Pret A Manger assessing sites for first branch in central Dubai: Pret A Manger is assessing locations for its first branch in central Dubai. The company said it was looking for new, central locations based on the positive reaction it has received to its branch at Dubai International’s Terminal 1. A Pret spokesman told Gulf News: “We’ve received a really fantastic customer response to our first UAE shop at Dubai International and as a result are actually now looking at other more centrally-located sites in Dubai.” The company declined to provide any additional details. Last week, Pret signed its first franchise agreement in the US to open its debut university sites in the country.

East Coast Concepts boss predicts buyers’ market: East Coast Concepts chief executive James Hitchen has said he believes a softening of the market will be the key to its future expansion. The company, which owns Neighbourhood and Victor’s, is creating 60 jobs in Leeds with the opening of its third Neighbourhood site. Hitchen said one of the main challenges for growing brands like his is finding prime city centre sites but added that is about to change. He told the Yorkshire Post: “The market is tough at the moment but if you’re selective on sites and you do what you’re supposed to in terms of hitting your numbers then it’s going to be a buyers’ market over the next 18 months or so. There has been a lot of expansion and aggressive takeovers recently and I think you’re going to see that soften now.” Neighbourhood, which is inspired by Manhattan’s vibrant dining scene, was established in Manchester in 2012. The Liverpool site opened in 2016 following a multimillion-pound private equity investment in the company by NorthEdge Capital. Victor’s, which opened its first site in Hale, Cheshire, in 2014, takes its inspiration from the Hamptons and targets spa towns and affluent suburbs. Hitchen said he had turned down sites in York and Harrogate for Victor’s, although he is now actively looking for a new site in York. He added the private equity investment has enabled the company to build the resources to put systems and procedures in place to enable the company to grow. The company has signed a lease in Oxford for its second Victor’s site, which is due to open in October. Hitchen has predicted at that point turnover will reach £18m, up from its current £12m figure. He also plans to open at least two more sites next year.

Casual Dining Group seeks partner to supply water and wastewater services: Casual Dining Group is seeking a partner to supply water and wastewater services across its UK restaurants. A competitive tender process is under way with independent consultancy Waterscan managing the process. Paul Boyce, purchasing manager at Prestige Purchasing, which works on behalf of Casual Dining Group, said: “We watched the development of the open water market with interest and decided to wait for the market to settle down so that we could make an informed decision on our water supply options. Our final procurement strategy hasn’t yet been decided, but we like the idea of working with a single retailer for all our water needs. Our main goal is to identify and take advantage of cost saving opportunities and streamline internal administration practices.” Waterscan account manager Rebecca Gale added: “We are working to optimise water cost and consumption savings while supporting the company’s ambitious expansion plans through identifying further opportunities to build best practice water management into its operations. We now seek a water retailer to work with us on this exciting contract for one of the UK’s fastest growing operations.”

Bahraini chef to make UK debut with Chelsea restaurant: Bahraini chef Roaya Saleh is to make her UK debut as she opens the second site for her Villa Mama concept. Having launched the concept in the Saar district of Bahrain six years ago, Saleh is opening the new venue in Elystan Street, Chelsea. The menu focuses on sharing plates of traditional Bahraini dishes and those of the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, alongside recipes influenced by her travels around the world. It features traditional Bahraini food, including tandoor-cooked flatbreads, lamb and feta koftas and her Mezzeh sharing plates menu. Drinks will include wine by the glass and a Bahraini-influenced cocktail list. The furniture, artwork and textiles are inspired by Saleh’s heritage and travels. The dining room has capacity for 50 at pedestal tables and there is an outside seating area. A reclaimed shop counter from Paris will be laden with Saleh’s homemade jams, spices and hand-woven Bahraini baskets for guests to take home. A stairwell at the back of the restaurant leads diners to the open pass of the kitchen and a small hidden courtyard of hexagonal terracotta tiles and filled with cooking herbs. Saleh said: “It was my dream to open a restaurant that felt like an extension of my home and kitchen, to preserve my heritage and share my family recipes and stories. Having opened Villa Mama’s in Bahrain six years ago, London feels like the next adventure for me.”

Stonegate to bring Popworld to Reading: Stonegate Pub Company is to open a Popworld site in Reading, Berkshire. The company is converting the Bowery site in Friar Street, which it acquired when it bought Intertain last year, to the new venue. It is making a significant investment in the site, which will open on Saturday, 16 September. The brand champions noughties nostalgia, with a soundtrack of party hits from the decade and a range of decadent drinks that include the giant sharing cocktail Partini. Popworld marketing director Jamie Rosenfeld said: “It has been a great year for Popworld already and we are excited to launch a new bar to the people of Reading. With our fun, bright and colourful personality, we certainly won’t disappoint.” Stonegate operates more than 690 pubs split into two divisions – Branded (Slug and Lettuce, Yates’s, Walkabout, Common Room and Venues) and Traditional (Proper Pubs, Town Pub & Kitchen, and Classic Inns). It has also reached an agreement with Revolution Bars Group to buy the company for £101.5m although the deal is still subject to shareholder approval and The Deltic Group is also considering making an offer.

