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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 28th Jun 2023 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Ratings for kids’ dishes scoring behind industry average, portion size and speed of service key concerns: Dish ratings for kids’ menus are scoring behind the industry average of 90.1% at 85%, while portion sizes and speed of service are key concerns, a new report from Feed It Back has found. Eating Out: Kids’ Food Insights said within the 35-54 age range, family meals are a key driver to making bookings, and that accommodating kids is the most important thing to them when dining out. Analysing 1.2 million pieces of feedback and 50,000 dish ratings from kids, it found casual dining scored lowest (82%) in the average product ratings, and premium casual dining (90%) the highest. Portion size was one of the highest areas of dissatisfaction, with managing these in relation to various child ages a key challenge for operators. The report suggested potentially introducing smaller and larger plates for kids and adding mini versions of signature adult dishes to ensure healthier options and build brand loyalty from a young age. School holiday periods are of the most concern, with speed of service a particular worry, while food and net promoter scores also dip during these times. Operators should prepare to make service as slick as possible during these periods and ensure their teams are clear on managing expectations, the report recommended. Desserts top the leader board as dishes most loved by kids (94%), and a focus should be on upselling them or making them part of kids’ meal offers. Chicken (83%) and burger (81%) dishes are both big sellers but score lower and so should be an area for focus, and with chicken dishes selling the best, operators must ensure consistency of execution. Burgers in particular attracted negative comments around being cold, dry or burnt, or having either missing cheese or unwanted cheese. The report also said operators should look to capture direct feedback on their kids’ menu as “social reviews alone won’t give you the quality and quantity of data needed to make business decisions”. It also pointed out that family meal-focused customers are more likely to research where to eat on Facebook than younger generations, but Google remains the number one platform to do so. Dan Hawkie, managing director at Feed It Back, said: “Being a father myself, I know only too well the importance of the kids (and their satisfaction) when it comes to eating out. A recent report from Zonal showed how kids are quite influential in our decision-making on where to eat out, and this report is designed to help operators understand what is working and what is not working when it comes to looking after the little ones.”

Industry News:

Snowflake Luxury Gelato founder Asad Khan to speak at Propel summer conference and party, three free places per company for operators: Asad Khan, founder of Snowflake Luxury Gelato, will be among the speakers at the Propel 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. Khan will talk about the creation of the concept, its crowdfunding campaign, and its national and international expansion targets. Three free places per company for operators can be claimed. A room can also be booked for the evening. For more details, email

Two 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.

Pace of food inflation slowing down: Food inflation in the UK has continued to slow from April's record-breaking rise – but is still up nearly 15% year on year, new retail figures show. It means prices are still increasing, just at a slower pace than previously. There was a 14.6% increase in food prices in the year up to June, research from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and NielsenIQ showed – slightly down from 15.4% recorded in May. Overall shop prices rose 8.4% over the year to June, a slowdown from the 9% recorded in the year up to May. Last month's figures were the second-fastest annual increase ever measured by the trade organisation for UK retailers, second only to April this year. The slowed pace was thanks to retailers cutting the price of fresh produce including milk, cheese and eggs, BRC chief executive Helen Dickson said. "If the current situation continues, food inflation should drop to single digits later this year," she added.

Generation Z ‘rewriting the rule book’ on job applications: Generation Z is “rewriting the rule book” when it comes to finding a job, according to new research. Rising numbers of under-30s are shunning traditional methods of applying for roles, and are now increasingly using social media channels or even a simple WhatsApp message to apply. The research, by KAM and sector recruitment campaign Hospitality Rising, revealed 67% of those aged 18 to 30 agreed the traditional process of applying for a job with a long resume or cover letter is “tedious”, while 79% of young people felt there should be more innovative and modern ways to apply. Meanwhile, when it came to finding a job via social media, a fifth of young people (20%) said they had used TikTok, 34% had used Instagram and 37% had used Facebook. Mark McCulloch, founder and campaign director of Hospitality Rising, believes there is scope for industry leaders to introduce more modern and flexible ways of hiring workers, and this could be key to tackling the sector’s crippling jobs crisis. “We're reaching 18 to 30-year-olds like no one else and it is clear they do things differently to other audiences,” he said. “By understanding this audience and creating shorter, friction-less application processes, it's possible to get better engagement with this group of future hospitality superstars. Following the launch of our ‘Rise Fast, Work Young’ campaign, we’ve shown it's possible to reach and engage 18 to 30-year-olds through social platforms – but now young people are wanting to use these platforms, such as TikTok, to apply. I think social media has opened up a world of opportunities when it comes to hospitality and this is how Hospitality Rising is delivering long-term brand goals as well as connecting with thousands of applicants every week.” Within six months of its official launch, the Hospitality Rising website has reached 50% of all UK nationals aged 16 to 30 and driven more than 85,000 job applications on its careers site developed in collaboration with Monster. Businesses looking to join the movement can register their interest by emailing

