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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 12th Jun 2023 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Planning Inspectorate blocks new Papa John’s over obesity fears: The Planning Inspectorate has blocked Papa John’s from opening a new site in Tyneside over fears it would exacerbate childhood obesity. The Daily Telegraph reported: “In what is thought to be the first intervention of its kind, the Planning Inspectorate has rejected an appeal by Papa Johns to open a new site in Tyneside. The local council brought in rules to curb the opening of takeaway outlets in areas where more than 15% of year 6 pupils or 10% of reception pupils are classified as ‘very overweight’. Data showed an obesity rate of 21.2% and 8.9% for year 6 and reception pupils respectively, according to a recently published appeal decision by the Planning Inspectorate. Papa John’s told officials the takeaway chain offers ‘healthy menu options, shows calorific values and does not fry products in contrast to other takeaways’. In addition, the proposed site was more than 400 metres from a middle or secondary school. However, the planning inspector concluded the distance from schools ‘does not mean that children will not be exposed to its products’. Papa John’s cited a decision in 2016 where the Planning Inspectorate granted rival pizza chain Domino’s planning permission after it appealed a similar decision by North Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council. But the Planning Inspectorate concluded Papa John’s ‘proposal would harm the health of residents in the area’.” The Planning Inspectorate is an executive agency of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. A spokesman for The Planning Inspectorate said: “The inspector’s reasoning is set out clearly in the appeal decision document. In reaching their decisions, inspectors consider the evidence submitted to them at the appeal and apply national planning policy. They must also apply local development plan policies, which can vary between local planning authority areas and which may give rise to different appeal decisions in relation to similar issues.”

Industry News:

Propel Multi-Club Conference and summer party opens for bookings, three free places per company for operators: Propel will host its Multi-Club Conference and summer party on Wednesday, 6 September, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Oxford Belfry. The all-day conference will focus on “new directions” and will be followed in the evening by the summer party, with a barbecue and five hours of live music, including a three-hour set from the famous house band at Piano Works. There are up to three free places per company for operators that can be claimed by emailing A room can also be booked for the evening. For more details, email Speakers at the conference will include Karl Chessell, director at CGA Nielsen, who will set out the current eating and drinking-out landscape, the key trends of the year and what will shape the next 12 months. Olivia FitzGerald, chief sales and marketing officer at Zonal, will talk to Mark Chapman, founder of Zero Carbon Forum, about how sector companies are saving money as they drive to achieve net zero. Verity Foss, co-founder of Oowee Vegan, and Lina Blythe, its operations director, will talk about the growth and evolution of the plant-based fast food concept, how delivery has helped shape and develop the business, and how it will stay ahead of its growing competitor set. Asad Khan, founder of Snowflake Luxury Gelato, will discuss the creation of the concept, its crowdfunding campaign, and its national and international expansion targets. Lisa Buckley, managing director of Leisure TV Rights, the experiential leisure operator, will talk about the development of the Ninja Warrior concept, working with TV-related formats, continual evolution of games and its expansion plans. Paula MacKenzie, chief executive of PizzaExpress, will talk to Propel group editor Mark Wingett, about taking the helm at the iconic casual dining brand, challenges and opportunities her first year in the role have provided, evolving its offer and team, and her thoughts on the wider sector. Judy Joo, chef, restaurateur and co-founder of Seoul Bird, will discuss her journey in the sector, going again with a new concept, and the challenges and opportunities of growing a business in the UK and internationally. Heydon Mizon, joint managing director of Hertfordshire brewer and retailer McMullen, will talk about how the business is keeping the pub relevant to new generations of consumers, and the challenges and opportunities of being a regional operator. Tom Crowley, chief executive of Popeyes UK, will discuss the brand’s entry into the UK market, the evolution of its offer, its marketing strategy and its expansion plans. Jack Anderson, chief operating officer of Sessions, the growth platform for food brands and food hall concept operator, and Olivia Reid, its director of food and beverage, will discuss operating and licensing its own brands, investing in new concepts, deciding what operators to work with, and the future of food halls. Mark Selby, co-founder of Mexican brand Wahaca, will discuss the group’s evolution, its work on sustainability, the role its fledgling DF Tacos concept is set to play, a return to the expansion trail for its core brand and his views on the wider eating-out sector. Krishnan Doyle, managing director of COREcruitment, will lead a panel on the latest recruitment and retention issues being faced across the sector, featuring Thomas Stroppel, head of learning and development at Dishoom; Maureen Sandbach, people director at Honest Burgers; Oli Cavaliero, group head of talent at Gail’s and The Bread Factory; Rachel Masing, people director at ETM Group and Maven Leisure; Hattie Renshaw, head of talent at Sodexo; and Laura Mills, chief operating officer at The Ivy Collection.

