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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 17th Nov 2023 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Exclusive – Lane7 to make German debut for first international site: Boutique bowling company Lane7 is to make its German debut, Propel has learned. Ten years after the opening of the first Lane7 in the UK, the brand is launching in The Playce at Potsdamer Platz for its first international site at the start of 2024. The venue will span 1,600 square metres with bars, boutique bowling, mini golf and many other entertainment options over two floors. Tim Wilks, founder of Lane7, said: “We are excited to bring our first European location to Berlin and to Potsdamer Platz at The Playce. It is a stunning project where we know we can play a huge part in entertaining this amazing city. We would like to thank Brookfield Properties for its support during the process and the team at ECE Marketplaces. It has been a fun experience so far and we look forward to opening early in 2024. Berlin, I hope you are ready for this!” Lane7 will open between the covered shopping street and Linkstraße, next to The Alchemist, which made its debut in the country for its first international site earlier this year, and the Paulaner Wirtshaus. Karl L Wambach, executive vice-president Europe of Brookfield Properties and asset manager of the Potsdamer Platz neighbourhood, added: “The inclusion of a successful concept like Lane7 at The Playce fills us with pride. The concept is not only unique in Germany, but also fits in perfectly with the new positioning as an experience and shopping destination in Berlin. We want to entertain visitors in the best possible way, and Lane7 is the perfect partner for the job.” Lane7 has two sites in Birmingham and one each in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Bath, Bristol, Durham, Leicester and Newcastle. The business also has Level X venues in Glasgow and Middlesbrough and Gutterball in North Shields. It is also set to open a Lane7 venue in Dublin city centre next year, at the Chatham & King mixed use leisure and retail scheme. Torridon London acted for Lane7 in securing the Berlin location and is mapping out its European expansion route as its retained advisor. Lane 7 features in the Propel Multi-Site Database. The next edition will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday, 24 November. The comprehensive database, which is produced in association with Virgate, 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 2,983 companies. 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 kai.kirkman@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription.  
 

Industry News:

Premium subscribers to receive next Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage on Monday: Premium subscribers will receive the next edition of the Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage on Monday (20 November) at midday. This month’s edition includes 784 companies and more than 211,000 words of content. There are 83 updated entries and 34 new companies. 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. Meanwhile, 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 Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book; the New Openings Database; the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database; 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 kai.kirkman@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription. Premium subscribers are also being given exclusive access to the recording and slides to Propel Multi-Club Conferences. They also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Mark Wingett.
 
UKHospitality – December train strikes will cost sector up to £800m: UKHospitality has warned that train strikes planned in December will cost the sector up to £800m at the start of its “crucial festive period”. The Aslef union has announced a “rolling programme” of walkouts between 2 and 8 December, with different train companies affected on each day. Drivers will also refuse to work any overtime from 1 to 9 December. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “These strikes will hit hospitality businesses at the start of the critical festive period and will devastate trading during one of the busiest weeks of the year, costing the sector up to £800m. The ongoing rail dispute has already cost the sector £3.5bn over the past year and a half and continues to disrupt businesses, prevent staff from working and interrupt families’ Christmas plans. I would urge all parties to get back round the table to resume negotiations and work urgently to reach a solution that avoids these devastating strikes, including following the lead of the RMT, which has reached an agreement to avoid strikes over Christmas. Hospitality businesses rely on revenue made during the busy festive period to see them through the fallow months of January to March, so it’s essential strikes during December are avoided. The significant impact to trading that these strikes will cause reinforce the critical need for the chancellor to extend business rates support at the autumn statement next week, to help businesses navigate and offset the damage of ongoing rail strikes.”
 
Luke Johnson – more modest expectations required as era of cheap money is over: Sector investor Luke Johnson has argued that more modest expectations are required from new business founders as the era of cheap money is over. Writing in today’s (Friday, 17 November) Premium Opinion, Johnson reflects on the investment landscape post-covid compared with the “mania” of the decade leading up to the lockdowns of 2020, which saw an “extraordinary” amount of new food and drink ventures. “A whole generation of founders has grown up expecting easy money and crazy valuations for their ventures, but that era is dead,” he said. “Markets have sobered up – the bull market is over. A different approach is now required, with more modest expectations around valuations.” Johnson added: “During boom times, the appetite to finance brand new ventures is almost boundless. But in tougher times – like now – it makes much more sense to fix existing operations and make the most of assets that are already standing, rather than starting from scratch. I have formed this view, partly because I believe many current hospitality businesses will need to be refinanced – and probably substantially revamped. The old models are often no longer working, but this is the point in the cycle to redeploy rather than build new.” Johnson will share more of his thoughts in today’s Premium Opinion, which will be sent to Premium subscribers at 5pm. 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 kai.kirkman@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription.
 
