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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 29th Jun 2023 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Five Guys UK sees scope for 150 more sites, brand awareness at 84%: John Eckbert, chief executive of better burger brand Five Guys UK, has told Propel the 157-strong business sees scope for a further 150 sites here, and a transport hub opening is the “last boundary that lies ahead” for the brand. The business, which will mark its tenth anniversary in the UK on Tuesday (4 July), still believes there is plenty of white space to go after in Britain, where this year it is again on track to open 15 new sites. Eckbert said: “There is a tipping point of awareness that it is like a rising tide. Because we don’t advertise, we basically use new store openings to create awareness for Five Guys. We are at 84% awareness right now in the UK. A couple of years ago we were in the 40s/50s. But when you hit that tipping point, it is like this tide that rises every store’s average weekly sales, because people go ‘oh, that’s Five Guys’, someone’s told me about it or, you know, I saw a TikTok video about it’. And as we grow in Europe (the brand has launched in France, Germany and Spain, with Portugal soon to follow), we’re trying to figure out how can we accelerate that awareness and set that dial higher because we know it makes every location more viable, more profitable and higher volume. I have an advisory board that has real estate experience coming out of its ears, but I wanted something that would be more objective about our property strategy. So, we hired a data algorithm company, and it told us five years ago that we probably had another 70 sites that we could build here. We have now built those 70 sites and now it tells us there's another 150 sites that we could build. In fairness to it, we’ve proven new markets in those secondary stores – for example, we have opened up into retail parks. Teesside, where our debut, and so far only drive-thru site is, is a single data point. If that’s a single data point for what drive-thrus can be, that’s a whole other white space to colour in.” It is thought further drive-thru sites are set to follow near Mildenhall in Suffolk and at the Kingswood Leisure Park in Hull. Transport hubs remain the next target for the brand, one that it has been pushing to get into for a while. Eckbert added: “There are probably more £100,000-a-week sites in transport hubs than anywhere else for us to go after. It is the last boundary that lies ahead for us, and we’ve swung for the fences a couple times with Heathrow. If you have a good site in Heathrow, it’s the number one store in your system.”

Industry News:

Leisure TV Rights MD Lisa Buckley to speak at Propel summer conference and party, three free places per company for operators: Lisa Buckley, managing director of Leisure TV Rights, the experiential leisure operator, 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. Buckley will talk about the development of the Ninja Warrior concept, working with TV-related formats, continual evolution of games and its expansion plans. Three free places per company for operators can be claimed. A room can also be booked for the evening. For more details, email
One day 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 tomorrow (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.
UKHospitality calls for businesses to be able to exit contracts fixed at peak of energy crisis: UKHospitality has called for measures to allow businesses to exit utility contracts fixed at the peak of the energy crisis. It comes following a recent member survey showing that energy costs are up 80% year-on-year and almost half of businesses who signed a contract at the peak of the energy crisis fear their business is at risk of failure. Inflation is then driven up as the cost of doing business increases and businesses are forced to feed these increases through to the consumer, the trade body said. “If the government is to achieve its aim of halving inflation, it simply must tackle the ever-growing cost of doing business,” said chief executive Kate Nicholls. “Energy costs are hitting farmers, food producers and manufacturers and hospitality businesses and will result in entrenched inflation, unless businesses can get out of energy contracts that were fixed far above the current market rate. It’s my hope the chancellor has raised this urgent need for action with Ofgem as there has been little in the form of action so far. The severity of the situation facing hospitality businesses requires far more urgency from the regulator, and this inaction has resulted in business failure. If Ofgem is unable to act and intervene in the energy market, compelling suppliers to renegotiate with customers, then I would urge the government and the Competition and Markets Authority to step in, properly investigate the market and take meaningful action.”
