Thwaites steps in to save Blackpool bar operator following administration:North west brewer and retailer Daniel Thwaites has stepped in to save five venues in Blackpool including the renowned Funny Girls cabaret show bar after their operator went into administration. Owner Basil Newby, who has run venues in the seaside resort for almost 40 years, said he was taking time out for health reasons. Thwaites has taken over the drinks licence of the five venues, a move it said would protect about 100 jobs while it was “business as usual” at Funny Girls. Blackpool Council confirmed the firm that runs Funny Girls, which opened in 1994, had gone into administration. A Thwaites spokesman told BBC News: “Funny Girls has been an iconic part of Blackpool’s night-time economy for a long time and we will make sure it stays that way. Our licence will allow the Funny Girls outlets to operate without disruption for the next few months and, together with Basil, we will resolve issues. As far as we are concerned it’s business as usual and customers should see no difference.” Newby opened his first club, Flamingo, in Blackpool in 1979. He received an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours list in 2014.
Gary Usher to launch Pinion in Prescot this month for fifth site: Gary Usher, the Chester-based owner of a group of award-winning bistros, is to open his fifth site, in Prescot, Merseyside, on Friday, 28 September. Usher raised money to open the restaurant in Eccleston Street via a crowdfunding campaign, smashing his £50,000 target in less than 24 hours. In total, the Kickstarter campaign raised £86,624 from 1,193 investors. It was Usher’s fourth successful crowdfunding campaign. Pinion will open from Wednesday to Sunday offering lunch, early evening, a la carte and Sunday lunch menus. Dishes will include braised feather blade of beef, sea bream fillet, and steamed lemon suet sponge. Pinion has been named as a nod to Prescot’s watchmaking history. Usher said: “It has been a long time coming but we’re finally ready to open Pinion. I’m so excited to be bringing this little bistro to Prescot because the people we’ve met along the way have been incredible and their support has been unbelievable. There’s something exciting happening in Prescot at the minute and we’re enjoying being part of it.” Usher’s other sites under his Elite Bistro’s Of The World group are Sticky Walnut in Chester, Burnt Truffle in Heswall, Wreckfish in Liverpool and Hispi in Manchester. Restaurant critic Marina O’Loughlin said of the original Sticky Walnut: “If I could clone Sticky Walnut, I would. I’d plonk its like the length of the land.”
Daylesford to open fourth London cafe: Lifestyle organic brand Daylesford is to open its fourth London cafe and farm shop. The company will open the site in Sloane Avenue, Brompton Cross, in mid-October. The 7,500 square foot venue will span three floors. The cafe will have room for 80 diners, while the venue will feature open ovens on the first and second floors making it the first London site to serve Daylesford’s sourdough pizza, alongside spit-roasted lamb joints and whole organic chickens. A juice bar serving organic plant-based drinks and smoothies will be another new addition, while a counter will serve seasonal salads and sandwiches to take away. Daylesford will also host events such as supper clubs, wellness workshops and butchery masterclasses. Meanwhile, the farm shop will offer products from the Daylesford organic farm including cheese, milk and yogurt. Founder Carole Bamford said: “For Daylesford’s fourth opening in London we wanted to find a space and home that retained the character and identity of our other London outlets and continued to echo the natural warmth and spirit of the farm. I’m delighted we have found it in the heart of Brompton Cross, a vibrant, innovative area with a relaxed neighbourhood feel and community.”
Amber Taverns acquires late-night Bolton bar: Amber Taverns, the wet-led community pub operator led by James Baer, has acquired Madison’s Lounge, a late-night bar in the centre of Bolton. The company, which also operates a site for its Hogarths Gin Palace brand in the Greater Manchester town, plans to redevelop the site to reopen it as a community pub later this year. Gary Roberts, operations director at Amber Taverns, told the Bolton News: “Our intention is to fully develop the premises and reopen as a modern community pub. The likely opening date will be early December. As we own Hogarths Gin Palace, the offering will be different but will complement businesses around the square.” Madison’s opened late from Thursday to Sunday and offered an extensive range of gin, vodka, whisky and cocktails. Other Amber Taverns pubs nearby include The Freemasons in Farnworth, The Wheatsheaf in Atherton, and The Saddle in Horwich. On Monday (3 September), the company reported turnover rose 14.4% to £74.2m in the year to 4 February 2018. Company Ebitda was up 12.6% to £14.02m. Like-for-like sales rose 1.7%. The company had 137 pubs at the year-end and has sold a site in Scunthorpe and bought seven sites since.
