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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 11th May 2023 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Ayerst – we’re clearer on how Shawa concept should work and opportunity for its growth: Nick Ayerst, chief executive of Comptoir Group, the Comptoir Libanais and Shawa operator, has said the business is clearer on how the latter fast-casual concept should work and the “huge potential” it has in the expanding quick service restaurant (QSR)/fast casual marketplace. Speaking to Propel after Comptoir reported an increase in group revenue of 49.7% to £31.0m in 2022, Ayerst, the former The Restaurant Group (TRG) and Leon director, said: “We’re now clearer in our minds what a Shawa site will look like, but also more importantly, how we would go about doing such a concept, and I guess that’s coming in with some QSR experience from Leon and operating a number of QSR brands at TRG. Shawa has huge potential and we believe the expanding QSR/fast casual marketplace provides an excellent alternative when assessing properties and opening pipelines. By the end of the year, we should be trialling a format for Shawa that hopefully points the way for growth. If I had to speculate where the fastest rate of growth would come over a sort of extended five-year period, I would hope that would be within the QSR marketplace.” In terms of expansion, the business would like to open two or three company-owned Comptoir Libanais sites in the UK by the year-end. On the franchising front, it has got a restaurant under the Shawa concept in Abu Dhabi, which is due to go on-site shortly. Ayerst said: “It’s a new airport terminal opening, and that terminal is due to open in November. We’ve also been in discussions with a franchise partner, also within the travel hub marketplace, and we have signed heads of terms on a location in a major European airport, which looks like it could be autumn time as well. When I was at TRG I ran a couple of Comptoir Libanais franchise sites in airports, added to the sites we’ve got trading already, and we know there’s a strong travel proposition out there. Franchising overseas outside of travel hubs I’m sure will come at some stage, but that isn’t the biggest focus at this time, although there may be opportunities in certain territories.” In terms of current trading, finance director Michael Toon said: “We’ve been concentrating a little bit on the CGA Peach Tracker, of which we’ve been trading pretty much ahead most weeks. Obviously, we are slightly different in being impacted by Ramadan a bit more than most of the companies on there, so you could see a little bit of a drop off, but it’s bounced straight back in the last two weeks. It’s nice to get a little bit of semblance of looking at the prior year rather than 2019 and try and work out exactly where you are. Our top line is encouraging.” Comptoir Group features in the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book. Its turnover of £31.0m is the 208th 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 £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 to upgrade your subscription.

Industry News:

Barrafina Group MD Anna Watkins among speakers at Propel Multi-Club Conference featuring all-female line-up of leaders: Anna Watkins, managing director at Barrafina Group, will be among the speakers 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. Watkins made a career switch less than a year ago from advertising to hospitality in order to join Harts Group and its portfolio of six brands: Barrafina, Quo Vadis, El Pastor, Parrillan, The Drop and Bar Daskal, and 14 locations around London. She will tell her story. 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. More than 300 people have already booked a place. Multi-site operators can book up to three free places each by emailing
Latest edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book to feature updated figures for 43 companies: The latest edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book will feature updated figures for 43 companies. Premium subscribers will receive the next edition of the Blue Book tomorrow (Friday, 12 May), at midday. It now features 723 companies that are turning over a total of £43.3bn. The Blue Book shows 483 companies in profit and 240 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 £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 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.
BrewDog founder announces shortlist for £5m unicorn business funding: James Watt, co-founder of Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog, has announced a 20-strong shortlist for his new £5m unicorn business funding platform. Watt partnered with Crowdcube to launch Next Unicorn in March, with an initial list of 750 applicants having been whittled down. Watt and his panel, including Crowdcube chief executive Matt Cooper and Evelyn McDonald, chief executive of Scottish Edge – who helped BrewDog get started 16 years ago – will now invite 12 of the most promising companies to pitch live at his London home next week. Joining the BrewDog boss to judge the final 12 will be Contrarian Thinking founder Codie Sanchez and comedian Dom Joly. The trio will decide which three businesses will win a share of an initial £1m investment, with the potential to unlock a further £4m should the companies reach certain milestones. Among the final 20 are reservations app Ambl, vegan treats brand Love Raw, new wine business Nouveau Wines, fitness snacks company Roam Foods, natural cocktails/spirits brand Vacay and insect-based foods business Yum Bug. Watt said: “There are some great business ideas here, and several companies doing work that align well with my own personal values.” The competition also allows members of the public to invest in the three chosen businesses via Crowdcube on exactly the same terms as Watt.
