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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 8th Nov 2023 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Harden’s – 50% year-on-year rise in restaurants charging £150 per head or more for a meal sees ‘new tier of hyper-luxurious restaurants’: A “new tier of hyper-luxurious restaurants” is being created by a 50% year-on-year rise in restaurants charging £150 per head or more. Above-inflation price hikes of 10.7% in London and 14.7% outside the capital have placed more meals out of reach even of relatively affluent diners, the new edition of Harden’s London Restaurants claims. The 2024 guide notes there are now 54 restaurants in London (and 56 nationally) charging more than £150 per head for a meal. By contrast, in 2016, there was only one venue in the capital (and five nationally) at such a price level. Growth is most pronounced in the number of restaurants charging more than £200 per head, with the number of such entries growing 59% and 46% respectively inside and outside the capital (to 27 and 19). Restaurants charging £250-plus almost doubled in London, from six to 11, but stayed the same outside the capital (eight). The guide’s editor and co-founder, Peter Harden, said: “It’s somewhat ironic that the venue diners most often nominate as London’s most overpriced restaurant is still the River Café. But at £150 per head, it’s definitely no longer an outlier in terms of pricing. It is tempting to conclude that the capital is becoming a playground for what used to be called the jet set. But historically, one of the striking features of the London restaurant scene has been its lack of a top tier of splurgy, expensive destinations such as those that have long characterised top-end dining in Paris and Tokyo. Perhaps it is perverse to complain if London can now hold its own internationally.” Amongst the cheaper restaurants in the guide’s “Top of the Pots” pick, Indian restaurant Dastaan in Ewell, Surrey, was top performer in the cheapest (£54 or less) category, followed by Euston’s Roti King. Endo Kazutoshi’s Endo at the Rotunda again achieved the guide’s highest rating for food, and Clare Smyth’s Core was again most nominated for where diners enjoyed their top gastronomic experience of the year. For the first time, the Stafford Collection’s Norma achieved the highest food rating for an Italian restaurant, and Bibi provided another winner for the JKS Restaurants group, becoming the capital’s top Indian restaurant for the first time. London restaurant scene in ‘tepid’ state of growth – see Industry News.

Industry News:

Next Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book shows 789 largest sector companies turning over total of £56.9bn, up from £53.3bn last month: The next edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (10 November), shows 789 of the largest sector companies are turning over a total of £56.9bn – up from £53.3bn the previous month. A total of 536 companies are making a profit while 253 are making a loss. The profit being made by sector companies is now outstripping losses by £1.82bn. The Blue Book shows the total profit of the 789 companies in the list is £3,754,189,462 and losses are £1,935,831,027. The Blue Book is updated each month and ranks companies by turnover, profit and profit conversion, listing directors’ earnings for the past five years. For the first time, Propel group editor Mark Wingett has chosen the best videos from the Propel conferences in 2023, picking out a selection of talks and interviews that resonated with delegates from across the breadth of the hospitality sector. The 12 videos will be made available to Propel’s Premium subscribers at 9am on Friday, 24 November. 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 Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage; 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 Mark Wingett.

Hardens – London restaurant scene in ‘tepid’ state of growth: The London restaurant scene is in “tepid” state of growth, the new edition of Harden’s London Restaurants notes. Last year, the guide said the capital had seen the lowest level of new restaurant openings in more than a decade. The situation has not improved in 2023, with the opening rate in the latest guide the lowest level since 2012. “The guide highlights the ‘tepid’ state of growth in a London restaurant scene, which has failed post-covid to retain the vitality it has shown since 2000, the guide said. “The opening rate of 123 newcomers in the 2024 guide is the lowest level of openings since its 2012 edition, which – combined with a relatively high rate of 77 closures – equates to a current level of net openings more in line with the growth rate in the 1990s than that since 2000, despite London’s 30% population growth since the start of the millennium.” Modern British was the most popular cuisine choice for new openings, with 30 restaurant debuts across London. Italian was the next favourite, with 18 new openings, followed by Japanese, with ten. In terms of location, central London remained dominant, with 50 new arrivals. In the suburbs, south London led the way with 21 openings, boosted by the Battersea Power Station development. East London followed with 19 openings, while west London equalled north London’s rate of openings with 16 apiece.