Latest Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage featuring 693 companies to be released on Friday: The latest Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage will be published for Premium subscribers on Friday (16 June). A total of 13 companies have been added to the database, which now features 693 companies. This month’s edition also includes 40 updated entries. The companies, listed in alphabetical order, will have their most recent results reported as well as broader information around Ebitda, plans and trading style available. The database merges Companies House information, interviews and other public information to provide an easy to reference and exhaustive guide to the sector. Premium subscribers also receive access to four other databases: the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; the New Openings Database; the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book; 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 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.
Katherine Doggrell joins Propel as editorial consultant: Senior industry journalist and PR specialist Katherine Doggrell has joined Propel as an editorial consultant. She will be writing a monthly column for our Premium readers and co-hosting Propel events alongside group editor Mark Wingett. She further strengthens Propel’s roster of outstanding contributing columnists and writers – such as Luke Johnson, Ann Elliott, Charlie McVeigh, Glynn Davies, Kate Nicholls, James Hacon and Phil Mellows. This roster will be further strengthened shortly when entrepreneur Matthew Kirby, who founded and sold Chozen Noodle, begins a regular column for Premium readers on his experiences, particularly in respect of his current investment in a Detroit-based restaurant franchise. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “Katherine is a fantastic journalist and hugely experienced within the hotel sector, in particular. She is an excellent addition to our team as we seek to gather the best journalists and columnists around the Propel campfire.” Doggrell also co-owns her own hotel sector PR company NewDog PR.

Britons stick with staycations even as flight bookings surge: Britons’ enthusiasm for staycations shows no sign of abating this summer, UK holiday operators have said, despite a surge in flight bookings after the end of the covid-19 pandemic, reports The FT. Some 44% of hotel rooms in Cumbria, home to the Lake District, are already booked until the end of August, up from 36% this time last year, according to analytics group STR, which compiles data covering three-fifths of UK hotel rooms. In Devon and Cornwall, 55% of rooms have been reserved, up from 52% in 2022. Holiday rental agency Sykes Holiday Cottages has increased its listings of holiday lets by 15% to more than 21,000 this summer in anticipation of extra demand. But the company, which also operates in Ireland, expects occupancy to remain steady compared with last year, peaking at about 90% in July, when most schools in England are closed. Other hotel groups and holiday parks are eschewing big price rises — and in some cases offering cut-price deals — in an effort to convince people eager to go abroad to consider staying in the UK instead, or to take a second, smaller domestic break over summer. Paul Flaum, chief executive of holiday park operator Bourne Leisure, said the cost-of-living crisis meant “guests don’t just want value for money, they want certainty and to make sure every penny spent is worth it”. He expects to host three million people this year across the company’s 39 Haven Holiday caravan parks nationwide, up from 2.5 million last year. “One trend that the pandemic has cemented is that people have realised how important it is to get away, and therefore they are doing everything that they can to protect their holiday, but also to have more holidays,” added Flaum.