The Know Group to expand Liverpool hostel concept with new rooms, cinema and restaurant: Liverpool-based The Know Group has revealed plans to expand its premium hostel concept, Sleep Eat Love, in the city to include a cinema and gym, while the “poshtel” will also house its restaurant brand Love Thy Neighbour. Sleep Eat Love only launched in June but Know Group said it also plans to add a library and 28 rooms to take the venue’s total beyond 100 rooms. Love Thy Neighbour, one of Liverpool’s hippest eateries in Bold Street and which also has a site in Chorlton, will move into the hostel’s ground floor in mid-September. The Know Group chief executive Steven Hesketh told the Liverpool Echo: “We identified a clear gap in the market for stylish accommodation that wasn’t fussy and didn’t break the bank, and the overwhelming response we’ve had since opening has affirmed that. What’s more, there’s a clear alignment between the Love Thy Neighbour and Sleep Eat Love brands so we’re incredibly excited by the prospect of having both under one roof. We have limited availability until mid-October so the timing couldn’t be more apt for a raft of new rooms.” Hesketh said he was also looking to take the Sleep Eat Love concept to Chester. The Know Group recently acquired Portuguese fast casual chain Piri-Piri Express with plans to expand the brand across the UK via a franchise model, while it also operates The Townhouse Hotel and 1699 Brasserie in Chester.
Flight Club lodges plans for Birmingham site: Social darts concept Flight Club has lodged plans for a site in Birmingham. The company has applied to the city council to convert a former TSB bank branch in Temple Street. A Flight Club spokeswoman told the Birmingham Mail: “Birmingham is one of the cities we think would be a great fit for Flight Club.” Earlier this week, the company secured permission for its first UK site outside London, in Manchester, and said it was looking at four other locations. The new Manchester venue will open in King Street in October. Since launching in 2015, Flight Club has opened sites in Bloomsbury and Shoreditch in London with another due to open in the capital at the Nova development in Victoria later this year. It also has a venue in Chicago.
Maxwell’s Restaurant Group launches Old Compton Brasserie for tenth site: Maxwell’s Restaurant Group has launched all-day British concept Old Compton Brasserie. The company has opened the venue in Old Compton Street, Soho, at a site formerly occupied by casual dining brand Muriel’s Kitchen. The 170-cover venue offers fresh and seasonal British favourites such as grilled hake and pea salad, truffle roast chicken with garlic potatoes, and a “significant number” of vegan options. The space, which has been stripped back to expose original features, offers an “industrial-Bohemian feel” with interesting items and sculptures sourced from markets and dealers in the community alongside pieces from urban street artists. The restaurant features a floating mezzanine, outdoor seating and a large horseshoe bar serving craft cocktails. The venue takes the group’s portfolio to ten sites, which includes Maxwell’s Bar & Grill and Tropicana Beach Club.
McDonald’s tests global menu items and chicken tenders: McDonald’s has been testing global foods and chicken tenders in the US as part of its “journey”. The company is offering a “flavours from abroad” menu featuring popular McDonald’s items from Spain, Malaysia, Hong Kong and the Netherlands at 50 sites in Florida. The items are the Grand McExtreme Bacon Burger, a quarter-pound burger popular in Spain that features McBacon sauce, applewood-smoked bacon, Gouda cheese and onions; BBQ McShaker Fries from Malaysia; McSpicy Chicken, a sandwich from Hong Kong that features a crispy chicken fillet marinated with spicy seasoning; and favoured Dutch dessert the Stroopwafel McFlurry. The Florida trials come a few months after McDonald’s debuted a global menu at its new downtown Chicago restaurant. Meanwhile, two new chicken menu items – Ultimate Chicken Sandwich and Ultimate Chicken Tenders – are being tested in Washington state. The new chicken sandwich is topped with honey Dijon mayonnaise and served on a sweet artisan roll. McDonald’s spokeswoman Andrea Abate said the testing was part of the brand’s “journey” to build a better McDonald’s. She told Nation’s Restaurant News: “We regularly conduct tests to look at ways we can enhance and improve our menu for customers.”