UKHospitality – King’s Speech kicks off crucial session of parliament for hospitality businesses: UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has said the King’s Speech has kicked off a crucial session of parliament for hospitality businesses. She said: “The carryover of the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill will be important in tackling the scourge of fake reviews. Further developments around Martyn’s Law will be especially relevant for hospitality venues. The announcement of a new consultation on the standard tier is positive and we will continue to make the case for proportionate and practical measures that work for both businesses and their customers. With the speech noting the government’s commitment to pursuing free trade deals, we will continue to make the case for Youth Mobility Schemes to be included and for the government to pursue stand-alone agreements with appropriate nations. Our sector continues to look towards the autumn statement for action on other critical areas for hospitality businesses. Most pressing is the looming rise in business rates next April, which will drop an almost billion-pound bill on the sector. An extension of relief and a freeze in the multiplier is essential for the sector to continue creating jobs, driving economic growth and investing in communities.” Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) chairman Nik Antona said it is disappointing that no mention was made of supporting pubs, brewers or the wider industry. “The King’s Speech was an opportunity for the government to make a firm commitment to pub protection and announce legislation to bolster the planning enforcement tools available to local authorities to deter unscrupulous developers from flouting planning rules,” he said. “Looking ahead to the autumn statement, we hope that the chancellor will take urgent action on energy supply and pricing issues, business rates relief and cutting red tape preventing draught takeaway sales from taking place.” As focus turns to the autumn statement – which is set to be delivered on Wednesday, November 22 – Adnams chief executive Adam Wood said: “The autumn statement needs to deliver some promise and optimism to the sector. Our hope would be that the chancellor will move to extend the current business rates relief and freeze the current multiplier. At the same time, to reduce VAT for our sector would be extremely encouraging to those spending their days worrying whether their venue will be the next to become a statistic in early 2024.”
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a batched cocktail brand that is looking for a sales director. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “You will be responsible for managing and executing all sales strategies at a senior level within the business. You will be directly responsible for revenue growth, expansion of the business and developing the market presence. You will be responsible for export and global sales of the product, along with growth within the UK market.” The salary is up to £80,000 and the position is based in London. For more information, email 

Company News:

Patisserie Valerie fraud trial set for 2026 – eight years on from accounting crisis that led to collapse of business: The fraud trial of former employees of the collapsed bakery chain Patisserie Valerie will not take place for another two and a half years – eight years after a black hole in the company’s accounts first emerged – a court has heard. A date was set for spring 2026 at a trial preparation hearing at Southwark crown court, where the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said it expects to wade through almost three million documents in relation to the case, The Guardian reports. The company, which ran almost 200 high street cafes in the UK, collapsed in early 2019. Christopher Marsh, the chief financial officer of Patisserie Holdings, and his wife Louise Marsh, an accountant, were charged by the SFO along with Pritesh Mistry and Nileshkumar Lad. Christopher Marsh, Mistry and Lad have each been charged with five counts of fraud by false representation, one count of conspiracy to defraud and one count of making or supplying documents used for fraud, while Louise Marsh faces one count of conspiracy to defraud. At a hearing last month, Christopher Marsh indicated he intended to plead not guilty, while the other defendants entered no plea. All four were granted conditional bail and ordered not to contact one another, except for Christopher and Louise Marsh, who live together. They will appear at the same court on 26 April next year to enter pleas and are scheduled for trial on 2 March 2026.
Chance & Counters set to open fifth site, aiming for Manchester next: Board game and cafe concept Chance & Counters is set to open its fifth site, in Leeds, and will aim for Manchester next, Propel has learned. The Leeds venue will launch at 6-8 Merrion Street, in a site previously occupied by chicken and cocktails brand Yard & Coop, on Friday, 8 December. The 3,750 square-foot site will be spread over four floors and offer 120 covers, opening six days a week. The cafés are centred around a library of more than 500 board games, ranging from old-school favourites to the latest releases, alongside a premium all-day food and drink offering. This will include speciality coffee and tea, thick milkshakes, fresh smoothies and light lunch fare by day, and craft beer, cocktails and wine paired with smash burgers, tacos, loaded fries and wings by night. The ground floor will feature the bar and light game area with 50 or so quick games that are free to play, plus an outside terrace leading on to Merrion Street. On the first floor will be a larger table-service area featuring bespoke gaming tables, a larger board game library, a small secondary bar and space for up to 70 people to play. Upstairs, customers will pay a gaming fee of £2 per person, per hour, and dedicated “board game gurus” will be on hand to suggest games, set them up and teach the rules. Steve Cownie, managing director of Chance & Counters, told Propel: “We’re excited to be in Leeds. We’ve been looking here for nearly three years, and when we found this spot in Merrion Street we knew it was the one. We’re keeping an eye out in Manchester, and we’d move on the right site, but we’re not rushing it. We’re expanding the e-commerce side of the business next year, so between that and this year’s openings, there’s plenty to do while we wait for something perfect.” Chance & Counters launched in Bristol in 2016, followed by sites in Cardiff and Birmingham, and then a second site in Bristol earlier this year. The group is owned and operated by a group of friends and board game fans. 