Pub owner charging customers to use outdoor heaters to combat energy bills: A Teesside pub owner has made the decision to impose charges for its outdoor seating heaters. Hydes Bar Norton said energy charges are now “two and a half times what they were last year” and has installed token metres for the outdoor canopy heaters. A spokesperson for the independently run pub estimated the heaters cost £1,000 per month to run – “a cost we cannot sustain”. Customers wishing to use the heaters will have to pay £1 per 30 minutes, reports Teesside Live. The Rowan Yard-based pub made the announcement on its Facebook page. “Following a review of energy charges, which are now two and a half times what we were paying last year, we have made the decision to install token metres for the outdoor canopy heaters,” it said. “Tokens can be purchased at the bar for £1, which provides 30 minutes. The decision was not taken lightly, the only other option being a blanket increase to drinks prices. Despite the bar being almost empty and heated inside, during quiet daytimes, we have had people asking for the outdoor heaters to be put on. The running costs for these on average would exceed £1,000 a month, a cost we cannot sustain. Like many hospitality venues, our operating costs have substantially increased over the last 18 months. We appreciate that not everyone will agree with this, but as a small independent business, we have to keep our costs low where we can and account for rising charges.”

Companies urged to write to MPs in support of business rates campaign: UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has urged sector companies to write to their MPs in support of its business rates campaign. The trade body last week submitted a letter to the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, outlining the sector’s concerns ahead of next week’s autumn statement. Its most pressing ask is ensuring that the planned end to business rates relief and increase in the multiplier in April next year are scrapped. “There is still plenty of time for you to support our asks and make it clear to your MP that action is needed,” Nicholls said, writing in this week’s Propel Friday Opinion. “By writing to your local MP, voicing your support for our campaign and showing the strength of feeling within hospitality, we can absolutely make a difference. The louder we beat the drum, the clearer the message – it’s essential that the sector is recognised, and the requisite support is put in place. So far, we’ve had more than 700 businesses submit letters to their MP, and we want to continue flooding inboxes in the run up to the autumn statement to make sure our message is heard. Without action from the chancellor, we will see venue closures, job losses and cancelled investment in every part of the country.” Nicholls will share more of her thoughts in this week’s Friday Opinion, which will be published today (Friday, 16 November) at 11am.
 
Hospitality leaders to take part in CEO Sleepout UK: Several hospitality leaders will take part in CEO Sleepout UK on Monday (20 November). More than 140 chief executives and business leaders across London will spend the night sleeping outdoors at Lord’s Cricket Ground, to help raise awareness and funds for the homeless. Sector leaders taking part this year include Henrik Muehle, managing director of Flemings Mayfair Hotel; Martin Williams, chief executive of Rare Restaurants; Edoardo Minoli, chief operating officer of The Birley Clubs; Vijay Sana, general manager of Hutong; and a number of leaders at Caprice Holdings including Dylan Ramsay (commercial finance director) George Jones (group executive director) Jon Davis (chief technology officer), and Una O’Reilly, (group chief of people). CEO Sleepout UK chief executive Bianca Robinson said: “We aim to pull the powerful voices of business together to demand a long-term vision to end homelessness and to make sure individuals, with the same hopes, dreams, talents, stories as ourselves, have a secure, affordable roof over their heads. London’s business leadership community has the power and an opportunity to use their voice to shine a light on the issue, and lead from the front when it comes to compassion and care for some of the most marginalised people in our communities.”
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a hotel brand that is looking for a hotel manager. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “You will be currently working as a hotel manager or operations director within a branded hotel company and looking for a new opportunity to be the face of this newly opened hotel. You must have a minimum of two years in a senior or executive management position in a hotel or resort, a degree or diploma in hotel management or equivalent, be accountable and resilient but also have great knowledge of hotel property management systems and be a strong leader.” The salary is up to £65,000 and the position is based in south west London. For more information, email lara@corecruitment.com. 
 

