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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 19th Oct 2022 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Hospitality groups’ September sales drop 3% year-on-year as inflation bites: Like-for-like sales at Britain’s top managed pub, bar and restaurant groups were 3.0% behind the levels of September 2021, the latest edition of the Coffer CGA Business Tracker shows. The tracker – produced by CGA by NielsenIQ in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM UK – shows groups’ sales were ahead of pre-pandemic levels for the eighth month in a row, with like-for-like growth of 4.0% compared with September 2019. However, the dip from 12 months ago demonstrates the headwinds currently facing the hospitality sector – and with inflation as measured by the Consumer Prices Index at almost 10%, sales are much further behind last year’s numbers in real terms. Pubs were the strongest performing of the tracker’s three hospitality segments in September, with year-on-year sales growth of 1.7%. Restaurants’ like-for-like sales were down by 7.9% on September 2021, and bars’ sales by 16.0%. The tracker has better news from the London market, as groups’ sales within the M25 rose 3.1% year-on-year. It follows a steady return of visitors and office workers to the capital over the year, and a dramatic influx of people after the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Beyond the M25, like-for-like sales were down by 4.5% from September 2021. Karl Chessell, director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA at CGA, said: “One year ago businesses and consumers were enjoying the end of covid-19 restrictions in restaurants, pubs and bars – but September’s dip in sales shows just how tough the market has become since then. Hospitality has done very well to haul trading back past pre-pandemic levels, but soaring costs in fuel, food and other areas are severely impacting companies’ margins. High inflation is making real-terms growth extremely hard, and while the government’s capping of energy prices is welcome, more measures are needed to support businesses over what will be a challenging winter.” Mark Sheehan, managing director at Coffer Corporate Leisure, added: “It is the coming months that are most important to pubs, restaurants and bars in the face of worryingly weak consumer confidence.”

Industry News:

Variety of bar operators set to join updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies: A variety of bar operators are among the 30 new multi-site companies being added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released on Friday, 28 October, at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, features Deckhouse, a new all-day dining cafe and bar concept chaired and backed by Mark McQuater, which is set to launch in Taunton, and has a target of having 18 sites within five years. Also added this month is London cocktail bar concept Swift, led by Bobby Hiddleston and Mia Johansson, along with husband-and-wife team Edmund Weil and Rosie Stimpson, which operates two sites, in Soho and Shoreditch, and has a third site opening in Borough. In addition, Manchester cafe and bar concept Federal Cafe & Bar, which is owned by Claudio Ribeiro and operates sites in the Northern Quarter and Deansgate, will be featured. Premium subscribers will also receive a 2,100-word report on the new additions to the database. The comprehensive database is updated monthly and provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different. The database now features 2,677 companies. Premium subscribers will also receive the next edition of the New Openings Database on Friday, 4 November, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The next edition also includes a 7,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, 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.

Restaurant chains face disruption threat amid strike vote at major food supplier: A union is warning that restaurant chains including Burger King, KFC and Pizza Hut are facing the prospect of “severe disruption” to food supplies in the run-up to Christmas. The GMB union said it was launching a strike vote among its near-600 members at Best Food Logistics, which delivers fresh produce to many big name, fast-food outlets and dining firms, which also include The Restaurant Group brand Wagamama and Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi. The GMB said 93% of staff had rejected a 6% pay offer as it was significantly below the rate of inflation and amounted to a real terms pay cut this year and into next. Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer, said: “These workers bust a gut to deliver fresh, just in time food to some of the biggest names in the business. Best Food's parent companies Booker and Tesco are making incredibly healthy profits and paying large dividends, while leaving these workers crushed by cost of living. Now some of their biggest clients may well be left short this Christmas because they won't meet GMB's reasonable request for a pay deal that protects our members through this year and into next with a genuine cost of living increase.” Meanwhile, strike action by Budweiser Brewing Group staff in Lancashire is also taking place again after talks collapsed. The GMB said its members at the Samlesbury site will now strike until 7am on Saturday (22 October) in anger at “a real terms pay cut”. Meetings between GMB, the company and conciliation service ACAS collapsed last week after bosses only upped their offer by £250 for 2023, the GMB claimed. Samlesbury workers previously went on strike in July and August. 