Stonegate launches new digital media network: Stonegate Group, the UK’s largest pub group, is launching a new digital media network, “MiXR”, which it said will connect consumers to its entire managed estate via a new app. The TDR Capital-backed business said the network would also provide the group’s brand partners with a “sophisticated digital media network and advertising channel across 4,500 screens and more than 850 managed venues across the UK by October 2024”. The company said the MiXR app is the first digitally connected network on app and in outlet – at scale, allowing consumers to interact with the group's entire managed estate. Through the MiXR app, guests can find and book venues, earn loyalty rewards and unlock unique personalised experiences through “MiXR Missions”. For the group’s brand and advertising partners, the network will provide an opportunity to connect and engage with an estimated footfall of 100 million guest visits to Stonegate locations each year. Stonegate said in what it believes is a first of its kind for the hospitality sector, MiXR will also incorporate features to support the group’s 16,500 team members, including drinks training, educational materials and rewards. The launch of MiXR follows pilot programmes in Birmingham, London and Manchester. David McDowall, chief executive of Stonegate Group, said: “As a group, we consistently strive to remain at the forefront of digital transformation in the hospitality industry. We know our guests are prioritising their visits to our locations – even in the face of economic uncertainty – and so we are continually searching for new ways to elevate their experiences with us. Through the MiXR app, we will offer them the opportunity to connect and interact with our entire ‘Stonegate Street’ estate like never before. Digital media may be tried and tested in the off-trade, but it’s never been delivered at scale in the on-trade. As we roll out MiXR Media across our entire managed estate, we will be able to offer our partners hyper targeted, measurable marketing opportunities that will have a demonstrable impact.”
Davenports to boost Midlands estate with ex-JD Wetherspoon site: Midlands brewer and retailer Davenports is to further increase its presence in the region after agreeing to acquire the Butler’s Bell in Stafford. The pub in the town’s Gaolgate Street was put up for sale by JD Wetherspoon earlier this summer. Davenports, which operates a further five pubs across the Midlands, told Stoke-on-Trent Live that the Butler’s Bell, which dates to 1830, will be a “proper local with a focus on quality at a value-for-money price”. Katie McPhilimey, consultant marketing director at Davenports, said: “Bucking the trend of the hospitality industry, Davenports is strategically acquiring venues to add to its ever-expanding portfolio of award-winning venues. In addition to our Pub & Kitchen, Boutique Collection and Met Sports Bars sectors sits a new division – ‘My Local’, which will be populated with great local pubs that focus on quality at a value-for-money price. Always wanting to deliver more for our valued customers, The Butler’s Bell will serve up great food, a super drinks line-up and in addition to this free live entertainment on selected days and Sky Sports TV. As a Midlands heritage brand, we have sites across the West Midlands, and are reaching out beyond this. The Butler’s Bell is a great new addition to the portfolio, and hopefully not our last in Stafford. While we haven’t got a firm opening date yet, as there is work to be done to install our products and that of our brand partners, we hope it will be within the next few weeks.”
Motor Fuel Group selects Newquay for third Miss Millie’s forecourt site, aiming for fourth by end of 2023 and more in 2024: Miss Millie’s Fried Chicken has lined up a third site under its fledgling partnership with Motor Fuel Group (MFG), in Newquay, with a fourth to follow by the end of 2023 and more in 2024. The 13-strong Miss Millie’s entered into a franchise partnership with MFG, the UK’s largest independent forecourt operator, earlier this year, with a debut site opening at Wellington in Somerset, followed by a second at Langley in Hampshire. The Newquay restaurant and takeaway is due to open later this month, alongside MFG’s new petrol station and Budgens shop, on the roundabout between the A392 and Trevemper Road. It will showcase Miss Millie’s new brand, instore design and menu including a range of chicken burgers, wraps, hot wings, tenders, churros and waffles. The company said the agreement with MFG forms part of the brand’s expansion plans “to become nationally recognised over the coming years”. Carl Traill, managing director for Miss Millie’s, said: “Following on from the success of our first couple of forecourt stores, we are delighted to be partnering with MFG again. Miss Millie’s has been serving awesome chicken in Bristol and the south west for more than 35 years, and we are excited to be bringing the Miss Millie’s brand into Cornwall for the first time.” MFG’s food service director, Paul Deary, added: “Food to go is becoming a growing attraction to our forecourt customers. We are always looking to offer high quality and exciting products, and I believe that the introduction of Miss Millie’s ‘awesome chicken’ range will prove to be a success.” Last month, Propel revealed Scoffs Group, the largest Costa Coffee franchisee in the UK, has discontinued its Miss Millie’s operation. Scoffs signed a franchise partnership with the brand in March 2022, with a ten-site deal encompassing Southampton and the south east region, and while a debut site in Southampton followed, no other locations opened. Scoffs has now passed the site to another Miss Millie’s franchisee, following a strategic review that concluded the operation “did not meet the group’s expectations”. Miss Mille’s features in the Propel UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, while MFG and Scoffs Group both feature in the Propel UK Food and Beverage Franchisee Database. Both databases are available exclusively to Premium subscribers and updated and sent out bi-monthly with new entries. 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.