Nutritics – sustainability initiatives key to attracting and retaining staff: Better sustainability credentials could hold the key for hospitality operators to attract staff and increase retention, according to a report from foodservice tech provider Nutritics and CGA by NIQ. The report, titled "Sustainability Matters: What teams want and how brands can win", found brands and operators who make a positive environmental impact are more likely to recruit and retain employees than those who don’t. More than nine in ten (94%) hospitality workers said living a sustainable lifestyle is important to them, and the same number said a company’s commitment to social and environmental responsibility is a significant factor when deciding where to work. What’s more, exactly half (50%) have accepted one job over another partly because the company was more sustainable, while 84% said they would be more likely to stay in their job for longer if their employer has a positive environmental impact. Nutritics chief executive Stephen Nolan said: “Staff are highly stimulated by environmental issues, and younger workers in particular are much more likely to be attracted to employers who share their concerns. Good sustainability practice can be a very powerful recruitment and retention tool, so communication with teams on sustainability issues is key. Staff are willing helpers on the mission to make hospitality more sustainable, so giving them the freedom to suggest and deliver initiatives can accelerate meaningful change.” Recycling, reducing food waste and sustainable packaging (91%) emerged as the top priorities for those surveyed, as did staff training and education (87%). A further 85% said they want to work with sustainable suppliers, while 84% favour local or sustainably sourced ingredients. An encouraging 82% already see their workplace as sustainable and environmentally friendly, but only (27%) think it is proactive in reducing waste and energy and prioritising ethical sourcing. Furthermore, 82% think links with community sustainability initiatives are important but only 21% observe them at their business.

Shops suffer falling sales as rising cost of living hits households: UK retailers suffered another month of falling sales in June as slow economic growth stretched household finances. The Times reported the latest CBI monthly survey found retail sales volumes fell 9% compared with the same period last year. It is the second consecutive decline after a 10% fall in May. June’s performance was in line with forecasts and comes after overall retail sales growth slowed last month, according to the Office for National Statistics. Retail sales have become a closely watched indicator of consumer habits, as the UK’s high inflation is being driven by the climbing cost of goods and services. Inflation stuck at 8.7% in May, with evidence that consumers are still willing to pay higher prices for clothing, food and second-hand cars. Martin Sartorius, principal economist at the CBI, said retailers were facing a “difficult trading environment” and needed government support to cope with rising rents and taxes. “Households’ finances are still under pressure from high inflation, which means that demand conditions for retailers are likely to remain challenging in the coming months,” he said. Separate figures from MRI Springboard found overall footfall levels dropped by more than 2% last week, wiping out growth in the previous seven days. The hot summer weather and the Coronation helped to boost in-person sales volumes last month, but June’s data has been volatile.

BBPA – MUP cannot take all the credit for reduction in alcohol-related health harms: Minimum unit pricing (MUP) cannot take all the credit for a reduction in alcohol-related health harms in Scotland, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has insisted. Public Health Scotland has published its final report on the impact of MUP in the country, saying it “had a positive impact on health outcomes, including addressing alcohol-related health inequalities”. The report said MUP has reduced deaths directly caused by alcohol consumption in the country by an estimated 13.4% and hospital admissions by 4.1%, and led to an overall 3% reduction in alcohol consumption, as measured by retail sales. “This follows a sustained trend of decline that predates the introduction of MUP,” said BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin. “It also comes after more than a decade of investment from industry in responsibility messaging, substantial growth of low and no-alcohol products through innovation and advertising, and a host of regulatory interventions such as discount bans, happy hour bans, restrictions to the hours of off-sales and much more. So, while the reduction in health harms is rightly celebrated, we question if this can be directly attributed to MUP.” McClarkin added the deposit return scheme (DRS), due to go live in Scotland in 2025, could make matters worse. “The introduction of a DRS, now without glass, could further drive consumers towards higher strength products like vodka as they will have no deposit,” she added. “In comparison, a multipack of aluminum cans could have as much as £4.80 added on top of the price. This all must be considered before the Scottish government and parliament decide on whether or not to continue MUP in its current form beyond next May, or potentially adapt it to take account of DRS.”