Carluccio’s reports more than a million lines of data collected as it renews Wireless Social contract: Carluccio’s has reported it has collected more than a million lines of data since the start of its partnership with Wi-Fi solutions provider Wireless Social as it renewed the contract. Wireless Social has worked with Carluccio’s for the past three years following a six-month trial period across the estate. It has seen an average of 26,400 customers log on to the Wi-Fi network each month. Carluccio’s head of IT Jon Taylor said: “Wireless Social has proved itself to be an excellent product. It’s a solution that simply works with minimal input required from the Carluccio’s team.” Carluccio’s extending its contract follows the news in July that Wireless Social had seen rapid growth with six new contract wins including Azzurri Group, Oakmann Inns and Brasserie Blanc, worth in excess of £150,000. Wireless Social managing director Julian Ross said: “We have thoroughly enjoyed working with Carluccio’s over the past three years, it has been a hugely successful partnership. Carluccio’s really listens to its customers; a survey conducted by marketing firm Purple reports that 60% of diners would be more loyal to a restaurant if it had access to the internet. This shows if you invest in the technology you will reap the benefits.”

London curry house reopens after being temporarily shut for ‘employing illegal workers’: London curry house Tayyabs has reopened after being temporarily shut by officials for allegedly employing illegal workers. The family-owned outlet in Whitechapel had been closed since Tuesday (29 August) after being raided by immigration officers last week. Tayyabs, where queues are common for fans of its tandoori lamb chops, opened in 1972. Following a raid by the Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement agency, it was alleged some of the 40 staff were working illegally or lacking correct permits. Of nine offenders that have been identified, five Pakistani nationals are being deported, the Home Office said. A spokesman told the Evening Standard: “Acting on intelligence, Immigration Enforcement officers visited Tayyabs, Fieldgate Street, Whitechapel, on Friday, 25 August. Nine offenders were encountered. Six Pakistani nationals were arrested, with five of them being detained while steps are taken to remove them from the UK. The sixth is required to report regularly to Immigration Enforcement. A closure notice was served because of an outstanding civil penalty fines amounting to £95,000, the high proportion of offenders found and taking previous offences into account. A civil penalty referral notice was also served on the business, which carries a fine of up to £180,000.”

Ever So Sensible takes on third Nottingham pub: Ever So Sensible has taken on its third Nottingham pub. The company has reopened the Fellows, Morton & Clayton in Canal Street, which is owned by Ei Group. The brown painted bar has been stripped back to its natural wood while seats have been re-upholstered and the walls have been repainted. The new menu consists of pub classics such as scampi and chips, chilli, liver and bacon and grilled halloumi salad. Drinks feature beers, ales and ciders as well as a wine list, reports the Nottingham Post. Ever So Sensible operates nine other sites, including its two other Nottingham pubs – The Castle and Fothergills.

Liverpool-based health-focused concept to open second site in city: Liverpool-based health-focused concept Goodness Grill is to open a second site south of the city centre. The new outlet in Childwall will operate alongside its existing site on the edge of the business district in Vauxhall Road, which opened in 2015. A company spokesman told BDaily: “Our mission is to change the concept of fast food forever. We want to make all people aware of the harm traditional, processed fast food causes and we are trying to offer a wide range of good, clean, quality food cooked fresh on site by a professional chef. We are proud to support many local businesses and that means we can trace all our British produce back to the farms where it originates. We are hoping that sometime in the future, we can offer all cities a healthy option when it comes to dining.”

Grab-and-go concept Waka to launch in City of London next week: New grab-and-go brand Waka will launch in the City of London next week, offering Nikkei dishes. The new venue will open on Thursday, 7 September in Eastcheap with the decor marrying Japanese minimalism with bright Peruvian patterns, textiles and motifs. Prominent will be Waka’s hummingbird mascot, inspired by one of the mysterious Nazca Lines near Lima. The menu will feature ceviche, tiraditos (thinly-sliced raw fish), hot bowls and cold bowls, alongside sushi, sashimi, nigiri and dumplings. Sides will include Cancha corn, soup and salads with the full menu available to eat in at Waka’s 60-seat basement dining room or take away. Nikkei began its evolution in Peru in the late 1800s, when settlers from Japan – known as Nikkei – adapted their home cuisine using local ingredients.

