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Wed 8th Feb 2023 - Lane7 and Level X owner to open two London sites and make European debut, Gong Cha opens first UK dark kitchen
Lane7 and Level X owner to open two London sites and make European debut: The owner of boutique bowling company Lane7 and gaming and entertainment venue Level X is to open two new London sites and make its European debut. The ambition is to open in Victoria towards the end of the year, with another as yet unnamed site also in progression. The company will also add a second site in Birmingham’s Bullring, which will be the group’s largest venue yet, adding to another imminent Lane7 opening in Bath this month. The group will also start European expansion with a site in central Dublin, also due to open before the end of the year. The company said Level X launches will look to continue to take on now vacant city centre, multi-floor department store sites. The business said the popularity of its first Level X, opened in central Glasgow just months ago, has “exploded”. The first of several new Level X venues will opening in Middlesbrough in the first half of 2023. Owner and founder of Lane7 and Level X, Tim Wilks said: “When we launched the Lane7 brand ten years ago in Newcastle, the insane customer response immediately told us we had a pioneering concept that other locations across the UK would love. Every new site opening has enabled us to push the boundaries further than what even I thought possible. Every time, the customer demand has told us to keep pushing to introduce new experiences and concepts. We’ve been imitated many times over, which is unbelievably flattering, but every new opening, and our breathless expansion plans, show that we remain way ahead of the competition. We remain fiercely independent, so their shackles are off and the possibilities are endless. Making plans for an aggressive European offensive and to land hard in London with two sites this year is an enormous statement of intent. We dream big and then deliver. It’s what we do.” The centrepiece of the Middlesbrough Level X opening will be a never-before-seen concept called “Drift Hall”. Wilks said: “This is an indoor karting track, but all karts are electronically synced. Racers will be able to drop virtual banana skins, leave virtual oil patches or throw virtual bombs that will have the ability to physically slow or stop rival racers. It’s a mind-bending concept, mixing virtual and real-world experiences. Level X is the future of entertainment today.” He added: “We’ve reached a stage where there is not only continued huge demand for our product, but also an expectation from our customers that we keep pushing the boundaries of late-night socialising. Culture evolves, and our high streets need reimagining. Our expansion plans keep us firmly at the forefront of UK hospitality.”

Gong Cha opens first UK dark kitchen, plans ten new sites in Britain in coming months: Gong Cha, the fast-growing bubble tea brand, has launched its first dark kitchen in the UK, in Kingsbury, London. Founded in Taiwan in 1996, Gong Cha first expanded overseas in 2009 and has grown significantly to operate more than 1,900 stores in 22 countries. The launch of Gong Cha’s first dark kitchen in the UK marks the opening of the brand’s 12th store across Britain. The new virtual store in Kingsbury, launched in partnership with Foodstars UK, available to customers across all major delivery platforms, will bolster Gong Cha’s existing footprint in the UK, while introducing more consumers to the joys of bubble tea, the business said. The company added it also offers an opportunity for Gong Cha to test a new, highly scalable format as it accelerates growth. After relocating its global headquarters to London in 2022, Gong Cha is executing an ambitious European expansion strategy, with recent launches in Belgium and Portugal. It has a global vision to, on average, open a new store every day in 2023. This will see the brand launch ten new stores in the UK over the coming months. Paul Reynish, global chief executive of Gong Cha, said: “We’re pleased to launch our first UK dark kitchen. This offers an opportunity for us to test a new concept, enhance our presence in London – offering our high-quality bubble tea to consumers in an area that we do not currently serve – and raise awareness of the Gong Cha brand. This is also an important milestone in our plans to scale up in the UK – a strategically important market for Gong Cha as we execute our European expansion plans.”

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