Haute Dolci opens 20th UK site: Premium dessert and gourmet burger concept Haute Dolci has opened its 20th UK site, in Liverpool. The business, launched by Heavenly Desserts founder Nizam Mohamed in 2017, has opened in the former Waterstones unit at 14-16 Bold Street. “We are delighted to announce the opening of our 20th store, right here in the heart of Liverpool,” said director of operations, Tahir Mahmood. “Situated in a prime location, Haute Dolci Liverpool is ready to dazzle your taste buds and take fine dining experience to a whole new level. The Liverpool store boasts a chic and welcoming ambience. We are spreading the love of food, fashion and lifestyle far and wide, and Liverpool is just the beginning.” Earlier this year, the company opened its first overseas site, at the Defence Raya Golf Resort Sector M DHA Phase 6 in Lahore, Pakistan, and it is planning to follow that with a Middle East launch in Kuwait. Mohamed sold the rights to the Heavenly Desserts brand in 2021 to focus on the expansion of his Haute Dolci and IceBurg concepts. 
Michael Deane to close longest standing Michelin-starred restaurant in Northern Ireland: Multi-site Northern Ireland restaurant operator Michael Deane is set to close his Michelin-starred Deanes Eipic Restaurant in Belfast. Deanes Restaurants has said it will shut the restaurant, one of four it currently operates in the city, in January in response to price-sensitivity among customers. The business said the decision is part of a development plan “to readjust its customer offering” at its flagship Howard Street premises, reports the Belfast Telegraph. Deanes Restaurants said it was “the end of an era for the esteemed restaurateur, who has held a Michelin star for 25 years – the longest ever in Northern Ireland and in Ireland second only to Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud”. It’s the latest shake-up at Deanes Restaurants after it announced the closure of bistro Deane & Decano in Lisburn Road earlier this year. It also operates Meat Locker and Love Fish in Howard Street and Deane at Queens in College Gardens. Deane said: “I am excited and invigorated by this opportunity to refresh the business, but I must also say how very proud I am of the Michelin star and the length of time we have been fortunate to have it. Our decision to move away from this has been carefully considered and evaluated, and I believe it is the right direction to take now and it’s the right time to do it. To underpin sustainability and profitability, which secures a business and jobs, you need to be constantly adapting and responding to your customers’ preferences. With Brexit, covid and now the cost-of-living crisis, the world has changed, my team has changed, customers have changed their choices, and I have changed, and, while people are back to eating out, there is increasing cost sensitivity, which is out of kilter with our fine dining offering at Eipic, and we have to respond to that.”
Scottish peri peri chicken franchise set to launch 19th location as co-founder admits he never intended to open more than one: Scottish peri peri chicken franchise Black Rooster is set to launch its 19th location, as co-founder Mick Kennedy admits he never intended to open more than one. Kennedy, who is also the manager of Scottish semi-pro football side East Kilbride, founded Black Rooster with friend Kevin Bell in 2017 and they opened their first restaurant in Glasgow’s Duke Street. It has since spread across the country, with its latest opening set to be in Stenhousemuir’s Hallam Road. “We actually tried to buy a Pepe’s Piri Piri restaurant,” he told the Glasgo podcast. “My business partner Kevin at that point had a café and a painting and decorating business, and we used to go to Pepe’s in Great Western Road in the West End, and then Kev said, ‘Listen mate, why don’t we try to buy one of these? We tried to buy one, and at that point there was only one in Scotland and the guy owned the rights for Glasgow, he had four in Glasgow. Because both of us were from the East End, we wanted to open somewhere up where we knew people. We went in and thought listen, we can actually do this and probably, in our opinion, do it a bit better – build something that’s more for the Scottish market. That’s where the concept came, it was never meant to be what it’s become. We said at the outset if we can get one store that does reasonably well then we’d be happy. I can remember when we first opened in Duke Street. The first couple of days it was doing well, we thought if we can keep this up, we’ve got a wee business here. Then I think it was day six or seven, everything was just pandemonium.” Black Rooster is looking to expand to England, Ireland and mainland Europe through franchising and is offering packages from a minimum investment of £80,000 and total investment of £150,000, with a £12,000 franchise fee. For the past two years, it has also been the official restaurant partner at Scottish Premiership side, Glasgow Rangers. Black Rooster’s menu includes grilled chicken, burgers, pittas and wraps, plus sides, desserts and drinks.