Fuller’s launches campaign to attract more over-50s workers: Fuller’s has launched a campaign to attract more over-50s workers, in partnership with Rest Lees, a digital community for older workers. Dawn Browne, Fuller’s people and talent director, said: “We have always had a number of older workers in Fuller’s, but this is the first time we have specifically targeted this area of recruitment with a bespoke campaign. We already have a number of older workers among our team members, and it would be great to increase that number. Around a third of the UK’s workforce is over 50, yet we only have around 10% within our 5,000 employees.” Stuart Lewis, chief executive at Rest Less, added: “Many workers in their 50s and 60s left employment during the pandemic – but a large number are now considering a return to work. Older workers have a huge amount to offer businesses and yet are often overlooked by recruiters.”
McDonald’s to trial selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts in US restaurants: McDonald’s is set to start selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts in select US restaurants from next Wednesday (26 October). As part of a trial to see how it would affect its operations, the company will begin selling the doughnuts at nine locations in Louisville, Kentucky. Krispy Kreme will deliver fresh doughnuts, which won’t be available for delivery, daily to the restaurants. The experiment is a part of an effort by McDonald’s to encourage people back into its restaurants after reporting in the first half of the year that lower-income consumers in the US were spending less in them. Krispy Kreme chief executive Mike Tattersfield said his chain has strong pricing power because customers are willing to splash out on affordable treats, and in the second quarter, his company reported 7.5% revenue growth for its US and Canada division.
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a business that operates six venues in London that is looking for an operations manager. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “You will run one of its key venues, which is an iconic site. This position would suit a born leader, with late-night experience. The business oversees events, private hires, music, private dining, restaurants and bars, product launches and much more. You will be working with a headcount of around 100 and manage a business with a turnover hitting more than £15m per year. You will need to demonstrate strong commercial acumen.” The salary is up to £120,000. 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. It is experiencing reports of increased enforcement activity, particularly the issuing of noise abatement notices. The group said while it has always dealt with this type of enforcement, it certainly is dealing with more allegations around customer noise, that it would not have seen before lockdown. The full update can be accessed here.

Company News:

Paul to launch debut UK franchise with format set to drive company’s growth outside London: French artisan bakery and patisserie Paul is launching its first UK franchise by handing over control of its Oxford store. Father and son hospitality duo Graham and Matthew Allan are set to become Paul’s inaugural franchisees, with the company seeing its growth outside London being driven by a number of “capable and driven franchise partners”. The Allans are taking on the business in Oxford and using it as a platform to further develop their business and the Paul brand in the region. “At Paul our mission is clear – to serve our customers the very best quality, freshly baked food,” said chief executive Mark Hilton. “We are looking for franchising partners who share the same passion for the brand, have sector experience and the capability to expand the business in a way that's true to our standards. Having worked in hospitality for years now, Graham and Matthew truly know the industry inside-out and have a clear vision for their Paul franchise.” The Allans added: “We envision the Oxford store as the first of many spaces across the south east of England for Paul customers to come together.” Paul opened the Oxford store in 2014. It also operates a site at the Westgate shopping centre in the city long with about 30 outlets in London.
