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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 14th Jul 2023 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Collins – evolution and value for money continue to drive sales increase, evening growth ‘encouraging’: Nick Collins, chief executive of cafe bar operator Loungers, has said the group’s focus on evolution and value for money continue to drive its sales growth. Speaking in the group’s full-year results presentation, Collins said: “On a like-for-like basis, average weekly sales in FY23 are £30,500 per week versus £25,900 (based on 142 sites open in FY20, VAT benefit removed), reflecting significant volume growth as well as price.” He said there had been no dramatic shifts in sales mix or regional performance, with brunch/daytime sales continuing to dominate growth, but that “evening growth is encouraging”. He also suggested some post-covid changes in behaviour are starting to slow down, such as cocktails and pudding sales. He added that menu innovation across the business was “no longer constrained by labour concerns” and flatbread sales had overtaken sandwich sales at around 16,000 per week. He said: “The introduction of Nasi Goreng alongside old favourite Bang Bang Chicken means Asian dishes represent 15% of mains in Lounge, while the introduction of sea bass alongside salmon and fishcakes means fish dishes now represent 18% of mains sales in Cosy Club. We’ve talked historically about how other operators have taken more price, and that’s allowed us to take a bit of price, but it allows us to look more value for money than other operators. In Lounge, a burger and fries is £10.95 and a pint of Moretti £5.60, while in Cosy Club, a burger and fries is £14.50 and a pint of Moretti £6.10. These are really keen prices.” Collins said the business was also making a continued investment and innovation in operational support, including the introduction of a regional community manager role in Lounge. It has also introduced regional recruitment and talent managers, which is “providing more resource for our operations teams to ensure we are finding and keeping the best people”. Collins said: “One of the biggest themes the executive team is talking about is making life easier for our site team. It’s really important as we grow that we don’t become overwhelmed with process. We want our teams in the sites to look after their customers, that’s their number one responsibility.” Meanwhile, group chairman Alex Reilley has sold 200,000 shares at 190 pence, worth £380,000. The business said the sale was to settle a tax bill and Reilley retains 6.8 million shares, a 6.5% stake. 

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
Latest edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book to be released today: The latest edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book will be sent to Premium subscribers today (Friday, 14 July), at midday. It now features 745 companies that are turning over a total of £46.2bn. A total of 504 companies are making a profit while 241 are making a loss. The profit being made by sector companies is now outstripping losses by £511m. The Blue Book shows the total profit of the 745 companies in the list is £3,272,517,901 and losses are £2,761,785,504. The Blue Book is updated each month and ranks companies by turnover, profit and profit conversion, listing directors’ earnings for the past five years. Premium subscribers are also to receive access to all the videos from last month’s Propel Multi-Club Conference featuring the sector’s finest female leaders and entrepreneurs. Premium subscribers will be sent 11 videos today at 9am, where female sector leaders share the lessons they have learned and moving forward. Premium subscribers also receive access to four other databases: the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; the New Openings Database; the Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage; and the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £995 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £495 plus VAT for operators and £595 plus VAT for suppliers. Email to upgrade your subscription. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel group editor Mark Wingett. In this week’s Premium Opinion, which will be sent to subscribers today at 5pm, Takaya Awata, president and chief executive of Toridoll Holdings, talks about being the new custodian of the Franco Manca and The Real Greek brands, while Propel editorial consultant Katherine Doggrell looks at how the luxury hotel sector is begrudgingly accepting the help of technology.
