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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 28th Apr 2023 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Time Out Market to develop transport hub model: Time Out Market has appointed Lagardère Travel Retail as its exclusive partner to support the expansion of its food and cultural market concept to travel hubs. Time Out Market said it is collaborating with Lagardère Travel Retail to develop a model suitable for airport locations or train stations. It said the bespoke travel hub model will feature key elements of a Time Out Market with its curation of the “best of the city through a smaller selection of local chefs and restaurateurs as well as bars – with everything appropriately scaled to the footfall and speed of a busy travel hub”. In addition, visitors will also be “inspired by the Time Out Media brand” with screens displaying its “inspirational content” on the best things to do in cities around the world. Lagardère Travel Retail will be responsible for the operational management of this model in international airports working closely with the Time Out Market team, which will be responsible for the curation of food vendors and provide its long-standing culinary and cultural market expertise. Jay Coldren, Time Out Market co-chief executive (development), said: “While our focus remains on larger scale food and cultural markets to bring the best of the city together under one roof, we are also interested in offering our unique experience and the very best of our brand on a smaller scale within travel hubs such as airports and train stations, which are consistently busy with travellers – something that some of the world’s leading fashion, lifestyle and hospitality brands are already doing successfully in such locations. We are excited to work with Lagardère Travel Retail to expand into travel hub locations in a way that is a great brand fit. We have established various proven models for our markets and it is great to see how we can further evolve our concept to unlock new opportunities.”
 

Industry News:

Sponsored message – how Compass Group increased job applications by 42% in six weeks: With the sector facing the most challenging labour market on record, hiring the right people for your business in this climate is not easy. An inploi spokesperson said: “Compass Group was not getting the applications it needed. Its careers site was difficult to navigate and the process of searching and applying for a job was too complicated. Internally the work was far too manual, overextending the team with a growing backlog of things to do. To overcome this, we rebuilt Compass Group’s careers hub, to meet its delivery timeline, in just six weeks. By automating and optimising its candidate journey, we increased the number of completed applications it received by 42%. Are you facing similar challenges? Watch our new video to find out how we helped Compass here.” If you have a sponsored message you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com.
 
Chief executive panel discussing what it takes to lead successfully in a rapidly changing world to feature at Propel Multi-Club Conference featuring all-female line-up of leaders: A chief executive panel discussing what it takes to lead successfully in a rapidly changing world will feature at the second Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2023, which takes place on Thursday, 29 June, at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in London’s Kensington. The all-day conference, which is organised in conjunction with Ann Elliott, will feature an all-female line-up of sector leaders on learning lessons from the pandemic and moving forward. The panel will feature Alison Wright, chief executive of Fitzbillies; Sarah Weir, managing director of Albion & East; and Emma Banks, vice-president food and beverage strategy and development EMEA at Hilton. More than 300 people have already booked a place this week alone. Multi-site operators can book up to three free places each by emailing paul.charity@propelinfo.com.

Updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies released today, 23 businesses being added: A total of 23 new multi-site companies, operating 181 sites, have been added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released today (Friday, 28 April), at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, includes regional restaurant operators, growing café brands, and expanding hotel operators. Premium subscribers will also receive a 2,000-word report on the new additions to the database. 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 2,832 companies. Premium subscribers will also receive the next edition of the New Openings Database on Friday, 5 May, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The next edition also includes a 5,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to three other databases: 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 £995 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £495 plus VAT for operators and £595 plus VAT for suppliers. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription. 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.

