Levi Roots eyes roll-out of Caribbean Smokehouse concept across the UK: Reggae Reggae Sauce owner Levi Roots, who opened his first Caribbean Smokehouse at Westfield Stratford City, east London, last Christmas, is looking to roll-out the concept across the UK. He said he is already eyeing a second site and planned to open “quite a lot” more. Roots used his big personality and bold flavours to win over Peter Jones on Dragons’ Den in 2007, with the resulting fame propelling his Reggae Reggae Sauce business to an annual turnover of £30m within eight years. Roots told The Wharf: “We built the brand really successfully before we started to dream about a restaurant. That was key so that when we opened, people were so familiar with the name they wanted to eat here because they have the sauce in the cupboard. The main aim is to continue investing in myself and the brand to make sure we are market leaders in Caribbean food. For me, the biggest investment so far has been in (Caribbean Smokehouse) because I’m hoping to do quite a lot of these down the road. I’m looking to roll this out across the whole country. We’re already looking at the second site, maybe in south London or Birmingham, and it’s only eight months in.”
Columbo Group to reopen newly acquired London venue Barfly as Camden Assembly next month following £1m investment: Columbo Group, led by Steve Ball and Riz Shaik, will reopen its newly acquired London venue, The Barfly, as Camden Assembly next month. Following a £1m investment, the company will relaunch the 400-capacity site in Chalk Farm Road, Camden, with a 12-night multi-genre programme. The venue will also serve as a bar and burger restaurant. Columbo Group, which is also behind the XOYO and Phonox nightspots and Sunfall festival, bought Barfly along with Camden’s Jazz Cafe from Live Nation earlier this year. They are two of a number of former MAMA & Company venues to have been sold off by the promoting giant in recent months. Ball told Music Week: “When we heard Live Nation was looking to sell some of the smaller venues in the MAMA estate, we were essentially at the front of the queue. I really feel Camden is about to experience quite a resurgence. There’s so much happening in the area and so many incredible new businesses opening up.”
Chestnut Group buys fifth site: Chestnut Group has bought its fifth site, the Three Blackbirds in the village of Woodditton on the outskirts of Newmarket, through agent Fleurets off an asking price of £580,000 for the freehold. Simon Jackaman, of Fleurets, said: “We received considerable interest in this property, which isn’t a surprise given its location, the attractiveness of the building, as well as the potential with planning for the rooms.” Chestnut Group operates The Packhorse Inn in nearby Moulton, The Rupert Brooke in Grantchester, The White Horse in Easton, near Woodbridge, and The Northgate in Bury St Edmunds, which is opening next month.
McDonald’s removes fitness tracker from Happy Meals following skin irritation complaints: McDonald’s is removing “Step-it” activity trackers from Happy Meals, shortly after launching the promotion, following concerns over skin irritation. The fitness trackers, which come in six bright colours, were already being distributed and were set to be available for four weeks in the US and Canada. The plastic, wrist-worn pedometer measures steps and blinks quickly or slowly depending on the pace of the person wearing it. In a statement sent to CNN, company spokeswoman Terri Hickey said: “We have taken this swift and voluntary step after receiving limited reports of potential skin irritations that may be associated from wearing the band. Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our customers and we are fully investigating this issue.” The exact number of complaints was unspecified.
JD Wetherspoon launches gift cards in place of paper voucher scheme: JD Wetherspoon has launched gift cards in place of its paper voucher scheme. The cards are available to buy in all Wetherspoon pubs, with the purchaser choosing how much they want to put on the card – any amount from £5 to £500. The gift cards can then be used to buy food and drink in any Wetherspoon pub, with the cost deducted from the balance on the card, which can then be used on future purchases. Users are able to check their balance by presenting their card at the bar. The value on the card will expire two years after it was issued. The gift cards replace the previous £5 and £10 paper vouchers, which are no longer available to buy. However, vouchers will remain redeemable until their expiry date. A spokesman told Propel: “The gift cards are perfect for a variety of occasions, such as Christmas or birthday presents, tabs at staff parties or thank-you gifts.”
