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Fri 10th Mar 2023 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Hornby – signs are promising for Wagamama in the US: Andy Hornby, chief executive of The Restaurant Group (TRG), has said although it is still early days, the signs are promising when it comes to Wagamama’s growth strategy in the US. The company operates seven sites in the US under a joint venture partnership, where TRG is a minority investor. TRG retains the option to repurchase the remaining 80% of the business starting in December 2027. It said its US joint venture partners had made good progress with the operations in the business – with customer ratings having improved “significantly” and currently average 4.2/5 for FY22 versus 3.9/5 in FY21 (as measured by Yelp). With regard to new site development, the joint venture is focusing its expansion plans in regions outside of New York and Boston, where the operating and property costs are significantly lower and in the last six months has opened two new sites in Atlanta and Tampa. It said while early days, the “overall performance across the two sites has been encouraging”. Two further sites are due to open in FY23 in Dallas and Arlington. TRG said: “The joint venture board will decide the precise scale of the future expansion plans but we would expect to be targeting an overall estate size of 25-35 sites by December 2027.” Hornby told Propel: “It is exciting going to places like Arlington and Tampa. These are huge conurbations but probably haven’t had the most classically broad dine in, certainly not pan-Asian, cuisines to choose from. It is early days but the signs are promising.” TRG earlier this week reported reported that its Wagamama, Brunning & Price and Concessions businesses saw their like-for-like sales all out-perform their respective market benchmarks in FY22, as it announced plans to exit circa 35 leisure division sites. It is also reportedly being targeted by a second activist shareholder, Irenic Capital Management. Hornby told Propel yesterday that he is confident TRG’s main shareholders are behind its strategy. The Restaurant Group features in the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book. Its turnover of £636,600,000 is the 15th highest in the database. The Blue Book ranks companies by turnover, profit and profit conversion, listing directors’ earnings for the past five years. 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

Industry News:

Chaiiwala founder Sohail Ali to speak at first Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2023, three free places per company for operators: Sohail Ali, founder of street food cafe franchise Chaiiwala, will be among the speakers 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”. 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 per company by emailing
Latest edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book to be released today: The latest edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book will be sent to Premium subscribers today (Friday, 10 March), at midday. It now features 709 companies that are turning over a total of £40.2bn. The Blue Book shows 455 companies in profit and 254 reporting losses. The Blue Book is updated each month and ranks companies by turnover, profit and profit conversion, listing directors’ earnings for the past five years. Premium subscribers also receive access to four other databases: the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; the New Openings Database; the Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage; and the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of 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 are also to be given exclusive access to the recording and slides to Propel Multi-Club Conferences. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel group editor Mark Wingett.
Pizza Hut UK CFO calls on government to give restaurants energy bills relief and cut corporation tax in spring Budget: Pizza Hut UK & Europe chief financial officer Kate Vacovec has called on the government to give restaurants energy bills relief and cut corporation tax next week. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will unveil his spring Budget on Wednesday, March 15. Vacovec said: “From the pandemic hangover, an endemic labour shortage crisis, supply chain disruption, rising energy prices and food costs – the last four years have been incredibly challenging for UK hospitality. Yet, throughout this period, government initiatives have been critical to the sector. Ahead of the budget, we urge government to continue supporting businesses during a period of low consumer spending. While we welcome the extension of some energy support for the industry beyond March, we ask that government reconsiders its decision not to include restaurants from the enhanced energy-intensive industries scheme and to increase corporation tax at a time when businesses are still weathering the storm. At Pizza Hut, we are maniacally focused on doing everything possible to support our franchisees, employees and customers. Ensuring a competitive rate of corporation tax and additional relief on bills will allow us to better balance the multiple cost pressures businesses like ours are facing to help UK hospitality can get back on its feet.” Pizza Hut operates more than 530 UK restaurants and employs in excess of 12,000 people nationwide. Meanwhile, the Campaign for Pubs has written to Hunt, calling for an emergency package in the Budget to save pubs and small breweries. This includes continued support for energy bills for small businesses, VAT of 5% on all hospitality/on-trade sales for 12 months, and an extension of zero business rates for the next fiscal year and a revision for 2023-24.
