Ping Pong opens flagship Covent Garden site: Dim sum restaurant group Ping Pong has opened its ninth site, this time in Covent Garden. The company’s flagship restaurant in Maiden Lane is set over three floors, with a bar, mezzanine-level private dining room, and a semi-exclusive basement floor available for functions and masterclasses. Diners can choose from set menus or work with “Ping Pong Party Planners” to tailor packages to their requirements. Earlier this week, Ping Pong reported a pre-tax loss of £545,240 in its latest financial year, which included a loss of £102,833 disposing of a site, compared with a profit of £18,907 the year before. The company saw turnover increase 0.4% to £15,301,004 for the year ending 27 March 2016, compared with £15,244,430 the year before. Ebitda fell to £1,501,864, compared with £1,604,000 the previous year, according to accounts filed with Companies House. Talking about the Covent Garden site in its annual report, the company stated: “This site is expected to take the company to unprecedented sales and Ebitda generation, providing a solid platform for future growth.”



Soho House UK reports 24% boost to turnover, £6m of losses: Soho House UK has reported turnover rose 24% to £104m in the 53 weeks to 3 January 2016. There was 9% increase in Ebitda to £9.9m. The company lost £6,849,924, compared with a profit of £220,550 the year before, as new site development costs were £6,731,608 compared with £1,306,073 the year prior. The number of members increased 16% to 24,800 – and the company reported a global waiting list of more than 30,000 potential members. The increase in turnover was driven by an increase in food and beverage turnover of £11.6m, a growth in membership and registration fee turnover of £3.5m, accommodation turnover growth of £2m, and increase in turnover of Cowshed treatments, product sales and other income of £3m. In March, the company closed its original Soho House in Greek Street along with Cafe Boheme and Soho Kitchen and Bar. The entire 52,000 square foot property is undergoing a redevelopment that includes Kettner’s, which was acquired post year-end. The scheme will create Kettner’s Townhouse, offering a “high-quality restaurant, champagne bar and 28 new bedrooms, all of which will be open to the public”. The buildings will be restored and original features reinstated alongside the sensitive addition of a new pavilion in the internal yard. Of total turnover of £104m, food and beverage sales were £67.4m, with a food and beverage sales mix of 43% and 57% respectively. Membership fees account for 14% of turnover, while accommodation sales accounted for 11%.




TLC Inns signs for tenth site, hires Grant Thornton to explore funding options: Pub and restaurant operator TLC Inns, which is owned by Steve and Jo Haslam, has agreed a 20-year lease on the largest unit at Thetford Riverside, the £8m leisure development in the Norfolk market town of Thetford. The company has also hired Grant Thornton to advise on future funding options, although Barclays Corporate will fund the next three openings. The 3,750 square foot unit in Thetford will trade under TLC’s Grand Central American Bar & Grill brand. The 156-cover restaurant will be TLC’s tenth outlet and sixth Grand Central – all in East Anglia. TLC Inns will invest £450,000 in the opening, with fit-out expected to take three months, creating at least 30 jobs. Anchored by a three-screen The Light cinema and a 62-bedroom Travelodge hotel, the 41,000 square foot Thetford Riverside leisure scheme also includes four other restaurant units, all of which feature outside terraces overlooking a newly landscaped park. Letting agent Francis Darrah Chartered Surveyors is in advanced discussions with a number of restaurant chains interested in taking the other units. There is also free on-site parking for more than 60 vehicles. The scheme achieved practical completion last week. Travelodge will officially open later this month and The Light will follow towards the end of November. Steve Haslam said: “The Riverside scheme is the perfect site for our next Grand Central. It’s a great location close to the town centre but easily accessible by car and has views over the river. With the cinema and a strong food offer, Riverside will give visitors from the Thetford catchment area another reason to visit the town and stay longer. We’ve just had a very successful opening of a big Grand Central in Chelmsford, which has already broken all records for us, and we believe our formula of family ownership, fresh food prepared and cooked to order, and a fun atmosphere will allow us to achieve similar success in Thetford.” Thetford Riverside is a development by Breckland Bridge, an LABV joint venture between Breckland Council and The Land Group.