New bubble tea bar concept launches in Colchester: A new bubble tea bar concept has opened in Colchester, Essex. Jamie Milleare has launched Bubble T Bar in Eld Lane on the site of the former Levi’s Denim City shop. It sells fruit and milk tea with flavoured bubbles and chewy tapioca balls. Milleare, who also owns Darcy’s Sweet Shop in the same road, told the Maldon Standard: “Last year I visited Singapore and was going through the shops and wondering why there were queues of people. I went up to one of the shops and saw it was called bubble tea. I ordered an original one and thought it was the most unusual thing I had ever tasted. At the moment we are only offering simple flavours as we don’t want to confuse people, although we do have this one ingredient called taro that makes your drink purple. In the future I’d like to offer Oreo tea and cinnamon teas in the winter. I’d like this shop to be the first of many.”
New delicatessen concept Cure + Cut opens in Seven Dials: A new delicatessen concept has opened in Seven Dials in London. Jerome Armit and Rufus Wickham, former head chef at Sam’s Brasserie and Kettner’s, have launched Cure + Cut in Monmouth Street. Split across two floors with space for up to 30 guests, Cure + Cut has counter seating at street level and a handful of tables in the basement. It focuses on authentic deli food, from house-salted, rubbed, smoked and sliced meat to fresh salads and homemade bakery items. Cure + Cut’s baked goods include muffins filled with fig and honey, peaches and cream or coffee banana and hazelnut, double butter croissants, and smoked bacon cinnamon rolls. Seasonal fresh salads include kale, romaine and broccoli Caesar. These can be topped with smoked salmon, pastrami, or smoked chicken. Three desserts also sit on the counter – tiramisu, key lime pie and blueberry cheesecake – while drinks include a range of homemade weekly-changing cordials, craft beers and freshly-pressed juices.
Buzzworks to open ninth site, next month: Ayrshire-based restaurant company Buzzworks will open its ninth site, next month. The company, owned by brothers Colin and Kenny Blair, is launching The Corner House in Kilwinning on Thursday, 1 September. It is investing £750,000 to convert the Stag and Hound pub into a restaurant, creating 40 jobs. The venue will have seating for more than 100 guests and a private dining room for up to 20. Buzzworks said the menu would focus on “simple dishes with big flavours”, similar to its most recently opened venue – The Mill House in Stewarton. Colin Blair told the Daily Record: “We are really looking forward to returning to Kilwinning, where we started our family business 38 years ago. As I’m sure you can imagine, we’ve always had a real affinity with Kilwinning. It is a fantastic town, with a great community and we have lots of great memories from operating there all those years ago. We’re really excited about The Corner House. It will be a stunning venue – beautifully designed, cosy, comfortable and welcoming to all. We are sure it will be a great addition to the town and one we can all be proud of.” Buzzworks operates eight other sites across Ayrshire, including Longhouse in Kilmarnock, and Treehouse in Ayr.
Enterprise Inns reveals dates and venues for 2017 enterpriselive trade shows: Enterprise Inns has revealed the dates and venues in 2017 for its enterpriselive trade shows. Building on a record-breaking 2016, the six events will give existing and prospective publicans around the country the opportunity to meet suppliers and members of the Enterprise team, gain business advice, and take advantage of exclusive deals. More than 4,000 visitors attended the shows earlier this year, with almost 50% of Enterprise leased and tenanted pubs represented, up from 41% the previous year. The events also attracted more than 160 exhibiting suppliers, which was another record. The 2017 programme will return to Farnborough’s Five on 27 April, the Ricoh Arena in Coventry on 3 May, Manchester’s EventCity on 9 May, and London Olympia on 16 May. The Bristol event, which is on 25 April, will move to the newly refurbished Ashton Gate stadium, home of Bristol City FC. Enterprise sales and marketing director James Armitage said: “After such fantastic shows in 2016 the bar has been set really high. Nevertheless, we’re planning 2017 to be even bigger and better. As in previous years, we will unveil a number of new initiatives and we’ve scheduled the shows in April and May so publicans can take full advantage of exclusive deals ahead of the busy summer trading period. The deals will only be available to publicans attending enterpriselive.” Back by popular demand, Enterprise’s voucher book offering publicans savings worth thousands of pounds will also make a return. These will be distributed to publicans in advance of the shows. Armitage added: “As well as encouraging publicans and prospective publicans to come along, we are urging suppliers to book their stands as soon as possible as the past couple of years have sold out.”