Island Poké launches loyalty app: Island Poké, the White Rabbit Projects and Hero Brands-backed business, has launched a loyalty scheme app, Poké Perks. Customers can collect and redeem points in store and online via delivery and click and collect. One stamp can be claimed per poké bowl or hot bowl purchased, with five stamps gaining a £5 voucher to redeem on the next visit, and ten stamps gaining a free house poké bowl or hot bowl. New subscribers will also receive a £5 reward voucher to redeem on their next visit. The business opened its 19th site in August, at 155 Fenchurch Street, which was also its 16th in London. Already this year, the business has grown its regional estate, with openings in Newcastle, Edinburgh and Brighton. It is also set to open a site in Queens Road, in Bristol’s Clifton area, this year.
Adagio Hotels returns to profit, remains committed to further UK expansion: Adagio Hotels UK, which develops, operates and franchises long-stay hotel properties in the UK, returned to profit in the year ending 31 December 2022 and said it remains committed to further UK expansion. The company franchises one and operates six Adagio hotels, and during the year, in December 2022, opened a further hotel in Glasgow. “Tourism recovered substantially in 2022, and the performance of the company has enjoyed a sequential rebound, with revpar improving month after month,” director Xavier Desaulles said. “The improvement in demand meant that average room prices came close to pre covid-19 levels over 2022. The company is committed to a further expansion of the Adagio hotel brand in the UK. There are various other aparthotels in development in the UK expected to open in the coming years.” It comes as the business turned a £2,616,000 pre-tax loss in 2021 into a £1,460,000 profit in 2022. Turnover almost doubled from £10,581,000 to £20,559,000. This compares with turnover of £12,362,000 and a pre-tax profit of £544,000 in pre-covid 2019. The company received no government grants compared with £110,000 in 2021. In its managed hotels, occupancy rates rose from 59% in 2021 to 72% while revpar was up from £46 to £75. In the franchised hotel, occupancy rates rose from 52% to 96% while revpar was up from £25 to £57. The company ended the year in a net asset position of £408,000 (2021: net liabilities of £733,000).
Edinburgh pizza concept to open third site: Matto Pizza, which launched in 2020 as a delivery kitchen, is opening its third site. The venue at 33 Newington Road, in the former Apiary restaurant premises, will open at the end of the month. It will be the concept’s largest site to date, seating up to 66 people. Matto offers its take on the classic Neapolitan pizza with its wood-fired ovens cooking pizza made from scratch in 60 seconds. The menu includes its truffle cream base pizza with smoked scamorza, mushroom and rocket; and its white base pizza with provolone cheese, salamino Toscano, friarielli and chilli flakes. A selection of wine is available to complement the pizzas. Co-owner Nel Parvanova said: “We are excited to be opening our third restaurant, in Newington. When we launched Matto just three years ago, our vision was to create tasty Neapolitan-style pizza that, while being innovative and fun, had absolutely no compromise on the quality of the ingredients. It has been a labour of love from day one and to now have three sites across Edinburgh feels like a huge accomplishment.” Matto opened its first site in Edinburgh’s Meadowbank in 2020 with its second outlet, in Morningside, launching the following year.
Company behind South Kensington hotel returns to profit with turnover and Ebitda exceeding pre-covid levels as it ‘rebounds strongly’ from pandemic: The company behind The Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington has reported that business has “rebounded strongly” from covid, with central London footfall ahead of pre-pandemic levels. It comes as the business reported turnover was up to £9,851,386 for the year ending 31 December 2022 compared with £3,756,962 the year before, reflecting increased occupancy and rates. Revenue also exceeded the £9,422,209 reported for the year ending 31 December 2019 – the last full year before the pandemic. Ebitda rose to £3,001,103 from £566,887 the previous year (2019: £2,510,358). The business made a pre-tax profit of £483,669 compared with a loss of £1,479,060 the year before (2019: profit of £386,504). In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “Business rebounded strongly in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic. The company continued to benefit from its focus on the prime central London market. Central London is busy again, with footfall ahead of pre-pandemic levels. Despite the prevailing political and economic uncertainty, London’s appeal and position as a truly global city remains undiminished.” The business did not receive any government grants (2021: £263,342). No dividend was paid (2021: nil).