BrewDog changes Asset Match auction date following shareholder complaints over short notice: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has changed the date of its auction on Asset Match, the platform that provides liquidity in private company shares, following complaints by shareholders they were not given enough notice. The auction will now be undertaken on Tuesday, 25 October instead of Wednesday (19 October). BrewDog said: “We’ve been listening to your feedback and we understand that many of you felt the notice period given was not enough time to gather all the relevant paperwork. This is totally fair, and we apologise for any inconvenience caused!” However, one shareholder told Propel: “How the hell are we supposed to know what the price will be? I’ve Googled several articles and forums but have only seen a price of £49.50 quoted from summer 2015.” Investors wanting to sell their shares have to open an account with The Share Centre prior to the auction. People wishing to buy must send an expression of interest, the number of shares they wish to buy and the maximum price they want to pay to Asset Match during the pre-auction period, which is from 10am to 4pm on Monday, 24 October and 10am to 3pm on Tuesday, 25 October. The auction algorithm will aggregate the buy and sell instructions received and calculate an “indicative price” based on supply and demand. This indicative price, if available, will be displayed when the auction is open. BrewDog was admitted to trading on Asset Match on 5 November 2014.




Fuller’s signs distribution deal with Cervezas Alhambra: Premium Spanish lager Cervezas Alhambra and Fuller, Smith & Turner, the London brewer and premium pub company, have signed a distribution agreement creating a long-term commercial partnership between Cervezas Alhambra’s award-winning portfolio of brands and Fuller’s distribution business. Under the agreement, Fuller’s has been appointed distributor of Cervezas Alhambra’s products, including Reserva 1925 – voted world’s best premium lager in the World Beer Awards in 2009 – and Especial within the on and off-trade channels. Fuller’s sales director Simon Treanor said: “We identified a gap in our current portfolio and have been looking for a brand partner with similar culture and values. Alhambra is a high-quality beer, brewed with a passion to rival our own, and we are delighted to be working in partnership with Mahou San Miguel, a prestigious and established global company. We are always looking for innovative ways to build on our strong sales capability to drive a wider portfolio and also expand our existing customer relationships. This distribution partnership is an example of that.”




M Restaurants completes crowdfunding campaign having raised almost £1.6m: M Restaurants has closed its campaign on crowdfunding platform Seedrs having raised almost £1.6m. The company, founded by former Gaucho managing director Martin Williams, was looking to raise £1.35m to launch its M Social concept and for further expansion plans. It has now closed the campaign having raised £1,585,600. The pitch stated: “In November 2014, we opened M Threadneedle Street – our award-winning, multi-faceted venue, which houses two 100-cover restaurants, a destination cocktail bar, a wine-tasting room and private dining. M Victoria Street, our second venue, opened in early 2016 – again multi-faceted (and with the addition of a very cool wine store and a private members’ bar). Now it’s time for M Social. These are local venues designed to accommodate a modern cocktail and wine bar and offer casual all-day ‘social bar food’. The time of day will dictate the demand for each of these elements, which have been designed to maximise sales opportunities and accommodate demand. Our first ‘M Social’ venue is expected to be a new 100-cover ‘Butlers Wharf-style’ building, complete with a riverside view and outside terrace. The proposed venue sits directly opposite a mainline station, is ideally positioned to serve daily commuters and become a genuine ‘home from home’ for residents, visitors and local businesses. The proceeds will be used to accelerate growth and ‘ring-fence’ £1.1m to fund the capex of restaurant three – M Social; build and open a 50-cover M Den private members’ lounge in the basement of M Threadneedle Street; and build working capital to support the business in both the short and long term.”