Company News:

Young’s CEO – City Pub Group deal provides ‘strong opportunity to accelerate our growth strategy’, London pub sales up 5% on pre-covid levels: Young’s chief executive Simon Dodd has told Propel its offer for City Pub Group provides a “strong opportunity to accelerate our growth strategy”. Speaking after Young’s made an offer to buy the 50-strong City Pub Group in a deal that values the business at £162m, Dodd said: “City Pub Group has a really good portfolio of predominantly freehold properties that spans premium locations including across affluent towns and cities in London and the south of England. Its predominantly wet-led offering is highly complementary to ours. It allows us to increase our managed trading estate by 50 pubs to 279 sites, which is an increase of more than 20%. This is a strong opportunity to accelerate our growth strategy.” The nine pubs owned by Mosaic that City Pub Group acquired a majority stake in in June would also transfer to Young’s as part of the deal. However, the bulk of Mosaic, consisting of 20 sites, continues to operate independently. Asked whether Young’s expected competition following its offer, a spokesperson told Propel: “Young’s believes its offer is full and fair and can’t comment on speculation.” City Pub Group shares rose 33.79% or 33.45p to 132.45p on the back of the announcement, having risen more than 74% in the last year. If the deal goes through, City Pub Group executive chairman Clive Watson is set to pocket more than £6m. It would be the third company he has found a buyer for after selling Tup Inns to Massive in 1999 for £4m and Capital Pub Company to Greene King in 2011 for £93m. Meanwhile, Dodd told Propel that sales in its London pubs are 5% up on pre-covid levels and the capital is “back in business”. Dodd also agreed with Fuller’s chief executive Simon Emeny that the City is now a seven days a week operation. “There is real growth in the City, Dodd said. “What we’re seeing is people are coming back to the office four days a week rather than three. People are drinking again in the City – it’s five deep at the bar! Customers are still ‘premiumising’ – Guinness sales are up almost 27% and it’s become a year-round drink; cocktails are up 12.5% and Nyetimber sparkling wine has risen 35%.” Dodd said he was confident Young’s would be able to maintain margin if business rates relief is not extended and alcohol duty goes up at next week’s autumn statement, but said for the industry as a whole, support was “badly needed”. He added while inflation was coming down on many food products, such as oil and fats, prices were still rising on some items, such as potatoes, which are up 10%. Meanwhile, its Ram agency platform, which offers workers easy-to-arrange flexible hours, is going from “strength to strength” and has saved the company an estimated £500,000 in the past year. Dodd said he was optimistic about the festive period, with its pubs “going all out for Christmas” and “ready to deliver some record numbers”. “The corporate Christmas party is back, with an average booking size of ten compared with eight last year, and numbers are looking strong,” he added.
 
Bakers + Baristas secures six-figure loan to support expansion plans: Bakers + Baristas, the artisan coffee and baking brand, has secured a new six-year committed term loan from AIB to support expansion. Bakers + Baristas, which is backed by Irish private equity firm Causeway Capital, has more than 65 sites, located in shopping centres and outlet villages across the UK and Ireland. Bakers + Baristas plans to open a further five outlets over the next 12 months, with a mixture of company owned and franchise opportunities under consideration. The business said it has recovered strongly post-covid and demonstrated impressive like-for-like growth across the UK and Ireland – and is expected to deliver sales of €22m in the current year. Headquartered in Limerick, the business has more than 300 employees and is led by chief executive James Fleming and chief financial officer Dermot McMahon. Matt Scaife, partner at Causeway Capital, said: “We are really pleased that AIB has backed our investment in Bakers + Baristas and look forward to the next stage of the company’s growth.”
 
Influencer platform Invyted receives investment from Justin King: Invyted, the tech platform that “transforms how brands and influencers collaborate”, has received investment from former Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King. Invyted launched at the start of this year, focusing on the restaurant and leisure sector. The company has recently expanded to supporting consumer products businesses and has also received backing from John Vincent, co-founder and former chief executive of Leon, the natural fast-food brand. King said: “Invyted impressed me from my first introduction with a dynamic and passionate founder in Asti Wagner, now helped and guided by an experienced entrepreneur in John Vincent. There isn’t a company that I work with that isn’t exploring how to make influencer marketing work for them, and the uniqueness and effectiveness of the Invyted solution struck me immediately. The rapid adoption of Invyted by both influencers and marketeers supports its ambitions to scale rapidly. I’m delighted to be able to support this.” Wagner said: “I am very pleased to have secured Justin as an investor and I am privileged to have his support and guidance. As we grow within hospitality and expand into packaged goods, we will benefit hugely from his experience.” Vincent said “Justin is one of the most inspiring and skilled leaders of our time. I can’t wait to work alongside him to build Invyted. He shares our passion to allow big and small brands to tell the world more easily what they are up to.” Invyted helps companies manage their existing influencer relationships, access new influencers, and makes it easier to track the impact of campaigns in real time. The company has grown quickly and now has more than 1,000 influencers on its platform, with a combined reach of more than 115 million consumers. Wagner started Invyted to solve problems that she identified as a food blogger, and while working with influencers as a PR intern. She saw first-hand how complex it was for influencers and brands to collaborate, and how difficult it was to track the results of any campaign.