New alcohol advertising proposals would damage Scotland’s hospitality sector ‘for generations’: UKHospitality has warned the Scottish government that going ahead with its new alcohol advertising proposals would inflict significant financial pain on the country’s hospitality sector. Holyrood is currently consulting on changes to how alcohol is advertised, with one idea suggesting drinks should be kept behind till areas and covered in the same way as cigarettes. Regulations could also be strengthened to ban sponsorships at sporting and live events, as well as barring distillery and brewery shops from selling branded merchandise. UKHospitality Scotland executive director Leon Thompson said: “It cannot be overstated how wide-ranging and damaging these proposals would be to hospitality businesses, if implemented. It would be a self-inflicted act of harm that would damage our sector for generations. Almost no one benefits from this. Businesses, consumers and the Scottish economy will suffer as a result. The business community is in lockstep on this, and I would urge the government to heed the advice of UKHospitality Scotland, and others, and not go ahead with these damaging restrictions.” Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, added: “If enacted, the proposals would have a catastrophic impact not just for Scottish producers, but for so many other vital sectors that are engines of economic growth. This would include our tourism industry as well as sports clubs and associations, from professional to grassroots community level. Our cultural sector, theatres and cinemas would also come under additional pressure as well as public transport providers.”
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a London arts venue that is seeking an experienced general manager. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “You will be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day running of the site, management and development of your teams, and full P&L accountability. You will have experience working in a management position within hospitality or leisure; proven ability to organise, lead and motivate a large team; and be creative with a results-driven approach to deliver high quality service.” The salary is up to £60,000. For more information, email

Company News:

Eggleston – new coffee house concept could be rolled out if successful, hopeful of opening up to four new steakhouses this year: North east operator Howard Eggleston has told Propel his new coffee house concept could be rolled out if it proves to be successful, and he remains hopeful of opening up to four new steakhouses this year. The Tomahawk Steakhouse Group owner has applied for permission to convert an empty unit next to his Rio Brazilian site in Middlesbrough into a new Latin American coffee, lunch and breakfast concept called Rio Cantina, as previously reported. If it gets the green light from Middlesbrough Council, work should start in May, with the new spot opening in mid-July. “It’s a bit of an experiment,” Eggleston told Propel. “We’re always looking for new ideas, and we’re seeing this as a trial, or a pilot. There’s no roll-out plan at the moment but we could look at doing so in the future if it’s successful. We could make a go of it if we do more sites that have the space. It’s about being creative and maximising floor space, and because it’s next door to the steakhouse, we can use the same products.” Of his other brands, Eggleston remains confident of opening at least four more sites this year. A new Tomahawk Steakhouse will open in Morpeth next month, but further sites in Sunderland and Harrogate have been hit by delays. “With Sunderland, the landlord changed mid-deal and it has to be re-done, whereas Harrogate had the same cladding as Grenfell Tower, so the building has needed to be completely destructured,” Eggleston said. “We’re hopeful both will still open in 2023.” Further sites in Sheffield and York remain in legals, with Eggleston hopeful Sheffield, at least, will open this year. In December, the group reported turnover of just under £40m for 2022, with Eggleston forecasting it to rise to £50m in 2023. “Christmas was good, and for no real reason I can find, January was busier than December,” he added. “Sales-wise, people are still coming in, and we’re actually 8% ahead of where we thought we would be. But as everyone is finding, it’s the things you can’t control – we got one utility bill of £25,000 for a single site for one month, but we’re contesting that as it may be a faulty meter. But when the government utility bill support for businesses drops in April it’s going to be horrific – electricity bills could literally make or break a site.”

