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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 12th Dec 2022 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Indoor virtual clay pigeon shooting experience Clays secures investment from Imbiba: Clays, the indoor interactive clay shooting experience concept, has secured new investment from serial sector investor Imbiba to aid its further growth, Propel has learned. The business, which was launched last November in London’s Moorgate, will open its second site, in Canary Wharf’s West India Quay, later this month. It expects to open another three sites next year, with further expansion planned into other territories. In the 12 months since it was launched by founder Tom Snellock, the company’s Moorgate site has welcomed 125,000 customers and is expected to take over £1m in turnover in December – a record month. Designed to emulate the sport of clay target shooting in game form, players can book a 90-minute experience for groups of up to 20. Players can choose from a collection of five interactive games to play within their dedicated, semi-private ‘peg’. Snellock told Propel earlier this year that the company was looking at further expansion in London 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. Snellock said: “I’m delighted that Imbiba and Clays are partnering at this stage of our journey. We have been in contact since the early days of Clays, and with their support, we can speed up growth and continue to deliver amazing experiences for our customers and team. 2022 has been an incredible year and has set the perfect foundations for further brand growth and success in 2023!” Andrew Stones, partner and head of portfolio, at Imbiba, which also backs NQ64, Farmer J, Vagabond Wines and Big Fang Collective, added: “When we invest in a business, we look for a best-in-class proposition, a scalable concept and a highly credible management team, and as such, Clays is a perfect partner for us. With its leading technology, great gameplay and an outstanding food and bar proposition, Clays has already established itself as a core part of London’s experiential leisure scene, and we’re really excited to work with Tom and the rest of the team to help the brand grow and achieve its full potential.”

Industry News:

The Alchemist to speak at Restaurant Marketer & Innovator European Summit 2023, open for bookings: Jenny McPhee, brand director at The Alchemist, will speak at the Restaurant Marketer & Innovator European Summit 2023. The event is a partnership between Propel and Think Hospitality, aiming to build a community, promote the sharing of ideas, recognise talent and define the future of eating out. Bookings are now open for the two-day conference as the centrepiece of the January event series, taking place on 24 and 25 January at One Moorgate Place in London. McPhee will talk about the company’s approach to new product development and creating the right menu mix, its processes, cross-business workflows and how it goes about testing. More than 50 industry and agency leaders will take to the stage over two days representing brands including Cornish Bakery, Burger King UK, Gail’s Bakery, Hawksmoor, Searcy’s, Press Up Hospitality Group, Vapiano, Popeyes UK, Inception Group, Oakman Group, New World Trading Company, Peggy Porschen Cakes, Krispy Kreme, KellyDeli, Tattu Restaurants, Red Engine, East Coast Concepts, Coco di Mama, The Cocktail Club, Hilton, Elior, Flat Earth Pizzas, MJMK, Lollipop, Chotto Matte, Ping Pong, Nobu, Gusto Italian, BrewDog, Kaleido, Darjeeling Express and Six by Nico. For the full speaker schedule for day one click here and for day two click here. Day one themes will be consumer and sector trends, start-ups, concepts and creativity and digital evolution, while day two focuses on purpose and responsible business, strategies for growth and communication and culture. Tickets for operators for the two days are £600 plus VAT and £350 plus VAT for one day. Tickets for suppliers are £950 plus VAT for the two days and £525 plus VAT for one day. Tickets can be purchased by contacting Jo Charity at Propel on