Deliveroo’s Snack to the Future report predicts VR dinner parties and restorative restaurants: Deliveroo has marked its tenth anniversary with a new report looking into the future of food delivery, which it predicts will include 3D printed meal plans, virtual-reality dinner parties, “breath-prints” and “restorative restaurants”. The company said its new Snack to the Future report – which brings together leading futurists and experts from the worlds of food, science, technology and innovation – has been created to give a forward-looking view of how the nation will be eating by 2040 and how “our dinner tables are set to revolutionise”. The report’s predictions include the introduction of ‘breath-prints’, which will see personal tech devices enabled with “BreathTech”, meaning you can breathe on your device and get a deep level of insight into what foods you should be eating to have optimal impact on your individual health and well-being. It also predicted Me-gansim – a hyper-personalised diet that is fully bespoke to your individual nutritional needs, powered by artificial intelligence technology; and Foodgasms – where food delivery services will be using additional digital audio and visual content to elevate the meal enjoyment experience. The report also highlighted 3D printed meal plans, with technology helping you create perfectly portioned and nutritionally balanced meals, of your choice, at home; and virtual-reality dinner parties – dine with celebrities, royals and late loved ones in your favourite holiday destination, or recreate food moments from famous movies thanks to virtual-reality technology. The report also predicted “restorative restaurants” – new restaurant concepts will remove outside world distractions, with personal tech devices banned at entry and a rise in the popularity of silent cafés and restaurants. Will Shu, founder and chief executive of Deliveroo, said: “As we look towards the next decade and beyond, Deliveroo will continue to create exciting new innovations in food delivery, build new and better consumer experiences and take Deliveroo beyond functionality and convenience to really capture the passion and emotion of food.”

Bernstein – Deliveroo presents the most tangible short-term catalyst for consolidation in the delivery market: Deliveroo presents the most tangible short-term catalyst for consolidation in the delivery market and following the expiry of chief executive Will Shu’s golden shares, there could be a bid for the whole company, according to new analyst note from Bernstein. William Woods, analyst at Bernstein, said: “The food delivery market is rationalising or has even potentially rationalised but not consolidated. The path to profitability has been easier than expected and an inflection point is happening right now. However, we would caution that rationalisation has not necessarily led to consolidation. We expect more consolidation to happen over the next few years. Food delivery is not a winner takes all market as very few consumer businesses are. We think there is opportunity for more regional consolidation in Asia Pacific and Latin America (LATAM). However, we think Europe and MENA are relatively consolidated and would likely see M&A by outside players (eg Deliveroo being acquired) rather than from within the market. Deliveroo presents the most tangible short-term catalyst for consolidation as we think that following the expiry of the chief executive’s golden shares, there could be a bid for the whole company. We also think it could exit Singapore. We think Delivery Hero could also buy Deliveroo, sell LATAM to Prosus, and rationalise its long tail of markets as well as taking part in long-term end game consolidation with Prosus. For Just Eat Takeaway, we think that a sale of Grubhub is unlikely in the short to mid-term due to the lack of buyers but think they could rationalise their southern Europe and ANZ segment (particularly France and Australia).” Woods said he sees room for two to three players in each market depending on the size of market and positioning of players. He said: “The clearest example of this is in the UK – there are three players: Deliveroo, Uber and Just Eat. Despite having three players, the competition today is relatively anodyne – Deliveroo is a premium player mainly operating in London versus Just Eat being a less premium marketplace business operating everywhere including secondary/tertiary towns and cities. Uber operates across a wider spectrum of food in a lot of different locations. This means that in most places – the customer is only really choosing between two apps. This is a relatively happy co-existence.”

