Story of the Day:
Swingers co-founder – 2024 could be a transformational year for business as we cement our position as a global hospitality brand: Matt Grech-Smith, co-founder of Competitive Socialising, the owner of crazy golf concept Swingers, has told Propel that next year could be a “transformational” one for the business, where it could cement its position “as a global hospitality brand”. Earlier this week, the company secured $52m (£40.2m) of new funding to aid its further expansion, which will include new openings in Las Vegas and Dubai, with the latter being its first franchise site. The company already operates two sites in London, two in Washington DC and one in New York. Grech-Smith said: “We’ve shown really good potential. We’ve proven the concept in the US, but with Las Vegas and Dubai we really get to cement our position as this global hospitality brand. Potentially, we will look at franchising more outside the US and UK. Although the Dubai site will be a franchise, in many ways we will be treating it like it’s our own venue. It’s about getting this operating partner up to speed so they know exactly how we work – operating a Swingers is definitely quite different to operating a classic F&B operation, there are lots of moving parts and operates on quite a big scale. I think if we can get that first one opened successfully, get really happy with the way it's operated and show that there’s a market in the UAE, I think that just really opens up the conversation about doing more in the Middle East. There are so many other markets outside of the UK and the US you can then go to.” Its focus for company-owned site growth will be for now on the US. Grech-Smith said: “The competitive socialising landscape is pretty well developed in London and the UK. When we opened our first Swingers site in 2014 in London, we kind of had the market to ourselves. We recently did a survey of all of the competitive socialising venues in London and found there were 62. Then when you look at the US, and that market is quite nascent in comparison, so there’s a lot of great potential there. We operate 22-23,000 square feet, so those fit outs are quite expensive. We also rely on a huge amount of corporate and population density. Then you start to compare different cities in terms of that corporate and population density and some of the American cities are a much more sure-fire bet at this stage. We’ve got huge faith in the UK market and we definitely want to open more sites there, but we’ve got two big sites in London, so we’re pretty well exposed to that market. We’ve also got a fairly well-established infrastructure in the US, so it’s about deploying the capital we’ve raised across all of the viable markets, and the US ones in the short term look more appealing when you look at the data.”
Late-night operators to share how they are evolving to attract staff during panel session at Propel Talent & Training Conference, open for bookings:
Late-night operators will discuss how they are evolving to attract staff during a panel session at the Propel Talent & Training Conference. The all-day conference takes place on Tuesday, 3 October at One Moorgate Place in London and is open for bookings. The panel will feature Adam Dilks, group people director at Nightcap; Beth Anderson, people director at Revolution Bars Group; Chantal Wilson, people director at NQ64; and Jon Cotterill, director at the Columbo Group. The conference will showcase examples of outstanding people culture among companies within the sector and how the industry is attracting talent. For the full speaker schedule, click here
. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for operators and £395 plus VAT for suppliers and can be booked by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies released today, 17 businesses being added:
A total of 17 new multi-site companies, operating 52 sites, have been added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released today (Friday, 28 July), at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database
, which is produced in association with Virgate, includes regional café operators, growing restaurant brands, and expanding experiential concepts. 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 2,883 companies. Premium subscribers will also receive the next edition of the New Openings Database
on Friday, 4 August, 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 5,400-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to three other databases: the Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage
; 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 email@example.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. In this week’s Premium Opinion, in his second letter from the US, entrepreneur Matthew Kirby, who founded and sold Chozen Noodle, shares some of the not-so-great aspects of running restaurants in the States, including the “mind-boggling” number of laws you need to comply with. At the same time, Mark Wingett looks back at the key points from the last week, including updates from Marston’s, Revolution Bars Group and Mitchells & Butlers.
