have not been affordable to get key sites which are trading really well. London is interesting as it’s one of those cities that even when it’s quiet, the footfall is really busy. Customers aren’t just people going to work, they’re people travelling for leisure reasons too. The long trading hours work really well and the amount of footfall we can capture in these key locations is really important. So far, London has been really positive, but it’s making sure we can get in at a rent level that works for our offering, so we can continue to offer that value. We entered that market because of the lower rents, and therefore we continue to look at where those locations right for us are.” Currie also said trading results have been boosted by a growth in walk-in transactions, as customers work back towards pre-pandemic behaviour. ‘We’re still not got back to the behaviour we had pre-pandemic, but it is continuing to normalise, and we’ve seen that in continued transaction growth,” she said. “We believe the customers on the go we lost during the pandemic are now out and about more as our footfall numbers track above the springboard numbers in the market, which we think is those snacking customers back out and about.” Currie went on to say that drive-thrus are an area – along with retail parks and travel locations – where Greggs is “working hard to get more up and running”, with another recently opened in Durham. On price rises – with Greggs’ sausage rolls having gone up 10p, on average, to £1.15 – Currie said: “We absolutely want to retain our value price leadership in the market. Even when we put small price rises through, we work really hard to make sure customers still get value from us.” Currie also believes the cost-of-living crisis can help encourage new customers, or more frequent visits from existing ones, and is “dialling up” its value message by pushing its loyalty app, which research shows drives more frequency from users. She added that recruitment had “strengthened” this year due to a profit share scheme which paid out an average £800 to employees in March, a 50% staff discount, weekly pay and shortened hiring times. Julie Palmer, a partner at Begbies Traynor, said Greggs’ trading update suggested it could be a “scarce winner” during the cost-of-living crisis “as customers seek to trade down to the more affordable menu in these difficult times”.

BrewDog reports like-for-like sales growth across bar division ‘ahead of the market’: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has said it has seen like-for-like sales growth “ahead of the market” across its bar estate so far this year. The company said its new 26,000 square-foot flagship site in London’s Waterloo, which opened in August, is trading “well ahead of even our expectations”. It comes as the company reported turnover in its bar division increased to £36,925,000 for the year ending 31 December 2021 compared with £25,206,0000 the previous year. However, due to the impact of covid revenue, it remained below the £47,086,000 reported in 2019 – the last full year before the pandemic. Pre-tax losses narrowed to £7,039,000 from £10,479,000 the year before (2019: pre-tax loss of £653,000). Retail managing director James Brown told Propel: “2021 saw strong growth across our retail estate, despite the continued impact of ongoing covid restrictions. This year, we have continued that positive trend, with like-for-like sales growth across our retail estate ahead of market. That said, we are not immune from the major input cost pressures in common with the wider sector, so we continue to explore ways to maintain profitability and make sure we are running the division as efficiently as we can. More importantly, in 2022, we have made some very significant wider strategic progress, we have signed franchise agreements in India, Australia and USA. Despite the continued challenging market, we have opened a number of new flagship sites, notably Waterloo, which is trading well ahead of even our expectations. Major new locations are on schedule in Atlanta, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney to open before the end of this year, while our most ambitious project yet, Las Vegas, is set for launch in November.”

Asian street food concept Chi plans to reach 20 sites by 2025, set to make London debut: Asian street food concept Chi has set out a goal to grow to 20 sites by 2025, as it gears up to make its debut in London, Propel has learned. The concept, which is the brainchild of Aidan Tjinakiet and Lamen Reddy, recently opened its seventh site, on the ground floor of The Beacon scheme in Bournemouth. The company currently operates three sites under its larger restaurant format in Bournemouth, Huntingdon and Rushden Lakes. It also operates four sites under its smaller grab-and-go format in Basingstoke, Cambridge, Norwich and Watford. Propel understands that it has lined up a debut site in the capital, in New Oxford Street, to open under the restaurant format. The business is working with Bruce Gillingham Pollard to find sites between 1,000-1,750 square feet for its smaller format, and between 3,000-4,000 square feet for its larger restaurant concept. Chi was launched at The Grafton shopping centre in Cambridge in March 2019, with a second site opening at Intu Watford in December of that year. Reddy said: “We started Chi as a street food concept in Cambridge, then decided to elevate that idea to a new full table service restaurant that offers a range of pan-Asian dishes from Japanese to Korean.” The concept offers “Asian street food with a modern twist served on a base of bao, banh mi, noodles or rice with a wide range of snacks and sides”.