Glynn Purnell sees another site enter Michelin Guide, 11 new additions: Michelin-starred chef Glynn Purnell has seen another of his sites enter the Michelin Guide. Purnell, who operates Michelin-starred Purnell’s among several sites in Birmingham, added to his portfolio in the city by opening Plates by Purnell’s in February. The tapas bar is now one of 11 new additions to the Michelin Guide in June. Knipe Grill at Gilpin Lake House in Bowness-on-Windermere joins two others from the Gilpin stable already in the Guide, Gilpin Spice and Source at Gilpin Hotel. There are three new London entries – Hawthorn in Richmond (modern British cuisine), Lusin in Mayfair (Armenian) and Mayha in Marylebone (Japanese). On the south coast, there is Dill in Lewes (global influences) and Palmito in Brighton (Asian and South American). Family-run Maison in Wrecclesham, Surrey, which is operated by husband-and-wife team Lornette Piette-Valentine and Ben Piette, has been added, along with another family-run business, The Three Horseshoes pub in Fordham, Cambridgeshire, which is operated by Moira Edwards and son Sam. There are also two Scottish entries – gastropub The Forager in Dollar, Clackmannanshire, and Italian restaurant Tipo in Edinburgh, from chef Stuart Ralston, who is also behind Aizle and Noto.
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a hospitality company with sites across the UK that is looking for a managing director. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “The business is keen to push the button and expand more in the south of England with the main collection of venues currently in the north. With a net turnover of more than £30m a year, this independent group is looking for an autonomous, financially astute managing director with creative flair and genuine interest in building a long-term opportunity. This role will be to lead the next stage of the company on this new path. Experience with food and drink sales and coming from a senior operations director/managing director role is essential for this position. The ideal candidate will have been involved in openings, acquisitions and financial growth and have an understanding of high-volume sites and leading a strong team. You will work directly with the owner, financial director and commercial director and you’ll be solely responsible for all operations, company image and delivery of product.” The salary is up to £200,000 and the position is based in London. For more information, email

Company News:

Georgel – we needed to get locals back in our pubs and unleash the potential of our businesses: Kevin Georgel, chief executive of south west brewer and pub company St Austell Brewery, has told Propel the company wasn’t unleashing the full potential of its businesses and had become too reliant on seasonal custom. Georgel said the company had begun a three-phase plan at the start of the pandemic – the first being it was going to survive, the second that it recovered “brilliantly” and the third, the one it is  doing now, “unlocking the potential in the business”. He said: “We have a very good quality pub estate both in our tenanted and in our managed business. But my view was that we weren’t really unleashing the potential of those businesses. I had a real passion to get our locals back into our managed businesses in particular. We had become too reliant on the visitors that drove a greater degree of seasonality than we were comfortable with, so we really wanted to get our locals back into the pub. I always say to the team the local customers won’t come back because they see the view every day of the week, it’s not a USP for them. We have to have a fantastic offer and we give a wonderful experience, and the location becomes the icing on the cake. We’ve become obsessive about the guest experience, and I’m relentlessly dissatisfied with it in a good way. That’s been a big part of the progress we’ve made in our managed business, which is probably the most marked improvement we’ve made.” In terms of further acquisitions, Georgel said that only when the business has “fully realised the opportunity in the south west” does it make sense for him to start pushing those boundaries further. He said: “I think there’s still opportunities to consolidate our leadership position and strength in the south west. And if you’re doing that, then the likelihood is you’re going to buy individual sites, and that’s what we continue to do.” He said that the group’s joint venture with the directors of ETM Group, led by Ed Martin, which launched at the start of last month with the opening of the Ludo Sports Bar & Kitchen in Bath, was trading ahead of expectations. Georgel added: “Clearly the sporting calendar is not as busy as it will become later in the year, but if we take the biggest sporting event we’ve had since opening, the Champions League final, the numbers that day were very exciting for us. We’re really pleased with the start and really excited about the future. The pipeline is building nicely, and you know with Mr Martin that we won’t be hanging around for too long.”
