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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 12th Sep 2023 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Morgan – we will review all the acquired TRG properties to understand best fit across portfolio: Alan Morgan chief executive of the Big Table Group, has told Propel that when it comes to conversion of the 75 sites it is acquiring from The Restaurant Group’s (TRG) leisure division, it will “review all the properties to understand best fit across the portfolio”. On Monday (11 September), TRG agreed the sale of its leisure division to the Big Table Group for £1. TRG said it had entered into an agreement for the sale of the business, comprising 75 trading sites, mostly under the Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito brand, and associated restaurant and management team employees, to the Big Table Group. As part of the transaction, TRG said it will pay a cash contribution of £7.5m, with the deal expected to complete next month. It takes The Big Table Group to operating more than 220 restaurants across the UK under the Bella Italia, Café Rouge, Las Iguanas and Banana Tree brands. In terms of possible site conversions, Morgan told Propel: “The priority at this early stage is to support the business in every possible way and our immediate focus is on welcoming this new team into the Big Table Group, ensuring a smooth transition and delivering a great Christmas period. We will look at the opportunities the Big Table Group has to provide additional support to the brands as well as exploring how some of the sites may fit into our existing portfolio in time. And, as always, we will review all the properties to understand best fit across the portfolio to make sure we have the right offering to suit each location. We believe this division complements our existing portfolio very well, operating across both the family and experiential dining markets, and we will be able to drive strong improvements and synergies in multiple areas. Creating, developing and acquiring brands that complement our existing portfolio while offering widespread consumer appeal is a fundamental part of our growth strategy. This exciting acquisition forms part of that strategy and we are delighted to be welcoming this new team into The Big Table Group.” About half the sites in the 75-strong portfolio, which includes some under the Firejacks, Filling Station and Coast to Coast concepts, are on leisure or retail parks. Last September, the Epiris-backed Big Table Group acquired the fast-casual pan-Asian brand Banana Tree as part of its ongoing growth. Under its ownership, Banana Tree has since grown from nine to 15 sites, with plans to open at least a further three new locations before the end of the year, through Café Rouge conversions in Henley, Bath and Greenwich. 

Industry News:

Next Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage to feature more than 195,000 words of content: The next Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage will feature more than 195,000 words of content when it is released to Premium subscribers on Friday (15 September). The database now features 730 companies, and this month’s edition includes five new additions and 25 updated entries. 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 five other databases: the Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate; the New Openings Database; the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database; the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book; and the UK Food and Beverage Franchisee 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 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.
Turtle Bay to speak at Propel Talent & Training Conference, open for bookings: Turtle Bay people director Jo Cole, and equality, inclusion and well-being partner Olajide Alabi, will be among the speakers 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. Cole and Alabi will talk about the impact of the group’s Four Days at The Bay initiative and the investment the business has made in its equality, inclusion and wellness programme. 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
BBPA welcomes relaxation of licensing rules until March 2025: The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has welcomed the government’s relaxation of its licensing rules until March 2025. It means pubs, restaurants and bars can continue to sell takeaway pints through legislation first introduced during the pandemic. The regulations, which were due to expire in September, allow any site permitted to sell alcohol on their premises to sell for off-site consumption too, without having to apply for a new licence. Premises will also be able to continue to serve alcohol in the area covered by any pavement licence that they have. BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “We wholeheartedly welcome the government’s decision to allow our pubs to continue selling takeaway pints. This policy supported our pubs through the dark days of the pandemic and going forward it will allow them to diversify, particularly in warm and sunny weather when people want to make the most of not only local pubs, but parks and other public spaces as well. The government recognises the value our industry adds to communities and high streets across the country, and we look forward to working with them to bring forward further measures, such as business rates reform, to further unlock the potential of local pubs up and down the country.” The extension has been made through amendments to the Licensing Act 2003 and applies to both England and Wales. 

Just Eat for Business launches carbon labelling trial with independent restaurants: Flexible workplace food solutions company, Just Eat for Business, is launching a carbon labelling trial. It said the trial will calculate the carbon emissions of main menu dishes to raise the awareness of the carbon impact of food and help drive sustainable food choices for corporate customers and restaurant partners. Just Eat for Business has worked with and funded the trial for 12 independent restaurant partners, including Urban Greens, Atcha, Choppaluna and Hala Wala. The three month trial will build on Just Eat’s previous carbon labelling trial and will be in partnership with My Emissions. Participating restaurants will display a carbon label rated from A (very low carbon impact) to E (very high carbon impact) by incorporating a traffic light colour system on their Just Eat for Business page. The ratings take into account the farming, production, transport and packaging of the dishes. For example, based on the products assessed during the carbon labelling trials, a typical beef burger (E-rated) produces four times more emissions than a typical chicken burger (C-rated). Matt Ephgrave, managing director at Just Eat for Business, said: “Exploring ways to minimise our environmental impact remains an important topic for us, and we believe extending this to also support our independent restaurant partners on their sustainability journey is key.”

