Busaba looks to exit four leases as it launches CVA process: Busaba, the Thai chain founded by Alan Yau, is looking to exit four leases as it launches its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) proposal, Propel has learned. The company, which earlier this summer was acquired by Tnui Capital – the London-based private equity firm – launched its CVA process this week, working with advisory firm Duff & Phelps. Propel understands the 13-strong group is looking to exit its site in Eastcastle Street, Oxford Circus, which it placed on the market earlier this year; plus the lease of its former site in Manchester; the lease of its former site in St Albans; and on the site it was set to take in Reading’s Jackson’s Corner development. The company has so far reopened seven of its sites since 4 July. Managing director Terry Harrison said in a letter to staff: “These extraordinary times have brought extraordinary challenges for everybody and, as you’ll be aware, the casual dining arena has particularly suffered as a consequence of the covid-19 pandemic. The knock-on effect of the outbreak continues and this unfortunate, but necessary measure, is the only real option we believe we have left to save our business in these challenging times, thereby preserving jobs and ensuring the restaurants will open again, or in the case of those that have reopened, stay open. Since the covid-19 ‘lock-down’, we have had to make some very difficult decisions to sustain our business and it is true to say anybody connected to Busaba has been affected and has had to share in the pain to secure our future, including rebuilding our operating model, simplifying our menu offer, reducing our workforce, applying the government’s furlough scheme (which is having huge mental health implications), and our management team accepting a significant salary sacrifice at head office. The response from our restaurant teams has been incredible and their understanding and flexibility has resulted in us proposing that (where we once thought we were going to have to make 200 redundancies) we will be reducing our workforce down by around 40 hard-working, committed, team members. The proposal is drafted to ensure the sustainability of the business going forward and putting it on a variable costs model basis. Our teams have shown incredible understanding about changes to working practices and we are asking the other stakeholders to join us in changing this business and driving it forward.”
Temakinho places debut UK site on the market: Brazilian-Japanese fusion chain Temakinho has placed its debut UK site in London’s Soho on the market. The company, which was founded in 2012 by the Maroli family and operates 18 restaurants in Italy, the UK and Ibiza, opened the sites at 10 Old Compton Street in 2016. CDG Leisure is understood to be marketing the site. The brand also operates a site at One Tower Bridge, which continues to trade. Earlier this summer, the company reopened both its UK sites for deliveries and takeaway.
Country Pub Group founder acquires one site out of administration: Matthew Lowe, the founder of Somerset-based The Country Pub Group, which was placed into administration earlier this summer, has bought back one of the company’s four sites, Propel has learned. Steven Parker and Trevor Binyon, of Opus Restructuring, were appointed joint administrators for the group, which operated The Temple Inn in Temple Cloud, The Battleaxes in Wraxall, The Castle Inn in Bradford-on-Avon and The Mendip Inn in Shepton Mallet, in July. Lowe has bought back the Mendip Inn for a total consideration of £30,000. It is currently uncertain if there will be any realisation of the three other leases. Due to the pandemic, the company ceased trading in March and closed its premises. It was able to make use of the government’s furlough scheme and managed to obtain a £50,000 grant. The company had submitted a case for a £212,000 Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan, however this was turned down.
Five Guys secures former Chiquito site in Enfield: Five Guys, the US better burger brand, is set to continue its expansion in the UK, after securing a site in Enfield, while in talks on a further three sites, Propel has learned. The John Eckbert-led company has secured the former Chiquito site at Southbury Leisure Park, with an opening planned before the end of the year. Propel understands the circa 100-strong company is in talks on a further three sites, including one in Crawley, West Sussex. Earlier this month, Propel revealed that the company had launched a “curb side” pick-up option at selected sites across its UK estate, Propel has learned. It launched the option at 14 of its sites across the country, including those in Leicester, Nottingham, Cheshire Oaks, Gloucester Quays and Milton Keynes.