TSG extends terms of investment in BrewDog, London preferred destination for IPO: TSG Consumer Partners, which acquired a stake in BrewDog in 2017, has extended the term of its investment in the Scottish brewer and retailer until August 2024. In June 2017, TSG acquired about 23% of BrewDog, in a £213m transaction involving £100m to fund its continued global expansion, and the balance of proceeds to provide for early shareholder liquidity. Speaking to Bloomberg, BrewDog co-founder James Watt said he sees London as his preferred destination for an initial public offering (IPO), and if the IPO market hasn’t improved by August 2024, he plans to refinance the TSG stake with another private equity house. Selling to a big brewer is “not part of the plans”, but Watt declined to rule it out completely. “Everyone’s always got a price,” he said. Watt also defended BrewDog’s crowdfunding model and the company’s valuation of about £1.8bn, pointing to early backers who made handsome returns selling stock when the San Francisco buyout firm TSG invested in 2017. Yet while Watt and fellow co-founder Martin Dickie shared the bulk of the £113m of existing shares bought by TSG, “equity punks” were limited to selling 15% of their holdings. TSG is guaranteed an 18% compounding annual return on its 22% holding in the event of an IPO or a sale or liquidation, while newer investors risk making nothing. Watt pointed out to Bloomberg that he is the “largest shareholder” in the company – meaning he is “very focused” on making sure all investors get a good return. Watt also said Brexit has been “tragic” for UK business, adding: “It has massively handicapped UK businesses that do business in Europe with zero benefit at all. Getting our beer to those bars is now significantly more expensive and difficult. If it hadn’t been for Brexit, we would have been able to grow our European sales more.” Watt said Britain has been hit by more severe food inflation than anywhere else he does business. It now costs almost 40% more to make a case of beer than 18 months ago, he said, adding: “We’ve had to absorb the vast majority of that.”

Various Eateries CEO – costs have thrown us out of kilter, we need to work harder than ever: Yishay Malkov, chief executive of Various Eateries, has said that the Coppa Club and Noci operator has to work harder than ever to make sure sales translate into a “decent return”. It comes after the company’s chairman, Andy Bassadone, said that the scale of the squeeze on margins the business is currently experiencing is unprecedented in his 35 yeares’ experience in the industry. Malkov told Propel: “Like everybody has said, sales are holding up okay. Actually, they are decent, but the visibility on the plans we had back in March has gone. I guess you’re just walking in the fog trying not to run into things. Are there things we should have done differently? There is a lot of could’ve, would’ve, should’ve in hindsight, but the simple fact is inflation has stayed horrifically high. The weather, especially for Coppa sites with outside areas, was poor. The base rate is going up, and you have all those things together. People are still going out, and it seems they like what we’re giving them, but the costs along the way have really thrown us out of kilter. There’s a bit of work to be done to get us back there, but we will do it.” Malkov highlighted the opening of a second site under the group’s fledgling Noci concept, in the Battersea Power Station development, and the opening of a Coppa Club in Guildford earlier this year as positives for the business. He said: “We opened Battersea and people are coming out. We opened Coppa in Guildford and it is the same. But we need to do more work on making sure that pound translates to a decent return. I am confident we will do it, but it is a lot more work than a year ago, two years ago, which in turn was a lot more work than it was five or six years ago.”
Canadian pancake brand set to open third UK site, aims for two more this year: Canadian pancake brand Fluffy Fluffy is set to open its third UK site, in Reading, and is aiming for two more this year. The brand, which offers Japanese souffle-style pancakes, will open at the Berkshire town’s The Village destination in King Street this summer, following a £250,000 investment. The 2,055 square-foot location will be Fluffy Fluffy’s biggest store yet and feature its signature “open-kitchen” concept, where guests can watch their made-to-order pancakes created and covered in their chosen toppings. These include Nutella, tiramisu, Biscoff, creme brûlée and blueberry cheese. It will also offer coffee and gelato for the first time, alongside fizzy lemonade, iced coffee and matcha specials. The site will have 40 covers for dining in, and there will also be a takeaway option. Fluffy Fluffy, which first launched in Toronto in 2018, now has 20 sites across North America and more in Europe. In October, it made its UK debut with a flagship cafe in Whitworth Street in Manchester, followed by Leicester and now Reading, and it aims to have five UK sites by the end of 2023. Hussein Umar, UK development lead at Fluffy Fluffy UK, said: “Fluffy Fluffy is all about spreading happiness through food and we can’t wait to make a new home for our fluffy fluffy pancakes in Reading.” Fluffy Fluffy is looking to expand in the UK through franchising and exhibited at the British & International Franchise Exhibition earlier this month. Fluffy Fluffy will feature in the next Propel UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which is an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK. The latest version was sent to Premium subscribers earlier this month 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. 
