SA Brain appoints Kate Ablett as head of people: Cardiff-based brewer and retailer SA Brain has appointed Kate Ablett to its new head of people role, Propel has learned. Ablett, who is also company secretary of the South East Wales CIPD, joined SA Brain earlier this year after a career in HR in the retail sector, most notably with Sainsbury’s. She will take responsibility for all aspects of people strategy within SA Brain as well as direct day-to-day management of the people function. SA Brain, which employs 3,000 people in its head office and 104 managed pubs across Wales, recently relocated to Cardiff Bay, where it is building a brewery. Ablett said: “Traditionally this is an industry where people, people development and training can make a real impact on the success or failure of an organisation and I’m determined we will set an example in the years ahead.” SA Brain operations director Jon Bridge added: “Kate is an outstanding individual with a track record of success in a demanding retail environment. I am sure she will make a great contribution to our future prosperity.”
Yorkshire-based La Casita to open fifth site in county: Yorkshire-based Spanish bar and restaurant concept La Casita is to open its fifth site in the county, in Skipton next week. The brand was launched by Simon Miller and Oliver Renton in Ilkley in 2014 under the banner Little House Of Tapas and has opened further sites in Horsforth, Leeds and Boston Spa. The Skipton restaurant will open at Mill Bridge on Friday, 30 November following a £70,000 investment. La Casita offers Andalusian tapas food alongside wine and cocktails. The company said it had further growth plans for 2019, while it has launched a loyalty app that will cover the brand’s five restaurants. Miller told BDaily: “We pride ourselves on the experience our restaurants create, carefully curated dishes with great flavour and creativity, all set in a beautifully intimate restaurant. Our vision is to bring the taste of Spain to the wonderful little hamlets of Yorkshire. 2019 will be an exciting year for us with plans for new sites, exploring a potential street food offering and continuing to build the La Casita brand. We want to continue supporting local business communities, with the addition of developing those wanting to work in hospitality. We offer apprenticeships to young or old talent, giving them first-hand experience of working in a fast-paced restaurant environment.”
Imagine Inns opens fourth site with Star Pubs & Bars: North west-based Imagine Inns has opened its fourth site with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars. It has relaunched The Railway at Bromley Cross, near Bolton, following a £500,000 refurbishment. The pub is next to Bromley Cross train station and will open at 6am on weekday mornings serving coffee and snacks to commuters and travellers and providing free Wi-Fi and USB points. Live train arrival and departure times will be on display along with railway timetables in two rooms, which have been designed in the style of a Victorian waiting room complete with real fire. The Railway has a bar, open plan kitchen, two dining areas and a garden, with covers increased from 100 to 250. Imagine Inns director Mike Hales said: “There is no cafe at the station and it’s a real issue – especially for the hundreds of early-morning commuters into Manchester when the trains are delayed or the weather is poor. It was a service local people were crying out for.” Star Pubs & Bars operations director for the north west David Pritchard added: “The Railway is a prime example of why we’re so committed to investing in pubs. A refurbishment in partnership with an entrepreneurial operator was essential to its future viability and it’s now a hub for the community as well as a destination for the wider area.” All Imagine Inns’ sites are on five-year rolling leases with Star Pubs & Bars.
MeatLiquor offers £20,000 finder’s fee for new W1 home as date revealed for debut site’s closure: MeatLiquor will shut its debut site, W1 in Marylebone, in February but is offering £20,000 to the person who finds it a new home nearby. The company revealed in June that W1 would remain open on a month-by-month basis. Now MeatLiquor has announced it will shut in February as the building in Welbeck Street is to be demolished to make way for a luxury hotel. W1 opened in 2011 with only a two-year lease. MeatLiquor tweeted: “The time has come – we’ll close at the end of February. It’s been quite a seven-year ride in a site we were only supposed to be in for two years. If you know a site nearby that would work for us, we could make £20,000 happen for you.” MeatLiquor operates 12 venues across the UK – the latest opened in Battersea last month.
Concept Taverns relaunches oldest venue in portfolio as micro-brewery: Leeds-based operator Concept Taverns, previously known as Jones Bar Group, has invested £200,000 to transform the oldest venue in its portfolio into a micro-brewery. The company has converted Bar 166 & Bistro in Town Street, Horsforth, and renamed it as The Malt Brewhouse. The revamped venue includes an extension to accommodate the brewery and an open plan layout. The restaurant has been replaced by an open kitchen, booth seating, shuffleboard and views into the micro-brewery. Managing director Ben Jones told The Business Desk: “After 14 successful years owning Bar 166 & Bistro, we wanted to give Horsforth something new and exciting to enjoy. Our taste and ambitions have changed over the years, along with our customers, and I think everyone felt ready for a change. Micro-breweries will become more common in the coming years so we want to be ahead of the game. We’re really pleased to be bringing the first one to our home town.” Operations director Ben Warren added: “The new four-barrel micro-brewery is capable of brewing 2,400 pints per week. We’ve added ten new lines of beers and six cask hand-pulls to offer 16 beers in total.” Concept Taverns was launched last month after Jones Bar Group became a separate entity from its sister company, Roxy Leisure. Concept Taverns will focus on building a “fast-growing estate of freehold Yorkshire pubs”.