Bosher – Generation Z will be the dominant population in three years, creating the right environment for them to belong is crucial: Karen Bosher, former chair of Greene King’s Venture Brands, has said Generation Z will be the dominant population by 2026, and creating the right environment for them to belong will be crucial. “In the next three years, 18 to 25 years-olds, what we call Generation Z, will be the dominant population of the world,” Bosher told the Propel Women’s Conference. “It’s the first time in recorded history this has happened, so if you think leadership is in control, we need to give ourselves a bit of a health check – 18 to 25 years-olds are ruling the planet and 30% of then aren’t drinking, 30% of them don’t identify with gender and 26% of those under 36 now regard themselves as fluid. Their attitude to what success looks like is important because what you do, why you do it and who you’re doing it with is important to them. These are not factors I had to consider in 1986, but the considerations now for keeping people in your business – the currency and power Generation Z have – is significant. Creating the right environment for them to feel they belong and feel included will give you your stickiness.” Bosher spent nine years with Greene King in various leadership roles, having previously been head of retail at JJB Sports, head of group stores at Mothercare and operations manager at Woolworths among other positions. But having worked in such diverse sectors, hospitality is the one which shines through. “Of the experiences I’ve had, hospitality just lit me up because I could see so much belief and potential in people, and I never met such good quality people as I did in hospitality,” she added. “It just seems to attract people with big brains and big personalities, and that creates a ton of potential and energy that if mobilised correctly and effectively, will be the best career you’ll ever have.” Bosher’s presentation will be among the videos from the Propel Multi-Club Conference that Premium subscribers will be given exclusive access to today (Friday, 14 July) at 9am. 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.
Six restaurants declared insolvent every day between January and March: Restaurants and cafés across the UK are going insolvent at a pace not seen for more than a decade. Sky News reported a total of 3,347 eateries have been unable to pay their debts in the past two years to March 2023, according to data from the Insolvency Service. During the first three months of 2023, an average of six restaurants were affected every day. Businesses declare insolvency when they are unable to afford the repayments for their debts. Of those restaurants declared insolvent, 98% of cases have ended with the business being shut down. Data collected by UKHospitality showed the number of restaurants in Britain declined by 3,415 since March 2020 ­– a fall of 18%. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “We’re really facing a perfect storm. These businesses faced a challenge going through covid, and as a result of that they’ve got very high levels of debt. So, interest rate rises have impacted on their ability to remain viable.”
UKHospitality urges business secretary for support over energy bills crisis: UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has written to business secretary Kemi Badenoch calling on the government to extend new financial help to businesses by amending the terms of emergency loan schemes set up during the pandemic. Nicholls has urged Badenoch to work with the British Business Bank (BBB) on extending repayment terms included in the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). Nicholls said her members were reliant on such help being afforded at a time when many are locked into expensive multi-year energy supply contracts. She cited research showing that almost a third of UKHospitality members were worried about collapsing in the next year, with the overwhelming majority linking this to their energy bills. “An issue compounding this is a lack of cash flow associated with debts resulting from covid,” Nicholls said. “A substantial number of businesses are still repaying bounce back loans and CBILS – where interest rates on repayments has risen to around 8%-10%. Inflexibility from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on the application of Time To Pay concessions is also damaging the ability of some businesses to function.” Nicholls highlighted the fact participating banks are not allowed to extend CBILS repayment terms other than in exceptional circumstances, but that doing so meant a company must declare itself “severely compromised”, which triggers a negative impact on its credit rating. She called on the business secretary to work with the BBB to draw up a revised set of conditions for the extension of CBILS loans “with a presumption in favour of extension for businesses that have been adversely, in the short-term, been affected by the energy crisis”. Nicholls added: “This should also have no impact on a business’ credit rating as it would be considered a standard refinancing. A further measure to support business at this time would be to extend the guidance the chancellor gave to banks in relation to mortgages, with no fault payment delays, to business customers. These issues are critical to the survival of thousands of businesses in the hospitality sector.”