Jamaica Blue expands UK presence with opening at high-end Essex development: International cafe restaurant brand Jamaica Blue is set to open its second UK store in Essex, at a new high-end development in the heart of Chelmsford. Jamaica Blue plans to expand the brand further, with another store opening planned for Leeds next month. The new cafe restaurant will open on Monday (17 October) at the £150m Bond Street development in Chelmsford. The prestigious new complex is located in the heart of the city centre and is positioned to link with the high street. Jamaica Blue is one of Australia’s most successful franchises and its owner, Foodco, hopes to emulate this success in the UK. Lisa Brook, general manager at Foodco UK, said: “It’s an exciting time for Jamaica Blue and we are thrilled to be opening the second UK store in such an esteemed new development. The town centre location is just perfect for the brand and offers a tranquil environment for our customers to enjoy. Jamaica Blue’s contemporary interior design will be a great place to relax and offers escapism from everyday stresses. Our pilot Cambridge store has gone from strength to strength, growing customers every week, and we are confident we have chosen a strong location for our second store to experience the same success. We are excited to announce we have already secured our third UK store opening in Leeds, which is set to open in November.” There are also a number of Jamaica Blue stores in New Zealand, Dubai and China. The first UK store opened in Cambridge in December 2014. The name of the franchise originates from the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee, which is served in all stores and renowned for its high-quality taste and lack of bitterness. Jamaica Blue’s foundations are built on the fine coffees and diverse range of exclusive premium food options available in-store.




Cambscuisine to launch ‘modern brasserie’ concept Millworks this month, seventh site in total: Pub and restaurant operator Cambscuisine, led by Oliver Thain and Max Freeman, will launch an “eclectic modern brasserie” concept in Cambridge on Tuesday, 25 October. Millworks will open at a former watermill in Mill Pond, which was previously home to Casual Dining Group brand Bella Italia. The 130-cover restaurant will feature an indoor barbecue and offer brunch-style food and meat-based dishes. There will also be an extensive cocktail and wine list. Cambscuisine brand developer Jessica Donnithorne said: “In many ways, Cambridge is poised between preserving memories and adapting to fit modern lifestyles. Millworks will reflect this too – an eclectic modern brasserie with the occasional nod to the building’s fascinating past. We want customers to enjoy the restaurant as much for what it is today as for the memories it evokes. And the food? Think vibrant punchy flavours with elements of smoke from our charcoal grill ‘Mortimer’ – named after the family who owned the mill from the 12th to the 16th century.” The new restaurant will be the seventh in the Cambscuisine portfolio, which also includes The Cambridge Chop House and Smokeworks.




Star Pubs & Bars partners Caygill and Smith to reopen Edinburgh pub: Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars and Edinburgh pub company Caygill and Smith have begun a major £280,000 refurbishment of Jock’s Lodge in Edinburgh, which will see the once troubled pub reopen as a blues fusion bar following a three-year closure. The pub will be renamed Barrelhouse Bar and Diner to signal its change in direction. As well as hosting blues fusion bands from around the world, it will specialise in a menu of Cajun and barbecue food with a Scottish twist. The refurbishment is part of a £2m investment Star is making in its Scottish pubs this year. Work is expected to take six weeks, with Barrelhouse Bar and Diner scheduled to reopen at the end of November. About 20 jobs will be created. Star Pubs & Bars managing director Lawson Mountstevens said: “Edinburgh city centre pubs and bars have had significant investment in recent years. Residents in more outer-lying areas now want to enjoy similar quality and great food, coffee and entertainment on their doorsteps throughout the day without needing to travel. It’s great that such an experienced Edinburgh operator wants to join us in reviving the fortunes of Jock’s Lodge. Caygill and Smith is known for its imaginative and creative approach, as well as outstanding food and service, and I’ve every confidence it will create another distinctive and popular venue for Edinburgh.”




Vegetable-focused restaurant concept Spinach opens in East Dulwich: New vegetable-focused restaurant concept Spinach has launched in London. The all-day venue in Lordship Lane, East Dulwich, promises an ever-changing seasonal menu, with ingredients sourced as locally as possible and dishes ranging from lunchtime salads to sharing plates in the evening. Meat and seafood still feature strongly on the menu, with dishes including tempura courgette flowers with goat’s cheese and orange blossom honey; smoked bacon quiche with sautéed leeks, parmesan and thyme; and Cromer crab with peas and coriander. Spinach is the first solo project from Melissa Harwood, reports Hot Dinners, with the venue split into two with a bar at the front and restaurant at the rear.




Shikumen launches third London site: High-end Chinese and Japanese restaurant concept Shikumen has opened its third London site. The new restaurant has opened on the first floor of the 02 Centre. New items have been added to the menu to celebrate the opening, including specially designed robata-grilled dishes and dim sum platters. Shikumen, which is one of a number of brands owned by John Woo’s JRC Group, opened its first restaurant at the Dorsett Shepherd’s Bush in west London in 2014. The 3,500 square foot restaurant provides the hotel’s complete catering offer, from a full breakfast menu, lunch and dinner, for residents and non-residents, as well as room service. Its other venue is in Bond Street, Ealing.




