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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 26th Jun 2023 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Dirty Bones business restructured: Half of the six-strong Dirty Bones business has been acquired in a pre-pack administration process for a total consideration of circa £600,000, Propel has learned. Propel reported in April that the team behind the US comfort food and cocktails brand was assessing its options for the business, which could include a sale of its six sites. Founded in 2013, Dirty Bones operated four London sites – in Carnaby, Shoreditch, Soho and Kensington (the latter is currently closed) – and one in Oxford, plus Dirty Vegan at The Balcony in Westfield, London, which had closed. Propel understands that a new company set up by the original shareholders, including Hero Brands and early investors Hard Yards Global, has acquired the sites in Soho, Carnaby and Oxford, with the others closed before the administration process began. The administrators report from Moore Kingston Smith said: “The company operated successfully for several years but, like many in its industry, it was struck hard by the covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, in Q1 2023, a time-to-pay arrangement with HMRC expired and HMRC demanded the immediate payment of circa £800,000 from the company’s group thereby rendering it insolvent on a cashflow basis.” Last July, Hero Brands – which is behind German Doner Kebab, Choppaluna and Island Poké – invested in Dirty Bones to drive its UK growth. Hero Brands said using its extensive franchising knowledge and network, that talks will now continue with key franchise partners regarding new Dirty Bones locations as there is still considerable interest in the brand. Dirty Bones features in the Propel UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK which is updated every two months. The latest version was sent to Premium subscribers on Wednesday, 21 June and featured 210 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 to upgrade your subscription. 

Industry News:

Four days to go before release of updated Premium Database of Multi-site Companies, 16 businesses being added: A total of 16 new multi-site companies, operating 99 sites, have been added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-site Companies, which will be released on Friday (30 June), at midday The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, includes regional pub operators, growing restaurant brands, and expanding franchise operators. Premium subscribers will also receive a 1,300-word report on the new additions to the database. The comprehensive database is updated monthly and provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different. The database now features 2,869 companies. Premium subscribers will also receive the next edition of the New Openings Database on Friday, 7 July, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The next edition also includes a 2,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to three other databases: the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book; the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database; and the Who's Who of UK Food and Beverage. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £995 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £495 plus VAT for operators and £595 plus VAT for suppliers. Email 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.
Spiralling food costs highlight hospitality’s continuing profitability challenge: Ongoing hikes in food and drinks prices are piling the pressure on hospitality operators as supply chain fragility continues to hit hard, a new report from sector workforce data business Fourth has warned. The report, based on data collected from more than 1,500 pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels with a combined spend of £750m with 200 suppliers, outlines how hospitality continues to deal with the fallout from global events such as the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. It said a perfect storm of factors, including double-digit food inflation, labour shortages and high end-user energy prices, are making profitability a constant challenge for operators. Among its findings are the price of daily essential items rising at historic levels between May 2022 and 2023, with milk up 36%, bread 22%, flour 19% and eggs 17%. This compares to overall food inflation of 19.1% in the 12 months to March 2023, a 40-year high, outstripping Consumer Price Inflation of 10.1%. It said meat prices have also risen sharply in the last year, with chicken up 15% and beef 6%. Drinks prices have proved to be more robust, with lager and red wine up by 4% and white wine 5%. The result has had an inevitable impact on profitability, with operators reporting that cost of goods sold (COGS) was 27.3% in February – an increase of more than five percentage points in less than two years.  The gap between what operators anticipate they will spend on food and the actual price they pay is also growing, with theoretical COGS rising sharply from 18.2% in May 2021 to 22% in February this year. Sebastian Sepierre, managing director – EMEA at Fourth, said: “The data reveals the extent of the challenges hospitality businesses continue to endure. However, there is hope on the horizon, with energy prices and inflation both forecast to head south this year. Hospitality executives must continue to examine every aspect of their business to future-proof their operations.”