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with an international hospitality and leisure group looking for a finance manager. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “Your prime responsibility will be to produce the monthly management accounts and budgeting, while providing great financial analysis and comments on the business performance. You will also produce accurate financial reports/management accounts and quarterly summaries for various companies and investors within the group, prepare cash flow statements, budgets, and forecasts, balance sheet reconciliation, and much more.” The salary is up to £60,000 and the position is based in London. For more information, email

Company News:

Three Joes secures Cambridge site, ‘lots of interesting opportunities currently under review’: Sourdough South, operator of the Three Joes and The Stable pizza brands, has secured a further site for the former brand, in Cambridge, and told Propel it has “lots of interesting opportunities currently under review”. Sourdough South has acquired the lease of the ex-Bella Italia site in Bridge Street and is fitting out for an August opening of what will be its sixth Three Joes site. Last month, Three Joes opened its fifth site, in Chichester. Co-founder Tim Hall told Propel: “The concept trades extremely well in market towns and our Chichester opening has proved our most successful to date. The Cambridge site will offer 120 covers with an external courtyard area and is well located for the student and tourist market. Pete [Bruton], Emma [Blackmore] and I are very proud of the fact Sourdough South remains an entirely privately funded venture with the board of four directors in full control. We have no institutional or professional investors involved and this has allowed us to deploy our sector experience to the full in constructing the group. We have opened 17 restaurants in six years through covid with a lower average capex per site than any of us have seen before, and we have lots of interesting opportunities currently under review. We are deliberately well-exposed to the Cornish market and trade over the past few weeks mid-season has been strong, despite the changeable weather, versus last year, with revenue overall up by about 5% like-for-like.” Last month, Propel revealed that Sourdough South, which also operates 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. Adam Bowers, of onepoint2, acted on the Cambridge deal.
Turtle Bay plans debut site in Scotland: Caribbean restaurant brand Turtle Bay, which is backed by Piper, has lined up a first opening in Scotland, in Glasgow. The 49-strong brand is understood to have applied to open at 130 St Vincent Street in a former Barrhead Travel unit. The business hopes to open six sites in total this year. Following an opening in Hammersmith in March, the Nick Crossley-led business opened in Blackpool – on the ground floor of The Brook Group-owned newly restored Forshaws Hotel in Talbot Square – last month. It will follow this in August with the opening of its 50th site, in Camden, in the former Fatburger premises in Jamestown Road. A month later it will open in Lincoln, in the city’s Cornhill Quarter. At the end of last year, Crossley told Propel he sees a runway of 120-plus UK openings for the brand.
Scottish chef puts Indian restaurant up for sale as his fast-growing pizza concept lines up eight new UK sites and overseas debut: Scottish chef Ajmal Mushtaq has put his Indian restaurant up for sale as his fast-growing pizza concept lines up eight new UK sites and an overseas debut. Mushtaq is chef-director at Mushtaqs in Hamilton, which has what it claims to be the biggest takeaway kitchen in the UK, but pivoted to pizza during covid when it was forced to close. He founded Boss Pizza, which grew to three sites in Scotland and earlier this year made its debut in England with an opening in Acton. Mushtaqs continued to operate as a takeaway service, but Mushtaq has now instructed Christie & Co to sell the Almada Street venue. “Yes, I am selling Mushtaqs,” he said. “It’s been an awesome ride, but time to focus on a new chapter. We started Boss Pizza during covid, and it has been a resounding success. We now have four stores, another eight due to open in the UK and a further two in Dubai. This is a very fast-growing brand with huge growth potential. Mushtaqs is incredibly successful, and it has been a pleasure playing my part in this. There have been many highlights, one of which was when Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge visited to learn how to make a proper Indian curry. I will remain in this sector, but my focus is growing Boss Pizza into an international brand.” Tony Spence, associate director at Christie & Co, added: “We are expecting huge demand on this listing. The business comes fully equipped with the largest kitchen in Britain, which is well placed to capitalise on the surging demand for takeaway and deliveries.” In May, Mushtaq told Propel he is preparing to take his new pizza concept nationwide and has targeted 100 sites over the next two to three years. It is due to this summer follow its Acton opening with another in west London, in Hammersmith. Boss Pizza features in the Propel UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which is an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK and is available exclusively to Premium subscribers. The database is updated every two months and the latest version features 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.