Goodman to reopen all six sites by end of September: All six Goodman Restaurants sites will be back open by the end of September. The Global Craftsman Group-owned chain reopened Goodman City on Tuesday (8 September) and will begin business at Zelman Meats Soho on Wednesday, 23 September, and Goodman Canary Wharf on Tuesday, 29 September. Goodman Maddox Street, Zelman Meats Harvey Nichols and Beast have been open since July. Week-on-week growth in covers since reopening on 4 July for the group was helped by the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme. Managing director Alex D’Aguiar said: “We’re thrilled that we are reopening the rest of our estate following lock-down and are pleased to be trading better than expected. The next few months will continue to be a challenge. While carefully complying with social distancing measures put in place to protect our guests and staff, we’ll be pivoting our guest profile not to be so reliant on tourism and business travellers in central London and, most importantly, continue to give our loyal guests the confidence to come back and dine with us.” Founder Misha Zelman added: “Since lock-down I have been inspired how the team has adapted, reorganised and planned how we recover through these challenging times. The team has been working tirelessly to ensure we have stability in the business as we start to rebuild over the next 12 months, working with our key partners that have been very supportive.”
Inception Group reopens Soho-based Cahoots, plans new immersive dining experience: Inception Group has reopened its Soho-based, 1940s-themed speakeasy, and announced it will be launching an immersive dining experience, inspired by the much-loved British wartime sitcom ’Allo ’Allo, at the venue next month. From Wednesday, 7 October, the original Cahoots Underground space, will play host to a ’40s feasting experience inspired by the cult comedy classic of the same era. While tucking into a “ration-busting” three-course menu, guests will be treated to a “nostalgic dose of escapism, as a talented team of actors seeks to revive the most memorable characters and storylines from the long-running wartime spoof”.
Gaucho and M launch ‘Safe Six’ menu: Gaucho and M Restaurants, owned by Rare Restaurants, have launched The Safe Six Menu in response to Boris Johnson’s announcement that no more than six people may gather together as part of the fight against covid-19. From Thursday, 17 September, until the end of October, all Gaucho and M Restaurants across London, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh will accept a limited number of bookings at 6pm for a three-course meal with each dish costing £6. Menus have been are designed by culinary director chef Mike Reid, who has appeared on TV shows This Morning and Ready Steady Cook, and include seabass ceviche, churrasco cut of prime Argentine steak and a chocolate brownie sundae. Rare restaurants chief executive Martin Williams said: “We assisted the cabinet office in making restaurant venues covid-secure – now we want to support the safe dining for six. Although it seems the new measures are restrictive, in many ways they are liberating and will allow indoor dining beyond your family or bubble – so we wanted to create a menu that celebrates visiting restaurants once more”.
Searcys to continue reopening its restaurant estate: Searcys will reopen its Helix restaurant within The Gherkin on Monday, 21 September. It will be joined by St Pancras Brasserie by Searcys, which will open again on the same day while the stable’s Saatchi Bar and Brasserie, near Sloan Square, has already reopened. Helix, which is located on floors 39 and 40 at the top of The Gherkin, in the City of London, will offer a new weekday menu and champagne partnership with Lanson, alongside its first afternoon tea. Dishes will be inspired by iconic food markets such as Billingsgate and Borough Market, and will include roast pumpkin velouté served with caraway toast, apple and almond; miso cod loin with roast cauliflower, verjuice and grapes; and white chocolate cremeux, passion fruit, baked chocolate and mint – available at £28 for two courses and £35 for three. For its afternoon tea, which starts at £35, executive chef Darren Deadman has designed a menu that includes finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream, plus sweet treats of passion fruit mousse, Black Forest gateaux and lemon macaroon. The Gherkin will also open its private dining rooms for small events, private dinners and meetings. Searcys operates circa 30 sites across the UK.
Starbucks rolls out strawless lids for iced drinks across US and Canada:Starbucks has rolled out its recyclable strawless lids for iced drinks across the US and Canada. It follows a pilot scheme in select stores over the past year, including some in the UK. Starbucks said it marked a “significant milestone” in its efforts to eliminate one billion plastic straws globally per year. “Recyclable, strawless lids for customers across the US and Canada is another step in our journey to reduce our environmental footprint,” said Michael Kobori, chief sustainability officer at Starbucks. “As we move closer toward our 2030 target of a 50% reduction in waste sent to landfills, the long-standing history of innovation within Starbucks, partnership across the industry and changing consumer behaviour remain fundamental to our purpose and our prosperity as an organisation.” Frappuccino blended beverages and other drinks with whipped cream will continue to have a domed lid made from recyclable plastic and be accompanied by a straw, except where prohibited by local law. Straws will also remain available in stores for customers upon request. Starbucks said strawless lids will be rolled out to more markets in the coming year.