Bookings for Father’s Day up more than 27%, record number of dads receive hospitality gift cards: New insight from hospitality tech supplier Zonal and the hospitality commerce platform Toggle shows bookings for Father’s Day 2023 rose by 27% compared with last year, while sales of hospitality gift cards increased by 88%. Compared with pre-covid, reservations for Father’s Day in pubs, bars and restaurants were up 16%, with the most popular time to book being three days in advance (54%). Many left it until the last minute, with 23% booking on the day, while cancellation rates were low, with four in five honouring their booking. At the same time, Toggle fulfilled sales of nearly £700,000 worth of gift cards in the run up to Father’s Day this year – an increase of 88% on 2022. The firm’s digital gift card sales have grown by 1,900% since Father’s Day in 2019, when total sales were £30,000, bringing Father’s Day into the top three annual occasions for gifting, joining Mother’s Day and Christmas. 

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a wholesale services business that has a diverse group of members, made up of on-trade, foodservice and retail, which is seeking a category controller. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “You will help drive the growth strategy across areas of the business. You will be responsible for managing category and store layouts, supporting supplier negotiations, and developing initiatives to improve compliance. This is an opportunity to join a business that can offer opportunities for progression and involvement in key business decisions to develop your skills and grow.” The salary is up to £120,000 and the position is based in Staffordshire. For more information, email

Company News:

Hub Box begins rolling out more waterfront-focused Hub concept: Hub Box, the south west burger and barbecue restaurant led by Richard Boon, has begun the roll-out of a concept called Hub, which will be focused on its existing and future waterfront sites, Propel has learned. The new concept features an all-day offer with a wider menu, and a bigger wet offer with a focus on vinyl DJs on weekends. Boon started Hub in St Ives, 20 years ago, and it is something of a local institution. Hub Box originally sprang out of Hub as a burger pop-up in a shipping container in Truro 11 years ago and has grown to 12 sites. The company has now converted its site in Plymouth’s Royal William Yard to the Hub concept. The company’s site in Falmouth will be converted into a Hub next week. Its sites in Mermaid Quay, Cardiff and Gun Wharf Quay in Portsmouth will follow shortly, as will new locations on the beach in Worthing and a soon to be secured site on Barry Island seafront, in South Wales, Boon told Propel the new concept allowed the company to further take advantage of the waterfront locations, by “offering more” in terms of its food and drink offer, and experience, and it would give the business two concepts to expand its estate with. He said: “We recognise that we have such stunning waterfront locations and the opportunity to offer more. Inspired by the coast and our amazing local suppliers, our new menu will bring a fresh look to Plymouth’s eating scene. Consumers can enjoy local seafood and meats cooked on our chargrill. We’ll also have some seaside classics like fish and chips, surf ‘n’ turf, or our cheeky take on a fish burger ¬– sole in a roll. We will, of course, be keeping some burger favourites like the Big Kahuna, Betsy and Hub. We’ll also have late-night drinks, vinyl music, and DJs on the weekends, and we’re open all day ¬– breakfast through until 10pm and midnight on weekends. The opening of the Hub sites gives the business the opportunity to really refine the Hub Box menu to make it the best of the best in its field.”

San Carlo Group MD – turnover tracking 8% ahead of last year, hard to predict market on a week-to-week basis: Marcello Distefano, managing director of restaurant group San Carlo, has told Propel that current turnover for the group’s UK business is tracking 8% up on last year, but the market is becoming hard to predict on a week-by-week basis. The parent company of the San Carlo Group saw turnover rise from £29,109,120 in 2021 to £68,942,784, in the year to 24 September 2022. It went from a pre-tax loss in 2021 of £956,590 to a pre-tax profit of £3,571,603. During the period, the company opened two new sites in London: Isola by San Carlo in October 2021, and Cicchetti Knightsbridge in May 2022. Both sites were trading ahead of expectations, according to the group. More recently, the group acquired a site in Alderley Edge, and completed a major refurbishment of San Carlo Liverpool. Earlier this month, Propel revealed that San Carlo plans to relocates its West End Cicchetti restaurant from its current home at 215 Piccadilly to 172-173 Piccadilly at the grade II-listed Piccadilly Arcade, a move that will double the size of the restaurant. San Carlo, which was founded by the Distefano family in 1992 in Birmingham, trades from 25 sites across the UK, seven of which are within London. It also operates international sites in Qatar, Riyadh, Jeddah, Bahrain and Bangkok. Distefano told Propel: “We are tracking 8% up on turnover on last year, excluding our franchise income, so that is purely UK. Sites are trading pretty well, we're happy with that but since last October, including the train strikes, there's just been a lot of ups and downs. It's very hard to predict on a week-to-week basis and therefore you have to take a view over a longer period. It’s about having good management teams and being able to control all the overheads during those periods. Volumes are up and people are still wanting to spend but it is hard to predict what that picture will look like over the next six months.” On further expansion, he said the business is “going to put a bit of a focus on our international stuff”. He said: “We've got quite a few projects coming up. So, we are opening in Dubai in September and then we’ve got Miami next year. We've also got a couple more sites coming up in Qatar, towards the end of the year/beginning of next year. We're just in discussions with a few other territories at the moment.” San Carlo features in the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book. Its turnover of £68,942,784 is the 104th highest in the database. The Blue Book ranks companies by turnover, profit and profit conversion, listing directors’ earnings for the past five years. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £995 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £495 plus VAT for operators and £595 plus VAT for suppliers. Email to upgrade your subscription.

