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Fri 3rd Mar 2023 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

El Mexicana business sold via pre-pack administration: The bulk of the El Mexicana business has been sold via a pre-pack administration, Propel has learned. Propel revealed in January the Mexican burrito brand, which was founded in 2011 by John Coverley, a former head of convenience stores at Sainsbury’s, had appointed advisors to explore its strategic options, including seeking further investment into the business. Administrators from Interpath Advisory have now completed a sale of a number of entities within parent company Elmex Group, which will see ten El Mexicana and Don Churro food outlets across the UK continue to trade. Tim Bateson and Chris Pole, of Interpath Advisory, were appointed as joint administrators to six entities within the Elmex Group: Cholco, LJS Food, Movingfeast, LJS Food Chelmsford, LJS Food Swindon, and LJS Food Worcester. Collectively, these six entities hold the leases for ten El Mexicana and Don Churro sites, as well as the company’s head office and kitchen in Stevenage. Immediately following their appointment, the joint administrators completed a sale of the businesses and their assets to Cholco Consulting, which comprises Cloverly and Paul Stagg as directors. A total of 92 employees have transferred to the purchaser as part of the transaction. Coverley and Stagg said: “We are delighted to have secured the future of this much-loved and long-established brand in the grab and go sector. We are confident the business will now be driven forward with renewed impetus, generating improved sales and profitability in what remains a challenging climate.” Bateson added: “El Mexicana has established itself as a popular grab and go food operator, with sites across a number of UK transport hubs and shopping centres. However, in common with other casual dining operators, it has recently had to contend with sharply rising costs, as well as challenging trading conditions in the wake of the pandemic. We’re therefore pleased to have been able to conclude this transaction, which safeguards the future of the brand, as well as a significant number of jobs.” El Mexicana opened its first restaurant at Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield. The business traded under a franchised quick service restaurant model, and at its peak in 2018, had 23 stores. The franchise model was phased out from 2018, with all stores brought “in-house” from 2020 by Coverley and the largest individual franchise operator. Its estate included a site at Luton airport plus five locations with motorway services operator Extra – at Baldock, Beaconsfield, Cambridge, Cobham and Peterborough. It also operated sites in Chelmsford, Romford, Stevenage, Swindon and Worcester. 

Industry News:

Panel featuring how next generation of sector leaders are addressing industry issues to feature at first Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2023, three free places per company for operators: A panel on how the next generation of sector leaders are approaching issues – including growth, staffing, diversity, sustainability and technology – will be held at the first Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2023. The conference takes place on Thursday, 23 March, at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in London’s Kensington, and is open for bookings. The all-day conference will focus on “challenges and opportunities”. Robyn Black, head of content at Fleet Street Communications, will lead the panel featuring Patrick Marrinan, chief executive of Pho; Richard Ferrier, chief executive of Brasserie Bar Co; Natasha Waterfield, chief executive of Big Fang Collective; and Amber Woods, managing director of Cosy Club. Operators can book up to three free places per company by emailing

Next edition of The New Openings Database to be sent to Premium subscribers today, to show details of 165 new sites, 8,000-word report included: The next edition of The New Openings Database will show the details of 165 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches for Premium subscribers when it is published today (Friday 3, March), at midday, including which company has opened a site or its plans to open one in the future. It will have details on what type of site it is and its location, and there will also be a website link to the businesses. The database is published on a monthly basis, and the next edition features growing restaurant and bar brands, niche cuisine, and expanding experiential concepts. Premium subscribers will also receive an 8,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to four other databases: the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book; the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database; and the Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage. 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. In this week’s Propel Premium, Simon Anderson, food hall consultant at Ideas Food Consultancy, and ex-chief operating officer at Market Halls, finishes his look at the food hall category and those smaller local operators that punch well above their size and location. At the same time, Charlie McVeigh, the founder of Draft House and chairman of Butchies, reports back on a recent trip to Japan and the country’s hospitality culture. 