Smoke & Salt to relaunch with bricks and mortar site in Tooting: Smoke & Salt has left its “magic box” site at Pop Brixton and will open a bricks and mortar restaurant in Tooting, on Tuesday, 22 September. Chefs and founders Aaron Webster and Remi Williams reached their crowdfunding target of £140,000 in January in a bid to find a permanent home. The duo said: “Our cuisine is an awesome reflection, representation and re-imagination of the modern dining scene in London, bridging ancient food cultures and traditions.” Smoke & Salt’s ethos celebrates the ancient techniques of smoking, curing and preserving, combined with bold, global flavours and modern influences. Smoke & Salt will be offering 50% off each bill from its launch until 24 September. It will then offer £10 off per person, along the lines of the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme from Friday, 25 September, until the end of the month. The restaurant will seat 30 to 35 people. Aside from the à la carte menu, there will be a six-course sharing menu with each dish chosen by the chefs.
Malhotra to launch pop-up bar as work starts to restore ex-music hall and pub:Newcastle-based pub, restaurant and hotel operator Malhotra Group is to launch a pop-up bar as an interim measure as restoration work begins on a former music hall and pub in the ongoing Bigg Market project. Balmbra’s in the Cloth Market area of the city was damaged by fire in 2014 but now it will be restored with support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Owned by Malhotra Group, Balmbra’s will see its frontage restored, with reproduction signage of the original from the 1900s. A pop-up bar will be built inside while further restoration work takes place. Bigg Market project manager Alex Slack told BDaily: “The public hasn’t been able to enjoy Balmbra’s for years. While we would ideally like to see the full restoration of the dance hall, this interim redevelopment and pop-up bar will bring the building back into public use and will go some way to stopping the rot and allowing further disrepair.” Malhotra Group founder and chairman Meenu Malhotra added: “We remain committed to a full restoration in due course but, as an interim measure, we want to see the building back in use. We will be working hand in hand with NE1 and the city council to ensure the project is carried out appropriately and sensitively.”
Tokyo Diner launches Fakey Cakey concept, its first creation since lock-down:Tokyo Diner will launch its new concept Fakey Cakey – savoury dishes that look like sweet cakes – from Monday (14 September). The Soho restaurant, founded by Richard Hills in 1992, will offer 11 varieties of Fakey Cakey. Tokyo Diner said the dishes are “a new type of cake created for those who prefer savoury flavours but still want a celebration cake that brings the wow factor”. Each Fakey Cakey is handcrafted with layers of shari (Japanese seasoned rice) and fresh vegetables. Fakey Cakey was the brainchild of long-standing Tokyo Diner chef Gayan-san, who has worked at the central London site since 2011.
LWC secures multimillion-pound loan to help navigate covid-19 waters:Independent drinks wholesaler LWC Drinks has secured a multimillion-pound emergency loan to help “right the ship”. NatWest has provided the finance through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS). Managing director Ebrahim Mukadam said: “There are many successful businesses like ours that have been unavoidably impacted by the pandemic and the subsequent lock-down. It’s very positive to have secured the CLBILS loan, which will enable us to right the ship. We have an ambitious growth strategy in place and look forward to pushing ahead, continuing to support our existing clients while growing our customer base across the UK.” The Manchester-based company was founded 40 years ago and operates 14 depots across the UK with more than 13,500 on-trade customers. LWC was advised by JMW Solicitors partners Scott Cameron and Majid Mahmood, with assistance from associate Michael Atherton. Chris Poston from chartered accountancy firm RPG advised LWC in respect of the financial issues relating to the transaction. JMW head of banking Cameron said: “We’re delighted to have supported LWC in securing a CLBILS facility as it normalises operations following a challenging period. It’s an excellent business with a strong track record and an extensive customer base, standing it in good stead as it implements its return to business and growth plans.”