Hospitality sales rise in Britain’s city centres ahead of Christmas rush but train strikes threaten festive trading: Pubs, restaurants and bars have made a good start to the festive season in Britain’s major cities – but high inflation and rail strikes are still making trading conditions very challenging. The new ‘Top Cities’ report – compiled by CGA by NielsenIQ and Wi-Fi solutions provider Wireless Social – shows sales in the four weeks to 19 November were ahead of the same period in 2019 in eight of Britain’s ten most populous cities. Across the ten cities, sales growth totalled around 4%, in line with the Coffer CGA Business Tracker, which shows like-for-like sales 5% higher versus 2019 levels. Six of the ten cities also recorded an increase in device log-ins, likely driven by the start of the festive season. However, the soaring price of energy, food and other costs is putting both hospitality businesses’ margins and consumers’ spending under severe strain. With Britain’s rate of inflation reaching 11% in October, most operators’ city-centre sales are still well behind the levels of both 2021 and 2019. The report combines CGA’s sales data with Wireless Social’s check-in statistics to provide a “vibrancy” ranking of the top ten cities. Manchester tops the list for the third time in a row with double-digit sales growth. It finished ahead of Glasgow and Birmingham, which features in the top three for the fifth successive period. At the other end of the rankings, London is bottom for the fourth period in a row, though sales and check-ins here continued to move closer to pre-covid levels. CGA client director Chris Jeffrey said: “The World Cup, Christmas markets and parties should all deliver good footfall and spending, but the costs crisis and prospect of more rail strikes cast a shadow over the crucial final weeks of the year.” Julian Ross, founder and chief executive of Wireless Social, added: “The new year ahead is going to be very tough for the sector as it continues on the path to recovery.”

Rail strikes will continue ‘indefinitely’: Strikes on the railway will continue “indefinitely” unless ministers back down on key demands, union boss Mick Lynch has threatened. RMT chief Lynch said industrial action on the railway would continue unless ministers dropped calls to remove guards from trains, reports The Telegraph. “[Strikes] will be indefinite if that is their position,” he said, adding the union “would go down on this issue”. Separate negotiations with Network Rail have yielded some progress, with some 20,000 RMT members at the organisation now voting on a deal that averages a pay rise worth 9% over two years. The results of the ballot will be announced today (Monday, 12 December), too late to avoid significant disruption on Tuesday (13 December). The RMT is encouraging its members to vote against the offer, saying the pay increases would be funded by job cuts and a reduction in safety inspections. Lynch added: “We will move to risk-based maintenance rather than planned preventative maintenance. They’re saying wait till it breaks and see what happens.” UKHospitality has estimated rail strikes over the festive season will cost the sector £1.5bn, while the Night Time Industries Association and British Beer & Pub Association have both warned some businesses may never recover from the lost trade. Meanwhile, Clive Watson, chairman of City Pub Company, has slammed the barrage of rail strikes due this week as “mean-spirited” and told the Mail on Sunday that the walkouts could be the “end of the road” for businesses still struggling in the wake of the pandemic. He said: “It’s the week you really make your money through the festive period. A strike day can hit business by 20% or more, but when strikes are back-to-back and there’s disruption throughout the week, it can be more significant. I get that employers and employees have industrial disputes, but to maximise the damage to retail and hospitality is like shooting ourselves in the foot.”

Greggs introduces pronoun badges for staff: Greggs has become the latest high street chain to offer pronoun badges after a wave of demand from its staff. The Telegraph reports workers at the bakery are now able to add their preferred pronouns – such as she/her/hers, he/him/his or they/them/theirs – to their name badges. This is also understood to extend to ‘neopronouns’ – third-person terms that are not officially recognised in the language they are used in – like ze/zir/zirs. Greggs first introduced the badges, which are voluntary, in the summer after they were requested by several employees through an internal programme. Its workers are now able to order custom-made badges to the store they work at in line with their preferred name, gender identity and pronouns. The company has promised to “reflect the communities we serve” by 2025 as part of its “Greggs Pledge” and LGBT network. Greggs said the badges had been “well-received internally” and sought to expand the initiative so it covers colleagues in other areas of the business. Greggs is not the only chain to have rolled out pronoun labels in recent months, with McDonald’s offering them on its careers website.
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a lifestyle hospitality group looking for a cluster food and beverage manager. The business operates in more than 100 worldwide destinations. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “It is seeking someone with a passion for the operations of restaurant and bar, events, live music and food and beverage in general. The individual will join the senior team and support multiple properties across the UK. The ideal candidate will be a people person with experience in implementing service standards who thrives in driving results forward through a competent management team and passionate food and beverage staff.” The salary is up to £65,000. For more information, email

