Story of the Day:
Exclusive – a third of UK hospitality businesses do not think they will survive the next 12 months, 70% to increase prices in coming year:
A third of UK hospitality businesses do not think they will survive the next 12 months, and 70% will increase their prices in coming year, according to a new study from Peckwater Brands. The virtual food brands operator surveyed 250 senior figures within sector businesses and also found just over half (55%) are unable to find enough staff to operate effectively, while 70% said customers are spending significantly less than they were 12 months ago. It found 44% are operating at a loss, with 53% impacted by rising cost of goods and 50% by higher energy bills. In addition, a third (34%) are struggling with higher interest rates, while 29% are battling to cope with increased commercial rents. Sam Martin, chief executive of Peckwater Brands, said: “Conditions for hospitality businesses are undoubtedly tough, with record food inflation, skyrocketing energy bills and falling consumer spending all having a notable impact. Our research lays bare the stark reality; so many establishments are loss-making and many fear for their survival. Unfortunately, the challenges facing the hospitality sector will not disappear any time soon. Raising prices might be the only option available to many businesses, but with consumers wrestling with a cost-of-living crisis and seeking out lower prices wherever possible, this action could damage their customer bases. One can only hope that in the coming months, inflation falls sharply and overheads drop, ensuring hospitality firms are not forced to close. If they were, local high streets would be greatly diminished, as would the UK economy.” Peckwater Brands operates delivery-only food brands from more than 500 locations across nine countries, and in the last nine months has made two major European acquisitions, namely Honest Food Company and eatclever. Its international expansion was assisted by a £15m Series A funding completed in June 2022, which brought the company’s post-money valuation to £65m. Peckwater Brands features in the Propel UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which is an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK and is available exclusively to Premium subscribers. The database is updated every two months and the latest version features 200 businesses. 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 email@example.com to upgrade your subscription
Sponsored message – new support package unveiled to help operators invest in their employees:
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Latest Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book shows sector companies making collective profit for first time since covid:
The next edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (9 June), shows sector companies are making a collective profit for the first time since covid. The Blue Book shows the total profit of the 736 companies in the list is £2,834,963,916 and losses are £2,774,327,505. Last month, the Blue Book showed sector companies were making a collective loss of £254m. 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 email@example.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.
Hybrid working to ‘stay with us forever’: Employers including Lloyds Banking Group, Disney and KPMG may be backtracking on flexible working, but the boss of a HR company insists that new ways of work are not a pandemic-related aberration. “Hybrid work will stay with us forever,” Ronni Zehavi, chief executive of HiBob, told The Times, adding that companies demanding their workers spend “five days in the office will experience a very high level of attrition”. HiBob provides HR software for more than 3,200 businesses. Bosses fear long-term home working will harm productivity, workplace culture, creativity and the ability of new and younger employees to learn from more experienced colleagues. Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JP Morgan, has said remote working “doesn’t work” for younger staff at America’s biggest bank, or for “spontaneity or management”. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has said he worries about “the loss of creativity” when employees work from home and the “default” location for workers should be the office. However, Zehavi argued employers that push too hard for a return to traditional, office-based patterns are swimming against the tide. “You hear [bosses] forcing people to get back; well, hybrid working is here to stay,” he said. “It’s irreversible. It’s not short-term hype.” HiBob’s base is in London but it is active in 73 countries and has employees from 160 countries. Zehavi said about 90% of HiBob’s clients, which tend to be mid-sized companies “with a modern mindset”, were committed to hybrid working, where workers split their time between home and the workplace, and were “finding it very productive”. He added combining it with flexible working, where employees can influence their hours, led to a happy workforce.
Chip shops battered by price rises cast nets wider with US fish: British chip shops could turn to cheaper American fish as up to a third face the prospect of going bust because of rising costs caused by the war in Ukraine. The Times reported the average price of takeaway fish and chips has risen to £9 since Russia invaded its neighbour last year. Government-imposed tariffs on Russian cod — combined with rising energy prices, which are also the result of the Kremlin’s attack — has hit high-street chip shops hard. But Andrew Crook, chairman of the National Federation of Fish Friers, has pinned hopes on imports of rockfish and Pacific perch from America. Crook has just returned from a meeting with US Department of Agriculture officials in Oregon, where he investigated deals to bring bulk orders of those species of white fish — which are in surplus at present — to the UK. He said: “They will never replace cod and haddock in the British market, but they could help us get through this current difficult patch.” Crook, who owns Skippers chippy in Euxton in Chorley, Lancashire, said the situation was bordering on a crisis. “In the smaller shops it is very difficult to make a profit, and there are a lot of shops up for sale at the moment,” he said. Crook added since March he had had to raise his own prices for fish and chips from £7.25 to £9.50. Amadeu Catanho, who has owned Crispy Cod Fish Bar in Lockleaze, Bristol, since 2005, is another owner worried about having to close. He told the PA news agency: “The oil has doubled, the gas and electric has more than doubled, and fish and everything else is following them.”