Bob Bob Ricard eyes new Soho opening: Restaurant group Bob Bob Ricard is eyeing a further opening in London’s Soho, with a new smaller, more informal format mooted, Propel understands. The restaurant group, known for its lavish interior design, fine French and British food, small wine mark-ups and “press for champagne” buttons, currently has two sites in the capital, in Soho and the City. The first Bob Bob Ricard was opened in Soho’s Upper James Street in 2008 by founder and chief executive Leonid Shutov. Propel understands the business hopes to open a new site under the name BeBe Bob on the former Folie site in Golden Square, which closed in the spring, later this year. Last August, Bob Bob Ricard secured funds from lender ThinCats to help it expand its presence in the UK as well as abroad. It plans to open more restaurants in the UK as well as exploring potential markets in Japan. Plans include opening a restaurant in Tokyo this year.
Vegan Shack set to open ‘multiple locations’ over next three years, looking into dark kitchens and food trucks: Vegan Shack has said it is set to open “multiple locations” over next three years and is looking into dark kitchens and food trucks. Head of operations Dimeji Sadiq gave the update as Vegan Shack’s £180,000 crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube, which overfunded last week, winds down ahead of tomorrow’s (Friday, 30 June) finish. “Since our expansion into central Manchester and now London, it’s been exciting to see demand grow along with awareness of our brand steadily building,” Sadiq said. “As well as being our biggest revenue generator, our stores help solidify Vegan Shack’s in the UK, as we work towards our goal of being a leader in tasty vegan takeaways nationwide. Naturally, we’re keen to scale as quickly as possible, so to complement what we’re doing at our stores, we’re also opening dark kitchens and launching a food truck. We have ambitious plans to establish ourselves across the UK, with multiple locations to be opened across England in the next three years. These will be a 70/30 split with the locations weighted 70% to stores – which will remain our focus. Locations identified for future sites include south Manchester and surrounds, plus Nottingham, London, Liverpool and Leeds. Our move into dark kitchens this year means we can fulfil more orders, as well as move into the avenues of corporate and hotel catering, which has the potential to rocket. And because we’ll be increasing our supplies and stock, we’ll be able to renegotiate prices, which will further improve our already strong gross margin of 75%. Plus, our food truck will allow us to move into events and festivals, as well as test the appetite for Vegan Shack in new towns and cities.” Vegan Shack has raised £190,500 from more than 170 investors. The company is offering 11.91% equity, giving it a pre-money valuation of £1.4m.
Heavitree – top-line trading held up well during first half and continues to do so: South west tenanted pub operator Heavitree Brewery has said top-line trading held up well during the first half of its financial year and continues to do so. It comes as the company, which operates 62 pubs in Exeter and south Devon, reported turnover of £3,326,000 for the six months to 30 April 2023, up from £3,290,000 the previous year. Pre-tax profit fell to £947,000 after a book profit of £503,000 from the sale of non-core assets. This compares with profit before tax last year of £1,063,000, which included a book profit of £601,000 from the sale of property. The directors recommend a half-year dividend of 2.00p. “I reported at the 2022 year-end that the company had returned to a performance level on a par with 2019 before the impact of the pandemic was felt,” said chairman Nicholas Tucker. “Despite this, I warned we had much to be cautious about in the new trading year, and I had concerns about how the cost of doing business exacerbated by hikes in energy, food and labour costs might affect our operators and how the cost-of-living increases might affect how our customers would support our pubs. Fortunately, these worries have not materialised as feared and I am pleased to report that we are hearing from our tenants that top-line trading has held up well during the first half of this financial year and continues to do so. In turn, I can report the company has returned satisfactory numbers at the half-year.” The Jolly Abbot in Newton Abbot was sold during the period, along with cottages in Honiton Clyst and Barnstaple and a small parcel of land in Christow. Plans to rebuild on the site of the Jolly Sailor in East Ogwell, which was lost to a fire more than two years ago, have also been submitted to Teignbridge District Council. The development of a new seven-bedroom accommodation block at the Ley Arms in Kenn remains on target to be completed in September.