Company News:

Gail’s posts sales of £62m for five-month period, extends loan facility, set to open 26 sites in current financial year: Fast-growing bakery brand Gail’s has reported sales of £62m in the five months to the end of February 2022, as it forecast it would open 26 new sites in its current financial year. The Bain Capital-backed business, which opened its 100th site at the end of October, posted sales in the five months ended February 2022 of £62m, compared with £85m for the entire 12- month period up to February 2021. The company posted adjusted group Ebitda of £3.82m in the five-month period, with a pre-tax loss of £9.91m. For the five months to the end of February 2022, its wholesale division posted sales £25.2m, with its retail division contributing £45.5m. The company said: “Over the period, trading was strong in part due to the wholesale business growing its retail channel (including with several large supermarket chains and the burgeoning consumer delivery operators); and by growth in the Gail’s Bakery, with seven successful new site openings in the period. The group continues to invest across the business, with the opening of seven new Gail’s bakeries in the period to February 2022 and a further 26 forecast in the subsequent financial year to February 2023. While cost pressures remain an ongoing focus, top line growth in both businesses remains the primary engine of the group’s profit and Ebitda performance. The retail business continues to be the fastest growing and most profitable. But the market also remains very competitive, and the group recognises that to be able to grow it must continue to provide innovative world-class food in attractive neighbourhood bakeries, the number of which are growing steadily.” The group said it had a £63.7m loan facility with Rabobank at the period end, which is up for renewal by September 2028. It said: “This was further extended to £109m on 6 June 2022. After the period end, the group engaged in a swap arrangement effective from 5 October 2022. This will fix the interest payment on the £109m loan at £1.4m per annum for four years. Also, the group had a shareholder loan note of £144.2m at the period end. On 6 June 2022, £43.5m of this was repaid, the balance is due for redemption by September 2028.” Earlier this month, the company announced it would open its first site in the north west early next year, in Wilmslow. Propel understands Gail’s has also submitted plans to convert the former La Boutique d’Or site in King Street, Knutsford, and the former White Stuff unit in Manchester’s King Street. Gail’s sister brand and wholesale bakery, The Bread Factory, opened its Manchester bakery in Openshaw in 2017. The company recently opened new sites in London’s Holborn, East Dulwich, and Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire. The expansion comes as The Telegraph reports the business has become the latest to be hit by the fallout from avian flu and has removed soufflés and quiches from its menu because of egg shortages.

Halo Burger set for expansion after securing new investment: Plant-based burger concept Halo Burger is set for expansion after a corporate restructuring and securing new investment from a consortium of backers, including Sauce Kelaker, the new company created by hospitality advisory business Kelaker and PR agency Sauce Communications, Propel has learned. In its restructuring, Halo Burger, which was founded by Ross Forder, closed its sites in Shoreditch and Brighton. It consolidated its operations into its site in Pop Brixton, where it is achieving “strong results in a balanced Eat-In:Delivery format”. Halo, which earlier this year raised over £250,000 as part of a crowdfunding campaign aimed at securing a flagship site, is set to raise further funding in 2023 as it seeks to open more sites. In addition to currently opening between five to ten dark kitchen sites, the business intends to open three high street stores next year. Kelaker was founded by Adam Blaker, former property director at Leon, and Simon Kelsey, who was head of franchise development at the healthy fast-food company between 2014 and 2021. Blaker said: “At Sauce Kelaker, we advise those F&B brands where we can really move the dial. Given the enormous headwinds the sector is facing, our combined experience in property, franchise and communications gives brands a strong advantage. In Halo’s case, we are developing a robust P&L based on a balanced eat-in and delivery model. After all, delivery is here to stay. We are delighted to be going on that journey with Halo’s inspirational founder, Ross Forder.” Forder said: “I’m looking forward to working closely with Adam and Simon and the rest of the team at Sauce Kelaker. Halo Burger is a very exciting brand, totally in tune with people’s concerns around sustainable eating.”