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a growing luxury boutique hospitality portfolio in London that is looking for a people and culture director. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “You will have the opportunity to lead and develop the HR team and provide strategic guidance for talent acquisition, development, and retention to support the rapid expansion of the business. You will report to the group managing director and work closely with the senior management team to ensure HR policies and procedures are compliant with regulatory requirements and provide commercial value to the business. The ideal candidate for this role will have at least five years’ leadership experience in the hospitality industry. You should have a working knowledge of UK labour law and experience implementing HR policies, procedures, software, and payroll systems. In addition, you should be able to analyse complex payroll data and provide detailed commercial advice. You should be able to lead and motivate a team of HR professionals across various functions and work well under pressure in a fast-paced environment. While not essential, pre-opening experience of a hotel or similar would be highly desirable.” The salary is up to £100,000 plus bonus and the position is based in London. For more information, email 

Company News:

JD Wetherspoon share price up more than 5% with company on track for record year, volumes up sharply: JD Wetherspoon saw its share price increase more than 5% after the company reported it was on track for record sales in its current financial year. Chairman Tim Martin told Propel that volumes are up sharply in the past year, which is helping to drive performance, and believes while more people are returning to the pub following the pandemic, its “competitive” prices are also bringing customers through the door. Wetherspoon reported like-for-like sales increased by 9.1% in the 13 weeks to 30 April 2023, compared with 2019, leaving year-to-date sales 6.4% higher compared with the same year. It saw the share price increase 5.24% to 783.50p at the close of trading. Martin told Propel: “Food sales are strong especially among old favourites like fish and chips and our new additions like katsu curry. Our vegan dishes are also doing well. On the drink side, real ale is slowly improving, especially Doom Bar and Abbot. Coffee sales were slow but are improving and cocktails are good. Guinness is doing very well and Au Vodka is shooting the lights out. Volumes are up sharply in the past year. Why are customers coming to us? It’s probably lots of different factors, but price matters to some people, clearly, particularly in the current climate. But Wetherspoon has won more design awards and training awards, for example, than any other company, we believe. We also have more pubs in the Good Beer Guide than any other company and top the Casque Marque ranking, so we think that also helps.” A total of 30 trading pubs remain on the market, or are under offer, and Martin said there is “very good interest” in the sites. Wetherspoon has also strengthened its London presence, having opened a pub at The O2 in March, and has a site in Covent Garden in development. Martin said while the business has covered most of the capital, there may be a “dozen or so” areas it would be keen to find a pub.
NQ64 plans new concepts, appoints people director: Immersive retro arcade bar concept NQ64 is planning to test two new concepts over the coming months as it gears up to move its original site in Manchester to a bigger location, Propel understands. The business, which earlier this month secured a new £10m facility from ThinCats to support its growth, has acquired the Dive Bar & Grill site next door to the first NQ64 in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. It will expand its size from 1,800 to 6,000 square feet and include a 90-cover outside area when it opens at the end of July. The group is also developing a new cocktail-focused concept to test out in the original space. At the same time, the business has acquired the basement space under its Digbeth site and is putting an adults-only Laser Quest concept into it. The nine-strong business will open two new sites, in Bristol and Shoreditch, over the next six weeks. As previously revealed by Propel, it has secured the ex-Opa site at 14-16 Baldwin Street, Bristol, for an opening at the end of June/start of July. At the start of next month, it will open a site in Old Street, Shoreditch, its second in the capital and first in NQ64’s portfolio to serve food, with a menu provided by Burgerism. It will be the company’s biggest venue yet, with a capacity of up to 450. Propel has also learned that NQ64, which was founded by Andy Haygarth and Matt Robson, has appointed Chantal Wilson as its new people director. Wilson was formerly people director at Honest Burgers and a business people partner at Wagamama. 