Leon owner EG Group reports ‘good progress’ for foodservice division in 2022: EG Group, the owner of Leon, has said its foodservice division made “good progress” in 2022, as it reported a 25.1% increase in group revenue and 1.9% rise in group Ebitda. Revenue grew to $33.04bn in the year ending 31 December 2022, while Ebitda was up to $1.46bn for the year. In the fourth quarter, the underlying performance of the group was consistent with 2021. Ebitda of $303m decreased by 15% year on year primarily due to currency movements, but on a constant currency basis, Ebitda of $323m shows a decrease of 9% on last year, with this movement due to non-recurring items in the quarter. EG grew total revenue by 14.2% to $7.99bn on a constant currency basis in the fourth quarter compared with 2021. Ongoing growth in the group’s foodservice business was supported by 23 new openings in the quarter. The group’s network increased to 6,612 sites by the end of the year, of which two thirds are company owned and company operated. The group said: “In 2022, the group continued to invest and innovate across its multi-purpose sites, which serve significant numbers of customers on a daily basis. Our foodservice business continued to make good progress, reflecting our unparalleled offering and continuous innovation across our proprietary and popular third-party brands. Ongoing growth in foodservice was supported by an increase in outlets globally, and 88 new openings in the year across the group, reflecting our disciplined approach to capital investment.” Zuber Issa, co-founder and co-chief executive of EG Group, said: “In 2022, we delivered a highly resilient performance, despite macro-economic headwinds. We continued to expand our successful foodservice business through disciplined investment in our unparalleled offering and ongoing innovation across proprietary and popular third-party brands.” Earlier this week, EG agreed to the sale and leaseback of a portfolio of its sites on the east coast of the US to Realty Income Corporation for about $1.5bn. Issa added: “As we previously stated, management is committed to further significant deleveraging and is actively exploring additional opportunities to put in place a sustainable capital structure for the group to underpin our long-term strategy. Looking ahead, we remain confident EG is well-positioned to continue to outperform the wider market and execute on our strategic objectives.”
The Breakfast Club partners with SSP for debut travel hub location, at Gatwick airport: All-day dining concept The Breakfast Club has partnered with SSP Group for its debut travel hub location, at Gatwick airport. The restaurant – which will offer signature dishes such as the pancake-based “The All American” and “The Full Monty” English fry-up, as well vegetarian and vegan options – could be the first of many rolled out through SSP’s portfolio. Jonathan Arana-Morton, who co-founded The Breakfast Club in 2005, said: “18 years of looking after this business has made us hugely protective about the brand and who we work with, so it is very reassuring to be partnering with SSP. Its operational expertise means we will be able to deliver the same The Breakfast Club experience our guests expect in London, Brighton, Oxford and Chelmsford. It’s a source of enormous pride for us to be welcoming The Breakfast Club customers, old and new, to such a high-profile location as this.” SSP said The Breakfast Club will be ideal for Gatwick as it has a strong morning menu and does more than half its high street trade before midday. Breakfast offers are an essential part of the food and beverage mix at Gatwick, according to SSP, as approximately 45% of its flights take off before midday. It said the restaurant in the North Terminal will offer “quality food at an affordable price point”. Kari Daniels, chief executive SSP UK & Ireland, added: “At SSP, we have a long history of working closely with popular high street brands to make them relevant to the travelling customer. We’re proud of partnering with The Breakfast Club on this exciting opening and we see significant scope to open up more The Breakfast Club restaurants in airports in the future.”
Whitbread looking to secure 160 new UK and Ireland Premier Inn locations: Whitbread has said it is looking to secure 160 new UK and Ireland Premier Inn and hub by Premier Inn locations. This comes after it made 11 new openings and extensions to existing sites during the 2022-23 financial year – adding more than 1,500 bedrooms to its portfolio. The most recent was the opening of a 180-bedroom hub by Premier Inn hotel in Clerkenwell, central London. Other significant new openings during the year included the tallest Premier Inn in the UK, at Canary Wharf (Westferry), which stands at 28 storeys and offers 400 bedrooms, and the first Premier Inn to open in the Lake District National Park, at Keswick in Cumbria. It also opened a 393-bedroom Premier Inn at Paddington Basin, the first of three major new hotels to open in the Paddington area, and its first Premier Inn with a new format Brewers Fayre restaurant, at Milton Keynes (Willen Lake). The new hotels were delivered through a mixture of Whitbread-led freehold developments – as in the case of the Clerkenwell hotel – and leasehold hotels built in partnership with development partners. Alex Flach, UK development director for Whitbread, said: “The openings show how active we continue to be, having identified an increased market potential from 100,000 to 125,000 Premier Inn and hub by Premier Inn bedrooms in the UK and Ireland. They also clearly demonstrate the strength of our design and construction capabilities, often in sensitive and constrained locations. We completed some highly complex developments during the last financial year, growing our estate in popular, sought-after locations, and all these learnings will be fed into the next generation of locations for Premier Inn and hub across the UK and Ireland.” More than 500 jobs were created by Whitbread at the new and extended hotels and restaurants, and the company employs more than 35,000 people across its UK and Ireland network of 840-plus hotels.