Zambrero secures debut site in the north west: Zambrero, Australia’s largest Mexican quick-service franchise, which received £143m in equity financing to open more restaurants in Britain and Ireland earlier this year, has secured its first site in the north west, in Manchester. Propel understands that Zambrero, which currently operates six sites in London and the south east, has secured the site formerly occupied by Greggs in Piccadilly Gardens, on a new 15-year lease, for an opening later this year. Zambrero is also thought to be close to announcing its first site in the Midlands, in Birmingham. Earlier this year, the company opened in Reading, on the former William Hill site in Queen Victoria Street. It also operates four sites in London and a site in Chelmsford. The brand has also been linked with an opening in the unit formerly occupied by travel agents STA Travel in Cambridge’s Sidney Street. Zambrero was founded in Canberra in 2005 by Sam Prince, a Scottish-born doctor, with the idea of using the profits to support humanitarian causes. The company donates a meal to the developing world for each one bought through its Plate 4 Plate initiative. It has grown to become the biggest Mexican restaurant group in Australia and the eighth largest globally, with 250 sites in Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Ireland and the US. The brand, which is led in the UK by chief executive Emily The, opened its debut UK site in Kentish Town in 2021. Callum Mortimer, of Four & Co, acted on the Manchester deal. 
Jason Atherton plans Bruton Place opening: Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton is set to add to his restaurant estate in London with an opening in Mayfair. Propel has learned the chef, who earlier this year was reportedly opening Row on 5, in Savile Row, is to open a venue in the former Les Platanes site in Bruton Place. Atherton said: “I am delighted to have secured this fully fitted site in Mayfair.” Atherton is behind six restaurants in the capital, including his Michelin-starred restaurant Pollen Street Social. Earlier this year, the chef slashed his menu prices at his Mayfair flagship restaurant because he feared people were being priced out of regular West End dining. Atherton told the Evening Standard that customers were feeling increasingly “alienated” by the rocketing cost of eating out at a time when they were having to cut back on spending in other areas because of soaring inflation. One of the first moves was to reduce the cost of the set lunch menu at his Pollen Street Social flagship from £75 to £49.50, a decision that he said almost immediately led to a flood of bookings. Dean Gambles & Co acted on the Bruton Place deal.
Popeyes UK lines up central Glasgow opening: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, the US fried chicken quick-service brand, is lining up a first opening in central Glasgow. Propel understands that Popeyes is looking to open on the former Tower Records site in the city’s Argyle Street. Popeyes has also been linked with opening a drive-thru site at the Barrhead Retail Park, on the outskirts of the city. The company, which opened its first UK drive-thru restaurant, at Parkgate Shopping Park in Rotherham, in May, will open further drive-thru sites later this year at Cardiff Bay Retail Park and the Peel Retail Park, Barnsley. Propel also understands that alongside openings in Kilburn and Croydon, Popeyes is also set to open a site in High Road, Wembley. It currently operates 25 sites in the UK – 17 restaurants and eight delivery kitchens. Last month, Propel reported that 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”. 
Doughnut Time makes German debut: Doughnut Time has opened its first site in Germany. The bakery and new concept store has opened in Berlin’s TV Tower in Alexanderplatz. The move aligns with the company’s vision to focus on the core markets of the UK and Germany. The new store concept serves as a pilot for the company, combining the doughnut bakery, retail store and cafe into a single open-plan space. Customers have the opportunity to witness the doughnuts being freshly baked. “We believe in returning to the basics,” said Damian Griffiths, founder of Doughnut Time. “The challenges brought about by Brexit and staffing, especially in logistics, prompted us to rethink our business model. We realised that to expand internationally, we needed a more compact approach – an all-in-one store that could be efficiently managed from our UK headquarters. Each city will operate as its own hub, functioning as an independent business unit.” The Berlin operation will be led by Sascha Enders, a former operations manager at Crosstown Doughnuts, who has more than two decades of experience in the doughnut industry across the UK, US and Dubai. Doughnut Time, originally founded in Australia, established its first store in London in 2018. Since then, the company has rapidly expanded to 17 locations across the UK, including a large-scale production bakery in Reading. In the UK, Doughnut Time plans to continue its growth by diversifying its range of stores, food trucks, pop-up kiosks, and e-commerce delivery channels.