Wahaca to open first Scottish site in October, in Edinburgh: Mexican restaurant brand Wahaca is set to open its first Scottish site in October, in Edinburgh. The company, which was co-founded by 2005 MasterChef winner Thomasina Miers and Mark Selby, is opening the venue in South St Andrew Street. A Wahaca spokeswoman told the Daily Record: “This is our first foray into Scotland and we cannot wait to open our doors in Edinburgh. We’ll be cooking up the tastiest tacos in town. We’re really excited to be arriving in Edinburgh and currently have an open date scheduled of Monday, 10 October.” Wahaca, which opened its first site in 2007, currently has 23 restaurants in the UK, the majority of which are in London.
New Italian wine bar and restaurant concept launches in Bristol: A new Italian wine bar and restaurant concept has opened in Bristol. Sergio Carravetta, originally from Rome, has launched Zitto & Bevi in Nine Tree Hill on the site of the former Runcible Spoon restaurant. The venue is set across two floors and offers 19 wines from Italian co-operatives and family-run vineyards alongside beers, including two from Bath-based Electric Bear Brewing Co. The food has been inspired by different regions of Italy, from Venice to Turin passing through Rome to southern Italy. Caravetta told the Bristol Post that the venue’s name was a pun on what every Italian child has heard since birth – “zitto e mangia”, meaning shut up and eat. Zitto & Bevi loosely translates as “shut up and drink”.
New bar, brasserie and delicatessen concept to open at former Enjoy Pubs site in Chesterfield: A new bar, brasserie and delicatessen concept is to open next week at a former Enjoy Pubs site in Chesterfield. York House will launch on Friday, 26 August in St Mary’s Gate on the former site of the Abacus bar. The Abacus opened in February 2011 but shut at the start of the year when its operator, Enjoy Pubs, was closed under insolvency legislation. The new venue will serve coffee, breakfast and pastries in the morning as well as food throughout the afternoon and evening, with the kitchen producing seasonal Mediterranean dishes, including tapas and sharing boards. Drinks will include hand-pulled real ales, craft beer, wine, prosecco and cocktails. A York House spokesman told the Derbyshire Times: “The first-floor mezzanine will be a perfect spot for eating, socialising and watching various acts perform at York House Live, which will run twice a week. There’s also a boutique delicatessen, which will sell luxury artisan food and drink products, and gifts.”
Plant-based restaurant concept Rawligion turns to Mystery for brand positioning and identity: Former professional poker player John Tabatabai has appointed Mystery to create the brand positioning and identity for his plant-based Rawligion concept – following the restaurant and brand design agency’s interior design work on his first restaurant. Rawligion is inspired by the raw food trends of America’s East Coast and uses local, seasonal and organically grown vegetables, fruit, herbs, spices, seeds, sea vegetables and cold-pressed oils. There are no grains, dairy or animal products on the menu – with the exception of honey in small amounts. Mystery developed a mural at the restaurant in Tottenham Street, central London, with Rawligion’s walls adorned with vine leaves and interwoven with twigs to help guests feel at one with the world around them, but with the modern convenience of USB chargers. The use of soft natural materials such as timber and hanging plants were combined with darker finishes such as slate to reflect the more serious side of the brand. Tabatabai said: “Mystery did a wonderful job of turning my idea into a reality.”
New ‘sustainable’ artisan coffee shop concept to open in Amersham next month: A new “sustainable” artisan coffee shop concept is set to open in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, next month. Peter Wells will launch Jacs in Hill Avenue on Saturday, 3 September after agreeing a deal with the property’s landlord, Sorbon Estates. Jacs will take an environmentally friendly approach to food and drink, setting up a filtered water point rather than selling water bottles to reduce the amount of plastic being disposed of in landfill. Instead, customers will be encouraged to make a donation to help fund clean drinking water in Africa. The interior of the shop will also reflect its sustainable roots, with upcycled furniture and reclaimed wood. Wells told Bucks Free Press: “I am really excited to be opening my first shop in Amersham. The town has a proud history of supporting independent businesses as well as championing good causes. We hope our ethical and environmentally friendly approach will be something the local community will appreciate and support, as well as the quality of our teas and coffees.”