Hospitality sales grew 3.7% year-on-year in first quarter, ‘significant spread in way operators are managing price’: Hospitality sales grew 3.7% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2023, according to analysis from HDI, provider of card spending insight and pricing data to the UK hospitality sector. Coffee and sandwich, fast food and takeaway and branded pub restaurants were the best performing sectors in the 12 weeks ending 11 April 2023, with pubs and bars slightly behind the sector overall, according to analysis of HDI’s panel of 10.2 million unique customers. Mark Bentley, business development director at HDI, said: “It’s encouraging to see hospitality sales growing. However, we’re seeing headline year-on-year inflation of 11.4% on food and 7.9% on drinks from our tracking of more than 165,000 like-for-like site/item combinations. When you dig into the detail, there’s a significant spread in the way that different operators are managing price, with food inflation ranging from 4% in the most cautious operator to 14% in the most bullish.” HDI’s panel tracks more than 160,000 hospitality venues across 350 different brands and formats, with the customer spend analysis providing unique insight into how the cost-of-living crisis is impacting hospitality. Bentley added: “One of the UK’s largest mid-market pub restaurant brands is seeing notable amounts of spend moving towards unbranded pubs and lower-priced businesses such as McDonald’s. Operators need to think broadly about their competitive set and how they can deliver great experiences which provide reasons to visit.” Meanwhile, Bentley argued hospitality will always rise above the challenges thrown its way as it delivers experiences that you simply cannot get at home. Writing in today’s (Friday, 28 April) Propel Friday Opinion, he said: “I’m sure most of us will hope the challenges of the pandemic years are firmly confined to the history books, but it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on what’s changed since those pre-covid days and to what extent the world we’re living in now is genuinely different. We may be facing some significant headwinds currently, but if we can take anything from the last few years, it’s that we’re social beings and have an innate desire to want to spend time with others. This is where hospitality well and truly comes into its own, delivering experiences that you simply cannot get at home.” Bentley will share more of his thoughts in today’s Friday Opinion, which will be sent at 11am.

Frustration as more rail strikes loom: UKHospitality has expressed its frustration as train drivers are set to strike again, with some 13,000 drivers walking out over three days in May and June. Aslef has said its members will walk out on 12 and 31 May and 3 June after the union rejected a fresh offer from 16 train companies, including a 4% pay rise over two years as well as changes to working conditions. The offer from the train companies, which was presented to the union by the Rail Delivery Group on Wednesday (26 April), was “risible”, said Aslef's general secretary Mick Whelan. He said the proposal was “clearly not designed to be accepted” as it did not keep pace with the cost of living, which soared by more than 10% in the year to March. The first day of strike action is the day before the Eurovision Song Contest final in Liverpool, while the final day of action coincides with the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “It’s incredibly frustrating that almost a year on from the start of this dispute, there appears to be no resolution in sight. Despite some hope that pay offers would bring rail strikes to an end, hospitality businesses are losing hope that the crucial summer season would be uninterrupted by disruption. Collectively, hospitality businesses across the country have lost more than £3bn in lost sales as a result of the strikes and there is no doubt that will increase as a result of this announcement, particularly as it will now impact the busy, high-demand summer period. I would urge all parties to redouble their efforts in negotiations to reach a resolution and end this long-running dispute, which continues to harm businesses, workers, consumers and public confidence in the rail network.”

Trade bodies welcome government’s gambling white paper: Trade bodies UKHospitality and the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) have welcomed the government’s new gambling white paper. The paper marks the biggest shake-up of regulation in the sector for nearly 20 years and proposes a consultation on stake limits of between £2 and £15 per spin for online slots machines. The government said online slot machines were a particularly high-risk product, associated with large losses. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls added: “We particularly commend the report’s recommendation to bring contactless payment methods into consideration. This an opportunity to improve player protection in pubs, by enabling better control of stake restrictions and limits imposed by the players themselves. We will also continue to engage with the relevant authorities to examine what measures can further tackle under-age gambling, which we believe can be effectively achieved without the need to resort to legislation. It is important to recognise that revenue from gambling machines can be a valuable source of income for struggling venues. We therefore hope this review marks a restoration of gambling machines in pubs, where they can be responsibly played and enjoyed.” BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “This white paper is a positive move towards ensuring parity and fairness between on and offline gaming and we look forward to working with the government and other stakeholders to feed into the forthcoming consultation on the safe introduction of cashless payments. The review of gaming machine technical standards is also welcome as it will help to develop innovative products and stem a decline in gaming machine income. It is, however, disappointing to see a rejection of an increase in the automatic entitlement for gaming machines in licensed premises. Gaming machine play in pubs tends to be low risk, with lower stakes and prizes, taking place in a public, relaxed social environment, and as a sector we are committed to ensuring the prevention of under-age play across the board.”