Company News:

St Austell managed like-for-likes up more than 20%, business in ‘good health’ to continue growth strategy: Kevin Georgel, chief executive of St Austell Brewery, has told Propel its like-for-likes are up more than 20% in its managed pubs this summer, despite fewer visitors to the south west and the inclement weather, with the business in “good health” to continue its growth strategy. Speaking following the business’ acquisition of the four-strong Bath Pub Company, Georgel also said its joint venture with the directors of ETM Group – Ludo Sports Bar & Kitchen – has started “very encouragingly”. He said the Bath Pub Company deal has been “bubbling away in the background for a while” and St Austell remains in the market for the right opportunities. “I’ve known the guys at Bath Pub Company since 2006 and it’s a great little business,” he added. “The market is throwing up opportunities, but they have to be the right ones. We are a seasonal business because of where our sites are based, and the Bath sites do give us more year-round trade. But we’re not just focusing on that – we’ve also bought pubs in Devon and Cornwall in the past 12 months. We just want to make sure whichever pub a customer is at, we’re providing the best experience. We are on a growth trajectory, the business and the balance sheet are in good health and we remain acquisitive. Trade has held up pretty well in July and August, despite the unseasonable weather and fewer visitors to the region. Our managed like-for-likes have been up more than 20% throughout the summer on a consistent basis and we’re gaining market share, so I’m really pleased with the overall performance.” Georgel said with the Rugby World Cup having started this weekend and the football season underway, he expects Ludo, which launched in Bath this summer, to build on its encouraging start. “It’s something we’re all keen to roll out outside the south west, so places we think it could work include Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff and Plymouth,” he added. Georgel said costs around energy and inflation “have begun to stabilise”, but pointed out they are still going up. “However, we’re expecting to deliver good growth on last year and confident that our strategy is working well,” he added. The company is also continuing to invest in its brand portfolio, to ensure its fit for the future. Last year, the company became a minority shareholder in Cornwall’s Harbour Brewing Company. Commenting on the investment, Georgel said: “It’s enabled Harbour to strengthen its south west distribution, through our free trade business and pub estate, while enhancing our wholesale brand portfolio and giving us an authentic opportunity to participate in the growing modern craft category.” St Austell Brewery features in the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, the latest edition of which was sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (8 September). Its turnover of £156,000,000 for the year to 1 January 2022 is the 53rd highest in the database. Its pre-tax profit of £10,515,000 for the year to 1 January 2022 is the 47th highest in the database. The Blue Book ranks companies by turnover, profit and profit conversion, listing directors’ earnings for the past five years. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £995 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £495 plus VAT for operators and £595 plus VAT for suppliers. Email to upgrade your subscription.
TRG’s disposal of leisure division seen as ‘significant milestone’ for business: The Restaurant Group’s (TRG) disposal of its 75-strong leisure division, which features the Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito brands, to the Big Table Group has been branded a “significant milestone” for the Wagamama owner. The deal received a positive response from sector analysts and the market, sending TRG’s shares 2.5p higher – an increase of 5.5% – to 50p during morning trading (they closed at 49.2p), despite the business paying the Big Table Group £7.5m to take the loss-making division off its hands. Analysts at Shore Capital said: “We see the proposed disposal as a significant milestone for the group, improving cash flow, limiting the ongoing drag to revenues and profitability and significantly enhancing margins. We see a compelling investment case building on improving margins and focus on its attractive growth channels.” They believe that “further divisional disposals are possible”. Analysts at Numis said the deal was a “sensible move that simplifies the group and improves the balance sheet”, while those at Investec said it was “potentially transformational for the equity story”. They said: “It will accelerate margin accretion and keep medium term deleveraging on track, while leaving the group with three strongly performing assets (appealing to potential buyers), and the capacity to concentrate on growing them without distraction. Medium term leverage reduction to below 1.5 times looks even easier now, also as a result of lower capex.”