Competitive socialising sales increase year-on-year but cinema visits decline, leisure sites growing more in city centres and regional malls: Competitive socialising sales are on the increase year-on-year but cinema visits are declining, according to new data from CACI. The consumer and location intelligence company compared spend from 300 brands across the UK market, using its Brand Dimensions platform, between October 2022 and March 2023 and the same period a year earlier. It showed the number of transactions at competitive socialising venues were up 9%, with sales up 5%. Flight Club and Hollywood Bowl performed particularly well, with a 22% and 31% increase in transactions, and sales boosted by 17% and 13%, respectively. It also showed cinema transactions down 27% and sales down 23% among the six leading operators, although average transaction value (ATV) is up 5% on average at most, suggesting those who visit are willing to spend. The data also revealed that 72% of city centres have increased their leisure provision in the past year, and regional malls by 64%. This compares to a 29% average increase across all destinations, accounted for by the likes of Flight Club and Hollywood Bowl targeting such locations. However, leisure occupiers have fallen in 72% of satellite centres and 50% of suburban centres – two destination classes that have grown their food and beverage portfolio by 91% and 58%. Arabella Dalloz, principal consultant and head of leisure at CACI, said: “The significant uplift in transactions and sales at leading competitive leisure concepts such as Flight Club and Hollywood Bowl is likely down to considered growth strategies, with both brands expanding and picking up on the changing social trends. Flight Club has even taken the world by storm, opening across the US and Australia. Retail destinations that have increased their leisure portfolio see the sector as critical to attracting and retaining office workers and shoppers in a post-pandemic world, giving them more reasons to visit and spend their time and money there. Those that have decreased their leisure offer are more local community focused and see the leisure experience as less important than quality and diversity in food and beverage operations.”
NTIA calls for change in legislation to protect security workers against ‘unprecedented levels’ of violence: The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) and UK Door Security Association have called for a change in legislation to protect security workers against “unprecedented levels ” of violence. The trade associations spoke out following a programme released by the BBC on door security operatives and the violence and abuse they face within the workplace. Security: Abuse on the Door, which is available on BBC iPlayer, gives first-hand accounts from door supervisors in the UK of shocking incidents of physical assaults, racism and sexual harassment. “Door security staff face an unprecedented level of verbal and physical abuse every night that they work, according to the BBC survey, something which no staff member deserves to face within the workplace at any time.” Said NTIA chief executive Michael Kill. “These individuals have a very difficult job to do, in many respects a thankless task too many, but an important one none the less as they work tirelessly to keep members of the public safe. We are asking government to consider changing legislation to protect security workers against violence within the workplace with tougher sentencing. These licensed, vetted and trained workers must be given the same support and protection afforded to emergency service workers since 2018.”
London roars back as businesses renew call to scrap tourist tax: London is getting back on track as it recovers from the pandemic –with the number of passengers using public transport surging. The Evening Standard reports that data from Transport for London reveals that the return to the office, weekend trips and the soaring popularity of the Elizabeth line have resulted in the best passenger figures since 2019. The number of journeys on the TfL network has reached 88% of pre-pandemic levels and is expected to hit 94% by the end of the year. Income from fares has now reached its highest level since the first covid lockdown, despite the cost-of-living crisis. Business leaders welcomed the booming figures but called on more Londoners to return to the office – and said the government must take further action to help the bounceback. They said ministers must also make changes to the immigration system so that businesses, especially those in the hospitality sector, can recruit foreign workers to fill vacancies. Business chiefs also said the VAT exemption on shopping for international visitors – the so-called “tourist tax” – should be reinstated to give them a further incentive to travel. Dee Corsi, chief executive at New West End Company, said: “The bounceback in Tube journeys is helping keep the West End on track to return to £10bn of annual sales by 2025. The Elizabeth line in particular has had a major impact on footfall. Policy changes in critical areas, such as reinstating tax-free shopping, would cement confidence and unlock sustainable economic growth.”

London night czar calls for national partnership to ensure the safety of live events in the UK: London’s night czar Amy Lamé has called for a national partnership approach to ensure the safety of live events in the UK. Lamé will today (Monday, 26 June) chair a National Events Safety Roundtable following national concerns about crowd behaviour changes and safety. The event was called after the tragic events at the O2 Academy Brixton last year, where two people died and another remains critically ill in hospital. Lamé, said: “Our live events industry has a proud history of safely welcoming countless people to world-leading events, but it is clear that nationally, we are all facing exceptional challenges. That’s why we are bringing together music and events industry leaders from across the country to discuss how we can work together. This will be a first step in progressing a coordinated approach that works across the whole sector and country to ensure that live events are delivered safely in all forms.”