Stay in a Pub to present consumer research findings: Stay in a Pub, the online promoter of UK pubs with rooms, will later this month present its consumer research findings following a study from CGA by NielsenIQ. Supported by VisitEngland and VisitBritain, the research is on behalf of the pub accommodation sector and will be presented in an event in central London on 28 March, entitled “Profitable Beds”. The event is from 10.30am to 3pm at The Counting House, 50 Cornill, and will include several presentations from sector leaders. Tickets are £50 each and include refreshments and lunch. Paul Nunny, founder of Stay in a Pub and managing director of Cask Marque, said: “The purpose of the research is twofold: to establish profiles and behaviours of buyers, and potential buyers, of pub accommodation, and to discover sector trends, insight and business challenges for pubs that sell rooms. The result will be the 2023 Pub Accommodation Report. The last report of this kind was published in 2019 and much has happened since then, so it will be an invaluable resource for the sector and industry decision markers.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a business in the entertainment industry that has diversified into other areas and is looking for a system analyst. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “You will work across the business with different stakeholders to make sure business systems and processes are fit for purpose, drive change management, manage projects and resolve issues at pre-implementation and implementation stages. This is an in-office role that comes with excellent benefits including on-site gym, healthcare, enhanced maternity and adoption leave and financial well-being.” The salary is up to £80,000 and the position is based in London. For more information, email

Company News:

Majority of Mamma Dough business acquired out of administration: The majority of the London better pizza business Mamma Dough has been acquired out of administration by a new company, backed by the founder of Exhibit Bars, Propel has learned. Propel revealed in December that the seven-strong Mamma Dough had been placed into administration, with Williams & Partners appointed by the joint administrators of the business, which was founded by Jake Harrison in 2014. The business and five of its sites – in Brixton, South Norwood, Sydenham, Peckham and Ladywell – have been acquired by new company The London Dough Co, for a total consideration of circa £135,000. A site in Tooting was not part of the deal. The London Dough Co is led by Emma Willis and Lisa Loebenberg, formerly marketing director of Drake & Morgan and owner of Exhibit Bars, which operates an eponymous site in Balham. Willis held a 5% shareholding in Mamma Dough and was previously its company secretary until March 2021. The joint administrators said: “Turnover for the nine months to 30 September 2022 was circa £2.15m (versus £2.49m in 2021) with a net operating loss before tax of approximately of £247,600 (versus a net operating loss before tax of approximately £130,000 in 2021). About 20% of the loss relates to the central production unit in Honor Oak Park, which is categorised as its own cost centre. The most recent losses have been attributed to the impact of the Omicron variant of covid-19, which significantly impacted in-restaurant dining in December 2021 and caused large numbers of cancelled bookings. The war in Ukraine in February 2022 caused a significant spike in grain and flour prices. Furthermore, as a result of the company’s gas supplier ceasing to trade, the company was forced into a new gas supply contract at the height of the recent turmoil in the market resulting in a 600% increase in the price. Furthermore, increases in the cost of food products and wage inflation have further impacted the business.” Last year, Mamma Dough announced plans to expand across the country with a franchising model. It said it had built a loyal London fan base and was looking to replicate that on a wider geographic scale while maintaining its “quality, atmosphere and service values”.

Timpson family buys ski hotel in France: A ski hotel in France has been acquired by the property arm of retailer Timpson for an undisclosed sum. Le Tremplin Hotel in Morzine has been incorporated into the group’s Flock Inns business, which includes The Partridge, Stretton, The White Eagle, Rhoscolyn, The Oystercatcher, Maelog Lake and The Old Hall, Frodsham. Timpson is a family-owned group that was founded in 1865. Its brands also include Max Spielmann, Johnsons The Cleaners, Snappy Snaps, Jeeves of Belgravia and The Watch Lab. The three-star Le Tremplin Hotel was established in 1936 by Jeanne and Gaston Taberlet and was one of the first to be set up at the Morzine resort. The hotel also features the Tremplin restaurant, which offers a menu of gourmet dishes alongside pastries, desserts and other sweet treats. The third generation of the family took over the running of the hotel in 2010. According to its most recently available accounts, Flock Inns reported turnover of £4.5m in the period from 18 June 2020 to 25 September 2021, and a pre-tax profit of £540,726. For the 12 months to 25 September 2021, the Timpson group posted pre-tax profits of £24.5m after reporting losses of £10.7m for the prior year. Turnover increased from £209.3m to £212.2m. Flock Inns features in the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies – one of five databases exclusive to Premium subscribers. 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 2,789 companies. 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.