Groupe Chez Gerard founder launches sector scholarship scheme aimed at developing future leaders: Neville Abraham, the founder of Groupe Chez Gerard, which once operated more than 50 UK restaurants under several brands, has launched a new sector scholarship scheme. The Jupiter Restaurant Scholarship aims to develop future managers and leaders of the industry by offering a bespoke training and development programme. It has been launched by Abraham alongside fellow industry veterans Michael Gottlieb (My Kinda Town, Smollensky’s), Deborah Jelffs (MW Eat, Groupe Chez Gerard), John Lederer (City Centre, Brasserie Blanc) and David Gleave (Liberty Wines). The programme aims to fast-track selected scholars and application is free, as are all training costs post acceptance. Successful applicants will receive comprehensive paid training before being found a placement at a named restaurant company. Examples of companies who have expressed an interest in hosting a Jupiter scholar include Caravan, Galvin, Cubitt House and The River Cafe. During their placement, which will last up to 12 months, scholars will also be paired with a mentor from the industry and will also have access to additional training modules from the likes of Liberty Wines and London Cocktail Club. The aim is for scholars to be able to reach the level of restaurant supervisor by the end of the programme and be in a position to develop their careers going forward. The scholarship is open to all young people aged 23 years or over, with the deadline for applicants 15 September 2023. Abraham said: “The effects of covid and Brexit have reduced the number of competent people who are working in London’s restaurants. As a result, we need to appeal to a new group of people who previously might not have thought of hospitality as a suitable career path. To do this, we need to show them that training and hard work can lead to a management position within as short a period of time as possible. Such roles are paying up to £50,000 a year.”
HGEM survey finds a third of customers not happy with payments in hospitality settings: Hospitality guest platform HGEM’s latest consumer survey found that a third of customers are not happy with payments in hospitality settings. Around a quarter (28%) think sector businesses get it right about half the time when it comes to payment speed, whereas 7% feel payments rarely or never get taken at the right time. The youngest consumers are most dissatisfied with how long it takes to pay, with nearly a fifth (18%) thinking payments are rarely taken in good time. The vast majority (88%) expect to pay within five minutes, and a quarter of those want it in two minutes. Furthermore, 93% said slow payment affects their whole experience negatively to a degree, while 70% said it affects them a little. A further 20% said it affects their enjoyment a lot but just 4% said it ruins the whole experience for them.
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a pub with a high-volume turnover that is seeking a general manager. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “You will lead the team to drive sales and ensure there is a high level of customer service being delivered to the venues high standards. You’ll ensure standards of food and service are consistently excellent, together with taking responsibility for training the pub team. You’ll stay calm under pressure, thinking on your feet to overcome operational challenges.” The salary is up to £65,000 and the position is based in London. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
McDonald’s creating spin-off restaurant brand called CosMc’s: McDonald’s has announced it is developing a new small store format called CosMc’s. The company said will test CosMc’s in a handful of sites in “a limited geography” in early 2024. Speaking during the chain’s Q2 earnings call, chief executive Chris Kempczinski said: “Our new business ventures team is in the process of developing a new concept we will call CosMc’s, which we will test in a small handful of sites in a limited geography beginning early next year. CosMc’s is a small-format concept with all the DNA of McDonald’s but its own unique personality.” He said the company will provide more details on the concept during its investor day at the end of the year. The name CosMc is a reference to a mascot who appeared in advertisements in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The return of the CosMc character follows the social media success the company had with the Grimace Birthday Meal during the summer that led to widespread exposure for the brand. The new concept announcement comes as McDonald’s steps up the pace of new restaurant openings this year. In January, the company said it will spend more than $1bn to open 1,900 stores worldwide. Of those stores, more than 400 new stores are projected in the US and other markets such as Canada, UK and parts of Europe. It comes as the business reported global like-for-likes were up 11.7% in its second quarter ending 30 June 2023 – with the UK seeing “strong” growth. Like-for-like sales in the quarter for the “international operated” segment, which includes the UK, were up 11.9%. McDonald’s said segment performance was driven by strong like-for-like sales in most markets, led by the UK and Germany.