Job of the Day: COREcruitment is working with a leading premium restaurant group looking for an exceptional general manager who is obsessed with people and creating a culture within their venue. They are looking for someone who is still very much in love with the hospitality scene and who wants to be involved at ground level but also from a strategic point of view. You will be skilled in working with a premium product and delivering a premium service – not stuffy but with lots of energy. You will be financially on point and commercially astute. The salary for the position is up to £75,000 plus bonus and based in London. For more information, please contact

Company News:

Activist investors launch fresh attack on Wagamama owner: Activist investors have launched a fresh attack on the parent company of Wagamama after its finance chief, Kirk Davis, stepped down and its share price plunged by 20% in one month. The Telegraph reports that the Hong Kong-based hedge fund Oasis Management, which has built up a 14% stake in the noodle chain’s parent company The Restaurant Group (TRG), fired a salvo at the company for promoting a finance chief with close links to its boss, Andy Hornby. Oasis, now TRG’s second-biggest shareholder, said it was “concerning” that Mark Chambers had worked with TRG chief executive Hornby for years prior to TRG and had not held a chief financial officer role for a decade. Daniel Wosner, managing director and head of Europe at Oasis, told The Telegraph: “The company appointed, in a matter of weeks, a candidate who has worked with the CEO at…other companies, and not in a CFO role. Was this truly a robust and healthy process to find the best candidate for the company?” A spokesman for TRG said: “The TRG board ran a thorough internal and external search process.” Since the group’s AGM with shareholders, the value of TRG shares has continued to fall, dropping by more than 20%. Activists suggested this was linked to shareholder dissatisfaction. Derek Vago, strategic advisor at TMR Capital, which is thought to own around 1,000 TRG shares, said: “They’re quite clearly under huge pressure, the share price is dropping pretty fast, and I think it’s a reflection of the fact that people were not happy with the resolutions.” Wosner added: “It’s really concerning. There’s been a big battle [on remuneration]. The register has changed significantly into the AGM and now again post-AGM. It is the chair’s responsibility to look after the best interests of shareholders, and he is aware there is significant shareholder dissatisfaction.” Both Oasis and Vago have asked for seats on the board but this has not been granted by TRG. The TRG spokesman added: “In recent months, we have received public support from a number of our leading long-term shareholders, enjoyed a positive start to the year, set out a clear three-year margin improvement plan and are firmly focused on delivery. All consumer share prices have been under pressure over the last month and our share price remains up 16% since the start of the year.”
Thunderbird Fried Chicken to ramp up franchise opportunity, believes it can grow to 150 sites: Thunderbird Fried Chicken, the wings and fried chicken concept backed by TriSpan, has begun talking to prospective franchisees as it looks at growing outside London, and believes it can grow to at least 150 sites, Propel has learned. The Paul Gilchrist-led company currently operates seven sites in London, with several more in the pipeline, and five franchised locations with Parkdean Holiday Resorts. Propel understands that the business, which recently opened a site on the former Bird restaurant in Wharf Kitchen, Canary Wharf, is already in discussion on an upcoming transport hub franchise.  It is now seeking experienced multi-unit franchisees to grow across the UK, and also internationally, with markets of interest including Ireland, mainline Europe and the Middle East. Gilchrist told Propel: “We feel there’s a big opportunity for a genuine British fried chicken brand in the UK and believe we can grow to at least 150 stores. The brand has focused on London for our own operated stores, leaving plenty of opportunities to build geographical franchise relationships across the country. We currently operate several franchise restaurants with Parkdean Resorts that deliver great financials for both parties and gives us excellent brand exposure. Our attractive and scalable franchise proposition is backed up by a fully integrated UK supply chain with industry leading training and systems, including state-of-the-art digital ordering screens and speed of service data. All of which complements our distinctive Thunderbird branding and – most importantly of all – our award-winning fried chicken.”