Iceland unveils PizzaExpress-focused £5 meal deal: Iceland has unveiled a new meal deal made up of PizzaExpress products that will cost customers just £5. Shoppers can pick up two large PizzaExpress pizzas, a tub of PizzaExpress ice cream and a big bottle of Pepsi. The new meal deal boasts a saving of £3.50 on the normal cost of the products.

Ei Group extends digital innovation for publicans with new online recruitment tool: Ei Group’s leased and tenanted division Ei Publican Partnerships has launched a new online recruitment tool as part of its ongoing digital enhancement project designed to support publicans. New regional focus pages on the Ei Publican Partnerships website have been created for specific regions across the UK to provide detailed local information on each respective area, alongside details of which pubs are available there and video tutorials. The mini websites will also include details of various lease agreements available and a seven-step guide to running a successful pub business. The regional focus, which has launched with South Wales, Yorkshire, Cumbria and Lancashire, will be rolled out to other regions nationally over the coming months. In addition a new “applicant dashboard” on the Ei Publican Partnerships website also allows prospective publicans to build their profile outlining their aspirations for running a pub, as well as allowing users to “favourite” the sites they are interested in. Ei Group recruitment and marketing manager Matthew Ralphs said: “Our own internal research has shown many more publicans are looking for support online, and those wishing to enter the pub trade are likely to use the internet as their first port of call when researching their options. Developing our online support tools is therefore a major focus for us at Ei Publican Partnerships over the coming months, and we’re making significant strides in creating a range of digital support tools that will make life easier for publicans.”

Costa Coffee extends food menu with autumn offering: Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee is extending its food menu as it unveils its autumn offering. The new range, which includes a selection of hot offerings, will be available from Thursday, 7 September. It includes hot pasta meal boxes such as Italian-style meatball and mac ‘n’ cheese, filling wraps as well as soups that come in two new flavours – British pea and Wiltshire ham along with slow roasted tomato and basil. The sweet range has also been extended to include a selection of cakes, tarts and muffins. Costa commercial marketing director Matthew Williams said: “We’re committed to providing our customers with the best experience when they visit our stores, and based on their feedback, we’ve been working with our innovations teams to develop products that we know they’ll enjoy. These additions give customers even more choice.”

Caffe Nero to host hundreds of in-store acoustic performances simultaneously for music therapy charity: Caffe Nero is to host hundreds of in-store acoustic performances simultaneously as it partners with music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins to support its annual awareness day. The performances will take place at midday on Wednesday, 13 September as part of Caffe Nero’s “Get Loud 2017”. On the day, Nordoff Robbins will use the power of music to raise awareness of its music therapy services that aim to change the lives of thousands of vulnerable and isolated people across the UK. The performances will feature a host of grassroots musicians alongside some of Caffe Nero’s previously featured Artists of the Month. They include Russian virtuoso concert pianist and composer GéNIA, who has also crossed over into the world of pop music.

Just Eat puts restaurant partners at centre of new X Factor ads: Just Eat, the global market place for online food delivery, is putting the musical talents of its restaurant partners and drivers at the centre of its prime-time sponsorship of ITV’s The X Factor. Creative agency Karmarama has produced 40 idents with the show’s host Dermot O’Leary, each of which will air during the show’s commercial breaks from Saturday (2 September), each weekend. Nine of Just Eat’s 28,000 restaurant partners have made the cut to perform in front of the nation, entertaining and enticing viewers with an array of diverse cuisine. Much like the show itself, Just Eat entrants were put through a rigorous audition process. Just Eat UK marketing director Ben Carter told The Drum: “We wanted to be able to champion the real heroes of the weekend – the chefs and drivers from our restaurant partners who work tirelessly behind the scenes – and give them a chance to shine on national television.” Karmarama chief creative officer Nik Studzinski added: “Sponsorship idents for the nation’s biggest talent show gave us the perfect opportunity to shine a light on the unsung talent of Just Eat’s restaurant partners. Our creative concept of showcasing chefs that can sing as well as cook up a storm meant we could create highly relevant, entertaining comms and establish an unbreakable link between the brand and the show.”

Newcastle-based operator acquires second site: Newcastle-based operator Anthony Martin has acquired his second site. Martin, who runs the Jam Jar bar and restaurant in Jesmond, has taken on the New Coach Inn in Killingworth, North Tyneside. Martin, who is the former head chef at Newcastle Quayside restaurant The Silk Rooms, has introduced a new menu serving traditional English food that has been locally sourced. He is also adding big-screen televisions inside and out to show sporting events. He told Chronicle Live: “We feel the pub has got a lot of potential but until now it has only really served the community as a place for drinkers. It doesn’t need much doing inside or out and it’s a huge site with a large beer garden – but what it’s missing is a bit of direction and a good food menu.” Martin, who also runs a tattoo removal clinic, took over the lease of Jam Jar at the end of last year when owners Josh Rose, Jonathan Edwards and Robert Clarkson moved to London.