Flat Iron adds Leeds site to openings pipeline: Flat Iron, the Piper-backed affordable steak concept, has added to its openings pipeline, by securing a site in Leeds. Propel has learned the 12-strong, Tom Byng-led business is to open in the ex-Byron site in the city’s Lands Lane, with an opening planned before the end of this year. The company, which told Propel last month that trading since its year end has been “consistently strong”, will make its regional debut at the end of next month in Cambridge’s Market Street. It will also open in Manchester’s Deansgate at the start of next year. Earlier this summer, Simon Boston joined Flat Iron as its new chief financial officer having spent five years in the same role at Fora, the office space business, and at Byron, from 2013 to 2018. He succeeded Stuart McNamara, who stepped down to pursue other opportunities.

JD Wetherspoon resubmits plans to add hotel to Wolverhampton pub, heritage centre now included: JD Wetherspoon has reignited £15m plans to transform Wolverhampton’s The Moon Under Water pub by adding a 72-bedroom hotel. The company was granted planning permission by City of Wolverhampton Council in March 2020 to redevelop the Lichfield Street venue and add an extra floor. It has now submitted a revised planning application that would see the company establish a heritage centre in the basement as well as convert the first, second and third floors into a hotel, without the need for an additional level. Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “Wetherspoon aims to develop a hotel and heritage centre on the site as well as carry out work to the pub itself. The company aims to invest £15m to create a large extension to the existing pub, build a 72-bedroom hotel, heritage centre and create a new beer garden. The Moon Under Water in Wolverhampton has proven very popular over the years and the project highlights our commitment to making the pub even better and to Wolverhampton itself.” The 40,000 square-foot space above the pub has been empty for more than 33 years after previously being home to a Co-op store.

Island Poké lines up Bristol opening: Island Poké, the White Rabbit Projects and Hero Brands-backed business, has lined up a debut site in the south west, in Bristol. The business, which will make its Scottish debut next month, in Edinburgh, is set to open a site in Queens Road, in Bristol’s Clifton area. It is also set to increase its regional presence with an opening in The Lanes, in Brighton, later this year. The opening in Edinburgh – on Wednesday, 5 July at 4 Hanover Street – will be the brand’s 17th in the UK and second outside of London following last month’s launch in Newcastle. Following the regional openings, Island Poké said it has “a number of further locations in central London being considered for later in the year”. Last year, the company said it had sold more than 80 locations across the UK due to open over the next five years, plus a further 150 potential locations identified but yet to be sold. It also operates ten sites in France.

Toca Social signs expansion deal for Mexico, doubts over Edinburgh launch: Toca Social, the interactive football bar concept, has signed a deal to launch in Mexico, with plans to open a minimum of 20 sites over the next ten years in the country with a total investment of more than $100m (£79m). The business, which is led by Alex Harman and launched at the O2 in London in summer 2021, has signed a partnership with Ventura Entertainment, Mexico's premier entertainment operator, to launch in the country, with the first opening under the deal expected later this year. The partnership marks the first franchising deal for Toca, which is backed by England's national football team captain Harry Kane. Earlier this year, the business announced it was to make its international debut before the end of 2023, with an opening in the US. The business is set to open a site in Dallas. The 56,000 square-foot space will offer four bars that include food service and 34 football pods for games that can house up to 12 participants. The three-story attraction will be built in the Design District in Riverfront Boulevard. In the UK, the company is also set to open in Edinburgh, at the St James Quarter scheme, while in late 2022 Hammerson announced it had re-let the top floor of the former Debenhams department store in the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham to the company. However, Propel now hears there is some doubt whether the Edinburgh site will now open, and that immersive social experience concept Sandbox VR, which made its debut in London last summer, is now being linked with the space. At the same time, Toca is being linked with taking space in the former Debenhams in Westfield London. 