Hall  Three Joes is now ready to go toe-to-toe with the chains: Tim Hall, co-founder and group chief executive, of Sourdough South, operators of the Three Joes and The Stable pizza brands, has told Propel he believes that the former brand is now ready to go “toe-to-toe with the chains”. It comes as the company opened its fifth Three Joes site, on the former Lime Squeezy site in Chichester’s South Street, last week (22 June). Hall told Propel: “This is our largest Three Joes site to date, with 165 covers, and we are looking forward to testing a site of this size. Our Winchester site in particular, with 110 covers, suffers from tremendous booking pressure on busy trading days, when demand for tables outstrips supply by a significant multiple, so we are eager to see what the brand can deliver in a larger site. The launch coincides with a summer menu refresh overseen by Emma (Blackmore, co-founder), as part of a constant process she leads of keeping all the menus innovative and interesting across our brands. We feel Three Joes is now ready to go toe-to-toe with the chains, and our immediate neighbours include Franco Manca, PizzaExpress, Zizzi and Wildwood, so we have leapt in at the deep end with this site.” Earlier this month, Propel revealed that Sourdough South, which operates 15 sites including Fistral Beach Bar in Newquay, had completed a funding round to support the continued expansion of its brands. The investment was secured from the group’s existing private shareholder base with the additional introduction of Christopher Mills, founder and chief executive of Harwood Capital, as a new private investor. The funds are also set to help the business open the first new site under The Stable brand since Sourdough South acquired the business from Fuller’s in June 2020. 
Sticks ‘n’ Sushi secures Richmond site, confirms autumn opening for Kingston: Japanese restaurant group Sticks ‘n’ Sushi has secured a site in Richmond site and confirmed an autumn opening for Kingston, as it adds to its presence in London. The Kingston site, which will be the company’s biggest restaurant to date, will be set over two floors in the Bentall Centre. Opening in October, the 220-cover diner will feature a large external terrace, located on the corner of Wood Street and Clarence Street, and a private dining room. The menu will include favourites such as the ‘Sushi Sister’ sashimi sharing menu and ‘Ebi Bites’, there will also be cocktails, sake and a list of Japanese teas, while collection and delivery will also be available. Following this, early in 2024, will be the company’s 13th UK restaurant, on the ground floor of the building on the corner of George Street and King Street in Richmond. The company said it has been actively searching for an appropriate space in Richmond for some time. “We have had south west London on our wish list of locations ever since our first opening in Wimbledon, during the year of the summer Olympics,” said group chief executive, Andreas Karlsson. “It brings us great joy to announce that we will be opening these new restaurants in two landmark buildings located at the heart of their neighbourhoods. South eest London is an area close to our heart and origins, and we are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to welcome new and loyal guests to enjoy the Sticks ‘n’ Sushi experience.” Before that, the company’s latest restaurant, in Shoreditch High Street, will open for reservations from Wednesday, July 12.
Shake Shack UK operator “actively in pursuit of further sites”, FY turnover tops £44m: Diverse Dining, which operates Shake Shack in the UK, has said that due to the recalibration of the trading landscape since the turn of the year, it is “actively in pursuit of further sites within its trading area”. It comes as the company reported turnover increased to £44,182,914 for the year ending 31 December 2022 compared with £34,799,226 the year before. Pre-tax losses widened substantially to £4,589,546 from £2,495,329 the previous year. The company, which operates 13 Shake Shack restaurants in the UK, with a further site set to open in Clapham High Street, said: “Overall the directors are satisfied with the company’s growth in 2022 considering the challenges within the market and are confident in the future growth of the company. The company is implementing a stronger digital presence within the market place and is developing its omnichannel. The company continues to search for the right opportunities to expand within the market for the Shake Shack brand and is scheduled to open three new sites in the first half of 2023 (one having already opened in January 2023). Sales continued to increase throughout the year, despite the closing of certain of the delivery kitchens and the group’s sale of the P F Chang’s brand which has resulted in the closure of the company's sole site under that brand.  During 2022 all negotiations with landlords regarding prior years business interruption have been concluded. There are considerable costs pressures which the company monitors and reacts to mitigate any negative effects. In 2022 and moving into 2023, the trading landscape has starting to recalibrate after the pandemic with restaurant sales increasing towards pre-pandemic levels. Due to this change, the company is actively in pursuit of further sites within its trading area.” It said that the company's immediate parent undertaking, Wenchov Holdings Limited (WHL), continues to support the it and is actively involved with the company’s property strategy in conjunction with relevant stakeholders. In a previous year, the company entered into a $60,000,000 loan agreement with WHL. At 31 December 2022, the company had drawn down $46,998,084 (2021: $46,998,084) of the loan. At 31 December 2022, amounts drawn down under the loan up to $45,000,000 (2021: $45,000,000) are repayable at the option of the company and are classified as equity. In the previous year, the company entered into a £15,000,000 loan agreement with WHL. At 31 December 2022, the company had drawn down £8,473,589 (2021: £7,346,395) of the loan, which is included within current liabilities within the statement of financial position.
