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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 20th Jul 2023 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Tattu rebrands as Permanently Unique, plans international debut in 2024: Independent restaurant group Tattu has rebranded as Permanently Unique as part of plans to launch a new concept and grow the brand internationally. The high-end restaurant group, which was founded in Manchester in 2015 by brothers Adam and Drew Jones, said the updated name comes at a time of growth for the business both in the UK and internationally. It will start with the launch of its new Fenix concept, which will focus on modern Greek-Mediterranean cuisine, which opens in November in Manchester’s Goods Yard Building. Tattu Dubai, Permanently Unique’s first international site, is also on the horizon, with further details to be announced in the coming months, and is expected to launch next year. A further site in Manchester is penned for 2024, which will debut a third brand new concept for the group, embodying “live music, refined cuisine and a show stopping drinks programme”. Last year, the business entered the London market with the launch of Tattu London at The Outernet development, following the success of its existing locations in Leeds, Birmingham and Edinburgh and the original Tattu in Manchester. The business said its launch in London marked a distinct period of evolution for the group, which has led to this new chapter of “growth and diversification” within its portfolio. Dishes at Fenix will focus on innovative plates inspired by Greek traditions and showcasing the best of fresh seafood and locally sourced meats flamed live in front of diners on a charcoal fired grill. Adam Jones said: “We’re incredibly proud of the brand we have built around the Tattu name and our focus on delivering a unique experience has been instrumental to its success. As we look to the future, and we introduce new cutting edge concepts to the market, it’s important that we embody this next chapter of the business wholeheartedly. Being a homegrown northern hospitality group with our central roots in Manchester, we have the perfect platform to showcase our learnings and progression as a group. As we continue to work to develop new hospitality spaces, our focus will remain the pursuit of innovation, excellent guest experiences and truly one of a kind spaces.”
 

Industry News:

Latest Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage to feature 76 updated entries and 21 new companies, released tomorrow: The latest Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage will feature 76 updated entries and 21 new companies when it is released to Premium subscribers tomorrow (Friday, 21 July). This month’s edition includes 714 companies and more than 187,000 words of content. The companies, listed in alphabetical order, will have their most recent results reported as well as broader information around Ebitda, plans and trading style available. The database merges Companies House information, interviews and other public information to provide an easy to reference and exhaustive guide to the sector. Premium subscribers also receive access to four other databases: the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; the New Openings Database; the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book; and the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database. Propel will next month launch the UK Food and Beverage Franchisee Database – the first time that profiles of 100 of the top food and beverage franchisees have been available in one place in the UK. The go-to database, which features many of the big franchise operators running Costa Coffee, McDonald’s and Domino’s sites, brings together a wealth of information on an increasingly important part of the market, and the first edition will feature more than 32,000 words of content. The sixth major database exclusive to Premium subscribers, it will be sent out bi-monthly, including new entries and updates to existing entries. The companies, listed in alphabetical order, will have their most recent results reported as well as broader information around the company’s background, site numbers and board make-up. 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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription. Premium subscribers are also being given exclusive access to the recording and slides to Propel Multi-Club Conferences. They 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.
 
Bill’s MD Tom James to speak at Propel summer conference and party, three free places per company for operators: Tom James, managing director of Bill’s, the Richard Caring-backed restaurant group, 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. James will talk about evolving the all-day dining concept and how ramping up engagement across the brand’s teams has led to an uptick in performance and NPS scores. 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. Three free places per company for operators can be claimed. A room can also be booked for the evening. For more details, email jo.charity@propelinfo.com.
 