Former Star Pubs & Bars business development manager set to open fifth site for new pub company, eyes similar growth in 2024: Former Star Pubs & Bars business development manager Colin Coogan and his business partner, Austin Whelan, are set to open a fifth site as part of their growing operation, Doolin Rock Pub Company, and are eyeing similar growth in 2024. Coogan, who spent five years with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars and had a spell of similar length as business development manager at Heineken UK, founded Doolin Rock Pub Company in early in 2022 with Whelan, a director of fellow London pub operator Whelan’s Pubs. Their first site, the ex-Stonegate The Derby in Oval, opened soon after, followed by a former Fuller’s managed pub, Prince of Wales, in Surbiton. Another pub in Epsom followed at the start of 2023, although this will not be a long-term investment, before the company last month partnered with Greene King for site number four, The Acorn in Barking. “I came over from Ireland, where you don’t really get pubcos, so I found that business model really interesting,” Coogan told Propel. “At Star Pubs & Bars, I was responsible for a portfolio of 45 pubs, including some of Austin’s sites, so we had built up a good relationship and got to know each other pretty well. It looked like I’d got a lease sorted just before covid intervened, but when the opportunity came up again I talked to Austin and we decided the time was right to go into partnership, see where things took us, and thus far it’s been good. We hope the Greene King pub will be the start of a good relationship with it, and we have a deal agreed in principle for another pub that we hope to open by the end of this year.” He added: “We’re actively looking at sites but we don’t want to spread ourselves too thin. We’ve opened four in the first 18 months and we’re looking for similar growth next year, perhaps be at seven or eight by the end of 2024. We’re primarily a London business but we’d look at other opportunities. Trading is good, and we believe there will always be space for well-run pubs with a good offer. The main challenges are recruitment and retention – something which every operator can relate to in the current climate.”
Alistair Darby appointed CEO of Sir Richard Sutton business: Former Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) and SA Brain chief executive Alistair Darby has been appointed as the new chief executive of Sir Richard Sutton (SRS), the group that owns luxury hotels, farming and property interests in the UK and USA. He will start in the new role on 1 December after a comprehensive handover process and succeed current chief executive Christopher Lacey, who is stepping down after 12 years. Darby joined SA Brain in July 2018 having held senior positions at a number of major companies in the sector, including managing director of Camerons Brewery, chief operating officer of Marston’s and chief executive of Mitchells & Butlers. He stepped down from SA Brain in February 2021. Chairman of SRS Peter Wyman said: “I have been deeply impressed with Alistair’s experience at the highest levels of business, his acumen as a transformational leader and his expertise in hospitality. These skills, and Alistair’s knowledge of working within family-owned businesses such as SRS, will be invaluable as he helps us to grow the group further in the medium-to-longer term. We wish Alistair many congratulations but also thank Christopher, who has delivered so much value during his tenure.” Darby said: “It is an honour to be joining a diversified group with such a strong track record in the hospitality, farming and property sectors. I am confident that our talented team will continue to deliver further growth in these exciting areas and I am looking forward to the immense challenge of the years ahead.”
Slim Chickens and Kaspa’s among five new restaurants opening at Colchester leisure park: US brand Slim Chickens, which is being rolled out in the UK by Boparan Restaurant Group, and dessert parlour brand Kaspa’s are among five new restaurants opening at the £70m Northern Gateway Leisure Park in Colchester. Slim Chickens will take a 4,000 square-foot unit after agreeing a deal with Turnstone Estates, while Kaspa’s will open in a 3,132 square-foot space. They will be joined by Mexican operator El Guaca, which has taken a 3,305 square-foot unit; global buffet company Nines, which will open in a 3,832 square-foot space; and Italian food specialist Taste of Italy, which has agreed a deal for a 2,131 square-foot unit. Turnstone, which is delivering the scheme with the city council, said the lettings will complement the park’s flagship leisure attractions – Cineworld’s 12-screen cinema; Hollywood Bowl’s 20-lane bowling alley and its Puttstars’ adventure golf centre; plus a Travelodge 90-bedroom hotel. The leisure park, which is under construction, is within the ten-acre Northern Gateway development on Colchester’s northern fringe at junction 28 of the A12. Having previously secured deals with Kervan Kitchen and drive-thru restaurants for Wendy’s, the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in the US, and food-to-go operator Greggs, Turnstone has two remaining restaurant units available. 