JW Lees acquires first pub since lockdown, experiences record year: Manchester brewer and retailer JW Lees has acquired its first pub since lockdown and said it was looking forward to “buying some more in the not-too-distant future”. The company has completed on the purchase of The Pointing Dog in Cheadle from Marston’s, which will become part of its JW Lees Inns & Hotels Division and will be run under direct management. The pub will now benefit from a £300,000 refurbishment and is currently closed to re-open on 14 July 2023. JW Lees operates 43 managed pubs, inns and hotels and lets another 100 pubs to JW Lees Pub Partners. William Lees-Jones, managing director of JW Lees, said: “We are delighted to have purchased The Pointing Dog off Marston’s and to welcome new colleagues to the JW Lees Team.  We were disappointed not to have bought it in 2017 when it was bought by Marston’s Revere Pub Company since we have always liked the site and are keen to grow our footprint in the north west, as we continue to build our 195-year-old six generation family business. It’s the first pub that we have bought since lockdown, and ironically the last pub that we bought in 2019 was also from Marston’s, which was The Red Lion in Withington, which has been a great addition to our managed estate. We’ve just closed off our year to 31 March 2023 and it’s been a record year, with turnover up 16% at £87.5m. It’s good to be back in the habit of buying new pubs again and we look forward to buying some more pubs in the not-too-distant future.”

Inception Group to open Borough Market site: Inception Group, the London-based hospitality group behind Mr Fogg’s, Maggie’s, Bunga Bunga and Cahoots, is to open a “very original bar concept” in the Borough Yards scheme. Located at 20 Stoney Street, SE1, the site will become number 15 for the business, which said the proposed concept and name will be announced later in the year. Charlie Gilkes, co-founder of Inception Group, said: “We are so excited to have signed the lease to this amazing, characterful site situated within an old railway arch. It’s located at the heart of Borough Market and we have exciting plans for a very original bar concept in this world-famous destination.” Last month, Propel revealed that Inception Group had secured a new £6.7m loan from OakNorth to help support its expansion plans. Founded in 2009, the group currently operates 13 sites across central London. Since the pandemic, Inception Group has opened three new sites – Battersea Power Station’s Control Room B, Mr Fogg’s Apothecary in Mayfair and Mr Fogg’s Pawnbrokers in Soho, and is soon to open Mr Fogg’s Hat Tavern and Gin Club in Soho. The £6.7m capital from OakNorth will extend existing facilities the business has with the bank, as well as funding the opening of new sites.

Frontier Pubs acquires The Talbot in Hackney: Frontier Pubs, the London-based partnership between Stonegate Group and the Karen Jones-led Pioneer Hospitality, has added The Talbot in De Beauvoir, Hackney, to its estate, Propel has learned. In February, Propel revealed that that the business had returned to the expansion trail with the acquisition of the leasehold interest of two pubs. It acquired the Hare & Hounds in Leyton and The Cherry in Mile End. The 12-strong business is chaired by Jones, who is also the chair of Mowgli and Hawksmoor, with a management team headed up by Peter Myers and Jo Cumming, the team behind the successful growth and subsequent sale of Food & Fuel. Myers, chief executive of Frontier, told Propel: “We are delighted to welcome these three pubs into Frontier to continue our growth on the back of strong trading over the past 12 months. We have a great team, we are enjoying our partnership with Stonegate and we love our pubs!”