Leon set for further growth in London as it plans 100-strong estate by end of year: Natural fast food brand Leon is set for further growth in London having opened two more sites in the capital. The company, owned by EG Group, has launched stores in Battersea and Euston Road. As well as an opening in Brixton, Leon is planning to expand in other areas of the capital, including Clapham and Southbank later in the year. These new openings represent a major part of Leon’s overall growth plans, which will see it have a total of 100 sites by the end of the year. Leon is committed to sustainability with the fit outs using recycled and low impact materials throughout. Managing director of Leon Restaurants, Glenn Edwards, said: “Leon started out as a London concept with our first restaurant in Carnaby Street. Even though we’ve since expanded throughout the UK, and even further afield, Leon will always have an affinity with London and offer an experience that is absolutely suited to city life. This is why expanding across the city, and catering to more and more Londoners, is something that’s so exciting for us at Leon. We are delighted to announce these openings and look forward to launching even more restaurants across the capital later this year and beyond.” As well as other recent London openings, Leon has also expanded further afield with sites in Harrogate and Milton Keynes. 
Jean-Baptiste Requien steps down as COO of Ivy Asia to join Thesleff Group: Jean-Baptiste Requien has stepped down as chief operating officer of the Richard Caring-backed Ivy Asia to join the Thesleff Group, the business behind the Los Michos concept, Propel has learned. Requien joined Ivy Asia at the start of this year to oversee its expansion. Prior to that he spent four years as director of operations at D&D London and previously worked at Big Easy Restaurants and Park Chinois. The Thesleff Group currently operates Los Mochis in Notting Hill, and Sale e Pepe in Knightsbridge. It will open Viajante87, an “innovative and experiential” cocktail bar in London's Notting Hill, later this year, and a second Los Mochis on the rooftop of 100 Liverpool Street at Broadgate, next summer. 
True North Brew Co sells Derbyshire site to Chilled Pubs as it looks to reduce portfolio: Chilled Pubs, the award-wining group of Derbyshire pubs that was founded by Richard and Loren Pope, has acquired The Blue Stoops in Dronfield from True North Brew Co. The deal for the pub, which had a £975,000 asking price, was brokered by Christie & Co. The High Street site comprises a large internal bar, restaurant and function space, and a 140-cover beer garden. The business has an average annual turnover of £929,250 and features additional upstairs space with potential for accommodation or additional trading areas. Chilled Pubs will now operate six sites across the region. The sale leaves True North Brew Co with 13 outlets. The group is working with Christie & Co to reduce its portfolio to ten sites and will then look to reinvest in a new larger venue. Other properties currently on the market with Christie & Co include The Milton Arms in Barnsley, and The York and The Old House in Sheffield. Chilled Pubs features in Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which shows in the year ending 2 January 2022 the business turned over £10,538,632 with a pre-tax profit of £1,471,928, making it the 160th most profitable out of 638 companies featured. Its profit as a percentage of turnover is 5.5%. The Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group and is updated monthly, provides a five-year overview of turnover and profit, ranks companies according to turnover, pre-tax profit and profit conversion. The Blue Book also provides details of directors’ earnings and highest paid directors. 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.
Gelato concept led by former Jamie’s Italian chief executive set to make Welsh debut for sixth site, eyes four more by 2025: Gelato concept Swoon, led by former Jamie’s Italian chief executive Simon Blagden, is set to make its Welsh debut in the new year for its sixth site, with four more being lined up by 2025. The brand – which launched in 2016 and has sites in Bristol, Bath, Oxford and Selfridges Foodhall in Oxford Street, London ­– will open at the entrance to Duke Street Arcade in Cardiff. It will serve its own handmade gelato (including four vegan flavours) alongside speciality desserts, Italian coffee from Naples and its own brand pure hot chocolate drinks. Blagden said: “Cardiff is the sixth location for the growing Swoon business, which has ambitious plans for another four openings in the next three years across the south west from our base in Bristol.” The company was founded by husband-and-wife team Bruno and Ana-Maria Forte. Bruno said: “My Italian family introduced handmade gelato to the UK more than 100 years ago, and Swoon is very much a family business, with my wife, mother and sister all involved. That family history and love of gelato drives what we do – it’s why we focus so much on provenance and using only best and purest ingredients. We can’t wait to be part of the Castle Quarter community and have lots of plans for getting people involved with what we do. It’s going to be fun bringing that Swoon experience to Cardiff.” Propel revealed last month the future of Backyard Chicken, the concept which reunited Blagden with former Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group executive chef Jules Hunt, has been thrown into doubt after its parent company was placed into liquidation and its debut site, which launched in Bristol in 2019, closed.