Colliers markets Welsh Wolf Hall freehold for £935,000: Believed to have been a gift from Queen Elizabeth I for her admirer the Earl of Leicester, the Great House Hotel, near Bridgend in South Wales, has been brought to the market for the first time in more than 30 years by Colliers International. The Grade II*-listed property in Laleston, which has a guide price of £935,000 for the freehold, was winner of the 2016 Hotel Restaurant of the Year award for Wales. Colliers International hotels director Peter Brunt said: “The Great House has a fascinating and intriguing past, but had deteriorated over the years and was virtually derelict in 1985 when present owners Stephen and Norma Bond bought the building and began an ambitious refurbishment.” Brunt added there was plenty of scope to maintain and expand the business, which presently consists of 12 letting bedrooms. In the meantime, the business will continue under its present management.
New dessert parlour concept launches in Newport: A new dessert parlour concept has opened in Newport, South Wales. Icelicious has launched in Commercial Street, serving a range of ice cream and other sweet treats, reports Wales Online. Ice cream flavours include orange marmalade, stem ginger, and Cornish cream tea, alongside a variety of cakes and Belgian hot waffles with various toppings. Customers can also try classic retro school puddings such as jam roly-poly and cornflake cake, with lashings of custard.
BB’s Coffee and Muffins opens venue in Derby shopping centre: BB’s Coffee and Muffins has opened a site at the Intu shopping centre in Derby. The company has opened the 1,550 square foot venue on the ground floor opposite Marks & Spencer, on a site formerly occupied by mobile phone company EE. The new eatery offers premium coffee, frappes and smoothies as well as muffins, cakes, sandwiches, wraps and toasties. A spokesman told the Derby Telegraph: “At BB’s, we’re all about delicious, freshly made food and a great place to enjoy it. None of our stores are the same – we reserve the right to have our fun with every single one of them.” The company, which has more than 50 coffee shops across the UK and Ireland, was bought by Brentwood Investments from businessman Denis O’Brien last year for about €10m.
Co-owner of Birmingham pop-up restaurant to launch own venture in city: The co-owner of Birmingham pop-up restaurant The Butchers Social is set to launch his own venture in the city. Jamie Desogus is opening Harborne Kitchen, a neighbourhood restaurant focusing on “precise modern British cooking, with an emphasis on bold seasonal flavours”. It will be housed in the old Walter Smith’s butchers in High Street, Harborne, which was home to The Butchers Social – a pop-up by Desogus and business partner Mike Bullard that served chicken wings with flavours such as lavender and Szechuan, black treacle, soy and sesame, and maple barbecue. It closed in December. The venue is undergoing a £900,000 extension and renovation and is set to open at the end of October as a 50-cover restaurant with 30 covers in the bar area. Desogus told the Birmingham Mail: “Harborne Kitchen is more true to my background in cooking so it’s very exciting to be launching on my own. The kitchen is very much the focal point for the whole restaurant – we’ll have a ‘kitchen table’ where we’ll seat ten people who can watch their food being prepared. I want something very informal – top food in a totally relaxed atmosphere. People can just come in for one course and a glass of wine or just order drinks at the bar.”
New craft beer and burger concept Craft Burger to launch in Oxford: New craft beer and burger concept Craft Burger is set to launch next month in Oxford, creating 15 jobs. The independent business will offer gourmet burgers and craft beer at its 50-cover restaurant in Headington. Craft Burger will use fresh ingredients, grinding meat and making sauces daily on-site. As well as offering craft beer on tap and in bottles, the venue will also sell shakes and other non-alcoholic drinks. Craft Burger will offer a takeaway service when it opens in mid-September, with a delivery service to be added at a later date. A company spokesman told Propel: “We are trying to create some fresh ideas in Headington and hopefully draw more people to the area. We hope to make Craft Burger a success and open other sites in the future.”