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Farmer J secures two new sites, trading strong: All-day market concept Farmer J has lined up a further two openings in London, as founder Jonathan Recanati told Propel that trading this year has been “stronger than everybody anticipated”. The eight-strong business has secured a site at the 80 Fenchurch Street development that is due to open in July. It has also secured the Tiger of Sweden site in Piccadilly, which it plans to open in September. The business is also in discussions on a site in a transport hub in the capital. Recanati said trading had been strong since the start of the year. He added: “Monday’s have come back and this year has been stronger than everybody anticipated. Everybody was kind of cautious on how to budget for this year because last year was very unpredictable, it took much longer for people to come back to the offices. Fridays are weaker, but they’ve always been weak. But the rest of the week is strong. Around bank holidays, it is more seasonal than it used to be, but in general, you can see a week-on-week growing trend.” The company is gearing up to open its first south west London site, in Victoria. The business will open a 3,000 square-foot site in the Orchard Place development. On further site selection, Recanati said: “Generally, we were still looking for seven-days-a-week sites, but our five days a week ones are also doing really well, which gets you thinking because they’re converting well, we should also be looking for those types of sites. We are still aiming for mixed-use types of location where you get workers, a bit of retail, and in some cases, residential. But for the right rent, we can make money from a five-days-a-week sites. The last two years have been all about improving efficiency and improving conversion, and now that sales are back up, you can really see all the hard work coming to fruition.” Speaking to the Evening Standard last year on plans for a regional site, Recanati said the business was looking at affluent areas across the UK – with Oxford, Cambridge and Manchester on its target list. Etch acted on behalf of Farmer J.
Chicken Cottage plans 20 new openings over next two years: Halal fast food company Chicken Cottage is planning 20 new openings over the next two years. Recent openings in Watford, Edmonton, Teddington and Longsight brought the brand’s store count to 51 since being founded in 1994. It now has an “ambitious plan to significantly expand its footprint across the country” and “cement its reputation as a leading player in the British fast-food industry”. Krishma Vaghela, head of franchise development at Chicken Cottage, said: “Our planned expansion represents the continued evolution of Chicken Cottage. We’re not just opening stores, we’re bringing communities together around quality food they can trust. The response from our customers has been overwhelmingly positive, and we’re excited to bring the Chicken Cottage experience to even more people across the UK.”
Future of pizza delivery and takeaway brand Firezza in doubt: The future of Firezza, the pizza delivery and takeaway business which was once owned by PizzaExpress, has been thrown into doubt after it was placed on the market. Propel understands Marriott & Co, the valuer and auctioneer, is marketing the ten-strong business, which operates sites across London and the Thames Valley, including venues in Battersea, Canary Wharf, Islington and Wimbledon. It is thought Marriott & Co is looking for offers in “very short order”, and that the business is “currently distressed” and “expected to enter an insolvency procedure”. Initial interest with indicative offers are being sought by Wednesday (7 June). Firezza was founded by Edin Basic in 2001 before he sold the business to PizzaExpress in 2016 for circa £4.7m. It was then acquired by Net Gold Star in November 2017. Firezza, which at one point grew to 20 sites, specialises in rectangular stone-baked pizzas in a classic Neapolitan style.
SSP acquires Pret franchise business and expansion rights in Switzerland: SSP Group has extended the reach of its global travel hub portfolio with the acquisition of the franchise rights for Pret A Manger in Switzerland. As part of the deal, SSP will take over operations of three additional Pret stores on top of its existing portfolio in the locations of Löwenstrasse, Rennweg and Zurich's main railway station. The company said the move strengthens its aspirations to further expand the brand in Switzerland. SSP opened its first Pret in Switzerland in summer 2019 and currently operates five stores at Zurich airport, with more openings planned. Jeremy Fennell, chief executive of SSP Nordics and continental Europe, said: “We have been successfully running Pret outlets in Zurich for the past four years, so we’re delighted to build on our presence with this new deal. We have plans to grow the brand in German-speaking Switzerland, primarily across rail stations and other prime locations.” Stéphane Klein, managing director Pret Europe, said: “The Pret brand is a perfect fit for the Swiss food and beverage market, and meets the demands of Swiss customers for premium quality, freshness and original takeaway offers.” Last week, natural fast food brand Leon announced it is to make its Italian debut via a partnership with SSP.