Angus Thirlwell to remain Hotel Chocolat CEO following £534m sale, business to operate as standalone brand within Mars: Angus Thirlwell will remain Hotel Chocolat chief executive following its £534m sale, and the business will operate as standalone brand within Mars, Propel has learned. “I would like to reassure you that our mission to make people and nature happy through reinventing chocolate remains very much in place,” Thirwell said in a letter seen by Propel. “We will operate as a standalone brand that sits within Mars. I will remain as CEO of Hotel Chocolat and we will continue to focus on creating our unique chocolates with more cacao, less sugar.” Thirwell and Peter Harris, who co-founded Hotel Chocolat in 1993, will each net £144m from the sale to Mars, according to the BBC. Thirlwell said that he would invest 80% of his windfall back into the company and that Harris, who will retire, would also invest some of his, but did not say how much. They each have a 27% stake in the business. Hotel Chocolat said the deal would allow the brand to grow further and faster, including overseas, having previously had mixed success with expanding internationally, including shutting its five shops in the US last year. “We know our brand resonates with consumers overseas, but operational supply chain challenges have held us back,” said Thirlwell. “By partnering with Mars, we can grow our international presence much more quickly using their skills, expertise and capabilities.” The company is mostly based in the UK, with around 124 shops, but has some overseas, including in Ireland and Gibraltar.

Starbucks opens its biggest UK store in recent years, ‘many more’ sites planned: Starbucks has opened its biggest UK store in recent years, in Edinburgh. The company said the 8,000 square-foot site at 118 Princes Street represents an enhancement of the former Starbucks outlet at 120 Princes Street, which closed last month in anticipation of the relocation. Spread over two floors, the first floor has the main seating area, offering views of Edinburgh Castle and Princes Street gardens. The 18th century listed building used to be home to an HSBC bank and had been vacant since 2021. Alex Rayner, vice-president and general manager at Starbucks UK, said: “We are thrilled to welcome our new Princes Street store. One of our largest openings in recent years, the design is all centred around highlighting the iconic local landscape, it’s an exciting way to close off the celebrations of our 25th anniversary in the UK.” All employees have transferred from the previous store, and ten additional jobs have been created. The store is certified as a Greener Store, meeting 25 required standards, as verified by an outside auditor, across eight environmental impact areas such as energy efficiency, water stewardship and waste diversion. Starbucks said the opening is another step in its ambitious plans for growth in the UK, with “many more” stores planned, particularly in key city and drive-thru locations and with a focus on innovative store formats such as smaller, digitally forward stores. 
 
Wagamama chefs launch cooking classes at female prison in industry first: A team of chefs from Wagamama, The Restaurant Group owned brand, have visited HMP Downview in Surrey to serve up cooking classes to inspire the female chefs of tomorrow. In partnership with the Ministry of Justice, it was the first time a major UK restaurant group has worked within a female prison. The chefs trained 18 prisoners in bringing some of the restaurant’s classic dishes to life. Over the last year, the Ministry of Justice and Wagamama have formed a partnership to take chefs into prisons and teach inmates cooking skills, and ultimately offer them work when they are released, helping minimise the risk of reoffending. Wagamama said the project has been extremely successful in the five male prisons that chefs have visited so far, including a number of hires, and in one case, an apprentice has been promoted to managerial level. A Wagamama spokesperson said: “We’re committed to making sure these women see the opportunities available to them, especially having seen the impact first hand from our previous sessions and hope to help more people transition into meaningful work at Wagamama, while supporting in the wider goal of reducing reoffending.” The visit forms part of a wider initiative by the Ministry of Justice and New Futures Network called “Unlocking Hospitality” – an event to drive up the numbers of inmates joining hospitality schemes. Wagamama will team up with the Ministry of Justice and Prison Service to offer roles to prisoners out on licence, giving them the chance to gain key skills in the hospitality industry before leaving prison. The scheme was piloted at HMP Hatfield and rolled out across other men’s prisons. Meanwhile, Wagamama has created a chicken katsu pie in collaboration with East London pastry company, Willy’s Pies. It is available for a limited time exclusively from Noodle Lab at the Great Marlborough Street restaurant, which is Wagamama’s hub of creativity and experimentation.
 