Numis Securities – there has been positive response to new pricing at The Restaurant Group: Numis Securities leisure analyst Tim Barrett has said there has been a positive response to new pricing at The Restaurant Group. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 430p, Barrett said: “First-half like-for-like sales fell by 2.2% versus 1.8% disclosed for the first 20 weeks and implying -3.5% in weeks 21 to 26. A slowdown was expected (given weak cinema data) and this outcome was slightly better than feared (Numis estimated -2.5% for the first half). The group opened 12 new sites and closed eight, meaning turnover fell by 2% on a 26-week basis. Group Ebit margin fell from 10.5% to 7.9%, as expected, given weaker sales, minimum wage increases and headwinds on food and drink costs. There is early progress on cost savings such as a £1.3m reduction in admin costs, although the company expects the cost environment to remain demanding in the second half and into FY18. A price-led sales recovery is central to The Restaurant Group’s turnaround, correcting previous mistakes and winning back customers. Management is pleased with early responses to new menus that were rolled out between late March and early May; in which like-for-like dishes are on average 7% cheaper. The statement identifies ‘early signs of volume improvement’ and ‘recent data showing an uptick in value for money ratings, net promoter scores etc’. The dividend has been maintained in reflection of the board’s confidence in the turnaround (FY cover 1.3 times). Cash flow remained strong and net debt of £19.3m is consistent with our December 2017 forecast of £34.1m, adjusted for the final dividend of £21m (paid in July). Year-to-date like-for-likes are -2.5% (weeks one to 34), ahead of our -3.9% full-year assumption and implying -3.5% in the past eight weeks (July/August). Profit before tax is expected to be ‘in line with current market expectations’. The Restaurant Group gives new guidance relating to the £10m cost efficiency being delivered ahead of plan and this helping to fund 150 to 180 basis points of price investment. The Restaurant Group trades on a FY18 price-to-earnings ratio of 12.2 times, free cash flow yield of 10% and dividend yield of 5.5%. This is compelling for a cash generative turnaround situation with strong balance sheet. The new management team has a credible plan to correct previous mistakes and the first half results give us confidence this is being well executed (controlled like-for-like decline, cost savings).”

Heron & Brearley reopens Douglas pub following major refurbishment: Isle of Man-based Heron & Brearley has reopened the Prospect in Douglas following a major refurbishment. It is the latest pub to be given a revamp by the company as it continues to develop its sites on the island and in the UK. The pub, which dates to 1857, now opens at 10am and the “library area” has been refreshed to include video conferencing facilities. Additional USB sockets have been added around the pub while there is a new food menu and wine list as well as an extended gin menu and range of guest beers. Operations manager Di Edington said: “The Prospect is one of our flagship pubs and we have paid particular attention to maintaining the classic and traditional style synonymous with the pub.”

Leicester-based operators open gourmet burger restaurant: Leicester-based restaurant operators Charlotte Tribe and Phil Luithlen have opened a gourmet burger concept in the city. They have launched Moow Burgers And Shakes in Queens Road on the site of the former Cultura restaurant. The decor features earthy tones and an eclectic mix of wooden furniture and exposed brickwork, reports the Leicester Mercury. The restaurant serves a variety of beef, chicken, lamb, fish and veggie burgers along with a range of milkshakes including dairy-free, hardshakes and specials such as Oreo cookie and Nutella flavours. Tribe and Luithlen also own Halcyon Kitchen in Queens Road, while Luithlen runs 1573 Bar And Grill in Freeschool Lane.

Former Corney & Barrow boss named in ‘40 over 40’ list: Former Corney & Barrow managing director Sarah Heward, who now owns fish and chip shop The Real Food Cafe in the village of Tyndrum in Scotland, has been named one of Management Today’s “40 over 40”. Heward appears in the list alongside people including ex-England rugby player and television personality Matt Dawson, beauty entrepreneur Liz Earle, ex-MP Tristram Hunt and Green & Black’s founder Josephine Fairley. The judges were impressed with Heward’s tenacity in the face of adversity and in bringing a rundown Little Chef back to life in the form of the Real Food Cafe. Heward went from managing director of wine merchant Corney & Barrow to taking over a derelict Little Chef in rural Scotland and turning it into The Real Food Cafe. She has overcome many obstacles, including the sudden death of her husband and business partner, but her business has gone from strength to strength, serving more than 100,000 customers a year and improving profitability by 200%.