Popeyes UK plans franchise move, launches on UberEats and Just Eat: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, the US fried chicken quick-service brand, is planning a move into franchising in the UK. Propel understands Popeyes has begun the search for a head of franchise, who will be “key in driving the exponential growth of Popeyes UK”. The company said: “This role will work closely with the chief development officer and chief executive to construct the strategic approach to franchise and then require a hands-on execution of the franchise plan.” It added the successful candidate will “be able to identify new leading edge prospective franchisees who will align with the company vision”. Meanwhile, Popeyes has launched across the country on UberEats and Just Eat. The company said the move follows “two years of sustained growth for the brand, which has seen it open 25 sites nationwide and set records globally – with its Westfield Stratford restaurant crowned the most commercially successful out of more than 4,000 restaurants globally”. Neil Williamson, chief operating officer at Popeyes UK, said: “This is a natural next step for us as we enter an exciting next phase of growth. It’s great to be reaching more people working with our new partners at Just Eat and UberEats.” Matthew Price, UK UberEats general manager, added: “Popeyes is one of the most loved American brands and we are delighted it’s joining UberEats.”

Alcohol-free restaurant concept Coco to make international debut, eyes franchising for further growth: Alcohol-free restaurant concept Coco is set to make its international debut by the end of this year, in Saudi Arabia. The business, which launched its first site, Coco Tower Bridge, in June 2021, plans to open a 200-cover site in the Zone Complex of central Riyadh in November. The concept opened a second site, Coco Asia, in Thurrock, Essex, in March 2022, and a third, earlier this year, a 5,000 square-foot restaurant in Canary Wharf. The business, which focuses on Anatolian-inspired dishes, said: “It’s a new era for Coco. We can’t wait to launch as the latest go-to eatery in central Riyadh and continue from there. Even after four branches, it feels like we’re just getting started.” When it comes to franchising, the business said it is interested in “partnerships that support our commitment to excellence, best location, service, personnel and food products”. It said: “In addition to partnerships that align with our own brand standards, we are interested in new opportunities. Coco offers its partners a powerful brand activation through our diverse experience and influencer events, in addition to our social, digital and print platforms, engaging consumers on a global level. Coco is looking forward to developing and expanding the franchise by working with reliable and committed partners.”
Doughnut brand Project D closes crowdfunding campaign to support expansion after raising almost £475,000: Derbyshire doughnut brand Project D has closed its crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube to support its expansion plans after raising almost £475,000. The business was founded by three former school friends – Max Poynton, Matthew Bond and Jacob Watts – in 2018, selling thousands of homemade doughnuts weekly via pop-up events and at shopping centre kiosks. It now employs more than 120 staff and produces more than 50,000 doughnuts each week at its 11,000 square-foot bakery in Spondon. Project D was aiming to raise £400,000, offering 4.06% equity in return for the investment, giving a pre-money valuation of £9,740,250. It has closed the campaign having raised £474,961.50 from 848 investors. Project D is gearing up to open its first bricks and mortar location, in Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping centre, and Propel revealed last week it will be followed by outlets in Liverpool and York. Project D has a goal of reaching £12m in turnover within the next three years, more than four times its current annual turnover of £2.6m.