UKHospitality – sector can be catalyst for growth in local communities: UKHospitality is urging local authorities to throw their backing behind the sector, which can “deliver economic growth, drive employment and revive communities”, ahead of the local elections. The trade body is advocating for councils to take a pro-growth approach to licensing applications, including minor variations and temporary event notices; and enable a faster, permissive and more streamlined approach to planning applications. It has also urged local authorities to deliver more efficient and low-cost public transport systems to support businesses and residents, and provide discretionary business rates relief to hospitality businesses that need it. UKHospitality’s local election manifesto also calls for local authorities to actively promote hospitality jobs and skills through local authority channels and avoid excessive regulations, such as late-night levies, and collaborate with the late-night economy to bring benefits to local areas. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “A significant number of the practical, day-to-day issues that hospitality businesses face start and end with the local authority. We have seen time and time again the positive impact hospitality can have on local communities and it can once again prove itself as a catalyst for growth; reinvigorating communities, creating local growth and job opportunities in a tough economic climate. Backing our sector is undoubtedly one of the quickest ways local authorities can deliver benefits for businesses, residents and, ultimately, the country.”

Restaurateur Alex Claridge appointed as first West Midlands night-time economy advisor: Restaurateur Alex Claridge has been appointed as the first West Midlands night-time economy advisor. Claridge will act as a champion for the region’s pubs, clubs, bars, concert venues, theatres and restaurants as they look to rebuild post-covid. Claridge will also act as a strategic advisor to the mayor, Andy Street, and partner organisations to help the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and local authorities create a thriving and safe night-time economy. Born and raised in the West Midlands, Claridge has been part of the Birmingham hospitality scene for more than a decade and is currently the chef-patron of The Wilderness restaurant. He said: “It is a privilege to offer my time and energy to the city and wider region that has been so very kind to me over the years. For many of us operating across the broad banner of the night-time economy, the tigers have found us. I know many of my peers today are cornered – rising energy prices, staff shortages, strikes, rapidly increasing costs, and the rest of it. It takes a certain talent, character, and energy to work in or run the many diverse businesses that make our evenings memorable. I want to harness that creativity and tenacity to fight the good fight together.” Claridge will also work closely with Lawrence Barton, Birmingham City Council’s night-time champion, who will also now have a closer working relationship with the WMCA.

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with an established pub group in the Midlands that is seeking a head of learning and development. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “You will set the strategy for what great learning looks like, creating the environment to ensure the learning and development strategy engages with all team members. You will lead a team to support the business in the development of creative, innovative, and effective learning solutions aligned to business objectives. Part of your responsibilities will include: defining, shaping, and executing a learning strategy that is focused on driving up learning experience and driving business performance; leading a team of technical learning project partners and digital learning designers to develop effective learning solutions, collateral, and event marketing across the workforce; and coaching and managing a team to develop industry leading and customer obsessed, digital and blended learning solutions and programmes.” The salary is up to £100,000 and the position is based in Suffolk. For more information, email abbie@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Black Sheep Coffee promotes Isobel Childs to MD: Speciality coffee shop operator Black Sheep Coffee has promoted finance director Isobel Childs to managing director, Propel understands. Childs has been with the company, which operates circa 65 sites in the UK, plus two in the Philippines and one in Paris, for the past four and a half years. She joined the business as its financial controller before becoming head of finance and for the past year and a half its finance director. Previous to joining Black Sheep Coffee she was at London Bridge Hospital and Ernst & Young. Black Sheep Coffee recently signed for a site in Basingstoke as the brand continues its rapid UK expansion. It has a further 15 sites confirmed for its openings pipeline in the UK, including sites in London – Waterloo and Smarts Place, and units in Manchester, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Warrington, Cardiff and Colchester. It is also set to open a site at Luton airport. The business also has ambitions in the US, with its debut store in the States set to open in Dallas this spring and plans for at least six more openings there in the short-term.