Fat Hippo sets out growth plans, including Soho site, not seen “any major shift in spending as yet”: Better burger brand Fat Hippo, which will open its debut London site next week, plans to open a further six locations across the UK in the next 12 months, including a second in the capital, and said it hasn’t “seen any major shift in spending as yet”. The company, which was founded in 2010 by Michael Phillips, will open its debut London restaurant on Great Eastern Street in Shoreditch on 14 October, taking its portfolio to 15 sites. The new 3,000 square-foot, 108-cover restaurant will offer burgers starting from £11.90. There’s also regular weekday offers such as the ‘Fast Hippo’ burgers and fries lunch for £8, and ‘Hippo Hour’ – two courses for £16 and three courses for £18.50 (5-6pm). In line with the company’s expansion plans, Fat Hippo said it will be opening a second restaurant in London early next year, which Propel can reveal will be in Wardour Street, Soho. It will also open in York, occupying the former Jimmy’s site in Low Petergate. Those two openings are expected to create around 70 new jobs. The brand plans to open a further six locations over the next 12 months, which will create an additional 160 jobs, taking the number of employees across the group over 600. Phillips said: “We are on an ambitious growth path and are delighted to be bringing our patties to London for the first time. We’re being very selective in terms of the cities we’re considering for our new restaurants, and are only looking at vibrant, dynamic locations that fit with our brand aspirations. The lively and creative district of Shoreditch is the perfect fit.” In terms of current trading, Phillips told Propel: “We're finding that it’s keeping pace with last year’s trade. It varies a little from city to city, with some outperforming last year by up to 10%. Likewise, we have a few sites trading down slightly, but it's fairly marginal. We certainly haven’t seen any major shift in spending as yet.”

Black Sheep Coffee secures debut US site: Speciality coffee shop operator Black Sheep Coffee has secured its first site in the US, in Texas, Propel has learned. The company, which last year received investment from NBA basketball player Kristaps Porzingis as it looks to break into the North American market, will open a site at 6240 E Mockingbird Lane in Dallas. Propel understands that the site, which is expected to open before the end of the year, will be both a “drive-thru” and “drive-to” location. Co-founder Gabriel Shohet told Propel that the site will “serve our full range, with a few exciting tweaks for the US market”. Propel revealed in April that Black Sheep plans to open 15 sites in the US in its initial launch phase in the country and had selected Texas as its entry point. It is thought to have lined up a further site in Dallas and two in Austin. The business currently operates 68 sites, with its latest opening in Liverpool this week. It plans to have 82 open by the end of the year, with sites in Leeds, Guildford, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Chester, plus several in London, in its pipeline.

Pizza Hut UK & Europe appoints new CFO and CBO: Pizza Hut UK & Europe has strengthened its management team with the appointments of Kate Vacovec as chief financial officer and Pippa Prain as chief brand officer, Propel has learned. The changes come as Neil Manhas moves from chief financial officer to become vice president of finance at Taco Bell. Vacovec, who has been with parent company Yum! Brands for five years, moves from Pizza Hut’s global finance team while Prain joins the business from Foodstuffs New Zealand, where she was head of brand and creative for four and a half years. Last November, Pizza Hut named Nicolas Burquier as its new managing director for Europe and Canada. Burquier, who joined Yum! in 2005, took up his new role in January.

The Wolseley Hospitality Group appoints Janene Pretorius as director of people, talent, and culture: The Wolseley Hospitality Group has appointed Janene Pretorius as director of people, talent, and culture. Pretorius joins from The Ivy Collection, where Propel reported last month she had stepped down as chief people officer after more than five and a half years. Her previous positions include HR director at Prezzo and head of staff training and development at Gaucho. Pretorius will join The Wolseley Hospitality Group on Monday, 7 November, where she will be a member of the executive team and oversee the department that includes HR, recruitment, and retention. Baton Berisha, chief executive of The Wolseley Hospitality Group, said: “Janene and I worked together for several years at The Ivy Collection, where she held the role of chief people officer. Her incredible experience will be a huge asset to the group, and this is a very important appointment for us as we enter our next stage of growth.”

Vegan fast food concept Hank’s Dirty to open two new sites, links up with Snug Bars: Fledgling vegan fast food concept Hank’s Dirty is to open two new sites later this month, including a link up with Snug Bars, the seven-strong group of neighbourhood-style bars and kitchens, Propel has learned. Hank’s Dirty, which is the brainchild of Geoff Bligh and Philip Rivers, will open its fourth standalone site on the top floor of the Castle Quarter, in Norwich. It will follow that up by partnering with Snug Bars, at the bar group’s site in St Albans. The first branch of Hank’s Dirty, which serves vegan burgers, fried ‘chicken’ and wings, opened in Ipswich in 2019, and further openings have followed in Felixstowe and Colchester.

