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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 13th Dec 2022 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Laurillard – we are starting to think about extra growth legs, planning to open a site a month from April: Andy Laurillard, co-founder of Thai restaurant brand Giggling Squid, has said the company plans to open another 20 sites over the next 18 months, but has also started to think about “extra growth legs” for the business. The 46-strong company, which is backed by BGF, has already secured openings in Bracknell, Shrewsbury, Muswell Hill, Cardiff Bay and Cardiff St David’s. Laurillard told Propel: “We’ve got 46 sites and will open another 20, which we expected to do in the next 18 months or so. We have started to think about extra growth legs. Whether that’s an international play or a second brand or a different format. It's all up in the air, but we are thinking about different options. We just got approvals from BGF for three more sites and we have offers out on five sites. We have around 11 in the pipeline, but can go out to 20-25. We are planning to open a site a month from April, and we might even go faster than that come 2024.” The company is taking on the former Bill’s site in Muswell Hill, a former retail unit in Shrewsbury’s High Street and a unit in The Lexicon in Bracknell, which will be part of the former McDonald’s unit in Eagle Lane. The expansion plan comes as the business reported turnover – excluding government support income – of £65.7m in the 52 weeks to 3 April 2022 (2021: £33.8m), with a pre-tax profit of £8.57m (2021: £3.99m). The business said despite the ongoing disruption from coronavirus, it was the company’s most profitable period since inception. It opened seven new sites during the period, and two more since its end, in Maidstone and Alderley Edge. In June, the company made several changes to its executive team, including promoting Simon Gallagher and Darko Salaj from regional managers to operation directors, reporting to chief commercial officer Vikas Agarwal. At the same time, Sylfest Muldal, previously head of property at Giggling Squid, became its property director, and Hannah Johnson moved up from the company’s head of marketing to be its marketing director.

Industry News:

Hakkasan owner Tao Group to speak at Restaurant Marketer & Innovator European Summit 2023, open for bookings: Simon Farrow, category director at Tao Group, owner of Hakkasan, 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. Farrow 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, The Alchemist, 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
NTIA – sector businesses suffering 30% downturn in trade and facing revenue hit of more than £2bn from rail strike action: Sector businesses are suffering a 30% downturn in bookings and trade, according to the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), as it estimated the industry is set for a revenue hit of more than £2bn by rail strike action over the festive period. Strikes are taking place by the RMT this week as well as between Saturday, 24 December through to Tuesday, 27 December. More are scheduled for 3, 4, 6 and 7 January. NTIA chief executive Michael Kill said government invention was required along with further support for sector businesses. He added: “It’s abundantly clear the government has lost control, strike action has overshadowed the first Christmas period we have had to celebrate with some normality in three years. Businesses are already seeing a 30% downturn in trade due to transport challenges and changing weather, with festive bookings being cancelled daily and party sizes reducing as we move into the heart of the festive period. It is estimated businesses will lose more than £2bn in revenue during this period – vital revenue that will help them survive in the early part of 2023. The government cannot ignore the escalating situation any longer as more unions join the UK-wide industrial action bringing the country closer to a standstill. Our sector is one of the hardest hit by the rail strikes, first to close and last to open during the pandemic. The current circumstances are critically impacting businesses and will require a government intervention and further support for businesses at the sharpest end of this crisis.”
Welsh government set to announce £460m business support package, including increased rates relief for hospitality: A business support package worth more than £460m over the next two financial years is set to be revealed in the Welsh government’s upcoming draft Budget, including a rise in rates relief for hospitality. The package will operate alongside permanent relief schemes from Senedd, which have already provided £240m of relief to ratepayers across Wales this year. The non-domestic rates multiplier has been frozen for 2023-24, at a cost of more than £200m, across the next two years, while a further £113m will provide transitional relief for all ratepayers whose bills increase by more than £300 from 1 April 2023. Another £140m will support businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors, with eligible ratepayers receiving 75% non-domestic rates relief for 2023-24, a rise from the 50% provided in 2022-23. Finance and local government minister Rebecca Evans said: “We know businesses are feeling the pressure of spiralling energy costs and rising inflation while they are still recovering from the impacts of the pandemic. We want businesses to know now we will continue to apply substantial discounts to their rates bills, and this package of support will help businesses to thrive in the hard times we know they are facing.”