US chef Eddie Haung to make UK debut in partnership with Sessions: The American author, TV personality, director, and chef, Eddie Huang, will launch his Taiwanese steam bun concept Baohaus for the first time in the UK in collaboration with Sessions, the growth platform for food brands and food hall concept operator led by former Deliveroo managing director Dan Warne. The collaboration represents the second international name Sessions has brought to its venues and delivery kitchens, following the launch of Ivan Orkin’s Ivan Mazemen brand earlier this year. Haung’s menu will be available for a 13-week residency in Sessions’ Islington venue Neighbourhood, and Brighton’s Shelter Hall, as well as for delivery across London at the end of May. Sessions also holds the exclusive UK rights to Baohaus, with plans to scale across its 150-plus delivery locations later this year. Warne said: “At Sessions, we’re continuing to raise the bar on giving access to quality delivery food in the UK. Eddie Huang’s Baohaus is an excellent addition to our growing portfolio of brands and we’re excited to scale it across our nationwide network of kitchens. Delivering a cult brand that has until now been limited to New York City and Los Angeles to locations across the UK fulfils our mission of bringing the most exciting talent food to more neighbourhoods.” Huang said: “I created Baohaus to tell my family’s story through food at a time when Taiwanese food was not readily available, and now I can’t wait to bring my food to the UK through this partnership with Sessions.” Baohaus will launch at Neighbourhood on Friday, 26 May and Shelter Hall on Wednesday, 7 June. Sessions is set to operate a 30,000 square-foot food hall in the Shipyard scheme, which forms part of the ongoing regeneration of Manchester’s St John’s district, from next year. In addition to running its own operated sites, the Imbiba-backed Sessions partners with pub, hotel and restaurant operators to licence leading brands for eat-in and delivery.

Gong Cha aiming for 21 UK sites by end of 2023 as it opens in Brighton: Gong Cha, the fast-growing bubble tea brand headquartered in the UK, has said it is aiming to have 21 UK sites open by the end of 2023 following its latest launch, in Brighton. The store, at 51 London Road, is the global brand’s 13th over here. Since being founded in Taiwan in 2006, it has expanded to nearly 2,000 stores in 22 countries and has a global ambition to open a new store every day, on average, this year. The latest opening follows “a period of strategic progress for Gong Cha in the UK”, with February seeing the launch of its first dark kitchen, in Kingsbury, north London. Paul Reynish, global chief executive of Gong Cha, said: “We’re delighted to launch our latest store in Brighton, expanding our presence in the UK to seven cities. As one of the UK’s favourite destinations, our opening in Brighton is another opportunity for us to showcase the strength, relevance and adaptability of Gong Cha’s world-class brand and offer. We look forward to welcoming consumers in the months ahead and cementing Gong Cha as one of the UK’s most-loved brands in the years to come.” Gong Cha is also currently looking to launch into new European markets for the first time, as well as expanding its footprint in existing markets. Gong Cha features in the Propel UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which this month celebrated its first anniversary since launching. In that time, it has doubled in size from an initial 100 companies to 200 in the latest edition, which was released last week. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £995 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £495 plus VAT for operators and £595 plus VAT for suppliers. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription.