Ready Burger launches second crowdfunding campaign as it plans flagship site opening: Ready Burger, the plant-based restaurant concept founded by boxer Anthony Joshua’s former personal chef, has launched a second crowdfunding campaign as it looks to raise £250,000 to help open a new flagship site. The business, which closed a campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube in the summer of 2021 after raising £2m, is offering 3.5% equity in its latest raise, with a pre-money valuation of £6,902,385. The business – founded by Adam Clark, who worked for Joshua during five of his world title fights, and entrepreneur Max Miller – plans to use the new funds to open its first flagship Ready Burger location, to prove unit profitability and launch a range of products into the foodservice and retail sectors. Last year, the business converted its remaining site in London’s Crouch End into a dark kitchen. In 2021, Ready Burger, which also previously operated a site in Finchley Road, mooted an opening in Camden and expansion out of the capital via a franchise model. Advisors to the business include Nick Ayerst, who is chief executive of Comptoir Group, and was managing director of TRG Concessions and Leon; and Jasper Reid, the founder of IMM, which advises brands on international expansion and owns the Jamie Oliver restaurant chains in India. Jonathan Dockrell, formerly of EAT, Deliveroo, Camille Thai and Itsu, is working with the business as a consultant operations director. Miller said: “We’ve already achieved so much – generating more than £1m in revenue and selling in excess of 480,000 products since May 2021, and partnering with leading flavorist Givaudan to integrate new Prime Lock technology. We’re now seeking your support to take Ready Burger to the next level.” 
Big Fang Collective planning six more sites by 2025 as it prepares for Nottingham launch: Big Fang Collective, the Imbiba-backed entertainment venue operator that owns the Ghetto Golf and Golf Fang brands, is planning to open six more sites by 2025 as it prepares for its latest launch, in Nottingham. The company, which was founded by Kip Piper and Daniel Bolger, will open its next site in Nottingham’s Daleside Road. Each Golf Fang venue offers an adult only 18-hole crazy golf experience, combined with themed cocktails and DJs in a “sprayground” environment. The company now owns and operates across six cities in the UK, including Birmingham, Newcastle, Liverpool, Sheffield, Glasgow and Cardiff. Golf Fang Nottingham will be its seventh location following a launch in Cardiff. Piper said, “We are excited to grow the Golf Fang brand and to be bringing the experience to the East Midlands. Nottingham is a great location for the newest Golf Fang and we love the energy and atmosphere the city has to offer.” Last year, Imbiba invested £5m in Big Fang Collective to aid its growth both in the UK and internationally. 

State of Play Hospitality appoints Nicola Blackford as new commercial director: State of Play Hospitality, the Toby Harris-led experiential leisure operator, has appointed Nicola Blackford as its new commercial director in the UK at what it says is “a pivotal time”, as the business ramps up its growth in both the US and Europe, Propel has learned. Blackford joins State of Play from Secret Cinema, the cinematic immersive experience company, where she was chief commercial officer for the last six years, helping take the business through to its successful sale to Today Tix Group earlier this year. Prior to that role, she spent five years at Boston Consulting Group, including advising on a number of consumer businesses. Harris, chief executive of State of Play Hospitality, said: “Nicola is a key hire for us as we expand both Bounce and Hijingo in the UK and beyond. Given her talents and experience, it’s very exciting to have Nicola on board to help us take State of Play to the next level.” Blackford said: “I can’t wait to collaborate on delivering unforgettable social experiences that keep our guests coming back for more moments of joy and connection – just as I did after discovering Bounce and Hijingo!” The company, which also operates the Flight Club brand in the US, will open a third site for its ping pong concept Bounce this summer, within the Battersea Power Station development.
The Restaurant Group launches new virtual delivery concept: The Restaurant Group (TRG), the owner of Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s, has launched a new virtual delivery concept, which comprises “popular bits” from its other delivery brands, Propel has learned. Called Street Feud, the new concept is live on Deliveroo and UberEats, with a plan to extend on to Just Eat, and currently available through a handful of Frankie & Benny’s sites, including in The Fort (Birmingham) and Great Yarmouth. Described as a “one-stop shop to order various brands and cuisines together”, Street Feud’s menu includes items from the delivery brands such as BirdBox, Stacks, Bao Now, BoneJam and Puddo. Pre-pandemic, TRG trialled and rolled out a number of delivery brands across its leisure estate. At one time, the group’s range of virtual delivery brands included Chicken Cartel, Cornstar Tacos, Levi Roots’ Kitchen, Kick Ass Burrito, Stacks, Birdbox, K-Bird, Pyjama Hotel, Daily Naan, Baragara, Jumping Pans and Babago.