Operators call on more suppliers to support Hospitality Rising: Supporters of sector recruitment campaign, Hospitality Rising, are calling for more suppliers to get involved in the initiative to help solve the industry’s crippling job crisis. Currently nine in ten Hospitality Rising supporters are operators and, as the campaign heads into its second year, a second round of fundraising, and a summer of activity targeting education leavers, the movement is hoping to attract more suppliers to become supporters. The collaborative campaign, which brings together companies of all sizes, from all sectors of the industry, has created two new packages, Platinum and Gold, for suppliers looking to join the cause. Rob Pitcher, chief executive of Revolution Bars Group, one of the original supporters of the initiative, said: “It makes good business sense for suppliers to join forces with operators to try to solve the workforce crisis and keep more businesses open but it also demonstrates a clear understanding of the challenges we face and is a move to help share the pain.” Steve Richards, chief executive of Parkdean Resorts, also an early supporter of the cause, added: “We’ve already achieved some great results from the ‘Rise Fast, Work Young’ campaign and, by expanding our network of supportive suppliers even further, we will be able to build on this momentum, showcase the huge range of rewarding, life-long careers and attract yet more talent to our fantastic sector.” The “Rise Fast, Work Young” campaign has generated more than 4,000 applications each week since it launched in October. Suppliers already supporting the initiative include hospitality tech supplier Zonal, Wi-Fi provider Wireless Social and Airship. Businesses looking to join the movement can email

SRA launches new platform to standardise sustainability within hospitality globally: The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) has launched a new platform to allow sustainability within hospitality to be standardised globally. Having operated in the UK for 15 years, the Food Made Good Sustainability Standard has been developed “in response to the universal scale of food system issues within hospitality, juxtaposed by a genuine desire from chefs and industry workers to contribute to a solution”. The SRA said this levels the playing field by supplying businesses with trustworthy, expert-led and up-to-date accreditation, as well as providing guidance on the next steps of their commitment to sustainability. Developed with input from international experts, including the Ellen McArthur Foundation, WRAP and the Ethical Trade Initiative, as well as leading food businesses, the new global standard is the only certification specifically designed to measure a restaurant’s social and environmental impact, wherever they are in the world. It is built on a ten-point framework, organised across three pillars: sourcing, society and environment. SRA managing director Juliane Caillouette Noble said: “We are setting the standard by which a restaurant in Buenos Aires, Beijing or Birmingham can accurately compare its sustainability achievements and join the Food Made Good movement to build a better industry for our planet.”

Company News:

PizzaLuxe moving forward with pub sector plans, exploring international franchise opportunities: PizzaLuxe, the Paul Goodale-led premium fast casual concept, has told Propel it is moving forward with its pub sector plans and is also exploring international franchise opportunities. The Editon Capital-backed brand first unveiled plans to launch a franchise model into the pub sector more than 18 months ago, and while Goodale said the plans took a back seat through unlocking and core estate expansion, they are now progressing. “We definitely see the pub sector as a significant opportunity, and we are actively engaging in doing that,” he told Propel. “We are presently firming up our route-to-market partner for third party sales. In terms of the core PizzaLuxe pubco model, we are talking direct to a couple of pub companies about agreeing a direct partnership as well.” PizzaLuxe currently operates four company-owned and two franchised sites and is also currently running a summer pop-up in London’s Covent Garden. “We’d like to do something else in Leeds as we’ve been there a long time, and we’re keen to do other stuff up north – York, and maybe Liverpool and Birmingham would be good,” Goodale said. “I think we’ve proven we can operate across a broad range of locations. We are expecting that international franchise opportunities will come through [sector consultants] TGP. Its GCC (Gulf region) representation is very strong, so there’s nothing I’d really exclude. That said, I have never experienced such a complex and challenging trading environment in my 30 years in the hospitality industry. We’ve had input cost price inflation of 26% in 18 months on food costs, for example, and we’ve sought to improve quality of experience in order to pass on a share of this. We try to mitigate the rest by being as efficient as we can, meaning we haven’t had too much erosion in gross margin. It’s not easy, but that’s our job. The energy bills are a different matter, and these should have been sorted out by government, not left to hospitality operators. Against the backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis, if we have a curated collection of great stores around key UK cities, I would be very happy with that. Beyond this, I think the appeal of overseas expansion is strong, and we are well positioned to develop this.” Goodale also said his city centre sites are “holding up well” and he sees an increase in office worker footfall later this year. He added: “Considering we’ve had a 10% pay rise over the course of the past year, we’re still up by about another 5-10%. Across the board, people are probably going out less and spending a bit more; people are looking for a reason not to go out rather than a reason to go out. London is now being driven by inbound tourism and people returning to the office. In Leeds and Manchester, the core city centre traffic is still down double digit on pre-covid in terms of office occupation, but I do think there will be an increasing return to more conventional office working through the second half of 2023. It’s a complicated market, but we’re not looking to build a huge estate, so that’s fine.” 