BrewDog secures Perth site: BrewDog has secured a site in Perth, Scotland. The Scottish brewer and retailer has agreed a deal through Shepherd Chartered Surveyors for a property in George Street. BrewDog has signed a 20-year lease at £20,000 per annum. The 1,300 square foot premises comprises the ground and basement level of a four-storey building on the corner of a terraced row. Jonathan Reid, partner at Shepherd Chartered Surveyors, told The Scotsman: “We are delighted to secure this letting to the expanding BrewDog chain. It is rare to secure a 20-year lease agreement these days and this shows a great commitment to the city from BrewDog.” This week, BrewDog returned to Crowdcube as it looks to tap into the crowdfunding platform’s investors to bolster its Equity for Punks V campaign. BrewDog is aiming to raise a minimum of £22m by the close of its latest funding round and is offering 1.21% equity on Crowdcube in return for investment. Shares will cost £23.75 each, with a minimum investment of four shares for £95. So far, Equity for Punks V has raised £21,289,120 in total.
North London-based Redemption Brewing Company passes 50% mark in £300,000 crowdfunding campaign: North London-based Redemption Brewing Company has passed the halfway mark in its £300,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to support growth plans. This week the company, founded in 2010 by Andy Moffat and Sam Rigby, raised its equity offering to 13.64% from the original 10.71% in return for investment. So far, 238 investors have pledged £152,560 with 13 days remaining. The pitch states: “In 2017 our sales have organically grown to more than £500,000 (net profit minus £48,919). We’ve built Redemption with our own blood, sweat and tears, our small but tight dedicated team, and the enthusiasm of our growing customer base. Our portfolio has expanded to seven core beers, which we complement with seasonal beers and collaborations with our brewing friends. Now we’re settled in our new, bigger, more efficient brewery we have the capacity and ambition to brew more than two million pints a year. We want to grow our brand and build sales locally, regionally, nationally and internationally by building our team and bolstering our sales and marketing function. We plan to invest in tanks to launch a new keg product and can format. We also want to improve our taproom with the aim of making it a go-to venue for north London’s discerning beer drinkers.”
Locals Club takes on second pub: London-based pub company Locals Club has taken on its second site in the capital. The company, led by Nick Stephens, has added The Compton Arms in Islington to its portfolio. The venue was the inspiration behind George Orwell’s essay on the ideal public house. The Compton Arms has had a “minor” refurbishment and offers craft beer and wine. The food offer is being run by the team behind upmarket City street food van Schmaltz. Dishes include spaghetti vongole using clams and roasted bone marrow with parsley salad and sourdough. Bar snacks include homemade Gloucester Old Spot sausage rolls with piccalilli and root vegetable crisps with pico de gallo, reports Hot Dinners. Locals Clubs also operates The Gun in Well Street, Hackney.