Pan-Asian restaurant concept Pot & Rice to open second site: Pot & Rice, the pan-Asian restaurant concept, is to open its second site in London after securing a site in Soho. Propel understands that Pot & Rice, which was founded in 2018 by Qianru Li, will open at 16A D’Arblay Street, later this summer. The original Pot & Rice opened in Sayer Street, in Elephant & Castle. CDG Leisure acted on the Soho deal.
Watt sets out central pillars to plans to ‘turbocharge BrewDog’: James Watt, co-founder and chief executive of BrewDog, has set out the five central pillars of his plans to “turbocharge” the Scottish brewer and retailer. The pillars come under the headings “the progressive mainstream”, “scaling up”, the “evolution of our retail strategy”, “going global” and “sustainability”. Watt said: “We have come a long way since we started our business with two humans and one dog 15 years ago. BrewDog is now the world’s 14th most valuable beer brand and the world’s leading craft brewer. On the surface, it may look like we have achieved our objectives, but the reality is we are just getting going. There has been no premium global beer brand successfully launched in the last 100 years. Our mission simply has to be to change that.” Under progressive mainstream, Watt said: “We simply cannot change the world from the fringes. The cornerstone of the strategy to turn BrewDog into one of the world’s top five beer brands is to do so by making great beer for us all. Our roots will always be in hardcore craft beer. However, as we grow, the core of what we do simply has to be aligned with the objective of elevating the status of beer in as many people’s lives as we can.” On scaling up, he said: “Our two core IPAs, Punk IPA and Hazy Jane, remain the backbone of our business, but our new product development strategy now involves placing big bets in huge adjacent categories. With Lost, we are taking on the lager category, with Black Heart we are taking on stout, and with Shore Leave, we are diving into ale.” On evolving the company’s retail strategy, Watt said: “Showstopping sites like BrewDog Waterloo, Vegas, Dublin, Berlin, Atlanta and Columbus have now created the template for the future of our retail operation. We are also working with fantastic partners to bring new locations to India, Thailand, Australia, America and Gatwick airport.” With going global, he said: “Firstly, we are continuing to invest in America, Germany and Australia, where we own fantastic breweries that are supported by small networks of BrewDog bars. Secondly, we are building our export business. We are the number one craft beer in France, Italy, Holland and Dubai. And thirdly, we have recently established big-ticket strategic alliances in huge international markets: China, South Korea, Japan and India.” On sustainability, he added: “We are the world’s only fully certified carbon negative beer business. We are investing hard across our business to reduce our carbon footprint, and with our flagship Lost Forest project, we have now planted 500,000 trees in the heart of the Scottish Highlands.”
Team behind London wine bar opens new ‘pasture to plate’ restaurant: The team behind London wine bar 56 West Smithfield has opened a new “pasture to plate” restaurant. Co-owner Matt Landsberg opened 56 West Smithfield in Farringdon in October 2022, and has now added Origin City at 12 West Smithfield. All the meat is sourced from the family’s 600-acre organic farm in Scotland, which rears such breeds as Black Aberdeen Angus, Large Black and Tamworth pigs, with everything butchered in-house and aged in state-of-the-art facilities. All the seafood is from its aquafarm, Loch Fyne Oyster, while much of the wine originate from its organic vineyard, Château De La Cômbe in France. Executive chef Graham Chatham, formerly of The Langham and Rules, leads a menu focusing on a “nose to tail” zero waste philosophy. Dishes include Tamworth pork tonnato, Black Angus steak tartare and dry-aged Black Angus sirloin.