Malhotra Group reports strong recovery in demand across leisure sites: North east pub, restaurant and hotel operator Malhotra Group has reported a strong recovery in demand across its leisure sites as the business builds back from the pandemic. The family-run company, which also operates in the property and care home sectors, saw turnover in in its leisure division increase to £8.8m for the year ending 31 March 2022 (2021: £1.0m) with Ebitda up to £1.8m (2021: minus £0.8m). During the year, the company refinanced its leisure operations with a new £18.5m facility from HSBC, which allowed it to repay a series of existing lenders. This has allowed the group to reorganise its leisure operations, and these are now all carried out by Malhotra Leisure. The company stated: “Besides its current operational leisure assets, work continues on the development of a number of new projects, including a major redevelopment of property in Grey Street, Cloth Market and Mosley Street in Newcastle, which will be combined into a single scheme; the redevelopment of the Sandpiper at Cullercoats into a mixed commercial and residential scheme, and in Pilgrim Street, Newcastle, to create a 25-apartment aparthotel with three drinking establishments and a rooftop restaurant.” Group turnover for the year increased 34% to £41.3m (2021: £30.9m), while Ebitda was up 47% to £13.4m (2021: £9.1m). Operating profit increased 38% to £8.3m (2021: £6.0m). Chief executive Bunty Malhotra said: “Two of the sectors in which we operate were hardest by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns; care and hospitality. Our performance in the year when covid restrictions were ended but continued to impact our business is down to several factors; our highly experienced management team, the diversity of our assets and our continued investment in quality across all of our business segments. The headwinds we are facing will undoubtedly impact on our profitability for next year, but our resilience, strong balance sheet and ability to generate cash across our group mean we are able to navigate these challenges but are not immune to them.”

Robin Gill to open second Maria G’s site with Fulham launch: Chef entrepreneur Robin Gill is opening a second site for his southern Italian-inspired concept, Maria G’s. Having launched the concept in Kensington, west London, this summer, Gill and executive chef Aaron Potter, in partnership with Pete Warden of LXA Hospitality, will open a site in nearby Fulham. The site, on the ground floor of a new residential development in Central Avenue, will open on Tuesday, 8 November, featuring a 45-cover outdoor terrace with retractable roof overlooking the River Thames. Gill and Potter have created a substantially new menu for Maria G’s Fulham, but with a dedicated raw bar and a big focus on seafood. There will also be a selection of pasta dishes to share. Gill said: “The plan was always to open two Maria G’s restaurants, each with a unique identity. The reaction we’ve had for Kensington has been wonderful, and now I’m thrilled to share the new seafood-focussed menu we’ve created for Fulham – and the riverside setting of the new restaurant is incredible.”

Clays to begin expansion with Canary Wharf opening: Clays, the indoor virtual clay pigeon shooting experience, will open a second site this December, in London’s Canary Wharf. Following on from the brand’s Moorgate venue, it will open a site West India Quay, where players can choose from a collection of five interactive games to play within their dedicated, semi-private ‘peg’. The new Clays will be home to eight ‘pegs’ as well as a bar area, private room, heated outdoor drinking and dining space and treehouse-style DJ booth. Clays founder Tom Snellock said: “We are incredibly excited about opening Clays in Canary Wharf this December. After an incredibly positive and supportive response to our venue in Moorgate in our first year, we are delighted to bring the concept to such a vibrant part of the city. Clays is a completely unique concept within the competitive socialising arena, and we’ve really focused on creating an overall experience that will blow guests away time and time again. Not only by our games and tech, but our drink and food offer, as well as our spectacular interiors. We cannot wait to open Canary Wharf later this year and look forward to welcoming returning and new guests to Clays.” Snellock told Propel earlier this year that the company was looking at further expansion in the capital and overseas, and it had signed the IP on its hardware and game for the US, Canada, Europe, China, Japan and Australia. The business secured £3m of funding from family and friends to launch the concept.