Oak Taverns acquires Oxfordshire village pub from Admiral Taverns: Multi-site operator Oak Taverns has acquired the Red Lion in Yarnton from Admiral Taverns for its 15th site. The pub is registered as an asset of community value (ACV). It follows the acquisition of The Crown in Marcham, also in Oxfordshire, four months ago, which is also registered as an ACV. Oak Taverns director Simon Collinson said: “Oak Taverns is pleased to have worked with Everard Cole to secure the Red Lion and The Crown from Admiral Taverns. Both of these properties had been registered as ACVs, which demonstrated to us the importance of these pubs to their local communities, and which formed part of our decision to acquire the closed premises.” Everard Cole, retained agents for Admiral Taverns, said it has seen a rise in properties for sale being registered as ACVs – from 15% across its stock in 2022 to 28% this year. Tom Nichols, commercial property specialist at Everard Cole, said: “We are increasingly engaging with local community groups to update stakeholders during our marketing campaigns. Benefits from this approach are mutual given that the six-month moratorium is being utilised less often, compressing the sale process for vendors, mitigating the risk of disrepair and ultimately reducing the reopening period for purchasers and local communities.” In July, Oak Taverns refinanced after securing a new £2.5m financing package from Cynergy Bank.
 
Wingers secures Telford site, seeks franchisee: Buttermilk fried chicken restaurant concept Wingers has secured a site in Telford Shopping Centre, Telford, to open in the first quarter of 2024. The new 2,500 square-foot unit will offer space for collection, delivery and dinning in. Anthony Round, head of business development at Wingers, said: “Telford is a busy, growing town and Telford Shopping Centre attracts a huge footfall. We are confident that Wingers Telford will soon become one of our most popular restaurants, and so we are already investing in the store fit out. This means a new franchisee will simply be able to take turn-key delivery of the store to get up and running as quickly as possible following their training. For a new franchise, the Telford Wingers also offers excellent delivery prospects and further scope for development in the area. Ideally, we are looking for an experienced business manager or quick service restaurant professional to deliver the Wingers brand to a new audience in Telford.” Originally set up during the pandemic by brothers Amran and Dylan Sunner, with the help of their dad Bill, Wingers currently has six restaurants trading in the Midlands, with ten more franchised outlets set to open over the next year. It offers a full turnkey franchise offering, comprehensive training and support. “This includes a simple operation with low staff overheads, a low cost of entry and the potential for excellent returns,” Wingers said.
 
Chickpea Group founder to open third site for wet-led vehicle: Chickpea Group founder Ethan Davids is set to open a third site for his wet-led vehicle, Great Boozer, which he founded with TV sandwich chef Max Halley in 2021. The duo will open The Wellington Arms, in Marlborough’s High Street, on Friday, 24 November. As with The Sam Wellers in Bath and The Five Bells in Salisbury, the pub will be serving the group’s traditional formula of local ale in handle glasses, wine, scampi fries, pickled eggs “and the occasional sausage”. The grade II-listed building is currently under renovation and will feature an L-shaped bar and a small fireplace, while seating will be spread across three separate areas. Davids said: “The traditional wet-led city boozer has faced an uncertain future in recent years. As a result, some have tried to reinvent the wheel to ensure its survival. We’re doing the exact opposite and focusing on the basics – making sure the Wellington is a place for deep laughs, beautiful pints and pickled eggs.” It comes a month after Davids and Immersive Group co-owner Dave Hancock opened the first permanent site for their new brewery vehicle, Rude Giant Brew Co. Rude Giant Beer House opened in the former Brown Street music venue in Salisbury, on the road of the same name. Chickpea Group, which was founded in 2019 by Ethan and his sister Jordan Davids, along with their friend Tommy Tullis, lined up its sixth pub with rooms in August after acquiring the Silver Plough in Pitton, on the outskirts of Salisbury. This after Davids told Propel the business was exploring expansion outside of its Wiltshire heartland as “trading is strong, and people are buying into what we're trying to do”.
 