Manchester food, drink and entertainment venue Freight Island set for roll out across UK cities following Peppermint partnership: Freight Island, the food, drink and entertainment venue in Manchester, is set to be rolled out across UK cities following a partnership with bars and event solutions business, Peppermint. The partnership will see Peppermint managing all of Freight Island’s eight bars, working alongside the Freight Island employees. The announcement comes a few weeks ahead of the unveiling of Freight Island 2.3. Having opened in 2020, amidst the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Freight Island has regularly attracted more than 12,000 visitors per week and turned over more than £20m in revenue. Dan Morris, managing director of Freight Island, said: “This puts us in a great position to maximise the potential of our Manchester site and move forward with our expansion plans.” Founded in 2003 by university friends Alex Brooke and Adam Hempenstall, Peppermint works with events, festivals, music and sport venues across the country. Brooke added: “Partnering with a site that has reinvented the way the world sees hospitality is an exciting move for Peppermint. We are committed to the customer journey, leading with cutting edge technology, in turn creating some amazing opportunities within the city of Manchester.”
Loungers eyes Oxford for Cosy Club opening: Cafe bar brand Loungers is looking to open a site under its Cosy Club brand in Oxford. The Nick Collins-led business is understood to have applied to open in the former Northgate House building in the city’s Cornmarket. The company currently operates 35 sites across the country under the Cosy Club brand. The business recently secured two former Prezzo sites as it continues to build its openings pipeline for its Lounge brand. The company, which last month opened Caballero Lounge in The Springs in Leeds, its 181st Lounge – and 217th site overall – is set to replace Prezzo in Thornbury, Gloucestershire, and in Malvern, Worcestershire. Last month, Loungers, which also operates the Brightside roadside concept, signed a 15-year lease at Animate, Preston’s city-owned £45m cinema and leisure complex. The company plans to open 30 sites across its latest financial year. 
Cooks Coffee set to open 20th Triple Two site, launches three new Esquires: Cooks Coffee Company, the international coffee focused cafe chain, is set to open its 20th Triple Two site and has launched three new Esquires. The new Triple Two location will open at Green Park Village in Reading, Berkshire, on Friday, 17 March. It will be a 20th site for the brand, with two more, in Bromley and Fresh Wharf in Barking, “coming soon”. It comes after the opening of three new Esquires sites. The brand has opened at 1 Collie Place in Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire, and 35 Corporation Street in Corby, Northamptonshire. Further afield, it has opened at unit 260 on the second level of the Tallaght Shopping Centre in Dublin. In January, Cooks Coffee reported record sales in the UK for the year ended 31 December 2022. Group sites in the UK and Ireland stood at 85 at the start of 2023, up from 82 at the start of 2022. Triple Two Coffee and Esquires both feature in the Propel UK Food & 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.
Star Pubs & Bars launches Coronation and bank holiday support packages: Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars has launched Coronation and bank holiday support packages on the back of research by the group that the pub is the place to be that weekend. Three quarters (75%) of pubgoers interested in the Coronation are open to celebrating it in the on-trade and 71% of those not intending to watch the ceremony are open to visiting a pub over the weekend. Star Pubs & Bars is launching £60,000 worth of free Coronation Day marketing materials to help licensees “create atmosphere, drive footfall and boost sales”, including a Grenadier Guard standee cut out for customers to take a selfie photo alongside. Cathy Olver, Star Pubs & Bars retail marketing director, said: “Sunday was the best trading day of last year’s early May bank holiday weekend, accounting for more than 50% of the weekend uplift. However, with the Coronation taking place on the Saturday, our research has revealed Saturday day and evening will be the key trading times this year followed by Friday evening. Trade will be further boosted by the extension of opening hours to 1am over the weekend. The Coronation is the biggest community event of the year. With people now planning pub outings in advance rather than making last minute decisions on where to go, promoting bank holiday and Coronation plans early using eye-catching point-of-sale will be key to attracting customers over this bumper month.”