Andrea – franchise-style format is bringing a philosophical shift in mindset: Andrew Andrea, chief executive of Marston’s, has told Propel the group’s move into developing and expanding a food-led franchise-style format is bringing with it “a philosophical shift in mindset in the organisation”. The company trialled the format in 13 of its food-led managed pubs and will roll out the model to more than 50 pubs in FY2024. It currently has 717 wet-led pubs operating under the franchise format. He said: “We’re seeing that owner-driven mentality of a franchisee, those traits that were already proven in wet-led pubs, coming through in the food-led side. It makes our margin predictability a lot easier because effectively we’re not managing the labour, it’s a fixed number. The conversations in our partnership pubs is how can we drive next week’s sales? How can we drive them harder? The challenge we’ve had initially in moving that to food-led was the menus were too complex. Now we have simplified that, the operator feels liberated and all the behaviours that we’ve seen come out of wet-led are coming through in food-led. The reason that’s exciting for me is we have circa 310 food-led pubs. Moving to more than 50 franchise sites, the question is how far do you stretch that model? I don’t have the answer yet. What’s also been exciting is the breadth of operators we are attracting – people from within the industry, managers that have moved across the partnership and people with no industry experience. The pool of talent you can draw on is broader because these are bigger businesses where you can make a meaningful amount of cash. The Monday morning conversation doesn’t start with ‘labour was over last week, what are you going to do about it?’ It is what are we going to do about sales? It is such a philosophical shift in mindset in the organisation.” Andrea also said the business was “well placed” if another “Brains-type deal” came along, after the company took over the running of Brains pubs in Wales at the end of 2020.
Chipotle CEO – once we get performance consistent in Europe we’ll start building more aggressively: Brian Niccol, chief executive of US brand Chipotle, has said once the business gets its performance consistent in Europe, “we'll start building much more aggressively”. Niccol was talking after the brand’s second quarter update, in which he revealed the company had “sent one of our top operators over to London to be a part of that team” to help its expansion in Europe. Propel believes the operator in question is Ben Williams, who has been with Chipotle for almost 20 years and is now managing director – Europe, after previously being a regional vice-president in the US. The brand currently has just over 50 locations in Canada and Europe (UK, France and Germany), including 16 in the UK. All are company owned and operated, as are its circa 3,200 US locations. Niccol said: “I think very similar to what we did with Canada is the way to think about Europe. Once we get consistent performance, we’ll start building much more aggressively. The team is very much focused on ensuring we’re building a brand, and as we build the brand, we have the economics that support building a lot of restaurants. When we were in London, there were a lot of Brits enjoying Chipotle. I also saw a lot of people walking up to the restaurant with no idea of what Chipotle is, so we still have a real opportunity to build a brand. Canada is a perfect example. We put a great leader in place there and now she’s hitting it out of the park. Recently, we sent one of our top operators to London to be a part of that team, and I’m already seeing big improvements in operational execution. I’m confident the economics will follow and we’ll build a terrific brand. Assuming that all happens, you can see us quickly being able to invest into building a lot more restaurants in those countries. We’re in no rush to just start building restaurants for the sake of building restaurants. We want to have economics that makes sense and to have a great brand that we can execute against time and time again. That’s served us well in the US, it’ss serving us well in Canada, and I believe it’ll serve us well in Europe.”
Pho to double up in Liverpool: Vietnamese street food restaurant group Pho is to double its presence in Liverpool, Propel has learned. The 42-strong company, which is led by Patrick Marrinan, will open on the ground floor of the former NatWest building in the city’s Castle Street this autumn. The group, which is backed by TriSpan, already operates a site in Bold Street in the city. The company will open its latest site, next month, on the former 7Bone Burger Co site in Burgate, Canterbury. It recently opened on the former Giraffe site in The Centre, Milton Keynes. It is also thought to be in talks on a site in Glasgow and is reviewing several other potential locations across the country.
