Hawthorn ‘evaluating all options’ after receiving ‘good level of interest’ following IPO plans: Mark Davies, chief executive of community pub company Hawthorn, has told Propel the business had a “good level of interest” from the public and private sector and is “evaluating all its options”. In April, parent group NewRiver announced it would explore the potential for an initial public offering of Hawthorn, following a strategic review. Speaking following NewRiver’s full-year results, Davies said the process was still ongoing. He said: “Our recent focus has been on reopening the pubs and we are now turning our attention back to the process. There’s a lot of work to be done before we advance to the next stage. We’ve had a good level of interest from both the public and private sector, and we now evaluate all those options and will provide an update in due course.” In the meantime, Davies said all the attention was turning to 21 June – in what is being dubbed Freedom Day. He said he was “cautiously optimistic” restrictions would be lifted but admitted “media speculation in recent days had been unhelpful”. He added: “The message seems to have shifted a bit in the past week or so, but it’s important the government follows the facts and figures when it makes its decisions. It will be very challenging for the sector if we don’t get back to where we need to be. We could have a really good summer of trading with the Euros, the British Lions and the other sporting events on offer and with the pent-up demand we are seeing from consumers. The importance of this decision for the hospitality industry as a whole cannot be underestimated – it is absolutely massive.” Davies said the 700-strong company was continuing to support its circa 550 tenants, and rent reductions would continue until at least August – depending on the government’s decision. He added: “We are in a very strong financial position – we’ve got about £200m of cash available to us. As well as investing our estate, and we’ve spent about £10m over the past 14 months, it’s been about looking after our people. We’ve offered more than £8m in rent support – and that is ongoing – and we will continue to support our people as much as we can.” Davies said a “few” non-core pubs were still closed, which the company was looking to dispose of while the deal to acquire 14 Everards sites, announced in April, had now completed.
 
Thunderbird Fried Chicken signs first franchise agreement as it takes brand outside of London with Parkdean Resorts partnership: Thunderbird Fried Chicken, the wings and fried chicken concept backed by TriSpan, has partnered with holiday park operator Parkdean Resorts as it takes the brand outside of London for the first time, Propel has learned. The franchise agreement, which is the first of its kind for Thunderbird, will see an initial two sites open at Parkdean Resorts’ parks in Camber Sands, in East Sussex, and Trecco Bay, in south Wales, this month. The plan is then to roll out the offer across additional parks over the coming year. The concepts will trade under the Thunderbird Fried Chicken name, offering a menu of classic Thunderbird dishes, all cooked to the exact specification that has seen the business quickly gain a cult following and grow to six sites. Under the agreement, Parkdean Resorts will oversee the full management of the sites, but it will be a collaborative process with all employees undergoing a full Thunderbird induction at its London restaurants. Thunderbird chief executive Paul Gilchrist said: “We’re excited to be expanding the business through this franchise, with the opportunity to open Thunderbird sites outside of London for the first time. In Parkdean Resorts, we’ve found a partner that fundamentally gets what we’re about as a business and I have complete faith in their systems and people to meet and deliver the stringent quality control standards we set for Thunderbird.” Parkdean Resorts chief executive Steve Richards added: “This move represents the wider intent across the business to continually improve the quality of our food and beverage offer, giving our guests an unrivalled choice and experience when they visit us. Thunderbird is a young, exciting brand that has perfected an outstanding product which we’re absolutely certain will be a hit with our guests.” Parkdean Resorts operates 67 caravan, lodge, cabin, glamping and camping holiday resorts while Thunderbird has a number of new openings lined up in London for the rest of 2021.
Mapal acquires France-based restaurant and kitchen management software provider Easilys: Mapal Group, the European hospitality software developer behind Edinburgh’s Flow Hospitality Training, has acquired Easilys, a multi-site restaurant and kitchen management software provider based in France with offices in Paris, Geneva and Barcelona. The acquisition is the latest in a series of investments by Mapal in complementary hospitality technologies, with a view to combining solutions to create a powerful, integrated back-of-house multi-site operating system for the hospitality sector. The move follows the acquisition of UK-based Flow Hospitality Training in December 2019, US-headquartered Cloud Reputation in 2020 and Sweden-based GetCompliant earlier this year. Easilys was founded in France by three brothers who aimed to change how catering and restaurant groups manage, supply and control their restaurants and kitchens. Its software is used by more than 5,000 hospitality websites in six countries to improve margin and drive procurement efficiencies through multiple features such as production and recipe management, inventory, RFP management, waste reduction and compliance control. Key customers include Sodexo, Big Mamma Group, Vapiano, Pokawa and more than 2,000 schools. Mapal founder and chief executive Jorge Lurueña said: “Welcoming Easilys to the Mapal Group family is very exciting because we believe it represents one of the missing pieces of our puzzle in offering a full-suite of management tools to the hospitality sector. While we have been active in France for a while, we are excited to grow our presence in the country and use it as a base to grow in neighbouring countries also.”