The Coffee House set to open furthest south site yet for 19th location: North west independent coffee shop The Coffee House will open its furthest south site yet for its 19th location. The business, which has 18 shops across Cheshire, Merseyside and Manchester, is set to open in the former Smiggle unit in the Potteries Centre, Stoke-on-Trent. It will sell a range of coffee, chilled drinks, homemade cakes and food, with the breakfast menu including teacakes, muffins and granola, while paninis, jacket potatoes and salads will be available for lunch. Amy Whittaker, centre manager at The Potteries Centre, said: “We continue to find new and exciting additions to join The Potteries Centre and we are thrilled that The Coffee House will be joining our current food and drink offerings soon. We can’t wait to see our customers reactions to our latest food and beverage offering.” The Coffee House was founded by brothers Chris and Stephen Shelmerdine in Lymm, Cheshire, in 2011. It will be the brand's seventh opening of 2023 and fifth in the last six months, following launches in Bury, Kirkby, Macclesfield and Stockport. It comes a year after co-founder Chris Shelmerdine said the then 12-strong business was looking to double its estate in the next three years.
 
PizzaExpress joins Just Eat for Business platform: PizzaExpress has joined flexible workplace food solutions company, Just Eat for Business. The menu includes PizzaExpress’ lunchtime pick – The Wrap & Side Bundle. Workers can choose from their favourite pizza topping to pack into a wrap (flavours include American Hot, Padana and Pollo ad Astra). A side can then be added, with options including dough balls, dough sticks, garlic bread with mozzarella, or halloumi bites. Tom Hatcher, delivery and collection director at PizzaExpress, said: “As we continue to grow our dine out proposition for all different meal occasions, we’re pleased to be launching on Just Eat for Business, to serve workers across London. Whether it’s lunch for a meeting, a crowd-pleasing buffet for a team gathering, or a Wrap Bundle for one, we have it covered. There’s no better food to collaborate over than a fresh, authentic PizzaExpress pizza, prepared by one of our expert pizzaiolos.” Matt Ephgrave, managing director at Just Eat for Business, added: “We know just how much workers cherish their lunchtimes, and over the past few years, have seen the positive impact food perks at work have on employees’ productivity and motivation as we work in a hybrid setting. That’s why we’re so delighted to welcome one of the nation’s favourite pizza restaurants, PizzaExpress, to our platform, to provide workers with another option to enjoy, and a reason to come together and collaborate over lunch.”

Dunkin’ Donuts to open in Derby next week: Global coffee chain Dunkin’ Donuts is set to open in Derby next week for its 33rd UK site. It will open in Burton Road, College Park, on Thursday, 23 November, reports Derbyshire Live. The US fast-food chain was founded in Massachusetts in 1950 and relaunched in the UK in 2014. Earlier this year, it had plans for a new drive-thru at the West Point development in St Helens, Merseyside, approved.
 
Roti King set to open third site: London-based Malaysian restaurant Roti King is set to open its third site, in Lower Marsh, Waterloo. Opening on Friday, 1 December, it will follow the street food concept’s original Euston site, which launched in 2014, and its second restaurant, in Battersea Power Station, which opened in May 2022. The team encourages guests to eat with their hands and experience the food as they would on the streets of Malaysia. Featuring an open kitchen, the Waterloo restaurant will have room for 50 covers. All roti canai will be available, with four different options of kari – chicken, mutton, dahl and fish – as well as the stuffed roti murtabak with a variety of fillings. Dishes served with coconut rice will include beef rendang and nasi lemak, plus noodle-based char kuey teow and kari laksa, served with seafood and tofu. South Asian beer will be available by the bottle alongside canned wine and cocktails by Moth. There will also be a new focus on plant-forward dishes, including pulled shitake rendang, in which shiitake mushrooms are cooked down in aromatic spices in the traditional rendang style. Founder Sugen Gopal said: “There is nowhere in the UK that makes roti canai the way we do at Roti King. Our attention to detail, fresh British ingredients and a few secret techniques makes this the most authentic place to eat Malaysian food in the UK. I am beyond thrilled to see my cuisine and heritage becoming so popular in the UK, and Lower Marsh is the perfect spot to bring Malaysian food south of the river.” As with its sister sites, the restaurant will be walk-in only, with takeaway and delivery also on offer.