Cardiff bao bun concept to open debut permanent site: Cardiff bao bun concept Bao Selecta is to open its debut permanent site. Owners Nick Spann and his wife Karolina are setting up home in the city’s Central Market, selling their steamed bao buns. They started the business in 2016, popping up at local food markets, catering events and weddings before honing their offer, making hundreds of takeaway bao buns at home during the pandemic. Nick said: “Cardiff Market continues to evolve. I love the diversity of the stalls. We didn’t want to step on any toes of what is already on offer in the market, but with our seitan crispy beef already being our best seller, we decided to go completely vegan for our stall. This is a really exciting step for us and provides a permanent venue with the flexibility for us to offer seasonal specials throughout the year.” Situated on the ground floor of the market, Bao Selecta will be open from Tuesday, 21 March, offering steamed bao buns and a new menu of rice bowls.
Former head chef of Michelin star restaurant to open fine dining venue in Durham: The former head chef of a Michelin star restaurant in Newcastle has unveiled plans to establish a fine dining venue with his wife in Durham. Jake and Laura Siddle are opening Faru in the former Mountain Warehouse store in Silver Street, which will offer a seasonal tasting menu created with British produce. Jake had previously worked as head chef at House of Tides, supporting it in its achievement of a Michelin star and four AA Rosettes, while Laura worked at the same restaurant as front of house manager. Work is now underway on Faru, which means journey in old English, which will include ten tables as well as an open kitchen. Laura said: “There is a gap in fine dining provision in Durham, and the high street isn't what it used to be, so we hope Faru will help to draw people back into the city centre. This is something we really want to do, and while covid was a reason not to open a leisure business a couple of years ago, and now the cost-of-living crisis could be another reason – you can always look for excuses not to do things, but we want to be brave and go for it.” Jake added: “Laura and I are on our journey, and this is the next step, which is a massive one for us to take but we can't wait to open. When people come to dine with us, we hope they are on a journey of their own as they move through the menu.” Sintons acted on the deal.
Popeyes confirms opening date for Welsh debut: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, the US fried chicken quick-service brand, has confirmed the opening date for its first Welsh restaurant. Propel reported in November that a site in Cardiff was among its 2023 pipeline, which is set to include up to 20 new locations. The site, on a ground floor unit previously occupied by BrightHouse at 6-7 St John Street, will now open on Thursday, 23 March. Tom Crowley, chief executive at Popeyes UK, said: “After a successful first 12 months of the brand in the UK, expanding into Wales was an obvious choice for us. We can’t wait to bring our iconic product and a taste of Louisiana magic to this buzzing city.” Popeyes kicked off its 2023 pipeline with openings in Cambridge and Reading in February. Among the other locations opening this year are Plymouth, Richmond, Rotherham and Glasgow’s Barhead, with the latter two set to be drive-thrus. The brand is also set to strengthen its footprint in London, with sites lined up in Kilburn and Woolwich, and has applied to open a further drive-thru site on the former Buddies Diner unit in Northampton.
Dough&Co to open Maldon restaurant: Dough&Co, the wood-fired pizza concept from former Marco Pierre White chef Chris Sharman, is to open a new site in Maldon, Essex. The company, which operates ten sites, is set to launch the venue in the next few weeks in High Street, next to the Mighty Oak Tap Room, reports Essex Live. Dough&Co’s latest restaurant to open in Essex was in Halstead in September 2020. In December, the business shut four of its sites – in Swindon, Sheffield, Milton Keynes and Hanley.
Former The River Cafe executive pastry chef to launch fundraiser for new London bakery: Anna Higham, former executive pastry chef at high-end Hammersmith Italian restaurant The River Cafe, is set to open a new London bakery and has launched a fundraiser to get it off the ground. She hopes to this summer open Quince Bakery at 267 New North Road, in Islington, in partnership with Paris Barghchi, who has worked for Neal’s Yard Dairy, The Clove Club and the We Are Noble group, which is behind P Franco and Bright. Previous to The River Cafe, Higham ran the bakery at Flor, the restaurant-turned-bakery and wine shop in London’s Borough Market from Lyle’s James Lowe and John Ogier. At Quince Bakery, the duo will be offering sourdough bread, buns, cookies, pies, tarts and cakes, as well as coffee, wine and a small grocery offering, reports Hot Dinners.