PizzaExpress – we are in a solid position with strong liquidity: PizzaExpress insists its debt woes are behind it, arguing a painful restructuring over the last few years has now put it on the right path. The Telegraph reported that after an agonising stretch of years that saw the business close around 100 restaurants and cut swathes of jobs, PizzaExpress is now hoping it can win back ground in the fight for the high street. A PizzaExpress spokesperson insists the chain’s fortunes have vastly improved. They said: “We are in a solid position with strong liquidity, good cost control and cash management. Debt levels are more than half what they were under previous ownership.” And while like all businesses PizzaExpress has been hit by inflation, the company insists its prices remain “competitive”. The Telegraph said the price of a margherita has risen from £8.95 in 2019 to £10.95 today – still the kind of affordability long-time patrons of the chain will be familiar with. 
Rosa’s secures debut Scottish site, lines up Guildford opening: Rosa’s Thai, which is backed by TriSpan, has secured its debut site in Scotland, and lined up an opening in Guildford, Surrey, Propel has learned. The Gavin Adair-led business, which last month secured a £10m bank facility from Barclays to help fund its ongoing openings pipeline, will replace the Cote site in West Nile Street, Glasgow. Cote will close the site on Monday, 26 June, and Propel understands Cote has already begun looking for larger premises in the city for a new restaurant. At the same time, the circa 35-strong Rosa’s, which will open its latest site, on the former Bill’s unit, in Leamington Spa next month, has secured the ex-Hungry Buddha site and a neighbouring retail unit in Guildford’s Friary Street, for a further opening later this year. The business recently confirmed it also had openings lined up in Reading (the Jacksons Corner scheme) and Oxford (ex-Busaba site). Propel understands Rosa’s is also in talks on further sites in Bristol and Edinburgh, as it continues to grow its national presence.
Amsterdam-based ramen concept to make UK debut: Ramen Impossible, the Amsterdam-based concept, is to make its UK debut this week, in London’s Southwark. Ramen and Men Impossible were born in Amsterdam and operate two locations in the city centre, soon to be three. They offer a set menu and focus on being the “best quality plant-based ramen in the world”. Soft launching on Friday (16 June) and Saturday (17 June) at Mercato Metropolitano, Elephant and Castle, Ramen Impossible is offering £2 ramen with the secret password “maho” for these two days. The brainchild of Tokyo-born culinary artisans Atsushi Ishida supported by chef Akihiro Hara, Ramen Impossible combines more than three decades of shared experience in ramen mastery with a passion for eating more plants. To launch in the UK it is joining forces with Faraz Nagree, chief executive of the Lean Kitchen Network. Nagree said: “We are thrilled to bring this incredible brand to London. We have worked hard on sourcing and localising the offer to make it truly sustainable and delicious."
Starbucks considering launching delivery-only sites: Starbucks has returned to an idea it first put forward pre-pandemic, opening delivery-only sites. The company said it is again considering launching delivery-only sites across the US to meet growing demand for convenience and to make its store portfolio more efficient. Speaking to investors at the TD Cowen Future of the Consumer Conference in the US, Starbucks chief financial officer Rachel Ruggeri said the business is exploring new store designs to meet increasing consumer demand for convenience, similar to the coffee chain’s pick-up only sites. She said: “When we think about our opportunity in the future, it’s how do we leverage our portfolio to unlock capacity but also in a way that best meets the customer's needs and demands. And so that’s going to be different versions of drive-thru stores. It’s going to be delivery-only stores, as well as different versions of pick-up stores. So, a lot of different, what I’d call, store designs and types to be able to meet the increasing demand that we see.” Starbucks currently operates more than 9,300 company-operated stores across the US, 70% of which offer drive-thru and 1% of which are pick-up only sites. Ruggeri said delivery is becoming “a more meaningful part” of Starbucks’ US business and launching delivery-only sites would “take the complexity out of existing stores”, where staff manually manage orders from in-store, drive-thru and delivery channels. At the same time, reports in the US said Starbucks has begun working with Cloud Kitchens, the ghost kitchen company run by Uber founder Travis Kalanick. Starbucks is currently building out a kitchen in at least one San Francisco Cloud Kitchens location. 