Flat Iron founder Charlie Carroll and awarding-winning publican Oisin Rogers to launch new pub venture: Award-winning publican Oisín Rogers and Flat Iron founder Charlie Carroll are joining forces to open The Devonshire, a new pub and restaurant near Piccadilly Circus, this autumn. The new site will open in Denman Street, previously home to a Jamie’s Italian and most recently chicken and burger concept Coqbull. Rogers and Carroll said the downstairs of the new venture will be a “relaxed, top-quality pub honouring the building’s history as an inn since 1793”. Upstairs, the pair are opening a “highly ambitious” wood-ember grill, a restaurant the pair have been talking about for years. For the restaurant, they have directly sourced the “finest quality beef from Scotland, which will be dry-aged and butchered on site”. The grill will also feature creel caught langoustines from Oban, hand dived scallops from Devon and prime day boat fish.  A three-course menu will be on offer at both lunch and dinner featuring the likes of prawn and langoustine cocktail, steak and chips and sticky toffee pudding. Downstairs, homemade bar food will draw on an in-house butchery and bakery. Carroll, who founded Flat Iron in 2012, said: “Osh and I have been talking about our dream pub for almost a decade. I can’t wait to have a pint and a homemade bacon sarnie.” Rogers, who previously oversaw the Guinea Grill in Mayfair and The Ship in Wandsworth, added: “I am delighted, excited and fortunate to be working with Charlie at full tilt on this. I can’t wait to be back behind the bar pulling pints again when we open in the autumn.”
Loungers to open in Burnley this week: Cafe bar operator Loungers is set to this week open its latest venue, in Burnley, Lancashire. Icaro Lounge will launch in Pioneer Place on Wednesday, 28 June, serving breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and drinks. Gemma Irwin, community manager at Loungers, told Insider Media: “We’re so looking forward to opening the doors of Icaro Lounge next week. We hope our family friendly environment and top-notch food and drink offering will prove popular with local residents. We’re passionate about integrating genuinely into the communities we serve so we’re looking forward to meeting everyone and to playing our part at the heart of Burnley’s food and drink scene.” The company is building its opening pipeline in the north, and in April secured its first site in the north east when it signed on the former Argos site in Hexham, Northumberland, which will reopen as the Muro Lounge. The company has a pipeline of around 35 sites for FY24 and has also secured the former Top Shop in Carlisle and the former Barclays site in Nantwich. Last month, the company opened Ormo Lounge in Llandudno for its 188th Lounge and 224th overall site.
Thatchers reports increases in turnover and profits boosted by new product launches: Somerset-based cider-maker Thatchers has reported increases in both turnover and profits, boosted by new product launches. For the year to 31 August 2022, Thatchers Cider reported turnover of £155.5m, compared to £126.2m in 2021, while pre-tax profits increased from £14.2m to £16.8m. During the period, Thatchers introduced Blood Orange in a move that helped it reach new audiences, resulting in increased distribution in both the on- and off-trade channels. Blood Orange Cider became one of the biggest cider launches of 2022, with the drink also ending up in pubs and bars as one of three flavours available in the Fusion Font range. “The dynamic of the cider market has continued to change, and it's therefore been more important than ever to continue investing in our people, our products and nurturing close customers relationships,” said managing director Martin Thatcher. “We have continued to see a disrupted market due to the continuing effects of covid‑19 challenges and staff shortages, particularly within the hospitality industry, and more recent, highly challenging effects of rising inflation, energy costs and the cost‑of‑living crisis. This makes us more determined than ever to retain our focus on producing premium ciders in a sustainable way that represent value for money for our consumers.”
Miznon branches out into home delivery: Miznon, the two-strong Mediterranean-inspired street food concept from Israeli chef Eyal Shani, has branched out into home delivery. The brand’s pita platters will now be available for delivery to the neighborhoods surrounding the restaurants’ Notting Hill and Soho locations, within a 1.5km radius. Guests can choose from three packages including mixed, meaty and veggie, from £170. For an additonal £35 service charge, the platter will be “set up with Miznon’s classic style of service: brown paper, fresh vegetables in place of table decorations and a menu with a QR code linking to one of Miznon's world renowned playlists”. They will also be available for collection at both of Miznon’s restaurants. Shani added to his growing London portfolio last month with the opening of upscale restaurant Lilienblum in City Road, east London. He is also set to launch a restaurant under his Seven North concept at the new Sircle London hotel in Devonshire Square this autumn. Shani is also looking to open a site under his fine dining restaurant HaSalon concept in the capital this year and has been linked with the ex-Joy site in Portobello Dock.

Company behind Cafe Football being formally dissolved: The company behind Cafe Football, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs’ failed restaurant venture, is being formally dissolved, reports The Daily Mirror. A newly filed notice on Companies House said that the firm is being “dissolved via voluntary strike-off”, with full documentation published this week. The former footballers opened two UK branches of Cafe Football, one in Manchester and another in London, and while a third branch remains open in Singapore, operating through a different company, but both UK restaurants closed in early 2019. The pair said at the time that they would be focusing more of their resources on other business interests – including their hotel next to Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground. Pre-pandemic, Hotel Football was generating revenue of more than £6m per year, but lockdown had a profound impact, with its most recently published accounts, to the year ending 31 December 31 2021, stating the company registered a pre-tax loss of £1,148,879, down from the £2,042,812 the year before. Neville and Giggs also own the luxury Stock Exchange Hotel in Manchester city centre.