South Devon hotel group exceeds pre-pandemic levels of turnover: South Devon hotel group Thurlestone Estates exceeded pre-pandemic levels of turnover in the year ending 31 October 2022. The group, which operates the Thurlestone Hotel & Spa and Mullion Cove Hotel & Spa alongside several holiday apartments, saw turnover rise from £7,189,696 to £9,459,314 in the period. This compares with £7,366,982 in the last full year before the pandemic, ending 31 October 2019. Its pre-tax profit increased from £1,249,547 in 2021 to £1,261,360 (2019: £652,830). It received £16,000 in government grants compared with £739,834 in 2021, while the directors recommend a final dividend payment of £183,733. The group said the increase in turnover was due to uninterrupted trading compared with the previous year, with combined room occupancy rate up from 43% to 65%. “Higher occupancy rates and higher room rates at both hotels and apartments reflected the strong demand experienced in the financial year,” said director Matthew Grose. “Net current assets decreased by £1,285,000 due to cash balances being used to fund the acquisition of a new property for staff accommodation at a cost £1,474,000. Net assets remain strong, with an increase of £818,000 on the prior year.”
The Avocado Show opens second UK site: The Avocado Show restaurant franchise has opened its second site in the UK. Propel revealed in March that the concept, which made its UK debut in Princes Street in the capital in 2021, had secured the ex-Benito’s Hat site in London’s Covent Garden. The Avocado Show acquired the existing ten-year lease on the 1,350 square-foot site for an undisclosed premium and has now opened at 19 New Row – offering its avocado-based pancakes, toasts, salads, poké bowls, burgers, sides and sweets. “Well done to The Avocado Show’s London franchise partner, Jayan Hospitality, on the opening of its second location,” said franchise consultants Seed Consulting. “The site is off to a flying start as more and more people experience pretty, healthy food, and the unique vibe of next generation casual dining.” Founded by Ron Simpson and Julien Zaal, The Avocado Show also has three restaurants in Holland and one each in Brussels, Madrid and Stuttgart. In 2020, it said it had signed on 19 franchise locations in the UK and Europe, with the possibility of sites in Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Oxford, Cambridge, Guildford and Brighton.
Bowland Inns & Hotels to add 15 eco lodges and eight rooms to portfolio: Lancashire hotel, pub and restaurant operator Bowland Inns & Hotels has received the green light to add 15 eco lodges and eight rooms to its portfolio. Ribble Valley Borough Council has approved the addition of 15 one and two-bedroom eco lodges at Eaves Hall, the group’s wedding and events venue in West Bradford, Clitheroe. Alongside this, it will add eight extra rooms and additional dining capacity at the Waddington Arms near Clitheroe, more than doubling its bedroom stock. James Warburton, owner of Bowland Inns & Hotels, said: “The lodges at Eaves Hall will add an extra string to our bow and the extra rooms at the Waddington Arms are a real bonus too.” Bowland Inns & Hotels owns and operates nine boutique hotels, wedding venues and country pubs with rooms in the Ribble Valley, Yorkshire Dales and South Lakes. In March, Propel revealed the business had appointed advisors as it looks at funding options for its next stage of growth.
Glasgow ice cream and churros concept opens third site in city: Glasgow ice cream and churros concept Loop and Scoop has opened a third site in the city. Founded in 2017, the independent family business has added a Victoria Road site to its two existing locations, opening in the historic former Queen’s Cafe unit at numbers 515-517. Loop and Scoop’s owners, husband and wife Calvin and Serena Keyes, told Glasgow Live: “We are an independent family business that specialises in making award-winning organic gelato and churros, using only the finest ingredients sourced from local and sustainable suppliers. We are excited to breathe life back into the historic ice cream establishment Queen’s Cafe. We are honoured to continue the legacy of this site, which has been serving the community for more than 140 years.” The former Queen’s Cafe dates to the late 19th century when it was first opened by the Iaconnelli family. It closed in 2021 and later re-emerged nearby, at 455 Victoria Road, as Ginesi’s Artisan Gelato.
South Indian boutique restaurant set to open in Leeds this summer: A boutique restaurant focusing on south Indian cuisine is set to open in Leeds this summer. Ma-Hé , which will open in the city’s Merrion Centre, will offer an array of small plates from Indian’s five main regions of Goa, Mangalore, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra, prepared by a specialist team of Indian chefs. It is the brainchild of Shyam Sundar Bhaskaran, a fine dining chef who has worked in several five-star hotel chains in India, alongside Manoj Varma, who has more than two decades of experience within the hospitality industry, and business partner Mason Asgha. The 80-seater restaurant will feature an immersive kitchen, with a “theatrical preparation of dishes over an open searing flame”, reports Bdaily. It will also offer a selection of single-malt whiskeys and cocktails prepared by expert mixologists.