Michelin-starred chef’s restaurant falls victim to reservation phishing scam: Michelin-starred chef Andrew Pern has said his Star Inn the City restaurant in York has been hit by an industry-wide reservation phishing scam. The business is warning all customers who have booked at the restaurant using credit or debit cards about fraudulent calls. The Star Inn the City is part of the Star Group of Restaurants, which includes the Michelin-starred The Star at Harome, The Winter Hütte in York, and the new Refectory Restaurant, which is due to open at York Minster in 2023. Pern said the business started contacting all Star Inn the City customers and recent bookings and the online reservation platform OpenTable as soon as the scam became apparent on Thursday (8 December) and the fraud was immediately reported to the police and all the relevant authorities. He added: “Our crisis team have been calling and emailing customers and recent bookings to warn them of the scam. All customers’ full card details are stored securely through Stripe, which is separate to OpenTable and have not been affected by this scam. The scam, which compromised the restaurant’s booking system, was rapidly closed. The calls are quite convincing, with customer names, booking times and number in the party, plus the last four digits of customers’ cards. This is something that none of us needed just before Christmas with customers looking forward to putting firmly 2022 behind them and feels like an invasion of privacy, all our customers and us included.” The hit to the Star Inn the City and its customers appears to be part of an industry-wide increase in third-party phishing scams posing as online booking sites, including OpenTable, which works with 60,000 restaurants around the country.
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a venue and events business that is looking for a head of sales to look after its stadia concessions sales. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The key responsibilities will be to develop innovative, effective, and creative sales strategies; build and maintain strong relationships; have overall responsibility for lead generation and development of new business; and create and manage the sales budget in line with the agreed business plan objectives to achieve targeted revenue and profit. You will also manage, motivate, and educate a team to develop their skills in sales; prepare regular budget and management reports; monitor consumer trends, industry developments and new technology; drive a culture of data capture across the business in order to significantly grow the database; better understand current and future customers; and to propose new products and services, work with the marketing team to prepare marketing strategies and sales collateral.” The salary is up to £70,000 and the position is based in London. For more information, email

Company News:

Fireaway in talks to make Middle East debut: Fast pizza brand Fireaway, the Mario Aleppo-led business, is in talks to make its debut in the Middle East, Propel has learned. Aleppo, who founded the business in 2017, told Propel: “We are speaking to a few potential master franchisees but we are also looking to open the first store ourselves to get the ball rolling.” In October, Propel revealed the brand had secured new investment from six new backers, which valued the company at £18.7m. Aleppo had until then been the sole shareholder of the company, which currently operates 126 sites in the UK, plus a site each in Ireland and Holland. Earlier this year, Aleppo told Propel he sees the potential for the brand to grow to 500 sites within the next ten years. Fireaway made its international debut with a site in Amsterdam this spring, while master franchisees have also been signed up in India, Canada, Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand and France. Fireaway, which is a “Subway-style” pizzeria concept that offers true Italian pizza in just 180 seconds, made its debut in Mitcham, south London. 
Fat Hippo in talks to open in Bath: Better burger brand Fat Hippo, which made its London debut in October, is in talks to secure its first site in the south west of England, in Bath. Propel understands the 16-strong business is in talks on a site in the city’s Saw Close, for an opening next year. The company, which was founded in 2010 by Michael Phillips, is also set to open its second restaurant in London next year, on the former Las Banderas site in Wardour Street. Last month, Fat Hippo opened its debut London restaurant, in Great Eastern Street in Shoreditch. The business is also eyeing an opening in the Jackson’s Corner development in Reading’s King Street, as part of plans to open six sites across the UK in the next 12 months. Jake Bernstone, of Stonebrook London, acts on behalf of Fat Hippo.
Jonathan Hart steps down as chairman of Crussh: Jonathan Hart, the former UK managing director of Caffe Nero and chief executive of Thorntons, has stepped down as chairman of London healthy food and juice brand Crussh, Propel has learned. Hart, who was also previously chairman of Bagel Nash and 200 Degrees, joined Crussh in November 2015. Crussh, which is led by Simon Foster, currently operates 13 sites across London and the south east, as well as having a range of its products stocked in the likes of WHSmith and Sainsbury’s. Last August, it permanently closed 13 of its circa 30-strong estate, due to the impact of the pandemic. In the spring, Propel reported Crussh had refinanced a £1.45m bank loan during its last financial year, with shareholders and management taking on the debt, while non-executives were still waiving some or all of their salary. The company also closed its head office. The business has been backed by Hattington Capital since the start of 2015. 