Four Hundred Rabbits to open Battersea Rise site: South London sourdough pizza and craft beer restaurant concept Four Hundred Rabbits is to open its sixth site, in Battersea Rise. Propel understands Four Hundred Rabbits has secured the ex-Pi Pizza site at 4-6a Battersea Rise for an opening later this summer. Founded by ex-DJ brothers Daniel and Duncan Edwards in 2015, Four Hundred Rabbits has neighbourhood pizza restaurants in Crystal Palace, Nunhead and West Norwood and a brunch-focused cafe in Brockwell Park, Herne Hill. Four Hundred Rabbits uses a sourdough starter made from British rye flour and ferments the dough for up to 48 hours. It is then cooked at about 400°C in a wood-fired oven, with British seasonal produce used for toppings. Its most recent opening – at the Elephant Park development – was its biggest to date and features a flagship pizzeria, bar, gelateria and coffee shop.
Urban Pubs & Bars secures Putney site: London operator Urban Pubs & Bars is to further strengthen its presence in the capital, with an opening in Putney. Propel has learned Urban Pubs & Bars has secured the circa 12,000 square-foot, ex-Revolution site in Upper Richmond Road, which closed last month, for an opening later this year. Last month, Propel revealed Urban Pubs & Bars had appointed Chris Hill, the former chief executive of New World Trading Company and RedCat Pub Company, as its new managing director, to aid the circa 40-strong group’s further expansion both inside and outside London. Nick Pring and Malc Heap, who founded Urban Pubs & Bars in 2014, told Propel they had no intention of moving away from the business but “the current demands of building it are going to require additional leadership among the senior team”.
Italian restaurant group set to return to London for fifth site: Italian restaurant group, The Trattoria & Bar Group, is set to return to London for its fifth site, Propel has learned. The group was founded by three brothers and a friend after two of them, Peter Hughes and Andrea Mantovani, met while working at the Michelin-starred Wild Honey in 2008. Its debut restaurant, Mele e Pere, opened at 46 Brewer Street, Soho, in 2012, followed by Gotto Trattoria, at 27 East Bay Lane in Hackney Wick, in 2016. They then branched out into pubs, taking on the Lock Inn in the site next door to Gotto Trattoria, on the River Lea. In 2021, the group’s first site outside of London opened when former Mele a Pere general manager Ed Scothern moved to Hove, and together they opened Pesca Trattoria at 60 Church Road. It is now in the process of opening Alba Trattoria, a neighbourhood Italian trattoria (or informal Italian-style restaurant) in Wanstead, east London. “We’ll make all our pasta in house every day, our pizza will be proved for over 48 hours, and we’ll celebrate the best of traditional Italian cooking, alongside spritzes, negronis and small-batch regional wines,” co-owner Chris Hughes told Propel. An opening date is yet to be confirmed.
Sky News – CVC plots £4bn takeover of Center Parcs: The private equity backer of the Six Nations rugby championship is among the suitors pursuing a takeover of holiday resort company Center Parcs. Sky News reported a vehicle managed by CVC Capital Partners is expected to table an indicative proposal to buy Center Parcs’ six sites in the UK and Ireland ahead of a bid deadline later this month. City sources said a number of infrastructure funds, including French-based Antin, were also exploring whether to make offers for the company. If CVC does table a bid, it would be through its long-term strategic opportunities fund, the sources added. It is likely to be a strong contender in the auction, although industry sources suggested bids were expected to be lodged in the lower half of a recently touted £4bn-£5bn price range. Center Parcs has been owned by Brookfield Property Partners, the Canadian property giant, since 2015. Brookfield has hired Bank of America, Barclays and Eastdil Secured to manage the sale. Brookfield bought Center Parcs from Blackstone in a deal reported to have been worth £2.4bn. Blackstone is also said to be considering whether to bid to buy Center Parcs back.
Costa Coffee set to makes changes to loyalty scheme: Costa Coffee is set to makes some changes to its loyalty scheme. From 1 August, customers using the Costa app will have to collect ten “bean” rewards rather than eight to get a free drink, reports The Daily Mirror. Costa is also introducing a new “treats drop” reward for its app users, with personalised offers each month. A Costa spokesperson said: “We’re making some changes to Costa Club, including how many beans customers need to collect before they can redeem a free drink in store. They’ll still collect one bean for every handcrafted drink they buy in a store or from a Costa Express machine but will need to collect ten beans to get a free drink. Customers will continue to collect an extra bean in store when using a reusable cup. As part of the changes, we’re also launching ‘Treat Drop’, a new reward feature designed to provide customers more personalised offers, more often, reflecting the food and drink they love at Costa Coffee.”