Ennismore founder opens new country club and hotel in 3,000-acre Oxfordshire estate: Sharan Pasricha, who founded Hoxton and Gleneagles hotels owner Ennismore, has opened a new country club and hotel in a 3,000-acre Oxfordshire estate. It has 108 bedrooms, ranging from suites in the Manor House to large self-catering houses in the grounds with wood-burning fireplaces, kitchens and freestanding baths, reports Hot Dinners. Food and beverage options include a terrace with a pool and bar and an all-day brasserie with its own orangery, serving up Oxford cheddar soufflé and Alaskan king crab. There is also The Billiards Room, serving dim sum and whole roast duck, and The Glasshouse in the walled garden, which features open-fire cooking. There are also two members-only sections, a private terrace/heated outdoor tent serving Japanese food and a clubhouse where guests can work, go the gym or get their hair done by a top stylist. Prices for a midweek overnight start at £650 for the standard room and rise to £2,355 for a night in the Estelle Suite. In December, Ennismore, which already operates 14 brands over 103 hotels and 190 restaurants and bars, said it had added 144 hotels to its openings pipeline.
Cambridgeshire piri piri chicken concept set to open eighth site: Cambridgeshire piri piri chicken concept The Ladz is set to open its eighth site, in Northampton. It will open on Friday (30 June) in Bridge Street, six years after its first opening, in Peterborough. It also has branches in Cambridge, Ely, Nottingham, Gloucester, Coatbridge and Hamilton. Director Zeeshan Manzoor told the Northampton Chronicle & Echo he chose a university town for the latest opening as he saw a great opportunity to tap into the student community. The menu includes burgers, wraps, pittas, lamb chops and milkshakes, as well as pizzas and smash burgers that are exclusive to the Northampton branch.
Traditional Greek cuisine concept opens sixth site: Traditional Greek cuisine concept The Souvlaki has opened its sixth site, in Margate, Kent. The restaurant has opened in the former Ruby Lounge in The Parade, serving up traditional Greek souvlaki and gyros as well as desserts, fresh salads and vegetarian and vegan options. Founders Valentinos Varelas from Athens and Sandy Tsagdi started the concept as a street food stall in the summer of 2015 at Kingston Ancient Market, south west London, before opening its first restaurant, in Kingston-upon-Thames, in 2018. Having started to franchise, it opened four new venues in 2022 – full restaurants in Derby and Handforth (Manchester), and delivery kitchens in Birmingham and Stratford (London). Earlier this year, it was crowned best takeaway in Greater London at the JustEat Restaurant Awards. The Souvlaki imports and use traditional natural Greek products including Cretan extra virgin olive oil, feta cheese, olives, Cypriot halloumi, Greek pitta bread and homemade sauces.
Air-tastic to launch new concept at Lisburn site after securing seven-figure funding package: Ireland-based trampoline park operator Air-tastic is set to launch a new concept at its Lisburn site after securing seven-figure funding package. The business, which currently operates six sites across Northern Ireland, will use the HSBC loan to open the country’s first ever “Cube Challenge”, a real-life gaming experience requiring players to complete a series of physical and mental challenges. It will add an extra 22,000 square feet to the site, taking the total space to 45,000 square feet, with a Laser Tag also being added to existing offerings including a bowling alley, amusement arcade and pizza restaurant. The site will reopen in October. Air-tastic also has sites in Bangor, Belfast, Craigavon, Cork and Kildare.
South west Portuguese bakery concept closes Bristol site just ten months after opening: South west Portuguese bakery concept Nata & Co has closed its Bristol site just ten months after opening it. The site, in Queens Road, opened in August 2022, in a former Patisserie Valerie unit. It was a first Bristol site for the business, which was founded in Cardiff in 2012 by Filipe Brito, selling Portuguese bakery favourites including Pastel de Nata – a Portuguese egg tart pastry. A sign posted on the window of the now closed store thanked customers for their support and hints that Nata & Co may yet make a return to the city at some point, reports Bristol World. It said: “Due to the cost-of-living crisis we are all in at the moment, unfortunately we had no choice but to close the shop due to the high costs. You can still visit our stores in Cardiff and Bath. We will still be very happy to welcome you again and we might try trading in Bristol again in the future. Nata & Co would like to thank all customers for the support during our time in Bristol and we will see you soon.” The company still has two sites in Cardiff and one in Bath.