Döner Shack aiming to make US debut ‘in coming months’: Döner Shack, the Berlin fast casual kebab concept, is aiming to make its US debut in the coming months. Propel revealed in December that the five-strong brand, founded in 2018 by Sanjeev Sanghera and Laura Bruce, is aiming for up to 20 UK openings in 2023 and is taking its first steps into the European and US markets. Sanghera has just been out in Las Vegas, for the International Franchise Convention, where he was hoping to lay some foundations for entry into the US. “It’s been fascinating talking with so many franchise experts, learning about the challenges that we face, talking about the opportunities that exist and the desire for new food brands to enter the US market,” he said. “Entering the US with Döner Shack is not a step that we take lightly. We’ve now been planning and preparing for two years to ensure the brand is positioned right and that we enter the market in the right locations. We’ll be looking to put that plan in to action in the coming months.” As it also prepares to open its flagship venue in London’s Baker Street, the rest of the brand’s 2023 pipeline will include an additional four or five new openings in the capital, as well as a focus on the West Midlands.

Chaiiwala set to open third Scottish site: Street food cafe franchise Chaiiwala is set to open its third Scottish site, in Edinburgh. The chain, which already has sites in Glasgow and Dundee, has taken a vacant former retail unit in the Scottish capital’s Fort Kinnaird development. Chaiiwala, which opened its first site in 2016, in Leicester, now has circa 80 UK sites. In January, it opened the first Indian drive-thru in the UK, in Bolton, Greater Manchester. Chaiiwala co-founder Sohail Ali will be speaking at the first Propel Multi-Club Conference this year, which takes place on Thursday, 23 March at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in London. Ali will discuss the concept’s creation, its expansion in the UK and internationally, the size of the opportunity and its move into the drive-thru category. Operators can book up to three free places. Email to book your places. Chaiiwala also features in the Propel UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which is an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK and is available exclusively to Premium subscribers. The database is updated every two months. 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.

Mollie’s appoints former Coppa Club group operations chef as it gears up to open first city centre site, eyes further UK expansion: Mollie’s, the motel concept designed by Soho House, has appointed former Coppa Club group operations chef Dan Gover as it gears up to open its first city centre site, ahead of further planned UK expansion. Gover has joined the company, which has locations in Oxfordshire and Bristol and is set to open in Manchester later this year, as group innovation and development chef. He will work alongside Kate Brook-Green, who was brought in as head of food in September, to enhance its food and beverage offer. Gover will also work on the brand’s customer experience strategy and develop its training and development programmes. Come the fourth quarter, his focus will switch to the training and onboarding of a new team to head up Mollie’s Manchester, which will span 100,000 square feet in the old Granada TV studios. The venue will have several key food and beverage touchpoints including a diner, a grab-and-go deli, a large cocktail bar, a live music event space and an outdoor heated terrace. Gover said: “As we gear up to launch Manchester, it’s a busy time, and we look forward to crafting an opening model that we can roll out across more UK sites – both roadside and city centre – in the near future.” At Coppa Club, Gover led on the development of core dishes and handled training programmes across the UK, as well as helping launch new Coppa Clubs in Streatley, Brighton and Cobham. Before that, he worked in head chef roles at the White Horse Hotel in Romsey, and Jamie’s Italian and The Pig, both in Brockenhurst.

Team behind Chiltern Firehouse and Allegra set to open new King’s Cross restaurant: The team behind Marylebone luxury restaurant and hotel Chiltern Firehouse and Allegra at The Stratford hotel will next month open a new restaurant in London’s King’s Cross. Restaurateur and hotelier Harry Handelsman, who is also behind Booking Office 1869 at St Pancras and the restored St Pancras Hotel, will open The Midland Grand Dining Room in Euston Road in April, in collaboration with chef Patrick Powell, who will continue to oversee Allegra. Sitting alongside the restored restaurant will be stand-alone bar called Gothic Bar, as well as a private dining room, chef’s table experience and an expansive outdoor terrace. The opening will be the culmination of Handelsman’s decades-long regeneration of King’s Cross, which he spearheaded with the acquisition and redevelopment of St Pancras Chambers in 2002. The new restaurant is named after Midland Grand Hotel, the 19th century hotel which originally occupied the building. Powell spent four years as head chef at Chiltern Firehouse before being hand-picked by Handelsman to open Allegra. His regularly changing menu will have French origins but with particular focus on British fish and meat. Available alongside the à la carte menu will be a set lunch menu, plus a concise wine and cocktail list. Signature dishes will include crab and elderflower pain perdu, chicken liver parfait with a truffle and Madeira jelly and grand marnier soufflé. Handelsman said: “Since I redeveloped and reopened St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel back in 2011, the regeneration of King’s Cross has continued apace, cementing midtown as a true destination within the capital, and I’m convinced that under Patrick Powell, the upcoming launch of The Midland Grand Dining Room will go a long way to now securing the neighbourhood's culinary reputation too.” 