Sector leaders warn industry ‘not out of the woods’ despite inflation drop: Sector leaders have warned the industry is “not out of the woods” despite a fall in the rate of inflation. The rate of price rises has dropped from 8.7% to 7.9% in the year up to June, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). While prices are still rising, the ONS said the rate had “slowed substantially” to its lowest annual rate since March 2022. This was driven by price drops for fuel, while food inflation eased only slightly. British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “Finally, we are seeing inflation head in the right direction, but we're not out of the woods as there is still a long way to go for the pressures on our customers and supply chains to feel the difference. Our pubs and brewers need confidence to invest and grow their businesses, while their customers need reassurance that inflation will continue to slow, and prices fall to give people more spending power.” Night Time Industries Association chief executive Michael Kill added: “We are some way off suppressing the cost inflation crisis suffered across the night-time economy and hospitality sectors. Many are concerned the increase of alcohol duty, energy and insurance costs, which have yet to be tamed will eradicate any benefit to the sector in the short term. It is important the government continues to engage with the sector over the coming months, and accept there will need to be a fiscal intervention for businesses that are at the sharpest end of this crisis.”
 
UKHospitality back’s London mayor’s call for action on short-term lets: UKHospitality has again called for a scheme that ensures high standards of health and safety, fire safety and accessibility are applied to and followed by short-term lets. It comes after London mayor Sadiq Khan called on the government to help protect the capital’s housing supply from being decimated by short-term lets, with at least one in every 74 homes in London available for short-term let. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Whether it’s a lack of visibility preventing checks of basic standards of safety and accessibility or the impact it has on housing stocks, it’s clear that action is needed. We’ve backed the government’s proposals for a registration scheme to tackle the issue in England and we agree with the mayor that the data captured needs to be shared between both national and local authorities to drive good decision-making. A well-functioning scheme to bring short-term lets up to standard would be hugely significant and I hope the government can work with mayors and local authorities across the country to make it a success.”
 
Government report ‘highlights areas where hospitality can help get people back into work’: UKHospitality has said a government report into addressing economic activity highlights areas where hospitality can help get people back into work. The report, from the Work and Pensions Committee, said support for helping people into work should be widened to those not on benefits, with a new scheme developed to encourage people to set up their own businesses. It also called for more focus to be given to measures to help young people, the over-50s and people with disabilities and long-term health conditions find and stay in work. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The report highlights several areas where hospitality can help get people back into work. The variety hospitality offers and the flexible nature of hours available means the sector is perfectly suited to helping older people back into the workforce or supporting those who have accessibility requirements. Giving more powers to local authorities to meet local vacancy needs is crucial and something the sector would support, particularly as the needs of a restaurant in London will differ significantly from a hotel in Cumbria.”
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a real estate and hotel business that is looking for a sales/commercial operations director. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “The company is seeking to expand its business as well as its product and services. It is looking for someone with a broad skill set who can drive product development and new market entry but also drive sales as well as lead a large sales team and work closely with the chief executive on future direction. The board is looking for a senior leader who can lead strategy and business development, targeting the right organisations and building credible relationships. This is a broad role that would suit an ambitious individual with excellent knowledge of the hotel sector. Ideally, you will have surveyor/property/asset investment experience as this will be a key target market.” The salary is up to £100,000 (negotiable with package included) and the position is based in Leeds. For more information, email hollie@corecruitment.com.
 

Company News:

Hornby – we are not going to be pushed into doing anything rash or not in the interests of shareholders long-term: Andy Hornby, chief executive of The Restaurant Group (TRG), the Wagamama and Brunning & Price owner, has told Propel that working with independent advisors has given the company “a really good grasp on what our various businesses are worth”. Hornby said the business, which has come under attack by a few activist shareholders, would not be “pushed into doing anything either rash or that is not properly in the interests of shareholders long term”. Hornby was speaking after TRG reported a 5% increase in like-for-like sales at Wagamama for the year to date (up 8% VAT adjusted) versus the prior year, and said it continued to review its wider strategic options with the assistance of independent advisors. Hornby told Propel: “A really well priced disposal, if it was of a business that we did not consider strategically core, we would be duty bound to take it very seriously. It also says that disposals are not the only options we are looking at. From that point of view, you are the right to say, nothing’s off limits. On the other hand, it’s also saying we think we’ve got a really good grasp on what our various businesses are worth and we are categorically not going to be pushed into doing anything either rash or that is not properly in the interests of shareholders long-term, and I stress long-term. That’s where having your trading do the talking is incredibly important. If your trading is doing the talking for you all the time, your business is becoming more valuable rather than less valuable.” Hornby said the “really positive thing about the way this year has gone, ahead of our expectations anyway”, was how quickly its Concessions business has recovered on the back of the much improved situation in airports. He said: “It has gone from being our laggard to punching as strongly as Wagamama and our pubs.” Hornby said there are some signs that food-input inflation is starting to moderate but is not “completely convinced it’s moderating as quickly as some people are predicting.” He also believes the range of performance across the sector is much bigger now than it was pre-covid. He said: “When I first joined TRG in 2019, really good businesses would have been trading at say plus 6%, and those that were struggling would have been trading at plus 1-2%. Now you are definitely seeing consumers being more discerning, with good brands still trading strongly, but brands that are struggling are genuinely struggling.”