Julie Centracchio steps down as finance director at Boston Tea Party: All-day dining casual cafe brand Boston Tea Party (BTP) is set to begin the search for a new finance director following the decision of Julie Centracchio to leave the 25-strong business after four years in the role, Propel has learned. Centracchio joined BTP in autumn 2019 after more than two years as finance director at Peach Pub Company. Sam Roberts, chief executive of BTP, told Propel: “After four years that have included global pandemic among many other challenges, Julie has decided she wants to be closer to her family and has relocated from Bristol back to Hertfordshire. I’d like to thank Julie for all she has done during her four years at BTP. She has shown unbelievable determination in helping BTP navigate some of the biggest challenges our industry has ever faced, always with the wellbeing of our teams front and centre.” BTP said it will be “on the hunt for an appropriately experienced senior finance replacement” early in the new year. In October, Roberts told Propel the business was seeing weekends get stronger but sales weaken in the middle of the week, especially in traditional high street locations.

US ice cream parlour concept Cold Stone Creamery secures debut UK site: Cold Stone Creamery, the US ice cream parlour chain, has secured its first site in the UK, in London’s West End, Propel has learned. The brand, which is owned by parent company Kahala Brands, one of the fastest growing franchising companies in the world, with a portfolio of 22 quick service restaurant concepts, has secured a site at 41 Charing Cross Road. The brand is launching a franchise in the UK, with further sites set to follow. The Cold Stone Creamery brand currently operates circa 1,500 locations in over 28 countries. The company said its ice cream creations are “made fresh in-store by mixing flavours, fruit, nuts and the most delicious choice of candy on a frozen granite stone”. CDG Leisure acted on the Charing Cross Road deal. 

Collins – our food offer hasn’t ever been as good as it is now: Nick Collins, chief executive of café bar operator Loungers, has said the food offer across the company’s 212-strong estate “hasn’t ever been quite as good as it is now”, thanks to extra strength in depth in its food development teams. He said coming out the third lockdown, the Lounge and Cosy Club concepts had smaller menus and a confused workforce. But the last 18 months had been a case of the “menus getting back up to full strength”, increasing the number of dishes and adding to its food development teams. The group’s best-selling dish remains the Lounge breakfast, which it sells 30,000 of a week, and it offers seven different types of burger, of which it sells around 40,000 a week in total. Collins also touched on the evolution of the group’s menus, which is helped by not being wedded to any specific cuisines – “so two or three times a year we can introduce new dishes”. Examples given included its Miami Brunch, which was introduced about six weeks ago (3,500 sold a week), vegetarian Biryani bowl (2,500-3,000 sold a week) and Lounge flatbread (4,000 sold a week). Collins said: “This innovation drives repeat visits. Lots of our customers come two, three, maybe four times a week, and they’re the ones who need to see different dishes on the menu. We’ve got real strength in depth in our food development teams now and the menus have never been this good.”

PizzaExpress invests in delivery offer, to return to former Brighton site: PizzaExpress has invested £1.5m over the past six months in the operational efficiencies of its delivery offer, to make it easier to “service this growing channel for our teams”. In October, the company ended its exclusive delivery partnership with Deliveroo by adding Just Eat and UberEats to its third-party delivery partner options, and earlier this month, it began rolling out Bagasse bases to be used in all of its pizza boxes delivering the brand’s thinner Romana pizzas. Zoe Bowley, PizzaExpress managing director, told Propel: “In the last six months we have invested in the customer journey and operational efficiency, examples being hatches to keep drivers separate from dine-in customers and specific delivery areas in the restaurant to make it easier to service this growing channel for our teams. There has also been investment in tech, including integrating the aggregators. This is ongoing into 2023 to optimise our restaurants for dine-in and dine-out.” At the same time, the company is set to take on a site Brighton it previously exited as part of a restructure during the pandemic. The business, which has previously said that some of its new openings would come in places where “we lost sites due to the CVA, where we shouldn’t have, and can go back in”, will open on the ex-Lime Squeezy Thai Kitchen site in Brighton’s Jubilee Street. The new restaurant is expected to open in the first quarter of next year. 