German street food business to open at Sheffield food hall: German street food business Get Wurst has opened at Orchard Square in Sheffield city centre. Get Wurst, founded and run by husband-and-wife team Paul and Lindsay Melbourne, has launched at Sheffield Plate, a food hall that hosts street food vendors offering cuisine from around the world. Get Wurst was established in Sheffield in 2015 and has gained popularity at events, festivals and pop-ups. Paul Melbourne said: “Having worked hard to build the Get Wurst brand over the last eight years, we are excited to be opening in Orchard Square and establishing a home of German street food at Sheffield Plate, which is fast establishing a reputation for a ‘one stop shop’ food destination, and so this feels like the right time and the right place for us to grow and further build our brand.”

British-Sri Lankan chef to open debut restaurant this month: Coventry-born Sri Lankan chef Cynthia Shanmugalingam is to open her debut restaurant, Rambutan in London’s Borough Market, this month. The restaurant, located in the former Konditor cake store premises in Stoney Street, will be inspired by Shanmugalingam’s Tamil roots and growing up in a Sri Lankan village. Daily changing menus will feature street food snacks as well as larger plates. The 60-cover restaurant – which will span two floors and open on Friday, 17 March – will also offer a seasonal selection of authentic curries. Downstairs, a bar will offer a menu of island-inspired cocktails along with a selection of beer from south London brewers, and a weekly changing line-up of low-intervention wine. Shanmugalingam said: “Rambutan has been a long time in the making. London’s Sri Lankan diaspora is doing amazing things in music, fashion and art right now, and I hope with Rambutan, I can add food to that list. I believe I’m the first British-Sri Lankan female chef to open a restaurant in central London, and I’m thrilled to be able to represent the extraordinary creativity and warm hospitality of all the Sri Lankan women who taught me how to cook.”

Lake District group pays back £3m CBILS loan, sells hotel and refinances: Low Wood Hotel, which operates a series of hospitality venues in the Lake District, has paid back its £3m Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) loan, sold a hotel and refinanced its bank loans. The company, which runs the Low Wood Bay hotel at Windermere as well as the Low Wood Club and the Watersports Centre, reported turnover of £13,690,400 for the year ending 31 March 2022, up from £6,560,978 in 2021. Of this, £10,800,287 came from hotel and leisure, and £2,890,153 from water sports and other activities. The figure also exceeded the £12,005,164 reported in the last full year before the pandemic, ending 31 March 2020. Pre-tax profit rose from £886,335 in 2021 to £5,684,484 (2020: £1,055,713). Dividends of £379,155 were paid. The company received £295,469 in Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme payments compared with £1,644,825 in 2021. Employee numbers fell from 192 in 2021 to 176. During the year, the company sold The Waterhead Hotel, in Ambleside, for £5.6m, which was in excess of its carrying value and made a £1.3m profit on disposal. These funds will be split between reducing debt and being held in reserve for future investment. As well as repaying its £3m CBILS loan, its remaining bank loans were refinanced and are now repayable in March 2026. Of the £14,550,000 owed (2021: £25,935,740), £900,000 is repayable in one year and the rest after. In his statement accompanying the accounts, director Matthew Wilkinson said: “So far, the performance for the current financial year has seen a drop off from 2021-22. The cost-of-living crisis is having an impact on all business, particularly those in the discretionary leisure sector. Despite this, 2022-23 is set to be ahead of the historic average in terms of operating profits.”

Huddersfield’s former market building to become food hall as part of £210m project: Huddersfield’s former Queensgate Market building is to become a new food hall as part of the town’s £210m ‘Cultural Heart’ regeneration project. The local authority has given planning permission for the grade II-listed building to be redeveloped, with the first phase of works set to get underway in the spring of 2024. The new food hall will provide space for around ten independent food stalls, centred around large communal seating areas. Within the same building, a new event space and terrace will be built on the top floor, looking out over a new public square. Leader of Kirklees Council, councillor Shabir Pandor, said: “We are in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, and we understand that times are challenging right now for many. This reinforces our ambition to grow our town centre offer and give people more reasons to visit and spend time here.”