Lancashire McDonald’s franchise owned by chain’s former COO sees profits and turnover soar above pre-pandemic levels: Lancashire McDonald’s franchise H&S Restaurants, which is owned by the chain’s former chief operating officer Nigel Dunnington, saw profits and turnover soar in the year ending 31 December 2021. Turnover rose from £43,816,032 in 2020 to £72,125,206, which was also up on the last pre-pandemic figure of £46,490,215 in 2019. Pre-tax profit rocketed from £2,049,605 in 2020 to £7,815,686, which was also up on the last pre-pandemic figure of £922,909. It received £280,091 in governments grants compared with £2,888,615 in 2020. The company said: “Following the previous year’s difficult trading experience caused by the effects of the covid-19 pandemic, the year ended 31 December 2021 proved to be much improved, with all company stores remaining open throughout the year and with demand for ready-to-eat home delivery foods increasing significantly throughout the year. Turnover for the year increased 64% with an increase in gross profit of 98% compared with the previous year. In common with many other businesses and industries, the director believes the trading environment in which the company operates will continue to be challenging but remains optimistic regarding future trading.” Dunnington served as the brand’s chief operating officer from 1998-2001. Having started out as a trainee manager at its branch in London’s Marble Arch in 1980, he worked his way up to become regional manager for the north of England in 1991. After his spell as chief operating officer, Dunnington also served as McDonald’s vice-president worldwide operations, based in Chicago, from 2001 to 2004, and training and vice-president European operations from 2004 to 2006. Missing the day-to-day in-branch contact with staff and customers, he started franchising in 2006 with five McDonald’s branches in Preston and now operates 17 restaurants in the region, employing more than 1,700 people.
Team behind Shu Xiangge to open Japanese barbecue concept in London’s Chinatown: The team behind Shu Xiangge and Skewer & Beer in London’s Chinatown are set to open a new Japanese barbecue concept. High Yaki is set to launch its debut site, also in Chinatown, early in 2023. The 3,600 square-foot site at 10 Newport Place, which will have 150 covers alongside a mezzanine level for private dining, will specialise in yakitori, yakiniku, and dry-aged wagyu. The menu will focus on a variety of meat and fish that diners can cook on their own grill in the middle of the table. High Yaki director Leo Lu said: “Launching a debut High Yaki is an exciting project, and there’s no better place to bring the concept than Chinatown London.” Julia Wilkinson, restaurant director at landlords Shaftesbury, added: “High Yaki brings an exciting take on Japanese barbecue to Chinatown London, so naturally we were delighted to work with the team for this new concept.”
Swedish artisan bakery and cafe Söderberg plans further London openings: Swedish artisan bakery and cafe Söderberg is planning to open more sites in London, after lining up a second opening in the capital. The business, which is led by Asa Penman, made its London debut at the start of 2019, with an opening in Berwick Street, Soho. It is now set to open a site at 36 Lordship Lane, East Dulwich, and is thought to be looking at further London “villages” opportunities. Founded in 2007, the company operates its own bakery, three cafes and four bakery shops in Edinburgh. Its offer includes Swedish open-style sandwiches, smörrebröd, signature cardamom buns and chocolate cake. 
Costa Coffee to make Pakistan debut: Costa Coffee, the Coca-Cola Company-owned chain, is set to make its debut in Pakistan later this month. The brand has partnered with its current UK franchisee Gerry’s Group to launch in the country, with a debut opening set for the DHA Lahore Phase 6 Raya commercial centre. A site in Karachi will follow next year. Gerry’s Group has been a Costa Coffee franchise partner since 2005. Earlier this year, it secured a £2m loan from one of its directors to support the development of its drive-thru format and planned refurbishment of 40 stores over the next three years. It currently operates 57 Costa sites in the UK. Vinay Nair, head of emerging markets, Costa Coffee, said: “Coffee lovers in Pakistan can now enjoy a great cup of coffee, one that’s captured the heart of our coffee fans in the UK and globally for the past 51 years. We are eager to serve more cups of great coffee, to more people, more often in this beautiful country of Pakistan.” Akram Wali Muhammad, managing director at Gerry’s Group, added: “The move is part of our strategy at Gerry’s Group to pour optimism into Pakistan’s food and beverage market. We believe in the uplifting power of a great cup of coffee. It connects people and creates shared moments of joy. We are excited to bring Costa Coffee and our delightful food menu to Pakistan’s vibrant community of coffee fans.” Last week, Costa announced it was to open its debut site in Austria, early next year, at Vienna airport. Last month, Costa opened its first outlet in Georgia in partnership with Turkish catering company BTA Food & Services, at Tbilisi international airport. It followed other recent launches in Oman and Morocco.