Revolution hits milestone on journey to net zero: Revolution Bars Group has reported its commitment to reach net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across its operations and supply chain, has been assessed and approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). Revolution Bars Group is expected to be among the first 100 companies in the UK to have their net zero targets approved and aligned to the 1.5-degree pathway ambition, through the SBTi’s Net-Zero Corporate Standard – the world's first framework for corporate net zero target setting, in line with climate science. Rob Pitcher, chief executive of Revolution Bars Group , said: “Our commitment to environmental best practice is central to our long-term business strategy. We’ve been clear that our strategy is built on the idea that there is no planet ‘B’ and at Revolution Bars Group we are 100% committed to doing our bit to minimise our environmental impact. The approval by SBTi is an important milestone in our journey to net zero.” 
Sweetgreen eyes fully automated estate: US salad bar chain Sweetgreen has announced it plans to have all of its new restaurants automated with its Infinite Kitchen robotic makeline within the next five years. Speaking at the William Blair Growth Stock Conference in the US, the chain’s chief executive Jonathan Neman told investors the brand’s existing circa 160 sites will eventually also be retrofitted with the automated makeline. The first Infinite Kitchen in Naperville, Illinois, has been open for less than a month, but Sweetgreen couldn't be more pleased with how it is working, Neman said. A second unit with the Infinite Kitchen is scheduled to open later in 2023. The Infinite Kitchen does not automate prep or the final assembly of the salads, Neman said, leaving the beginning and end of production in human hands. The Infinite Kitchen dispenses salad ingredients into a bowl, but workers still add final toppings, the company said when it first announced the makeline. 
US restaurant brand Man Vs Fries makes UK debut: Man Vs Fries – a California-based restaurant brand – has made its UK debut, in London’s Wembley. The brand, which currently operates circa 40 sites across the US and Canada, plus one in Saudi Arabia, has opened a site in Boxpark Wembley, in partnership with ghost kitchen start-up Reef Technology. Founded by former tech consultant, William Bonhorst, Man Vs Fries said it takes “fries to the next level”. He previously told the New York Times: “My fondest memories revolved around food as a child. Fries were the main attraction. I often ate just French fries and my mother would force me to eat burgers or chicken nuggets or chicken sandwiches, so I obliged but I really only wanted the fries. It was that innate desire of: Why not? Why not fries in a burger? Why not fries in a sandwich? Why not fries as the main course?"
Parkdean Resorts updates on ESG progress: Parkdean Resorts, the UK’s largest holiday park operator, has released its first environmental, social and governance (ESG) report, which outlines the progress the business is making on its plans to care for its parks, people, and planet by delivering 25 wide-ranging commitments by 2025. The company said the most significant achievements in year one include: reducing carbon emissions by 17% versus 2019; launching a 50% holiday discount for team members, with 3,460 bookings made under the scheme in 2022; enhancing and investing in local communities, and supporting charity partners by gifting 150 free holidays to families who need it most; launching a sustainable energy of the future strategy, starting with self-generation solar power at two parks and new technology to improve energy efficiency such as voltage optimisation; and cleaning up beaches with 267 volunteers taking part in beach cleans across the UK, collecting 422kg of litter. Steve Richards, chief executive of Parkdean Resorts, said: “We want to lead from the front and we understand that our impact is deep and wide ranging. It was important to us that we developed ESG plans that would deliver tangible results, and I’m pleased we have achieved many great things in our first year. We collectively feel a great sense of responsibility to deliver on our ambitious commitments and I look forward to celebrating more of our progress in coming years.”
Travelodge primed for £1bn sale after post-pandemic recovery: The owner of Travelodge is priming the budget hotel chain for a sale that could fetch in excess of £1bn off the back of a strong recovery in domestic travel. The Sunday Times reported American hedge fund GoldenTree, which took over Travelodge in 2012, has been meeting investment banks vying for the mandate to sell the chain of 595 hotels. City sources said GoldenTree was seeking £1.2bn. GoldenTree, a credit investor managing $50bn of assets, is seeking to capitalise on strong trading at the UK’s second largest hotel chain, where rooms start at £37 a night. Travelodge and Premier Inn, its larger rival, are both benefiting from consumers trading down to cheaper options and the trend towards staycations. Travelodge, led by chief executive Jo Boydell, reported underlying sales of £909.9m last year, a 25% increase on pre-pandemic levels. Underlying profits came in at £212.9m. At a sluggish time for deal making generally, UK leisure businesses are still in demand from investors due to the continued surge in staycation holidays. Brookfield is seeking buyers for Center Parcs in a deal that the private equity giant hopes will raise between £4bn and £5bn. Premier Inn owner Whitbread is exploring a sale of about 250 pubs and restaurants to enable it to focus more on the budget hotel chain. Travelodge said last month that it was targeting 300 openings across the UK. All of its hotels are leased, which is likely to shorten the list of potential suitors. The labour shortages that continue to dent the hospitality industry may be another source of concern. GoldenTree, which declined to comment, is understood to favour a sale over a public listing. Goldman Sachs is regarded as a strong contender to get the mandate for a sale, given its extensive knowledge of the business.