Papa John’s franchisee eyes further outlets following first Hull opening: Franchisee Rohit “Rocky” Pahwa is eyeing three or four further outlets in Hull after launching the first Papa John’s site in the city. Pahwa is already in discussions with chartered surveyor Garness Jones about potential opportunities for additional Papa John’s stores after the opening of the site in Anlaby Road. He hopes to create at least 100 jobs across the stores. Pahwa identified Hull as a target area while working as northern area manager for another pizza company. He told Hull Daily Mail: “We’ve created 19 jobs here and we can do the same in other parts of the city. We’re looking at three or four altogether, with up to 30 jobs in some of them.” Jonathan Barker, of Garness Jones, concluded the deal with Pahwa to lease the unit, which became available after the relocation of a charity shop. He said: “The unit needed quite a lot of work to convert it but there was no need for change of use and it only took about a month to get the new business open.”




Gourmet healthy tea subscription service that supplies Michelin-starred restaurants passes 50% in crowdfunding campaign: Gourmet healthy tea subscription service Teatime, which supplies a number of Michelin-starred restaurants and five-star hotels, has passed the 50% mark in its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Seedrs. The company, founded by Ruby Chan, is offering a 10% equity stake in return for the £40,000 investment. So far, £20,950 has been raised from 53 investors with 33 days remaining. The largest investment to date is £3,000. The pitch states: “Our carefully crafted blends are created and produced in the UK then delivered in handy artisan packs for instant health, whether at work or home, thereby curbing the need to reach for caffeine through the day. Although the business began on a subscription model basis, we soon found we fitted quite well into the premium health and wellbeing market, given the high-quality nature of our product and the increasing trend and awareness towards ‘free-from’ living. As such, we found ourselves to be a good match, not only for obvious partners such as premium spas and health clubs but top-tier hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants also, who were looking for something premium, unique and truly all-natural. We are currently trading with some regular clients and subscribers so we intend to continue to dominate the London high-end market by selecting more key brands to partner with in order to increase awareness and our subscriber base. We are looking for funds to cover our overheads (employee and office costs), purchase stock and cover costs for our new brand relaunch (marketing, PR activities, new packaging and collateral).”




Brakspear to open ninth managed pub, in Staines: Henley-based pub operator and brewer Brakspear will open its ninth managed pub at the end of November, when the Retreat in Staines transfers from its tenanted estate following a major refurbishment. The pub, formerly The Anglers Retreat, is being converted into a “stylish but welcoming local offering drinks and dining for residents and workers in and around Staines”. The Retreat will feature three distinct areas, with a bar showing sport on big screens, a snug area, and a dining area with an open kitchen and wood-fired oven, in which Italian-style pizza will be cooked. Steaks will also feature on the menu, with diners able to choose their preferred size and cut of 100-day aged beef. The venue will also offer a carvery service on Sundays. Brakspear chief executive Tom Davies said: “Bringing our managed estate up to nine pubs puts us comfortably on track to reach at least ten sites, which has always been our target. We have invested in the people and infrastructure to support this number and the sites we’ve redeveloped are performing exceptionally well. We’re confident the Retreat will quickly become a successful addition to our managed business.”



Carioca to open at Boxpark Croydon: Brixton-based independent Brazilian restaurant Carioca is bringing a “bite of Brazil” to the new Boxpark Croydon with its new Rio street food unit. It launches on Monday, 31 October. Carioca owner Maurilio Goncalves said: “We are very excited to be part of the line-up opening at Boxpark Croydon alongside so many other fantastic traders. We can’t wait to give everyone a taste of true Brazil’s amazing flavours, bright colours, lively atmosphere and warm hospitality.”