Beckford Group to open Bath restaurant: South west operator Beckford Group is to open a restaurant in Bath city centre next month. The Beckford Canteen will be the second restaurant for the group, which is run by co-founders Dan Brod, Charlie Luxton and Matt Greenlees. The team already operates Beckford Bottle Shop in the city along with four country inns across Wiltshire and Somerset. The Beckford Canteen will occupy a former Georgian greenhouse, in Bartlett Street. There will be around 40 seats inside and a further 40 in the restaurant’s hidden garden to the rear. The Beckford Canteen will serve a modern British lunch and dinner menu as well as drinks and snacks, with the kitchen headed by George Barson, who began his career at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage in Devon and has also worked at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and Jamie Oliver’s former Fifteen restaurant in north London. The drinks menu will feature local ale, wine and classic cocktails. Brod said: “We want to rejuvenate the idea of modern British informal dining at The Canteen – getting the best out of the best ingredients by serving simple, honest and delicious food with conviviality.”

Artfarm to launch new dining destination in London’s Mayfair: Artfarm, the hospitality company run by Iwan and Manuela Wirth, will launch Mount St Restaurant in London’s Mayfair next Wednesday (12 October). Mount St Restaurant’s menu will be inspired by the capital’s culinary history, while also featuring some traditional, albeit updated, London classics like smoked eel and potato salad and a lobster pie for two. Located on the three floors above the restaurant will be four ‘curious rooms’, which will be available for private hire. The second floor houses The Swiss Room, a celebration of the Wirths’ nationality and Switzerland’s rich history of art and design, with an adjoining Italian Room & Bar. The Scottish Room, located on the third floor, is inspired by the history of the Highlands and sister property the Fife Arms. The Games Room on the fourth floor will feature a bar, card table and lounge seating. Chief executive Ewan Venters said: “Mount St Restaurant is all about the food, the story of Mayfair and art. We want people to come away feeling they have experienced something special. It is not just a restaurant, rather a place that gives back as well as providing pleasure. Art is at its heart, a place to inspire and delight.” Artfarm is also behind Roth Bar & Grill in Somerset and The Audley in Mayfair. The business also acquired the Groucho Club in London in August. 

Poke House confirms early 2023 opening for regional debut, opens biggest UK site to date: Poke House, Europe’s largest poké restaurant chain, has confirmed it will make its regional debut early next year. Propel revealed in August that the brand, which made its UK debut last year and currently has eight sites here, all in London, had targeted Cambridge for its first location outside the capital. That will now open early in 2023, ahead of expansion to other cities, which co-founder Matteo Pichi told Propel would include Manchester, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Brighton. Before that, an opening in Battersea Power Station on Friday, 14 October, will be followed by further London launches in Mayfair, Harvey Nichols, Borough Market and St John’s Wood. Its latest opening, at St Paul’s, is the biggest Poke House site in the UK to date, covering 489 square feet. Holly Hilton, head of marketing at Poke House UK, said: “We’re always looking to grow the Poke House brand, with new site openings in the best and most iconic locations. We’re all thrilled with our new St Paul’s site and can’t wait to get our famous poke bowls into the hands of customers outside of London too. We opened a dark kitchen in Cambridge earlier in the year, and the city has responded unbelievably well to our offering, hence why we’re now opening our first bricks and mortar restaurant there.” Founded in 2018, Poke House has more than 100 restaurants around the globe.

Yorkshire burger, dessert and shakes concept set to open third site: Yorkshire burger, dessert and shakes concept Cow & Cream is set to open a third site. The concept, founded by John Dunning and Rob Green in 2021, launched at Peel Retail Park in Barnsley that year, and opened a second site in Sheffield’s Crystal Peaks this summer. It has now secured a lease in the new Forge Island development in Rotherham. Earlier this week, Propel reported that Yorkshire operator Zack Isaak will be bringing his Brazilian and Japanese concepts, Estabulo Rodizio and Sakku Samba, under one roof for the first time at Forge Island, as well as opening a second site for his Caffé Noor brand. A further lease at the development has been secured by Portuguese and southern African concept Casa Peri, from MasterChef star Bobby Geetha.

Tavistock Hospitality puts Sunderland seafront hotel on market as it concentrates on smaller sites: North east leisure operator Tavistock Hospitality has put The Roker Hotel on Sunderland seafront on the market. The company has operated the property under the Best Western Hotels Premier Collection for the past 20 years but has decided to scale back and concentrate on its smaller sites. The hotel, which includes 43 en-suite bedrooms; a restaurant, bar and tearoom; and a large function suite is being marketed by Christie & Co. The property also features an alfresco patio with coastal views and two separate buildings to the rear that will be vacated upon a sale. Nicola Foster-Hird, managing director at Tavistock Hospitality, said: “Tavistock as a company has changed dramatically over the last few years. As such, we’ve decided now is the right time to scale down and concentrate more on the smaller sites that we have.” Tavistock Hospitality operates seven venues including The Lambton Worm bar and restaurant with rooms in Chester-Le-Street and the Italian Farmhouse in Houghton-le-Spring.