Pizza concept Berbere eyes further growth after securing new investment: Berberè, the independent Italian company founded by brothers Salvatore and Matteo Aloe which operates 17 sites, including two in London, has secured new investment to aid further expansion in Europe. Milan-based investment firm Hyle Capital Partners has made a “significant injection of capital” into the business, while the founders have acquired the 23.5% stake in the business previously held by Miscusi since last spring. Berbere said that with the new funding, it plans to open five new locations each year for the next four years, both in Italy and across Europe. It currently operates 15 sites in Italy, across Milan, Bologna, Turin, Florence, Rome and Verona. It also operates sites in London’s Kentish Town and Clapham. The business acquired a majority share of Radio Alice, the joint venture it set up with Azzurri Group in 2016, at the start of 2020. Founded in 2010, the business said it was currently experiencing “robust double-digit growth”. From an anticipated €20m in revenue for 2023, its target is to reach a €50m revenue mark over the next three years. Italian pasta concept Miscusi currently operates a site in Covent Garden, having closed its site in Islington late last year.
Roux Waterside Inn reports record turnover, culinary school and museum dedicated to founder Michel due to be completed in autumn: Roux Waterside Inn, the three Michelin-starred restaurant in Bray founded by the late Michel Roux in 1972, has reported record turnover of £9,016,417 for the year ending 31 December 2022 compared with £6,107,159 the previous year. The restaurant, which celebrated its 50th anniversary during the period, saw pre-tax profit fall to £814,077 from £1,564,729 due to a number of capital projects. The business is currently developing an adjacent property – Old Tan House – that is being turned into offices, a culinary school, video studio and museum-library dedicated to Roux – which is set to be completed in the autumn. Meanwhile, the group reported its brasserie and cocktail bar, Skindles, which it acquired in December 2021 in nearby Taplow, had a “more challenging year” and “while it is not yet operating to anticipated levels, the directors have plans in place that should see some improvement in 2023”. Profitability for both restaurants was “more challenging, with increased operating costs offsetting the benefits of increased business activity”. In their statement accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “There is no doubt 2022 was a momentous year in our group history. We were able to both look back on that history and also to look forward to a bright and exciting future. It was a delight to be able to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Waterside Inn and remember the great debt we have to the Roux brothers, Michel and Albert, who laid the foundations of our wonderful business here in Bray. The Waterside Inn had a busy 2022, with turnover reaching record levels: our guests were very happy to celebrate the end of the pandemic and the increase in the number of overseas visitors also helped our business. We also started work on improving our hotel accommodation and have reorganised some of our smaller bedrooms into larger suites, a reflection of modern trends and tastes.” The group received government grants of £20,500 (2021: £518,570).
Kent-based Costa franchisee set to open third outlet in Morocco, signs for three travel hubs: Kent-based Costa franchisee Goldex Investments will next month open its third site under the brand in Morocco and has signed for three further travel hub sites in the north African country, Propel has learned. Goldex, led by Diljit Brar, last year become the first UK-based Costa franchise to develop the coffee chain abroad by signing for a site in Marrakesh. Its third Costa site in Morocco, in Bouskoura, near Casablanca, is set to open in the second week of August. It comes as Goldex also agrees leases for Costa sites at three of the busiest train stations in Morocco – Casablanca Voyager, Rabat Agdal and Tanjiers. Casablanca will open in early September followed by Rabat and Tanjiers later in the year. Propel revealed earlier this month that Goldex is set to launch another of the brands it is a franchisee for, dessert bar concept Kaspa’s, in Morocco. Its first Kaspa’s site in the country is set open this week, in Marrakesh, followed soon after by a second store, in Casablanca. Goldex, which was founded in 2005, currently operates 46 Costa sites in the UK. It is also the UK franchisor for Kaspa’s and operates more than 100 stores here, as well as four German Doner Kebab franchises. It also operates an estate agency in Gillingham and a portfolio of coastal break apartments on the Kent coast, and in 2022 opened its first gym, Goldex Fitness, also in Gillingham.