Majestic Bingo set to call in administrators: Independent bingo operator Majestic Bingo is set to call in administrators. The company operates eight retail bingo venues across the UK, including the Roman Bank in Skegness and three sites in Wales. The company also offers online gaming services and promotes live music events, “crazy bingo nights” and DJ nights via its Clubingo brand. For the year ending 31 December 2021, when its last available accounts were published, the company turned over £6,629,000 and had a pre-tax loss of £2,188,000. Majestic Bingo endured a torrid pandemic, with uncertainty around reopening dates and a fire at its Spalding club in May 2021 severely impacting trading. Staff at the club in Lincolnshire were initially retained on full pay but were subsequently made redundant in August 2022. The firm’s liabilities for the full year to 31 December 2021 exceeded its assets by £5,832,000, forcing it to sell its clubs in Castleford and Mexborough. It has since sold clubs in Mansfield, Barrow and Durham. The company described its performance in December that year – traditionally a peak period for the bingo industry – as “very poor” and said “a material uncertainty” existed over its ability to continue as a going concern. It has cited the cost-of-living crisis and soaring inflation and energy costs as key factors in its “mixed” post-pandemic performance. Majestic Bingo has posted a notice of intention to appoint administrators via Irwin Mitchell solicitors, reports The Business Desk.
Adnams signs up to Asset Match: Suffolk brewer and retailer Adnams has started trading on Asset Match, the platform that provides liquidity in company shares. Asset Match will be operating a market for Adnams’ A Ordinary shares (The B Ordinary shares trade on the Aquis Stock Exchange). The market is restricted to existing shareholders. Adnams operates a portfolio of circa 50 pubs that are a mix of managed and tenanted, while its beer has been brewed on the same site in Southwold for at least 670 years.  
Ready Burger closing in on second London site, looking to expand through franchising following overseas interest: Ready Burger, the plant-based restaurant concept founded by boxer Anthony Joshua’s former personal chef Adam Clark, has said it is closing in on a second London site and looking to expand through franchising following interest from overseas. The update came from chief executive Max Miller, who co-founded the business with Clark, as it overfunded on its second crowdfunding campaign. The business, which raised £2m in a Crowdcube fundraise in the summer of 2021, launched a second campaign on the same platform last month, looking to raise £250,000 to help open a new flagship site. With the campaign ending tomorrow (Friday, 30 June), Ready Burger has raised more than £255,000 from in excess of 200 investors. The company is offering 3.5% equity, giving it a pre-money valuation of £6,902,385. “We are thrilled to share that we are just a step away from acquiring a new site in Greater London,” Miller said. “We are working tirelessly to prepare for this takeover, and based on our current targets, we expect to be fully operational before the end of summer. At the same time, we have been engaged in conversations with potential franchise partners both domestically and internationally. We’ve seen significant interest from the US and China. Please note that setting up the franchise infrastructure will be a later part of this phase. Our initial focus is on launching our sit-down location and advancing our foodservice and retail journey. Our goal is to secure a franchise agreement before our anticipated Series A funding round, which we expect to occur within the next 18 months, subject to our progress and prevailing market conditions.” 

Dogus confirms plans for Il Gattopardo restaurant opening in Mayfair: Dogus International Group, the company behind Amazonico, Zuma and Coya, has confirmed it will open a further restaurant in London’s Mayfair called Il Gattopardo. As revealed by Propel earlier this month, Il Gattopardo, a restaurant inspired by 1960s Italy, will open at 27 Albemarle Street. The restaurant, which will open this September, will feature Italian classics and modern interpretations of dishes from across Italy, with a particular focus on Sicily, Amalfi and the Southern Isles. Executive chef Massimo Pasquarelli, a native of the Abruzzo region, began his career in Italy’s Monza before embarking on a decade-long career with Alain Ducasse, and most recently was executive chef of the Ritz Carlton Singapore. The 85-cover restaurant will boast a hidden courtyard terrace with a fully retractable roof, as well as a 16-cover private dining room. Dogus International Group is currently responsible for, or active in, seven other London restaurants – including Zuma and Roka in Knightsbridge and Amazonico in Mayfair.