Megan’s confirms Guildford opening plans: Megan’s, the fast-growing, cafe and deli concept, has confirmed plans to open a site in Guildford next year. The 18-strong business, which last month raised £5m from Barclays to drive its next phase of growth, will open Megan’s by the Castle in the Surrey town’s High Street, in the former Moss Bros retail unit. Megan’s will open its 19th site, in Richmond, south west London, in January, and has a strong pipeline of sites including Farnham, Twickenham and Crouch End. This summer, it announced it planned to open in Bristol, which would be its first opening outside of south east England. It has a goal of having 32 sites open by the end of 2024.
Luxury Family Hotels narrows losses and sees turnover exceed pre-pandemic levels: Luxury Family Hotels, based in the south west and with five venues across the UK, narrowed it losses in the year ending 31 December 2021 and saw turnover exceed pre-pandemic levels. Turnover was up from £9,120,224 in 2020 to £14,334,059, which was also an increase on the last full year before the pandemic (2019: £12,436,730). Pre-tax losses narrowed from £3,988,067 in 2020 to £2,195,889 and were also an improvement on the last full year before the pandemic (2019: loss of £3,412,108). It received £1,124,253 in government grants (2020: £1,819,103). The company said it returned to an operating profit (£89,647 compared with a loss of £1,790,110 in 2020) due to the “staycation” boom, the reduction in VAT and business rates waiver. It added: “The net effect has contributed to a significant return to profitability, with business on the books reports and actual results showing this trend continuing.” It said key performance indicators showed occupancy levels at 80% (2020 67%), with average daily rate at £273 (2020 £209) and revpar at £219 (2020 £141). “The KPIs reflect the fact the majority of covid-led closures and disruption impacted on the seasonally quieter months of the year, giving rise to strong demand when the hotels were allowed to open,” the company said. “The core driver of the group’s business is short breaks taken by families with younger children, with meetings, incentive, conferences and events being a relatively minor part, hence the impact of covid not as high as other hospitality businesses.” The business has also been “investing significantly” in developing its venues as leading boutique hotels, including works at Fowey Hall Hotel, which increased its rooms from 36 to 60, while a similar refurbishment at Moonfleet Manor is nearing completion. “The improvements at Fowey Hall were very well received in the market and have demonstrated proof of concept,” the company said. “The board expects to see similar changes across the rest of the estate, along with additional keys, over the next few years.”

London social enterprise brewery Toast Ale raises £2m funding to scale its impact: Toast Ale, the London social enterprise brewery that uses surplus bakery bread that would otherwise be wasted, has raised more than £2m to help grow the positive impact of its business. Investors include the National Geographic Society, which has supported Toast since its seed round in 2018, and Heineken International. All investors have committed to Toast’s “Equity for Good” investment model, which requires shareholders to reinvest any capital gains on selling the shares into social impact businesses and funds. Investors also do not receive dividends as all Toast’s distributable profits go to charity. The investment will be used to scale the brewery’s work with bakeries to prevent bread waste, elevate its support for the industry and help towards its goal of rescuing a billion slices of surplus bread. Since the business began in 2016, Toast has upcycled 2.9 million slices of surplus bread and collaborated with 86 breweries, supporting them to use it in their brewing. Louisa Ziane, co-founder and chief operating officer at Toast Ale, said: “We set out with a mission to brew great beer and spread big ideas that can change the world, and are proud of the positive impact we have. Collaboration has always been key to our strategy for achieving change, and we’re excited to be able to scale our work to support bakeries and breweries embrace the circular economy.” 