Prezzo lines up second Aberdeen site: Prezzo has lined up a second site in Aberdeen, this time eyeing a unit within the £107m Marischal Square development. It already occupies a unit on the first floor of Union Square in the city. A decision on the licensing application is expected to be made by Monday, 7 November. Aberdeen City Council leader Jenny Laing said: “It’s great news for the citizens of Aberdeen that we have secured yet another top-class tenant for the Marischal Square development. This development is at the forefront of our city centre regeneration programme and Prezzo obviously believes this is a prime location to do business. It is clear from the companies who have already signed up that this prestigious development is proving attractive to national companies as well as local businesses.” Prezzo’s move follows news that Mitchells & Butlers will open an All Bar One venue at the complex in summer 2017, its fourth site in Scotland. The site, which is opposite Marischal College, will include seven restaurants, a 126-bedroom Marriott hotel and 173,500 square feet of office space.




Sugar Dumplin to launch flagship restaurant in Wembley next month: Sugar Dumplin, the Caribbean barbecue restaurant and bar, will open its flagship restaurant next month, in Wembley. The concept is the brainchild of Norris Panton and Craig Ince, who opened their first Sugar Dumplin in Princes Square, Glasgow, in 2015. Two further sites have opened since then – in Kingston, south west London, and Camberley, Surrey. Sugar Dumplin will also launch a site next spring in Trinity Kitchen shopping centre in Leeds. The new, 100-cover restaurant will be in the London Designer Outlet, close to Wembley Stadium. Norris told The Voice: “Wembley will be the largest of our restaurants and will be the only one in that location serving Caribbean food. It is also ideally located close to such an iconic venue so we expect the traffic to be good and local residents will also be our prime clientele. This is a business that’s close to my heart. It has a good party vibe and we are cooking recipes that come from back home in the Caribbean. We are cooking everything from fresh so we are not cutting corners. Coming to Sugar Dumplin will feel like you are coming to the best party in town.”




Pizza Hut launches Scottish apprenticeship programme: Pizza Hut has launched its Modern Apprenticeship Programme in Scotland, with the company committing to 250 apprenticeships during the next five years. Pizza Hut has already invested £4m in Scotland in the past four years, refurbishing about half its portfolio in the country. Offering apprenticeships from level two to three, the programme covers areas such as food production and cooking, hospitality supervision, and leadership. Pizza Hut director of HR and marketing Kathryn Austin told Eat Out: “We have a responsibility to help grow and develop the next generation and dispel the myth that an apprenticeship is a secondary choice. Quality apprenticeship programmes are an excellent route into the workplace, providing a high level of on-the-job training and support. We are delighted to launch our Modern Apprenticeship Programme in partnership with ITC Academy in Scotland.” Pizza Hut, which has already launched its apprenticeship programme in England, added it was also committed to paying all apprentices the national minimum wage as opposed to the statutory apprentice minimum wage.




Marston’s to build £3.5m pub on Farnborough office block site: Marston’s has acquired a former office block on the outskirts of Farnborough, Hampshire, and has had plans approved to build a food-led family pub restaurant. Construction of the £3.5m development, just off Southwood Business Park, will begin at the end of this year as part of the company’s Marston’s Inns and Taverns new-build scheme. The pub will cater for up to 150 diners, with the opening creating more than 50 jobs. The pub will feature a terrace and garden dining area, a children’s interactive play area and a large car park. Marston’s appointed planning and design consultancy Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners (NLP) to help secure approval from Rushmoor Borough Council. Daniel Lampard, of NLP, said: “The scheme is a food-led family pub restaurant which aims to create a comfortable and relaxing pub setting, perfect for serving a whole range of diners from the local area, business users and passing visitors. The proposed development from Marston’s will result in the use of a vacant site in a sustainable location.” Marston’s Inns and Taverns acquisitions manager John McElholm added: “We are really looking forward to being able to build and open a pub in Farnborough. We hope it will become a firm favourite for the local residents and offer the community a great place to visit and enjoy with family and friends.”




Harrogate-based Chinese restaurant owner starts expanding portfolio after acquiring second site in town: Harrogate-based Chinese restaurant owner Cindy Cheung has started expanding her portfolio after acquiring her second site in the North Yorkshire town. Cheung, who owns the Royal Baths Chinese Restaurant, has bought The Golden Coin in Station Parade through agent Christie & Co. Having been run as a Vietnamese and Chinese restaurant by the previous owners, which decided to sell to take on new opportunities, Cheung plans to refurbish the site before reopening in the near future. Oliver Brown, business agent at Christie & Co, who handled the sale, said: “Following a targeted sales campaign we sold the Golden Coin to a local operator. Despite local press about the difficulties facing existing businesses, we still have plenty of demand for Harrogate sites. We were delighted to have helped the previous owners achieve their aim to move on and wish them all the best for the future.”