Zip World CEO steps down after six months, business secures more than £6m of match funding to support growth plans: Adventure tourism operator Zip World has announced chief executive Adrian Jones has stepped down after just six months with the business. Jones, former US president of visitor attraction giant Merlin Entertainments, joined Zip World in January. However, the LDC-backed company confirmed Jones had made the decision to leave his position. A statement from Zip World said: “We can confirm Adrian Jones has made the decision to leave his position as chief executive. We thank him for his contribution to the business and wish him well for the future.” It added a new appointment will be made in due course. At the time of his appointment, Zip World said Jones had more than 30 years’ experience in the visitor attraction sector and played a key role in Merlin’s growth in the US. Jones relocated from the US to the Conwy Valley, having spent the best part of two decades overseas. Meanwhile, Zip World has secured more than £6m worth of matched funding, as part of the North Wales Growth Deal. The company will receive the funding, subject to approval of a business case, to help it “lead the way as a leading responsible tourism destination”. Zip World, which provides visitors with experiences across its 29 attractions at seven UK sites, plans to use the funding as part of its “Responsible Adventure'” growth project over the next two years. The business said the project will benefit local communities by helping to reduce the impact of seasonality, including creating more jobs during off-peak seasons, and improving congestion during popular holiday periods. In addition to a new cable car experience in North Wales, it will provide sustainable transport links between its sites and rural communities through a new electric bus network.
Novikov exceeds pre-pandemic levels of profit and turnover: Novikov, which operates two restaurants and a lounge bar under one roof in London’s Mayfair, exceeded pre-pandemic levels of profit and turnover in the year ending 31 October 2022. A pre-tax profit of £3,192,000 in 2021 more than doubled to £6,835,490 as covid restrictions eased. This compares with £4,906,822 in the last full year before the pandemic, ending 31 October 2019. Turnover almost doubled too, from £14,926,971 in 2021 to £29,428,615 (2019: £27,260,955). The business, led by Arkady Novikov, saw its net assets fall from £2,289,541 in 2021 to £1,672,178. Dividends of £6,174,742 were paid (2021: £2,635,634). The company received no government grants (2021: £1,221,435) or insurance payments (2021: £1,000,000). Arkady Novikov owns the Novikov Group of companies, which alongside his eponymous Mayfair site, operates more than 250 restaurants across Russia under 14 hospitality brands. He was the sole franchisee of Krispy Kreme in Russia until the US doughnut and coffee chain ended the agreement in May 2022 in response to the invasion of Ukraine. In response, Novikov was reported to have launched a chain of Krunchy Dream cafés on the sites of former Krispy Kreme stores in Russia. Novokiv was also last year accused by restaurant critic Jay Rayner of having links with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Novikov responded by added the words “Peace for Ukraine” and the nation’s flag to its website’s homepage, as well as the profile picture on its Instagram account. It also pledged to donate 50% of its takings over two days to the Disasters Emergency Committee.
Debens Inns adds eighth site to Suffolk estate: Deben Inns, the Suffolk multiple operator co-owned by Steve and Louise Lomas, has opened its eighth site, The King’s Head pub in Woodbridge. Launched in 1992 while the Lomas family was running The Wilford Bridge in Melton, the company also operates sites including The Maybush in Waldringfield, The Butt & Oyster in Pin Mill, The Coach & Horses in Melton and The Fox in Newbourne. The business said: “Our ethos at Deben Inns is providing great food with friendly service, at good value, and the surroundings at each location will only enhance the experience of visiting a Deben Inn. We believe it’s very important to keep the individuality of each pub intact, and each team of chefs is encouraged to incorporate its own ideas and style of cooking, under no constraints.”
7Bone Burger acquires Bangerz ‘n’ Burgerz site in Brighton: 7BoneBurger has acquired the lease of the Bangerz ‘n’ Burgerz site at 33 Duke Street in Brighton. It will be an 11th site for 7Bone, which was founded in 2013 by Matt Mollicone and Rich Zammit. In 2022, it underwent a pre-pack administration and restructure, closing its sites in Maidstone and Eastbourne, and was acquired by an entity backed by Kings Park Capital. Earlier this year, it opened a new Southampton location, in Bedford Place, after its previous one in the city, in Portswood Road, was gutted by a fire. Bangerz ‘n’ Burgerz now has seven sites across its Bangerz ‘n’ Burgerz, Bangerz ‘n’ Brewz and Burgerz ‘n’ Brewz concepts. Will Thomas, director at agents Flude, which acted on the deal, said: “Our marketing attracted a number of interested parties and terms were agreed with 7Bone, which operates multiple sites around the country, and a premium was paid. We have a number of other transactions ongoing in the leisure sector, and despite the economic challenges, it seems Brighton is still a sought-after destination.”