BrewDog boss reveals train strikes have cost business £3.5m as he calls on government to ‘sort this mess out’: James Watt, chief executive of Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog, has said train strikes have cost the business £3.5m as he called on the government to “sort this mess out”. The ASLEF union, which represents drivers, has an overtime ban in place this week, with further action also taking place in the first week of August. The RMT, which represents members across the industry, has strikes in place today (Thursday, 20 July), Saturday (22 July) and on Saturday, 29 July. Meanwhile, walk-outs will take place on London Underground all next week except for Monday (24 July). Watt said the strikes are “killing UK businesses” with sales at its bars down by on average by 50%. Last week, sales at the Seething Lane Tap in London fell 76%, BrewDog Clerkenwell was down 70% and BrewDog Liverpool saw a 36% decline. Watt said: “It is easy to think of the trains strikes as only impacting passengers, but the grim reality is the negative impact of the strikes is far more wide reaching. So far [for us], this equates to £3.5m in revenue lost, £600,000 of wages to our amazing team lost and, tellingly, £1m to the treasury lost via VAT, national insurance and beer duty. This also equates to around 40 jobs that we have not been able to create – 40 jobs that the UK economy badly needs at this time. The strikes are threatening the viability and the future of thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of jobs all over the UK. All of this comes at a time when pubs, bars and restaurants are closing at the fastest rates since records began. When our economy suffers, everyone suffers – through higher inflation, through higher interest rates and through everyone having less disposable income. So, we are calling for the government to act now to stop the strikes, to help save jobs across the UK, to help protect businesses and to avoid huge chunks being taken out of tax revenue.”
 
Haute Dolci lines up second overseas market, appoints former Gloria Jeans COO as new director of operations: Premium dessert and gourmet burger concept Haute Dolci is lining up its second overseas market and has appointed former Gloria Jeans chief operating officer Tahir Mahmood as its new director of operations. The business, launched by Heavenly Desserts founder Nizam Mohamed in 2017, operates 17 sites in the UK – the latest opening last month at unit 177 in The Harlequin shopping centre in Watford. It also this year opened its first overseas site, at the Defence Raya Golf Resort Sector M DHA Phase 6 in Lahore, Pakistan, and is planning to follow that with a Middle East launch in Kuwait. Leading the expansion is Mahmood, who has just been appointed director of operations following three years with London better burger franchise, Burger Base. Before that, he was chief operating officer for American-Australian coffee brand Gloria Jean’s operations in Hungary. “Now, I take dessert seriously, and I’m excited to announce that I have now started a new position as operations director at Haute World (Haute Dolci and IceBurg),” said Mahmood, who is also a former deputy training of training and development in the Pakistan Air Force. “I’m looking forward to leading the operation team through its next stage of growth, building on the hard work and foundations laid by our founder and chief executive Nizam Mohamed, hard-working team members and franchise partners, and fulfilling our ambition to create the number one luxury fine dining dessert and cafe brand. As we look to expand nationally and internationally, opening more stores with our recent openings in Pakistan and next lined up in Kuwait, I’m looking forward to working with our dedicated team members, suppliers and franchise partners in the UK and across the globe, to lead Haute World through its next stage of growth.” On leaving Burger Base, where he oversaw the launch of nine new stores within 12 months, Mahmood added: “I am forever grateful for my experience over the last three years. I worked with incredible, enthusiastic people, and a big thank you to the franchisees for the amazing experience and fantastic time we had.” Haute Dolci 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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription.
 