Merlin Entertainments appoints new chief development officer: Merlin Entertainments has promoted group creative director, Paul Moreton, to chief development officer. It follows the announcement in April this year that current chief development officer, Mark Fisher, will retire at the end of this year after 27 years at the company. Moreton will take the helm of Merlin’s global development and creative division, Merlin Magic Making. He began his career with Merlin at Alton Towers in 1991 before heading up marketing for Madame Tussauds and The London Eye. He then took on an eight-year stint in television before returning to Merlin in 2012, in his current role as group creative director. Chief executive Scott O’Neil said: “Merlin Magic Making is a world class group of creators and innovators who wake up every day thinking about how to bring more fun to the world. Paul is a leader who understands the importance of creating and fostering an environment that drives diversity of thought, through seeking out the very best creative talent, spotting new technology and innovation and providing the space to dream big and then collaborate to bring those dreams to life.”

Oysterfleet reports turnover and profit boost as it builds back from pandemic: Essex hotel, restaurant and bar company Oysterfleet has reported turnover increased to £3,009,271 for the year ending 30 April 2022 compared with £1,102,517 the previous year as the business builds back from the pandemic. The figure was also above the £2,729,677 reported for the year ending 30 April 2020, although the business’ sites were shut for about the last two months of the period due to the start of the pandemic. Pre-tax profit was up to £370,309 from £1,803 the year before (2020: £200,563). A dividend of £237,600 was paid (2021: £225,600). The business received £71,805 in government grants (2021: £584,516). The company operates the 41-bedroom Oysterfleet Hotel and adjoining Lighthouse restaurant, as well as Oyster Bay Brasserie and Sports Bar in Canvey Island and the Oyster Court Brasserie and Sports Bar in Southend. The company said it was continuing its development of the Oysterfleet Hotel and expects this to result in “enhanced profitability during the forthcoming years”.

Manchester operator to open neighbourhood cocktail bar in Chorlton for third site: Manchester operator Nick de Sousa is to open a neighbourhood cocktail bar in Chorlton for his third site. 97, located at 97 Beech Road, is expected to open at the end of January. An “inventive collection of cocktails” will be crafted in-house by a team led by general manager and mixologist Ellie Caddick, which will sit alongside a curated collection of fine wine, craft beer and premium spirits. The site will have 35 covers and is located next door to de Sousa’s bar The Lead Station. “Ellie had just returned from her travels and she was keen to get involved in a project that would display her skills,” said de Sousa, who also operates Manchester bar and restaurant, Tariff & Dale. “We were discussing how we could do this as the keys literally landed on the table. It just seemed the stars aligned, and 97 was born. It is a tricky time but, now possibly more than ever, I believe people still want places to meet and socialise. People still want to be looked after with warm and intimate service and, fundamentally, people still want to enjoy great hospitality. I am really looking forward to us bringing all that together in 97.”

Team behind Fareham bistro fights off competition from ‘national coffee brand’ to land second site: The team behind The Dovecote Eatery bistro in Fareham is to double up in the Hampshire town. The Dovecote team fought off competition from “a national coffee brand” to agree a deal with Federated Hermes to launch Rosario's & Co at Fareham Reach Business Park. A ten-year lease has been signed for the 743 square-foot space, which will be used to as a cafe for the 600 people working on the estate as well as the community. Dan Milsom and Tom Eastwood, directors at Rosario’s, said: “We are a fully independent and ambitious coffee shop with big plans to expand quickly. We are looking forward to welcoming Fareham Reach’s hard-working business community in the new year.” Matthew Poplett, director at Hellier Langston, added: “We had stiff competition for the space from a national coffee brand but decided Rosario’s & Co was the right fit for the business park and wider community.”