Hydes invests £3.6m on first pub acquisition in five years: North west brewer and retailer Hydes is investing £3.6m in a new pub in the Wirral, which is its first acquisition in five years. The company has paid £1.3m for a former police station in Telegraph Road, Heswell, which will be converted into a “premium dining and drinking establishment”, at a cost of £2.3m. The pub will be called The Harry Beswick in honour of the original architect of the building, and will open in late 2023. Part of the renovations will be to extend the building to create new dining zones, including outside dining, and provide parking. Managing director Adam Mayers said: “The Harry Beswick is a great location in a stunningly designed building boasting real history and character. Heswall is a thriving area and launching the Harry Beswick opens us up to new audiences.” The acquisition forms part of an ongoing multimillion-pound investment programme across the Hydes estate over the next few years. Last year, the business committed more than £4.5m to refurbishments of pubs across its estate and it intends to increase that investment substantially throughout 2023. Hydes operates nearly 50 pubs.

World’s youngest two Michelin-starred restaurateur to make international debut in London: The world’s youngest two Michelin-starred restaurateur is set to make his international debut in London. Syed Asim Hussain, who in 2018 became the world’s youngest restaurateur to have restaurants that hold two Michelin stars, at the age of 32, will operate a couple of pop-ups this summer ahead of his team’s first international restaurant opening in 2024. Hussain is behind Black Sheep Restaurants, which he founded in Hong Kong in 2012, and which features more than 35 different concepts. Two of its most successful brands will take over the space at Carousel in Fitzrovia during July and August, with exclusive menus using produce from the British Isles. First up, from 17-26 July, will be Michelin-starred New Punjab Club, followed by cult favourite Ho Lee Fook from 27 July-5 August. Then, in 2024, the group will open the first of what it said will be several London restaurants, inspired by either one of the pop-up concepts or a completely new one. The group is also behind the Michelin-starred Belon, intimate edomae-style omakase Sushi Haru, and the Magistracy Dining Room and Carbone in Hong Kong.

Ben Hood joins S4labour as non-executive director: Ben Hood, co-founder and former chief executive of Fourth, has joined the board of S4labour, the people, productivity and payroll system, as a non-executive director. Hood joins S4labour after 20 years at Fourth, with immediate effect. S4labour said his appointment is part of the “next stage of its journey to continue to support the hospitality sector”. Alastair Scott, chief executive of S4labour, said: “I feel privileged to have someone like Ben join our team. He will be a great help to us as we continue to create unique and mission-critical tools for the industry. S4labour is a very different and exciting proposition for him and together we will be able to make the best decisions we can to support this wonderful sector.” Hood added: “Alastair and the wider S4labour team really understand the sector and care a great deal about the operators. The level of innovation and ambition is really exciting, and I love how they are going about improving productivity across the sector. They believe in partnerships and service and have some fabulous success stories in such complex times. I am pleased to help them with the next chapter.”

The Coffee House continues expansion with Bury site: North west independent coffee shop The Coffee House is to continue its expansion with an opening in Bury. The 14-strong business, which was founded in 2011 in the village of Lymm by Chris and Stephen Shelmerdine, will open in Bury’s Mill Gate Shopping Centre, taking over the former Gloria Jeans site in the scheme. The Coffee House recently opened sites in Kirkby town centre and Skelmersdale. Last November, Chris Shelmerdine said the then 12-strong business was looking to double its estate in the next three years.

Danish espresso bar concept Hagen lines up Borough Yards opening: Danish espresso bar concept Hagen is to continue its expansion in London with an opening near London Bridge. Hagen, which recently opened sites in Knightsbridge and Fitzrovia, has signed to open a site later this summer in the Borough Yards scheme. It will be its tenth opening in the capital. The business recently opened at 8/8A West Halkin Street, Knightsbridge. Hagen also operates sites in Chelsea, Mayfair, Belgravia, Marylebone, South Kensington, Fitzrovia, Hampstead and Notting Hill. Born out of Copenhagen and founded in London, Hagen focuses on creating hygge (Danish for “comfortable conviviality”) spaces and serving premium specialty coffee in London’s affluent locations. The business, which is led by founder Tim Schroeder, is understood to be looking at further site opportunities in the capital for openings this year. George Collison, of Savills, acts for Hagen. Distrkt represents Borough Yards. 