Coco di Mama begins two-site forecourt trial, in talks on second regional opening: Coco di Mama, the Azzurri Group-owned Italian food-to-go brand, has begun a two-site trial with Motor Fuel Group (MFG), the UK’s largest independent forecourt operator, and told Propel it looking for more regional sites. Its link up with MFG has seen two counter concessions open in petrol stations in Brighton and Romford this month. Jim Attwood, Coco di Mama managing director, said: “As part of Coco di Mama's omnichannel development strategy, we are continuing to trial the brand's appeal across travel locations. We believe our Italian made-to-order pasta, specialty coffee and hot breakfast offers will resonate with MFG’s roadside consumer looking for a new, exciting on-the-go experience. MFG has proven expertise in successfully operating food brands in roadside locations and its nationwide scale assists us in taking the brand to new customers and delivery locations.” Earlier this year, the brand, which has 15 sites in the capital, made its regional bricks-and-mortar debut in Reading’s Broad Street. Attwood told Propel the company is looking for more regional sites and “has a second in legals due to open late summer”. The business is also set to add to its estate in the capital, with two openings lined up for June – at the ex-Crussh unit in Canada Place, Canary Wharf, and in Liverpool Street station, which will become the brand’s first opening in a mainline rail station, in partnership with Network Rail. Both will trade daily.

David Thompson pauses plans on proposed UK debut site for Long Chim concept: David Thompson has paused plans to open a long-awaited UK debut site for his Thai restaurant concept Long Chim, in London’s Chinatown. Last year, it was announced that the former Nahm chef had secured a site at 9 Horse & Dolphin Yard, but Propel understands that this site is now being marketed again. Thompson currently runs Long Chim restaurants in Sydney, Perth and Dubai, having closed sites in Melbourne and Korea as a result of the pandemic. Pre-pandemic, Thompson was linked with opening a Long Chim site in Battersea. Long Chim was being launched in the UK in partnership with sector consultancy firm TGP International. A Shaftesbury Capital spokesperson told Propel: “There have been discussions between Shaftesbury Capital, David Thompson, and his partners at TGP International, around bringing the Long Chim concept to Chinatown London, and Long Chim's plans to launch this site have been paused. The Horse & Dolphin Yard unit remains a key location in Chinatown London, and we are in discussions with several interested parties, as we look to bring this space to life in the near future.” DCL is marketing the Horse & Dolphin Yard site.

Pesto reports trading up 10% year-on-year without price blanket increases, hopes to open two new sites this year: Neil Gatt, owner of Italian restaurant business Pesto, has told Propel that trading is up 10% year-on-year without having made any price increases. Gatt, who owns the business with wife Sara, also said he is in negotiations on four potential sites and hopes to open two new venues in 2023. He added: “Unlike many operators, we’ve not passed on price increases so our growth is being driven by volume, which is really pleasing. We’ve worked hard to keep costs down and provide great food and service at the same time. Every one of our sites is profitable and in growth.” Gatt spoke after Pesto, which operates ten restaurants throughout the north west and Midlands, reported turnover increased to £17,041,936 for the year ending 30 June 2022 compared with £9,411,450 the year before. Revenue also exceeded the £13,356,920 reported for the year ending 30 June 2019 – the last full year before the covid pandemic. Pre-tax profit more than doubled to £2,221,301 from £1,000,918 the previous year (2019: profit of £201,958). Post year-end, the company bought the freehold for one of its sites for £1.3m of which £845,000 was financed through a mortgage. The business also bought a residential property for £173,000 for use by its employees. No dividend was paid (2021: nil).

Mowgli eyes Lincoln opening: Mowgli, the Nisha Katona-led, Indian street food concept backed by TriSpan, is eyeing on opening in Lincoln. The 16-strong business, which recently opened in Brighton, has applied to open in the former Two Seasons store near the House of Fraser site in Lincoln’s High Street. Earlier this year, the company, which will open its Edinburgh site, in the city’s Hanover Street, today (Friday, 28 April), applied to open a second site in Cheshire. The business, which already operates a site at Cheshire Oaks, applied to turn the former Barclays bank site in Knutsford’s King Street into a restaurant. The company has further openings lined up in Bristol and Beverley. Propel revealed in January that TriSpan was to back the continued expansion of Mowgli after acquiring a stake in the business, which Katona founded in 2014, in Liverpool.