Miller Prada to head up Creative Restaurant Group’s new Mayfair wood-fire concept: Colombian chef Miller Prada, protégé of Endo Kazutoshi at Michelin-starred Endo at the Rotunda, will head up Creative Restaurant Group’s new wood-fire concept in London’s Mayfair. As previously reported, the group, which is also behind London sushi spot Sumi, is set to open Humo in the former Wild Honey site in St George’s Square in January. Prada will forego gas and electricity in favour of cooking on a four-metre-long grill over a selection of wildly sourced woods. Dishes will include ike-jime trout from Hampshire, marinated and smoked in juniper and seared with white ubame oak, then topped with six-month aged baerii caviar and grilled wrapped in kombu kelp. This will be complimented by a quality wine list, sake and signature cocktails. The 34-cover restaurant will feature counter seating surrounding the grill, and there will also be a ten-cover chef’s table in the lower ground floor designed for private dining, tastings and exclusive events. Creative Restaurant Group was co-founded in 2021 by Misha Zelman (founder of Goodman, Burger & Lobster, Beast, Zelman Meats and Sumi) alongside chef patron Kazutoshi and led by managing director Alex D’Aguiar.

Taco Bell aims to lift festive spirits with Tuesday giveaway: Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell is aiming to lift festive spirits with a taco giveaway tomorrow (Tuesday, 12 December). With research by the brand revealing Brits will “feel the pinch” most from 12-20 December, Taco Bell is offering a free crunchy taco from any of 117 UK restaurants. Taco Bell promoted the giveaway by airing its first UK TV Christmas advert last night (Sunday, 11 December). The advert was created in collaboration with viral YouTube creator An0nymooose. Meanwhile, Taco Bell is expanding its presence in Essex with an opening in Southend. The store, its fifth restaurant in Essex and 118th in the UK, will open at 84 High Street on Thursday (15 December). The 2,000 square-foot space was previously occupied by Moss Bros. 

C&C Group independent non-executive director to step down: C&C Group has announced Emer Finnan will step down from its board of directors next year. Finnan has informed the business she intends to step down from her position as an independent non-executive director on 8 February 2023 after serving more than eight years on the board. John Gibney will succeed Finnan as chair of its audit committee, while Vineet Bhalla will also join the committee. Ralph Findlay, C&C Group chairman, said: “On behalf of the board, and all in C&C, I want to thank Emer for her significant contribution to the group and stewardship of the audit committee during her tenure. Emer brought valuable expertise to C&C, and we wish her every success in her future endeavours.” Finnan, who joined C&C in 2014, worked in investment banking at Citibank, ABN AMRO and NCB Stockbrokers before becoming finance director at EBS Building Society in 2010. In 2012, she re-joined NCB to lead a financial services team in Ireland, and in 2013, she joined Kildare Partners, a private equity firm based in London and Dublin.

Grounded Kitchen to make north east debut today with Gateshead launch: Korean-inspired restaurant Grounded Kitchen will make its north east debut today (Monday, 12 December). The company, which launched in Leicester in 2017, will open at the Metrocentre in Gateshead for its 11th site. The store, in Garden Walk, will offer Grounded Kitchen’s range of made-to-order nourish bowls as well as other dishes alongside a selection of “quenchers” on the drinks menu. The 1,320 square-foot store will seat 44 diners and create up to 30 jobs. Ralph Llanwarne, Grounded Kitchen’s franchise director, said: “We’re excited about opening our first store in Gateshead. We pride ourselves on delivering meals so tasty that people forget that our basic focus is on a healthy balance.” As revealed by Propel last month, Grounded Kitchen has lined up a site in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, for its first casual dining concept, which is due to open either in late December or early January. In August, Grounded Kitchen said it is aiming to open 50 new UK sites in a £15m investment and is looking to sign up franchise partners for up to 25 sites at a time.