Canadian pancake brand lines up Leeds opening: Canadian pancake brand Fluffy Fluffy has further strengthened its UK opening pipeline by securing a site in Leeds. The Japanese souffle-style pancake brand, which first launched in Toronto in 2018, will open at 62 The Headrow in the city, on the former Barburrito site. Hussein Umar, UK development lead at Fluffy Fluffy UK, said: “We can’t wait to bring our Fluffy Fluffy pancakes to Leeds – this will be our fourth site in the UK and we can't think of a better city to make our home as we kick off our journey in Yorkshire. We’re delighted to have secured such a prestigious spot in The Headrow right in the heart of the city, and are looking forward to bringing the Fluffy Fluffy fun to the city.” The brand made its UK debut in October 2022 with a site in Manchester’s Whitworth Street. It subsequently launched a second site in Leicester. At the end of last month, it opened its largest UK site to date, in Reading’s The Village in King’s Street, which features a two-storey layout with a signature open kitchen concept. Earlier this summer, Umar told Propel the concept is aiming for 25 UK sites by 2025 as it works towards an eventual estate here of 100-plus. Further regional expansion will see sites open in eastern parts of the country in early 2024, and it has also submitted plans to open another venue in the north west this year. The company will also look to make its London debut next year.
Crown Golf secures new £3.25m bank loan after losses more than double, writes off almost £2.5m: Crown Golf – the operator of eight golf courses in the south east plus the St Mellion Estate in Cornwall – has secured a new £3.25m bank loan after its losses more than doubled, and has written off almost £2.5m. The loan bears interest at base rate plus a margin of 3.50% as applicable and is repayable in full in 2026. It comes after the company’s pre-tax loss grew from £2,459,546 in 2021 to £5,753,075 in the year ending 30 June 2022. This was off turnover of £13,500,884, up from £9,697,181 in 2021. This compares with a pre-tax profit of £625,000 and turnover of £26,366,000 in the last full year before covid, ending 30 June 2019. Costs rose by £344,204 during the year while the company received no government grants compared with £1,003,665 in 2021. Under exceptional items, the company said it wrote off £2,461,530. “Amounts written off in 2022 constitute a provision against an amount receivable arising from the sale of a parcel of land,” it said. “The amount receivable is both deferred and conditional. Advice received on achieving the conditions that need to be achieved has indicated that the probability of achieving these has reduced, and so the directors have made a provision against the balance receivable, previously reported as revenue, in these financial statements.” In the previous year, the business had incurred costs of more than £1.7m relating to commission and guarantor fees following the sale of two golf clubs. It has also invested £1.4m upgrading the holiday cottages at St Mellion. “Inflationary pressures have continued to impact the business since the year-end, most notably in the significant increases in energy prices,” director Paul Stephens said. “In addition, interest rate rises have impacted the cost of the debt carried by the group. Notwithstanding this, the group has traded in line with expectation since the balance sheet date and a new three-year bank facility was agreed/signed in May 2023. The directors remain confident that the outlook for the business is positive, with the post-covid resurgence in golf participation showing only modest signs of waning.”
Ready Burger opens new flagship restaurant site: Ready Burger, the plant-based restaurant concept founded by boxer Anthony Joshua’s former personal chef Adam Clark, has opened its first restaurant site, in Watford, Propel has learned. The business, which closed its latest crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube earlier this summer after raising more than £290,000, has opened on the former Bill’s site in the town’s High Street, offering dine-in and click and collect. The business was aiming to raise £250,000, offering 3.5% equity, with a pre-money valuation of £6,902,385. The campaign ended up raising £291,460 from 255 investors. In June, the business revealed it was closing in on a second London site and looking to expand through franchising following interest from overseas. Last year, Ready Burger converted its only site in London’s Crouch End into a dark kitchen. Advisors to the business include Nick Ayerst, who is chief executive of Comptoir Group and was managing director of TRG Concessions and Leon, and Jasper Reid, the founder of IMM, which advises brands on international expansion and owns the Jamie Oliver restaurant chains in India. Jonathan Dockrell, formerly of EAT, Deliveroo, Camille Thai and Itsu, is working with the business as a consultant operations director. Adam Bowers, of onepoint2, is understood to have acted on the Watford deal.