Company behind Noura Brasseries placed into administration: The company behind Noura Brasseries, the central London Lebanese restaurant and deli business, has been placed into administration. Simon Renshaw and Avner Radomsky, of RG Insolvency, have been appointed joint administrators to Noura Brasseries. Earlier this month, Propel revealed Noura Brasseries had been placed on the market. Run by the Bou Antoun brothers – Nader and Jean Paul – since the 1970s, the Noura Lebanese restaurant chain started life in Lebanon, before moving to Paris a decade later and finally London in 1999, where the business opened a deli in Knightsbridge. It has since added restaurants in Belgravia, Kingston and Mayfair, plus an events/catering business. Propel understood that Hilco Global had been appointed to seek offers for the leasehold premises either as a whole or for individual sites. The deadline for offers for the business, which generated turnover of circa £3.5m for the year to the end of May 2022, had been 13 April.

Miss Millie’s Fried Chicken lines up Wellington opening for debut MFG site: Miss Millie’s Fried Chicken will open its first site under its new partnership with Motor Fuel Group (MFG), near Wellington, Somerset. Last month, the 11-strong company entered into a franchise partnership with MFG, the UK’s largest independent forecourt operator. The deal will see Miss Millie’s on the forecourt of petrol stations across the UK for the first time, with the first of the stores set to open in May, as it looks to become a nationally recognised brand over the coming years. The new Wellington store will be housed within the Shell filling station in Westpark, joining Subway as a second fast-food concession at the site. The opening will see the roll out of Miss Millie’s new brand, instore design and menu. Carl Traill, managing director for Miss Millie’s, said: “We are delighted to have partnered with MFG, so that more people can access Millie’s awesome chicken when on the move. We can’t wait to bring the Miss Millie’s brand to the residents of Wellington, and create up to 30 job opportunities.” MFG’s food service director, Paul Deary, said: “Food-to-go is becoming a growing attraction to our forecourt customers. We are always looking to offer high quality and exciting products and I believe the introduction of Miss Millie’s ‘awesome chicken’ range will prove to be a success.”

Team behind trio of London Greek restaurants set to open new seafood concept: The team behind a trio of Greek restaurants in London is set to open a new seafood concept in the capital. Andreas Labridis and Nikos Roussos, the co-owners and brains behind Opso, Ino and Pittabun, will open Kima in Marylebone on Monday, 5 June. The restaurant will centre around fresh seafood and day-boat fish, drawing inspiration from the Greek seas and fin-to-gill cooking. Kima, meaning wave in Greek, will be situated opposite Opso in Paddington Street, where the duo first showcased their modern Greek food. At the entrance to the 30-cover space will be a fish counter displaying the catch of the day, from where diners can choose the seafood to become the focus of their personally tailored menu. The restaurant will focus on a “waste not, use all” philosophy. Alongside the seafood offering will be selected cuts of meat, while dishes will change daily according to availability. Among the dishes will be home-made fisherman's pie made with octopus topped with fava puree au gratin; tuna T-bone steak; grouper shank “giouvetsi”; and fish collar with smoked tomato and charred okra. There will also be a wine list with a Greek focus and a seasonal cocktail menu. There will also be a weekend brunch menu featuring dishes such as tahini brioche lobster rolls and scrambled eggs with barrelled feta guacamole and tomato kayanas tortilla. Roussos said: “We are thrilled to present a new perspective on fin-to-gill eating with Kima, and to be bringing a new seafood focused restaurant to London.”

Punch Pubs and the Eden Project in biodiversity partnership: Punch Pubs & Co has pledged to reduce its carbon footprint by entering a new partnership with the Eden Project. As part of the collaboration, the pub company is supporting a number of Eden initiatives, which will Punch enhancing its pub gardens to create new habitats for wildlife and green spaces for communities to socialise. Clive Chesser, Punch Pubs & Co chief executive, said: “We are delighted to have teamed up with the Eden Project, who can truly help us when it comes to the social well-being of our communities, local impact and environmental footprint alongside our wider sustainability credentials. We are committed to Doing Well by Doing Good, and this new partnership is doing just that, using the power of the local and pub gardens to bring people together and boost biodiversity.” Peter Stewart, chief purpose officer at the Eden Project, added: “As a former publican, I know that pubs have long been a place where people have come together in our communities. We’re delighted to be working with Punch to explore how we bring more people together to make meaningful connections through our flagship campaign.”