Rare Restaurants opens Gaucho in Liverpool: Rare Restaurants, the Martin Williams-led operator of the Gaucho and M Restaurants brands, has opened a new Gaucho site in Liverpool. Propel revealed in February the business had secured the former Martins Bank headquarters in Water Street as part of the group’s new five-year growth strategy, which could see it opening up to 30 new sites across the UK. It has now opened in the grade II-listed building, offering its 100% carbon neutral beef alongside bottomless Sunday roasts and late-night cocktails. A menu overseen by executive chef Mike Reid will also include whole grilled seabass served with olive oil, lemon and herbs, and marinated pork matambre with Malbec jam among other dishes. An eight-seater counter-top beef bar also offers an Argentine beef tasting menu, featuring prime cuts prepare to each guest’s taste, and the chance for diners to cook their own steaks on individual hot stones. The restaurant also has two private dining rooms, named after the building’s former occupants, with The Manager’s Office offering space for up to ten people, and The Boardroom able to accommodate up to 18. Rare Restaurants has also opened a Gaucho in Glasgow this year, along with a new M site in Canary Wharf, and has also lined up Gaucho openings in Glasgow and Cardiff.
Morgans Hotel Group reports pre-tax profit of £189.7m after selling operations: Morgans Hotel Group has reported turnover fell 73.5% to £ £1,632,000 for the year ending 31 December 2021 compared with £6,153,000 the previous year after selling its operations to SBE Entertainment Group in July last year. The deal included Morgans’ three London properties – The Sanderson in the West End, St Martins Lane in Covent Garden and The Mondrian Hotel pond the South Bank. As a result of the sale, the business made a pre-tax profit of £189,709,000 compared with a loss of £8,221,000 the year before. The business received government grants of £427,000 (2020: £3,084,000). No dividend was paid (2020: nil).
Majestic freezes prices for on-trade until end of April: Wine seller Majestic has frozen prices for pubs and restaurants until next spring, as the hospitality industry grapples with a tough winter. The country’s largest wine retailer said it would lock its prices for the on-trade until the end of April 2023. Hospitality venues have been struggling with hiked costs across the board with energy to labour bills on the rise. Inflation in the UK has surged to 11.1% in recent weeks, sitting at a 41-year high. Pubs and bars are also facing a tumultuous time while consumers are themselves feeling the pinch of soaring household bills and tightening their belts. Hospitality businesses were set to experience a “difficult winter season”, Majestic’s chief operating officer Robert Cooke said.
Island Poké switches to using only Halal meat, Wembley store goes fully Halal: Island Poké, the White Rabbit Projects and Hero Brands-backed business, has switched to using only Halal meat across its 20 UK locations. The brand has also taken it a step further at its branch in Wembley Boxpark, which now uses fully Halal sauces and dressings too. James Porter, Island Poké founder, said: “We’re excited about the expansion of our Halal offering as we believe it’s a natural next step in our mission to provide the public with a healthy lunchtime alternative. Being Halal will allow us to welcome in a more diverse range of clientele.” Made fresh to order, menu options at Island Poké include sashimi grade salmon or tuna, tender chicken thigh and chimichurri steak. Customers can build their own bowls selecting from a range of vegetables such as ginger pickled carrots and salsa.
New immersive bar, restaurant and late-night venue to open in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter: A new immersive bar, restaurant and late-night venue will open in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter on Friday (16 December). Tabu Bar & Restaurant will bring together pan-Asian cuisine and live entertainment “all wrapped up in a luxury, underground retreat”. Inspired by the speakeasy scene of 1920s New York, Tabu Bar & Restaurant will be a subterranean venue with a spacious bar and dining area, along with private booths for groups, and will be home to live music every Thursday-Sunday night. The 200-cover restaurant will serve pan-Asian cuisine including sushi and gyoza. While performers entertain diners, the venue’s resident DJs will play a “soulful urban fusion” in the bar and lounge accompanied by live percussion and saxophonists. The venue will have capacity for 400 people. 