Former Brat head chef to lead new Mexican restaurant and Tequila bar in London’s King’s Road: Ximena Gayosso Gonzalez, former head chef at Tomos Parry’s Michelin-starred Brat restaurant in Shoreditch, will lead the menu at a new Mexican restaurant and Tequila bar in London’s King’s Road. Launching in September, Ixchel will have an all-day tapas style offering, using locally sourced ingredients for a twist on traditional plates like ceviches, tacos and tostadas. Gonzalez, who has also previously worked at Ella Canta in Mayfair, Madera at Treehouse London and Dulce Patria in Mexico City under Martha Ortiz, will prepare sharing dishes such as fried fish heritage corn quesadillas with carrot and cabbage pickles, cod, spicy mayo; and cheese and herbs stuffed pasilla chilis with slow-cooked salsa roja, toasted peanuts and garlic oil. Larger platters will include heritage tomato and cactus salad with toasted pinenuts, basil pesto and white balsamic glaze alongside black tiger prawns and fresh squid zarandeado skewers with fresh radish, charred red onion, green chorizo corn quesadilla and molcajete sauce. A hidden Tequila bar is also set to have one of the largest collections of the liquor in Europe, sourced directly from artisanal distilleries in Mexico. Fraser Carruthers, founder and managing director of Fairbairn Capital, which is behind the restaurant, said: “I think King’s Road has been missing something like this, so when the opportunity arose to open Ixchel, I leapt at the chance as I have had my eye on the site for a while. Keeping the vibe high, serving amazing food, great drinks with incredible music is what we are about. With elements that we know people love, adding modern Mexican flavours and flair into the mix is really exciting.”

Michelin-starred chef Paul Foster to open debut London restaurant: Chef Paul Foster, known for being at the helm of Michelin-starred Salt in Stratford-upon-Avon, is opening his debut restaurant in London. Opening in mid-July, Grassfed will be housed in Camden’s Hawley Wharf development. The 50-cover restaurant, split over two floors with an open plan layout allowing for counter dining at ground level, will serve “the best quality grass-fed beef in an inviting setting”. Meat will be grilled over coals in an open kitchen, celebrating all cuts of beef from prime ribs to ox cheeks. The sustainably minded menu will also focus on seasonal British fish and vegetables. Dishes will include Beef Snag, a beef hot dog with truffle mayonnaise, crispy onions and pickled onions, alongside the beef rib on the bone to share, complete with a choice of Cotswold Sobrasada and Stichelton blue cheese. The drinks menu will feature classic cocktails, British beer and a mix of English and European wine. Foster said: “This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time – it won’t be a run-of-the-mill steak restaurant with chips and peppercorn sauce. I want to showcase the best of British produce and bring something different to this segment of the market, we’re using high-end ingredients and serving them in an approachable environment at a fair price point.”

Longboys to open Borough Yards site: Gourmet finger doughnut concept Longboys is to further expand in London, with the opening a fourth site later this summer, near London Bridge. The business, which was founded in 2019 by former Hakkasan group pastry chef Graham Hornigold, and former executive pastry chef at the Mandarin Oriental hotel Heather Kaniuk, has secured space at the Borough Yards scheme. The business already operates a site at Coal Drops Yard in King's Cross, a dedicated outlet at Boxpark Wembley, and a site within Mercato Metropolitano in Elephant & Castle. Longboys also has concessions within both Harrods and Selfridges in London. Distrkt represents Borough Yards.

Just Eat for Business adds Wahaca and Paul as orders grow by 56% over last 12 months: Just Eat for Business has added Mexican restaurant brand Wahaca and French artisan bakery and patisserie Paul to its platform. It said the businesses join its roster at a time when office catering is at an all-time high, with Just Eat for Business having seen an order growth of 56% in the last year, driven by workers returning to the office. Matt Ephgrave, managing director at Just Eat for Business, said: “Since launching our service, our research has consistently shown the value that food brings to employees working in the office. Employers who demonstrate they value their team through the use of food are likely to observe an uptick in motivation, well-being and productivity.” 

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