Rosa’s Thai to open new Westfield London site next month: Rosa’s Thai, the TriSpan-backed business, will open its new restaurant in Westfield London next month. Propel revealed in July that Rosa’s Thai had secured the site on the Southern Terrace that was operated by The Hush Collection’s Cabana brand. Now Rosa’s Thai will open its new restaurant on Monday, 11 December. The Gavin Adair-led Rosa’s Thai made its Scottish debut in September with an opening on the former Cote site in Glasgow’s West Nile Street. It also has openings lined up in Bristol, Guildford and Reading.
Hampshire hotel and resort in active discussions with lenders as losses increase, turnover recovers to pre-pandemic levels: Old Thorns Golf Hotel and Country Estate in Hampshire has said it is in active discussions with its lenders as its losses increased in the year to 31 March 2023. A pre-tax loss of £23,518 in 2022 rose to £242,218 in the period, as turnover increased from £10,268,934 to £12,868,595. This compares with turnover of £12,567,011 and a loss of £914,069 in pre-covid 2019. “Since the year end, management has actively engaged in discussions with the lender and has already implemented measures to rectify the event of default, and it is expected that continued availability of the loan until the end of the loan term will be secured in the immediate future,” the company said. “Additionally, the loan, if secured, is due for repayment in June 2024, and based on positive initial discussions with the lender, management anticipate the loan will be successfully renewed at that time.” The company received no government grants compared with £297,125 in 2022. Director Cathal Lynch added: “During the year, the group’s turnover increased to £12.87m, reaching pre covid-19 pandemic levels. Occupancy increased in the year to 66% (2022: 54%). However, there was a slight drop-in average room rate to £114.80 (2022: £118.27). Capital expenditure included refurbishment of facilities in the health club and wellness area, a new wellness bed for the spa, improvements to the conference area and a new irrigation system.” The four-star hotel and golf course is based in Liphook.
Scottish Mexican restaurant opens third site: Scottish Mexican restaurant Topolabamba has returned to Glasgow for its third site. The first eatery opened in Glasgow’s Vincent Street in 2016 before a second venue launched in Edinburgh’s Lothian Road the same year. It has now opened in Glasgow’s West End, in the former Whistler’s Mother pub at 116-122 Byres Road, reports the Scottish Sun, offering authentic street food and frozen margaritas. Operations manager Iain Gallie said: “The West End is an incredibly popular area to eat, drink and shop. It ticks every box for us and is a fabulous part of the city. We always wanted a West End restaurant, but we hadn’t been able to find one big enough to offer the site we needed. The left-hand bar will look familiar to fans of Topolabamba while the right-hand side is a new look inspired by a Mexican-inspired Bodega bar, which we’re sure will be very popular with those on the hunt for an afternoon cocktail or post-dinner drink.”
The Depot founder to open independent bar and kitchen in Cardiff today: Nick Saunders, founder and managing director of Cardiff independent warehouse events venue The Depot, is to open a new bar and kitchen in the city today (Wednesday, 8 November). Outpost will offer dining and drinks from breakfast until 5pm and a “small plates” menu every Thursday to Saturday evening. As previously reported, the 85-cover venue will open in the new Laundry Quarter development in Pontcanna. Saunders is also behind The Depot’s spin-off, live events arm Depot Live, and is also the co-founder of Par 59, the mini-golf bar and restaurant concept backed by Gareth Bale with two venues – one in Cardiff city centre, and in Bristol. However, Outpost is his first foray into the world of running a restaurant. He said: “My partner Hannah lived in New York for a while, and we used to hang out in Williamsburg and Brooklyn a lot. We loved the bars and restaurants in the area, so we want to create something with a similar vibe on our doorstep, here in Cardiff.” Outpost takes inspiration from this time spent in New York and will also have a private dining room seating up to 16 covers.