David Ladd steps down as CEO of Bar Soba to join Cairn Group: David Ladd has stepped as chief executive of Bar Soba, the Camerons Brewery-owned business, to join Cairn Group as its new operations director food and beverage, Propel has learned. Ladd, formerly of Copper Dog Whisky and Camerons, joined Bar Soba as chief executive in summer 2018. In November 2019, the Chris Soley-led Camerons acquired the five-strong cocktail and pan-Asian street food concept from BGF for an undisclosed sum. Cairn Group operates a portfolio of 33 hotels and more than 30 bars and restaurants across the UK. In May, a new division of the Cairn Group entered into a joint venture with global real estate firm PGIM Real Estate to target the UK hotel “staycation” sector. Madison Cairn partnered with the $209.3bn real estate business in a “value-add investment strategy” to buy, develop and reposition UK hotels, with a focus on domestic leisure demand. In particular, it is targeting key “staycation” destinations and selected UK locations that it thinks will perform strongly because of the “geopolitical environment”.
Chopstix makes Kent debut with opening of Canterbury site: Fast-growing quick service restaurant brand Chopstix has made its Kent debut with the opening of a site in Canterbury, Propel has learned. The new restaurant, located in St George’s Street in the city centre, is Chopstix’s 82nd site and has created 20 jobs, including five management positions. Darren Traynor, operations director for Chopstix, said: “We’re on a real roll with new openings, and it’s great to be building such momentum around the brand. As well as investing in expansion, we’ve also invested heavily in our training and development offering, because we know how difficult it can be to recruit and retain people in our sector. It’s great to be able to create these new jobs in Canterbury and have the opportunity to cultivate some great talent, and we might even have hired our next operations director!” Chopstix last year conducted a complete training overhaul, launching a new digital training model, and has also launched a Wok Academy, which will help chefs earn an accredited qualification.
South west McDonald’s franchisee’s turnover up more than 50%, exceeds pre-pandemic levels: McDonald’s franchisee White Rose UK, which operates 13 restaurants in the south west of England, saw its turnover increase by more than 50% in the year ending 31 December 2021. Revenue rose from £38,740,047 in 2020 to £59,222,829 and was also up on the last full year pre-covid year (2019: £49,152,397). Its pre-tax profits rose from £1,657,740 in 2020 to £5,350, 877 and were also up on 2019 (£2,116,806). The company is led by David Wynne, who started out as a McDonald’s worker in 1984 before progressing to various area manager roles, and buying his first store in 2002, in Birmingham. He followed this by purchasing five stores in Plymouth and soon added more sites in Devon and Cornwall. The company said: “Following the previous year’s difficult trading experience caused by the effects of the covid-19 pandemic, the year proved to be much improved, with all company stores remaining open throughout the year and with demand for ready-to-eat home delivery food increasing significantly throughout the year. Turnover for the year increased by just under 53%, with an increase in gross profit of 85% compared with the previous year.”
SSP Group appoints Noel Collett as new COO: UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist SSP Group has appointed Noel Collett as its new chief operating officer, Propel understands. Collett has spent the past three years as chief executive of the retail division of Eurocash Group, Poland’s leading food wholesaler. Prior to that he spent more than three and a half years as group chief executive of the AIM-listed, meat retailer Crawshaw Group. He also spent more than 16 years at Lidl, including 12 as the discount retailer’s chief operating officer. At the end of last month, SSP reported a strong fourth quarter to 30 September 2022 with revenue expected to be circa 91% of 2019 levels, The company stated: “This has been driven by a continued recovery of passenger numbers, notwithstanding some disruption to the travel sector over the summer. The revenue performance includes the benefit from net contract gains and price increases compared with the same period in 2019.”