Gail’s co-founder Emma King joins Hawksmoor as new marketing director: Emma King, the co-founder of Gail’s Bakery and ex-managing director of Radio Alice Pizzeria, has joined Hawksmoor, the upmarket steakhouse chain, as its new marketing director, Propel has learned. King joins the Will Beckett and Huw Gott-founded business after more than two years overseeing her marketing agency Red Suit. Previous to that, she spent four years as managing director of Radio Alice, the joint venture with Azzurri Group and Berberè. She spent nearly a decade at Gail’s, which she co-founded and was its marketing director. King replaces Vicky Ellison at Hawksmoor, who after more than a year and a half with the business, left earlier this spring to become chief marketing officer at The Aspria collection of premium members’ clubs and hotels. Graphite Capital-backed steakhouse concept Hawksmoor will launch its first site in Ireland, in Dublin, on 25 May. In March, the business announced it had lined up its second site in the US, in Chicago. The company, which made its US debut in New York in 2021, plans to restore a designated landmark in Chicago, The LaSalle Street Cable Car Powerhouse, a 16,500 square-foot, three-storey space at 500 N LaSalle Street, with an opening planned for next year. 
Aprirose places 14 pub investment opportunities on market: Real estate investment company Aprirose has placed a package of 14 investment sites let to Marston’s, the Andrew Andrea-led pub company, on the market. Aprirose has appointed Savills to market the freehold investment sites, which are spread nationally. The package includes the ten sites Propel reported earlier this week, which include the Bakery Inn in Malvern, which has a guide price of £630,000 (£175/square foot) reflecting a 7% net initial yield (NIY); the George & Dragon in Meaford, Staffordshire, which has a guide price of £590,000 (£104/square foot) reflecting a 7% NIY; the White Hart in Calow, Derbyshire, which has a guide price of £785,000 (£135/square foot) reflecting a 7% NIY; The Sportsman in Leicester, which has a guide price of £590,000 (£121/square foot) reflecting a 7% NIY; The Wheatsheaf Inn in Wrexham, which has a guide price of £590,000 (£112/square foot) reflecting a 7% NIY; The Wheatsheaf Inn in Stourport-on-Severn, which has a guide price of £590,000 (£182/square foot) reflecting a 7% NIY; Poachers Barn in Osgodby, Scarborough, which has a guide price of £630,000 (£64/square foot) reflecting a 7% NIY; Heskeths Arms in Preston, which has a guide price of £525,000 (£79/square foot) reflecting a 6.75% NIY and the Golden Hind in Birmingham, which has a guide price of £775,000 (£100/square foot) reflecting a 6.75% NIY. The Poacher in Wigan, Moat House Inn in Caerphilly, Swan Inn in Newport and the William IV in Mansfield are also available. The assets are available individually or as a portfolio and are being handled at Savills by Ed Sandall and Charlie Noad. Sandall said: “These assets have medium term leases, low rentals, low capital value-per-square-foot and, consequently, low lot sizes. We anticipate strong demand from individual investors.”
Alex Gauthier to open two new restaurants at same London site: Vegan chef and restaurateur Alexis Gauthier is set to open two new restaurants within the same London site next month. The space, situated next to the British Film Institute office in Stephen Street, off Tottenham Court Road, features a large open kitchen, booth seating and two terraces. Occupying it will be 123V Bakery, a cafe/patisserie-led continuation of the plant-based concept launched at Fenwick Bond Street in 2021, and Studio Gauthier, a new Gauthier Soho-led concept, offering cutting-edge, fine-dining tasting menus. Situated at the front of the premises, 123V Bakery will offer coffee, pastries and house-made bread from the Gauthier Soho bread selection, while at lunchtime there will be premium soft focaccia and sourdough sandwiches alongside a daily-changing bottomless salad station. Studio Gauthier, meanwhile, will be the first time the Gauthier name has been used in a dining concept other than his Soho restaurant in Romilly Street. Its 100% plant-based and will include dishes such as wild garlic and rocket focaccia with aigo boulido, barbecued loin of kohlrabi, and cucumber samphire and sea broth. Gauthier said: “This is a major departure for us, but the first time I have felt ready to bring Gauthier Soho to a wider audience. The location at Stephen Street is perfect to give people a chance to experience the special food we are doing, but in a fun, unbuttoned, more laid-back setting. This space offers so much, and we are excited to see what emerges from the creativity in the kitchen.”