BrewDog opens its first airport bar, in Edinburgh: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has launched its first airport bar. The venue has opened at Edinburgh airport’s new terminal expansion and is operated by The Restaurant Group (TRG Concessions) in an exclusive franchise partnership. Alongside craft beer from BrewDog’s Aberdeenshire brewery and other craft brewers from around the world, the venue offers specially developed breakfast and lunch menus including loaded hot sandwiches, salads and all-day breakfast. BrewDog co-founder James Watt said: “We think of Edinburgh as a second home having experienced the city’s craft beer scene growing into a lively, impassioned hub of innovation and flavour. BrewDog Edinburgh Airport is our third in the city and will serve as a gateway for craft beer to the millions of travellers that pass through each year.” TRG Concessions managing director Nick Ayerst added: “We are delighted to open the world’s first BrewDog airport bar in Edinburgh. It seems only right it should be in the capital city of the company’s home nation and will provide passengers with food, drink and a unique experience they will be sure to want elsewhere.” Edinburgh airport chief executive Gordon Dewar said: “We have been working extremely hard to improve facilities across the airport and this is the latest stage in that project as we deliver a global brand for passengers.” BrewDog is opening bars in Aberdeen and Budapest this week, while last month it launched a “craft beer airline experience” that involves a round-trip to Columbus, Ohio, in a chartered Boeing 767.
Lytham Wine Company outlines plans for ten Barrique sites following launch of second venue: Lytham Wine Company has opened a second site for its wine shop, deli and bar concept Barrique and is targeting up to ten sites for the concept across villages in north west England. The company, which launched the venture in Lytham two years ago, has opened a second site, in a former Santander branch in Birkdale, reports The Business Desk. As well as eating and drinking on-site, Barrique customers can purchase deli items to take away and use Wineemotion vending machines that offer wine by the glass. Barrique was founded by Charles Furnell, Michael Robinson and Jake Crimmin, a former sommelier at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Fifteen. The company previously said it felt the concept could work in many locations across the UK.
Majestic to stockpile one million bottles of wine in case of ‘no deal’ Brexit:Majestic Wine is to stockpile more than one million bottles of wine from France, Spain and Italy as part of an emergency plan in case of a “no deal” Brexit. The company said it would increase stock levels in its UK warehouses at a cost of between £5m and £8m early next year to mitigate any potential supply chain disruption in March. Majestic called the move a “sensible precaution” in case lengthy transport delays ensue at UK borders following the country’s exit from the European Union. Majestic chief executive Rowan Gormley told the Guardian: “We are planning for tough times and we’re investing through tough times because we know that’s the route to a more profitable future.”
Ales from Wales launches debut site following crowdfunding campaign: Real ale operator Ales from Wales has opened its debut pub following a crowdfunding campaign to launch the concept. Dave Hawyes has opened The Hockley Rebel in Broad Street after acquiring the lease of a site formerly occupied by Mexican restaurant El Capo. The pub provides real ale and cider from local and Welsh breweries alongside food and traditional pub games such as darts and billiards. Club Tik – a late-night bar with live music and DJs – is located upstairs. Hawyes told The Business Desk: “We are a real pub offering a traditional but carefully considered experience for our customers.” Frankie Labbate, director of agent Box Property, which brokered the deal, added: “This is great news for Nottingham. Dave and his team are offering something new to the city centre and a concept that will be very welcome.” Hawyes raised funds to launch the concept through the Angel Investment Network platform last year with plans to roll it out to other UK cities.
Taiwanese dim sum brand Din Tai Fung to make UK debut next month with Covent Garden opening: Taiwanese dim sum restaurant chain Din Tai Fung is to make its UK debut next month with an opening in Covent Garden. The Taipei-based chain has signed a 25-year lease with Aberdeen Standard Investments to open a 250-cover restaurant at 5-6 Henrietta Street on Wednesday, 5 December. The company has agreed a rent of £1.2m a year for a 9,000 square foot unit arranged over ground floor and basement. The brand’s signature dish consists of steamed pork dumplings passed through six stations, each manned by a team of dim sum chefs. Other dishes will include steamed chicken soup, while a bar will offer Taiwanese-inspired cocktails and traditional Chinese tea. The venue will also sell a range of Taiwanese sauces and souvenirs. Din Tai Fung has more than 150 restaurants worldwide and will open a second London site next year, in Centre Point.