Blind Tiger Inns focusing on mobile bars after struggling to get new pub leases signed off: Blind Tiger Inns, the north west operator, has said it is focusing on its fleet of mobile bars after struggling to get any new pub leases signed off. The wet-led business has grown to 19 sites since being founded in 2017, and managing director Chris Tulloch said it typically adds two to three sites per year. Tulloch also told Propel in January the business was in “a very solid position” and looking to expand across the region. However, difficulties in securing new sites caused by uncertainties in the sector has led it to switch attention instead to its mobile event bar division, Blind Tiger Brew Co, which has a fleet of seven including a converted Land Rover Defender and a shipping container bar. These were taken to festivals and events around the country over the summer, and it now has its own dedicated website separate to the main business. Tulloch said: “We started Brew Co to service our own venues initially and invested heavily in the best kit available. We quickly started getting enquiries and bookings for other events and festivals, and it all kind of spiralled from there. We are struggling to get any new pub leases signed off due to the uncertainty out there in the sector, and this is understandable as the traditional pub-co model has too many variables right now that nobody can predict the outcome of. We typically grow by two or three venues per year, and despite not being able to grow pubs, we still wanted to invest in our business, hence the rapid development of our mobile bar fleet.”
Marston’s appoints Matthew Whiting as director of operations: Marston’s, the Andrew Andrea-led pub company, has appointed Matthew Whiting as its new director of operations, Propel has learned. Whiting previously spent two and half years at Stonegate as a divisional director for its Pub Partners division. Prior to that he spent eight years as a divisional director at Ei Group. He has also had stints at Mitchells & Butlers and Coors. Last week, Andrea told Propel that Marston’s strategy over the last year to create a pub “to be proud of” was now paying off, with the business in a position to look at acquisition opportunities again. Speaking following Marston’s full-year trading update, Andrea said the business’ more wet-led focus had resulted in customers realising its pubs “are a place they can also just drink in rather than thinking we’re a restaurant”. But he added food sales were playing a part in the further improvement in its overall like-for-likes, which were up 3% on pre-pandemic levels in the last ten weeks.
Richard Corrigan Restaurants returns to profit: Richard Corrigan Restaurants has reported a return to profit in the year ending 31 December 2021. The company, led by Richard Corrigan, chef patron of the Corrigan Collection, turned a £1,476,981 pre-tax loss in 2020 into a £156,109 profit. This was also an improvement on the last full year pre-covid, the company having made a pre-tax profit of £118,802 in 2019. Revenue rose from £2,753,641 in 2020 to £9,032,197 but is still down on the last pre-pandemic figure of £11,038,213 in 2019. Of the 2021 figure, £6,844,877 was generated in the UK (2020: £2,018,891) and £2,187,310 in Ireland (2020: £734,750). It received £160,538 in Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme payments (2020: £966,908) and £105,995 in coronavirus business support grants (2020: £28,688). Corrigan said: “The group essentially traded a part year due to continued restrictions, particularly in Ireland, which eased later than London. Despite those challenges, which continued to impact the entire hospitality sector up to end of 2021, and into the first quarter of 2022, the group traded well when it could. We have navigated staffing challenges by aspiring to be a best-in-class employer and providing our teams with the comfort of consistent employment in turbulent times. With the support of our suppliers, we have also managed to ensure we are continued to be supplied with the highest quality ingredients, despite the challenges surrounding their often-changing availability. We have learnt to continually evolve all aspects of the very varied offers across the group, maintain strong branding and drive the raising awareness to the public through television and other media exposure.”