Devon operator to consolidate ‘growth experienced over last two extraordinary years’ in 2023, profits drop as costs increase: Braddicks Leisure, operator of several bars and restaurants and a holiday park in Devon, has said it will consolidate the growth it experienced “over the last two extraordinary years” in 2023 as profits dropped and costs increased in the year to 31 December 2022. Its pre-tax profit fell from £1,564,712 in 2021 to £1,011,363 as costs rose by just under £1m. It also received £18,667 in government grants compared with £408,704 in 2021. Turnover grew from £5,945,052 in 2021 to £7,304,799. This included £5,153,505 from pub and restaurant takings, £1,589,815 from holiday accommodation takings, £371,863 from amusements and £189,616 from property rentals. This compares with turnover of £6,675,634 and a profit of £718,960 in the last full year before covid, ending 31 December 2019. No dividend was paid (2021: nil). Director Robert Braddick, in his statement accompanying the accounts, said: “2023 will be a year of consolidating the growth experienced over the last two extraordinary years. The directors expect the business environment to remain highly competitive and they believe that the group is in a strong financial position. The net assets of the group at 31 December 2022 were £14,315,066 compared with £13,124,195 at 31 December 2021. The directors are satisfied with the performance of the group during the period.”
Kaspa’s founder to open fifth Döner & Gryos site this weekend: Kaspa’s founder Azhar Rehman will open the fifth site under kebab concept Döner & Gryos this weekend. It will open next to the existing Kaspa’s site at The Rock in Bury, Greater Manchester, for its first site in the north west. It follows an opening in Taunton last month, adding to other Döner & Gyros sites in Rugby, Reading and Norbury, south London. Rehman owns the UK franchise for Döner & Gryos, which originated in the UAE and also had sites in the Middle East, North America and Asia. “When you open a Kaspa’s you are given the chance to open a Döner and Gyros too, so we jumped at the chance and are now going to be the first one in the northwest to open,” said area manager Nidal Alkhanshali. “It is in the perfect location next to Kaspa’s and customers can sit in, take away or order for delivery.” Kaspa’s, meanwhile, has grown to more than 100 UK stores and last week opened in its latest location, at 22 Talbot Road in Port Talbot, South Wales. This will be followed by a further site in Fulham, west London, this month, and then by restaurants in Colchester and Southport. The first Kapsa’s site in Morocco – its second overseas market – is also due to open next month, in Marrakesh. The site will be operated by Kent-based Costa franchisee Goldex Investments, which last year become the first UK-based Costa franchise to develop the coffee chain abroad by signing for a site in Marrakesh.
Cornwall’s Headland Hotel reports ‘fantastic results’ following restructure, opens new restaurant: The Headland Hotel in Cornwall has reported “fantastic results” for the year ending 30 November 2022 following a restructure and has opened its fourth on-site restaurant. The business comprises an 88-bedroom five-star hotel, 39 five-star cottages, a spa, gym and state-of-the-art AquaClub as well as four restaurants, with the two-rosette RenMor opening in May. The ownership of all the buildings was transferred to Headland Holdings in August 2022 following a group restructure and share for share exchange. This, alongside renovations to rooms and two of the restaurants, plus the creation of a new retail and guest space, led to a drop in profitability for the period. A pre-tax profit of £2,457,129 in 2021 fell to £236,000 in 2022. Turnover for the year increased from £10,895,669 to £12,425,141. This compares with turnover of £9,193,128 and a profit of £1,104,520 in the last full year before covid, ending 30 November 2019. “The hotel has continued to achieve fantastic results, despite the removal of support measures in the form of the reduced rate of VAT for the hospitality sector,” director Richard Palmer said in his statement accompanying the accounts. “Due to continued confidence in trading, the hotel continued to undertake several refurbishment projects at significant cost and investment. The drop in net profit before tax this year can be explained by these renovations, as well as increasing utility costs and a £1.2m management charge levied by Headland Holdings to compensate the new parent company for the management of the group and its property.” An interim dividend payment of £119,681 was made (2021: nil).
Former MasterChef:The Professionals contestant partners with twin sister for new all-day dining concept in Brentford: Former MasterChef:The Professionals contestant Elena Frattura has partnered with twin sister Emily for a new all-day dining concept in Brentford, west London. The siblings are preparing to open their debut bakery and restaurant, Rottura, in The Brentford Project development. It has taken a 1,220 square-foot space to offer fresh Italian-themed produce such as tray baked pizza, small plates and specials alongside fresh coffee and pastries. It will have 46 covers plus outside seating. Emily Frattura said: “The Brentford Project is such an appealing new neighbourhood with a fantastic atmosphere. To be able to open here is the perfect launch pad for Rottura, which reflects our passion for Italy and desire to bring a little of its food, coffee and culture to west London, creating the perfect place in which to enjoy la dolce vita.” Pastry chef Emily previously ran her own cake business while Elena reached the quarter finals of MasterChef:The Professionals in 2021. She has previously worked in Heston Blumenthal’s gastropub Crown at Bray, Great British Menu winner Pip Lacey’s restaurant Hicce, and Adam Handling’s restaurant Frog. Shackleton Property acted for landlords Ballymore while Rottura dealt direct.