Hong Kong fund seeks £1bn from investors to acquire UK pub, hotel, housing assets: Hong Kong-based asset manager Panda Residential is seeking to raise as much as £1bn from outside investors in the region to bet on the recovery of the UK commercial property market. The South China Morning Post reported the fund, whose backers include the heir of the Sasa cosmetics retail chain in the city, deems it an opportune time to pick up pubs, hotels and student housing amid “depressed moments”, which could deliver an additional 15% to 20% upside in an industry upturn. “We are already negotiating with a few smaller landlords of pubs and hotels, pubs that have residential units, or a hotel with a master lease and some retail component,” co-founder Timothy Li said. The fund aims to exit from its investments and return the money to investors within six years, he added.
Giggling Squid makes Welsh debut as it aims for at least 50 sites by end of 2023: Giggling Squid, the Thai restaurant brand backed by the Business Growth Fund, has opened its first restaurant in Wales, a 3,066 square-foot, 200-cover flagship in The Hayes in St Davids, Cardiff. With further openings planned in Bracknell, Shrewsbury, Epsom and Muswell Hill, the group, founded by husband and wife team Andy and Pranee Laurillard, is set to reach more than 50 restaurants by the end of the year. Andy Laurillard said: “Clearly, this year is a tough one for hospitality, and we’re thrilled we’ve been able to keep our opening plan on track. I absolutely love Cardiff, and The Hayes site is perfect – right in the heart of the city, with a high footfall and a great food and drink vibe. This is our first Giggling Squid outside of England, yet we’ve been amazed by amount of local interest in our arrival, showing the brand’s reputation for delivering a quality eating out experience.” Giggling Squid is also understood to have secured the ex-Loch Fyne site in Knowle High Street, Solihull.
Midlands better burger brand set to make London debut for tenth site: Midlands better burger brand Phat Buns is set to make its London debut for its tenth site. Co-owners Hussein Sacranie and Ahtesham Moosa are preparing to open a site in Bayswater, west London, adding to its locations in Nottingham (two), Leicester (two), Birmingham, Coventry, Loughborough, Sheffield and Derby. The pair, who founded Phat Buns in 2019, are also the co-owners of Doorstep Desserts, which has three sites in Leicester and one in Nottingham.
Birmingham dessert concept set to open ninth site, looks to expand through franchising: Birmingham dessert concept Dolce Desserts is set to open its ninth site and is looking to expand further through franchising. Established in 2014, it currently has sites in Birmingham city centre, Selly Oak, Sutton Coldfield, West Quinton, Stetchford, Worcester, Sparkbrook and a dark kitchen at Aston Seedbed Centre. The company, led by chief executive Kamila Khan, is now preparing to open a site in Shirley, and has partnered with Brand Mark Franchising (BMF) for a planned roll out beyond Birmingham. “BMF is now working with Dolce Desserts, a Birmingham company that now wants to cover the entire UK,” said BMF director Paul Davies. “Dolce Desserts has recently launched its eighth store, in Ladypool Road in Birmingham, with Shirley soon to be its ninth. As a franchisee, you can tap into the growing demand for delectable desserts while benefiting from the established brand reputation and support Dolce Desserts offers.” The brand’s franchise model offers four separate models and a return on investment of “around two years”, and is based mainly in secondary locations, with lower rents and rates costs.