Fever-Tree signs exclusive deal with Asahi to be distribution partner in Japan: Fever-Tree, the premium tonic maker, has signed a deal with Japanese alcohol beverage company Asahi Breweries to be its exclusive distribution partner in Japan. It marks an important milestone for Fever-Tree, which said it continues to make excellent progress in its rest of the world region. The business delivered underlying growth of 20% in 2021 in the region, with further significant growth expected in 2022. From January 2023, Asahi Breweries will distribute Fever-Tree’s wide selection of premium mixers to the Japanese market including its Premium Indian Tonic Water, Mediterranean Tonic Water, Elderflower Tonic Water, Premium Ginger Ale, Premium Ginger Beer, and Premium Soda Water. Tim Warrillow, co-founder and chief executive of Fever-Tree, said: “We have seen demand for premium long mixed drinks such as gin ‘n’ tonic and Moscow Mules has been accelerating in many markets around the world and now we are seeing this trend come to Japan. We now have a significant opportunity to grow our presence in the Japanese market.” Kenichi Shiozawa, chief executive of Asahi Breweries, added: “Asahi will deliver new value to Japanese consumers, mixing with Fever-Tree and our brand portfolio.”
Chaiiwala opens three stores in a week, including first drive-thru: Street food cafe franchise Chaiiwala has opened three new stores in the space of a week, including its first drive-thru. Two of the new sites are in east London – in Unit B at 110 Barking Road in Canning Town, and at Gallions Reach Shopping Park. The drive-thru, meanwhile, is located in the Esso Garage at Kingsway North Orbital Road in Sheepcot, Watford. It will be “the first of many drive-thru formats in partnership with EG Group”, the business said. The three new openings bringing the brand’s UK footprint to 67 sites. Last month, Propel reported Chaiiwala was planning to expand to 500 UK outlets as part of its ambitious growth plans. 
Surrey leisure company opens Woking bowling and laser quest concept for sixth site: Surrey leisure company American Amusements has opened a new bowling and laser quest concept in Woking’s Victoria Place development for its sixth site. The 26,500 square-foot Woking Superbowl features a state-of-the-art 14-lane bowling alley and a space age laser quest arena, along with food and beverage options. The venue also features three dedicated party rooms and a Vegas gaming facility. Michael Appleton, managing director of American Amusements, said: “We are excited to have opened in the heart of Woking’s community and bring our popular entertainment concept to Victoria Place and we’re proud to be part of this wonderful set up.” JLL and Nash Bond acted for Victoria Place.
Nelsons Hotels & Inns brings in former Edwardian Hotels head chef to lead food and beverage operations: North west hotel and gastropub operator Nelsons Hotels & Inns has brought in former Edwardian Hotels head chef Neil Armstrong to lead its food and beverage operations. Armstrong has been appointed group food and beverage operations director at the four-strong group, which as previously reported, will open its fifth venue this winter – The Manor in Greasby. His previous positions include group executive chef at Edwardian Hotels London, head chef at The Manor House Hotel and Restaurant in Yorkshire, and both executive sous chef and executive head chef at the Edwardian Hotel in Manchester. He has also worked on developing and launching new restaurant concepts and brands, including at super boutique hotel The Londoner and the Fairmont Montreux Palace. His new role will see him help elevate the food and service across the group, including improving menus, managing the site teams and maintaining its high food standards. Andrew Nelson, director of Nelson Hotels & Inns, said: “Neil’s role will be crucial in managing our kitchen and restaurant teams, and his wealth of experience in the industry will guide us in offering further exceptional hospitality. Neil will be an excellent addition to our team as he sets out to help drive our standards forward and build upon what we already have at a really exciting time for the group.”