Boparan Restaurant Group extends food offering with Tesco: Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) – the owner and operator of brands including Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Carluccio’s, Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner – has extended the food offering at its debut partnership site with retailer Tesco. The company launched a partnership with Tesco last summer when it opened a concessions site under the Slim Chickens brand in the Tesco Extra store in Redditch, West Midlands. BRG has now added a Caffe Carluccio’s, Ed’s and Harry Ramsdens offer into the superstore. BRG already operates a number of brands with rival supermarket chain Sainsbury’s. Under BRG’s partnership with Sainsbury’s, it is developing food courts at 150 of the retailer's stores that will feature a clutch of BRG brands, including Slim Chickens. The first opened at the Sainsbury’s store in Selly Oak, Birmingham, in July 2021.
Lane7 sets out details of London debut, includes link up with Patty & Bun: Boutique bowling company Lane7 has confirmed the details of its London debut site, set to open in November, which will include a link up with burger brand Patty & Bun. Lane7’s London Victoria site will feature boutique bowling lanes over several floors and an 18-hole “Instagram-worthy” golf course. Additionally, the site will also offer a bespoke basement attraction. The company said this will be a new pre-bookable concept the city has yet to see, “a secret only Victoria has to offer”. Alongside this will be a food concession operated by Patty & Bun. Tim Wilks, owner, and founder of Lane7, said: “London has always been a destination for us. However, we’ve waited a long time to ensure we found the right site. We didn’t want to undersell ourselves, or the Lane7 experience. After many years of looking, we have finally found the right site in London Victoria. Finding such a premium site is not only a momentous occasion for us, but for the emerging market of social entertainment too.” Since opening in Newcastle ten years ago, Lane7 has expanded across 13 more venues. The company has welcomed two million guests per year and said it is the largest brand in the competitive socialising sector. The company is set to open a site in Birmingham’s Bullring, which will be the group’s largest venue yet, and will also start its European expansion with a site in central Dublin, due to open before the end of the year.
Forza Win owners to open second site for Forza Wine concept: Bash Redford and Michael Lavery, owners of Italian restaurant Forza Win in London’s Camberwell, are set to open a second site for their Forza Wine bar concept. They will open a 160-cover Forza Wine on the north west terrace of the National Theatre in September. It will offer a snack menu and whole menu options – including cauliflower fritti with aioli, mozzarella with figs and hazelnuts, pancetta potato cakes and pickled cabbage – alongside classic cocktails. There will also be a private dining terrace on the balcony for up to 24 people. Lavery and Redford said: “This is our biggest move yet, and we’re excited to bring the success of our Peckham and Camberwell sites to the South Bank, opening up what we offer to a wider audience. The opportunity was a bit of a ‘pinch me’ moment – not only a world-leading theatre and one of Europe’s most famous Brutalist buildings, but also one of the best terraces in London.” Huw Gott, co-founder of Hawksmoor and non-executive director of National Theatre Enterprises, added: “In partnership with Kerb, we’ve been working hard to build a food and drink offer that reflects the quality, care, craft, creativity and diversity of the performances on our stages. With Forza Wine joining Lasdun and a selection of Kerb traders at our iconic South Bank home, the National Theatre is set to become a London landmark for food and drink as well as theatre.” Having started it out as a supper club, Lavery and Redford opened a permanent restaurant for Forza Win in Copeland Road, Peckham, in 2012. That site closed in 2020 before moving to 31 Camberwell Church Street last summer, taking over the former Church Street Hotel. Their first Forza Wine site opened on top of Peckham’s Market building in 2019.