Fever-Tree appoints Domenic De Lorenzo as non-executive chairman: Fever-Tree, the premium tonic maker, has appointed Domenic De Lorenzo, a non-executive director of the business since May 2018, as its new non-executive chairman, with effect on completion of the company's annual general meeting (AGM) in May 2023. The company said De Lorenzo will work closely with Bill Ronald during a handover period before assuming the role of chair. Ronald was appointed to the board as chair in June 2013 ahead of the company's initial public offering in November 2014, and he informed the board in May this year of his intention to retire from his role and step down at the 2023 AGM. De Lorenzo is a qualified chartered accountant and brings with him a “wealth of global business experience” across the consumer goods and beverages sectors, having previously spent more than 20 years at SABMiller, the former FTSE 100 beverage company, where he focused on strategy and corporate finance before becoming chief financial officer and an executive board director. Ronald said: “Following a comprehensive recruitment process led by Coline McConville as chair of the nomination committee, I am delighted to welcome Domenic as my successor. Domenic brings exceptional leadership and commercial skills, with a clear focus on performance and a strong strategy skill set. Having worked with him in a board capacity since 2018, I can attest to his strength of judgement and proven governance reputation and focus, as well as his personal leadership skills.” De Lorenzo added: “I look forward to continuing to work with the board as well as the executive team and supporting the business to deliver on its exceptional global potential.”
Gareth Bale and The Depot open second Par 59 site: Football star Gareth Bale and Welsh independent entertainment brand The Depot have opened a second site for their new mini-golf bar and restaurant concept Par 59, in Bristol. The venue is located above Lane7 in Millennium Promenade and follows the original bar in Cardiff, which launched earlier this year. The new site is home to a “premium bar, exceptional food from an independent kitchen, Dirty Birdie, with plenty of space for casual dining and socialising”. There are two nine-hole mini golf courses and four interactive dart boards. Co-founder of Par 59, Nick Saunders, said: “We've had our eye on Bristol for a while, so to be finally opening over the bridge is exciting. We’ve pushed the boat out on the interior for this one. Decor aside, our hope is we’ve created a contemporary space where people will want to hang out, tuck into some street food, grab a drink, and ultimately enjoy socialising over a few games of mini-golf; a multifunctional space that delivers on all counts. Bookings for December are looking really good so far.” In March, Bale’s company, Elevens Group, and The Depot opened the first Par 59 at the 23,000 square-foot site of the former Liquid/Life nightclub in St Mary Street, Cardiff. It is understood the concept is working with Cardiff-based property advisors Fletcher Morgan to build a pipeline of new openings, with sites in Exeter, Bath, Newcastle, Southampton, Liverpool, Manchester and Edinburgh under consideration. It is also thought Par 59 will look overseas, with an opening in Dubai on its target list.
Former Duck & Waffle executive chef and Maslow’s founder confirms March opening for new Soho bistro: Former Duck & Waffle executive chef Tom Cenci and Maslow’s founder Guy Ivesha has confirmed their British bistro in London’s Soho, Nessa, will open in March. As previously reported, the 98-cover restaurant will sit on the ground floor of the new 1 Warwick members’ house, on the corner of Brewer Street and Warwick Street, divided into a bar and dining area, plus outside tables for alfresco dining. Executive chef Cenci, previously of Duck and Waffle and Loyal Tavern, will lead a seasonal menu using produce from Britain and across the channel. Small plates will include brioche with black pudding and brown butter noisette; and celeriac carbonara with confit egg, parmesan breadcrumbs and truffle. There will be a large sharing section featuring the likes of roast chicken with morels and chicken butter sauce; and ox cheek hot pot with confit potatoes. A breakfast menu will also be available, featuring English muffin with a sausage patty, fried egg and cheese; and crab benedict with poached eggs, crumpet and béarnaise sauce. The bar will have its own wine and cocktail list as well as a selection of snacks and small plates, also from Cenci.
Los Mochis founders confirm January opening for Notting Hill cocktail bar: The founders of Los Michos have confirmed Viajante87, an “innovative and experiential” cocktail bar in London’s Notting Hill, will open on Tuesday, 10 January. Co-founder Markus Thesleff said the new “high-energy hideaway” at 87 Notting Hill Gate will thread the “Baja-Nihon energy of its sister Los Mochis, through all elements including cocktail, design, and bar bites”. The cocktail development will be spearheaded by bar director Panos Kanatsoulis, formerly of Mr Fox Bar, The Clumsies Athens and Zuma Dubai, with a dedicated mixology lab sprawling across the basement. In October, Los Mochis, the Baja-Nihon restaurant, announced it was to open its second site, on the rooftop of 100 Liverpool Street at Broadgate. The original Los Mochis opened in Farmer Street, Notting Hill, at the end of 2020.

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