The Doxford Group to open third site with Alnwick hotel, bar and restaurant: Northumberland operator The Doxford Group is to open a new hotel, bar and restaurant in Alnwick. Set to launch early next year in the grounds of Charlton Hall Estate, The Tempus will mark the group's third venture following the launch of its wedding and event venues, Doxford Barns in 2015 and Charlton Hall in 2017. Sleeping 32 guests, the new 15 hotel bedrooms will expand the current offering at Charlton Hall Estate, which at present sleeps 54 guests in eclectic rooms and suites within Charlton Hall, Stable Cottage, Farm Cottage, Farmhouse, Pole Barn and The Lookout. The Tempus, which will create 40 jobs, will also be home to a ground-floor bar, restaurant and orangery offering bistro-style dining and cocktails. Richard Shell, owner and director at The Doxford Group, said: “Since opening our wedding and events venue, Charlton Hall in 2017, my vision has been to expand our offering to go above and beyond and create an unforgettable guest experience – something we can now offer thanks to The Tempus. We have seen a significant rise in demand for overnight stays in the area with Northumberland becoming a popular hotspot for holidaymakers and tourists all year round.”
Kerb announces new additions to F&B line up at The Understudy: Street food collective Kerb has added to the line-up at Kerb at The Understudy, on London’s South Bank. This autumn sees Bad Boy Pizza Society and Mumbai Mix joining the line-up alongside Lucky's Hot Chicken – at the National Theatre. Bad Boy Pizza Society will use The Understudy site to launch BBPS Squared, its take on Sicilian-style deep-pan squared pizza, available to order whole or by the slice. “We are proud to be launching not only our third location, but our third pizza concept, at the iconic National Theatre,” said Bad Boy Pizza Society. “With our knowledge from our recent New York research trip, we will be the first pizzeria bringing the Sicilian-style pizza to London, with a bunch of crazy flavours. This is our second location with Kerb, which has always pushed us to keep experimenting and having fun with new ideas.” Having graduated from Kerb’s inKERBator programme in May 2022, this will be Mumbai Mix’s first bricks-and-mortar site. “The location of The National Theatre exposes us to a global audience that resembles the international influences of our dishes,” said Mumbai Mix. “Our food brings in our Indian and Kenyan cultures, stories of our upbringing in our small Kenyan town, and our connection with British farmers and the growing seasons, in a menu that encompasses the dishes that have been eaten in India for centuries alongside those that are devoured today in the streets of Bombay.” Kerb opened Kerb at The Understudy last September, extending a partnership with the National Theatre that sees it operate the venue's food and drink operations. 
Armenian restaurant Lusin to make UK debut: Armenian restaurant Lusin is to open its debut UK site. The company, which operates four venues in Saudia Arabia, is heading to London with a launch in Mayfair. The restaurant, in Hay Hill, will open on Monday, 31 October, reports Hot Dinners. The venue will span two floors and seat 100 people. Lusin launched in Riyadh in 2011 and now has two restaurants in the Saudi capital along with venues in Jeddah and Al Khobar. Meaning “moon” in Armenian, Lusin offers food influenced by both Armenia and Lebanon, with dishes created by Armenian cookbook author Madam Anahid Doniguian and curated by chef Marcel Ravin, who also runs the two-Michelin-starred Blue Bay restaurant in Monaco. The drinks menu will feature cocktails and Armenian wine.

Gusto Italian relaunches Cheshire site with new concepts: Premium casual dining restaurant group Gusto Italian has relaunched its site in Alderley Edge, Cheshire, with new concepts following a £250,000 refurbishment. The site, at 75 London Road, will feature the Pizza Experience and the Theatre Kitchen, which have proven popular at its new restaurants and refurbished locations. The Theatre Kitchen allows guests to witness Gusto’s chefs in action, while the Pizza Experience provides two and a half hours of feasting and entertainment at the Chef’s Table. The refurbishment is the latest in a series of investments from Gusto Italian’s self-funded £2m capex programme, which has seen it open a flagship site in Nottingham as well as refurbish sites in Leeds, Liverpool, and Edinburgh. The business also plans to open its 14th site later this year, at the old Mitre Hotel in Oxford. Meanwhile, next month, Alderley Edge chef Matteo Scalletta will represent Gusto Italian in the National Pizza Awards.

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