Couple behind Berkshire French bistro-style restaurant open second site for concept: The couple behind Berkshire French bistro-style restaurant The Funghi Club have opened a second site for the concept. The Funghi Club, set up by former chef for the Royal Family Laurent Lebeau and his partner Janie, has opened its second site at Hughenden Yard in Marlborough, Wiltshire. It comes two years after the original The Funghi Club opened in Hungerford, which the couple last year extended to add in a new concept, fine dining outlet Le Petit Bistro. They had previously started a mushroom stall at food markets. Before that, Laurent studied for three years at the prestigious Lycée Hotelier and was head chef at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. “Janie and I are very excited about the next stage in the development of The Funghi Club, we have made great strides since we started out with our mushroom stall,” he told the Marlborough News. “The space we have acquired in Marlborough is the perfect setting for The Funghi Club. We are particularly excited about the ‘salon prive’, a versatile space that can be used for everything from hosting business meetings and watching sport with friends to private dinners and cocktail and canpes parties. We try to include mushrooms where we can and you’ll see lots more of these as the season gets going in the autumn.”
Bristol hotel and spa returns to profit as club membership back to pre-pandemic levels: Bristol hotel and spa Cadbury House returned to profit in the year to 30 September 2022 with club membership back to pre-pandemic levels. A £1,198,707 pre-tax loss in 2021 turned into a profit of £4,534 as turnover increased from £4,866,718 to £8,974,247. This compares with turnover of £9,457,093 and a profit of £174,221 in the last full year before covid, ending 31 March 2019. Of the 2022 turnover, £3,449,292 came from accommodation (2021: £2,231,734), £3,313,418 from food and beverage (2021: £1,642,427), £1,371,116 from membership revenue (2021: £674,063) and £840,421 from treatments and other services (2021: £318,494). The company received £3,525 in government grants (2021: £646,148). A total of £1.4m borrowed under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is due to be repaid in full in July 2026. Director Caroline Wilce said: “Rooms performance has continued to benefit from restrictions abroad due to covid-19, with the average room rate remaining higher than pre-pandemic levels at £104.80. The club finished the year with the year with 3,315 members, up from 2,692, with the membership base now back to pre-pandemic levels. With Cadbury House performing well this year due to the increase in rooms rate and pent-up demand for weddings following the easing of covid-19 restrictions, further investment is planned to include a club refurbishment with a view for the business to maintain its position as the leading hotel with leisure facilities in the south of Bristol.”
Nottinghamshire operator opening second Italian restaurant to fulfil late wife’s last wish: Nottinghamshire operator Amedeos Ingala is opening a second Italian restaurant in order to fulfil his late wife’s last wish. Ingala, originally from Sicily, is expecting to open his new restaurant in January, share a building with the Newark Castle railway station ticket office. He already owns La Bella Vita in Ollerton, which he has been operating since 2016. “Unfortunately, I lost my dear wife in 2020 and I promised her I would open a restaurant in her honour in the town because she loved Newark and the people so much,” he told the Newark Advertiser. “She was a fantastic pasta chef. I like Newark and the people, they come to our restaurant in Ollerton. We hope the Newark people will support us in our new endeavour.” Ingala first started cooking at the age of 15 at his father’s restaurant before moving to England in 2003, where he opened his first restaurant, Amadeos, in Southport. When he met his wife in 2005, the couple moved back to Italy for ten years before returning to England.

Cornish family hotel reports turnover boost: The Nare Hotel, a luxury family-run hotel overlooking Cornwall’s Carne Beach, has reported turnover increased to £6,812,265 for the year ending 31 December 2022 compared with £5,698,293 the year before. Pre-tax profit was down to £1,357,355 from £1,616,700 the previous year. Since the year end, the company has refinanced a £2m loan that was due for renewal in March 2023 into a new five-year term on more favourable terms. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “2022 saw a 23% increase in rooms sold compared with 2021 and was the best in the hotel's history with occupancy levels and income consistently higher than budget across all months. Gross margin increased by 14% compared with 2021, however gross profit percentage decreased slightly from 91% to 88%. This related to inflation driven increases in food costs. Overheads returned to normal levels following the various grants receivable in 2021 except for increases in staff costs resulting from minimum wage increases and increased employment incentives. The hotel benefited from a reduction in VAT of 12.5% in the first quarter and operating profit remained strong. The company commenced the construction of a new dining space and an additional suite that are due for completion in early 2024.” The business did not receive any government grants (2021: £400,809). Dividends of £430,176 were paid (2021: £246,813).