Hotel company MDs acquire fourth site together: Ali Khan, managing director of SK Hotels since 2017, and Paramjit Bansal, managing director for Exec Hotels for the past nine years, have acquired their fourth site together. The duo have acquired the lease of the George Hotel in the West Sussex village of Henfield. “The plan is to update the rooms and bar following which we will reopen,” said Khan. “We are also planning to have a sports bar with a big projector screen so we will be able to show live games in the bar. There will also be a new pub menu and we’ll be offering takeaway pizza from the kitchen.” Khan and Bansal also operate the Brambletye Hotel & Restaurant in Forest Row, East Sussex; SK Heathrow Hotel; and the Baylis House Hotel in Slough, Berkshire. The properties range in size from 19 bedrooms up to 40 bedrooms. Fleurets acted on the George Hotel deal.
London better burger brand set to open second site in as many weeks: London better burger brand Amigos Burgers & Shakes is opening its second new site in as many weeks. It will open store number 18 on Saturday (13 May), at 46 Mitcham Road in Tooting, south London. This comes hot on the heels of its latest opening, at 158 The Centre in Feltham, a fortnight ago. It will be a particularly significant opening for the brand’s head of operations, Ashok Patel, as it will be located next door to the Tooting branch of McDonald’s he helped open in 1982. Patel spent 40 years with McDonald’s, including 13 years as operations supervisor across eight stores, before joining Amigos Burgers & Shakes in 2020. Amigos was launched in Acton, west London, in 2011 by Waqas Siddique and Kasim Akhter.
Independent German hotel company acquires 30 James Street hotel in Liverpool out of administration for debut UK site: Independent German hotel company, RIMC Hotels & Resorts, has acquired the 30 James Street hotel in Liverpool out of administration for an undisclosed sum for its debut UK site. The hotel, which was previously part of aparthotel operator and developer Signature Living’s portfolio, was sold by Savills on behalf of administrators Moorfields Advisory. The grade II-listed hotel comprises 63 bedrooms along with the Carpathia Champagne Bar and Restaurant on the seventh floor. There is also an outdoor terrace with views of the River Mersey and Liverpool waterfront. The hotel also houses a grand hall as well as a spa with three treatment rooms and an indoor pool. Duncan Gray, managing director of RIMC UK, said: “We are delighted to have acquired 30 James Street as our first UK acquisition and plan significant investment into the property and business to create an exciting and unique offer, befitting of such a prestigious building in the fantastic city of Liverpool.” Signature Living opened the hotel in 2014 and it was placed into administration in 2020. In October 2021, the hotel was put up for sale with a £12.5m asking price.
Derbyshire doughnut concept set to open debut permanent site with two more to follow, prepares to launch £400,000 crowdfunding campaign: Derbyshire doughnut concept Project D is set to open its debut permanent site with two more to follow in the next six months, as it prepares to launched a £400,000 crowdfunding campaign. The business was founded by three former school friends – Max Poynton, Matthew Bond and Jacob Watts – in 2018, selling thousands of homemade doughnuts weekly via pop-up events and at shopping centre kiosks. It now employs more than 120 staff and produces more than 50,000 doughnuts each week at its 11,000 square-foot bakery in Spondon, and has also collaborated with the likes of Sainsbury’s, Coca-Cola, BrewDog, Amazon, the NFL and British Airways. It is now gearing up to open its first bricks and mortar location, in Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping centre, which will be swiftly followed by two more openings. It comes as Project D prepares to launch a £400,000 crowdfunding campaign, with funds to be used to help fund the expansion of the business. It has a goal of reaching £12m in turnover within the next three years, more than four times its current annual turnover of £2.6m. Project D has already raised £150,000 of lead investment via crowdfunding prior to the official launch on Crowdcube.
Yorkshire dessert bar concept set to open tenth site: Yorkshire dessert bar operator Rassam’s Creamery is set to open its tenth site. The business, launched in 2012 by Rassam Ali, will open a new branch in the Hillsborough area of Sheffield on Monday, 5 June. It comes just weeks after Ali opened his new Desserts Wholesales Supplies warehouse in Sheffield’s Petre Street, as he branches out into wholesale, as previously reported. An online service will go live from next month.