Greek-style tapas concept Halloumi launches in Glasgow city centre: New Greek-style tapas concept Halloumi has launched in Glasgow city centre. The new venue in Hope Street promises “small plates with big flavours” including keftedes meatballs with a large choice of dips and sauces, dolmades (vine leaves stuffed with spiced mince and rice), and a chargrill menu that includes skewers. Vegetarian options include spanakopita (filo pastry layered with spinach and feta), while the cocktail menu features the Zeus, a Greek twist on a classic sour with ouzo and disaronno, Glasgow Live reports.
Stonegate-operated Chelsea pub, one of London’s oldest gay bars, set to close: One of London’s oldest gay bars has announced it is to cease trading. The Queen’s Head in Tryon Street, Chelsea, operated by Stonegate Pub Company, has been serving gay customers since the mid-20th century. Pub staff posted a message on its Facebook page, stating: “We’ve been unable to come to reasonable terms for renewal of the lease on the building with our landlords and therefore we’ll be shutting up shop.” In a subsequent Facebook posting, staff emphasised Stonegate Pub Company was not to blame for the closure. They said: “Stonegate is a business and, no matter how well the pub is doing, if the landlords are asking for too much money it’s untenable for them to keep the place. They honestly didn’t want to let us go and have been trying for months to come to an agreement with the landlords.” A Stonegate Pub Company spokeswoman added: “The lease at the Queen’s Head is due to expire and, as a result, we will be vacating the property on 13 September. We are currently looking to relocate staff to other suitable venues within the business. It is at the landlord’s discretion as to future plans for the property.” According to the Land Registry, the building is owned by JPP One LLP. This week another of London’s historic gay pubs, The Yard in Soho, was saved from redevelopment following a two-year battle after a government planning inspector backed Westminster Council’s decision to protect it.
London-based brewer Beavertown appoints Colliers to secure first bar sites for new concept: Agent Colliers International has been instructed to secure the first sites for a new bar concept by craft beer brewer Beavertown, which is owned and managed by Logan Plant, son of Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant. Beavertown has gone from brewing 100,000 litres in 2014 to producing about 3.5 million litres in 2016, exporting to 22 countries and making it the UK’s fastest-growing drinks brand. Following the success of its Duke’s Brew & Que bar and restaurant in Haggerston, Beavertown is looking to expand with a new bar concept that will specialise in rare beers, house-crafted cocktails, wine and food. Colliers has been instructed to seek premises, initially in east and south London, of circa 4,000 square feet, as well as units of about 2,000 square feet for a simplified version of the concept. Rachel Stern, of Colliers International’s UK Leisure team, said: “Beavertown has gone from strength to strength to build a strong craft beer brand in a relatively short space of time. This quirky and creative brand has all the assets needed to readily transition into the bar and pub scene and will no doubt be welcomed with open arms by east London’s distinguished punters as well as beer enthusiasts across the capital.”
Plans approved to build four restaurants in Gloucester Docks: Plans to build four restaurants in Gloucester Docks have been given the go-ahead. Proposals to convert listed buildings in Commercial Road into a restaurant area have been approved by the city council, which owns the site. Known as Ladybellegate Quay, the development will comprise four restaurants and cafes, ranging in size from 2,000 to 6,500 square feet. Ken Elliott, director of Ladybellegate Estates, which is behind the plans, told Gloucester Live: “With their location at the north end of Victoria Docks, the restaurants will look to both the city and the docks and provide an important link between the successful Gloucester Quays and the city centre.”
Five Guys applies for alcohol licence for proposed Bradford restaurant: Five Guys has applied for an alcohol licence as it bids to open a restaurant in Bradford. The company is looking to open the restaurant at the new Xchange development in Arndale House, opposite The Broadway. It has applied to Bradford Council to sell alcohol every day between 10am and midnight. The Xchange development includes a new branch of Esquires Coffee, an easyGym, more than 100 flats, and refurbished units for Greggs, Bright House and Bon Marche. Five Guys was founded in Virginia in the US in 1986 by the Murrell family, and opened its first UK restaurant in Covent Garden in 2013. It currently has 45 restaurants in the UK.