Southampton Chinese restaurant owner set to open new pan Asian venue in city: The owner of a Chinese restaurant in Southampton is set to open new pan Asian venue in the city. Susan Sun, who opened Shanghai 1814 seven years ago, will next week open Edo Asia, in the high street. It will offer “an immersive dining experience” featuring dishes inspired by cuisines from China, Korea, Japan and Malaysia. These include sharing sushi platters, special rolls, Japanese izakaya style serving dishes and curries, all created by chefs who previously worked at Novikov and Zuma in London’s Mayfair. A lounge bar, overlooking the city’s medieval Bargate, will offer classic cocktails with an Asian twist plus new ones featuring sakes and Japanese whiskies. The 120-cover restaurant will also have private rooms and a resident DJ until late on weekends, reports The Daily Echo. “While Shanghai 1814 was influenced by our family’s heritage and Chinese traditions, Edo Asia was created from our passion for Asian culture, food and drink,” Sun said.
London street food burger concept Mother Flipper to open debut permanent site today: London street food burger concept Mother Flipper will open its first permanent site today (Wednesday, 8 November). Having started out ten years ago at Brockley Market, Mother Flipper is now setting up home at 10 Coulgate Street in Brockley, reports Hot Dinners. The menu includes the Mother Flipper Cheeseburger – ketchup, mustard, lettuce, red onion, pickle and American cheese; and The Filthy Frank – crispy chicken breast dipped in homemade buffalo hot sauce with whipped blue cheese and pickled celery. The opening means Mother Flipper will be pausing its appearances at Brockley Market at least for the moment, with its last day of trading for now being on Saturday (11 November).
Chesterfield nightclub owner wins permission to create fan zone bar in car park of town’s football club: Chesterfield nightclub owner Santiago Garcia-Perez has won permission to create a fan zone bar in the car park of the town’s football club. Garcia-Perez, who owns the Apartment nightclub in Chesterfield, has been given the go-ahead by Chesterfield Borough Council for the temporary placement of the shipping container bar for three years. Its opening hours will be midday to 8pm on Saturdays. A report to the council said that the stadium currently does not have a bar where supporters can meet up before or after matches, reports the Derbyshire Times. Garcia-Perez said: “We are wanting to create a fan zone to enhance people’s matchday experience at Chesterfield FC. The concept has been very successful at numerous clubs from Premier league down. These areas make people feel part of the club and community. We will use our own SIA registered security company who manage many high-profile events.” Garcia-Perez is also a director at independent drinks business, Global Brands.
Veteran Plymouth restaurateur opens his 22nd site in the city over three decades: Veteran Plymouth restaurateur Edmond Davari has opened his 22nd site in the city over three decades. Davari’s epic list of launches in the city began with the opening of Sardis, which later became Lorenzo’s, in 1993. He has also been behind Pappa Joe’s, Cuba, Fat Mamma, Bougies, Toot, the original Souk, Zucca, Asia Chic, Rocco y Lola, the Fish Market, Shoeless Ed’s, Al Farid, Havana, Cohiba, The Painter, the Barbican Theatre Kitchen, the Showbar, The Marina Bar, Barratt’s and his latest venture, the new Souk. The new site, in Plymouth Harbour, is named after one of his former restaurants at Sutton Harbour. For this, he has brought on board his teenage son, Rocco. “This is Rocco’s baby,” Davari told Plymouth Live. “It was his idea. I’m too old for this now, but we wanted to do it – it’s a generational thing.” Davari had intended to take things easy after handing over the reins at Toot, his Persian restaurant praised by food critic Jay Rayner, earlier this year and wanted to concentrate on running pop-up food stalls at festivals. “It’s my ego,” he said. “I’m like Cliff Richard, he can’t stop singing and still wants to be number one. But Rocco is very good, he’s very competent, but whether he wants to carry on in catering is his choice.” Souk can seat about 20 people and also offers a takeaway service. The menu includes wraps, salads, tagines, and specials such as shakshuka sausages with onions and flatbread, maakonde potato cakes and harira lentil and chickpea soup.
Plans lodged to turn Leicestershire nightclub into new bowling alley, mini golf course and restaurant: Plans have been lodged to turn a nightclub into a new bowling alley, mini golf course and restaurant in Coalville, Leicestershire. The project would see land off Belvoir Road transformed into a new leisure complex. The proposals have been put forward by Gylo, the owners of Coalville’s Belvoir Shopping Centre, reports Leicestershire Live. The plan would see a partial demolition of the existing Emporium nightclub to create space for the complex. “Currently, the closest bowling alley operator is the Hollywood Bowl in Leicester, which is approximately 13 miles and 25 minutes’ drive from the application site. Similarly, there are no indoor miniature golf operators in Coalville, with the nearest such facilities being located in Leicester city centre,” Gylo said in its planning documents to North West Leicestershire District Council. The restaurant would feature an outdoor rooftop terrace looking out across Coalville.

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