Lucky Number Seven Holdings to open third site: Edinburgh operator Lucky Number Seven Holdings is set to next month to open a third site in the city. Patron Saint, which will open in the Bruntsfield district of the Scottish capital, follows in the footsteps of The Cocktail Mafia and The Raging Bull. The 58-cover site will be family and dog-friendly and feature an outdoor 20-cover courtyard. An all-day dining menu will be overseen by head chef Francesco Castro, previously of the Glentress Hotel, with casual dishes and brunch items showcasing hyperlocal suppliers. The drinks list will include classic cocktails, rotational beer, wine and spirits alongside a carefully curated Bloody Mary menu. Nick Madigan, managing director of Lucky Number Seven Holdings, said: “Bruntsfield is one of my favourite places in the city, so it made sense to open our third venue in the area. Our aim for Patron Saint is for it to be a home away from home, a place to bring your family, friends and pets for a casual, relaxed dining or drinking experience. We look forward to becoming part of the community.”

Vintage Tea & Coffee Co owners set to open Parisian-inspired bistro in Cardiff, with plans to expand: Vintage Tea & Coffee Co owners Stephen and Charlotte Barker are set to open a Parisian-inspired bistro in Cardiff’s Castle Arcade on Friday, 12 May. The family business behind independent bar chains Gin & Juice and Rum & Fizz, and the Coffee Barker brand, said the new concept, Maison De Boeuf, has been designed for rapid rollout. The all-day bistro will serve a prix-fixe set menu built around a single main course of Welsh beef steak, frites and the Barkers’ secret sauce. Also on the menu are a selection of French starters and Parisian inspired desserts alongside a wine list and cocktail menu “to suit all tastes and budgets”. The 2,000 square-foot space, located over two Castle Arcade units, will open from midday to midnight on weekdays and until 1am on weekends, creating 25 jobs. Stephen Barker said: “The streamlined menu, combined with an appealing wine and cocktail selection, is designed to attract a diverse clientele across various occasions while delivering strong margin and ensuring operational efficiency to enable a rapid rollout to other cities. We believe we’re creating an enticing opportunity for investors and commercial landlords to be part of Maison De Boeuf's success as we create a Parisian-inspired revolution of the culinary scene in Cardiff and beyond.” Charlotte Barker added: “Every time we visit Paris, we fall in love with the effortless style and great food and wine, yet always with a sense of occasion, often lacking in the UK’s casual dining offer. We wanted to bring that cosy, romantic Parisian atmosphere to Cardiff, the perfect city to test our new concept.”

Blacklock confirms May opening for Canary Wharf site: Skinny chops concept Blacklock has confirmed it will open its fifth restaurant, in London’s Canary Wharf, on Monday, 15 May. As previously reported, the restaurant will be based in a standalone warehouse under the railway tracks in the North Dock. At 4,000 square feet and with 120 covers, a ten-metre bar and outdoor terrace, it will be Blacklock’s biggest restaurant yet. Alongside Blacklock favourites like the all in pig’s head on toast, a range of new dishes will make a first appearance with Blacklock’s first bar food menu. These will include pork scratchings (£3); French dipped bone marrow buns (£6.50), pigs in nuggets (£6) and crab rarebit (£8.50), the first seafood dish on any Blacklock menu. There will also be a cocktail list featuring drinks with a Blacklock twist, while a cocktail trolley will travel around the restaurant to make drinks tableside. Founder Gordon Ker said: “We’re excited to be opening Blacklock in Canary Wharf, in what feels like the most Blacklock of buildings, underneath the railway tracks. To open here, alongside other brilliant recent restaurant launches, shows how resilient and hard working the hospitality industry is here in London.” Blacklock also has restaurants in Soho (2015), the City (2017), Shoreditch (2018) and Covent Garden (2022).

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