 
Roxy Ball Room to double up in Nottingham with largest site to date: Roxy Leisure is to open the largest site to date for its Roxy Ball Room concept as it doubles up in Nottingham. The company has agreed a deal with Orchard Street Investment Management to take 21,000 square foot of space at the 200,000 square foot leisure complex, The Cornerhouse. Roxy Leisure has signed a 20-year lease across the basement floor of the property. The venue, which opens next Friday (11 June), will offer a range of leisure and gaming facilities, including tenpin and duckpin bowling, ping pong, shuffleboard, ice curling and a selection of karaoke rooms, in addition to a number of traditional arcade games. The Cornerhouse is anchored by a 14-screen Cineworld and is home to 13 restaurants/bars, a nightclub, indoor adventure golf and a casino. Roxy Leisure chief executive Matt Jones said: “After the success and warm reception to our first site in Nottingham, we decided to open a second one here. We love this city and its amazing community and nightlife, and with The Cornerhouse, we think Roxy Ball Room will fit in perfectly there.” Roxy Leisure currently operates 11 sites across Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham under the Roxy Ball Room, Roxy Lanes and Roxy Arcade banners. Last year, the company secured a £7.5m investment from private equity firm Foresight, with Mark McQuater, the former chief executive of Revolution Bars Group, becoming its chairman.
Chilango appoints Wagamama COO Nigel Sherwood as non-executive director: Mexican restaurant brand Chilango has appointed Nigel Sherwood as a non-executive director to support the company’s ambitious growth plans. Sherwood brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from his current and ongoing role as chief operating officer at Wagamama as well as in his previous role of managing director at Shake Shack, and within other senior roles at Nando’s and Pizza Hut UK. He joins Chilango’s new owners to drive the business forward alongside managing director Richard Franks. Chilango has a pipeline of new openings planned for 2021-22. Following the success of its regional sites in Manchester, Reading and, most recently, in Brighton, the chain is looking for new regional locations as well as further sites in London. A trial of a digital-only kitchen at the company’s Boxpark Croydon site was a “huge success”, acting as a test bed for further digital growth and development. Sherwood’s appointment follows the sale of the business in August 2020 to RDCP Group, an investment firm run by Sameer Rizvi and Iryna Dubylovska. A recruitment process to find a new head of people and culture for Chilango is also in place. Sherwood said: “I am delighted to be involved in yet another business with so much potential.” Franks added: “Nigel’s wealth of experience in the hospitality sector is invaluable and I can’t think of anyone better to help guide our growth and support our aim to continually improve.” Rizvi said: “Nigel has tons of experience in taking a mid-sized hospitality chain such as Chilango and helping it grow into a market leader.”
Argentinian chef Fernando Trocca to bring Latin American restaurant concept to UK: Argentinian chef Fernando Trocca is bringing his Latin American restaurant concept Sucre to the UK. Launched in Buenos Aires in 2001, Sucre combines traditional Latin American open-fire cooking techniques with a broad palette of international influences. Now Trocca is opening a restaurant in London, which will occupy the former home of the London College of Music in Great Marlborough Street in Soho. Taking over the college’s former concert hall, Sucre London will feature a 123-cover restaurant along with a 75-cocktail bar Abajo, which will be housed underneath. The restaurant’s dishes will include Iberico pork matambre as well as brill with tarragon and chicken butter sauce. The wine list will pay tribute to the journey from old world to new, listing South American labels alongside wine from their European origins. Beneath Sucre will sit Abajo, which will offer a programme of DJs and live music alongside a variety of cocktails.
Plant-based concept co-founded by Tom Kerridge to launch in Camden this month: Bad Vegan, a new plant-based concept, co-founded by chef Tom Kerridge and experienced brand creator Mark Emms, is to launch its first site, in Camden this month. The new concept, which focuses on providing a fundamentally vegan menu, will open its debut site at Buck Street Market on Thursday, 24 June. It has taken an 800 square foot on the top floor of the eco-conscious food and retail destination, which is owned by LabTech. The open-plan terrace restaurant will feature more than 60 covers, with over-the-counter takeaway options and click and collect also available. The Bad Vegan menu will offer a range of innovative vegan “hero” dishes, alongside vegan shakes and beer partnerships with Camden Town Brewery. Emms said: “Bad Vegan is a restaurant that caters for all diets with any judgements left at the door. Ultimately, Bad Vegan aims to showcase that delicious and filling plant-based food can help non-vegans become more aware of their meal choices.” LabTech acted on behalf of Buck Street Market while Bad Vegan dealt direct.