Team behind Liverpool’s Hope Street Hotel launches sister site: The team behind Liverpool’s Hope Street Hotel, which operates an eponymous hotel that includes two restaurants in the city’s Georgian Quarter, has launched a sister site. The company is operating School Lane Hotel in a joint venture with YPG Developments at Liverpool ONE, having previously agreed a deal with landlord Grosvenor. The hotel in the Russell Building features 55 bedrooms over five floors. Dave Brewitt, founder, owner and chief executive of Hope Street Hotel, said: “We have created something really special and look forward to working with our new School Lane Hotel team.”
Deliverect acquires ChatFood: Deliverect, the Belgian start-up streamlining the restaurant industry with its online food delivery management software, has acquired ChatFood, which specialises in social media ordering, order/pay at table and loyalty solutions. Together, the companies serve more than 43,000 restaurants and foodservice businesses around the world and power more than 300 million orders in 42 markets. ChatFood’s strength lies in the Gulf region, with more than 3,000 foodservice locations using its technology there. “We now provide a 360-degree solution inspired by the challenges our customers face, supporting them both with in-restaurant dining and online food delivery,” said Zhong Xu, chief executive and co-founder of Deliverect. “This milestone is significant for our company, because each day we strive to simplify the lives of restaurant owners and help them thrive in the digital age.” ChatFood co-founders, Benjamin Mouflard and Vini Rodrigues, will remain with Deliverect, leading further growth and expansion. Following the acquisition, Deliverect Social Media Ordering and Order & Pay will be introduced globally over the coming months. Deliverect Social Media Ordering allows customers to order from their social media accounts, while Deliverect Order & Pay allows restaurants to digitise their dine-in experience with custom QR codes for menus, ordering, bill management and payment.
Danieli Group gets green light for Stack site in Carlisle: North east operator Danieli Group has received the go-ahead to bring its Stack container leisure venue concept to Carlisle. Having lodged plans to convert part of the city’s Lowther Street car park into an entertainment, food and drink venue last November, the group has now been granted planning permission. It plans to use 50 shipping containers to create a complex that will have five bars, ten street food outlets and a central plaza with a balcony and stage – all covered by a glass framed roof. Stack chief executive Neill Winch said: “We are excited to be moving forward in our plans to bring Stack to Carlisle. We have said from day one that it will not only prove a really welcome boost to the leisure offering in the city, but will also help the local economy by attracting more visitors – which will benefit everyone.” Stack was also recently given the go-ahead for schemes in Middlesbrough, Durham and Bishop Auckland, with a further site in Lincoln currently under construction. The original Stack in Newcastle is also moving to a new permanent home in the city centre, which is currently also being built and is due to reopen in the summer of 2024.
Rochelle Canteen co-founder Margot Henderson opens first pub: Margot Henderson, co-founder of Rochelle Canteen, has opened her first pub. Henderson has relaunched The Three Horseshoes in the Somerset village of Batcombe. The 18th century inn, which has five guest bedrooms, has been restored, and the food is “heartfelt, wholesome and celebrates the very best produce from local farmers”. Dishes include grilled Old Spot chop and apple sauce; and roast beetroot, goats curd and watercress. There is a succinct wine list alongside cider and craft beer. Henderson said: “I’ve spent many weekends over the years visiting family and making lifelong friends in the area. Through these years I’ve become inspired by the rich, quality produce available in Somerset, so I’m excited to be embarking on this journey to the south west and taking advantage of all that is available there.” Originally from New Zealand, Henderson trained in her home country before moving to London and started working at The French House in Soho, where she met her husband, Fergus Henderson, founder of St John. She opened Rochelle Canteen in Arnold Circus, with Melanie Arnold, in 2006.
Bunsik confirms summer opening for regional debut: Korean street food concept Bunsik has confirmed its first site outside of London will open this summer. Propel revealed last month that Bunsik, which currently operates three sites in London, had secured the former East Street by Tampopo unit in Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens. The outpost will be the concept’s biggest branch to date, occupying 2,000 square feet in the city centre, and will feature an evolved menu based around Korean soul food and corn dogs. This includes the Original Corn Dog (premium chicken sausage with crispy outside); Half and Half (a combination of chicken sausage and mozzarella cheese); the Potato Corn Dog (premium chicken sausage with potato cubes wrapped around); and the Beef Corn Dog (premium beef sausage with crispy outside). The concept, which is part of the Maguro Group, will also offer a selection of desserts and bubble tea.

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