Loungers to open in Caerphilly: Café bar operator Loungers is set to open a new site in Caerphilly, South Wales. The Consurio Lounge will open in the former Gatehouse building within the town’s Castle Court Shopping Centre, reports Caerphilly County Borough. Cllr Jamie Pritchard, deputy leader and cabinet member for regeneration, said: “The Consurio Lounge will be a great addition to Caerphilly town centre. We’re delighted that this successful chain has chosen Caerphilly, giving both locals and visitors a vibrant venue to be enjoyed.” It comes a month after the Nick Collins-led business opened three new sites in six days – Bordo Lounge in Carlisle, Cosy Club in Oxford and Alfredo Lounge in Louth. Collins said earlier this week that he sees “significant potential” for more Loungers sites in the north west and north east of England and that its roll-out plan remains firmly on track. The Lounge, Cosy Club and Brightside operator posted like-for-like sales growth of 7.7% over the 24 weeks to 1 October 2023. It said that this represented an acceleration from the like-for-like sales growth of 5.7% in the 12 weeks to 9 July 2023 and reflected a continuation of its strong like-for-like sales performance since the pandemic. 
 
Doughnut brand Project D to launch third outlet, in Nottingham: Derbyshire doughnut concept Project D will launch its third permanent kiosk, in Nottingham's Victoria Centre, today (Friday, 17 November). It follows the concept’s debut site, in Sheffield’s Meadowhall, and second location, in York city centre, alongside its online sales and pop-up events. Max Poynton, marketing director for Project D, said: “We are so excited to launch in Nottingham. We've been working hard on finding the perfect site for our new outlet in the city centre. We can’t wait to see our Nottingham customers come out in force. Nottingham has always been an amazing location for us in terms of our pop-up events. We have so many loyal customers from the area who order our products online, and so we already know that Nottingham is a city full of doughnut lovers.” The kiosk will be located between Greggs and Costa Coffee on the centre’s ground floor. Project D was founded in 2018 by Poynton and friends Matthew Bond and James Watts. Earlier this year, it raised almost £475,000 in crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube to support its expansion plans.
 
Zoilo owner opens new bakery and pizza concept: Diego Jacquet, chef patron of Zoilo restaurant in London’s Marylebone, has opened his new bakery and pizza concept in the capital. Propel revealed last month that Jacquet was planning to open a site under the new Florencio concept, which he has developed and operated as a pop-up with chef Marcelo Di Giacomo. It has now opened at 14 Seymour Place in Mayfair, offering a range of pizza from the classic Margherita to a Fugazza made with onions, Provolone, oregano and spicy honey. “I want Florencio to be a truly local pizzeria that combines friendly, old-school service with our unconditional love for pizza,” Jacquet told Hot Dinners. “We’ll be using the very best seasonal ingredients together with insanely well-sourced cheese, flour and tomatoes to make the pizzas.” Unlike Zoilo, with its Argentine-focused wine list, the drinks list ranges more widely, with a mix of Italian and French wine.
 
Four-star hotel on outskirts of Cardiff that went into administration goes on market: A four-star hotel and wedding venue on the outskirts of Cardiff which fell into administration earlier this year has been brought to market. Miskin Manor Hotel & Spa in Pontyclun, operated by RCA Hotels, was placed into administration in October due to “cash flow pressures”. Gareth Harris and Diana Frangou, of RSM UK, were appointed joint administrators of RCA Hotels, trading as Miskin Manor Hotel. The joint administrators said they intended to stabilise the business with a view to continuing trading the hotel while the venue and business is marketed for sale as a going concern. Now, Christie & Co has brought to market the hotel and spa on the instructions of Harris and Frangou, acting as joint receivers. Richard Thomas, senior hotel broker at Christie & Co, who is handling the marketing process, said: “This sale represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to acquire an historically significant and highly regarded Welsh hotel. With plenty of potential for development of the current business, we have already experienced a high level of interest in the business prior to launching to market.” The grade II-listed manor has been home to numerous owners over the years, including the Prince of Glamorgan’s daughter and Judge Gwilym Williams. In 1985, the property was transformed into the country manor house hotel it is today. It comprises 42 individually designed bedrooms and extensive conference and events facilities, along with a health club and spa, restaurant and three helipads. While no guide price has been set, offers are invited for the freehold interest in Miskin Manor.
 