Odeon closes five UK branches: Cinema operator Odeon has closed five of its UK branches following “a thorough assessment of all available options”. The branches are in Magdalen Street, Oxford; Rigby Road, Blackpool; Weston-super-Mare; Ayrshire; and Banbury, reports The Sun. The Magdalen Street branch had only been seven months away from celebrating its 100th anniversary. A spokesperson for Odeon said: “We can confirm that, following a thorough assessment of all available options, we have made the very difficult decision to close a small number of our cinemas. We know this will be disappointing news for our guests and we apologise for any inconvenience caused. Looking after our people is our number one priority and we are looking to secure jobs for as many team members as possible in one of our 116 other cinemas across the UK and Ireland.”
Black Sheep Coffee secures Woking site: Speciality coffee shop operator Black Sheep Coffee has signed for a 1,722 square-foot site in Woking’s Victoria Place development. Co-founder Gabriel Shohet said: “Victoria Place is a cornerstone of Woking town centre, so Black Sheep Coffee taking a space in the destination was a natural choice – a sense of community is so important to us, so we are excited to open right in the heart of it.” JLL and Nash Bond acted for Victoria Place. Last month, Black Sheep Coffee signed a franchise partnership with Al Farran Investment to expand into the Middle East, in a deal that should see the opening of more than 250 shops in the region. It is also set to make its US debut this spring, in Dallas, while its UK pipeline includes an opening at Luton airport.
New Monterey Jack’s franchise sees restaurant footfall increase eight-fold: Scotland-based, American-style restaurant Monterey Jack’s has increased a restaurant’s footfall eight-fold since opening its latest franchise there. The concept opened its biggest restaurant to date in March, a 250-cover venue at the M&D’s Scotland Theme Park in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire. The site was previously a family-run restaurant, with the owners then opting to become franchisees with Monterey Jack’s, which operates ten sites across Scotland. “Monterey Jack’s at M&D’s is nothing short of remarkable,” said the restaurant’s franchise partner, Platinum Wave. “Outstripping even the owner’s expectations, the restaurant has seen an increase of eight times the footfall of the previous restaurant, which had been there for 25 years and needed to be refreshed. The Monterey Jack’s team drew up some detailed plans to show how it could become a much more immersive experience, creating a Wild West street on the upper floor and creating some outdoor terrace dining space. The space has been designed to be so much more than a restaurant, a theme park within a theme park, meaning it appeals to local populations in addition to the tourist audience visiting the theme park. The building also contains soft play and bowling, which allows the building to be open all year round, when the park is off-season. Indeed, the owners have found the restaurant is attracting plenty of customers from outside the park coming directly to Monterey Jack’s as a destination in itself.”
Greek coffee shop chain opens second UK store: Greek coffee shop chain Coffee Island has opened its second UK store. The brand, founded in 1999 and with a global presence of more than 500 stores, launched its first UK site, at 5 Upper St Martin’s Lane, in 2016. It has now opened at 4 Ashfield Parade in Southgate, north London, as it looks to expand its overseas presence. “Coffee Island continues to expand in foreign markets,” the company said. “This is our second store in London, as we operate another coffee store in the city, in Covent Garden, which over the last five years has established itself and built up its own loyal customers. Geographical expansion and quality growth of our network has always been a priority. Our new achievement fills us with joy and optimism for the future!”
Steakhouse concept Cut & Craft to open in Manchester: Cut & Craft, the steakhouse concept from Osman Doganozu and Ozgur Akgul, is to open its third site, in Manchester. The business, which operates Cut & Craft sites in Leeds and York, will open its latest site in Manchester. Akgul said: “Yes, we have all heard the adage of that, but by being proactive rather than passive, you will get a strategic advantage over your competitors. This is why we’re investing millions at our new Manchester site in Mosley Street, creating best-priced menus without dropping any qualities or choices, extensive management training, more staff benefits, opening new departments and, most importantly, making a strong inspirational mindset towards the future.” Last October, Cut & Craft opened a site in Leeds city centre in the Victoria Quarter, after a circa £1.6m investment. The company also operates sister concept Lucia Wine Bar and Grill, which operates sites in York, Harrogate and Beverley.