Hart Brothers reveal further details of third El Pastor site at Coal Drops Yard: The Hart Brothers have revealed further details of the third site for their Mexican taqueria concept El Pastor, which will open at Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross next month. Casa & Plaza Pastor will open on Friday, 26 October to sit alongside a fourth site for Harts Group’s Barrafina restaurant and new-concept wine bar and restaurant The Drop. Casa Pastor will offer Mexican breakfast as well as tacos, tortas, coffee, churros and a Mexican rotisserie. Meanwhile, Plaza Pastor will be a 100-seater, heated and covered dining terrace outside Casa Pastor featuring its own open kitchen and menu. It will offer spit-roasted spiced chicken served as quarters, halves or whole with tortilla, salsa and chicken fat-roasted onions. Meanwhile, the cocktail list will feature plenty of mescal and drinks for sharing, reports Hot Dinners. In July, the company raised almost £2.5m on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to fund the openings at Coal Drops Yard. The campaign was launched with an initial £750,000 target and raised more than £1.6m within the first two hours. The Harts launched El Pastor in Borough, opening sister site Tortilleria El Pastor in Bermondsey in spring 2018. The new venues will be part of more than 50 stores, cafes and restaurants at Coal Drops Yard, including a second site for Hackney-based Morty and Bob’s.
Cambridge boutique hotel with 200-cover dining space on market for £8.5m: Cassel Hotels has brought its four-star Hotel Felix in Cambridge to market. The freehold is available with no third-party management for offers in excess of £8.5m for 100% of the issued share capital of the company. Christie & Co and Knight Frank are jointly marketing the property. The boutique hotel is set in a substantial Victorian villa surrounded by landscaped grounds. Renovated in 2002 to add 52 bedrooms, the venue had planning consent granted this year for an extension to provide a further 16 bedrooms and a new reception. The agents said food and beverage streams at the hotel were “robust”, with three dining facilities catering for a combined 200 covers on-site. Henry Jackson, of Knight Frank, told Insider Media: “The hotel is available for the first time in its history as the owners are looking for a new purchaser to drive the business forward.” Jeremy Jones, of Christie & Co, added: “Hotel Felix represents a unique opportunity for an investor to acquire a substantial, unencumbered freehold hotel in Cambridge, one of the most sought-after hotel markets in the UK. With significant asset management and value enhancement options, we anticipate a strong level of interest.” Cassel Hotels operates sister hotel The Grange in York.
Stonegate and Sky fight pollution on the beaches: Stonegate Pub Company has teamed up with Sky Business to help clean up the nation’s beaches. Teams from Stonegate venues in Brighton and Portsmouth joined Sky employees on the cities’ beaches to collect litter, cigarette butts and discarded plastic in a clean up that has seen tons of waste collected. Much of the litter will be recycled into everyday objects. The beach cleans support the Sky Ocean Rescue campaign, which shines a light on issues affecting ocean health and bids to find new solutions to the plastics problem. Stonegate Pub Company commercial director Suzanne Baker said: “We are working towards reducing single-use plastic across the business and a number of initiatives are being rolled out. Working with Sky on the beach cleans has enabled our teams to clean up within their communities. This will further inspire our people to make small, everyday changes that collectively enable us to make a significant difference.” Sky commercial and strategy director Damian Saunders said: “Engagement with the Stonegate team is an exciting step forward to influencing change within the hospitality sector.” Stonegate Pub Company operates 724 pubs split into two divisions – Branded (Slug and Lettuce, Yates’s, Walkabout, Be At One and Venues); and Traditional (Proper Pubs, Town Pub & Kitchen, Classic Inns and Common Room).
Club Wembley launches members-only gastro-pub: Club Wembley is launching a members-only gastro-pub at the stadium. Opening ahead of the England versus Spain football match on Saturday (8 September), The Lioness pub is on the north west side of the stadium and is the latest addition to the Club Wembley line-up of exclusive match-day experiences. With a capacity of 1,000 people (500 seated), The Lioness boasts three bars as well as a self-serve beer station. It has a gastro-pub menu, while seats in the members’ area offer “stand-out” stadium views. An installation of graphics, photographs, trophies, models and football memorabilia showcasing some of the greatest Wembley moments sits at the heart of the pub. The Lioness will also become part of the Wembley stadium tour experience. Club Wembley general manager Charlene Nyantekyi said: “We are excited to bring The Lioness to Club Wembley, especially as its opening coincides with the much talked about return of the England team to the stadium. The Lioness offers our members a less formal approach to match-day hospitality in line with feedback from our existing members for this type of experience.”