Pepe’s Piri Piri returns to its home town of Watford for third opening there and 173rd overall: Flame-grilled piri piri chicken brand Pepe’s Piri Piri has returned to its home town of Watford for its third opening there and 173rd overall. The brand made its debut in the town’s Whippendell Road and has since launched another in the High Street as well as expanding across the country. It has now added another in St Albans Road, opposite Lowestoft Road, to the north of the town centre. The three locations are operated by individual franchisees, with two of them also operating other locations elsewhere. “It’s hard to believe that it was in 2007 that we opened the first Pepe’s Piri Piri in Watford,” head of franchising Matt Hart told the Watford Observer. “The third store in St Albans Road, Watford, now puts us at 173 stores across the UK. That’s on top of the expanding number of stores in the UAE. We’re proud to be able to offer exciting franchise opportunities that can turn someone’s dream of owning and running their own business into a reality, and we’re looking forward to the success we know the newest store in Watford will have.”
Essex independent coffee shop concept acquires Suffolk bakery: Essex independent coffee shop concept Toast has acquired a Suffolk bakery after the former owners decided to sell after being hospitalised by a head-on car crash. Following the accident last month, Chris and Pat Weston, founders of Weston’s Bakery in Sudbury, decided they could no longer run it. It came just after the pair had opened a second branch of the bakery, in King Street, joining its original location in Gaol Lane. The new owners are the team behind Toast, which operates coffee shops in Braintree, Chelmsford, Sudbury and Witham. Rob Ely, one of the three co-founders of Toast, told Suffolk News: “We’re humbled to be able to take on Weston’s Bakery and start a new chapter for the business. Toast has always had this ethic to support other independent businesses, so when we heard the news about Weston’s imminent closure, we had to step in and help. We contacted Chris and Pat and worked out a plan to re-employ the staff and keep everything going. We’re excited for the road that lies ahead and proud we can continue the tradition that Weston’s has made in the town of Sudbury.” A family statement from the Westons added: “This has made a very difficult time that much easier. To know that so many of our wonderful staff have retained their jobs is a huge relief for us all. We are so grateful to Rob and his team at Toast for taking on the challenge and continuing to serve our lovely customers.”
Chef Parveen Sharma to open third Ayrshire site: Chef Parveen Sharma is to open his third site in Ayrshire. Sharma will launch Brown Munde on Tuesday (18 July) in the former Paris Match restaurant in Kilmarnock town centre. The new venue will have an emphasis on Indian tapas, with Sharma revealing to the Irvine Times he had been eyeing up a restaurant in the town for several years. Sharma also co-owns the 3idiots restaurants in Ayr and Troon.
Team behind Glasgow Mexican restaurant El Jefe’s closes sister concept: The team behind Glasgow Mexican restaurant El Jefe’s has closed its sister concept in the city, El Camino. The bar and restaurant in Waterloo Street opened in December. The reason for the closure has not been revealed, reports The Glasgow Times. El Jefe’s, which has two sites, continues to trade. El Jefe’s is co-owned by Dave Wade, who also owns The Parlour in Vinicombe Street, and business partner Jonathan Lessani.
Greggs and Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thrus to open in St Helens: Plans to complete a leisure and retail development in St Helens, Merseyside, with new drive-thru units for food-to-go retailer Greggs and global coffee chain Dunkin’ Donuts have been approved. Proposals for the sites, at the West Point development off Linkway West, were submitted last year, with the units situated in the corner of the complex towards Liverpool Road. The proposals are the final part of Phase B of the development at Linkway West, which an existing Costa Coffee forms part of. Phases A and C have already been complete, including a Superbowl, German Doner Kebab restaurant and Planet Doughnut site, reports the St Helens Star.

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