Buzzworks opens South Queensferry pub and restaurant: Scottish restaurant and bar operator Buzzworks Holdings has opened its latest pub and restaurant, Thirty Knots, in South Queensferry. As previously reported, Thirty Knots takes over the former site of The Three Bridges, beneath the Forth Bridge in Edinburgh, and features an outdoor terrace with views out over the Firth of Forth. Managing director Kenny Blair said: “The venue signifies our ongoing investment and commitment to South Queensferry, having launched our Scotts restaurant in the Port Edgar Marina in 2018, and we hope this provides the local community with another fantastic venue that they can enjoy and be proud of for years to come. Our menu promises both modern and classic dishes, using some of the best produce and ingredients that Scotland has to offer.” The kitchen is led by Trevor Garden, former executive chef for Sodexo Prestige, who has created a “a gastropub menu featuring a modern twist on some traditional classics”. He said: “The menu is set to feature everything from classic fish and chips and individual steak and ale pies baked fresh to order, to karrag chicken bao buns and the most incredible king rib supper with skin-on fries and katsu ketchup. We are all about encouraging our chefs to explore their culinary creativity and showcase their skills, and we look forward to refreshing our menus regularly.” Buzzworks operates 14 other venues across Scotland, alongside the three-strong Herringbone business it acquired earlier this year.

Brunning & Price reopens Harrogate pub: Brunning & Price, the pub operator owned by The Restaurant Group (TRG), has reopened The Nelson Inn in Skipton Road, Harrogate. It follows restoration and refurbishment works that included transforming a former sweet shop downstairs into a private dining room for 11 people. A new menu of modern British dishes that changes with the seasons will be published to the website each morning. Dishes include braised pig’s cheek with caramelised creamed parsnip, roasted sprouts and plum porter sauce; and fish pie with salmon, smoked haddock, cod and king prawns.

Cardiff multi-site operators close second branch of Neapolitan pizzeria concept: Cardiff multi-site operators Deb and Phill Lewis have closed a second branch of their Neapolitan pizzeria concept, Dusty’s Pizza. The husband-and-wife team have shut its flagship branch in The Bone Yard, Canton, Cardiff, citing significant losses in the pandemic, rising costs and debt. With the Barry branch of Dusty’s having closed in August, also due to rising costs as well as a lack of skilled labour, the latest closure leaves only one remaining branch left open, in Swansea. The couple wrote on Facebook: “With immense sadness, Phill and I must announce the immediate closure of Dusty’s Pizza at our Papermill Road location, otherwise known as The Bone Yard. Us, like so many others, have suffered significant losses as a result of the pandemic in 2019, and while we have battled hard to retain our sites, one by one they have fallen foul to rising costs and become encumbered with debt as a result of the last few years, without adequate room for their recovery. We are hopeful Dusty’s will make a return in the not-so-distant future in some form, but for now we must be courageously quiet and navigate this heart-breaking time. We really did give it our all.” The couple are also behind Nook, a small plates and natural wines bistro in Canton which opened in 2019; and Kindle, a sustainable, wood-fired eatery in Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens, which opened in September 2021.

Lincolnshire micro-brewery owners acquire village pub: The owners of 8 Sail Brewery, a micro-brewery in the Lincolnshire village of Heckington, have acquired a pub for their second site. They have bought The Old Ship Inn in Pointon, Sleaford. The pub will now be overseen by Tony Pygott, joint director of 8 Sail Brewery, and Tony Carter, the sales and bar manager for both The Old Ship Inn and 8 Sail Brewery. Staff will remain at the pub under the new ownership. Pygott told Lincolnshire Live: “It’s an exciting venture for us to keep a village pub open. The pub was set to close in January due to health issues with the current owners.” Bombay Brasserie, a restaurant in The Old Ship Inn, will continue running as normal under the new ownership. 

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