Team behind Officina 00 to open second site next month: The team behind pasta workshop and restaurant concept Officina 00, which launched in London in 2019, will open a second site next month. Propel revealed in February the business – which was founded by Elia Sebregondi, former Bone Daddies head chef and sous chef at Kiln, and Enzo Mirto, ex-general manager of Mexican restaurant Ella Canta – had applied to open a site at 67 Whitfield Street, in Fitzrovia. Now the duo, who are both from Naples, have confirmed the 1,758 square-foot restaurant will launch on Tuesday, 15 November. Officina 00 launched in Old Street in 2019, offering regional Italian pasta dishes created in a “theatre kitchen” in front of diners. The Fitzrovia restaurant will serve new dishes such as spicy octopus with crispy saffron rice; and confit tomato tartare with burrata, caperberries and rocket. Pastas will be made in-house daily. The bar will offer house cocktails alongside beer and wine. Mirto said: “This restaurant represents the next stage in our journey of bringing proper Italian cooking to the capital. While we have some delicious new dishes on the menu, our signature pastas will still be a big part of our identity.” Shelley Sandzer acted for Officina 00 – as it did on the debut site in 2019 – while Distrkt and Shackleton represented the landlord, Derwent.

Din Thai Fung opens third London site: Taiwanese dim sum brand Din Tai Fung, which operates more than 160 restaurants worldwide, has opened its third site in London. Propel reported in July that the brand would be opening a 13,500 square-foot, 218-cover site at Centre Point, featuring robot waiters. Serving the same menu prepared in an open kitchen as its sister sites at Covent Garden and Selfridges, the new venue also has a separate bar area. The company said: “This latest expansion, in such an iconic location, marks a pivotal moment for Din Tai Fung, which has gone from strength to strength in recent years, demonstrating the brand's ongoing popularity and firmly cementing its position as a leading cult favourite.” Din Tai Fung also has branches in Singapore, Thailand, Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, the UAE and the US. Its UK sites are operated by Singapore-based BreadTalk Group, which also owns brands such as Toast Box, Food Republic, Food Junction, Bread Society, So Ramen, Thye Moh Chan and The Icing Room.

Team behind Manchester coffee shop Haunt to open innovative food, drink and entertainment venue: The team behind coffee shop and aperitivo bar Haunt in Manchester is set to open an innovative food, drink and entertainment venue in the city. Exhibition, which will launch next month, will be housed in Peter Street in the building that once played home to Manchester’s Natural History Museum. The 6,000 square-foot space will have three kitchens serving up innovative seasonal menus. Prestwich concept Osma, which features in the Michelin Guide, will bring a new relaxed edge to its Scandinavian concept, while Caroline Martins, of the Sao Paulo Project, will offer a new version of her Brazilian-British fusion cuisine, and Ramsbottom’s Basque fire cookery restaurant, Baratxuri, will also join the line-up. There will also be two bars moving into the space, with the first offering a selection of local beer, fine wine and premium spirits, and the second bar featuring an expertly curated cocktail menu that will celebrate seasonality. The venue will also offer exhibition space to local artists, and after dark, it will welcome nightly DJs and entertainers. Sam Wheatley, previously of the Pivovar Group and Andrew Pern’s Star Inn Group, has been brought in as operations manager and is responsible for bringing the new venue to life. Wheatley said: “We’ve been working on this project for the past 18 months. Previously opening Haunt has afforded us the opportunity to understand where the market is post-covid, and as you’d expect, the concept has transformed monumentally over time. Innovation is evident throughout, in terms of concept, design and of course food and beverage delivery.”

Exclusive Collection accredited as Living Wage Employer: Independently owned hotel business Exclusive Collection has become accredited as a real Living Wage Employer. Since it was founded 40 years ago, the company has maintained strong ownership of the welfare and development of its people, and in 2021, it further underlined this commitment by becoming a B Corp. Exclusive Collection employs more than 1,000 people. Carmen Hill, head of people and learning, said: “Supporting our people at this time made sense to us, and aligning ourselves with the Living Wage Foundation sends a very clear message to everyone at Exclusive about our ongoing commitment in this area. We want to stay true to our values and recognise a team with good compensation and a happy and supportive working environment enables us to provide great experiences for our guests.”

Clarification: In Tuesday’s (4 October) Propel Morning Briefing, we published the accounts of The Columbo Group. We would like to clarify the figures published were for two of the company’s venues and four festivals and not for the entire group.

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