More young female McDonald’s staff come forward with sexual misconduct claims: More young female McDonald’s staff have come forward with claims of sexual misconduct. The fast-food chain is currently battling claims of sexual assault, harassment, racism and bullying by current and recent UK staff following a BBC investigation. Further staff members have since told the Daily Mail they were touched inappropriately, given inappropriate nicknames and rated on their appearance at work on scoreboards. They also claimed “pretty young girls” would be hired to entice men in while male workers were kept working in the back, and that employees with autism and other disabilities were treated differently or spoken to in a derogatory manner. Alistair Macrow, chief executive of McDonald’s UK & Ireland told the Mail: “Every one of the 177,000 employees in McDonald’s UK deserves to work in a safe, respectful and inclusive workplace. There are clearly instances where we have fallen short and for that we deeply apologise. There is simply no place for harassment, abuse, or discrimination of any kind at McDonald's – and we will investigate all allegations brought to us, and all proven breaches of our code of conduct will be met with the most severe measures we can legally impose, up to and including dismissal.”
 
Hawksmoor launches deal focused on rail strike days: Steakhouse concept Hawksmoor has revealed plans to run a £15 deal during the rail and tube strikes. The company said it won’t make any money from the deal, but that it is more about keeping its “restaurants (and hard-working teams) busy”. The new deal, dubbed “move your rump”, will run from Thursday, 20 to Monday, 31 July and on every rail or tube strike day “for the foreseeable future” between 12-6pm. Revealing the new deal on Instagram, the business wrote: “A special rail strike announcement. It probably hasn’t escaped your notice that transport strikes aren’t great for restaurants, any more than they’re great for you. Sure, people have the right to strike and fight for more money, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard. Fortunately, Hawksmoor is doing okay, but this obviously impacts you and our teams. So, what to do about it? Well, we’ve decided to grab the cow by the horns and offer £15 steak & frites, kicking off the offer from Thursday 20th until the end of July and then every rail/tube strike day for the foreseeable future. A good reason to ‘move your rump’ and come have a good time with us. We won’t make any money out of it, but it should help to keep our restaurants – and our hard-working teams – busy, and hopefully gives you a reason to come into town and make a day of it. And, if you can’t come to Hawksmoor, consider nipping for lunch somewhere else. The hospitality industry has lost about £3bn since the strikes began and businesses are closing at an increasingly fast rate.” It said the offer is available at its London, Manchester, Liverpool and Edinburgh Hawksmoor restaurants by booking on its website and quoting “Strike Steak” in the notes.
 
Franco-Italian dining concept Daroco secures debut UK site: Franco-Italian dining concept Daroco has secured its UK debut site. Daroco operates two restaurants and a cocktail bar located in the 2nd and 16th arrondissements of Paris. Now founders Alexandre Giesbert, Julien Ross and Nico de Soto are bringing the concept to London’s Soho in September. The venue in Manette Street will have 120 covers in the ground-floor restaurant, 50 in the basement bar with a 60-cover terrace launching later in the year. Everything on the menu will be home-made, from pasta to pizza; bread to ice-cream. Propel revealed in October last year that Daroco, which was founded in 2016, was looking to launch in London.
 
Motor Fuel Group begins Miss Millie’s roll out: Miss Millie’s Fried Chicken has lined up a second site under its fledgling partnership with Motor Fuel Group (MFG). The 12-strong company entered into a franchise partnership with MFG, the UK’s largest independent forecourt operator, earlier this year. The deal will see Miss Millie’s on the forecourt of petrol stations across the UK for the first time, as it looks to become a nationally recognised brand over the coming years. The first site under the partnership opened near Wellington, Somerset, earlier this summer. Propel now understands that a second site under the partnership will launch at Langney Service Station, near Eastbourne. 
 