Kudu Collective to open fourth site next month: South African restaurant brand Kudu Collective is to launch a braai restaurant in Peckham next month. Kudu Grill will open in Nunhead Lane in the former Edinburgh Castle pub, which was operated by east London-based brewer Truman’s. Launching on Wednesday, 28 July, the 50-cover restaurant will offer a menu that centres around the braai – a South African grill using only wood and charcoal. Dishes, which are designed for sharing, will include dry-aged T-bone with beer pickled onions and onion treacle bordelaise; and whole black bream with zhug butter naans. There will also be a range of sides, snacks, starters and desserts. The concise 30-bin wine list will focus on mainly South African varieties sourced from family-owned wineries. There will also be a six-seater bar counter, overlooks the custom-built braai. Kudu Collective is owned by Amy Corbin, daughter of Corbin & King co-founder Chris Corbin, and her partner Patrick Williams. The company operates Kudu restaurant; cocktail bar Smokey Kudu; and Curious Kudu, a gallery and private dining space accommodating up to 14 guests, all in Queen’s Road, Peckham.
Hedonism Wines opens wine-led pub in Mayfair: Drinks wholesaler Hedonsim Wines has opened a wine-led pub in Mayfair. The White Horse, which is located on Davies Street, just off Shepherd Market, will use the full breadth of Hedonism Wines’ 6,000-plus wine and rare spirit offer and also offers freshly prepared cheese from La Fromagerie, charcuterie and small plates. The venue is built over two floors on the site of a former jazz club and opens from Tuesdays to Saturdays from 4pm, with the lower ground floor Cellar Bar available for private events and tastings. Guests will be encouraged to order wine by the bottle, with wine by the glass featuring a particular region, grape or vintage priced from £7 to £25. Hedonism Wines’ resident wine writer Sherry Rose will host a series of informal monthly events combining wine knowledge, blind tasting and a wine quiz.
Camden Town Brewery to open beer hall on Monday: Camden Town Brewery will open Camden Beer Hall on Monday (7 June), next to the north London brewery’s original production site in Wilkin Street Mews. The site, which has taken inspiration from traditional Bavarian beer halls, promises fresh beer straight from its tanks, with no pasteurisation, from 24 beer taps. It also claims it will be one of the only venues in the London to introduce a manual glass washing station at the front of its bar. On food duty is Theo Randall who will curate a menu designed to pair with Camden’s range of beer that will combine his love for Italian cooking with dishes found in a Bavarian-inspired beer hall. For the first time, Camden is making its “Beer School” experience available to the masses. Having been running the classes internally for years, Beer Hall guests will be able to brush up on their beer knowledge over an exclusive brewery tour, the chance to chat with the expert brewing team and a beer tasting to finish. These will take place monthly. Camden Town Brewery founder Jasper Cuppaidge said: “After years of dreaming of our perfect beer destination, we’re excited to welcome guests to the Camden Beer Hall. There are so many great new ideas that make our beer hall awesome and we know our Camden fans are going to absolutely love it.” The site will also house a merchandise shop plus beer to take away.
Bottega to open rooftop bar at London hotel: Italian drinks brand Bottega is to open a rooftop bar in London. The company will launch Bottega@Bokan at The Accor Group’s Novotel London Canary Wharf. The large space occupies the entire 39th floor of the skyscraper, offering customers views of the London skyline while drinking Italian wine and spirits. Bottega@Bokan will offer a selection of Bottega wine, prosecco and “signature” cocktails, accompanied by Italian dishes. Bottega president Sandro Bottega said: “The collaboration with Accor represents an important milestone for our project and is, at the same time, an incentive to maintain and further improve the quality of our products and our service.” Bottega launched its first retail format – Prosecco Bar – in 2014 on board Viking Group’s Cinderella ship, which operates on the Baltic Sea. Over the years, it has been introduced at airports, including in the UK at Birmingham, as well as hotels. Last month, it launched a new bar and restaurant concept – Bottega Terrazza Bar & Restaurant – at Bath and Windsor racecourses follows a commercial agreement with Arena Racing Company that will also see Bottega open pop-up bars at other racecourses in England.