Island Poké confirms details of Brighton launch: Island Poké, the White Rabbit Projects and Hero Brands-backed business, will further increase its regional presence with an opening in Brighton next month. Opening on Wednesday, 9 August at 38 West Street, the site will be the brand’s 18th overall and third outside the capital, and follows a launch in Edinburgh last month. The Brighton opening will be followed by multiple London openings across the Square Mile and a further regional opening in Bristol in early autumn. Island Poké founder James Gould-Porter said: “There isn’t a better location to bring our Island vibes to than the foodie city of Brighton. Already a growing gastronomical hub, I'm confident the poké fans of the south east coast are ready to embrace our fresh Pacific flavours. We’re excited to be joining such a progressive food scene to deliver the full flavour factor with our healthy, nutritious and 70% plant based poké bowls, bao and all new hot bowls.”
Arcade Food Hall opens second site: Food-hall operator and brand incubator Arcade, for which JKS Restaurants curates the food offering, has opened its second site, at Battersea Power Station. Featuring 500 seats and a direct-to-table ordering system, Arcade Battersea follows in the footsteps of Arcade Food Hall in London’s New Oxford Street, which first opened in 2019 before relaunching last year. Included in the line-up is a sixth London site for JKS’s Taiwanese brand Bao. Offering noodle soup alongside a line-up of new dishes exclusive to the restaurant, Bao Battersea joins the brand’s locations in Soho, Marylebone, Borough, Kings Cross and Shoreditch. Arcade Battersea will also feature a second site and first standalone restaurant for smashed burger brand Manna Burgers, developed by Bake Street’s Feroz Gajia, following its delivery and click and collect kitchen at Centre Point. There will also be four new concepts, including Flat Bread from Thomas Straker, with his first launch since opening Strakers in Notting Hill in November 2022, and South American-inspired Solis, from the duo behind Tou by Ta Ta Eatery, Ana Gonçalves and Zijun Meng. The others are Phed Power (Thai street food), Siu Siu (Cantonese comfort food) and Leccami Gelato (Italian gelato ice cream and sorbets). Several concepts have been brought over from Arcade Food Hall Oxford Street, including Sushi Kamon from the founders of Yashin Sushi, Nepali street food stall Tipan Tipan from Arjun Gurung (ex-Fat Duck) and Mexican concept Mexa from the founders of Sonora Taqueria. The others are Bebek! Bebek! (Indonesian street food), Shatta & Toum (Middle Eastern shawarma kitchen), and Hero (North Indian fast food). There will also be two new bars launching – Tap Room, which will feature 32 taps offering classic cocktails and local craft beers, and ABC Bar, which will focus on cocktails and rare spirits. Cokey Sulkin, chief operating officer of Arcade, said: “Arcade Battersea is an exciting addition to the south west London food scene. Not only is it a unique dining experience that allows for people of all ages to try different cuisines, but it's also an exciting offering to showcase new and emerging food brands that we have developed.”
Wagamama launches ‘Soul Sessions’ celebrating LGBTQIA+ talent: Wagamama, The Restaurant Group-owned business, will be showcasing LGBTQIA+ artists at outdoor performances, titled “Soul Sessions”, throughout August. The live music sets will take place between 6.30pm-8.30pm on different weekdays, dependent on location, at some of the group’s outdoor dining locations. The company said: “Soul Sessions will celebrate some of the diverse and empowering voices hailing from the LGBTQIA+ community as part of its Pride celebrations this year. Wagamama is also treating its guests to a summer cocktail or mindful drink if they quote “Soul Sessions” on arrival during the events.” Kicking off on Tuesday, 1 August, the outdoor gigs will be at the Bankside and Victoria restaurants in London, with one final restaurant to be announced. In the south and west, they will take place at Cardiff library and Exeter and Ashford branches, and in the north, they will take place at the Lincoln, Manchester Spinningfields and Birmingham New Street branches.