Midlands ‘battered chips’ concept sees first franchisee turn profit despite 350% rise in potato prices: Midlands “battered chips” concept Bek’s first franchisee has turned a profit in its first quarter, despite a 350% rise in potato prices. The third-generation family fish and chip opened its first franchise site in April, at 8 Croft Parade in Aldridge, Walsall. It is being operated by former McDonald’s business manager Dean Haynes, who spent 23 years with the fast-food chain, running some of its busiest restaurants. Later that same month, the business reported record daily takings and footfall at the launch of its debut franchise store, and according to Bek’s owner Bek Halil, the upward curve has continued. “A special bit of recognition to Dean Hayes,” he said. “We’ve recently had a torrid time with inflation and rising costs, most recently our potato prices increasing by 350% due to seasonality. Considering potato forms the largest part of our menu, this has been our biggest challenge to date as a company. Bek’s Aldridge has done some amazing financial analysis on food cost and labour lines and running at some amazingly low figures while not impacting the customer experience. Dean has been doing some work around break-even points and still managed to turn a profit, where other franchisees, especially within the food sector, have been loss-making, and very severely in some cases. I think franchisors within the food sector can oversell and don’t talk about the difficulties that come with franchising and the challenges that franchisees might face. We are a very transparent franchise at Bek’s, and this most likely will be an issue that has affected a lot of people within the sector. We now look positively forward as inflation starts to ease off.” The original Bek’s location was opened in Wednesbury in 1989 by Halil’s grandfather, who had emigrated from Cyrpus in the 1960s and ran several chip shops in the region. Haynes, when taking on the first franchise site, said he is seeking a multiple-site investment and would ideally like to have a portfolio of three to five locations.
 
Former MasterChef finalist Sven-Hanson Britt closes central London restaurant: Sven-Hanson Britt, a former finalist in MasterChef: The Professionals, has closed his central London restaurant and bar, Oxeye. Britt launched the farm-to-table concept at Embassy Gardens, Nine Elms, in October 2021, seven years after he appeared on the television programme. “I’ve tried everything in my power to save the restaurant, to keep fighting, to regain control, to fundraise, to remodel, to regroup, to reimagine, to restructure, but nothing could be done,” the chef said on Instagram. “I poured my whole heart into that space and I’m so, so grateful to all those that came through the doors – both sides of the pass. There will be something new coming, hopefully soon, for now I just need to say goodbye to Oxeye 1.0. Soon I will be ready to add something a bit more interesting to the staid and vapid restaurant scene that London is currently plagued with.” It comes three months after Britt concluded a six-month trial that he said showed that dropping a £50 booking deposit to £5 led to a rise in no-shows and cancellations. The chef began the trial after feeling concerned the higher deposit rate could be prohibitive to some guests. Last year, Britt led a backlash against government plans to introduce calories on menus.
 
Love Churros set to open two new London sites this month, prepares to launch in second overseas market in fourth quarter: London urban dessert experience Love Churros is set to open two new London sites this month and launch in a second overseas market in the fourth quarter. The company, founded in 2015 by former professional footballer Jake Nicholson, currently has UK locations in Brixton, Shoreditch, Croydon and Lakeside – and is now set to launch at Westfield Stratford and Boxpark Wembley. Last summer, it opened its first overseas site, in Saudi Arabia – where it now has two sites – and will follow that later this year with a launch in Dubai. “Team is plotting and planning to launch two new corporate locations here in the UK in the month of July – Westfield [Stratford] and Boxpark [Wembley],” said Nicholson, who played in the Europa League for Tottenham Hotspur and won an England U19s cap. “Our master franchise partners in the UAE [Dubai] will be launching in the fourth quarter of this year. Excited to head into the next half of the year!”
 