Greek coffee franchise opens third UK site: Greek coffee franchise Coffee Lab has opened its third UK site, in Bristol. It has opened in the former Gareth Charles hairdressing salon in Gloucester Road, reports Bristol24/7. The business, which has more than 170 cafes in Greece and others in Turkey, Egypt, Bulgaria and Germany, also has UK sites in Chorlton Cum Hardy in Manchester and Buckshaw Village in Lancashire. Founded in Chalkida in 2009, Coffee Lab began the development of its franchise network in 2015. It specialises in high quality coffee and also serves freddo (frozen) drinks, milkshakes and an array of pastries and desserts. It also sells Nespresso machine capsules and bags of ground coffee and beans.
Newcastle operator opens new Balearics-inspired hidden rooftop garden: Newcastle operator Mike Hesketh has opened a new Balearics-inspired hidden rooftop garden in the city. Altitude is located seven stories up on the rooftop of music venue NX – formerly the O2 academy – and is accessed through a wooden alcove on Clayton Street, to the side of the venue. It offers bottomless brunch packages, private bookings and pizza from local business Gingerinos, reports Insider Media. Hesketh said: “We can’t wait to welcome everyone to our rooftop garden, where the sky is not the limit, but only the beginning. Get ready to ascend to new heights and enjoy a touch of Balearic magic on Newcastle’s skyline.” Hesketh also owns the Horticulture restaurant on Market Lane, which in 2022 was voted as one of the top ten restaurants in the UK, in the “food lovers” category, at the National Restaurant Awards. He is also behind events in the city including Central Park on Times Square and MoosenWirt, Newcastle's Christmas Bar on Grey Street.

Northampton coffee concept and pizza pop-up partner for new restaurant: Two Northampton hospitality businesses have partnered for a new restaurant in the town centre. Pala, which will open in Derngate, is the brainchild of Santina’s Woodfired Pizza Co and Saints Coffee, offering Neapolitan pizza, small plates and cocktails. Ben Francoise and Nicola Butler, from Saints Coffee, and Oli Nesbitt and Lauren Vicentijevic, from Santina’s, have collaborated before but are now taking their partnership to the next level. “Sometimes you just have to take the opportunity,” Francoise told the Northampton Chronicle. “We’ve always wanted to explore different avenues in hospitality.” Nesbitt added: “Santina’s has gone from strength to strength, and this is a logical next step for us as a business.” The two businesses first began collaborating in early 2022 and the idea of setting up a restaurant together was born in May last year.

Michelin-starred Bristol restaurant to close after 13 years: The Michelin-starred Ethicurean restaurant in Bristol is set to close this autumn after 13 years. Since 2021, the restaurant, located in Barley Wood Walled Garden in Wrington, has held a Michelin green star, which highlights restaurants at the forefront of the industry’s sustainable practices. In December 2022, the restaurant, led by Mark McCabe and Matt Pennington, launched a £10,000 crowdfunder to enable it “to stand a chance of still being here next summer”. Despite raising £12,115 from 693 supporters in ten days, the team announced its decisions to close in its latest newsletter. “After 13 incredible years, we will be closing in mid-October,” it said. “With Matthew in Scotland and Mark keen to embrace some exciting new projects, the time is right to let go of our beautiful venue in Wrington. What a decade (and a bit) it has been! It has been an incredible journey and an overwhelmingly enjoyable one. It’s not always the easiest sector to operate in, but boy, it’s the most fun and attracts some of the best humans for sure. The Ethicurean brand will live on – Matthew has lots of ideas, and Mark will undoubtedly keep cooking and creating, so do stick with us to find out what’s next! Join us this summer to celebrate a season end, to reflect on what’s been achieved, and to raise a glass to every incredible person who has made this possible.” Bookings are now open until the end of September for The Full Experience, which costs £150 per person for 14 courses over four hours.

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