Former Coal Rooms operators find new home for nose-to-tail concept Whole Beast: Sam and Alicja Bryant, who were behind the Coal Rooms restaurant in Peckham, have found a new south London home for their nose-to-tail concept Whole Beast. After a series of pop-ups, Whole Beast is now operating from The Fat Walrus pub in New Cross. Using the outside barbecue and charcoal grill, the Bryants’ menu includes dishes such as smoked whole chicken (for two) and sourdough sauce; and smoked mutton shoulder. As well as opening the Coal Rooms, the Bryants had a stint as heads of food at MeatLiquor. Owner David Mitchell opened The Fat Walrus five years ago having spent the previous seven years as a general manager for The Capital Pub Company, working at south London sites such as The Florence and The New Cross House. 

GSG confirms March opening for joint venture with Secret Diners Club founder: GSG has confirmed the Liverpool venue it is opening in partnership with Secret Diners Club founder Daniel Heffy will launch later this month. The joint venture, Nord, will open on the ground floor of the city’s 18-storey The Plaza building on Thursday, 23 March, offering “relaxed dining with a focus on ingredients from regional producers and a menu that celebrates northern heritage”. Influenced by Heffy’s time in Scandinavia, dishes will include Cornish white crab with sour cream, pickled silver onion and fennel on butter fried toast; burrata with roasted butternut, kale salad and sage and hazelnut dressing; and chargrilled pork belly with baby gem and coriander salad. Having founded Secret Diners Club with Michael Harrison in 2013, Heffy was also head chef at Liverpool neighbourhood bar Buyers Club and part of the team behind street food concept Cahita, at the city’s Duke Street Market, which is operated by GSG. He moved to Sweden in 2017, working at the three Michelin-starred Frantzén and Michelin-starred Adam/Albin. He said: “I’m excited to reveal a taste of what’s to come at Nord. While the menu focuses on mainly British ingredients and style, there will also be influences from my experience in Stockholm, with plenty of fresh fish, pickled items and contrasting flavours.” GSG also operates Bold Street Coffee, Manolo, Slims, Salt Dog Slims, 81, El Bandito and Peppercat Sports concepts in the north west.

London Hampton by Hilton hotel goes on market: Hampton by Hilton’s London Docklands hotel has gone on the market. Christie & Co has been appointed by joint administrators Ian Corfield and Simon Carvill-Biggs, of FRP Trading Advisory, to find a buyer for the 209-bedroom hotel. Subject to relevant approvals and consents, there is potential to create ten additional bedrooms. Interested parties can either acquire the existing lease or secure a new lease with hotel management agreement, subject to consents and approvals. Craig Millward, director of corporate hotels at Christie & Co, said: “We are witnessing a great deal of interest in this asset, which is reflective of the demand from hotel operators for quality assets and the ongoing recovery in the market.”

Creative Restaurant Group confirms May opening for new ‘dining experience’ 20 Berkeley: Creative Restaurant Group, which is behind Michelin-starred Endo at the Rotunda and sushi spot Sumi, has confirmed a May opening for its fourth site in London, 20 Berkeley. As previously reported, the 120-seat, British produce-led restaurant and bar concept will open at 20 Berkeley Street in Mayfair, offering an á la carte menu that changes with the seasons. The upper ground floor will consist of a drawing room overlooked by a pantry, where 20 Berkeley’s produce will be on display. There will also be an orangery, a downstairs private dining room and a bar dedicated to cocktails. Alex D’Aguiar, managing director of Creative Restaurant Group, said: “When we had the opportunity to take on this particular site, we were excited as no hospitality venture has ever sat on 20 Berkeley Street previously. The space has the feeling of walking into a manor house, and it felt fitting that, given this restaurant will be a celebration of British produce, the atmosphere would capture the feeling of being in a home.” Executive chef Ben Orpwood, who previously held roles at Maison Estelle, Gordon Ramsay Group, Azumi Group and Caprice Holdings, will head up the kitchen. He added: “Coming back to the UK (from Australia) in 2015 led me on a journey to fall back in love with the variation of seasonality and British produce. Here in the UK, we have the best asparagus, the best lobster and the best scallops in the world. 20 Berkeley will be an ode to the farmers and suppliers who have made this project possible.” 