Italian Neapolitan pizza concept to make UK debut in new Spitalfields development: Italian Neapolitan pizza concept Pizza Guys will make its UK debut in the new Lamb Street development in London’s Spitalfields. The business, which was established in Caserta, Italy, in 2020, offers classics like margherita and pepperoni alongside monthly specials like Korean kimchi or shakshuka (north African), plus salads, fries and milkshakes. It is one of eight new food and beverage outlets opening in Lamb Street – some of which have moved from street trucks to a permanent space for the first time. Rudies Jerk Shack, which has shacks across London serving jerk burgers, is opening its first standalone site, while smoked meat sandwich concept Smokoloko will open its first bricks and mortar site. Duck Truck, which serves up duck wraps and burgers, is another launching a first permanent site, reports Hot Dinners. Also opening is Dos Mas Tacos (tacos and loaded nachos), Ebby’s Kitchen (Turkish street food), Wicked Fish (ethically sourced and gluten-free fish and chips) and I-Thai (soup noodles and Thai chicken).
 
Costa launches in 33rd international market: Costa Coffee has launched in its 33rd international market by opening in Uzbekistan – the former Soviet state which lies between Russia and the Middle East. The company said: “Our EMENA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) retail team has done it again, launching Costa into its 33rd retail market. You’ll now be able to find us in Tashkent, the capital city of Uzbekistan, known for its rich history, cultural heritage and bustling city life. Adding to its dynamic charm, Costa Coffee has made its grand entrance, promising a delightful experience for coffee enthusiasts.” The opening was led by Mike Stankiewicz, Costa’s new markets operations manager EMENA, who has been with the company for seven years, having started out as a barista, and then assistant manager, at its Bedford store. Stankiewicz said: “ We have opened Costa Coffee’s 33rd retail market in Tashkent, Uzbekistan! A huge thank you to our partner International Food Chain and to the EMENA team for all your hard work behind this project and outstanding delivery. Another country inspired to love great coffee.”
 
Liverpool hotel group sees regional locations recover quicker than city centres, returns to profit as demand remains strong: Liverpool hotel group Centre Island has said its regional locations recovered quicker from covid than its city centre sites, and its outlook is positive as demand remains strong. The group, which operates nine hotels across Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Preston and Ellesmere Port, returned to profit in the financial year ending 31 December 2022, with a return of large-scale events, boosting occupancy levels. Hotels with a traditionally high volume of corporate accounts saw a return to pre-pandemic levels from the third quarter of 2022 as workers returned to the office and business travel resumed, although uncertainty on international travel negatively impacted air crew numbers. Managing director Mark Sutton said: “Those regional locations – Preston and Ellesmere Port – where demand has been more consistent from primarily manufacturing segments, performed well again in the year, with midweek occupancy returning quicker than some of the other key city centre locations such as Birmingham and Manchester. Revpar increased by 70.1% year-on-year through an increase in occupancy year-on-year of 26.6% and a strong revenue management strategy boosting average daily rate by 6.4%.” Foster said the group benefited from a “catch-up” in weddings and events previously planned for the covid period, and while payroll costs steadily increased, “the company took the decision to adopt an aggressive market position in terms of rates of pay to attract and retain key talent”. He added: “Following on from a successful 2022, the outlook for 2023 remains positive in terms of overall revenue. The return of large-scale sporting and music events has driven demand and corporate demand has returned to pre-pandemic levels. Previous recruitment challenges now appear to have stabilised but the ongoing escalation of other costs have added additional pressure on profitability.” It comes as the group reported a pre-tax profit of £2,544,344 compared with a loss of £82,9098 the year before. This compares with a profit of £1,718,276 in the last full year before covid, ending 31 December 2019. Turnover was up to £34,026,528 from £20,060,261 in 2021 (2019: £34,154,182). It received no government grants (2021: £594,941). A bank loan of £38m is due for renewal on 31 December 2024.
 
Benugo launches family-friendly cafe benchmark across more than 20 sites: Benugo, the operator of deli cafes and catering in high-profile venues, has partnered with the charity Kids in Museums to launch a new family-friendly cafe benchmark, which will run at more than 20 of its sites. The Family Café Standard will recognise museum cafés that are good for families, including healthy and affordable options, as well as offering variety. Sophie McCready, director of partnerships and marketing at Benugo, said: “We are proud to announce our partnership with Kids in Museums as we continue to ensure Benugo sites are as inclusive and accessible as possible. We have worked in close collaboration over the past year to create an accreditation scheme that we hope will become a recognised benchmark throughout the UK.” The cafés to have gained accreditation include those at the British Museum in London, Edinburgh Castle and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Alison Bowyer, executive director of Kids in Museums, added: “The small but meaningful changes the venues have made will make an important difference to families’ experience of visiting a museum. I would like to thank Benugo for its commitment to our mission to make museums welcoming spaces for all children and families.” Benugo will be the only catering company with the new accreditation until February 2024.