Cornwall-based Verdant Brewing Company launches £500,000 crowdfunding campaign for new brewery: Cornwall-based Verdant Brewing Company has launched a £500,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to build a brewery. The Falmouth-based company is looking to quadruple capacity and, having identified a site, is seeking funds for a 35-hectrolitre brewhouse, laboratory and taproom. It is offering 5% equity in return for the investment, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £9.5m. The pitch states: “We have reached the capacity of our beloved baby blue warehouse in Falmouth. Last year sales grew by 912.4% and we have doubled turnover this year to £1.1m, increasing capacity to 3,000 hectolitres of beer. However, demand implies we could sell at least four times that amount. For the past few years we have been looking for a site big enough to meet the demand for our beers without moving out of Falmouth. We’ve now found the perfect site. The 17,500 square foot warehouse will also allow us to have a state-of-the-art laboratory and an on-site taproom for the first time. We want to become one of the world’s leading breweries but we are determined to stay true to our independent artisan roots.”
Experienced quartet launch restaurant and nightclub at former Sugar Hut site in Liverpool: A quartet of experienced operators have opened a restaurant and nightclub in a former Sugar Hut site in Liverpool city centre. The 15 Group has carried out a multimillion-pound makeover of a building in Victoria Street that also housed The Living Room. Dash Restaurant & Bar and XOXO club are the brainchild of Dean and Michael Jones, Gary Carr and Mark King. It is the first joint venture for the partners, who have more than ten years’ experience of operating venues. The restaurant accommodates 125 covers while there is also a private dining area for up to 36 guests. It offers “contemporary dining with pan-Asian influences” and a focus on large and small plates. The bar offers spirits, beer and a New York-themed cocktail list. In the basement, XOXO club plays music ranging from house to RnB. Dean Jones said the architect-led design had been inspired by a trip to Europe. He said: “I was in Paris and went into this particular bar and was blown away by it. We knew we wanted to do something with Dash that had never been done in Liverpool before and when I saw it I thought, ‘this is it’.”
Restaurant offering two Thai concepts in one venue to launch in Soho next month: A restaurant offering two Thai concepts on separate floors is to launch in Soho next month. Wild Rice and Mamasan will open in Brewer Street on Saturday, 1 December as a double-decker restaurant with two takes on Thai food. Restaurateurs Pan Serirak and Mike Asavarut will take over a space formerly occupied by another Thai restaurant, Jane-Tira. Wild Rice will seat 36 diners on the ground floor and offer a menu of small plates using seasonal British ingredients. Reinvented Thai dishes will include plaa salmon (salmon sashimi with chilli, lime leaf, lemongrass and lime) and pulled chicken leg soup. Interiors will feature a wall of windows inspired by the richly coloured timber buildings in the old town of Bangkok. Downstairs, 25-cover Mamasan will offer street food dishes such as Thai fried chicken and spicy larb fries with toasted rice, lime and chilli. The drinks list will include bubble tea and alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails. Its decor will be themed on Thailand’s Chinatown with lanterns, neon signs and colourful lights.
Wiltshire-based Hop Kettle Brewing Company opens second site, in Swindon: Wiltshire-based Hop Kettle Brewing Company has opened its second site, in Swindon. The brewer has launched The Eternal Optimist in Devizes Road, Old Town. Hop Kettle Brewery provides the three cask ales, including an IPA brewed exclusively for the bar, while the 60-strong spirits list features the brewer’s own-brand gin, Silver Lining. Hop Kettle Brewing Company founder Tom Gee told This Is Wiltshire: “The Eternal Optimist is a kind of home away from home. It’s a speakeasy bar, slightly like a lounge bar. It’s a place for people who enjoy their drinks for what they are. We have drinks in all price brackets. Devizes Road is a really interesting drag in terms of pubs and bars. We think it’s the perfect place. We’re not all after the same market.” The company also operates The Red Lion in Cricklade, where Gee first started brewing Hop Kettle beers after he bought the site in 2008, and a brewery on Swindon’s Hawksworth Industrial estate.
Lebanese concept to launch in former Cote in Hale: A concept claiming to offer the most “authentic Lebanese dining experience the north west has ever seen” is to open at a former Cote site in Hale village this month. Karam, which means “generosity” in Arabic, will launch in Ashley Road offering a range of dishes that combine “spices from the Middle East with Cheshire’s freshest local produce”. Entrepreneur Ahmed Fathalla has founded Karam with team members from award-winning Manchester restaurant Don Giovanni, while the menu has been developed by renowned Middle Eastern chef Mohamed Aqeed. Fathalla said: “We are creating an exciting new luxury dining experience for Hale, where every detail will transport diners to the opulent surroundings of the Middle East. Diners will experience some of the most authentic Lebanese dishes in the UK.” Signature dishes at Karam will include chicken tagine, lamb sambousek and bamieh stew. The restaurant will also feature a spice bar, where diners can buy authentic spices used in Karam’s dishes.
Nando’s appoints Karmarama in above-the-line advertising return: Nando’s has appointed Karmarama as its advertising agency after a competitive pitch. The appointment doesn’t affect AnalogFolk, which continues to work on Nando’s digital ecosystem. The move signals Nando’s return to above-the-line advertising after its decision to move into content publishing in 2016, reports Campaign. Nando’s hired Adjust Your Set after parting ways with 18 Feet & Rising, which is now called And Rising. Earlier this year, Nando’s moved its UK media business to WPP’s Essence from Havas Media Group, which had worked with the brand for seven years.