Lucky Voice reveals revitalised approach to diversity and inclusion: Lucky Voice, the social entertainment brand, has revealed a revitalised approach to diversity and inclusion in its business, with a raft of activity aiming to “refine its HR practices and empower its employees” as it drives forward the company’s programme of growth and investment. The business, which is aiming to double the size of its estate over the next two years, said the programme is managed by a newly formed employer brand team, who meet monthly to discuss updates to policies and recruitment procedures, organise charity outreach and plan how it will celebrate key calendar moments including religious festivals, cultural awareness dates and LGBTQ+ Pride. It said the staff at each venue nominate a charity they want to support for the year, and for every one of its Phil Raspberry Collins cocktails sold, 50p is donated to the nominated charity. In Soho, it is the Terrence Higgins Trust, which provides services relating to HIV and sexual health. The company’s head office team supports The Choir With No Name, which runs choirs and builds joyful communities with homeless and marginalised people. As part of the new initiative, Lucky Voice has also established an LGBTQ+ Forum. The team is celebrating Pride in London by marching in the parade and encouraging employees to take part by guaranteeing shift cover for anybody who wants to join. Charlie Elek, managing director at Lucky Voice, said: “We know how important it is to have great people on board to develop and implement our vision as the business continues to thrive. It’s with this in mind that we’ve developed our new diversity and inclusion programme.”
Former Chilli Flames franchisee converts site to new grilled chicken concept: Former Chilli Flames franchisee Nadeem Ahmed has converted his site in Greenford, west London, to a new grilled chicken concept. The location, at Red Lion Court, is now operating as Igrill, having only operated as a Chilli Flames for seven months. The owner parted company with Chilli Flames to launch the new concept, reports Feed the Lion. It means the Chilli Flames that launched in Lea Bridge Road, Walthamstow, last year is Chilli Flames’ only London location, although sites in Hounslow, Hayes and Harrow are on its list of stores “coming soon”. It has 17 UK locations, including four in its home city of Leicester.
Hostmore appoints Helena Feltham as new non-executive director: Hostmore, the owner of the TGI Fridays brand, has appointed Helena Feltham as an independent non-executive director. Feltham will join the company’s board at the conclusion of its annual meeting on Wednesday (7 June). She has more than 30 years’ experience in consumer-facing and people leadership roles. She has recently served as the interim non-executive chair of Ted Baker, where she had also been senior independent director and chair of the nominations committee. She is currently a non-executive director of the IT managed services provider Redcentric, where she chairs the remuneration committee. Feltham has previously held non-executive roles in the NHS and at the Retail Trust and has served as an independent adviser to the Assembly of Wales. She has also previously held executive roles as a director at B&Q, and as the people director at Woolworths South Africa and Marks & Spencer. On her appointment to the Hostmore board, she will also become a member of the audit and risk, nominations and remuneration committees. She will assume the position of chair of the remuneration committee from 1 October 2023, at which point David Lis will step down as chair but remain as a member of the committee. Stephen Welker, chairman-designate, said: “Helena’s combined experience and knowledge of consumer-focused businesses will strengthen the board. The directors and I look forward to working with Helena as we continue to focus on the company’s key objectives in the months and years ahead.”
Diageo appoints Debra Crew as interim CEO: Diageo has appointed Debra Crew as its interim chief executive, with Sir Ivan Menezes currently in hospital receiving treatment for medical conditions including a stomach ulcer. Over the weekend, the company learned Menzies’ recovery suffered a significant setback due to complications, which followed emergency surgery on the ulcer. The company said: “As a result of these developments, the board of directors has appointed Debra Crew interim chief executive with immediate effect, ahead of her appointment as chief executive and joining the board as an executive director on 1 July. As previously announced, Ivan will retire from the board on 30 June. Our thoughts are with our much-loved colleague, Ivan, and his family. Out of respect for Ivan and his family’s privacy, we will not be commenting further at this time.”
US luxury lifestyle brand set to launch ‘culinary emporium’ at Oxfordshire estate: US luxury lifestyle brand RH is set to launch a “culinary emporium” at its Oxfordshire estate. RH, formerly known as Restoration Hardware, this month opened its first store outside the States, RH England, at the 73-acre Aynho Park in Oxfordshire. This will be followed by a roll out of galleries in London’s Mayfair, Milan, Paris, Madrid, Brussels, Düsseldorf and Sydney over the next two to three years. Before that, it will launch a new food and beverage offering at RH England, featuring five separate culinary venues. The Orangery restaurant will feature dishes cooked on custom Molteni rotisseries, or over Japanese Binchotan charcoal, alongside fine wine and champagne. Informal pizza terrace and wine bar The Loggia will offer wood-fired pizza, charcuterie boards and rustic sharing plates, while The Tea Salon will include a selection of specialty teas, scones, clotted cream and house-made preserves. The Wine Lounge will serve up fine wine from around the world, including limited edition vintages and bottles from English estates, while The Juicery will have a menu of organic juice, craft espresso drinks and grilled baguettes.