Slim’s Healthy Kitchen owner launches new ‘prepped meal’ pick-up and delivery service: Slim’s Healthy Kitchen owner Gary McIldowney has launched a new “prepped meal” pick-up and delivery service. Freshly Prep’d offers freshly prepared meals to be picked up from designated collection points (in five or ten-meal packages), or an eight-meal package that will be delivered across Ireland. “We have launched a new Freshly Prep’d meal plan website after nine months of serious work from everyone involved,” McIldowney said. “It’s gorgeous, smooth and extremely user-friendly. Along with that, we relaunch all-Ireland delivery and a selection of 25 meals, more than any other meal provider in the North (Northern Ireland). We also now allow customers to filter by allergens and exclude meals with ingredients they don’t like.” It comes six months after Slim’s Healthy Kitchen, which was founded by McIldowney in 2013 and operates two sites in Belfast, plus a franchised site in Magherafelt, secured a £500,000 retail deal. The company, which makes a range of prepared meals alongside operating its restaurants, saw its products rolled out across the Musgrave network in Northern Ireland, with more 50 stores currently carrying the lines. Slim’s Healthy Kitchen is operated by McIldowney’s Follow Leisure group, which also includes cafes Canteen, Output and Morning Martha, and which last year acquired the four-strong Belfast coffee chain, District.
 
Team behind Tozi and Tozi Grand Cafe to open new smaller format: The team behind Venetian-inspired Italian restaurant and bar Tozi in London’s Victoria and The Tozi Grand Café in Battersea Power Station is set launch a new smaller format concept. It will tomorrow (Friday, 21 July) open Tozi Counter, a 26-cover Italian cafe bar on the Power Station’s Electric Boulevard. It will offer sandwiches, coffee, pastries, Italian filled-doughnuts and small plates by day, and Italian wine, aperitivo, cicchetti and cocktails by evening – to eat in or take away. It will also feature an ice cream cart with seasonal house-made gelato and sorbet and alcoholic sgroppino iced drinks. 
 
Döner Shack owner set to relaunch enlarged Manchester bar, taking over Döner Haus restaurant site: Döner Shack owner Sanjeev Sanghera is set to relaunch his enlarged bar in Manchester Corn Exchange, taking over the Döner Haus restaurant site there. Sanghera and business partner Laura Bruce own Döner Haus as well as Döner Shack, but while Döner Shack has grown to five UK locations and targeted up to 20 new openings this year, Döner Haus has been restricted to two sites, in Manchester and Glasgow. Garten Bar, which the pair operated alongside Döner Haus in the Corn Exchange, is now set to take the Manchester site and grow more than six-fold in size. Sanghera said: “In March 2020, we debuted Döner Haus at Manchester’s Corn Exchange, and we had high hopes of creating a great hospitality venue. Three weeks later, we entered the first lockdown and our hopes vanished into thin air. Garten Bar was originally an extension of Döner Haus that opened in 2022, but the 1,000 square-foot bar started out-trading the restaurant in a short space of time. The new Garten Bar will take over the full restaurant space to create a 6,500 square-foot space in prime Manchester city centre. The Garten Bar will have a new food menu from the grill including steaks, burgers and ribs, but we’re excited about the bottomless fries and two-for-one cocktails, available all day every day, and bottomless brunch on the weekends.” Last month, Döner Shack completed the acquisition of three restaurants and several territories from its franchisees as it said it would focus on company-owned expansion in the current climate. Sanghera said it would be wrong to force ambitious development on franchisees “knowing returns are much slower than anticipated”. It came three months after Sanghera said he was aiming to open a first Döner Shack in the US “in the coming months”.

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