Independent hotel group acquires Newcastle venue: Independent hotel group KE Hotels has acquired the 148-bedroom Hotel Indigo in Newcastle. The four-storey property opened in June 2012 after being converted from an office building. The freehold site also comprises a ground floor lounge/bar and restaurant area, a health and fitness centre and a 102-space on-site car park. It also benefits from a franchise agreement with InterContinental Hotels Group, trading under the Indigo brand. JLL’s hotels and hospitality team acted for a consortium of private investors on the sale of the hotel to KE Hotels owner Anil Khanna. Khanna told Insider Media: “We are delighted to acquire Hotel Indigo Newcastle, it's a fabulous addition to our portfolio. Hotel Indigo is a fantastic location with a great team working at the hotel. We will be looking to invest in the hotel and securing its position as one of the leading boutique hotels in the city.” KE Hotels also operates the Linton Lodge Best Western Plus in Oxford and Moxy Manchester hotel. 
Birmingham bubble tea franchise set to open second site: Birmingham bubble tea franchise Mowchi is set to open its second site, in Bradford. The female-led business was founded last year by Syeda Kayanath, brand and marketing director at Midlands-based African restaurant concept Afrikana, opening its debut site at 363 Ladypool Road, Birmingham. Kayanath told Propel in January that she is looking to expand the brand nationally through franchising, with other target locations including Manchester and Liverpool.
North west cafe concept Blanchflower to open third site: North west cafe concept Blanchflower is set to open a third site. The venue will open in the Manchester suburb of Chorlton in the former The Creameries premises, which closed last year. The bakery and canteen in Wilbraham Road will be called Blanch and will offer a menu including fresh pasta and Roman style pizza, with everything made in-house where possible. Head baker and co-owner Claire Howells told Manchester’s Finest: “We feel our years of sourdough bakery experience means we can create something genuinely different and excellent. There is a whole world of pizza that is hardly touched in the UK, and so many combinations of flour and starters that can elevate the dough to another level.” Blanchflower opened in Altrincham in 2017 before adding a second site, in Sale, last year.
Glasgow restaurateurs to open new Mediterranean concept: Glasgow restaurateurs Kevin Campbell and Toni Carbajosa are set to open a new Mediterranean concept in the city later this month. The duo own a portfolio of international restaurants across the city, including Bibimap (Korean cuisine), Halloumi (Greek/Cypriot mezze), Mezcal (Mexican street food), Picked Ginger (Japanese food), Kilmurray & Co (brunch bistro) and Roberta's Italian (Italian/wood-fired pizza), plus coffee shop Off the Rails and multi-unit dining and entertainment venue Cranside Kitchen. They have now shut Rioja, their tapas and wine bar venue at 1,116 Argyle Street, to make way for Santorini, which will offer “cocktails, live music and a variety of iconic Mediterranean dishes”. The duo, who operate under the C&C Restaurant Group, have already had success with Greek cuisine at their two Halloumi restaurants in Glasgow – Hope Street and Pollokshaws Road – and its compact sister restaurant, Gyros, in Byres Road. They launched Off The Rails, their debut coffee shop venture, in September after taking the former Cafe Nero site in Dundas Street.
New Malaysian restaurant concept opens second site within a month: A new Malaysian restaurant concept has opened its second site within the space of a month. My Makan is the brainchild of Matthew Wilcox, from Norwich, and business partners Imran Abidin and Turki Bin Afif, who are based in Saudi Arabia. The trio met while working in food manufacturing in the Middle East. Their first site opened in Town Street, in the Horsforth area of Leeds, at the start of February. Wilcox has now turned to his home town for the second opening, in the former Paula Grundy Interiors site above Evans Cycles in Westlegate, Norwich. The menu offers satay, noodle dishes and curries, with a range of sides and desserts, as well as vegetarian and vegan options.

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