Daylesford acquires third pub with rooms: Lifestyle organic brand Daylesford has acquired its third pub with rooms, the 17th century The Bell in Church Street, Charlbury, in the Cotswolds. Opening this autumn, the 50-cover pub will serve “hearty pub classics” with a focus on seasonal produce and ingredients from local suppliers, as well as from the farm at Daylesford. In addition to the pub, The Bell Barn will be a 30-cover open-plan dining room, featuring an open wood-fired grill, which will be used as a restaurant and made available for private hire. Sitting above the pub and barn will be 12 bedrooms, including a two-bedroom family suite. Daylesford owner Carole Bamford, wife of JCB owner Sir Anthony Bamford, also operates The Fox in Lower Oddington, Gloucestershire, and the Wild Rabbit in Kingham, in the Cotswolds, as well as Daylesford Village Cottages, a hamlet of 15 cottages nestled in the 2,500-acre Daylesford Estate.
Marina restaurant business set to open fourth and fifth sites, branching out into hotel rooms: Marina restaurant business Boatfolk Bars is set to open its fourth and fifth sites – in the space of a week at the end of June – and is also branching out into hotel rooms. Boatfolk is a national boating business that currently has 11 marinas in across the UK, while Boatfolk Bars operates restaurants at three of them – Penarth Marina in Cardiff, The Kitchen at Portland Marina in Dorset and The Creek at Haslar Marina in Portsmouth. They will be joined on Saturday, 24 June by Salt at Portland Marina, and then on Friday, 30 June by The Lightship, at Haslar Marina, on the other side of the Solent in Gosport. Salt will be an all-day dining destination with a seasonal menu, while The Lightship will see the transformation of the historic 1940s ex-Trinity House lightvessel. It will offer both a high-end dining experience at mid-deck, and a more relaxed drop-in spot on the top deck for seafood platters and cocktails. Head chef Jamie Fegan’s menu will use locally caught fish and seasonal produce for dishes including British oysters served with a selection of dressings; crab ravioli served with lobster bisque and samphire; and turbot fillet served with The Grange velouté, tempura rock oyster, pickled radish, asparagus and pea. The top deck can accommodate 80 guests and includes a bespoke seating area built within the ship’s tower, while the inside mid-deck can host 70 seated inside and a further 30 outside. Boatfolk is also this summer launching a small range of luxury hotel rooms near Portland Marina.
Greggs opens Saltash site for fourth Cornish shop: Food-on-the-go retailer Greggs has opened a site in Saltash, marking its fourth site in Cornwall. The outlet at U2 Enterprise Park adds to shops in St Austell, Launceston and most recently Truro, which opened in December 2022. The Saltash shop has opened “in response to popular local demand” and has further extended the retailer’s reach across the county. Greggs has been providing a free breakfast to children who need it for more than two decades and is set to open a new Breakfast Club in Cornwall in Launceston in the following weeks. Chief executive Roisin Currie said: “As well as being able to offer a brilliant experience to customers when they visit us, we’re always keen to ensure we can make a positive impact to local communities and the jobs we have created – along with the incoming Breakfast Club (hopefully with more to follow) – is testament to that in Cornwall. Driven by customer demand, the new opening forms an integral part of our wider growth strategy and contributes to our target of opening 150 net shops in 2023.”
UFC star ‘Meatball Molly’ to open new Italian deli concept at Liverpool’s Baltic Market: Ultimate Fighting Championship star Molly “Meatball Molly” McCann is set to open new Italian deli concept at Liverpool’s Baltic Market. McCann, who got her nickname after supporting herself during her early fighting career by working at Subway, will next month launch Polpetta at the venue, which hosts ten different independent traders. Opening on Wednesday, July 5, Polpetta is a partnership between McCann and her friend Joel McCarthy, creator of health food brand The Macro Chef. Polpetta, which means meatball in Italian, will offer an array of dishes including Italian subs, pasta and sides. Molly and Joel said: “After years of wanting to bring our concept to life, it feels amazing to be launching Polpetta. The market is the perfect place to launch our start-up, giving us a platform to showcase our Italian-inspired dishes to the people of Liverpool and beyond.” Oliver Press, co-founder of Baltic Market, added: “We can’t wait to welcome Liverpool’s newest and exciting food start-up. I also grew up with Joel, so it’s a lovely full circle moment to be able to link up with him later on in life and welcome their new concept to the market.” Baltic Market’s other traders include Hafla Hafla, Press Bros, Midnight Delivery, The Little Furnace, La Bistroteca and Spice Thai.

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