Liverpool Venezuelan restaurant launches £100,000 crowdfunding campaign to open second site: Liverpool Venezuelan restaurant Noso has launched a £100,000 crowdfunding campaign as it looks to open a second site, in the city centre. Founders Jean and Miguel D’Amico operate the 20-seater restaurant in Longmoor Lane in the Fazakerley area of the city. Now they are embarking on the campaign on Crowdfunder, offering 3% equity in return for the investment, for the next stage of their entrepreneurial journey. Jean said: “We love nothing more than sharing our Venezuelan flavours with the local community. We both come from hospitality backgrounds and our dedication to quality and customer satisfaction have helped us to cement our position as one of Liverpool’s top ten restaurants on TripAdvisor.” The pair arrived in Liverpool with a shared dream of introducing the flavours of their homeland to a new audience. Despite opening during the pandemic in 2020, they created a profitable business in the outskirts of Liverpool and are now aiming to bring Noso to the city centre. Jean added: “From the first day we opened, we always knew we wanted a second site in the city centre. Our mission is to make Venezuelan street food accessible to a broader audience, and this move presents opportunities for growth, partnerships and even more engagement with our community.”
Site housing Gordon Ramsay’s York & Albany placed on the market: The site which is currently home to Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant, bar and hotel near London’s Regent’s Park, the York & Albany, has been placed on the market. Propel understands that a new sub lease has been made available on the site in Camden, which currently offers 150-plus covers in total, nine hotel rooms and private dining. The 12,000 square-foot-plus site, which is understood to be being marketed by AG&G, also has alfresco dining space at the front and an interconnected restaurant/deli to the side. It is thought that rental offers in excess of £250,000 per annum are being sought for the site. Earlier this month, Propel revealed that Comptoir Group, the Comptoir Libanais and Shawa operator, is to return to the expansion trail in the UK with an opening on Ramsay’s former Bread Street Café site in Ealing Broadway. Last month, Turkish restaurant brand Bursa Kebap Evi secured its third site in London, in Islington, after acquiring Ramsay’s former Street Pizza site in Upper Street. Ramsay reopened his The Narrow pub site, which is situated on the Thames near Limehouse, east London, under his Bread Street Kitchen concept, with the new name of Bread Street Kitchen on the River.
Clermont Hotel Group expands Thistle as it aims to revitalise brand: Clermont Hotel Group has introduced a new Thistle Hotel, Thistle Park Lane in London. The latest addition is the 12th Thistle hotel to join the group and accommodates 119 rooms, including apartments. Chief executive Gavin Taylor said: “The newest addition to the Thistle portfolio marks the start of our ambition to revitalise the brand and continue to provide stays with unbeatable locations and comfort. Our people-first approach means our guests are at the centre of everything we do, and each Thistle hotel has something to offer everyone. With locations just a stone’s throw away from the capital’s top attractions, travel links and hot spots, we’re able to provide a seamless experience for guests.” Clermont Hotel Group’s collection of brands includes The Clermont, The Cumberland Hotel and Thistle.

Former Le Cordon Bleu Paris alumni confirms first UK site for his Middle Eastern bakehouse concept will open next month: Former Le Cordon Bleu Paris alumni Karim Bourgi has confirmed the first UK site for his Middle Eastern bakehouse concept will open this month. Bourgi, who graduated from Le Cordon Bleu Paris in 2000 and managed the openings of Las Maison Du Chocolat Paris in Dubai and Kuwait, will open Kayu Bakehouse in Shepherd Market, in London’s Mayfair, in October. The concept already has three sites in Saudi Arabia and one each in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Specialising in French desserts, the menu includes sweet treats such as raspberry cream cheese croissants, double chocolate brioche and mosaic roll cake, alongside a selection of macarons, tarts, travel cakes and tea. Bourgi said: “We are thrilled to announce the opening of our first UK boutique in London’s Mayfair. We are bringing our signature menu and passion for pastries to the heart of London, and we cannot wait to welcome everyone to Kayu Bakehouse.”

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