Kent food and drinks provider Macknade to open third site within family-owned department store: Kent-based food and drink provider Macknade will open its third site, within department store Hoopers in Tunbridge Wells. The company will occupy the 4,000 square foot former cafe site within the family-owned store, where it will offer an all-day dining experience for customers from breakfast to supper when it opens in September. Macknade at Hoopers will also offer a retail range, including a selection of produce used on the new restaurant menu, as well as wine, beer and cider. A curated collection of indoor plants and bouquets from the floristry department will be available, alongside bespoke hamper services and foodie gifts. Macknade chief executive Stefano Cuomo said: “Macknade’s whole purpose is to bring communities together through quality food and drink experiences. By partnering with Hoopers, we aim to create a favourite place in the town for everyone to enjoy. Tunbridge Wells residents have long taken pride in supporting local, independent businesses and the surrounding area of the Weald is full of producers that we already admire, and whose stories we can’t wait to share.” Macknade managing director Shane Godwin added: “Once finished, the restaurant will become the ideal place for all manner of get-togethers from business breakfasts, to relaxed brunches and suppers with friends and family.” Macknade operates a food hall with dining, a deli and a butcher in Faversham and a site in Ashford that offers dining, a grocer and a deli.
Anthony Lyon to launch brasserie and wine bar concept in Hackney for second venture next month: The team behind Lyon’s Seafood & Wine Bar in London’s Crouch End will launch a “modern warehouse brasserie and wine bar” in Hackney next month. Hackney Coterie will be the second venture from Anthony Lyon, who opened nose-to-fin seafood restaurant Lyon’s in 2019. Sommelier and sake master Kelvin McCabe has joined forces with Lyon to launch the site, which has been billed as a “multifaceted dining experience and community hub”. Taking over the former L’Entrepot wine bar premises that was operated by Borough Wines, Hackney Coterie will be set over two floors and consist of a brasserie, wine bar, bottle shop and deli, along with an intimate events space that will open later. The food will be seasonally driven and with zero waste in mind but will not be attached to a specific cuisine to allow the kitchen team to “freely explore flavours and ingredients to create the dishes”. To drink, wine will be sourced from small-scale low-intervention vineyards. There will also be a selection of sake, craft beer and cocktails.
Edinburgh-based Bakery Andante opens third site featuring debut sit-down area:Edinburgh-based Bakery Andante has opened its third site, which includes its first sit-down area. The company is known for its bread, which includes sourdough, focaccia, baguettes and croissants. Established more than a decade ago with a small shop in Morningside, the business expanded to its second site in Leith in 2017 and has continued to grow. It has now opened a site in Broughton Street, which includes a café area. The menu features house waffles and French toast as well as Greek grilled cheese sandwiches and a Tuscan panzanella salad. Three is also a selection of cakes and desserts as well as coffee. Head baker Jon Wood told the Edinburgh Evening News: “It has been a long-held aim to open a cafe alongside our retail offerings, and also to find a location in such a fantastic area as this.”
Michelin-starred Scottish chef Graeme Cheevers opens debut restaurant:Michelin-starred Scottish chef Graeme Cheevers has launched his debut restaurant. Cheevers, who has worked with Geoffrey Smeddle at fine dining restaurant Étain, Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond and at the Isle of Eriska Hotel, has opened Unalome in Glasgow. The venue in Kelvingrove Street has taken the place of The Sisters restaurant following owner Jacqueline O’Donnell’s retirement. The site has about 60 covers and the estimated £350,000 investment has also created 50 jobs. Unalome is a Buddhist symbol that represents the path each person takes in life. Cheevers said he has chosen Unalome as the name to signify “something new and completely different for Glasgow’s food scene”. The offer is modern European and the menu changes weekly. Cheevers won Michelin stars at both Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond and the Isle of Eriska Hotel and hopes to win Glasgow’s first star since 2004. He said: “There is nowhere else I would rather launch my own restaurant than in my home city of Glasgow. It is scary going solo but I feel like I’m now at a point in my career where I’m ready and I have the confidence and experience to take it forward and make it a success.”
Treetop Adventure Golf opens two indoor courses in Birmingham: Discovery Adventure Golf, a partnership between former Goldman Sachs entrepreneur Elizabeth Stanway and experienced leisure operator Chris Richards, has opened a site for its Treetop Adventure Golf concept in Birmingham. Treetop Adventure Golf Birmingham is the company’s fourth site, which opened this week in the Bullring & Grand Central shopping centre after a £2.4m refurbishment. The latest venue features two indoor 18-hole courses and has sister branches in Cardiff, Leicester and Manchester. Treetop Adventure Golf Birmingham general manager James Scott told The Business Desk: “We’re so excited to finally be getting into the swing of things at Treetop Birmingham. We can’t wait for guests to come explore our mighty rainforest. Our jungle is open seven days a week for putters of all ages and is suitable for every occasion – from family days out to student hangouts, date nights, work get-togethers and celebrations. Plus, there’s no need to book, so you can join us for a jungle adventure whenever suits you best.” Treetop Adventure Golf chief executive and co-founder Stanway added: “We’re extremely proud to be finally welcoming guests into our new Birmingham site at Bullring & Grand Central. We can’t wait to help guests from the West Midlands and further afield create treasured memories together.”