The Real Greek confirms December opening for Braintree site: The Real Greek, the Fulham Shore-owned brand, has confirmed its new site in Braintree, Essex, will open next month. Propel revealed in July that the business would open a site on the opposite corner to Wildwood at the Freeport Outlet Village. It will now open on Monday, 4 December, offering Greece and eastern Mediterranean cuisine, reports the Braintree & Witham Times. It will have indoor and outdoor seating for 158 covers and will be offering a takeaway service via Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat from January. Josef O’Sullivan, centre director at Braintree Village, said: “We’re thrilled to be welcoming The Real Greek to our food and beverage line-up just in time for the festive season. We are sure guests will love the new addition, and it will make the perfect place to stop off for a bite to eat while doing their Christmas shopping.” The Real Greek, which currently operates 26 restaurants across the UK, is also set to take on the ex-Byron in Liverpool’s Paradise Street and the former Handmade Burger Co site in the Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield.
 
Devon theme park and resort sees profit more than halve but remain above pre-pandemic levels: Devon theme park and resort Crealy Park saw its profit more than halve but remain above pre-pandemic levels in the year to 31 January 2023. Its pre-tax profit of £2,813,053 in 2022 was down to £1,313,272 as costs rose by just under £1m. Turnover grew slightly from £9,623,263 to £9,960,882. This compares with turnover of £7,920,798 and a profit of £557,924 in the last full year before covid, ending 31 January 2020. The company received no government grants compared with £199,640 in 2022 but did receive £144,836 in interest payments (2022: £95,275). No dividends were paid (2022: nil). Director Christopher Down said: “While many people have returned to having overseas holidays, we have continued to trade well. This has been supported by more investment in extra rides and in improving our events offerings at Easter, Halloween and Christmas. With our focus on staycations, our Crealy Meadows trade has had a very good year, with summer pitches being almost fully booked. As experienced by almost all companies, costs have been on the rise, particularly imported ride parts, wages and energy costs, which has impacted on the profitability of the park. It should also be remembered that the year ended 31 January 2022 saw the receipt of government support in response to covid-19 and an exceptional summer trading period for south west tourism businesses. Considerable work has been done, and is still being done, to reduce our electric and gas usage across the park through the use of green energy, such as the use of biomass boilers and the introduction of more solar panels.” 
 
Liverpool takeaway and bar to open site opposite Everton FC’s new stadium: A takeaway and bar in Liverpool has lodged plans for a new venue opposite Everton FC’s new Bramley Moore Dock stadium. The Bluehouse – formerly Hot Wok – revealed earlier this year that it would be “moving with the Toffees” and opening a site opposite the new stadium, which would include an aparthotel, bar and takeaway. Now, plans have been submitted to Liverpool City Council to change the use of 68 and the rear of 66 Regent Road into a bierkeller. Posting on X, The Bluehouse said: “We can confirm the new ‘bierkeller’ opposite Bramley Moore will be The Bluehouse. It will also contain the Hot Wok takeaway and seven serviced apartments. The first site we had already gained planning permission on two doors down will have amendments made to now be a ground floor bar with hotel rooms on the middle floor.” A design and access statement submitted with the proposal noted that the scheme will “cater mainly for the big influx of football supporters and people attending events and shows at the new Everton football ground”.
 
Leeds wood-fire grill concept goes from pop-up to permanent: Leeds wood-fire grill concept Galleria is set to open its first permanent site after launching as a series of pop-ups in the summer. Galleria will open the doors to its bricks and mortar home later this year at a new cultural venue, Project House, in Armley Road. Project House is a new multi-use event space that opened in July. The 1,000-capacity venue – from the teams behind Brudenell Social Club, Super Friendz and Welcome Skate Store – is home to a programme of cultural events including music, exhibitions and markets. Galleria will feature a wood-fire grill with an all-day menu serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, reports Insider Media. Andy Castle, previously of Ox Club – Headrow House’s Michelin Guide recommended restaurant – will be head chef, while front of house will be led by Chris Allsop, previously of Leeds gastropub The Reliance. Galleria will feature a produce-driven menu with a focus on seasonal ingredients from local suppliers. This will include house-made flatbreads, salads and side dishes, alongside fresh juice and coffee, a natural wine list, cocktails and locally brewed craft beer. Castle said: “We’ve spent the past few months having some fun, developing new dishes and trying out aspects of the soon-to-be menu at pop-ups and takeovers, including a week-long residency at Michelin-recommended restaurant Ox Club. We want Galleria to be super accessible but in a way that doesn’t compromise the quality of the food – a challenging prospect but one we’re confident we’ve nailed.”

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