Cumbrian country estate goes on the market for £3m: Savills, on behalf of a private client, has brought to market Morland Hall, near Penrith, Cumbria, for a guide price of £3m. The estate, which dates to the 19th century and centres around an old manor house, has been extensively restored to create a blend of self-catering accommodation and a country house with boutique hotel-style facilities. There is also an outdoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi and gym in the grounds, while further accommodation is provided in three four-bedroom houses that have been fitted to a high standard and all with private gardens. A popular wedding venue, Morland Hall is set within 15 acres (six hectares) of ancient woodland and private gardens. Savills hotel director Tom Cunningham said: “This is an excellent opportunity to acquire a highly profitable and successful business, which will offer its new owners several income streams. The location of the estate in the Eden Valley offers easy access to main rail and road links while being just a few miles from the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales national parks, as well as the North Pennines area of outstanding natural beauty.”




Palmers, St Austell and Joseph Holt scoop BBPA annual awards: West Dorset-based brewery and pub company Palmers, Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery Company, and north west brewer and retailer Joseph Holt have scooped British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) annual industry awards. Palmers Brewery won the Pub Champion award for its tenancy package, which combines the best aspects of its managed house support platform with the “opportunity for aspirational individuals to run their own pub”. Judges were impressed by Palmers’ commitment to nurturing young talent within the business and offering support and guidance throughout their careers. St Austell Brewery was named Beer Champion 2016 for its continued innovations in beer. Judges were impressed by the “tireless commitment to quality” throughout St Austell’s business, alongside their “passion for beer”. Joseph Holt won the Heart of the Community award, with the brewer displaying an “unquestionable long-term commitment to sustainable charitable giving in support of the Christie Hospital, the largest single-site cancer centre in Europe”. Others handed awards by BBPA chairman David Forde and Olympic multi-gold medalist Sir Chris Hoy at a ceremony in Kensington were Waitrose (Off-trade Retailer) and the Rugby Football Union, which won the Chairman’s Award.




Whitbread appoints two new non-executive directors: Whitbread has appointed Deanna Oppenheimer and David Atkins as non-executive directors, both with effect from 1 January 2017. They will succeed Wendy Becker and Stephen Williams, who will step down from the board having both completed nine years’ service, on 31 December 2016 and 21 June 2017 respectively. Oppenheimer is founder and chief executive of CameoWorks, a digitally focused boutique advisory company. Prior to that, she spent more than 25 years in a number of senior roles in banking at Barclays Bank and Washington Mutual and also serves as a non-executive director at Tesco, Worldpay and AXA SA. Oppenheimer will take over from Williams as chairman of the remuneration committee on 1 March 2017. To allow for a period of transition, Williams will step down from the board at the annual meeting in June 2017. Having spent his career in the property sector, Atkins, has been chief executive of Hammerson for the past seven years, responsible for the company’s transition to become a retail property specialist, the recent expansion into new European territories including Ireland, and the increased focus on the premium outlet sector. He is former chairman of the European Public Real Estate Association, past president of Revo (formerly BCSC) and a member of the British Property Federation. Whitbread chairman Richard Baker said: “Deanna is a highly experienced executive, with a strong background in mass consumer retail, and will bring her experience of having worked with a broad range of leading-edge digital businesses in her role at CameoWorks to the Whitbread board. In addition, Deanna’s experience of chairing the Tesco remuneration committee makes her well-placed to succeed Stephen Williams. David is the chief executive of a major UK business with interests across a number of European markets. Whitbread has a clear growth strategy, which is underpinned by an extensive property portfolio, and David’s experience in the European retail property sector will provide the Whitbread board with invaluable insights as we expand in the UK and overseas. I would like to thank Wendy Becker and Stephen Williams for their much-valued contribution to the Whitbread board during a very successful period for the company.”