Former Nobu head chef Scott Hallsworth to open first bricks and mortar site for Freak Scene this month: Former Nobu head chef Scott Hallsworth will open the first bricks and mortar site for his pan-Asian concept Freak Scene this month. Propel revealed in January that Hallsworth had secured the former Quadra site in Fulham, west London, and it has been confirmed the site will open on Wednesday, 22 March. Freak Scene previously operated as a pop-up in Farringdon, in 2017, and then at the ex-Barrafina site in Frith Street, Soho. Hallsworth has previously launched restaurants in Melbourne, St Tropez, Bodrum, Jeddah, Zermatt, Chamonix, Nairobi, Cape Town, Toronto and London. Teaming up with Australian comedian, author, radio and television presenter Adam Hills, known for his stand-up and hosting of Channel 4’s The Last Leg and the channel’s Super League rugby coverage, the duo have come together to kick off The Freak Scene with 46 covers in Parsons Green Lane. Dishes will include salmon sashimi pizza with truffle ponzu, and black cod tacos with scorched red chilli salsa. Freak Scene is inspired by Hallsworth’s experience in Japanese, Singaporean and Malay cooking. He said: “I’m stoked to be back in Fulham, almost a decade after I launched my first post-Nobu restaurant in King’s Road.”

Sam Harrison set to open new west London cafe: Chef Sam Harrison is set to open a new west London cafe next month. Harrison, who operates Sam’s Riverside and Sam’s Larder in Hammersmith, as well as a further Sam’s Larder in Chiswick, will be opening Sam’s Kitchen in the former Café Plum site at 17 Crisp Road, Hammersmith. Serving breakfast, brunch and lunch, it will offer dishes such as chilli-poached eggs with seasonal greens, garlic confit, chilli butter and whipped ricotta on toasted sourdough bread, reports Hot Dinners. In December, Harrison secured sites for two further openings, both within the Brentford Project development in Brentford. The sites – a further Sam’s Larder and a new Sam’s Waterside concept – are both due to launch in July.

Hollywood Bowl gives former AMF Bowling site in Torquay £350,000 La La Land-inspired makeover: Hollywood Bowl Group, the UK’s largest ten-pin bowling operator, has given its former AMF Bowling site in Torquay a £350,000 La La Land-inspired makeover. Work has been completed on the Torwood street site, which features 21 revamped bowling lanes, including four state-of-the-art VIP lanes, plus décor inspired by the hit Hollywood musical, La La Land. There is also an American-style bar and diner offering classics such as hot dogs, burgers, shakes and signature cocktails, plus an amusement area.

Birmingham tandoori chaii concept opens third site: Birmingham tandoori chaii concept Chaiiology has opened a third site, and second in the city. The concept followed its debut site, in Birmingham’s Ladypool Road, with a second restaurant, in Southall’s The Broadway, west London, in February 2022. It has now returned to its home city for its latest site, in Soho Road, in the Handsworth district of Birmingham. Specialising in pink chai, karak, dhood patti, and its “iconic tandoor chai”, Chaiiology also serve a healthy variety of Indian sweet and savoury food items. These include butter chicken roll, chaat, sweet chilli chips and milkcake desserts.

Somerset restaurant company uses £350,000 loan to secure freehold of flagship founding site: A family-run Somerset restaurant group has used a £350,000 bank loan to secure the freehold of its flagship founding site. Tamburino – which operates Italian restaurants in Sherbourne, Yeovil and Street – said its debut site in Sherborne experienced significant demand over the festive period, with sales hitting record levels. This left the business ready to invest long-term in the site, and it secured the funding from Lloyds to purchase the freehold of the property. “Our roots in the south west date almost 18 years, so when we got the opportunity to take ownership of our flagship restaurant in Sherborne, we knew we had to do it,” director Domenico Taravella told Insider Media. “Buying the restaurant reinforces our commitment to the local area and will allow us to be flexible in our plans for the business as we continue to provide the best Italian cuisine for our loyal customers.” Simon Davidson, relationship manager at Lloyds Bank, added: “The UK hospitality industry has enjoyed a resurgence since the end of the pandemic and, although businesses are continuing to face staffing challenges, we’re seeing customers continue to enjoy spending locally. Domenico and his team’s passion for delivering quality service, coupled with using locally sourced produce, has helped create a very successful brand.” Tamburino also operates Sicilian cafe concept Pizza Pasta Mondo, with sites in Sherborne and Yeovil.

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