Charles Artisan Bread secures central London debut site: Micro-bakery concept Charles Artisan Bread has secured its debut site in central London, in Broadgate. The concept, which was founded in Hackney in 2016 by Daniel Burke, has secured a 540 square-foot site at 8 Eldon Street. The site is due to open in mid-July. Charles Artisan Bread will be offering artisan sourdough bread and handmade pastries that are baked fresh every day. The menu includes sourdough loaves, baguettes, focaccia, croissants and brownies as well as vegan options. The micro-bakery prides itself on only using fresh, locally sourced and organic ingredients with no additives. The business also operates a site in Stratford. Abbey Rooke, of DCL, acted on the Broadgate deal on behalf of landlord British Land. 
Boparan Restaurant Group to open Slim Chickens site at Trinity Leeds: Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) will open a site under its Slim Chickens brand at Trinity Leeds next Thursday (6 July). The venue will have large sports screens as well as internal and external seating that can seat more than 100 diners, including two large double-sided kiosks. BRG chief executive Satnam Leihal said: “Trinity Leeds is set to be a prime location for us and we’re proud to be in the heart of the city in such a stunning setting.” BRG currently operates circa 40 sites under the Slim Chickens brand in the UK, including under its The Restaurant Hubs format with Sainsbury’s. BRG plans to be operating 350 restaurants in Britain under the US brand in the next few years.
Steakhouse and late-night bar concept Pasture confirms January 2024 opening for second Bristol site: Steakhouse and late-night bar concept Pasture has confirmed a January 2024 opening for its second Bristol site. The business, which is owned by Sam Elliott and made its debut in Bristol in 2018 before expanding to Cardiff, secured a site in the Redcliff Quarter, a major mixed-use development in central Bristol, in November last year. It acquired the long leasehold interest in a 5,500 square-foot corner unit, which fronts St Thomas Street and Cross Street. Work is progressing on 75-cover Prime by Pasture, which will consist of a butchery, deli, cookery school and burger joint, which will open for breakfast, brunch, and dinner. Elliott, who worked with Jamie Oliver for more than a decade, reaching the level of chef director, said: “At Pasture, we’ve always had a focus on high-quality food and sustainable production, and Prime by Pasture will allow us to expand on this even further. The restaurant will offer an exciting breakfast and brunch offering and ‘flip’ to burgers for lunch and dinner. We’ll also sell produce from our very own farm in Bristol and showcase some of our favourite ingredients from our incredible local suppliers. Finally, Prime by Pasture will also be home to our very own development kitchen, where we can pick up from the success of our live cookery demos during lockdown and welcome the return of Pasture at Home.” Prime by Pasture will be one of very few restaurants in the UK to have an on-site anaerobic digester to compost any food waste. Elliott also has plans to produce and sell the first bottles of wine from his vineyard from 2025 onwards.
T&R Theakston returns to profit despite ceasing all trade with its largest export market: Yorkshire family brewer T&R Theakston returned to profitability in the year ending 31 December 2022, despite ceasing all trade with its largest export market. It said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 had a direct impact on the business as it “decided to immediately cease all trade with the country, previously its largest export market”. Despite this and other challenges, the family-controlled business, which has been brewing beer in Masham for almost 200 years, recorded a pre-tax profit of £18,000 for the period, compared with a £2,000 loss in 2021. This came as the business saw turnover increase by 14%, from £5.9m to £6.7m, in the same period. Simon Theakston, joint managing director of T&R Theakston, said the business has “worked to minimise increases in order to support its pub customers”. Looking to the future, it remains optimistic after changing its sales model to broaden its supply routes to the on-trade and exploring new opportunities within the wider drinks market. These include the launch of Theakston Paradise Gold cider, the growth of Spirit of Old Peculier and the ongoing partnership with Ellers Farm Distillery to create a premium Yorkshire whisky. Prior to the year-end, it launched the Flying Frankie bar at York Racecourse and expanded listings for its Old Peculier and Best Bitter cans in Asda stores. Theakston added: “With a healthy balance sheet and secure financial arrangements, we remain focused on growing our revenue and are excited about some of the upcoming opportunities to forge new partnerships and bring innovative new products to market. We have made a good start to the year and, as a result, the board of directors is confident that as trading conditions continue to improve and the economy stabilises, we will see a steady improvement towards pre-pandemic levels of profitability.”

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